Prose Header

Back to the World

by James Shaffer

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

part 11

Near sundown, just before Johnnie Piper settled down for the night, Ed woke up. He didn’t know where he was at first. The world was turned on its side, and his head hurt like hell. He tried to sit up. It was an effort. He couldn’t move his arms or feel his hands.

When he did manage to put the world on a level plane again, he saw he was sitting in a patch of scattered glass, each piece reflecting and mocking his sorry state. The recent events that’d brought him to this patch returned like a lazy, slowly-lifting fog. He leaned his head back against the wall behind him and closed his eyes. I’m getting too old for this, he thought. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. It was time to get a move on.

He saw Bryan stretched out in front of him, still out cold. Ed’s legs were taped together, but he gave the muscle a good shove with his feet. Bryan moaned. That was a start.

“Hey! Wake up!” Ed wasn’t the most patient man. Bryan lifted his head then let it fall to the floor with a thud. Ed gave him another shove. “Get up! Come on! We have to get after those guys!”

Bryan rolled over on his back. “Sorry boss. That guy came out of nowhere.”

“Yeah. He got the drop us this time. Won’t make that mistake again.” Bryan inched his way upright. A pronounced lump, the size of half a golf ball, stretched the skin on his forehead. “Think you can get into the kitchen and find something to get us loose?”

Bryan pulled his feet under him and stood on his knees. He hopped toward the kitchen. He and Ed were tied up good. Tape wound tightly around their wrists and elbows as well as their ankles and knees. It was a professional job. He had to release his elbows before he could do anything.

The only sharp surface he could find at floor level was the corner of the kitchen counter. He backed up to the corner and began a slow dance up and down on his knees, sawing away at the tape while pulling with his arms. Bryan was strong. He was the muscle. The tape gave, and he freed his elbows. He went through a similar motion with his wrists. Since his elbows were free, the wrists were easier.

Once free, he sat and tore the tape from his knees and ankles. Free at last, he stood and snatched a glass from the counter, filled it with water and drank the full glass down in one go. He refilled the glass. His head pounded. I’ll have to find some aspirin before we head out, he thought.

Ed heard the water running. “Hey! What are you doing in there? Fixing dinner?”

Bryan walked to the kitchen doorway. “Just getting a drink, boss.” He still had the glass in his hand. He took a sip.

“Well how about tearing me loose, if you’re not too thirsty, that is.”

Smart ass, thought Bryan. He leaned over and tore the tape on Ed’s ankles and knees first. Then he pulled Ed to his feet, turned him around and loosed his elbows and hands.

Ed rolled his aching shoulders and rubbed his chafed wrists, working some feeling back into his hands. They’d turned a pale shade of blue.

“You got bits of glass all over you.” Bryan started brushing at Ed’s back. In his effort to be thorough, he touched Ed’s ass.

Ed spun around and knocked Bryan’s hand away. “Hey! That territory is Charlene-only. Back off.”

“Sorry, boss.” Ed reached back and grabbed the back of his own pants and shook free the remaining glass bits. “You broke the mirror.” Bryan stated the obvious.

“That’s not the only thing I’m going to break.” He patted his pockets. His gun was gone.

Watching Ed, Bryan checked his pockets. “My blackjack’s gone too.”

“Those bastards. Check the house phone.” Bryan found the phone in the kitchen, but he heard no dial tone.


“Smart bastards, aren’t they? It’s that son of his, Johnnie, back from the war. I remember him. Always was a smart bastard. Tom couldn’t think his way out of a paper bag.” Ed headed for the door. “Let’s go.”

They stepped out on the porch.

“Car’s gone!” The obvious had a way of surprising Bryan.

Ed looked at Bryan. “Really? Wake up, Sherlock! They’re buying time!” Ed saw the pick-up standing by the side of the house. “See if you can hot-wire the truck.”

While Bryan worked on the truck, Ed walked down the drive to the county road. He looked both ways for approaching traffic. The road was empty. It was supper time. Happy families were home stuffing their faces. He heard the truck engine turn over, but it didn’t catch. He looked up the drive. Bryan, frustrated, raised his arms and shrugged.

“Come on,” he yelled. He motioned to Bryan who headed down the driveway. “We got some walking to do,” he muttered to himself. He started walking west on the county road. Bryan had to trot to catch up. His head throbbed at the thud of each foot. Damn, he thought, I forgot the aspirin.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2015 by James Shaffer

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