Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 36 - Part II

The Judge brushed a piece of the front windshield away from the console. “I have always prided myself on being an equitable man. And in light of the fact that we have lost all of our former partners, it may, in fact, be appropriate to re-evaluate our previous arrangements. What did you have in mind, Mr. Saunders?”

B.T. lightly fingered the trigger of his machine pistol. “I like the ring of fifty-fifty – at least with this mission. Shit, I’ve left bodies scattered all over the Arizona Strip for you – six of ‘em as of today. Seems to me like I’ve done all the dirty work; I’ve taken all the risks; and I’m getting all the goddamn blame. I mean, neither one of us ever thought this operation would get so out of hand – and Christ kill me – the killing still aint over yet. I still have to settle the score with our old friend Linda Joyce.”

The Judge’s bushy eyebrows raised with interest. “You have made several valid points.”

“You bet your ass I have, Judge. Six of ‘em.”

A smile formed around the edges of the Judge’s mouth. “Ah yes, but it is the seventh point which I find the most intriguing, Mr. Saunders. Assuming that you can eliminate the troublesome Miss Joyce, I see no reason why we can not have an equal split of the profits. The question in my mind is: can you fulfill your end of the bargain?”

“No sweat, Judge. The cops gotta think that we’re in the next state by now. It’ll be hours before they get back to Fredonia. Shit, it’ll be hours before anybody gets organized enough to really start looking for us; and when they do, they’ll be looking for two guys in a helicopter. They’ll contact the Kanab Airport and find out that a chopper that fits the general description left from there this morning and was returned in the early afternoon. By then, you’ll be on your merry way with the shipment to Denver in your private plane. So, who gives a shit? All they got is a whole lot of nothing.”

B.T. began fishing around on the metal floor of the helicopter while the Judge weighed the evidence. “The broken windshield ties this helicopter to the Paria Plateau and the rest.”

“Not without this, it doesn’t,” countered B.T. as he held the crumpled piece of lead from Dwayne’s 44-magnum between his thumb and forefinger. “Without this slug, they have a broken windshield – a curious coincidence, for sure – but nothing more. In the meantime, you’ve already cleaned out the chopper, loaded everything onto your jet, and have split for parts unknown. And on the way to Denver, you give that little jerk-off engineer Krieter at the mine a call and get him to say that you visited the ASN mine today, like you were supposed to. That way you have an airtight alibi.”

The Judge straightened his jacket and smiled. “I have already put the fear of God into Mr. Krieter, so he should present no problems. He will do as he is told.”

B.T. pocketed the slug and grinned confidently. “So the pigs give you a call sometime soon, and they ask you to explain what happened, because by that time they have heard from the folks at the airport that the windshield of the ASN chopper you were using was broken. You tell them you smacked into a bird. What can they say? That you didn’t? Any way you slice it, they’re gonna be way behind us, and that means they won’t have any hard evidence. As long as you get out of Kanab ahead of the local cops, you’re home free.

The Judge’s face began to glow with good humor. “Which leaves only you, Mr. Saunders.”

“That’s right, Judge.” B.T. licked at his lips. “And the last thing those cowboy cops are going to be looking for is a guy on a motorcycle. I’ll just tuck my hair up under my hat, stay off the main highway and drive into town on one of the Forest Service dirt roads, ditch the bike somewhere convenient in Fredonia, and then hang low until the Joyce woman shows up. The pigs will be expecting us to cut and run, not come looking for their star witness right where they live. I’m telling you, Judge, this is going to be the easiest hit of the bunch, ‘cause it’s you they’re going to be searching for, not me.”

“And what if they arrive at the Kanab Airport before I have loaded the jet and departed?”

B.T. shrugged. “Then just play your best role: Judge Keating, decorated war hero, retired federal judge, jet-set businessman, and all-around pillar of Arizona society. I don’t need to tell you how to browbeat people; you’ve been doing that for over thirty years. None of these shitkicker yokels will have the balls to stand up to you, Judge. Shit, I’ve seen generals call you sir. Remember that sorry-ass Major General – what was his mane? Masterson, or Kesterson, or some such horseshit – the one who ran the hospital at Can Tho? We had just come off a real hairy ops down in the Delta, and ol’ Hanibal Jones was shot up real bad; but the base hospital staff left him waiting out in the hall. You told the General to operate on Jonesy, or you were going to start shooting his surgeons. You walked right into the operating room and aimed your piece at the fucking doctors performing surgery. Christ, I thought that General was going to go cardiac red. Not only did he end up pulling his two best doctors away to work on Jonesy, but he fixed you up with one of his nurses later on that night. I remember because she had red hair.”

B.T. winked at the Judge, who nodded his head and squirmed in his seat. “She was a sweet thing. Her name was Claire.”

“Yeah. They all knew her as Cherry Eclaire.”

The Judge laughed in spite of himself. “Those were the days, Mr. Saunders.”

B.T pointed his index finger at the Judge. “You’re still the most intimidating sonofabitch in the whole world when you get going, Judge. So, if the cops show up in Kanab, you just read ‘em the riot act and warn ‘em to back off. You already have the papers to document that all these artifacts came off your ranches in Arizona and Utah, right?”

“Of course. I prepared the certificates myself, and I have listed my ranch in Tropic, Utah as the origin of each piece. Only a firsthand observer could prove otherwise.”

B.T. clapped his hands together. “Well, that’s what you tell them if they ask. And once you take off from Kanab, you take their whole fucking case with you. By tomorrow, the loot will have been sold to people from all over the goddamn planet. The pigs won’t even know what the hell they’re looking for.”

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