Welcome to the sixth instalment of Mark and Ann bits. This one is a special one, it is the final bits that take place before Mark and Ann meet. This instalment leads directly into the first book, Returned and Reunited. See what took place moments before the story behind the cover takes place.
I walk out of the building stuffing the envelope in my bag as I push my way through the door. Okay, I was a few months early, but with the arrangements that would need making there was no other option.
I smile. It was going to be one hell of a surprise. I was excited, I could only hope they would be as well. I laugh. Who was I kidding? Of course they would be!
I walk back to my car, jump in, pull my seat-belt around me and fire up the engine. There’s no time like the present.
Pulling out into traffic, I hit the road and head for my brother’s house. The roads are busy for a Friday afternoon. I glance down at my car’s clock. Well, that explains it, it’s school let out time.
I just draw level with local primary school, when the lollipop lady steps off the pavement with her handheld stop sign. I pull to a halt for a group of children and parents to cross the road and hear the honking of a horn from the driver coming the other way.
Some people are so impatient!
He honks again, and then some more for good measure, and I see a little boy of around five years old cling to his mother legs. Jesus! What the hell is the matter with the asshole? Can’t he see he’s scaring the kids?
I glare over at him but he’s not looking in my direction, and I watch as he sticks his head out of the window. “For Christ’s sake, will you get those damn kids moving? Some of us are in a hurry. Well, so much for my good mood.
I stop my engine, undo my seat-belt, get out of my car and head on over to tap the side of his and bend to look in at him. “This is a school crossing. They’re moving as fast as they can and you’re scaring them. You keep honking and shouting out the window the slower they’re going to move, because they’re frightened of you. Just give them a minute and you can be on your way.”
There, I’d kept it civilised. My brother would be proud of me.
I push back to full height prepared to walk back to my own vehicle when he sticks his head back out the window. “Why don’t you mind your own business, bitch. I haven’t got all fucking day to hang around.”
I stretch my neck from side to side and take a breath. So much for civilised. With a fast snatch of my hand, I grab a fist full of his tie and shirt collar and bend down to look in his face. “Now you listen to me, shit for brains. You’re going to shut the hell up, and if you touch that horn one more time I’m going to physically remove it and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Do you hear me?” he doesn’t answer so I shake him. “I asked you a damn question.”
He nods, swallows against the grip I have on his collar, and I release him and give him a shove. “You might want to shut your window, one of the dads here might not be as amicable as I am.”
I turn and walk away, Passing the lollipop lady who grabs my arm to stop me. “Thank you.”
I nod. “You’re welcome.” I lean in close so the kids can’t hear me. “He’s an ass.”
She laughs and I make my way back to my car and settle back in. It’s no more than a minute before I’m on my way again.
I reach my brother’s house in twenty minutes. My brother, sister-in-law, and I are having coffee at the kitchen table in thirty.
My brother takes a sip and puts his cup on the table.”It’s not like you to visit on a weekday.”
I smile. “I know, but I have your anniversary present.”
My sister-in-law laughs. “You’re a little early Ann, it’s not for a few months yet.”
I rummage in my bag and pull out the envelope. “I know.” I grin at them. “But, for this you’ll need to make arrangements.”
I offer them the brown envelope and my brother takes it, pulls back the flap and empties out the paperwork. He reads what it says and his jaw drops and he looks at me with saucer wide eyes. “Really?”
My grin gets wider and I nod.
My sister-in-law can’t wait and snatches the papers out of his hands. A few seconds later she’s looking at me the same way. “Oklahoma! You’re sending us to Oklahoma?”
I nod. She screeches, drops their flight arrangements on the table and races around to pull me up into a tight hug. I just manage to pat her on her back when I’m pulled from her, spun around, and yanked into a tight embrace by my brother. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’ve been wanting to visit for years.”
I hug him tight. He’s an amazing brother. “I know. Happy anniversary guys.”
The man I have by the throat seems to have simmered down a bit. The one with the ball-bat and the one with the hammer is my immediate concern. I shift my weight, throw the one in my grip into Mister Ball-bat. I drop to the ground and feel the wind from the hammer pass across my face. That was too damn close. I slam a heel into Mister Hammer’s knee. It snaps back into a position that just don’t quite look natural. I grab the hammer and peen his ankle just for good measure. I jump to my feet. The first one is still holding his throat and looking at me like I’m the devil. Hell no, just a goddamned wolf! Mister Ball-bat is already on his feet making another run at me. What an idiot! I throw the hammer with all force I can muster. “Batter up, you son of bitch!”
The hammer hits him in the chest and he stops dead in his tracks. He gives me a confused look then looks like he’s going to cry. What a goddamn sissy. He drops the bat and rubs his chest. I grab his shirt and throw him down next to the man formerly known as Mister Hammer, now I believe I will call him Mister Screamer. “Shut the hell up, before I give you something to really scream about!”
It does the trick, knew it would, it always worked on me as a kid. I look at the one still holding his throat and point to his buddies. He scurries over and sits next to them. Good boy. I grab a chair from the card table they were sittin’ at when I so calmly, and politely, crashed through the window. I sit in it backwards and put my elbows on the backrest. I stroke my scruff and stare at ‘em for just a bit. They don’t look comfortable. Mister Screamer has tears running down his eyes, trying to figure out how to hold his right knee and his left ankle at the same time. Hard ain’t it? Mister Ball-bat still looks like he’s gonna bawl like a baby any second. Suck it up Buttercup. The other one, I really should give him a name, is still looking at me like I’m the devil. He just don’t get it. I stand up, grab the bat and sit back down in the same position. Stare a bit more, then point the bat at each one of ‘em. “You boys done gone and pissed me off now. So here’s how it’s gonna go, listen careful, ‘cause I ain’t gonna say it twice. I’m looking for a five-year-old little boy named Jeremy Johnson. Word on the street is you boys and one other have been keeping an eye on him for some new organization in town. I don’t know who they are, yet, but I will. Now, right now, one of you is going to tell me where the boy is… or I’m going to crack each of your heads open until one of ya does.”
Mister See-the-devil, doesn’t hesitate. “House at the end of Moccasin Avenue. Jed is watching him.”
I lean the bat against the table. “North or south?”
“South. I don’t know the exact address, just at the very end, empty lots on each side.”
I nod. “Jed, who? And if you say Clampett, I’m gonna stomp the shit out of you.”
He gives me a confused look. “I don’t know Jed Clampit. This one is Strouse, Jed Strouse.”
“Who you holding the kid for?”
He gets scared and shakes his head. “We don’t know. They said no questions, cash money, just to watch the kid for a little while.”
I believe him, damn it. “Well, hell, I guess I don’t get to break any skulls today. Course, there’s always tomorrow. I’m gonna call the police, you boys can wait for them to come get ya or you can hightail it out of here and I’ll be the one to come get ya.”
None of ‘em says anything. I grab my cellphone and dial Captain Stanford on the way back to my Jeep. He picks up on the second ring. “Goddamn it, Mark! What the hell are you up to now?”
I can’t keep from smiling. “Well, hello to you too darlin’.”
I can almost hear him gritting his teeth. “Stuff it. What are you up to?”
I jump in my truck, fire it up, slam it into drive and throw gravel. “Jeremy Johnson.”
Stanford’s demeanor softens. “You got him?”
“Not yet, but I’m headed that way now.”
I turn on Pendleton Street and put the peddle to the floor. “House on the end Of South Moccasin Avenue. The one all by its self. Oh, you better send a couple of officers over to two-four-zero-nine West Downing Street.”
He lets out a breath. “Do they need an ambulance too?”
I think about it. “Um, maybe one of ‘em does”
“Goddamn it, Mark! How far away are you from the kid?”
I turn on Moccasin Avenue, North, heading south. “Bout ten minutes or less.”
It sounds like he slams the phone against his desk a couple times. “Don’t go in the house. Mark, do you hear me? Wait for us to get there. Mark?”
I push the red button and throw the phone in the seat, just in time to slide into one of the empty lots near the house that I know a five-year-old boy is scared to death in. I put it in park and think about whether to wait or not. My mind wanders to the boy, then it wanders to what some sick ass son of a bitch, named Jed Strouse could be doing to him. “You sorry ass son of a bitch!”
I slam my door open and just can’t stop myself. I tried. I really did.
We hope you enjoyed these short bits and glimpses of Mark and Ann’s life before they met. If you want to continue the adventure and see how they became Wolf Moon Investigations check out the first book in the Wolf Moon series.
Don’t forget to check back here for more bits that take place between the books. Until then, growl like a wolf and shine like a moon.
Tim and Sallyann.