This is part 5 of the tale. Don’t forget to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Terry’s order sits in my gut like a stone, so I waste several minutes cruising
Terry’s order sits in my gut like a stone, so I waste several minutes cruising around town, putting off the inevitable. Using my fatigue as an excuse for another cup of joe, I pull into a nearby gas station. Taking my time, I fill up the Styrofoam cup then pour in more cream and sugar than anyone my age should feel comfortable doing. After paying, I don’t climb back into my jeep. Instead, I lean against the driver’s side door and sip the beverage that is equal parts sugar and caffeine. My gaze turns to the road and then upward to the stars that light up the sky.
Holtz Hollow is the only home that I’ve ever known. Hell, the Browns have been in the town nearly as long as Terry’s family. I never really felt the desire to go out and see the world beyond it. All the lights and sounds of the big city seem kind of lacking when you can spend your weekend getting drunk with dwarves. The town has a lot of pretty to offer if you know where to look. It’s a shame that it only takes a little bit of ugly to rear its head and ruin the view.
A long, mechanical roar picks up on the wind and grows closer. I climb into my jeep just as the red pick-up blurs past the gas station. Several shouts of unrestrained jubilation accompany the revved engine as two men in the back pound on the hood of the truck. They’re gone the next moment, the sound of their reverie carrying further up the road.
“Shit.” I slam the door, jam my coffee into the cupholder, and turn the key in the ignition.
With a flip of the switch, the red and blue lights above my jeep rain down around me as I peel out of the parking lot and onto the road. The siren kicks in a moment later, loud and reassuring, as I slam the gas pedal to the floor. Thankfully this late into the night, there aren’t any other cars on the road, nothing for the jackasses to ram into.
The needle on my speedometer creeps as far to the right as it can, which is about a quarter short of the dial. The jeep is almost as old as I am. I keep it around for its dependability and its four-wheel drive, which nine times out of ten are more important to policing a mountain town than speed. Unfortunately, I’m smack dab in the middle of the other time.
Eventually, I catch up with the truck. It kicks dirt on my windshield, and the two drunks in the back point and laugh at me. One flips me the bird with both hands while the other chucks a can of beer that bounces off my hood. Good thing these morons love their beer too much to throw a full can.
I keep on them for several seconds, lights and siren blaring, but they don’t slow. Then the truck roars again, and it jumps forward with a new burst of speed. The drunks fall back, but then pull themselves up, laughing as they perform a couple of new vulgar gestures. The driver’s just toying with me. He’s got enough horses under his hood to outpace my vehicle. Fortunately, I’ve got a trick up my sleeve too.
I pull my spell-shooter from its holster and point it at the truck. No time for anything fancy, I just think of the gas tank and the way the creeks rise up in the rain, overflowing the roads and taking anything that isn’t nailed down with them. I squeeze the trigger, and something erupts from behind my eyes. I slow down and pull to the side of the road.
The idiots whoop and holler, assuming I’m giving up, when something within the front of the truck pops. It slows down and knocks them on their asses again. The pickup carries on a bit more before sputtering as a long spout of water shoots from the tailpipe. It slows to a crawl then stops dead. The door to the gas cap pops off as muddy water geysers out of it like a fire hydrant.
They climb out of the truck, three in the front and two in the back, to survey the strange damage. I take the extra time to gain a bit more composure and chug another mouthful of coffee. Leaving my spell-shooter on the seat next to me, I reach into the back and holster my revolver instead.
I step out of the jeep and walk toward them. The steam has lost its potency, but a heavy stream continues to fall out of the gas tank like a miniature waterfall. A pile of mud has started to form next to the truck’s tires and spreads toward the road.
“Car trouble?” I say.
The men turn and look at me, mixed expressions of stupidity and anger in varying degrees on their faces. The man at the center of the group steps forward. He’s six feet tall and has a beer gut, but solid muscle is on display beneath his rolled-up sleeves. The pale skin of his biceps clashes against the farmer’s tan going down the rest of his arms. His well-trimmed beard is mostly white, but with a few stray, defiant strands of copper. Eyes the same shade of green as Terry’s narrow at me, but the family resemblance stops there. Elias Holtz doesn’t say a word, he just chews and then spits a stream of sticky tobacco juice at the end of my boots.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” I nudge the toe of my boots against the ground, wiping away the filth, then walk over to the end of the truck and rest my hands on the trunk. “What’re you and your girl scouts in such a hurry for, Elias?”
“We are the Free Sons Militia,” one of the younger ones hiccups, only to be stifled by an elbow from one of the others.
“Right. Always get the two of you mixed up.” I turn from him and back to Elias. “Going to answer my question or let your pep squad do your talking?”
Elias chews some more before speaking. “Word came down that, once again, the pathetic excuse for the law has failed to protect my town. We were on our way to put those goddamn ringers in their place.”
“I see.” I push off the truck and look from Elias to his gang. “Well, I appreciate the thought, fellas. Truly I do. But the fact of the matter is that none of you are members of Holtz Hollow law enforcement or a designated representative of the Accords. So, you can just hop back to your fort and keep playing army men there.”
Elias looks at the truck, still guzzling water. Neither the Roost or the trailer park Elias owns are within walking distance, but the latter is a hell of a lot closer than the former. Nothing would give me more pleasure than dragging Elias in for several of the laws he had just broken, but the last thing I wanted to do was make him a martyr for his cause. Nothing stirred up the crazies around town like a part-fae constable arresting their favorite asshole.
Elias steps toward me and lowers his voice. “The day’s going to come real soon when that badge isn’t going to protect you, constable.
“That right?” I smile and pat the weapons on my belt. “Good thing this gig comes with a gun and a sword too then, ain’t it?”
I tip my hat to Elias and wish them all a fine night, pretending that I don’t notice their glares. After getting back in my jeep, I turn down the road, keeping the five of them in my rearview mirror until I turn around the bend. With them out of sight, I slump in the seat and reach for the bottle of aspirin in the glovebox. Closing a gate on people who might be a threat on the same night that I let the real threat to Holtz Hollow walk free. Some nights this job really sucks.
To Be Continued…