the spring had turned very warm. he was out in the back tearing down what was left of an old shed that mother nature and gravity had started tearing down several years ago. emma had been after him to finish the job for about that long as well. today was the day. with the hot spring sun beating down he’d taken his shirt off and he was beating away at the last remaining standing wall. wall was a stretch but you get the picture. he’d taken a mighty swing with the small sledge and whacked the corner he was working on. a board flew off, it did a cartwheel, then hit him on his left shoulder. a nail bit at his skin. he knew he’d been cut.
emma washed the wound while tsk tsking and semi sort of apologizing for getting him into the predicament. it wasn’t a bad cut but it bled some and was what one could almost call a deep wound. they thought about going to get a few stitches for it when emma gasped.
‘what the hell?’
‘great. now what?’
‘ah…um…just a sec.’
he flinched when she began to fish around in the wound with a pair of tweezers.
‘why i’ll be…’
‘what for christ’s sake?’
going to get the cut stitched up was soon forgotten. emma quickly finished washing the wound. put some antiseptic on it. then bandaged it. they sat at the kitchen table. a tiny micro chip about the size of a dime sat between them. neither of them said anything. he nodded towards the back door and got up. emma followed suit. when they were outside emma tried to say something but he put a finger to his lips and nodded once again at what was left of the shed.
‘what’s with all the secrecy? and more importantly what’s up with the chip in your shoulder?’
‘i think they’re connected.’
he then spun the strange tale he’d been living or at least thought he he’d been living for what seemed like months or years. all of it. from keith richards to the nurse/angel/agent and the magic light. emma didn’t say a word. she just stood there semi awe struck and listened.
‘so, here we are today. i cut myself and i guess you find the missing piece to the puzzle. that chip.’
‘ah…some how or another that chip is playing a big part in all of this. i’ll tell you what emma. i don’t want to play anymore.’
they talked quietly for a half hour then he left to go into town. emma went back into the house and started dinner. she left the chip alone and on the table where it had been sitting.
when she heard the pick up returning she went outside. he got out of the pickup and motioned towards the old shed again. they talked quietly for another 10 minutes or so. after which they went back into the house and acted as if nothing had happened while they ate a quick supper. about an hour before sunset he got back in the truck and headed west towards the setting sun. he drove about 4 miles until he found the spot he was looking for. a small turnout on the other side of the road with two old california oaks on either side of a barbed wire fence. he slipped the truck out of gear and made a coasting u-turn into the turn out where he stopped under the trees. the early evening air was beginning to get cooler as he slipped the burner phone out of his pocket. it was the reason he’d gone into town before dinner. he’d already made a couple of calls on it.
‘hey, mike. the old truck is giving me trouble. i made a run out to the dump and on the way back it sorta conked out on me. can you give me a hand?’
‘sure, my brother. you’re on stoney point road right?’
‘yep. under the twin oaks.’
‘i know the spot. i’ll be right out.’
‘i ain’t going anywhere soon.’
he closed the phone and sat in the truck listening to the ticking of the cooling engine and some early evening crickets. soon he saw headlights in the distance. it was mike. he got out of the truck and waited for his friend. they exchanged greetings as he climbed into mike’s car.
‘let’s just sit a spell. i have a story to spin. ok?’
‘sure, bro. i got all night. whatever you say.’
he grinned and said, ‘i hope it won’t take that long.’
then he began his tale once again. the same story he told to emma. plus, a few more things.
‘wow. that’s some story. you sure about all this? i mean i remember that header you took into the ditch by the store back when…’
‘mike. the fucking chip is sitting on the kitchen table.’
‘yeah. yeah. ok.’
‘you remember stanley the japanese commo guy from nam, right?’
‘sure do. he was righteous. didn’t know you still talked to him.’
‘i hadn’t for years. though i still had his number. i spoke to him tonight. he’s working for this rich armenian guy down in l.a. these days. long story short the armenian is tight with this jewish dude who can get stuff done. the two bonded over the genocide thing. stanley with both of the guys helping is working on this. neither of whom is very fond of any sort of government stuff.’
‘didn’t take you long to get your own witness protection plan going did it?’
‘not really, man. like i said when i saw that chip i knew i was done and that i had to get out. asap.’
the man’s phone chirped. he picked it up and for the most part just listened with an occasional a huh or got it thrown in now and then. mike was lost in his own thoughts along with the strangeness of the whole situation. it was full on dark when the man said goodbye and closed the phone. mike looked at him.
‘stanley still gets shit done, my friend. he sends his greetings and says you two ought to get together soon and bullshit about the nam.’
yeah. sure…i mean…what’s up?’
‘ok. a few details still need ironing out but the two heavies are fronting emma and me some cash. a nice chunk. anything to get over on good old uncle sam as it were. stanley has an off shore bank account opened with the cash. emma and i disappear. the chip stays in the house. whomever, with any luck, won’t know we’ve high tailed it until it’s too late. we hit this used car place in frisco stanley knows. we dump the truck there and buy another ride under a front stanley will have worked out by the time we get there. which should be before they close tonight. this truck will just sit in the lot’s garage for a few months then disappear.’
‘what about the house?’
‘stanley says eventually the bank will put it on the market. the armenian has always wanted to become a cattle rancher and gentleman cowboy. he’ll swoop in and buy it with his connections. then he’ll start his gentleman cowboy cattle biz and send me 50% of his profits. simple as that. or so it seems.’
‘boy howdy is about all i can come up with, man. where you gonna go?’
‘maybe vegas for awhile. hide in plain sight in sin city for a time. the jewish guy says it would be the best place until the heat cools down. easy access to off shore stuff there as well.’
the two old friends chatted for a bit more then made their goodbyes.
‘they may come and talk to you eventually, mike.’
‘fuck it. don’t mean nothing. right?’
‘yeah, sure. hasta la vista, mi hermano.’
‘yeah, mi hermano. hasta la vista.’
the man went to his truck fired it up and drove home. emma had a few things packed. she knew they were leaving. when he came in the back door he just nodded and they each picked up a bag and headed out to the truck. he went back inside and grabbed a couple of CD’s. stopping by the kitchen table he gently picked up the micro chip and then slipped it under the carpet in a corner of the living room. it would have to do.
he went back out to the truck got inside, smiled, and held emma’s hand. he handed her the CD’s and she picked one in the dark and put it in the player. he backed out of the drive and headed towards highway 101 and the south on ramp. the flying burrito brothers softly filled the truck. he smiled again at emma. she smiled back. a tear rolled down her cheek. she found a tissue and wiped it away. turning her head towards the window she quietly coughed. a small black glob tinged in red was caught in the tissue. another tear rolled down her cheek. gram was singing, ‘cody cody’.
I hear you say.
I hear your voice
calling me away.
I’m not afraid
to think of what I might find.
I will be yours
will you be mine?
We’ve all been young,
we’ve all been old.
We’ve all been sheltered
from the cold.
Come to my side
and say what I think I already know.
I’m going away,
don’t you want to go?
I remember the face
that Harvey drew.
It was of a man
that my eyes saw through.
Come by my side
before the evening is gone.
And see where else
this body’s flown.
“Cody Cody”, words and music by gram parsons, chris hillman, and bernie leadon.