Billy the Kid Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Short Story
Thanks for Returning to the Next Installment
This, really, is a story that will not die. I enjoy the protagonist and can’t seem to let him fade from view. My fault entirely and I hope you’ll forgive me.
Billy the Kid is back! He is a product of my fascination with the concepts of good and evil, and how there is a little bit of both in most, if not all, of us. Some would argue that point, but those are the people I try to stay away from. J
I hope you enjoy the latest installment.
The Previous Chapter
- Billy the Kid in Margaritaville: A Short Story
A new chapter in the Billy the Kid Saga, this time in Key West, Florida as trouble seems to follow our reluctant hero.
Bouncing at a bar ain’t tough. It’s all in the attitude. I’m not a huge guy. On a good day I stand six-one and weigh one-ninety, but you wouldn’t want to face me one-on-one when I’m pissed, and that shows in the way I present myself during working hours. When I’m working I’m six-five and two-hundred and ninety pounds of bad attitude. Hence the nickname, the crazy Mick bastard.
No, bouncing ain’t tough, not like collecting a drug shipment off a banana boat in the dead of night when the sky weighs down on you and every shadow threatens to blow your heart out with nine millimeters of lead. All the attitude in the world can’t keep your knees from shaking and your bowels from turning to yogurt when you hear that motor droning in the distance and you know some distrustful Mex has you in his sights with a night scope.
Tiny Momma has me collecting a load of black tar on this particular night and the damn mosquitoes are eating me alive while I wait for a bullet or a payoff. It’s fifty-fifty how it’s going to go. Seems like I’ve spent half my life running such errands for crime bosses with more money than brains. It’s just the way life is, Darwin’s pecking order at its finest, with yours truly scratching and clawing at the bottom of the heap.
Two-hundred yards offshore a light blinks on and off twice, the signal that all’s clear. I respond with my flashlight. I hear the big Mercs start up, their throaty growl dripping menace, a dark predator on a darker night, as they approach. I wade out to meet them, the warm waters embracing my legs. I hold the suitcase with the half-mil high above my head so they can see it and also to keep it dry. Just a crazy Mick bastard wading in the water at three a.m., facing twenty years in Raiford if it all goes bad. If that goes down I’d be better off if the Mex shot me, save me from being a yard bitch for a double dime.
Meanwhile, Tiny Momma sits on her fat ass twenty miles to the south in Key West, not a care in the world, and yes, that pisses me off.
Here’s a dose of reality for you: I hate drugs. I hate the dealers, I hate the users, I hate the whole damned business. Never used them, never will, it disgusts me and that’s just the real of it, and yet here I am, a part of it, and my actions will result in more misery up the coast and that, too, is the real of it. I make no excuses, I shuck no jive, I’m sliding nothing by you with greased fingers and promises of redemption. The money is good, I need the money, simple as that. Tiny Momma pays me three large to nursemaid these Mex cartel boys and that’s all the justification I need.
The boat comes into view with a driver and three greasers, all holding Glock 18 machine pistols with special mags that hold thirty-three rounds of nine mil Parabellums. Not a one of the idiots could hit a target from fifty yards, but at twenty feet on full auto, well, chances were pretty good they could rip you to shreds. Mex’s love their machine pistols.
I’ve got my own Glock tucked in my pants behind my back, just a simple pistol, one bullet at a time, eight in the sleeve and one in the chamber, and I’m hoping I won’t need it. Nice and smooth is the prayer of the day. Hand over the money, take the tar and get my ass back to Key West before sun-up. This is a monthly transaction so it should go without a hitch. They lose a buyer by shooting me, and if it ain’t in their best interests they won’t do a damn thing, so I figure I’m safe.
I hand up the suitcase, they count the money, nod their heads in satisfaction and one fat ass reaches down for the goods. That’s when it all turns to shit.
Walking down the beach, thirty yards to the north, I see, by the light of the moon, a woman. Long hair, long legs, wearing shorts and a loose shirt tied off at her waist, flashlight in hand, hell of a time for insomnia and a stroll in the sand. Who the holy hell takes a walk on the beach in the middle of the night?
About the time I see her, they see her, she sees us, and time stops.
Decisions to Be Made
People say that time flies but not in those situations. There is a very real clarity at that moment, a stoppage of time, and I know I have two choices, let her die or intervene. Pablo’s boys only have one choice, kill the girl, drop the product and race out of the bay. She means nothing to them, a simple obstacle, one that will disappear with a squeeze of the trigger.
Unfortunately, for me and for the greasers, it’s not that simple. I don’t know the woman but that doesn’t lessen her value. She didn’t ask for this. Someone shouldn’t die because they can’t sleep. Business is business, I get that, and my old man would have told me the world revolves around commerce, but he also would have told me that right is right and there is no gray area. Sweet Mary and Joseph!
My business partners begin to raise their pistols and I reach behind my back. They pay no attention to me and, in the end, that’s what saved me and the woman. Right to left, one, two, three, easy as fish in a barrel, even I can hit someone from five feet. Two fall in the water. The stillness of the setting is shattered with the sounds of death, the soft breeze carries the smell of cordite as I duck into the water and under the boat as the driver realizes, too late, that the woman is not his biggest problem.
I come up on the other side of the boat, arm and gun extended, and the fourth Mex dies in the cockpit.
She’s frozen in place as I pull myself up into the boat, stand and look over at her. There is ozone in the air, a storm brewing for sure, the story of my life.
“You can’t stay here, lady,” I shout to her. “Wherever you came from, go back and never mention this to anyone. If the Mexicans know you exist, you’re dead. It’s as simple as that.”
“You saved my life,” she says. “Why did you do that?”
I grab the money, grab the drugs, slide over the side of the boat and carry my packages to shore. The woman hasn’t moved. Either she’s brave or in shock. As I get closer to her I realize just how damn good looking she is, maybe late twenties, early thirties, dark hair, caramel skin, large, doe eyes and full lips.
“Why did you do that?” she asks again. “Why didn’t you just let them kill me?”
A fair question. I wasn’t sure I had a fair answer.
“This may sound odd, but my daddy didn’t raise me that way. He’s dead now, but he’d be pissed at me if I let you die. This wasn’t your game, you had nothing to do with it, so no reason why you should pay for it. Simple as that!”
“What happens now?” she asks as the sky explodes with lightning, illuminating the bodies that fell overboard, their blood appearing to be nothing more than an oil slick to the untrained eye.
Another fair question. I could take the money and drugs to Tiny Momma, but that would be signing my death warrant. If Tiny didn’t kill me the Mexicans would. Tiny doesn’t like failure or complications, and no explanation by me would spin this into a positive. Choice number two sucked as well. Run with the money and drugs and hope to hell Tiny and the Mexicans couldn’t find me. Either way I was screwed.
The woman needed an answer. Shit, man, so did I.
She was frightened and she was looking to me for an answer that would make everything all right. I didn’t have one. She was shaking noticeably now, her eyes locked on the bodies floating in the water.
“Did anyone see you walking the beach tonight? Lady, look at me. Did you see anyone on your way to here?”
She pulled those large, doe eyes away from the human flotsam and nodded her head. Her coffee-colored skin glistened with the light rain that was falling.
“My neighbor was on her deck. She couldn’t sleep. She saw me and waved. She lives in that big house down there, the two-story clapboard. I rent next door to her.” She pointed north to a home a half-mile in the distance. She didn’t know it yet but she was screwed and so was her neighbor.
“Okay, listen to me. You can’t go back to your home. By tomorrow the Mexicans will have people walking every inch of this beach, and your neighbor will be one of their first stops. After they talk to your neighbor they’ll knock on your door, and that’s a knock you don’t want to answer. These drugs have a street value of four million bucks, and that is all the incentive they need to turn this beach upside down for answers to what went down here. You need to disappear and do it in the next three or four hours.”
She was shaking her head. “But, I can’t just leave. I have a life here. Where would I go? Why don’t I just call the police and explain it all to them?”
“Because, lady, the drug cartels are bigger than the Key West police department or the Highway Patrol. You’d be dead within a week. I can’t help you. I need to get my ass down the road as fast as possible.”
“But please. There must be something you can do to make it right.”
What would daddy say to that?
I looked at her. I looked at the dead Mexicans as they prepared to become a meal for the denizens. I looked at the skies as they unleashed fury.
“Do you have a car?” I asked her.
To Be Continued
Oh my goodness, the crazy Mick bastard just seems to gravitate towards trouble, and now he has a fetching young lady in trouble too. What will he do?
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)