Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 Born to Make the Kill

A few miles north of the convenience store the motel’s neon sign glowed in the dark. Its name, Pair-A-Dice, someone’s idea of a joke due to its proximity to the Nevada state border and legalized gambling, displayed in orange letters on a monument sign. Two dice shaped in lights below the name had at one time burned bright white, but now the florescent bulbs flickered with a weak bluish pink hue. Originally, the two dice had turned up a six and a one respectively, but five of the six dots on the one dice weren’t working, so it looked like the player had crapped out rolling lopsided snake eyes. From the looks of the old motel, it had crapped out long ago.

Mounted above the motel’s name, the word “Vacancy” predominantly displayed in bright red block letters. Tony steered the Impala into the driveway and through the opening in the four foot galvanized chain link fence. He parked near the door marked “Office.”

“Wait here,” he said with both eyes in the mirror looking at Rudy. “And no shit from you. Remember who has the gun.” He got out of the car and stepped into the office.

Rudy rolled down his window to freshen the stale, smoke-filled air. Hank lit another cigarette and turned just enough to exhale the smoke toward Rudy in the backseat.

“You’re a real work of art, ain’t ya?” Rudy roared.

“Takes piece-a-shit to know a piece-a-shit,” Hank replied. He faced back toward the windshield and took another drag.

Rudy pushed the door open with his shoulder, stepped out of the car, and slammed the door closed. After he zipped his sweatshirt against the cool of the early evening air and pulled his hood tighter around his ears, he leaned against rear fender.

Rudy had met Hank at Xandar Studios not long after he had taken the job there. He was in such a need of a strong male influence when he made it to LA, he grasped at the first man to show interest. That was Hank. Star struck in the beginning due to Hank’s rock fame in the late 70’s and early 80’s, he enjoyed the bit of celebrity that lingered around him. Even though he worked with some of the most prominent people in Hollywood, they didn’t know he existed. His name might roll in the movie credits, for which he took pride, but he knew he was just a tool to make them look good. Hank, on the other hand, became a friend. 

Hank liked to frequent the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Hollywood. There, while Rudy sipped soda, Hank sucked down beer and entertained anyone who would listen with detailed stories about life in the band and on the road. One evening, Rudy let Natalie Beaumont slip into the conversation. He had seen her a couple of times at the studio, and even though he hadn’t spoken to her, he thought she seemed real nice. When Hank said he should ask her out, Rudy confessed he was just too shy. “For a guy, you’re not bad looking,” Hank said, “maybe she needs a friend.” 

When he saw her on the set a week later he froze. Although he should have been used to it—the girls at school and his father’s love—the hardest thing for Rudy was rejection. He wasn’t alone, though. Hank stood next to him with a raised eyebrow and a nod. “She’s beautiful. What’re you waiting for, man? If you don’t ask her out, Rudy, I will,” he said and shoved Rudy toward Natalie. 

As Rudy approached her, his stomach ground until it felt like a gurgling pile of mush. She faced away in the midst of a conversation. All he could do was stare at her perfect profile. His mouth dropped open wide enough to fit a tennis ball. The flush of embarrassment warmed his cheeks, so he lowered head and turned away. 

As his hand shot up to wipe his mouth, from behind him, she spoke. “Yes?”

Rudy lifted his face and slowly rotated back. Her sensual smoky eyes bore a hole right through his soul. She cocked her head to the right, smiled, and raised her eyebrows like the apex of a question mark. When he finally found his voice and asked her out, she said, “Not right now.” And without hearing the rest of what she said, he apologized and backed away. 

Right after this, Hank introduced Rudy to Tony Alonso. Like Hank with his Boston upbringing, Tony came from the east coast. The two had some prior connection which he had not quite figured out, but Rudy thought it may have been illegal in a petty-crimes sort of way. He knew that after Hank’s fame had evaporated, panhandling hadn’t been enough to support his drug habit.

At Hank’s apartment after work one night, Hank brought Natalie up to Tony. Much to Rudy’s embarrassment, Hank made him out to be this introverted kid from Detroit. Tony suggested they try to get Rudy and Natalie hooked up—“We’ll play matchmaker,” he said, “it’ll be fun.” Over the next hour, they began to concoct the scheme. The more they talked, insisted and encouraged, Rudy, with beer from Hank’s refrigerator and not used to that much alcohol in his body, at first resistant, finally came around and began to feel it just might work.

That was before last night. Over time Rudy had grown to lean on Hank as a surrogate for the father he hated. Yet, in the warehouse, in a flash of uncontrollable rage, he had punched Hank in the face. The feel of that leathery flesh under his knuckles vented both the anger for Hank’s vicious attack on Natalie, and the betrayal of their friendship. Now Rudy realized he hit him just as much to release his own frustration for being such an irresponsible judge of character. 

Over the months of their acquaintance, Hank had always come across as passive. From what Hank said when he boasted about his one-night-stands with the groupie girls while touring with the band, he never forced himself on them. They came to him willingly. As he reflected on it in light of the last day, though, Rudy saw that his father and Hank had similar natures. They both found a way to escape their own flaws with their drug of choice. The chemicals impaired their judgment, and in time it bred disrespect in the weaknesses of others to compensate for their own. Alcohol, in Rudy’s brief experience, made Hank docile. He never expected him to become violent. Not like his father. Where Father turned mean, and took it out on Rudy and his mother, Hank’s cruelty in the warehouse, though, seemed out of character. But something manifest in that place that drew the darkness out in Hank’s nature—a darkness Rudy couldn’t have foreseen. And now, damaged so much that at sixteen all he wanted was to get away from home to leave the emotional and physical abuse behind, he was in a worse situation than he ever imagined possible in Detroit.
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 29, 2015

29 Born to Make the Kill

They hadn’t driven more than thirty minutes out of Reno, Nevada when the adrenaline-induced euphoria Tony had experienced from taking a life began to wane. Except for a few hours of sleep on the backseat of the Impala last night, he hadn’t slept since the night before and the circles under his eyes he saw reflected back from the rearview mirror grew darker as each hour passed. His mind also paid the toll both from the long drive from Southern California, concern they were leaving a distinct trail behind them, and a growing suspicion that, since the call from Maggie last night, Natalie had been missed and the police were in motion.

In retrospect, it hadn’t been the smartest thing to have killed the fat drunken bastard but, to his knowledge the Python had never been linked to a felony. He had to admit he didn’t know its detailed history as he had taken the revolver off, Nick, his asshole-of-a-partner, just before punching his one-way ticket to Hell. A discretionary murder, yes, but the dog had it coming. He hoped the pistol wouldn’t be in the police’s system, but even if it was, when they did find the slug that blew the drunk’s head wide open, they would have no way to link it back to him. No one but the shark bait at the bottom of the Hudson River knew Tony had the Colt, and he wasn’t talking.

Rudy sulked in the backseat just as he had done since leaving Los Angeles early this morning with his hood draped over half his face. Tony had cast one eye on him from time to time in the mirror as he needed to keep his temperament gaged. So preoccupied with the girl they had abducted and her current predicament, he didn’t know what kind of volatility might lurk under the surface. After all, he didn’t know Rudy well. In the parking structure in Reno, he thought certain Rudy would blurt out the whole story to the soldiers, yet he had been able to divert the situation long enough to escape. He killed the drunk driver as much for vengeance for Ma’s death as it had been a message to Rudy to keep in line. With the felonies they had committed against Natalie, if Tony would kill a perfect stranger, she was certainly on the endangered list. Even though he believed he could keep Rudy under control, there was no telling what he plotted under that gray hoodie, so he couldn’t be trusted behind the wheel while he slept. Tony was sure he would drive directly to the police or at the very least do something to try to get caught.

Hank, on the other hand, when he wasn’t asleep with his head against the window, stayed drunk. The evidence, empty beer cans, treasures from fuel stops they had made, cluttered the floor at his feet. Since they left Reno, he had consumed two more. Like any other closet alcoholic, he tried to conceal them from passing motorists in a brown paper bag. Except for the citation for littering, which Hank caused, Tony had been able to fly below law-enforcement’s radar by staying alert and driving within the speed limit. He couldn’t allow Hank to take the reins. Driving under the influence would be like shooting a flare into the night sky.

They had continued to follow US 395 north out of Reno and were inside the state line of California again when Tony pulled the car into a convenience store’s parking lot.

“I need food and sleep,” Tony said. “We’ll get groceries here and then look for a room.”

Maggie Jacobs arrived at her apartment just after five o’clock. As she neared the sidewalk that lead to the entrance to her apartment building, she saw Natalie’s Toyota. Parked on the street in the same place since last night when she had been awakened by the nightmare, it seemed unusual. By this time of day on a Friday, Natalie’s shift at the grocery store had begun. She ran up the three flights to Natalie’s door and knocked. Natalie didn’t answer.

“Natalie, are you in there?” She knocked again and pressed her ear against the door. “Natalie?”

Still no answer and no sound came from within. She tried the door knob and found it locked. Like she had done several times during the day, she took her cell phone from her purse and dialed Natalie’s number. As the phone began to ring in her ear, she listened outside Natalie’s door and heard the sound of the telephone on the inside of the apartment. Eventually, the recorder picked up the call. She left another message and then dialed Natalie’s cell phone. It too went to voicemail.

From work on her morning break, she had tried to reach her friend, and when there was no answer, she called the LAPD. They, of course, were willing to take a missing person’s report but not willing to investigate based on a missed phone call and parked car, but even though it had only been about fifteen hours since anyone had heard from Natalie, Maggie had convinced the officer on the phone to pass along Natalie’s name to a detective. Maggie, though grateful for that, felt like her efforts were not enough.

It was a twenty minute drive but Maggie made it in fifteen. 

“Have you seen Natalie Beaumont today?” she asked the first clerk she saw the grocery store.

“No, she didn’t come in.”

“Where’s the manager?”

“Register three.”

Maggie stepped over to the manager and asked, “Have you seen Natalie Beaumont today?”

“No,” she said, abruptly.

“Did she call in sick?”

“No, can’t you see I’m with a customer?” She faced back to the man in front of her. “That’ll be forty-three, eighty-five.”
The customer slid his plastic card through the kiosk.

“I’m sorry I’m interrupting, but I think Natalie’s missing.”

The manager continued to ignore Maggie and handed the customer his receipt, “Do you need help out to your car?”

Once the man left with the shake of his head, the manager beckoned to another clerk to take over her register. She turned her attention toward Maggie. “What do you mean missing?”

“Wasn’t she supposed to be on duty now?”

“Yes, but she didn’t show or call, that’s why I’m here on the floor. Without her, we’re shorthanded.”

“Does she do this often?”

“No, she’s very reliable, why do you think she’s missing.”

Maggie explained about Natalie’s car parked on the street for several hours. “She said she would call me when she got home, but now her phones go to voicemail. I’m getting real worried.” She turned toward the exit and, as she ran away from the manager, she called back over her shoulder, “I’m calling the police again.”
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 28, 2015

28 Born to Make the Kill

Tony dropped into the driver’s seat. He knew that line was a stretch as with Rudy’s boyish face it would only be seconds before the soldier realized he was too young to be either gambling or drinking in a casino. He might have won a stuffed giraffe in the arcade but certainly not dropping coins in slots. Tony glanced up at the sergeant. He already had a puzzled look with his eyes fixed on Rudy. Tony turned the key. The powerful engine came to life. 

“See what I mean?” Tony shouted up though the open door. “Temperamental old bitch! I appreciate your offer sir, but looks like we’re okay now.”

The soldier stood his ground. Hank came around to the front passenger door and got in.

Tony looked over his shoulder to Rudy. “You gettin’ in Tom?” He slid his right hand off the steering wheel and rested it on his jacket at his waist, right where the fully-loaded pistol hung. Rudy’s eyes were fixed on his hand and his face registered defeat. Rudy looked away and shot a helpless glance between the two soldiers, but then returned an angry glare to Tony. Without a word, he dropped back into the rear seat and slammed the door. 

Tony knew he had beaten the odds, but then—the house always wins. He had held control only by the implied threat. One wrong action from Rudy would have sent bullets flying and probably left two GIs bleeding out. Reno was a place where gambling was legal, but to put his plan on the line was more than he was willing to risk. He had to get to the end of this on his terms not on the whims of a weak tool like Rudy. 

Once the two soldiers were on their way, he dropped the Chevy into gear and eased toward the garage exit.

They had only driven a couple of blocks when Hank said, “Well I’ll be damned, look who it is?”

Tony looked up to where Hank pointed and saw the yellow coupe about half a block ahead unable to drive a straight line. “Our old fat bastard!” he said. “We have some unfinished business to tend to, I think.”

They followed at a distance and Tony kept the car in sight. After about five minutes, the coupe pulled into a parking lot next to a street level casino. Tony pulled into the lot and slipped in behind the parking stall the intoxicated man had driven his car into. No escape this time.

“Wait here,” Tony ordered.

The caldron had raged in his head right behind his eyes. Tony knew it could no longer be contained. It had to expel.

He left the engine running and shoved the door of the Impala open with his shoulder. As he ran around to the driver’s door of the coupe, he yanked the gun from his waistband. He grabbed the handle and with a quick yank, pulled the door open. The startled man looked up and to Tony’s delight, eyes filled with terror met his.

“Oh my God,” he pleaded, his eyes focused on the silver barrel. 

“He’s the only one who can help you now. The cavalry’s not coming to the rescue this time.”

“What … do you want?” he asked. Beads of terror-sweat formed on his brow. “I told you to … take my car.”

“We’ll, I’ve raised the ante. I don’t want the car anymore, I want you. Grab your coat.”

“Huh?” the man asked in his alcohol confusion.

“Your coat, there on the passenger seat. I want your damn coat!”

The man turned toward the passenger side of the car and picked it up. When he turned to hand it to Tony, he grabbed toward the gun with his left hand. Tony, prepared for just such a stupid trick, jerked the gun up and hit him hard under his chin with the barrel. The man’s head flew back against the headrest and he let out a shriek.

Tony reached across the man, pulled his jacket out of his hand and began to wrap it around the pistol. “I hate drunk drivers,” he said. “You’re a piece-a-shit drunk driver and drunk drivers too often get away with their crimes. Not you.”

“But I haven’t done anything!” he pleaded. “Please, don’t kill me! I have a family, children.”

“I don’t give a shit! The world is full of fatherless maggots,” Tony said with a sneer on his lips. He finished wrapping the gun and put the barrel against the man’s forehead, right between his eyes.

“Please, I’m begging you, don’t do this! I have money. I’ll give you whatever you want.”

“Money didn’t help my ma,” Tony shouted and squeezed the trigger.

Satisfied the muffled explosion barely escaped the compartment, he looked back at the drunk. His head had lunged to the right as the bullet tore through his brain, and a trickle of blood flowed down his nose. His head came to rest on the back of the seat. The comparison between the small invasion made by the slug’s entry and the blood spray and brain fragments that dripped off the passenger’s seat and side-window was exhilarating.

Like the dome of the volcano had breached, the heaviness flowed from Tony’s head. He dropped the coat on the lifeless man’s lap.

Rudy couldn’t contain the dread as he watched the altercation, but when the gun exploded he jumped and dread became horror. His heart raced into his throat, and he shook his head back and forth under the gray hoodie. What did I do? I just wanted to be with Natalie. Things had suddenly escalated. Rape and abduction were one thing, and, as evil as they were, murder moved the bar beyond comprehension.

“Jesus Christ!” Hank screamed as Tony returned to the driver’s seat. “You blew that bastard to Hell.”

“I hate drunk drivers.” Tony said in an even tone as he put the car in gear. “A drunk killed my ma. Mowed her down in a crosswalk. She was no saint, in fact, she was a piece-of-shit for a mother, but she was my ma. They never caught the bastard who killed her.”

“Payback’s a bitch,” Hank said and stared at Tony.

“The bitch alright!” Tony nodded toward the trunk. 

“See what I mean?” Tony shouted up though the open door. “Temperamental old bitch! I appreciate your offer sir, but looks like we’re okay now.”

Tony dropped into the driver’s seat. He knew that line was a stretch as with Rudy’s boyish face it would only be seconds before the soldier realized he was too young to be either gambling or drinking in a casino. He might have won a stuffed giraffe in the arcade but certainly not dropping coins in slots. Tony glanced up at the sergeant. He already had a puzzled look with his eyes fixed on Rudy. Tony turned the key. The powerful engine came to life.
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 27, 2015

27 Born to Make the Kill

The uniformed man with sergeant strips on his collar continued to walk toward Tony until he stood between the front fenders of the Impala and the car parked next to it. Out of the corner of his right eye, Tony noticed the second soldier skirt around the front of the coupe. He walked to the front of the Chevy and waited near the passenger’s side.

 “You sure?” the sergeant asked. He looked between Tony and Hank.

Even though Hank had washed the blood from his face where Natalie had scratched him in the warehouse, in the afternoon sun, the long dark scabs atop swollen red streaks drew attention to his marred cheeks. Tony looked back at the soldier. His eyes had drawn to the sorry-assed drunk in front of him, and although he couldn’t see the overweight man’s face, he could picture the terrified expression he must be wearing.  

“I thought I had cables in the trunk,” Tony said, “but I was wrong.”

He had been in tight spots before and had always been able to talk or fight his way out of them. He shifted his eyes back and forth between the two lean soldiers and recognized that fighting wasn’t an option. He was probably the only one armed, but he didn’t see any way to shoot everyone and get out of here without being noticed. If he was going to escape this confrontation, he knew it would take his wits not fire power. Hank was too weak to put up a defense and Rudy wouldn’t help since he had allowed his girl to become a victim. That left Tony little choice.

“We just found out this gentleman can’t help us after all.”

“Well then sir, you should be on your way,” the soldier said. Then to Tony, he continued. “Perhaps we can help.”

Natalie had heard voices outside and then the key jerked out of the lock. It was obvious something happened to stop them from opening the lid. Since her surprise attack seemed to have failed, she wondered what to do. One of the voices outside was new. She could pound on the cover like she planned to do before, but she couldn’t resolve that to alert him might hurt him. If she did reveal herself, Tony had no reason to open the trunk and with his pistol somewhere near, his reaction was unpredictable. He had warned her several times to keep quiet if someone approached, or they would die first and then she would. She needed to change her plight but not if it cost someone else’s life. It seemed the odds for now were stacked against her, so, she relaxed, and decided to wait for a better opportunity.

Tony stood behind the big man and buttoned his tweed jacket to hide the exposed gun, He put his left hand on the man’s shoulder, broke a broad smile and said to the sergeant, “Thanks for the offer.”

Tony gave the drunk a gentle push and the man started to walk the narrow path between the two cars. Under Tony’s hand, the fat bastard’s shoulder quivered like a caged bird at the sight of a hungry cat, and he drew strength from the fear building in him. 

“You know this thing’s temperamental,” Tony said to the soldier as he stepped to the side of the driver’s door. “Sometimes after it sits for while it just turns right over. Before we bother you further, I should give it another try.”

The soldier stepped aside and let the weighty man pass. Tony watched him disappear around the yellow coupe to the driver’s side. Seconds later, the car slipped into gear and eased away from the scene.

The fact that the drunk within minutes would be weaving his way through the streets of Reno was not lost on Tony, but he threw a smile to the soldier and said, “I’ll just give it a try.” 

Tony turned back toward Hank. He stood frozen by the trunk with the dread expression of a skydiver in free-fall who just discovered his parachute wouldn’t open. “Toss me the keys.”

Hank looked down at his hand and, turned his face into a nervous smile and threw them to Tony.

Rudy had done little else but watch the two uniformed men. At one point the soldier nearest him had looked his way and Rudy had tried to telegraph him a plea for help, but with the tinted window between them, he wasn’t even sure the man knew he was there. He had hoped their appearance would create a way out for Natalie. After all, there were two of them, obviously trained soldiers, maybe even fresh from combat in the Middle East. To put their life on the line would be as much a daily routine as waking up. If they got into a fight, Tony didn’t stand a chance unarmed, but he had an advantage they knew nothing about—that silver barreled pistol. 

Tony had another weapon in his arsenal, though. While in the warehouse, Rudy had been ecstatic at Tony’s ability to manipulate people with his golden tongue. And he had done it with Natalie. With just a few choice words and the right inflection, he had motivated her to not only take off her clothes in front of perfect strangers, but have sex on camera. Now he was at it again, about to talk his way out of this confrontation. Rudy knew the car would start, the soldiers would leave, and Natalie would not only still be captive in the trunk, but at risk of losing her life.

He opened his door.

Tony heard the rear door’s dry hinges creak behind him and turned to face Rudy as he stood up. His eyes said it all. He had had it and was ready to end this. Tony knew he was out numbered, and with Rudy about to become unpredictable, things could careen out of control in the next few seconds.

“Hey Tom,” Tony said, “finally woke up. My god, you’ve been out a while.” He opened the driver’s door and turned back toward the soldiers. “We’re losin’ all our money on craps and this guy’s droppin’ his in the slots. I think he drowned his losses in beer. Get back in Tom, we’re just about to leave.”
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 26, 2015

26 Born to Make the Kill

Tony knew they needed a new set of wheels. He hated to ditch the only thing he owned with a connection to Ma, but she was dead and although he wasn’t sentimental, a piece of her seemed to linger within the four doors. However, if at some point they were being tracked, a citation near Bridgeport left sure evidence they were heading north and about to cross the Nevada state line. He and Hank had made a quick survey around Bridgeport after they got fuel and filled the radiator, but no good opportunity to make a switch presented itself. He needed somewhere with more possibilities and had decided Reno would be it.

They pulled into the parking structure at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, found an empty parking space on the third level and backed in.

“What are we doing?” Rudy asked.

“Switching cars. Keep your eyes open for someone alone.”

Over the next hour, Tony scrutinized a number of people as they passed by. He needed the perfect mark. Most of them were either in parties, couples or, even worse—with children. 

Tony loathed children. Their laughter and selfish whining as they walked to their vehicles fueled the writhing beast in his head. Children served as an absurd reminder that no one had a voice in their conception. If life never started, no one would miss you; no one would care. A seed fertilizing an egg, even with its dire life-long consequences, required no brain power. With only two cells there were no brains. Impregnation was just the first thing people had no control over, and then everything else went to Hell. Those forced by their biological parents to take their first breath fight to survive a life they never chose, only to die a death they dread the thought of.

A sound to his right drew Tony’s eyes to a middle aged man with an unsightly band of fat wrapped around his middle. He walked up the ramp toward the Impala. As he got closer, he fumbled for his keys and they slipped through his fingers. He stooped to pick them up, lost his balance and fell to his hands and knees.

 “This may be our ride.” Tony watched the man rock and lurch back to his feet.

The man hit a button on his transponder, and the taillights flashed on a two door yellow coupe parked a few spaces away on the row opposite the Impala.

Hank, who had been slumped in the front passenger seat, sat up straight. Rudy drew the gray hood over his head.

As the man passed in front of them, Tony eased his door open without making any noise. He stepped out of the car and fell in behind the man.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said. “We seem to be having some car trouble. Can you help?”

The man turned around, faced Tony and asked, “What kind … a … trouble?”

The slur to his speech and the bourbon on his breath gave Tony confirmation enough that he had found his pawn. He had no business driving in this condition. Certainly he wouldn’t mind taking a long nap. “Me and my friends haven’t been too lucky in the casino and now our battery’s dead. We need a jump, can you help?”

“My car’s uh … rental …,” he said, his tongue thick and is eyes rolling in their sockets, “I don’t have … cables, sorry.”

“No need to be sorry, I have cables. It’ll only take a few moments, if you’d be so kind?”

“Oh …, suppose so,” the man said and walked on to his car.

After the coupe backed out of the space, coming inches from hitting the car parked next to it, the man guided and stopped it in front of the battered Chevy.

He stepped out and stumbled around the back of the coupe. He turned his eyes to Tony. “Where’re the … cables?”

Tony unbuttoned his jacket and opened it to show him the pistol tucked in his belt.

The man found sobriety for the moment, and threw his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “I don’t want any trouble! Take the car, it’s a rental anyway.”

“Right back here, then” Tony said, and pushed the man toward the back of the car. He leaned in through the open driver’s side window and said, “Get his keys and get her in the trunk quick, before anyone comes.”

Rudy didn’t move from his seat but Hank grabbed the keys hanging from the ignition, opened his door, and ran around the Impala. He arrived at the trunk just as Tony and the panicked man, got there. He slid the keys into the lock.

Natalie was ready. She had been waiting for hours for this moment. She rested the light pole on her chest and slid her hand along the edge of the trunk lid to make sure the light fixture would clear the opening. She planned to jab at whoever opened the hatch, catch him off guard, and then, despite the soreness in her muscles, jump to her feet enough to hit them with the pole.

 She heard the key slide into the slot and tensed ready to strike the first blow.

From the level below, tires screeched against the concrete driveway. Hank froze in place and looked up at Tony.

“Shit, don’t open it!” Tony said, with an urgent edge in his voice.

Tony listened as the throb of the car’s engine and the pounding beat of “Born to be Wild” thundered from the vehicle as it continued up the ramp. The tires squealed again as they rounded the corner of the row in which the Impala was parked, and a convertible with its top down came into view. The sports car pulled into the open space vacated by the drunken man’s coupe and everything became quiet again when the engine shut down. Two doors opened at the same time and two men with military haircuts wearing camouflage uniforms stepped out.

“Everything okay over there?” the man who had been behind the wheel called as he walked around the back of the yellow coupe parked in the driving lane.

“Everything’s fine,” Tony answered, “just had a little car trouble and this kind gentlemen offered to give us a jump.”

Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 25, 2015

25 Born to Make the Kill

Tony, as always, was three thoughts ahead of the cop. If Natalie made a sound from the trunk, the pig would demand it be opened. Tony didn’t mind killing a cop—that’ll be a first—but could he draw the revolver from his waistband faster than the officer could draw his? Tony had one advantage. He had played out all the potential scenarios and was prepared for any to flare. But the cop was dumb. He had no idea what or who he was dealing with. So at the hint of anything going wrong, Tony had no choice but to drop him in his tracks, no question.

The state patrolman tightened the radiator cap back in place and slammed the hood shut. “I think you’re ready to go. You’re a mile or so from the summit and it’s pretty much downhill from there into Bridgeport. You can get water there. There is one other thing, though. I am going to have to cite you.”
“For what, sir?” Tony asked.

The pressure of uncertainty had triggered that familiar churning tumult in the center of his brain. Like molten lava, it probed every crevasse for a vent. It had been building since he first met Natalie, and he knew it wouldn’t be long before it would flow. But this unexpected turn almost pushed him to an expulsion he couldn’t control.
When the officer stepped back to the passenger side of the car, Tony reached under his jacket and grasped the handle of his Colt .357.His finger found the trigger.

The cop, meanwhile, stopped beside Hank’s door and pointed to the ground.
“Littering.” he said. “We don’t like littering and you’ve used the side of the road to dispose of the remains of your habit.”

As the officer began to rotate toward Tony, Tony weighed the urge to waste the pig right here, right now. If he had given the Chevy’s plate number earlier when he radioed in, this would put the Impala in Northern California, a long way from LA. Now there would be a record of their location in the system. If anyone suspected they had abducted Natalie, they could trace them at least this far. But before the officer turned enough to see Tony’s hand behind his back, several cars in a group whisked passed, and he felt too exposed. He released the gun and with a flutter of his coattail to conceal it, looked at the pile of used butts on the ground.
“How do you know they’re my butts? Anyone could have dropped them.”

“Yes, it could be coincidence they’re right outside the passenger window and your friend inside is smoking like a locomotive. I guess I could take a sample in for fingerprint and DNA analysis but I’d have to detain all of you on suspicion while we waited for the results. That would certainly ruin your weekend.
“Or I can write up a citation,” he continued, “and you can be on your way in ten minutes. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky in Reno and win enough to pay the fine.”

“Okay, you’ve made your point,” Tony said. He shot an angry glance through the window to Hank.
“I’ll need your license and registration, sir.”

Meanwhile, Natalie heard the car approach. A new male voice spoke outside right behind her cramped prison cell. Tony had made it clear he didn’t want her to make a sound if someone stopped, but she had made her anger just as clear by shouting at him and pounding on the lid. If she acquiesced to the animal’s whims, she knew her chances of survival were minimal at best. But she also didn’t want to take another innocent down with her—unless one of the three who had thrust this nightmare on her became the first victim. She strained her ears as the voices faded toward the front of the vehicle.
Minutes later, the hood slammed, and the murmur of voices moved to the side of the car furthest from her head. They grew louder, and emphasized words became distinguishable. The voice she didn’t recognize said two she picked up, “littering” and “citation.”

That meant it was a police officer outside just feet away, and he would have a gun. But, if she alerted him to her presence, could he disarm Tony in time and rescue her, or would he get killed before he had a chance to draw his weapon? Since Tony had warned her to keep silent with such vehemence, she rationalized that he would think her compliant. The officer on the other hand would be well trained in just such situations. That gave her better than even odds. If there was a chance she could escape, she had to take it and hope for survival. When footfalls ground into the gravel just outside the trunk, her heart crawled into her throat and she reached to pound on the cover.

Tony had a suspicion Natalie plotted under the lid for just the right moment to get the pig’s attention. He followed the officer as he headed back toward the cruiser. When he reached the side of the trunk, he slammed his hand down on the lid.
The startled officer turned quickly and drew his service weapon.

“Damned piece of crap,” Tony shouted. He looked away from the officer at the trunk and pounded on the cover again.
The patrolman, smiled, returned his pistol to its holster, and then stepped into his patrol car.

The sound, so loud and sudden inside the steel cocoon, Natalie had to stifle a shriek. Tony had read her mind. His message was loud and clear, “Shut the hell up or die.” Now she saw into his head. He had more than a quick, smooth tongue. His cunning prepared him for any contingency. For now, his blitz cost her an opportunity for escape, and probably saved the officer’s life. But this was only strike one. There was plenty of game left.
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

24 Born to Make the Kill

When the traffic broke, he opened the lid. By now, being held captive in this cage for so many hours she should either be dead from fumes or have turned into a terrified coward. So many others had begged for their life long before this. But Natalie Beaumont’s bruised and swollen face stared up at him through smoke-colored, hate-filled eyes. He sensed her power. She dropped her chin about to speak, but he couldn’t let her put voice to her determination—not yet anyway. He thrust his hand palm out toward her as if that could deflect the deluge of scorching words forming on her lips, and threw his jacket back just enough so she could see the gun; a subtle reminder of who was in charge, as Hank said, “The boss.”

“We’re going to be here an hour or so.” He spit the words out quickly as if she held the advantage. That wouldn’t do. He forced his voice under control. “If someone stops, no movement, no noise. Same deal as last night, first they die, then you. Got it bitch?”
With the last word still echoing off her steel confines, he slammed the cover before she could reply. As he turned toward the driver’s side, she pounded on the lid and screamed, “Let me out, Tony. Let me out, now!” Her muffled cry renewed his resolve. The mission continued. Ma’s stint in Hell could end soon.

Tony and Hank didn’t seem to be able to get enough cheap tobacco smoke in their lungs. Through the night an endless stream of blue haze had poured from the front seat, and, as Hank slept much of the night, most of it came from Tony. The only fresh air Rudy had taken in over the last twelve hours had been while Tony slept in the backseat. So after thirty minutes at the side of the road, Rudy’s head spun again from the second-hand smoke.
“I’m going to stretch my legs.” Rudy stepped out of the car and walked around to the rear. He leaned against the trunk lid and folded his arms.

Natalie’s prison, only inches away, felt to Rudy like the chasm between them expanded with each mile they drove. She may as well have been on the far side of the galaxy for his ability to reach her—to help her. It had started in innocence but it had turned tragic in the warehouse. So rapt in the pleasure and the relationship he craved, he hadn’t considered the consequences. Yet once she recognized him, the game changed. Tony had been right last night, she would never be his. He knew if she ever got out of the trunk, she would want to strike back and he would be the most likely first target. Despite this, he needed to save her.

They had waited by the roadside for more than forty-five minutes. The steam from the engine had diminished to wisps and the throbbing had stopped. Hank removed the ashtray from the dashboard, rolled down his window and dumped the burnt remnants on the ground.
Tony had kept a drowsy eye in the rearview mirror, and now movement caught his full attention. Rudy stood from where he had been leaning against the back of the Impala. He seemed focused on something behind them on the highway. Tony shifted his eyes to the door mirror, and took a sudden yet silent gasp. The flashing lights of an approaching California Highway Patrol car filled the view.

“Here we go!” he said.
“What’s up?” Hank asked.

“We’ve got a pig coming up behind us. Stay here and keep your head.”
Tony tucked the pistol into the waistband at the small of his back and opened the driver’s door. As he stepped out, he made sure his jacket covered the piece. He walked toward the rear of the car where Rudy stood and said with an even tone, “I’ll handle this like I said, Rudy. Keep your damn mouth shut and she lives to take another breath.”

While the black and white cruiser came to a stop behind the Chevy, Tony felt Rudy’s hot glare on his face, but he focused on the officer through the windshield. He held Tony’s eyes while he lifted a radio microphone to his mouth. Even though Tony believed he could control the situation he scrapped his feet on the pavement, and crossed and uncrossed his arms several times while he waited for the officer to step from his vehicle. The pig probably stopped only to see if he could help, but after Maggie’s voicemail, Tony was anxious that somehow the police were already looking for him, and with Natalie’s apparent resolve, she was an unknown liability. The likelihood escalated that a standoff right here on the side of a major highway loomed. Minutes before, he thought his mission a lock, now it was in peril of abject failure.
When finally the door opened and the officer stepped onto the pavement, Tony felt the troubled storm momentarily recede. Rather than take cover behind the driver’s door with his weapon drawn, he donned a light tan smoky-the-bear hat and smiled.

“Everything alright, gentlemen?”
“Had a little overheatin’ problem,” Tony said and showed a nonchalant attitude even though the reluctant passenger in the trunk was at the front of his mind, “but I think we are almost ready to move on now.”

The officer walked past them between the two cars and headed toward the front of the sedan. Tony and Rudy followed.
“Where you boys headed?” the officer asked as he gave a tentative tap with a finger on the radiator cap.

Before Tony could speak, Rudy, who stood just behind the officer and next to Tony, said, “Ca—”
Tony elbowed Rudy hard before he could finish the word Canada “Carson City, Reno,” he said with a jovial lilt. “Heading up for a weekend of debauchery,”

The officer ignored him and continued to check out the engine. He turned his attention back to the radiator cap, loosened it and peeked into the reservoir. “You’re low on water.”
“Yeah, figured that. This old clunker’s seen better days, but it’s what I got.”
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

23 Born to Make the Kill

“Some things just have to be.” Tony raised the gun.

Nick turned back to face Tony. With the pistol now aimed at his forehead, he threw his head back. It slammed against the wooden crate. “Ah, shit that hurts.”
“Not for long, partner.”

“Tony, we can talk this out.”
“Not this time.”

“No, wait, Tony please,” he begged. Sweat had begun to bead on his forehead and now it started to trickle down his nose and cheeks. “I’ve got cash at my crib. Been saving your share.”
“Like Hell … Ever play Russian Roulette, Nick?”

“No, don’t do this,” Nick continued to plead. His eyes were trained on the gun yet he shook his head slowly.
Tony could see recognition play out on his face. He had seen this game before. Tony always won. “How many slugs in here?”

“Hell if I know.”
“Surely you wouldn’t leave home without a full load. Feels like a full load. What do you think?”

“Tony don’t.”
“Tell you what, I’ll just spin the wheel of fortune and if the hammer happens to falls on an empty chamber, you just take a swim …”

“I can’t swim with my hands tied and this damn chain on my feet.”
“… and if the hammer falls on a bullet, then consider yourself tapped.”

“No, please Tony, don’t! I’ll make it up to you.”
Tony grabbed Nick by the front of his shirt and yanked him over to the edge of the dock. He pushed Nick backwards until his upper body was suspended above the water and planted his knee across Nick’s hips to immobilize him. Nick’s body trembled beneath him like a terrified rabbit waiting for a wolf to sink his fangs in.

“Would hate to spatter this damn fine dock with your worthless brain cells,” Tony scoffed.
“For God’s sake Tone, don’t do this.” Each syllable hissed between his lips as if a hurricane was being forced through a keyhole.

“You’re not in God’s hands now,” Tony said. His eyes widened and he flashed a threatening grin. “You’re in mine.”
Tony rested the muzzle on the moist flesh between Nick’s brows and paused. A familiar expansion surged behind his eyes frantic to vent. He knew the feeling well and savored the emergent pressure. For the moment it obscured the sounds of motorboats on the river and the slap of waves against the pilings.

“If you’re gonna do it, do it!” Nick shouted. His voice quavered. “What you waiting for, damn it?”
Tony’s mind snapped back and he took satisfaction as he watched Nick’s pupils shrink in an expanding sea of bloodshot sclera.

“The whites of your eyes, partner,” Tony said and pulled the pistol’s hammer back into a cocked position. 

Now, as the car made its way up the grade of Conway Summit, just a mile from the top, the engine began to pop, clunk, and hiss.
“Shit!” Tony hit the steering wheel with the heel of his hand and punctuated each syllable. “Piece-a-shit.” He ground the remains of a cigarette into the ashtray. Butts overflowed onto the floor.

Hank looked up from the side window that had been his pillow for several hours and rubbed his eyes. “What’s up?”

Tony made a quick inventory of the traffic around them. There were too many vehicles on the road to his liking. He feared his vulnerability if they stopped, but he had no choice. If he pushed the car to the top of the pass, the engine might seize and that would put an end of their joy ride or at least add an unnecessary complication. He maneuvered the car to the side of the highway.
Steam off the engine swallowed the sedan when he turned the ignition off. It temporarily blinded him in a bank of white fog. Before it cleared, Tony stepped out of the car and raised the hood. The engine pulsed with heavy thunks as the boiling water searched for a way to escape. Some of it flowed out through the overflow tube next to the radiator and a steaming stream coursed its way under the car.

“What do we do now, boss?” Hank said as he joined Tony at the front of the Impala.
“Wait,” Tony said and looked to see if water escaped from anywhere else. Satisfied no other leaks threatened, he continued, “Can’t move now ‘til this rust bucket cools down.”

“If someone stops, we could jack their car?”
“With all this traffic we’re too exposed. Someone’ll see us and then we’re good as dead. We’ll just wait and play it by ear.”

They left the hood open and walked back along the passenger side. Tony pulled the .357 from his waistband, opened the rear door, and bent into the opening. He glared at Rudy and aimed the gun at the boy’s chest.
“Not a word,” Tony said. “Someone stops and you give them any clue about what’s in the trunk, she’s dead, then you. Got it?”

Rudy nodded.
“Get me the damn keys.” Tony whipped the pistol toward the driver’s seat.

Rudy hesitated for a second and returned Tony a “drop dead” glare with a scowl of his own. Then he leaned forward, reached over the front seat, and removed the keys from the ignition.
With the keys in hand, Tony tucked the pistol into his belt. He didn’t know what he would face at the trunk so before he stepped behind the car, he said to Hank. “Get back inside.”
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 22, 2015

22 Born to Make the Kill

The gradual climb since they left Mojave had taken them through the Owens Valley and transformed the bleak desert terrain into a lush mountainous landscape with some of the tallest trees Tony could remember silhouetted on the western horizon against the full moon’s glow. When they reached highway 395’s Sherwin Summit just a few miles north of Bishop, it was still dark. Tony had found a side road where he pulled off to a wide spot on the shoulder. He switched places with Rudy, and for the next few hours, stretched out on the rear bench seat to sleep.

A couple hours after they left the turnout, Tony had followed the signs to a scenic view off the side of highway. The deep ravine made a perfect place to dispose of Natalie’s cell phone. He aimed for a granite boulder fifty feet below the highway’s edge and it shattered into pieces when it bounced off. Not even Bambi could phone home now, Tony smirked when the debris came to rest at the foot of a stand of Pinyon Pine trees.
Now, just before 11:00 a.m., he was back behind the wheel of his inherited 1965 Chevy Impala. Hank slept again in the passenger seat, and God only knew if Rudy slept or sulked under that gray hoodie. To fill the silence and keep alert, he lit another smoke and turned his thoughts backward.

After his Ma forced him out the door, he spent most of his time learning the politics of the street. By the time he was six, he could steal a kid’s lunch money—or his lunch—without the kid missing it until it was too late. Drugs seemed to be the next step and he had a syndicate by age twelve. He arrived home from school most days with blood on his clothes—always someone else’s—and was expelled at age fourteen for having one too many fights on the playground. When he spent his fifteenth birthday locked up in juvenile detention for a knife attack on a kid for no good reason—except he had it coming—it was a cake walk, in fact, the only cake he ever took pleasure in on his birthday.
By age seventeen, he traded knives in for guns. He made his first kill that year and began a rapid accent to the stature of Don in his old Jersey neighborhood. On his block in Newark, no one dared cross him as they feared his wrath, like so many before, would be tattooed permanently on their foreheads. Those lost souls had paid the price for disrespect, but Tony had never done time for any of those crimes. Murder cases with his signature had gone cold in two states, yet the cops had never tied him to a single one. Not even the one that took more than five years to execute.

Tony grabbed the Wild Irish Rose by the neck and emptied the last half on the head of the man sprawled at his feet. He flipped the empty bottle into the Hudson River. Nick came around fast and struggled for his hands to swipe at his eyes. But Tony had them tied behind him, so he shook his head and spewed the warm bum wine that had seeped into his mouth onto his shirt.
“What the hell!” Nick shouted. “Who are you damn it?”

Tony remained silent as he watched his old partner make pitiful efforts to change his lot. Nick leaned against a crate, and could squirm and swear and adjust his position until rats ate with forks, but in the end, all that wouldn’t cancel the payment due. The sound of waves’ lap on the pilings of the deserted dock was the perfect place to wrap up one final piece of business before saddling up for LA.
In the moons glow, Tony watched as Nick blinked and squeezed his eye lids tight as if ringing the liquid out. When he looked up to Tony’s face again, the spark of recognition ignited them.

“What the hell is this?” Nick shouted. “After all these years, you couldn’t just say ‘hello?’”
“The pipe across your skull was hello. D’ya think this some damn family reunion?”

“That my gun?” Nick asked. His eyes focused on the piece.
The panic in his tone was clear to Tony. Just the reaction he hoped for—panic, bargaining, groveling, whimpering—four stages of an unanticipated but prolonged violent death. “Didn’t think you’d mind,” Tony said. He raised the revolver to where the security light down the dock bounced off the silver barrel and held it three inches from Nick’s chest. “You won’t be needing it once we’re done here.”

“Wha … what you talking about, Tone? You haven’t been around in years, now this?”
“Five years. Five years and not a minute early, even with time served and good behavior.”

“We were stupid back then,” Nick said. He leaned forward and took the pressure off the back of his head. “High all the time, acting like gangsters.”
“We were gangsters,” Tony said, “but you gave me up over some whore?”

“She was no whore and you’d a done the same if I’d nearly killed your bitch.”
“Not only was she a whore but she was a junkie, Nick. She stole our stash more than once, stayed high and you gave her a pass every time.”

But then you raped and nearly killed her”.

“Just collectin’ what was due. As I said, she was a whore.”
“I should’ve wasted your ass then, but we were partners. You understand, right?”

“Yeah, I understand …, and I’ve paid my debt to society. Now you’re gonna pay yours.”
Nick shook his head and started to stand, but his legs strained against a chain wrapped around them and he gave up the effort. “No, Tony,” he pleaded. “You looking for an apology? Okay, look, I … I … I’m sorry, man.”

“Too late,” Tony said with an even tone and crouched down so his eyes were level with Nick’s. “It’s payback now.”
“No, Tone,” Nick broke eye contact and, looked across the river toward the New York City skyline.

Tony followed his eyes. The crescent of the waxing moon angled over Manhattan such that if it had held any luck, it had already spilled its gift over the city. There was none left for Nick.
Can’t wait for more; go to to add this to your bookshelf.
For more about me, visit or Facebook
© Jearl Rugh 2012
All Rights Reserved