After most of the unruly crowd had left Sam Fitch and Ben Perinni decided to leave. They headed back to Deer Park in the Chief’s car. The silence was a relief. Bored with each other’s company they were both trying to figure out what triggered the situation at Birdy’s.
“Bartender said it started with two guys arguing and got out of hand.”
“Right. Started with religion and spread to politics.”
“That’s when the rest of the place got involved, I imagine.”
Sam Fitch had been too young to be in the First World War and too old to be in the Second one. With the Korean conflict and Vietnam he had become less interested in any of the outcomes that the country continued to debate. Now after 9/11, Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the war on terrorists, Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Taliban and North Korea again, he was in full coasting mode. The best he could hope for was that all the shit would end before he did.
“If this riot thing hadn’t been such a big pain in the ass, maybe having a discussion about all that crap would have been a good exercise in civics.”
Ben’s remark sank in for five miles of road noise. At 50 mph they were pulling into Deer Park when Sam came up for air with,
“It’ll be a cold day in hell when that happens.”
In a town the size of Clayton, any group of more than five in one place would be a crowd. The conglomerated collection of more than fifty pouring out of the bar on Friday night, mixed with the presence of all the law enforcement clogged the street, sidewalk and spilled over onto the highway. Under the protection and at the direction of the police the unruly crowd left in all directions.
No one took notice of a large hooded silhouette moving around the perimeter and through the disorganized crowd. Most of the motley bunch were in various degrees of inebriation. The sound of the original explosive human eruption out of the bar had diminished but the smell and muttering remained.
Mixed in the mosaic collage of drunk humanity the figure was slowly shifting around to see what or who was in each vehicle. A pinto painted Humvee was the first to leave. All the rest maneuvered around and left without incident. The only one left was an old dilapidated red Chevy pickup.
The driver having fallen asleep was slumped over the steering wheel. The police assuming their job was done for the night, turned off the red and blue and drove away to wherever they go when they’re not needed.
That was his cue to prowl the pickup.
Opening the passenger’s side door so as to not wake the sleeper, he checked the drunk’s pockets. Pants, jacket, jockey box, window pockets, floorboards, behind and under the seats. Not one damn thing of value. When he pulled up one pants leg he found an ankle holster and a pistol. Removing the pistol without waking its owner, he stuck it in his belt and left the drunk as he found him, stoned and unconscious. It wasn’t the two-story burgle he was good at but this evening’s job wasn’t a complete failure.
Around the corner and down a couple of blocks he jumped in a surplus army jeep. Heading back to Spokane he decided maybe the night didn’t have to be a total loss. Passing the town of Deer Park on his way home would offer another chance to score. With any kind of luck, he could find something and still be back in Spokane in a couple of hours.
Looking for unarmed parked cars was tedious but sometimes rewarding in his line of work. Get in, get out and don’t get caught. Never having to deal with people was a fringe benefit. Over the last year the thrill of successful petty burglary and having to fence whatever you were lucky enough to find had grown thin. He sometimes wondered if the rewards that might come with Armed Robbery or Assault with a Deadly Weapon might be worth the gamble. Now that he had a weapon there might some alternatives.
In a large empty parking lot on the Southeast corner of Deer Park he found what he was looking for. Turning off the ignition the jeep coasted to a stop alongside the parked vehicle.