The Villain

Max, “Boots” LaRue has a scar running down his upper cheek till it’s buried in his bushy sideburn at the jaw line. He rides a Harley LowBoy. His mohawk haircut ends in a long pony tail, bound with a leather thong. His etched black cowboy boots have shiny silver toes and heels. His eyes are perennially at half mast. He prefers tattoos that are black—no fancy colors or flowers for Max—and both arms are covered from wrist to where they meet between his shoulder blades. No beer belly for Max; he’ll gladly show his his six pack.  He deals in cash only. No credit cards or checks. His belt is a chain, and hanging from that is a knife sleeve with hilt showing, and a ring with ten keys.  His upper lip is lifted at one side, matching that one raised eyebrow, as he looks at you.

Your task is to show us why Max is the good guy, not the villain of the piece.

10 responses to “The Villain

  1. Boots LaRue scratched the side of his jaw, though the scar that disappeared into his bushy sideburn had long since stopped itching. It was an unconscious habit, something he did had a job to do.

    He pulled back his hair and tied a beaded leather thong around it, then lifted one foot and checked the sole of his finely etched black boots. The silver toe and heel reflected the sunlight as brightly as a prison spotlight. He checked the other boot.

    “Good enough,” he mumbled, shrugging into a long-sleeved shirt that covered the black tats on his arms. “No point scaring ‘em any more than necessary. Huh, Jaws?” The brindled pit bill in the doorway sat up and looked at him with eyes that revealed nothing. “You know what’s up today, Jaws?”

    The dog turned its back on Boots and padded to the front door of the cabin, its nail clicking softly on the pine floorboards. Boots pulled a chain through the belt loops on his Levi 501s, adding a leather knife sheath and a large key ring with ten keys before fastening the ends of the chain with a stainless steel carabiner. He slipped a Ka-Bar into the sheath and reached a hand back to his right rear pocket. Satisfied that his wallet was there, he walked over to the cracked full length mirror leaning against bedroom wall and looked at his reflection.

    He sighed as the crack distorted his features, making his upper lip and one eyebrow appear to belong to a different face. He ran his hand though his bright red hair—more orange than red—that rose up three inches in a mohawk. The collar of his denim shirt wouldn’t hide the barbed wire tat around his neck, even if he buttoned the top button, so he left the shirt unbuttoned, exposing a tanned abdomen with distinct musculature. Six pack, he thought, and considered the beer in the fridge. “Nope, not today. Need a clear head for this one. Right, Jaws?” The pit bull may as well have been a granite door stop.

    “What would I look like in a three piece suit and a regular haircut, Jaws?” The dog sneezed, then resumed its impression of a statue.

    Boots and Jaws left the cabin and walked to the shed where a Harley LowBoy leaned on its kick stand. Jaws waited as Boots started the black and chrome beast and placed a piece of leather across the front of the seat and gas tank. “Okay, boy,” said Boots as he scooched back in the seat. Jaws jumped up and took his place between Boots’ arms, and off they went to the hangout.

    A tall, wispy woman in jeans and blue tee shirt exited the hangout and walked over. “Jan,” said Boots. “Got the lethal weapons?”

    She smirked and turned towards the GMC Suburban parked nearby. Boots left the Harley and followed her. “I hate this tub,” said Boots. “Makes me feel like The Man.”

    Jan rolled her eyes. “You say that every time,” she rasped. Jake glanced at the white scars on her neck and remembered the night everything went bad. Nothing like a Rottweiler attached to your carotids, he thought.

    Jan slowed the SUV as it rolled down a dusty pot-holed road. Tall spruce and low-growing alders obscured the driveways and any addresses that might have been on the shanties set far back from the road. “Here,” she said.

    They got out of the vehicle and stepped onto a front porch that was gray and unpainted and perfectly matched the rest of the shack. Board and batten was the intent, but the battens had detached in many places and twisted in different directions or fallen off entirely, exposing the skeleton of the house in places. Boots knocked on the door. They could hear footsteps approaching from inside and saw the gunny sack hanging over the window move slightly.

    Boots knocked again. “Hey! We’re here. You’re expecting us, ain’t you?”

    “Show me some ID,” said a voice. Boots dug his wallet out removed a small business-size card that showed two dogs fighting in a ring. “Good ‘nuff for you?”

    The door opened. “Cain’t be too careful, ya know what I mean? Ever since that football player got busted, I mean. I’m Pete,” said a thin man wearing a stained tank top and khaki pants that should have screamed for a decontamination squad. He spat his tobacco juice at a nearby Folgers coffee can and missed, then wiped the spittle off his yellow-stained chin with the back of his wrist.

    “Got the money?” he said. “All of it? Cash only. Show me first.”

    “I only deal in cash. You show me the goods first,” Boots said. Jan lifted her chin a little and the man stared at the puncture scars on her neck.

    “’Kay. ‘Round back.” Pete led them behind the cabin to a pig sty. Boots looked at the mud and took a deep breath, dreading the work it would take to clean his boots later. Pete drew back an olive drab tarp from an enclosed part of the sty.

    Boots walked closer but the dark interior seemed empty. He looked at Jan and raised an eyebrow slightly. She slipped around behind Pete. “You puttin’ us on, old man?” asked Boots.

    “Naw, naw. They’s there. In the corner. Four of ‘em. Tough little buggers. You better have some strong chains to hold these guys.”

    Boots caught movement in the dark and leaned in closer. Jan watched him as his eyes adjusted to the dark, and saw him swallow hard. His body language told her he was trying to keep himself in check. Boots could make out three, no four, sets of eyes in a dark corner. He glanced back at Jan and saw the sock hanging from one hand, weighted down by a roll of quarters, and the cell phone in her other hand.

    Slowly the forms of four pit bulls materialized, four dogs as filthy black as the mud in which they cowered.

    “They be good fighters, oncet you put the strap to ‘em enough,” said Pete. Boots gave Pete a quick smile and turned his head before he blinked rapidly several times. He breathed through his mouth to avoid the stink.

    “Got yourself a deal, old timer.” Boots stood and handed Pete $800. “I’ll be coming back to visit you if they don’t.”

    “Hey, don’t blame me if you cain’t get a dog to fight,” whined Pete as he turned and hurried back to the cabin.

    Thirty minutes and a lot of mud later, the four dogs were loaded in cages in the back of the Suburban. They were shaking and snarling, obviously terrified,

    “I wanted to kill him, Jan,” said Boots. “Took everything I had not to beat him to pieces with your laundry money then lock him up in that shit hole.” The corners of Jan’s mouth twitched and Boots thought that was as close to a smile as he’d ever seen on her.

    “Jaws, your turn,” said Boots. The pit bull jumped over the seat and sat down by the cages. Boots watched the dogs as Jan drove. Five minutes later, the shaking and snarling had stopped and each dog was sitting up, alert and watching Jaws. “I don’t know how he does it,” Boots remarked.

    Jan swung the SUV into a paved driveway and stopped. Boots reached for the retractable key chain on his belt and unlocked the gate in a solid cedar fence. Jan drove around behind the neat red brick building. Boots locked the gate and followed her. A dark-haired woman in a print smock came out the rear door and looked into the cages, then stepped back. “Ohmygod,” she said.

    “Yeah. Gonna have to hose these guys off before we take them inside,” said Boots as he attached a nozzle to a hose and set the selector to mist. “Jaws got them calmed down so you should be able to examine them okay.”

    “They’re going to be here a while, Beverly” said Jan to the shelter veterinarian. “They need lots of TLC and even more interaction with people before they’ll be ready for adoption. I’ll sign the log book and file our report. We called the cops and sent photos with my phone on the way back. Creep should be heading for jail right about now.”

    • Yep. These are the good guys. I always like a story where helpless characters finally get some help. Thanks for warming my heart! (Yes, I’m a softy.)

  2. All revisions should be done in Word, and not online. “”something he did WHEN HW had a job to do.”

  3. Excellent descriptions Gullie! A pleasure to read.

  4. Max sits upright on his Harley LowBoy watching. Waiting. He rolls a smoke from a pouch of Bugler and strikes his Zippo. The cigarette flares. He takes a deep drag and lets the smoke settle in his lungs before exhaling. Twice more and the cigarette is nearly done. He crumbles the dregs between his calloused fingertips and flicks the remnants to the wind. He spits a loose piece of tobacco toward the curb.

    It’s half past eleven. The sidewalks are still busy with partiers and drunks, some better off than others. He watches a young guy stumble from the bar, glassy-eyed and feeble. A girl follows, berating the boy with a string of lectures. The boy goes to his hands and knees and hurls into the gutter in front of Max and his Harley. Dry heaves follow. The girl shakes her head, her lips pursed in disgust. She catches sight of another boy, someone she knows, and she returns to the bar laughing and clinging to his arm.

    The boy tries to stand but his knees give way, and he wavers toward Max and his bike. As he falls he grabs for the bike. His mouth collides with the headlight, and blood seeps from his split lip.

    He looks up at Max catching fragments of sinister tats, a leather vest worn open without a shirt, and a feeling that he just screwed up big time. Max lifts an eyebrow which pulls up a sneer. Max stares the kid down as another wave of nausea takes the kid to the curb.

    “Having fun, yet?” asks Max in a tone so buttered with sarcasm that even the drunk kid catches it.

    “Sorry, mister. I really am,” sputters the kid who is now lying on his back, watching the stationary motorcycle driving circles around him.

    Max finger combs his pony tail. “Time to ‘pay the piper,’ kid.” Max reaches inside his vest. The kid watches waiting for the worst as Max retrieves something shiny and black.

    “Don’t shoot me, mister. Please,” begs the kid. He lifts his head. His hand reaches for the silver tip of Max’ boot. “Please. Don’t.”

    The kid passes out, and his head falls to the pavement with a disconcerting thud.

    Max hits a speed-dial number on his phone. A voice answers on the second ring.

    “I got your son.”

    A voice cries in the receiver.

    “I got him here in front of the Silver Spur on Third. Come get him. I think he’s ready for rehab this time.”

    Max rolls another bugler, remembering the times he rolled something stronger. Remembering the times he woke up in worse places than a sidewalk. Silently thanking Bill W. for saving his life.

    This time he pulls five drags from his smoke.

  5. Darn good writing Jeff. Dirty, gritty, and believable. Makes my front teeth hurt, too. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke and gas fumes. Bill W. has a lot of friends, doesn’t he? I attended a writing workshop on a cruise ship to Alaska. The meeting room we used had a “Friends of Bill”get-together scheduled every afternoon before dinner.

  6. It looks to me like perhaps turning Max into a good guy is easier than I thought. This particular Max is helping parents save their kids. It should be interesting to see how many variations on bad guy look/good guy actions we can get. Crisp writing!

  7. There is a new photo prompt for September at my S3P site if anyone would care to participate 🙂

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