Breach Kick


The gun had been fired a few feet from where I was standing, but my body felt no pain, and whatever it is that is my self did not feel my body. I wondered if my mind was defending itself against the trauma of a lethal injury.

I phased back into reality, began feeling my body again, inventorying it, trying to locate the site where I had been hit: legs, arms, torso, chest, head...nothing. Somehow, the bullet had missed me. But how could she possibly have missed at such close range? I looked up and saw Aaron Cawley, a lifeless body, slumped back in his chair, mouth open, with a bullet hole in the dead center of his forehead. She hadn't missed at all, but it was Cawley, not me, she had been aiming for.

She spoke again, "Three more seconds: drop it or die."

My gun—she wanted me to drop my gun. I relaxed my hand and the gun fell onto the carpeted floor.

"Now," she said, "Turn around, slowly, and face me."

She was about 45, maybe 50, but still clinging fiercely to her thirties. 5 or 10 years ago, she must have been a knock-out, but her body was reaching its sell-by date, that tipping point beyond which a slim figure becomes merely gaunt, and beauty sours. Her face had already begun to harden, losing the plasticity it needed to disguise the vanity and shallowness of the person behind it. She was holding a snub-nosed pistol.

"What's your name," she demanded, "And don't give me 'Bruce Wayne' either."

"Ora Thomas."

"Ora Thomas. Yes, I've heard of you. You're one of Durney McKusker's boys, aren't you?"

"That's right."

"I should say you were one of his boys," and she laughed.

"Laugh if you want," I said, "You're probably the type who thinks the death of a great man is a pretty funny."

She sneered, "Durney is your idea of a great man, huh. You really should try to aim higher in life."

I ignored the insult. "This is quite a hospital you run here."

"You oughtta know."

"Yeah, I do."

She asked, "Do you know who I am?"


"Durney never told you about me before?"

I shook my head.

"Leona Pecorelli?" She sounded almost disappointed, which was strange: usually, a person in her postion prefers to remain unknown and unnamed.

"He never told me about you," I said.

"But you know who I am now?"

I glanced back at Cawley's body, as if to confirm that he was really dead before revealing what he told me: "You must be the director of this place. This hospital."

She asked, with an almost-hysterical urgency in her voice, "Well what do you want? Why are you looking for Will Sneed?"

"I want to ask him some questions."

She strafed me with cruel, unhinged laughter. I cringed, and wondered if she was drunk or maybe even crazy. "Don't play simple," she said, "You're the one who reads books. Yeah, I've heard of you, and I've heard fools say that you're smart, but I'm no fool. Let's try that again: why are you looking for Will Sneed?"

"I want to know what he was doing in Elmville."

"Well that's become the ten thousand dollar question, now, hasn't it?"

I didn't understand what she meant, but was hesitant to speak.

As if reading my mind, she said, "No one knows what he was doing in Elmville; even he didn't know, not really."

"Well then I want to ask him how he ended up there."

She stared at me for a while, as if trying to decide what to do, or what to tell me. Maybe she would shoot me after all. "When a friend," she finally said, "calls in a favor, and you can't make good on it, then you have to call in a favor of your own. Sometimes the favor gets knocked way down the chain of friends, voiding outstanding favors along the way. That's what happened with Sneed, or rather, that's how Sneed came to happen. And it's also what happened to him.

"A friend of a friend of a friend—let's call him Mister X—was looking for a union organizer to do some work in Elmville. This person, Mister X, didn't really have those kinds of connections, and in any case he wanted somebody with no connections at all to him. So he called in a favor, and this favor eventually reached me, but like the others before me, I had no connections with organized labor, so I in turn asked a friend of mine. Let's call this friend of mine Mister M. Now, Mister M was able to fulfill the favor: I don't know how or where, but he found a union organizer who would come to Elmville. That union organizer was Will Sneed. Mister M gave me Sneed's name, and the address where Sneed would be staying in Elmville. I passed this information along to my other friend—let's call him Mister J—and Mister J passed it on to his friend who passed it on to Mister X. From that point on, Mister X was supposed to communicate with Sneed through whatever other intermediaries he chose. I was supposed to be out of it, we all were: favor fulfilled at considerably more trouble than anybody expected.

"So you can see that I don't know where Sneed came from—only Mister M knew that. And I also don't know what Sneed was supposed to be doing in Elmville—only Mister X knew that. Are you following this?"

I nodded, and mapped it out in my mind, like this:

Mr. X → Friend → Mr. J → Leona Pecorelli → Mr. M → Will Sneed

Mr. X ← Friend ← Mr. J ← Leona Pecorelli ← Mr. M ← Will Sneed

Mr. X → Will Sneed

"As far as I was concerned," she continued, "I had washed my hands of the whole damned business, but then, about two months ago, I get a call from Mister M. It seems that, although Sneed had, at first, received his money from Mister X, he never actually received his instructions, and recently Mister X had stopped sending money as well. Although Mister X had Sneed's contact information, Sneed did not have Mister X's. Sneed, therefore, began pestering Mister M, who called me wanting to know what to do about Sneed. For days that's all I heard about: what to do about Sneed? God, if I only realized then what hell that question would bring me. The message went all the way back up the chain to Mister X: when was Sneed going to receive his instructions and his money. What to do about Sneed.

"The message came back that Sneed's services were no longer required, and would Sneed please present his bill and clear out. Sneed demanded twice the amount that Mister X originally promised, and Mister X said Sneed could go to hell. Sneed said he would begin organizing the workers in Elmville, with or without Mister X's backing, and that the price for him to cease had become three times what Mister X originally promised."

As she spoke, she seemed to be watching me, scrutinizing my responses, as if to determine how much of what she was telling me I already knew. I wondered that myself, actually. Stories usually unfold themselves to the listener, but hers wanted folding back up, in some weird inversion of normal storytelling. I felt that, only when folded back up into its original form, would the story make its meaning known to me, and the problem was the same as the problem of trying to refold a large road-map: you must first find the primary crease, from which all other folds follow. Even after locating that first crease, however, there remain dozens of wrong choices to make. Such was the problem of interpreting her story.

"Mister J," she continued, "thought it was a labor union shakedown, and decided to make an example of Sneed. He wanted something really nasty, really really ugly, and he asked if there would be any way to permanently fry Sneed's brain. We considered methadone or electro-convulsive overdose, but the method we chose, as I believe Aaron Cawley already spilled, was multiple pre-frontal lobotomies."

Jesus Christ, I thought: this woman could have run the hospital at Hadamar.

She continued, "Mister J then wanted Sneed returned to his bosses, so that whoever they were, they would know not to fuck with us again."

When she said "fuck", the word seemed so foul coming from so elegant a woman. It was as if her mouth had horrifically become a filthy, sour-smelling, blood-engorged pussy, all streaky and stringy with menstrual discharge, while her lips seemed red and sore and abraded like a syphillitic cervix. And then, as she continued to speak, the abomination was gone: "So, after I had done my part, I sent Sneed to Mister M, with the instructions that Mister J wanted Sneed returned to wherever he came from. I was sorry to put Mister M in this position, because he had to decide who he feared more: Sneed's union bosses, or Mister J. If you knew Mister J, however, you would understand why it was an easy decision for Mister M to make."

By this point in her story, I understood that Mr. M was Todd Menocken, because it was Todd who had boasted to Durney about bringing a union organizer into Elmville. And there was more. It's difficult to explain how I know what I know, when I haven't observed it directly. I realize this story is only words on a screen, and the reality was scarcely anything more: a mere smattering of words spoken by this woman, this so-called hospital directory, Leona Pecorelli, but the words became a pattern, and the pattern a picture, a picture inside my mind of something I never actually saw, a picture with real motion, all formed from the words she spoke combining with words I saw printed in a newspaper and still other words I heard bandied about in taverns.

Picture this scene, reader: late on the night of September 30th, almost 2 months before, in the parking lot of a marina about 10 miles down the river, a cool, autumn wind blowing through the trees and over the water periodically troubles the chilled, still air; the marina is closed for the night and the parking lot is almost emtpy; Todd Menocken and a second man leave the marina; Todd Menocken has his right arm hooked through the second man's left arm; neither man speaks as they walk across the parking lot toward Todd Menocken's Chevy Malibu; both men get into the Malibu, Todd helping the second man first. Picture this bomb, reader: 60 sticks of dynamite, wired to the ignition of Todd Menocken's Malibu; the passenger door slams shut, and then the driver side too, then a brief silence when even the wind untroubles the trees; a moment is all it takes to sense that something is wrong, and that this wrong is sacred and quiet and dangerous; I never before so fully apprehended the wrong in taking a life. What we did was wrong. Picture this explosion: a final few seconds before 2 human lives are ended by 60 sticks of dynamite exploding the Malibu to kingdom come. I wasn't even there to see it, and still I winced at the wrong of it.

That same night Durney was murdered as well.

Things that happen to me in my imagination often affect me more profoundly than things that happen to me in real life, in reality. I don't know why. If I had seen that car explode with my own eyes—that is, if I had seen, with my own eyes, that car explode—I probably wouldn't give a damn. I never liked Todd, and I doubt I would have liked Sneed. Maybe I felt guilty because they were killed the same night as Durney.

The unidentified second man in the Malibu must have been Will Sneed, and Leona must have known this as well. We had accidentally killed Will Sneed along with Todd Menocken. Or I assumed it was an accident, anyway. Maybe Durney knew Sneed would be in that car with Todd; maybe Bruce knew.

I asked her, trying to disguise my knowledge, pretending not to know that Sneed had died inside that Malibu along with Todd, "So Mister M took Sneed back to where he came from?" You can't lie when you're asking a question; you can only lie when you're answering one.

Leona jammed the short barrel of her pistol under my chin, and said, "Not exactly. But I think I've told you enough. I think you know something I don't know; I think you know what happened to Sneed; I think you know perfectly well who—"

She was easy to over-power. Before she could finish speaking, I grabbed her wrist with my right hand, forcing it away from my face and gripping it tightly, until she finally dropped the gun. Instead of trying to retrieve her gun, as I expected, she pulled a small dagger from her belt and lunged at me with it. Because I had not anticipated a follow-up attack coming so quickly, or from that direction, I was forced to release her wrist and fall backwards onto the floor as she slashed the air with her dagger. Once on the floor, and temporarily at a safe distance from her, I reached for my own gun and turned it against her. At the same time, however, she had retrieved her gun, and when I looked up she was pointing it at me.

Breathing heavily, she stepped away from the door, and said, "You got what you came for, or as much as you're gonna get; now I want you to leave."

From my position on the floor, I was again struck by the fact that she was pretty. Few women are so pretty that their prettiness becomes a fact, but Leona was one of the few. She possessed both physical beauty and impeccable style. You could tell that she didn't buy her clothes at the local mall; she probably shopped at upscale boutiques in Chicago. She looked like a model or a movie star, like what you see in magazines at the grocery store checkout line. But the beauty was going out of her—soon she would have nothing left but style, and the fact of her prettiness would be only a memory. You couldn't help but wonder what a woman like this was doing out here, running an short: the Health Clinic and Rest Home of La Salle, or, more precisely: an abandoned sanitarium. I asked her, "Why do you do what you do?"

The question seemed to anger her: "For the money, you moron." Then she laughed while saying, "Maybe you aren't the brightest bulb in the closet after all." There's something about people who laugh at their own jokes, and something worse about people who laugh at their own jokes while they're still telling them. Leona was this second kind of person.

Keeping my gun pointed at her, I rose from the floor, and backed my way towards the door. I said, "It must be horrible if that's your only answer. You do it for the money, sure—now. You do it for the money now. But a woman like you—stylish, attractive, well-dressed—you're too good for this place, or at least you were."

"Why don't you mind your damned business," she said in a raised, defensive voice.

"You made it my business when you got yourself involved with Will Sneed. Why is a woman like you running a place like this? How do you know Mister M and Mister J, and how does knowing Mister J connect you to Mister X? Who, for example, is the friend between Mister J and Mister X? Why are you on this end of that chain and not the other; why are you here and not there?"

"Why am I not where?"

"Where Mister X is; where Mister J is. Wherever it is you buy your clothing from. You look too good for this place. Don't tell me you honestly think you aren't. You don't fit in here."

"I wouldn't want to fit in with the hicks and the rednecks around here."

"That's the whole point; that's what doesn't make sense: you wouldn't want to be in a town like this, and yet you are. Even worse, you're stuck here even as your beauty has begun to fade. You ought to be wherever you came from, trying to find a husband before all your beauty is gone for good." I was thinking aloud now, "Unless you have a husband already. Yes, then that might make sense. You already have a husband. He ended up being somebody other than who you thought you were marrying. Because when you were still young and pretty, you went looking for money, and you found it, but you forgot to ask the most basic question: where did all his money come from? You married a crook, didn't you? And when you found out you had married a crook, you were okay even with that, as long as he adored you and lavished you with money. He, in turn, adored you and lavished you with money, as long as you had what he wanted. But you don't have what he wants anymore, because what he wants is the kind of physical beauty that men find only in the young. I think that's right. Even worse, he probably at some point decided to make you work for the money he previously only expected you to enjoy, so he sent you out here to work for it, and you don't like it one bit. But even if you wanted out of the marriage, you probably couldn't get out, because you're up to your neck in it. Yeah, you're in so deep that you can walk right in here and kill Aaron Cawley without batting an eye."

She listened without visible reaction, and then said, "You read too many novels."

"It's not even that difficult. Anyone can see the hardened anger and resentment in you. You've reached the age when, after ten or twenty years of being the most desirable woman in any room, you will never again be a man's first choice, if younger flesh is on offer. And, if a man has money, younger flesh always is. That must be galling, to stand by helplessly and watch as your husband chooses younger women, women whose only real quality is their youth, women who, when you yourself were their age, would have looked plain next to you. A woman like you, a woman who wants a life of luxury and who wants it permanently, the best she can do is marry a wealthy man, bear him a child, and then hope that, when she finally starts to lose her beauty, familial affection will sustain the bonds that physical desire no longer can. But my guess is, if you are here and not there, you never did bear him a child, which doesn't surprise me since you would see pregnancy as nothing more than a nuissance. You're a selfish woman. You never had any real loyalty to your husband, and he in turn never had any real loyalty to you. You were both only using each other; you just got used up faster, and by the time he had used you up, he had turned you into a hardened criminal."

"I am not goddamn you."

"The way you killed Aaron Cawley, what you did to Will Sneed—a classy woman like you doesn't do those things without first becoming hard, real hard, deep down hard."

"You're a sexist bastard and a liar," she said. "If you know so much, then how come I didn't kill you?"

"I don't know. That's a good question. I'd say that you feared the consequences of killing me more than you feared the consequences of not killing me."

She said, mockingly, "A real philosopher, I see," and again she laughed at her own joke. "But I know a thing or two also. I've heard all about you. How you hate women, how people say you have some sort of perverted sex life. Get out of here, before I call the guards."

I left, and no one tried to stop me. It bothered me that Leona had called me a sexist bastard; I didn't feel very good about myself. What was wrong with me, that I had so much trouble getting along with women? Blondie also once accused me of hating women; I didn't think I hated women, but a lot of women certainly hated me.

It was 2:00 a.m. when I left the sanitarium. On my way back home, I stopped by a road house and took a prostitute upstairs. I wanted to have sex with one just to prove to myself that I didn't hate women. This prostitute's name was Tara. While I was having sex with Tara, I thought about Leona. I figured Leona had fucked and sucked a lot of rich guys before she found her husband. Like a princess in a fairy tale having to kiss a lot of frogs before finally finding her prince. With Leona, though, it would always have been about trying to snag the richest possible man before the odds started coming down against her. I was curious, how a woman like Leona would know when to cash in her chips and marry. Because she would always be playing againt the clock, and with each passing year she would be less and less desirable to men. When she married whoever she finally married, she probably thought she had done pretty well for herself. Until the reality of her marriage became clear to her, or did it ever really become clear: did she ever realize that her marriage had been nothing more than high stakes prostitution all along?

Having sex with Tara was helping to restore my self confidence. Tara wasn't even that pretty, and yet I was still willing to have sex with her; I thought there was a certain gallantry in this, not that I expected her to acknowledge it, or even appreciate it. To prove that I didn't hate women, and that I even liked and respected them, I pulled my cock out of her vagina before I came, and ejaculated on her face. An acquaintance, who knows a lot about women, once told me that women love it when guys ejaculate on their face. So I pulled out and ejaculated on Tara's face. I don't think a woman can appreciate how much self-discipline, how much self-sacrifice, it takes a guy to pull his cock out of her vagina right before he comes. It's just about the most unnatural and difficult thing I ever did. If I could have gotten my cock into her mouth before I came—if I could have ejaculated into her face rather than onto it—then it wouldn't have been so difficult. It it it! But to pull out and just ejaculate into the air—well, if that isn't proof you are putting her pleasure ahead of your own, then I don't know what is. When I ejaculated on Tara's face, she did seem to enjoy it, judging from the way she moaned and said, "Oh you naughty boy." She spoke in that annoying sex-pot scolding voice that women sometimes use to mean that they actually like whatever it is they are scolding you for. She very efficiently wiped my cum from her face with her index finger, then sucked the cum off her finger. It reminded me of the way my grandmother would use her index finger to scoop the last bit of cake batter from her mixing bowl, after she had emptied the batter into the cake pan, and then stick the index finger into her mouth to taste the batter. I thought it was disgusting, Tara especially, but now that I think about it, both of them. Uncooked cake batter has raw eggs in it, and raw eggs can give you salmonella; I wondered if my grandmother ever thought about that, how disgusting it was to put uncooked cake batter into her mouth. She mixed that cake batter in a Sunbeam electric mixer; she presided over that fucking mixer like a crossback priest presiding over a mother-fucking alter. I remember when my grandfather gave her that Sunbeam mixer for Christmas: the box it came in boasted that the machine inside was "Auto-Matic Beyond Belief."

I decided I would never ejaculate on a woman's face again, no matter how much they liked it. Especially if I was paying them for the sex. But even if I wasn't paying for it, I would buy them flowers or something else instead. There had to be other ways to show a woman you respected her.

I pulled the bedsheets over me and put my underwear back on while still in the bed. After sex, I hate being naked in front of a woman; I just hate that. With my underwear back on, I left the bed and began to dress.

Tara sat up in bed, and asked, "Did you have a black eye or somethin'?" She actually pronounced the word "something" as "sumpin'", with the "p" just barely aspirated—hardly at all even. It's so god-damned difficult to record other people's lousy diction.

I said, "No."

"I just wondered 'cause you got these red spots around yer left eye. I thought maybe they was just an old black eye."

"No." I wished she would show some decency and cover herself. I hate seeing a woman's naked body after sex, especially her pussy. I don't even particularly like seeing it before or during sex, unless she's really good-looking, which Tara most definitely was not.

She said, "Well I hope it ain't nothin' infectious."

She was worried about catching something from me? I felt like asking her how many men she had fucked in the past month without protection, and didn't she think it was me who ought to be afraid of catching something from her, rather than the other way around? But I didn't want to get into it with her. I said, "No, it's just an allergic reaction to some new soap I tried."

"Oh," she said. "What kind of soap was it?"

"Just some new soap." I was getting tired of the conversation and becoming a little impatient with her.

As I was tying my necktie, she asked, "Whatcha gonna do now?"

"I'm going home."

"To sleep?"

"Yes, to sleep."

"Why bother puttin' yer tie back on then? I mean, if yer just gonna go home 'n sleep?"

"I don't know," I said, "Why do people bother to look after their appearances at all? Wash their faces, comb their hair, buy clothing that fits properly? Why do any of it? Why don't we all just walk around looking like you?"

"And what's wrong with the way I look," she asked indignantly.

"Nothing except that you look like a cheap whore."

She started to cry, so I slammed fifty dollars on the vanity and left. That was my big attempt at proving to myself that I respected women.

I drove home, took my sedatives, and went to bed, but I couldn't sleep. I was having trouble breathing. I couldn't get a full breath, and the harder I tried, the harder it became. It feels worse than being strangled. When you're being strangled, the force of whatever or whoever is strangling you also serves to subdue you, to forcibly calm you. But lying in bed and gasping for air, when there's no known reason in the world why I shouldn't be able to take deep, satisfying breaths, is like fighting against an enemy you can't see or hear or feel, like fighting with the bedsheets or with a ghost. I got out of bed, walked across the room, and switched on a lamp. My grandmother gave me this lamp when I moved into my first apartment. It had an old, yellowing paper shade. I took off my pajamas, threw them in the trash, and put on a brand new pair. The new pair was identical to the old—navy blue with white piping.

I sat on the edge of my bed and opened the nightstand drawer; a bullet rolled around the bottom of the drawer like a marble. I removed a double-action revolver from the drawer, and also the bullet. My hand trembled a bit. Holding the revolver in my right hand, I released the chamber, loaded a single round, spun the chamber, and closed it. I put the barrel in my mouth and pulled the trigger. The hammer struck the firing pin, and nothing happened but the click of metal hitting metal. I pulled the gun out of my mouth, set it on the nighstand, and lay back down in my bed, under the covers.

I was breathing again. Not deeply, but well enough to think of something besides my breathing. I thought about Durney. He had been shot from the front. He probably saw Bruce pull the trigger, probably knew that he was about to die before he did. Before he died, that is. There must have been a moment, maybe longer, when he understood the betrayal. I remembered again what Durney had said when he first introduced Bruce and me: "You're my two guys, the only ones I trust completely." And one of those two had betrayed him, and he was shot from the front and before he died must have known he had been betrayed.

Again, I thought about what Durney had said, "You're my two guys, the only ones I trust completely." One of the two had betrayed him, and he died knowing he had been betrayed by one of the two.

Then, for the first time, it occurred to me that Durney died not knowing whether the other one of the two, whether I also betrayed him. Just because I wasn't present when Bruce murdered Durney didn't mean I wasn't a co-conspirator. Durney died not knowing whether he had been betrayed by one or both of the two he trusted completely.

Bruce and I never told Durney about us; but then how did I know what Bruce had told Durney? If Bruce betrayed Durney, then why not me too? Bruce could have been feeding Durney all sorts of lies all along, just as I had been feeding Bruce all sorts of truth. "You're my two guys, the only ones I trust completely." Even if I hadn't pulled the trigger on Durney, even if I hadn't knowingly participated in the plot, Bruce had doubtless tricked me into countless indiscretions. Maybe I had accidentally betrayed Durney without realizing it; maybe I never deserved the one compliment that meant more to me than anything else in my whole life: "You're my two guys, the only ones I trust completely." Kill that fucker; kill Bruce.

Everything was beginning to feel auto-matic beyond belief: starburst clock, starburst mirror. Different rooms, queer and queerer. Starburst fuck, secret hearer; camera zooms, and picture clearer. "You're my two guys, the only ones I trust completely." Durney died not knowing whether he had been betrayed by one or both of us.

I wondered what happened to Durney's soul when he died. Was it buried with his body beneath the earth? As I lay there in my bed, wearing my new pair of navy blue pajamas, I wondered about my soul. I wished I could change my soul the way I could change my pajamas. What was it about my soul that I did not like? I guessed that you had to know your soul before you could hate it, but I knew damned little about mine. I knew that I did not like clutter, that I liked a clean house, that I loved the smell of Pine-Sol. I knew that Durney McKusker was a great man. What did any of this tell me about my soul? Maybe that I did not have a soul. If not me, then who? Who possessed a soul? Was it possible that some did and others did not? Instead of some people's souls being damned, was it possible they simply lacked souls altogether? In which case, was I among those without a soul?

I reached for the telephone on the nightstand and called my friend, Riley "Alabama" Simmons. People had nicknamed him "Alabama" because he was from Alabama. I never really understood that, though, because I thought a nickname was supposed to be a shorter way of addressing somebody, whereas "Alabama" had twice as many syllables as "Riley". When he answered his phone, I could tell from the sound of his voice that he had been sleeping. I looked at the clock on my nighstand; it was a little after 4:00 a.m.

"Riley," I whispered, as if my grandparents were sleeping in the next room and I might wake them up, even though I hadn't lived with my grandparents since I graduated from high school. I lived alone. And besides, both my grandparents were dead.

Riley answered, almost in disbelief, "Ora?"

"Riley!" Still whispering.

"Ora, why the hell are you calling me at this hour? Why are you up so early?"

"I'm not up early; I'm up late."

"Jesus Christ, either way. Where are you?"

"I'm at home," I answered.

"Why are you whispering?"

Ignoring his question, I whispered, "Riley. I'm not going to call you 'Alabama' anymore. I never liked that nickname. It has twice as many syllables as your real name."

"Fine. Jesus Christ, Ora. You called me at four in the morning to tell me that?"


"Ora, you been drinkin' or something?"

"You know I don't drink, Riley. What's gotten into you?"

"What's gotten into me? What the hell's gotten into you. You sound drunk. Only a god-damned drunk would call a friend at four in the morning."

"Riley, I need your help. I'm going to find out who killed Durney and then I'm gonna kill the son-of-a-bitch. I might need your help."

"Fine, Ora. What do you need?"

"I don't know yet. I'll call you when I know. Now go back to sleep."

He said, rather irritably, I thought, "I hope I can."

"You hope you can what?"

"Get back to sleep."


He said, "Goodnight Ora," and then hung up the telephone.

I felt better knowing that I had Riley Simmons to help me, if I needed him. I fell asleep.