Thursday, January 4, 2018


ABNER LEMONZEO COULDN’T STOP counting the money. No matter how many times he counted, it continued to come out the same.

One hundred thousand dollars. Nearly five inches worth of hundred dollar bills.

He sat in his booth in the back of the Pub and counted them again, a smile glued to his face.

“How many times are you going to count those?” Jenner said as he entered from the back room.

“Just let me enjoy this,” Lemonzeo said.

Jenner sat across from him. He was an unassuming man. Average in almost every way. It was like he’d been designed to blend into a crowd, to go through life unnoticed by others, to be anonymous in all respects. His hair was brown, short and conservative. His suit, gray, not too expensive, but not cheap. He wasn’t tall, wasn’t short, wasn’t skinny or fat or athletic. He just was.

His eyes, however. Sometimes when Jenner looked at him, Abner could see through them and into infinity. He’d always found it more than a little unsettling.

“What’s your plan?” Jenner asked. “The vampires didn’t look too happy when they left.”

“I’m not worried,” Lemonzeo said. “So Oklahoma survived. Had it really been an issue, they wouldn’t have left me the money. In fact, they probably would have killed us.”

“You assume they knew I was in the back, watching.”

“Oh they knew, I can guarantee you that.”

Jenner cocked an eyebrow.

Lemonzeo just laughed.

“You remember the day we met?” Lemonzeo said as he shuffled the bills.

“Of course,” Jenner said.

Abner thought back. It had been in prison. Two days into his five year stretch, three large men, all of them covered in tattoos, had cornered Abner in the yard. It was the same old prison story. He was a new fish, fresh meat, and they’d wanted to take him for a test drive.

But then Jenner had stepped in and that was it. He had calmly stepped between Abner and the three men and then looked at Abner’s would-be assailants. Just that, a look, and they had apologized and walked away. Ran, actually.

“You were the expert then,” Abner said. “You knew how to get by and you took care of me. Now it’s your turn to trust me.”

“I trust you,” Jenner said. “It’s those monsters I don’t trust.”

“You know,” Lemonzeo said. “I never thanked you for saving me that day.”

“Not necessary,” Jenner said. If the subject embarrassed him, he didn’t show it. “I was only repaying a debt.”

“A debt you owed my father, not me.”

“Same thing, as far as I’m concerned.”

“One day you’re going to have to tell me what it was my father did for you,” said Lemonzeo.

“That’s between your father and I.”

It was the same thing he’d said that day. It was what he always said, so Lemonzeo didn’t bother pushing him. Whatever it had been his father had done for the man, these many years later, Jenner had proven time and again that he was true to his word.

Jenner had even been released two years before Abner and had moved to Eudora to look over things until Abner’s return.

“Well, Dad’s dead, so he’s not talking,” Lemonzeo said.

Jenner didn’t respond so Lemonzeo let it drop.

“Okay,” Lemonzeo said. He stuffed the bills back into the envelope. “First thing’s first. I’m going to need some men if I’m going to go to war with Klein.”

“You won’t get many with just a hundred thousand dollars,” Jenner said.

“I don’t need many. Not yet. I want to take this money and use it to get more.”

“How so?”

“We can take our first shot at Klein and make some money in the bargain. We take out that gambling den of his in Desoto.”

Jenner’s expression didn’t change. It rarely did.

“The fight next weekend,” Jenner said. “There should be over a million dollars in that building after all the bets are placed.”

“That’s what I was thinking. I figure between the two of us, maybe two other guys, we should be able to knock the place over without much effort. Security won’t be too tight, Klein’s reputation is security enough. What do you say? Feel like getting your hands dirty?”

“Whatever you need, Mr. Lemonzeo. You got any guys in mind?”

“I do, but I’ll need you to track them down. I haven’t spoken to them since before I was sent up.”

“Give me the names and I’ll find them. Shouldn’t be too hard if they’re still in the life.”

Lemonzeo took a small notebook and pen from the inner breast pocket of his suit jacket. He wrote the names down, tore the page out, and handed it over to Jenner.

“What are we going to do about Norman Oklahoma?” Jenner asked after pocketing the paper.

“I don’t know.” Lemonzeo pulled at his mustache. “I was so certain that the Walrus was a sure thing.”

“I’ve heard stories about Oklahoma,” Jenner said. “I’ve stayed out of his way these past two years, but the rumors about him have always had me curious about the man.”

“You mean the ones about how he can’t be killed?”

“Those are the ones. I’ve always dismissed them, but…”

“He’s a man, he can be killed,” Lemonzeo said. “He’s just been lucky.”

“But the Walrus?”

“The Walrus must have underestimated him. It’s the only explanation. He let his guard down. I’m sure if given the change he’d do it differently.”

“Well,” Jenner said. “Maybe we give him that chance.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oklahoma said he didn’t kill the Walrus, right?”

“Right,” Lemonzeo said, still pulling at his mustache.

“Then that means the cops have him.”

“More than likely,” Lemonzeo said.

“You think they have him up there at the station?” Jenner asked.

“If they do, he won’t be there long. The Walrus’s strength is practically superhuman. I don’t think they have anything sturdy enough to hold him up there. No, if they have any brains among them, they’ll move him.”

Lemonzeo continued to pull on his mustache as he thought it over.

“In fact,” Lemonzeo said. “If it were me, I’d take him to Leavenworth just to get him out of my hair.”

Jenner glanced at Lemonzeo’s bald head. It had been a quick look, but Lemonzeo caught it. Neither one of them said anything about it.

“We could intercept them en-route,” Lemonzeo said. “Free the Walrus.”

“Surely, if they were going to move him, then he would already be on his way.”

“I know someone, he lives in Leavenworth. Or at least he used to. He’s more than capable. One call and providing they are still on the road he can take care of it.”

“How much will that cost?”

“Nothing,” Lemonzeo said. “Jack Dunn has always been my man. He’s one of the two on your list.”

“We don’t know for sure where they’re taking the Walrus though,” Jenner said. “If they’re even taking him anywhere.”

Lemonzeo looked around. “I think maybe it’s time I called the police.”

“The police?”

“A wild gunman shot up my bar. Don’t you think I should report that?” Lemonzeo smiled. “Depending on who they send, well, I’m sure we wouldn’t have too spend to much to get the information we need.”

Jenner pulled out his phone.

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