Below is the Prologue of my new book which is a mystery suspense short story soon to be published as an ebook in Smashwords.com as a FREE download.
Book #1 in this series titled A Box of Tissues, 2 Rolls of Toilet Paper and a Plastic Bottle of Water is currently published as a FREE to download ebook in Smashwords.com. Here is the link to that book site. A Box of Tissues, 2 Rolls of Toilet Paper and a Plastic Bottle of Water
The Brave ‘Lil Cockroach is Book #2 in the series of six mystery suspense short stories that will be published in print and as an ebook titled Great ‘Lil Escapes; both will be priced at $2.99.
Short story #3 in this series will be titled, Give That Dog a Bone. Subsequent stories will be published as ebooks for $0.99 in Smashwords and Amazon.com.
“Okay. You got your money. The shipment is safely stashed away waiting to be forwarded overseas. Now when can we expect the next shipment?” bellowed the taller of the two men who both spoke with thick Hispanic accents. His deep bass voice resonated inside the metal Powerbuilt Quonset Hut style warehouse.
Edwardo was 28 years old, 6’ 2”, with high cheekbones, thick black eyebrows, and black deep-set eyes. He was solidly built and proudly wore a scar on his face that started from the lower part of his left cheek in front of his ear just above his jawbone and ran over his jaw down his neck several inches; the souvenir of a bar fight. He stood with his feet apart; his large muscular arms folded high across his chest.
His demeanor, tone of voice and stance gave clear indications that he was the man in charge. It was quite obvious he had a no-nonsense, strictly business alpha male type personality; definitely not someone you would want to cross or keep waiting.
He was accompanied by a 26 year old, short stocky, 5’ 10” man, who was obviously his subordinate. Standing off to the side and slightly behind Edwardo, Jorge mimicked the same intimidating stance as his partner with his large legs apart, his chest thrust forward, and his thick arms tightly folded across the broad expanse of his chest.
Both men had short jet black hair and thick mustaches. They wore plain beige tee shirts, tan cargo pants, and thick rubber soled black work shoes. On the right foreman of each of the two men was a four inch by two inch tattoo of a naked woman wrapped in chains.
They both stood silently, glaring down at Rudy Hoffstetler and Buddy Brunell with a penetrating stare that could easily have splintered and felled a mighty oak. Rudy was too engrossed in what he was doing to notice. Buddy, had been standing off to one side slightly behind Rudy carefully watching the other two men. His stance matched that of Edwardo and Jorge’s with his large arms folded across his chest.
The cluttered almost empty rundown warehouse was nearly hidden at the far end of an obscure unnamed dirt side road off of Route 19 in a mostly wooded area south of Tucson, Arizona, not far from the Mexican border. There was a room in the far right back corner. The room was equipped with two cots, a makeshift closet, a small refrigerator, a hot plate on a wooden table, and a TV. Next to that room was a restroom that contained a toilet, a sink, and a shower stall.
Sitting in the left back corner was a used Bowflex Max workout trainer Rudy had picked up at a second-hand workout equipment store. The air inside the warehouse smelled musty with the odor of stale cigarette smoke, spilled beer and sweat. Dust was everywhere. The warehouse served as temporarily rented living quarters for Rudy and Buddy.
“Patience my young friend, patience”. Rudy said, as he sat at a small wooden table in the front corner of the warehouse next to the overhead doors. He was looking down while busily counting the stack of one hundred dollar bills Edwardo had just handed him. One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, five thousand….
A lit half-smoked cigarette dangled from Rudy’s mouth as he finished counting… nine thousand, ten thousand… fifteen thousand…. twenty thousand dollars. His head was tilted to one side as he slowly counted the bills. Blue cigarette smoke curled upward into the air past his squinting eyes. The first two joints of the first two fingers on his right hand were yellow from holding the strong filterless cigarettes Rudy always smoked.
When Rudy finished counting, he scooped up the money and stuffed the bills back into the envelope they came in. He pushed back his wooden chair slightly away from the table making a scraping sound. He reached down and unzipped the black waist pack fastened around his middle. He picked up the envelope containing the money from the table top, shoved it down into the waist pack, and zipped it closed again.
He reached up and took the cigarette that was now almost burned down to his lips out of his mouth, leaned over and threw it down onto the dirty concrete floor adding the butt to others on the floor. He turned slightly in the chair, moved his leg to the right, crushed the still burning cigarette butt out with his heel, and then moved his leg back over again.
He leaned his chair back on two legs, entwined his fingers in his lap, cocked his head back to the left and looked up and over at Edwardo. “Correct to the hunderd dollar bill… as always, Edwardo. That’s why we love doin’ business wit you.”
He righted the chair back down to all four legs again and said, “Well wadda ya say boys, c’mon over and sit down. Let’s celebrate the completion of another lucrative job.”
Rudy turned, reached down into the cooler sitting on the floor beside his chair, flipped up the lid, and pulled out four bottles of ice cold Modello Especial beer. The lid fell back down.
He picked up one bottle and twisted off the cap in the palm of his hand. He lifted the bottle up high and in a triumphant tone said, “Here’s to a great partnership”. He tilted the neck of the bottle backward to his mouth, took a swallow, and set the bottle back down on the table with a thud. Beer burped up out of the bottle and ran down onto the table which was already stained with rings of bottle condensation and cigarette burns. He reached over and pushed two of the bottles across toward the side of the table next to where Edwardo and Jorge were still standing. “C’mon, Edwardo, Jorge, drink up. I bought your favorite brand.”
When Rudy finished counting, Buddy reached down, pulled up another wooden chair, turned it around and sat down straddling the seat, his arms resting on the top of the back of the chair while still watching Edwardo and Jorge who continued to stand in silence staring intently at Rudy and Buddy not saying a word. It was obvious that neither pair trusted the other.
Rudy Hoffstetler was 25 years old, 6’ 1” tall, thin, wiry yet somewhat muscular from regularly workouts. His nickname in high school had been String Bean. He hated it which is why he did his best to gain weight and worked out a lot.
He had a boyish look about him, piercing blue eyes, and obviously bleached blonde hair. He had an engaging smile with perfect white teeth. His hair was cut short around the sides and back; longer on top and was parted in the middle. Because of the length of the hair on top, it was constantly falling down to his eyes, especially when he leaned forward. He was always either brushing back the hair with his hands or shaking his head which he thought was sexy. He chose this hairstyle for that reason.
He sported a two to three-day-old growth of brown stubble on his face most of the time as did Buddy. Rudy wore a white tee shirt with the sleeves torn off, tight-fitting jeans and black walking shoes. He walked with a confident swagger.
Buddy was 24 years old, 5’ 10” with a solid build. He was muscular from constant workout trips to the gym and working out on the Bowflex Max in the warehouse. His hair was worn in a buzz cut. The hair in front was styled to a V on his forehead, his face was round and full and he had small dark brown eyes. When he smiled, which wasn’t very often, he had a very noticeable space between his top two teeth. Buddy was wearing denim jeans, and a white tee shirt. He was the more silent half of the duo which is why they were a good match.
Both Rudy and Buddy bore the same naked woman in chains tattoo on their right forearms. The four men had met in prison several years before where they cooked up this business venture to be entered into after their release.
Edwardo, still standing, boomed out again. “We dun’t have time for drinking. I ask you again, when can we expect the next shipment? We have buyers waiting.”
Edwardo would rather not be working with Rudy and Buddy. He didn’t like them and he didn’t trust them, but it was their scheme and he needed them to make the scheme work. It was Edwardo who had connections in Mexico who in turn had contacts overseas.
Rudy stopped opening the remaining bottles of beer. He knew Edwardo well enough from past business dealings when to get down to business. He looked up and said, “Okay. Okay. Don’t get huffy, Eddy (Edwardo hated being called Eddy). I was just trying to keep things light and friendly. Buddy and I are flying to Boston tonight and should be back with the next delivery in two or three weeks.”
Edwardo stepped forward, obviously not pleased with Rudy’s answer. “Two or three weeks? That’s too long. Like I say, we got buyers lined up and waiting. Why not sooner?”
“Hey. These things take time to set up and put in motion. You should know that by now. We promise this shipment will be primo… as always, and worth waiting for”, Rudy responded.
Edwardo stood silent for a moment or two, thinking, and then answered, “Okay, but you’d better deliver or I find another supplier. Keep me posted.”
Rudy stood up, “Will do Edwardo. You know me and Buddy. Our word is good.” He stuck out his hand to shake hands with Edwardo.
Ignoring Rudy’s extended hand and without another word, Edwardo turned and with Jorge right behind him, they left the warehouse, got in their old, rusty, beat up pickup truck, and headed south to Nogales, Mexico to make overseas shipping arrangements while they waited for the next shipment delivery from Rudy and Buddy.
As Rudy watched the pickup truck drive away with blue smoke belching from its tailpipe, he turned to Buddy, “Man. That guy is one scary pain-in-the-ass, but he pays good and in cash. That’s the only reason I put up with his punk-ass attitude.”
Rudy opened a second bottle of beer and handed it to Buddy dropping the other two bottles back down into the cooler. Buddy picked up his beer, took a long swallow, set the bottle down on the table, and turned to Rudy. “Yeah. I agree. He is an obnoxious son-of-a-bitch and so is Jorge, but the money’s good. So when do we leave for Boston?”
“We leave tonight on the red eye” Rudy responded. “I’ve booked us a room at a Day’s Inn not far from the University of Boston campus. Should be easy pickin’s. You all packed?”
“Yep. I’m all ready to go. I’ll be glad to get out of this Godforsaken wilderness and this warehouse for a while. I wish we didn’t have to live here, but I understand it’s best because we’re gone so much of the time and it makes for a good out-of-the-way place to meet up with Edwardo and stoneface. Err… I mean Jorge. When do you think we can finally quit this business and get us a better place?”
“I’ll let you know, Buddy. Relax, man. Be patient. By the end of this year we should have enough stashed in our Cayman Islands account that we can quit, pack our bags, fly to Morocco where there is no extradition – just in case they should catch us which I doubt they will – and live like kings.”
The two finished drinking their beers in silence. When the last of the beer had been consumed, they got up, walked to the back room, took showers, changed clothes, and finished packing.
In addition to blue jeans and dark blue Sketchers, they were now wearing black tee shirts with All Singles Travel Agency stenciled on the front in neon green, yellow, and orange lettering. Under the name of the agency were small images of an airplane and a cruise ship.
They loaded their suitcases into the pickup truck, locked up the warehouse and began the over sixty mile drive to the airport in Tucson to catch their plane to Boston and their next job.
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