The Long Drive Home

Started by Michael O'Rourke at Sep 21, 2020 11:37 AM
February 8, 1924
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6 Posts

Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


It would take most of the day to reach  Key West, especially with the tail Baxter had set in motion he would be unable to drive at a faster pace while in their jurisdiction. But then again, the stop at the hotel and a few hours' sleep had been good for him. He was now rested as he loaded his clothes in the coupe. Actually not that much, one suitcase was all. He had swept his room clean so that when Baxter's men searched the room there would be nothing to find, and they would be thorough.

Baxter, already a pain in his backside, just enough to be annoying. Of course, other than a couple of handguns, there would have been nothing to find, and the hotel staff left to put the suite back together. Such is the problem with the police doing a search.

Highway one would take him all the way home, there were other ways he could go that were reserved for dodging tails when he needed them, that was for sure, but this trip there was really no need to avoid the law or anyone else for that matter. Actually, Dion Steele had shown him a couple of alternate routes he might use and had.

There was a Mom and Pop's diner at Florida City where he would need to gas up and where something to eat would be in order. It was a place the three of them would stop when heading north or south. Always, on the way south, keeping an eye on the traffic behind him, even with the police tail, that would only last to the city limits, of course, if the Dade County Sheriff's deputies were added, then the tail would last a while longer. All the way to Homestead-Florida City and a bit more. Though for Michael, it was no problem, he had nothing to fear from law inforcement at this time.

Next Stop, the Diner.


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Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


The drive was, to him, an easy one, except for the occasional armadillo on the road. Pesky little mammal could over-turn a car if it was hit. A prospect he didn’t want to contend with. The sun was bright overhead already, there was a slight breeze, not that it affected the dodge one way or the other. The tail had dropped off at the city limits, but that was to be expected.

Cruising along, Michael had plenty of time to think of the situation with Baxter and the police, but that was Dade County, or probably just the city of Miami’s Police Department. One could never be sure which agencies might be involved, and Dade was a large county covering some  2,431two thousand thirty-one square miles. Largest in Florida and some said most of the United States as well. He would be in the county to the very edge of the bottom of the state.  But there was no tail to be seen.

He wheeled in and stopped at the gasoline pump and waited for the boy who generally served as the attendant. After a quick exchange, Michael headed inside as the car was tended to. He was in a good mood, and glad to see Ma and Pa Oglesby, as always.

“Hello, Michael.” Pa Oglesby greeted as the wood-framed screen door slammed shut behind him.

“Hello Pa, how’s tricks?” Michael asked as he took a seat at the counter. The place was all but empty, except for the fellow in the back booth. He checked his watch and noted he’d missed the lunch hour crowd, and there was generally a crowd. Ma’s cooking drew them in from miles around.

“So far, so good Micheal.” Setting a cup of coffee in front of the racketeer. “Slow today, can’t say why just is.” He grinned, “So what’ll it be?”

“Ya know, If you got it, a pastrami on rye would be great,” Michael replied. “Young Jeff’s doin’ good? Grew up fast, he did.”

“Looking at joinin’ the Army, or was it the Navy, he changes his mind like most folks change their sox!” Pa stated. “Ma? Pastrami on rye, don’t forget the pickle!”

Michael laughed. “Yeah, they do that alright.”

Ma came out and gave him a big hug. “Michael, so good to see you. Headed up or down?” Was the question.

“Home. Been up to Maimi for a few days, time for some peace and quiet.” Was his answer.

“Well, let me get that sandwich for you. Hot of course.” She said with a smile.

Ma disappeared into the kitchen as Pa went to the only other customer. Good to be here, and ready for the last leg of his trip.

TBC-Meeting the Stranger


Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


Pa returned and fetched the sandwich to set in front of Michael. He leaned forward on the counter. “Be right back.” He scurried off to the other customer as Michael started in on the sandwich, with a scoop of Ma’s famous potato salad and a sliced dill pickle.

Pa came back and went into the back for a few moments. Then he came over to Michael and again leaned across the counter.

“Can I ask you a favor?” Came the request in hushed tones.

“Of course, what’s up?” Michael replied mid-bite.

“Fella over there, car broke down a few miles back, he’s headed to Key West like you. Ambrose ain’t available just yet, I mean he’ll get the man’s car towed to his shop, but the man still can’t get south to his relations. He said it’d be no trouble to get back up here for his car once he got to Key West.”

“A ride, that’s all? Sure, nothin’ outta my way I can get him down there. Lemme finish this and I’ll go talk to him.” Michael said. When the diner was busy, it was packed, and when it wasn’t, it was just like this, one or two customers. Never any rhyme or reason, it just was.

Michael finished his lunch, asked for' and got, a second cup of coffee then walked over to the man. “Name’s Michael O’Rourke and I’m headed your way, mind if I have a seat?”

Next; On The Road Again

 





Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


The man looked up from his lunch, “Sure have a seat. I guess the man told you of my troubles.”

“Pa? He did I’m headed to Key West, where I Iive, so it’ll be no problem to get you where you’re going.” Michael responded. The man was probably in his early forties, clean-cut to a degree and the last thing he looked like was trouble.

“Name’s Gareth, Gareth Pike. Headed to my pa’s place down there. He ain’t doin’ so well.” Gareth said. “He and ma left Montana ‘bout ten years ago to retire down there, some friend told ‘em it was quite the retirement place.” He chuckled. “Anyway, dang car broke down an’ here I am. Surely do appreciate it.”

“Montana, out there in the wild west?” Michael asked. This guy was a real cowboy! “So you do all that riding and roping stuff?”

“Pretty much, but my brothers do most of that now. I just handle the businesses and the properties he an’ Ma own.” Was the reply.

Michael set down his empty cup. “I’m ready when you are, and you can tell more about life in Montana.” Michael got up, “Thanks Pa! See you next trip. If you want, have ‘em haul his car to the garage, Jimmy’ll take good care of it!”

“Thanks for the help.” Gareth said

“You’re welcome! Both of you, and say, Michael, tell Dix hello.” Pa called after them.

With a wave Michael replied, “Sure will.”

Gareth Pike

Next ‘On The Road With The Cowboy


Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


The first couple miles were quiet and then Michael’s curiosity could be held in check no longer. Fascinated by the west since he was a boy in Hell’s Kitchen he was driving a real cowboy to Ket West.

“So, you come from a big family Gareth?” Was the first of what would be many questions on this journey.

“Do, have three brothers four sister, but one, Louisa, drowned when she was young, seven ‘er eight. So just the six of us now. You?” The man asked in return.

“Seven of us, scattered about New York, well them that’s still alive. Where I came from it was tough growin’ up. Don’t get me wrong, we were close, but the uh, what do they call ‘em? Yeah, the ‘mean streets’ weren’t kind at all. Not sure who’s left. Blew outta there first chance I got.”

Gareth looked at him, not the first New Yorker he’d met over the years. There was Speed Guyer, one of his dad’s closest friends who was still in town, a long-retired lawman, and wealthy owner of the mining company there. “Times growin’ up could be hard, that’s for sure. Given outlaws, Indians, an’ such. But like everywhere I ‘spose, it settled down, thanks to some hard men and women.”

“So you knew gunmen? I mean, men on both sides?” That question had been welling up from the start. He’d read some of those dime novels when he could get his hands on them. And William S. Hart in the movies, well he was just the biggest hero!

“Gunfighters? Yes sir, there were some. My Pa’d been a Texas Ranger, he’d hired out his gun a time or two to folks who needed help. Saw him in action once when I was maybe seven or eight. ‘Course he was a deputy then. But I grew up knowin’ some hard men. Men that made Montana what it is today.”

The miles were quickly slipping by as Gareth Pike talked about his life in the west growing up. “Out there a man was called to do many things, some good, some not so good. Pa used to tell us kids stories of the seventies and eighties. How he and Guyer fought to hold onto the town, used to call him Uncle Speed. And the Injuns during the Sioux uprisings made life a bit fearful but understand, we’d learned to shoot early on because we might be called on to defend our home. Yeah, those were the days alright.”

“Your Pa sounds like quite a man.” If Michael knew anything about the west, he knew that it took people with iron in their backbones to build the country. He did not short-change himself in the bargain, there was respect for what was, but they didn’t call him ‘Nails’ for nothing. Yet this man sitting next to him lived what he had read about as a boy, and truth be told, Michael ‘Nails’ O’Rourke would love nothing better than to be back there in this Kalispell Montana to have a look around.

“He was, but you should’a seen my mother!”

Next: 'Her Name’s Em.'


Michael O'Rourke

Racketee, smugler, gun runner
164
?Years Young
110 Posts

"Do not mistake my friendly demeanor for weakness."


“Your mother?” Michael questioned.

The man looked lost in thought for a few moments. “Yeah, she and Pa built quite a spread together. The way I heard it, Pa had fifteen hundred acres and water rights, they, the two of them parlayed that to two thousand acres before they were done.” He was grinning, “Ma, she raised horses, Pa, he raised beef, but together they began buying up whatever was for sale, first ranches, that’s how the place got so big.”

“But also they bought up property, businesses and the like. They got involved in the community, Pa bein’ a Deputy and all. And they weathered the storms as they came. And there were storms to weather, the Sioux were out, ‘course you probably know all about Custer’s fight at the Little Big Horn. Well, them red devils were raidin’ ranches an’ homesteads all over. They come to the ranch one day whoopin’ an’ hollerin’, Ma, she stepped out on and took down the first two with Pa’s eight gauge shotgun, then ducked back in and grabbed up a Winchester. The injuns took after the horse corral but that was a mistake. Those were her horses. Me an’ my brothers an’ sisters were shootin’, and we took a couple, but Ma, she killed five all totaled and that was the end of that.”

“There were maybe a dozen all totaled, purty good-sized party, they never come back after that,” Gareth explained. “You oughtta come west sometime. Look us up. I’m here to take Ma and Pa home, get ‘em back west where they belong for their last days. There’s grandkids they’ve never seen, some great-grandkids too. Neither’s got much time left. I never could understand why they came down here in the first place, but I learned to never argue with Pa, and to fight shy of disagreeing’ with Ma. But it’s time and I’m the oldest, so here I am, busted car an’ all.”

Michael O’Rourke was far more than impressed. He was taken aback by the tales the young man told and hearing the directions to the place his father and mother had, he regretted that the drive had not been longer.

He rolled up in front of the rather plain beach house and stopped the car. Gareth leaned toward him hand extended, which Michael shook readily. “Been a pleasure Mike.” He said, “We just ain’t none too formal out west.”

Michael smiled in return, “Pleasure was all mine. You need anything, anything at all give me a call, numbers in the book. The only O’Rourke listed.” Gareth nodded as he opened the door and stepped out, closing the door. In a moment he was past the car and on the porch, a man of the same look as Gareth stared past his son at the gangster. Michael touched the brim of his hat and then pulled away

Barnabas-Benjamin-Pike-1


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