Bud’s phone vibrated on the counter top. His hand reached out from the cocoon of bedding, patted around until he found it, and pulled it into the warm nest. He checked the display. Danny. His annual call. He hit the green icon, then put the phone on speaker. All he could hear was the sound of wind across a microphone for a few seconds. Then a gap, as if someone was waiting for him to speak, followed by the same thing again.
After the second time Bud responded, ‘This has got to stop Danny’
The wind noise came back, this time louder. A casual observer may have thought more insistent, if they believed that the noise was in any way deliberate.
‘No’ Bud said, and hung up.
The phone vibrated again. Danny.
‘I said no. I meant no. It’s time to let it go, move on.’ Bud hung up again.
The phone vibrated a third time.
‘Don’t make me block you!’
The phone vibrated a fourth time. This time it was a text not a call.
You knowe whay 2 doi,,,
Bud sighed, and texted back.
He crawled out of his warm bed, into the October chill of a cold campervan.
‘Mac, it’s Bud. Danny called.’
‘Bud, you know…’
‘Mac, don’t. He called, ok? You know what we need to do.’
Mac sighed. ‘I’m not doing this every year Bud, this has to stop at some point.’
‘I know, I told him that. Come on, one more time? We promised, we owe him that much?’
‘Ok, you picking me up?’
‘No. The camper’s all set up. You can come for me.’
An hour after the first call Bud and Mac were in Mac’s unmarked police car, heading south at just over the speed limit.
‘I told him two hours, we’re good for time, you can slow down.’ Bud told Mac.
‘No chance. We get there asap, get this done and get out again. I’m on duty, remember, and this little annual sideshow is totally off the books.’
‘Whatever, just be careful. We don’t want to join Danny just yet.’
The prison buildings crouched low on the horizon, behind concentric high steel fences. Mac took the car off the main road, circling the prison fence until they reached a small chapel and cemetery just outside the fence. The two men got out of the car. Bud pulled a carrier bag from the back seat. Glass clinked on glass as the contents of the bag settled.
The men walked to a grave in silence, Mac rushing, looking over his shoulder as if to hustle Bud along. Bud taking his time, his face showing his inner battle to compose himself.
They stood by a simple, small grave marker. All it had engraved into it was a name, and two dates. Mac took out a half bottle of whisky and two glasses from the bag. Mac held the glasses while Bud poured.
‘We’ll get justice for you, Danny, I promise we will.’ The two men intoned. They clinked their glasses, sipped at the cheap spirit, then upended them and poured most of the contents onto the ground near the marker. Standing in silence for a moment, both men were in their own worlds when both of their mobiles chirped the message tone. They both took out their phones, read their messages, then showed the other.
I noe youu willl. Sooon? Get mee out of heer
Neither man could make eye contact with the other. Both looked at the grave marker.
18/4/73 – 3/7/2015
‘He didn’t do it, you know that right?’ Bud asked.
‘I know, we put him in there,’ Mac nodded towards the prison, ‘and they put him in here.’
‘So we’re still looking for the right man?’
‘Yes, we’re still looking’
Their phones beeped again.
Gooood. CU next year. Mayybee
Neither man spoke on the journey north.
Story and note (c) Chris Johnson 2019
Bud Robinson and ‘Mac’ MacDonald will be recurring characters in a series of action adventure stories which are currently being written. Few, if any, of these will be supernatural in nature…but the characters were in my mind when I sat down to write a Halloween flash fiction tale and this is the story they told me.