Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Odd Prey"

Start: Prey (Page 13, Copyright 2002), by Michael Crichton
End: Odd Thomas (Page 13, Copyright 2003), by Dean Koontz

He shuffled through his papers, looking down at them, not at me. he sighed. "Jack Forman. Troublemaker. Not cooperative. Belligerent. Hotheaded. Not a team player." He hesitated, then said, "And supposedly you were involved in some kind of dealings. They won't say what, but some kind of shady dealings. You were on the take."

"I was on the take?" I said.

"That's right," was the only answer given without meeting my eyes. I had this guy's number from the start, and he thought he had mine.

"How, exactly, was I on the take?"

Burt finished loading the papers into the back of his station wagon, flicked his faded Cubs cap at me, and said, "Get in, Jack."

I rounded the back of the wagon and pulled open the door as Burt's massive girth tested the shocks. I was so irritated, I just wanted to punch the guy. But he was driving.

And that was my problem.

As we pulled out of the lot and navigated toward our grid, I turned to Burt the driver and said, "It's not fair that you do this crap to me."

Still not meeting my eyes, which I thought was just fine with me since he was driving, he said, "Jack, I'm not going to entrust such an important position to someone with such a shady past."

"How was I shady!?"

"Don't shout at me, Jackie boy, or I'm bound to just drop you off before we reach block one." Burt had to suck in his gut to turn the wheel making the right turn onto Boneventura Avenue.

"You're not going to tell me, are you?"

"Nup," was all I got. Well, that and a belch.

"Why can't I drive?"



Burt huffed, "Maybe after this route I'll show you the paperwork."

I wanted so badly to drive. I had been employed at this paper for over ten years and for every day -- even holidays -- I had to sit next to fat, smelly Burt and listen to his crap.

Burt was a big one for distributing what he called wisdom.

This morning, he distributed only newspapers, tossing them with a snap of the wrist, as though they were boomerangs. Each folded and bagged copy of the Tuesday edition of the Maravilla County Times spun through the air and landed with a soft thwop on a driveway or a front walk, precisely where the subscriber preferred to have it.

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