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Robbing Skynyrd's Grave

Short story By: batfish
Mystery and crime



A marijuana farmer battles both the police and a curse.


Submitted:Sep 23, 2012    Reads: 50    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


ROBBING SKYNYRD'S GRAVE

The detective ground his Camel out in the ashtray and made a hand signal to someone standing behind the two way mirror. Within seconds a uniformed officer walked in the interrogation room and slapped a legal notepad and a cheap Bic pen down on to the table. The detective waited until the officer walked out and closed the door before he spoke again.

"Write everything down that you told me. Don't forget a fucking thing." He pushed himself away from the table and stood up. "Take your time. I'm going to check out your story. We're going to check this Nate Kurtis guy out and see if he exists and then go over to that crackhouse and toss it. See if you're feeding me a line of horseshit." He lumbered towards the door.

"You want me to write down everything?"

The detective stopped halfway out the door. "Don't write anything if you don't want to. It's your fucking funeral." He walked out and closed the door.

The pen shook in his hand like a dog shitting out a big peach pit.

***

He just couldn't keep his eyes off of that rolled up rug stuck off in the corner. The flies must have finally smelled there was a body in there because they were buzzing around it. They had been inside the house for a couple of days now and since there was no air conditioning in there it was starting to get pretty fucking funky.

"Are you listening to me, motherfucker?"

That snapped him out of his trance. "Uh, yea. Sure, man." He stammered.

"It's called the Crossroads curse, man. It's a known fucking fact that anyone who recorded that song after Robert Johnson did wound up regretting it. Clapton, Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, the shit hit the fan after they recorded that song."

"Which Robert Johnson?"

"Which Robert Johnson? Jesus goddamn Christ! You call yourself a black man and you ask me which Robert Johnson?"

"Yea, man. Which Robert Johnson? I guess your talking bout the singer. Shit, I'm sorry I don't know which motherfucker you was talking about. Christ!

"Robert Johnson wasn't a fucking singer, dude. He was a bluesman! Everybody wanted to copy his ass. The problem with that though is the crazy motherfucker sold his soul to the devil to get what he wanted. Met Satan down at some crossroads here down south and they cut the deal. But what's fucked about it is that he didn't get famous until long after he was dead. He was banging some dude's old lady and the husband poisoned his ass. And that deal with the devil is still going on."

Jesus Christ, he was getting sick of this shit. He didn't care if they had all the crack in Nashville in this goddamn house if it meant sitting here listening to his big asshole all day. And he very goddamn well knew who Robert Johnson was. Shit! He was born in the same town that the dumb motherfucker died in. Greenwood, Mississippi. What a shithole of a town that it. All these white boys running around thinking their asses are so cool talking about what a fucking influence Robert Johnson was to them. Listening to those old scratchy ass records of his. Including this dipshit honky sitting across from him.

"You got bats in your fuckin' belfry if you think I'm gonna believe that line of voodoo horseshit. That sounds like some witchcraft crap my grandma would be babbling about."

"I really don't give a shit what you believe. I was there and I saw it happen and whether you believe it or not doesn't mean a good goddamn to me." Rising to his feet, his partner walked over and stood over him sitting on the ratty couch. "And give me my pipe and torch you freeloading asshole. I'm getting sick of you smoking up all the shit. It's time you start carrying your weight around here."

"All right, Nate. Calm the fuck down. I told you I was good for it."

"Don't tell me to calm the fuck down! Get your ass off the couch and let me sit down there before I kick your crackhead ass."

Even though he had only know Nate for just a couple of days, Bobby "Bugs" Grissom knew better to question the big man when he got in these moods, so rather than stirring up further shit he grabbed his forty of Old English 800, picked his ass off the couch as requested, brushed away some crack vials and used up syringes with his foot, and sat back down against wall farthest from the rolled up rug.

Nate took a long hard hit on the pipe, closed his eyes, and eased his head down on the back of the couch. The son of a bitch had to have had the strongest lungs he had ever seen, thought Bugs. He could hold a hit off the pipe for what seemed like close to a minute.

Bugs took a pull on his bottle and settled back against the wall. God, it was times like these he wished his was back on his grandfather's farm. Away from this city, this dope, this booze, this big cracker who ordered him around like he was his bitch or something. He missed his grandma, she was the one that had nicknamed him Bugs. She said that when he was a baby that he always scooted around the floor like a little doodlebug, and the name stuck. And now she was dead and he was such a fucking lowlife he had missed her funeral.

Farm life had been safe but it had been boring, so as soon as Bugs quit high school he had moved off to the city. To a series of meaningless, minimum wage dead end jobs that almost always ended up with Bugs telling the boss, who was almost always white, to go fuck him or herself. And that was almost twenty years ago! He never had gone back to Greenwood once even though his grandma called and wrote least twice a month to try to convince him to come back.

Now she was dead. When Bugs got the phone call, he had cashed his final check from his last job, a car detailing business where he had busted his ass all day long under a hot sun waxing rich asshole's foreign cars for dog shit wages, and had gone down to buy a bus ticket for the ride back home. Along the way stopped in at a local joint in his neighborhood that was known for it's cheap beer and as a hangout for local crack dealers. Crack was a taste that Bugs had recently acquired and he knew he'd need a rock or two to get him through the long trip home on the Greyhound.

His connection, Devon , was always sitting down at the end of the bar on the same stool nursing a Johnny Walker Red. But he wasn't there that night. There was a big white motherfucker sitting there instead and no one was bothering his honky ass because the motherfucker was big! Scary fucking big! Hair down to his shoulders, no front teeth, and covered with scars. And he had a weird smell to him. Like an old goat.

Bugs had walked in the bar and it was like Nate knew exactly what he was looking for. He waved a beefy arm to Bugs sit down alongside of him.

"I got what you're looking for."

"What are you? Some kinda cop?" asked Bugs. "And where the fuck is Devon?"

"Devon is history. He took a fucking vacation. This is my turf now." The big man chuckled under his breath. "Do I look like a fucking cop to you?"

"Motherfucking cops come in all sizes and shapes around here?" replied Bugs.

The man nodded his head. "Fair enough. Tell you what. Take this rock ," he handed Bugs a single rock in a vial, "go out back and burn it and if you don't think that's the best rock you've ever smoked or you still think I'm a cop, I'll walk out of this bar and you'll never see me again. And as a bonus I'll give you this." The dealer reached into his pocket and flashed a wad of hundreds.

It was the best goddamn crack Bugs had ever smoked. He wound shutting the bar down with Nate and then smoking crack in Nate's ancient Cadillac until dawn. He didn't even remember how he got back to his seedy apartment. He wound up missing both his bus and his grandma's funeral.

A pounding on his door woke him up. Shit! It was already after eight at night. Passed out the whole fucking day. It was Nate at the door.

"Come on. I need a favor from you."

"I don't know, man. I ain't feeling too good." Bugs had replied.

"I don't give a hot shit how you feel. You smoked a lot of rock on the house last night. Least you could do is help me out with a little favor."

Nate stared into Bugs' eyes and Bugs tried his best to meet the stare but the motherfucker was scary! And he did have a point. He had smoked a lot of Nate's dope for free last night. Oh what the hell!

They drove the Cadillac down the alley of an abandoned old apartment high rise and parked at the end. Nate pulled open a rusty side door and the pair climbed up seven flights of a urine and shit infested stairwell that was littered with used up needles.

On the landing, Nate pulled Bugs close to him and whispered in his ear. "Fourth door down on the right. You knock on it. Give two short raps. Wait a second. Then give three more. The dude will open the peephole then."

"And then what?"

That got the glare from Nate again. "Just fucking do it!"

Nate pressed himself against the wall while Bugs stood in front of the door. He gave two knocks. Paused. Then gave three more.

The peephole popped open. "What do you want, nigger!" A partial black face peered out.

Nate pushed Bugs to the side shoved a gigantic pistol in the peephole and fired twice. Bugs puked all over the wall while Nate pried the door open with a crowbar. They found a gym bag with over a thousand hits of crack in it and about nine grand in cash.

***

"What the hell! Did you piss your pants?"

Bugs snapped his eyes open. He had nodded off and his forty ouncer had tipped over and soaked his crotch. Nate was sitting up and glaring across the room at him.

"I'm talking to you and you nod off like a fucking junkie! I sound like a retard sitting here babbling to myself."

"I'm sorry, Nate." Bugs stood up and tried to wipe off the front of his pants as best he could.

Nate leaned back on the couch.

"I was there, Bugs. I was there when the plane came down. I saw it all. And now I'm as cursed as those poor sons of bitches were on that plane."

***

Mississippi is one hell of a good place to grow weed. Environment wise, it's almost perfect. It has semi-tropical weather, is mostly rural, and is covered with a deep thick woods to hide the growing plants from the spying eyes of the DEA flying above. Even in the Seventies, bootleggers of corn liquor and moon-shine were still running stills and the back roads of Mississippi, so many folks simply turned a blind eye to the longhairs who were just growing what they considered to be just a harmless weed that grew along they road anyway.

Nate Kurtis and his older brother, Perry, had been growing high grade marijuana outside of Gillsburg for over four years. They had started up just a few months after Nate had come back from his tour of Viet Nam, and they were both well on their way to becoming very wealthy men.

Perry, with the benefit of a college deferment and a lazy eye, had managed to avoid both the draft and the war. But Nate, who was as healthy as a horse, and had poor grades in school due to his lackadaisical studying habits, wasn't as lucky. Rather than waiting for the army to call, he had beaten the fuckers to the punch by enlisting in the navy, and had spent his one year tour in Nam on a PBR. A PBR in navy terms is Patrol Boat River. A PBR in civilian terms is a highly armed fiberglass boat, which runs up and down the rivers harassing the shit out of rice farmers all day long. Life expectancy is short on a PBR since you are cruising up rivers totally encased by jungle and are basically sitting ducks for heavy fire from the gooks.

But Nate had been lucky. Although he had been in his share of firefights, he left Viet Nam after a year relatively unscathed. But he learned a new trade while serving Uncle Sam. For almost six months, his boat had onboard a South Viet Namese guide, who in his civilian job, was a farmer of rice and a strain of high test marijuana called Buddha, which he traded to the young crew for beer, C-rations, skin magazines, and American cigarettes. On a two week R and R, while the rest of the crew had flown off to Bangkok for cold beer and warm pussy, Nate had gone with the guide to his village, where he had been given a crash course in the fine art of cultivating tropical weed.

Nate smuggled out a small packet of seeds in the mail to his brother who had grown a couple of the plants in his closet under a grow light. His response had been more than enthusiastic, so Nate began sending home as many packets of the seeds as he dared without getting busted by the military mail censors.

When Nate returned home, the American taste for pot and getting high was running rampant, and the smoking public was demanding a better buzz than they were getting from the shit that was being smuggled up in rusty vans from Tijuana. When the Kurtis brother's strain of Buddha hit the market the demand became overwhelming and their growing project quickly expanded. Within a year, they went from growing the weed in the basement of an old rental house to the couple of acre strip hidden in the woods on the backside of a large farm outside of Gillsburg. It took two grand a year for the farmer who owned the property to not notice what was going on a strip of land he never paid any attention to anyway. Shit, if two hippies wanted to give him two thousand dollars to hang out in a swamp full of snakes and gators, they were more than welcome.

The guide and his family had survived the communist takeover in South Viet Nam and he continued to route seeds to the brothers via a complicated scenario of mail drops. The first year the covert farm had yielded five hundred healthy plants of Buddha, each female plant produced close to a pound of resin soaked, mind altering buds. Rather than sell by the pound, the brothers had broken the buds down to quarter ounce, shrink wrapped gourmet packets and sold them individually.

In the second the season the farm had yield over a thousand plants. Two years later, in 1977, after expanding the farm even further, Nate needed a calculator to figure out how many six to eight foot plants were growing on the farm. Perry had graduated with a degree in business, and with his savvy on handling a buck, and Nate's skill with the farming and the plants, both men soon had very impressive portfolios. The farm was high tech now with an intricate irrigation system covered by a camouflage canopy, and surrounded by trip wires and claymore mines. The brothers traveled back and forth to the farm on eight wheel all terrain vehicles with wagons towed behind them. They were always armed. Perry with a pistol while Nate preferred his illegal M16.

It was late October and Thai had been the year's crop. It was a strain of marijuana that required a slightly later harvest date, usually by now the plants had long been pulled and moved to a safe house for drying and further processing, but this year's crop had been huge and it had taken several weeks to complete the harvest. It was always a sad time for Nate. During the growing season he lived almost around the clock at the farm while he tended to the plants, his only company being two pit bulls who helped him stand guard duty although they spent the majority of time chasing and wrestling each other. Nate slept in a tent but preferred a hammock if the weather was decent. He loved the quiet and peacefulness of the woods as he gently tended to the plants that he referred to as his "girls". Harvest time meant leaving the woods, and worse, the cutting down of the girls. He almost felt like he was committing murder.

It was early afternoon and the brothers had been working quietly, the remaining plants leaves had already been cut down and loaded up in the van, but what remained from the plants had to uprooted and mulched and the soil had to be turned over to ready it for next spring's crop. Nate suddenly bolted to his feet, scaring the shit out of his brother. Perry was well aware that his brother's time spent in Nam had finely tuned his senses and he respected this, so something was definitely amiss. More than once his instincts had steered them clear of danger or arrest.

Perry nervously looked over at him through his Coke bottle thick glasses.

"Nate! What is it? You hear something?" he whispered. Perry began to look around the woods nervously as he pulled his Colt .45 from his belt holster, expecting to see cops or DEA agents peering out from behind the trees.

Nate silenced him by holding out his hand. The sound was coming from above but off in the distance. It was some sort of aircraft but it wasn't the sounds of it's engines he was hearing. Nate had witnessed many aircraft crashes when he was in Nam and it wasn't at all like you see in the movies, with the plane or helicopter shrieking overhead, it's fuselage aflame, engines coughing and backfiring, and the pilot bravely fighting the wheel while screaming out for everybody to hold on.

This was a whistling sound that Nate heard. The aircraft's engines had shut down and the plane was quickly gliding down to the ground.

Suddenly the plane was directly over them, so close that one of it's wings brushed the treetops. It suddenly banked to the right and then moments later there was a crash so loud and powerful that the ground literally quaked under their feet.

"Holy shit. Did you see that?" Perry shrieked as he looked over to his brother. Nate was already running towards where the plane had gone down.

"Nate! Nate! Goddamn it, Nate! Where are you going?"

"Hurry the fuck up," Nate yelled over his shoulder, "and bring the first aid kit! There's gonna be a lot of injured people."

Doing as his brother told, Perry grabbed the bag, and ran after him. About two hundred yards away he came onto his brother, the crash site was that close. Nate had knelt down behind a group of palmetto plants, he turned and placed his forefinger over his lips as Perry approached and squatted down.

For being the sight of a plane crash it was deafly quiet. There had been no explosion or fires.

"Could be a dope plane. There's a couple of them staggering around that survived the crash and they don't look like your normal run of the mill plane crew. If it is dope they're probably armed to the teeth. Better hang back and check it out to be safe."

"It's a Convair. An old prop job." Perry knew his planes. For a while the two had contemplated branching off into smuggling but after careful consideration they had deemed it too risky. "Fucker broke up on impact and it doesn't look like everybody made it. You can see a couple of bodies farther over past the wreckage. One of them looks like he got thrown right into that tree trunk."

Suddenly one of the crash survivors yelled out that he was going for help and took off running through the woods. Perry felt a chill run down his spine as he suddenly recognized just who he was watching.

"These guys aren't smugglers, Nate! They're a band! That's Skynyrd! And that dude who just took off is their drummer! We gotta get the hell out of here. This place is going to be crawling with more fucking cops than we've seen in our lives in about five minutes!"

"Skynyrd! Are you sure? Holy Christ. We gotta help them, Perry."

"Are you out of your fucking mind? Soon as help gets here they're going to want to know just what the hell we were doing out here in the middle of this goddamn swamp. In about a day we'll go from being heroes to getting buttfucked at Parchman state prison. Now let's get the hell out of here."

Nate hesitated for a second and then gave his brother a grin. "OK. You're right. But hold on for a minute. Man, I gotta get a souvenir of this." He dropped to his belly and low crawled towards the wreckage while Perry sat down and contemplated having a nervous breakdown. Minutes later, Nate was back, dragging a guitar case behind him.

"All right. Let's get the hell out of here."

Back at the camp they packed up everything they could fit onto the wagons, and with the dogs sitting on top of the loads, headed out in the opposite direction of the main highway.

They'd never return to the farm again.

Sirens could be heard off in the distance when they pulled on to the old farm road where they had their van parked. Nate loaded the weed and the dogs into the back of the van while Perry pulled the ATV on to it's trailer.

Nate had just jumped into the drivers seat and closed the door when he heard the voice.

"Just hold it right there, asshole!"

Glancing in the side mirror, Nate could see his brother standing in the middle of the road holding his hands high in the air. He was being covered by what looked to be a sheriff's deputy with a very large caliber pistol. Nate had been so preoccupied with getting the hell out of there that hadn't heard the officer's vehicle drive up.

But he did remember what Perry had just said about winding up in Parchman Prison.

No goddamn way was that going to happen.

"You in the van! Step out slowly with your hands up!"

The cop was making a rookie mistake. He had moved away from his vehicle and was standing in the middle of the road with no cover and no back up.

Nate rolled over to his right and crawled over the bagged up marijuana into the back of the van, picked up the M16, jammed a clip in, flicked the switch to full auto, and without hesitation began firing at the deputy straight through the glass of the back door window. The officer was only able to get one wild shot off before he was cut down, his Smokey hat flying off as he took a head shot.

The sound of a automatic weapon being discharged on full auto inside of a van was unbelievable and the pit bulls went nuts. For some reason known only to them they decided to attack the front seats, tearing them to ribbons. Nate kept his finger down on the trigger and continued to strafe the deputy's body after the officer had gone down on to the gravel road, and he kept firing until the clip was empty and the rifle's bolt slammed back and locked.

Nate dropped the M16 and slumped down against the wall of the van. Smoke filled the cargo hold and the smell of cordite hung in the air. The pits had stopped their assault on the seats and were staring at him with insanity in their eyes.

"Have you lost your fucking mind! Jesus fucking Christ! You just killed a goddamn cop! Do you know what they do to cop killers in this state?" Perry's face appeared in the blown out window. His face was ghostly white and covered in sweat.

Nate didn't answer. He just sat there frozen against the wall while his brother jumped into the van and drove them the hell out of there.

***

"You're a cop killer?" Holy shit, thought Bugs. This motherfucker is crazy as a shithouse rat. I gotta get the hell out of here.

"That was almost twenty years ago. What with the plane crash and all, there was just too much goddamn confusion. The investigation went nowhere. We were never even questioned."

"But Nate, holy shit, a fucking cop! You know they must still be looking for your ass. How have you stayed on the run for so long without getting picked up?"

"Prison, man. I spent the next eighteen years after that in Parchman. Just like Perry said we would. That's the last fucking place they would be looking for me at."

***

The brothers were paranoid and rightfully so. The van was driven out to a remote area, stripped clean, doused with aviation fuel and burned down to the frame. The murder weapon was broken down and thrown off a bridge in pieces into a lake.

The word on the street was that the cops were rousting any dope dealer they could get their hands on. After the deputy was found dead it hadn't taken long to find the pot farm and the cops to put two and two together. Nate and Perry agreed that the smartest thing to do was lay low for a couple of months and then sell the year's crop in bulk to a dealer in New Orleans.

Nate took off for a couple of weeks and went off to Memphis. He took the guitar from the crash sight, a Les Paul, and sold it to an up and coming country star who he often sold weed to. The singer had been heavily influence by Skynyrd and jumped at the chance to buy the souvineir from the crash. The singer never even got a chance to play the guitar. Two days after he bought it, loaded on a combination of booze and 'ludes, he drove his car off a road and into a tree. He was pronounced DOA at the hospital.

Nate never told Perry about the transaction.



When he returned from Memphis the two brothers worked day and night breaking the crop into pounds. They loaded the dope into the back of a rented U-Haul for the trip to New Orleans. Neither of them bothered to take a look at the back of the truck.

Twenty miles into the trip the cops used a burned out taillight to as an excuse to pull them over. Mississippi is not a state where you want that shit to happen to you. The load was big enough to get them both fifteen to eighteen in Parchman. They hired the best lawyer they could find. It didn't do shit for them. They were both sentenced to the maximum.

The brothers were separated at the prison and put in different cell blocks. Parchman's population consists mainly of black inmates. Perry had been to Viet Nam and could handle himself. Perry had been to college and could not. He became the prey of a bigger and stronger inmate.

Two weeks into their sentence, Perry tried to hang himself. It didn't quite take. He wound up busting his neck but survived if you could call it that. By the time the guards found him his supply of air had been cut off too long. Perry was now basically a vegetable. He'd spend the rest of his life in a state hospital where attendants not much higher up on the IQ scale than him would take their turns on him.

Nate hunted down the inmate who he suspected had punked out his brother. He found him in the weight yard pumping out reps on the bench. Three hundred and fifty pounds like it was nothing. He waited until the inmate strained to push up the last rep then rushed forward and slammed the bar down onto his chest, crushing his sternum. He then savagely kicked the unconscious inmate in the head as many times as he could until he was pulled off of him by a guard who Nate turned on like one of his pit bulls. By the time it was all over the guard had a set of crushed ribs, broken nose, and a nasty gash on his forehead that took over fifty stitches to close.

The kangaroo court held by the prison administration could almost rationalize the attack on the inmate. They couldn't for the assault on the guard.

Nate was sentenced to segregation. The hole. For eighteen years he refused to back down from their shit. He spent almost his entire sentence in that single cell.

He eventually lost touch with reality. He began to hallucinate and hold conversations with old blues singers that had spent their time in the prison decades before he had. On occasion, he'd throw a handful of shit or a cup of piss through the bars on to an unsuspecting guard. The goon squad would be called. Nate would get his ass beat and a shot of thorazine for his troubles, but not before a few guards took some good shots.

Nate was sentenced to segregation. The hole. For eighteen years he refused to back down from their shit. He spent almost his entire sentence in that single cell.

He eventually lost touch with reality. He began to hallucinate and hold conversations with old blues singers that had spent their time in the prison decades before he had. On occasion, he'd throw a handful of shit or a cup of piss through the bars onto an unsuspecting guard. The goon squad would be called. Nate would get his ass beat and a shot of thorazine for his troubles, but not before a few guards took some good shots.

Time had not meaning for him. It was just his existence.

Then one day the cell door to his isolation cell opened up and it was over.

The guard was huge. A man of few words. He had known Nate almost his whole career and despised him.

"I'm only gonna say it once, asshole. Get your shit together. You're outta here. Your sentence is complete."

At eight in the morning he was locked down in the hole. By noon that same day he was on a bus wearing a set of cheap prison issued civilian clothes with forty dollars in his front pocket.

Just like that.

***

Bugs felt like puking again. He took a hit off the pipe and washed it down with a hit off the bottle. Fuck, he had to calm down! Get a hold of himself! He couldn't believe the shit he was hearing from this crazy fucker. Nate was sitting across from him and grinning like fucking Satan himself.

"You're scared, aren't you."

"Fucking right I'm scared! I've know you two days and you get me to help kill this motherfucking crack dealer and then you tell me you're a goddamn cop killer! Shit yea, I'm scared. I just wanted to go home!" Bugs screamed out.

Nate grabbed the gym and poured the crack vials on to the coffee table and split them roughly in half. He put one half back into the gym bag along with a fistful of hundred dollar bills. Probably more fucking money that Bugs had made in his whole shitty life. He tossed the bag to Bugs along with the keys to the Cadillac.

"Then take off, asshole. Run back to Greenwood. When you get back there why don't you try to find that mother of yours. The one who ran off and left you to be raised by your grandmother. Ask her who her grandfather is. Who your great-grandfather is. I'll bet his last name is Johnson."

Bugs fumbled with the locks on the door and then stopped. He turned out around slowly.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Your great-granddaddy checked out too early. He hasn't quite paid off his debt. It's time you help pay up."

The insane, maniacal laughter chased Bugs down the stairwell. He jumped in the battered old Caddy and took off for home. The home he wished he had never left.

The cops pulled him over before he had gotten out of the city limits. The taillights were burned out.

He smelled like a brewery. The car wasn't registered in his name and hadn't been re-registered for years. He had a gym bag full of crack and hundred dollar bills.

He was on his way to county jail.

When the cops opened the trunk they might as well just bypassed county and gone straight to the penitentiary.

Devon, his old dealer was in the trunk. Wrapped in plastic with his throat slit.

It took about a New fucking York fucking minute for him to dime out Nate Kurtis.

***

The detective strutted in and slammed the door.

"Your story is full of fucking holes, shit for brains!"

"What do you mean? You haven't even read it yet." Bugs handed the cop the notepad. The cop threw it down on the table without looking at it.

"I don't have to read it. We get over to the crack house and part of your story checks out OK. We did find a dead crackhead rolled up in a rug. But there wasn't anyone else in there. No Nate Kurtis."

"Motherfucker probably took off! He sure as shit ain't going to sit around waiting for the fucking police to show up!"

The detective ignored Bugs and flashed a signal to the mirror. Another plain clothes cop came in carrying Nate's pistol, a combat knife, and something rolled up in a piece of dirty old canvas.

The cop slammed the pistol down in front of Bugs. "By the size of the hole in the crack head's forehead I'd wager that this is the murder weapon. No prints on it. Wiped clean. Ballistics will check it out."

"That's Nate's fucking gun!" Bugs screamed out.

The knife hit the table.

"This big fucking pig sticker is wipe clean too. But I'll bet forensics proves that it's the knife that slit Devon's throat."

"I've never seen that goddamn thing in my life!" Tears streamed down Bugs' face.

The detective continued to ignore him. He laid the canvas covered object on the table almost reverently and unrolled it.

"But this is the most interesting item we found and we didn't find it in the crack house," he paused and looked up at Bugs, "we found it in your apartment."

It was an M16 rifle.

"That's not mine!" Bugs protested. "I don't even know what the fuck that is."

"That's an M16 military rifle. The same kind of rifle that killed one of our deputies over twenty years ago. The case is unsolved but I think we just may have stumbled to a huge fucking missing piece of evidence. I think it's going to break the case wide fucking open."

"Nate killed that fucking cop! It's in my goddamn statement! Just read the goddamn thing! Nate wasted his ass! He told me!"

The detective opened up a file folder. He leafed through the papers and placed a faxed copy of a mug shot from Parchman prison in front of Bugs. A younger Nate Kurtis stared up at him.

"Is that the same Nate Kurtis that killed Devon Williams, the crack dealer, and who told you that he killed the deputy twenty years ago?"

Bugs nodded his head. "That's him. Motherfucker has set me up." His voice was a whisper. His tears formed a little pool on the table.

"Well let me let you in on a little secret, asshole. I just got off the phone with Parchman Prison. Nate Kurtis was doing a fifteen to eighteen year stretch for trafficking in marijuana. His first year in Parchman he severely assaulted an inmate and a corrections officer. He was kept in lockdown almost his whole stretch."

The big cop stood up and walked behind Bugs and rested his meaty paws on his shoulders. "Nate Kurtis was found dead six months ago by the midnight shift officer. Somehow he smuggled a razor blade into his cell. Slit his wrists. "

Bugs felt his bowels turn to liquid.

Bugs could smell the cigarettes and coffee on the man's breath as he leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"It took me twenty fucking years but I've finally got your ass. You're a lying piece of shit and I've got the evidence to prove it. I'm gonna make sure you fry in hell for this."




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