The Cowboy State Welcomes Billy the Kid: The Short Story Continues
Driving Towards the Sunset
With Iowa behind us and most of Nebraska in the same direction, Genna and I found a night’s peace in The Cozy Inn on the outskirts of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The motel was one of those classic u-shaped motor courts built during the Fifties when Americans fell in love with the automobile and traveling was a pastime second only to baseball. We didn’t care where we slept, as long as it was away from the carnage we left behind in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Genna was quiet for long periods of time. A stack of bodies will do that to a law-abiding citizen. She had been thinking the same thing I had and at one point she voiced it.
“How did they find us, Billy? My husband, the Russians, they both tracked us down.”
I’d been wondering the same thing.
“I don’t know, Genna. Our fake identification seemed to hold up when we both got jobs. Neither of us has ever been fingerprinted. There’s something we’re missing and I’d sure love to know what it is. Hey, it’s not like I’m used to running. I spent most of my life within five miles of Washington Heights, so crisscrossing the country being pursued is something of a new experience for me.”
We paid for our rooms with cash. There’s no way to trace cash, and our number one goal was to remain as anonymous as possible. The room had a television and cable and after a half hour I found a news station talking about four dead in an Iowa farmhouse, no motive, no clues, authorities looking for two persons of interest. That would be us, white guy, black woman, mid-thirties, whereabouts unknown. Truth be told, the local Mount Pleasant police force would expend just enough effort on that case to look good to the media and we’d be forgotten by the New Year. It wasn’t the police we had to worry about. It was the Russians. They had sent two of their soldiers to eliminate me and now their two soldiers were frozen blocks of Iowa landscape. That wouldn’t set well with the big boss and you could bet the bank the Russians would keep looking.
For the time being, though, we were all right.
The sun was setting on distant mountains as I helped Genna out of her clothes and soothed her mind with the greatest elixir known to mankind. The soft lights of the room made her caramel skin look bronze. Her large brown eyes were deep pools of intelligence and her contours fit mine perfectly as we traded our problems for sweat and mindless exertion. At that moment, in that place, I was the most important person in her world, and she in mine.
Sunrise on the Plains
Late December on the Great Plains, cold-assed morning with fresh snow and brittle dreams; look to the east, flat, look to the north, flat, look to the south, flat, look to the west and a hint of elevation, a white tabletop of Earth, nary a tree in sight, chimneys pluming, cars exhausting, residents of Scottsbluff bundled against a wind carrying knives of cold.
There was nothing for us in Scottsbluff but a need for sustenance, so we gathered our meager belongings and found a truck stop to fuel the car and our bodies. We had made love three times during the night, both of us in need of false security, so we were both a bit hungry as Elaine welcomed us to Scottsbluff and took our orders for bacon and eggs. The coffee was black and as thick as mud. Genna attacked the food when it came, a lioness finishing off a fresh kill. There is something very sexy about a woman who eats with no inhibitions, sexy and primal, and I felt my loins warm as I watched her eat.
I was also debating the wisdom of driving west. As I looked around the truck stop I realized just how much we stood out. The year may be 2015 but it is still an anomaly in certain parts of the country to see a white dude and a black chick together. Scottsbluff was one such area. I couldn’t imagine Wyoming being any different, and since our goal was to quietly fade into obscurity, our being in Nebraska headed for Wyoming might be questionable at best. Maybe one of the bigger cities on the west coast would be better, just keep on driving until the Pacific Ocean signaled an end to the journey. I mentioned this to Genna. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve (damned sexy) and finished off her coffee.
“Let’s just see what Wyoming is like, Billy. I’d like to take a breather for a few days and let my heart return to a normal beat. If we don’t like what we see in Wyoming we can cross the mountains and look elsewhere.”
The lioness had spoken.
An East Coast Mick Stands on the Continental Divide
The highest hill I’d ever stood atop was eight-hundred and forty-seven feet above sea level in upstate New York. Hell, I’d been in buildings taller than that, so the experience of the Rocky Mountains was a bit hard for this boy to grasp. I could tell Genna felt the same from the gasps that escaped her lips as our car continued to climb towards the clouds.
We were into hour number eight of Wyoming, a zigzag tour of small towns, all covered in snow, all too small or too white or too whatever to give us a feeling of safety. In Lander I saw an advertisement for Yellowstone and in particular accommodations in the tourist town of West Yellowstone, Montana. Figuring we had nothing to lose, except possibly our lives, I steered the car northwest and eventually entered Yellowstone National Park.
Cold. Massive. Buried in snow, mountains of snow, valleys of snow, plumes of steam rising wherever we looked, snowmobiles passed us on the roadway, tourists with Nikons shivered in turnouts, posed for pictures with bison looming in the background and then scurried back to their cars and warmth. There wasn’t one Russian mob member or Mexican drug cartel soldier in sight.
“This sure ain’t Florida, Billy.”
“Genna, this is about as far-removed from Florida as we are likely to get, and maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s see what West Yellowstone looks like.
West Yellowstone, Montana
It was the dead of winter but the town was bustling, and I was pleased to see a fairly large number of blacks, Hispanics and Asians to go with the expected white population. That’s the thing about tourist towns. The norm is suspended as people arrive daily from a variety of locales and cultures. Genna definitely did not stick out. Hell, we weren’t even the only white/black couple in town. It felt right. The chances of the Russians or Mexicans even being able to find Yellowstone on a map were slim.
I steered the car into the parking lot of the Big Sky Inn. Genna and I crunched our way across new snowfall to the office and rented a room for a week. The young girl at the counter welcomed us, told us to have a lovely stay, gave us our key and moved on to more pressing issues. Our own pressing issues included finding a good meal and buying some heavy clothing to keep from freezing. We found the meal at the West Yellowstone Bar & Grill, an honest to God bison burger, and the clothes at Northern Lights Outfitters. After that we toured the town on foot, warm in our fleece garments, just two of thousands of tourists, as anonymous as we could hope to be.
“What do you think, Billy? Are we safe here?”
“As safe as we’re likely to be, at least for awhile. I think we should give it a few months and see how it goes. We’ve still got close to twenty grand to live off of. I don’t know how hard it will be to find work, especially since we can’t use our real I.D.s. I know there are ranches around. Maybe they hire part-time labor and pay under-the-table without tax forms and shit that is likely to hang us in the long run. Let’s play it by ear. I’m as sure as I can be that the Russians and Mexicans don’t know where we are, and we blend in just fine here. If we don’t like it, San Francisco is about twelve hours away.”
“Is it always going to be like this, Billy, us running, always one step ahead of a bullet?”
I wanted so badly to reassure her. Her eyes pleaded with me for a comforting answer but I didn’t have one to give her. Still, she was my responsibility, so I tried my best to lighten her load.
“I don’t know, Genna. That’s the best answer I can give you. If we can stay under their radar for a few months we might have a chance of them dropping the whole matter. The reality of it is we’re just a pimple on their asses and they have better things to do than chase us around the country. Let’s try to stay alive long enough to see that happen, okay?”
I kissed her and we returned to the motel. My loins were on fire, and I was feeling virtuous. I hadn’t killed anyone in several days.
Are They Safe?
What do you think, dear readers? Have Genna and Billy finally found a haven where the Russians and Mexicans can’t find them?
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)