Novels

Overlooked 7

March 20, 2016

The Plan

Her newly acquired prison orphan wasn’t very smart and was likely to spoil everything unless she carefully coached him. She transported him to her tiny cottage near the edge of town; keeping him off the streets and out of sight was the first order of business. Lon appeared content with the idea, though he would prefer to go back to the private cemetery with trees and grass, where it was pretty and quiet. And who knows, he might pick up a few more dollars while waiting there, enough to buy lots of Juicy Fruit gum.

“I could wait there,” he said. “The benches are hard but it is very peaceful.”

“No, that’s not the plan,” she answered. “I’ll snag Arnold before things turn to crap. I don’t how he managed to overlook you.”

“You know him?” questioned Lon.

“I guess you could say that,” she said chewing on a broken fingernail. “I slept with him last night.”

Tensions were building when it was discovered Lon Kirby was still not accounted for.

“Chet, I told you not to make a fuss about it,” said Arnold pacing back and forth in the guard office. “I got the old geezer doing something for me and will have him back soon.”

It was a lie, of course but Chet was such a ‘straight arrow,’ his honesty would only compromise the search. More likely than not, Chet would spill the beans to the captain and then all hell will break loose.

“Hey, it’s my ass not yours if they find an inmate missing on my watch,” complained Chet. “If you know where Lon Kirby is, bring him back now. I’m not going to change my watch report if I don’t see him.”

“I told you, he’s doing something for me,” repeated Arnold.

“I don’t know,” said Chet shaking his head. “The captain is making a swing-by in the afternoon; you’ll have to explain it to him if Lon isn’t in his cubicle.”

 

Setting Up

“Hi Arnold, honey! I just wanted to tell you what a nice time I had,” cooed Sissy twirling the phone cord around her index finger. “I was pleasantly surprised at _____ well; we should do that again real soon.”

“Was it good for you? I hope it was.”

“Why do men always ask that? Never mind,” she answered. “I’ve got something you might be interested in. I could be wrong but I thought I’d mention something I saw.”

“I’d love to talk, baby but I’m up to my ass in alligators at the moment. I’ll get back to you,” returned Arnold forging papers for the benefit of his coworker.

Unaccustomed to being dismissed so quickly, she waited a few seconds before hanging up, glaring at the receiver as if it were the insensitive culprit. Fortunately, she knew what was troubling Arnold and forgave him without him knowing. A girl can’t carry a grudge against a man she plans to marry and have two-point-five children with.

“What he say?” asked Lon sitting on the edge of her bed dangling his feet. “He gonna come a get me?”

“Cool your jets, old man. First I have to get his attention; then we’ll get Arnold to rediscover you.”

“Oh,” said Lon sighing in disappointment. “I really don’t want to cause no trouble.”

“No trouble at all; I’m going to see to that, if the stupid lug doesn’t hang up on me again. Where do you think I can leave you so nobody is the wiser?”

“Gee, I don’t know,” returned Lon scratching his head. “Maybe the prison cemetery, that’s where I was when he lost me. Hardly nobody goes there except kids at night.”

“Perfect!” she replied. “There aren’t many people around there so no one will see me if I drop you. You understand, I can’t stick around; Arnold can’t really know it was me who left you there. Keep your mouth shut and both of us will come out of this all right. Okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

She dialed Arnold’s mobile phone again, receiving a busy signal. It was so irritating to have to wait for the line to open up again; too bad they didn’t have some system of breaking in. A few minutes later she called again, this time receiving a ring tone.

“Arnold, don’t hang up,” she insisted. “I saw something that might interest you.”

“Baby, at this point there isn’t a hell of a lot that would,” he returned. “Please make it short; I got things to do.”

She didn’t care for his tone but made allowances, considering his predicament.

“I’m not sure,” she began. “I was driving near the prison cemetery and saw someone who looked like a prisoner, you know, dungarees and a green shirt, the kind your inmates wear. The man was short and pretty old. Maybe it was just some old guy visiting a friend’s grave; I don’t know.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I was wondering if any of your people were missing,” she added. “Thought I should call you and let you know.”

“What were you doing driving by the prison cemetery? There’s nothing there but dirt and a few concrete markers.”

“It doesn’t matter; you interested or not?” she barked.

“Uh, yeah, I’ll check and see,” returned Arnold his mood and tone changing. “It’ll take me an hour before I can get loose. Thank you so much. I think I love you Sissy.”

He hung up once again without any preamble; Sissy was used to men verbally drooling over her, reluctant to end their connection; this was not a habit she wanted him to repeat.

 

He better get his attitude adjusted, she ruminated. He’ll have to try harder if he wants me to marry him. And this hanging up business, I’ll break him of that.

 

Carefully, she loaded Lon back into her car, making sure to hide him under the motel blanket, lest someone spy him in her vehicle; small towns were notorious for gossip, an old man in her car might suggest something ugly.

She knew the dirt road behind the cemetery, not especially happy about kicking up the dust, her car recently washed. It was convenient that Arnold was delayed for an hour; that would give her plenty of time to deposit Lon and make it back to her cottage without being noticed.

“Okay, Lon,” she said opening the back door of the car. “You stick around here for awhile; Arnold will be looking for you very soon. Don’t move from here.”

“Can I keep this?” he asked holding out the rest of his donated money. “I kinda like sweet things and usually can’t afford to buy much at the prison.”

Lon was a pathetic sight, his hair thinning under his dirty cap, wrinkles on his face with a tiny body, a slight hunch to it. She felt sorry for him, obviously a victim of misplaced loyalty. As a final kind gesture she dug into her purse and extracted the cash from her wallet, handing it to him.

“Happy Birthday, Lon Kirby. You may never get out of prison in time to enjoy life, so take this money and feast away on whatever sweets you want.”

She didn’t hear him say thank you as she ducked into the driver’s seat and started the car. A few seconds later she was gone in a billowy cloud of fine red dust; Lon stepped up-wind to avoid breathing it and exhaust. The handful of cash amounted to over one hundred and fifty dollars. It had been her weekly salary, including tips.

 

Short Wait

The weather was much the same as the day before, hot and dry. In a month or two the rains would come and turn this dusty road into a muddy rut, the locals getting their vehicles stuck on the graveyard road; the inmates didn’t work that detail during the rains. Recounting recent events today was Lon’s actual birthday, eighty-eight years old. Soon he would be returned to prison and serve out his next five years without incident, a steady stream of sweets to make his stay a little better; it wasn’t so bad when you had something to look forward to.

The fancy psychology lady, who examined him, said he might be released earlier if she could get the prison authorities to listen to her; she insisted Lon was really not competent by her reckoning and should be freed. He’d heard about things like that before, putting little stock in the possibility. His own father had told him never to expect much out of life; some people never got a break, Lon being a prime example of a bad luck.

He wondered if he’d live long enough to see the outside again, his brief holiday reminding him of the things he’d like to do. Just walking around outside, breathing free air was enough. The other prisoners talked about Europe and places they’d been. Lon was content to stay anywhere outside the wire fences, travel not something he was comfortable with. But not many men lived to be ninety-three in prison. The graveyard he cleaned up was proof of that.

He moved to the far side of the dirt road under the shade of a tree; he wasn’t sure when Arnold would arrive and saw no reason to let the sun beat down on him while he waited. The roar of a truck could be heard in the distance, a cloud of dust flowing in front of the vehicle, the hot wind shifting in that direction. It wasn’t Arnold.

“Hey, old man,” said the driver of the pickup. “You back here again? Got a relative planted in this field? Looks like you outlived them all.”

Lon thought for a few minutes and answered. “Yes, a few friends, I guess.”

“Well, I’m headed into town,” said the man. “I’ll give you a lift again, if you want, too damn hot out here to stick around for long. You ought to think about that next time you come out here.”

Lon’s first thought was to thank the man and refuse; Arnold would be here in a short time to take him back, which would put this whole incident to rest. He fumbled inside his pockets fingering the wad of cash. It wasn’t that much but maybe enough to enjoy his birthday in style.

“Thank you, sir,” returned Lon moving to the other side of the truck. “It would be very helpful. Would you be going near a bus station? I’m not familiar with where it is.”

“Hell, I’ll take you all the way to the Dutton Mills Depot. That’ll save you a couple hours of waiting here and a direct route to wherever you want to go. Get in and don’t mind my dog; she’s really friendly but likes to slobber on people. Hope that’s okay.”

“Dutton Mills, I’ve never been there,” replied Lon. “Nice dog. I never had a dog before.”

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