Michael Steven Benson
Rufus, Wayne and the Ochoa brothers stood under a bank of trees that ran alongside a small creek. They listened to the muted crying coming from the direction of Frank’s truck, parked thirty yards away near a large pond. They had driven southwest of Pawhuska through an endless maze of dirt roads before finding a field with an open gate and no houses in sight. The field was dry and the vegetation dead, so there were no tracks from the vehicles as they drove in. It was a huge patch of land that allowed them to drive over three miles in before stopping.
Rufus smoked a cigarette while he watched Wayne fiddle with his phone. He glanced over at the Ochoa brothers as they sat down on a small berm with their backs to the creek; they both fidgeted, obviously worried about the situation.
“Relax, kids,” said Wayne. “I’m looking at the overhead views on my cell. We’re several miles from the nearest house and over seven miles from the nearest town. As long as we keep the vehicles out of sight, we’re safe.”
“How do you even get a signal out here?” asked Donny. It was hot and humid; sweat flowed in small tributaries from Donny’s buzz cut.
“Satellite cell service,” replied Wayne as he held up his phone. “Always pays to be prepared. By the way, I know your burner phones probably don’t work out here, but I need to collect them up anyway. We’re in some pretty desperate straits and the last thing I need is one of you calling your Great Aunt Florence to ask her to forward your mail to Bum Fuck Oklahoma.”
“Too bad we aren’t as prepared as you,” said Rufus as he handed over his phone. Rufus chuckled slightly as he stood, stretched his back and then walked to the Impala where he sat in the driver’s seat. He had never cared much for Wayne, not that Rufus cared much for anyone else since joining the group. Wayne was different though; he seemed to always come out on the opposite side of what Rufus had in mind. Wayne, who had been watching Rufus, spoke.
“You got a problem, Mr. Duran?”
“No I do not, Mr. Maggard.”
“Then what were you laughing at, if I may be so bold as to ask?”
“I just found your speech about always being prepared a little amusing. Considering where we are and what’s happened.”
Rufus watched as Wayne placed his cell on the trunk of the car and walked to the open door on the driver’s side. He wasn’t wearing his jacket and his gun was visible, strapped to his side. “So you’re saying this is my fault?”
Rufus turned the ignition on and began dialing in the radio. “There’s enough blame to go around, Mr. Maggard,” he replied, continuing to play with the radio. Another loud sob came from the truck; Rufus looked up to see Inocente standing at the back of the truck. His hands leaned on the tailgate, and his head hung low as he grieved his brother’s death.
Rufus looked up at Wayne who was still standing at the driver’s door. “What’s the plan, boss?” he asked. He had thrown in the “boss” to placate Wayne a little. It seemed to work. Wayne walked back to his phone, picked it up and spoke.
“Glad you asked. The most important thing we’ve got to do is bring Inocente back to the realm of the living. The quicker we get his mind off Tito’s death, the quicker we’ll get out of here. That means we need to have a funeral for the dead, fat man in yonder truck.”
“Funeral?” Will asked. “How are we going to bury him? We’ve got no tools and this ground is as hard as cement.”
“Good question, grasshopper. We don’t bury him in the ground. We give him a burial at sea, or in this case a burial at pond.” Wayne pointed to the pond next to the truck.
Donny shook his head and laughed as he looked at his brother. “Grasshopper,” he chuckled. Will hit him on the shoulder hard with a punch only a brother could deliver.
“Alright, stay focused Beavis and Butthead.”
“Yeah, stay focused, Butthead,” Will said to Donny.
“What we’ll do is weight down Tito’s body with rocks. We’ll check the truck and the Impala for something to tie him up. Jumper cables, rope, whatever we can find. It won’t be easy, and we’ll get wet doing it, but it should work.”
“What will Ino think of us shoving his brother into a pond?” asked Rufus.
“I think he’ll appreciate our efforts in trying to find a semi-respectful way to dispose of the body. He’s pragmatic. He’ll think it’s a good idea.” Will and Donny looked deep in thought; possibly trying to figure out what pragmatic meant.
“What do we do after getting rid of the body?” asked Rufus. “Use your phone to call home for help?”
“Yes and no,” replied Wayne. We call for help but not from home. That would take way too long. We’ll call some of the Ochoa brother’s co-workers. They would be a lot closer than our people in Arizona, and a lot less likely to draw attention when they arrive. They can deliver a car and a change of clothes for all of us. Then we can find a hotel close by. We’ll hole up there while I work out the details of getting back on Frank’s trail.”
“Frank?” Rufus asked. “It’s too fucking hot to keep up that search! We need to get to the nearest airport and fly home as soon as possible!”
Wayne put his hands on his thin hips and looked at Rufus. “Are you going to be the one to tell Ino that we’re not going to find his brother’s killer? If so, go ahead.” Wayne motioned toward Inocente. “Go tell him right now. But first let me get the camera ready on my phone, so I can take a picture of him putting a bullet in your head.”
Rufus looked up at Wayne with his eyebrows raised. “Good point,” he said.
Wayne ran both of his hands through his pompadour, trying to remember where he’d left off. “OK, you three will meet the new car somewhere close but not too close. I don’t want anyone knowing exactly where we are right now. The three of you will change clothes before heading back. I’ll have the delivery guys bring t-shirts and jeans for all of us, so we look different than we do now. Then you three drive back here and pick up me and Ino.”
“What about the Impala and the truck?” asked Will. “The Chevy was rented in my name.”
“We’ll park them both here and hope they don’t get found. They can be traced back to the ranch though, so we can’t leave them forever. We’ll send someone back in a week or so with the GPS coordinates and a couple enclosed trailers to pick them up. Anyway, after you guys come back, we all go find a place to lay low for a day or so. How’s that sound?”
Rufus hated to admit it, but Wayne’s idea impressed him. It was simple but well thought out. “Sounds fine, boss,” Rufus said. “But I have one question.”
“OK, lay it on me,” replied Wayne.
“How the hell are we going to find Frank? We can’t track him anymore because he’s not in the truck. We have absolutely no idea which direction he went. If he made it out of the county before the road blocks went up then he could be anywhere in the Midwest by now.”
“You leave that up to me. I’ve got some ideas. They may not pan out, but I’ll try my damnedest.” Rufus didn’t say a word but wondered what Wayne’s ideas might be.
“Great. Now I’m going to go talk to Ino about Tito’s body. Will and Donny, you two start thinking about any dependable drivers who might be in the area. When I get back, I’ll make some phone calls to track them down. Rufus, I guess you can just sit there and look pretty.”
Rufus looked up at Wayne who had a slight smirk on his face. He raised his middle finger to his forehead and saluted Wayne with it. “Yes, sir, boss!”