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Operation Stingray                        Part 3 // PG. 2 of 3


     The driver side window exploded as the mailman punched through it with clenched fists. He reached in, grabbed me by the jacket, and pulled back hard. I shouted and punched at his head, trying to knock him away. He barely flinched under my blows; his hands were vice grips on my collar.

     I grabbed the steering wheel and pulled myself away from the window. I reached toward the passenger seat. The knife was just beyond my fingertips. With my other hand I felt for his face and squeezed my thumb into his eye. His grip gave way just a bit, and I grabbed the knife. Fierce adrenaline pumped in my veins as I flicked the knife open and stabbed frantically at his face. He held on, his eyes unflinching and cold like a wolf's. He pulled harder, and I felt myself going through the window. A sick terror raced through me, and I stuck the knife hard into his neck. He let go and clutched at the wound. I opened the car door into his gut, and he fell backward onto the street.

     I jammed the keys into the ignition, shifted into gear, and gunned it down the street. I looked in the rear view mirror. The man in the bowler hat stood next to the crumpled mailman as he watched me drive away. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I saw him nod at me as I sped off.

     Late in the day I reached the town Brian mentioned in his last letter. It was an old coastal town, about 200 miles outside of the city. Quaint little place. Upon seeing it I remembered that Lindsay and I had stayed at a bed and breakfast there once when we were first dating.

     I ditched the car in a wooded area a few miles outside of town and covered the rest of the distance on foot. I had tossed my phone out the window after I got away from the mailman, and all I had in my pockets were a few crumpled dollars and the flashlight.

     In the distance I saw the old historic lighthouse that was the town's trademark. It stood watch on the rocky shore, still vigilant even though it hadn't been used in years. The sleepy little town took shape as I moved closer to the shoreline, and I walked down the silent main street in the afternoon light. During the tourist season this street would be humming with families shopping for souvenirs and eating greasy battered seafood. Now though, the place was cold and deserted, and the sound of my own footsteps was making me nervous.

     Find LaFarge.

    Well gosh Brian, couldn't you have given me a little more help than that? What am I supposed to do, walk into the town pub and ask if anyone knows him?

     I turned a corner and saw the one business in town that was open: The Pink Coral Bar and Grill.

     I sighed. Fuck it.

     I opened the door and felt all the eyes in the room size me up immediately. Dainty little pretty boy from the city, their eyes seemed to say. I remembered that I had hated that place.

     I took a seat at the bar and ordered a drink. My head was swimming and I rubbed my eyes with my thumb and forefinger. When I looked up I could see the man in the bowler hat reflected in the bar mirror in front of me.

     I gasped and turned around. Nothing.

     “Woah, relax there buddy, we're not gonna bite,” the bartender said, and a couple of the guys laughed. I forced myself to laugh too, in a sad attempt to look normal.      “What brings you out this way? Sightseeing?” the bartender asked.

     “Yeah, just taking a drive up the coast to relax a little,” I said.

     “Well, you sure look like you could use it big guy.” More laughter.

     “Hah, yeah I guess. Hey listen, there's an old friend of mine who used to live out here. Haven't seen him in years. Name's LaFarge. Do you know if he's still around?”

     The bartender cracked a wide grin. “Hey, this gentleman's looking for LaFarge,” he called out. The barflies cracked up, and everyone turned to look at me. “Yeah,” the bartender said. “I guess you could say that old nutcase is still here.”

     “Do you know where I could find him?”

     “Sure,” the bartender smiled. “Only one place to look.”


H. K. Reyes


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