Fiction Saturday – Untitled Story – Part Seven
Walker Valley Road was a narrow strip of blacktop that rolled through the woodsy county line outside of town. It was underdeveloped, under serviced by the County and the State, and underpoliced. It was the part of the County where the aging periphery of society could safely grow a little Mary Jane and where, if the neighbors weren’t family, you didn’t ask questions.
317 Walker Valley Road was an empty lot with a mailbox out by the road and a doublewide mobile home a hundred feet back up a gravel driveway. I grew up calling them “trailers” no matter how big they were. Fifteen years ago it would have cost as much as a nice family sedan. Now, you’d never be able to sell it to anyone who wasn’t using it for a Meth lab or a Puppy Mill. The paperwork from Doris said that Ricky bought it about five years ago.
As I rounded the curve, going stop and go behind a school bus, I saw the mailbox. A big 317 in red paint, but no name, was on the box. While I sat there waiting for two little kids to get off the bus and scamper across the road and disappear up a dirt path into the trees, a car, a nice car, came down the gravel drive and turned left. The driver didn’t notice me behind the big yellow bus. She had on a pair of “Jackie O” sunglasses. So much for Ginger Cream’s, “Nobody has seen him in a while. We don’t even know if he’s still living around here.” The tally sheet of her lies to me was getting longer by the minute.
I pulled up outside of the trailer. It looked even worse close up. No self respecting Meth Cooker would touch it. As soon as I opened my door, someone I assumed was Ricky Cream opened his door. He stood there, glaring at me, and holding a shotgun.
“You can just turn around and get out of here, Pal. This here is private property.”
“Gee whiz, Ricky, didn’t Ginger just tell you I was coming out to see you? I saw her leave here a second ago.”
“You that Private Cop she hired?”
“I’m not any kind of cop, Ricky. And, yes, she hired me to try and find out what happened to your father.” He still had the shotgun pointed in my direction. “Is there any way you could see fit to point that thing in another direction? It makes me nervous.” He lowered the shotgun, but he still had his finger resting on the trigger guard. When he did that I started to walk in his direction. I tried to make it more of a non-threatening “mosey.”
“Ginger said that you might want to talk with me about my Dad. I don’t have much to say about him.”
“Well then, Ricky, this shouldn’t take very long. Why don’t we sit down and take a load off? Ricky’s dining room was a green wooden picnic table next to his grill. Neither had been cleaned since God was a kid.
He seemed to relax once we sat down. He laid the shotgun on the table between us. Ricky’s eyes were bloodshot. I handed him one of my cards. He looked at it and nodded. “A real Private Detective, huh? How’d you get into that racket?” Great. It was idle chit chat time.
“Oh, I kinda fell into it after I got out of the military. I worked as a cop for a while, but didn’t like all the rules – you know. So, I set up my own shop.”
“Cool. I’ll bet you meet a lot of hot chicks, huh?”
“Not as many as you might think, Ricky. The only hot chick I’ve met lately is Ginger. She is a…” Ricky’s fist pounded the table. He stood up, looming over me.
“You don’t talk about Ginger like that! She’s classy – a real lady.” His nostrils flared like a bull ready to charge and I was feeling like the red cape. He actually growled. “She’s the best gal I’ve ever known. She’s soft and we….” He caught himself and sat back down. “She’s a sweet person.” The red in his cheeks faded a bit. They matched his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I meant no offense. She’s a sweet person. That’s what I meant.” I needed to get this chat back on track. When’s the last time you saw your Father, Ricky? Been a while?”
“Yeah. Been a while. Hey, you want a beer? I could use one about now.”
Before I could answer he was up and climbing into the trailer. I got up and followed him. There were two aluminum steps. When I got to the second I could see into his dimly lit home. It looked like I expected, based on the condition of the exterior – like it had been hit by a tornado, followed up by a hurricane. The light got dimmer when Ricky closed the door on his small refrigerator.
“Oh, there you are” he said. “PBR okay? It’s my favorite. Here, have a seat.” He pushed a pile of clothes and magazines to the floor. A green chair like my parents had in the kitchen appeared. He repeated the process and another chair showed up for him.
Back to business.
“Ginger said that you and your dad don’t get along all that well.”
“No. He used to give me grief about me not wanting to work with him and be some big-wig ‘ex-ec-u-tive’ in his company. Me, I’m a truck driver and I’m good at it. I like being out on the road. Nowadays it’s not so bad though. I think he’s given up on me. We just don’t talk about it anymore.
“Hey, you wanna do a little ‘ganja’ while you’re here? PBR and a blunt makes for a good afternoon. You catch me?”
“I’ll pass on the ‘ganja,” but maybe another time. I have to be able to drive home.”
“I’m cool with that. I try to stay straight when I’m driving the reefer truck for the supermarket people.”
“One last thing before I go, Ricky, then I’ll head out. When’s the last time you actually saw your Dad?”
“Oh, like I said. It’s been a while. I don’t remember. God’s truth, man. I hate going there. The smell – enough to gag a maggot.”