Just One of those Fuckin’ Days.

There are just days you shouldn’t even get out of the fucking bed. The kind of days you start off by dropping your fucking toothbrush in the toilet bowl you just pissed in. The best move is to go back to bed, because it’s only going to go downhill from there. It was obviously going to be one of those fucking days.

Still, I convinced myself that I needed to keep my ass moving. Gotta have money to buy food; gotta make money to have money.

First order of business was to repair my battery shed. I’d lost a bunch of car batteries when some asshole had used snips to get into the back of the shed one night and stole 80 of them. No doubt they turned them in somewhere for the core charge, probably end up with at least $400. Assholes. I suspected Ronnie Pelton, a local jackass who needed to work his way up to scumbag. Couldn’t prove it, though. Not yet anyway.

I managed to get a piece of sheet metal tacked into place, but it took twice as long as I expected, and, as usual with sheet metal, I managed to cut myself twice. Owning a salvage yard, I pretty much put my tetanus shot to the test all the time.

A full set of 22.5″ aluminum wheels came off easier than I expected. They’d probably go for about $1200 on eBay. Several other pieces worked out pretty well, so the day didn’t look like it was going to be a total loss after all.

That was kind of the cool thing about running a salvage yard. Salvage meant taking things nobody else wanted and saving them, making them useful.

Before I knew it, it was almost lunchtime. I went into the trailer and washed up as best I could, stopping to pull my Gilligan-looking Coors Light bucket-hat off and look in the mirror. Still mostly bald. Not that cool high-forehead-with-lengthening-widow’s-peak stuff; flat-out just fringe-left-over-the-ears bald. Probably look better if I trimmed my full-on walrus mustache, but I couldn’t do that either. It hid the massive scar on my upper lip. “Stabbed in the face” isn’t a figurative thing for me, and yeah, that had hurt like fucking hell.

I pulled my lunch out of the refrigerator and headed down to Ed’s Quickmart to buy a large Coke and use the microwave.

Honestly, I had cold Coke in the fridge at the trailer, and I probably had six or seven working microwave ovens at any time, but it was a ritual of sorts, and the best part of my day was talking with Sheree, who worked the counter. She was probably my favorite person in the world, and if I’d have had any balls I’d have asked her out a long time ago.

As soon as I walked in, she started. “Hey, Les, fancy meetin’ you here. Another hour and I’d of missed you. Workin’ split shift, coming back in at ten this evening. Shelly’s doing community service again, so she’s on curfew.”

Damn, it was just nice to have someone who seemed happy to see me. “That sucks, but maybe I’ll come by for a candy bar late tonight since I know you’re here to brighten my day.”

“You do that, be the best part of the shift. Ya buyin’ a hotdog or using the microwave?”

“Usin’ the microwave.”

“Good, ’cause I put the dogs on the roller oven this morning, and turned on the roller, but forgot to turn on the heat. So they’re rolled but cold.”

“Ain’t that the story of my life.”

Sheree giggled. “I ain’t even been gettin’ rolled, much less heated up.” She put her elbows on the table, laced her fingers and rested her chin on the back of her hands “So whatchagot?”

I made sure I met her twinkling eyes. Sheree had what my mom would have called “a healthy set of lungs,” and her arms were practically framing them. “Fajitas.”

“Fajitas! Well, looketchew! Settin’ in high clover now, ain’cha? Beef or chicken?”

“Beef.” I punched in the time on the microwave.

She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t eat much beef. When Mom moved us in with her sis, we had a pet cow named Henry for almost a year. Then he was gone, and we had a full freezer. Didn’t figure it out all at once, but when I did, it kinda put me off beef, mostly. Still, I do like a good burger now and then.”

She stretched, and I tried not to react, but I couldn’t resist a glance at her spectacular cleavage. Embarrassed, I looked up; she’d caught my glance, but instead of being angry or upset, she gave me a wink and waited expectantly.

I decided to take a chance. “Sheree, what are you doing on Fri…”

Sheree suddenly jolted straight up, eyes wide. Not exactly the reaction I’d been hoping for. A second later, the bell on the door dinged and I glanced back.

Shit. Two men with skull face masks and sunglasses, one after another; the one in the lead with a Glock 19, the other with a pump shotgun.

“Don’t move.” The Glock was lined up on me. I wasn’t too worried about that; I’d had more guns pointed at me than I could remember. Fucker was holding it sideways like he’d learned from bad movies. I was pretty sure I could take him if he got a little closer.

The shotgun, though, was aimed at Sheree. I carefully raised my hands. “No problem.”

Shotgun guy gestured to Sheree. “Put all the money in a plastic bag.”

I could see her calmly following instructions. There was something familiar about the guy with the Glock, even though both of them were disguising their voices.

The guy with the Glock held his hand out. “Give me your wallet.”

“Like I said, no problem, nothing in it worth dying for.” I held it out to him. He took it.

I turned my head just as he clocked me across the side of my forehead with the gun. I saw it coming a mile away, but there wasn’t much I could do without risking Sheree. I let myself drop, ending up nose to toe with a pair of white-paint spattered work boots. I heard him chuckle at me. “Junk man.”

They backed out and Sheree was at my side almost instantly helping me sit up.

“God, are you okay?”

I touched the side of my forehead, feeling tacky blood all over it. “Goddammit.”

She pulled some napkins off the counter and began trying to clean up the cut, incidentally pressing my head against her chest. “How bad does it hurt?”

No heterosexual male, with his head against Sheree’s incredible assets could really be said to actually be in pain. “I’ll be okay. It was a Glock, fucking things are plastic, it’s not like getting hit with a real gun.”

She half towed me over to one of the little chair and table sets along the window where customers sometimes ate their hot dogs. “I gotta call the Sheriff. Big Ed’s a stickler about that.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Within minutes the Sheriff, two deputies and the county ambulance were on hand.

The EMT cleaned the cut. “You probably need to go in to see someone. Nasty cut and you may have a concussion.”

“I am someone. If I have a concussion, it’s pretty damn light. The pussy hit like a girl. Just give me some of those butterfly bandages.”

The EMT looked over at the Sheriff who shrugged.

I walked over and used the shiny surface of the coffee dispenser while I closed the cut.

“Love these things, a lot easier than sewing the fucking thing shut.”

The EMT eyed me. “You do that a lot?”

“Used to be a medic in the Army. That’s why my nickname is ‘Needles.’ Still keep up my Physician’s Assistant license.”

“Don’t you run the salvage yard?”



“Because I really don’t like people, and my uncle left me the yard when he died.”

The butterfly bandages stopped the bleeding, but the headache built over the next half hour while they took our statements.

I left while they were still talking to Sheree.

There was a gold Lexus parked in front of my trailer, and as soon as I saw it, I had a sudden sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I parked and headed up the path to my front door as she jumped out the front seat of the Lexus.



I kept walking.

“Les, listen…”

“Just. No.”

She was scrambling to follow me up the walk as I reached the door.


“Fuck No!” I slammed the door and locked it behind me, leaning against it for a second, feeling cold sweat running down my face and down between my shoulder blades as she pounded on it and tried to talk to me.

I walked over and turned the stereo on, cranking Santana up as high as it could go, then turning the outside speakers on to max.

She hated Santana, but it still took her ten minutes to accept that I wasn’t going to give in. I finally saw her car pull out, waited ten minutes and went back to work.

Less than ten minutes after that, the Sheriff pulled in.

“Hey, Les, I need you to come down to the station with me for a bit.”

I shrugged. “I pretty much put everything in the statement, unless you have someone in custody.”

“This will just take a few minutes.” He opened the passenger door. “Hop in.”

“Fine.” The Department was only a few blocks away, so I figured it’d be a quick harmless trip.

It was fine, too. The Sheriff and I got along pretty well. It was fine right up until we reached the station and I saw the gold Lexus parked outside of it.

“You gotta be fucking kidding me.” I tried the door and it was locked.

He at least had the grace to look embarrassed. “She says she just wants to talk for a couple minutes.”


He sighed and pushed his hat back up his head a bit. “She’s going to keep making trouble until you talk to her.”

“Fuck her. We’re divorced, which means I don’t have to talk to that bitch ever again.”

“She said something about getting the State of Virginia to look into your salvage yard. You know they’ll find something. They can always find something.” He sat back and stared out the front windshield.

I leaned my head back against the seat. “Fuck.”

“Three felonies.”


“Three felonies. I read a Wall Street Journal article estimate that the average adult commits three felonies a day and doesn’t even know it.”


“Yes. Say you have Tylenol with codeine left over after a knee injury and you forget about it and it’s sitting in your medicine cabinet a year later. I’d ignore that because you’re not usually an asshole, but it’s still felony possession. There’s probably an equivalent of some kind for running a salvage yard.”

I sighed. “More than one.”

“You know I’m on your side, but you don’t want to buy the kind of trouble she’s selling.”


“You okay with this?”

“Fuck no. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that you can read. The Wall Street Journal?”

He grinned. “Would it help if I told you I was looking for the centerfold?”

“Do me a favor. Do all of us a favor.”


“Handcuff me, handcuff me to a chair.”

“Really?” He blinked.

“Yeah. If I’m handcuffed to a chair she can’t lie about anything I did.”

“She that bad?”

“Worse. Anyway, if you handcuff me you won’t have to do the paperwork this late in the day.”

“What paperwork?”

“The paperwork charging me with her murder after I fucking beat her to death. If you leave me alone in a room with her without cuffs on, that will happen.”

Ten minutes later they led her into the interrogation room and sat her across the table from me. She eyed the cuffs. “I didn’t ask them to do that.”

“I did. For all our sakes. Whatever you want, the fucking answer is no.”

“You’re not making this easy.”

“The last thing, and I literally mean, the last thing on earth I want to do is make anything easier on you.”

“Why do you have to be such an ass about this?”

“Let’s see, you ruined my life, carried on a five-year affair, waited till I was in the hospital then took my kids, took everything I owned along with half my pension, lied to everyone about how I treated you, damn near got me thrown in prison for doing shit I never did, wrecked my career… I could go on, but I think that should be enough.”

“I didn’t ruin your life. That was you not letting go.”

“I just wanted to see my girls.”

“That wasn’t practical; Charles and I couldn’t have you disrupting their lives.”

“So you filed false abuse complaints and buried me in debt until I surrendered my parental rights… Fuck! Why am I even talking to you? Fuck off.”

“I did what I had to do. Charles and I thought we had more time to prepare and make it easier on all of us. But after you got hurt and somebody said you might be retired out medically, we had to move a little faster.”

“Go to hell. And take Chuck with you.”

I saw annoyance pass over her face. She hated when anyone stepped on the dignity of her lawyer husband. “Your career ended because of your little pill problem; that wasn’t my fault.”

“No, you’re right, I own that. I’m lucky the Colonel let me go to rehab and actually retire instead of facing charges. I keep up my PA license so I can look myself in the fucking mirror, but I don’t work it because I don’t trust myself around pills anymore. I really do own that.”

I leaned as far over the table as I could with the cuffs on. “I made a choice to handle the stress you piled on me with OxyContin and valium. It was easy because they’d already given them to me for the pain. It was a shitty choice. But it was a better choice than doing what I really wanted to do, which was hold your fucking head under water until the fucking bubbles stopped.”

She looked at me trying to decide if I was serious, then continued primly. “That’s all water under the bridge…” She completely missed the irony of her own statement.

“Charlotte. You have nothing I could possibly want. The last time I talked with Tiffany and Tara, it was obvious you’d poisoned them so fucking deep they wouldn’t take a fucking kidney from me if they were dying. So again. Fuck. The. Fuck. Off.”

“I need you to bring my daughter home.”

“I don’t know how to make it any more clear to you. Is there a fucking language I can tell you to fuck off in that you will understand? Besides, Tiffany and Tara are all grown up. Call them and tell them to come home.”

“I know they are grown up, Tiffany is a doctor. This isn’t about them. Charles and I have another daughter, Delaney. She’s only thirteen.”

“Again. Not. My. Problem.”

She sighed, exasperated. “She ran away and we need her back.”

“Why the fuck would I have anything to do with your unholy offspring?”

She shook her head. “We could pay you…”

“You don’t have enough money… Christ, there isn’t enough money on this fucking planet for me to help you and Chucky.”

She leaned back and studied the ceiling. “What if… what if I managed to find that gun of your grandfather’s?”

“The gun you swore in court must have been stolen ‘at some undetermined time and place’? The only damn thing I asked for besides to be able to see the girls?”

“It might have… fallen into a moving box at some point. Charles collects World War II memorabilia.”

“Jesus, you’re a bitch.”

She could tell she’d scored, though, and she pressed on. “Delaney’s been running away a lot. We put a tracker in her cell phone battery that she doesn’t know about. She turns her phone off, but it still sends a signal. She slipped out this morning, but she didn’t go to a friend’s house this time, she went to Durham.”

“So call the cops.”

“We don’t want the police involved.”

“She’s your daughter. I don’t give a shit, but you should.”

“Charles is running for the Virginia Senate, we really can’t afford any kind of scandal.”

“Wow, that’s Mother of the Fucking Year stuff, right there, isn’t it?”

“I don’t care what you think. I just need you to get Delaney and bring her back to the house.” She put a small tablet on the table. “This will tell you where she is, it should take you right to her. It also has some pictures of her on it.”

I thought about the trouble she could make for me. Honestly, though, it was the gun that tipped the scales, it was my family legacy, the one thing left from my grandfather.

“I don’t trust you. You make a video saying that you have asked me to go pick up your daughter in Durham and bring her back to you, and that you will give me my grandfather’s gun back. Send it to the Sheriff. You give me the goddam gun when I drop her off tonight. That’s it, I don’t want anything to do with you after this. I swear to God, if you ever set so much as one foot on my property after this, I will put a bullet into your fucking brain and go to prison with a smile on my face and song in my heart.”

She nodded. “I’ll give him a video; you get Delaney and you’ll get your gun.”


Thirty minutes later, the Sheriff dropped me back at the yard. I went up to the trailer, pulled out the keys to Sally and, after a bit of thought, pulled out my Springfield 1911 .45 out of the bedside table, then pulled a couple extra magazines for it.

I pulled the roller door up on Sally’s garage and stared at her. Mostly primer with a brilliant yellow hood, and passenger door, she was certainly no beauty, looking more like a rent-a-wreck beater than anything else. That boxy looking “Fox” body style didn’t exactly scream “Fast and Furious.” Still, she had it where it counted. A 1979 Mustang Cobra four-speed with all the internal trimmings and some extra upgrades beyond anything Ford offered. It’d been a total pain in the ass, but I’d put in a Gen2 5.0L Coyote engine, the best sway bars money could buy and racing seats with five-point harnesses. If this got stupid, I wanted something that could run with anything out there, and for all her cosmetic problems, Sally was that girl.

I took the backroads to the outskirts of Durham; I’d been that way hundreds of times to pick up loads. The dusty rock roads kept me off the highway and out of traffic, away from idiot drivers. I occasionally checked the tablet to see if my quarry had moved, maybe to a mall or something. No such luck.

It took almost two and a half hours to get to the rundown neighborhood. I figured by that time, according to the tracker, she’d been there for nearly five hours. I parked a few houses away. A shiny black Lincoln Navigator and a dark blue Pontiac G8 GT sat outside what was an obviously condemned building. Not good. I tucked my .45 into my belt.

I straightened my hat, looked at myself in the mirror and hoped that the idiots in the two-story house were desperately stupid.

When the door opened, I held the tracker up as if it meant something. “I’m looking for ‘Delaney Morris.’ I’m the Uber driver.”

The guy who opened the door had a half a head of height on me, and a dizzying array of tattoos. Nobody was behind him. “Nobody called an Uber here.”

“Look, I’m pretty sure she’s here, the instructions are pretty specific. I looked at the tablet as if I were reading it. “She’s a minor, so I have to do the pick up or I get in trouble.” I had no idea if Uber worked that way, but the guy didn’t exactly look overly sharp. I pulled her picture up and held the tablet up in my left hand. “You know her?”

“She ain’t leavin’. She’s our girl now.” His eyes flicked to a closed door.

I pretended to look at my tablet. “Dude, she’s like 13 years old.”

“You know what they say, man. Old enough to bleed, old enough to…”

He never quite finished the sentence; medics learn a great deal about anatomy. Such as the fact that the point where the jaw attaches to the skull is particularly vulnerable to a sudden hard strike, say a right cross delivered with no warning.