long road ghost - part 6 of 9

That urban legend sure got creepy, though, when police found Sick Jimmy, Nasty Nasty, and Potatohead, heads cut off and left lying on the groud next to their bodies, about thirty miles out of Baker. Their souped-up choppers were only slightly trashed.

“I don’t want to hear about that serial killer crap,” the Sheriff said. “He’s dead, and these losers sure aren’t women.” A lean black man vainly trying to keep a white beard off his face, Sheriff Jackson Monk was ornery in the way only lawmen can be. He and I went way back, even to high school. But where I took to ambushing rich cagers with the Fire Kings to steal their money, Monk, that badass goody two-shoes, went on the police academy. He’s the one who put me away. But all that was ancient history. We were both gettin’ too old for the past, so we got along as best as we could. He turned down an offer of beer, but listened plenty as I told him what I knew. Not very much, really. The boys had come in for a drink and left when there was no sign of Katrina.

“Cocksucker!” came a scream; Brom, comin’ in with a demon look on his face and headin’ straight for Alex.

“You couldn’t fight ‘em fair, you fuckin’ cage monkey, so you had to ambush ‘em like a coward, huh?”

Alex protested while duckin’ out of the way of Brom’s mean right hook, then got angry, pointin’ out how Brom wasn’t gettin’ along all that well with his boys either.

“Were they making deals behind your back?” he said, makin’ Brom even madder.

Monk laid down the law on their asses and everyone piped down. Katrina couldn’t confirm that he’d been home that night – he went out for a night ride, he said, to get over his fear from the pumpkin stunt. Brom was out “on business,” which meant drugs and rival gangs, which meant he wasn’t goin’ to cough up an alibi unless his ass was covered first and he had absolutely no choice.

“Whoever did it was a real pro,” Monk said. His voice had more gravel than a quarry. “Rode up beside them and chopped their heads clean off. He hunted and chased every one of them down.”

“Must be some rider,” I agreed. “’Specially if none of the traffic saw him do it.” I didn’t feel sorry for those boys, except, maybe, for the fact that they didn’t get a chance to really grow up. Twenty-somethin’ and nothin’ to show for it but beheaded corpses and a short life of crime. And to think, they could’ve been me if I hadn’t straightened out.

“Better than anyone you know?”

I took a long look at the Sheriff and nodded. You can do some badass shit on a bike. Hell, I seen bikes to some badass shit to riders. That bitch in the back, the one that those dumbass t-shirts keep sayin’ fell off? She didn’t fall off. That bitch is Death and she always goes along for the ride, clutchin’ tightly. That’s the way we like it; fast, hard, relentless.

But I reckoned that chasin’ and decapitatin’ folks on bikes took some doin’, more than anyone I know could do.

“It was the rider,” someone said. “I seen ‘em.”

Monk and I looked around the room until we saw whose lips were yappin’; some guy who slinked into a corner chair with a beer or ten. I hadn’t spoken to him much, though Mojo swore it was Santa Claus takin’ a vacation from the North Pole. Mojo was right, if you wanted to believe that Santa Claus rode a sweet red 1950s Indian Chief instead of a sleigh and summered in California.

“He had no…he had no head,” Santa Claus went on. “He swung this bla…this bla…blade that shined like the moon. He was on fire..fire…kinda…”

Monk gave me the kind of look that said he wished he could pistol-whip the drunk sunavabitch for babblin’ on with nonsense; the Sheriff had heard plenty of headless riders stories used to explain everythin’ from bad drivin’ to missin’ doggies. But Santa Claus didn’t stay conscious for long and Monk moseyed out of the bar with a mean, unhappy look on his face – the kind that said he’d be back to get what he’s lookin’ for.

Tune in next week for Part 7...

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