This is a continuing CC serial. Links for each installment can be found in order below.
Louis Broderick picked up the chopping axe and took a good look at his target before hitting it with all his might. The cracking sound was a fulfilling one, a sound he had only recently come to appreciate. Having never split firewood before, he was appreciating the positive it had brought about primarily in his recovery but also his upper body muscle tone. The last five months had been grueling but he was getting back to normal.
As Louis tossed the split wood into the pile, he heard Uriah call his name. Louis walked over to where Uriah was standing by the garage, the garage that housed Uriah’s prized 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco.
“Louis, I’m getting worried. That black car has turned around in the driveway twice this morning. A person just doesn’t stumble upon this place. I think we need to execute our contingency plan.”
Uriah had been a godsend to Louis. Back late in the fall, Uriah had been hunting for ginseng in the woods near where Louis had been dumped on the side of the road. The explosion had caused him to come running, which is when he had found Louis – naked, dehydrated, and bleeding. Knowing there had to be much more to Louis’s story than what met the eye, Uriah had taken Louis back to his place and nursed him to health, fully prepared to dump him on the authorities should the situation merit. It was an unnecessary concern.
All Uriah had not given Louis was teeth to replace the ones he had lost in St. Joe. That would have to wait.
While Louis Broderick had never been a trusting person at any point in his life, he instinctually knew Uriah was trustworthy. What it was about him that instantly promoted his trustworthiness Louis didn’t know; Uriah was rather sinister looking, with a square jaw, a closely cropped gray beard, and possessed a stare that could wilt any of the sunflowers seen growing in that part of Kansas. But Uriah was good as gold and nothing seemed to surprise him.
While Louis had unwittingly bared his all to Uriah upon meeting, Louis soon divulged the events of his life to Uriah – the last few months was the closest Louis had ever realized to having a father. Uriah, always of an unflappable demeanor, never questioned or judged him, despite Louis telling him everything – his various exploits for the organization; chauffeuring the prostitutes in the RV; the fights for his life in Perth, Paducah, and Madrid; even the videotapes of himself that he was mortified about. Uriah knew it all.
Uriah also knew the odds were high there would be people looking for Louis as his dead body had never turned up as hoped. That little tidbit of concern was something Uriah had vocalized to Louis early in his recovery.
Louis knew Uriah was right – the time had indeed arrived. Both went into the shed and began loading the Dodge. Louis had no clue what all Uriah had packed, as Uriah had repeatedly told Louis to not worry about it. All Louis knew was there were many containers to pack and Uriah had a specific place for each.
Once the car was packed, Uriah went into the house one last time. He then walked back to the shed, Louis lying on the rear seat, out of sight. Uriah got into the Dodge, hitting the starter with its familiar Na-Rayre-Rayre-Rayre coercing the 440 cubic inch V8 to life. Uriah eased the Dodge out of the shed and aimed for Wichita.
The trip to intermediary Topeka was quick and uneventful. Coming into Topeka on K-4, Uriah exited off the combination of I-70 and K-4 at SW 10th Avenue and headed toward the state capital building. He wanted to stretch his legs in a nice, public place and turn the remainder of the driving over to Louis.
Also grateful for the chance to stretch, Louis got out of his hiding place in the rear seat. Chatting with Uriah for a minute, Louis saw the black Lincoln ease toward them, coming around the state capital driveway.
“Uriah – that’s the same Lincoln that was in your driveway earlier. It’s time to get the hell out of here. Let’s be quick but subtle. This may not be pretty.”
Sliding into the drivers seat, Louis hit the starter of the Dodge, its Na-Rayre-Rayre-Rayre sensing the hushed urgency. Louis had been in any number of scrapes such as this and the one thing he knew would always pull through for him was a car with a whole lot of engine. It helped that Uriah had trashed all the pollution controls and the 440 in his Dodge was breathing freer than Mother Mopar had ever envisioned.
Louis turned left onto SW Topeka Boulevard. Anticipating high speeds, and wanting to maintain their trajectory toward Wichita, Louis was wanting to get to I-335 as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it remained a considerable distance south.
The Lincoln was still following – not too close, but still within pouncing distance.
Speeding up to 4 mph over the speed limit, Louis was keeping a brisk pace, trying to hurry toward I-335. A red light at 17th Street halted Louis’s progress. Just as Louis started to slow, Uriah climbed into the rear seat.
“Uriah, what are you doing?”
“Louis, I’m just waving hi to my friends over there in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Headquarters. Or not…don’t worry, all is good.”
As the Lincoln stopped in the passing lane, and three cars behind them, the light turned green. Louis, who was first in the queue in the driving lane, chirped the rear tires of the Dodge upon taking off.
Making a hard charge south on SW Topeka Avenue, aiming for I-335 south, Uriah piped up.
“Hey, make a last second right down here at 29th Street. I have an idea.”
Approaching 29th Street, Louis did as instructed, the rear of the Dodge fish-tailing around the corner.
“Good! Ok, Louis, get us some distance then turn right up at Fairway Drive. If this cat is serious, I say let’s neuter him now.”
Louis was seeing a whole new side of Uriah. And he was liking it.
Gaining some distance from the Lincoln, Louis cut a hard, tire squalling, almost 270 degree turn onto Fairway Drive.
“Now, Louis, go up here and do a hard 180. I want to be facing this dude.”
As the Lincoln slid onto Fairway Drive, Louis cut a hard 180 degree turn a tenth of a mile up the street, the rear of the Dodge sliding wildly until Louis kicked the 440 in the throttle. The rear tires lit up in a cloud of smoke, begging for traction as they fought their way over the pavement.
As Uriah hit the switch to lower his window, Louis heard the distinct sound of a Zippo lighter. What in the world??? Louis was curious to see what was happening.
With the speedometer quickly hitting 50 mph on this upscale residential street, Louis was blasting toward the Lincoln. Realizing he had nowhere to go, the Lincoln driver stayed his course toward Louis.
Just before they passed each other, Louis saw a hand with a semi-automatic rifle hanging out the window of the Lincoln as he noticed movements in the rearview mirror. Now it all made sense…Uriah had a lit stick of dynamite he lobbed out the window toward the Lincoln.
“Son of a bitch! Uriah, what are you doing with dynamite?”
Uriah’s opening salvo was a bit too broad, flying over the hood of the Lincoln and prompting the Lincoln driver to duck back inside his car. As they passed, it landed with a deafening bang, creating a tiny foxhole near the drainage ditch.
“Damn! I need to change my approach.” Uriah muttered to himself.
“What’s the deal with the dynamite, Uriah?”
“Head to the interstate! I have an idea,” Uriah said, waiting to answer Louis’s justifiable question.
When Louis approached 29th Street, he didn’t even bother to slow down, smoking the Dodge’s tires across four-lanes of traffic and through the shopping center parking lot, focused on getting back to Topeka Boulevard. He figured that might help lose the Lincoln. This was his preferred approach despite both he and Uriah knowing what might ultimately have to be done.
Gleefully ignoring any pretense of obeying speed limits, Louis kicked the Dodge’s 440 in the butt, soon piloting the Dodge at 80 mph down Topeka Boulevard. He figured the drive time to I-335 would be greatly reduced this way.
The Lincoln was trailing far in the distance, with the driver making its emissions strangled 460 V8 sing for all it was worth.
Taking a moment, Louis again asked what the deal was with the dynamite.
Uriah smiled. “It’s called the Bull’s Ass Dilemma. If you have to hit a bull on the ass, would you rather use a match stick or a boat oar? Think of this as my boat oar.”
Louis just shook his head.
Upon getting close to the interchange, Louis realized there were problems. “Uriah, dammit, you didn’t tell me I-335 was a toll road! There’s a damn toll booth – we can’t get caught in that mess. I’m taking I-470 west for a while.”
“Do it. It doesn’t matter what road we’re on – that bull is getting hit on the ass regardless.”
Getting onto I-470 west, Louis shoved his foot to the firewall of the old Dodge, its rear end squatting under the hard acceleration. The speedometer was soon past 120 miles per hour and it was still pulling hard. Louis knew the Lincoln was following off in the distance. Louis was going to slow down to less hyper-legal speeds a few miles outside of town. Keeping his speed up would again gauge the seriousness of the driver in the Lincoln.
After a few minutes, Louis could see the Lincoln approaching. As the Lincoln approached, Louis slowed down. The Lincoln kept clamoring toward the Dodge, coming up from behind. As Louis continued to decelerate, he quickly realized the Lincoln was looking to charge into his rear bumper. Sticking his foot to the floor, prompting the secondaries on the Carter Thermoquad to open its jaws wide, Louis was a second too slow on the uptake.
BAM! The Lincoln smacked the rear of the Dodge. The jolt threw both Louis and Uriah forward in their seats.
“That peckerwood! He hit my Dodge! He’ll regret it,” Uriah yelled as he bent down to grab another stick of dynamite.
With the familiar sound of his Zippo lighter, Uriah chucked another stick out the window. Bouncing off the ample hood of the Lincoln, it landed in the median and exploded, blowing a barrage of freshly loosened dirt all over an eastbound Olds Cutlass Supreme.
Louis knew this would work only if Uriah postponed getting peeved about his Dodge. Pulling to the far right of the driving lane of the interstate, Louis slowed down, hoping the Lincoln would pull alongside.
As the Lincoln pulled along the left side of the Dodge, its driver shot to the right, the front fender of the Lincoln kissing the left rear door and fender of the Dodge.
Without even looking back at Uriah, Louis yelled “Stay calm, Uriah…focus.” Louis’s encouragement was followed by another jab on the port side of the Dodge.
Louis pulled further to the right and slowed down some more, trying to match the speed of the Lincoln. As the Lincoln pulled up alongside, Louis saw the semi-automatic raise toward his head as he heard the sound of the Zippo lighter.
Weaving into the side of the Lincoln, Uriah gingerly tossed a stick of dynamite into the backseat of the Lincoln. Standing on the brakes and cutting a tire howling left into the grassy median, Louis and Uriah felt the concussion of the explosion with pieces of the Lincoln hitting the Dodge as the now roofless and burning carcass of the Lincoln spun toward the right shoulder.
Both Louis and Uriah were ecstatic and Louis punched his way through the median into the eastbound lanes. Powering his window up, Uriah was philosophical.
“Well, we’re both alive and I suppose I can get this old girl fixed. She certainly pulled through. Let’s head to Wichita, sonny-boy.”
With a quizzical look at Uriah, Louis looked for an interchange to head south toward Wichita.
To be continued…
Previous installments, in order: