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Bobby Fix-It Solves His First Problem: A Sequel to the Billy the Kid Series
The Story Continues
No way was I ending the story of Billy the Kid. I was enjoying his character too much, so I couldn’t just end it with Billy and Genna in Jackson, Wyoming, with a kid on the way. Billy has a new identity now, Bobby O’Dowd, and Genna is Dawn Paisley, and their child is due in three months and, well, let’s see what’s happening with our reluctant heroes.
Summer in Jackson
The Snake River winds its way through the Kelly-green valley on a perfect summer morning as I drive my Ford F-150 to work. You can’t live in Wyoming and not own a pickup. It’s some kind of law, or so says my boss, Matt Stairs, foreman on the Circle T Ranch six miles southeast of Jackson. He’s been my foreman for the past few months, ever since Genna (I can’t get used to calling her Dawn) and I arrived here from New York.
So I’m driving my four-by-four to work, and for eight hours I’ll toss hay bales and mend fences, which is pretty damned funny considering I’m just a third-generation bog-trotter from the dirty streets of Washington Heights in New York City.
But only Genna and I know that, and that’s just the way it has to remain. We haven’t sniffed a whiff of the Russians or the Mexicans, either of whom would love to cut our throats, since we left a burning warehouse in the Heights with our Russian tormenters barbecued. Now we are now Bobby O’Dowd and Dawn Paisley, married couple with child on the way.
The Teton Range salutes me from the left; the Gros Ventre from the right; and depending on your angle, one or the other is reflected in the sparkling waters of the Snake. It’s a good place to lick our emotional wounds. We may not stay here, but for now it’s home, and it feels right.
The state highway is crowded with tourists from all over the States and abroad, making their way from Jackson to Yellowstone, seventy-five miles to the north. Just as I turn onto the access road that will lead me to the Circle T my cell phone rings. It’s Genna. I can see her in my mind’s eye, sitting on the front porch of our log cabin, sipping a mocha the same color as her skin, smiling as she watches hawks ride the thermals above. I pull off to the side of the road and flip open my phone.
“What’s up, beautiful?”
“Bobby, I just got off the phone with Ginger.” Genna is much better about using our new names than I am. Ginger is Genna’s co-worker at the Perfect Cup coffee stand where she works. “Her boyfriend just beat her up again, Bobby. That sonofabitch hurt her bad this time. I’m going to take her to the clinic and get her patched up. Can we talk about it when you get home tonight?”
“You got it, babe. See you at six. Give Ginger my love.”
I hung up and thought about Ginger. Sweet kid, nineteen, blond, cute as a button and about as sweet as you could ever hope to meet. I liked her. Why good women get mixed up with assholes is beyond me, but it happens more often than you might think. Best-case scenario, the boyfriend just has too much to drink at the local watering hole and loses his temper; worst case, he’s born and bred to hit women, and he won’t stop until he’s being handcuffed and taken away for murder.
Ginger was on my mind all day long, so by the time I returned home, dust-streaked and bone-assed tired, I was on a slow boil and ready to break some bones.
Dawn must have heard the pickup because she was waiting for me on the porch when I pulled up. The sun was already behind the Tetons at six-thirty. It had been a hot one and the mosquitoes were looking for victims as I stepped up on the porch and took her in my arms. I had the same reaction I always have as I felt her press against me…instant lust. Her skin was damp with sweat, her dark hair clung to her cheeks and forehead, her stomach protruded with child and she smelled musky. I reached down and touched her stomach. Our daughter kicked my hand in greeting and I smiled.
I’ve killed before. I’m not proud of it; just stating fact. Every guy I’ve killed deserved it, and most nights I slept well with that knowledge, but feeling our unborn daughter kicking my hand, I said a silent prayer to the blessed Mary to help me be a better man. I doubt prayer does much good but it takes so little effort I figure why not?
Genna pulled away slightly and looked up at me.
“Bobby, we have to help her. That bastard broke two of her ribs. She needed ten stitches on her forehead. The crazy kid wouldn’t tell the truth. She told them at the clinic she fell down the stairs. Hell, everyone knows what happened, but the cops won’t do a damned thing without Ginger telling the truth. We can’t let that Joe Bannon hurt her again.”
Joseph Bannon, Joey to his friends, a twenty-two year old punk with a rich daddy and an attitude that says you’re dirt and I wipe my feet on you. You know the kind, good-looking guy in a feral sort of way, ex-Homecoming King, ex-star quarterback, the local girls all swooned when he walked by, and more than a few of them have felt the lash of his temper. Word has it he was arrested once, but the arrest went away when daddy made a contribution to the county district attorney’s reelection campaign. Now Ginger was the object of his affection and resentments and Dawn was correct, something needed to be done. I knew him vaguely, having met him a time or two in town. We had mutual acquaintances, so I knew him just well enough to say hello, and I knew him just well enough to know you don’t turn your back on him.
“We can’t get involved with the police, Dawn. I think our new identities are safe, but I sure don’t want to give the cops a reason to do an extensive background check on us. If I’m going to help with this, it will have to be under a black flag, no mercy and no witnesses. Can you live with that?”
She kissed me. “As long as you come home, safe and sound, when it’s over, then I can live with it. Our baby needs her daddy, so you be safe for all of us, okay? How are you going to handle it? He can’t see you or you’ll be cooked.”
“Don’t you worry about me. I’ve killed two Russian crime bosses. I think I can handle some shit-kicker pissant in Wyoming.”
What I didn’t tell Dawn was it made no difference if Joey Bannon saw me or not. He wasn’t going to survive the encounter. I can’t abide with women-beaters. My old man was a tough bastard, and he was in more fights than you could count, but hitting a woman was completely out-of-bounds in his mind. Men could do whatever the hell they wanted to do to each other, but you don’t take your fists to a woman, and if a guy does, then you unfurl the black flag and stomp his grits. End of story!
We held each other in love that night, gently, as the shadows from the clouds and full moon danced across our hardwood floors and the wolves serenaded.
The next morning was a Saturday, my day off. We ate breakfast on the porch and watched a herd of elk make their way to the stream that borders our property on the east. The sunlight filtered through the pines and flashed across Dawn’s face, dark shadows on dark skin, and she smiled at me and for just an instant I was able to forget the things I had done in the past and the man I have been.
We spent the day together, doing chores around the cabin, taking walks in the woods, doing a little shopping in Jackson, and watching the tourists push and shove as they jostled through their authentic wild west experience in search of the perfect t-shirt. Small town in Wyoming or Washington Heights in New York City, people are people and only the circumstances and the settings change. Jackson has its share of whores and addicts, white-collared crooks and Bible-thumping bigamists. It’s all just camouflaged a bit better than on the streets of the Big Apple.
I put Dawn to bed at nine, promised her once again I would be safe, and hopped in the truck and headed to the Lonely Antler Bar & Grill, the favorite watering hole for locals in these parts. Word had it that Joey Boy loved his brew and was also fond of a waitress at the Antler named Terri Pritchard. The parking lot was full at nine-thirty as I pulled in and shut off the engine. There really was no reason for me to go inside but I wanted to watch Joey do his thing for awhile before I hooked up with him.
I spotted his Dodge Ram off to my right. No one was in the parking lot to see me walk over to the Ram and insert my buck knife in the tread. As the truck slowly listed to the left I walked under the welcome sign and was greeted by Garth Brooks singing about friends in low places, and about twenty people shit-kicking to the music on the dance floor. Typical bar arrangement, long oak bar to the left, dance floor in the center, tables and booths to the right; I found an empty table, sat down and ordered a Bud with a Jack back from Terri Pritchard herself. She was good-looking in a hard way, like rutted highway on a scenic route, she’d experienced far too much of life in two decades.
She was back shortly with my order, thanked me for the tip and left me to scan the room looking for Joey. I found him thirty feet to my right, lording over a table of four other good old boys, all laughing their asses off at something Joey had said. Well, Joey, laugh it up, I thought.
I nursed my beer for an hour or so, watching Joey, going over it in my head, debating other options with my gentler self. Rarely are we in a situation where other options aren’t available. Between fight and flight lay a whole array of alternatives. I think the choices we make say a great deal about our character. I could drive home and hold Dawn. I could forget all about Joey and let nature take its course. I could kick his ass and warn him. Or I could kill him. The self-debate was entertaining but I had already made my choice when I flattened his tire.
I was in the truck waiting when Joey left the bar at midnight. He had that stiff-legged, slow walk of someone trying real damn hard not to be drunk. For my plan to work he had to be by himself, and he was. He found his key, opened his truck door and then noticed the flat tire and cussed loud enough for me to hear. That was my signal to start my engine and slowly drive to his position.
My advice on writing
No Turning Back
“Looks like you’ve got a problem,” I said as I pulled up even with him.
“Hey, O’Dowd, how ya doing? Hell yes I’ve got a problem. Brand new tire and it’s flat. Can you give me a ride? I only live a mile or so down Highway 18. I’ll leave the truck here and fix the flat tomorrow. What do you say?”
I say it couldn’t work out better.
“Hell yes! Hop in and I’ll take you home for sure.”
Sometimes it’s just too easy.
I did a quick scan of the parking lot as we were pulling out. Nobody saw us leave. It just kept getting better and better.
I knew where he lived so I steered in that direction under a cloudless night. I also knew there was a logging road off to the left about a half-mile before Joey’s driveway. I made the turn onto the logging road to the sounds of wolves in the distance.
“Hey, O’Dowd, you took the wrong turn. I’m a good half-mile further down. Turn it around, buddy.”
“Shit, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ll pull a u-turn up ahead.”
I made the u-turn and then shut off the engine. Dropped my hand from the key, reached under the seat and pulled out my Glock….stuck it in Joey’s face. His night had gone from bad to worse.
His eyes were as big as donuts.
“What the hell, O’Dowd? Why the hell are you pointing a gun at me? Settle down, dude, and tell me what the problem is.”
“Get out of the truck, Joey, and do it slowly.”
He followed my instructions. The beers at the tavern had made him slow and sloppy, and he realized he was in no shape to try taking the gun away from me.
“I hear you’ve been hitting Ginger lately, Joey. Is that true?”
“Shit, is that what this is about? What the hell do you care, O’Dowd? So I slapped the little bitch a few times….what’s it to you?”
Even drunk he was a smug bastard, convinced he was within his rights to pound on a woman by virtue of his family name.
“I work at a ranch, Joey. Did you know that? But what you probably didn’t know is I also fix problems for friends. They call me Bobby Fix-it, and right now you’re a problem that needs fixing. I don’t like women-beaters. My old man hated them, I hate them and Joey, that means I hate you. Nothing personal, mind you. But we can’t have you pounding on Ginger. And as much as I despise your ass, my girlfriend, she really can’t stand you, so she asked me to fix the situation and that’s what I’m doing.”
Fear was on his face.
“Listen, O’Dowd, we can……”
The gunshot was loud but not unusual for a Wyoming valley where predators were a way of life and every Tom, Dick and Harry had a gun. Joey dropped at my feet, his sightless eyes staring at the moon, remnants of his brains leaking on the ground and spray-painting a nearby tree.
Bobby Fix-it to the rescue!
The previous chapter
- Billy the Kid Burns in Hell: The Final Chapter
The saga ends....or does it?
Later That Night
Dawn’s body gave me comfort that night. Her firm hips interlocked with mine, her caramel skin blanketed my body and covered my sins….at least for one night. I held her completely, hoping to inhale her innocence. I asked forgiveness from any gods listening and Dawn promised salvation through the night.
“It had to be, Bobby,” she whispered.
I fell asleep to the sounds of the wolves howling blame in my direction.
I hope you enjoyed the adventures of Bobby Fix-it and Dawn. They will return next week.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)