Today’s guest post is a bit of fiction-loosely-based-on-real-events from RG reader John Curry. It may not be appropriate for all ages — jb
“Motherf…” Joe muttered when the fan blade hit his head as he stumbled to his bedroom in the attic he and his dad rented from their boss. “The one thing from home I didn’t miss when I was in that GD sandbox.” He sat down on his bed and chugged a Nalgene of water so he wouldn’t be hungover in the morning. Joe’s dad had joked with him before he left the house earlier that night. “Don’t be trying to puss out of work tomorrow morning because your head hurts. I’ve seen you leave at the ass crack of dawn Saturday morning to try and fix some chick’s car playing Captain Save-A-Hoe.” Joe could work harder hungover than most men could work sober. That hard work led him from side jobs and summer work to help with bills when he was a teenager — to Afghanistan after he graduated and didn’t really have a better plan.
When he got his DD214, he still didn’t really have a plan. Going back to work fixing tractors for his dad’s boss, a man he always knew as “Mr. Owen”, seemed like the most reasonable thing. Joe’s uncle had researched their family history; they’d been farming around here since white people had found the land, but a family weakness for the bottle had taken them from owning land to working on other people’s land generations before Joe was swimming in his dad’s nutsack. “A man ain’t ever worth a damn unless he’s got a piece of land to call his own,” Dad always used to say, in between labored breaths. Decades of cowboy killers and 7018 fumes had made his lungs work about as well as the liquor made his liver work.
While the marines were playing “hurry up and wait” overseas Joe thought about his father’s words. His old man couldn’t forgive himself for not having something to pass down to Joe. They were always working for men whose fathers and grandfathers owned the land, but neither Joe nor his dad ever had a hope in hell of breaking that cycle. Until Joe’s old NCO posted something on IG about having bought his house on a Veteran’s Affairs home loan. “They didn’t need a down payment as long as the house cost as much as whatever bureaucrat in charge of my loan thought it should cost,” he said in the DM. “I’ll take that shit any day”
Joe had given the VA their 800 pages of paperwork and waited the 3-5 business months till he got preapproved. Then he started looking for houses. He’d found a nice little house over by where Big Red and them used to spotlight deer back in the day. “You’ll have room to do your side mechanic work or
grow some veggies, but not both,” Joe thought, but it was all the house he could afford so he put an offer down and waited the 45 days till it was the bank’s house he could live in. The mortgage was going to have him eating mostly beans and rice for the next few years, but it was worth it to not put rent money in some rich douche’s pocket. Or at least that’s what Joe kept telling himself.
“There’s no good way to tell you this, but the seller just got another offer. 40K over what you’re paying.” Joe’s phone buzzed with a text from the way-too-friendly real estate agent. He whacked the f250’s axle shaft back into place as he thought about the kind of man who could pay forty grand over asking for a house in a county where the average dude made about 25K a year. “If he’s gonna fuck me like that the least he could do is buy me dinner too… that’s what the green weenie did.”
As he was telling his dad later that night, the phone buzzed again. “The seller played ball with your daddy back in the day and he felt bad about doing this to you. If you can come up with another 25K in the next 2 weeks, the house is yours.” Neither Joe nor his father had ever seen 25k at one time, and the VA wouldn’t lend him another dime. “You almost got rid of my ass,” Joe joked after a long silence.
“Fuck that noise,” Dad said. “You got a chance to make the life that I couldn’t shut up and play nice at work long enough to give to you. We’re about get us that money, and I’ll tell you how.” Joe leaned in as his dad laid out the plan, real quietly like there was someone else listening. “You know how Owen’s kid did so much blow when he was failing out of VT? Well Big Red and Keith said that he got up with the distributors while he was out there and he’s selling it now. The Jalisco cartel boys are coming up to get their money from him this weekend.”
“HELL NO!” Joe replied. “There’s gonna be other houses”.
“Shit boy, you’ve seen how all the houses in the city are getting bought up right? What do you think will happen out here once all the rich guys figure out they can work from home out here? It’s nut up or shut up time kid. Lord knows you’ve done this crap when you were over there risking death for Israel and Raytheon.”
“Let me sleep on it,” Joe sighed. He knew Dad was right, but it didn’t make the idea of going head-to-head with some of the meanest SOB’s the southern hemisphere has to offer seem any more fun. The next day, while they were driving to work, they worked out the plan. The Mexicans would probably want to leave about 3am because that’s about the time little Owen always got too coked out for anyone sober-ish to stand to be around. Dad would borrow Uncle Jim’s CBR1000 and wait by the grain silo. There were 2 sets of train tracks that the state had given up smoothing the crossing out, so the cartel guys would have to slow their truck to a crawl. That’s when Joe would jump off the silo ladder on to the top of the truck. Hopefully he’d be able to break the window, grab the bag of cash, get back to the bike, and they’d run like hell. If they couldn’t outrun some half-drunk Mexicans then they might as well just suck start the 870. They knew these roads better than anyone.
Joe wasn’t as confident as Dad was, but he climbed the silo at 2am anyway. “No matter what happens, you went out trying to make the family name mean something again,” he told himself. He was praying his rosary as some headlights came over out of the soybean field. They slowed down just like Dad said they would, and the money was sitting right by some dude who looked like Gabriel Iglesias with cheap tattoos. Joe jumped onto the big Duramax, took a tire iron to the sunroof, put a single shot into the man with the money. Grabbed the bag. And before anyone knew what happened he was on the back of the bike and gone.
They ran off into the night at 12000 rpm, feeling more alive than Joe felt the first time he did a 40 roll. In the distance they could hear the Duramax running hard, and gunshots aimed at nothing but frustration. A few miles down, Dad pulled over by the old elementary school to check the cash. “That’s our damn house now!” he hollered into the night as they got back onto the bike, with Joe up front this time. He lifted the front wheel in brief celebration as his mind went to thinking about how decades of his late nights and early mornings were worth less than a few kilos of powder.
Up ahead was a series of fast corners that had scared the hell out of Joe when he was first learning to ride. No worries; that was a long time ago. But his father wasn’t as sanguine about it and he tapped insistently on Joe’s helmet as they came up to the first one. Joe jumped from the noise and contact, stepping on the rear brake just a little harder as a result.
And that was it. They were both over the high side and into the trees lining the side ditch. Joe landed broken and bleeding out. He saw a dim shadow of his father, face down and shaking. At least he won’t have to see me bleed out, Joe thought. He couldn’t walk. Couldn’t even stand. The whistle of the Duramax was coming closer. Joe took the rosary back out of his jacket pocket. The Duramax was idling now and there was a shadow over him.
“Lead us not into temptation, but…” There was a nickel-plated Colt .38 Super pointed at him, in a hand that neither shook nor wandered. And then it was all over.