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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Who you meet ‘on the road’ are the guts of the country. Enthusiastic dingbats who auto along the byways, living off their wits—or someone else’s’ lack of same. Here we have a rollicking caravan of characters from a Fellini casting call just living the AMs and the PMs flat out.

Submitted: March 03, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 03, 2016




A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two


Jock was intoxicated with joy at his discovery. He instantly dialed the number in California and talked with a Carlton Chambers, a real estate fellow on the beach at Con Dios or Bali Bali, or some buggered up zero of a spot somewhere north of San Diego. Carlton asked if Jock had actually been inside the structure—or even seen the place. Of course, Jock said he had, and to please hold it for him while he completed a transaction on the East coast before flying into LAX and taking a cab from there to his new habitat.

“You realize, of course, Mr. McIver, that you are simply babysitting this residence until further developments,” briskly, all business, “and you can be evicted at any time for any reason.” Carlton waited for a reply.

“Of course I do; certainly,” Jock answered, doing his very best to be understood through his otherwise unintelligible accent, “I understand completely and will be a good tenant, sir. I might even buy the place from you.” Carlton had three other lines going, but gave a happy “oh, really,” before making a hasty disconnect.

Jock let out a whoop that reminded him of George; and promptly crashed. He slept all day and through to the first appearance of the breakfast buffet on the following morning. He left enough for at least two other guests of the one hundred registered, paid his bill and drove for the Golden Coast of the Golden State.


Jock lasted four days as the inhabitant of the stinking wreck of a domicile before he found Zeke out cold, sitting in the glass and metal bin behind the defunct aviary next to the very active apiary. When Zeke agreed to take over, Jock bounced between the emotions of joy and sadness. He gave Carlton Chambers a huge deposit for his first month’s rent that Carlton was willing to treat as the first payment on a rent-to-purchase agreement. Jock signed all the papers and already had tapped one of his road rouges for some interior design tips. An army of moneygrubbers was due that afternoon, along with several members of the local constabulary, voted best pressed-uniform bunch in the state. Before booking, Jock paused long enough to learn Zeke built a small fire in the trashed living room.

Happily, Jock sighed a highland exhalation of the bonnie kind when he understood the Zeke dude set the blaze in the fireplace. Unfortunately, the damper needed adjustment. As a result of this handicap, thick incredibly foul-smelling smoke filled all rooms except the back bathroom, a place where, as noted before, Zeke did his business but seldom could be found for any dental reason; or just for the sake of cleanliness.

Eventually, Zeke found the reason for the gagging smoke; a body was jammed up the chimney. This signal fact didn’t do a hell of a whole lot to improve Zeke’s mood, but the removal of the choking impediment, packed with particulates, did. Zeke dragged out the recently whacked individual and laid him on the formerly white-now-deep-grey bearskin, carefully avoiding the sharp puncturing teeth shoving out the mouth of the Arctic predator. Zeke stood up almost straight, cosnstantly rubbing his disgusting stubble while alternating squints of his blue eyes.

From his mildly bent stance, he checked out the chunky body for obvious marks telling him how the stiff died. Zeke approximated the age of this fireplace nuisance to be—was—as somewhere in the late thirties. This now  inconvenient rug adornment had black hair made blacker by the soot from the Christ-knows-when-it-was last-cleaned chimney. The stiff lay stretched along about six and a half feet of the probably-now-ruined bearskin. Mr. Whoever was huge; his expression was mean. His face looked as though he was righteously pissed at whoever removed him from our zany society. Other than the three holes in the chest of his Hugo Boss suit jacket, Zeke considered the rest of his wardrobe to be extremely natty. His shoes were the same as those that O.J. was wearing when he didn’t take out Nicole and Ronald. The Bruno Maglis were practically new. He had thought of removing the Maglis from the corpse but they were clearly the wrong size. Zeke was tall and lean but the humongous unwelcome guest had feet the size of Wilt Chamberlain’s.

Zeke hoisted one pant leg of his surprise-visitor’s Boss pants where he saw black knee-length compression socks. Wrapped around the leg above the ankle was an empty holster. And damned if Zeke didn’t find another holster on the other leg which held a small caliber pistol. ‘Very sloppy work; never even suspected a guy would have an ankle holster on each leg.’ Clearly, Zeke’s new friend had no opportunity to draw protection from his other pistol. The results of his slow draw were smelling up the bear in front of him.

Zeke was in a dither: to call the cops or not. He clearly understood he would be their first suspect. Even assuming the investigators believed he didn’t kill the stiff, the cops would probably not believe the moose dropped onto the rug from a cozy niche in the chimney. ‘No’, thought Zeke, ‘there must be a better way.’ He certainly didn’t want to lose his free shelter—and the beach only three blocks away. He mulled.

About five plus minutes into his ruminations, the front door flew open and here was: Jock. Zeke was about to throw himself across the mammalian rug ornament to hide the Jocko surprise, but the sturdy Scotsman couldn’t help but notice the large black smudge on his Big Bear floor covering.

“Jesus Zeke; what the hell have you done?” Jock gulped but remained silent as he recognized the soot-caked features of Morley Coodin. He instantly decided Zeke had no need to know the identity of the stiff. ‘I wonder who got him; and for what?’ It only took Zeke a few moments explanation, a look up the chimney by Jock, and some shaking of the soot-covered stiff to bring Jock around to a neutral position.

Jock and his road warriors were camped down the coast for a bit of a break before returning to the prairies via Florida, and Jock came by to check out his property. He siphoned off enough of the expense money to pay the second payment. Now this.

Although Zeke had a good ear for languages and several accents, he just barely understood what Jock was telling him. It all came down to the fact that, come midnight, they should wedge the body into some neighbor’s hedge, and scoot. Zeke certainly understood that last part; he was close to tears about having to leave his swell abode.

Jock made him an offer, an offer that sprang into Jock’s mind because of some digital digging for information about his new ‘tenant’. One of Jock’s ditzy band Googled Zeke Belsham, and son-of-a-bitch if it didn’t have at least twenty-four sites about the Zeke-man.

Mr. Ezekiel Belsham attended an entrance-test boys’ school, then UCLA, and finally, the Stanford MBA program. He was divorced from Adele and had three grown children in the professions: Alice, Ben and Grant. Mr. Belsham’s last employment was that of a Vice president of the largest insurance company in California. There was a Facebook page, but nothing on it. Twitter had a few tweets to the kids dated three years ago.

Lastly, Margo dug up something from a scandal sheet that reported Mr. Belsham resigning after a drunken naked streak at a Chargers’ game that wound up with Zeke paying a fine. After the little birthday-suit romp, Zeke sold everything he owned and hit the streets, carrying only the information for his bank account from which he drew money on an irregular basis. His bank balance was unavailable.

With some extra digging, Margo found the clinching item; the sterling singular fact, which demanded Jock’s proposal: Ezekiel Belsham was promoted to Vice-President of sales for the company following twelve consecutive awards for the most sales written in the calendar year. Despite his knowledge of this bonanza of information, Jock did not tell Zeke about the Google results . . . or the dead Coodin. What he did tell Zeke was that there were a number of older, more mature women answering the doors these days in Florida, as well as on the prairies. In order to proficiently serve the needs of his magazine clientele, Jock did not need another George, nor a sex-mad Grader; no, what Jock needed was an imposing, well-educated older man: Ezekiel Belsham.

Jock would, under certain conditions, guarantee Zeke a base salary plus incentive bonuses if Zeke joined the traveling magazine-subscription/bogus-beauty-products circus. As non-negotiable demands for this highly prized position, Zeke had to shave regularly; use the bathrooms for more than just eliminating; promise to brush his teeth regularly, and to use a strong mouth spray.

Zeke cast a cock-eyed look at Jock and asked him to repeat everything—slowly.

Jock did.

Zeke listened intently and understood. Now came the hard part. Zeke staying put would have him in his house and near his beach—and especially: no responsibility. On the other hand, Mr. Ezekiel Belsham would have money, plenty of travel, innumerable opportunities to sit, drink, and gab with lonely mature women throughout the Florida Panhandle and across the Central Plains. The final two clinchers for Zeke were: the relocation of the stiff, and Jock’s news that there were now three women over fifty in his merry band, all single and all horny. Zeke quickly saw the proposal as the perfect way to get rid of two stiffs. 

Before any of the economic pains-in-the-ass was within ten blocks of the Zeke-Fron-Dome, Zeke and Jocky skedaddled. They rejoined Jock’s band of dictionary-warrior sales folks with the plan to let things cool off in the prairies and return to the Central Plains after a few months in the Sunshine State. All were ecstatic. They immediately began their routes and plans for taking in all the glamorous climate of the Florida kind, in addition to some serious bread.

That midnight, Jock took the head and Zeke took the feet of the giant Morley Coodin and wedged him securely into a very wide and very deep box hedge, three houses down.

Next morning, Mr. Belsham washed his hair, got a cut, and a shave at the nearest all-purpose hair salon.(which Jock paid for)  With a few hundred dollars from his bank account,  Ezekiel bought a suit, some socks, and a pair of brogues. Smelling of Old Spice or Bay Rum, the new Zeke; Mr. Ezekiel Belsham, settled in beside Jock for the ride down to Encinitas and the beaches where Jock’s Eugene O’Neil cast of characters; three young men and three mature women were playing volleyball on the beach and knocking back San Miguels in the warm California sun.

Two of the over-fifty maidens locked eyes with Zeke at their first meeting and it became a contest between the two AARPers to get the Zeke-man in the sack. Over the next three days, Mr. Belsham wooed and won the favors of all three and the Angel Moroni was invoked to establish the foursome as a household unit. Jock was overwhelmed with delight, as he was able to save the costs of two rooms each night—which he pocketed.

With blatantly obvious reluctance, the volleyball net came down and packed up. The maudlin travelling circus of glum grifters broke camp. Their pitiful little caravan of old Toyotas and ancient Dodge Darts trundled along the byways as they zeroed in on the Sunshine State.

End of Chapter Two

© Copyright 2019 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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