Cowboys & Indians
Warning:  Language may be considered inappropriate for children
By David Lewis


Copyright © 2002

By David Lewis


          L.C. Bailey was pissed. He ducked back in the alley next to the Blue Lagoon tavern as the black and white squad car rolled by. L.C. wasn't angry because the war in Viet Nam was claiming over a hundred American lives a week, most of them black. He didn't care that Richard Nixon was president. Martin Luther King's legacy and Jessie Jackson's mouth didn't stir him. L.C.'s scope was too narrow for that. The events of the planet pulled him less than the orbiting moon, but he was pissed alright. L.C. was thirty-seven years old and the world had yet to give him his due.
          At ten o'clock that morning he'd awakened with a screaming hangover on the floor behind the counter of the Delight Snak Shop. Delight Brown, owner and proprietor of the Delight Snak Shop, prodded L.C. with the toe of his shoe.
          "Git yo' ass up, Muthafucker, an' git on outa here. I ain't got space for no raggety niggah layin' on my damn floor."
          "C'mon, Delight," moaned L.C., "I sick!"
          "Damn right you sick! Lookit the damn mess you made. Clean that shit up an' git outa here for I call the police. They lookin' for your ass anyway."
          "What, my butt! You whupped up on Minnie Hudson one too many times. She sign a complaint on your ass. Now the police lookin' for you Elsie, an' I doan need no police sniffin' round here. Git the fuck up an' git out."
          Delight shuffled his heavy seventy-year-old body back to the front side of the counter and eased his bulk down into a ratty green recliner, the only chair where he was even close to comfortable.
          "You doan git up an on outa here, Elsie, I go an' git Rackjack. Rackjack be lovin' to throw you out on the street for me. Special since the police got paper out on you for kickin' the shit outa his half sister."
          The mention of Rackjack pushed L.C. into action and he got to his hands and knees. He'd seen Rackjack get arrested once and the handcuffs wouldn't fit around his wrists. L.C. lurched to his feet and bright lights fired behind his eyes. He leaned against the counter and panted.
          "Gimme a drink, Delight."
          "Fuck you, niggah. You ain't gittin' shit from me. I oughta charge you for sleepin' on my damn floor. My girls had to step over you all night long, layin' there in your puke an' snot. You better git your ass low an' slow, Boy. Minnie Ha-Ha all bandaged up an' shit, cops lookin' for you, Rackjack looking for you. Damn Elsie! What the fuck is the matter wif your mind?" A strangled scream came from over head, and the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
          "Shit," grumbled Delight, forcing his mass out of the chair and lumbering toward the stairs in the backroom. "That's Precious. She done hit a john jus' 'cause he want somethin' she doan like. When I git back, Elsie, your ass better be gone." He waddled through the curtains and disappeared.
          L.C. leaned on the counter for a moment, then reached beneath it and opened a worn cigar box. He withdrew nearly ninety dollars in ones and fives that he put in his left front pocket, and an old Smith and Wesson snub-nose thirty-eight that he put in his right front pocket.
          "Muthafuckahs!" he mumbled. "I got the shit now. Ya'll doan give me no shit. I got the shit." In spite of the tilted room and the flashing lights, he made it out the door and headed off down the street toward Poochie's Place. He could lay up in the alley until Poochie opened, then have some ribs and fries. Get some a his strength back. Shit. Got some money, got a fuckin' piece! Hell, Saturday night was coming. He wasn't gonna hide from no goddam body on no goddam Saturday night.
*          *          *
          Bunker Scott was pissed. Thirty-one years on the force as a line patrolman and that new dispatcher had the balls to order him around. Bunker was perfectly happy sitting in the squad car under the shade of the big elm on the northeast corner of Piper Park, taking the occasional sip of Black Jack from his silver plated hip flask. Less than six months away from retirement on that little lake in Tennessee, Bunker didn't deserve to be hassled, but here he was, dragging his six-foot-five inch, two-hundred-ninety pound, high blood-pressured frame out of his un-air-conditioned squad, sweating like a pig in the July heat, at the goddammed Delight Snak Shop like some fuckin' rookie. Jesus.
          Delight was behind the counter as Bunker squeezed through the fly-specked door and looked at him. "What the fuck you want, Brown?" he growled, then grinned in spite of himself.
          "Bunker," smiled Delight, "how ya doin'?"
          "Well, I ain't fuckin' retired yet."
          "How long?"
          "Soon. Then I leave your black ass behind. Why don't you retire? You're a damn sight older than me."
          "Shit. How a poor man like me gonna retire. Somebody gotta keep this shop open."
          "And run the games in the basement, and the dope off the back porch, and the girls upstairs. Delight, if you left, the whole damn north end of town would shut down. You are a man of the people, Brown. You were when I was a rookie and you still fuckin' are."
          "Can't bullshit you, can I, Bunker?"
          "No more than I can bullshit you. What's up?"
          "That black trash Elsie Bailey spent the night on my floor, got up this mornin' an' walked off with my money out the cigar box."
          "How much?"
          "Damn near three hunnert dollars."
          "How much?"
          "I tole you how much."
          "You gonna stick with that?"
          "Speck I will."
          "You wanna sign a complaint?"
          "Naw. Jest git my money back from that low life cocksucker."
          "He hit the cigar box under the counter?"
          "Get your gun?"
          "Gun? Shit. I ain't got no gun. I'm a convicted felon. Convicted felons can't have no guns."
          "I need to know if he got your gun, Delight."
          "Now he might a had a gun on him. I don't know for sure, but he coulda had one."
          "What kind of gun might he have had?"
          "It coulda been a six shot revolver with a little bitty barrel, I really don't know. You police lookin' for him 'cause he touched up Minnie Ha-Ha. She sign papers on his ass. Just thought you might need to know he most likely got a gun."
          "Thanks, Delight."
          "Slip an' slide, Bunker. Watch your fat ass. It make me sick to see you get shot this close to retirement."
          "Stay away from the pussy upstairs, old man. At your age you got a prostate the size of a bowlin' ball." He could hear Delight chuckle even after he closed the squad car door.
*          *          *
          Gary Frost was pissed. Gary Frost was pissed because it took him almost two years to figure out his wife was cheating on him and the bitch still ran up the credit cards, cleaned out the checking and savings and didn't make a rent payment for two months before she left. Gary Frost was pissed because his unfortunate financial condition forced him to share a goddamn twelve by fifty-foot trailer with a fuckin' rookie so he'd have a fuckin' roof over his head. Gary Frost was pissed because his wife took the good car and left him with a beat-to-shit sixty-four Thunderbird with a power steering fluid leak that he couldn't find, bad tires he couldn't afford to replace, and nearly a hundred thousand hard miles on its back. Most of all, Gary Frost was pissed because the results of the detective exam had been posted and he was second behind Fred Baker. Fred Baker, for chrissakes! Fred Baker was a fuckin' dumbass. With twelve years on the department, and three years in the army, Baker was awarded fifteen bonus points on the exam to Gary's nine. He beat Frost by one point. Even though no detective slot was open and might not be for a year or more, Fred dumbass Baker would get it, then there'd be another exam and Frost might not do as well. Shit.
          Gary walked into the cop shop at about two-thirty in uniform with his gun belt thrown over his shoulder. On the way downstairs to the locker room he met a day-shifter named Cramer on the way up. Cramer was laughing.
          Gary grinned. "What's so funny?"
          Cramer leaned against the wall. "I'm ridin' to the city garage with Brady to pick up an unmarked car and we cut through campus on the way. We're stopped at 6th and Wright, an' here comes this hippie kid, got hair down to his ass, boppin' down the sidewalk, stoned out of his tiny freakin' mind. I mean the little fucker is so high, he wouldn't leave footprints on wet toilet paper! He gets to the curb on the west side where the bike lanes are and see's us sittin' there in the squad. Almost dislocates his spine tryin' to straighten up. Down the bike lane, here comes another hippie on one a them ten speed bikes about thirty miles an hour, hair flappin' behind him like Underdog's cape, for chrissakes, and hippie number one, lookin' at us and nowhere else, steps right out in front of hippie number two and his high speed bicycle. BAM! Hair, teeth and elbows flyin' all over the place, two hippies and the bike all tangled up and mangled up. Ol' Brady pulls up beside 'em, keys the mike, an' says, 'seventeen to headquartersI wanna report a freak accident', and drives away an' leaves 'em bleedin' in the bike lane. I thought I'd shit, Frost. I ain't laughed so hard since the night Jackson got his earlobe bit off!"
          Frost chuckled all the way to the locker room. Life could be worse. He could be pumpin' gas someplace.


          L.C.'s hangover peaked about noon. He sat behind the dumpster next to Poochie's Place cussing the world and bemoaning his life until around two, when he heard Poochie's Buick crunch gravel in the back lot. He swayed to his feet and headed for the rear door, arriving just as Poochie unlocked it.
          "Hey, Poochie," he said, forcing a grin to his dirty face. "How you doin' man?"
          "Elsie. What can I do for you?"
          "I'm hungry. Gimme somethin' to eat, man."
          "Look at yourself, Elsie. You is fucked up! You been sleepin' out by my dumpster?"
          "I been waitin' for you, man. I need somethin' to eat."
          "Why doan you go on home an git yourself somethin' ta eat? I ain't open for three more hours."
          "I can't."
          "Uh-huh. You in some kinda trouble agin', ain'cha?"
          "Police lookin' for me, Rackjack lookin' for me."
          "You slap Minnie aroun' agin'?"
          "Bitch talk shit to me, I slap her ass down!"
          "Oh yeah. You a real man, Elsie."
          "Damn right! Motherfucker tell me I doan know nothin', cain't do nothing, an' git the fuck out! I ain't gonna take that from no bitch a mine. I knock her on her fat ass!"
          "An' now Rackjack after you. They is a whole bunch a folks I'd soon have lookin' for me as Rackjack."
          "Rackjack ain't shit!" L.C. blurted, trying to wipe some dried vomit off his sweat-sticky nylon shirt. "I'll pop a cap on that motherfucker, he fuck with me, an' the goddamn pigs too. Rackjack, police, doan make no shit to me! C'mon Poochie, lemme git somethin' to eat. I kin pay."
          Poochie looked at the skinny, filthy, figure swaying before him, and took pity. "I doan want your fuckin' money, Elsie. Git on up in here and have some soup an' bread."
          "Soup an' bread? Man, I wants me some a your ribs, an' slaw, an' fries."
          "You git soup an' bread or nothin', Elsie. You ain't in no kinda shape for food like ribs an' shit. They tear yo' ass up!"
          "Well then sell me a bottle a goddam wine!"
          "I ain't sellin' you shit! You can have some soup an' bread, or you can drag your narrow ass on down the fuckin' road! I am tryin' to do you a favor, Elsie. You lay attitude on me, you lay your feet on the street!"
          L.C. reached into his left front pocket and threw several bills on the floor. "I ain't playin' no motherfuckin' game wit' your ass, Poochie. Sell me some fuckin' ribs!"
          "Fuck you."
          "Fuck me?"
          "That's right."
          "Fuck me!?"
          "I didn't stutter, nigger. Fuck you."
          "Fuck me? Fuck me?" shouted L.C., spittle running down his chin. "FUCK YOU, POOCHIE!" he roared, and clawed the Smith and Wesson out of his right front pocket, pointing it in Poochie's general direction as he tried to keep his balance.
          Poochie shook his head. "A gun," he said.
          "You goddam right it's a goddam gun, Motherfucker. Enough goddam gun to kill the shit outa your black ass! Now sell me some goddam ribs!"
          Poochie shook his head and began to walk away toward the front of the restaurant. "Elsie, I knowed you since you was ten year old. I fed you for nothin' many a time when you was a hungry little kid. I watched your grandma do the bes' she could for you, I watched all kinds a folks treat you good, an' still you a asshole. You ain't grateful for nothin', you ain't responsible for nothin', you ain't good for nothin'." He paused beside the bar with L.C. leaning on the frame of the kitchen door thirty feet away, the revolver still pointed loosely in Poochie's direction.
          The old man looked at L.C. and smiled. "Now you come in my place pointin' a gun in my face, tellin' me what the fuck I am gonna do? I don't think so! Lemme show you somethin' my daddy give me, Elsie." Poochie reached under the bar, lifted out about twenty inches of shotgun, and swung the double barrel monster level at L.C. Very quietly he continued.
"This here is a ten gauge. It hold two shells. Each shell got nine double ought lead balls strung about ten inches apart on piano wire. I pull the trigger, an' them balls spread out with that wire tight between 'em. It won't just kill you, Elsie, it cut off whatever it hit. Now what the fuck you gonna do with that little pea shooter you got? You gonna keep tryin' to threaten me? You gonna keep tellin' me how bad you is? Or, is you gonna get the fuck outa my place before I decides to kill you? I ain't open for business, you got a gun, I here all by myself. I can dust your ass, an' still be servin' food on time. What you gonna do, Elsie? Make up your mind. I got a pit ta git fired up."
          From L.C.'s point of view, the shotgun looked like the end of time. "Shit," he muttered, lurched his way back to the rear door, picked up most of the money he'd dropped and weaved out into the parking lot. He was still hungry and not nearly high enough.
          Poochie built a fire in the pit, spread some partially-cooked frozen ribs on the grill, then picked up the phone to call the cops.
*          *          *
          Gary Frost was sitting in the pre-shift briefing, listening to Bunker Scott tell everybody that paper was out on L.C. Bailey for kickin' the shit outa Minnie Ha-Ha, and that L.C. was probably armed and seriously fucked-up. Frost was eye-balling a rookie whose name he couldn't remember who was going to be his partner for the night. Frost's regular partner, Roger "the Dodger" Dix, was on vacation, so Gary drew the rook. Shit. Just as the Ell-Tee was getting to the stolen cars, the shift Sergeant, Bill Miller, walked into the room.
          "Frosty," he said, "you and Thompson saddle up. Poochie just called. Needs to see the law."
          "Ah," said Frost. "That would be us. C'mon, Rook. This could be your big chance to fight crime." He grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door, Thompson trailing along behind him.
          Outside, squinting in the afternoon sun, Frost looked at the rookie. "What the fuck is your name?"
          "Thompson, Sir."
          "Don't call me sir, Rook. Call me Frosty. What squad we got?"
          "Thirteen Suh, Frosty."
          "Okay. You do the walkaround, I'll check the trunk."
          Once they had determined that there were no new dents, the required equipment was in the trunk, the siren and red lights worked, the scrambler cube was in place, the shotgun was loaded, and a dozen other things were as they should be, Frost, sitting behind the wheel, picked up the mike.
          "One-three to the head shed."
          "Gourd-head, thirteen."
          "One-three en-route to Poochie's Place on North Fourth to save the free world."
          "Ten-fa! Fifteen'll drift that way when they get upstairs."
          Frost eased the 1971 Dodge Coronet through the cop shop breezeway, made a left onto Neil Street, and cruised with traffic to Fourth street, turned left again, and entered the black district. Frost was a member of what was called the "Dirty Dozen", a group of twelve officers that regularly worked that area on the three to eleven shift. The rookies referred to the three to eleven shift as "the P.M. Watch", probably because it sounded more like dialogue from Adam-12. Most of the seasoned officers, even the black ones, called it the "Nairobi Patrol", the hours the second shift, and the Dirty Dozen "those crazy motherfuckers."
          Frost passed the front of Poochie's Place and beeped the horn, continued to the rear, and stopped beside the back door. Poochie walked out of the building and grinned.
          "Frosty, you ain't dead yet?"
          "Rook," laughed Frost, "this poor, tired, old man that just insulted me, is a certified genius. Open up your nostrils and catch the scent of heaven. Nobody, since God made Eve, can do as much with a rib as Poochie. Poochie, this here is just another rookie."
          Poochie leaned over to look in the window. "Nice to meetcha, Officer. You stay aroun' long enough an' we'll git ta know each other."
          "Nice to meet you, Sir."
          "Sir," grinned Poochie. "You hear that, Frosty? That fine young man call me Sir!"
          "Hell, I called you a goddam genius!"
          "Yeah, but the rookie meant it." The rookie squirmed in his seat and blushed.
          "What's up, Pooch?"
          "Elsie Bailey was by here 'bout a half hour ago. All fucked up. Wanted me to feed him some ribs. I offered him soup, an' he pulled a piece on my ass!"
          "No shit."
          "Some little short revolver, pointed it at me an' everthing. I run him off."
          Frost grinned. "With what, that ten-gauge?"
          "Yeah," Poochie twinkled.
          "That piece a shit is older than the two of us put together. It's got Damascus barrels for chrissakes! You ever shoot that thing and you'll lose your hand!"
          "Couldn't shoot it if I wanted too. It's rusted shut. Cain't put no shells in it."
          "L.C. don't know that, huh?"
          "Naw. He lef'."
          "Which way'd he go?"
          "Didn't see. Had to fire up the pit."
          "Okay. Thanks a lot Pooch. I let ya know how it turns out." Frost slipped the car in gear.
          "For ya go, Frosty, you wanna little taste?"
          "Does a fat dog fart?" Poochie reached inside the back door and retrieved a white paper bag with grease soaking through the sack. He passed it through the window.
          "Ribs an' sauce an' fries, Frosty. Be careful. Elsie nuts."
          "Love ya, Pooch," Frost called, easing out the drive.
          "You loves my ribs, Boy," shouted Poochie.  "That's what you loves!"


          "Thirteen one-three, fifteen one-five."
          Gary Frost keyed the mike. "One-three, go ahead, one-five."
          "You gonna share the wealth?"
          "Ten-four. Lot M, south side."
          "Four." The rookie looked puzzled. Frost grinned. "The guys in fifteen want some ribs. They were laid back someplace watching us when Poochie handed us the sack."
          "I didn't see 'em."
          "That is the object, Rook," said Frost, heading south on Fifth Street to University, then across to municipal parking lot "M". Waiting on the south side of the lot was another black and white squad car, this one a '70 Chevy. Frost accelerated the Dodge through the lot, turned a sharp right, and braked so the car slid to a halt, driver's door to driver's door, about three inches away from fifteen. The rookie, braced against the firewall, exhaled and relaxed. In the next car Stan Merle grinned.
          "Did he shit?"
          "I dunno. Hey Rook, did ya shit?"
Riding shotgun in fifteen, Fred Baker piped up. "You got the ribs, Frost?"
          "Yeah, Fred, I have the ribs."
          "Well, fuckin' pass 'em over."
          "Well, fuckin' say please, Shithead," growled Frost. "Stan, I don't know how the hell you tolerate being caged up all evening with a fuckin' Neanderthal."
          "You can used to anything, even Fred," Stan grimaced, taking one of the two boxes that had been in the bag. "What now?"
          "Let's take a few minutes to pig out, then you guys exercise your practice of omnipresence of the police and the rook and me will see if we can find Sleepy."
          "Stay in touch," Stan said.  He accelerated away, back toward the north end of town. Frost stayed where he was.
          Grabbing a French fry, the rookie spoke up. "What's the matter with Fred?"
          "Fred just ain't real bright. Smart enough to beat me on the dick's exam, though. He's number one in line."
          "And you're number two?"
          "And I'm number two." They ate in silence for a while.
          "Good Ribs," said Thompson. "Who we gonna go looking for?"
          "Who's Sleepy?"
          "Sleepy Lowe. Sleepy is a businessman dealing in controlled substances. Mostly speed, Black Beauties and stuff. Sometimes mescaline, rarely reefer. If L.C. is looking to get wired, he'll probably go to Sleepy. His nickname's Sleepy 'cause he's got some sort of condition that won't let him open his eyelids all the way. Tall, skinny black kid in his mid-twenties. Walks with his head tilted way back so he can see where he's going. Easy to spot." Frost grinned. "Stick with me, Boy, and you'll meet all the celebrities." He eased the car into gear and headed north on 6th Street as he grabbed the mike. "Fifteen, thirteen is on the roll. Thought we'd see if Sleepy's on his back porch yet."
          "We'll be around, one-three."
          Things were beginning to pick up a bit on the beat. It was getting close to suppertime and foot traffic in the area was growing, a few gang members cruised in purple Super Bees and limegreen Dodge Chargers, profiling for the populace. Turning from 6th onto Ash and heading west into the thick of it, the occasional cry of "pig!" or "oinker!" floated on the breeze, causing Thompson to look around, and Frost to smile. At the corner of Ash and 4th, Frost turned right, then quickly right again into the alley. Two doors down on the left, Sleepy sat on the back stoop of his mother's house. They stopped.
          "Hey, Sleepy," grinned Frost.
          Sleepy tilted his head back a little farther. "Fuck you, motherfucker. What the fuck you want?"
          "Words, Sleepy. Just words. C'mere."
          "Fuck you, Pig," he said, starting to look around.
          "Now don't be getting' all froggy, Sleepy. I got another car out front of your momma's house with two more cops. Runnin' ain't gonna help. If you don't come here and I have to get out of this car, I am gonna arrest your ass."
          "What the fuck for?"
          "Moultry with intent to gawk."
          "You heard me. And if you run, sitting right next to me is the human greyhound. This sumbitch can run faster than anybody you ever saw in your whole life, and he loves it. He will run you down, he will drag you down, and you will still be arrested. Now get your dog ass over here to this car before you piss me off."
          Ever so slowly Sleepy stood up, laden with attitude, eased down the steps, and sauntered toward the car, making sure Frost knew he was a baaaad man.
          "Hey, Rook," Frost whispered out of the side of his mouth. "Real quick, open your door and stand up." By the time Thompson was on his feet, Sleepy materialized beside Frost's window.
          "Whatchoo want, man."
          "Seen L.C. Bailey?"
          "Elsie? Naw. I ain't seen him."
          "I said I ain't seen the cat, man."
          "Here's the deal. L.C. has a gun he stole from Delight. Already today he's aimed it at Poochie. Yesterday he beat the shit outa Minnie Hudson. The fucker is a one-man crime wave with more on the way. If he hurts somebody, Sleepy, and he's speedin', I am gonna come lookin' for you. I do not care what you sold him or gave him, but I need to know what kinda shape he's likely to be in. You tell me and you are back on the steps, doin' business. You fuck with me over this and I will wax your ass. I absolutely guarantee you that your new ride will burn to the ground within a week. Do the right thing, Sleep. Talk to me."
          "The dude got six hits a white cross. Two bucks a hit. That's all, honest."
          "Is it good cross?"
          "Fuck yes!" Sleepy said, indignantly. "I sell the shit it's good shit! People depend on me, motherfucker."
          "Alright. Thanks, Sleepy."
          "Fuck you," Sleepy said, backing away, "and fuck that fuckin' dog you got with you." Chuckling, Frost eased off down the alley.
          "Well, Rook," he grinned, "you got a reputation."
          "Yep. Within three days, you be the fastest man alive. Sleepy will spread the word that you got wings on your heels. He's scared of your speed or he wouldn't have bad-mouthed you."
          "All I did was stand up."
          "Legends have started with less, Legs. Legends have started with less."
*          *         *
          They cruised for about an hour, then parked the car at the end of an alley a half-block east of the Blue Lagoon Tavern. Fifteen went rolling by and never noticed them. A few minutes later, so did the Sergeant. A mike click informed them they had been seen.
          "Bill don't miss much," said Frost.
          "At you service, Sarge," Frost said.
          "Rackjack is behind me 'bout half a block, walkin' this way."
          "Perhaps I should interrogate the young fellow," grinned Frost.
          "Uh-huh. Watch yourself. I'll wait around the corner."
          "Fear not, Sarge. I have Legs to protect me."
          "Officer Legs Thompson, the human greyhound. If ya see Sleepy, he'll explain it to ya."
          "Geeze, Frosty. Now you're gonna have everybody callin' me Legs," complained the rook.
          "Beats the hell outa shithead. Now listen to me. In a minute a black refrigerator is gonna walk by the front of the car. I am going to attempt a conversation with that major appliance. If he is in a good mood it will be no problem. If he is pissed off, it will be dicey. If he is in a bad mood, shoot him."
          "Shoot him?"
          "Quick as you can, several fucking times."
          "How will I know if he's in a bad mood?"
          "He'll be in the process of pulling my arms off."
          "Jesus," said Legs. "Are you serious?"
          "Almost. Rackjack is a fuckin' monster. I saw him rip the door off a Mustang once. He's been in prison about half his life, liftin' weights and shit. Most likely there will not be a problem, but if he grabs me, shoot himmore than once."
          "I am completely serious, Legs. This fucker scares me to death."
          "You sure?"
          "Yeah. Wait'll you see him."
          The wait was short. Almost at that moment, Rackjack, looking very much like a gorilla with stomach cramps, rumbled past the front of the car, his elbows held out from his body by the bulk of his muscles, forearms the size of water mains and solid oak biceps rippling beneath the sleeves of his hot-pink t-shirt, thighs stretching his blue jeans to the ripping point, his immense, shaved head glistening ebony in the glow of the setting sun.
          "Holy shit", squeaked Legs.
          "You got that right. Stay with the car Rook," said Frost, sliding out the door. "Hey, Rackjack!" he called.
          The apparition stopped dead in its tracks, stood stock still for a moment, then slowly rotated its bulk to face him.
          "Wha?" The voice sounded like a toilet backing up.
          "Need to talk to ya a minute."
          Wheels ground slowly as it considered this new information.
          "'Bou' wha'?" asked Rackjack, as Frost approached to within a respectful six feet.
          "About L.C. Bailey."
          "Uh-huh. Ah goan keel dat muthuhfuckah fo' wha' he done ta Minnie."
          "See, Rackjack, that's what I want to talk to ya about. I really wish you wouldn't kill him. I'd kinda like to put him in jail, and if you kill him, I can't. Then I'd have to put you in jail."
          "Jail ain' so bad," said Rackjack, flexing the muscles over his chest and slapping a closed fist into an open palm. The concussion could be felt through the sidewalk.
          "Yeah, but I'd rather put L.C. in jail, than put you in jail," Frost replied, sweat breaking out on his upper lip. "Before you kill L.C., I need you to give me one day to find him."
          "You fine him, an' put him in jailMinnie jes' goan bail him out agin. Thas how she do. Be bes' if ah jes' keel da boy." Rackjack's  hands closed around an imaginary throat.
          "I know," swallowed Frost, backing up a step. "As a rule, Rackjack, I wouldn't give a shit if you killed L.C., but he's done some other things too. He stole some money and a gun, and he threatened to shoot Poochie."
          Rackjack cogitated for a minute. "I like Poochie," he said.
          "So do I. That's why I wanna put L.C. in jail."
          "Elsie hurt Poochie, ah goan be real piss' off, Fros'."
          "Gimme 'til tomorrow, Rackjack. I don't want this to get outa hand tonight. You might get shot or something."
          "Been shot."
          "Christ, Rackjack, I know ya have!"
          "It ain' so bad."
          "Look, as a favor to me, your ol' pal Frosty, just don't get in the middle of anything tonight." He was sweating freely and just beginning to catch fleeting glimpses of scenes from his childhood. "Whadaya say, Jack?"
          Rackjack froze for a moment, contemplating something about four inches above Frost's head. "Okay," he said.
          "Okay? Okay! Great, just great. Thanks a lot, Rackjack." Frost resisted the urge to fall to the earth and weep.
          "Ah see Elsie tomorra, I goan keel his ass graveyard dead."
          "Fine. Just fine, Jack," said Frost, backing toward his car. "Tomorrow you can kill him if I don't catch him tonight. Thanks for your time."
          "Sho'," Rackjack gurgled.
          Frost eased back into the car, feeling like he'd just run a marathon, and collapsed onto the seat, breathing heavily.
          "Damn," said Legs, "that was close. A couple a times when he kinda swelled up, I though he was gonna go for ya! I was ready though, Frosty. What's he like when he's in a good mood?"
          Frost grinned weakly. "Shit, Rook. That was a good mood."

...If you want to know what happens next,

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