by: Doctor Rocket with Ms. Gonzo
Last time, as you recall, Texas rock singer Suze Benson took the wheel of a van loaded with illicit drugs, and headed off with two desperate brothers on a major drug run to Los Angeles. She little dreamed she was being tailed by an FBI man’s obsessive son, who was determined to save her soul, win her heart and punish the young men corrupting her… punish them severely.
“Ten-four, good buddy,” Billy drawled into the CB microphone, exaggerating his Texas accent in his deepest tone. He let go of the hand-held mike switch with a click, and turned towards her, dimly lit in the dashboard light. “With him comin’ along behind us, no cops on our ass, this will be a snap.”
Suze grinned, nodding her head. The brothers had wanted to try out the radios right away, and they had already chosen handles for their identities that suited their tastes. Rob was Rootin’ Tootin’ and Billy’s handle was Wheatbread, which cracked Suze up.
“Why Wheatbread?” she laughed. He looked over at her, and felt a rush of emotion combined with cautionary inhibition.
“Because I made some Swiss Cheese sandwiches before you got to the farm. Got us a cooler behind the seat. Want one?”
“Sure!” Suze suddenly realized she was not only famished, but thirsty. “Got anything to drink?”
“Some soda cans. Rob said no beer.”
“Damn…” He’s right. We got a ton of pot back there.
Billy quietly chuckled. “Truth is, I put some in anyway. Carlsberg Elephant.”
Suze laughed. “You rascal. And imported too!”
They listened to the Dallas radio as they drove through the darkness, munching and swigging their bottles. Billy punched the radio buttons, eliciting “…more scattered thunderstorms, locally heavy in some areas.” Billy grunted, peering up ahead, but the earlier lightning in the north and west had stopped. He took another bite of sandwich.
“Billy why’s this taste so good?”
“Veggies I guess, we had some good tomatoes and bell peppers in the garden.” They chatted on about how delicious home-grown veggies were, compared to store bought, moved on discussing the beer, the beer name, elephants in general, and how sad zoos were. They wound up laughing when the conversation shifted to music. The found they had a lot in common, especially regarding the Blues.
After they got through the Dallas metro area the van and Rob’s Delta 88 exited the interstate and headed west on 380 towards Decatur. The wind was picking up but the van was riding solidly because of the load in back. The chat wound down and Suze had a moment to think about her life, and feel thankful for her freedom.
Imants, sweating as he drove, reevaluated his situation as the miles wore on. His father had not given him permission to drive the souped up Monte Carlo. It was Father’s pride and joy, and he was mortally afraid of the consequences of something going wrong. It wasn’t too late to turn around. But it would mean defeat, bitter and final. Suze appeared to be under the spell of bad people. In that van up there. Evil men. Godless Evil.
He clenched his jaw, brain whirling, and reached into his father’s Gladstone Bag. For all his life, the bag had been his father’s sacred item, always in the FBI man’s possession. Perhaps he had left it for him to find! But even as the thought hit him, he knew it to be untrue. His hand hit something. He pulled it out.
A gun! Imants tossed it back into the bag hastily. This was the opposite of… of… Suze standing delightfully nude as he watched through that farmhouse window. He felt a powerful blast of desire. Suze, so beautiful, a Goddess… bedeviling dream come true. God had made her for him, had shown her to him.
He reached into the bag, pulled out the pistol again. Hefted it, eyes on the distant taillights in the blackness ahead. His member stiff, guts roiling. Jesus, help me. And what about Father? God forbid he should come home and find his car missing. FBI Sector Chief Hasselburger would whip him silly.
In distant Washington D.C., Axel Hasselburger looked at the six other men at the long table. “Make no mistake, this incorruptible bastard is one of the biggest threats we face. So we are unanimous?”
Nods, some enthusiastic, some faint. The man at the far end, in the shadows, spoke slowly. “Taking out a sitting U.S. Senator… does it get any more serious?”
Imants’ father looked up, and repressed several sharp retorts. “Yes,” was his only reply. His listeners found it chilling.
Somehow his questioner found the nerve to speak. “Of course, the Church Committee…” The man stopped, started again. “Will it be done…”
Hasselburger frowned and interrupted. “In a way so that no one will ever know. He won’t last next year. He’ll get a statue or memorial, and the message will be sent.”
Hasselburger began putting documents in his briefcase, signaling meeting’s end. He missed that Gladstone Bag tremendously, he realized again, as the men stood and left. It was in the Monte Carlo, safe in the garage. He thought about troubled, unpredictable Imants, and suddenly frowned. His instinct, so trusty over the years, was kicking in. Something. Something was wrong.
In Texas, aware of the importance and seriousness of their journey, Suze’s musing gave way to the current situation. She felt a surge of optimism, pleased and bemused to be at the wheel of a van loaded to the top with God’s special and wrongfully illegal plants. Her earlier fears had dissipated and Suze became exuberant. “Wooo, we are regular desperados like Cheech and Chong!”
Billy, riding shotgun casually with his feet on the dashboard, looked over at her. Suze had her window down to catch the breeze, and he admired her in the dim light. “If yer finished, gimme that empty.” He flipped both the glass bottles out his passenger window, and grinned. “Less of a bust. Let’s see if Rob starts hollerin’.”
He turned down the car radio, turned to face her, and chatted about music some more and then spoke of her band, which Rob had joined three months previously, at the start of Suze’s blazing run of summer gigs at the Last Chance Saloon. Billy had seen many of those crazy nights, and expressed his fondness in strong language.
“I liked Suze and the Bruisers, too,” he said, speaking of her first band.
She laughed, astonished. “You saw the Bruisers? We were too wild to last. But damn I loved those boys.”
She found herself telling Billy about her earlier experiences. Suze was living with her then-husband and performing at clubs for the first time, but when her dad died, she’d moved back into her family home to help her mom. And had never moved back in with her spouse. The marriage was a miserable experience she was relieved to be free of.
Suze’s sister worked as a nurse in Los Angeles, so a lot of the morbid details of her father’s funeral arrangements fell on Suze’s shoulders. It was eventually decided that her mom move in with her more stable and now-pregnant sister, so Suze had also had to help her mom dispose of a lifetime of stuff and sell the house. The mortgage had taken most of the profit. Suze’s voice tailed off, and she sighed.
Billy knew only a few bits of this, and was horrified by the larger tribulations of her life, of which he had known little. Troubles were a downer, he wanted to talk music to change the mood. “I’m just glad you kept your music going.”
“Only thing that kept me sane.”
“I hear that! Well. Rob and I used to sneak into The Ruby to see you. I was there the night the guitar player fell off the stage.”
Suze giggled loudly, sliding back into a state of amusement. “His last night.” She fell silent a moment as a spatter of rain hit the windshield. “Frank was so unpredictable, but when he was hot, he was the best player I ever had; he could make everyone in the room freekin’ wig out. He had those Mike Bloomfield blues chops down cold.”
“Yeah, I was there the night he stood on top of his Twin Reverb. That was like a fifteen minute solo, right? And he was doing those fills when you were singing…Turn on Your Love Light. So cool. Rockin’!”
Suze giggled again, closer to a guffaw. “Goddamn, I am amazed you saw that! It was a special night.” She looked over him with a look of mock rebuke. “How were you even there? A bit young for The Ruby then, weren’tcha?”
Billy was animated. “Yeah, but Rob knew the bouncer. He knows a lotta people. Anyway, I convinced him to take me, the hardass, and…”
The CB crackled into life. “Watch your speed there, Wheatbread. You’re a bit high.”
They looked at each other and burst into laughter. “His ears were burning! I love it,” Suze said. A sudden spatter of rain hit the windshield as she let up a bit on the pedal.
Billy pushed the handset switch. “Copy,” he said in a quiet tone, let up the switch, and chuckled loudly, “At least he didn’t see those bottles. Better not let him know we’re having fun.”
Hmm. Yes. And that was strong beer. She felt tingly, damn pheromones, huh. She looked over at him again. “Billy. What are ya’ll gonna do after this, in California?”
Billy shrugged in the darkness. “I’d like to try surfing for a day or two. Get shitfaced after this. Buy a cool car, maybe a Stingray! Drive it back to the farm, I dunno. We might have another run like this one in a couple weeks, then I could get my own place in town. Girls don’t like coming out to that ol’ farm; my last girlfriend thought the place was too funky.”
“Last girlfriend huh?” she teased. “What a ladies man!”
“Well, and she was a bit kinky. I didn’t understand lingerie until… and the fur handcuffs, man, and, well, that was just the start.”
Yikes. And I thought he was still a kid. She debated a neutral sounding question or something to tease him with, but he spoke first. “What about you? What are you gonna do when you get there?”
Right, what about me? “Now that I’m sorta rich… get a car, get a place with a view, visit with my mom and sister and my baby niece. I wanna start a new band, write some tunes.” Suddenly a great hunger to do this, and more, grabbed her. Those demo cassette tapes, gotta get ’em out to the right A&R guys!
“Well shee-it. We’re gonna miss ya in Garland. Why ya leaving’ us?”
“Oh God, too much to say. I just need a change.” No way am I going to talk about Imants, any more about the ex and all the rest now. The radio voices sang, if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with – love the one you’re with. Yes, perhaps so. She looked over at Billy to find him looking at her. She felt a surge of, of what? Lust? She had been so shut down since the divorce…
A massive bolt of lightning lit the sky ahead, but there were still only a few drops on the windshield. They rode in silence for a few minutes, until another bright bolt from the sky illuminated the front interior of the drug-filled van, this time with a goodly boom of thunder. “Wow!” they both exclaimed in reaction to the blast.
Rob’s voice crackled again from the CB. “That was close. We better stop at the next motel. Looks pretty hairy up ahead.”
To be continued in Chapter Five: The Break-in