A Kiss is Still a Kiss!
From 'The Boy!"
"Nope! I can't do it!" the big said into his cellphone
between sips of beer on this perfect evening at Sloppy Joe's
in Key West.
"You got to man, ain't nobody else!"
Sipping his first, cold beer at his favorite bar after working
on his boat all day, Bronk Jackson frowned because he didn't
like the way this call was going. An old friend wasn't letting him
off the hook and for a lot of reasons he had a bad feeling about
"C'mon marine, don't you miss the action?" his friend urged!
"I'm not the one who dumped out before my twenty!"
"Dirty pool, besides I just joined the grunts to get into the
police! You were the lifer!"
"Was you mean! 8 pounds of stainless steel and VA
"And you can probably still set the obstacle course record; c'mon,
we'll call it even if you take this boy for a little while!"
The big, muscled-up buck sighed, he owed Frank the Big One from his first
tour and in the years since he left the corps he had done him a couple of
little jobs, back and forth for a few bucks, but nothing like this.
"What kind of kid is he?"
"Freshman at U of Miami, father deceased, marine pilot, no other
"What is he really like?"
"Naive as all hell, new to this country from South Africa,
quiet scholar, blonde, slight build, average height or smaller!"
"Oh my lord, and what is he running from?"
"A possible hit from the Kings because they think he
might be a witness!" Frank's tone was more relaxed now. They
both knew the black man was going to do it!
"Awjeezzz, ... and is he?"
"Nope, but word's on the street that there IS a witness going to
testify in some grand jury and the LK's are clipping everyone!"
"Keep gettin better don't it? Does he know how bad it is?"
"Not really, but he's kind of shaken!"
"I would be too! So I have to babysit him until the grand jury?"
"Yup, like last time, only this time it might be kind of
"Because there might be a leak in the department. I can't use
any department money or resources, and the kid has only an annuity;
but after the grand jury convenes I'll see what I can do to
"Where is he now?"
"On a bus coming down to Key West, where he is going to
get a room at the Ocean Breeze motel, in one hour!"
"And your'e calling me on my cell phone?"
"No other way in time for you to meet him there! But after this,
well, you know the drill!"
"Yup! Lan lines and message drop!"
"Shouldn't get that bad, but ...!"
"I got it, why pick Key West?"
"Well, I heard there's lots of gays there, and, this kid's a
walking wet dream to them! But mainly cuz your'e already there!"
"Is he gay?"
"Dunno, he's legal age though; which is good because otherwise
child services would have taken him in and he'd be dead by tonight
even if the LK's didn't get to him first!"
"Okay, tell me this, does the kid have a reservation at the
"Think I'm stupid? No, he's using all the cash I could scrape
together and they have vacancies, and he has my lan home number!"
"And me, did you tell him about me?"
"Not much except that you were big, black and ugly and he could
"Better get goin!"
The waitress Fran came over, "Another beer, Bronk?"
"No thanks, Fran, say, where's the Ocean Breeze?"
"6 blocks south!, 2 or 3 blocks west!"
"Is there a bus station here in Key West?"
"Don't know, maybe not!"
'All right', said Bronk, paying his check and walking out into
the tourist, pervert and grifter- filled sidewalk as people
got out of his way. Standing 6'5" of solid black gleaming muscle
in a black t shirt and shorts, with some facial scars that some
thought were intentional and decorative tends to keep people at
a distance; except for the crazies and drunks who are always on the
prod for a victim they could boast to their peers about. Not much time
while he started adding it up!
'No gun, that's real nice! And no preparation on my boat for a quick
getaway if things turn to shit! No time even to GET to my gun and
still get to the motel,'
He knew one thing already: It wouldn't be this unplanned unless
Frank thought there was a major problem. And for all he knew he's
the next target with his cell phone in his pocket and the insider
in the Miami PD already tracing it to him and his location within
a city block; as if he would ever be hard to spot!
'Never would have noticed this place,' he was thinking as
he found the one-story motel in the middle of the block.
As he walked through, wishing he was wearing more business
clothes to at least look somewhat professional, which for his
shape and race was usually something like a service industry,
electrician or utility worker or janitor, he tried to be unobtrusive.
He walked to the office as he passed a pair of middle aged couples in
the small pool.
An older woman with blue hair and sun wrinkles squinted up
at him from her lower window, looking worried. He got that a lot
so he did his best friendly smile.
"Hi, I have a computer service request for an Eric Lindstrom,
can you tell me if he's checked in yet?"
"No," she said, looking him over doubtfully, "nobody's checked
in today by that name and I don't have a reservation for him!"
"Okay, I'm probably early," he could tell she didn't want
him hanging around so he looked like he was walking off.
By the look of the place, he couldn't see how anyone would be
waiting for him already. If nobody made a reservation nobody
could know about it. So all he had to is to hang around outside
and wait for him; which again was a problem but at least this was
Key West and shorts and tshirts were worn by most, except most of
those had 40 inch waists and plaid shorts, except for the gays,
and he got those hungry looks as usual from desperate aging
queens and just nodded, no smile, no encouragement.
An hour went by but no cars full of LK soldiers waiting or
cruising, nobody else went into the motel, and then he saw a blonde
kid with a shoulder bag walking his way. Maybe 5'5 and 135 lbs,
and a car cruising behind him! Oh yeah, car with 4 dark shadows inside
and the kid hadn't noticed or he wouldn't be looking at a piece of
paper in his hand to see if this was the right motel.
Good thing was he hadn't seen them yet either and start to run.
They could hit him right there on the street and he couldn't do
anything. Why aren't they he wondered? Looking around! Why aren't they?
Too many people around probably. Key West is kind of an island,
they had to get back to Miami, 3 hours possibly and all you had to do to
is block one road! Unless they had a boat ready, and that's still
touchy. They'd want a few hours head start! That's what I'd want! Nope,
probably didn't know where he was going and just followed the bus
until he got off and got someplace with no people around him..
He stood under the parking ramp as the boy paid for his room,
walked over, opened the door and went in. The boy looked around worriedly
once, and Bronk knew the clerk told him about the big black man with a
service request, but then he didn't see anyone, so he checked into
the room anyway, which was stupid! If I had heard someone was waiting
for me I'd change motels immediately but maybe the description matched what
he'd heard about me! He was hoping it was the someone Frank had sent!
But he didn't want to lose his only lifeline! That told him a lot!
When he had time to break it down it would tell him a lot of what he
was facing, but he had no time now. Now, where was the LK crew?' He
looked and saw one probable on the sidewalk on the opposite side
down near the corner, mainly because he had a good view of the room and pool
and Eric's only exit. Latin kind of looking, reading a paper,
sitting on a bench, no reason to be there, no busses Saturday night!
In a perfect view of Eric's room. Only way in and out! The rest
were waiting until dark probably, or at least until the two couples left
the pool area. Walking carefully around the back, he saw openable windows
on each motel room, but with heavy fixed grates!
But he didn't see anyone else there thankfully, still wishing he had a
gun because if they were already back there he'd be dead now but he
had to take the chance!
"Tap tap!!" He saw Eric pacing around inside and then freeze and
turned when he saw his big, black smiling face with his hand
softly tapping the window. Naked fear on the face, and he waved his
hands to reassure him, but the boy was panicking! Making the
universal peace gesture, and hoping the boy would come over.
Then he saw the cell phone, and he shook his head, no no no!
"Eric,' he said, too loud, "Frank sent me, just give me a minute
to talk and you can do what you want!"
That got him to come closer, and open the window, but his finger
was still about to dial that 911.
"Frank, remember, small black/puerto rican mix, ex marine, going to
fat, Miami PD!"
"Yes," the boy said, his eyes wide.
"Eric, don't hit that button. Listen, a crew followed you here!
Theyr'e likely monitoring the police band! Cops wouldn't get
here in time!"
His face turned even whiter, "oh no!"
"But it's all right, okay, relax! Frank asked me to help, didn't he
mention me at all?"
"Not much," he took a deep breath! "What do I do?"
"Open the window up more, your'e checking out now! What they used
to call a drummer's exit! Good, now turn the TV on, louder! Good...
get your bag and come over to the window! Oh and first move some
furniture in front of the door please; wait, prop a chair under
the knob, just in case they come busting in when I make some
noise with this security grate!"
"But how will you do that?"
"Just do it, kid, cmon!" The grate was iron, not steel,
just decorative, anchored to the concrete in 4 places. He studied
the bolts, probably only in an inch into the concrete blocks.
Taking the top left hand corner, bracing himself, he began to
work it, getting some play. Throwing all 250 lbs in and using
his thick legs he began to bend it and finally the bolt popped out!
PTANG! Oh shit! Looking around he didn't hear anything.
"Eric," he panted, "now listen! Go to the window, don't open
the curtain, don't be seen and look at the guy on the bench across the
street? Do you see him?"
He waited as the boy fearfully peeked.
"Yes! Is he an LK?"
Taking a sigh with relief, Bronk said yes, and Eric said
he hadn't moved.
"Now just watch him, and if he picks up his phone to
his head, wer'e doing this real fast so be ready!"
The rest of the grate work had only one loud noise when the
frame bent, and he looked at Eric's back but he didn't move or
signal the lookout heard.
"Did he do anything, even pick up his cell?"
Out on the alley, working his way through a private yard.
"Now look Eric, if I have to run and we separate, you go the
other way and just hunker down someplace, and then
we meet again at a place called Sloppy Joe's, anyone can tell
you where it is, at 9 pm, got it? And stay visible! Don't go in
the mens room or anything until I see you. If I'm not there, you
call Frank on his LAN line and if you don't reach him just find
the first policeman and tell him what's going on!"
"Why don't we just do that now?"
"Because all this info is coming from inside the police! Frank
said there might be an informer for the mob and I think there is now!
But it might buy you some time!"
"Do you want me to leave you out of it?" he could tell the boy
really wanted to call the police, give up his freedom for the illusion
of safety, and he had to tell him the score.
"If we get split and I'm not at Sloppy Joe's at 9, I'm out of
it permanently!" That made the boy shudder. "See kid, both of
our cell phones could be tracked right now, we can't chance they
"Should we turn them off?"
"No, no, don't, we can use that. Now since wer'e still close to the
motel, dial this number and order a pizza, give him your room number
at the motel, have it delivered at 7pm, not before!" He held up his cell
phone display for the boy to read.
He did so while he moved into a shadowy car port on some private
"Good, now you call the motel and leave a wakeup call for
quarter to seven!"
"Why? okay, I'm doing it!" Bronk waited looking up and down
"Now turn off your cell, cuz your'e taking a nap in the motel room
and a pizza guy is going to knock on your door at 7 pm. That is a
textbook setup for a hit! With your cell turned off they can't
"I think I see, but...!"
"Now its anchors aweigh!"
Twenty minutes later, sometimes leading the boy by the hand through
alleys, he got to his marina where his boat was.
"This is not what I wanted to do, kid, but..., wait here,"
as he checked his boat out, didn't see any spotter, and could
tell by his little detectors nobody was on the boat.
"Now this is going to be a little tricky, kid! I dropped
my laundry off and we don't have time to pick it up.
Come on out here, kid. Some of the richer types have their
laundry delivered and you might find a bag hanging on
a hook by their mailbox number on the dock. Snatch
a few if you can find one and come back to that boat
there! See it!"
"Yup, the Easy Mae, now meet me there, I'm going
to get some stuff we need!"
"Where are we going?"
"Don't know yet, have to think a bit, but we got to get
out of this place, like it said in the song!" As usual
his music reference met with a blank look.
"Different generation! Come on, kid, go!"
"By myself, but what if...!"
"Nope, theyr'e waiting by your motel room until 7 pm!"
"But what if theyr'e not?"
"Nothing is certain, kid, go!"
"Sorry, I only found one bag and I figured you didn't
want me to look outside the marina!"
"That's good, toss it in the cabin and give me a hand
with all this rope!"
"W-what do we need all this for?"
"Because wer'e leaving at exactly low tide which normally
is stupid because we might get stuck! Because when they don't
find you at the motel and they got my cell phone number, this
is their next stop! I figure they'll be here by 8 pm max.
Could even have a spotter here now!"
"Right! What's that?" the boy's eyes widened when he saw the gun
in his waistband.
"Just in case, don't worry about it!" After fiddling around
he led the boy to the wheel and controls.
"Oh, I thought we'd use the sail, make it quieter!"
"You might have to gun the engine and back it up, now get
ready for a crash course, because I might be a hundred feet away on
that pier hauling on this heavy rope, so let's talk some hand
One hour of exhausting labor, Bronk swam back to the boat, and
the boy had to help him get aboard, as they ditched all the rope
and the winch, the 37 ft boat finally floating free in the channel.
"I hope I didn't pull my shoulder, sheeeeit!" he gasped,
and then patted the boy's arm. "Good work kid, you learn
fast! If we had got stuck we'd have to steal a boat and I know
all these people!"
"Where are we going now?"
"Just down the channel, and then wer'e going to stop and do
some painting!" He motioned to the pair of paint cans and some
"Wer'e going to paint the boat?"
"Just change the appearance a little, always wanted to. And
change the registration number on the side!"
"Isn't that illegal?"
"Kid, everything we have to do to stay alive is going to be
illegal because any other way is going to get us caught! They
got automatic cameras registering boat numbers just like
car license plates. All going into a computer!" An hour later
it was getting dark.
"That's it, kid, how you doing?" he yelled while on his knees
and partially over the side.
"Almost done, pretty crappy though, really needs a primer coat to
"Yup, but any plane would not be looking for a black cabin
and transom! Yup," he said, standing up and wincing as he
rubbed his shoulder, "your'e finally hitting the islands, Fred!"
"Who's Fred?" the boy asked.
"Wer'e in his boat now, a 36 Catalina but close enough. He hasn't
taken it out of the marina in two years but always talking about
"That was the license number you used?"
"Yup, a phoney one would be noticed as a red flag. All right,
wer'e going to pass a couple of yachts in a few minutes, get
your cell phone ready and take mine and stand up in the bow
and get ready to throw them onto the deck of the first one
I get close enough to!"
"Should I turn mine on now?"
"Good thinking! Go ahead!" Then he had a thought.
"Eric! Did Frank call you on your cell about going to Key West?"
"No, he saw me at the police station!"
"Did you have that shoulder bag with you?"
"Yes, he asked me to bring it, and then he drove me
to the bus station!"
"Go below and gimme the bag!"
"Going through it he didn't see anything, but it did have
"Your'e looking for a tracker device?"
"And your'e wondering why he would put one in if he knew
where I was going?"
"And wondering why he would call me to meet you? Don't
make sense, but I still don't trust him any more! These
things can be real short range, hidden inside fibers and
plastic! We don't have the time! Put the cell phones inside
the bag and toss it onto this yacht wer'e about to pass!"
"It's got all my stuff, clothes, papers, college stuff!"
"You can replace that easier than your ass, throw it!"
As soon as Jaspers cock touched that magic spot at the end of Chris'tunnel, his eyes flew open, his jaw dropped and he grunted in pure ecstasy...
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