Chapter U.S. Avengers

U.S. Avenger

The phone rang, waking Cody out of the first sound sleep he’d had in years.
“Yeah, hello?”
“Cody? It’s James.”
“Oh hey Cap, what can I do for you?”
“Two things actually. First off, it’s not Captain anymore, its Commander…”
“Well congratulations Jim. You deserved it a long time ago.”
“Thanks Cody. The second reason I called, which is actually the real reason, is to see if you’ve listened to the radio or happen to have watched TV lately?”
“No, no I haven’t now that you bring it up. Why?” Cody’s attention peaked as he sat up in bed waiting to hear what would come next.
“Last night, actually this morning, a supposed vigilante stepped in to give the Grant Park PD a hand in apprehending a couple of small time thugs.”
“Was anyone hurt?” Cody asked with sheer innocence dripping from his lips. “Did this so called vigilante kill someone?”
“No, no in fact, he never got out of the car.”
“Then, what you are telling me is, a law abiding citizen stuck his neck out to help the police and instead of giving him a medal, you’re putting out a warrant for his arrest? You know Jim; this might be why the public doesn’t help you guys as much as you’d like them to.”
“If the situation was normal, I’d agree. Unfortunately, he had the capabilities to cut into a restricted police frequency and was driving a car that the Grant Park boys feel was not street legal. Definitely highly modified.”
“All right so revoke his radio privileges! I still don’t see what the big hoopla is all about; the guy helped you for crying out loud! Also Jim, we are talking Grant Park P.D., good cops but they are small town. And as for the car, come on, I’ve got kids that come to my gyms in cars that can…”
“That’s also why I’m calling. Do you think that this guy might be a patron of your gym?”
“Oh, I don’t believe this!! Jim, if the best you and the Grant Park boys can come up with is this, the guy deserves to get away! If you’ve got nothing better to do than shoot in the dark, I do!! I’m hanging up now!”
“Not yet! What about you? Where were you this morning?”
“Are you really going to pursue this?”
“I have to Cody, if this really is a vigilante, it could mean trouble.”
“Or, it could mean you have someone willing to help your sorry asses out. Damn it Jim, you don’t even know if it was a vigilante! I would think that would be the first thing you’d confirm.”
“Regardless Cody, look I know that I’m infringing on our friendship, but a few people mentioned you as a person with the capabilities and skills for something like this.”
“I’m flattered, but for the record. I was right where I am right now, last night. In bed! At least until you called to tell me this ridiculous fairy tale. Should I be getting dressed and expect a squad car to show up outside?” Cody was both hurt and pissed. The thought that his old boss and friend would ever have suspected him, bothered him. James knew that Cody would never hurt anyone that hadn’t hurt him first.
“Look Cody, I’m sorry. I told them they were fishing without bait on this one. I just had to ask, don’t get pissed. Just tell me that you know that whoever the guy is, you know that he would never kill an innocent.”
“Commander! He would never hurt anyone that didn’t beg for it and I think you know that already.”
“Hey Cody.” James went silent, wanting to say more, knowing he couldn’t. “Be careful, huh?”
“If I ever do anything to chance harm, you know I will.” Cody hung up the phone. “Going to have to be very careful for awhile.” He said to himself. “Oh well, I’m up now, might as well see what the day has in store for me.”
“Good afternoon Jen’. Could you please bring up the agenda and files for Sandler’s Gyms?”
“Good afternoon…Cody files…Will be…Right up.” A second later, he was looking at the schedules that told him what was planned at every gym he owned. Seeing nothing that demanded his immediate attention, he requested the schedules for Heartfelt Books. Scanning through them, he noticed that they were thinking about the work of a young local writer. The Editor felt that the kid had a future even though he was a little rough around the edges but had the imagination and drive that could prove unstoppable. Making a mental note, Cody planned to drop in on this interview since he always liked to see what the future competition looked like and as his publisher get an idea of his possible future gains, but mostly he liked to just drop in and give encouragement to new writers.
In the meantime, he had to stop by his old time friend JT, of JT’s Custom Car and Truck, before stopping at a local Dealership. As he entered his garage, he activated Jen’ and gave a request.
“Open up doors one and two please, Jen’, and also keep me informed of any news that you monitor about this vigilante thing going on in Grant Park.” The garage doors began to rise with Jen’s voice in the background.
“Door up…Will keep…You informed…Have a nice…Day Cody.”
“I’ll try Jen’, thanks.” Unlocking the Fiero with the remote, he heard the doors unlock followed by the sound of an ignition grind that turned into the deep rumble of a V-8 kicking in. Climbing in, he checked the gauges, popped the sun roof and lowered the windows. Backing out of the garage, he stopped again once clear of the closing doors and climbed out of the low slung car to remove the sunroof completely and store it in the front roof rack under the hood. Once back in the GT, he gunned the engine and raced down the hill to Route 30, the V-8 sending out its signature throaty rumble for all to hear. Sitting at the bottom of his drive, he watched the wrought iron gates close behind him as he activated the no-hands Cellular Phone up link and waited for it to connect.
“Hello, JT’s, can I help you?”
“Hey JT, it’s me Cody. You busy today?”
“For you buddy, never! What’s up?” He asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“I need you to take a run with me to a dealership. I think I might need your vast knowledge on a purchase and then of course some quotes on some special work I’m thinking of having done to the vehicle. Be there in fifteen minutes.”
“I’ll be waiting.” Cody shut the phone off verbally and listened until he was sure it was disconnected.
At the first break in traffic, he merged the little GT in and took off, getting appreciative looks towards the car. Even more looks, when he dropped it down to Drive two and burned the pavement, making the Fiero pick up in the front and then WHOOSH he was gone. Nothing was showing on any of the cars detectors; leaving him to do what he does best, fly. He made Route 41 in record time and when he found that it was just as unprotected and quiet as U.S. 30; Cody made his right turn and punched it.
Cedar Lakes city limits came into view as well as a Cedar Lake Squad car that was sitting off the road in a funeral homes parking lot on the east side of 41 just after you pass the city limits sign. He had no radar running; this Officer was relying on good old eye detectors. Seeing him as he popped up the small hill before the limits, Cody engaged the help of the spoiler and brakes to lower his speed so that he’d be able to drop into second which let out a loud roar that deepened as the RPM’s dropped. By the time he was within the officer’s sight, Cody was doing the speed limit; the wind blowing his hair around as he cruised passed watching the cop watching him. Once fully passed, the cruiser pulled out behind the Fiero.
Oh oh, maybe didn’t slow it down quick enough, Cody said to no one as he stopped at the light and sat waiting for the green as he watched the squad car pull up behind him. The light went green, Cody turned left and headed towards the lake with the local cop on his tail the entire time, checking the mirrors every so often to make sure he was still there. At Lakeshore Drive he swerved around the curves following the lake, the urge to punch it starting to build strong as he repressed it with another glance in the mirror and the front of the Crown Victoria’s grill.
“Jen’, could you please run Indiana plate number 45371, Cedar Lake Police?” Not more than five seconds passed.
“Got it…Squad Car…Assigned to… Officer Gerald Parks.”
“Thanks Jen’.” Cody popped the car into second and took off, taking the thirty mile an hour curves at fifty five and climbing as the Fiero took control of the road never missing a beat. Officer Parks stayed right on his tail. At the entrance to JT’s, the cruiser flipped on its disco lights and followed Cody onto the property. Cody flew up to the main garage and stopped to get out when he saw Parks coming towards him.
“You have a driver’s license to drive that thing?”
“No Officer as a matter of fact, I did just get my permit the other day though.” Turning away as if to leave, Cody swung back around snapping his fingers as he faced the officer again. “Oh yeah I almost forgot, I do have an open six pack on the passenger seat, ice cold, if you want one.” Watching for the cops’ reaction which was growing more serious with every shake of his head, Cody reached through the window and grabbed a beer from the unopened six pack. At the sight of the beer, a smile broke out of Officer Parks face.
“How the hell are you Cody? I couldn’t have missed that car, even if I had wanted to. Did some work on it I see?”
“Not bad Gerald and the work was done courtesy of JT. How you doing?”
“Good. Hey, I’m sorry about Karin and Jasmine, Pam and I were shocked when we heard. Did you get the flowers at least? We wanted to come but Pam was tied up here and I was in that court trail in Indianapolis, God I’m sorry man.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it, I read about the trial and yes I got your flowers. Thanks.” Seeing that Cody was still uncomfortable about his wife and kid, Gerald changed the subject.
“So what did our JT here do to this GT anyway?” With eyes still hidden by mirrored sunglasses, he looked at the GT as Cody popped the rear deck lid. Walking over to the car, Gerald’s six foot frame seemed to glide over the ground, his dark black hair dancing in the breeze as the muscles of a swimmer kept him looking lean and scrappy. “Well that explains it! Not many cars can give me a hard time when I’m in the cruiser. So when I heard that rumble, then saw that that red belonged to a Fiero GT, there was only one person that popped into my mind. So I followed just to find out what kind of a monster JT dropped in here for you.”
“Actually Officer, I dropped it and Cody did most of the alterations himself.” JT patted Gerald on the back. “How you doing Gerald?”
“Pretty good JT, how’s it been going with you? Business good?” Then with a shrug of his shoulder and a point of his finger at the Fiero and Cody, he answered his own question. “Need I ask, with celebrity clientele bringing their cars to you.” The laughter came easy, feeling good after the deaths of Karin and Jasmine that caused Cody to literally disconnect from any and all social circles. It felt like a reunion which felt good to him thanks to friends like JT and Gerald.
JT said he had a little bit of time to kill before he could head out with Cody. So they talked while JT finished up with the improvements on the coupe. Cody conveniently leaving out the fact about the windows being bullet proof as well as a few other added options that would have brought up questions he didn’t feel like answering.
“Hey Cody!” JT shouted from inside the garage. “Why don’t you park the GT in the back so that no one messes with it and we’ll take my truck to get the spec’s you need?”
“Yeah hey, I got to get going anyway, you know Police work never stops.” Gerald patted Cody on the shoulder then turned to leave when he turned back. “When I get off duty, I’ll swing by and take you up on those beers, if that’s okay?”
“You got it! We should be back, what? About two hours?” JT looked at his watch then nodded.
“Yeah, something like that. I know I’ll be ready for a cold one by then.” Eyeing Cody. “I hope you brought enough money, celebrity.”
“Not to worry, I always bring enough when I come here. At the prices you charge-“ They broke out laughing as all three looked forward to shooting the bull like old times.
A little ways down the road, Cody looked at JT, thinking about how long it had really been.
“Hey really, how you doing JT? Legs still giving you trouble?”
“Actually, I’m doing real well, the shop is growing in leaps and bounds and as for my legs, well you know…you get used to things.”
“Yeah.” A picture of Karin and Jas’ flashed across his mind. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“What about you? Sheesh, you’re a big celebrity now. I see your gyms all over the place and your books, hell I get a kick out of those.”
“We go back a long time JT so I won’t lie to you. I’ll never be able to forget about Karin and Jas’, especially the senselessness that stole them from me. But, like you said, somehow you manage to get through life.” Then smiling again. “So, you really like the books huh?”
“Hell yeah! The middle class nobodies finally have someone to help open up their hypnotized eyes. Your stories may be fictional, but they have a lot of truth in them. If only there really were people like the characters in your books, you know, willing to take a stand. Things would definitely be looking up for the people that make up the real backbone of this country.”
“Well after that, I don’t really know what to say. Thanks, I’m really glad you like them and get what they’re about. Sometimes I wonder if people are really getting the message.”
“I think they do. Cody, you’re not the first person that has ever felt like we’re getting the raw end of the deal; just the first to step forward and say it out loud.”
No I’m not, Cody thought as he reflected back to a time six years ago, when JT was out driving a truck. The stories he told about the corruption that ran rampant in the industry everyday in an attempt to tear down the real truckers, all in the name of big business and progress were at the least, eye opening. It started with the governments’ low handed de-regulation of the truckers’ chain of power; taking the power out of the trucker’s hands and putting it into the already rich corporations. The money that belonged to the once proud drivers, now found its way into the pockets of Politicians and CEO’s. JT was one of the rare ones that tried to fight back by forming an alliance that was drawing truckers together in a union that brought unwanted attention to him.
Cody was a uniform cop at the time, when he raced towards I-94 just before Torrence Ave. in Lansing. He was responding to a traffic accident that involved two trucks and a car. On his arrival, he was stunned at seeing that one of the trucks was almost completely obliterated, while the other truck and car were just victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cody headed toward the demolished rig when he thought he heard a sound that unnerved him. The sound was vaguely human to him. As he got closer, he noticed the torn up trailer that stretched across all three lanes of the expressway, tying up traffic for miles. The tractor itself was almost non-existent, yet from within that crushed and twisted hell there came a sound of movement. Cody began yelling for the Paramedics.
“GET OVER HERE NOW!!! THERE’S SOMEONE TRAPPED IN HERE!!” Trying desperately to find the source of the sound, Cody scrambled from one end to the other, determined to know the location by the time the medics arrived. With staggered communications, they confirmed that the driver was still alive but in severe pain. Any other conditions would have to wait until they could extract him from the wreckage. Firemen brought out a Jaws of Life and proceeded to cut into the cab.
“We didn’t know Officer! We started to head over here when we first arrived, then got told by a D.O.T. Officer that the area had already been checked.”
“WHERE IS THE GUY NOW!?!” Cody grabbed the fireman trying to shake an answer he knew was not coming.
“I…I…Don’t see him anymore. He was wearing a D.O.T. uniform, about five feet ten inches, stocky. We…we just believed him, if we knew…”
“I know, I know!” Cody replied barely hiding his disbelief. “Just get him out if there!” Cody searched the area, checking with anyone that might have ran across this suspicious character. No one knew who he was or where this fictitious D.O.T. man went.
He did manage to piece together that this was definitely not an accident, the truck was targeted and the driver was meant to be taken out. From what he could gather, a third car was involved and was the main cause for the destruction in front of him. According to witnesses, a plain white four door sedan had swerved into traffic off of the Torrence Ave. ramp and seemed to aim straight for the truck in question. No one could describe the occupants due to the dark tint of the cars windows, until one witness saw the passenger window glide down as it came alongside the tractor, followed immediately by a bright reddish orange flash shooting out of its opening. After, all hell broke loose as the semi exploded into flames at the front of the long hood and then proceeded to sweep back through the cab with pieces flying everywhere, he told police that the man wore sunglasses with reflective lenses and what looked like a bowler style hat pulled far enough down to be touching their frames. Other than that, he had no more information, as his attention was drawn back to the truck when the trailer disconnected from the now burning tractor and took on a life of its own. It began to swing wildly from lane to lane, until it finally came free of the kingpin and hit the ground nose first before starting to flip end over end until it smacked against the middle retainer wall where it came to rest on its side. Once on its side it slid across the pavement in a shower of sparks and shredding steel for several more feet until coming to a stop misshapened and smoking as what was left of the tractor followed, hitting the middle retaining wall and coasting to a stop. Cody could see firemen currently putting out a fire that was trying to break out near the fuel tanks, leaving him no choice but to put the white car on a back burner as he raced over to the tractor to give a hand.
Coming up on the tractor, he saw the emergency crew backing away as the fire not only held its ground but was actually advancing. Grabbing a crowbar out of one of their hands, he kept moving.
“DON’T! GET OUT OF THERE! IT’S GONNA BLOW!!” Was all he could remember hearing as he ran, then him yelling back.
“DAMMIT!! THAT MAN IS STILL ALIVE!! HELP ME!!!” With a leap, Cody then landed on the section of the cab that had been ripped opened by the Jaws of Life. He could see the man that was still trapped inside, being held prisoner by a piece of metal that was pinning him in across his thighs. “Hold on guy, this is going to hurt like hell!” Prying the crowbar between the hindering metal and the twisted remains of the steering wheel, Cody applied all his strength and whatever leverage he could acquire and started pushing. The metal began to give. He could feel someone trying to grab him and pull him away which infuriated him enough to turn and swing, hitting the guy squarely in the face.
“GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!! IF YOU CAN’T HELP, GET THE FUCK AWAY!!” He felt the metal give again as the trucker screamed in pain. With a quick prayer, he put all of his weight into it until he was about to give up, then he heard a loud crack mix with an inhuman howl of pain from the driver. With the metal broke, Cody grabbed the driver and pulled him up and out of the cab where he then swing the man onto his shoulders in a firemen’s cradle and climbed down from the now fiercely burning wreck. Just as he got the driver behind one of the many fire trucks, the tractor turned into a fireball of diesel fumes.
After the Paramedics did what they could, they packed up the driver into an ambulance and with lights off, raced him to Mercy Hospital in Dyer. Cody had chosen Mercy over the one in Hammond for both security reasons and the simple fact that the northern sister hospital always left a bad taste in his mouth. He followed in his squad car to run interference, providing a clear path for the ambulance to the emergency entrance.
Cody was taking a special interest in this one because one, it was a local driver and two, because of the peculiar circumstances. He wanted to be there in case another attempt was made on his life. He also vaguely remembered hearing something about this driver being an almost legendary figure from some of the truckers in the area that seemed to be making this a rapidly growing means of livelihood for themselves. Cody liked what he stood for and it pissed him off that this incident might be a result of this man’s principles. Waiting in the uncomfortable waiting room that seem to be standard in all hospitals for most of the night, Cody counted the minutes until he would get word on the man he brought in, already thinking of him by his alias; JT.
He was in for a long fight, according to his Doctors he had every bone in both of his legs crushed as well as a dislocated hip. Apparently when the tractor disintegrated, it all caved inward, crushing everything that was in its path. What was in its way the most, it seems, was JT. It would be days, maybe longer before he would regain consciousness and be able to answer questions.
Cody came out of his thoughts slowly, bringing with him a new awe for the stamina it had to have taken this man sitting next to him to come almost full circle. The courage to fight and actually win against the odds that the medical world had told him he’d never beat. Told that he’d never walk again; yet here he was walking. Unable to function fully on his own; yet here he was, thriving and still fighting day after day while doing better than most people Cody knew who had no obstacles to endure. Not one to dwell on his shortcomings, JT used his faults to give him reasons to become stronger. JT was damned if he was going to be an invalid, ever! And he wasn’t, instead he was an inspiration to everyone that knew him, especially Cody. It was JT that got Cody through his mental and emotional shutdown, simply by showing him the hurt for what it was. A tool to grow stronger, to teach yourself the love and respect that goes unnoticed, beneath the surface, taken for granted. Sometimes, a jolt is needed to jump start life’s little plans and get them moving again. Some are hard lessons, some aren’t. We hate the hard ones with a pain in the heart that brings us to tears and makes us question God’s motives. Both JT and Cody were now graduates of the School of Hard Knocks. Through this man, Cody learned to never give up, whether it was your dreams or your life.

Back in the present, Cody realized that he forgot all about stopping by Heartfelt Books.
“Hey, would you mind swinging by the publishing house JT, I almost forgot that there’s someone there I have to meet. It shouldn’t take more than a half hour.”
“Sure, no problem, while I’m waiting I’ll run over to St. Michaels and pick up those new knee braces I’ve been putting off for weeks now. Take your time.” They came into Crown Points Town Square off of Route 231 looking right at the old City Hall building that sat right dab square in the middle of the road and headed south towards the Fair Grounds. Cody always loved coming through the square and seeing the old building with its out of date yet beautiful architecture. Heartfelt Books was a few miles beyond that in another Historic Building that used to house a long lost widely circulated newspaper; The Northwest Indiana Gazette.
After pulling up to the curb, JT hopped out of the cab to help Cody with the passenger door that almost always got stuck, trapping the rider inside and always reminding Cody of the back doors on police cruisers. Walking up the stairs, Cody stopped to watch his old friend get back into his pick-up. JT’s hair sat thick and full on his bearded kind old face and remembering how his girlfriend would always say that he reminded her of Kenny Rogers, the legendary Country Singer making Cody smile because he thought so too. JT’s legs were left with a double limp thanks to the accident, that when he pushed himself, which was often, required the assistance of one of his many canes. Cody noticed that his friend was getting a little padding around the waist and in a way, was glad to see it. JT had earned the right to a good life and as Cody went up the rest of the stairs he silently hoped that he would always have it good.
Walking down the second floor hallway, trying to keep the sound of his footfalls to a minimum on the hard wood floor, he pushed open a door with Sam Kinsley stenciled on the frosted glass top half.
“Hey Sam, hope I’m not interrupting?”
“Why no, not at all.” Sam was taken by surprise, never expecting Cody to show up during the interview, hell he didn’t even think he knew about it. “What brings you here?”
“This young man here, I hope.” Cody strolled over to a man in his twenties, wearing jeans and a Purdue sweatshirt with a copy of his manuscript in his hand, some kind of a fantasy, sci-fi tale about a team of astronauts that land on Venus and find life. “I caught the interview scheduled on my PC and thought I’d come by and see if I could make a new writer nervous. Just kidding there, I’m Cody Sandler.” He stuck his hand out and shook the other man’s hand.
“No introduction necessary, Mr. Sandler. I’m a big admirer of yours. Part of the reason why I submitted my story to your company.” He was getting a little over excited. “I’m Pete, Peter Fauster.”
“Nice to meet you Pete, there’s no need to be nervous, I’m just a writer like you, unless of course you’re going to keep calling me MISTER SANDLER…Then get nervous, get very nervous. Otherwise Cody will do.”
“Thank you Mr.…I mean Cody.”
“Nice meeting you Pete and good luck with that story of yours. What I’ve read of it, I’ve liked, it’s good and what isn’t, well, good ole Sam here will fix that like the pro he is. Then show you what you did wrong to top it off. He does it with me, so he better be doing it with everyone.”
“You…You read my story?” Pete asked in a state of shock.
“Of course Pete, it is my company after all.” He winked at him. “Hey Sam, can I talk to you for a second outside?” Sam followed Cody out into the hallway
Sam was sixty five and according to the government, only good for remedial work or retirement while Cody saw something better in those wise old brown eyes and wrinkled grin. He saw life and an eagerness to still accept a challenge, and Cody was right; Sam turned out to be the best editor he had on staff. Trained by the best Cody could find, at the age of sixty three, Sam not only learned it all, he improved it by adding his own life’s experiences.
“What can I do for you Cody?” Sam was always at ease around Cody. They were sort of like an Honorary Father and Son.
“Nothing really. I just wanted to make the kid sweat, that’s all. Make him think that we’re out here talking about him, you know, the kind of stuff that makes you wonder.”
“Oh that’s just mean.” He laughed. “Really now, what can I do?”
“What do you really think of him Sam? Do you think you can do something with him?”
“I did something with your books, didn’t I?”
“Smart Ass! You really think he’s good enough to invest and old grouches time like yours?”
“He has a shot Cody. If someone will just take the time it’s going to take to bring it out of him, he just might make it.”
“And there is nobody better at it than you.” He grabbed Sam by the shoulder and squeezed. “Thanks Sam, I’ve got to run, got a ride waiting for me downstairs.”
“No problem, I have a young writer waiting for me. Hey, good seeing you Cody.” Sam’s shout and wave chased Cody down the stairs.
Coming out of the front doors, Cody started to laugh, JT was waiting for him all right, but, he was definitely in no rush for Cody to be done.
“See you had time to get over to “El’ Taco” for their Bordito’s. What is it with you and these things?” Cody asked picking up a Bordito and waving it in front of his face.
“Dare good, weally berry good.” JT stated with a mouthful of beans and meat.
“Bring me anything Dad?” Cody kidded.
“In the cup holder.” Pointing to a large Ice Tea.
“Thanks and I won’t tell Donna about your little side trip off of the diet she has you on.”
“Well appreciated there ole Hoss. She’d kill me.” JT pulled away from the curb, heading back into the town proper.

It was five thirty by the time they reached the dealership. JT swung his big work truck into a parking space right in front of the new car showroom and began to take notice of the salespeople’s heads popping up from their cubicles like Prairie Dogs on the plains the moment they both entered the store counting down for the assault to begin. Sure enough, a Young Turk in a brand new J.C. Penny suit walked up like an eighties Disco King about to make his move on the Hottie at the bar and fully intending to put the screws to these two old timers. JT leaned over towards Cody and inquired as to what they were looking for. After a brief talk that left a perplexed salesman on the sideline, they asked to see the new SST full sized pick-up in a four wheel drive Dualie with King Cab. The smile on the salesman face grew to the proportions of a Cheshire cat like the one in that fairy tale book where a girl goes to Wonderland as his mind visibly went KA-CHING!”
“Right this way Gentlemen. Was there a particular color you were looking for?”
“Midnight Black.” Cody replied, making it clear that he was not interested in any other suggestions.
“So this will be for you, I can take it?”
“Very good! Yes it is, is there one on the lot or are you going to walk us to another car lot in the area?”
“Right this way.” The young man was turning into a young shark who was moving in on its prey as he led them back through the building where they had just came from. Then through a pair of double doors that led them to the detail shop where Cody finally saw what he came for. “Just came off the truck a couple of hours ago.” He was just about to start his sales pitch when Cody walked passed him and opened the door to the truck. The plastic was still on the seats, only seven miles on the odometer, paper floor mats and that new car smell hitting him smack in the face as he fully opened the door. JT walked around to the other side and climbed in, first checking the dash and overhead console for working room and availability for the options that he already knew Cody was going to request. “Keys are in it if you want to take it for a test ride. Plates are already on her.”
“Thanks.” Cody said as he shut the door, watching the young man head to the other side. JT saw him too and shut the door as Cody started the engine and pulled away.
“WAIT! I HAVE TO GO WITH…” The breath rushing out of him as he tried to plead for them to stop, taking the moment, Cody rolled down his window letting the salesman catch a breath back, only to hear.
“Thanks, maybe next time. We need to hear what we’re buying, not your pitch.” The window silently went back up leaving behind a very upset con man.
On the street, Cody put the truck through its paces paying close attention to its ride, the handling, performance and its interior quietness. Popping in the four wheel drive, he took it off road in an empty side lot hitting holes and dirt mounds that were made for the dirt bikes that used the abandoned area for practice wanting to get the trucks reaction to them.
“Anything you can’t handle?” He asked JT, his voice jumping and shaking from the rough ride.
“Just let me know what you want done and it’s yours.”
“Good, let’s go back and have some fun.”
“You wouldn’t?”
The salesman was fuming by the time they came back. The truck that was spotless when they left was now covered in dirt and dust. He waited for the two men to get out of the four by four. These two were going to get screwed more than he had ever screwed anyone before.
“So what did you think?” His face showing the deceitfulness of a Politician begging for votes.
“It’s a nice truck, I might consider buying it.” Cody answered casually as he waited for the salesman’s next move.
“Well then let’s go over to my desk and work out the numbers.” His voice cocky and full of confidence for the sale he was about to make.
“You go ahead. I have to make a quick stop to say hello to someone. We’ll be back shortly.” Cody nudged JT and headed towards the back offices.
“But…Wait, you can’t go back there. I’ll help you out here.” They kept walking, stopping at the door to the owners’ office.
“You’re bad.” JT chuckled. “You’re going to put that kid in therapy.”
“Wait until we come back out.” Cody said as he knocked on the door.
“Sometimes you scare even me.” His grin still intact as the door swung open.
In front of them stood a man in a light blue shirt and dark blue tie, his slacks were casual and fit his five foot nine inch frame proportionately, as if tailor made. His muscular upper body hidden beneath the shirt was felt in his handshake. Green eyes that seemed to see through you, greeted them from a clean shaven face. His tight mouth warming to a smile as he recognized Cody.
“Well, I’ll be Damned! Cody Sandler himself, how the hell are you? It’s been ages.” The husky voice, growing warmer by the second.
“Doing good Jack, see you’re still hiring sharks to sell your cars.” Cody smiled easily at his friends’ slight discomfort. “This is JT, JT this is Jack Palmer, owner of Palmer Rare Cars and Trucks.” The two men greeted each other while Cody closed the door to the large office.
“JT? That name sounds familiar.”
“It should Jack. This is the man that makes the cars and trucks that you guys sell into what they are really capable of being.”
“That’s it! JT’s Custom Cars and Truck, I’m always hearing about your work. Been meaning to come and check you out.”
“Anytime. Any friend of Cody’s is a friend of mine.”
After some catching up, Cody noticed the time, realizing that Gerald would be getting off duty in about another hour. Jack caught Cody glancing at his watch.
“So what brings you here?”
“That SST dualie 4X4. What can you do for me on it?”
“The Midnight Black one?” Cody nodded. “Well, let’s take a look at the invoice.” Jack’s fingers swept over the computer keys like a pro. “Whoa, big bucks there. Loaded.”
“All right enough foreplay, just give me some figures and remember that I’m a friend.”
“Will do.” Jack fidgeted with some numbers and presented a figure.
“This is the best?” Cody looked at Jack, who nodded his head, confirming what Cody already knew, if he said it was the best he could do, it was. “I’m going to have to raise your gym dues to pay for this, but hell, throw in a ten disc CD changer and a fiberglass bed cover and I’ll let the dues slide for the next year.”
“Always nice doing business with you, you got it. When are you planning on picking it up?”
“Well it needs detailing and then I need it delivered to JT’s.” JT handed him a card with the address on it.
“Detailing huh?” Jack laughed. “After your test drives, how come that doesn’t surprise me? That truck was spotless just twenty minutes ago. How the hell you can dirty a vehicle in such a short time is beyond me, but yeah it should be no problem. It will be at JT’s first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Thanks Jack. Hey, if you’re not doing anything later, stop by…What is the name of that place?” He looked to JT.
“Jake’s Tavern, right on the lake, you can’t miss it as long as you stay on the drive.”
“Gerald’s going to be there. You remember him, used to be on the force in Lansing when I was there. He’s now the Law in Cedar Lake.”
“Can’t promise anything Cody, but I’ll try. It’d be good to throw back a few cold ones with old friends.”
“Good, hopefully then. Hey, about the truck, personal check okay, right?”
“Full amount as usual, I take it. Yeah, your checks are better than Fort Knox.” Standing up to shake JT’s hand as well as Cody’s, he walked them out through the dealership, snapping a finger at a porter, giving him orders to get the SST detailed and to get someone to install the disc changer. Cody caught the eye of the young salesman and smiled. Jack, catching the exchange looked at Cody. “You didn’t?”
“What?” Cody replied all innocence.
“Tell me you didn’t mess with one of my sales guys again.” Both of them smiling knowingly at Jack. “I see that I’m going to have to smooth this over, especially if you did your usual job on him.”
“Sorry Jack, it’s just that it’s so much fun to put these young sharks of yours in their place. Teach them to try and remember that they are dealing with people and not something that they would normally step on.”
“Point taken. Was he really that bad?”
“Like a Great White.” JT smiled. “Kind of Cute in a pitiful way.”

Along the way to Jake’s, Cody filled JT in on what he wanted done to the truck. Tinted windows, bullet proofed; which JT just figured was a consequence of the way Karin and Jasmine had died, making Cody jittery about that certain vulnerability in a car. Cody also wanted a heavy duty suspension, beefed up like only JT could do as well as a heavy duty winch, over sized self inflating tires on the scale used by the military for their Stingers, as well as accessibility for a high end Renegade alarm system and other electronics that Cody would supply himself. JT already knew what he expected from the engine; maximum performance. By the time JT was done with this truck, there would be nothing on the street that would be able to touch it. Like the Fiero, it would be one of a kind.

As they pulled into the lot of the log, one story structure that made up Jake’s Tavern with its numerous neon beer logos lighting up the windows, they saw Gerald’s cruiser off to one side. JT hopped out shaking his head at Cody who was having trouble getting out of the truck and came around to free him from the sticky door.
“When are you going to fix that?”
“When you stop bitchin’ about it, then I’ll have to do something else to it for you to bitch about.” They quibbled as they climbed the two steps and entered the bar.
“Where the hell have you two been? I’ve already ran up your tab to a few hundred all by myself.” Gerald yelled as he waved them over to a booth he secured along the back wall.
“I have no doubt, knowing the way you cops drink.” Cody joked back.
“Where’s JT? I thought I saw him come in with you.”
“You know JT; he went in search of Donna. She’s working tonight so he’ll probably make her wait on us. So we’ll have to be at our obnoxious best to make him proud.”
“That’s never been a problem for us in the past, plus we have the upside when the owner calls the cops on us, I’ll already be here.” Gerald remarked sticking out his chest to show off his shield. “Let’s catch up on old times while we’re waiting.”
“You got it, drinks are on me.” They shot the breeze about life as a cop in Cedar Lake and Cody’s new life until JT finally returned.
“Well what are we talking about?” JT asked as he slid in beside Cody.
“Nothing much, just how some guys.” They both looked at JT. “Are totally whipped by their women and as soon as they go anywhere they have to check in with them.” Gerald busted out laughing at Cody’s directness so hard that beer shot out of his nose. “Whoa Gerald! Take it easy there; JT knows I’m only kidding. Right Donna?” He asked sensing her coming up behind him.
“Sometimes I wonder Cody, if you’ll become a bad influence on my guy someday.”
“SOMEDAY! Hell I must be slipping; I thought I already corrupted him.” He joked before asking, “How you doing Donna?”
“Pretty good Cody. It’s been a while since I last saw you in here. Heard you stopped by the car shop a few times though. Hope things are going well for you.”
“Can’t complain.” Donna caught the hurt in his eyes, knowing that it would always be a part of him. She had liked Karin a lot and had always thought that she had been the best thing to ever happen to Cody, besides Jasmine of course. They had both changed his life dramatically. Without their influence, Donna didn’t think that she would have liked the man in front of her too much. He would definitely have been a bad influence on JT. Donna knew Cody longer than JT, in fact their getting together happened at a barbecue with Karin and him, so she knew better then anyone how he had changed.
“And the law here in Cedar Lake too, what do we owe this honor? A reunion of the three desperadoes? How you doing Gerald? Another round I take it?”
“I’m doing fine Donna and thanks we could go for another round. When we get out of hand, you just let me know and I’ll get rid of these two bad elements for you. Until then, we’re going to try our damnedest to get your guy drunk. He’s the designated driver.” Donna laughed as she went to get the drinks, knowing way to well the kind of humor cops develop and shaking her head in disbelief at how quickly guys can return to being big kids when they got together.
“Oh hey, I almost forgot, we saw Jack Palmer a little while ago, told us to say Hi for him. Invited him down to join us, but I don’t think he’ll show.”
“That’s too bad; I haven’t seen him since…Well since I bought my Impala, what? Three years ago? Things going well for him?”
“Yeah.” JT jumped in. “Especially after Mr. Moneybags here paid him a visit. Cody, answer me something if you would. What’s it like to pay cash for everything?”
“Come on guys, I don’t pay cash for everything. You make me sound like Donald Trump and believe it or not, there are some things I can’t even afford.”
“Yup, he’s right, like this bar tab, by the time you guys get done with it.” Donna rubbed Cody’s head, ruffling his hair. “Really Cody, how have you been? JT and I have been worried about you all alone in that big…What do you call it…Sandler’s Castle? Don’t you get lonely up there?”
“Not really, when you keep yourself busy as I’ve been doing. Don’t even have time to notice and when I do…I have memories that get me through.” He looked up into her light blue eyes, always liking the way they sparkled with life. Her shoulder length hair sandy blonde hair sometimes reminded him of Jasmine’s, especially in this light. She was always smiling, which made her face look full in a seductive way, which made Cody feel uncomfortable sometimes when he was alone with her. She was five six, with a body that inspired thoughts of Playboy which made her one of the definite attractions about Jake’s. Donna was proportionate from her small upswept breasts down to her narrow hips and just right derriere that made her an eye full, especially in the tight jeans and T-shirts that were the standard at Jake’s Tavern.
“Okaaay, enough of that already. What did you pick up at Palmers?”
“You won’t believe it Gerald, but this son of a gun just picked up a new SST pick-up truck, Dualie no less on top of it.”
“Sweet, I suppose that you’re going to let JT here do his magic, giving me yet another vehicle to have to worry about when it’s in my city limits.”
“Get real Officer Parks. When JT gets done with a car, it’ll be too fast to stay within city limits long enough for you to catch it.” Cody ribbed him, winking at JT as if in ka-hoots. “What’s that cruiser of yours do 0 to 60 in? 5 seconds?”
“You’d be surprised! That baby’s caught ‘Vette’s before they even realized I was after them.”
“You’ve done work on his cruiser, haven’t you?” Cody looked JT straight in the eye.
“As a matter of fact.” JT replied smiling with mock guilt on his face.
“That’s cheating, you guys already get the fastest cars on the road, and those cool lights on top of it. No, no this is definitely cheating! How the hell is the average guy supposed to get away from you, if you don’t play fair?”
“I think that’s kind of the whole idea, remember Officer Sandler?”
“Well yeah, okay, I forget sometimes that it helps if you guys can catch us once in a while.”
“A little.”
“Then again, there are cars that I’m not sure can be caught.” JT put in while pointing a thumb at Cody. “That little GT is one of them. I think that one is still my best work to date.”
“Which brings up the subject, when are you going to give me a crack at it?” Gerald asked.
“Whenever you can get that cruiser down to the 41 Drag Strip. You name the Saturday.”
“I’ll check with Pam and give you a call.”
“And I’m the one that’s pussy whipped?” JT chimed in getting a kick out of the small payback.
“Hey boys, last call and I know you hate me, right?”
“Nooo!” Gerald looked at his watch. “Damn, eleven thirty already, I got to get going anyway, early shift tomorrow.” Sliding out of the booth, grabbing his hat. “What do I owe?”
“Get out of here, I got it.” Cody waved him off.
“Well in that case, we’ve got to do this more often. See you guys later.” Gerald replied feeling a little guilty about letting Cody get the tab.
“You’ve got it; give me a call once in a while.” JT suggested to Gerald.
“Yeah, let me know what Saturday’s good for you.” Cody said as he waited for Donna to tally up the tab. After Gerald left, they sat at the bar talking to Donna for another half hour before running Cody back to his car where he thanked JT again and started the Fiero.
The engine came to life instantly as he turned the key and slapped it in gear to fly around the curves that surrounded the lake. Shooting up 41, Jen’ came on line.
“Cody I…Have some…Information You…Wanted.”
“Go ahead Jen’.”
“Paul Rutherford…Is dead…Killed in…Prison…Drug deal…Gone bad…Have more…When you…Get here.”
“Thanks Jen’, see you in about thirty minutes.”
It was after midnight as Cody climbed out of the Fiero after putting it to bed. He had parked it in the main garage and entered the Mansion through the inner door that led into the kitchen. As he went by the refrigerator, he hesitated, then thought twice about another beer. Proceeding along the dining area and through the hallway that led to the main foyer and staircase, he stopped. For the first time, he wondered what Karin and Jasmine would have thought of all this, the Castle, the books, the companies, the money, his fame. Looking around the darkened main hall of the house with its long winding stairway and doorways that led to the enormous living room, library and some rooms that even he wasn’t quite sure what they were originally intended for. A music room was the best he could come up with for one of them. He thought that Karin would have loved all of the natural woodwork and authenticity, as well as the square footage that the Castle offered. Room to grow a family, she would have said as she always had wanted a large one, lots of kids.
Jasmine would have loved the large bedroom with its private playroom for all of her stuffed animals and dolls. The fort she would have converted into a dollhouse that she and Cody would have hid in, pretending all kinds of imaginary battles and dances, as well as a place that they could go to just sit and talk. Their little hideaway that stood alone in the corner of a big room. Cody was unable to leave the room, imagining the love that they would have shared in it, the feeling too strong to be just let go with the night air. Jas’ would have definitely convinced him that they needed a dog for that fort and with all of the grounds that surrounded the Castle, Cody would have had to agree. While Karin, pretending that she was against the idea, would have eventually been the final say as to what kind of a dog it would have been. He loved them so much, that there were times he could actually imagine Karin and Jas’ running through the near empty Castle as he heard their footsteps echo on the stairs and through the halls. That love, now at times, bringing a sadness that Cody would never have thought possible. His love alone missed them as much as he did causing tears to well up in his eyes and begin rolling down his cheek. Slowly, he made his way upstairs, his heart heavy, his soul dying, suddenly very tired.

The night brought with it, images and feelings that Cody could have sworn he had securely locked away. Each flash that seemed to be rammed through his sleeping mind came in no particular order. He saw himself rushing down the street in his squad car, lights flashing as he pulled up to Mercy Hospital. Actually felt the joy of the life changing event that was about to happen. Then he was dressed in green surgical scrubs watching his daughter making her way into the world, the top of her head crowning, the pained yet somehow joyous look on Karin’s face as she saw their daughter for the first time. Still bathed in blood and bodily fluids as Cody held her in his arms before letting the nurse clean her up, she was beautiful from that second on and growing more beautiful everyday. At that first glimpse, Cody thought that his heart was going to keep swelling with so much love and pride that he would eventually just pop. He had never known such a feeling; always thinking that such a love for two people was beyond his grasp until then,
Images of the doors flying open as Jas’ followed by Karin, who was full of smiles as they hid something, up their sleeves. He knew that they had been planning something big for his birthday. The anticipation was making Jas’ more excited than Cody had ever seen her, she couldn’t wait any longer, finally driving Karin crazy enough to nod okay and put a blindfold over Cody’s eyes before leading him outside. She was jumping up and down as she told him to take off the blindfold, then yelled HAPPY BIRTHDAY as loud as she could. In front of him was the red Fiero GT.
“Happy Birthday.” Karin said softly in his ear as she hugged him, thoroughly enjoying the surprise and delight that was in her husbands’ eyes at the sight of the car.
“Can we go for a ride? Can we? Can we?” Jas’ was pulling on his arm trying to lead him to the door of the car with Karin laughing at her enthusiasm and the look on Cody’s face that told her that she’d have to wait to be thanked by him in the way that his look was suggesting.
“Go ahead Hon’, take her for a ride because she’s never going to give you any peace until you do. Besides-” She smiled that smile that always melted his heart. “I know you’re dying to take it out too.” She watched him climb into the Fiero, mouthing I love you silently to her as he let Jas’ in on the other side.
Their wedding day, Karin was dressed in a flowing white gown with a low cut front and the longest train that he had ever seen. The day so bright that it literally sparkled off of the sequins that covered Karin’s gown creating a white aura that shimmered around her entire being. She was an Angel that had fallen to earth. Her slow strut down the aisle was driving him crazy, as her beauty and the way she moved with that grace that dancers seem to have, causing desires in him that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to hold off long enough, to make it to the honeymoon. The feeling of gaining everything good and wonderful that the world had to offer washed over him when he heard her say, “I Do.”
Then things got dark and distorted. Flashes of Jasmine with her eyes open unseeing. Blood that was too red and dripping. The back of Karin’s head slowly being separated from the rest of her. A red spray hitting the windshield.
“NNNOOOOOO!!!” Cody woke up bathed in sweat, his chest heaving as he found it hard to catch his breath. The thumping of his heart sounding thunderous in his chest as it raced at an accelerated rate. Confused as to where he was, it took him a while to realize that he was in his own bed. Gradually, he calmed down as his frenzied brain kept telling him that it was only a dream. A bad dream, but just a dream. Slowly he lowered his still shaking legs to the floor and waited for the strength to return that it would take to support him so that he could get up. Finally, he went into the bathroom off of the master suite, turned on the shower and stepped into its cool spray, boxers and all, letting the sweat and the shakes wash down the drain along with the water. After getting dressed in jeans and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, he led himself downstairs to the library, where he opened up the latest Stephen King novel and began reading, trying to get lost in the imaginary world of the Master of Modern Fiction. Cody only got into it a few pages before fatigue finally caught up with him and let him sleep peacefully in the chair until morning.

Cody felt good, as he always did after a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Picking up the book by King from the floor where it fell when he dozed, he found the page that he left off at and replaced the book mark. Walking through the main hall to the kitchen, he took time to enjoy the filtered light that came in through the stained glass windows that adorned the high outer walls of the foyer and winding staircase. In the kitchen he took a copper skillet off of the ceiling rack that hung over the center island and placed it on the stainless steel range. From the matching double door fridge, he grabbed the margarine and scooped out a blot with a spatula and slapped it into the heating skillet. As the heat melted the margarine, he broke four eggs and mixed them in a bowl with milk until they were well blended, then tossed the whisk into the sink, swirled the melted butter in the skillet and tossed in the eggs. Soon the kitchen was filled with the aroma of scrambling eggs and wheat toast sprinkled with cinnamon.
Remembering Jen’ saying something the night before about a Paul Rutherford, he opened up the paper that he picked up on the way home last night and found the story on the front page. As he wolfed down his eggs and toast, he read about the death. Apparently even in prison, Rutherford just couldn’t stay out of trouble. The article went on to tell about his involvement in several fights with not only other inmates, but with guards as well. His life in prison, which was about to end in six months, ended a little earlier due to his own greed, putting the paper down Cody poured himself another cup of coffee and then continued reading. It seems that Rutherford was trying to build up a last minute bankroll for when he was released, but made the wrong decision when he decided to get his misgotten gains from a member of a rival in house gang. Rutherford had gotten the pay off and was supposed to then fulfill his end of the deal by delivering the dope, yet he got stupid and decided to double sale it. When the delay and word got out, he was hit. Guards found his body stuffed into a laundry machine with a shiv that was used to give him the kind of an extra smile that went from ear to ear, still stuck in his throat. Without realizing he was even doing it, Cody got up from the counter smiling, rinsed off the dishes and skillet before placing them into the dishwasher, then wiped off the range with a damp wash cloth and proceeded upstairs still wearing the smile.
Hating himself for feeling good about the news he had just read, yet unable to help it, even though he knew too well that Rutherford got off easy compared to what would have happened to him if he had gotten his hands on him. Somewhere, the thought that Julio was still out there came to mind, then another thought that completely unnerved Cody as it slithered through to settle in, and left him with no doubt about how much he really hated this man Julio. Trying to shake the idea out of his head, he shaved, brushed his teeth and turned the water on for the shower. Steam billowed out of the showers octagonal stall misting every piece of glass in the bathroom. Climbing in, he toned down the waters temperature a few degrees and relaxed under a long massaging down pour.
Pulling on a T-shirt over a pair of jeans, Cody headed towards the den. As he reached the bottom of the stairs the phone began to ring, making him step a little faster as he pushed open the den’s door that always closed on its own to pick it up on the fourth ring.
“Cody, you there?” JT’s unmistakable voice came out of the ear piece.
“Yeah, it’s me, what’s up?”
“Just been working on this truck of yours all morning, while you’ve been living the life of the rich and famous. I got the suspension done and redid the dash and overhead console, so that you have room for all of your electronic goodies. Was about to start the engine, when I thought I’d better check with the man and find out when he’s getting his ass out here.”
“Was ready to go out the door as we speak.”
“Good, see you in what? Half an hour?”
“Sounds about right. Hey, if you haven’t eaten lunch yet, how about I buy?”
“Tell you what, on the way out here stop by the El Taco there in St. John and-“
“You and those Borditos!” Cody laughed. “I’ll pick up a sack. Just remember if you get caught by Donna, I had nothing to do with it.”
“Of course not, if she killed you, who would sneak me my Borditos? Hurry up, I’m starving!” JT reprimanded in a good mood.
In the garage, Cody took a few minutes to wipe down the Fiero, taking some of the road dust off of it from last night. Then rechecking that he had everything, including his checkbook so that he’d be able to cut a check for JT, he pulled the keys from his pocket and punched the button. The GT’s eight cylinders came to life as the system unlocked the doors and kicked off the alarm. No matter how many times he heard it, Cody always loved the sound of that deep throated rumble as 462 cubic inches of pure steel dynamo came to life. Sitting in the car, he savored the feel of the big block as it vibrated through first the chassis and then the body, silently listening to the power surging through the pipes that ran the length of the car to the large dual exhaust outlets in the rear. Requesting Jen’ to open the garage doors, he backed out into the court yard, looped around the circular drive and headed down the hill towards the highway. As soon as the image of The Last Crimefighter and his Crimemobile zooming out of stately Swift Manor popped into his head, he grinned, and then the memory of why the Legendary Crusader always made him feel good came to him. He looked over to the empty passenger seat.
“I miss you kid. Wish you were here.” His voice starting out as a whisper, ended in a choked silence. “Awww Damn it! Don’t do this to yourself!!” The remark actually making him madder than the loss, cause if not for the memories, what was the sense in even having the joy of knowing a love like Jasmine’s? But, it did make him mad, pissed him off big time that he was so helpless to prevent their being taken away from him, always wishing it was him, instead of them who had taken the Fiero out that night. With a last tribute to both legends, he whispered: “Turbines fired and ready, time to move out!” Never bothering to check if the iron gates were closing behind him, fully trusting Jen’ to take care of them. The Fiero adjusted the rear spoiler as Cody put the gas to it, helping the sport coupe to hit high double digits within seconds.
Cody hit El Taco during the second wave of lunchers, listening patiently as the girl with the big open smile and bright brown eyes made him aware that he’d have to wait a few more minutes for his Borditos. Pulling off to the side to wait, he fell back into memory lane.
He was going to the third floor, room 341, to see how JT was doing. When he was about to turn the knob, he heard a strange muffled cry coming from behind the door. Not sure what was going on, Cody slowly opened the door and saw a man in a pair of green surgical scrubs with a white doctors smock standing over by the I.V. tubes, one hand on the flow feed and the other holding a cloth over JT’s mouth. Once JT had been silenced, the intruder let go of his mouth and concentrated on a syringe he pulled from his pocket and was now trying to inject its contents into the I.V. tube. As the man put the needle down to get a better angle, it hit Cody; this was the man that was at the accident sight. The same man that had told the Paramedics not to bother checking the driver in the tractor trailer rig was here now trying to finish what he had intended to do back then. Of course he wasn’t counting on interference. At the sight of the pistols handle, Cody swung into the room and down to the side, knowing that being in the shadows would make him a harder target. His own hand unsnapping his personal revolver from its shoulder holster as the flash of gun fire and the whiz of a bullet gave Cody exactly what he needed. Out of pure instinct, he fired a round, then got up off of the floor and pressing towards the intruder fired a second shot. At the sound of a bullet’s thud as it hit the soft target of a body, Cody came around the bed and found the man laid out on the floor with a pool of blood spreading out rapidly before him having taken a slug to the face. It was then and there that the controversial trucker in room 341 became a guest of police protection, complete with the new name of JT. Cody had never wanted to know and has never since inquired about JT’s real name beyond his first name Matt. He knew the man as JT and liked the man that now owned that name.
“Sir! You’re Borditos?” Cody jumped out of his skin at the sound of her voice being so close, yanking him completely out of his thoughts. His hand still under the seat, where his Beretta was hidden, before bringing it back up as his senses became fully intact.
“Ahh, yes, those would be mine.” Cody tried to recover his coolness. “Must have been daydreaming when you came up. Sorry.”
“That’s okay, I think I scared you more than you did me. Anyway have a nice day.” Her voice was that of a High School Cheerleader pumped up on adrenaline and steroids, all bubbly and high spirited.
“Thanks, you have a good one too.” The Fiero backed out of the parking spot and headed back out to the street. “I’ve got to quit doing that! I’m getting so lost in the past that it’s almost like blacking out.” He noticed a car pull up alongside him with both occupants staring at him. “And now I’m talking to myself! Hi!” He waved at the couple waiting to make a left onto route 41, letting go of his own brake and making a hard right out of El Taco’s parking lot. Tires filling the wheel wells with smoke as rubber melted on the asphalt in a raw display of power, just to slam on the brakes at the light a hundred feet ahead. A St. John squad car followed him from that point on until he reached the outskirts of Cedar Lake.
Taking it easy the rest of the way, Cody began to relax. The embarrassment of getting caught off guard and talking to himself fell away to the miles he was rapidly leaving behind. With the windows down, he enjoyed the cool air coming off of the lake as he wound his way around the curves on Lake Shore Drive. Both garage doors at JT’s were open to let in the same lake breeze that Cody had enjoyed on his way there. Cody could see the chrome grill with the big red CMC emblem, for Custom

Chapter U.S. Avengers

Bradley S. Hartman

Morocco, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

This chapter 7 of my novel U.S. Avengers where Cody and the team officially become the U.S. Avengers.

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