As I Like It!

Mike Lomax, Episode 8



JANUARY 6, 2017





(To review the last episode, click here



Mike couldn’t help but notice that Bessie was wearing a man’s shirt that was unbuttoned, and a little too short. After a moment, he averted his eyes and said,

“If you’ll lower the shotgun and tell me just what the hell is going on, I’d appreciate it.”

Bessie grinned and answered,

“Mike, I believe you’re blushing. Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“As a matter of fact, you are. Why don’t you put on some clothes, and we can try to figure out who you were about to shoot.”

Bessie laughed and turned toward the hallway, giving Mike the full benefit of most of her shapely behind, and said,

“Give me a minute, and, I have a pretty good idea who I planned to shoot.”

When Bessie returned, she had on jeans and a cowboy shirt. She walked to the fridge and pulled out a cold Miller’s and asked,

“Want one?”

Mike looked at the can of beer with a sense of sadness and replied,

“No, but I’ll take a diet drink if you got one.”

Bessie pulled a Diet Coke out and handed it to him.

“You asked who I planned to shoot, and I’m pretty confident it was that scumbag Billy Ray Burton. I stepped out of the bathroom and caught him standing in the doorway, holding a camera. When I reached for the gun cabinet, he beat feet down the stairs. Before I could get the gun loaded, I heard the back door slam, when I looked out the window, I saw you destroy the fence to my paddock.”

Mike thought for a moment, and he realized that Billy Ray made logical sense. The fleeing figure had cleared the paddock fence with the perfect form of a practiced high hurdler, and Billy Ray had run the hurdles for Ole Miss. He rubbed his left knee that had hit the fence and said,

“I think you’re right, but it makes no sense. He and your husband were crystal clear that they weren’t interested in compromising photos, and besides, I can’t believe Billy Ray would get his hands dirty, let alone take the chance of getting caught or having you blow his ass away. That doesn’t fit with his character or lack there off.”

“I agree, but, there he stood, about to get a shot of Junior lying naked in my bed.”

“Speaking of Junior, where is he?”

“Still asleep, I’d guess.”

“You mean to say that dumb ass slept through the whole business?”

“So it seems. I gave him a pretty good workout, and it looks like he’s sleeping it off.”

Mike heard a shuffling sound coming from the hallway and looked up just as Junior walked into the kitchen, barefoot and wearing a pair of boxers. He was still half asleep, and he groggily muttered,

“Thought I heard voices; should have guessed it was you.”

“Yeah, you probably should have, considering I told you I was coming out.”

“Yeah you did. Must have lost track of things; been kinda busy. What’s up?”

Junior went to the fridge and got a Miller, popped the top and sat down at the kitchen table. He took a long swig of the beer and arched his eyes at Mike.

“Well, you gonna tell me what’s going on?”

“Junior, I just realized your problem; it takes so much blood to pump that thing up, that you suffer from post-coital dementia. Your little bed buddy, Miss Annie Oakley here, almost filled Billy Ray Burton full of skeet shot.”

Bessie interrupted and said,

“Skeet shot my ass! I grabbed a hand full of double ought buckshot.”

Junior looked at her and said,

“Damn, Bessie, don’t tell me you missed him. You can break 100 out of 100 at skeet and trap, but you can’t hit a full grown man?”

“Junior, Mike might just be right about your blood loss. Of course I didn’t miss him. He ran before I could shoot. If you’d heard a gunshot, we’d be field dressing his dead ass.”

Junior took a long swig of his beer and said,

“Do we have any idea what Billy Ray was doing snooping around?”

“Yeah, apparently he was trying to take your picture in the buff; maybe he has a thing for you. How much time did y’all spend in the shower at school?”

“It may come as a shock to your Cow College ass, but at Ole Miss, we had individual shower stalls, rather than a cattle dip.”

“Wow, now that’s formal.”

Bessie shook her head and said,

“C’mon guys, drop the high school crap and let’s try to figure out what Billy Ray was really up to.”

Mike thought for a moment then replied,

“I think it’s interesting that, in spite of telling me that they didn’t want photos, we find Billy Ray trying to take some. I remember Warren saying that he still loved you and didn’t want to do anything that would prevent reconciliation. I wonder if he and Billy Ray have different agendas.”

Junior finished his can of beer, crushed the can, then said,

“You can be sure that Billy Ray’s agenda is based on self-interest; he’s just lucky if it’s compatible with the interest of his client.”

Mike looked admiringly at Junior and said,

“Damn Junior, the blood must be returning to your brain. You probably just hit on something. I guess even the blind hog will find an occasional acorn.”

“You know Lomax, if you weren’t the size of a grain elevator, I’d just whip your sassy ass.”

“In your red and blue dreams you might; in the real world—probably not.”

Bessie used her outdoor voice and said,

“Children, play nice! Concentrate on the problem at hand!”

Mike walked to the fridge and grabbed another diet coke, then mused,

“Junior’s probably onto something about Billy Ray, and, when in doubt, follow the money. Let’s plan on meeting here at noon tomorrow. I’ll make some calls about Billy Ray’s finances, and the two of you do the same. We’ll compare notes then.”

Bessie looked at Junior and asked,

“Can you get away at noon tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but it’d be a lot better if we could do it at my place.”

“You mean the school bus—in the dead of summer?”

“C’mon, Bessie, we got air conditioning. Besides, Bubba will be back, and I’d like to get him involved.”

Mike replied,

“It makes me no difference. How about you Bessie?”

“I’ll work it out. You got a place I can land the helicopter?’

“Hell, Bessie, we got nearly ten acres. I’ll take the dozier and clear a spot if I have to.”

Mike decided to end the conservation. It was getting dark outside, and he was getting hungry. He stood and said,

“Okay, that’s settled; we’ll meet at L&S at noon. I’ll pick up some fried chicken for lunch. Now, I’m gonna leave you two to find a way to amuse yourselves before Junior has to finish his service call. Bessie, be sure to pump his brain back up before you let him drive.”

Mike turned north on US45 and listened to Willie sing On the Road Again, letting his mind wander. He saw the Waffle House sign looming on the right, and he decided to treat himself to breakfast for dinner. He went in and took a seat in a booth for two near the back, and ordered a sausage and waffles, with a fried egg on top. He was sipping on his coffee when his cell rang, and when he looked at the caller ID, he saw “Billy Ray Burton.”

Mike hit the answer button and said,

“Billy Ray, I was hoping you’d call; wanted to compliment you. You still have pretty good form as a hurdler.”

“Yeah, and you can still wreck anything you run in to. I hope you know you’d have never caught me.”

“Well, we’ll never know for sure. What’s on your mind?

“Mike, I need your help. Can you meet me in an hour?”

Mike started to play coy, but decided to skip the shit and said,

“Sure, where you want to meet?”

“I’ll come to your office in the gas station. Be sure you’re alone.”

“Give me time to finish my waffle and chase the girls off, and I’ll see you in an hour.”

“Thanks, Mike; I’ll owe you one.”

Mike leisurely ate his waffle and egg, had a second cup of coffee, then headed to his office. When he pulled around the corner, he saw a late model Corvette parked in the lot, with its motor running and its lights on. He parked beside it and saw Billy Ray sitting behind the steering wheel. He walked over and said,

“Damn, Billy Ray, cut it off and come inside.”

When Billy Ray didn’t answer, Mike leaned down to look in the window and saw the small black hole in Billy Ray’s temple; blood spatter and brains all over the passenger seat.


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