TITLE: Redemption chap 3 3 of 4
By Randy Somers
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Another group, friends of Buck, added their thoughts to the growing discussion of Buck’s new friend.
Cal and his crew of old timers sat across from the city center lot and watched Buck wash up to meet the blond lady for a picnic lunch. Cal drew on his pipe and nodded toward the couple. “What’d ya think of that?”
“Don’t know. Seems weird. I mean, he’s such a hard guy. Who’d a thought Buck would attract such a looker as that. She looks too nice to be around that hard ass. They don’t fit together” After a swallow from his plastic mug Rich said. “Not enough sugar in this coffee.”
“Reminds me of that old song, Big John,” Josh commented. “Remember John’s girl came from New Orleans, a Cajun Queen. Could be that kind o’ story. One kiss from her would keep my heart goin’.”
“Well, she’s pretty enough,” Rich said with a smile. “I’d spend a little bit of time with that.”
Rich looked at Josh, “She’d chose me over you anyway. I’ve still got some power left.’
“You’re so old you forgot what to do with that,” Cal chuckled. “Besides, you’re too ugly. She’d be a high class filly. Wonder if she likes him? Maybe they met a while ago. Buck seems to keep his distance. Maybe she’s stung him in the past. Maybe he’s afraid of her. Or maybe what she knows about him.”
“Yeah, could be she’s back for some of his money. Heard he’s a multi-millionaire. Maybe she’s gone through all that he gave her in the past. High livin’ and all that,” Josh thought out loud. “I’d like to have seen her spend his money. Maybe I’ll go over and sorta introduce myself. Buck won’t mind.”
“You’d make her choke on her lunch. She’d turn you every way but loose. Maybe they were in organized crime o’ some kind together. Buck mighta needed her for her smarts to help him make money his money. Buck’s too young to have made as much as everyone knows he has. Had to have help o’ some kind. Could be he was a hit man. Violent enough. Remember those robbers at the café? He loved choppin’ ‘em up.”
“Could be. Chief didn’t do anything to him. Maybe Buck has some pull somewhere. Someone leaned on the Chief, made him leave Buck alone.”
Cal settled the debate. “You all could guess from here to Sunday and still be wrong. But I’d surely love to hear what their talking about. Maybe reminiscing about their sex life.”
That brought a chuckle from Rich and Josh. Each man grew silent as they pondered Cal’s last observation.
Heywood has not seen this kind of drama in a decade.
In official circles, the discussion took a different tone. The day after the picnic, the City Council met.
Paul Meyers pulled on his Potomac cigar, the one luxury he allowed himself in life. Tilting his head back, he blew the smoke high into the vaulted ceiling of the Mayor’s chambers. Paul felt this image fitting for his position. Expensive cigars point to intelligence and influence. Image became everything when trying to lure more business into this small, half breed town. With business came money, some of which found its way into Paul’s expense account.
Paul did not feel crooked; it’s just the way life works. The Big Fish got the best, while the little fish swam around him. Paul knew he swam in a small pond. That was OK with him, as long as he was the big fish.
He walked to the vaulted windows overlooking the city center block. He frowned as the acid in his stomach churned. Who knew that Ahole would actually work on that junk pile? Now he’s become an accepted fixture in this town, liked by a lot of people even. Plus everyone’s talking about this new girl of his. Who cares? He’s just a drifter that’ll take off soon enough, then we’ll get to keep his deposit for breaking the contract.
Paul continued to frown as he explored ways to encourage Buck’s desertion. The City Council executive members sat behind him, waiting.
Steve Dougherty, the new car dealer, sat with the others around the black walnut conference table. Steve liked money. Steve liked the power money provided. He was basically honest, but he would take any advantage that he could find. Steve felt that he kept the group together and focused. Wonder what Paul is thinking. Probably scheming to get Buck’s money. He needs to let it go. Buck ain’t leavin’. Just need to figure out how to make it work in our favor and the town’s of course.
Brock Whitley, the newest member, felt insignificant in the presence of the others. He lived as a rancher who recently sold his property for upwards of a couple of million dollars. Brock felt privileged to be among this ruling group. He cared for Heywood, his family home for the past six generations. He saw his job as one of keeping the others focused on what’s best for Heywood, all of Heywood.
Andy Blake sat looking at the other men. Of the four, he supported Buck. A deal was a deal, handshake or legally written. An Army veteran, he felt a kinship with Buck. Besides, anyone willing to tackle that mess had his support. Andy often argued with the others, putting himself on the outside of the close knit, semi-moral group. Andy hated being on the City Council, but felt he had a duty to keep them contained.
“You’re puffin’ on that stink pole so hard you’re chokin’ up the rest of us. What’s eatin’ you?” Steve asked.
Paul did not answer quickly, preferring to keep others in suspense over what he was going to say.
Turning slowly he commented, “What are we gonna’ do about that disrespectful biker? He’s winn’ the popularity contest. People are starting to like it that he’s cleaning up that stink hole. Now this attractive bitch from the past shows up to add interest. He’s even more in the public’s eye now.”
Andy stood up for Buck, “He’s only doin’ what he promised and what we asked him to do. If he completes his job and makes the park, it’ll only raise the city’s stature. The girl’s not our business.”
Steve grumped, “We all know you like Buck, but the point is, how we can use him to promote our city. He’s a hard worker, that’s a fact.” Steve paused, then continued, “Maybe we can get the Chief to do some checkin into the lady that suddenly appeared. I don’t care who she is or what her connect is to him. Just as long as we can control what happens.”
“Maybe they were in some kind of crime business together in the past. Most people feel that’s where Buck got his money. She could have been his partner,” Brock offered.
The others just turned to stare at him.
“Guesses won’t get us anywhere,” Paul said. “We need facts. I propose we hire a private detective to investigate both of them. We could all share the expenses. I know of a man that would do it for us, on the QT.”
Andy leaned his arms on the massive oak table. “Let’s not start diggin into a private citizen’s affairs. We have no cause to do so. That’s an abuse of our power. We could be liable if some trouble came from this investigation. For me, it goes beyond that fear. It’s simply immoral. Ask Chief Gonzalez if he has any concerns about Buck. That’d make it official.”
Brock swallowed. This was the deepest he had been since elected to the Council. Being sued caused him to sweat a little. “Um, maybe Andy’s got a point. We don’t want people to think we’re keeping files on them.”
Steve snorted. “Brock, you gotta man up sometime. It’s not about keeping files. It’s about protecting Heywood. I know you are as proud of the city as I am. You want to keep it safe and honest, don’t you? On that ranch of yours, if you suspected a rattler was making a home in one of your pastures, you’d find it and root it out. It’s the same here. If there’s no snake then we’ve proved it for Buck if anyone should ask.”
Paul sighed and tried to think of a way to get Brock on his side. Striking a fatherly pose, he looked at Brock. “Brock. You’re new to the Council. So far our decisions have been easy and straight forward. We haven’t had any real big problems to deal with. But this addition to Buck’s life may become a big problem.
“If there’s a crime connection between this blond and him, we need to know it. We can’t allow gangs or the Mafia to pry their fingers into our city and county. We are protectors of the citizens and what’s good for the city. It’s only our duty to keep an eye out for potential serious problems. Like Steve said, if no problem exists, then we just throw away our investigation.
“Plus, who’s gonna find out. This meeting is to be held in the highest confidence. We can’t even tell our wives about this conversation. If there’s a crime connection with Buck, then we can give our information to Chief Gonzalez. If Buck would find out about our investigation then he might run.”
Paul let the silence roll on. He knew that in these kind of situations, the first person to speak is the one who loses. Brock sighed and said, “OK. Since you put it like that.”
Andy raised the only nay vote.
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