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    Houdinii
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Shadow Of The Truth - 2. Chapter 2

“Logan…” He was waking up. I would bet his head was pounding.

“Jimmy, shhh. It’s all over. We’re on our way, okay?

“Wha…what happened? You’re bleeding, Logan! What the hell happened? You didn’t kill him, did you?” I thought his panic would never cease and allow a single word in edgewise.

“Jimmy! It’s fine. I just knocked his old ass out. Trust me; he’ll kill himself with a bottle before I do!” I wished I could believe it myself, but Jimmy didn’t need to know that. “Look, bro, we’re on the road, North straight to Chicago. We made it.” Seeing Jimmy smile made me think that we were doing the right thing.

“I trust ya, Logan. I don’t want to go back. Just us, right?” I would have rather smashed the glass over Jimmy’s dad’s head. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I simply winked and smiled while tuning the dial to HOT 104.1, Metro East’s Best Hip Hop and R&B. The Interstate 55 North signs passed in a blur as we gunned it towards the ‘windy city’, and daylight began to disappear faster than the gas in the tank.

“I’m pulling off, Jim. You hungry?” Spying the Flying J Truck Stop in the distance, I was ready for a bite to eat. Jimmy must have taken a snooze. With a yawn and stretch, the kid woke up asking for eggs and toast. I couldn’t have agreed more. At least at a truck stop, we could spend the night in the car without worrying about people messing with us.

The red from the Flying J logo reflected off the windshield as I pulled to the front of the station. A Jeep tried to cut in front of us, but with a quick foot and an elbow on the horn that refused to honk, I made my way to the front of the line. Pulling up to the pumps and hopping out I thought I’d encounter a ‘normal’ gas pump. Instead, after being met with a machine that talked and begged for the plastic that I didn’t carry, I walked towards the massive store.

“Logan!” I saw Jimmy hop out of the car. It didn’t take long for him to make his way over the oil-crossed asphalt. I guess I can’t leave him out there by himself. “Wait!” Out of breath, he called out, halting me. “Logan, I... can we get something to drink?” I stood back and watched, but I couldn’t understand how he could be so happy. “They have Icee’s! You want red or blue?” Before I could even answer, he darted off. The saying ‘A kid in a candy store is cliché,’ but Jimmy bounced around the place without a care in the world.

“I need twenty dollars on pump eleven.” The bearded dude just nodded, taking the bill I had in hand. There were no smokes on the counters in a station like this.

“Think I could get a pack of Reds?” I had to try it. “Marlboro?” Yes! “Um, yeah, of course.” I didn’t believe my luck until he stuck his hand out waiting for a five-dollar bill. Sure as ever, Jimmy must have smelled the nicotine because he came running.

“Cowboy hats! They have hats, and boots too!” Our trip to fill our car up was full of Texas references. Walking into the restaurant next door to the truck stop only proved pint-sized Jimmy belonged somewhere in Texas. “Dude, Logan, they have scorpions in like this plastic glass stuff! You have to get one, it’s so cool!” I was worried about leaving him by himself with so much energy, but I simply smiled as I headed back to the car to fill ‘er up and find a place to park. Starving, I headed back in to scoop up my buddy for a late night feast.

“Table for two, boys?” Even late at night these places could still find top-heavy chicks to wait these places. I was amazed, considering we were miles from a city. “Here ya’ll go, drinks are at the fountain, and it’s a buffet, eat up!” Our eyes were huge! Only six bucks a piece for a buffet!

“Ha! Logan, we didn’t even need a tie for this place!” Seeing Jimmy try to balance three plates of food was worthy of a video, if only I had the means. Tony used to put up with me when I was like this.

“Whatcha’ thinking about, Logan? You got serious all of a sudden.” Explaining the absence of my older brother wasn’t something I wanted to get into, so I shrugged it off. “Nothing much. Just thinking that we should lay low for the night. I’m not sure how bad Jack is, and we don’t need to deal with cops right now. We should try to get a room with the rest of the cash.” Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about Jack’s wellbeing, but I didn’t think I could drive much further without falling asleep at the wheel. The glare from the Motel 6 sign was begging for my attention.

“How can we get a room, you’re not even seventeen yet, and I’m only fifteen?” Jimmy’s innocence made me crack a smile before I hopped up and looked for the biggest, meanest trucker in the restaurant. I saw a man in the corner by himself that fit the bill. Six and a half feet tall, built with tattoos covering his arms, and a look that spewed rebellion.

“Hey man, can you help my buddy and me out? We need a room at the motel, but we’re too young. See, we are on the run from our abusive ass parents and we are trying to get to Ji… uh, Jason’s aunt’s house in Chicago.” The look on the man’s face told me right away that he didn’t believe a word I said.

“I’m not buying that bullshit story you’re sellin’ me, but I’ll still get the room for ya’. Better off in that motel then on the streets. You’re paying upfront though, and I’m making it clear that ‘we’ are only staying one night!” The burly man called for his check before he led us outside. Throwing caution to the wind, and praying that I could trust the man, I handed over the fifty-eight dollars I had left and hopped in the car, cranking the radio to kill time.

“Hey kid!” I must have dozed off while we waited for the guy to come back with our keycard. “Here you go, room sixteen. Get out before noon, and don’t screw me over! And hey, here is my phone number. Stay out of trouble, but if it finds ya’, give me a holler.” After shaking hands and many profuse thank you’s, the stranger went back into the restaurant. I made sure his number made its way into my wallet before I woke Jimmy up from his slumber.

He looks so tiny and innocent. He doesn’t deserve this. Jimmy even woke up with a smile on his face. How, I’d never know. My nerves were frazzled, and I was spooking easily, but Jimmy was as relaxed as one could be. Wiping his eyes with both fists, he stretched and leaped from the car.

“This will be the best bed I’ve ever slept in, bro!” I was actually excited to lay my head on a decent pillow, and wasn’t ashamed to admit it. The beep from the keycard welcomed us to our room. Knowing that a bed was only a mere ten feet away and that the bald-headed trucker dude didn’t rip us off was a relief. Jimmy didn’t waste any time before hopping up and down on the bed. His infectious smile had me laughing, and before I knew it, I was jumping too.

“I’m never going home again, Logan.” With our high spirits flowing, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the tears to flow. “I mean, I can’t. Dad has to know I’m gone now, and he’ll be pissed. We’re gonna be alright, right?”

“Dude, Jim. Quit stressing. The hard part is over. We don’t ever have to go back now. I told you, it’s you and me now. Might as well buy me a ring ‘cause you’re stuck with me kid!” Flopping back on the bed, we both got comfortable. Sleep still seemed to be elusive for the both of us.

“Logan, what happened to your mom? You grabbed that picture at the cemetery.” Just like that, the past came rolling back, choking me up.

“Well, um, when I was twelve my mother’s father passed away. The funeral was in St. Louis and we were all getting ready for the service. I hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, and was sick that day. They couldn’t very well take a nauseous kid to the church, so Mom found a sitter while they made the drive into the city.” Jimmy listened on intently.

“Apparently my dad and mom had a fight after the mass. I’m sure my mother was grief stricken, but for whatever reason, my dad stopped the car and ordered her out. My brother Tony got out too. I remember dad coming home pissed, but that’s it. I wasn’t aware of the call in the morning telling dad that they were run down by a drunk while they were trying to cross Grand Avenue.”

When I thought I was going to cry, I steeled my nerves, and put on a poker face. The last thing I need was for Jimmy to see me crack. I surely didn’t expect the little man to tear up himself.

“I had no idea, Logan. That’s, that is seriously messed up. I, uh, I don’t know what to say.” A single arm fell over my shoulder as Jimmy attempted to console me. Just the thought made me smile.

“It’s all good, Jimmy. That was a long time ago. I went off the deep end with drugs and caused a lot of trouble. I busted people up and was thrown in juvie plenty of times, but I think I had to get it out of my system. It’s not as if my dad knew how to take care of anyone but himself, then to have a dope fiend for a son. I guess the bottle got him in the end, didn’t it?” My inside joke fell flat as Jimmy remembered how we left Jack. With the awkward silence conveniently filling the room, we both took the opportunity to sleep off the pain of the past.

 

The door caving in wasn’t the scariest part of the police raid. The SWAT team pulled Jimmy out of the room before the assault rifles aimed point-blank at my head. It must have been that trucker that snitched. It didn’t take much insubordination before the assholes face planted me on the motel floor and read me my rights.

“Logan, what the hell man? You’re freaking me out!” As far as dreams go, I was sure I was a goner. Wiping the sweat off my brow, I shook off the nightmare and suggested that we find a Regions bank before we hit Chicago.

“You’re not planning to rob the place, are you?” Had he not laughed, I would have thought he was serious, not that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but Jimmy has a bit of dough. There was no need for passing notes to the tellers just yet.

“Just run into Regions, do your business, and meet me back out here, ‘kay?” Again smiling, he left the car and raced into the bank. The wait wasn’t too horrible. Jimmy came out with fat pockets after only twenty minutes. His excitement in the car was overbearing.

“Four thousand! I withdrew four thousand!” I’d been sure he only had a couple grand in the account. “They gave me two thousand for interests or something. I don’t know, is that like stocks or something? They even fingerprinted me!” I needed a good laugh, but felt bad it was at Jimmy’s expense. Poor kid didn’t even know that the bank was paying him for using his money all this time.

“Let me see the receipt, I’ll explain it.” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t keep it. It just said that I withdrew the money, so I threw it out.” I did my best to explain compound interest without the slip of paper, but I think it fell on deaf ears. “Well, it doesn’t matter, Jim. I’ll make sure and stretch the cash, but you doubled your money! You’re buying breakfast.”

“Burritos! Breakfast burritos from McDonalds.” As much as I hate fast food, McD’s should have been quick and easy. Sitting in the long line was fun, though. My pal decided to turn up the cheesy music and do a sing along out of the passenger side window. It was hard to remain serious when Jimmy was singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ for the world to hear. Embarrassed, I decided to roll up the window, but that only made things worse. Jimmy refused to put his head back in the car, causing his head to be stuck in the window.

Our shenanigans earned us a smile when we pulled up to the cashier, even though I was mortified. If anything, Jimmy could have taught me a thing or two about spontaneity. Back on the road, I ensured Jimmy locked his cash in the glove box. We were within miles of the windy city, and there was no need to keep all that cash in our pockets. He was quick to oblige.

“So what are we gonna do when we get to the city? Can we even get an apartment? We didn’t even talk about this, Logan.” I could admit, we did leave a little hastily, but I was sure that there would be plenty of places to lay our heads.

“Honestly, I don’t know dude. We have a little cash. That has to count for something. Let’s just find some street kids, and see where they live. I’m sure we will find somewhere to fit in.” My mind was reeling with possibilities of being stuck on the streets in the middle of a strange place. “Look, you brought four thousand dollars with you. That is months of rent. I will get a job, and we can get a loft or something. Trust me.” I felt guilty when Jimmy didn’t second-guess my request. He even trusted me before the drive north without question.

 

The trip from St. Louis to Chicago should have only taken a little under five hours, but we took the scenic route. In the passenger seat, Jimmy fell asleep again with his head against the window. Every time we hit a bump, his head bounced and banged against the glass, never once stirring him. It was miles of me singing along to the All-American Rejects before Jimmy woke up complaining about my off-key voice.

“Dude, if you wanna sing, take a lesson or something. That shit is whack!” His face reminded me of the green poison control stickers I seen underneath the sink from generations ago. I couldn’t help but laugh at his disgust. “Really, man. You could warn someone that you’re killing cats!” I could only wait until he heard me in the shower. My voice was far worse than he just witnessed.

“Shit!” The ding of the warning bell forced a second glance at the dash. “Dude, James! We need gas again. Can you, I don’t know, maybe lend me a few bucks?” I thought we could have made it on what we had.

“Twenty more cool, or do you want forty?” I didn’t fail to see that he was holding sixty dollars for me to pay the clerk. Pulling into the Casey’s General Station, I swiped the top two bills out of his hand and went inside to prepay. Outside at the pump Jimmy got out to pump the gas himself. I wasn’t about to stop him. Instead, I took the opportunity to use the facilities since it would be the only time before we reach downtown.

“Hey Mithter!” A blond kid came running over from the candy aisle. Tony’s resemblance was scary enough to witness, even without the lisp. “Can you pwese get me a chalston chew cwandy? Ith’s up top!” Tony would always ask me to talk for him so he didn’t look ‘stupid’… I grabbed three of the yellow wrapped candies and went to make the transaction. Two dollars later, I was handing the nougats to the little man.

“Excuse me, sir! Who the hell do you think you are?” Surprised, I shrank away from the crazy older chick that instantly backed me into a corner. Her soccer mom haircut told me that I seriously messed up. “How dare you give my child candy? Like I look like need a hoodlum to pay his way! Do you think he was going to ride off with you too?” I didn’t even get a chance to respond before she yanked him out of the store. The only consolation was the smile on his face as he gripped his prize.

“Bitch!” Yelling could have been avoided, but I couldn’t help but throw my middle finger up at the woman as she drove past in her Prius. “What the hell did I do to her, for Christ’s sake?” Speechless, Jimmy simply opened his door and sat down, not bothering with a question. Seeing his raised eyebrows, he got my single digit too. The horn didn’t fail to honk this time as I punched the middle of the wheel. I couldn’t help but feel a premonition rise from the occasion.

“Screw her, Lo! She’s a bitch, so don’t let her mess your mind up. Let’s get a move on. Nothing bad is going to happen from here on out!” Jimmy’s mood was almost contagious, but I didn’t like this feeling. His grin in the mirror calmed me, but I couldn’t help but think he was wrong. Why can’t I shake this doom and gloom feeling? I cranked the dial on the radio to change the subject. It wasn’t lost on me when R.E.M. blared ‘It’s the End of the World as we Know it” through the speakers. Like an omen, a state trooper took our tail on his motorcycle. Coming alongside the car, the helmeted cop waved as he passed. I would have breathed, except the asshole slowed down. He found a place directly behind me, and followed us all the way towards the city.

 

The highway leading into the city didn’t give fair warning when we entered Chicago. After passing Joliet, the skyline opened up bigger than either one of us expected. “Lo! Look, that building is huge! I bet that is like two hundred stories tall!” My guess was fifty, but I never did have a perspective eye. I couldn’t count the floors while I was driving, so I blindly agreed. To say the city is intimidating would be putting it mildly. I was only looking forward to the pizza I’ve heard so much about.

“Bro, you said you wanted pizza earlier! What about that place?” Jimmy was quick to find “Gino’s Pizza” spray-painted across the bricks of a small building off the main drag. “Gino sounds like he could cook a good pie!” I’d only heard about deep-dish pizzas, and Gino sounded like he could get the job done, so I began my search for a spot to park. After finding a side street, I attempted to parallel park.

“Hey dude, where the hell did you learn to drive?” It appeared as if I had been entertaining an audience as I tried my best to squeeze the car into a space with only inches to spare. “Asshole, I’m talkin’ to you! Are you stupid AND deaf?” The leader of the group of four was testing my nerves. Jimmy tried his best to calm me down, and even grabbed ahold of my hand to keep me from beating on the dash.

“Oh, look! The fags are holding hands. Get out of our city, faggots!” I was out the car in a flash. The look of fear on the redheaded ringleader was priceless as I pinned him down on the curb. Five minutes and two black eyes later, I had the guy personally apologizing to Jimmy as I rifled through his pockets. Jackpot, four hundred bucks! The look Jimmy shot me when I pocketed the dudes wallet almost made me feel bad, but I swallowed the emotion. The guy had it coming.

“I called the cops, kids! Better break it up!” The man, who I assumed was Gino, made it clear that we were causing too much of a scene. With sirens in the distance, Jimmy and I high tailed it back to our poorly parked ride and headed for the highway in search of a hot meal and shelter.

 

Adrenaline was coursing through our veins as we pulled back on the freeway. Jimmy had dissolved into a fit of giggles, after having survived our first encounter with the cities’ ruffians. I couldn’t blame him, though. I was giddy as well, and didn’t even notice the blood dripping from my knuckles.

“Logan, you better slow down! Don’t you see that cop?” I didn’t see the cruiser on the side of the road, and even after slamming on the brakes it was too late. Blueberries and cherries lit up my rearview mirror, as I pulled the car over to the shoulder.

“Jimmy, just follow my lead!” I hope Jack didn’t report the car as stolen. That is the only thing I have to worry about. “Good evening, officer.” Smooth, Logan, really? I handed my license over. “I guess I was going a little fast back there?” Sargent Dick didn’t seem to care that I spoke.

“You kids should be in school down in Saint Louis. Can you explain how I found you here in Chicago?” I tried not to shake as I spoke to the broad-chested man. “Sorry, sir. We did ditch, but we wanted to see the city. Just one day, I swear!”

“Sure, I’ve heard that line before.” The officer’s dimples popped as he smiled and shook his head. Jimmy wouldn’t stop fidgeting in the passenger side seat as I tried to think of an excuse to give to the officer. “We’re okay still, right?”

“Step out of the vehicle slowly, Logan.” I complied as he set me down against the guardrail. “Cross your legs, kid. We don’t need you running off.” I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest as he approached Jimmy’s side of the car. It wasn’t long before my partner in crime was sitting cross-legged next to me.

“Logan, what’s going on? Do you think that I was listed as missing or something? D’ya think they put an Amber Alert out?” Jimmy was unraveling right before me. As I was trying to calm him down, the officer asked to search the vehicle.

“Hell, no! Don’t you need a warrant or possible cause?” I wasn’t actually in need of hiding anything serious, but I couldn’t help but be indignant to this asshole. I didn’t understand why he felt the need to search, but I wasn’t sure how to explain all the cash, or our belongings in the trunk. That would quickly blow our cover.

“The words are probable cause, son, and yes. I need probable cause. You just sit there and let me worry about that.” The trooper made his way back to his cruiser, and instantly grabbed the walkie-talkie. Figuring he was calling for back up, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Look, Jimmy. He thinks we are dangerous. It must be my bloody knuckles.” Snickering, I relaxed a little. Jimmy was still tense as hell, though. “After we get through with this mess, we will be sleeping in one of those towers downtown.” My words did little to settle the boy down, so we sat in silence.

“Jesus, Logan! How many cops do you think they are gonna send for backup?” I quit counting after the fifth car pulled up. I half expected a helicopter and news vans.

“I didn’t realize truancy was this big of a crime!” Yelling at the cops wasn’t smart, but I was beginning to get pissed. These pricks were ruining our evening, peering into the cars windows, and making my ass numb from sitting on the ground for an hour. They even let their stupid dog scratch the shit out of my trunk!

“Get that mutt off my car; he’s ruining the paint job!” The cops just laughed as they dragged me to my feet and slapped their handcuffs on. It took a second, but I finally realized just what that dog was doing to Jack’s car. After joining me in the rear of the car, Jimmy was in tears. I knew we were up shit creek now. Our plans flew out the window.

“We have a big haul, guys!” A cop was taking a knife to the spare tire held in the trunk. My jaw dropped as they pulled out brick after brick of duct tape wrapped cellophane. Praying to God that it was just weed, my hopes were smashed when a package was slit open, pouring white powder all over the hood of the cruiser.

“That, my friends, is cocaine! There has to be quite a few kilos!” Shocked, I had absolutely no idea what to do. I couldn’t run. I could explain that we stole the car and it’s Jack’s dope.

“I don’t wanna go to jail, Lo! What the hell are we gonna do?” As if matters needed to be made any worse, I spotted an officer counting money that he could have only pulled from the glove compartment. He didn’t keep the receipt. Jimmy’s words echoed in my head. Oh, I didn’t keep it. It just said that I withdrew the money, so I threw it out. Intent to distribute is a twenty-year sentence. Without a word, I stared at the phone number I collected from the trucker before I slipped it to Jimmy, praying I could remember the number by memory.

“James Hoffsteter, I presume?” A burly man in a suit asked. “You seem to be popular today, young man. Your father has been looking for you. He reported you missing last night. Why don’t you come with me and get this all sorted out.” Jimmy shot me a look of pure fear before we were separated.

“Whatever you do, Jimmy, just run.” I couldn’t let him be caught up in this mess. I just hoped the big house would be nice to me. “Officer! If I tell you what happened, will I get a plea bargain?”

Copyright © 2014 Houdinii; All Rights Reserved.
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Holy shit, Houdinii! Logan is certainly going to need to pull a Houdinii to get out of the jail cell he's facing! Omg, what a mess. He didn't even know his father was dealing! Holy shit! Man, and now the cops think the Jimmy's money is drug money. This is not going to be good.

 

Great chapter. You better hurry up and update before I run out of anti-anxiety meds. :P

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On 04/01/2014 02:05 PM, Lisa said:
Holy shit, Houdinii! Logan is certainly going to need to pull a Houdinii to get out of the jail cell he's facing! Omg, what a mess. He didn't even know his father was dealing! Holy shit! Man, and now the cops think the Jimmy's money is drug money. This is not going to be good.

 

Great chapter. You better hurry up and update before I run out of anti-anxiety meds. :P

Just seen this today, I suppose I should upload a new chapter :D
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