Piranhas, “The Boss”

               Nelson said, “Hey, Where’s my brother, Bill? You save him, Boss?”

               “No, I am afraid not. The Gorillas, they still have Bill, of course.” The Boss spits on the little bag of weed he tore from Nelson’s trembling hands when he sat in the passenger seat. “Here in this melting desert township are boring skinny rabbits. Shit. Are you hoarding the prime marijuana?”

Nelson gave him a firm nod and replied, “Bill and I were desperate. We nearly smoked it all; nothing else left that we robbed from Smokies. They’ve repaired and restocked the shop, though. Nelson watched the Boss intently. “Maybe we should try again, huh?”

“I’m not crazy. Now, do you have the Great Horned Owl ring?”

“No. I imagine the Gray Wolf took it along with Bill’s finger. Nelson tried hard to veil his grin. He started the engine. “Gave Silverback and Ivory an idea of what to do with the other nine fingers that remained after the mauling.”

“What? You don’t know precisely where the scarlet ring is?” The Boss turned down the dark velvet visor.

“No, Bill’s most likely dead.”

The Boss rolled his bald head backward like a bowling ball loose on a runway. As he looked up, the boss stared into the afternoon sky as if he had never seen the damn thing daily and said, “I need Bill back. You’re wondering why, aren’t you? Well, he’s the only devil on earth with the talent to disarm the defenses of the scarlet ring. Unlock the GPS that leads to the elite treasure.”

               “Boss, I warned him endless times about Silverback and the heinous Mountain Gorillas. Nelson lightened his pressure on the gas pedal and slowed his black dodge charger to pull off the two-lane highway right after entering it. “Well Fuck, Silverback’s girlfriend, Ivory, warned him also.”

               “So, Bill isn’t a good listener, nor a gentleman, but he’s uncommonly smart.” The Boss opened the glove compartment and got out a matchbox. “We all doubted Silverback was the beast, the maniac of the Utah canyons.” The Boss shook the matchbox and took a cigar from his short-sleeve, white shirt pocket. “I don’t give an aardvark’s ass what happens to Bill once I get possession of the scarlet ring. Bill’s a cruel monster, a Sunday wrestling match short from those freakish piranhas. Bill was whining about them during his calls with me.” He lit his cigar and rocked it sideways with his tongue silently. “You’re his brother, so you understand that it’s impossible without having Bill unlock the ring’s GPS.”

“I escaped the Mountain Gorillas two days ago, and I don’t think I will be that lucky again. Nelson turned and watched the cars, trucks, and vans exploding passed them in both directions. Nelson lowered his side window to vent the cigar smoke. The hot air awoke Nelson from his fantasy of feeling safe and content, especially with not knowing whether Bill was dead or not.

Nelson closed the window and said, “I am not going to last a month with Silverback’s Mountain Gorillas stalking me like komodo dragons, alright.” He opened his car door and stepped onto the gravel. “I am reporting my dear brother, Bill, as a recent missing person to the shift supervisor at the police headquarters. This is a large township. Don’t worry. They aren’t aware of your crimes, or your existence, Boss. I won’t mess that up, or is it my intention to piss you off.”

The Boss took an angry bite on his cigar and almost choked. He took out a Glock from his black backpack. “I’m going to kill you, Nelson, before diabetes has that honor.”

***

“I can’t go back to that fucking burning desert that makes Death Valley appear to be a Disney ride.” His feet tinged with pain from the bread he had eaten earlier that morning. Nelson held his right leg and looked at the proud face of the veteran emergency 911 clerk. The diabetes was stinging like a rose parade of red ants, then switched to his left leg.

The clerk pulled out an aspirin bottle, empathizing with Nelson’s discomfort. He suddenly admitted in his mind that Bill didn’t give him diabetes; it was his parents’ bad genes. Bill was an abusive brother, but he was his older brother, which meant he would help him. Couldn’t I just let him stay missing? No local news reports a body plucked with holes from vultures in the desert.

The clerk told Nelson to go home immediately after he vomited. “The rangers will make a camp and start a land search.” 

***

The following day Nelson repeated his routine and ate a pair of large plush eggs sailing in a pond of churned butter in a square iron skillet with four strands of center-cut apple bacon. He finished it with a piece of white toast, as he falsely believed it was courage rather than luck that he escaped the horrible fate of the Mountain Gorillas. Nelson thought: A banana to celebrate may make him slip to the bottom of putrid hell next to Bill. 

Nelson remembered the sparkling black and red-colored motorcycles sifting the dust on the firm sandy roads. Riders looked like giant hornets with their striped yellow and black helmets. On them was a picture of a scary Gorilla swinging on the luxurious branches of a tree with one mighty hand beating its polarized chest. 

Nelson paced in his two-bedroom apartment, his anxiety high over having the scarlet ring. He twisted the ring several times as he walked from the kitchen to the hallway and back again. The scarlet ring around his left thumb was oozing brightness and seductiveness, like cool water dancing on Pluto’s rings. 

As he now owned the scarlet ring, Nelson had given the Boss nothing and gazed at it with a strange possessiveness and desire for what it could grant him. A gorgeous red marquee style perfect diamond. The narrow yellow band with white dots of gold warned of its poisonous defenses. The Boss would behead him if he knew he’d tricked him. 

Although Nelson was most afraid of Silverback and what torture the Mountain Gorillas would formally show him as they certainly wanted him to suffer. How he died truly mattered; his mind split between a merciful death while asleep. Or being damned by a Gray Wolf, Mountain Gorilla, or his brother Bill.

Nelson picked up his cell phone from the glass dining table when he received a call. “Boss, you think Silverback is supernatural?” Nelson asked, confused because Silverback had a strength that appeared, on the surface, irrational. Though, other possibilities made no equal sense. 

“I do not doubt that. Silverback, I recently found out, might not be the Beast of the distant blood-washed canyons. Why hadn’t the law enforcement claimed him as the primary suspect? The reward is fastly climbing, and no one has snitched on Silverback because perhaps he’s innocent.” The Boss’s voice thundered in his ear.

The Boss was confident about one fact, Nelson thought. Bill was the only person besides Silverback who knew the secrets of the scarlet ring. Bill could also unlock the 3D laser security and uncover the GPS target location and routes. No known present-day technology could replicate human genius or unexplained talent. Bill had a blazing fine gift. He only lacked a moral conscious. And the scales of fair temperance that avoid the suctions of war. If Bill weren’t dead, he’d have to reckon with him for the sake of the scarlet ring.

Nelson had only days as the ring’s powers were vulnerable to fading out and changing to an ordinary ring for world sellers to take advantage of top private auctions. Also, only days when the Boss would be told it was a fake by his employed experts. 

Nelson persuaded the detectives to go farther into the dreary desert. Then at least Nelson and the rangers wouldn’t be alone in the vast playground of the Utah Beast while on their search. There be more searchers and trained dogs brought in. Nelson was healthy in that one regard. He knew how to manipulate and why not hypnotize them to do his will.

***

The police department was investigating the missing person’s report. Bill didn’t have an address, and a phone number was all the information Nelson gave. Besides, he took care of Bill’s greyhound while temporarily staying with a friend. Nelson looked up at the clerk. Her tortoise round-framed bifocals made her eyes bulge to match her neck. She was courteous, though, and seemed genuinely friendly. 

After filling in the answers for a sketch artist the other day, he returned the consent forms to the front counter for evidence searches to gain Bill’s whereabouts. The clock on the wall read 9:34 AM. Nelson put his hands on the side of his jeans to keep them from trembling. He waited for her to call over the lead detective on the case.

A short man walked over. Another man of the same stature peeked over his office desk and then raised himself from the chair. Behind him was a familiar dark shadow. Nelson found out quickly who it was. His brother, Bill, with a bandaged middle finger.

“Hell, Brother, it’s a relief to see you!” Bill embraced him. Nelson was stunned. “The jeep, it’s outside. I told chief Kirk I went for a run and got my finger severed by a cactus, and it’s been a nightmare. They attached my finger.” Bill tried bending but failed.

“Inquiry solved. You two swear to keep away from the canyons, and you are free to go. Like a Big Foot, a dangerous killer doesn’t need provisions to live out there.

“Bill was found wandering by a ranger late yesterday. I don’t know how he knows the desert so well; a miracle. Ah, the maniac hasn’t left. He’s out there somewhere.” She took off her glasses. “The detectives with the badges will hopefully slay that dragon.” The clerk said.

Nelson headed for the exit.

“Wait, Nelson, you live near Smokies. There was a robbery a month ago. know anything about that, either of you?” Kirk asked.

“No. I’ve trouble finding my juice for my vapors.” Then Nelson added, “They have a gas station alongside the shop. Of course, they may not have caught anything. The store or street cameras may be phony.”

“Well, it’s a shame. The owner, he’s seventy, nearly blind and deaf. Maybe one of his customers will remember something,” Kirk said.

“Wish we could help,” Bill answered. 

***

Silverback walked up to Ivory. “You’re going to the hospital; the stab appears to be infected.” Silverback wasn’t going to permit her to be stubborn anymore.

“You’ll be seen; you fit the description on the FBI’s most wanted poster. She pointed to the mirror. “You won’t be the one to take me; Ace is volunteering, and Spade also offered.”

“I would’ve loved to kill Bill for he brought. The Gray Wolf tells me he’ll lead us to the ring.”

“Their Boss will come for you, Silverback, and you may not have the Mountain Gorillas to rescue you again if they discover I lost the ring.” Ivory brushed her tangled blond hair back with her fingers and clipped it with a silver butterfly hair claw.

“They’re not going to find out; Nelson isn’t going to tell them. Bill will lead us to Nelson. When Ace and Spade return, I will leave this room above Smokies. Your grandpa won’t mind us staying awhile with him.” Silverback stared into Ivory’s concerned blue eyes. Ivory had been in county jail several times, and the bitter taste of confinement and isolation was there in her eyes, making them seem to darken, brown. Silverback hugged her and kissed her lips gently.

Ivory turned away from looking at Silverback. Instead scratched her slim arms as she slowly and painfully folded them underneath her breasts when he let her go. “Nelson knows our secrets. They got into the lock-safe boxes and our file cabinets. They found the drawer underneath the bookcase. They’ll send me straight to hell, these brothers. I am not talking about prison but the wrath of the Utah Maniac. I will be his prey, Silverback.”

Ivory picked up her travel bag. “The Gorillas are sonofabitches wicked as anything with human legs can get, but the Utah Maniac of the Canyons, the fucking pilot of the desert’s graveyard. How long can the Mountain Gorillas keep protecting us, Silverback?” Ivory stumbled toward the front door with Ace and Spade behind her.

“Ivory, as long as we have the Gray Wolf, well, it saved us with Bill, and also from my terrible accident, my Harley tumbled into the dry canal. You cannot deny its existence any more than I, and you saw what it did with Bill’s finger, cut it cleanly like a saw blade.

“Yes, I know the Gray Wolf led me out from being lost in the desert. I was so thirsty that I collapsed in the dust. The scorpions on my bare flesh, I didn’t care. I was suffering from Bill’s knife attack. The Gray Wolf was my oasis. Unlike any wild animal, I followed its unique paw prints and the howls that echoed—its white face was my salvation.”

“The Bastard, why didn’t you kill Bill? He almost raped me.” Ivory’s voice was shallow.

“The Boss has the scarlet ring. You lost it in the jeep while trying to fight off Bill. I am sure Nelson has already found it.”

“I realize that. Our one way out of the Mountain Gorillas and this dreadful desert. We will go somewhere the Utah Maniac can’t find us, perhaps Hawaii. You always wanted to return there too.”

“So darling, concentrate on that and not your fears. I’ll come to your bedside once I get the ring. Until then, Ace will be with you and update me on your progress.” Silverback turned and looked at Spade. He wore a leather biker vest with skulls on the front with USA flags. “Spade, come with me.”

“What about Mouse?” Ivory kissed Spade on the cheek. Silverback was jealous. She wore a yellow lace blouse over a beige tank top over dark jeans. Her hiking boots laced up over her ankles. 

“You can’t trust him; he’s not loyal to the Mountain Gorillas or you. He’s more likely to hurt you than protect you. He’s your half-brother, yes. Remember who placed that red scar on your wrist.” Silverback put a pistol in his belt’s pouch. His eyes were dark purple from Bill’s beating and cuts that resembled twisted pyramids. The special bandages and antibiotic cream would relieve and remove the discoloration and swelling. In the mirror, Adam barely recognized himself.