After the Glory

Thomas

You know that feeling you get when you are at a point in your life where you don’t know what’s next. But you know it makes you feel sick to think about it. That tight knot in the pit of your stomach the metallic taste you get in the back of your throat knowing that you’re going to throw up no matter how hard you fight it. This is that point in life for Thomas, he knows whatever happens next, whatever decisions he makes now in his life will determine the path that he will be on until it’s end.
He stepped off the ship and onto the dock, his time as a marine was over, he had enlisted straight out of high school. Went through basic and was shipped straight into the Battle of Peleliu, during November of 1944.
It was now October of 1945 and PFC Thomas Moore had been sent home with an honorable discharge, along with a positive TB test and a diagnosis of six months to live. He gathered his duffle bag and headed into the city that he would now call home.
His first piece of business was to find a place to stay and where is the best place to start looking, a bar. He entered a rundown bar called Charlie’s out on the corner of 1st and River Dr. North a few blocks up from the docks. Charlie’s was dimly lit, smelled of cigarettes, booze and a faint hint of floral perfume. Thomas took a seat, ordered a beer and surveyed the bar.
There were booths around the edge, a pool table in the backroom along with the restrooms and a bulletin board. He took his beer and walked towards the back, he glanced at the bulletin board, flyers for help needed and rooms for rent were pinned scattered to the board.
One caught his eye, written on a light blue piece of note paper: Boarding House one room available, call or come by 172 West Riverside Dr. Ask for Mrs. Rachel Darling. He took the note down, folded it and placed it in his front breast pocket. He finished his beer and headed out to find the boarding house.
Thomas stood in front of 172 West Riverside Dr. taking in the two story house with a large porch and white railings. There was a yard with an apple tree, an apricot tree and some rose bushes. He walked up the driveway to the porch and knocked on the door.

Rachel

Mrs. Rachel Darling sat in front of her typewriter working on her next column for The Daily Star, the local newspaper for the area. Her column Ask Edna had recipes, gardening advice and household tips and tricks. Rachel also covered the up coming community event section.
She enjoyed her job as a freelance writer. She still used the Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter her parents had given her when she decided to take up writing as a career.
Now that the war over and food rationing had laxed a bit she could use some of her favorite recipes. She pulled out a handmade book that had a picture of a girl running through a field of wildflowers. It was a recipe book she had put together with her mom a lifetime ago. Rachel thumbed through it, soups & salads, main dishes and desserts.
This week’s recipes from Edna’s kitchen, Three Bean Salad, Stuffed Green Bell Peppers and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Rachel typed away.
Rachel had though about putting together her own cookbook, she entitled it Recipes from Edna’s Kitchen. She thought it was cute.
With the beginning of fall just around the corner your Victory Garden needs tending to. She typed writing up the gardening advice for this week.
Rachel Darling had been married to Jim Darling for sixteen years until his untimely death three years ago. Jim was a banker a nine to five guy, everyday in a suit and tie, Monday through Friday at the office, he had passed away of a heart attack. There daughter Susan was away attending nursing school.
As Rachel was finishing up her column there was a knock on the door.
The door opened and Thomas was greeted by a lovely lady in her late 30’s wearing a long dark skirt and a light blue buttoned up blouse, her dark brunette hair was pulled up into a loose bun and there was a pencil poking out of the side of the bun.
“Yes can I help you?” she asked, Thomas smiled.
“Mrs. Darling?” she nodded.
“Do you still have the room available?”
“Yes, are you able to afford it? It’s 10 dollars a week,”
Rachel looked him over, he was dressed in dark blue jeans and a denim shirt. He was good looking, a little over 6 feet tall, wearing the standard military issue haircut, not too bulky but definitely muscular. Thomas had his last months salary from the marines, a whole 180 dollars. He smiled at her.
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.
Rachel let him in and gave him a tour of the house, downstairs there was an entryway, the living room and kitchen. She led him upstairs, where there were three bedrooms and a bathroom.
The first bedroom was hers, the second one was her daughters. The third smallest room was the one for rent.
The room wasn’t anything special, it had a standard twin sized bed, a chest of drawers and a night stand with a brass lamp on it.
“Do you want it?” Rachel asked him.
“Yes, I will take it,” Thomas answered and handed her 20 dollars to cover the first two weeks.
“Let me know if you need anything else,” She said as she returned downstairs.

Pool

Thomas took his time finding a steady job, he did some day labor out at the docks when he felt like it. Most of his time during this first year was spent at Charlie’s smoking, drinking and playing pool.
He found that he had a natural talent for the game and for making a little cash on the side, hustling other drunk patrons. Buck the owner of Charlie’s let him for a percent of the take.
During this particular late night run of the tables, two guys were playing Thomas and they were up two games, best of five.
Thomas turned it on and started to take the third game when one of the guys decided that they were done being played and would take all of what Thomas had on him.
He walked behind Thomas as he was about to take a shot and swung the pool cue making contact with Thomas’s lower back, his knees buckled from the pain and he fell forward. The second guy grabbed his wrists and pinned them down to the pool table.
“We will be taking all that you have,” the guy behind him said as he emptied Thomas’s pockets.
Thomas didn’t like letting this happen, but since they were only walking away with the $10 he put up and their own $20 from the previous games there was really no loss.
Thomas had grown up with five older brothers, he learned early on that you don’t keep money in your wallet, you keep it in your sock or shoe. Better yet you don’t carry much at all. His stash of savings was nicely tucked away in an envelope on the underside of the bottom drawer of the dresser in his room.

Sarah

“You ok?” A voice behind him asked. Thomas looked over and saw a lovely young looking woman, with long blonde hair, pulled back into a clip, looking concerned.
“Ya, I’ll live,”
“Want a drink?” Thomas nodded and sat down at one of the tables. She brought him over a cold beer and introduced herself.
“I am Sarah, Buck hired me to help out around here,”
Thomas smiled at her and took a long drink of the cold beer.
Thomas walked Sarah home.
Sarah lived in a small studio apartment above a deli, as they walked up the narrow staircase Thomas said.
“Is that roast beef?” Sarah smiled.
“It’s cheep and who doesn’t like the smell of fresh baked bread,”
She unlocked the door and they entered the room, it was simply decorated with a bed, loveseat and kitchen table.
“Would you like a drink?” She asked.
“Sure,” Sarah took two glasses from the cupboard and poured some whiskey in each.
They sat at the table, drinking and talking. After the conversation had died out Thomas stood up and took Sarah’s hand, raising her to her feet. He slid his hands around her waist and pulled her into him. He kissed her soft full lips, she kissed him back.
“That was nice,” she grinned. Thomas led her over to the bed.
“You know that they are looking for some full-time workers out at pier 36, you should go talk to David Henderson, something better than getting taken at pool,” Sarah said as they were getting dressed the next morning.
“I’ll look into it,” Thomas said giving her a kiss goodbye.

The Docks

David Henderson was a big burly man that spoke with a tone of authority.
“Do you have any experience in shipping and receiving?” Henderson asked Thomas.
“Not really sir, but I am a quick learner,” Henderson looked him over.
“Well you look capable, show up on time and do what’s asked of you,”
“Yes, sir,”
“You can start Monday seven sharp, report to Mr. Andrews in warehouse C,”
“Yes sir, and thank you sir,”
Thomas awoke at 6am Monday morning to the aroma of frying bacon and fresh brewed coffee. He dressed and made his way downstairs, Rachel was in front of the stove.
“Hope you like your eggs scrambled,” she said fixing a plate.
“Yes, thank you,” he smiled at her.
Mr. James Andrews was a tall slender build man, with a clipboard in his hand and a pen in his mouth.
“You’re the new guy,” he thumbed through the sheets of paper on his clipboard,
“Thomas Moore,”
“Yes, sir,”
“Ok, you can start unloading in bay two, the guys will show you what to do, just don’t drop anything,”
Thomas picked up the rhythm of unloading quickly. The work itself was tiring but it was a paycheck at the end of the week, for that Thomas was grateful. Thomas worked, hung out at Charlie’s and enjoyed getting to know Sarah over the next six months.

Buck

It was a slow Tuesday evening at Charlie’s when Buck, struck up a conversation with Thomas and Sarah.
“You see that?” he pointed to a picture hanging behind the bar.

“Yep, who is it?” Thomas asked.
“That is Charlie, I bought the bar from him when he retired,”
Thomas looked at the black and white photo of a man, in his early 30’s, wearing a tee-shirt and jeans, standing in front of the bar.
“When Charlie was almost done with school, he met a dame, named Georgiana, everyone just called her George. She was tall, slender and liked to party. Charlie lost his mind over her, to the point that he even proposed, had a ring and everything,” Buck handed Thomas another beer.
“But, right before Charlie was going to graduate from college, his momma died. She had been sick for a while but didn’t tell anyone. So poor Charlie was devastated, his momma was the world to him. His pappa had passed away when he was just a boy, it had been just him and momma,” Buck took a long drink of his beer.
“That poor man,” Sarah said.
“It gets better, durring the funeral, while they were lowering his dear momma into the ground, George decided that it was a good time to pick a fight with Charlie. I don’t know what she was all worked up over, but she made quite the scene. Topped of with taking off the engagement ring and throwing it into the hole with the coffen. Charlie was beside himself,”
“Well that’s quite the story,” Thomas said finishing off his beer.
“Charlie finished up school, took the little his momma had left and bought this place,” Buck said.

June 1946

Mr. Andrew’s called Thomas over after his shift on a Friday in June, it was unseasonably warm and hadn’t rained in weeks.
“Yes, Mr. Andrews?” Thomas asked, wiping his dripping brow. Mr. Andrews put his arm around Thomas’s shoulder.
“Call me James,”
“Ok, James, what’s up?”
“We’re going to have some special shipments coming in next week, and I would like you to be responsible for their delivery, can you handle that?”
“I don’t see why not, sir,” Thomas answered not giving it much thought.
“Ok, good, we’ll see you on Monday, have a good weekend,” James said.

Susan

When Thomas arrived home he heard voices in the kitchen. Rachel was sitting at the table with a pretty young redhead.
“Hello,” Thomas said as he entered the kitchen.
“Thomas, good this is my daughter Susan,” Rachel said Thomas extended his hand.
“Nice to meet you,”
“Likewise,” Susan answered.
“Susan will be starting at the hospital as a nurse, on Monday,” Rachel said.
“Mom’s been telling me how much she has enjoyed your company,” she said, Thomas smiled at Rachel.
Thomas, Susan and Rachel enjoyed a lovely dinner of ham with pineapple, scalloped potatoes and salad. While they ate, Rachel told embarrassing stories about Susan’s childhood. Thomas found it cute that her cheeks turned as red as her short curly hair.
Thomas spent most of Saturday and Sunday shooting pool at Charlie’s and hanging out with Sarah.

By Monday the heat and humidity were almost unbearable. Thomas started his shift at 7am already drenched in sweat.
“Thomas, make sure to put all the crates marked ‘Import House’ into trailer 14, and give me a count at the end of your shift,” Mr. Andrews said.
Thomas took note of this and began unloading bay two as usual. On his fourth trip into bay two, he noticed the crate was stamped with the words ‘Import House’ he picked it up and took it to trailer 14.
“Ok, then,” he muttered to himself, there was nothing strange or different about the crate, just that it was stamped, other than that it looked just like all the other crates.
Thomas went about his day as usual, after lunch the sky had become dark and everyone was hoping it would rain already. Thomas was finishing with bay two, he went to retrieve a crate marked ‘Import House’ as he picked it up, his back spasmed and he dropped it.
“Dammit,” he said to himself. He took a moment to rub his lower back and recover.
He looked over the crate to check for any damage, there was a crack running along one side of the crate, a white substance resembling sugar was spilling onto the floor.
Thomas licked his pinky and dipped it into the spill, he tasted it.
“Definitely not sugar,” he said to himself. He cleaned up the spill and fixed the crate to the best of his abilities with some tape.
At the end of his shift he gave Mr. Andrews a slip of paper with the number of crates he had put in trailer 14.
“Any problems with today’s load?” he asked.
“Nope, it’s all where you wanted it to be,” Thomas answered.
“Good,”
There was a loud crack of thunder and a flash of lightning as the downpour began, Thomas walked up to Charlie’s to unwind and see Sarah.

As he sipped on his cold beer he thought about the marked crates. If there were eight crates and they were around two feet long and a foot wide. Thomas stared off doing the math in his head.
” You ok there?” Sarah intrupted his train of thought.
“Yeah, just hot and tired, long day,” he smiled at her, she kissed him on the cheek.
The unloading of marked crates into trailer 14 whent on for the next two weeks. Each morning trailer 14 was empty of the previous days shipment. Thomas did what he was asked, putting the marked crates in trailer 14 and giving Mr. Andrews a count at the end of every shift.

Thomas became curious as to where the marked crates were going. On a Friday after his shift he decided to wait and watch trailer 14.

He found himself a quiet spot not to far from the trailer. He watched and waited. Around 9pm three large men showed up in a pickup truck, along with Mr. Andrews. Thomas watched as they loaded the marked crates into the back of the truck.
After an enjoyable evening with Sarah, complete with a steak dinner and a bottle of Jack Daniels, Thomas told her about trailer 14, and the marked crates. Sarah listened politely.
“Interesting,” she said.

Thomas once again waited and watched trailer 14 after work on Monday. He waited and watched, then the pickup truck carrying the three large men and Mr. Andrews parked next to the trailer.
Then a second vehicle pulled in behind the pickup. David Henderson exited the vehicle along with Sarah.
“What the hell is Sarah doing here,” Thomas muttered to himself.
David Henderson exchanged some heated words with Mr. Andrews while the three large men started to unload trailer 14. Then something strange happened, blue and red lights, lit up the dock as four cop cars came screeching in, srounding trailer 14. The cops exited their vehicles with guns drawn. Orders of stop what you’re doing and put your hands up, were given.
Sarah moved towards David Henderson, as she was doing so, someone fired, the shot rang out through the air, Sarah fell to the ground. Thomas ran towards her without thinking, one of the large men pulled a switchblade and lunged at Thomas, catching him in the side with the switchblade.
“Everybody just stop,” Mr. Andrews yelled.
Thomas was on the ground next to Sarah, holding his side. He could see her face, she was gone.
David Henderson raised his hands, the three large men took his lead and got on their knees. The cops moved in arrestes were made.

Thomas didn’t want to leave Sarah, but he also didn’t want to be a part of the drug bust that was going down. He got up to leave, Mr. Andrews pulled him aside.
“I know you’re confused, quick version, I have been undercover working the drug smuggling case for almost a year now, we had to move on it, I am sorry about Sarah,” Mr. Andrews cleared his throat.
“Why was she even here?” Thomas asked.
“You don’t know, she’s David Henderson’s neice, she helped run the books,” Mr. Andrews answered.

Thomas sat at the kitchen table holding a dishtowel to his side.
“You ok?” Susan asked from the doorway of the kitchen.
“Not really,” Thomas answered showing her his sliced side.
“Just a minute,” she went to get the first aid kit.
Susan cleaned and stiched up Thomas side as he explained everything that had happened on the docks.
“If you want to get into another line of work, Uncle John owns a garage, and he’s always looking for help,”
“I may have to take you up on that,”
“There all done,” she started cleaning up. Thomas took her hand.
“Thank you,” he kissed her on the cheek, Susan blushed.
“I’ll invite Uncle John over for dinner on Friday,”
“Mom can make stroganoff, it’s his favorite,” Susan said as she headed up to bed.
Thomas continued to​ sit at the kitchen table thinking about what to​ do next.

The Bag

51546

The Trail

The trail had gone cold. That was the frustration which James Newton was feeling. He saw the target disappear into the woods but the trail went cold as soon as they hit the rocky cliff. If he had been more steadfast into making the jump down the steep incline, he would’ve had him. He could’ve then bargained for the woman whom they all knew was going to be harder to catch. Five long seconds of indecision and he lost his chance. He knew it. But, he wasn’t as desperate.
James was squatting over his boots and staring down at the muddy trail, squinting for any signs of fresh tracks. The well­packed hiking path was smooth as a consequence of the water cascading from the nearby hillsides eroded any signs of footprints in the drenched dirt. He knew they were close. He could feel it. Maybe it wasn’t this trail. Maybe they’re only a few feet off course and they’ll come up to the trailhead where the paths diverged. There might be signs of them there.
He turned around and spotted Thomas “Tommy” Russell stealthily stepping over the mud trail onto the side of a nearby embankment. His short stature and lanky build made him easy to lose in the thick forest. The camouflage was working. It also helped that Tommy had smeared mud to further obscure his appearance. Two nights ago that seemed like a good idea, but he was starting to regret it. In the brief breaks between bouts of intense precipitation, insects would swarm near his eyes and mouth. Leaves would stick to his skin. It made him look like a walking pile of foliage; real textbook Ranger School stuff, he thought to himself.
James then spotted Robert Todd, playing sentry over the scene, sweeping the area from atop the hill depositing water onto the trail where James was resting.
The fourth and final man was nowhere in sight. They might have thought that they’d lost him but could hear his footsteps. Unlike Tommy, Henry Walker was somewhat heavier on his feet. At 6’ 11”, north of 300 lbs., he was also larger than the other men. It was a major consideration in the decision to call him in to tag along in the search for the couple that ran into the woods.
Visibility had dropped as the cold humidity made the air thick with fog masking the ungodly stench of four men desperately in need of showers. They knew they were close. As unbearable as the weather had been the last few nights, the rain was letting up and with it, they’d have a better chance at tracking them. At least that’s what James was telling himself.
Robert started his slide to join Tommy and James on the trail, swiftly making his way down the hill, slowing his descent by keeping his body low and grabbing onto the limbs of every tree that would bear his weight. He finally arrived near James, stopping short of the trail which both men were careful to avoid.
Tommy joined them a moment later.
“Another night and I still don’t have that bag,” he mused aloud.
James looked at Robert for signs of shared frustration.
Tommy quipped stoically, “At least you look rested.”
Tommy looked back at Robert, possibly nonplussed. Any other day he’d be easier to read but his muddy face masked any facial expressions. James couldn’t help but crack a smile.
Tommy looked far from rested. His usual wiry behavior was curbed only by his obvious sleep deprivation. There was two possible outcomes for the end scenario. Both of them involved sleep. One was just slightly more permanent than the other.
“We’ll sleep when we’re dead. And I’m dead if we don’t get that bag,” James said. “Let’s keep moving. We’re close.”
A large mass approached from the direction they had come from, shuffling up the trail that they all so carefully sought to avoid spoiling. It was Henry who had staggered up. Tommy held out his hands palms ­up questioning the logic of coming directly up the trail.
“What are you doing,” James asked.
“I found them,” Henry responded, pointing back down the trail, drawing shapes as he spoke, panting, short of breath.
“They’re huddled under an embankment, thing, under a tree, near the river. They were huddled together.” It was enough for Robert to break character and look excited.
“And the bag,” Tommy shot back.
Henry nodded in acknowledgement.
James hurriedly stood up with a renewed sense of purpose. He turned his body towards the trail before the force of someone latching onto his arm pulled him backwards. It was Robert, his grip tightly holding James’s arm.
“We’re not going to hurt them,” he reaffirmed.
James begrudgingly nodded in agreement before jerking himself away.
Tommy looked back at Robert and then back at the ground then wondered out loud to no one in particular, “What happens if it’s gone?”
“If it’s gone, we’ll reconsider,” Robert answered.
The moon was bright. Brighter than it had been the better part of that week. It even forced itself through pockets of cloud cover from time to time. But, it still wasn’t enough to break through the heavy fog that’s synonymous with a cooler than usual early spring in a temperate forest. The crisp air coming from the mountains did little to move it. It felt stuffy at times. Most times, they were just as happy that they all had jackets. The weather could easily take a turn for the worse and they were lucky that the worst they were feeling was a little numb in their extremities.
The trees swayed as they walked up the path. Robert was able to catch a glimpse of the river beyond an outcropping. Ahead of them, the path went parallel with the waterway. Soon it would all be over. They’d have the bag, its contents intact. This would absolve Robert of any notion of misconduct, simultaneously clearing James’s debt.
They all had enough time to think about how they allowed it to happen and how a moment of inattention subjected them to this.

The Drop

Just three days ago they peacefully liberated the bag from James’s acquaintance. That morning, James, Robert, and Tommy arrived in the industrial park where they were to make the drop. Tommy’s bright red, late ­90’s model Oldsmobile Cutlass’ had seen better days. The paint was peppered with rust where it wasn’t peeling. It’s plastic body panels were cracked and scratched from years of bumps and scrapes, exhibiting signs of downright neglect. Its fatigued suspension nearly bottomed out as they pulled into the lot of a trucking company. But, it ran and that made it a reliable car in Tommy’s mind.
James had the small black duffle bag on his lap in the backseat. He compressed it like an accordion while leaning forward, directing his question at Robert, “You ready.”
Robert checked the mirrors and looked out over the lot filled with shipping containers of various sizes and colors. He thought for a moment about how this was the only time in his life where a situation didn’t warrant a weapon and how strange that had felt.
The drop was routine; as routine as a drop can be for a few seasoned criminals. The recipient was a trusted accomplice whom Robert had known for years. They didn’t really need three men, to be honest. Robert knew that but he trusted Tommy to be the driver.
For Robert, it was all about making things right. It was he who introduced James to the game. As his mentor, Robert felt that James needed to be set straight but shouldn’t bear the brunt of the consequences that could be directed at a criminal that can’t make good on their word. Trust, after all, is the bedrock of the lax criminal code. He wasn’t too worried. Robert’s experience gave him the audacity to feel relaxed in the moment.
James was a bit more anxious, “What if they don’t show?”
Robert opened the passenger door and stepped out. He gestured for James to get out. James scooted to the passenger side and opened the door. He initially thought about taking the bag. “Leave it,” Robert instructed as he walked towards the street. James threw the bag through the open window onto the passenger seat next to Tommy and warned, “Guard this with your life.”
Tommy shooed him away, turning the key in the ignition to accessory mode. He tuned the radio to a station that was going to calm him. He was also feeling a bit more anxious than usual.
James joined Robert in the street.
“What have we learned,” Robert asked.
“There’s easier ways to make money. I didn’t think it’d get this far, Robert. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“Once they get it back, you’re going to be fine,” Robert reassured him. “Leave that shit to the professionals. You’re getting off lucky.”
In the car, Tommy readjusted his mirrors so that he could see Robert and James in the street. They looked to be 50 feet back, he estimated. He turned to his right and looked at the bag within arms’ reach to reassure himself. It’s right where James had left it. He took a deep breath as the mere sight of the bag triggered a strong cigarette craving. Reaching into the inside pocket of his olive jacket, Tommy began anticipating the quick hit of nicotine destined to calm his nerves. Getting the cigarette was easy but in the time he went back to reach for the lighter he had droped the ciggarette onto the floor. Looking to the floor, past the steering wheel and making way with his knees, he realized that he’d have to contort himself to feel out where it had fallen.
James looked at a car slowing down a block away, near an old brick warehouse. He couldn’t make out the make or model; something classic looking, maybe mid­ 60’s with a teal and white paint job, with white wall tires. It couldn’t be newer than that, he thought. It didn’t look like a car that belonged in an industrial park.
Tommy continued looking for the dropped cigarette. He laid the back of his hand flat against the floor mat and began to sweep.
“Is it them,” James asked.
“I don’t think so.”
Behind them, a short, skinny blonde woman in jeans and a red hoodie crept up to the passenger side of the red Oldsmobile. She slowly reached inside the open window, her eyes fixed on Tommy still searching for the lost cigarette. As soon as he turned towards her, she ripped the bag out of the car window and began running.
Tommy shot up, “Hey!”
James and Robert turned to see the woman running deeper into the shipping yard.
Tommy nearly kicked the driver door open with his knee and gave chase. James instinctively followed while Robert turned back to the car mid way down the block only to see it slowly make a right hand turn. It wasn’t their car. Robert gritted his teeth before involving himself in the pursuit of the bag thief.
The woman made her way between the rows of empty truck trailers, appearing and disappearing behind each meticulously parked 52’ long monstrosity. She eventually arrived at the gatehouse on the other side of the lot before throwing the bag over the fence as one might throw a grenade. Almost instantly after letting it go, she turned right and continued sprinting.
Why did she just ditch the bag? No sooner had Tommy asked himself that question then he realized the bag landed at a distance that appeared to be well out of reach. He beelined for the fence, coming to an abrupt stop and gripping the chain links to counteract its pushback.
James eventually caught up.
By now, Tommy had realized that this side of the lot had a mechanized sliding gate. This wasn’t a particularly helpful observation because he instinctively knew he wouldn’t be able to trigger it. He frantically looked for a safe spot to climb the nine feet it would take to make it to the other side. It didn’t exist. The top of the fence was tightly wound with barbed wire.
James turned his attention to the woman making her way past a field of debris on the side of the adjacent warehouse. It was a tight corridor with brick on both sides. Her red sweatshirt made her easy to follow as she weaved around multi­colored barrels, heaps of scrap metal, and unused sheet metal panels. He saw her climb up a stack of wooden pallets in the corner and quickly noticed a green blanket folded over the barbed wire where the brick wall met an adjacent building.
As she carefully positioned herself belly side down, sliding over the fence and disappearing out of view, a matte golden coupe with powdered black rims screeched to a halt shielding the bag from Tommy and James’s view. It looked like some type of import, Tommy noted.
Within a moment, the driver accelerated while simultaneously opening the door to pick up the woman at the other end of the street. She got in, and like that it was over. They had been had.
Tommy started to violently hit the fence with his palms, kicking and exclaiming obscenities.
Robert ran up in time to see James grab his head with both hands and drop backwards against the gatehouse, sliding down while shaking his head in disbelief. His first reaction was to get on his phone and call in what happened. They were expected to be at the drop point and now they didn’t even have the bag.
He spoke with a sense of focus and authority, “You’re not going to believe what happened. You’re going to have to take my cut of the next one and I’ll make good on it. I appreciate it.”
James would’ve felt relieved that Robert was covering for him, if his mind wasn’t spinning from the fear caused by losing something so valuable.
“We’re going to get that bag back. It’s your ass, James,” Robert pointed out.
They had to find the golden colored car with black rims. It was a deceptively easy task. They were in a part of the country that didn’t care much for imports. Of course, this was only a consideration if luck was on their side and the offending party didn’t already start to skip town. Robert was sincerely hoping that wouldn’t be the case.
Upon returning to the car, Tommy let out another bout of emotion. He began yelling at the top of his lungs and kicking nearly everything on the driver side of his car. He reached in and grabbed the cigarette from the under the brake pedal on the mat and threw it angrily on the ground while Robert and James settled back in the seats dejected. They entered with the package and now it was gone.

The Car

By the early afternoon, Tommy and James had split from Robert. He in turn enlisted the help of his close friend Henry to aid in the search. The search party now had two cars to canvas the area. They frantically drove up and down every street in the small mountain town. This was the only option. If they had driven out of town, there was very little they can do to track them down. They knew that they needed to get lucky. They had to try.
Night blanketed the valley. The street lights turned on to aide travellers before the skies opened up. In the nicer neighborhoods, asphalt absorbed the water into a mirror finish, reflecting lights from street lamps and those of nearby houses as the tracking party made their ways up and down their streets. Dogs wailed to inform their inattentive owners that they’d like back in and the town soon fell quiet.
It was the longest day of James’s life. And to no one’s astonishment it began to feel like it might be his last.
The second round of driving through one of the poorest areas proved profitable.
Tucked away in the middle of a pothole filled street, in a driveway lush with overgrowth from miskept bushes, they had found something.
The car was parked in the driveway of an unassuming run­down white Colonial house with white paint chipping off its centuries old cedar clapboards. The grass on this house seemed higher than that of its neighbors. It looked particularly abandoned. Perhaps they were squatting here.
James waited for Tommy to acknowledge him as he shook his head in stunned disbelief. What are the odds, he wondered. Tommy made his way back up the street and parked a few houses down a vacant lot. He turned off his lights and killed the engine before calling Robert.
“We found the car. Edgewood St.,” he directed. The two sat dormant until a car pulled up behind them and Robert emerged from the passenger side.
He approached James while keeping his eyes trained on the car, it’s warm colored paint accentuated by the glow from nearby light poles. The house itself was dark. Robert went to investigate motioning for James and Tommy to stay put.
He made his way up to the side of the house opposite the driveway, checking to see if there was any window showing signs of someone residing inside. He crouched down as he approached the backyard, noting to himself how the lot seemed to open into the abyss of a dense forest. At the back of the house there was nothing except a rickety deck in bad need of repair.
The driveway terminated in a garage which was a freestanding structure. Its roof was incomplete, missing shingles in places and appearing as pliable as a wet rag draped over the ribs of its rafters. The walls were a dark gray wood, with their horizontal boards highlighted by green moss, saturated in water. Nature continued to reclaim them, simultaneously undermining their structural integrity. Water could be seen making it’s way through a channel in the cracked concrete slab that was once its foundation. There was no way they could be in there.
Robert walked up the driveway making sure to look in the car. He eventually made his way back to the street holding his hands up. James was out of the car calmly walking in the rain towards Robert. Tommy rolled down his window to say, “Nothing?”
As if on queue, something in the back made a loud crashing noise. Robert turned back and ran towards the backyard; James followed.
It was hard to make out the details but Robert spotted two shadowy figures heading into the forest. As they ran past a light on the neighboring property, Robert spotted the red hoodie diapering into the rainy night. That feature was unmistakable. They had found them.

The Chase

They splashed through puddles made fresh by the April rain besieging the forest. They ended up running up to a small cliff. Robert let James run ahead of him. He was quicker and seemed to have a lot less trouble finding footing over the dense underbrush. They were also quick, but James had the tenacity of a man whose life was on the line. He ran stride for stride with them.
They came across a small ravine with a creek running through it. James ran in and quickly made his way up the other side. His legs burned at this point and he became conscious of his breathing. As he crested the hill, he nearly slipped on the fresh mud, steadying himself with one hand and pushing through to get up a knee­high limestone ledge. As he came up, he noticed he now only saw one of the figures and continued the chase until he watched them disappeared over the edge of a cliff. He paused and waited to watch whom he assumed was the man slowly getting up after taking a spill near the bottom of the ravine. He paused and waited. This moment of inattention would come back to haunt him.
Hours passed.
Robert got a phone call. He relayed the bad news, “He’s not taking the deal. He wants what you owe him, James. He said this wasn’t what he planned with you. If we don’t get it, we’re all screwed.”
The hours turned into days as the pursuit of the couple with the bag progressed. They picked up a trail of footprints and followed it to the river’s edge. Eventually they all fell out of contact from the outside world. Henry was the last to complain about his phone battery dying. Not having slept or eaten for days had begun to toll. All of them were cold and wet. But, they took solace in knowing that the targets were in the same predicament.

The Pickup

The water was rushing down from a nearby stream that fed the river. It felt wild. Each of the men was too tired to consider their fortunes. They had found the car in time pursue the bag thieves. But now, perhaps most improbably, had successfully tracked their whereabouts inside a vast wilderness during the grips of a multi­hour cold, unrelenting rainstorm.
Henry was at the head of the group. He turned back and whispered, “About 3 minutes away.”
“I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do when I see them,” James said turning to Robert. “Wait, how do we get the bag?”
“There’s a way we can drop in on them. If two of us wait deeper in, we can chase the one with the bag,” Henry explained. “They have to be just as tired as we are.”
“What if they have a weapon,” James asked.
“They haven’t used one, yet. They’re scared. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Robert said.
Henry slowed his walk and began crouching. He started using arm gestures to tell the other three men to stop.
At the end of a bend in the river sits a tree with the soil around its roots all but eroded away. The rocky shore caught the roots which after finding purchase created a stable enough foundation to support its weight. A bit of ancient limestone carved smooth by the water was jutting out in an overhang, simultaneously adding support for the tree and shielding the couple from the elements. The woman in the red hoddie and her male accomplice lie huddled together, and save for their shallow breathing appear almost motionless.
The mans jacket was draped over them like a makeshift blanket. But from this distance, it was still hard to make out facial features.
Tommy began making his way to the incline behind the tree, trying desperately to steady his footing over the wet roots. Robert and James began moving to one side of the river bank while Henry dug in from the direction that they originally came. They were using the element of surprise to their advantage. It mattered very little to any of the men which one got the bag. What seemed to take priority in the minds was how to expel the least amount of energy to achieve that outcome.
The closer that Tommy was to the overhang, the more slippery the ground became. He tried in vain to find traction a handful of times but with the next step, he slipped into an unrecoverable slide. He dropped onto his side and began an uncontrolled descent, watching the ground rush up to meet him.
He made impact a mere six feet from the woman, instantly waking the couple. They have lost the element of surprise.
The woman turns, too groggy to realise what’s happening. Next to her, her male counterpart quickly springs to life and makes Tommy. He reaches for the bag and begins to stand on his feet as Robert uses the velocity of his entire two ­hundred pound frame to smash him into the wall of limestone. He flew out of nowhere, causing his target tremendous discomfort.
The woman attempts to withdraw as far away from the scuffle by scooting backwards. Robert has complete leverage over the man and grabs the bag. He gets up and looks at the man now holding his hands up. From here, he can clearly see his face; a kid, no more than fifteen years old. He just looked larger from a far.
“No,” the boy begins begging, “Please!”
Before he could say another word James slides in swinging at his face. Robert’s knocked to the side as James lands a punch on the nose, causing a spray of blood. Before he can swing again, Robert locks his forearm around James’s neck in a submissive hold. James struggles to squeak out a few vague threats as he’s losing his breath, his face turning red.
Robert jerks him back to the ground before stepping over his body and pointing his finger at him in a scornful manner, “You don’t get to do that!”
The boy begins crawling towards the girl, holding his nose, pleading back to Henry and Robert.
“Please, we’re sorry. Please don’t. Please.” The boy becomes more and more incoherent as the tears and emotion cut into his speech.
Henry helps Tommy to his feet.
“Leave him be,” Tommy says to James, panting while staring at the ground.
Henry looks at the two kids huddled together. He shoots back at Robert amused.
“You let these two do this to you? What kind of master criminals are you?”
Tommy is clutching his side as he begins to make sense of the situation. Robert grabbed the bag with one hand while helping James up with the other. He opened it to inspect its contents. It was all there. Everyone had questions, but it was probably best to just walk away.
Curiosity got the best of James, “Why did you take the bag?”
His query was met with brief silence. The boy had continued wiping his nose into the sleeve of his long­sleeve cotton shirt drenched in water, saturated with tears, and stained red with blood. He was shivering. It was either the cold, or the adrenaline, or both, James thought.
“We didn’t know,” said the girl.
The boy continued in a nasally voice, “We followed you after we saw you take it. It was stupid. We’re sorry.”
“Why did you stay out here,” Tommy asked. This is a question the men often asked of themselves as their stay in the woods continued.
“We figured you’d watch the car,” she answered.
“We wanted to leave but couldn’t get gas. We didn’t want any trouble. We were so stupid.”
The four men looked at each other and just now acknowledged that watching the only getaway vehicle would’ve probably been a good idea.
“So stupid,” she repeated as she continued sobbing, “We’re sorry, please.”
James was livid. But the adrenaline and sleep deprivation was doing a good job of keeping him even keeled.
“Let’s go,” Robert said.
“Let’s get some sleep and clear this up. We have the bag.”

Erotic Poetry

cch217

Desire

You are my vice my drug my want my desire.

The things you say the way you make me feel, the deep desire I feel when I am with you when I want you, to be with you to feel you in me, fucking me making me moan and cum.

As I rub my hand along my breasts and pinch my nipple, making them hard. Pinching my nipples hard makes my pussy wet and wanting, running my hand in between my legs, sliding my fingers into my wet pussy and rubbing my clit making myself cum.

Feeling your tongue slide into my mouth, sucking on your tongue. I pull you close to me and I can feel your hard cock pushing up against me. I run my hand down and undo your pants I take your hard thick cock into my hand and stroke it.

Making you moan, and…

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