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Chapter 31

When you gamble, you take chances and if you’re afraid to take chances, then more than likely

you do not gamble. This Krasko thing was turning into a needle in a haystack. The more he drove

the Astro van, the more of dead land he saw in Rock Hill which was living up to it’s name. Pone

was hoping for some type of building or something. Maybe one of those last chance gas stations

you see in those TV commercials to promote gas mileage the latest new car can give you. He

spotted a sign that said the nearest town was 80 miles. Pone felt like he was in the Twilight

Zone with-out that weird music.

There was a God even in this waste-land, he thought when he saw a saloon. A sandy

stone square adobe building. A billboard sat on top titled The Thirsty Lizard. The lizard

was green and female with eye-lashes laid out like she was at a photo shoot. Out-side the

saloon: were two gas pumps, four cars, three Harley Davidson cycles, one white truck, but

no Partridge in a Pear tree. The building was very authentic with swinging saloon doors, but

a rectangular door for probably closing time to make the building secured. It even had a post

where you would tie up your horse.

Pone parked next to the pick-up truck and entered through the swinging saloon doors and

like the wild west he was the mysterious stranger with all eyes on him. Pone scanned the bar

with peripheral vision; eight patrons including the bartender: tall, short, fat, skinny, black, and

white. The crowd made Pone feel like he was in A Dusk Till Dawn movie and once he got

settled they would transform into a bunch of vampire serpent creatures. The bar also had a

1950′s jukebox playing Run Through The Jungle.

Pone made it to the bar. The barkeep was bald, razor stubble, short, stocky wearing a

stained white T-shirt and a heart shaped tattoo with mom written on his right shoulder.

“Beer in a bottle,” said Pone knowing the place didn’t sell any Malta Goya.

“Whats a matter? Don’t think my glasses are clean? Growled the Barkeep.

“Hell no.”

The barkeep smiled. “You ain’t from around here, are ya?

“What gave me away? Pone had hoped nobody was from around here.

The barkeep flashed a gap tooth smile. “You’re pretty.”

Pone gave a look.

“I ain’t gay. Just giving credit where it’s due.”

Pone took a swallow of beer. “They still looking?”

“Naw. They focused on that other stranger at the end of the bar.

Pone saw a man wearing a gray hoodie nursing a bottle of whiskey.

“What’s so pretty about him?” asked Pone.

“Not a damn thing. It’s his friend on the floor that’s interesting. Dumb ass,”

Pone had to agree. A black athletic bag he figured containing dead presidents. “Get a look

at his face?”

“He blends in real well,”

Pone took out his cell and pulled up Krasko’s picture.

Barkeep turned up his lip. “Strong resemblance, with that hoodie hard to tell.”

Pone nodded., paid for the beer, pulled his stocking cap further down over his eyes and

made a beeline toward Krasko. Along the way, he saw and heard three burly men who looked

like bikers moving their eyes back and forth at Krasko as if they were coming up with a scheme.

Pone perched himself next to Krasko.

“How’s it going friend?” asked Pone.

Krasko grabbed the bottle and guzzle himself another drink, then showed Pone the bottle.

“This is my friend.”

“That friend you got there has put plenty of people in marble city.”

“Marble city,” choked Krasko.

“Bone yard, bone orchard, plain and simple too much of the sauce can get you killed.”

“Fuck off.” Krasko took another swallow of booze.

“Tell you what, how about you hear me out and if you don’t buy what I’m selling then I’ll

leave you to your last day on earth.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re intoxicated.”

“So I got a fucking buzz big deal.”

“It is a big deal since you came in here with that big ass bag.”

Krasko planted his foot on the bag.

“Easy friend. I don’t care or want your bag, but every low life in here does.”

Krasko belched., then took a quick glance.

“They watching you. Watching you get your drink on waiting for the right moment.”

“What moment?” asked Krasko.

“They don’t know if you a bad ass or a chump. By the looks of things, they waitin’ till

you’ve had your fill before making a move and that’s why you need my help to keep you from getting

your throat cut.”

Krasko burped again while scanning the room. Then glared at Pone.

“I’ll take my chances,” said Krasko.

“Say what?”

“I don’t know you from Adam and Eve or what the hell ever. You come up to me\\

pretending not to be interested in my bag and besides look how you wearing that cap.”

Pone was concern Krasko would recognize him. “I have a condition.”

“No sale now go fuck yourself.”

Pone snorted. Time was a wasting. He reached into his pocket, took out a syringe and

inserted it into Krasko’s neck. Face down, he went on the bar. Pone was amazed how fast

the drug worked. Pone tossed Krasko over his shoulder and grabbed the bag. The three men

sitting at the table weren’t too happy seeing Krasko and the bag about to leave. A mountain

of a man blocked Pone’s path.

“My friend had too much to drink,” said Pone.

“I saw you poke somethin’ in his neck.” said Mountain.

“Diabetic … wife sent me to fetch him.”

“Y’all two can go. Bag stays.”

Pone looked at the man then around him at his two buddies. They were good size too.

“The bag comes as well. So do you mind stepping aside?”

Mountain folded his arms. “If I don’t?”

“Ever heard of the Brigand band?”

“They don’t run shit out here.”

Pone laughed. “From what I’ve seen, there isn’t shit to run. You don’t want them coming out

here looking for me.”

“Drop the damn bag and get yo ass outta here.”

Sometimes you can do something long enough that it harden you as a person. Pone had been in

the gangster business long enough not to fear or back down from anybody: young, old, big, small,

male, female, black or white. But three mountain sized men would be a task, and he wanted to

avoid any kind of violence.

“Ever heard of the combine?”

One of Mountain’s buddies jumped up and whispered in his ear. Whatever he said melted

Mountain’s attitude.

“Look man, at least give us something,”

Pone put the bag between him and the bar then set Krasko down on a stool. He frisked him

and came with keys to a vehicle. He tossed them to Mountain. Mountain studied the keys

then stepped aside. He nodded to Pone. Pone gathered Krasko and the bag. He was glad for

the saloon style doors, he made his way through them and got the hell out of dodge.

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