Constable Jerry Wragg, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, yanked the cruiser into a hard U-turn and flipped on the rack of red and blue lights mounted on the roof. He picked up the radio handset.
"I know where it is. I saw it on the map yesterday. Right turn at the church, eh?"
"You got it." The radio squeeed. "Crowley's your nearest backup and he's 40 miles away. Hurry it up so I can get some support if its a 711. Out."
After six years in the endless flat of Saskatchewan, this was his first solo day in the Maritimes, his first day with the brand new cruiser. He felt great. Lessee...four miles to the village, then three on gravel to the cove. He hadn't had a chance to travel all the back roads yet. And this was a call from Gussum Tanner. They'd told him about Gussie: got drunked up and called the cops for excitement, twice frantically adamant that there was a Russian submarine in the Medway River, twice dope smugglers that turned out to be a couple of fish scientists in a Zodiac one time and a tourist weenie roast the other. Ahh, but just once Gussie had called in a hysterical, boozy complaint and there'd been a couple of hundred bales of hash on the beach. After that, dammit, they had to take him seriously.
Houses began to zip by as he entered the village, a couple of summery girls by the post office -- oooh, nice tits!
Little Raymond pumped the brake pedal enthusiastically and the old flatbed truck flapped to a reluctant halt at the stop sign. Good thing too, there was the Mounties, flashers on, boring right across, going fast. Benny, up on the back with the wet fish, jeered loudly and pounded on the roof of the cab. Ignorant asshole, Little Raymond thought. Probably gave 'em the finger, just what he needed, anothetr hassle. As the cruiser flashed by, he nudged the gas, eased up the oily old clutch and the old girl luched into the intersection. From the corner of his eye he saw police car pitch and slew to a halt and start to back. With a curse, he slammed the gas pedal to the floor, trying to physically belly the truck out of the way. The truck wallowed forward and stalled. Several dozen large, cold, dead codfish slopped wetly across their companions, slithered off the pallet, then off the truck and plopped limply on to the road.
"Damn! That was the church!" Wragg peeled his attention away from tanned skin and bobbing mammaries like a Band-aid. And damn these new brakes -- he wanted to stop now, not sometime. Numbnuts engineers. Back the sucker up and go. He gunned the cruiser backward into the intersection. A dead codfish appeared at his left elbow, dangling over the tailgate of the stalled truck, regarding him accusingly with one filmy eye. Shit. Where did that thing come from?
Now turned onto the right road, accelerating hard, he looked in the mirror. Damn drunken fishermen, parked in the middle of the intersection. Probaly sneaked up on him on purpose. Maybe he'd get them on the way back.
The cruiser lurched over the hummocks and potholes of unloved paving, then onto smoother gravel. He'd have to watch it. Couldn't see oncoming. Hell with it. If this really was a big dope haul, it'd look good on his record. He wished he'd had a chance to get familiar with this road when he wasn't in a hurry. Holding his breath, Constable Wragg powered into narrow blind curve, skidding a little toward shingle and surf, then gunned hard up a short, steep rise and -- Oh shee-iit!
Yufoku Yamada picked his way over the periwinkles and tidal slime, up the narrow plank to the head of the rude slipway. The brute wrecker still hulked in the middle of the road but the big limo was carefully inching back and forth between neatly stacked fishing gear, rocks and shacks, like a Landrace sow at finishing school, gradually getting turned around toward departure. Yufoku stood waiting for the maneuver to be completed. Lex, then the Artist, scrambled up to join him.
Finally the trucker waved a hand and Earl legged out of the limosine in a cloud of nacreous cigar smoke. Yamada stepped forward.
"Excuse me, ma'am. My friends an I are in need of some assistance. May we have a few words?"
Earl spewed smoke, eyed Yamada, spat, chomped again on her cigar and grinned. "You're in need of flatiron, friend. And your tie clashes with the kind of seaweed you wear. What's on your mind?"
"My friends and I have had an accident with our sailing boat. We...."
The Artist ambled back to his boat and went about getting it into the water again. "What a world", he muttered to himself. Negotiations proceeded behind him.
Little Raymond, tee-totaler, first-born and most even tempered of eight brothers, wrenched open the balky door, flung his six feet and four inches into the street and screamed incoherently after the cruiser. Benny, his gumboots plopping and squikking in the fishy wetness, danced in delight on the truck bed, giggling and chortling and pounding on the cab with his open hand.
"By the jumpin' holy old lord lightnin' sufferin' Jee..ho..FUCK!" Little Raymond recovered his vocabulary at bullhorn volume. "Son of a whore buggers!" He snatched a slippery and badly battered cod from the street where the cruiser had run over it and wedged himself back into the cab. With a grind and a smokey roar, the old truck made a wide turn across the church lawn, scattering fish and sanctified divots, and set off in ponderous pursuit. Few enough fish this year to begin with and them horse's asses near run him down, he'd fix them off, the son of a bitches, never mind if they did charge him. The codfish cradled in his lap, Little Raymond double-clutched the old girl into high and she laboriously, strenuously but inexorably gathered more speed.
"It is most generous of you ma'am..ohhhh...Earl. It is understod that you will not carry us for hire. We shall discuss a suitable expression of respect and gratitude as we drive."
"Right! Right! So you go round up the resta your crew. It'll take a little while to coddle the Caddy back over to where it'll go without help. Half-three quarters of an hour and we can piss outa here. I'll be parked about half a mile up yonder -- what's that for you, a kilometer? Get rid of this pirate before he bleeds me dry." She winked at the mechanic. She turned to look beyond the wrecker, listened. "Somody coming. They're just gonna have to back up and wait for us. We ain't gonna jigger this clumsy rig around for polite." The sound of the approaching vehicle grew louder.
Constable Wragg was airborne. He regretted it. Right leg locked straight on the brake, he regarded blue sky and passing spruce boughs with the cosmic clarity of abundant adreneline. Forever lasted but a moment. The landing was grindingly nasty, crunchingly brutish and and painfully short. Too stunned to move, cosmic clarity continued. He sat, tilted back against the headrest, as if he were in a dentist's chair, and scrutinized the view through the undamaged windshield. Sky. Red painted metal trusses, pullies, cable, rigging. Radio antenna. A fat yellow gum-ball-machine light for a centerpiece.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and in the hour of death. Amen. He looked for spatters of blood. Without success. How nice. He began a wiggle inventory of toes, fingers and larger important items that he might need betimes.
Little Raymond had driven over the Cove Road at least once a day for thirty years. He slowed and sidled for the blind curves by habit, not abating his rage by a tinker's gill, put it in third for the last hill, pumped furiously on spongy brakes to halt a foot from the cruiser's trunk lid. On another day, he would have sat there and laughed himself to tears. The police car, lights still flashing, affectionately embraced the hood of a huge wrecking rig with its front wheels, its rear bumper ground into the road surface, a great blue and white beetle attempting some perverse and miscengenated intercourse with a monstrous red one.
Constable Wragg cautiously worked open his door and looked down. He was six feet above the ground. He swung his feet around, like getting out of a hospital bed after surgery. His chest hurt, but it didn't hurt like broken pieces. Clutching the door post, he got a foot into the wrecker's grill, lowered to its bumper, dropped to the ground with a wince. As he straightened a figure loomed over him. With a wordless snarl, Little Raymond wrapped a hand like a railway coupling into Wragg's gunbelt, yanked it forward and jammed twenty pounds of cold and oozing codfish into the most personal and tender regon of his pants.
"Son of whore ignorant bag of horseturds!" Little Raymond stalked back to his truck, revved and backed out of sight, grinding gears.
Constable Wragg stood silently and waited for a recognizable thought to occur to him.
Possibly to be continued....
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Copyright (c) 1994 Michael Spencer. Permission to reproduce or transmit by electronic means for non-profit purposes is granted provided that the text, including this notice, remains unchanged.
Resident Alien is an occasional publication of the Bridgewater Institute for Advanced Study. It appears variously in electronic, paper and other formats such as serial gummed labels.