• D.J. Lutz

No one else to call - Episode 2: Finding Rex Guidry

Updated: 2 days ago

By Douglas Lutz

An underworld fixer stages a daring escape to start a new life as an upright citizen and private eye. The more he tries to do good and find happiness, the more he finds his old skills in demand, especially when there is no one else to call.

I’ll get to the dead body in a minute. My first point of business was to get as far away from the courthouse as possible and fast. I needed a good, out of the way location to lay low, and some time. The problem at hand was that Newport News, this lower end of it, at least, didn’t provide many options for an easy escape. If I traveled east, the cops would think I’m shopping for meth and the gangs would assume the cops had sent me to buy some. Head west? The James River was just a block over, and while fishermen caught the occasional bull shark there, my thoughts centered more on the occasional sewage spills from upriver. The swim option was therefore out, so hiking it was, either north or south.

North put me walking straight through one of the largest shipyards in the US. There always seemed to be an empty aircraft carrier hull sitting outside with thousands of workers swarming over it, welding or painting something gray. Too many security cameras there. Even if I made it past all that, the nearby Amtrak station and the airport up the road a piece were probably already under surveillance. That left moving south through a coal yard. Walking into and over a mountain range of black, dusty coal being transferred from railcar to ship would be a dirty, nasty trek. Only a fool would try it. I’ve done worse, I suppose.

You ask about cameras? Yes, just like the shipyard, cameras watched the entire coal yard, but instead of searching for intruders, these focused on the vast network of conveyor belts shuffling coal onto the freighters. No one expected a human to be walking through the yard, so no one looked for one. I would be about as safe as I could be, and for now, that would be enough.

My goal was a seafood packing plant on the other side of the highway. If I played my cards right, I would hit a dockside bar (this was an industrial waterway; there just had to be a bar somewhere) then bribe a ship captain to hire me on as a day laborer. I’d sail off and jump ship later, when we put in at a safer harbor. My plan was almost perfect. The one snag? I needed a new name. And for that I needed new identification, something that would work for at least a day. Nothing permanent. Just a day. And to find that new identification, I needed a body. One with at least a driver’s license. Preferably a dead body. Live ones were witnesses and I didn’t need any more of those in my life. I said a quick prayer, referenced my donation to the bucket, and continued my jaunt into the yard, hoping the automatic sprinkler system would not activate to keep coal dust from polluting the entire region. And soaking me.

Suddenly, a warning siren wailed. I hit the deck, assuming I had tripped an alarm somewhere. The conveyor belts started moving, jerking at first, then gliding smoothly through a fifty foot pile of coal. For a brief moment I considered riding the conveyor belt up to the freighter, hopping off before I ended up in the ship’s hold and subsequently being covered in tons of black rock. My allusion shattered when coal began showering the area, falling from the high angled beltway. Something was blocking the path, causing hundreds of pounds of jagged, black shards of rock to rain all around me. I ducked under the conveyor belt’s scaffolding and looked up to determine the cause of this unexpected storm. I leaped to the side as something big fell, causing a loud thud as it crumpled onto the path next to me. As suddenly as it had started, the cacophony subsided. The coal again moved freely upward to the ship’s main deck.

That’s when I saw what hit the ground.

The dead body. A quick check of his pocket found a wallet. And, yes, a driver’s license - with a social security card and a Covid vax card. Both doses! I just won the lottery.

See? My prayer had been answered.

Who was this poor stiff? You guessed it. The clerk. Mardis Gras. Rex Guidry. He was single. No family. No one to claim his body, although by the time this ship reached its far-off port, no one would even notice the bones. Those and the coal around them would soon enough be burning in a factory furnace somewhere. China? India? Who cares? To me it meant no evidence. No witnesses. The Marshall may have won this round, but I took home the prize.

My new name? Rex Guidry. I’ll skip the Mardi Gras bit, thank you very much.

Now to find that bar, and start my new life.

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