“Thank you. Didn’t think I had a laugh left in me.”
“Frank!” Kim called from by his vehicle.
“Yes?” He stood up, walking briskly over.
“I hope you didn’t have anything important in here. Someone jimmied the lock.”
“No. Don’t tell me they did something to the interior? Those seats are leather.”
“Doesn’t look like it. I’ve called a tow truck to come get it. You wanna call your insurance guy? I can give you a copy of my report and send the pictures to your phone.”
“Thanks, Kim. Meanwhile, I’m without wheels.”
“Call Daniel. He’ll set you up. Your insurance covers a rental, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. God, it’s gonna go through the roof after this. I hope the house is okay.”
His phone rang. Tensing, he looked at the ID. It was Kenny. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and answered.
“Is it good news or bad news?”
“Everything looks good from the outside. I called my brother to meet me out here. We’re going around the outside now.”
“Be careful at the back. That slope gets treacherous and it’s slick.”
“We’re good. Don’t worry. I haven’t lived here my entire life not to know how to go around. . . .. Oh fuck!” Distant yelling followed.
“What? Ken? Hello?”
Frank could hear chatter, but it wasn’t directed at him. The phone went dead.
“Something’s happening at my house. Kim, James went out with Kenny. I was talking to Kenny, he yelped and then hung up on me.”
Radio chatter started on her shoulder. Kim picked it up, identifying herself. She listened carefully to the excited voice on the other end.
“I’m on my way. ETA ten minutes.” She put her things away. “I’ll send you a copy of the report. Gotta go.”
“What? What did they find?”
“Someone who didn’t know his ass from his elbow is at the bottom of your ravine. Looks like he was trying to sneak into your house and slipped.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Do you need me?”
“No. If we have to get in, Ken’s got a key, right?”
“Yeah, always. Do it if you have to, Kim.”
“Gotta go, Frankie.” She planted a quick kiss on his cheek.
He waited for her to take her seat and closed her door for her. She took off with her lights flashing. The siren started about a block away.
Frank stalked over to the smokers. “Someone give me a smoke.”
“You quit, Frank,” one of the men said as he dug a Marlboro out of the pack.
“I just started again. I need a drink.”
Marka walked over to him, putting her hand on his shoulder. “Call Jeff. You’re taking the rest of the day off. Come on. There’s a bar around here somewhere, right?” She asked the smokers.
“There’s Curly’s on Main,” the Marlboro man replied. “Five blocks up, first left after the stop light.”
“Thanks. Come on, Frank.” She grabbed his arm, steering him toward her car.
Marka ended up calling Jeff herself. He had no objection to Frank taking the day, especially after he heard about the incident at his house. News of the car vandalism had already trickled to his office.
“You’ll still be back for your session?”
“Yes. I might be a tiny bit late. I’ll call when we’re on our way. I may need help getting him up to his room.”
Jeff chuckled. “I’ll meet you personally and have a couple big guys with me. We’ll take care of it.”
“Thank you.” She hung up.
Frank walked beside her like a zombie. He sat on the bar stool only because she pushed him onto it. The bartender knew what whiskey he liked to drink and poured him a double at Marka’s request. She told him what had happened.
“This round’s free,” he told her. “Damn! Poor guy! To think all the times I wanted to be him. . . .” He wandered off, leaving them alone at the bar. He came back a few minutes later with thick sandwiches and sweet potato fries on the side.
“On the house. Frank’s a good customer and a friend. Take care of him.”
“That’s my intention,” she replied with a smile. “Thanks.”
He saluted and wandered off again.
Marka persuaded Frank to eat after he’d finished half his drink. Once he ate, he looked better, but his hands were shaking, his eyes slightly wild.
“I’ve seen bodies torn apart by bombs, others shot to pieces. . . . My friends blown out of the sky by missiles. . . . When I was in the Army, I had people shooting at me. I had one guy attack me with a knife and a broken bottle. He jumped me from an alley. I’ve been shot, stabbed, sliced, half drowned. . . Friends die in my arms and I killed the mother fuckers that did it. And I can’t get my mind around the fact I walked away from all that to come home and have all this shit happen. Nothing I’ve experienced has prepared me for this.”
© Dellani Oakes