Byron leaned against his truck, patting his pockets down. A keychain jangled behind him, his keychain, in Frazer's hand.
"Looking for these?" Frazer asked. He had put his shoes on to go outside, the ones with orthotic insoles, so he stood a little taller than usual.
Scowling, Byron turned out his pockets. "What the hell, David Blaine. How'd you do that?"
"You threw them on the roof. You have any idea how slow you were crawling?"
Slow enough that Frazer had time to put on shoes and get a ladder. That meant Byron needed to do more ab work. He tensed his stomach. No time like the present.
Frazer pocketed the keys. He shook his head. "None of this was supposed to happen. I didn't expect you and Ray to find anything. Still don't know how you did."
"Man, I told you I took a two day seminar. Just give me the keys." Byron raised his cupped, zip-tied hands like an orphan asking for more gruel.
"Then what? You can't drive like this, and no one's going to believe you. You know I like your positive attitude, but take a minute to think."
"I'm trying to, ok? My head's all fuzzy." Byron tried to focus his thoughts, but it just made him hungry.
"You going to go to the cops?" Frazer pointed to Huntsman's police car. "They've got people in JSO, the Field Service, the Bureau, everywhere. I can get them to lay off if you calm down. It's not personal, they just want you out of the way."
"Who the fuck are 'they'?" Byron asked. "If this is a cartel thing, you should have just come to me. Ray didn't know nothing about my grow." The anger in his voice aimed inwards. He had never meant to involve Ray in his thug life. Now all Byron could do was say a silent prayer to Guanyin Bodhisattva and Tupac Shakur to keep his boy safe.
Frazer sighed. "This isn't about pot."
Byron gave him a suspicious look.
"I thought they were land developers." Frazer said. "But it's some kind of religious thing for them. Do you know what a ley line is?"
Byron chuckled. "You dumb ass! You just gave me the final piece of the puzzle. I'm gonna take your Hawaiian buddies down."
Frazer rubbed his temple. "It's-they're not Hawaiian. They're some kind of a cult."
Byron shook his head. "No take backs, brah. The next luau you throw is gonna be prison-themed."
"I said ley, not lei. These people believe that the fires, set in the right places, will change their destiny or keep humanity safe. It's like acupuncture on a geographic scale. Or, what do you people call it, feng shui." Frazer butchered the pronunciation, of course.
"You think I'm going to buy that load of bullshit just because I'm Chinese? Just tell me the truth."
Frazer sighed. "Alright. These people-the Hawaiian cartel-want to take over North Florida's lucrative marijuana trade. They'll kill you if you get in their way. They'll kill your kids. I can protect you, but you need to tell me you're done."
Byron slumped against the truck's door. Goddamn cartels. He had known all along, but he had not wanted to admit it to himself.
"I need to hear you say it," Frazer said.
"I'm done. But you have to call them off Ray, too."
Frazer glanced towards the woods where he'd heard gunshots. "I don't know who Ray pissed off, but there's nothing I can do for him."
YOU ARE READING
King of the Woods, or Trivial PursuitFantasy
Florida Forest Service duty officer Ray Lumley is in love with a white fringetree. Not an I-read-Walden-in-high-school love; a sweaty, sappy, I-want-to-rub-against-you-'til-I-get-splinters love. It's awkward. So, he's relieved to learn that he's rea...