creative nonfiction

eddie catalina part 14 (the final chapter)

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the two policemen finished their meal and talked quietly among themselves. they seemed to be negotiating something or another. it was hard to tell. whenever anyone got close they were quiet. though whatever it was they were discussing didn’t take more than half an hour. at one point the two men shook hands.

when they both got up lt january put several $20′s on the table. he motioned to jerry the bartender who brought over a warm box with the fries and sandwich inside. then he spoke.

you know, lt, i can tell when you’re wrapping up whatever it is that you’re talking about whenever you come in here.

you’re a good bartender, jerry. one of the best. i appreciate it and so does mick. see you next time.

lt vacas shook jerry’s hand and the two cops went outside to the crown vic got in and made the trip downtown. with the light week night traffic they were there in no time.

lt january brought the nevada cop up stairs and handed sgt john’s his still semi warm sandwich with a nod and a wink. he also introduced him to lt vacas. the men shook hands and exchanged greetings.

our boy doing ok, mick?

good as he’s going to, loot. he ate some more and dozed off for awhile. but he’s awake now. getting antsy though.

fine. turn off the video recorder and eat your sandwich. the lt and i are going in.

sgt john’s turned off the recorder as the two lieutenants went into the interrogation room.

hi, eddie. how you doing?

ok, lt. i guess.

hang tight, eddie. this will be over soon. eddie, this is lt estaban vacas of the nevada state police.

hello, eddie. i’ve heard all about your recent travels in nevada and your trouble with the la cosa nostra.

hello, lt.

you know the lt vacas and i just might be able to help you out some, eddie.

oh? really. how so?

estaban, do you mind?

go right ahead, lt. this is your house.

eddie, long story short, you did pretty much everyone a favor when you shot those two hoods. especially us. the mob isn’t happy but who cares?

marvel didn’t wait for an answer and kept on talking.

the lt and i have come up with a solution to your problem, eddie. it may not be a permanent one but only time will tell. that will be up to you. more or less.

eddie sat there with his mouth open and a semi dumb struck look on his face as he fumbled around trying to shake a smoke out of the pack on the table. he didn’t speak.

here’s the deal. the lt and i don’t like the feds. they come in then big foot around and make a mess of things generally speaking. then they take whatever glory there is in anything they’ve mucked around in and screwed up. simple federal logic. and very annoying to any working cop. trust me, the feds have been sniffing around this one from the beginning. all the way back in washington, eddie. they’ve been watching. they think the mob is strictly in their purveyance. sometimes it is. but not this time. even though one of the thugs you killed was rumored to be thinking about working for the feds. you see where i’m going with this?

no. not yet. just keep talking. i’m beginning to like the way it’s going though.

maybe eddie. maybe. you can sit here and stand trial for second degree murder or maybe manslaughter or something depending on the DA and take your chances. let me tell you, your chances would be good. probably. only thing is there’s the feds. they are the wild card, eddie. if they like you they might put you in some witness protection program. because eddie, you’d be needing that if you’re found innocent. or they might just cut you loose. worse yet you get some weird ass jury and you end up the river for a few years. though odds are you don’t make the few years. you know this. right? then there’s the fact one of those dead guys in your apartment was maybe going to cozy up to the feds. plenty reason for them not to like you. this whole thing could go even more sideways than it already has. you following all of this eddie?

yeah. sorta. keep talking.

eddie, we’re giving you a choice. help the lt and i here when we need it or take a shot at the jury system and the feds. up to you. you take the jury system and feds then i read you your rights, right here and now. and the deal is gone.

i haven’t heard the deal yet. just help you two whenever…talk about weird. this is weird.

yeah, i guess so. but it isn’t the first time i’ve done this. it’s not kosher but it works and saves the taxpayers some money as well. and eddie, it saves you from the feds and the mob and a stupid set of jurors. regardless. at any rate, here it is.

eddie finally managed to get the cigarette lit and he inhaled deeply. he let the smoke out very slowly.

you leave here with lt vacas and go back to nevada with him.

whoa, wait a minute. i don’t like this…

let me finish, eddie. you go back with the lt and work for us when we need you. the rest of the time you’re on your own.

this is blackmail. extortion. it’s…

crazy, eddie? sure, i guess so. that’s fine. stay here. stand trial and the whole time the mob knows exactly where you are. every minute of every day. even the big foot feds aren’t that good, eddie. see where we’re going here?

holy crap. how am i supposed to help you two?

you’ve seen stuff, eddie. here in l.a. and vegas. you just point at pictures and maybe sometime point a guy out in person is all. we take care of the rest. best part of the deal is you’re a free man. no one to answer to except the two of us here in this room.

it doesn’t make any sense, lt. you know who these ass holes are. right? just arrest them. why do you need me? i don’t get it.

eddie. eddie. eddie. you want me to read you your rights or not? simple as that. yes or no.

jesus. no, of course not. what the…

good. lt you want to take over?

sure. eddie, you go back to nevada with me. actually, the three of us go back to nevada. the lt here is driving us back. you see the deal is he’s going up there to pick up your .357 and the ammo you tossed in the ditch on eastbound 80. we drive up because we can’t let you on a plane again until the other stuff is worked out. eddie, you aren’t really on the books yet, so to speak. understand?

yeah, i see. you guys are rouge cops. and i’m some sort of cop patsy. or snitch or some damn thing or another. i mean…

chill out, eddie. or i read you your rights. everything will work out. trust us.

holy crap. i don’t believe this.

you don’t have to eddie. just take the deal or start worrying again.

alright. alright. i’m in.

the two lieutenants looked at each other and smiled.

marvel spoke.

ok. we need to move. i can take care of my end on the phone while i’m driving. estaban?

me too. i just need to call the book store in tonapah to set things in motion. i have a couple of days before i have to be back.

ok. eddie on your feet. let’s book.

the two men got eddie to his feet and moved him out of the room. they kept him moving toward the elevators as lt january spoke to sgt johns.

mick, clean up the room but first get rid of the CD from the recorder. then you take a few days off. use up some of your comp time. i’ll let you know when i’m coming back into town.

sure, loot.

eddie was gently shoved into the elevator by the two cops. he stood at the back of the box and didn’t speak. he was too busy thinking to do any talking. he turned himself in for this? the last thing eddie heard as the elevator doors closed was the sound of a shredder eating a plastic CD.

jmh

this is the final chapter to date of, “eddie catalina”, as of today. at some point or another there might be more of eddie catalina. thanks for reading and your support. i appreciate it very much.

copyright 2014 by john hauge

eddie catalina part 13

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marvel january found a spot at the curb near the southwest terminal exit doors. his flashing lights kept the airport police at bay. though a corporal did wander up to the car and ask if they could be of any assistance. marvel politely declined. the lieutenant also figured lt vacas would spot him easier with the lights flashing. he got out of the car and stood by it on the sidewalk.

a glut of people began exiting the southwest terminal. towards the end of the group a man dressed in a business suit came up to him and spoke.

lt january? I’m lt estaban vacas of the nevada state police.

nice to meet you lt. the pleasure is all mine.

the two men shook hands and lt january offered to put his counterpart’s small bag in the trunk. with that accomplished both men got in the car.

lt, i know a little bar not far from here where we can get an outstanding vodka martini along with a very good prime rib sandwich. you up for it?

sounds good to me, lt. lunch was a long time ago. plus, i’m thirsty.

good. we can talk there as well.

lt january easily maneuvered the crown vic through the early evening LAX traffic. the lieutenants chatted amicably about police work and families as they drove to the small bar. marvel parked the crown vic in a red zone near the front door of the bar. he didn’t bother with the standard lapd placard. to any cop on the beat the shinny crown vic could only mean lapd brass. the car would be left alone.

as the men entered the bar the nevada cop spoke.

i was expecting a cop bar, lt. this is far from the usual cop hang out.

glad you approve, lt. my partner and i came across this place several years ago during a homicide investigation. we’ve kept it to ourselves. no sense ruining the place with the police.

good point. and one that makes perfect sense.

the bartender was busy with a few customers at the bar but smiled warmly and nodded his head towards the two men. while nodding and smiling back lt january held up two fingers. marvel gestured toward a table at the back of the bar. they could sit there and easily talk with no one close enough to listen in on their conversation.

not long after they had sat down two ice cold martinis were delivered by the bartender. marvel spoke.

thanks, jerry. we’d like two prime rib sandwiches, please. extra crispy fries for me. lt?

sounds fine.

coming right up, gentleman. and nice to see you again, marvel.

how’s your brother in law?

doing ok. he often says he’s a lucky man, lt.

he might be that but i’m a better cop. tell him i said hi.

sure thing. i’ll be back soon with your sandwiches.

lt january turned to estaban.

long story short, my partner and i cleared his brother-in-law on a murder beef back around the time we found this place. it wasn’t even a tough nut to crack. simple really. but everyone is still grateful.

always a nice thing. this place is really small. where’s the kitchen?

they don’t have one. just a reefer unit, small deep fryer, and a microwave. ok, i see where you’re going. jerry’s brother in law works at lawry’s prime rib. they have so much leftover he skims some and shifts it over here. yeah, i know. it isn’t legal and the health department would frown on the whole deal but the stuff is as fresh as it can get and tastes great. all in all another reason we don’t tell anyone about this place. and if the guys behind the bar hear anything we hear about it too. it all works out.

big city cops at work.

hahaha. yeah, i suppose. so tell me lt, you ever do any work dealing with the mob out there in nevada or is that a silly question?

not a silly question, lt. everybody believes the mob doesn’t have much influence in nevada these days. not after howard hughes bought everything up and the feds made a number of big busts back in the 70′s. the mob is still alive and doing ok. not by their old standards but making some bucks and giving us something to do when the other criminals are taking a vacation.

i see. yeah, i’ve heard that. we’ve still got our mickey mouse branch of la cosa nostra out here too. mostly loan sharking and money laundering for the mexican and el salvadorean gangs. some sports booking as well. and a bit of narcotics thrown in with the asian groups too. t hey make a mess of things at times but like you say it gives us something to do when things are quiet.

jerry the bartender delivered the two cops their prime rib sandwiches, extra crispy fires, two small bowls of au jus, and several tiny bottles of a name brand ketchup.

you gentlemen need anything else? another drink?

no thanks, jerry. we have some work to do this evening. just box a sandwich order up to go for my partner, ok?

you got it, lt.

the two men ate in silence for a bit then lt vacas spoke.

hey, this is good. almost makes the trip worthwhile.

both men laughed and continued eating. vacas spoke again.

you gonna tell me about the gun and the bullets? and maybe the guy driving that mustang we have on ice in an impound yard?

lt marvel january smiled and said.

i thought you’d never ask, lt.

this last appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 12

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by the time lt january got back to the interrogation room eddie had finished his sandwich and coffee. before going in the lt told sgt johns about the phone call to nevada. huddled together and combined with their hushed voices none of the other detectives in the squad room heard what they were discussing. as the lt was about to enter the room he told mick to turn the video camera back on.

how was dinner?

just great. almost like a good basque joint, lt.

good to see you still have a sense of humor, eddie.

what else is a poor boy to do? i’m glad the running is over. but i’m a bit worried, to say the least, about what comes next.

well, tell you what, eddie, a lot of that depends on you.

how so?

you’ll find out soon enough. if i unhook you do you promise to be a model prisoner? no bullshit. tantrums. or other crazy insane shit? you sit here like a gentleman or walk around the room if you like. i’ll knock when i want to come back in again. you hear a knock you go sit in that chair and be a choir boy. alright?

ah, sure, ok. what’s going on?

like i said, eddie, you’ll find out.

with that the lieutenant unhooked the cuffs from eddie’s wrist and slipped them into his pocket. as he left the room he said.

you just be cool. this might take awhile. ok?

i suppose i have no choice.

nope.

lt january closed the door and told mick johns to leave the camera running and keep an eye on eddie. the sergeant nodded his ascent as the lt handed him back his cuffs. marvel january went back to his desk to wait for the phone to ring.

after several calls and a little over an hour and a half of waiting his phone rang again. this time it was the call he had been waiting for.

just a moment, lt. mick, take eddie to the can and see if he wants more coffee or another sandwich.

sure, loot.

mick got up and knocked on the door. waited a moment then entered. eddie was sitting quietly in the chair.

come on, eddie, restroom break.

eddie got up and the sergeant led him to the restroom.

ok, estaban, what do you have for me?

the gun and rounds were right where you said they would be, marvel. though i seriously doubt you’ll find any prints on them with the water and all. but they are properly bagged tagged and awaiting your decision.

that was much quicker than i expected.

we have a new chopper that covers quite a bit of ground in a very short time. a very nice time saving tool. a gift from our at times friendly benefactors, the feds. we actually got two of them due to homeland security and our dams.

good for you guys, lt., we could use a few ourselves. traffic around here is usually horrible. anyway, if it isn’t too much trouble lt can you deliver the evidence bag down this way? asap?

let’s see. if i can get a flight to l.a. tonight i don’t see why not, lt. i can use a break from the cold.

i’m sorry it’s such short notice but i’m sure you know how things can work out.

it’s alright lt i’m always prepared to take flight as it were. i imagine you are too.

you’re right. it’s the nature of the game.

absolutely. let me put you on hold and i’ll check on a flight right away.

marvel january didn’t say anything but heard a click on the line. he was on hold. he sat thinking and wondering. soon he would know.

lt?

yes.

if i leave right now i can be in l.a. by 9:30 this evening at the very latest.

very good. airline and flight number? i’ll pick you up myself.

southwest, number 1966.

see you when you arrive around 9:30. that will leave us enough time for a quick drink and maybe a prime rib sandwich.

i’m looking forward to it.

both men hung up and lt january went back to the interrogation room. eddie was inside eating another sandwich and drinking another cup of coffee.

mick, the nevada cop will be here tonight. i’m going to go pick him up. are you ok? this could be awhile.

i’m good, marvel. i’ll keep an eye on him and keep the lookie loo’s out of the way. i’ll brush up on my ‘angry bird’ skills while i’m at it.

yes, i know you will on all counts, mick. thanks, man. i’ll be back when i’m back. and mick, just in case the feds come sniffing around keep eddie inside and under wraps. no more breaks till i get back.

not a problem. eddie and i will be here, loot.

lt marvel january removed his pistol from a desk drawer and put it in his empty shoulder holster then headed out the door. the clock on the wall read 7:30.

this last appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 10

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lieutenant marvel january had been a cop for 26 and a half years. he always added the half or the quarter or whatever it amounted to. he thought it was important to do so. he wasn’t sure why. he just did it.

marvel found his partner, sgt mick johns, in the men’s room and told him they had to roll. eddie catalina had just called from ontario and the ontario pd were sitting with him. johns zipped up and said.

no shit? eddie called huh?

yeah. couple of minutes ago.

he say anything?

no. i did most of the talking and he just agreed to stuff.

man, this job is amazing at times.

the two men made it down to the street and their 7 year old crown vic. old but still newer than most of the other detective barges. marvel was a good cop who closed cases and he knew things. hence, the newer ride, plus he took care of the vic. he took it home a few times a year and hand waxed it himself. though he told the rest of the unit he paid to get it done at a car wash near his place. no one ever suspected a thing. the lieutenant got in the passenger seat. he rarely drove and he sure as hell wasn’t going to drive way out to ontario and back. not today anyway. besides johns was a good driver. the sergeant spoke.

lights? siren?

sure why not. we can’t have an ontario black and white tied up too long now can we?

both men buckled up and the car sped away from the curb. first the lights then the siren. johns also tapped on the horn as he made a wide left at the first intersection heading towards interstate 10 east. january smiled as the car skidded around the corner. they always got some looks when johns was in his mario andretti mode. marvel figured they must be a sight. an old shinny cop barge. lights. siren. screeching tires. a very large black man in the passenger seat more or less lounging and a big white guy driving while pounding on the steering wheel not unlike popeye doyle in the movie ‘the french connection’.

with half closed eyes january gave his partner a semi sideways look and said.

try not to kill anybody before we hit the freeway. ok?

i haven’t yet. and i don’t plan on it today. all i need is some room to move. take a nap. ok?

that was their standard and usual mantra whenever they first went code 3. after that they both settled in for the ride. lt january lost in his own thoughts and sgt johns ripping up the road and scaring the citizens. the lapd brass had given up trying to get the two of them to change. marvel january and mick johns got results. regardless.

once lapd figured out they had two dead mobsters on their hands. one of them an upper level hood the case had been handed over to lapd’s elite robbery homicide unit. lt marvel january and his partner mick johns in particular. two old hands at getting results and closing the book on lala land weirdness as marvel was fond of saying. though this one had eluded them so far but that was about to change.

when they hit the freeway the sargent turned off the siren and only used it occasionally to get people to move out of their way. the lights stayed on. by the time they made it through west covina the traffic had thinned out some and johns made up for lost time.

we’re flying low now, partner.

marvel just grunted and kept his eyes closed.

once over kellogg hill and down into the pomona valley johns was able to take the car pool lane again and stay in it. he blipped the siren once or twice to move cars out of the way.

almost there loot.

let’s see. take vineyard. not archibald. then hit a left at holt. i’m thinking you’ll see the place on the right. hit the siren as we pull into the lot. the patrol guys should bring him out then.

sure.

the crown vic left the freeway and made it’s way to the cheap motel. johns hit the siren once as they entered the parking lot. the two ontario officers walked eddie out of the room and down the stairs to the waiting lapd car.

thank you, officers. we’ll take over from here. sergeant, get your cuffs on mr. catalina so the ontario guys can get theirs and head out on patrol.

while that was going on marvel spoke again.

eddie. i’m lt marvel january lapd robbery homicide. this is my partner, sgt mick johns. you sure as hell made my day when you called. i was beginning to have visions of being transferred out to hollywood vice. ok. here’s the deal. you stay cuffed and we take you back to l.a. just sit tight and don’t say anything. ok?

ok.

you start talking and i’ll have to mirandize you. i don’t wanna do that just yet. capisco? we’ll chat back at headquarters.

sure.

sergeant, get eddie in the car and let’s get out of here.

the wind blew up a small dust devil as the crown vic sped out of the lot and headed west back toward downtown l.a.

this originally appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 9

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it was warm and the air clear due to a slight santa ana with the warm winds coming out of the east. eddie catalina stepped off the plane and back to the city from where he had come. he’d left years ago vowing to never return. well, never say never he thought. here he was back again. no where to go and almost broke. no prospects either. jesus, when things spiral out of control they spiral until the wings fall off. then it’s a free fall until the sudden stop. eddie was beginning to wonder when the sudden stop would come.

the airport had changed since he was last there. he could tell a new terminal had replaced the old one at some point long ago. when was the last time he had flown in or out of ontario? probably the flight to oakland after his leave home before vietnam. no, that didn’t make sense. had to be his flight from oakland after his return from vietnam. a long time ago.

standing out on the sidewalk smoking with no plan in mind wasn’t a good idea. eddie figured there probably wasn’t anyone still living in the area from the old days. and he couldn’t just grab a cab and ride around all day and night looking for something or someone that probably wasn’t there anymore. a cheap hotel seemed to be his only option at the moment. a very cheap hotel if he didn’t find some money soon. he walked out to the curb as a cab pulled up. eddie told the cabbie to find him the closest cheapest hotel or motel.

the cab dropped him off at a motel not far away from the airport on east holt. it was a run down joint that looked like it catered to hookers and druggies. eddie wasn’t surprised. some things never change even with progress. eddie paid the cabbie and went into the dingy office. it smelled of tobacco, stale sweat, a tinge of blood, and a lot of tears. gag reflex was the only other thing that came to his mind.

yeah, can i help you?

i suppose. i need a room for a couple of nights.

we got a couple. one up one down. take your pick.

up i guess.

214. take the stairs to the left. that’ll be $66 for two nights. if you decide to stay longer i’ll cut you a rate for weekly or monthly. take your pick.

ok. thanks. i’ll let you know.

sure.

eddie counted out the money which left him with somewhere near the one thousand dollar mark. when you’re on the run money seemed to just vanish. the thought of calling the lapd again flashed through his tired mind but he quickly forgot about it. he took his key and went up to his room. hopefully, it wouldn’t become his home.

it wasn’t much of a room and it smelled like a well used ashtray that had never been cleaned. a good thing eddie had started smoking again. there was also a shabby bed covered by an even shabbier spread with all manner of stains on it. several large holes in the dirty shabby carpet as well. he would have to be careful at night. his inspection of the bathroom was somewhat of a surprise. compared to the rest of the room it was a diamond in the rough. eddie tried the tv set next which worked and offered basic cable along with a free porn channel or two. yeah, hooker haven for sure. so much for quiet nights.

he lit up as he sat at the cheap table that over looked the parking lot while hoping the chair he was sitting in wouldn’t fall apart. as he sat there smoking a car pulled into the lot. an old beater for sure but the lady driving wasn’t.

the car parked in the spot directly under eddie’s window. a youngish black woman got out and came up the stairs. eddie had a thought and he needed to hurry. he was up and outside his door when the lady passed by.

hi, sugar. you looking?

i’m looking but not for what you have in mind.

really? so what you want?

i’m looking for a ride over to claremont. if you’re interested in that proposition i’ll buy you dinner later.

harrumph. i’ll think about it.

eddie watched as the lady walked down to her room. he turned and went back inside his room thinking, another fine mess to go along with his first day of hiding in plain sight. moving back to the rickety chair he lit another cigarette. eddie sat smoking, thinking, and staring into the distance. shambles. his life was nothing more than a massive shambles. lighting another smoke with the butt of the other one eddie picked up the phone.

he dialed 9 for an outside line. then 0 for an operator.

operator.

can you connect me with lapd homicide?

one moment, please.

eddie sat smoking while waiting for the call to go through. when it finally did he heard.

robbery homicide. lt. marvel january speaking.

this is eddie catalina. i believe you’re looking for me.

why yes we are, mr. catalina. we need to have a talk. where are you calling from eddie?

i’m in room 214 at the day night inn on e. holt in ontario near the airport.

marvel put his hand over the phone and told another detective to call the ontario police and have them send over a black and white asap to baby sit eddie until lapd could arrive.

eddie, i’m sending the ontario police to your motel. they’re going to sit with you until we get there. at this point eddie you’re just a material witness. ok? you won’t try and pull anything stupid now will you?

no, lieutenant, not a chance. i’m not armed and i’ll have the door open waiting for them.

eddie heard a police siren a short distance away.

good, eddie. that’s good. i’ll stay on the line until the officers are in the room with you. ok?

sure. whatever you say.

eddie lit another smoke as the ontario squad car sped into the lot. the arrival of the police took a small group of people by surprise. the group hurriedly began to disperse. eddie got up and opened the door then sat back down.

lieutenant, they’re here.

good. just relax and don’t do anything stupid.

eddie heard the cops running up the stairs. they paused at the open door with guns out and told eddie to show them his hands. he sat the phone down showed them his hands then stood up.

turn around slowly, sir, and put your hands behind your head. we’re going to cuff you for your safety and ours.

not a problem officer.

after eddie was cuffed the ontario cop picked up the phone and told lt january the situation was under control.

thank you, officer. we’re on our way. just sit tight. we’ll be there as soon as traffic allows.

the ontario cop hung up the phone then sat eddie back down on the chair. it was over. finally. it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from eddie’s shoulders. eddie sat and watched the cigarette smoldering in the ashtray. the smoke drifted up and out the open door.

this first appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 8

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eddie just kept on running until he turned the corner and into the supermarket parking lot. breaking hard he almost fell. winded but no worse for wear he walked around a bit trying to catch his breath. once he’d done that he walked into the store and bought a carton of camel lights.

after his purchase he went back outside to the sound of sirens. very close sirens. he lit a smoke and casually walked around a corner and up to idaho st. one of the main east/west streets in elko. he turned left on idaho. several police cars whizzed past with sirens and lights blazing. they all turned south on 4th ave.

when eddie got to 4th he looked around the corner. what he saw was a scene from just about any run of the mill riot. the bikers, and there were a number of them, had descended upon the hapless mobsters for tumbling into their bikes. the mobsters were seemingly being beat senseless. elko’s finest had just begun to wade into the fray to try and quell the beatings. it was madness.

eddie kept walking on idaho until he got to the next corner. he turned south. walked down to commercial and went into the parking lot of the stockmen. it seemed as if the hotel and casino had emptied out into the lot as hotel staff, paiutes, gamblers, and drunks had all come outside to watch the show unfolding over on the next street. no one paid any attention to eddie.

eddie found his mustang. got in. fired it up and pulled out of the lot. he slowly drove up to idaho thinking hard. he needed to get out of elko. and he needed some sort of a plan. a better plan this time around. he turned left onto idaho. he was going to take 80 again but this time back to the west. canada or san francisco had come to mind. he’d worry about that later.

before he got back on interstate 80 eddie stopped to fill the mustang up with gas. he grabbed a few candy bars and bottled water as well. then he made his way onto the quiet interstate. there few cars and eddie pushed the mustang up to near 85 then settled in for the drive.

twenty or thirty minutes later eddie was eating one of the candy bars while trying to figure out his next move. the figuring wasn’t going well when he heard a loud thud under the hood then steam began to pour out of the engine compartment. by the time he pulled over to the side of the road the temperature gage was pegged out in the red zone.

just what i need, eddie thought. he popped the hood and got out of the car. gingerly opening the hot hood he released more steam into the chilly morning air. man, i don’t like the looks of this, was another thought. as the steam cleared he could tell all the belts were intact. what was the problem? then he saw it. a gaping hole where the water pump used to be. the pump had self destructed leaving eddie catalina stranded out in the middle of nowhere nevada.

he spoke out loud, another fine mess.

sighing heavily he closed the hood and looked east and west. no traffic in either direction. he thought once the mobsters were able to travel again they would probably head west. getting a tow to someplace where the water pump could be fixed might take most of the day. and most of the money he had left. plus standing around on the west bound side of the highway waiting probably wasn’t a good idea. passing pissed off and beat up mobsters just might notice him.

eddie picked his stuff from the car and crossed the median to the east bound side of highway 80. he was going to try and hitch a ride back into elko. finding a small tree he stood by it. he might be there awhile and the tree offered some shade and hid him from the traffic traveling west.

one candy bar and a bottle of water later he got lucky. a rancher in an beat up pickup stopped and gave eddie a ride back into elko. the old rancher offered to call a tow truck for eddie but he declined saying he’d take care of it once they got to elko. luckily for eddie he had the presence of mind to toss the old .357 and the few rounds left into a ditch running past the tree. the ditch had water in it. it would be a long time before anyone found the pistol. if ever.

eddie stayed quiet until he had a plan. he told the driver to drop him off at the mountain city highway exit. he was pretty sure the elko airport was just a short walk away from the exit. maybe he could catch a plane and be gone by the time the mob got it back together. either on the road or by air.

the rancher dropped him off then headed back to his own business. eddie walked to the airport and into the terminal. searching the small arrival and departure board he found a flight to san jose that was leaving in half an hour. he bought a ticket for the half full flight. with only a carry on he had no trouble making the flight. sadly, he was going to leave the mustang behind. there was no time to fix it or sell it. eddie had to keep moving.

once in the air eddie fell asleep. fitful dreams of pissed off mobsters and angry cops left him tired when he woke up as the plane was making it’s approach into san jose. after landing he found another flight. he was fast running out of cash but he had saved some by stiffing the stockmen for half the room rate and his room service tab. there was still some money left maybe enough to keep him going for a week or so if he was careful. no time to worry about that now.

his flight number was called and he joined the line of fellow passengers walking into the covered gangway. after all the passengers were onboard a stewardess had them all buckle up then told them the flight to ontario would take about an hour or so. eddie was heading back home. what was that old saying? something about hiding in plain sight. just what eddie catalina was planning on doing.

this originally appeared here in august of 2014.

jmh

eddie catalina part 6

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barely managing to get out of his clothes. eddie fell into bed. his clothing ended up in several piles scattered about the large room. too drunk to dream he was none the less woken-up several times by the large loud saturday night gambling and drinking crowd as they yelled, screamed, and carried on out in the parking lot. that along with the buzz of the hotel neon sign just outside his slightly open window which sounded, to eddie, like music as the inert gas pulsed through the glass tubing. suffice it to say, eddie didn’t have a restful night.

he was up before dawn and hung over. he stumbled about the suite looking for the coffee maker. then he realized there were no coffee makers in the rooms at the stockmen. instead they had several large military size and style coffee makers down in the casino. want a cup of joe? you had to go downstairs and score it yourself.

it took eddie several more minutes to find the appropriate clothing from the various piles in order for him to make the trip. after he managed to get dressed he went down to the casino for the coffee. he left the room door slightly ajar so he wouldn’t have to use the card key while carrying the coffee back into the room. eddie figured since he was making the trip he should get all the coffee he could carry. fortunately, the casino was empty with the exception of a couple of drunks asleep at two slot machines.

eddie dumped the first styrofoam cup of steaming coffee on the floor while trying unsuccessfully to add creamer to it. the drunks slept on. he tried again. this time he was more successful so he filled a second cup as well. he even managed to get both cups of coffee up to his suite without spilling anymore or burning himself.

he sat at the table by the front windows drinking the coffee and trying to get straight. about halfway through the first cup he noticed a commotion coming from a bar across the parking lot and to his right. a clot of people had stumbled out of a the bar and on to the sidewalk. it was just after 6:30am. the sky barely turning light. from what he could hear through the open window the voices seemed to be speaking spanish. the people had come out of a building with a simple sign that read, slots and bar. they must have spent the night drinking and gambling in the small bar.

he watched in almost dumbstruck awe as several of the people fell face first onto the sidewalk. they just laid there while the rest of the folks talked loudly and waved their hands wildly about. one of them, a man wearing a large cowboy hat, peeled off from the group and stumbled off to his car. stumbling and zig zagging across the parking lot he stopped in front of a pick-up. fumbled for his keys. dropped them. twice. then managed to finally get the driver side door open. it took several tries for him to actually get inside the truck.

eddie couldn’t take his eyes off the drunk. the man finally got the truck started. turned on the headlights and drove away. amazing, eddie thought. although he had probably done the same thing a time or three himself. in particular the night and morning before he’d killed the mobsters.

he was working on the second cup of coffee when two cabs pulled up in front of the bar. the crowd of drunks began to get in both of the cabs. the two drunks who had fallen face first on the concrete got up like nothing had happened and joined the people getting into the cars. bloody amazing, eddie thought. only in the world of drunks and gamblers.

by the time the second cup was empty eddie was feeling almost normal. he was even beginning to feel hungry. a good sign. dumping the empty cups in the trash he got up. used the restroom then made his way back downstairs. there was a coffee shop a few feet from the elevators. he got out of the elevator and bumped into one of the paiutes. the indians were up early and there was already a line for the restaurant. not wanting to wait and not wanting to be to be the only non indian in the group, eddie decided to go across the parking lot to another casino and eat breakfast there.

the walk in the cold morning air further sobered him up and increased his appetite. he stepped inside the commercial casino. it was almost deserted as well. he walked by the hotel’s claim to fame, a stuffed polar bear under glass standing on it’s hind legs. it had to be almost twenty feet high. eddie stopped to gawk at the dead animal just like everyone else did the first time they laid eyes on it.

pulling himself away he went into the semi busy coffee shop. he was seated and ordered a ham and cheese omelet and a large glass of milk. once it arrived and he started eating it he was sorry he had ordered it. he wasn’t as hungry as he thought and the food wasn’t very good. gagging he did manage to finish a third of the omelet along with the milk and half a piece of toast and jelly.

he paid his tab. left a tip. then made his way back across the parking lot that separated the stockmen and the commercial. luckily for him he noticed out the corner of his eye several over dressed men smoking and talking about fifty feet to his right. there was no mistaking it or them. mobsters. they had found him. holy crap, he thought as he quickened his pace across the lot. he began to wish they were the cops.

jmh