Running Dark

Free Running Dark by Joseph Heywood

Book: Running Dark by Joseph Heywood Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joseph Heywood
here.”
    â€œYou don’t have a nip and a taste of lussiketbröd for your Bampy?”
    â€œGit,” she said harshly. “I mean it, Perry!”
    The old man opened the gun case and gulped. “A new scattergun!”
    â€œSixteen-gauge, your favorite,” she said. “Don’t shoot your foot off.”
    â€œI had my scattergun stolen,” Perry said in Service’s direction. “Some Philistines from down below copped it.”
    â€œYou walked out of the woods and left the damn thing,” Mehegen snarled. “You try to blame everything on people from below the bridge.”
    â€œOnly because they deserve it,” he said resolutely.
    She handed the old man’s keys to him, took Service’s hand, and led him to the porch.
    â€œWe’re going back to bed,” she said, tugging Service’s sleeve.
    â€œ Lussiketbröd? ” the old man said in a pleading, almost pathetic tone.
    â€œNext year—if you’re still alive,” she said, pulling Service inside and slamming the door. She immediately put her arms around his neck and said, “Memorable Christmas, eh?”
    â€œIs he always like this?” he asked.
    She laughed. “He’s a pip, and he’s got the world convinced he’s sane, but I know he’s totally nutso.” She pulled out a chair. “Sit. Still, you gotta admit, he knows how to capture attention.” She added, “This isn’t done yet.”
    Service sat down as Mehegen got out a plastic plate, cut a large piece of the bread, uncapped a beer, and sat down beside him.
    Seconds later there was a rapping on the door. “Sugarpie, it’s snowing out here.”
    â€œCome in,” she shouted at the door.
    Perry stepped inside carrying his new gun case.
    â€œ That stays outside,” she said.
    â€œA flatlander will steal it,” he protested, clutching the case to his chest.
    â€œIt’s okay,” Service said, trying to play peacemaker.
    â€œNo it’s not,” Mehegen insisted. “He’s not allowed to have firearms in the house.”
    â€œThis isn’t his house,” Service reminded her. “It’s mine, and I have firearms in here.”
    â€œI left my pistol in the van,” Perry offered.
    Mehegen threw up her hands and rolled her eyes. “Close the door! You’re letting the snow in.”
    Perry saw the bread and immediately grabbed at it, but Mehegen lightly slapped his hand. “Act civilized,” she said. “You remember how, right?”
    â€œWas me taught you manners,” he said, sitting down, the gun case propped against his leg. “And I don’t like that tone of voice.”
    The man devoured the bread and cut himself a second helping before grabbing at the beer, which he didn’t quite get and knocked over the edge of the table. It hit with a pop, spewing foam across the floor.
    Service grabbed a sponge and immediately got on his knees to soak up the beer. “Paper towels,” he told Mehegen, who stepped past him just as there was an explosion from the table. Service felt her collapse heavily on top of him.
    â€œGoddamn it, Perry! Goddamn it! ” she began shrieking as she scrambled off Service.
    He looked up to see the end of the gun case tattered and burned, and a hole in the ceiling. Snow was wafting gently through the hole, landing on the bread and table.
    Mehegen began to shout at her grandfather, but Service grabbed her arm and began laughing, until all three of them were laughing and unable to speak.
    It was late morning before they could get Perry on his way and the roof hole patched.
    Work done, they immediately went back to bed. “I warned you not to invite him in with that damn shotgun!” she said.
    â€œWhere did he get the ammo?”
    â€œFrom his van. He’s been carrying it ever since he lost the other one. Merry Christmas,” she said, kissing him lightly.
    They tried

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