“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.
“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.”