by Dr. Rocket with Ms. Gonzo
Last time, as you recall, Texas rock singer Suze Benson and two drug-running brothers completed the first leg of their drive to Los Angeles, never imagining that their product-filled van was about to be broken into by the obsessed son of an extremely unscrupulous and powerful FBI man.
The phone in his room was ringing, and he hurriedly unlocked the door and rushed in to answer it. He was sure who it was.
Axel Hasselburger had been staying in the Watergate Hotel on his FBI business trips to the capital since the elegant establishment had opened in the late 60’s. He saw no reason to change lodgings because of the infamous scandal that had toppled his hero, Richard M. Nixon. The events that triggered Nixon’s resignation had all occurred in the adjoining office complex on the sixth floor, not in the hotel itself. Still, he sometimes felt deeply annoyed when hearing the name “Watergate.”
It was indeed who he thought, and the voice asked at once “How did it go?”
“Very well. The Senator won’t be around to retire. It may take a year or so, but that will go by quick.”
“Hmm. It will have to do. Did Mister Trouble ask any questions?”
“Several, and was dubious.”
“OK. He’s second guessing too often. Recommendations?”
Hasselburger didn’t pause. “Termination.”
“Noted.” There was a click.
He hung up and sat down on the bed, loosened his tie and kicked off his shoes. An image of Imants came to mind again. This time he acted on it and called the house in Dallas. His longtime maid Magnolia picked up, sounding sleepy.
“Magnolia.” Imants’ father seldom said hello.
“Yass, Mista Hasselburger.” Her voice changed pitch to the cautious deference she used with him.
“Check on Imants. If he’s asleep, don’t wake him.”
“Yessah.” She put the phone down, and in her absence he took off his socks, marveling briefly as usual how good it felt. But his mind snapped back to his train-wreck of a son. His mother had ruined him. Damn her.
On the phone he could Magnolia in the distance calling Imants’ name loudly. Clearly not asleep in his bed. He nodded slowly. His instinct was right again: something was wrong. He’d have to fly back tomorrow, early.
Imants had boldly pulled his father’s Monte Carlo into the motel lot and parked at the far end. Confused by what he had observed so far, and suspicious and jealous of Suze and the Carter brothers, he ground his teeth together.
This is abnormal behavior, he reflected yet again. Why is she doing this? It doesn’t make any sense. Imants felt the familiar burning, churning sensation of angry frustration. Why was Suze doing this to him?
He watched with a confused frown as Suze went into one room and the two men she was with went into the adjoining one. That van she’s driving. Gotta search that van. Better park further away. He fired up the overpowered engine.
Suze hadn’t realized how tired she was until she had shucked off her clothes and gotten between the sheets. But she couldn’t fall asleep at first. She turned over several times.
God, I’m horny. It’s been months. Those sweetly musky Billy smells from the farmhouse towel must have gotten to her. Or perhaps his proximity riding in the van. She thought about touching herself, but the squirming sensation faded, and she drifted off.
She was startled awake by a dream of her father, talking with her as they walked along one of their favorite paths at the old house. “It’s all so much clearer now,” he stated in his firm voice. “I was wrong about a good many things, but I love you, baby, and tried to raise you right. The Golden Rule, that’s the most important one.”
“Yes,” she said, nodding vigorously in agreement. Then it hit her, jolting her into a state of lucidity. “But Daddy, you’re dead.” She started to wake, but fought it, holding on, staring at his dear features. He held a finger aloft, semi-mockingly, a gesture she loved that he only did with her.
“Be careful, Suze. Be very careful.” He faded, still smiling. She awoke with moistened eyes.
Oh Daddy. Was that really you, or me missing you? She became aware of the sound of rain outside, and a metallic noise she couldn’t account for. The van was parked just outside the motel window. The van. She sat up abruptly.
Imants had been semi-tutored in various arts by his father’s visiting FBI co-workers, who found Imants amusing. Lock-picking was one of the skills he had learned, but he wasn’t an adept. Fumbling awkwardly with the picking tool in the steady rain, he had finally got the back of the van open. It’s just music cases. They are a band, going to play some town ahead.
But then Imants caught a faint whiff of an unusual odor. Drugs. He risked a glimmer from his flashlight. Just cases, but still… Drugs, definitely. I need to open one of these cases.
He stood on the bumper and reached into the few feet of free space beneath the van roof to pull on a smaller case, and managed to partially dislodge from it the rest. He hopped down, reached in and pulled harder. Thunder rumbled in the medium distance.
Suze leapt up, trying to find her clothes in the dark. Frustrated, she attempted to pull the bedspread off, but it was tucked extremely tightly. She peeled it back, yanking at it. Another clunking sound from outside. Some damn thief tryin’ to wreck my deal. Enraged, she grabbed a pillow, holding it in front of her nude body, and threw open the motel door.
Imants, confounded by the multiple straps holding the smaller case in place, failed to notice the door opening, the faint sound masked by the rain.
Suze bounded out and shouted “Hey you!” She whapped him in the head with the pillow as hard as possible and Imants froze, his back to her. Suze, infuriated by her lack of impact, yelled again and kicked him as hard as she could with her bare foot, right between his legs.
Emitting a loud, dismal groan, and keeping his face averted, Imants ran off, bent over and limping noticeably, as the light in the brothers’ motel room snapped on. Billy and Rob, the latter with a handgun, ran out cursing; they were stunned at the sight of Suze who stood naked in the rain, pillow in hand, next to their violated craft, as a dark figure shambled away hastily into the dim first light of dawn.
Rob recovered first, pocketing the pistol, looking around at the nearly empty parking lot. “Let’s go. Get dressed, we’ll lock up.”
Suze nodded, suddenly realizing she was both naked and wet from the rain, as well as in shock from the events, and she turned for her open door.
Billy watched, waited until her door closed, and then pointed to the van. “Look which case he was goin’ after.”
A half hour later they were seated at a breakfast cafe a few miles away. The three sat dazed over their waffles and sausages until Billy looked up and spoke quietly in a mock-dramatic movie announcer voice.
“One woman, alone, armed only with her wits and a fully loaded pillow… versus the most dangerous thief in the state of Texas…a vicious menace working under the cover of darkness.” Rob put his fingers to his lips, but struggled to hide his grin. Suze chuckled quietly, and looked around, but the few cafe patrons ignored them.
“Ya missed it, but I got in a kick to his tallywhacker that he’s still feeling.” The brothers nodded in near unison, impressed.
“Well, damn. You just earned your whole salary the first night,” Rob said slowly.
Billy nodded again. “No wonder he was runnin’ so funny. But Suze, how come you ain’t in Playboy Magazine yet?” He tilted his head with a mild leer.
“Oh ya’ll hush,” she said quietly, turning a bit pink in the cheeks. She finished her coffee, pushed back her plate and stood abruptly. “Gonna visit the ladies room.” This time they both watched her go.
Imants sat miserably in his father’s car a block away, watching the doors to the cafe and trying to sit comfortably despite his aching groin. He was numb both that Suze had kicked him in his most sensitive spot, and his growing belief that she had likely fallen in with drug dealers.
His mind grappled with the problem of what to do. He had managed to maintain the tail from the motel to the cafe, but now what? The rain had stopped, some part of his mind registered.
That his worst fears about her were coming true, he had no doubt. But, she needs to be rescued. If only I could speak to Suze, reason with her, show her she is off the true path. His thoughts, as they sometimes did when thinking about her, became chaotic and cloudy.
Imants pulled out the worn picture of his mother he kept in his wallet, the last one of them together, earmarked and worn. He preferred to remember her smiling with her arm around him, a small eight-year-old boy, not the mental picture of his mom leaving, tears streaking her face, her face lined with worry and care, somehow hideously bruised. No, I can’t lose Suze. I can’t.
He became electrifyingly aware of how confused and mixed up his feelings were about Suze.
They had met at the neighborhood church, where Imants had been praying for deliverance with tears streaming down his cheeks. He’d opened his eyes to see Suze standing in front of him, radiant at 13, blonde hair glowing in the light. “You okay?” she asked in concern. I am now. God has answered my prayer. I am to be saved.
Suze hadn’t really wanted to know Imants. She felt some obligation to him because he attended her church, but she instinctively knew he was creepy, and likely creepier than she could imagine. Later, Imants attended the local high school, a year behind her, and she had stood up against the near universal hazing directed at Imants, but it was a losing battle, and only seemed to make his obsession with her get worse.
Imants shook his mind free from his repetitive train of misery. He adjusted his pants again. He knew he had to do something, but had no idea what.
When Suze emerged from the shabby restroom, her hair was pinned up and she had put on a bit of makeup, her walk full of confidence. Damn right, I earned my pay. Something horrible happened, that guy she’d kicked… but still. If that’s the worst, this trip will be a blast, especially with Billy boy by my side. But that was a gun Rob had. She pushed the thought away. Onward.
Rob had paid the tab and the brothers stood outside in the sudden bright sunlight. She pushed open the heavy smudged glass door and joined them, smiling with good cheer. Billy grinned back brightly, adjusting items in his shoulder bag: newspapers, a Carlos Castaneda paperback book, bananas.
“All ready?” Rob asked. Her nod was firm and quick. He glanced at her, and then a line of dark clouds on the horizon to the north. He grunted. “I wanna get the hell out of Texas today.”
She nodded again. “Me too. Let’s hit the road, jack.”
To be continued in Chapter Six: Trouble Highway