Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
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Beauregard's Bodacious Barbeque and Ballistic Banking

by Coffee Anderson


"Before long, the dollar menu at McDonald's will require a Jefferson, instead of a Washington." -- Christopher Hancock

Beauregard's Barbeque sits eight miles west of Smelterville; a small town situated between the city-state of Wichita Falls and its perimeter ramparts--The Great Wall of China--Texas style. The restaurant is next to a Pemex fueling station--in an old farming warehouse on a two lane asphalt road headed west toward La República de New Mexico.

"Bo", as the locals know him, located his restaraunt next to the Pemex since they have their own bio-diesel processing equipment out back. He sells them the kitchen's leftover frying oil to reduce overhead, and they fuel his catering trucks with the resultant brew. Every Smelterville local claims they can identify which tractor trailer filled up at Pemex since their engine's exhaust smells exactly like Bo's fried okra--fuel for the road plus the fixin's.

Little exists near Bo's except the highway, the Pemex, and endless miles of tornado alley's gentle hills; blanketed in windswept prairie grasses. But amidst the vast expanses of whole-lotta-nuthin', Bo's is a landmark. Its exterior walls, painted barbecue-sauce-red, create a vernacular culinary icon--visited by pilgrimages of travelers, and renowned by barbeque aficionados from distant city-states away:

"The succulent aromas of sweet smoked meats tantalize hungry motorists from miles down the road." -- Southwestern Culinary Review.

"Hands down flat...Beauregard Beaumant's bright red concrete warehouse on Highway 475 has the best damned barbecue this side of the Mississippi...no, this side of the planet." -- Bikes, BBQ and Babes

Lofty reputations to uphold, indeed.

"More sauce please, son." An older customer dressed in a plaid shirt and baseball cap requested. Every table was full and the bar counter had no empty seats. Lines of hungry customers extended out the door deep into the crushed gravel parking lot.

"Yes sir," mumbled Bobby Beaumant, Bo's oldest son, passing the sauce ladle over the customer's plate of sliced brisket. As he scurried between tables offering condiments and drinks, the skinny eighteen year old's white apron boasted an impressive collection of kitchen stains from years of waiting and bussing tables. His freckled cheeks and short haircut emphasized his young appearance.

Diners salivated like Pavlov's Dogs for the spicy sauce. Bo's staff even shipped jugs of the stuff from the back warehouse to meet online orders. The recipe was a well defended secret. Bobby knew all his dad's famous smoked meat techniques, but the sauce remained a mystery. His father promised to teach him the ingredients on his next birthday.

Bobby's younger and equally freckled brother, Spanky, shuffled by on his way to the kitchen, half reclined from the waist up lugging a plastic bucket of dirty dishes half his weight. His baggy blue jeans sagged around his tennis shoes, cuffs double rolled with grass stains on the back.. At thirteen years old, Spanky's voice squeaked like a squeeze toy and his f's and s's whistled through the gap in his beaver-like front teeth.

"Bubba." Spanky beckoned to his older brother, "Why's Daddy so nervous today?"

"He's worried about his next cobbler shipment. He's running low."

"Just like last month?"

"Yah. He's got another shipment coming real soon."

"Y'all are taking me with you to pick it up, right?"

"Yup. It'll be your first time to fetch cobbler with Daddy."

"Yippee! When's it comin'?"

"We don't know. But let's hush. I'll tell you 'bout it later. Now, get that mess to the washers."

"Okay." Spanky replied as he wobbled off to the kitchen.

Out of the corner of Spanky's eye, his father paced behind the counter greeting diners. Bo towered at six foot eight inches with the thick frame of a pro athlete. Under his apron he wore a crispy ironed shirt and tie, sleeves rolled up, and well worn jeans and tennis shoes. A metal clip, heavy with a key collection, dangled from his belt loop next to his side pocket. They jingled with his right foot's every step.

From the washing sink, Spanky saw his father conversing with an older couple seated at the end of the bar; both of them frequent customers. The gentleman wore an out dated brown polyester suit and a gargantuan cowboy hat with a brim wide enough to house a football match. He shook the man's hand and smiled to his wife.

Spanky emptied the dishes into the sink and returned to the dining area. His ears tuned in to his father's conversation as he passed by to clean an adjacent table.

"Mr. Beaumant. The wife and I are gonna' have some cobbler for dessert."

"You bet. Today we have peach, cherry, and apple."

"Uhm...We're gonna' have the nine ninety nine special." They both smiled and the gentleman winked at Bo.

"Oh. Sure thing, Mr. and Mrs. Jameson." Bo knowingly returned the smile, "I'll be right back with your check. Every time a customer mentioned the "Nine Ninety Nine Cobbler Special", Bo got fidgety and snapped to attention.

Spanky rushed into the kitchen and placed his bin at the sink counter. He saw the older couple heading for the back offices and he snuck behind them, but far enough to go unnoticed. They entered the room where his father stood waiting and swung the door to close it, but not hard enough. The knob didn't latch. Spanky peaked through the crack between the jamb and the panel.

"Well now, Mr. and Mrs. Jameson, how much will y'all need today?" his father asked.

"One hundred ounces." The gentleman replied.

"Oh." His father replied as his eyes widened in disbelief, "Y'all might clean me out today needing that much, but I'll see what I've got."

As Spanky eavesdropped, one of the restaurant's wait staff accidentally knocked over a tray of dishes behind the counter. The smash of breaking glass startled his jittery reflexes and he bumped the door. They jerked their heads toward the squeaking hinges and his father burst into stern reprimand.

"Son! What have I told you about coming back here when customers order the special?"

Spanky froze, "I'm sorry daddy, I'm sorry!"

"Back to the kitchen and..."

"No, it's okay." The gentleman and his wife interrupted.

Bo looked at them confused.

"Come on in, darlin'." The wife smiled.

"The boy needs to learn the business eventually, right?" The gentleman said.

Bo paused and thought.

"Yah...I guess you're right. Come on in, son. Make sure you close the door good and tight behind you."

"Yes, Daddy." Spanky mumbled.

As Bo shuffled behind a counter the gentleman pulled five giant wads of freshly printed cash from his coat pockets and put them on the desk. Each was bound perfectly into a brick by a paper strap with the amount stamped on it. The number had so many zeroes that Spanky couldn't quantify it.

"All New-Dollars?" Bo asked as he picked up each stack and thumbed through them.

"Yup." The gentleman replied, "I don't give a damn if they're the only Government licensed legal tender. I trust 'em as much as I trust a politician from Washington."

They all chuckled.

Spanky stared in amazement. Each bill was a one hundred thousand New-Dollar note with Amerigo Vespucci's bust on front center.

Bo slid a heavy box towards them to inspect. The man took one of its small plastic canisters and opened the lid to examine its contents. Bright yellow coins rolled into his hand. Spanky couldn't read their small print except for the numbers ".999".

"That'll do just fine, Mr. Beaumant." The man smiled.

Jaime

Jaime Treviño's old beaten pickup bounces over a rugged dirt road as he flies west toward Smelterville. Rust and three tones of paint primer, on differing sections of unfinished body work, disguise the sophisticated engine's retrofitted bio-diesel attachment (50 miles to a gallon on old deep frying oil, baby!). Its wheels churn up nostril tickling dust clouds and frighten critters skittering close to the road looking for their next meal.

Nothing of much value occupies the bed of his pickup: a few crunched up beer cans from last weekend's alcohol binge, a rusty transmission off an old F-150 before Ford went broke and sold out to a Chinese auto manufacturer, and a half-assed home-made dolly cart; not to mention a two month accumulation of windblown dust since the last time he swept it out. The pickup's cab, on the other hand, holds a secret of phenomenal wealth; considered criminal on the other side of the Texas border.

Jaime carries a black leather side bag next to him on the passenger seat. In it resides a laptop computer similar in capability to only those of the most classified military officials of the worlds' biggest governments. Its memory holds an encrypted message--which Jaime must relay within the hour--from a nodal member of The Hanse Novus informing him of a soon to arrive delivery by a hemispherical commodity distributor.

Delivery

People in queue for the restaurant formed a crawling curve that inched toward the front door like a viscous wave. Causing the progressing wiggle in the line was Jaime, pardoning his way to the front: tall, skinny--malnourished in appearance, and dressed from head to toe in worn out denim. His graying hair flared straight up and back from their roots in a large scraggly bush, as if he sat in front of a high speed fan several hours a day. Don King would have been proud.

Jaime's tall rectangular face, square on all sides except for his cone shaped chin, struggled to support his beady glasses on account of the sweat accumulating on his hooked nose.

Bobby could read his lips through the shop-front glass calling repeatedly, "Bo, Bo...Hey Bo!" His cowboy boots clomped loudly as he stepped along.

"Daddy! Daddy!" Bobby shouted to his father over the loud ambient noise of clinking dishes and conversation, "Jaime's here!"

Bo and Jaime go back years. They both served together in the armed forces during the tax revolts. Though they never owned businesses together, their individual careers walked side by side in a mutually supportive formation. Jaime might look like a begging derelict in search of his next alcohol fix, but his computer skills often worry intelligence officials from the other side of the border.

Bo jumped to attention and ran to the front as he heard Bobby and Jaime calling him.

"It's on its way." Jaime muffled with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth. Ashes fell like tainted snowflakes onto the linoleum floor. "I just received the transmission an hour ago." He said with his thick southern accent. He stubbed his cigarette out in an ashtray, and grabbed a smoked rib from behind the serving counter.

"Good." Bo replied, "I'll go get our insurance policies and meet you out back with the boys."

"The boys?" Jaime asked questioning the plural as he chewed into the morsel, "Spanky's goin' with us?"

Bo nodded and dashed for the back offices.

"Bobby, Spanky! Let's go."

The boys followed.

Jaime headed back out the door. On his way he grabbed a handful of dinner mints and stuffed them in his denim jacket's side pocket.

Greater Wichita Falls

Jaime's Pickup carved the dirt road north toward the outskirts of Greater Wichita Falls' territory. Miles of crops, dancing in the wind, covered the entire landscape; dotted by the occasional field roaming farm tractor. To the west, hundreds of towering white columns were planted in orchard like rows. Their tops were capped with slow spinning turbines which generated the commonwealth's electricity.

Bo sat in the front passenger seat with a backpack reviewing ammunition straps for a submachine gun. Jaime hugged the steering wheel burning one cigarette after another on a nervous journey towards emphysema. His torso leaned forward as he scanned the road ensuring no hidden potholes caught them off guard.

Bobby sat in the back seat checking over the contents of his backpack making sure everything was ready to go. Spanky sat opposite of him.

"All right, son." Bo told Spanky, "This backpack is your insurance. All your spare ammunition is inside. The submachine gun goes over your shoulder, and the .45 is your backup. Clip its holster to your belt."

Spanky paid close attention to his father's instructions and armed himself, similar to the many times they went hunting, except this time they were fully automatic.

"Daddy, you think we'll run into any biker pirates?" The boy's voice trembled.

"I don't think so, but just in case. Now pay attention."

Spanky thumbed some rounds into an empty .45 clip as his father spoke."

"We lay low until the cobbler shipment arrives. Not a peep out of anyone. Understand?"

Spanky nodded.

"As soon as it gets here, Jaime and I will load it into the truck. Then we get the hell outta there. You and Bobby keep watch in the meantime, and make sure no one's around. If you see anyone coming, you tell us immediately. But keep it down. Sound travels far over the plains."

"And what if someone shows up?" the boy asked.

"Follow our lead. Chances are, anyone around is likely a scavenger or someone willing to negotiate. If not, your insurance is a LAST RESORT ONLY!" His father emphasized.

A large gray object, whose extent spread across one's entire field of vision surfaced off the horizon. An eighteen foot tall wall, equal in thickness as its height, stretched along the rolling plains over one hundred miles like a giant extruded clay lump on top of a snaking manmade hill. Its composition consisted of stone, brick, recycled concrete from old structures, and any other long lasting dense material its builders could find during a desperate and speedy construction. A crenellated parapet with gun loops and artillery niches capped its entire length. The occasional steel access gate, encapsulated by well defended guardhouses, penetrated the base.

Jaime's pickup approached a booth next to a large radar/satellite dish tower that peered over the parapet. He roll stopped in neutral gear next to a small window where two men in camouflage military uniforms stood holding carbine shooters.

"Howdy." Jaime mumbled as he held out his "Greater Wichita-Falls Resident" card.

"Howdy" the guard replied passing a laser scanner over the card's barcode. A beep sounded from inside the gatehouse and the giant steel door crept open.

"What's your estimated return time Mr. Treviño?"

"Oh, 'bout thirty minutes or an hour."

"Okay" the guard replied as he typed the info into his computer, "Y'all take care now."

"Will do." Jaime mumbled as he lit another cigarette and pulled on through the gate.

The exterior texture of the perimeter walls was rougher than its interior. Pock marks, bullet dings, and gaping holes from the previous decade's assorted artillery shells speckled the surface with what veterans called "rumble acne".

Outside Greater Wichita Falls' perimeter ramparts was a lonely no-man's land. Only outlaws, land-pirates and wildlife lurked amongst its population; not to mention the occasional falling chunk of space debris--burn streaking its way into atmospheric re-entry. Anyone else was either in and out as quick as possible, or just plain stupid. Don't get lost out here. Nobody will find you.

Spanky turned around and gulped watching the gate close. He had never been outside Greater Wichita Falls' perimeter; except the time he and his father traveled with his education conglomerate to see the Trinity Commonwealth street corner where a famous American President was assassinated in the 1960's. Old timers still call it Dallas.

The perimeter ramparts receded over the horizon as Jaime's pickup trucked north for fifteen minutes. All four remained silent and checked side to side for other plains occupants. A dash mounted HAM radio occasionally blurted static intermingled with someone's voice uttering a message. Jaime and Bo's heads looked at it every time it broke the silence.

"...24-07. We're 22 miles south east from Pij Valley. Significant cumulonimbus cells developing to thirty two thousand feet and headed east north east at 15 to 20 miles per hour..."

Jaime and Bo looked at each other with concern.

"The sun's still out. How far is that storm?" Bo asked.

"Pij Valley?...uhm, 'bout twenty or thirty minutes. I can see the anvil cloud over there." Jaime said pointing west toward the ominous formation, "We're in for some weather."

"Well, at least we're close to the bunker." Bo said as he arched his head up and searched the horizon."

A small grey structure, surrounded by chain-link fence and capped with coiled barbwire, surfaced into vision through a tall grass thicket. A short concrete outcropping protruded through the side of a small artificial hill. Two steel doors, one for pedestrians, the other large enough for a midsized vehicle, punctured the wall's moss spotted surface.

The pickup approached the gate. Bo jumped out and swung it wide. He unlatched the large door and rolled the steel panel open. Jaime backed the pickup into a claustrophobic vehicle compartment that only left three feet of clear space on any one side. They grabbed their insurance and strapped on their backpacks.

"C'mon guys. Let's hurry. Arrival time should be any minute now." Bo said leading them to the smaller door.

As Bo fiddled with the smaller door's lock, flickers of western light caught their attention. Seconds later, a low pitched thunder rumbled the atmosphere, and the sun inched behind the towering clouds. With clear skies to the east and rain to the west, daylight was still present, but quickly fading.

The troupe entered a graffiti covered vestibule and waited. Bo peered at the sky.

"What are we waiting on, Bubba?" Spanky whispered to his brother.

"A missile capsule." Bobby whispered back.

"Is that what's bringing the delivery?"

"Yup."

"Why do we hafta' wait in here?"

"Because, sometimes after atmospheric reentry, the capsule's parachute doesn't deploy and the thing slams into the ground faster than a jet plane. You don't want to be outside if that happens. This bunker's made of six foot thick steel reinforced concrete. If it clobbers us here, we won't get hurt...I hope."

"Why don't they deliver inside of Wichita Falls' fortress walls?" Spanky asked.

"They won't deliver near populated areas. Their trajectory arrivals are only guaranteed within a ten mile radius. That's too close to town. There could be impact with buildings or people. It's too risky."

"Then why don't they deliver it by trucks or train like our restaurant supplies?"

"Too many plains pirates attacking these parts lately. It would be easy pickin's"

"Oh."

Bo and Jaime both scanned the skies with binoculars. Their increasing sense of worry became contagious, as if it evaporated off the surface of their skin. The wind howled outside the door.

Spanky looked opposite the vestibule door down a descending hall encased stairway. They disappeared into black darkness.

"What's down them stairs, Bubba?" Spanky whispered.

"An old missile command center." Bobby replied.

"Like for the missile we're picking up right now?"

"No...for a nuclear missile they housed during the first Cold War. Down another hallway from the command center is a giant buried missile silo. It goes down 200 feet into the ground."

"Is the missile still there?"

"No." Bobby chuckled. From the look on Spanky's face he could see he was frightened, "They took it out years ago. The silo is empty."

"Whose was it?"

Bobby pointed to a faded sign on the wall.

What's 'You-Saff'?" Spanky asked.

"That's not "You-saff" that's U-S-A-F."

"What's a U-S-A-F?"

"United States Air Force."

"What's that?"

"It was the aerial military branch in command before the Texas Commonwealth Republics isolated themselves from the United States. They built this bunker and missile silo ."

"Oh." Spanky replied. He still felt confused.

"There it is! There it is!" Bo shouted. His explosive exclamation startled the boys and whipped them to attention.

"Right there. Due west."

Bo pointed to the sky. A tiny dot in the distance hung underneath a white cupola as it plummeted toward mother earth 200 yards away.

"Let's go! Let's go!" Bo yelled.

Jaime and the boys jumped in the truck and accelerated out of the bunker housing to pause outside the fence. Bo scrambled to lock the openings and jumped in. Jaime hit the accelerator before he could close his door.

Dirt clumps flew behind the pickup as it sped into the grassy field toward the falling capsule. Lightning flashed like strobes where the sky turned a muddy blue from the approaching storm. Spanky inhaled the unmistakable aroma of cold humid air, wet from inevitable rain.

Bo's head leaned out his open window, propped up on one elbow with his eyes steady on their target.

"Not too close! Not too close! It's falling toward us!" Bo urged.

Jaime eased up on the pedal as the capsule descended. Seventy five yards away, a bullet shaped metallic vessel, skin charred black from atmospheric re-entry, slammed into the dirt. Debris spewed skyward like a small volcanic burp. Steel cables tied to a giant tarp folded themselves next to the impact crater as they followed. Steam slithered into the air around the site.

"I thought the parachute is supposed to slow it down." Spanky said.

"It does." Bobby replied, "You ought to see them when the parachute doesn't deploy. Me, Daddy, and Jaime had to dig for three hours one time just to get the stupid thing outta' the ground. We were damned lucky no pirates were around."

Jaime's pickup decelerated and stopped several yards away from the giant divot. Half of the five foot long vessel protruded from the dirt at a low angle. Jaime slammed the transmission into reverse and backed up close for easy tailgate loading.

Bo grabbed a yellow palm-held device with a red digital read out from his backpack. He jumped out of the truck and approached the capsule waving the apparatus over it in large sweeping motions. A small speaker emitted static and occasional clicks.

"What's that?" Spanky asked.

"It's a Geiger counter." Bobby replied.

"What's Daddy doing with it."

"He needs to check the capsule for radiation."

"Why?"

"Sometimes the commodity distributors get cheap and send capsules they previously used to deliver cake."

"Cake?"

"Uranium. They use it for power plants. It's deadly. It'll burn your hands off and microwave your balls like scrambled eggs!"

"You're full of crap!" Spanky said, even though he was scared."

Bobby chuckled, "Yah. I am. But you can get really bad radiation poisoning."

"It's clean!" Bo shouted, "Let's open her up and check her out.

Jaime dragged a cart like contraption out of the pickup's tailgate and plunked it next to the capsule. The boys got out and slowly approached.

Bo pulled a wallet sized card from his coat pocket and waved it over a small glowing rectangle on the capsule's side. A metal bolt clicked inside to open an access door, and re-entry ashes fell to the ground. Bo and Jaime strained like Olympic weight lifters pulling out a tightly packed metal box and plopped it on the cart. Knowing his father's strength, Spanky figured it weighed three hundred pounds.

Bo turned a large inset knob and the top popped open. He waved the Geiger counter over the box's mouth.

"Clean, clean, clean." he smiled pulling out several high density foam packaging blocks. Sixty shiny yellow metallic bricks sat underneath, each imprinted with a stamp in a language Spanky couldn't read. But he recognized the part that said ".999". Bo lifted three of them out to ensure the contents' integrity.

"There it is son. Seventy nine bricks." Bo smiled at Spanky.

"You already counted them Daddy? It looks like a lot less than seventy nine of them."

"No. Not seventy nine of them. Seventy nine is their atomic number."

"Oh." Spanky replied knowing his father often spoke in esoteric codes.

A lightening flash startled the group, and loud thunder exploded a split second later. The intermittent fat raindrop pelted the dirt in timed warnings courtesy of the approaching storm.

"Time to go. Let's get this thing in the truck and get out of here." Bo said as he closed the box's top and locked the knob.

"You boys grab that side and get ready to shove it onto the bed." Jaime muffled past his cigarette as he cranked a lever similar to a tire changing jack. The cart platform elevated enough to clear the tailgate.

"Shove!" Jaime blurted.

They pushed the cart into the truck's tailgate and its extending legs folded underneath in response. Bo covered the compartment with a tarp and strapped it secure with bungee cables at the bed's tie-down brackets. Jaime slammed the tailgate closed.

The sky turned dark blue and a torrential downpour approached like a moving wall from one hundred yards away. Behind it, heavy wind and rain folded the tall prairie grasses at their stems.

"Just in time. Let's get the hell outta here!" Bo said as they jumped into the cab and sped off.

"Why does daddy need this delivery?" Spanky asked Bobby.

"It's hard money."

"Those bricks are money?"

"Yah. Daddy helps folks trade in them 'cuz everyone knows the New-Dollar is about to crash."

"Crash into what?"

"No, not crash into something. Crash, as in become worthless. The hard money holds its value."

"Oh." Spanky said even though he still didn't understand.

Projectile raindrops slapped Jaime's windshield, but he somehow stayed ahead of the storm's leading edge. They exited the fields and accessed the main gravel road that returned to Wichita Falls.

"Well, son. How'd you like your first cobbler run? Lots of excitement, right?" Bo smiled as he turned around speaking to Spanky.

"Yah, Daddy. Lots of excitement, but I think I'm ready to go home now."

Bo chuckled and patted his son's head...

...and then froze.

His smile vaporized as he stared out the back window with his jaw agape. Jaime and the boys noticed the stunned silence. Spanky watched his father's eyes peel open, never having seen such a worried look on his face. Something was very wrong.

Jaime took his gaze off the road to investigate, "Bo, what's wrong?...Bo!"

Bo pointed out the back window, but he didn't need to. The roar of poorly muffled motorcycle engines drowned the thunderstorm's rumble.

"Shit! Biker Pirates!" Jaime hollered, "They must have been hiding out close where they could see the capsule falling."

Spanky felt his throat close and his bladder control weaken. He turned and looked out the back window.

Three motorcycles approached the pickup's back. Two flanking either side, and one behind. Jaime slammed the accelerator as far as it would go. The bumpy road bounced them like a wobbling trampoline.

One bike approached Jaime's window. Spray painted skulls and crossbones covered its body. Shiny chrome adorned its innards, and giant spikes protruded from the wheel centers--obviously intended to flatten tires.

Its rider was a towering obese figure donning rough black leather. His corpulent chin dangled a two foot long red braided beard, tied at the ends with incendiary cloth. The flame lit tips wafted smoke like fat cigars as they flapped in the wind. An enormous mustache cascaded over his mouth. Fat black sunglasses, whose total opacity hid his eyes, made him look like an insect. This guy was obviously leader of the pack, or the "arrowhead" as they were known: first to poke a hole.

The biker gestured for them to pull over. Jaime kept his pace. The biker gestured again. Jaime didn't budge. The biker gestured a third time, but with violent movement expressing frustration. Again, Jaime ignored him. Spanky's subconscious intuitively placed his hand on his .45 without realizing it. His sweaty palm extended an itchy index finger toward the trigger guard.

The biker reached below his seat's blind side and grabbed a stout stick. On its end, a black metal sphere studded with sharp spikes, swayed on a chain. He spun the device in the air a couple of times and slung it toward the cab. Sparks flew with a loud clank as the truck's metal dented under the sphere's blow. He swung again and connected.

By this time, the other bikers--similar in appearance to their leader but skinnier--approached the passenger side and pulled large caliber pistols from their vests. They pointed the barrels toward the cab and placed their fingers on the triggers.

Spanky saw his father reaching for the floorboard. Bobby and Jaime clenched their teeth anticipating gunfire, knowing Bo would retrieve his trusted submachine gun. Spanky ducked toward the front seat realizing they would soon enter the door labeled: "might not see tomorrow".

Instead, Bo revealed a small plastic canister. He opened the top, emptied its contents into his palm, and quickly organized several shiny yellow coins into a serrated row. He smiled and held the arrangement with both hands in full view out the window like a winning hand of poker... and flung them back as hard as he could into the air.

Coins vaulted over the pickup's rear like over caffeinated track and field Olympians and bounced along the road. Their irregular collisions with the rough surface scattered them over a fifteen yard radius.

The bikers' gasped realizing Bo had ejected a hefty sum of money out the window. Their bikes immediately decelerated so they could dismount and collect the fallen loot. Their receding images disappeared into the black thunderstorm clouds.

Jaime stared at Bo dumbfounded. His cigarette sagged from his lips like an empty noose from the gallows.

"Fancy move there, boss, but how much did you just sacrifice out the window?" Jaime asked.

"No worries...only cheap insurance. It's the cost of doing business." Bo grinned. Spanky and Bobby smiled at each other knowing they would live to tell about it.

Jaime's pickup continued south along the dirt road away from the thunderstorm. Greater Wichita Falls' northern entrance gates appeared in the distance. The restaurant's lunch hour was ending, and they would return in time to prep for the dinner rush...dessert included.

Dedicated in loving memory to the 2001-2008 global credit expansion.

THE END


© 2008 Coffee Anderson

Bio: Coffee Anderson is a homespun-self taught-economist in southern tornado alley. His story Bug appeared in the April 2008 edition of Aphelion; Chef, another tale mixing food and firearms, appeared in August 2007.

E-mail: Coffee Anderson

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