Mike had washed up and changed clothes, but his face was still bruised and sore. He stepped into Al’s office.
Andy Clement’s body was still on the floor. The floorboards were coated with blood, much of it from Mike’s crude attempt to saw off the body’s arm. It was still attached, though only by a little bit of tissue.
Al was holding an unlit torch – rags soaked in kerosene wrapped around the end of a wooden handle.
“Look at yourself,” Al said. “What am I going to do with you?”
“I’m sorry, Al.”
“The thing you need to remember is threats don’t work on a man like Bullock,” Al said. “You either do something to him or you don’t but if you decide to do something, you don’t let him know its coming. You just do it. Got it?”
“I got it,” Mike said.
Al shook his head. “Aww who knows what’s going on inside that squirrel brain of yours?”
The barkeep walked over to a bookcase that was positioned up against the wall and put his hand on a copy of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
“Know why I like this book?” Al asked.
“No,” Mike replied.
“It’s about a bunch of French do-gooder fucks,” Al explained as only he could. “During a time of war and famine everyone’s dying while they try to do the right thing. The only two remotely happy people in the entire sordid tale are the corrupt innkeeper and his crooked wife who lie, cheat and steal their way through life.”
Mike just stood there.
“Get it?” Al asked.
Mike shrugged his shoulders. “Try to do good?”
Al rolled his eyes. “You are useless. Now listen ignoramus, I’m about to show you something that you can never reveal to another living soul. Understand?”
“I’m not telling tales out of school here, kid,” Al said. “You tell no one about this. Not one of your drinking buddies, not some girl you’re diddling, not even your whore of a mother.”
“I won’t tell,” Mike said.
Al pointed a finger at Mike. “Let me make it clear. Anyone you tell will have to die. If you tell anyone, you have killed them.”
Mike nodded again.
“Good,” Al said. “So long as we have an understanding.”
Al pulled the book forward. Gears and cranks built into the wall began to churn as the entire bookcase slid to the left.
The barkeep struck a match, lit his torch, then led Mike down a dark, dank staircase.
“Where the hell did you leave Farley’s hide?” Al asked. “Clearly not in a good spot since Bullock was just trying to stick his head up my ass.”
“Stable,” Mike said. “Under a hay bale.”
Al sighed. “In the stable under a hay bale. Jesus Christ I should just hire a fucking donkey.”
“Sorry Al,” Mike said. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“I know dummy,” Al said. “Now I’m going to show you.”
The staircase wounded around in a spiral for awhile. “See, no one really gives a shit what we do, but we just can’t be so obvious about it. Some dopey shit heel disappears, everyone knows what happened but they can at least pretend maybe the dumb ass ran away or some shit.”
A rat scurried past Mike’s feet. He kicked it away.
“But if you start stacking the bodies like cordwood out in the open for everyone to see, that’s when do-gooder fucks like Bullock start asking questions.”
At the bottom of the staircase was a tunnel. It was so dark that it was difficult to see just how far it went. Mike followed Al’s torchlight into the darkness.
As they walked, Mike noticed all sorts of boxes and crates. Several of them were marked “TNT.”
“What is all this, Al?” Mike asked.
“I’ll just say it’s some shit that fell off the back of an Army wagon and leave it at that,” Al said. “But naturally, if you’ve got shit that belongs to the Army, you don’t want to leave it lying around for every mouthy son of a bitch to see, do you?”
“No,” Mike said.
Out of curiosity, Mike lifted up the lid of a chest. It was filled to the brim with shiny golden nuggets.
Al snapped the lid shut.
“This tunnel,” Al said. “And the shit I keep in it are my insurance policy.”
Mike was clearly confused. “Insure-whatance?”
“God Almighty what a simpleton,” Al said. “Insurance. It’s uh. Jew shit. You pay a Heeb some money and they agree to pay you the money you need to fix something if it gets fucked up.”
“So Jews built this tunnel?” Mike asked.
“No,” Al replied. “I actually hired a bunch of Chinks to build it.”
“Now you’ve lost me,” Mike said.
“What else is new?” Al said. “Forget about the insurance. The point is that I realize that one day the U.S. government is coming for me. They’re coming to take over this entire town. When they happens, I’m not going to be strung up by my neck while some self-righteous fucks pat themselves on the back about how honest and decent they are and what a fuck I am.”
Mike and Al kept walking. More crates of gold and dynamite lined the walls.
“Hopefully if the Army ever comes, I’ll get a warning from one of the crooked politicians in my pocket so that I can load all this gold on a wagon and hightail it into Canuck territory,” Al said. “Fucking Canucks. Bunch of syrup swilling moose fuckers if you ask me.”
Al stopped. “But if they come without warning, I’ll at least be able to fill my pockets and run out of here like a thief in the night. Now you can do that too.”
The barkeep pointed a finger at the tunnel’s seemingly endless darkness.
“Next time we’ve got a carcass to get rid of,” Al said. “Don’t leave it around for any old asshole to discover. Bring it down here, lug it a mile north and you’ll be in the woods. Once you’re there you can dump the body under a tree, bury it, let a bear eat it, let a skunk fuck it, let a family of possums built a next in its belly, I truly don’t give a shit.”
“Just don’t leave it lying around town for self-righteous pricks like Bullock to find,” Al said.
“OK,” Mike said.
“New project,” Al said. “I want you to take some of this dynamite and rig the tunnel to blow. That way when the Army comes we can get the hell out of Dodge and cover our tracks so they can’t follow us.”
“Shit Al,” Mike said. “I don’t know anything about dynamite.”
“You better learn,” Al said. “If you blow my fucking joint up by accident and kill me in the process I’ll come back as a ghost and smack the shit out of you.”
Mike opened the lid to one of his gold crates, removed a nugget and tucked it into the henchman’s hand.
“Here,” Al said. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”
“Wow,” Mike said. “Thanks Al.”
Al shook his head. “I’m going to regret telling you about this, aren’t I?”
“No,” Mike replied.
“Shit,” Al said. “Yes I am. I know it. I might as well chop off my cock and mail it to Grant by pony express to save him the trouble.”