Runner – Part 12

This is Part 12 of my serial narrative, “Runner.” Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

This post contains some PG-13 language.

Sorry about the long wait.

***

Part 12

A week later, Deacon called and asked me to come over to the House. He said Shake hadn’t stopped selling meth. I jogged over to the House.

Deacon let me in and said, “You don’t have to come with us. We’ll probably have to break the law.”

I shrugged, “I want to go.”

Deacon nodded and handed me an equipment bag. Inside were two wooden baseball bats, smooth and dead.

“I’m more of a basketball guy,” I said.

Paulo laughed.

The three of us walked out of the House and down the street. The sky was blue, streaked with Heaven’s dust.

We reached his house, and I saw the faded, orange curtains were still drawn. Deacon told us to take the bats out of the bag. I handed one to Paulo and kept the other for myself. Deacon stepped onto the concrete porch and knocked on the door.

“Hey Shake, open up,” Deacon called.

I heard the oily snick of the lock withdrawing.

The young man’s eyes widened when he saw us. He choked out a curse.

Paulo torn the door open and pushed Shake back into the hallway. The drug dealer slipped on the linoleum and fell on his butt. For a short interval, we stared at each other — native and outlanders — as if waiting for a divine cue.

A dog walked into the hallway. It was an adult Boxer with brown hair, square-headed and mournful. The dog looked at its owner then swung its blocky head to look at us.

Shake glanced over at his dog.

“Get ‘em, Cerb!” he yelled.

The dog barked and charged us. Deacon darted forward and grabbed the dog’s collar and pulled it close. He wrapped his arm around its neck as the dog’s nails scrabbled on the linoleum floor.

I thought Deacon would snap the animal’s neck like a piece of soggy wood. Instead, he laid his head alongside the dog’s square head and whispered in its ear. Slowly, gradually, the animal’s stance relaxed, and it stopped struggling.

“She doesn’t like you very much,” Deacon said.

“Oh yeah?” Shake said. “Why do you say that?”

Deacon released the dog. The animal gazed up at him and wagged its tail. Shake grimaced and muttering something I didn’t hear.

Deacon stood.

“Sit him down over there,” Deacon ordered, pointing to the living room.

Paulo grabbed the drug dealer’s soiled T-shirt and shoved him down onto the slumped couch.

Deacon pointed at me. “Search the house. Find his cell phone. Make sure nobody else is here.”

“You can’t do this …” Shake said.

Paulo laughed. “You gonna call the cops?”

I checked the kitchen first. Old pizza boxes on the kitchen table. His smartphone was sitting beside the pizza boxes. I palmed it and slid it into my pocket.

I found his marijuana plants in the basement. A complex lighting system hung from the ceiling, now unlit. I had never seen a marijuana plant before.
I walked back upstairs and handed the phone to Deacon.

He looked at Shake and asked, “Where is the meth?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Paulo leaned over the drug dealer.

“Tell us where you hide the glass, or I’ll break your fingers,” Paulo said.

“I can’t tell you, man!” Shake said. “Do you think they’re going to let this slide?”

Deacon walked over to Shake, knelt down in front of him, and looked him in the eyes.

“You are a pawn in this power struggle,” Deacon said. “In chess, a player will sacrifice a pawn to gain an advantage. You are nothing to them. The Hatters don’t care if you cooperate with us or not. You’re expendable.”

He paused.

“We can protect you, Shake. This is just a smart business move for you. But if you don’t help us, then we can’t help you.”

Shake stared at the ground. Finally he said, “It’s under the kitchen sink …”

Paulo left the room. He returned and held up a Ziploc bag filled with white crystals.

“Get rid of it,” Deacon said.

“Oh, come on … don’t do that!” Shake said. “That’s hot stuff right here. Do you know how much dough that’s worth? What’s wrong with you guys??”

Paulo disappeared. A moment later, we heard the toilet flush. Shake groaned.

“Who is your contact?” Deacon asked.

“Why do you want to know that?”

Deacon handed the drug dealer’s phone back to him, “Call your supplier with the Hatters.”

Shake stared at Deacon for a long moment. Finally, he dialed a number. Deacon took the phone back. A pause. Then he started speaking when someone on the other end answered.

“Listen very carefully,” he said. “My friends and I just destroyed Shake’s meth supply. Don’t sell that shit in my neighborhood.”

He ended the call and tossed the phone to me.

“Are you insane?” Shake asked. “I’m dead. We’re all dead!”

“You have maybe fifteen minutes to pack,” Deacon told Shake. “You’re coming with us. It won’t be safe here.”

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