Saturday Serial

Saturday Serial — December 10






Mike had to admit that the late model, air conditioned Ford F150 Bessie had lent him beat the Volkswagen, hands down. He could stretch his legs out full length, and it even had XM radio, so he put it on Willie’s Place and listened to Patsy Kline’s Crazy. His last few hours had been even crazier than Patsy’s song, and he pondered the best way to tell Warren Lloyd that he wouldn’t be working for him, after all.

After playing through a couple of scenarios in his mind, he grew tired and decided to fall back on that old tried and true plan, the truth. After all, there was nothing to worry about. He’d just return the retainer, and all would be fine—no harm, no foul. Somehow that didn’t sound like what was about to happen though, and he dreaded delivering the news.

He entered the bank and approached one of the ladies sitting in the lobby and said,

“Hi. I’d like to see Mr. Lloyd, if I may.”

“Yes, Sir. Who may I say is calling?”

“Mike Lomax.”

“Do you have an appointment with Mr. Lloyd?”

“No, but I think he’ll want to see me.”

The woman turned to her phone, and after a brief conversation said,

“Mr. Lomax, Mr. Lloyd is out of the bank for the rest of the day. Can someone else help you?”

Mike thought for a moment then replied,

“Doesn’t Mr. Lloyd have a personal assistant? A Mr. Wilson?”

“Yes, Mr. Wilson’s in his office just across the room.”

She pointed to a glass-enclosed office, and when Mike looked over at the office, he remembered Todd Wilson from his previous visit. Mike asked if Mr. Wilson could spare him a few minutes. The lady made another call then said,

“Mr, Wilson will see you now.”

Wilson stood and met Mike at the door and with a smile, said,

“Mr. Lomax, good to see you again. How may I help you?”

“Mr. Lloyd is gone for the day, and I have something I’d like to give him.”

“I’ll be glad to help you,” Wilson replied.

Mike took out the envelope with the $1500 in cash in it and said,

“I want to leave this and a short note for Mr. Lloyd. May I borrow a sheet of paper?”

Wilson reached into his desk and took out a piece of plain typing paper, handed it to Mike, along with a pen, and Mike wrote,


Please find $1500 in the accompanying envelope as the return of the retainer given to me. After serious consideration, I have decided that I cannot help you with the matter we discussed. Thank you for the opportunity, and please consider me for work in the future.

Micheal Lomax,

Private Investigator

He passed the cash across the desk to Wilson and said,

“I/ll be leaving this, along with this note for Mr. Lloyd, and I’d appreciate a receipt for the cash.”

Wilson counted the money, then pulled a personalized note from his desk and wrote and signed a receipt. Along with the money, Mike placed the note in the envelope, addressed it to Lloyd, and sealed it before passing it back to Wilson. He stood and said,

“Thanks, Todd. I appreciate your help.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll see that Mr. Lloyd gets this as soon as he returns to the bank. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, that’s all I needed. Thanks again.”

They shook hands, and Mike walked back to his truck. He climbed in and started the engine, turned on the AC, and feeling a sense of relief, leaned back against the seat. He had taken care of the problem and didn’t have to explain why. He pulled out of the parking place and drove toward home on US 45.

He stopped at the KFC on his way back to his office and picked up a bucket of regular recipe breasts and thighs, along with all the fixings. After parking the pickup on the grease rack, he sat at his desk and polished off the entire bucket, along with two Diet Dr. Peppers. Eating a healthy meal always made him feel better. He settled in with the latest Jack Reacher book, and when he turned out the light just before midnight, he immediately fell asleep.

The sun was already high in the eastern sky when the persistent jangling of his cell phone woke him up. He looked at his watch, and it was almost 8:00. He picked up the phone and said,

“Good morning, Mike Lomax.”

“Lomax, just what in the hell do you think you’re doing. You can’t resign a case after you’ve cashed the retainer, you idiot.”

Mike recognized Billy Ray Burton’s voice and replied,

“Billy Ray, it’s just a little too early to take a load of crap from some nickel and dime lawyer, and you better think twice about who you’re calling an idiot.”

“Listen carefully because I’m only going to say this once. You cannot resign a case after you’ve cashed the retainer check. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah, I heard you. Now you hear me. I returned the money, and I have a signed receipt from Lloyd’s personal assistant, so get over it.”

“I’m going to drag your dumb ass into court and see that you lose your PI’s license. I’ll let you know when we’re through with you.”

“Billy Ray, I can’t wait to have a chance to discuss Mr. Lloyd’s marital problems in open court. When you calm down, I’ll bet you won’t want that to happen.”

Billy Ray fell salient for a moment then growled,

“Lomax, if I even hear a whisper that you’ve mentioned anything that you were told in confidence, I’ll drive to Leesburg and whip your fat ass. Just one word! Do you hear?”

“Billy Ray, now it’s time for you to listen. I’ll say and do just as I please, so maybe you need to head this way right now.”

“You think I’m worried about whipping your ass? Don’t flatter yourself; I’ve handled guy’s way tougher than you.”

“Well, come on over. I’ll have time to get to McDonald’s and have breakfast. I hate to have to break your skinny neck on an empty stomach.”

“Lomax, you haven’t heard the last of this,” Billy Ray screamed and slammed the phone down.

Mike got up, dressed, and drove to McDonald’s, where he ate four sausage and egg McMuffins, two packets of hash browns and about a half-gallon of coffee. When he finished, he drove to the bank and deposited Bessie’s check. As he drove back to the service station he thought,

My net worth is higher today than it’s been since I cashed my NFL signing bonus. Maybe things are starting to look up.

Mike decided to drop by L&S to visit with Junior before he tried to figure out what steps needed to be taken to protect Bessie Lloyd. He pulled into the property and parked next to Junior’s truck which was sitting in front of the old school bus. He knocked on the bus door, and Junior opened it.

“Morning Mike. How do you like the truck?”

Mike climbed into the bus and replied,

“It’s great. Hate to get used to it and have to go back to the bug.”

“Well, enjoy it while you got it. That‘s always been my policy.”

“Junior, your policy is why I’m out here this morning; specifically, your plan to screw anything in a skirt.”

“Damn, Lomax; that’s a little harsh. I’m actually pretty particular in that department.”

“Yeah, I guess I’ve just never seen you turn anyone down. By the way, where is Bubba?”

“He had to take Stella to Jackson for her hearing on the gin shooting. They’re supposed to be back today.”

“I was hoping he’d be here so I wouldn’t have to repeat what I’ve got to say, but I’ll catch him later. I thought that you and I ought to have a little “come to Jesus” talk.”

“Well, you better get on with it. I’ve got to take the wrecker and go help Garner Wilson get his heifer out of his pond. Got his tractor stuck trying to pull her out.”

“Garner’s cow can wait a minute. I want to know just what your plans are with Bessie Lloyd.”

“Later this afternoon I plan to meet her at the club and do the big nasty. Why do you care?”

“Actually, I don’t care who you service, but I think even you are smart enough to know that this lady is going to be trouble.”

“I can stand a little trouble for the likes of Bessie Lloyd. You play, and you pay.”

“Yeah, but in this case, you may have to pay with your life. She can’t be that good in the sack.”

“Probably not, but pretty close. What makes you say that?”

“Damn, Junior, hasn’t she told you that she thinks her husband is planning to kill her?”

“No, she hasn’t mentioned it, other than your conversation yesterday.”

“Don’t you remember the part about her husband?”

“Guess not, but I doubt he’d kill me. Now Lucy Lee might, but not a banker.”

“Listen dipshit, I don’t think he’s gonna gun you down himself, but I’ll bet he can find someone willing to do it, and not only you but Bessie as well.”

“Man, are you serious? You really believe that?”

“Damn right I do, and you’d better start believing it too.”

Junior thought for a while then said,

“Okay Mike, I guess you’ll have to see that none of this happens. I’ll work with you, but I can’t quit seeing Bessie. It would be cruel to have taken her to the mountain top and just abandoned her there.”

Mike looked at Junior and thought,

Oh my God! This is going to be a real mess before it’s done.

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