Rocky Top – excerpt

ROCKY TOP

CHAPTER 1

 The sagging-pants little punk with the .38 didn’t know what kind of week Miguel had had, or he’d have picked an easier victim.

As soon as Miguel had seen the low-riding piece of shit car pull out from the curb and block his way, he knew the little punk who’d given him directions three minutes ago had set him up.

Miguel snorted. He’d gotten himself into and out of worse jams.

The punk-ass thug climbed lazily out of his car like he had all day. He was wearing blue boxer shorts under jeans riding so low a good fart would have sent them ankle-bound.

When thug-boy came close enough to touch the fender of Miguel’s car, Miguel shoved the bad-ass shifter down into first gear, turned the wheel sharply, gunned it, and bumped the little shit on his ass.

Miguel burned rubber down the road like he didn’t need his tires tomorrow, which he really, really did. But, sometimes sacrifices had to be made in the name of teaching folks not to fuck with you.

Miguel laid black rubber tracks down the block, squealed a 180, and stopped for half a second. When he saw the idiot stand and point his gun, Miguel stomped the accelerator and the engine screamed.

Thug-boy flew over the hood of Miguel’s raggedy little VW almost hot rod. Sufficient retribution, Miguel thought, seeing as how the little punk hadn’t gotten off a single shot. The kid was too stupid to kill.

Miguel rounded the corner and saw a police cruiser coming for him head on, lights on. This was not going to endear him to his probation officer.

The policeman approached, and Miguel dug out his license.

“Officer, that son-of-a-bitch set—”

“Yeah. I know him. Know his partner. Luckily, I didn’t see you run him over. Where you from?”

“Not here.”

“The Interstate is four blocks due east. Get the hell outta here.”

Miguel had had his fair share of good breaks, but this was the very first time a cop had witnessed a case of minor self-defense on Miguel’s part, and then let him go.

It’d been a long trip from Pensacola to Houston, and it was another twelve or so hours to El Paso. He wasn’t going to make it today.

Miguel longed for El Paso. It wasn’t just that it was home, but the fact that it was one of the safest cities in the country. In his opinion, it was safe because, like him, lots of folks carried guns, murder was cheap, there was a whole lot of desert to hide bodies in, and it wasn’t all that hard to walk into Mexico carrying a body.

El Paso was a place where you could trust folks. A place where everyone understood the importance of ass-saving alliances, from kindergarten on.

Yeah, he felt better when everyone’s cards were on the table and you knew where you stood. Secrets always caused trouble.

Miguel spotted a motel with a beer and burger joint next door. It was everything he needed. Maybe tomorrow he’d buy a new phone. Maybe not. He was beginning to enjoy the feeling of being freed from it.

He’d thrown his phone out the car window over the million-mile swamp bridge in Louisiana during what he sincerely hoped was the last conversation he’d ever have with the scheming, screaming, conniving woman who’d stolen his heart—at least the part where lust lived… had lived.

Miguel took a deep breath. Truth was, he hadn’t loved her either. The four-month party had ended with their loud and spectacular break-up, his arrest for driving Chelsea’s hacked-up VW Bug off the bridge and into the Cantonment River—because, God, she could make him crazy.

She could incite a flaring anger in him so fast it made him question his sanity for even desiring her company. In the sobriety that followed his incarceration, he’d admitted that his desires were decidedly not for anything deeper than her double D’s. She’d ruled him with them, and he’d been the willing sucker. So fucking appropriate.

But that was over. He’d sworn off women, right there in the seat of what was now his river-soaked hacked-up VW Bug. He had a pretty good idea about how Chelsea had come to acquire it—it had belonged to her last lover. He was the one who had hacked it up and souped it up. Sort of. Miguel actually kind of liked it. But he’d loved his Vette. The one that backwater judge gave to Chelsea, the bitch.

Miguel needed a break, a big celibate one. If he ever hooked up with a woman again, it was going to be a mild-mannered one. Stable. Trustworthy. Sweet. It’d be okay if she had nice tits. And a great ass. And she’d be quiet as a little mouse.

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