Graven Stills

I have no idea where this came from. Every now and then, something like that happens. I doubt it will remain a short story. I might plug it into an existing novel, or as inspiration for yet another novel.

Tequila de Salvatuion,
Jaboncillos, Mexico

The fugitive found the woman sitting alone on the patio behind the bar. Her table was in the only shaded corner of the patio. She was drinking tequila.

“You got my money?”, said the fugitive.

“Here is half”, the Woman said, “The other half is nearby, just in case you start bullshitting me.”

She pulled an envelope from her purse and set it on the table where she expected the fugitive to sit. He sat but did not touch the envelope.

“Not a fucking word, until you tell me how you found me”, he said.

The woman smiled, “Etzli Ramirez gave you up. He said he wanted you to know it was him. He says you should go home”.

“So he can shoot my ass? Not fucking likely.”

“That shit is between you and Etzli. All I know is that he knew exactly where you are off the top of his head when I asked him. If he wanted you dead, I’m pretty sure he could arrange it.”

The woman pushed a half-full bottle of local tequila towards the Fugitive and lit up a large, poorly rolled joint. The Fugitive ignored the alcohol, but happily shared the proffered marijuana.

The woman set her phone to “record” and put it in front of the fugitive. “So tell me about Graven Stills”, she said.

The Fugitive spoke, “Okay, I don’t know how this will help you since I barely know the guy. But, the first time I ever saw Graven Stills was in a gone-to-hell Stuckeys building outside Quinlan Texas that some local shitheads were trying to turn into a Biker Bar. In those days nobody had ever heard of him. This would’ve been in May or June of 1986.”

“‘Course, I didn’t know him from shit, but Graven was perched on a barstool next to a table full of The Fallen Saints MC. They were yacking about a former club member, (a guy named One-Nut) who deliberately stuck his hand into a metal shearing press which cut off his left pinkie and half of his ring finger. When his settlement check came he immediately used it to buy a Harley Davidson Electra-Glide. That was One-Nuts’s plan all along.

It’s an old story the Saints have all heard too many times.

As the perfunctory laughter stops, Graven plugs himself into the scene, “So, how did that affect his sex life?” he asked

The room is suddenly silent, “One-Nut was one of us”, growls Sweet William, “and who the fuck are you?”

“I’m Graven Stills. If y’all are gonna troop in here, sit next to me and start telling stories like that, well hell, I’m gonna get curious. Like, why did y’all call him One-Nut?”

“‘Cause his second wife tried to stab his dick with a screwdriver and just missed”, says Sweet William, trying not to laugh.

“Phillips-head or straight blade?”

Sweet William reaches over and drags an empty chair to their table. “You might as well sit down. We could be here a while.”

“They talked all that afternoon,” the fugitive said, “but when Graven left, he was wearing One-Nut’s pinkie ring on his left little finger. That Graven is a charming motherfucker.”

“Did Graven ever join the Fallen Saints?”

“Nah, far as I know, he never joined any of the MCs. He had a sweet Harley RoadGlide, but I guess he wasn’t a club guy. I never saw him wearing colors.”

The conversation continued several more hours. The fugitive told her all of the stories he could recall, mostly third-person accounts of Graven’s years on the border. The sun had set before the woman stopped him. She reached into her purse and gave him the second envelope, whatever marijuana was still left, and shoved the bottle closer.

The fugitive seemed confused and disappointed. “So that’s it? We’re done?”

She nodded, then asked, “Earlier you said One-Nut was a former member of the Fallen Saints. What happened there?”

The fugitive said, “Some people are just too stupid to live. One-Nut was two or three of those people. I don’t know the particulars, but One-Nut got the bright idea of trying to rip Etzli Ramirez off. I heard Etzi dragged him to death behind his truck and never went over five miles per hour. It took all night.”

The woman grinned, “That sounds about right.”

The fugitive asked, “So what was all this about? Is Graven in some kind of trouble?”

“No, not yet, We’re just trying to figure out why he goes off the rails and kills the Pope next August.”