Gone Shootin'

Short story time, kids!  I know it's not Halloween, but this isn't a horror story, it's an action/crime deal.   A badass-biker-chick story, to be specific.  As a little background, sometimes I write on an endless action-series type post-apocalypse novel (affectionately known as the roadwarriorbullshit) and one of the main characters in it is a biker chick named Morgan, who used to be a criminal before the war.   The hard-life skills she learned made her particularly suitable for survival in the post-apocalypse wasteleand.

Well, I was listening to a certain AC/DC song and this story built itself in my head, and I decided it'd work well as a "prequel" kind of story, an episode from what Morgan was doing before the war.  Don't worry, you don't have to know anything about the roadwarriorbullshit for this to work, it's totally independent... which is a good thing, since nobody else has copies of the roadwarriorbullshit, anyway.  In any case, I've tried to layer in as much high-octane badass as I can manage into this sumbitch, and, hopefully, it'll be entertaining enough to be worth your time.   As always, feedback would be wonderful, so  if you have anything to say, please do so.

And as is usual with posting short stories, here's a table of contents for other works available on this site:

My stuff:
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If you like this story, please read some of those!

Now, here's a little soundtrack while you read.... play it loud and often.

                                                GONE SHOOTIN'

                Even though she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, the girl scared Eddie more than Mikey Bendix did, and Mikey B. had once killed a guy with a hammer.  Her eyes were a bright grey, as close to chrome as human DNA could swing it, made more shocking by being combined with long brown hair.  You seldom got eyes like that out of anything but a Scandinavian blonde, and even then it was rare.  She was Viking-sized, at least six feet tall and built into it, lean but with shoulders that looked like they could pull an engine block.  She'd looked at him once since she and Mikey walked in and he hoped she didn't do it again; it was the first time he'd ever felt that way about a woman.  No female had put fear in him since his mama, and he didn't like it.

                Yeah, Mikey was scary, but this girl had a presence, easy menace coming off of her like a cold front, and Eddie suddenly felt that he was in the middle of a really bad idea.   He hoped Mance and Buster would feel it, too, and pull the plug on their plan, let the deal go straight.

                "This looks like really good shit," Mance said, having to shout over the AC/DC blaring on the stereo.  Mance liked to "direct scenes" like he was making a movie, so he soundtracked everything.  But more importantly, the pounding rhythm would mask other loud noises.  When your neighbors are full-patch members of Jackal's Den MC, you don't complain about the stereo being too loud.   You don't report gunshots, either.  He held a large meth crystal in front of his clear blue eyes, squinting, his wide, fat face screwed up in an admiring wince.  "I'm used to cloudier than this.  My compliments to the Mad Doctor."

                "Only place you'll find better is on Breaking Bad, and that shit's fiction," Mikey said, grinning.  "Knock you so high your Journey albums'll start sounding good."

                Mance frowned at him.  "I'm insulted that you'd think I've even got any Journey albums.  You 'n' me may have to step into the street."

                Mikey snorted.  "That shit'll get you so banged out you might buy some.  You do that stuff, best unplug the Internet first, or no telling what kind of shit Amazon'll surprise you with three days later."

                "You talk it up good," Mance said.  He dropped the crystal back in its little baggie and head-jerked some hair out of his eyes.

                "And it don't even need it."

                The girl sighed, and Eddie decided if she could get bored during a hundred-and-sixty-thousand dollar drug deal being made with a gun freak like Mance Rayburn then she was a very cold-blooded piece of work indeed.   Mance noticed the impatience and looked at her.  "Baby's all business," he noted.

                "Yeah baby is," she said.  "Make it move, huh?"   She waved a hand at him.  She was wearing gloves, which was normal enough for a biker chick, but people who showed up for meets wearing gloves made Eddie nervous.  If you planned on things going friendly you wouldn't be concerned about keeping your fingerprints off a scene.

                It was like she suspected what they were planning to do.

                Eddie was glad Mance would be doing the shooting.  He didn't think he could kill anything so gorgeous.  He halfway hoped they might keep her alive long enough to rape her.  He'd never raped anybody before, wasn't really inclined to it, but she seemed like a good place to start.  It'd be a way to conquer the fear of her.

                "Yeah, okay," Mance said, sounding a little surprised that anybody was talking to him that way, much less a chick.  Mance didn't like people being unimpressed with him, and he shot Mikey a long look.

                "Morgan doesn't like drugs, is all," Mikey explained.  

                "Really?" Mance said.  "You're in the wrong business, babe."

                "Today I am," Morgan said.

                "Doc was gonna come with me today but he had some court thing," Mikey said.  "Drugs aren't Morgan's usual area."
                "What is Morgan's usual area?" Mance asked, looking at her.   "At risk of not 'making it move' for a second."

                "Thievin'," Morgan said.  "Mostly cars, bikes."

                "Cars?"  Mance said.  "Don't see many girls doing that."

                "The size of my demographic doesn't concern me," she said.

                Mikey smiled.  Since somebody had hung his jaw crooked, it did nothing to make his face look friendlier.  "Morgan's not like most girls.   If Satan had an ol' lady, she'd be it."

                "Yeah, I can see that much," Mance said.  "At first I thought Victoria's best-kept secret had walked in.   Good lord.  You are one stunning woman.  I've never seen anything like you."

                Morgan looked bored with the compliment.  Un-fucking-reachable.

                "Almost beautiful enough to get away with acting like a cunt," Mance added.   Morgan remained dead-eyed.

                Mikey shook his head.  "I wouldn't, man.  Hey, let's just count the money, eh?"

                "Yeah, count away," Mance shrugged, kicking the duffel bag toward him.  "It's all there, but, by all means, verify."

                It was while Mikey was peering into the cash that Mance pulled the .44 Magnum from the couch cushions and shot him.   A fistful of Mikey's head landed on the bed in the room beyond and Mance turned the Magnum toward Morgan just in time to catch a round from the Detonics she'd quick-snaked from the small of her back; it hit his chest and turned on a faucet.  Pouring, he bounced back onto the couch and it was the last moving he did.

                Eddie froze in the thunder.  Buster didn't.   Buster, a wiry little guy with a face that was all nose and receding hairline, snatched up the cash and the drugs and streaked for the door like the weasel he resembled.  Morgan snarled at him but also had to keep track of Eddie, so Buster made it out.  Even over the whistle in his ears, Eddie heard Buster's bike firing up.   Morgan made an animal sound of anger and turned back to Eddie, oh-shit grim.   He reached for the shotgun propped behind the speaker but she railed a boot into his face, hard, and the room was full of grey fireworks that tasted like pennies.  He tried crawling through them but she took hold of his leg and did something really bad to his knee, a twist and then a strike.   He screamed, and the fireworks went spectacular.

                When he swam out of the darkness she was on him.  He was getting a better look at those frosty eyes than he could handle.   Absurdly, even through the blood in his nose, he noticed how good she smelled.   "No time to look for anything to tie you up with," she hissed at him, "so we'll improvise."   She bunched his hands together, like praying, and laid them against a baseball bat she took out of the corner.  Then she came down hard on them with her knee, and put all her weight into rolling forward, then back.   His hands made noises like bubble wrap and the pain from them made his knee feel like nothing.  He squealed, surprised he could even make such a sound, and tried to scramble away from her, but she hauled him back.  "Nah-ah," she growled.  "You got talking to do.  Where's that fuck going?"   She tilted her head toward the door.

                "How do I know?" he rasped.

                "You make an educated guess or you 'n' me play patty-cake," she said.  She picked up one of his hands and squeezed it, and he made that noise again and curled up around it.    His hands looked like empty gloves that had been wrung out to dry.  They wouldn't unroll, he couldn't make them do anything but tremble.  Morgan leaned down over him, smiling.  Her teeth were perfect.  Of course. "Again, same question."

                "Probably Hi-Ho Silver's," Eddie yelped.  "Or home.  Fuck, I don't know.  That part wasn't planned."

                "Where's he live and what's his name?" Morgan asked. 

                "Buster.  That might even be his real name, I never heard any other.  Buster, ahhh... Fredricks.  Lives in a yellow house, across the street from the Walgreens."

                "Drug dealer on every corner in this town, huh?"  Morgan said.   "That's a joke, you can laugh."

                "No I can't," he grunted.  The pain in his hands and knee and face were washing through him, overloading him, and he felt panic rising to meet it.  He just wanted her away from him.  He couldn't stand to have her hurt him anymore.  She was the devil.

                "Some people got no sense of humor," she said, standing up and looking at the scene.  She found the brass her Detonics had kicked out and pocketed it.  "Unlucky for you, I'm one of 'em."  She stepped over Mikey's body, then looked at Mance's, her back to Eddie.  "Feel free to pick up that shotgun," she said.  "See what happens."

                "No way," he grunted.  His hands wouldn't do anything.  They were swelling like a couple of Mickey Mouse gloves and he wondered how many surgeries he'd need before he could handle a fork again, much less a shotgun's recoil.

                "More for me, then," Morgan said, reaching over him and taking the shotgun from behind the speaker.  It was a double-barrel sawed-off, an ugly, ridiculously short thing.  She pressed it to Mance's bullet wound and triggered both barrels with a hideous ear-slapping bark, then shoved it into Mikey's hands.  The room was whistling, so she had to shout.  "Hi-Ho Silver's?  You're sure of that?"

                "I'm not sure, no, how can I be sure?"  Eddie gasped.  "But the fucking rat ran out on me, I got no reason to protect his ass.   Buster's on the dumb side.  He'll end up there, to tell Spike what he did.  He follows Spike like a puppy.   He's a hang-around.  Trying to get a patch.  He wants a patch more than anything."

                "Soon he'll want to just stop bleeding more than anything," Morgan said, picking up Mance's Magnum.  "Ah, the ol' Smith & Wesson model 29, Dirty Harry's gun.  Every bad dude since 1971's gotta have one, impractical sonofawhore that it is.  So where's the full-auto shit?"


                She tilted her head, questioningly.  "Automatic weapons."  She huffed like a Thompson running through a drum.  "Machine-fucking-guns.  Where they at?'

                "I don't know."

                She stepped over to him.  "A big arms dealer like Mance Rayburn without class three ordnance?  Come ahhhhn.   Don't make me hurt you again, dude, the way you screech makes me a little sicky."

                "I swear to god, I don't know!   He's on every cop's radar, he wouldn't keep anything like that in his apartment.  He keeps all his shit warehoused somewhere."

                She nodded.  "Got no time to search, anyway.  Still, you better not be lying to me, or... well, nothing, I guess, since you're going to be safe from consequences."   She looked at Mance's body, then back at Eddie.  "He sure was a mean sonofabitch, killing you and Mikey that way."

                "Wha..." Eddie said, and Morgan shot him in the face with the Magnum.  She barely glanced at him, not really wanting to see what the bullet did.   It was enough to take Dirty Harry's word for it.  She wound the Magnum back into Mance's hand, tied her hair back in a ponytail which she tucked in her tee-shirt, then went into the bedroom.  She avoided looking at the hairy chunk of Mikey's head on the bed as she dug a red plaid lumberjack shirt out of a pile of clothes and put it on, as well as some RayBans and a cap that, ironically, advertised the kind of shotgun ammo she'd probably used to mask Mance's wound channel.  A quick search for money uncovered a .357 Python in a night-table drawer; deciding it could come in handy if the cops got busy and she had to ditch her Detonics early, she shoved it in her waistband.

                As she stepped out of the apartment into the sunlight, Bon Scott yowled, "Gone shootin', my baby gone shootin'" from the stereo.

                "Yeah baby is," Morgan mumbled, heading to her Harley, taking a sad glance at Mikey's.  A clock had started in her head with the first gunshot, and there should be sirens in the distance by now.  All she heard, though, were kids yelling at each other.   This was a bad neighborhood.  Maybe a slightly better one now.

                She started the bike and throttled with a hand still numbed by the recoil, wheeling out of the neighborhood, fast but not hey-look-at-me-and-remember-it fast.   The ice of fear was thawing inside her, and as usual she hadn't let it control anything, forcing it to only make her more calm and clear-headed.    It was an old trick her daddy had taught her, and he'd been very sorry once she learned it because then his fun was over.  

                She hoped the shotgun blasts she'd put into Mance's bullet wound would be enough to foul the ballistics readings for the pigs, because she had more business to do with her gun before she could dump it.   With luck they'd lose her slug amidst all that .00 buckshot, since they wouldn't be looking for it.  She hadn't been crazy about Mikey, but he'd been a partner, and nobody burned Morgan Stack and went without heavy payback.  If your rep went bad you'd spend all your time trying to rebuild it.  Precedents couldn't be allowed to stand.   If it worked once, some fool would always want to see if it could work again.

                In another neighborhood a couple of miles away she stuffed Mance's shirt and sunglasses and hat into a dumpster.   A few miles after that she undid the ponytail and let the slipstream shake it out. 

                There was nothing in the driveway of the yellow house across from Walgreens.  Some mail in the mailbox was addressed to Richard Fredericks.  Good boy, Eddie.   She thundered the Harley to Hi-Ho Silvers and parked it out front.  There were a dozen or so bikes and as many cars in the lot, even though it was early afternoon, not optimum hours for a strip club.  But, boys liked watching high ho's dance any time of the day, didn't they? 

                She stepped into more AC/DC booming.  Bikers sure do love their AC/DC, she thought.  Stuck in a rut.  You'll take 1978 when you pry my old dead fingers from it.

                "Morgan Stack!"  Fat Bob, the manager, greeted her.  "Don't tell me my dreams have come true and you're here to apply for a job!"   He showed off his gold tooth.  It had something engraved on it but she'd never wanted to get close enough to the Ron-Jeremy-looking creep to determine what it was.

                "Okay, I won't tell you," she said, walking past him.  "Much as I love lyin'."

                "Don't tell the other girls, but if you ever do want to work here, I'll pay you twice what they make.  Hell, I'll go triple just to see that cooch."

                By way of a don't-give-a-damn, Morgan took a handful of his face and shoved hard, and he fell against the bar.  She didn't bother to watch the slapstick, scanning the room for Buster.

                Fat Bob snarled to himself and said, "I don't know what you're thinking, bitch..."

                "Yeah, you don't, or you'd be running."  She glanced at him and smirked.  "Waddling, whatever."

                "You made a mistake.  I'm not the kind of guy who'll take that off a woman."

                She sighed and gave him her eyes.  "Option one is learning to deal with the idea that, yeah, now you are.  Wanna hear about option two?  It's loud."

                He looked away and shook his head.  "Goddamn, you're in a nasty mood."

                "Only all the time.  Couldn't really blame anybody if they steered clear of me."

                He went away, and Morgan perched on a stool and watched the room.  Richard "Buster" Fredericks wasn't here, but maybe he'd show up.  His Jackal's Den sponsor, Spike, was across the room in a booth with some other guys, so he hadn't been talked to yet.   Buster wouldn't be blabbing much yet, she thought.  He'd been involved in a murder and would be figuring out what to do about it.   There was a possibility he might not show at all, just jet with the money, and if that was the case she'd have a harder time tracking.  She'd still do it, though.  Otherwise suspicion might fall on her.  Two people had walked out of that room and one of them had the money.  Either she got it back to Mikey's club or it was her word against an absent Buster's, and she didn't like the feel of that.  With three bodies racked up over it, Jackal's Den and Ghost Patrol would both be after her if that money stayed gone.   And she was bad news, but nobody was bad enough to handle that. 

                Her blood pressure felt like it was running in overdrive, but she forced it back to calm, using her old tricks.

                Stupid dope deals.  She hated them and was mad at herself for going along.  Mikey wasn't that great of a friend and now she'd killed two people and would probably kill at least one more before the day was out.  And even though she'd done it a few times, murder wasn't her preferred method of business.  She just liked to steal.  A more acceptable level of risk.  With stealing they let you out someday.  And the guilt was easier to wrestle down.

                She watched a girl dance through Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick."  She wasn't good, but it was a bold choice, and nobody was really watching, anyway, too busy gossiping like a bunch of bridge club ladies.  It was louder and dirtier but it was the same damn thing.  One table full of guys was talking about her.  She couldn't hear them, but they kept looking over.  Sooner or later one of them would come over to collect a go-to-hell and that would be that.  Annoying, but it was inevitable.  She was a thing for guys to dare each other about.

                Even though she didn't enjoy being here, Morgan knew how to wait.  She'd seen far too many people louse things up by getting impatient, so waiting was a skill she'd mastered.  If it was worth it she could outwait a tree.  Eddie had been too afraid to lie, and if Buster was such a remora for Spike, he'd show up before too long.  Biker club prospects, there were few things as pathetic.  Love me, love me, like a puppy on its back.  They'd degrade themselves to get a brother more than they ever would for a woman.

                Time passed and she kept a lid on her sense of desperation.   Young girls danced to songs older than them, daddy issues set to daddy's music.   One of the guys from the table got up and headed over.  He was handsome enough but Morgan wasn't tempted; she'd gotten too much sex when she was eight for it to be a big motivator now.  "Hey now," the guy said.  "I was wonderin'... if you can guess the number I'm thinking of, I'll marry ya."

                Morgan flipped him a bird.
                "Aw, you must've heard it before," he said, grinning.

                She sighed.   "Dude... if that ever works on a girl, don't take her home with you, because she'll be crazy."

                "Well, crazy's kinda what I'm looking for."

                "The kind you're looking for ain't the kind I got.   Go laugh with your buddies over getting shot down, huh?   I'm in no mood."

                "Okay, baby, okay.   Sorry I bothered you."

                "It's alright, you had to."

                The guy sat down and his friends laughed and pounded on him and Morgan looked off toward the door again.   Another song went by and a little boy dressed as a cowboy ran past and started trying to climb up onto one of the bar stools.   Probably a stripper's kid, bending the bar rules to avoid having to turn over any of that G-string stuffing to daycare.   Morgan watched him struggle for a minute and he seemed determined, so she got up and lifted him onto the stool.   He laughed and started spinning.

                Morgan sat back down and watched him.  He didn't look more than four, way out of place here with all the titties bouncing around, not to mention the occasional fights.  It was quieter during the day; at night she hoped they wouldn't let him in at all. 

                He stopped spinning and sat laughing, staring at her, blinking his eyes against the dizziness.  She said, "Fake I.D. wouldn't work for you so you gotta catch a buzz any way you can, huh, pardner?"

                He stuck his tongue out and blew her a razzberry.

                She scowled and blew him one back, and he frowned back and held up his middle finger.

                Morgan stifled a laugh and shook a fist at him, and he giggled.   Good.  She'd once broken the arm of a guy whose kid had flinched when she did that.  Lucky kid, not understanding the real thing.  It'd been more than she could say.

                He flipped her off again and she leaned down on the bar, rested her chin on her arms, and poked out a lip at him, sadfacing.   "That's really not nice, you know?   Doing that.   It's mean and nasty."   She made an "ick" face and shook her head.

                He blinked.  She had his full attention.  Probably the eyes, they had that effect, even on kids.

                "Yeah.   You shouldn't do that.   Be a nice boy."   He reached out and started playing with Morgan's hair.   "And don't let anybody tell you that a nice boy's not a good thing to be.  Okay?"

                He nodded.  "Okay."

                "Good start."   She smiled at him, then glanced toward the door.  Well, look what the cat dragged in, and the coroner's gonna drag out.

                Buster was looking nervous, eyes darting everywhere.  He hadn't spotted her yet in the neon gloom, and she didn't want Spike to see him before she got to him.  Patting the kid on his cowboy hat and saying, "Seeya, pardner," she beelined through the sparse crowd, slipping out her buck knife and palming it.   She had Buster by the arm before he spotted her.   He looked up, alarmed.  A weaselly little guy, Morgan was about half a foot taller than him, and they both felt every inch of it.

                "Hiya, Buster," she said.  "Let's go somewhere where we can have us a lil' chat."   She shoved him toward the door.

                He tried to wrestle his arm loose.  "Leggo.  I ain't gotta go anywhere with you," he squeaked.

                Morgan sighed.   "That's right, you don't.   You could stay here.  Right here."  She snapped the knife open, let the light from a nearby Miller Draft sign lick off its wickedness.

                "Hey now," he said.

                "Heyyyyyy," she purred, steering him out the door into the sunlight.  "Hey hey hey."

                "We ain't gotta do it like that," he said, nodding down at the knife.

                "Nope, but it's quieter."   She gave him a little poke with the blade and sucked through her teeth to make a slitting sound.  "Don't worry, I'm real good with it."

                "No, I mean..."

                "I know what you mean.  I also know you and your buddies killed Mikey and had intents and purposes to kill me, too.  Kinda shit that pisses me off.  Kinda shit that makes what you mean not mean much to me."

                "No, not me!" Buster said.  "I was never gonna!  That's why I ran!  I could've shot you!  I was supposed to..."

                "Turns out you should've, then.   Saved yourself a lot of trouble down the line."

                "I wasn't wanting to kill nobody!"

                "Then you were in a situation you should have kept yourself out of completely, dumbass.   Either do it or don't.  Plan A-and-a-half never pans out for anybody.   Where's the crank and the cash?"

                "Can't give you that," Buster said.

                Morgan looked at him quizzically.  Eddie had said Buster was on the dumb side.  "Excuse me?" she laughed.
                "No.  I gotta give it to Spike."

                "Did Spike know about this?"  Morgan wished she'd taken longer to toss Mance's place for automatic weapons.  If the fuck-over was that big she might need one to even it up.

                "Naw.  Naw, it was all Mance's idea.   But he said for sure we gave him that hundred grand and the dope, Spike would give me my colors."

                "You want colors?  I'll give you colors."  Morgan nicked his neck with the knife.  "You don't gimme that green then I hope you like red.   Christmas gonna come early for one of us."

                "Can't do it," Buster said, shaking his head and backing away, panicking as Morgan shoved him around the corner of the building.   "Can't!"   Suddenly frantic, he swung at her, and she slipped under it but he managed to bull into her and shove her down, then fired a kick into her stomach, doubling her up.  Then he was off, running.

                Christ, the balding little prick was good at rabbiting.  Morgan got up, snarling, sweeping her hair out of her face in time to see Buster fling himself onto his bike and roar out of the parking lot.   Cursing, she ran to her Harley, stomped it to life, and rocketed after him, throttling so hard the big bike almost shot out from under her.  She dropped back into the saddle and gunned it with such force it wheelied as it took to the highway.

                Buster had a good lead, but she'd built this panhead hot and felt sure she could take it from him if a cop didn't see them first... but at this speed they'd attract a lot of attention.   The bikes were howling like furies.

                Buster kept looking back.  His body language on the bike was all fear.  Good.  Maybe he'd be too scared to just stop in some public place where she couldn't shoot him or beat him down.  Keep him running to someplace private, that was her job.  As she closed the gap she spotted the duffel bag hung over his sissy bar.  Good.  Thanks, you ratfaced fuck.   She knuckled down and the bike rumbled through its shotguns, wind lashing at her.   The bike was doing its thing as she fed it, closing in on Buster's lead fast, asphalt going under her like a wash of static.  He was on some stock junk, fenders and shield and all, and she had him outclassed.

                In desperation, Buster hooked it into a side road at the last second, risking a foot by stabbing a heel down and pivoting on it, barely making the dogleg turn.  "Son of a bitch!" Morgan snarled and her body was already forcing the bike into the turn before her mind had committed to doing it.  Her nerves poured her blood a shot of icewater as the bike took the curve low, tires chirping.   It was a gamble that there was no loose gravel, but she beat the odds and gunned it.  The bike shot forward and straightened up and the coldness warmed up again.  Buster looked back and panicked.   Morgan grinned.  He'd underestimated her.  She'd been riding so long the bike was part of her; motorcycles had raised her, far more than any human had.

                She was good and mad now.   Laughing mad.

                Open wide, they blurred into the country now, winding it out, white lines flashing by like tracer rounds.  Morgan was close enough to smell the fear on him and she backed off the throttle, picking a spot.   When she had the rat lined up where she wanted him, she pulled alongside and showed him Mance's .357.   He looked at her, pale.   She motioned him to pull over but he shook his head, no.   "Want me to click the hammer like in the movies?" she yelled.  "Will that motivate you?"

                He just kept going.  Morgan fired a couple of rounds around him, not trying to hit him but coming close.   She was blessed with a natural sense of pointability and rarely missed anything she was trying to hit, but the .357's barks had the desired effect;  Buster flinched and swerved, right through the ditch and into the trees beyond at nearly a hundred miles an hour, roostertailing turf and shredding leaves.   The sound of the crash was like thunder.   Bad one.

                Morgan braked and pulled back around.   The country road was empty; no witnesses.  If her plan held together, Buster would be dead from the crash and the local law would write it off as an accident.  She pulled the bike off the road behind a bush and followed Buster's debris field, which was extensive.  Somebody'd spot that rut from the road soon enough.

                No luck; he wasn't dead, amazingly.   He was in sorrowful shape, but not bad enough to be reliably dead if she left him.   Shit.

                He was lying there, trembling and suffering.  One leg was on backwards now; she'd never seen anything like it, it looked like a doll with a factory defect.  His bike wasn't in much better shape.  New-school stock piece of shit, wasn't even a shame.   The duffle bag was still tangled up in it.

                Buster watched her plant a foot on the wreckage and tug the bag loose.  "Gimme your milk money," she said.

                Buster was gasping in pain.  "Help me," he rasped.  "Please."

                Morgan laughed.  "Good one."

                "C'mon... it wasn't personal.   I didn't shoot nobody.  Wasn't gonna."

                "'I'll never do it again,' said the liar."

                He trembled like he was freezing to death in the sunlight.  "I ran.  I didn't shoot nobody.  I ran.  I could've shot you.  I was supposedta."

                "Don't do me favors."  She shook her head and aimed the .357. 

                He sobbed.   "Do it, then!   Fucking ghost-eyed cunt!   Heartless whore!  Wish I had shot you!  Cold-ass bitch!"

                "Go ahead, hurt my feelings on top of everything else, why not," Morgan said with a pout.

                "I gotta get my colors!" Buster yelled, crying now.

                "Yeah, well, here comes black," Morgan said, then wrecked his face with a round from the .357.  His body trembled and withered down.  It was merciful, really, the shape he was in.  She went back to her bike, feeling nothing but a gnawing cold, disjointed regret cocktailed with relief.   She checked the duffel - the money was all there, and he'd stashed the drugs in it, too -- and secured it to her bike and rode, tossing the .357 Python off a bridge about six miles down the road.   Her own Detonics would get ditched in another town, once she'd secured a replacement.

                Ghost Patrol's clubhouse was an old convenience store that had been burned out when some never-happen-to-me asshole hadn't obeyed the extinguish-all-smoking-materials rule at the pumps out front.   Morgan wasn't a member so she wasn't allowed in, but that was a technicality guys didn't really try to enforce with girls like Morgan.

                Gink, the president, was at a table playing some game using pistachio shells with a couple of guys she knew as Clorox and Apehanger Johnny (to differentiate him from Gimpleg Johnny and Reno Johnny, and a now-deceased guy named PacMan Johnny, whose picture hung on the wall, looking too friendly to be an outlaw).  Another guy she knew by sight but not name was sacked out on a rotting couch reading an issue of Cosmopolitan.   God knows where that had come from.   The air was rank with sticky smoke.  "'Zup, tramps?" she said.

                "Was wondering when or if you were going to turn up," Gink said, standing up.  He was a handsome guy, looking too young for the grey hair he had.  Most of it was in his beard stubble, making him look a bit grizzled.  "Cops were just here about Mikey.   You okay?"

                "Yeah," she said.  "Cops mention me?"

                He shook his head.   "They don't know a thing about you.  To them it's just some scootertrash feud, they probably won't even look into it much since nobody 'good' got scragged.  Put it down to urban renewal.  Damn, I'm gonna miss Mikey.  He was a hell of a brother.  Crazy son of a bitch."

                Morgan shrugged.   They were all crazy sons of bitches, and right now she was weary of them.

                "You sure you're okay?"

                "Worst I picked up was a kick in the stomach," she said, lifting her tee shirt to check.   A nice big bruise was spread across her abs.  Seeing it make it hurt more.

                "Damn, baby, you look like the last banana in the store."

                She shrugged.   "It's alright, nobody remembers giving it to me.  I've got something for you on my bike."

                "You got back the club's dope?  Or the hundred grand Mikey was owed?"

                Smelling a test, she decided to throw one back.  "Both.  But it was a hundred twenty, wasn't it?"

                "Hundred sixty," Gink said, smiling.  "But we're gonna call it a hundred forty just because I like your style.  In fact, I like your everything.   You and me should hit the town sometime."

                "What's the point?   It always gets up again."   They walked out toward the bike.

                Gink laughed.  "You're not used to things you hit doing that, are you?  Baddest bitch I ever met in my life.   One tall, cold drink of water, you are.   I really thought you were going to take that money and abscond.  I was worrying.  Didn't want to be the one chasing you."

                "Guess there's honor among thieves after all," Morgan said.  "Or I just don't want to tangle with two biker clubs.   Not at once, anyway."   Gink laughed at that.  "Don't know if you guys will have trouble from Jackal's Den or not, but from what the rat told me the whole thing was Mance's deal.  He sold it as a surprise for Spike.   Most likely it was going to be a bigger surprise for his partners and he was planning to be the one absconding.   And you may want to put out word that the hangaround they're going to find was trying to run off with the stuff, and somebody unknown didn't let him.  I don't know if Mance was dealing independently or if that was club business.  If the Jackals bitch, give them their crank, make it a straight deal."

                Gink nodded.  "We'll smooth it.  Mance was a known asshole.  I think the only reason he was keeping his patch is nobody wanted to kick out a guy who had that many guns."

                "Tell me how it went sometime."   She transferred twenty grand from the duffel bag into her own saddlebags and handed him the rest.  Buster had stashed the drugs in with the cash; a bonus for Ghost Patrol.

                "So where you going, gorgeous?" he asked, watching her swing a long leg over her Harley.


                "Been there.  Didn't like it."

                Morgan shrugged.   "It's the best place to be this time of year."

                "Well, best of luck to you.   I hope we meet again.  It's always a pleasure to see you, Morgan."

                She shook her head and gave him a long, direct look.  "You've never seen me."

                Gink nodded, and Morgan fired her bike, pointed it out of town, and she was gone. 

                Gone, gone, gone.

                                                                                THE END