The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 6

Tex burst into Maggie McGee’s like he’d been shot out of a cannon.

It was way too early in the morning for that kind of energy, so Champ, who was the only other person there, chose not to react.  Instead, he stared at the chessboard and pondered his next several moves as he waited for the delivery truck to arrive.

“I need a lot of money, and I need it right now!” Tex announced when he screeched to a halt next to Champ’s table.

That got the old man’s attention.

“Settle down,” Champ advised.  “Champ cannot process a crisis at this hour.  Champ also knows from experience that trying to acquire big money in little time always leads to decisions that result in death or jail time.  So take a minute to breathe and rethink your life’s path.”

Tex nodded and took a deep breath as he sat down across from Champ.

short story, humor, Modern Philosopher“Is this about your debt to the club owner?” Champ asked as Tex centered himself.  “Champ thought you took care of that with the reward money Detective Bruno got you.”

Tex nodded.  “Yeah, I paid that off with the reward money.  Bruno is a saint.  He told the Feds that I provided information that led to the capture of Irish Tony…”

“The prick who tried to kill Wally and Detective Bruno!” Champ grumbled.

“The crazy thing is,” Tex continued, “I don’t think there was an active reward.  Irish Tony had been considered dead for like fifteen years, but somehow, Bruno got them to write me a check.”

“Champ has seen firsthand how persuasive Detective Bruno can be,” he said with a cackle that echoed through the empty bar.  “Tell Champ why you need money then if your debt is paid.”

Tex glanced down at the chessboard as if somehow, the pieces held the answer to his quandary.

“I need to find someplace to live, and every place I’ve checked wants first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit,” Tex explained.  “I’m working seven days a week now between here and Aspen’s, and I can’t afford anything.  You were homeless.  Do you think I can survive?”

Champ looked at his friend in concern.  “Champ’s got to be honest.  There’s no way you’d survive a week living on the street.  But you won’t have to.  You can always crash at Champ’s.  There isn’t much, but there’s a couch to sleep on and a roof over your head.  What happened with the house you live in now?”

Tex sighed and slumped down in his seat.

“You know that asshole real estate guy Miles Fitzpatrick?”

Champ’s entire body tensed up at the mention of the name.  The man’s face was plastered on billboards all over the city.  He had some stupid new reality show where people demeaned themselves for the right win a job working for him.  There were rumors that the guy was thinking about running for governor.

But Champ knew Miles Fitzpatrick personally. The real estate mogul had once paid Champ to sleep in the parking lot of St. Sebastian’s in hopes of driving down property values.

While Champ loathed the man, that chance encounter had led to his meeting Detective Bruno and Wally, which had changed his life forever.

“Champ knows the man,” was all Champ revealed to Tex.

“The house I’m living in belongs to my buddy’s grandmother, who moved to Florida.  She never intended to sell the place, but Miles Fitzpatrick is buying up the entire neighborhood so he can put up billion dollar condos.  He made her an offer that she couldn’t turn down, so now I’ve got less than a month to found a new place to live.”

“Champ thinks that sucks.”

Tex nodded his agreement.  “Here I was, finally getting my life back on track.  And it’s not like I was taking it easy.  I’m working my ass off.  I intend to get my music career going again, and I’m going to need money for new equipment and studio time.  But I guess that dream gets put on hold while what little savings I squirreled away goes towards a new apartment.”

Champ reached across the table to pat his friend on the shoulder.

“Champ isn’t going to let you give up on that dream!” he vowed.  “Champ knows how hard you’ve been working.  Champ sees how happy you’ve been since you’ve met Aspen and finally get to play for an audience again.”

“It’s hardly an audience,” Tex corrected him.  “A café full of bored housewives and college kids isn’t much.  Plus, I’m only doing covers.  I’m just a living, breathing jukebox to them.”

Champ pounded on the table with his fist, which immediately got Tex’s attention, but somehow managed to not knock over a single chess piece.

“Champ doesn’t want to hear any defeatist talk,” the old man growled.  “Champ knows what it’s like to be punched so hard that you fall down and never want to get up again.  Champ lived on the street.  Champ made rash, stupid decisions and ended up in jail.  Champ will not let that happen to you.  Do you understand?”

Tex slowly nodded.

“No one’s ever cared about what happened to me before,” Tex confessed.

“Champ gives you his word.  You will not end up on the street.  You will not end up in jail.”

Tex finally allowed himself to smile.

“Thanks, Champ.  You have no idea what this means to me…”

short story, serial, Modern PhilosopherBack at the crime scene, emergency lights continued to flash, and Aspen screamed once Tex hit the ground.  Wally immediately sprang into action and called over one of the EMTs.

“I checked him out when we first arrived,” the EMT assured Wally.  “He was a little groggy from the crash, but the airbag and seat belt saved him from any serious injury.”

“Then why the hell is he unconscious?” Aspen demanded as she wiped away a tear.

“My guess is exhaustion,” the EMT replied.  “He can ride in the same ambulance as his buddy and we can have the docs do a more thorough exam at the hospital.”

Wally nodded and pulled a shaking Aspen back towards him to allow Wally to be loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled away to join Champ.

“He’s going to be okay, right?” Aspen asked Wally with pleading eyes.

“I’m no doctor, so I can’t say that for certain,” Wally told her.  “From a legal standpoint, though, the three of you are definitely not out of the woods yet.  You’d better ride with me until I’m clear on what exactly happened here.”

Aspen nodded her agreement and walked with Wally towards his car.  On the way, they passed the bullet riddled sports car that firefighters were working to pull away from the tree that had ended the high speed chase.

TO BE CONTINUED…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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19 Responses to The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 6

  1. kristianw84 says:

    This chapter gave me a deeper respect for Champ. I love how you tied in Fitzpatrick and the scenarios from the Vanishing Santa!

    You and those cliffhangers…
    always leave me wanting more. My heart broke for Aspen as she wiped her tears away, and I was on the edge of my seat, worried about Tex. I guess I’ll just have to trust the EMT that he passed out from exhaustion. I cannot wait for part 7!!!

    I’m completely hooked!!

    • Austin says:

      It was always my intent to link all the stories, and I did hint to you that Fitzpatrick is an important character in future Bruno stories…

      Champ is a great guy, but he promised to keep Tex out of jail and off the street, yet they are being wheeled off to the hospital together with a police escort. 🙂

      • kristianw84 says:

        Yes, I remember, but I still love how you intertwine the stories…

        Touche, but I still don’t know exactly why they were in the stolen car in the first place because my favorite writer hasn’t clued me in yet, and I learned a long time ago not to try to anticipate where your stories are headed because you are the master of twists! Not to mention, you don’t always know either since you make these up as you go. As it stands, I stick by my deeper respect comment, and I’ll see if I retract it as the story progresses, but I get the sense I won’t. 🙂

      • Austin says:

        I really do enjoy writing these serials because I honestly have no idea where they are going. That car chase was not at all in my thought process until I decided I wanted to add some action.

        I knew I wanted Wally and Bruno to make cameos, but not sure where. So it just made sense to add him to the car chase scene.

        Thanks for your faith. I hope my imagination wanders down an avenue that makes this story enjoyable for you..

      • kristianw84 says:

        I can tell you enjoy writing them. It comes through when I read your stories. I love the car chase, it made the story exciting!

        I already enjoy this story immensely! I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d read a manual if you wrote it. You have a way of making the ordinary fascinating. It’s one of my favorite things about your writing…

      • Austin says:

        The car chase was fun and I worked that out in my head for several days. I knew certain info had to be included, and I had to figure out the best way to present it without making the flow choppy.

        I still think Champ being an expert with a gun and firing out the back window of the car during a high speed chase is damn cool.

        Wally would agree that image would be perfect for the movie made about that case! 🙂

      • kristianw84 says:

        I could tell you put a lot of effort into that scene!

        Champ firing out the back window was awesome!! I’m sure Wally has already had that thought about the movie!! 😆

      • Austin says:

        I did work on that one really hard. The crazy thing is, I put so much effort into these stories, but they get maybe 50 views.

        I guess I need to look at it as the blog is a lab where I try out material, and if it’s good, I then turn it into a novel…

      • kristianw84 says:

        That’s a good way to look at it, and a good way to receive feedback. The number of your readers is not at all an indicator of your writing skill, but when you’re a famous writer, you’ll have a community of fans who believed in you from the start. That’s gotta count for something!

      • Austin says:

        Yes, feedback is very nice. As you know, you’ve been very helpful with the process, and I definitely appreciate it!

      • kristianw84 says:

        It’s my pleasure 🙂

  2. beth says:

    I’m impressed with how you’ve connected them all quite naturally

  3. markbialczak says:

    I like what I’m learning about these characters more and more. Thank you, Austin!

  4. WebbBlogs says:

    I need to go to bed but I can’t stop reading!!! This is so good, the car chase was definitely an unexpected surprise

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