And a Happy New Year
It was a gorgeous New England autumn day in Cranston, and Nick Nevada sat out on his front porch on Johnson Street on one of his Adirondack Chairs. He had converted it to a mild mannered rocker and enjoyed sitting there on these last few days before the first cold weather blew in. He’d sip from his first can of beer, he always brought two out, and rock back and forth ever so slightly as he took in the flaming colors of the trees, the changing blues of the sky from summer blue to winter icy blue, and the neighborhood.
Every now and then he’d wave at a neighbor walking by or the beep of a passing automobile of somebody he knew. He’d lived on this street for forty years, since he’d mustered out of the Army coming back from Nam. A picture flashed through his mind of his late wife who used to sit in the matching chair and just rock and crochet and enjoy the neighborhood with him. Ahh well, she’d been gone now for ten years, and he had been blessed to have her as his wife and mother of their two kids for thirty years. He’d see her again one day soon.
His day dreaming was interrupted by the ear bending roar of a Harley coming down the street…. And he knew immediately who it was. That low life, two timing, wife beating son-of-a-bitch that used to live across the street again! Sure enough, the helmeted biker stopped right out front, revved that 1450 cc V Twin engine to the redline. Just sat there and the decibel rating passed a throaty roar to that of an unmuffled roar of the F-4 Phantoms flying over his tent after taking off in the middle of the night at Phu Cat. Damn! Damn him! Damn that damn bike!
The asshole had been thrown out with a restraining order tied around his neck the third time he beat hell out of his wife….about three years ago. And he stayed pretty quiet until she found a boyfriend and he used to stop overnight sometimes. That’s when this one man rolling thunder started making appearances. And that was the case today. She had called the police, as had some of the neighbors, but his restraining order kept him off of her house lot and 100 yards distant in public places. So he was breaking no law – and quieted down before any police could cite him for noise pollution or disturbing the peace.
This had been going on for months now, and the son-of-a-bitch was back again! Enough Nick thought to himself. Enough! Once or twice he’d met her out front and she was always almost in tears, she couldn’t keep a steady friend, she couldn’t think of remarrying, she was at her wit’s end.
Nick started giving serious thoughts to ways to solve the problem, but they always came back to the bottom line, the asshole wasn’t going to quit until somebody stopped him. He thought back to his Army days in the ‘Nam and how the guys just naturally changed his name around from Nick Nevada to Nevada Nick. And he’d never even been to Nevada. Finally! The engine slowed, the roar subsided to a normal Harley throaty rumble, and the asshole drifted down the street. About five minutes ahead of the arriving Cranston PD patrol car.
Instead of having his usual TV dinner on a paper plate that evening, he decided go down to his VFW Post to see what’s shaking and have a beer and a burger. Plopping himself on a stool, he waved one finger at the bartender for a beer and winked at the waitress. She was about the same age as his oldest daughter but he flirted anyway and ordered the burger with fried onions and Swiss cheese.
The hamburger resting satisfyingly in his gut, he was on his second beer when one of his old buddies, from the same platoon came in, rapped him on the shoulder, grabbed the stool next to him, ordered a beer and said ‘What’s up old timer?”, all in one fast flow. “Gimme a damned break, Rookie, I’m still only two weeks older’n you.”
“Yep, but you’re wearing out faster than me, Nick, so behave yourself and be careful of that local brew your drinking. You look glum, chum, what’s got ya’ down?” So Nick explained about the neighbor, the asshole husband and his bike.
They jawed a bit, when Rookie leaned back on his stool, set down his beer, looked Nick straight in the eye and asked him how long the problem had been going on and what has he done to stop it. Nick explained that the law could or wouldn’t do nothing, he had talked to the jerk several times and nothing has changed. He had often thought about taking a potshot at the asshole’s bike or even the asshole himself but didn’t see the trade off for going to jail. Besides, even with a good shot, there was always a chance of a ricochet and innocent getting hurt.
Rookie then paused and asked if the jerk on the bike was a Vet. “Hell no,” Nick replied, “he missed the draft years and ain’t never given a thought to volunteering. Hell, I don’t think he ever even finished high school.” Rookie leaned over and lowering his voice said, “I’ve got the start of the answer of your problems but you are going have to do the heavy lifting. If you do it right, your free and clear and your problem is solved, and the problem of the little lady across the street. Are you up for it?”
“Hell yeah, but what are you talking about?”
“Let’s walk out to our cars together and I’ll share a little story with you.”
So they walked out into the parking lot as Rookie shared the fact that when they all returned from the ‘Nam during the frantic last days, he and a couple of buddies picked up five kilo’s of first class Semtex, for no other reason than that they could. It was grabbed from a Charlie hidey-hole cache and was totally untraceable. The Cong had purchased about 7000 tons of it during the war, and this was before companies were forced to put markers in their explosives. Besides, it was nearly 40 years old – who could trace it? Upon arrival back here in the land of the big PX, they had divided it and each received one kilo sealed package. Rookie had maintained his in a constant room temperature storage area – so it should still be good to go.
He had no idea if he would every use it, but would be willing to let Nick have 100 grams of it, about 3.5 ounces to do with it whatever he wants. Especially since we are talking about a non-vet asshole first class. Nick reverted to ‘Nevada Nick’ and paused only a second. “You bet, partner, call me as soon as I can pick it up, and I’ll be figuring out a delivery system that will blow his pipes off!” They both laughed.
Just as the first snow of December fell, Nick was in his basement workshop. Following instructions he had found on the internet, he had purchased a non-traceable cell phone, dissembled it, drilled a little hole into the area of the phone’s vibrator and inserted two wires. He reassembled the phone, connected the wires in a series with two 4A batteries and a Model Rocket Sparker. He had considered using just two very low amp wires for a fuse but decided to go with the sparker, purchased with cash at a toy/hobby store across the state line in Connecticut the month before. He inserted the rocket sparker into the Semtex and taped it to the telephone.
If the plan worked, when assembled, dialing the phone would spin the vibrator, closing the circuit and setting off the fuse inserted into the Semtex… end of asshole! If it worked. But now the problem was the delivery system. He decided simplest was best.
The following Saturday afternoon, the boyfriend’s car was parked in the driveway across the street. So although it was pretty chilly, Nick sat out on his front porch with a beer in his hand and the cell phone bomb in the right hand pocket of his heavy Pea Jacket. He had completely covered one side of the phone with two sided sticky tape, all he had to do was pull off the covering and the phone would stick to anything.
Sure enough, about a half hour later, asshole roared up on his bike. Even the empty beer can on the porch deck beside Nick bounced up and down. He rose from his chair, ambling slowly down the walk toward the biker. The asshole saw him coming and started making motions like he was gonna head out, but Nick gave him a friendly ‘wait a minute’ wave and walked up to the bike, still rumbling, but quieter.
“Hey dude,” Nick said, “I know we’ve had some tough conversations this last year but it’s the Holiday Season. I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!” As he spoke, Nick slipped the telephone out of his pocket, and casually, like he was patting the bike, stuck it onto the top of the gas tank between the rider’s legs but under the seat where he wouldn’t see it until he gassed up again. He patted the asshole on the back, and suggested that maybe they could be friends in the New Year, maybe even share a beer on his front porch while the asshole watched his ex-wife’s house.
Then Nick turned, walked slowly up his driveway and climbed into his Jeep Wrangler and put the key in the ignition. In a few minutes, the biker got tired of his game and started to slowly pull away.. a quick wave at Nick as he left.
Nick quickly started the Jeep, backed down the driveway and started to follow the bike. He had learned where he lived, and the most common route to get there, so he didn’t have to follow too close. His goal now was to ensure that there was no collateral damage. He followed him through down Reservoir Avenue where he turned North onto Highway 10, taking him across the bridge where Spectacle Pond and Mashpaug Pond meet.
With no traffic close and no pedestrian traffic or commercial building near, Nick dialed the first six numbers of the telephone….he sped past the biker and when about a hundred yards ahead, clicked on the last number. There was a pause, and then in his rearview mirror he saw a brilliant flash followed by a second explosion of the gas tank. Nick drove on home.
As he got home, his phone was ringing, his buddy Rookie said, “You don’t have to say anything but I just heard about a motorcycle blowing up on Highway 10 for no reason. You know anything about that?”
“No,” Nick replied, “It was probably just some jerk getting his asshole blown off! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I’ll see you down at the Post this evening. I’m buying. Oh, and I only needed fifty grams of that stuff, you want the rest back under your stool tonight?’
They both hung up laughing!!
Pecozbill 31 December 2014