Catchy (Sitting 18) Clippings … October 15th, 2017

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Michael Hinston sat back in a leather chair which had been a gift from a Congressman from Mississippi who had recently remodeled his office, had no need for the extra furniture piece and “saw no reason for it to go to waste.”

In Michael’s hand was a plain manila envelope–the kind you would buy at a dollar store. There was no writing on the outside, except in the lower right hand corner, in small letters, was the name, Milford Hayes.

It did not take Michael any time at all to recollect who Milford Hayes was. Ever since the visit in his office, when he was given the fifty thousand dollars from Caine Industries, he had recalled the conversation with the stranger many, many times.

He hated himself because he hadn’t kicked the bastard out the door.

He hated himself for being part of a political system that allowed such corruption.

He hated himself because corporations thought they could buy and sell politicians like sides of beef.

He also hated himself because he had already spent some of the money.

And unlike more noble souls who could suddenly possess a fit of conscience and give the money back, he had no such resource.

He was in.

Whatever “in” meant.

And apparently, with the arrival of this envelope, he was about to find out.

He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to hold all calls, though nobody was actually phoning him. This was another troubling part of his journey in Washington. He had been elected by rural hometown folks in Ohio, but nobody in the Capitol even knew he was alive.

He had thought he was going to be invited to dinner with the President, but when it turned out that his vote was not needed for an upcoming piece of legislation, apologies were offered and he ended up eating pepperoni pizza with his family.

So now, sitting in his cast-off chair, in his uncomfortable office, with the knowledge in his mind that his wife and children despised their new home, he slowly opened the envelope.

Pulling out the contents, he found a clump of press clippings held together with a paper clip, and a white business envelope with the words “For the Kids” written on the outside.

He set the white envelope to the side and thumbed through the articles. They had one central theme–they were tiny news announcements, reports, opinions and press releases about his friend, Matthew, taking on the Harts fortune to popularize Jesus.

Included was an 8 X 10 glossy picture of a young man with long hair. Scrawled in magic marker across the photo was the name, Jubal Carlos.

Satisfied that he had discovered the essence of the newspaper clippings, he moved toward the business envelope. He opened it. Inside was a note written on 20-pound typing paper, along with ten one hundred-dollar bills. The note read:

It’s time to do something. It’s time for you to earn your money. Your nosy friend has decided to take on the challenge and we must do what is necessary to stall his efforts. The picture is of Jubal Carlos, a freelance musician from Las Vegas who lives on the street with the homeless and the indigent. Your buddy from college plans on using him. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to use your congressional clout to have the local authorities investigate him? It couldn’t hurt, right?

I have enclosed some “pin money” for little Alisa and Bernice. Stay faithful. Milford Hayes.

Michael put the letter down and stared at the picture of Jubal Carlos. He didn’t know what to do. The young man in the photograph certainly seemed likeable–a bright countenance.

Why would he want to trouble someone causing no trouble?

Why would he allow himself to be part of some plot against an old friend?

Why should he care what a dead, old billionaire wanted to do with the rest of his money?

But what truly haunted Michael was the thousand dollars. Just twenty minutes earlier, his wife, Barbara, had called to tell him that the school was launching a field trip to New York City. There would be additional expense. The secretary from the school said it would cost $500 for each daughter. Barbara apologized for laying a thousand-dollar burden on his mind while he was at work.

Michael paused, shaking his head. Now, twenty minutes later, he was staring at a thousand dollars in cash. A coincidence? A miracle? A blessing?

Or did Milford Hayes and Caine Industries know too much about his daughters?

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Catchy (Sitting 17) Come and See … October 8th, 2017

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Matthew stared at his computer screen which had a heading of “International Federated Mercantile Institution”–a fancy name for “bank.” He had been peering at the same page for nearly a half an hour. Actually, the same number. It read, “Balance: $248,798,565.38.

It was hard to fathom. He had mixed feelings. There was joy over having that much capital to play with, but also a responsibility to turn it into somewhat of a completed vision for what Old Man Harts had desired.

What was originally 250 million had been eaten away by legal fees, surveys, transportation and just the transactions that happen when legal and business minds collide. It was still a hell of a lot of money. A hell of a lot of money for a heavenly purpose.

Matthew remained uncertain about why he had decided to take on the project. Even a week ago his inclinations had been negative. But something happened in Vegas that didn’t stay in Vegas.

He’d had an awakening. Not so much a religious eruption, but rather, a clarity of thought. When he met Jubal Carlos, who was working frantically to assist the homeless, Matthew asked himself what was he doing to make the world just a little less crazy?

He didn’t want to be overly analytical. He was certainly basically a good person. He tried not to purposely do harm to anyone and on occasion his generosity was worthy of note.

But was it possible to do more? Especially if you were granted hundreds of millions of dollars to try?

So after the awkwardness with Jo-Jay and Soos in the suite at the casino, he decided to meet with Tomlinson, and see if he could change the attorney’s mood into a positive direction instead of the grumpiness that had ensued.

He stopped off at headquarters and picked up Sister Rolinda and Prophet Morgan, realizing that the uptight attorney with the bow tie, Tomlinson, would have no counter for such creatures.

Sure enough, when Prophet began to preach salvation to Tomlinson and Sister Rolinda recited promises and possibilities for inner healing, the barrister couldn’t wait to transfer the money and get the crazies out of the room.

It seemed strange to Matthew that in a world of emotional agnosticism, Prophet Morgan and Sister Rolinda carried the day with their passion.

But what finally sealed the deal, causing Tomlinson to loose the purse strings, was the plan. Matthew was going to get Jubal Carlos to travel the country, playing the part of Jesus–in character, in appearance, in wisdom, in knowledge and in pungency.

Jubal already had the look. He had the intensity. And he certainly had the inclination to be a helper of mankind. Keeping him out of churches and just in public arenas–colleges and even rock festivals–would create the adequate controversy that could simulate the upheaval which occurred two thousand years before in Israel, when the real guy walked the earth.

It was a plan that needed tuning, clever applications, great press releases, You Tubes and even maybe a short movie. But once again people could come and see Jesus–even though it wasn’t the actual one, but another human being, carefully crafting an image that was sensitive and faithful to the original.

The slogan for the campaign would be “Come and See.”

Prophet Morgan was ecstatic.

Sister Rolinda thought it had potential, but she wanted to meet Jubal to see if he had the goods.

All systems seemed an outrageously wonderful “go.” There was only one problem:

Jubal Carlos didn’t know anything about it.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

 

 

Cracked 5 … October 3rd, 2017


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Signs That Our Country Is In Need of a Refreshing Change

A. People are dead in the street

 

B. Souls are murdered

 

C. Americans are killing Americans

 

D. Indifference is not different enough

 

E. A new sin in Sin City

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Catchy (Sitting 16) Switch … October 1st, 2017

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Matthew was still so rattled from his meeting with Jubal that when he arrived back at his hotel on the Vegas strip, he couldn’t remember his suite number. So in his usual overcomplicated, confusing way, he explained his situation to the front desk clerk, who retrieved his number from the records and then said, “That suite, 772–your wife was here earlier to pick up the key.”

Matthew didn’t have a wife.

His face apparently communicated that thought, because the young desk person giggled and winked.

All the way up on the elevator, Matthew wondered if he was headed toward a surprise hooker hired by some of his clumsy friends, or if there was a serial killer waiting to end his brief and tumultuous life.

He took the key provided by the winking worker, carefully opened the door and walked in. Sitting on the edge of his couch–pensively, as if waiting for a dental appointment–was Soos.

“What are you doing here?” asked Matthew, quickly shutting the door.

“I followed you. Well, we followed you.” She said, rising quickly to her feet.

Matthew crossed the room, leaned against a chair and asked, “Why did you follow me, and who is we?”

Soos sat down, took a deep breath and replied, “We is Jo-Jay and myself, and why… Well, that’s why I’m here. You see, Jo-Jay has a crush on you and she wanted to follow you to Vegas hoping that something might actually happen in Vegas that could stay here. Well, she was too chicken to come by herself so she asked me to come along, and then when we got here, she was too scared to come up here. So she asked me to go first and talk to you to see if you were interested in her and if you would mind her coming to visit your room.”

Soos stopped speaking, as if she’d actually made sense.

“Are we in the fourth grade?” queried Matthew.

“No,” Soos answered. “But to be completely fair, it’s been since the fourth grade that we had to do stuff like this to find out if people like us…”

Matthew eased down into the chair. “Well, of course I like Jo-Jay. And I like you, Soos.”

“What do you mean?” Soos sparked.

Matthew paused. “Well, I mean I think we have a lot of history, and you’re an attractive woman, I’m a reasonably acceptable man with good grooming habits…”

“And nice eyes,” interrupted Soos.

“Thanks,” replied Matthew. “I don’t see them often. Basically the mirror.”

“They’re nice,” said Soos with a smile.

Matthew considered the situation. “So let me get this straight. You’re supposed to come and find out if I would …welcome?…a visit from Jo-Jay so she won’t be embarrassed if I wouldn’t? Do I have this right?”

“Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?” Soos inserted sheepishly. She continued. “It’s especially weird because I like you, too. I can’t tell her about that because it would make her crazy. So I thought I would just lay in the weeds, so to speak, and see if you rejected her, and then wait a respectable length of time…say four days…”

Matthew jumped in. “Four days, huh? Where’d you come up with that?”

“It just seems like a little more than three days,” explained Soos. “Anyway, I would then be able to tell you that I think you’re attractive also, but I wouldn’t feel bad about it because you would have already kicked Jo-Jay to the curb.”

Matthew stood to his feet and sighed. “I’m not gonna kick anybody to the curb. I’m just tired and I’m going to bed.”

Once again, Soos leaped to her feet and moved closer to him. “Would you like some company?”

She touched him on the cheek.

“So we’re skipping Jo-Jay…?”

Soos interrupted. “And the four days. I’m too damn young to be alone tonight in Vegas, and way too old to wait.”

Matthew chuckled and headed toward the bedroom. Soos pursued. She pulled him over to the bed by his belt and said, “Are you interested in me?”

Matthew, looking down at her hands, said, “I’ve always found it very difficult to be disinterested in any woman who had her hands in my pants.”

“Not very eloquent,” said Soos, “but who am I to be picky?”

She pulled him down to the bed, he fell over her, and she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed him. She started to remove her blouse when suddenly there was a commotion from the other room.

“Hi! The door was open. I hope everybody’s decent!!”

It was Jo-Jay. There was no time to reframe the choreography. Jo-Jay walked in the room with an expression she might have displayed upon finding herself as a time traveler arriving on the deck of the Titanic at about midnight.

Horrified.

Matthew felt the need to speak, but his brain disagreed. Soos jumped in to fill the awkward moment. She slowly untangled herself from her hold on Matthew as she self-consciously buttoned up her blouse and explained, “Listen, this may seem weird, but it really doesn’t have to be. We are all mature sophisticated adults. The atmosphere is here, the moment is understood and the participants are ready. Why don’t I just move away from the bed and Jo-Jay can come in and resume the action-in-progress? I know it sounds a little avant garde, but a few kisses, a couple of tweaks–and it’ll be a distant memory.”

At this point, Soos moved over and tried to push Jo-Jay toward the bed to create the switch.

Matthew was perplexed, intrigued and somewhat repulsed by the whole situation.

For a brief moment, Jo-Jay considered the extraordinary hostage exchange. Then she stopped in her tracks, turned to Soos and said, “I thought you were my friend.”

Soos replied, “I am your friend. But it’s also been a long time since anybody’s rung my bell.”

Matthew felt it was time to speak. “Listen, I’m not trying to ring anybody’s bell, or whatever euphemism you want to insert. I just came to my room to go to sleep.”

“So why is she in your bed?” asked Jo-Jay.

Matthew answered, “Well, if I was using sports terminology, I would say she tackled me for a loss on the play.”

“I don’t know what that means,” said Jo-Jay in a huff. “I liked you and wanted to spend some time with you…”

Matthew interrupted. “So why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because good girls don’t cavort. That’s what my mother told me long before I knew what the word ‘cavort’ meant. Since I now do know, it would be improper for me to offer myself to you without knowing whether the offering would be acceptable.”

Matthew shook his head. “Hell, have we just gone Old Testament here? Please, ladies, nothing personal. No decision is being made about the future. But right now I need to be alone without the temptation of any lovely lasses.”

Soos said, “Well you don’t have to insult us.”

Matthew sighed. “I don’t know how I insulted you but if I did, I’m sorry, but since I don’t know what I did, maybe we should just talk about this later when we’re not in a room together playing musical beds.”

Jo-Jay turned on her heel and headed toward the door, stopping briefly to throw back a final comment. “I will leave the fornication to the two of you.”

Soos grabbed her purse and followed along. “Wait! I’m not gonna fornicate. I just came up here to represent you.”

Jo-Jay turned around and hugged Soos. “I know. The brute seduced you.”

Matthew lifted one finger in the air. “Let me point out that I am neither a brute nor did I seduce anyone. Just stating for the record.”

Jo-Jay responded, nearly in tears. “I thought you were different.”

“I am different,” said Matthew. “I thought you were not crazy.”

“Well, you were wrong,” Jo-Jay replied. She scurried out the door and into the hall.

“I wouldn’t call her for a couple of days,” Soos whispered to Matthew. “She’ll need some personal space to work this out.”

Matthew lay back on the bed, the memory of female hands in his pants still dancing in his head.

But mostly on his mind was what he envisioned to do with Jubal Carlos.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 52) Black Tuesday… April 30th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

In the midst of the Garsonville healing, Richard Meningsbee, in his spirit, just decided to participate. For nearly three weeks, he didn’t peruse, view or “oogle”any pornography on the Internet.

He wasn’t sure why. Honestly, he was a little afraid to contemplate it. Was it the arrival of Carl, with his purity towards the work? Maybe it was the movie being such a flop. Or was it just realizing that Jesus was right when he said the physician needed to heal himself first, before he could hang up a shingle and start treating sick folk.

It was perplexing. For he was still tempted–there was a huge vacuum in his life, which lay empty, mocking him and making him feel less than needed and certainly never wanted.

On Tuesday morning, he woke up yearning for a cup of coffee that wasn’t made by his own hands. He had not been back to the Garson-Fill to see Carla since the day she rejected his invitation to dinner and startled him with her revelation about domestic abuse.

Why did men want to hurt women? Was it because women reminded men of how much more they could be? Or was it because men knew that if they struck out at other men, there was the danger of incurring injury. Meningsbee never understood it.

But his mind was burdened with thoughts of Carla. He wanted to see her–but to what end? She had made her position clear. After all, he thought, she might take off running or maybe even leave town, which would be horrible considering that she had established new friends and great possibilities. So up to now he had stayed away out of respect to her feelings.

But today he thought his feelings needed a little attention of their own. He wondered if he could just be friends with Carla. Maybe he could begin to replace her image of Christian men being brutal with a Christian man, yearning to be an equal and merciful.

Whatever the reason, on Tuesday morning Meningsbee was uncontrollably driven to go to the Garson-Fill.

He decided to wear a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and put on a ball cap so Carla wouldn’t think he was trying to impress her with his appearance. It was probably silly, but he thought the effort was important.

He started out the door three times, but turned and sat back down. He didn’t want to blow this. He was in a fragile place, where climbing the mountain was possible, but also possible was falling off the cliff.

On his fourth attempt he made it out the door and headed down the street to the Garson-Fill. It was nine o’clock in the morning and a “Closed” sign was hanging on the door. That in itself was weird. He had never seen that before. Maybe someone was sick. Or maybe they were closed.

But even from a distance he could see inside, and there were people moving about. He was just about ready to turn and walk away when he heard a huge bang coming from the cafe. He turned to look.

He really couldn’t tell that anything was wrong–yet for a brief second he caught a glimpse of Carla. She was talking to a man.

Meningsbee figured she must be busy. Maybe she just hadn’t gotten the chance to open up yet because of her conversation. It seemed like a horrible time to interrupt.

But he did anyway. Completely unsure of his reasoning, he followed an inkling in his spirit. He just felt something needed to be done. The situation was akilter.

Coming to the door of the cafe, he knocked on the window with a smile on his face, waving at Carla. The gentleman she was talking to turned around, and when he did, Carla frowned at him and waved him away.

He knocked again. Something was certainly awry.

The man said something to Carla. She sighed heavily, walked over with the keys, opened up and spoke through a small crack in the door.

“Richard, we are closed today.”

She spoke slowly, obviously trying to control her emotions. Richard looked into her eyes. She was in some sort of distress.

“Oh, gee,” he said. “Couldn’t I just get a cup of coffee? Aren’t you glad to see me?”

She took a quick glance over to the man, and realizing that he wasn’t observing her, she shook her head. Meningsbee boldly grabbed the door, opened it and entered the cafe.

He stuck his hand out to the stranger, and said, “Hello. My name is Reverend Richard Meningsbee.”

The man snickered, held out his hand and they shook.

“I’m Gus.”

Meningsbee made his way over to a nearby table and sat down. “You know, I’ve always wondered if Gus is short–like for Gustave–or if someone just decides to name someone Gus.”

Gus glanced over at Carla and then back at Meningsbee. “No, I’m just Gus. Is this your boyfriend, Carla?”

“No,” said Carla, as she hurried to get a cup of coffee for Meningsbee.

“Well, Reverend,” said Gus. “Is she right? Or is she your sweetie?”

“Well, she is sweet,” said Meningsbee. “But look at me. I’m a mess. No woman would want me. That’s why I’m a preacher. I came to God. I heard He doesn’t reject anyone.”

Gus chuckled and turned to Carla. “He’s a funny one, Carla. A funny preacher. A funny ugly preacher. Right?”

Gus turned again to Meningsbee, obviously trying to stir some anger.

“Well, you know, Gus,” said Meningsbee, “I think you have to have some kind of characteristic about your face that stands out enough to be ugly. My face just kind of looks like God forgot to fill in the blanks.”

Gus laughed again. It was a big laugh–because Gus was a huge man. He stood about six foot four and weighed nearly 300 pounds.

The sight of him made Meningsbee’s bowels tingle in fear, but the reverend tried to maintain his composure, because he believed that Carla was in danger.

“What brings you to town, Gus?” asked Meningsbee.

“A financial transaction,” said Gus, looking over at Carla. “Isn’t that right, dear?”

She tensely nodded her head.

“I see you called her ‘dear,'” said Meningsbee. “Are you family?”

Gus sat down on a stool near Meningsbee. “Carla didn’t tell ya’? Well, she’s my wife.”

Was your wife,” fired Carla over her shoulder.

She walked over and set the coffee down in front of Meningsbee. “Just the way you like it, Reverend. Four sugars.”

It was a signal–Meningsbee never put sugar in his coffee. He always told Carla that if he wanted cake, he’d take sugar. What he wanted was a good cup of coffee.

“So you say there’s a financial transaction,” continued Meningsbee as he tried to choke down the sweet fluid.

“Yeah,” said Gus. “It seems that Carla here owes me a lot of money.”

“Really?” said Meningsbee. “Carla, do you have a lot of money?”

She shook her head but refused to speak.

“Come on over here, dear,” said Gus. “Don’t be anti-social.”

Turning to Meningsbee, he added, “Don’t you hate it when a woman is anti-social? It makes you think she doesn’t like you. It would be easy to take that personal.”

Meningsbee decided to act. “Gus, I don’t think Carla wants you here. I think it’s time for you to leave.”

“I can’t do that, preacher,” Gus said. “I haven’t had the chance to show you my gun.”

He pulled out a massive pistol. Meningsbee knew nothing about firearms, except that they kill, and this one certainly looked like it was capable.

“A gun?” said Meningsbee. “Now, Gus, why would a big fellow like you need a gun?”

“Because sometimes people just don’t listen to my voice,” he replied, pointing the gun at Carla.

“Let’s all calm down,” said Meningsbee. “There’s gotta be a way to work this out, right? After all, you wouldn’t have come to town unless you were trying to get some money to start something. What is it? A new business?”

“Don’t play me, preacher,” Gus said. “I understand your game. I’ve been a born-again Christian all my life. Washed in the blood of the lamb. I was the youngest boy at the Bay City Pentecostal Assembly to ever speak in tongues. I know the Word. You understand what I’m saying? I know the Word. And the Word says, ‘Women, submit to your husbands.'”

“Well, that’s my mistake,” said Meningsbee. “I didn’t know you two were still married. I thought you were divorced.”

“Divorce is a sin,” said Gus. “She may want to indulge in it, but neither I nor the Lord God recognize it.”

“Listen, Gus,” said Meningsbee, leaning forward. “I don’t think you want to use the gun.”

Suddenly Gus stood to his feet, shifted the gun in his hand, pointing it right between Meningsbee’s eyes. “I can tell you’re no prophet, because you’re wrong. I would love to use this gun. You see, I’ve got nothing to lose, which means I might have everything to gain. And if I blow your head off, and then blow my head off, we’re gonna gain our souls, even though we’ll lose the world.”

Carla gave a screech. “Gus, stop it! Leave him alone! He’s not part of this.”

“Sure he is,” said Gus, lowering the gun and pointing it back at Carla. “If he was really a man of God, the Holy Ghost would have told him to stay home for his coffee today. Am I right, preacher?”

“Or the Holy Ghost sent me here to help you both,” said Meningsbee. “There is that, you know, Gus.”

“The only help I need is money,” said Gus.

“Well, I can get you money,” said Meningsbee. “I’m a signer on the church account. I probably shouldn’t be. How much do you need?”

“I don’t want that money. That’s God’s money. It would be filthy lucre. I want hers.

“How do you know she has money?” asked Meningsbee.

“She sent five hundred dollars to my cousin, Reno, who’s dying of cancer.”

“I see,” said Meningsbee, a little surprised.

“If she’s got five hundred, she’s got a thousand,” Gus concluded.

All at once the town constable pulled up in his cruiser and headed for the front door of the Garson-Fill to get his morning espresso and crueller. It was a ritual.

Gus became nervous. “Now, we do need to get rid of that smokie!”

Meningsbee interrupted. “I think maybe I could do that. Could I do that? Gus, would it be all right if I did that?”

Gus tucked the gun away under the zipper of his coat and said, “You damn better well.”

It was actually pretty simple. Meningsbee knew Bill. He told him they were having trouble with the water filtration system and that they were closed for the day.

“Well, what are you doing here?” Bill asked.

“Carla called me,” Meningsbee replied. “I had told her I used to work with this kind of stuff years ago. She thought I might be able to help.”

“Well, Meningsbee, you are a man of many talents,” said the cop. “Now I gotta go find me a cup of coffee and a donut.”

He turned and walked away, and Meningsbee shut the door and stepped back to his place.

“I’ll make you a deal, Gus. Why don’t we go over to the church together, and I’ll give you two thousand dollars out of my personal account. Not God money. Just preacher money.”

Gus took the gun out and pointed it at Meningsbee again. “Do you think I’m stupid? The second I leave here she’s gonna call that cop back.”

“Good thinking,” said Meningsbee. “So let’s tie her up. There’s got to be some rope somewhere.”

Gus squinted doubtfully. “How does a preacher get two thousand dollars of his own money?”

“I’m a little embarrassed to admit it,” said Meningsbee. “But three weeks ago I won it in Las Vegas.”

“A gamblin’ preacher?” Gus shook his head and turned to Carla. “Is that what you settled for, girl? A sinner–just barely dipped in grace?”

Then Gus made his mistake. He turned to look for rope, and Carla took her opportunity. She grabbed a knife she’d found in a drawer just beneath her hands. She ran over quickly and stabbed Gus in the back.

He grimaced in pain and buckled to his knees. In doing so he dropped the gun on the ground. Meningsbee wasted no time. He grabbed the gun, and while Gus was trying to regain his footing, he took Carla by the hand and they ran out the front door into the street, flagging down the constable, who had decided to try the convenience store for his breakfast.

It didn’t take more than two minutes for the constable to comprehend the situation and head over with them to the diner. But in that length of time, Gus was gone. His truck had disappeared and he apparently was on his way to other mischief.

Bill warned Carla that it was very possible that Gus would return to seek revenge for the stabbing, but she wasn’t afraid.

Meningsbee, on the other hand, was terrified. He was so grateful that he had worn a ball cap, hoping that Gus would never recognize him on a normal day.

Carla was strong. Carla was determined. And for the time being, Carla was safe.

 

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