Thursday, October 27, 2011


Ken went to bed after the two lawmen took their leave. Years ago, he’d be mad at this sort of development, thinking that he’d been suckered somehow- and he had gotten suckered into this before. This time, he noticed, he felt nothing. No anger, no resentment, no sense at all of being on the wrong end of a con- nothing at all. It just didn’t matter anymore. Why this, again, came to him did not mean a damn thing. Those details would sort themselves out, and they always did, when it was time to do so. All that mattered was the goal.

Kathy slipped into his bed as he reflected on this, and she noticed the look—that look what to her meant serious business either went down, or would presently—on his face. Without a word, she curled up next him; it always brought him out of his trance when they were together, and indeed he did come out again. They said nothing; they didn’t need to. They’ve been here so many times before that all what could been said had been said, and so at last both drifted to sleep in each other’s arms. The last conscious thought before dawn, for both, was “At least Reggie doesn’t mind.”

Reginald, though he slept through the night undisturbed, was no slouch. He awoke alone, which he expected, and therefore felt no surprise to see his wife and his wife’s former boyfriend together in the guest bedroom. He let them be, cleaned up and got dressed. He noticed that the gun cabinet had been used when he put the rifle back in its proper spot, and then put the pocket pistol into the holster he used when he carried it. As he saw no damage, nor signs of violence, he quickly deduced that what occurred overnight ended without bloodshed.

While he cooked his own breakfast, Reginald poked his head outside and noticed the tracks in the dirt; being quite familiar with the county sheriff’s department, he knew their vehicles well and thus guessed—correctly—that they stopped by during the night. One quick phone call got him confirmation on his hunch. As he ate breakfast and read his usual array of papers and magazines on his tablet, he put in a call to one of his businesses—the local gun store he owned—and had his manager set aside a few things for him.

Then he put in a few more calls, sent out some emails and held a brief conference call before he finished his coffee and woke up his daughter. As he hustled her out of bed and into the morning routine Reginald marked the points of similarity between himself and his progeny. While he awaited his little girl’s appearance downstairs, he pulled out the medical records and smiled- just to be certain, he had some DNA checked at birth. Reginald is an atypically accepting man of means, but he’s still a man of means and thus protects his interests, and he wasn’t about to give his wealth away to someone not of his blood.

His daughter came down to breakfast, and after breakfast the two of them left the house for some father-daughter time at the local gun club where he maintained a membership. They spent the morning shooting, and shooting video; Reginald’s latest project was a video series about teaching the fundamentals of firearms safety to children roughly his daughter’s age. When they came back to the house for lunch, Kathy and Ken were up. Kathy was in the kitchen, and Ken in the backyard.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


“You can stand down, son. I’m here to chat, not to slap irons on anyone.”

Ken slung the rifle over his shoulder and walked off the porch. Another man exited the truck.

“Ken, this is my right-hand man- Jackson. Jackson, Ken.”

Deputy Jackson walked around the truck, and the two lawmen met Ken at the foot of the porch. They all shook hands.

Just then Kathy, now in a robe, appeared in the doorway.

“What’s the matter?” she said, curious- and wary.

“They’re here to chat.” Ken said.

“That’s right, Mrs. Haroldson.” Jackson said, “We’re just here to chat.”

Kathy, and Reginald for that matter, knew what this meant- they’d done this before. Ken knew how to handle this situation—Kathy saw this before also—so she knew what to do. She went, got some cold ones from the kitchen and brought them out to the men. She took the rifle from Ken, slipped him a pocket pistol and then excused herself.

“Now,” the Sheriff said as he opened his bottle, “I heard you just got back from someplace far south.”

“I did.” Ken said, “Long stay, lots of work needed doing.” “I also heard that you found some trouble down there.”

“Nothing I couldn’t handle. Certainly nothing I didn’t handle, especially with a little help from my friends.”

Jackson laughed. “That, man, is an understatement.” “So, aside from your old ladyfriend, what brings you back to my county?”

“I’m just visiting family, Sheriff. Their little girl’s birthday party was today, and I was invited- including to stay here.”

The two lawmen looked at each other and shrugged.

“I guess you really did hurry straight here then.” Jackson said.

“Indeed, I’d say so.” The Sheriff pulls out his phone and brought up a news article. “As I recall, the last time you came to visit you ran afoul of some very vicious gangsters.”

Ken nodded. “I did. I also recall that you didn’t mind what became of them.”

“I still don’t.” The Sheriff showed Ken the article. “Their boss just busted out of a Mexican prison, with the aid of Los Zetas. From my contacts in the DEA, it looks like their gang signed on with the Zetas.”

“In return,” Jackson said, “the gang’s territory is now Zetas territory.”

“As I recall, Ken, you also had a go-round with Los Zetas.” “I did.” Ken said, “That was one wild ride, and I’m not keen to take another like it.”

“Y’know, they get TV in prison. Stories like what you did in Brazil got plenty of press in Mexico, and if someone you tangled with got word of where you’re likely to be…”

Ken rolled his eyes. “I get it. I wondered what would bring you out here, so are they coming here or not?”

“Here? Sure. For you? Can’t say. This county does remain a key piece of dirt for smuggling networks looking to link up Mexican cartels to American markets, so even if you weren’t here we’d be worrying about this.”

“It’s not like the Feds give a damn about us.” Jackson said, “Not since we busted their own end of the scheme some years bad. Well, not the Feds that call the shots for the Feds we do get along with.”

“The governor doesn’t like us either, not after we nailed the State Patrol for their own scheme last year. He’d like to get rid of us and put in someone willing to play ball.”

“And you, with your Fists of Fury, provide quite a plausible excuse for their refusal to help us until it’s too late.”

“Convenient.” Ken said, deadpan, “Convenient all around.” Ken spat.

“We agree.”

“Do they know?” Ken said, pointing to the house.

“Mr. Haroldson does. He’s been financing our preparations.”

Ken just stood there. That sounded so like Reggie.

“It’s going to get nasty, Ken. You couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Ken grimaced and sighed. “Yeah, perfect timing.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011


“I mean it, Ken. I’ve never met anyone else like you. I’ve met plenty of men like Reginald, and I’m glad that men like him exist, but they won’t do what you do- not even a measure of it. So hemming and hawing while the bad guys rape, kill, run drugs, terrorize people-“

“-and run government agencies, organize into gangs and families, even set up cults. They do all of that, and so much more- and worse. Big-timers, small-timers, all sorts doing all sorts of bad stuff to all sorts of decent people- but it’s not without remedy.”

Kathy kissed Ken’s cheek. “Marisol’s taking her life seriously now. She won’t be a victim anymore, and her kids won’t be victims anymore either. Lots of people I’ve helped over the years got the point and started taking care of themselves, much like you and Reggie do. It’s getting better, but it’s not sexy so it doesn’t get on the news.”

“You really think so?” Ken smiled and nodded.

“You’re still, at heart, an idealist.” Kathy said, “That’s why I want to ensure that there’s more like you to come.”

“I have no problem with that.” Ken said, holding her close, “Others might—not Reggie; he’s so cool that sometimes I think him more than human—but their opinion doesn’t matter. Besides, it’s not like anyone but us needs to know who begat whom.”

Kathy smiled. It wasn’t just the happy smile, but the knowing smile. Ken smiled back, and he also got what Kathy meant.

“I’m glad that you see it my way.” Kathy said, and the two stopped talking for a while.

Ken and Kathy dozed on the front porch when the distant rumble of a car on the road woke Ken up. Ken rubbed his eyes, clearing his vision, and figured from the headlights and the noise that a truck approached the house- and, thankfully, just one truck.

“Get up!” Ken said, whispering, “Get up, Kathy, and get inside.”

Kathy sat up. “What’s going on?”

Ken grabbed her by the arm and pointed out the approaching truck. “That’s going on. Get inside!”

Kathy didn’t move fast enough, so Ken pulled her to her feet and hurried her into the house. He threw on a shirt, grabbed a rifle from the cabinet and loaded it as he went back outside to see who this unexpected visitor was. The truck stopped when the headlights lit up the front porch, but even so Ken stilled noticed the light bar atop the truck’s roof. He recognized now the Sheriff’s Department truck, and relaxed his guard a bit. Here, unlike many other counties, Ken got along well enough with them.

A man got out from the driver’s side. “Just the man I’d been looking for.”

Ken recognized the voice. “I’d like to put the rifle down, Sheriff. I sure hope you’re here to be sociable.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Later, after dark, when all of the others went home and the birthday girl got tucked into her bed with a tired yawn and a gleeful smile on her face, Ken sat on the front porch in just his boxers.  Kathy lay across his lap, similarly dressed.
“I’ve missed you so much.” Kathy said, “Especially this part.”
Ken brushed her face off her face and smiled. “Ain’t no one that knows me like you do.”
She giggled.  “You got that right.”
Kathy sat up and steadied herself in his lap by embracing him, and Ken welcomed her.
“How much longer can you do this?” she said, fingering the new scars on his chest, “This shot almost got you, and when Marisol told me what happened-“
“-you choked up.  I know.  Marisol told me when I woke up.  She and I had this conversation, and you and I also had this conversation.  Both of you now know the answer.”
 Kathy nuzzled Ken’s neck.  “I do, I do.  That’s not what I mean this time.”
“You’re wondering what happens when my body won’t let me go on?  When I get too old, or rack up too many injuries, go on?”
She nodded her head.
“I die.  It’s that simple, Kathy.  I won’t stop, so sooner or later someone’s gonna get the drop on me and that’s that.”
Kathy looked at him, face to face, eye to eye.  Here they were, in their 30s, and still she wanted him to stop being the White Knight- and still he held his resolve otherwise.  The scars—the evidence, the trophies—about his face, neck, chest, arms, legs and hands spoke for him.  He walked the walk, and he was one of two men she knew that did; the other, God bless him, was asleep upstairs and did not resent one bit his wife’s affection for Ken.
“Ken, I-“
 “-don’t want to know a world without me.  You’ve told me many, many times.  That’s why we are where we are, and are what we’ve become.  It hurt when you left, but I knew why it had to be that way and I never was—nor shall I never be—angry or resentful about that.  Reggie’s a great guy, and he’s all that you need- all that I can’t be for you.  What’s scaring you now?  That you and I won’t grow old together?  That I may not see your little girl grow up, get married and make a grandmother of you?”
She shook her head.  “Not quite.”
He lifted her head up and wiped a tear away.  “That I won’t be able to come to you when you need me?”
 “Almost.” She said, and she shifted herself so that she could look right at him, “I’m afraid that, once you’re…”
 Ken gave Kathy that look, the one he always used when she equivocated.
“…dead there won’t be anyone around to take your place.”
 “And here I thought that your daughter was actually my child.” Ken said, smirking, “She certainly acts like it.”