Brett sat down on the motel chair with a groan, pulled out his phone and hit speed-dial. “Bunny, I need you in my motel room, stat”
Brett had chosen the chair that gave him the best view of the door and windows.
Bunny is not who you think she is.
Brett had been extremely resistant to taking on a personal assistant, the two-legged meat-based kind anyway.
His boss, a man who brooked no argument said it wasn’t Brett’s choice. A personal assistant is a multiplier. The way the boss saw it, he could have the benefits of two-Bretts for the price of 1.4 Bretts.
Frankly, the boss would have hired another Brett at full price because even at that price Brett was a money-printing machine. The problem was that men with Brett's skill sets were never unemployed and had never been common, even in the best of times.
Brett glared at the older man sporting a flat-top. The older man was glaring back.
“Well, if he is my multiplier, then I am going to call him ‘Bunny’.”
The older man barked out “Yes Sir!” and the deal was sealed.
Their relationship had mellowed over time.
Bunny let himself into Brett’s motel room. They were housed in a mid-level motel chain in the retail belt north of Hartford. They were in adjacent rooms.
“What the hell happened to you?” Bunny growled. Brett had either been hit by a car or in a scuffle. Judging by the body parts that were swelling, Bunny guessed the latter.
“That can wait” Brett said. “There is something in my left rear pants pocket. I need to have you fish it out”
Bunny’s eyebrows raised when he inspected the smartphone in the gold-bedazzled case. “New girlfriend?” he asked.
“Not quite” Brett said. “I need to have you work your magic so it doesn’t time-out and lock-up. Then I need you to over-night it to the boss.”
Bunny was already scrolling through the screens, his big, scarred thumbs nimbly manipulating the touch-screens. A whistle escaped him.
“Gaia Liberation Front. I thought those mother-fuckers were a myth” Bunny said. Another whistle escaped him when he read "Church of Euthanasia, killing is a sacrament."
Brett’s story could wait. Bunny would have to hustle to expedite the over-night of the phone. Even though he was in a hurry, he still had time to open up, and shake out six time-release Tylenol and the same number of Ibuprofen onto the table in front of Brett along with a tumbler full ofof tap water. Then he pulled out a new bottle of peroxide and gauze pads.
One of Bunny's standard chores at every new job site was to purchase a dozen tackle boxes and stock them with basic first-aid items. Runs to the E-room took time and most simple first-aid was done by the men. They spent the time they saved doing important things, like sleeping.
Bunny pulled off Brett’s boots and trousers. Brett’s fingers were swelling and he wasn’t bending over too good.
The boss had a welt above his knee that was well on its way to becoming an epic bruise. Brett would be hobbling the next few days.
Bunny also checked Brett’s piece. The magazine was full and there was one-in-the-chamber. He left it cocked-and-locked on the table in front of Brett, within easy reach of his right hand.
Bunny turned down the lights and locked Brett’s door behind him.
Clifton Lovelace, the lawyer weenie who had served the court-order did a drive-by the next day to ensure the oilmen were complying.
He damned near had a stroke. They had not shut down. The job-site was engorged with men and equipment and trucks and pipe and....
The job-site had an eight-foot, chain-link fence around the perimeter that had not been there the day before. It is absolutely astonishing how much can be done overnight when cost is not an issue and there is a promise of future business.
Lovelace walked over to the drive in and was challenged by a security guard "Nobody enters without a hardhat."
Then, looking over the attorney, the security guard added "Or an appointment"
"I need to see the boss" the lawyer demanded.
"Then I suggest you make an appointment" the guard said.
"And how would I do that if I cannot see him" the lawyer sneered.
"Go to the contact page of the company website and submit a request" the guard said. It was a precanned answer for every request that came at the front gate.
"So what is the company website? Huh? What is it?" the lawyer pushed.
"It is a matter of public record" the security guard responded. That was also a pre-canned answer. Then the guard felt compelled to add something, "Figuring that out should be good for about two-billing-hours, shouldn't it? That should be making you happy."
Word had gone out that Brett would personally fire anyone that talked to that lawyer, the press or a girlfriend-for-rent.
Brett had the animal presence of a grizzly bear. The parts of the crew he had brought up from the Gulf were disinclined to gab anyway. Much of the high-dollar work was over-seas in shit-hole countries where shaking-down rich gringos was the local industry. The best way to maintain your career or not get your throat slit was to assiduously avoid entanglements.
Connecticut didn’t look anything like Shitholistan but the boss just told them Shit-house rules were in force and that-was-that.
The locals? Well, you just never know about the locals. For the most part they were earth moving equipment and strong backs. The specialized equipment (read, the equipment that is a bitch to replace) was run by the ringers from places with names like “Sulphur” and “Lake Charles” and “Port Arthur”.
The ringers knew about Brett just like they knew a little bit about all of the regular crew bosses. In his youth, Brett had been as big of a hell-raiser as any other young man in the oil-patch. Times were different then.
The stories hadn’t gotten any more modest over time. Anybody could look at Brett’s face and see where his nose had stopped at least one fist and there were scars where his skin had been split above his eyebrows and a “V” scars where a flap or two had been peeled back.
Since then, Brett had gotten married and gotten 25 years old. Ellie and Brett had a deal. Brett could work as many hours as he wanted anyplace in the world but on the day he turned sixty he became Ellie’s personal property...and she wanted him in prime condition.
That meant no more carousing at night...an issue that solved itself when the boss said Brett would lose his job if he ever showed up in the morning hung-over or smelling like booze. Brett was now in management and had to set an example.
Not only that, he had seen more than one good marriage crash-and-burn when a lonely man went to bar frequented by pretty, single girls and one thing led to another. Brett was fully committed to Ellie. That first, bad decision was just not going to happen.
Ellie’s influence had Brett eating more chicken and salads. It also meant that Bunny had standing orders to book rooms in motels with a gym. Brett religiously spent 45 minutes working out every day. That is not 45 minutes motel room-door-to-door. That is 45 minutes sweating.
Brett always liked heaving iron but Ellie had him mixing in cardio and circuit training. She wanted him back in PRIME condition.
So Brett was in full command of his faculties when the five twenty-somethings slouched their way into the Elmstreet Steakhouse where Brett was eating.
Brett liked Elmstreet better than any of the other national restaurant chain. They were big enough to find a corner. There were always enough people in them so Brett didn’t feel alone but nobody every tried to chat-him-up so Brett could decompress.
Oh, and the waitresses were always absolutely world-class.
The five weedy looking youths definitely looked out of place in the family/sports/steakhouse.
They were scanning the room. Apparently they were looking for someone.
Brett went condition “yellow” when he saw PETA on the front of one of the youth’s hoodies. A national steakhouse chain is about the last place a PETA disciple would be, unless they were looking for trouble.
Brett went condition “red” when one of them did the double-take indicating he found what he was looking for. And that something was Brett.
The five youths started moving his way like a giant amoeba. The one girl, at least she looked like she could be a girl, was talking on her phone. She split off from the group and found a vantage point where she had an unobstructed view.