Previously, Junior's life became inundated with things that he didn't wish. Claims against the estate from so-called heirs to the fortune. Outlandish headlines and stories appearing. Elsewhere, Winston prepared to interview his father and the Bard.
Winston walked into the room as though he had watched too many second rate combat movies.
"You know you're getting special treatment pops, you being my dear dad and all. I'm running out of patience and you'll soon be running out of fingers. Oh yes, daddy dearest. I am smart. I know what your price is. Most men would list their manhood first, then probably their eyes, the ability to walk and maybe to hear. Fingers wouldn't be at the top of the list. But, they are for you."
Harpster did everything within his power to hide his terror. He couldn't completely hide it though. His son knew exactly what he was talking about. Harpster was a musician first and foremost. It meant more to him than the money, power and fringe benefits. The only thing better than producing great music was playing great music.
Harpster regained some composure. "What would you know about it, Winnie?" He knew how much Winston hated that name from his childhood. "Your fingers never did anything but kill. What's the count Wee Winnie Williker? Or, did you lose count. Or did it become so a part of your nature that you lost the desire to even brag about it?"
"I'm not Junior, pops. Little piggy went to market mind games won't reach me. It's been long enough. You had no back up. You had no damn plan at all. You…"
The Bard jumped up. Winston put his hands up startled. He put them up as though he were swiping at a fly that existed only in his imagination.
"There was a time
when the river flowed in torrents
through trembling canyons
that you were but an amoeba
like any other
you looked up at that mountain
as did they all
and dared to become king of it.
and now you are just as small
but you only look down."
The Bard looked Winston in the eyes. He didn't blink. Though little remained of what he once terrified those that terrified with, it was Winston that turned away.
Winston said, "You remember what a soldier is. You might even remember that you once were one. But, you are not one anymore. You don't have long to live, either of you. I suggest you get together and decide what your life is worth. You have two hours."
The guard unlocked the door and let Winston into the room where the two prisoners were being held. He walked in and just stood there staring. After a minute passed he called in the guard to ask him a question. "Nunez, was that hole in the wall there this morning?"
Nunez stared at the large hole in the wall of the room. "No, sir!"
"Nunez, would you be so kind as to tell me where my prisoners are at this particular time?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Well, Nunez, you can well imagine that I might not be too pleased to hear that?"
"Sir, yes, Sir."
Winston walked over to the hole in the wall and squeezed through it. He motioned for Nunez to do likewise. He had another question. "Nunez, have we built a new heliport since this morning?"
Nunez looked at the heliport and forced out a strained answer. "No, sir."
"Well, good. That is just great. I was just wondering, Nunez. If it isn't too much trouble. COULD YOU TELL ME WHERE THE HELL MY PRISONERS AND MY HELICOPTER HAPPEN TO BE?"
Sometime within the last two hours, Harpster and the Bard had knocked a hole in the wall, taken the helicopter, and escaped.
Harpster had his heart in his throat. He was sitting in a helicopter about to take flight and the pilot was singing a damn good version of "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. A desperate fear of flying would have been enough to strike terror into him. Adding the possibility of an armed attack at any moment put the tension level over the top as far as he was concerned. The Bard seemed pleased as though this was the most natural thing in the world. Somehow, that didn't help calm Harpster down.
As the chopper lifted off, Harpster's terror became academic. It was time to "tell your dreams to me,
fantasy will set you free".
As soon as they got a little air, the Bard could see where they were. "This is Mojave. Bel Air is south. Vegas north. New York east. Into the western glare we sought the deep blue sea."
"Look, I'm dead and I have to stay dead. It isn't wise for you to be alive either. We need to crash this thing."
"Like, dude. You're such a downer man. Always such a negative Nellie. Too dangerous. We can land this. It's a big desert. But, then we're in the desert. But, I can find a spot. Leave it to me. Yeeeeeeeooooowwwwww!!!!! Lake Los Angeles, Crystal Meth Capital of the world! What is there to do here dude? Oh nothing. Yeah! Then let's stay awake forever doing it!"
Brewster glanced over at the Bard blathering on and smiled. Something about the whole situation tickled the hell out of him. I've just escaped from armed independent mercenary soldiers. I'm flying over the Mojave desert in a helicopter piloted by a mentally ill homeless man that is looking for a place to land in the middle of the crystal meth capital of the world. "Get ya motor runnin'. Head out on the highway. Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes are way…"
Brewster felt alive for the first time in years. The Bard? He felt normal, like he always did. Lake Los Angeles actually had water in it at one point. It had been thought that a lake in the middle of a desert would make a great tourist attraction. For some reason the people preferred the Pacific Ocean that happened to be closer. Go figure. Eventually the man-made lake dried up and remained empty and abandoned.
Miners still coaxed gold out of the desert sand and lived unnoticed where no one else would care to look. If one wanted to get lost and not have anyone search for them, this would be a great spot. Even the native flora had a mind of its own. The Joshua tree, actually a succulent, which looked like a cactus, grew as though no one would actually look at it. Limbs jutted out at strange angles, grew up and down and straight, and crooked as though it had no interest in itself whatsoever.
The Bard had been here before. He had lived in this desert before hoping on the Metro link train to Union Station in Los Angeles. He had made his way to the mission district and lived there for over a year. The mission district looked and smelled like everyone's worst vision of homelessness. The reality of living there proved to be much worse. To see the painting is one thing, to be the subject matter is another. To get a whiff of something in passing is an assault on the senses, a brief one. To be the assailant unable to escape one's own foulness left permanent scars on the heart.
He could still hear their voices in his head. These voices were memories. They tried to compete with the other voices, the ones that attempted to tell him what to say and do. "Why don't you take a bath, bum? Jump in the fountain. It couldn't hurt." But, that would get you a night in jail. Gas stations locked their bathrooms. Bathroom keys were attached to neon glow rods that whistled Dixie if they were more than twenty feet from the building. But, bums didn't get bathroom keys to take baths in rusty sinks. It was a class thing. There was a time before being The Bard of Bel Air when Corporal Slater answered to "lousy bum" or "stinking parasite" or "worthless scum". Now he returned in a helicopter with one of the richest men in the world as a passenger.
He set the chopper down in a small canyon. There were a couple of dilapidated structures and a cave that looked to be reinforced. The Bard hopped out and beckoned Harpster forward. "Welcome to my summer cottage."
He threw Harpster a cell phone and smiled. Harpster smiled back.
He took another cell phone from his back pocket and typed in a number. "The is Red Rover from Dover. The password is "bird". I have the popsicle thawing out here at Bard Manners! Manners! The salad fork is not used for stabbing cocktail weenies and I find it most insulting."
A relieved Tenaya Adrian answered what she thought might be a question, "Yes, dinner would be lovely. Your place or yours. Have your people give me directions. So you have the dead guy with you?"
"Rumors of his death have been slightly exaggerated. But, just slightly. He doesn't look good at all for a thirty-year-old man. Well, nothing a couple eight balls of meth can't cure."
"Don't make me have Lucy arrest you now."
"So, she is interested!"