William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Fifty-Seven

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“The invincible Rocky Shannon needed my help.”  Rick Biondi was sitting in Rocky’s kitchen drinking beer from a can.  “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“We all need help from time to time,” Rocky said, relieved now that the brush with law enforcement was over.

“My debt is now fully repaid.”

Rocky looked out at the pool.  “You never had a debt with me.  You can consider this a favor.  I owe you one.”

“Indeed you do.”  Biondi smiled.  He pulled another beer from the paper bag.  “You’re lucky I was in Sacramento this afternoon.  You’re lucky the governor was in Sacramento this afternoon.  Otherwise things wouldn’t have gone down the way they did.”

“I’m impressed, really,” Rocky said.  “Tell me how you did it, Rick, because those were not police officers who came to my house.”

Biondi drank half a can.  “When I got your call, I was having cofee in the capitol building with a friend of mine, a guy who advises the governor on issues of civic law enforcement.  I told him I had a very influential friend who was in an immediate bind.”

“You told him what I told you?”

“That they were zombies, as you put it?  Of course not.  I told him that you had a home invasion that had been thwarted by your own security, who were armed extralegally, shall we say.  Too many weapons.  This man I’m speaking of works in Corrections.  And if that sounds like a coincidence, let me assure you that it isn’t.  Those guys virtually own the state capitol.  So if I sit my ass down for coffee, the ass next to mine works for Corrections.”

“What did you tell him, Rick?”

“I told him that you could be counted on, that you were a friend, and that I’d be a friend.”

Rocky took out a pen.  “What was his name?”

“Don’t be stupid.  I asked him how long it would take him to intervene.  And you know what he said?”

“Tell me.”

“Escaped felons,” he said.  I shook my head and he repeated it several times until I said it too.  Then he made one call.”

“So the cops just turned around and went home?”

“You’re goddamn right they turned around and went home.  What state do you think you live in?  When the Corrections people speak, even the police behave.”

“Then the men who came were Corrections officers?”

Rick shook his head.  “No.  They were off-duty Corrections officers.”

Rocky nodded.  “I had the permits ready, the story prepared.  They didn’t even ask about our weapons.”

Rick Biondi finished his beer.  “I did good, Rocky.  Not one single question about your wife, who, let’s face facts, is in it up to her eyeballs.”

“Careful.”

“Withdrawn.”

Rocky watched a spider retreat to the edge of an ornate web that spanned from the refrigerator to the ceiling.  “So where are they now?”

“Who?”

“My zombies, Rick,” Rocky picked up a broom and tore down the web.  “Where are my zombies?”

Biondi pulled another beer from the paper bag.  “You know, my whole life, I thought you were the coolest of the cool.  Back there in Philly, on the street, you were always the man.  Maybe I never got over that until now.”

Rocky helped himself to a beer.  “I remember this one time,” he began, “back in the day, me and Billy, and Big Tim, do you remember big Tim?”

Biondi nodded.  “Guy the police killed about five years or so ago in Jersey when he hoisted the ticket box at Meadowlands.”

“That’s the guy.  So anyway, I was crewing for Big Tim.  Billy had a job working at the mall at Radio Shack and a girlfriend who worked at the record place.  They shared an access door and we were going to take them both that night.  In and out in 30 seconds, like they say.”

“But it never goes that way, right?”

“Not normally, but this time it did.  Billy and the girl had things worked out with the assistant managers at both stores.  They didn’t even have cameras all over like they did back then.  So Big Tim hits the Radio Shack, and Billy and I take the record store.  Billy flashes a BB gun he just bought three stores down and the girl pretends she’s all afraid, but she’s more excited than scared.  We’re out in under a minute.  Not a hitch until Big Tim asks me for the credit card receipts.”

“Why did you need credit card receipts?”

“That was my question.  Apparently, Big Tim had told his girlfriend that this was going to transpire, so she spend almost five hundred dollars on records, charging them to her Mom’s credit card.  Back then credit cards weren’t phoned in, you kept the slips and then submitted them, so if the slips were stolen, the purchases were free.”

“So Big Tim wanted to go back.”

“Yeah,” Rocky said.  “And it’s never a good idea to go back after a robbery.  But Big Tim drove right back up to the record store we had just robbed.  He got out of the car and told me something.  He told me that he’d never been afraid of anything, that all you had to do in life was keep your cool and you could rob the same store night after night.  He walked in and came out with the credit card slips.  We burned them later in a bonfire out by Seaside.”

“He was a good man, from what I remember of him.”

“He was,” Rocky agreed.  “So what this means for us is that I am deeply grateful to you, but I’m not afraid of your Corrections boys, and I’m not walking away until I finish this.  So where are my zombies, Rick?”

Biondi shook his head.  “It’s out of my control now.  You might need to let this one go.”

Rocky stared at him.

“They’re at Folsom Prison, in a special lockdown part of the infirmary.  I’ll tell you this, Rocky, the guys there didn’t seem all that surprised.  There’s been some talk lately about this sort of thing and the Corrections guys are interested.”

“The Corections guys are interested,” Rocky repeated.

“They’re running some tests.  There’s even a private contractor that says he can deliver a product for similar but less drastic results.  This is the first time anyone has actually seen what might be possible.”

“Might be possible for what?”

“For prison reform.  Do you know how much our state pays on incarceration?  And if high-placed people in the Department of Corrections are interested, do you know who else is going to be interested?”

Rocky said nothing.

“That’s right.  The governor.”

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Written by williamdoonan

August 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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