Fool Me Twice – Mac Takes Off

Halfway to Mac’s nephew’s house, we pulled in at a convenience store to grab something to eat. We’d planned on waiting till we got to Spanky’s grandmother’s house, but since we hadn’t eaten anything all day, we both decided to make a pit stop before that.

When he pulled in to the 7/11, I told him to make it fast.

He looked at me with a sheepish grin. “Would ya mind? I’m kinda drunk.”

He wanted me to get the food.

I rolled my eyes, but agreed nonetheless. “All right, you lazy ass. Tell me what you want.”

He grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Okay, I want a big bag of trail mix. I want a hotdog with mustard and relish. I want a glazed honey bun. I want—”

Crime Fiction Thriller - the Moral Crusader - Self-Righteous - Paddy's Parole Officer

“C’mon, Mac! You want a fucking filet mignon too? Hurry the fuck up!”

After repeating his order back to him, I walked inside the store and proceeded aisle to aisle, filling Mac’s order item by item. I then carried it all up front, piled it on the counter, and headed to the back to get some drinks. When I happened to glance out the window, it was just in time to see Mac pulling the truck out onto the street and driving away.

I know I’m stereotyping, but the clerk in the store looked and sounded just like Babu on the Simpsons.

Standing at the window, I was too stunned to speak or yell or even move. So, I just stood there with my mouth wide open.

“Are you okay, Sir?” asked the clerk.

No, I was not okay. I was definitely not okay.

“Excuse me, Sir, I’ll be right back.”

I hit the front door of the store running—across the parking lot, and out into the street, where I stood transfixed as I watched Spanky’s old truck drive into the distance. I continued watching as it turned onto the feeder road, got on the freeway, and then disappeared.

In despair, I turned around and walked back inside the 7/11.

The clerk eyed me sympathetically. “You do not look well, Sir. Do you need an ambulance?”

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, “I’ll be all right.” Motioning towards the pile of stuff on the counter, I said, “But I won’t be needing any of this. I’m sorry.”

He immediately began gathering the items up in his arms. “That’s quite all right, Sir. Will you be needing a ride? My wife can watch the store.”

I stood there, slowly absorbing my situation. In the process, I almost broke down crying. “No thanks,” I said. “I have a phone. I’ll just call someone.”

The one thing I did buy, was a six-pack of longnecks. Then I walked outsides in a daze and sat down on the curb in front of the store, head spinning.

Maybe Mac was just playing a joke on me. If he was, it definitely wasn’t funny.

Suddenly, I stood up and then lurched around to the side of the building and threw up. I pulled out my phone, and with hands shaking, tried calling Mac’s number. When his voicemail picked up, I instead called Spanky and told him to come and get me.

He was surprised to hear my voice. “Already? I didn’t expect you for another hour.”

I sighed into the phone. “Something’s happened. I’ll tell you about it when I see you.” I gave him directions and hung up.

After walking back to the front of the store, I sat down on the curb once more and opened a beer. In my head, I mentally replayed everything that had occurred in the last few minutes. It was the same old bullshit questions that I always seemed to find myself asking: What if I’d done this? Or, what if I’d done that? Or, why hadn’t I done such-and-such?

It was the story of my life, writ small. And the more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me. Nearly everything Mac had said or done since I’d tracked him down, had been designed to lull me into thinking he was my friend. It all fit so nicely into my cynical worldview—just one more confirmation of my distrust of mankind in general.

Now I was forced to ask myself a question. Had anything Mac ever told me been the truth?

The story about his brother? About Tony the Toad? Or Louie Brocca? Had it all been bullshit?

By the time Spanky arrived, the beer was gone.

Fool Me Twice – Mac and the Officer

Mac smiled at me. “We’re home free now, buddy!”

But he spoke too soon.

“Oh, fuck!”

“Shit, what is it?” Mac said, voice cracking.

As he turned the corner to the front of the building, a cop car was slowly pulling up to the front gate, blocking us in.

“Oh, shit.”

“Just chill out,” I said. “He’s already seen us. Just take ten deep breaths, and play it cool.”

He began panting. “It’s not working, Paddy! I’m getting dizzy.”

“Mac, look at me!”

When he turned to face me, I slapped him. Not hard, mind you.

He put his hand to his cheek. “What the fuck?”

“Dude,” I said, “you’ve gotta get a hold of yourself. Just get out there and do what you do!”

“What do you mean what I do? What the fuck do I do?”

“C’mon, Mac! You oughta know by know. You’re the king of bullshit!”

“I am?”

“Hell yeah! Remember that cop in Galveston? Instead of throwing us in jail, he invited us to go fishing! Snap to it, buddy!”

A steely glint began to shine in his eyes as he pushed his chest out and clenched his jaw. I was on the right track.

“And remember those chicks in that restaurant? You had those girls eating from your hand! That was you!”

“Yeah!” he said. “I did do that, didn’t I?”

“Hell yeah, you did! Now listen to me. You’re Stuart Heywood’s little brother and business partner. You own this fucking place. You hear me? Get your ass out there and tell him we’ve got shit to do. But he’s in our way. Tell him you’re a busy man and you don’t have time for his bullshit. You’re Jerry Heywood! Understand?”

He gripped the steering wheel, anger flashing in his eyes. “You’re damn right! I am a busy man!” He bobbed his head up and down. “That’s right, motherfucker! Nobody fucks with…” He turned to me. “What’d you say my name was?”

“Heywood, Jerry Heywood.”

He put the truck in gear and pulled up to the gate. Then he got out to meet the officer, who was already standing next to the fence.

“Afternoon, Officer.”

Without acknowledging Mac’s greeting, the cop said, “Where’s Stu?”

Mac’s eyes glazed over. “Who?”

I buried my face in my hands, C’mon, Mac. You idiot!

“Oh! You mean Stuart? My brother? You just missed him.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. But the cop continued to eye Mac warily.

“And who might you be?”

“Name’s Larr-I mean, Jerry. I’m Stuart’s little brother. And his business partner too.”

The cop took off his mirrored sunglasses to get a clearer look at Mac. After a few seconds, he said, “Ol’ Stu and I go way back. Don’t ever recall him mentioning a brother. Or business partner neither.”

Mac chuckled nervously. “Well, I’m his half brother, actually, you know… from another mother.”

I shook my head.

“This your truck?”

“What, this truck?”

The cop just stared at Mac. C’mon, Mac, say something, you idiot.

“Um, actually no. We were just going to pick up some food. But Junior’s inside, if you need to speak to him.”

I threw my hands in the air, certain that Mac had just blown it.

“Yeah,” the cop said, “as a matter of fact, I do.”

That was it, I thought. It’s all over now.

I wondered exactly how Mac planned to get himself out of this.

“Well, is it important, Officer? He’s actually kinda busy right now.”

“I left my truck here last week,” he replied. “I kind of need to know if it’ll be ready on Monday like he said it would.”

“Sure thing, Officer. I’ll be right back.”

As he turned to go inside, Mac gave me a desperate look. The evil eye I shot him in return probably scared him worse than the cop did. I almost volunteered to go get Junior myself. That way, I could duck out through a window and be two blocks away before anyone even noticed I was missing. But there was no way I’d ever desert Mac like that. And so I waited.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Until I finally began to wonder if maybe Mac hadn’t deserted me. But finally, the door opened, and out popped Mac with a new spring in his step. Though there was no sign of Junior, Mac had a confidence that was missing before.

“Sorry for the delay, Officer Perkins. I took the liberty of checking the computer. Yours is the Chevy S-1O, am I right?” Mac’s demeanor seemed to put the cop at ease.

“That’s the one.”

“Great! Your truck will be ready Monday, like Stu said. And by the way, Junior’s napping. He told me to handle it.”

The cop nodded. “That’s great. I’ll see you Monday, then.”

I was so proud of Mac. He’d handled it beautifully. Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to leave well enough alone. His mouth always seemed to have a mind of its own.

“Yeah,” he said, “we would’ve had it ready sooner, but we had to order a spare part.”

The cop scrunched up his face, confused. “A spare part? What kind of part?”

Mac tugged at his ear. “Uh… it was a uh… a flux capacitor, I think.”

The cop nodded his head, but then did a double take. “A what?”

Shit, Mac. Why would you say something stupid like that?

“A flux capacitor,” he repeated. “Where have I heard that before?” the cop asked.

And without missing a beat, Mac said, “They um… they equalize the transometer diffusion.”

I could almost hear the cell bars clanging shut.

Suddenly, the officer appeared to get angry. “Look, I told him all I wanted was a damn paint job. We had this same problem last time!” After huffing and puffing for several seconds, he said, “I need to see Stu Senior, right now!”

“You don’t understand,” Mac said, “the flux capacitor was for our paint sprayer. That’s what keeps the bubbles out of the paint when you spray it.”

The cop had a dull expression on his face that told me he was as ignorant about cars as I was.

“I see,” he said, meekly. Mac had done it again.

Putting his hand on the officer’s back, he said, “Now, if you’ll excuse us, Officer. I haven’t eaten all day.”

With a disoriented look, the cop got in his car and backed out of the drive.

I turned to Mac, holding my chest, “I swear, Mac! One of these days you’re gonna put me in an early grave.”

He wiped a dab of sweat from his forehead. “That was close, wasn’t it, buddy?”