Chapter 7: INFORMAL CONVERSATIONS
Mayhew and Vivian were the last to leave the studio. He stood next to her in the hall as she leaned back into the room to turn off the light. The old mans sharp eyes traced the graceful back line of her profile from her long delicate neck and smooth bare shoulders to the hollows of her ankles and every exciting curve in between.
The lacy pattern in her yellow summer dress hid little of the sweet, milk chocolate skin underneath. Mayhew took in as much of that picture as he could despite his best intentions not to.
In his day, he had seen bras burned by militant feminists for their reasons and bathing suits reduced to minimal strips of cloth by fashion designers for theirs. Whether the motives were political or economic, he had approved of the trend. But never did he think that he would see the day when someone as modest about her appearance as Vivian Foski would carry that trend into the average American workplace. Never would he have thought that women like her would have to.
Vivians unintentionally erotic stretch lasted only a few seconds. She found the light switch with her hand, flipped it off, then closed and locked the door.
She led the way down the off-white corridor past the open door of her control room, which was now occupied with the middle relief crew of telewindow station WQST. One man was a fair-skinned, Semitic announcer/engineer in his early thirties and the other, an Afro handyman in his fifties. The four colleagues waved at each other as they passed.
Beyond the open door, the walls on both sides were decorated with Mayhews beautiful oil paintings of Richard Wright, Albert Einstein, Mary Shelly, Nelson Mandela and Paul Simon. The old man trailed behind, as usual, to admire his work on both sides of him and Gods work in front. He couldnt feel the drool running out of his mouth and onto his beard, but he knew enough to dab at the area periodically just in case. He was doing that with his handkerchief when Vivian reached her office door and turned to unlock it.
"I wish I didnt have to subject you to this kind of risk so often," said Vivian, turning her key in the lock.
Mayhew stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket, "Youre taking as big a chance as I am," he said, "I got myself covered pretty good. But if the cops see through my setup and get me, theyll probably get you, too. And there wont be nothin I can do about it."
"Thats not what I mean," said Vivian. They entered the neat little office and Mayhew closed the door as Vivian headed for her desk with the inexpensive computer/monitor on top.
"All of us have the same problem with the law," she said, sitting at her desk and turning on the machine, "you, me, a lot of these people donating the money to the station. They know where most of it is really going and when the IRS finds out what theyre doing, theyll lose everything they own and end up in a disposal zone themselves. But you already live in one. If you werent doing this you wouldnt have to. God knows how you manage to go back and fourth every day without getting attacked."
As she spoke, she worked her fingers on the keyboard, bringing up long lists of names with various dollar amounts beside each name. The next column, with the call letter heading, "WQST," was blank, as was the one next to it labeled, "TAX MAN," and the one next to that labeled, "ST. NICK."
Mayhew pulled his wallet out of his back pocket, extracted a thin, flexible, computerized bankbook from his wallet and a bank card with his hologram on it out of a molded recess in the book. The card made a slight, metallic clicking sound as it popped out.
He said, "You know what would happen to the people this money goes to if they didnt get it. They wouldnt be able to eat, they wouldnt have a place to stay, theyd be dying of shit that wouldnt take nothin but a two dollar pill to cure."
"I know," said Vivian.
"The way I see it, aint none of us got no choice but to do what we can." Mayhew handed his card to Vivian. She held it in front of the T-window until the computers bank card reader flashed green and watched the funds next to the contributors names being deleted one by one. "Besides," continued Mayhew, "the old trooper is still a pretty tough characterand Ive got friends looking out for me. It may not look it, but Im probably safer in the DZ than you are outside of it."
Vivian cut her eye up at the man whose face showed his age but whose strong, healthy body belied it. She grinned, "You might have something there."
As each donation disappeared, a portion of it showed up in each of the other columns with a fraction of one percent going to the station, a third to the "TAX MAN" and the rest to "St. Nick." When the columns had rolled over three times, Vivian entered the St. Nick total, returned Mayhews card and switched off the computer. "That does it for today," she said, as Mayhew clicked the card back into the magnetic recess in his bankbook. "Lets get out of here."
...It was darker outside than the time of day would suggest. As Vivian locked the back door of the building and headed for her car in the lot, a dazzling flash of lightning followed closely by a deep growl of thunder explained why.
Vivian looked to the dark, threatening sky and then at Mayhew, "Better let me drive you home," she said.
Mayhew shook his head. "Rain dont bother me," he said. "Ill be OK."
"I dont know about that."
Mayhew smiled reassuringly and doffed his ratty old boony cap, "I do," he said. He saw her into her car and waved good bye, "Seeya tomorrow."
Vivian waved back, "Be careful," she said, "See you tomorrow."
Those were the last words they would ever say to each other.
Mayhew cut through the lot as Vivian drove off in the opposite direction. His stride was quick and sure. He didnt like being outside in the rain but he thought he could beat it. More importantly, he didnt want Vivian any closer to the DZ that he lived in than she already was.
He covered four blocks in record time, checking his watch now and then against familiar side street landmarks to make sure. It was a game he sometimes played with himself when he wanted to get somewhere in a hurry. The chest pains he got from time to time kept him from running the way he did when he was in his eighties. At his present age, a lot of things hurt that didnt hurt then. He didnt want to think it was serious but he saw no point in taking unnecessary chances. He felt fine when he walked. So he walked.
He didnt have to be told when he entered the disposal zone. Had he not crossed the invisible line of Livernois a thousand times he would have known by how it looked. Had he been blind, he would have felt it and smelled it. This was the street where he had seen the parked red Lexus that morning and knocked on the window to find out if anything was wrong. Unbeknownst to him, the occupant of that car had felt the same sense of despair he always did when he passed this way.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didnt notice the old, dark gray Ford Ho Chi sedan following him. It drove slowly down the street behind him like a lion stalking an unsuspecting prey. It inched closer until it was almost beside him.
Mayhew picked up the movement out of the corner of his eye and whipped his head around to see the cars side glass rolled down and a young black driver in a dark red cap. The car stopped and the driver yelled out, "You got somethin fa me, old man?"
Mayhew turned his head toward the car. "Jesse! Goddamnit! Dont you know better than to sneak up on a man like that?"
The boy opened the passenger side door. "Oh, shut the fuck up, and get in."
Mayhew got in and closed the door. "Hows your mother?" he asked, reaching for his wallet, and taking out his bankbook.
"She all right," answered the young, nondescript driver, pulling his thin, flexible, computerized bankbook from the inside vest pocket of his dark red suit. "Some a them people at the church she go to givin her a hard time about where she gittin all the money I be givin her."
He took out his card with his hologram on the front and handed it to Mayhew, who clicked it into the other molded recess in his bankbook and closed it to enter the transfer amount. Before Jesse could finish his next sentence, the electronic exchange of funds was complete. He took his card back from Mayhew and put it away absentmindedly as he continued.
"They know what I be doin on the streets wit Shag Man an dem and they think its drug money. They dont know how cheap that shit is nowadays. If you got a bank card that show you live in a DZ you can get all you want at the corner drug store for next to nothing but you caint resell it for much more than nothing. You get more than you can from sugar and tobacco but aint nobody in the urbs gittin rich off it like they used to when them church people was kids. You caint tell nona dem dat. And I caint tell nobody where the money really come from."
"What does your mother think?"
"Momma think its drug money, too. But a lotta her friends is hooked on alcohol, sugar and tobacco. They dont see nothing wrong with buying more on the street than the government quota say they can have so Momma dont care where the money come from as long as she can buy medicine people need an feed somebody that aint got nothin ta eat. If she get caught, she goin ta jail. Lotta people like Momma is goin ta jail."
The boys hands tightened on the steering wheel and Mayhew could see that he was fighting to keep his emotions in check. This wasnt like Jesse. His mother was doing what she had done for years, just as Jesse and Mayhew and Vivian were doing. It seemed more likely that he was stating the obvious as a cover for whatever hidden pain was causing such turmoil on the surface.
Recalling something that Jesse had told him when he was seven or eight years old, Mayhew thought that the problem may have been with his father. "Your father was a soldier, wasnt he."
"Yeah," said Jesse. "So what. He died before I was born."
He got killed in the Guido Calvera War, didnt he?"
"Yeah. Momma say he was a chump. She said he was fightin fa nothin. He said it was to stop the South American drug trade once an fa all. Thats what the government said, you know. And you know how long that once and fa all shit lastedtill the next election. Momma was right."
"Is that why you sell Elation?"
Jesses dark brown eyes blazed at Mayhew with anger. "Are you tryin to be some kinda amateur psychiatrist?"
Mayhews eyes blazed back. He wasnt easily cowed and his first reaction to anyone trying to intimidate him was to go on the attack. "No!" he said. Then he caught himself and mellowed his tone, "Im trying to be your friend."
The word "friend" stuck Jesse like a sharp slap across the cheek. He tensed, blinked twice and slumped back in his seat. "Im sorry," he said. "You are a friend... Another friend of mine got killed today."
So thats it, thought Mayhew. "Oh man, thats a bummer."
Jesse smirked at the funny old expression, "Yeah," he said, "A bummer."
They sat in silence for awhile, then a car came up in back of Jesses and tooted its horn. Jesse reached for his pistol and looked back to see that the driver behind him was an elderly Hispanic woman. He took his hand off of the pistol grip and pulled his Ho Chi over to the curb.
The other car went by.
Jesse was still struggling with something. He started and stopped several times. "That car... The horn... This morning... "
Then Mayhew said, "Was it the Canadian kid, Joey?
"Jimmy. His name was Jimmy.... You ever been to Canada."
"Me too. My mother took me and my sisters over to Windsor once when I was little. I dont remember none a da places we went to, what we was doin there, who we saw or nothincept a lot ofem was black. Know what I remember about Canada?"
"The way they talked."
Mayhew frowned, wondering how a young man from Detroit who had never mastered standard American English could have picked up on the subtle differences in Canadian English as a young boy. "They talk the way we do," he said.
"No," said Jesse, sadly, cocking his head meaningfully toward his elderly white companion, "They talk like you do."
The sting of Jesses words left its mark on Mayhews face. "I can talk like that too," Jesse added.
He smiled at the old mans incredulous squint. "Truth. When they still had public schools, English was my favorite subject. I didnt get nothin but As."
He again caught the doubting look on Mayhews face. This time he answered with a laugh. "I know, didnt get nothin, isnt proper English. That is, it wouldnt be proper if we were speaking formally. But, informally, anything that sounds white is OK. This is an informal conversation."
The kid was right, and Mayhew knew it. He had always thought of Jesse as brighter than most of the people in the neighborhood. But why had that opinion of his intellect taken a quantum leap up and out of the DZ when his carefully hidden command of white, affluent suburban American-English was made evident? Was it because his facility with the language demonstrated how much smarter he was than he had ever before shown himself to be, or because he sounded white? He did not sound like a Negro trying to sound "proper," or a black guy trying to sound white, but like a middle class white guy being himself. If it was not always "better" English than the way most lower class black people spoke, it always sounded more intelligent to "educated" ears.
For a white man who had always thought of himself as free of assumptions about white peoples inherent superiority to blacks, it was a gut-wrenching question to have to ask himself. Then he considered what it must be like for blacks who inherited those assumptions from the dominant culture without realizing that they had done so any more than he had.
Suddenly, he knew why it was so hard for young black kids to learn standard English. How could they? How could anyone when they first had to accept the proposition that the language they learned to think with as they learned to speak, was not merely different, but inferior? Where could they turn for help when people who spoke "proper English" viewed the black variation of it that seemed so natural to them as symptomatic of an inferior mind? No wonder so many black kids where so hostile to their own who didnt sound "black enough."
Now, Mayhew understood why the loss of Jesses young Canadian friend would be especially hard on him.
"Did you and Jimmy have informal conversations like this?"
Jesse cut him a hard look that mellowed almost immediately, "Yeah," he said. "We did. He was the only one I could talk burb to the way Im talking to you. Maybe you can hang out your psychologist shingle after all. Youre pretty quick for an old fart." The love and respect in the boys puffy eyes along with the grief and uncertainty said more than his words. There was something else he was struggling to say.
He let out a short humorless laugh. "If anybody around here had heard us talk like that they would have thought we were a couple of fags. Thats how most of them talk, you know, them and toasties trying to be white and them so-called black leaders that caint talk about nothin but black pride cause they sound white when they say anything else. Truth! Havent you noticed? Its a straight up fact.
"Jimmy couldnt talk urb. When he tried, it sounded fucked up. He didnt have a good ear for language. He never understood the grammar or the syntax or the semantic implications that we take for granted. Got him into all kindsa shit."
Jesses straight As were showing and Mayhew was beginning to wonder with growing apprehension where all of this was going. "Is that what got him killed?"
"No," snorted Jesse with a mixture of pain and contempt, "but it got him beat up pretty regularlyand just before Shag Man blew his brains out, it got him punked." Jesse was trying to appear cold and detached, but it wasnt working. "That was my idea."
Mayhew knew what it meant for someone to get "punked." Every time he heard it, he thought about the movies "And Justice For All" and "Deliverance." He had never seen anything close to it in real life and couldnt imagine standing by and letting it happen. He couldnt imagine Jesse standing by and letting it happen, let alone talking somebody into doing it to a friend.
"Why, Jess? Why would you do that?"
"...To save his life...." Jesse burst into tears, "But it didnt work!" he wailed, "Shag Man killed him anyway. And now hes going to kill the lady."
Mayhews brows knitted in puzzlement and dread. To save his life? Kill the lady? Why tell me about "the lady"? "What lady?"
Jesse didnt answer. He silenced himself completely and wiped away his tears. His chest heaved. His lower lip trembled but he said nothing until he was again in control of himself.
"Come on, Jesse. What lady is Shag Man going to kill?
"The Polish lady you work with at QSTthe one who gives you all the money to pass on to people like Momma."
The question marks imprinted in the lines between Mayhews eyebrows turned to exclamation points and the blood drained from his face. "No, not Vivian."
"Yes, Vivian Foski."
Mayhew searched his young friends face for any sign of help. "Can you drive me over to her house?"
Jesse hesitated, reading the plea for help but hearing it in his mind from another source that spurred him to action. "No," he said, "I gotta get home."
Mayhew frowned, "I see."
"No you dont," said Jesse, reaching inside of his suit jacket for one of his twin pistols and handing it to Mayhew.
Mayhew looked the weapon over quickly, surprised at how light the low density Exline plastic had made it. He found the safety, clicked it off and on then released the magazine from the handle, checked the rounds and jammed it back in place.
Jesse lifted the lid on the console and handed him two more fully loaded magazines. "Thats the most I can do for you," he said. "You better get movin. He might be on his way over there now. I called somebody but I can't be sure he got the message."
Mayhew stuffed the magazines into the deep pockets of his trousers, threw open the car door and jumped out as though he was fifty years younger. Jesse didnt mind that he had not been thanked or that his old friend had not said good-bye. Thats how it was sometimes when a man had urgent business to attend to.
The more Jesse thought about it the more certain he was that he had urgent business of his own to take care of. He wouldn't have wasted all that time talking to the old man if the talk itself hadn't crystallized his general anxiety. If Shag Man had listened in on the God ladys sister and the cop, he was probably listening in on Jesse and Mayhew, too. That meant that Jesse, his mother and his surviving sister were on a death list and he was the only one who could protect the other two members of his family.
Jesse put the car in gear and sped off.
The old man was out of sight by the time his Ho Chi got to the corner where a green van crossed in front of it and stopped. When another van raced up behind him and stopped, Jesses internal alarm system went off. He saw the small pack of young men dart out of the vehicle behind him on his side with weapons drawn and knew what was coming. He didnt have much of a chance no matter what he did. He had no chance if he did nothing.
He unlatched the door without swinging it open, reached under his seat for a light pistol like the one he gave Mayhew, one with a long magazine extending from the pistol grip. He grabbed it and pulled his heavy pistol from his holster.
Almost in the same motion that he drew the weapon from under his arm, he brought it to the open window of his car and fired two booming, well aimed shots. One of the scrambling boys fell dead on a residents trashy lawn without a sound. The other cried out and slung his weapon high in the air as he pitched forward onto the cracked walkway with the impact of the bullet in his back.
A dissonant chorus of shouts and curses preceded a storm of bullets that shattered Jesses windshield, showering him with tiny bits of glass. By that time, he was down on the seat with one foot on the floor ready to spring forward with as clear an image as he could hold in mind of where his adversaries were headed for cover. With the terrifying sound of automatic gunfire from two or three guns exploding from their shells, ripping through metal and whizzing past his ears like angry bees, Jesse launched himself out onto the street.
He hit the ground running low and fast, firing single shots as fast as he could pull the trigger into the areas hed targeted before he left the car and spraying the green van with automatic fire.
He saw a head poking tentatively around the corner of the house and put a hole in it as he dashed toward the concrete stairs after the boys hed seen heading for the bricked-in porch. A hot, led missile clipped his necklace of miniature white skulls, scattering them all over and tore through the upper sleeve of his suit jacket. Another took off his hat. He twisted his body long enough to line up on the spot where he thought the rounds were coming from and fired a quick burst.
For a moment, his guns were the only ones popping lead. That allowed him to stumble and recover before anyone could take advantage of his lost momentum. He heard more cursing and what sounded like a whimper as he bounded up the steps and onto the porch. Two young men quailing behind the brick wall never saw or heard the young street warrior until he was on top of them. The naked terror in their eyes as they saw themselves looking in the smoking barrel of his gun with their own out of position to shoot would have caused most people to hold their fire. Jesse fired four times into their chests without hesitation.
He had cover now. Time to reload. Time to think. He sat with his back to the brick wall, his head resting against it, an arm resting on the body of a dead boy. No one was shooting. His heart was thumping like a trip-hammer. Only now did he feel the searing pain in his side and the growing wet patch of blood. He cursed to himself and gritted his teeth. Who are these guys?
In the final analysis, it didnt matter. If Shag Man hadnt arranged for these clowns to take him out, he would, no doubt, see to it that the job got done if they failed.
Jesse looked at the bodies of the boys on the porch. Kids. Poor, ignorant kids. He heard a frightened voice from the side of the house where he had shot the boy in the face.
"Malcolm? Al? Budda? Tony?" He was answered by a loud peppering of bullets into the house. "Shut up you stupid nigga!"
The boy started weeping openly and Jesses heart went out to him. Feeling sorry for the enemy was a new experiencebut so was coming to terms with his own imminent demise. Yes, he was going to die in the very near future with no prospect whatever of saving his family. If he used all of his fighting skills, and his wound wasnt as bad as he thought, and he got real, real lucky, he might get off the porch alive. But how many others would he have to kill or maim to do it? And then what?
A single bead of sweat trickled down the side of his forehead.
Funny what a guy will think of at times like this. Jesse thought about Mayhew and one of his war stories....
They had been walking together down a decaying residential street like this one on the kind of hot summer day where everyone sweats. Mayhew noticed that Jesse didnt appear to be affected by the heat and mentioned it to him.
Jesse shrugged, "I never sweat. I know that sound ridiculous, but its true."
"I believe you," said Mayhew, "I knew a guy like you in the Army; Sgt. Morrison. Looked a little like you, too only he was oldway up there in his thirties." Mayhew chuckled. "He told me the same thing. I never saw him sweat, but I wasnt around him that much. I said, Bullshit.
"But then.... Well... We were followin a trail through some double canopy jungleabout two dozen of usthats what our platoon was down to cause a one thing or another. It wasnt much of a trail. We had a lotta hackin to do to go two clicks. Our ruck sacks were full and loaded down with extra water and gun ammo. Everybody musta been carryin at least seventy pounds on his back. It was as hot as it is now and the guys breakin brush up front had to switch off so nobody would get too worn out to keep goin. It was a bitch.
"Anyhow, we were cuttin and pullin our way through this shit all day lookin for bad guys and Morrison never did break a sweat. I mean, not a real pouring down sweat like everybody else. Then the RTOthats the radio telephone operatorthe guy with the radiohe gets a call from battalion tellin us to beat it back to the nearest extraction sight.
"A six man recon patrol had walked into a VC base camp; got fired up. There were some dead and wounded and the ones that could still fight were doing it. Their shit was ragged and we were the closest ones toem so we took off.
"Me and Sgt. Morrison were on the point when all of this came down and the nearest extraction sight was three miles back the way we came. None of us was lookin forward to swoopin in on a VC base camp. I mean, you got to be totally out of your mind to want to do that. But some of them recon guys were our friends. We went to jump school withem and we didnt have no choice but to get toem as soon as we could.
"Man, I thought it was a motherfucker gettin to where we were. Gittin back was a most motherfucker cause we were pushin hard all the way, goin as fast as we could. The trail was a lot clearer with all of those guys bustin through it. But you do more pushin and pullin brush away than cutting it, so we still had a lotta that to contend with. Its got a memory, you know; push it aside, it comes back and slaps the next guy in the face. And them wait-a-minute vines, goddamn!
"Well, we drove on like somebodys life depended on it, cause somebodys life did depend on it. If we could have run, we would have, and every time we got a clear enough break in the jungle to do it, we did. But it was too much. The unevenness of the terrain, the weight of the ruck sacks, the heat, all of that constant motion trying to muscle our way through the bushes was takin its toll. Before we could get to this grassy hill where the choppers could pick us up, guys started fallin by the wayside with their tongues hangin out. I aint never seen nothin like it. No matter how tired they were, they were troopers and their buddies were in trouble. It didnt make no kinda sense.
"Me and Morrison were about as wiped out as everybody else but he wouldnt stop, so I wouldnt, either. We got our second wind. We started passin up guys left and right until we were up front again but I didnt get no third wind and I sure coulda used one.
We busted into this clearing below the hill on the verge of collapse with a couple of troopers staggerin behind us. Thats when we saw the lieutenant sprawled out next to the RTO with his butt on the ground and his back against a tree. The RTO shook his head and gave us a wave off sign that explained why so many hard chargers had stopped chargin. The mission had been called off.
"We found out later that only one of the recon guys had been killedbut I knew him so it was a big deal to me. The other men had gotten out OK by themselves and taken the dead guy and the wounded withem. Anyhow, Morrison and me knew that the mission was scrubbed, but we were so close that we pressed on up the hill until we were sittin on top of it.
"Sweat was streamin out of every pour of every swingin dick in the platoon. Guys were sprawled out, and passed out with uniforms so wet with perspiration that they looked like they got rained on. Sweat was drippin in my eyes and I was gettin light-headed myself. Then I saw it, a little trickle of sweat runnin from Sgt. Morrisons hairline down to the corner of his eye.... Then I passed out...."
Jesse smiled weakly, not seeing the terrified, snotty-nosed youth peeking through the large hole in the porch wall in front of his glazed eyes. Not seeing the shotgun in the boys shaky hands. And never hearing the shot that shattered his skull....
Mayhew heard the shooting, all of it, including the shots that took his young friends life. Gunshots where common in the DZ, too common to associate with a personal tragedy unless one was there to see it.
The only personal tragedy Mayhew saw was the one he imagined if he didnt get to Vivian before Shag Man did. He was old, and out of shape for what he had to do, but the operative words were, "had to." He had to cover a lot of territory in a short time. He had to run and he had to pace himself.
He took the magazines out of his pockets. With them in one hand and the pistol in the other, he broke into a trot, the old Airborne shuffle. But what was an Airborne shuffle without the songs to go with it?
He sang quietly, in cadence with his hard leather boots striking the ground, "Here we go... All the way... Up the hill... Down the hill... Airborne! Rangers! Gotta go... All the way..." Yes, he could do it. Only a mile to go. Hell, he could run a mile.
Mayhew felt the U.S. Army tag on his fatigue shirt, the wings above his pocket and the Airborne patches on his shoulders as if they were living, breathing parts of him. He was powerful! determined! He was a U.S. Army soldier, a smoke-bringin messenger of doom to the bullies of the world who would run the whole show with a whip and a gun if somebody like him wasnt there to stop them. He was one of the unregenerate good guys on a mission to kill the unregenerate bad guys. He was going to save a friend. He was... He was tired. God, he was tired.
Breathing had become such a chore for Mayhew that it was taking attention away from the weariness in is arms from carrying the gun and ammo and the growing pain in his upper thighs. His joints hurt, his side hurt. No big thing. He could handle the pain, but would his lungs hold out? Yes! Yes! They had to!
"Gotta go... All the way.... Airborne...." He let the weights in his hands drop straight down to his sides and kept chugging along, "C-130 rollin down the strip... Airborne daddy gonna take a little trip... Stand up, buckle up, shuffle to the door... Jump right out and count to four... Here we go... All the way..."
The old mans vision began to blur as he neared the DZ border line of Livernois. The pain in his side moved to his chest. Pain became agony but he never slowed his pace. He was sweating profusely under his soiled and frayed boony cap and drooling freely into his beard. "If I die on the old drop zone... box me up and ship me home... If I die on the Russian front... bury me with a Russian" The last phrase was supposed to end in a grunt, and it did. A burning pain like he'd never felt before climbed over the old troopers shoulders and shot down his arms to his wrists. His knees wobbled. His head swam. He pitched forward to the ground. And he died.Back to top
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Contact the author: Jasper Garrison