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Frank Powe heard them before he saw them. The growl of a V-Twin and the purr of an inline four. A few seconds later they came into view. A Honda RC51
and a blue and white Suzuki. The Suzuki was being piloted by a woman. Probably a 600. In his experience most women stuck to the 600s. Though there were exceptions.

The two started to ride right past the gas station he was working at, noticed his motorcycle and quickly slowed to turn in.

When the Suzuki stopped at the pump, Powe realized he had been wrong about the bike. It was a GSX-R750. Frank had one of those on his short list as a next bike. The woman was slightly taller than average. She was slender, her leather pants clung well to her legs and hips.

The RC51 rider took his gloves off, wedged them between his instument panel and windscreen then took his helmet off.
He had chiseled features, grey hair and wore blue mirrored Oakleys. His hair was well within military regs though he looked way too old to still be serving.

"Nice R1 over there. Is it yours?" He said as he pulled off his jacket and draped across the seat. "I had an R6 before I got this RC."

"That is what I had before the R1 also." Frank answered.

The woman had taken her helmet, jacket and gloves off. She was striking. Olive skin, probably dark eyes behind the killer loops she wore, hair tied back in a long dark pigtail. She smiled at Frank. A friendly, open mouthed smile. Powe thought he saw a flash of silver on her tongue, but was not sure.
After a quick glance she headed off toward the restrooms.

"Gorgeous girl." Frank said.

"Isn't she?" Answered the rider. "Have no idea who she is. I stopped for a Coke at the little store in Alsdale. She was there, asked if she could tag along. I've never been one to turn down female company. Not one that looks like that, anyway."

"Can she ride?"

"I'll say. She has been sliding knees, picking up the front wheel. She has been holding back so I can keep up. I know she has."

He pulled the gas nozzle out of the tank of his bike and motioned for Frank to open the gas cap on the woman's Suzuki. Powe noticed an Eagle, Globe and Anchor on his forearm.

"Marine, huh?"

"Yes sir. Caught the very tail end of Nam. Was part of the Embassy evacuation in Saigon. You a vet?"

Frank lifted the sleeve of his t-shirt above his shoulder, showing a pair of Army jumpwings with a banner over them that said "Ranger."

"Which battalion?"

"Third." said Frank.

The Marine handed Frank a Visa Card. The name on the card was Wilbur Ray Guy.

Frank rang up 11.24 for seven and a half gallons of gas. The woman was turning on the pump when Guy yell to her, "I already got it, Sweetheart." She waved in response. She put on her
gear and gave Powe one more smile before lowering her helmet over her hear.

As they pulled up to the street the woman held her thumb out and raised it up twice. Guy returned the signal and she sped off, front wheel in the air for a block.

At seven that evening Frank climbed on his R6 and headed home. He lived three miles away from the station, about two miles out of town if he went straight there. He had started going straight there since it had starting getting dark before he left work. During the summer, he took another route home. A route that took him down some nice curves, though it added 10 miles to his commute.

The worst part of his day was arriving at his small one bedroom house. His empty, one bedroom house.

A mismatched couch and chair were in the living room, along with a 20 inch Sony TV and a modest, Wal-Mart modest, stereo system. The kitchen had a scratched glass dining table and an old white stove with only two working burners.

The bedroom had a metal frame bed that had been painted at least a dozen times in probably half a dozen colors. When paint chips fell off of the metal rails of the bed they never exposed the same color underneath. The right side of the bed was clearly lower than the left.
No one had ever slept on the left side of the bed and it galled Frank to no end.

A baloney sandwich with both mustard and mayo in front of the TV was dinner, along with some tortilla chips and a Pepsi. At ten Powe watched the news, he had no idea why. Watching the news at ten had become a habit since he had arrived in Texas. It was the same thing everyday. Work, home, dinner and then the news to wind up the day. During the summer months a ride was tossed in a few times a week. For months it had been like that. The only time Frank ever talked to anyone away from work was every couple of weeks when he did his grocery shopping. He could not remember the last time he had had someone over to his house. If he couldn't remember, he knew it had been to damned long.

A murder was the lead new story. The victim had been found at a rest area about an hour away from where Powe lived. There was a live news crew there and the victim's name was being withheld until next of kin were notified. In the background Frank recognized Wilbur Ray Guy's RC51.

Sunday was always a slow day for Powe. The streets were usually empty with everyone either in church or sleeping in. Anyone who stopped by the station was either passing through or had a day trip planned somewhere. Sundays, Frank usually closed the station at eleven thirty and went for riding. Logging up to 300 miles during the longer days of summer. His rides shortened with days once fall and winter arrived.

At eleven fifteen, the woman riding the Suzuki from the day before rode into the station. She parked by the drink machines, dropped a couple of quarters into it and got a Coke. She walked into the office and leaned against the counter.

She smiled, flashing her tongue stud at him. "Don't you guys ever have winter here?"

She sounded like New York. She sounded like home.

"We don't have it for long." Frank winced at his answer.

"I must have missed it." She laughed.

The air operated bell that announced the arrival of customers clanged loudly.
Both Frank and the woman glanced toward the pumps. A white Chevy Impala pulled up in front of the door, not the fuel island. Two men got out. Cops, they had the look.

As they walked in the door, both men held up leather cases, showing their badges. A small shield and an ID card that had FBI written acoss it in blue letters. Feds.

They were quite a pair. The taller of the two had long red hair, just off of the shoulders and eyes so dark, the pupils were almost invisible and a goatee. He had a long scar, from the top of the forhead, coming down the left side of his face, creasing his eyebrow and ending at the corner of his mouth. With the red hair, scar and goatee, he reminded Frank of a duelist.
Powe had a brief vision of the Fed in breeches, leather gauntlets and a rapier in his hand. Instead, the Fed wore a dark Fed 'R' Us suit.

The shorter one wore his hair like Johnny Depp, but it didn't look right. The khaki Chinos,loafers and pullover shirt in a shocking rust brown and turquiose blue looked like someone tried to fashion a Miami Vice wardrobe;
at K-mart, in a hurry, in the dark.

"We need to talk to you," said Miami Vice. He ran his hand through his sandy hair trying to look cool but failing miserably.

"About what?"

"Did you work yesterday?" Asked the Duelist.

"Yes."

"What about you?" Miami asked the woman. "Were you here yesterday?"

"No." She looked at Frank dead in the eye as she spoke.

Uh-oh.

The duelist held up a photo. Wilbur Ray Guy in the arms of a beautiful dark haired, dark eyed woman. Alive, looking very happy.

"Have you seen him," asked Miami Vice. His whole manner and posture was arrogant and it was pissing Frank off.

"Yesterday."

"What time was this?" Miami Vice ws smirking.

"I'll bet you already know this. I'm not stupid you know. In fact, I am not from Texas. Never was around people as stupid as you until I moved here." Powe made sure sarcasm dripped from every word.

Miami Vice took a step toward Powe and Frank pushed him away forcefully. The Fed cocked his fist. Great, nothing like kicking a little cop ass early in the morning.

The duelist stepped in between them. "Back off!" He yelled at his partner. He put his hands on MIami Vice's chest.

Good Cop, Bad Cop time. Powe wondered if he was a suspect.

"You have to forgive Earnest, here." Said the Duelist. "He gets pushy sometimes."

He held up the photo again. "The guy in the photo got himself killed last night. Shot once, right in the back in the head. Family, Veteran, probably a decent guy. A former Marine like Earnest, here. Seeing a brother Marine go down like gets to him."

"Well, Sempe Fi!" Said Powe. Smirking.

The duelist ignored the comment, "We found a credit card reciept in his jacket. We know he stopped here not long before he was killed. You are one of the last people that saw him alive."

"He was here. He fueled up."

The woman shifted her position, drawing Powes attention. She held a finger up in front of pursed lips.

"Was he alone?"

"No. He fuel up his bike and a red CBR."


The warmth, softness and very essence of a woman ws something Fran had not enjoyed in a very long time. She breathed slowly as she slept. Her hair smelled of baby shampoo and still felt damp. There was a tattoo on her left breast, two split hearts with "Heartbreaker" written above them. Prophetic? Hopefully not.

She had killed a man. Of this Frank was sure, but he was not about to ask.
If he did not ask and she did not tell him, he could always talk himself into some doubt. Wilbur Ray Guy may have needed killing. Maybe he had tried to take a piece of ass he did not have coming and she was defending herself. Powe did not believe this, but dammit, he was trying. All in all, he really did not care. She was with him now and he really did not want her gone.

Ten oclock found Powe once again in front of his TV, watching the news. He kept the volume low, not wanting to wake her. He realized he did not yet know her name. Not surprisingly the murder of Wilbur Ray Guy was again the lead story.

"The victim, a local electrical contractor who had moved to Texas years ago was know as Wilbur Ray Guy. But in a shocking development New 6 has learned that Wilbur Ray Guy was formerly
Alonzo Paginelli, a former confidant and enforcer for Angelo Calabrese. Calebrese was convicted and sentenced to life in prison when Paginelli informed on him. For the last eight years Paginelli was safely hidden away in a Government Witness Protection Program..." A almost breathless femal reporter gushed.

This was interesting.

"I never imagined I would get two for one." The woman said from the bedroom door. She wore only panties and held a Glock in her hand. Frank's Glock. It was pointed at Powe.

"Did you think old Dominic Visconti was going to forget about you?" She hissed. "For consecutive life sentences, Vinnie."

Vinnie. Vincent Constanzio, it did not even seem like his name anymore.

"Old Dominic is seventy eight years old. He is never going to breathe another free breath. He loved you like a son."

"It was a long time ago." Frank said. Not pleading, just stating a fact.

"So? Once a rat, always a rat." She pulled the trigger.

There was impact, but little pain., at least at first. When the real pain came, it seemed far away, and it didn't last long at all.

"I'll be safe, right?" Lugio asked.

"Completely safe. New name. New city. New credit record." The Marshal
opened the front door of the safe house.

Lugio followed the Marshal outside. He was scared. Terrified. He had set up the old Don, but it had not been like he had a choice. The feds had had his ass in a wringer and were giving him a real squeeze. Better the Old Don than him had seemed like a viable option.

A blue Ford sedan drove up. It was driven by a pretty Italian looking young woman. She smiled a friendly, open mouthed smile. There was a brief flash of silver.

"This is Deputy Sandra Toretto," said the Marshal.

Lugio nodded in greeting and got into the car. There was a small sticker on the Motorola Radio.

"Once a Rat, Always a Rat" it said.



------
Dare to dream!



Comments

The following comments are for "Once a Rat"
by speed_addiction

short stories
that was great,I really enjoyed it

( Posted by: suez-q [Member] On: October 23, 2003 )





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