'SMOKIN' MOUNTAIN JUSTICE'
Book 3 - Bobby Harris Mystery
(Out in Spring of 2020)
Bobby finished his first cup of coffee while sitting on the deck of his small, stilted cottage on the coastline of Sandbridge Beach, cradled in the crimson of a Spring sunrise. Dolphins danced in the blue-green Atlantic as he mentally scrolled over his work agenda. He realized for the first time this year, there were no investigations waiting in the wing. Wow! I’d better enjoy this piece of freedom, because like our weather, that too will change.
The thirty-four-year-old Virginia Beach ex-homicide detective, now the owner of SeaView Investigations pushed up on his real leg, then put weight on his fake leg, and moved into the tiny kitchen for another cup of coal-black caffeine. Prior to filling his ‘81 East Coast Surfing Championship mug, Bobby bent over and tightened the strap on his prosthetic leg. Nine years ago, he traded his right leg, just below the knee, to a Great White, in lieu of drowning. The model he now wore was his fifth, and he liked how well it worked. Whenever an improved limb hit the market, Dr. Chase would inform him. After receiving his second model, Bobby had resumed surfing, along with much better mobility and comfort. Satisfied with the strap adjustment, Bobby filled his mug and returned to the deck.
Standing, he gazed out to the thin line of the horizon where sky met ocean. The vision brought his late wife to the forefront of his mind. Marsha loved this time of day. We would spend most mornings savoring the sunrise and our love for each other. Then, the thought turned black, producing a shiver. That terrible day in ‘79 remained tender. Had our unborn child Marsha carried been born, he or she would be almost five years old, but an evil killer in a heinous act took them from me. Bobby blinked glassy eyes and raked blonde hair from his forehead. “I’ll always miss and love you both.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Bobby recalled meeting J.B. two years ago, after he started working full-time at the pier, and on his only day off, at the nearby bait shop. One hot July afternoon they shared a few beers at The Baja, one of Sandbridge’s two watering holes. Bobby learned J.B. was born in ‘48 and raised deep in the Shenandoah Mountains. He experienced a rough life growing up surrounded by forceful family members, uncles, cousins, and many other like-minded kinfolk by marriage. Their honest money came from crop farming, mostly corn, and raising cattle and pigs, but the bulk of their income rolled in from making and distributing many, many gallons of quality moonshine to other counties, including a few in bordering states.
In ‘66, J.B. turned eighteen. He woke up that morning, hitchhiked into town, and joined Uncle Sam’s Army. He told Bobby, “I had no idea what I was getting into, but I figured it had to be better than those moonshining mountains.”
In ‘67, the young mountain man found himself deep in the jungles of Vietnam, fighting for his life against tiny but vicious savages. On his second tour in ‘69, he lost most of his left arm and acquired a permanent limp, compliments of an NVA booby trap. Sergeant Bales was medically discharged several months later. With nowhere else to go, he limped off of the Trailways bus and returned to the mountains. “I figured since I’d survived hell in that jungle, I could survive working in the mountains with my unlawful, money-hungry family members. And for twelve long years, I did. Then a lot of bad stuff started going down because of the new crazy-ass-cutthroat moonshiners and pot growers. Along with those ‘here-comers’ came gung-ho ATF and DEA agents. Of course, all of those changes ramped up our family’s anger, which translated into delivering severe punishments to all offenders. I’d had enough, so I plopped my boney ass on a Trailways bus headed for the Virginia coast. That was the best damn decision I’ve ever made.”
While the two new friends shared another draft beer, Bobby asked J.B. about the black eye patch he wore over his left eye. His reply gave credence to how wild and crazy illegal enterprises could be in the mountains.
“I had two good eyes when I returned from Nam.” He took a long pull on his beer. “I lost my eye one night protecting one of our biggest stills at Coon Holler Cove against a no-count booze thief. The stoned dumbass grabbed a stick from the firewood pile and jabbed me, five-seconds before one of my cousins appeared and put a .45 hollow point between the culprit’s eyes.” J.B. shook his head. “Anyway, the doctor had to remove my eyeball and sew the vacant socket shut. Momma made me this patch.” He touched the patch. “Wanna see?”
Bobby grinned. “Naw, I believe you. When was the last time you went home to visit?”
J.B. gazed into his golden beer and pursed his lips. “Ain’t been back. I call momma every month to see how she’s doing. She’s battling sugar diabetes and is very overweight. I feel so sorry for her being stuck out there putting up with all the craziness. Hell, she was born in those mountains and ain’t never left.” He took a pull on his beer. “Poor thing will die there.” J.B. lightly rubbed his thick black moustache. “If I go back, it would only be for her.”
“I’m sure she would appreciate seeing you. My daddy once told me that good mothers were the best friend a child will ever have.”
“Do your parents live here?”
“No. They were killed in a plane crash when I was a teenager.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Bobby.”
The friends sat for a while in silence, enjoying their refreshing beer.
~ ~ ~ ~
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