Read Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One Online

Authors: Adam Knight

Tags: #fiction, #adventure, #murder, #action, #fantasy, #sex, #violence, #canada, #urban, #ending, #cowboy, #knight, #outlaw, #dresden, #lightning, #adam, #jim butcher, #overdrive, #lee child, #winnipeg, #reacher, #joe, #winnipeg jets

Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One (9 page)

 

But when the
boss puts it plainly, it ain’t really up for debate.

 

I nodded my
head and tapped Big Mike on the shoulder. He looked back at me, and
then at Aaron. His perfectly groomed face turned grim before he
nodded as well.

 

We stepped
forward onto the sidewalk in a two man wave, pushing the gang
members back with our presence and then physically when they
refused to move.

 

“You just
gonna push us into the streets? You think we’re garbage?” yelled
the one closest to Danny giving a shove of his own. Danny stumbled
back off his feet. So I stepped up and pushed the
Posse
member hard, hurling him off
balance and into the feet of one of his friends.

 

Another one
rushed at me, the tattooed kid. “Where’s my sister?” he bellowed
looking and pointing past me. With ease I hooked his lead arms with
one of my own, slipped a leg behind his and dropped him to the
concrete high on his back. The wind rushed clean out of him on
impact. He rolled away, gasping for breath.

 

That’s when
things started to get hairy. All remaining gang members charged in
at myself and Mike in a rush. Given the way we were positioned it
was hard for our backup to get past us in a hurry to take some of
the brunt.

 

Grabbing one
charging guy tight and tying him up left me open to a second guy
who threw a sloppy punch that bounced off my forehead. I heard a
crack from his knuckles and a yelp of pain as a few stars flashed
behind my eyes. The punch thrower was immediately tackled by a
recovered Danny. They disappeared out of sight.

 

I could feel
more than see Big Mike moving to my right, occupying at least two
of the offenders with his sheer mass. Mark squeezed past me and
slammed into a fourth gang member, driving him away and off to my
left.

 

The guy in my
arms thrashed and flailed. Trying to free himself by throwing head
butts that were inches too short and kicking at my shins and knees.
I adjusted my grip until I could grab the back of his belt. With a
lurch I heaved with my legs and back, launching the now screaming
thug into the air and driving him hard to the sidewalk. He got his
hands out to break his fall, but it wasn’t a fun one.

 

That’s when I
saw the gun.

 

Sound dropped
away save for the rushing in my ears.

 

Eight feet away
from me was the young kid with the dream catcher tattoo on his
cheek. In his hands was a snub nosed revolver. I’m not a gun guy. I
don’t know makes or models or anything like that. I know pistol in
hands aimed into a crowd where the bouncers and I were brawling
with his crew.

 

He was shouting
something. I know this ‘cause his mouth was moving and his eyes
were wild. I couldn’t hear anything. The blood in my ears was
roaring louder than ever before in my life.

 

Somehow I was
moving towards him. I don’t remember making the decision to do so.
But there I was rushing the armed street gang member. Swiping my
big left hand at his outstretched gun.

 

I got punched
in the chest hard.

 

Twice.

 

Three
times.

 

It took me
another two steps before my legs buckled under me. Knees hitting
the sidewalk before I finally started to keel over.

 

Faces. I saw
faces.

 

The kid with
the gun. Shock now, mixed with fear as he stood over me. He
disappeared from sight as bodies smashed into him.

 

Big Mike and
Mark. Kneeling over me. Yelling and shouting.

 

Mom. Smiling.
Not sick. Making ginger snap cookies.

 

Dad. Donald.
Dressed for softball. Waving me forward.

 

Chapter 7

 

“Come on, Joe!”
Dad called out to me. Donald smiled, holding his aluminum bat over
his shoulder. “We’re gonna be late for the game.”

 

I was slow,
sluggish. Couldn’t seem to get in gear. Something was hurting in my
chest.

 

Donald laughed
at me. “What’s keeping you, little guy? We need our
scorekeeper.”

 

He was so tall.
Everyone was so much taller than me. Mom kept saying I was gonna be
big and strong one day. Just like my big brother. I just had to be
patient.

 

Dad checked his
watch, and lit a cigarette.

 

WHAM.

 

A lurch.

 

Pain.

 

Everything
hurt.

 

Sounds.

 

“Oh my,
God!”
“Everybody get back!”

 

“Someone take
over CPR, I need a break.”

 

WHAM.

 

More pain.

 

Air.

 

Minty.

 

Faces.

 

Tamara.

 

Parise.

 

Mom.

 

“Joseph Alan
Donovan you get in here this instant!”

 

I was halfway
out the door. My friends were outside on their bikes, waiting. We
were heading to the monkey trails along the Seine River.

 

Mom’s face was
a thunder cloud. My report card in her hand. Brandishing it like a
weapon, her eyes wide. “You are not going anywhere until you
explain these grades.”

 

Grade nine
hadn’t been my best. Computer science had killed my average. I just
couldn’t make the damned things work for me.

 

“How am I
supposed to be the head of the PTA if my own son can’t keep above a
C average?”

 

“Linda, lay off
the boy.” Dad came to my rescue. Same as always. He looked over the
sheet, grimacing around his pipe. Smoke curling up towards the
ceiling. “He has good marks on here. Bunch of A’s. Some high
B’s.”

 

“That is
precisely why a C is completely unacceptable. If he is capable of
better marks then he should … “

 

WHAM.

 

“Where is that
ambulance?”

 

“Stay down you
piece of shit!”

 

“Fuck you, pig!
I know what you are …”

 

“Jesus,
Miller!”
“What? He shot this guy!”

 

“Joe! Joe, can
you hear me?”

 

“Keep breathing
for him. I can’t find a pulse!”

 

WHAM.

 

Donald looked
at me sadly. I stood in front of him with both hands jammed in my
pants pockets and my face aflame. A massive black eye swelling my
left eye shut in a huge purpling mess.

 

“Why didn’t you
fight back?”

 

I didn’t
answer.

 

He leaned back
against the sink. We were in the basement washroom. A cold face
cloth in his hand. It stung painfully against my face when he
pressed it there, wiping at the welt.

 

“Have you
figured out what to tell Mom?” he asked.

 

I shook my
head.

 

Donald
grimaced. “You know how Mom is, Joe. She’s gonna freak. After all
the hell I put her through in school she’s hoping you’ll be the
smart kid.” He sighed, eyeing me critically, reapplying the
facecloth with a sad smile. “I suppose we could tell her you
fell.”

 

WHAM

 

“Keep back
everyone! Give the paramedics room!”

 

“Back the fuck
up!’

 

“The blood, so
much blood….”

 

“We can take it
from here, ma’am. Let us do our jobs.”

 

Sirens.

 

More faces.

 

WHAM.

 

Caskets.

 

Matching
caskets. Up in front of the altar.

 

The pastor at
the pulpit. Droning. The passage of life. How God welcomes all to
his bosom. The transition from life into death is a challenge to
the living, though we should not weep.

 

Mom was
weeping.

 

So was I.

 

WHAM.

 

“Okay, head’s
secure.”

 

“On three.”

 

“Joe!”

 

“Ma’am you’ve
gotta stay back.”

 

“Three.”

 

WHAM.

 

“I am sorry
it’s not better news, Mrs. Donovan. I truly am.”

 

Doctor’s
office. Mom with her hand shading her eyes. I was off to one side,
staring at the doctor. The x-rays showing an outline of Mom’s
heart. Lots of black spaces. Shadows, they’re called.

 

Stunned.

 

Unfair.

 

Mom wasn’t the
smoker.

 

WHAM.

 

“How far from
the hospital?”

 

“St. B’s two
minutes away.”

 

“Take over
compressions, I’ll fire up the AED.”

 

“He’s going
tacky. Blood loss is slowing to a trickle.”

 

WHAM.

 

Banker’s
office. More long faces.

 

Mom sat next to
me. Her skin gray. A tissue in her hand, pressing it to her mouth
after every hacking cough.

 

“Thankfully
your husband’s insurance was able to cover the majority of your
mortgage. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do as far as a
loan to help with your medications. The stipend you are receiving
from disability is already maxed out and given your status we are
not able to extend a loan on top.”

 

Silence.

 

“So what,” more
coughing. “What can we do?”

 

The banker
looked over at me. Then back at his forms. “Well if you are willing
to sign the forms over to your son, we can transfer the mortgage
into his name. Once there he can buy extra health insurance and we
would be willing to extend him the same generous interest rate you
already carry.”

 

Mom looked at
me with panic in her eyes.

 

WHAM.

 

“We’re losing
him!”

 

“Sixty seconds!
A room is already cleared!”

 

“How long on
the AED?”

 

“Almost
ready!”

 

WHAM.

 

Mom watched me
as I reorganized my clothes into the closet. My old closet. The one
Dad had built for me when I was twelve. Donald’s room was across
the way. Untouched in years.

 

Her face was
sad. Her housecoat wrapped tightly around her, though it was a hot
summer day.

 

“Thank you,
Joseph.” She whispered, her eyes red. A high pitched whine rang in
my ears. Her cheeks were already sinking in. “Your father and I, we
never wanted this for you.”

 

Nothing to say.
The lamps all began to flicker.

 

Wait.

 

That’s new.

 

I don’t
remember that.

 

“One day,” Mom
coughed, the lamplight behind her flickered harder. She never fell
into shadow. Always illuminated. “Hopefully you can find time to
finish college when I start to feel better.”

 

What’s that
whine?

 

Where am I?

 

Lights
flickering.

 

Whining.
Electronic whining.

 

What … What the
hell is going on?

 

WHAM.

 

“Holy
shit!”

 

“What the fuck
was that?”

 

Smoke.

 

Squealing
tires.

 

“Hang on! I
can’t control it!”

 

Pain.

 

“Did you
overload it?”

 

“I got it,
we’re cool. I’m pulling up now.”

 

“This thing's
fried!”

 

“Re-starting
compressions.”

 

WHAM.

 

Where am I?

 

Dad.

 

Donald.

 

They’ve been
gone for years.

 

Hit and run.
Semi-trailer on their way to a ballgame in Minneapolis.

 

What the fuck
is going on?

 

Isn’t there
supposed to be a light? A tunnel?

 

What is that
whining sound?

 

Shit.

 

Mom.

 

Who’s gonna
watch out for….

 

WHAM

 

WHAM-WHAM

 

WHAM-WHAM-WHAM

 

“Jesus
Christ!”

 

“Somebody get a
fire extinguisher!”

 

More smoke.

 

“Did we blow a
circuit breaker?”

 

Heat.

 

“Get the
generator online.”

 

Light.

 

Smoke.

 

Dad’s
cigarettes?

 

No. Actual
smoke. Burning my lungs.

 

Coughing.

 

Mom?

 

No.

 

Me.

 

“We’ve got a
pulse!”

 

“He’s
breathing!”

 

“Get him under!
We gotta get that bullet out of ……”

 

Cold.

 

Black.

 

Rest.

 

Chapter 8

 

Hospital food
gets a bad rep.

 

Sure it
wasn’t a night out at
Rae and
Jerry’s.
But for a guy recovering from a triple
gunshot wound it was pretty darned fine.

 

Not having to
cook it myself also went a long way.

 

Plus, I like
Jell-O.

 

April had given
away to May and the sun had melted most of the snow off the
streets. At least from what I could see out my hospital room
window. I leaned against the cool frame with one arm and stared
into the Old St. Boniface neighborhood with a bit of tightness
across the right side of my chest. Not painful really, but
noticeable when I stretched like that..

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