Part Seven: Beatrice 1963
He walked over to Jon Kennedy’s car and turned the key that had been left there in all the commotion back in town. “Sorry, sweetheart,” he said. “Shouldn’t have been so damned greedy, Mary Kay. Now look at you? Deader than a door nail. And Jon is dead, too. Killed by King Henry over on Elk Street. And with him dead and you dead, that leaves me the only keeper. You know what they say? Finders keepers, losers weepers.”
Ty opened the lid of the trunk and let out a startled, “What the hell!”
Behind the Ford, the three of us looked worriedly at Mary Kay slump-ed against the side of the car, as if maybe in her groggy condition she might answer him. But she had fainted and was out for the count.
Big Ty hauled a large suitcase out of Kennedy’s Chevy. It must have been heavy, because even Ty had trouble carting that thing over to the trunk of his patrol car. Once he deposited it into the trunk, he slammed the lid closed. Our dogs, content to chase rabbits down by the Blue, came to check on us. We raised our heads and peeked through the win-dows of the Ford. As the three dogs ran up to give Ty a friendly greeting, he looked up, his eyes on the river. The field beyond the junkyard. The rows of rusty cars. And when he looked directly at the car we were hiding behind, Ty growled, “I got the sneaking suspicion, I got me some spies creeping about these rust buckets!”
My heart did flips flops as Big Ty drew out his pistol and shouted, “Okay, you hooky players! Show yourselves! I’ll count to three, then I’m gonna shoot me a dog! One! Two! Three!”
Dec and I were both rising to our feet, when the loud roar of a Harley filled the air, and a large, motley biker came thundering into the junkyard. He was a big Indian with long black hair, who reminded me of Will Sampson from the Charles Bronson Hickock movie. He rode toward Ty, a whirlwind of dust kicking up behind his motorcycle. He parked behind the Kennedy car, killed his engine, and lowered his mirror shades, revealing the greenest eyes I’d ever seen.
The Indian put his kick stand down and dismounted. He bent down and scooped up Baxster, cradling him in his huge arms. Beside me, Dec grimaced and Kat reached out and patted him on the back. The three of us remained hidden behind the car, listening to the two men talking thirty feet in front of us. “Put your gun away, Deputy,” the Indian said, still holding Baxster and stroking him behind the ears.
Ty placed his pistol back in his holster. “You’re late, Ghost! We were supposed to cut that deal two days ago! I’ve got buyers!”
Ghost kneeled down, allowing Dum-Dum and Cooper to sniff at him. “It’s not your buyers you should worry about. It’s the two men from New Orleans. How many conspiracies can you juggle? This ledger? This gold? Twelve angry bikers known as Vandals?”
Big Ty said, “Does your offer still stand? If so, then the game is on.”
Ghost settled Baxster down beside Dum-Dum and Cooper. All three dogs appeared to like the Indian and wouldn’t leave him alone. He said. “You’ve been playing me. Been working out the deal for two months, and I’ve never once seen evidence that you are a serious player. These men from New Orleans? Give them what they came for, Deputy. Some-one already eliminated the first man they sent here. They’re not happy with that. That gold is going to take a lot of people down, unless it’s returned. You can’t outfox these guys. Give them the gold and walk away a rich man by landing me a buyer for that ledger.”
Ty laughed. “You saying it is worth more than—”
“Worth more than gold,” Ghost said, “that doesn’t belong to you.”
Ty said, “What are my odds? Two thugs. Twelve Vandals. A sleazy lawyer. A greedy bail bondsman. I’ve got an Ace in the hole, which keeps me in the game.”
Ghost said, “Aces and Eights is the hand Wild Bill held the night he got his head shot off up there in Deadwood. You’ve got a lot of Jokers running wild in your town. I’d throw in my hand if I was faced with those odds. Find a buyer for that ledger and be done with this deal.”
Minutes later, both the Indian biker and Big Ty drove out of Catlin’s junkyard, leaving in their wake swirling clouds of dust. After they drove off, Chris stepped outside. The tall, dark-haired Gypsy kid just stood there, staring at us still standing behind the Ford. Kat said, “Chris, we’ve got Mary Kay here! She’s been shot up with some kind of dope!”
“Sweet Jesus!” Chris said, running over to find her still slumped against the car. He hauled her to feet and walked her on into the house.
Kat said, “You two should return to town. This is something we must deal with on our own. We’ll take care of Mary Kay.”
As she joined Chris inside the house, the dogs and I followed Dec back to the Blue River and Mose Hadley’s boat. As we trudged across the field to the river, Dec and I were in a daze, not sure what we had stumbled upon. I said, “What if Ty saw us? What if he told Sheriff Mac we skipped school? What if when we get back to the docks there’s a Sheriff’s posse waiting for us? What about Mary Kay being stuffed in that trunk? What does Ty and Jon Kennedy have to do with each other? What if there are more shady people involved in this?”
Climbing into the boat, we both heard Chris Catlin let out the most sorrowful wail we’d ever heard from up near the house.
His pitiful cry tore through our hearts and would haunt us both for a long while to come.