Here in all of its un-edited glory is the first chapter of my second novel in the Fuzzy Koella series, North Country Girl. (Warning: Some NSFW language below)
Copyright 2018 Anthony DeCastro. All Rights reserved.
The night after Christmas, I spent sitting in my truck in the parking lot of a barbecue joint across the street from a rundown convenience store called The Whiz. The night was pleasant. I had the window down to enjoy the crisp air and the lingering aroma of smoked meat and the chatter of middle America visiting The Whiz for their post-holiday beer, junk food, and lottery tickets. I hated stakeouts, but the stars in the skies, memories of gift giving with my girlfriend, and the fading pain from my last bullet wound kept this old bear in the yuletide spirit.
That’s what Veronica called me. Old bear. I’d never asked her how old she was. I was too smart for that. I am a private investigator after all. But she seemed only a couple years younger than me. Yet, I was her old bear.
I was employed by an Indian-American entrepreneur named Hab Singh, who owned five other Whiz’s throughout the Strand. Someone had vandalized all his stores with anti-Muslim graffiti over the last couple of months. Mr. Singh did not understand why, he, a Sikh, was being attacked with anti-Muslim hate. I understood perfectly.
People were stupid.
I had staked out three different stores over the last week. No luck. Fortunately, no other attacks had happened during that time. I planned this stakeout to be at the store less than a mile from my home the night after Christmas.
When the store lights shut off after midnight, I took more interest in observing the building. A few minutes later, the clerk appeared from around the back of the store in a twenty-year-old, gray Chevy Celebrity sedan. He signaled right and turned onto Business Highway 17 towards Myrtle Beach. The action died at the Whiz with his fading tail lights.
Two hours later, I spotted movement in the vegetation behind the store. I pulled across the street with my headlights off and slid past the south side of the building. As my truck nosed around the corner, the tires crunched on the remains of a broken beer bottle.
They crouched with spray cans poised at the back door. Two of them. Dressed in black. Wearing ski masks. They looked in my direction and sprung to their feet and sprinted to the safety of the woods.
I threw the gearshift into park, and jumped out of the truck. I hit full speed within a few steps. When I hit the woods, however, I faced the challenge of running in the dark through a path carved by people a lot shorter than six and a half feet. I soldiered on.
Branches lashed out at my cheeks. Sensing a disaster that could end up with me blinded, I held my right hand out in front of me to ward off the danger. Within seconds, thorny brambles bloodied my hand.
I could not see my prey, but the trees were alive with their passing. I continued in their direction. Just as I felt the cold clench of exhausted lungs, the branches ahead went dormant.
I should have heeded that warning.
Ten steps later, a vandal clothes-lined me with a forearm across my throat.
I flew from my feet. Time suspended. I wind-milled my arms, as if I could somehow tread air. I sank. My back slammed against the leafy floor of the path. My head followed and found a tree root. What little breath I had left in my lungs, expelled in a blast of air. I gasped trying to recover the lost oxygen. No luck. It felt like my lungs were clamped off. No air could enter. I rolled back and forth, gasping for air.
My attacker dropped beside me and sprayed paint into my face. It stung, as it coated my eyes. The world went black.
I kicked and swung my arms, like a kid in a tantrum.
His partner said from my left, “Dude, let’s bolt, now!”
“Shut up, Mason. I think we got a fuckin’ rag-head lover, here.”
I kept kicking and swinging, but with him straddling my torso and me blinded, I made no contact.
I felt his weight lift from me momentarily, and one of his knees shifted up onto my right bicep.
As the weight of his knee settled down, I rolled enough to the right to lift my left hip off the ground. I pulled my piece from the clip-on holster at my waist. Blindly, I jabbed the revolver up into where I believed his midsection would be.
“Ugh,” he said.
From his groan, and the brush of his thigh on the back of my hand, I knew I had jammed my gun into his groin. I pulled the hammer back with my thumb. “Come out from the bushes. Hands up and empty, or your friend spends his life as a Eunuch.”
“I will scatter his nuts all over the bushes here,” I said. “Now get out here with your hands up!”
“Jesus, Mason. Come out,” squealed the voice above me. “He’s got a gun.”
I heard bushes rustle over my left shoulder. Footsteps.
I ground the end of my gun against my attacker’s crotch. The steel sight at the end of the barrel caught in his denim covered scrotum.
I pushed harder against him. “Stand up slowly.”
I kept continual pressure on his genitals as he crawled to his feet and I got to my knees. “Mason, I have the hammer pulled and my finger is on the trigger. You try anything and your buddy here has made sweet love to his lady for the last time.”
“Mason, don’t fuck around,” his buddy said. “This motherfucker is crazy.”
All the adrenaline had pushed air back into my lungs. Now, I wanted to make these two suffer for the hate they’d unleashed on Mr. Singh and his employees.
But I was no vigilante.
I fished my phone out of my pocket and held it out to my left. “Take that Mason. Remember, no funny business.”
Mason’s hand closed around the phone and my fingers.
I rotated the barrel ninety degrees against his buddy’s crotch.
He breathed in harshly.
“Why the phone?” Mason asked.
“I want you to scroll through my contacts and find ‘Uncle Rod’. Dial him up, and tell him you are with Fuzzy, and you want to turn yourself in. I want you to tell him we are in the woods behind The Whiz in Murrell’s Inlet, down the road from Fuzzy’s place.”
He slid the phone free of my hand. The only sound as he searched my phone was the heavy breathing of his friend above me, and the chirping of crickets.
“Mason, Rod will have questions. He always does. Just put the phone to my ear when that happens.”
He must have reached Rod, because he said, “Ah, yeah is this Rod?”
“No funny business,” I reminded.
“So yeah, Rod. I’m here with Fuzzy. And he wants us to turn ourselves in.” Mason paused. “Um, here let me let you talk to Fuzzy.”
Mason must have knelt beside me to put the phone at my ear because I felt his breath warm on the side of my face. It smelled like corn chips.
“Fuzzy, what are you up to now?” Rod asked.
My Uncle Rod was a detective with the Myrtle Beach Police Department. I gave it to him in as concise terms as possible. When I got to the proceedings in the woods, I punctuated the action with little jabs to my spray painting buddy’s groin. I explained, as best I could, where he could find us. He said he would send cruisers over to retrieve us.
If you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll look for North Country Girl in December 2018.
If you’re interested in a similar peek at the first in the series, Everything is Broken, Amazon’s look inside feature is a good option:
Everything is Broken is widely available digitally and in print. Including available by order at your friendly, local bookstore.