Time to Kill
And who’s the little girl?
Never mind the girl…
Get Out’a Here
In accordance with his warning, Jim returns to the plaza on the side of Cannonball Road in Vern’s cruiser feeling like an Injun paddling a canoe off a dull obsidian river and into an even duller black lagoon, except instead of paddling he’s motorboating because Jim Hubert ain’t no prehistoric Injun. Jim Hubert’s a child of the stars.
Emphasis on the child.
A few minutes are spent idling with the windows open and the recirculation going full force to air out the cruiser. Jim decided not to put his shoes on until right now so he could save some time when he left his house, thought Verny Van-Bunk, ‘Nice one, Jimmy boy,’ would appreciate the hustle. The only problem is that Jimmy boy, wearing his Feller uniform underneath his police uniform, worked up quite the sweat during those long hours he spent on the old loveseat today, and when Jim Hubert sweats, Jim Hubert stinks.
The cloud of Jimstink wafts out peacefully enough once he has his shoes back on though, and now Jim is waiting for the sake of waiting. What, does Vern expect him to go fetch him from The Coffee Hut? What, is Jim Vern VanDunk’s keeper? What, has Vern been secretly plotting to embarrass Jim Hubert this entire time by forcing him to wander back into The Coffee Hut after ordering a cup’a’decaf from the hot little barista this morning and then walking out, never to grab that cup? Well the joke’s on you, Van-Bunk, Jim Hubert doesn’t get embarrassed, Jim Hubert doesn’t give a fuck what the little barista thinks, the little barista is a woman for cryin’ out loud, and Jim’s got all the women he needs back on his laptop at home.
Feeling victorious, Jim Hubert gets out of the cruiser and tromps right up to the door of The Coffee Hut, both his arms locked at right angles and swinging like idiot pendulums. He never places his hand on the doorhandle, though, because on his way there he notices something beautiful and white gleaming out of the corner of his eye. A police cruiser, his police cruiser, the mechanics must have finished fixing it!
“They were supposed to call,” Jim says as he tromps towards his cruiser, still swinging his arms in a show of dominance over all things Vern Van-Bunk, just in case the little whelp is watching him. “Maybe they did call, I just didn’t hear my phone go off.”
Inside The Coffee Hut, Vern tells the barista (well, he tells his empty coffee cup, the barista simply overhears him) for the twelfth time today that he’s going to leave just as soon as his colleague brings his cruiser back, and if she was so concerned about the business having a slow day she should buy herself a few coffees to make up for the slack. The barista goes on to call the police station out of spite and nothing else.
As it turns out, the garage did call Jim Hubert. Seven times, each call no more than five minutes apart. They gave up after thirty-five minutes for whatever reason. Huh. Why didn’t Jim… ohhh, that’s why, there’s a glob of dry saliva-laced lotion plugging the speaker, it must have absorbed all the sound.
“Oh well,” Jim shrugs as he climbs into his cruiser. He digs the lotion out with the nail of his pinky finger and flings it out the opening window. “There we go, all better. The day is yours, Jim Hubert. Time to go enjo–”
Jim’s phone starts to ring. It’s Chief.
“Yes, Sir!” Jim answers readily.
“Jim, it’s Chief Maxwell,” Chief Maxwell says as if he was unaware of Jim’s caller ID, silly Chief Maxwell, “did you pick up your cruiser from the garage yet?”
“Sure did, Chief,” Jim says proudly. “I just climbed aboard now, in fact. The vessel is rea–”
“Great, listen, I just got a call from The Coffee Hut, the one in the same plaza as the garage. The kid working ther–”
“Kid?” Jim asks, beginning to perspire.
“Yeah, kid,” Chief answers. “She’s one of my ex-wife’s friend’s daughters, Jane helped coach her seventh-grade softball team a few years back.”
‘Seventh grade,’ Jim says in his head, then follows it up with, ‘a few years back.’
“Jim? What’s going on?”
“Huh?” Jim says, breaking off the anxious nnnnnnnn rising from his throat.
“You were, eh… never mind. Look, there’s someone loitering around in there and everyone else is on the other side of town. Can you handle it, please? I’ll owe you one.”
“You will not, Sir,” Jim answers, stepping out of the cruiser. “I’ll do the favor out of the goodness of my heart, you don’t owe me a single thing.”
“Great,” Chief Maxwell says, then promptly hangs up the phone.
“All right, Chief,” Jim says, ignoring the click of the call being terminated. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Jim pockets his phone and tromps arm-swingingly up to The Coffee Hut, throws the door open, and storms into the facility like it was Normandy Beach, ducking almost immediately to avoid the incoming gunfire of the kid barista’s spiritless stare.
The kid barista was not paying enough attention to commit Jim Hubert’s face to memory when he came in this morning and so she turns her back at this, the umpteenth Wuester police officer who has so little to do with his time that he immediately responded to her call, and scrolls through her apps for the thirtieth time today.
“Vern VanDunk, you groveling son of a bitch,” Jim says, grabbing Vern by the shoulder and trying with all his might to pry him from the chair. Vern hardly moves, because Jim is not very strong.
“Jim?” Vern asks, slightly puzzled. “When did you get here? You said you would call me.”
“And you took an oath to serve and protect, but here you are loitering around, making the poor child behind the counter feel all sorts of violated.”
The barista rolls her eyes so hard she gives herself a migraine.
“You had my cruiser, Jim. I’ve literally been stuck here.”
“The garage called me hours ago!” Jim shouts, feeling the urge to unholster his handgun, or at least his taser maybe. “My cruiser’s been parked outside waiting for a driver since ten and change, you no good dirty rotten loitering shitbird.”
Vern looks up at Jim, down at his empty coffee cup, and then out the window at the zero cars cruising up nor down Cannonball Road. He crushes his coffee cup like a man chugging beer from a can alone, knowing he has nothing to prove but proving it anyway.
“I have things to do, Jim,” Vern says as he shoulders his way past Jim Hubert, who isn’t even supposed to be working today.
“You’re right,” Jim says, giving Vern a stink eye as he goes. “Good thing I reminded ya, huh? Shitbird.”
“Fuck you, Jim,” Vern says to the door of The Coffee Hut.
“Yeah?” Jim Hubert fumes, racing after him. Across the parking lot Jim Hubert shouts, “Well fuck you, Vern! And fuck that faggety Tad, too! Oh wait! You already took care a’that, di’n’t ya?! ”
Just like the barista, Vern shakes his head. Unlike the barista, Vern leaves the plaza with the garage and The Coffee Hut to go check on the child who is to be sacrificed to Rock tonight so the metaphysical vortex generated by the white-skinned children of the stars doesn’t collapse from the downward pull of the Earthen folk of Wuester… but at least he’s done dealing with Jim for the time being.
Much to the chagrin of the poor barista, Jim Hubert walks back in and makes direct eye contact with her from across The Coffee Hut’s cramped interior.
“Uh… hi,” Jim tries after a long and uncomfortable moment spent trying to reign in his thoughts.
“Hiya. Can I get you something, officer?” the barista asks impatiently.
“I’m good,” Jim says. Everyone in the tiled hut – all two of them – feels the awkward siphoning the air away.
“Okay, then can you leave, please?” the barista asks, even more impatiently, so impatiently she feels the need to rest her hands on her hips. “You’re a cop, dude. Don’t you have something to do?”
“Not, uh… not really, to be honest,” Jim says, unsure of what to do with his hands. “Not until tonight, at least. Not a lot happens in Wuester, it’s a small town.”
“You’re telling me,” the barista complains miserably. She watches Jim continue to stand there staring at her. “Dude!”
“Get out’a here! ”
Terrified, Officer Hubert gets out’a there, deciding to launder his Feller uniform and then make himself scarce until he is needed tonight. If the barista knew such was his plan, she would feel overcome with gratitude.
I know I sure as hell do.
Hello Commons, this has been the seventh subchapter of the third chapter of Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox, a novel about a man who likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is the second book in the W-2222 series, a series of books which take place in Universe W-2222.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
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