Monday, August 3, 2015

Short Story: Texas 2121: The Rookie

Texas 2121
The Rookie

Rocky couldn't believe the dumb luck. He had somehow been chosen to partner with a new rookie Ranger. This was a duty he had been able to avoid for the first 15 years on the job. He took a swig from the flask and slid it back into its leg holster where it would be hidden under his duster.

“Okay, Rocky,” he told himself “Let's go meet this green Ranger.”

The door slide open as he strode inside, passed the lobby desk with a wave of his hand over the laser reader and into the chute. The air pressured chute shot him to the 4th floor and he walked across the hall and into the chief's office without knocking.

“Okay Gramm, I'm here. Lay it on me, I can take it.” Rocky said. The gray-haired fat bureaucrat had become very tolerant of this kind of thing in past decade. He hardly even reacted at all.

“Rocky, meet your new partner.” He said motioning to the chair between them. Rocky looked at the chair and back to the chief behind his large wooden desk.

“The chair is empty.” Rocky said “Am I being paired up with a ghost?”

“Not as exotic as all that.” Chief Gramm said with a sly grin, “Meet Boda.”

The chair swiveled around to face Rocky. There was a 3-foot elf sitting on the chair in some type of overalls with a Ranger badge on. It seemed to be grinning, but maybe that was a neutral look for his species.

“Hello, Mr. Rocky.” it said “Boda, my name is.”

Rocky had a feeling this was going to be a long month.

As they left the building Rocky was back into his element. “First thing to know is, I'm the boss, I have the experience and you should listen when I say something.”

“Understand, I do.” Boda said, the backward English made Rocky grit his teeth. He would hold it in, it's not good manners to make fun of immigrants. Rocky stopped in front of the big black SUV and held out a hand.

“This beauty is the best vehicle that the Rangers can buy. It's outfitted with everything one could need in the field.” Rocky said as he hit the right button on his cufflink and the doors opened up for them. “I'm driving of course.”

They climbed in. Boda could barely see over the dash but he (?) hadn't complained. His pointed ears did droop just a bit when the General Patriot 2250 lifted into the air and Rocky ignored the regular traffic lanes. “We're going to make a stop in Hauston before we head out west.”

Boda just nodded.

Soon enough they had crossed town and stopped on the roof of Betty's Place Bar & Grill. Boda followed down the stairs into the loud music and the sound of clinking glass. A few people stopped to gape at the short alien with a badge, but it's not like they haven't seen an alien before. The big red furry guy sweeping the floor was proof of that.

The bald man tending bar didn't look happy to see them but he dutifully set out two glasses as they sat on the bar stools. Rocky hadn't been looking when Boda got up there, it was as tall as he was. He'll see it next time.

“What'll you have Rock-man?” the congenial but worried bartender asked.

“Two cold ones should be good, Fred. Don't worry, I'm not here to see you.” Rocky told him and he looked very relieved as he filled up the glasses with domestic brew. “I'm here to ask Betty a couple of questions. Is she around?”

Fred looked put out for a second and with what seemed to be a bit of a huff walked to a small cabinet, pulled out a yellow blond wig and put it on his bald pate. Then he, -pardon- she, came back and smiled at the two lawmen.

“What can I do for you boys today, Rocky?” she asked then looked at the smiling, green face of Boda and asked “Are you male? Are you old enough to drink?”.

Rocky put his emptied glass down on the bar with a thump. “We aren't here to fraternize, Betty. I need to ask you a couple of questions. Questions about Ro Bart, you know him, he was a regular here for a short time.”

She was blank for a second but her face lit up. “Oh right, Ro Bart. I wonder whatever happened to that son of a....”

“He's wanted on attempted murder.” Rocky said and then bent down and said in a quieter voice “Allegedly he tried to ax his wife. Killed a robot too, but that's not a crime if it was his property.”

Betty opened a bottle of water and took a long drink. “As I recall he had a cabin north of Bothur, not too far from the coast.”

This was good. Rocky needed a little more detail if he could get it. “Anything more specific?”

She leaned forward and tickled his chin. “Might be, if'n you call me honey once.”

Boda choked on the beer he had been pretending to sip this whole time.

Rocky chuckled. “Okay, Betty honey, if you know something else, and you don't tell me it's a crime.”

She rolled her eyes. “Thicket Mills, look there.”

Rocky slapped five Sammies on the bar and put his hat back on “Thank you, kindly.”

Boda and him went back up the stairs and started south. Soon enough Rocky had his SUV flying at 600 kph, which was almost fast. Boda worked the computer as they rushed into the area of Thicket Mills, quickly narrowing the list of fake names that could be their suspect.

“Swamp, this is.” Boda said “Feels like home, it does.”

Boda pinpointed the cabin and they lowered their altitude. Soon they were hovering right over the moss-covered swamp water and nudging through some trees. The cabin had a large wooden deck for a porch. They silently hovered next to it and got out.

Rocky grabbed the shotstub from between the seats as Boda pulled out his needle gun and went wide right of the door. Rocky took the left side.

“Alright, come on out Ro Bart! We know your in there!” Rocky yelled

As expected the door exploded from an inside blast. Rocky tossed a stunball inside and turned inside right after it flashed. Ro Bart was on his hands and knees as if he was searching for his glasses.

“Dang you Rocky!” he said, feeling his face and noticing the goggles were still there. “I know'd you come for me! I just know'd it!”

Rocky grabbed Ro Bart's arm. “You gotta do your time, Ro, you did the crime.”

“S'not me! I tain't did nothing.” Ro Bart protested as his arms were bound behind his back, but he was just going through the motions. His heart wasn't in the protest at all.

“I know you loved her, Ro, but you shouldn't have tried to hurt her.” Rocky said leading out to the wooden deck.

After shutting the door to the back seat he looked at his new partner. “Thanks for covering me, I didn't even have to tell what you to do. Looks like your training already took hold. Ro here, he ain't all that bad he just dumb crap sometimes, he gets emotional. He's a sad man.”

“Understand, I do.”

“I like to break in the new guys with a fishing trip in the Gulf, we usually just get drunk without catching anything. Ever been fishing?” Rocky asked as an alligator crawled onto the deck behind him. Boda raised his hands and the alligator lifted off and the ground and was flung back into the water, Rocky saw none of this.

“Young as you think, I'm not. Quite old, I am.” Boda said as he strapped himself back into the SUV.

“I think we're going to get along great as partners, Booda.” Rocky said as the SUV rose straight into air.
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