By the time he got to the orchard, the tension had built to such a level that when he squeezed the trigger, all the pressure disappeared. He was whistling to himself on his way back after the killing, but only for a short time. What the hell was he going to do with the gun?
Bury it in the orchard or hide it up a tree, throw it away, put it in a waste recycling container at the Sports Complex, the alternatives flashed across his brain at 65 frames per second. In a panic move solution, Fusner decided to plant it on the Humvee. Between and under the alternator and the intake manifold in the engine compartment seemed like the best choice. He opened the hood, jammed it in and jumped in the Jeep.
Murder is not about violence. It’s about ownership. When Fusner heard the guy’s last breath escape he looked into his eyes. For him it was like killing anything else. He didn’t feel cool. His associates on the dark side had told him that there was nothing less cool than someone trying to be cool.
It was well past 2:00 AM when Fusner sprinted back to the parking lot and the Humvee. Easing the Jeep out of the lot he headed back on to SR395 and Spokane. The Jeep’s radio was tuned to KXLY and some late-night talk show host was reading the Pit and the Pendulum. Unable to focus on the story, Fusner began humming, Three Blind Mice, the only tune he knew.
On the way up, Fusner had noticed a roadside sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of Dartford Drive. He had heard that that was the old SR395 but usually avoided it to save time. The sign read Commelini’s Junction Restaurant. With fatigue and hunger eating on him he decided to take that route back.
Some of the more interesting stories painted the place as the headquarters of the local Cosa Nostro. He figured that if it was, he could fit right in, at least long enough to get something to eat. Early breakfast or cup of coffee would help to get him home.
Swerving into the front of the place, it became obvious that it was closed. Deader than a doornail, He jerked the Jeep back to the main highway, trying to make up for lost time.
After crossing the Spokane city limits, fatigue, hunger and thirst overcame Fusner. He remembered a black-owned and operated barbecue place located a mile or so north of Norplex Mall. Parking the Jeep in the street in front of the frame structure, he could smell the signature fried chicken.
The no-sign name of the place was Vincent’s Club. Sometimes it was called the Chicken Shack, but mostly it was just Vincent’s.
Vincent’s didn’t practice racial discrimination like a lot of the other places in Spokane. “No Colored” was a common sign, but lots of folk of all colors enjoyed the famous chicken and the ambiance at Vincent’s. Although the law required bars and taverns to close at midnight, this place often had after hours impromptu jamming and dancing until the wee hours or daylight whichever came first.
Vincent’s didn’t have a liquor license, so a BYOB policy was in effect. It takes a lot of hunger and personal strength to quit drinking the hard stuff at midnight and go eat fried chicken. Fortunately for Fusner after his evening activities, he had both the hunger and a little swagger. He was more than happy to settle for water.
Vincent Thomas and his wife Pearlie Mae, opened the Chicken Shack in 1949 after migrating from Columbia, Mississippi. Vincent died soon thereafter. Pearlie Mae ran the restaurant by herself for a while and then married George Matasuki. They lived next door. The restaurant’s décor consisted of the ever-popular Northwest knotty-pine interior and there were tables outside when the weather was predictable.
Blacks in Spokane felt unwelcome in many restaurants, so Vincent’s became the gathering place for most black community events. The Billy Autumn Trio, a mixed-race group and other varicolored musicians kept the place jumping six nights a week.
Stomach full and a little bit rested, Fusner’s brain began to adjust to having jumped from your friendly neighborhood felon to being a murderer. He couldn’t decide whether it was a step up or a slide down. For sure it was a change in social status; a reputation he wasn’t sure he’d be able to sustain or survive.
Talking to no one in particular, Fusner’s full stomach started to mutter.
“An apple tree told me to kill any redskin sporting a swastika or GI with a pigtail.
“I don’t like killin’ people in the orchard, but sometimes things happen. Hate to have to dump that body in a lake somewhere.”
“All the police are going to get me for is hunting without a license. Big deal. Death always goes with the job. Maybe I’ll get a booth at Six Flags.”