Horner Springs Retirees #01byJackLuis©
Horner Springs Retirees #1
Authors note: Horner Springs is a collective concept as discussed in thread "The Birth of Horny Town U.S.A" thread started by litfan10 in the Authors' Hangout forum. Authors who add to this town will pay at least lip service to the other Author's creations and may share characters. My contribution is part of a series of stories that will use your feedback to advance or reduce a character, depending upon how you, the readers respond. Tell me what you think.
Taking It Easy
Lester Murphy was 52 years old and had just left the Army after almost 32 years of service. He had taken all the veterans benefits that were offered, including the promise of a government job. That was how he ended up working as a postal deliveryman in Horner Springs.
He had told the VA lady that he'd like a calm job, eight combat tours and he was ready for taking it slow. She nodded and tapped at her keyboard for a while, totally ignoring Les, then she smiled, "Ah here you go, Rural Mail Carrier, doesn't pay much but with your retirement pension and the cost of living out there, you should make out all right."
She handed Les a printout from her printer and said, "Veterans Administration," her eyes told Lester she was talking to her headphone, so he looked at the printout. The pay would be less than he was making as a Master Sergeant, but he would be making more with his pension and he could live with that. He looked at the location, Horner Springs? He smiled, "Never heard of it, sounds perfect."
"Well, call me in three or four days and I'll let you know if, or when it's confirmed, Okay, Mr. Murphy?"
Lester looked at her nameplate and said, "Thank you, Mrs. Fauquier.
A few days later, Lester found out that he'd got the job, but he was shacking up with an old comrade outside of Ft. Dix and was, quite frankly, too drunk to care.
It took Lester a week to drive out to Horner Springs. He had arranged a moving company to move his things, there wasn't much, but he couldn't get much of it in his car. The used Cadillac he bought, had a large trunk, but his case of M1 rifles would not have fit in it.
The trip, in the Caddy was long and pleasant; he had decided to stop at the National Parks and sights along the way, so it took several days before he was at the top of the pass that led down to Horner Springs. He pulled over at a lookout point and gazed at the river valley that held the town.
Ranches and farms seemed to reach all the way to the city limits. The river ran sinuously though the valley floor through green fields and down thru town. The lake, which was the source of the river, was surrounded by trees. Lester drove down into this bucolic heaven and found the motel he had booked on line.
The Sleazy Eights didn't sound like much, but the pictures of the vintage cabins and knotty pine interiors intrigued Lester. When he pulled in to the Sleazy Eights that Friday night, he saw its distinctive sign, a poker hand, a pair of eights and four deuces. He found that the restaurant was open until ten pm and there was a bar as well in the comfortable lodge that housed the office.
He checked in, arranged his room, had a shower and in completely civilian clothes walked to the lodge to eat as a free man for what seemed like the first time. Even his hair was contributing to the new Lester Murphy as it was growing enough to almost be considered fuzz. Lester sat in the bar and had a burger and a few beers as he listened to a girl sing country western at the Karaoke. He was grinning as he walked back to his room and went to bed in his new town.
The post master had Lester do the downtown route for his first few weeks, "Ms O'Reily is going on her honeymoon and it'll let people get used to you and you can get to know the town," the Postmaster, Lynda Lust said, and handed him off to the flustering bride to be. Guadalupe O'Reily was neither Latin or Irish as far as Les could tell. She was a brunette in her forties, and best described as pleasantly plump if you were going to be kind.
"We're going to Denver and then down to Santa Fe! My Donald, has it all booked and we're staying in a Spa!" Lester cringed at her shrill enthusiasm for her projected honeymoon as they walked the route around town, and she showed him how to bag the mail. Les caught a bit of cleavage as she bent to open the bag for him to drop in the mail they had collected from the bank building. A slight stirring at the base of his stomach reminded him that he hadn't had sex recently and should be looking for a woman.
When they got to the Acme Building a surprising number, to Lester's mind, of long narrow boxes, being sent all over the country, were tied with a red ribbon and had a Card attached addressed to "Lupe". Lupe took the card and opened it, smiling and rocking side to side as she read it. She blushed and closed the card, untying the elaborate ribbon and dropping the long narrow boxes into the bag. "It's from a friend of mine, here in the building." She giggled tucking the card and ribbon in her back pocket while Lester finished collecting the mail. They made the circuit in about an hour and took the mail back to be sorted, that took less time than picking it up, so Lynda told Lupe to, "Go take your happiness to home, Honey," and patted her on the cheek. Lupe left without a word, but was laughing as she fished her keys out of her pants and skipped out the back door of the small post office.
Les had met a lot of people and most were real nice, though it was hard to shut them up sometimes, but Lester could always hold up some mail, smile, tip his cap and be on his way. By the end of the first three weeks he had met most of the 'eligible' matrons in town it seemed. A few had more than obviously flirted with him, but he hadn't really fancied any of them. He did enjoy making small talk instead of Tac reports though, and nobody had shot at him in weeks! Lester loved this job. In his rounds, Les had found a cheap apartment above a bakery. He figured the warmth from the ovens would make up for the cold of the coming winter.
After he had been in town a few weeks, he decided he ought to look for a permanent place to live. He was still covering the Downtown route, because Lupe Regan, nee O'Reily, had called in her additional three weeks of leave time. She and Donald were going to Arizona before they came home.
There were several Real Estate Agencies on his route, Lester had seen a few places that he might be able to afford, but hadn't really looked since he had been in town.
He paused at the window display outside one of agencies and checked out the properties for sale. He realized that there were few that didn't also have large acreage attached and he didn't need a "house, barns, equestrian arena and a pool, on 500 acres in the heart of the Valley" The price was marked down two hundred thousand, but that was just a few percent of the asking price.
He glanced at the pictures and passed on by. The next agency was more in his league, still the rural attachment to land was evident, and most small places were ten to twenty acres. He took the mail into the agency and the attractive woman behind the desk smiled and got up to meet him.
"I'll bet you're Mr. Murphy, we haven't met. May I see our mail?"
Lester handed her several envelopes and a few magazines.
She tossed the magazines on her desk, fanned the envelopes, and laughed, "It's here Louise," she called out.
"Hallelujah," a voice from a rear office shouted.
A large woman in a blue suit, came rushing out of her office and took the letter, opened it and laughed. Louise, apparently, ran back into her office and came back out with a large purse. "I'm off to the Court House; I'll be at Bennies after." Louise left the door open as she left.
"I'm sorry I didn't catch your name." Lester said and removed his hat.
She smiled, "Sorry but Louise was waiting for a deed to transfer so she could collect the fee. I'm Maureen Sorbados."
"Lester Murphy, pleased to meet you Mrs. Sorbados."
Maureen blushed a bit and said, "Ms Please, This is the twenty-first Century, after all." She glanced down and then up at Lester's face.
Lester smiled and said, "I'm interested in purchasing a home, but I don't have a lot of time now, could I come see you again, after five?"
"Well do you have a few minutes to let me know what to look for, I can do a search and have the results by the time you get off work." Maureen said and picked up a pad, "Please set down, can I get you something to drink?"
It took less time than Lester had thought before Maureen nodded, "I think I have the idea and there are several properties that might fit your requirements. Let me print out the listings and I'll have them for you as soon as you get off work. The office is open until five thirty, but I'll wait for you."
Lester nodded and was rerunning her words in his mind as he continued his route. He thought about Maureen, the redhead seemed to ooze both a lively vitality and a professional manner.
Randy Leroy Johnson had been a Chicago policeman, actually a lieutenant of detectives, until he had a personal epiphany one day and had to be restrained from stuffing a kilo of cocaine down the throat of a drug dealer. His "rabbi" at the Fraternal Order of Police suggested that it might be time to "refocus his efforts" and had assisted him in finding suitable employment in the Horner Springs Police Department.
Mr. Johnson was sensitive about his name, and insisted that, "It is pronounced 'Yo-han-son,' not Johnson, maintaining it was a mix up at Ellis Island."
The mayor, Eloise Bensen, noticed the change in the roster, when the Police Chief came for his weekly meeting with her. "Is this the new man you were telling me about, Randy Johnson?" She chuckled, "I must say, that is a distinctive image." She said grinning at the Chief.
"Oh, don't call him Johnson, he prefers Yo-han son. I can't afford to lose one of the few experienced detectives we've been able to attract. He seems to prefer to be called Lee," the Chief said, and added, "I'll change the roster before it's published in the town minutes."
"Yes, that's probably a good idea." The mayor said grinning.
Lee Johnson was explaining how to pronounce his last name to Betty Collins, the chiefs secretary, while waiting to see the Chief, "It is pronounced, Yo-han-son, like Swedish, you know?"
Betty, a 21 year old junior at Futter University, who worked mornings, smiled and looked at Lee. He was medium height, but quite broad in the shoulders and had a dark complexion, which worked well with the mahogany colored suit he was wearing. Betty looked quizzically at him, "Forgive me for saying it but, you don't look Swedish?"
Lee smiled, "I hear that a lot. I'm only a sixteenth Swedish, I guess the Nubian comes thru more." He flashed Betty his smile. That usually worked to close out this particular line of conversation.
A day later at dinner, Lester sat at the counter of the "Horny Springs Diner", two men were up trying to fix the sign that had been maliciously vandalized by replacing the "er" with a "y". Lester was laughing about it as Joann, dropped off his order and topped his coffee.
"Jagermister, good to see you again." A voice from his past said softly in his ear. Lester lost his appetite and turned from his meal slowly, "I had hoped never to see you again, Headhunter."
Morgan Gilhoulie Bernstein shook his head and sat next to Lester, "I can't say it thrills me either. I was shacked up nice and tight outside of Bragg when Redbeard called. He said he's calling in his markers and not even Big Tit's Houlahand herself ... Well, Redbeard is calling you too."
"What's that bastard up too? I'm free and clear, Discharged and out six months now. I got a job and I ain't traipsing halfway to Hades for nobody, ever again, and sure as hell, not with you."
Morgan reached out and took a menu as he waved at Joann, the waitress. "No need to go anywhere Jaeger, strictly domestic, well, for you anyway. Let me grab a burger and we'll find someplace to talk.
MGB, as Lester thought of him, had crossed Lester's path several times in the 32 years he had eaten Army chow. He had primarily been the harbinger of death and destruction. While Lester had found their targets, MGB had, neutralized them. They had been teamed up more than a couple of times and the best that could be said was that they were both on the right side of the grass, after all these years. Sergeant Major Bernstein had been a stone killer.
Lester looked at his Authentic Hungarian Goulash and wondered, "Why me, Lords of War?"
"Settle down Les, all they want us to do is find a loose wing nut that lives around here. He's been on the internet, busting the liberal's balls and has Washington all a twitter. So I figure the target must be close by here. We can't get a fix on his Internet because he uses the wireless net to connect. Most often it's with in range of the Futter College Wi-Fi base station. That narrows it down but it is still going to take some work to id the bastard." Headhunter Bernstein said and finished the third beer of the six-pack they had picked up on the way to Lester's apartment above the bakery.
He looked at Lester, "Les, if you're tee totaling, mind if I have another?"
Lester smiled, "Sure MG, I can't stand Bud anyway." As Morgan walked into the kitchen, Les thought that he didn't like MGB all that much either, but he was as close to a friend as Lester had, although he had thoughts about some of the ladies in town.
Morgan came back from the kitchen, "I brought you one, just in case you're desperate," MGB said and handed Les a can of Bud Lite.
Les took the can and sighed, "So, what do you have to start with?"
MGB sat and took a pull of his beer then began, "The guy is all Randian, and is making people nervous. I don't think he's dangerous but unibombers come an all sizes and twists," Headhunter said.
Les drank his beer then asked, "So why is Redbeard interested in this guy? There are lots of nuts on the internet. Shit, I've seen some of the wildest crap in the world on the net. Why pick on him?" Les asked.
"Beat's the shit out'a me, I'm just a trigger man, the men upstairs do the choosing, You know that."
"You're not going to snuff him, here are you? Shit this is America?"
"Not that I know of, we just need to find him. Who he is and just how crazy he is" Headhunter laughed, "Hell they ain't paying me enough to shoot anybody. My per diem is barely covering the motel," he took a drink and sat down. "How's the pussy supply in this berg?"
That was how they ended up in "Pat's", an Irish pub down by the river that served Harp from the tap and Guinness in a bottle.
In the quiet bar, Morgan smiled, and said, "Cheer up, Jagermister, ain't nobody gonna shoot at us." He accepted a mug of Harp from the bar keeper and continued, "His handle is Friend of Truth, or The Friend of Truth, I guess that makes the difference, you know why they sent us after him. The singular, and of course, you know how nervous Washington gets when people start talking about "The Truth".
He laughed, "Well, it's good for three hundred a day plus per diem, Democrat money spends as well as Republican money."
Morgan had finished his first mug, sat his glass on the back of the bar and turned to watch the young red headed couple, who could have been, and in fact were, brother and sister. She had a bodhrán, an Irish drum, and he a guitar. She started to beat the drum softly with a stick held between her thumb and forefinger, the heel of her hand added a different tone as her rhythm developed and became more complex, the guitar joined in and they played a reel of music that was almost Appalachian Blue Grass and yet more elemental.
The small crowd was clapping and laughing as she led him, then he led her in different ways, "Through the Fields of Kerry." Lester was surprised at the authenticity of the music; he had spent several months in Northern Ireland with the British Army.
Lester was grinning and clapping, his beer ignored, because Gilhoulie wasn't going to drive him home and sleep on his couch. He liked Morgan, but Gilhoulie and Bernstein both gave him the willies.
An enterprising young women applied for a business license to open a "Gentleman's Establishment", to be called the "Dildo Factory".
The town council rejected the permit, although saluted the student's acumen at accessing the changing market base. The mayor recognized that if the University is serious about stressing the Human Sexuality Studies Program, then town should also adapt their town services. Mayor Eloise Benson said, "Take a note to see that all public restrooms are equipped with condom machines, Muriel."
"Yes, Your Honor," Muriel, the clerk said, not bothering to look up from her steno machine.
Morgan Gilhoulie, as he styled himself for a cover was, "An entrepreneur, Ma'am. I'm retired military and was attracted by Horner Springs' ambiance, location and amenities. I'd like to think that I can provide a service to the community and supplement my retirement at the same time."
Eloise Bensen, the mayor smiled at him, she wondered why this large intimidating man in the checkered suit was at Mabel Perkins tea, but she was gracious, so as not to piss off a potential supporter. She nodded and smiled vacantly, "What did you do in the military, Mr. Gilhoulie?"
He smiled, "I was in, ah, irritation removal, it's not the kind of thing that there is much call for in civilian life."
The Mayor had just noticed Edger Allen, slip into the room and was jollying up the Chamber Chairman, distracted she murmured, "Pity, it could come in handy at times." She suddenly realized she had said that out loud and glanced at Mr. Gilhoulie.
Morgan was sipping his tea and ignored her words, He smiled and she realized that she had been foolish to speak aloud, but he didn't seem so intimidating. His posture was relaxed and the smile on his rather craggily handsome face, one might think, was friendly.
"Well it was so nice to meet you your Honor. I appreciate your time." Morgan extended his hand and she took it with just her fingertips, because you never know when you'll run into a Texan who'll wring your hand off in macho bravado.
Morgan took her hand smoothly and held the fingers softly, the look in his eye was gentle but his eyes were twinkling. "I think Horner Springs will agree with me."
Ellen smiled, "I hope so, and welcome to the Horner Springs community."
Morgan left the tea party by the back gate, and walked up the alley to his car. He was pleased with himself, Betty Collins had told him where the Mayor was, and crashing a tea party was a lot easier than breaking into a Syrian armory and planting C4. He had established an identity and Betty had also mentioned the condom machine contract.
Morgan returned to his room at the "Sleazy Eights" motel, which had a sign with a poker hand, a pair of eights and four deuces, to explain the name. It wasn't exactly sleazy; the room was paneled in heavily varnished knotty pine and was reasonably large. The heavy varnish was beautiful in the day light but made it hard to light the room at night. A queen sized bed and a small table complemented the built-in chest of drawers along one wall. There was a small refrigerator with a sign, "Please empty before Check-Out", Morgan kept a six pack and half a sandwich in there.
He fired up his lap top and connected to the web, using the free Wi-Fi connection of the University. Soon he had a line on the necessary machinery and had reported the need for technical modification of the machines to his support services contact.