The River: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 1040 words.

On a day off, I decided to drive up to County Hospital. I wore my uniform to make it look official, and didn’t tell anyone I was going. Nobody seemed to ever talk about Tommy anymore, and I didn’t feel like bothering his parents. Even though I looked the part when I arrived at the Mental Ward, the staff were unimpressed. They made me fill out a form with my information and the reasons for my visit, and said I had to leave my pistol in a locker at the nurses’ desk. Then they kept me waiting for a long time before escorting me to a room where Tommy was sat in a chair, staring at the corner.

A big male attendant came inside with me, and stood with his arms folded, and his back to the door. I moved the only other chair in the room across next to Tommy, and sat close, speaking in a conversational tone. “Hi Tommy, it’s Clay. Look at me, I’m a deputy now, can you believe that? I work with Big Vince, and I’m still in Riverdale of course, living at my folks’ place. Been thinking about moving into town though, there’s a small apartment for rent over the hardware store, so I would be close to work”. Tommy continued to stare into the corner, not a flicker of recognition on his face.

“Tommy, did you hear they put away Old Man Henderson for Donna and Mel? Looks like the old guy will die in jail. What do you think about that?” Still nothing. I tried again. “It’s me, Clay. Why don’t you look at me, Tommy? You know me. I just wanted to talk to you about that day at the river, and to see how you are doing here. Why don’t you say something?” He suddenly stood up, and without giving me so much as a glance, walked over to the attendant. The big guy looked at me, and nodded. “Looks like your visit is over, deputy. Seems to me Tommy doesn’t want to talk to you”.

As I was waiting for the nurse to get my pistol for me, I called out to her from the small counter. “Tommy wouldn’t speak to me. Is that usual?” The woman came back and handed me the holster, her face was a picture of boredom and indifference. “Never says nothing, that boy. Never has, maybe never will”.

As I drove home, I thought about Tommy not speaking. Maybe that was a good thing for him, I couldn’t be sure. I diverted into town and went to see Mr Lucas. I said I would take the apartment over his shop, and paid a month in advance. He sure looked pleased when he handed me the papers. Having a cop living over your business was better than any insurance policy. The place was furnished, so all I needed was some bed linen, towels, and my clothes. When I told my Mom I was moving out the next day, she didn’t seem surprised.

There were times when I thought they didn’t really like me that much.

Late afternoon, still wearing my uniform, I drove out to Mr Hayes’ car dealership. Freddie was sitting in the office when I walked in, on the phone to a prospect. “I promise you sir, you won’t get a better deal than the one I offered you. Tell you what, you call around. Hell, drive up as far as Renton if you want. If you find the same car at a better price, then I will match that price. What do you say?” Whatever the customer said, Freddie hung up and turned to grin at me. “Clay, don’t tell me you’ve finally decided to get rid of that old man’s ride? Dark green? What were you thinking?”

“You got a Jeep Cherokee, third row back. The red one. Will you do me a deal on that, Freddie?” He seemed relieved that I was there to talk about cars. “Sure I will, Clay. Let’s go look at it”. He picked some keys from a rack at the back, and I followed him out to the car. I wanted something like that Jeep. Four by four, big engine, easy to fix, four doors, and plenty of room. Before Freddie could launch into his usual sales pitch, I put up my hand. “This is me, Freddie. Take my old car as the deposit, and I will fill out the papers for a loan on the rest. You know I’m good for it. And if the car is no good, I know where you are. We’re old friends, so I will trust you not to sell me a piece of junk. Besides, I’ve got a gun now.” I laughed at the way his face fell when I said that. “Come on, Freddie, can’t you take a joke anymore?”

In the office, I watched him as he did the paperwork, then made the phone call to get the loan approved. When he put the phone down, I spoke first. “Just been up to County Hospital, to see Tommy. Thinking of going to Renton soon, have me a good talk with Duke. We never did get to the bottom of what happened that Sunday, did we?” I had wrong-footed him, and it showed on his face. “Well Clay, you know the cops told us we couldn’t talk about the case. I mean, Old Man Henderson was guilty, and he’s in jail now. I don’t see what good can come of going over it again now. Things have changed, and we are all different now. Time to move on and forget that day, don’t you think?” He smiled weakly, sliding the papers across the desk. There was an ‘X’ marked where I should sign, in two places.

I signed, and handed over the keys and registration for my old car.

“No, Freddie. I don’t think that. Not at all. I will be around to see you again, you can count on it”. I grabbed the paperwork, and the two sets of keys for the Jeep, then walked out. As expected, he picked up the phone as soon as I closed the door.

I had a good idea who he was calling.

35 thoughts on “The River: Part Twelve

  1. So Freddie is nervous, Tommy has been silent and mentally unstable, and Duke was the sullen one. What happened to Eddy who was scratching and full of bug bites and left the river to go home? And who is Freddie calling? Please tell me it’s not Vince!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. (1) “Even though I looked the part when I arrived at the Mental Ward, the staff were unimpressed.” Clay may have looked insane, but the staff could see through his act. Next time, Clay, try a different uniform. I highly recommend a straitjacket. It’s far more persuasive.
    (2) “Tommy was sat in a chair, staring at the corner.” A little earlier, he’d been served a Christmas pie. After putting his thumb in it, and pulling out a plum, the male attendant shook his head, and said, “Think you’re a good boy? You’re not. You’re plum crazy!”
    (3) By George, I knew it! Clay⁠—a man with a star who needs his own space⁠—is going to rent an apartment from Mr. Lucas! (Is there a skywalk connecting his business to the one next door?)
    (4) Jeepers creepers, Clay! Do you really think a Man in Blue should drive a RED vehicle? That’s the color of blood!
    (5) I wonder if Clay plans to gun the engine?
    (6) “There was an ‘X’ marked where I should sign, in two places.” The nude corpses of Donna and Melanie were also X-rated. But Clay hasn’t signed off on the identify of their killer just yet.
    (7) Two X’s. Two sets of keys. Two people on the phone. So many hints that Clay is going to put two and two together as he drives his 4-wheel drive four-door Jeep around town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t thought of the Star Wars connection, so well done with that, David. 🙂
      His red Jeep is a concession to his youth. Though he still bought a rather ‘sensible’ car, he wanted it in a nice bright colour.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. There’s a Jim Thompson novel that this serial reminds me of, Pete. Also, it reminds me of Todd Field’s magnificent movie, In The Bedroom. I would describe your serial as a mixture of the two. It’s subtle but there is a punch of pulp in it that spices it up. I like the vibe, I’m getting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed ‘In The Bedroom’, with the excellent British actor, Tom Wilkinson. So any comparison to that is taken as high praise indeed. I am so pleased that you are continuing to enjoy this serial, Pam. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the way you break up the fiction into posts –
    having not read all of the other parts – I still enjoyed today’s red Jeep purchase – the joking – the wondering who he did call – and what might happen next

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that it worked for you with one episode. Not having read the previous eleven, it should have been very confusing! 🙂
      When the serial is completed, it will all be available as one long (very long) story.
      Best wishes, Pete.


      1. well I think I read another one – or skimmed it –
        but either way – you did a fine job of action and dialogue (I am not a big fiction reader – but do appreciate when authors are not verbose – ha)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, dear Pete,
    before we do our seal warden job today we want to wish you a wonderful Festive Season 🙂 🙂 and say thank you very much for visiting us and commenting regularly.
    We like your text!
    With lots of love to you and your family from the coast
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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