And the Fourth Leaf was Painted Gold, Ch. II


A sliver of vision. His sight. Almost regained. Carl blinked several times before forcing his eyes to remain open. He was restrained. Arms, legs, chest, hands, feet, all tied to the chair he was in. As Carl wormed against the thick gauge rope it burned him with it’s thready coiled snake bite. The sun shimmer off the silver pistol.

I was standing just outside the dirt circle, gun holstered, with a gas canister in hand. I peered into its rusted red metal before staring radial at Carl. He was where he felt most comfortable… the center of the circle… the center of attention. However, for once, I was the only one paying him any.

“I don’t want to do this Carl,” I said, “why couldn’t you leave well enough alone. I was happy, she is happy and you could’ve moved on! But no. You had to fucking chase me down,” I flicked my wrist towards him, “God I had it so good here too! I own 10,000 acres! The heifer have just started showing for god sake!”

I screamed in frustration, not at Carl but because of him, he who ruined the comfort of my life. The silence of my isolation. The melodrama of county affairs. The ease of my peace. The stillness of my home.

Fuck Carl.

“Is there some way I could let you go and you stop chasing me? Anything? Some guarantee? Your word? Just work with me Carl.”

“I will keeping looking for you, Chez, no matter where you go.”

“God dammit Carl! Learn to help yourself! All you had to do was say ‘yes’ then we go back to what we were doing. You break your promise to leave me alone and keep up the chase and I keep running. But at least you’d get to fucking live.”

“You asked if I was going to kill you and said that I had my chance. Well I didn’t take it… but here’s yours… are you going to fucking kill me? My money says you won’t.”

“God fucking Dammit!” Every syllable I screamed echo of the hills and back. They sent the crows a flyin’ and moved the wind. He was always smarter with his money then I was.

Fuck Carl.

The chair fell over. The gas can rolled off to the side as a stream of blood ran from Carl’s broken nose. Each drop, through hydrophobicity, sat above the loose mineral complete top soil. Particles began to swirl around the outside of the small red orbs when Carl spoke again.

“FUCK! ALWAYS THE FUCKING FACE!” He was squirming in the chair against the pain of a shattered nasal passage. I walked towards him, head tilted low so the rim of my hat eclipsed the sun. I grabbed the gas can and headed towards the house.

“Not man enough to do it yourself huh? Gonna just let me lay here and starve?”

I pulled a knife from my pocket, back still towards him, and dangled it from my fingertips with my arm at full extension. He saw it. He knew. I stopped.

“I’m not letting you live because I can’t kill you,” I still faced away, “I have a debt to repay.”

I walked away and kept walking… like one of the those cowboys in those old west movies. The heroes who walks into the sunset with woman in arm, villain in jail and pride in smile. I, of course, had the woman in hiding, shame in my frown and, well, am I the hero? Maybe my day will come, maybe my sun just hasn’t set yet, still pretty early anyhow, only like 2 pm.

I dropped the knife about a quarter mile from the dirt circle. It had a glazed redwood handle sandwiched around the carbon fiber blade. The flick of the wrist and Dracula was ready to drink some blood. It wasn’t my knife, wasn’t Carl’s either, it was a relic of a different story. A knife of a different suit.

I uncapped the canister and headed home.


And the Fourth Leaf was Painted Gold, Ch. I


“And that’ll be $72.56 Hun.”

I tipped my hat to her, hadn’t been one to talk the last few years. As I left the store I gazed up at the high noon sun stopping for a moment to feel the handles of the plastic bags dig into my fingers. It brought onto me a certain sense of life.

The mountains had a distance haze to them and their peaks sliced the clouds like paddles in a surf. The tops broke down gradually into rolling hills which naturally flattened into the gazing prairie I was standing on. You couldn’t be more in the corn than Broken Creek Wyoming.

The horse ridin’ hog tyin’ life was never my top choice, hell it didn’t even crack the top hundred. Morocco, London, Paris, Malibu, New York, Rome, those were the dreams, those were the goals, those were places where I have lived.

I exhaled and placed the bags in my car, a candy apple red  and white walled 2014 McLaren Mp4-12C, no chance of that getting stolen out here. I wasn’t the product of a trust fund, good investment, high paying job, nah nah nah I was a much more random occurrence. I won $2.7 billion in the lottery.

“You know I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

Oh Fuck, that voice. I looked up, it was Carl, the slash across his face had scared up nicely.

“How did you do it,” I asked.

“Found a way into your bank, saw where you had been spending money.”

“Still not one to give away your sources, huh?” I headed towards the driver door but he stopped me.

“You burn this house and I’ll just track you to your next one. I am part of the inner circle now, Chez, you can’t run anymore.”

“I know.”

“Where’d you send her?”

I leaned in, “the one place she’s always wanted to go.”

I could feel each knuckle as they hit my cheek. His fist came from nowhere but knew to where it was going. I fell back grabbing the car hood to stable myself.

“What?! You gonna fucking kill me Carl?! Well here’s your god damn chance!”

His knee did more damage. Straight up into my jaw. I could feel my body lift off the ground before landing with a thud. Carl stepped back screaming.

“I don’t want to have to kill you. I just wanted to know where the fuck you sent her! But if you keep fucking testing me then I’ll repaint the parking lot with your god damn grey matter!”

Carl pulled out a small pistol. Silver with engraving on the side no doubt where he stole it from. I didn’t think he was going to shoot me. With me dead he would have no way of obtaining the information he wanted. The gunshot rang out to the hills then echoed back. Carl fell to the ground clutching the side of his abdomen.

“Oh shit! Did I actually hit ’em? You alright Chez?” The cashier was calling out to me from the front door.

I sprung to my feet and grabbed the gun from the still in shock Carl.

“You fucking lost again,” I said.

He looked at my with eyes full of anger and fear. I kicked him several times in the head until he was unconscious. Each blow felt like I was trying to play soccer with a ball full of jelly. I tossed him in the back seat using an old blanket to keep the blood off the fabric. The cashier at this point had a disgusted look on her face. I didn’t mind though. Not the first time I’ve see it and it probably won’t be the last.

As I sped off I heard the carton of eggs fall to the floor.