Bone People are coming.

Chapter One

“Bob Spriggins here with the Wenatchee Radio News. Sasquatch destroys trailer. Wenatchee resident Willy Berman’s Airstream is now at the bottom of Butcher Creek. Unfortunately, Willy Berman was still in it. Large macabre handprints form an indented pattern against the outside walls. One hand shape goes through. Sheriff says official identification of the body will be forthcoming. We all know Willy, but the sheriff says Willy’s closure has to be official.”

Whoooeee, skreee, whoop, whoop eeeeeeooo, Rocky fumbled with the dial on his shortwave. At three-thirty in the morning,it was another sleepless night. Sleepwas tossing and turning. Rocky had a feeling something was coming and had carried this suspicion for some time.

He did three tours in Afghanistan and lost his left arm working for the CIA. Rocky was a disabled Marine who had become a hitter, known for his quick and quiet work. He made problematic people disappear for American Intelligence and Mexican cartels. Even with only one arm,he was one of the best.

A spiraling climbing chiming of bells assaulted his ears. “Goddammit, faak,” he growled. The thought of it’s onlyWednesdaymorning went through his mind. He rolled over to find his phone.

“Rocky, what the hey?” It was Hector Rosales. He spoke fast, his voice boomingout of the small black rectangle. Rocky held the phone away from his ear.

“Sorry for the hour of my call.”

“Oh, I know.” Rocky yawned, stretching out under the covers. “Cruz is out of patchouli oil.” Rocky was the go-to guy for police Captain Roberto Cruz, the head of the Mexicali Cartel. “He lives under a patchouli cloud.”

Hector ran the business,and Roberto Cruz provided the power. Cruz relied on Rocky to be the closer of bad deals. Sometimes the sight of Rocky all in black, Italian silver tipped black boots and a white Panama Italian hat with a black band was enough. His signature look conveyed a highly respected reputation that made people agreeable.

“Nooo, it’s worse than that,” Hector roared. He sounded frightened, as if backed against the wall by some machete-wielding crazy. “Los Camioneros Muertos(The Dead Truckers) have stolen some meth, crack, and cloud nine.”

“Sounds like it was a feel-good ride.”

“No question. A Humvee packed with fun, damn.” Hector made a chortle that turned into a moan. “Oh lord, it’s gonna be my ass.”

“If they’re dead, how do they steal anything?” Rocky’s lips twisted in a smirk.

“They got a deal with the Devil. Arango Mota originally stole it. The Muertos took it from him.”

“He’s a lowlife flake.” Rocky sat up in bed.

“Nobody lowerthan Arango Mota,” Hector agreed.

“So, I’m the guy to do this.” Rocky shook his head. “Cruz always saves the weird ones for me.”

“You gotta get it all back and drop Arango,” Hector pleaded in a whine.

Rocky imagined Hector with his phone cradled under his chin and arms spread out with roiling grasping beseeching fingers. He knew Hector was afraid of consequences.

When Cruz was pissed off, he leaned really hard on his people. Piercing black eyes and a thick mustache, he slapped and hit. Grunting over his stomach that bulged in his super-tight uniform shirt. Black and blue marks and bloody wounds were the expected results of his judgments. Hector would be the lead target. And Hector was Rocky’s best friend.

“And he probably wants the Humvee returned.” Rocky had a smug look on his face.

“You’re the guy he wantsto deliver it.”

“Alright.” Rocky tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “I thought the Dead Truckers were only a rumor.”

“Not with the Devil running hell and those revved up eighteen wheelers they drive.”

“I find it hard to believe that these things are real.”

“It’s like those goddamned sasquatch. They’re there, but nobody will own up to it.”

“Sasquatch and the Dead Truckers. Sounds like a rock band.”

“Hey Rock, can I use that?”

Rocky was sure Hector had a grin on his face.

Rocky rolled on his bed and sat up, his feet on the cold floor. “Yeah, sasquatch and the Dead Truckers. They’re our real life mythology.”

“They don’t just call themselves that,” Hector fired back in a serious voice. “They are dead.”

“Where youcalling from?” Rocky stretched and walked over to his coffee pot, trying to shake off a sleepless night.

“Mexicali. I’m at the Tuna Club, my place of business, where I watch my money.”

“See you in an hour or so.” Rocky moved unsteadily, stubbing his toe against a chair. “Ow! ” He grimaced at the painful surprise. “What are the payment options? Body count or amount of destruction?”

“Any way you want it.” Hector had calmed down. Rocky figured he was just pacing with his signature jerky steps and still waving his arms.

Rocky heard a loud bang and crash. A feminine voice screamed.

“Got to go,” yelled Hector. He was a good protector of his girls.

Rocky grinned to himself. He was used to Hector’s problems. His business and associates were unique. Especially that dangerous Roberto Cruz. He’d given some thought about going back to school and getting a Master’s ofHistory. Maybe he could find work at a community college, but he would probably be bored to death.

Sometimes his work drew sadness from deep within his heart. He realized people were not all bad, just the few that he took out. For that reason, he had turned down some offers, not believing in the worth of the hit. He could do that. He was a freelancer. In many ways, he felt he was doing society a favor by removing social cancers.

If he were the religious type, he would probably be nervous about being forgiven. But with the people he was taking out he was owed some redemption.

He stretched, still waking up, and grabbed his coffee pot. Couldn’t think without drinking his cowboy coffee. Rocky filled the old metal coffeepotwith water. It was white, battered with a charred bottom from previous fires and hot coals. He scooped finely ground Arabic coffee into the water and put it over the fire on his propane stove.

He shaved every day. It was a Marine ritual he had retained. When he got out of the shower, he ran a brush through his short black hair and stared at the fair,chiseled face in the mirror. A thin scar ran over his left eyebrow to his left cheek, made by a knife from an ISIS warrior.

He had a heterochromatic condition that had frightened many marks. Caused by anger and tension, his normally gray eyes would shift to a blazing green. Sometimes they glowed.

The water was boiling when he arrived inthe kitchen. He pulled the rumbling container off the flames and set it on the counter. Then poured a cup of cold water around the inner walls of the vessel. The cold water pushed the grounds down to the bottom. It was the chuck wagon style of making coffee.

In Rocky’s mind, when one uses what they got, they don’t need much else. When he finished dressing, he poured his first cup.

It was hot when he took a light sip. “Hah, yeah.”He smiled as the flavor ran through him. He enjoyed the caffeine jolt that came with every cup. Coffee was Rocky’s favorite drug. He packed his pistol and ammo belt into an olive drab bag and refilled his coffee cup.

Locating his brass Buddha, he held it in both hands and murmured a quiet prayer before tucking it intohis jacket pocket. It would seem strange that Rocky had become a Buddhist. He held a nonviolent belief that murder could be condoned to save the lives of others. But he knew there was still the distant factor of karma.

He walked out the door, didn’t lock it, got into his truck, and headed for Mexicali.















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