CHASING RINEHART Shockley staggered out of his unmarked Brown Seville with major unease.

He was shaking from alcohol withdrawals. The muscles of his neck were slowly convulsing as his chin bounced up and down involuntarily at the same time. His left ear felt as if it was on fire. It was hot and swollen inside and out from Rinehart's shotgun blast that had grazed him earlier in the day. Shockley needed a drink. Actually, he needed it yesterday. Looks like he had picked one Hell of a day to stop drinking. Why Shockley had picked today of all days to stop was a mystery even to himself. He only knew it was the right time, and long overdue. Chasing Rinehart for almost 24 hours had taken its toll on him. The sun blasting his face at mid-day reflected from hot, newly laid down black asphalt was really beginning to get to him. He could smell the asphalt in his nose, sticking to his nose hairs like unwanted house guests crashing a dinner party. This was how the farmland roads in Nebraska were—miles and miles of straight black and gray roads surrounded by wire picket fences and red barns living in the distance. Red barns painted years ago. Now faded and almost reddish-black, they looked burnt and grossly faded from his viewpoint. Shockley had received the call in his unmarked Brown Seville yesterday morning. He had been parked at the local 7-Eleven downing a 24-ounce Budweiser. He never bothered to hide the fact to anyone in his Omaha district that he was a stone cold alcoholic, everyone knew that anyway. They also knew he was a cop, so they left him alone to do what he wanted. In the middle of drinking the Budweiser, a call had come in over his police radio: Rinehart Carlson had escaped from the state prison a day earlier and had already robbed one bank in the vicinity. While in the middle of robbing it, he had plugged a retired school teacher with a sawed-off shotgun blast. Rinehart had procured the shotgun from one of those same red barns Shockley had

2 trouble viewing in the Nebraska wastelands. While cashing her monthly social security check to buy the monthly ration of cat food,(not for her cat, the schoolteacher didn’t have one) Rinehart had graciously put her out of her misery and shot out the windshield of the schoolteacher’s car(along with her head) at the same time. Armed and dangerous. Maniacal and manipulative. Yep, sounds like the Rinehart that Shockley had come to know and love. “WTF??????? That hoodlum escaped? I put him away more than seven years ago.” rang Shockley's inner voice with displeasure. So here was Shockley chasing Rinehart for the second time in seven years and hating every minute of it. The last time, Shockley had caught Rinehart while lounging in a local bar right after he had destroyed a church with a gasoline can and a match. Just having a little drinkie poo after lighting up an esteemed local church that had been there over a hundred years. Shockley had come up behind Rinehart and pistol-whipped him when Rinehart came out of the bathroom from taking a piss. That was Shockley. He didn't take any chances. He got the job done. A little beauty mark on the back of a known lunatic's head wasn't going to stop Shockley from doing his job the correct way. Correctomundo motherfucker. Besides, the patrons of the bar had applauded immediately as if they were seeing the end of a Spielberg movie. After a short lecture given by Shockley to a stunned Rinehart on the proper dos and donts of good Christians, Shockley had taken him into the precinct where further lecturing occurred via batons and gun butts from other officers of the law. Seems this time, Rinehart had decided to move up in the world from arson to bank robbery and

3 homicide. Yep, moved right on up. Just like George and Weezy did to the West-side. How Rinehart had escaped from his confines at the Nebraska State Prison that Shockley had helped put him in seven years ago was a story onto itself. It seems Rinehart had a relative within the menacing gates of the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Seems this relative had helped Rinehart escape by poisoning him with a slight dose of Arsenic in his morning mush they try to pass off as Cream of Wheat within the walls of The Nebraska State Pen. Seems also Rinehart's relative was the administrative head cook in charge of assigning inmates to the kitchen. Rinehart's relative had assigned an Aryan-Brotherhood crony to do the dirty work for him. Of course, the magic trick was making Reinhart sick enough without crossing the line and placing to much Arsenic within the Cream of Wheat morning mush so as to kill him. This AB crony was instructed as to the proper amount only to make Rinehart violently sick enough to be taken to a local hospital. The Aryan's knew the Nebraska Pen in which they enjoyed shanking and fucking enemies (and each other) for money and drugs good enough to know that it currently had no facilities as to deter or deal with that type of poisoning. They had done their research. What people on the outside don't know is that some of these guys are fucking geniuses. They don't call em' cooks for nothing. If they can make meth on the outside, they certainly can determine what's enough Arsenic to kill or not kill a 205 pound Aryan-Brother on the inside. Evil geniuses. Rinehart, being a long-time member of an Aryan-Brotherhood click called the Slags on the street, (the Aryan-Brotherhood deferred to sticking together as a unit within the pen and stuck to their own prison name called The Woods)had an apparent longtime familial tie with this good ole' boy Uncle who

4 had been in charge of the kitchen at the Nebraska State Pen since Rinehart was two years old. This good ole' boy kitchen administrator often ran smack and crystal meth into the walls by various means also--he had been doing it for years and years. Once a Slag, always a Slag thought Shockley. The morning of Rinehart's Cream of Wheat poisoning, one of the members of the Brotherhood had accidentally let it out that Rinehart was escaping by this method, and Rinehart's Uncle was brought in and questioned by the Warden. At the same time Rinehart was busy vomiting all over the floor at the local hospital from being slightly poisoned, Rinehart's Uncle had spilled the beans about what had happened. By that time, however, Rinehart had already not-so-quietly slipped out the back of the hospital's exit doors--escaping. They had only put plastic handcuffs on Rinehart. Not only that, they had put them on front-wise. Well, Rinehart had easily lifted some heavyweight scissors laying on the table meant for cutting plaster casts, quickly reversed the angle of the sharp jutting scissors while the doctor and nurse had their back turned away from him, and cut them off in a quick jiffy. Then he coolly picked up a syringe and stabbed a nurse directly in the cornea. The nurse's bloodletting scream had made the doctor wet his pants on the spot, and Rinehart bolted for the hospital exit, off to cause more mayhem and madness in the same not-so-sleepy Nebraska community from whence he came. Fucking geniuses. Plastic handcuffs? Who the fuck had invented those? Some government asshole trying to make himself look good and save money at the same time while convincing the local, county, and federal government police agencies they were “just as good” as steel. Shockley had seen dopers break out of

5 steel handcuffs after a week-long binge on Crank, let alone plastics. During a second attempted bank robbery, Shockley had caught up with Rinehart for a quick instant. Shockley knew Rinehart would stick to his own neighborhood for malicious criminal activities. Shockley also knew that Rinehart didn't give a whisper shit about getting caught. For Rinehart, it was the doing of the crime that mattered. Whenever Rinehart did a crime, he was always smiling. Even when Shockley had “arrested him” with the edge of his gun butt in that bar seven years ago, Rinehart was smiling. Knocked him the fuck out, and Rinehart was smiling. Shockley caught Rinehart in his own neighborhood--busily dragging a thirty-ish blonde woman with nice tits by her long blonde hair out the double-glass revolving doors of the Umpua Bank on Third Street. Shockley remembered the woman's black high-heels making a grating sound on the pavement as Rinehart dragged the woman along. The woman was screaming bloody murder not realizing this was the day she would be given an instant hand-pulled haircut not endorsed by her local salon. Out of the corner oh his eye, Rinehart saw Shockley coming at him—saw Shockley slowly reaching behind his back to grab his piece. No, that's wrong. Rinehart felt him coming at him and Shockley felt him right back. Rinehart slid to a halt and shoved his sawed-off directly on top of the blonde woman's head. “Been a long time, Fuckley.” Shockley stopped dead in his tracks. “Good boy. You wouldn't want to see this bitch's brains spread all over the bank's parking lot, now would you, Fuckley? No, I don't think the City of Omaha would like that very much at all. In fact, I

6 think they'd be dead set against it...Dead set.” Shockley felt his gun caress the back of his shirt. He always carried his .38 against his back, rather than in a shoulder holster. Those shoulder holsters were good for nothing besides looks and getting you shot before you could even think to draw. No, Shockley preferred his piece behind his back, for a quick reach around of the non-gay variety. “You been busy today, Rinehart. I hope your plans don't include taking that woman anywhere.” Rinehart shoved the sawed-off into the woman's cheek violently. The blonde whimpered and began pleading for her life stating she would do anything for Rinehart not to kill her. “Seems to me, I got a willing participant.” said Rinehart. Rinehart knelt down and whispered into the woman's ear: “Ain't that right, Sugar?" “ANYTHING...” whimpered the woman again. Rinehart took the shotgun off the woman's head and aimed it straight at Shockley. “Or maybe I'll just spray you with a little bit of love, Fuckley. How'd you like that, boy?” Shockley gauged the distance between him and Rinehart at about 40 yards. “Spray” was the right word. The pellets probably would feel like big, sharp needles when they hit him. Hurt and wound, bloodify and cause ugliness--most definitely. Kill--nope. Nonetheless, Shockley played along. “We got your Uncle Pete, Rinehart. He got rolled over by one of your own Aryan Brothers. Then he rolled to the Warden. Just like dominoes, Rinehart. You played a lot of dominoes in there for seven long years, didn't you? You really weren't planning on meeting up with Uncle Petey later today, were you?”

7 Shockley saw a brief flash of surprise on Rinehart's face, then it was gone. “Here's what's gonna' happen, Fuckley. First, I'm taking this bitch into that White Bronco.” Rinehart prodded his head to a parking space occupied by the Bronco. “Then, I'm going down the yellow brick road to see the fucking wizard, understand? If you try to stop me, or try to follow me in that shit brown car you call a police unit, I'm gonna' make this chick's head look like a nice ripe partially-exploded watermelon, asap. You know what asap means, right Fuckley ole' boy? That means right away. Right fucking away. Dig me?” “Rinehart, I don't think----” Shockley's voice was cut-off by the sound of at least seven patrol cars screaming in fast coming up on Third Street. Rinehart ripped a huge chunk of blonde hair from the woman's head and she screamed. “Another time, another place, hey Fuckley?” He kicked the woman in the side of her gut to get her out of his way and aimed once again at Shockley. This time, Rinehart's sawed-off sounded a BLAST directly at Shockley's head. Shockley dove “asap” to the ground as the pellets sprayed into his Seville’s passenger window, some ricocheting off to the outside meat of his aforementioned left ear. Shockley lifted his head slowly off the ground in time enough to see Rinehart jump into the White Bronco and light up the ignition. The Bronco screeched away and vanished into an alley just as the seven patrol cars entered the parking lot. The patrol cars entered not “asap” but late, as usual... “Fuck me.” mumbled Shockley from his ground position.

8 Rinehart stuck his head out of the Bronco's window and cackled like a crow. His laugh had been known to drive fellow inmates crazy within his tier of the Nebraska State Pen. Tier “C”, better known as “Crookville” within the walls, held murderers, rapists, arsonists(one of Rinehart's former specialties) and thieves, not necessarily in that order. As the Bronco slogged through the back alleys of downtown Omaha, Rinehart thought about what Shockley had said. Was Uncle Pete really found out? Rinehart didn't picture his Uncle ratting him out. I mean, he had been in charge of the commodities within the Nebraska Pig Pen for as long as he could remember—as far back as twenty-five years or so. Though, in fact, Rinehart didn't remember much from his childhood. Anything before about 9 years old was a hazy blur. He had been passed between family members exactly like a Ham Sandwich, everyone taking a bite out of his little frail boy body. His Uncle was the only one who had ever seemed to really give a shit, training him in the special art of making Crystal Methamphetamine and the special nuances of using it all the time. All the time...The deliciousness of it all. The world is mine. I'm going to make Fuckley suffer long and hard. I have a surprise for him when he finds me. A big one. My seven years in the Pig Pen will be repaid to him all in one moment. I will win this game. I am eternal. The Wizard will eat his brain slowly... “Yeah, that's exactly how its gonna be Fuckley. Just you wait, boy.” Rinehart spoke to his inner voice-mail and left a message with demonic glee. “Can I get a YEAH-YA?” he cackled out the window again and sped off into the Nebraska heartland/wasteland, off to see the fucking Wizard. Shockley saw the Bronco Rinehart drove away from the second bank robbery parked in a cornfield about 100 yards away from where he stood. The Bronco had torn out a big section of the barbwire

9 used to keep intruders out and animals like cows and sheep penned in. The driver's side door of the White Bronco was open. It jutted out of the Bronco like a Pterodactyl’s bony dinosaur wing from its own body. Shockley reached for his cell phone and pressed the SPEED DIAL button on it. He put the phone to his ear and heard: “You've reached the desk of Lieutenant Oberholtzer. If you've called after 6 PM, most likely I've called it a day. If this is an emergency, you can call my private cell phone at----” then Shockley hung up abruptly. He then dialed another number the normal way and it said: “Hello?” The voice Shockley heard was vaguely unfamiliar to him. It was the voice of a young woman rapidly approaching adulthood. Although the voice portrayed a tough exterior, Shockley could also hear a tone of vulnerability to it. Shockley suddenly felt a tinge in his heart. The tinge was not a pleasant one. He remembered that same voice call to him countless times in the middle of the night years ago, when he used to go to the voice in its bed, pick up the little 3 year old girl who owned the voice in his arms and gently kiss the cheek of her smooth toddler face made red from crying. “Its Dad Nicole.” Shockley said. “Ohh. Hi. I thought you were Kenny. He was supposed to call me from his friend's house. That's why I picked up. I was on the other line and I heard a click. Call waiting.” the voice said. “Yeah, I guess I got lucky. Maybe I should call you when you are on the other line more often and you would pick up more often.” Shockley said, half-trying to be funny.

10 The humor wasn't working. “What do you want?” said the voice again. Shockley thought for a moment. To be honest, Shockley wasn't sure why he called his daughter he never saw or hardly spoke to anymore. Shockley hadn't seen her in over 9 months, although she lived only 10 miles away from him in a different district of South Omaha. “I stopped drinking today.” he muttered. A big sigh on the other end of the line. “Yeah? I never heard that before. You only stop drinking the hard stuff this time? Or have you just switched to only wine? So which is it this time? Just beer or just wine?” Nicole asked. “I stopped drinking everything. Completely. No more. No more drinking. I promise Nicole.” “How long is your promise going to last this time, Dad?” asked the rapidly approaching adulthood Nicole voice. A long pause in the conversation. “Huh?” Nicole asked with her voice again. Shockley, aka Nicole's Dad, had a real problem with keeping promises for any length of time. He had made as many countless promises to her as he had kissed the side of her baby/toddler red from crying cheeks when she was young face. “Forever.” stated Shockley. “Forever is a mighty long time Dad. You think your gonna be able to handle forever? I don't think you can. I think to you, forever means next week. That's what I think, Dad. That's exactly what I think.” stated Nicole back to him.

11 “I love you, Nicole.” said Nicole's Dad. “I know. You just seem to love your Buddy Weiser a little more.” said Shockley's daughter. “Let's go to dinner next week. If you're free. Its long overdue.” Shockley said. “Maybe, Dad. I don't know, maybe. I have to go. Someone's calling on the other line again. It might be Kenny.” “Goodbye Nicole.” Static and click and beep all at the same time in his ear, than silence. Forever is a mighty long time... Shockley glared directly at the key-button face of his cell phone and then squeezed it in the palm of his hand. He glanced at the White Bronco, tossed the cell phone on the black asphalt he was standing on and slowly crushed it under his right shoe. It made a loud CRACKING SOUND, breaking glass and plastic at the same time. The cell phone came alive while crying a slow death under his rubber soled right shoe. He then looked at the Bronco again and started walking slowly toward it. He reached behind his back, took out his fully loaded .38 Special and cocked it with his left palm. “Ok Motherfucker, I'm comin' for you.” The cornfield slowly whisked in the breeze as if to answer him-”COME.” An hour earlier, before Shockley had unceremoniously assassinated his cell phone, Rinehart had purposely bulldozed the Bronco into and over the barb-wire fence that protected the cornfield which led to the Wizard's house and barn, which lead to madness and desperation, which led to Hell itself. As

12 a child, Rinehart had visited the Wizard's house and barn with his Uncle Pete. The Wizard himself had erased Rinehart's memory before the age of nine years old. The Wizard had told him that everything which had happened to him before that age had become null and void. Apparently, everything in the human brain had an expiration date, like milk gone bad in a refrigerator. He did remember that at the age of nine, he had become the aggressor instead of the agressee. The difference between the two, as Rinehart had discovered, are miles away from each other. The last time his older half-brother on his Father's side had sodomized him, which his older halfbrother did to him on a regular basis, (about twice a week since the age of seven) Rinehart had waited until older half-brother was asleep in his lower bunk bed. Young Rinehart then squirted charcoal lighter fluid he had lifted from the garage, lit a match, and barbecued older half-brothers body(the lower half) to an almost unrecognizable “melty” look. The word “melty” had come from his younger half-sister who was 4 years old at the time. That was how she described the look of her older 12 year-old “full” brother's lower body as it was carried out by the paramedics to the “reddy” truck. “Mommy, Frankie got carried out by two men in a “reddy colored truck” truck. His party parts looked all “melty” Mommy...” stated his little half-sister, at the time. A world of half-brothers, half-sisters, and half-truths. From agressee to aggressor. Potato, potatoe, tomato, tomatoe. In any case, 9 year-old Rinehart Carlson had been smiling when the paramedics carried Frankie out to the “reddy colored truck” all “melty.” Knocked him the fuck out and he had been smiling... Yes, at the age of 9, Rinehart Carlson had discovered what it was like to smile. Aggressors smiled, victims did not.

13

Still smiling, Rinehart slammed the brakes down on the Bronco and skidded-out in the cornfield. A clear track of tire marks could be seen from the asphalt road to the run over barbed-wire fence to the cornfield where the Bronco came to a sudden stop. The Bronco lay askew on the edge of the cornfield, stalks of corn half-squashed and torn. Rinehart threw open the Bronco's door, grabbed his sawed-off, and headed for the small, narrow, dirt road which led to the Wizard. MORE TO COME....................

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