If you missed Part 1 – go here.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
“You’re not supposed to be awake yet,” she says and sniffs. The car takes a hard left turn and she plops back into her seat with the inertia of the turning car, quietly picking grit out from under her nails. She seems like she is having difficulty keeping a straight face and I think for a moment she is going to screw things up.
“Lars,” I say, “What’s happening?” The car is swerving now and I grasp at the handle on the door. My hands just reach it and as I slide my fingers over the edge I feel the bottle of Laxopectrin and know why my head feels completely fine.
“Lars! Where the fuck are we?”
“Pipe down, will ‘ya? I’m trying to drive here,” Lars says as he turns his head to Veronica. “We’re just having a little fun, right baby?”
“What are you talking about?”
Lars begins to speak, “Yep. You see, I never told you about my time in the hospital—not that it matters now—you knew I was there but not what it was like. Ronnie and I were set up across the hall from each other. We ate our meals together, we were in the same group sessions. It’s just natural we started screwing around.” I can hear Veronica softly sniffling.
“That’s why you came back so early?” I ask even though I already know.
Lars turns his head enough to pin one eye on me, “Yep.” He smirks, “Little troublemaker here had it all figured out.” Veronica giggles at the mention and sniffs again. I can see her getting into character.
“Why are you doing this now?” I ask. “Why even sit through the whole game—just to wait for what?”
“To make it seem natural,” he says. “To keep you at ease. I still can’t believe you knocked your own self out.” He remains silent for a while then, his voice beginning to get shaky says, “Goddamn it!” He is yelling now. “Having to put up with your bullshit, it makes me so mad!” I get a whiff of shit. Veronica puts one hand over her nose and the other on his shoulder. He is shaking, clenching his fists on the wheel. I think to myself, “Keep cool. You’re in it now.” The car begins to slow down and eases to a stop next to a clear field pockmarked with hay bales. Veronica lifts the door handle and kicks it open as she spills out of the car. She is loaded, I can see it, but so believable that I don’t care. Lars puts his arm over the seat and turns to me, “Sorry man. But this is the way it has to be. I wish I could change things.”
“What are you saying? What the fuck are you planning?”
“Boy, do you smell that?” He says, wrinkling his nose. “I guess I must have let one go. Oh well, better now than later, right?”
“You fucking asshole.”
“Calm down. Simmer Jack. Action Jack. The big man, big ideas—got it all figured out.” He opens his door and gets out, walks to my door and opens it. I am ready and try to kick but miss him. “Stop fighting,” he says. “Goddamn it.”
“So what,” I plead, “Are you and her going to kill me? Just for what I did? I said I was sorry. I even gave you the two grand back.”
“Not this time bro. I’m not listening to your shit anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to take your lumps. It’s the only way to really grow as a person.” Lars laughs at his joke and Veronica comes scampering over, landing in front to kiss him, her left leg bent like in the movies.
“Ok, he’s going to cut you loose now,” she points a gun at me, “so don’t try and run.”
“Where the fuck did you get that?” I ask her, knowing damn well she took it from my top drawer. I had told her to go downtown and pawn a gun—that stupid bitch.
“It’s yours you piece of shit,” Lars laughs.
“Yeah, it’s yours,” She shouts. She is really acting now. “And I heard what you did to Lars—his own mother—you prick!” Lars is bent inside the car. He has untied my right arm and is working on my left when I feel the seat belt slack long enough to make a move. I kick at his belly, he backs up. The gun goes off, loud. Hot blood splatters on my face. Lars steps out of the car and turns to Veronica, his shirt red. “You fucking bitch!” He gurgles. “Fucking drug addict whore!” I have already leapt out from the back seat and am moving towards Veronica when she drops the gun, turns to me with tears in her eyes and cries, “I did it. I can’t believe I did it.”
“Hush, there there,” I say, putting my arms around her head and shoulders. “You’re with me now. You’re with me. That’s the way it is now. Ssssh, quiet down.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. You were great.” I want to soothe her.
“I feel like a liar,” she says.
“Me too. But first, we have a little job to do. Go get the flashlight and meet me at the hole.”
As Veronica goes into the trunk of the car I remember the first time I saw her. I had come home late one night after a concert at The Chance Theatre and bumped into her on my way to the bathroom. She said she’d seen my pictures around the house. I was drunk. I don’t remember how it happened but we both started going at it, there on the bathroom floor. Lars was a heavy sleeper so I wasn’t worried until we worked our way into my room and the headboard began pounding against the wall. That was three months ago. Since then Veronica and I have been having an affair. She was the perfect opportunity to get out of the scalping business. Pacers tickets had been a front to sell coke and Lars was getting too nosey. I couldn’t risk him going to the cops if he found out. Plus, he already knew I took money from his mother.
As I drag Lars to a hole we’d dug the night before I am surprised at how easy it is to move a body as big as his; it must be the wet grass. Veronica is already waiting with the flashlight. “Hurry,” she says.
“Hang on. This is tougher than it looks.”
“Well just hurry anyway.”
The sound of wet dirt resounds through the night in sharp, wet shots from the shovel. In the pallid glow of the road you can see the faint shine of a cheap flashlight and barely make out the murky hay bales around us.
“I’m going to Hell. Aren’t I Jack?”
“No. You’re doing this for the baby, for our baby.”
“Yeah, I guess I am.”
I put my arm around her waist and feel the tight bulb of her stomach. We start walking towards the headlights. The ride home is quiet. I am still groggy from the pills. I need some coffee so I pull into a Mobile Mart and get a cup. I leave my change with the cashier. I won’t be worrying about dimes and nickels from now on. With the baby on its way I am filled with a new hope for the future. If I can make enough money selling coke to move out of Indiana, Ron and I can start over. We can be normal people. She will get clean soon, I am sure. We’ll help each other. A gust of fresh air fills my lungs as I walk out of the store to my car. Opportunity has come with the pungent odor of cut grass: no loose ends, wrapped up, buried. I skip towards the parking area and into my new car. Ron is bending down doing another line. I hear sirens in the distance and shiver.
“Hey lover, wanna line?”
“Sure, then we’ll hit the road.”
“What’s the plan?”
“To drive and not stop until we know we’ve gotten there.”
“Gotten to where, Jack?”
“To an opportunity,” I say, and shut the door.
The Jackson can not be reached because he doesn’t use computers.