Mason read the language. Looked like the kid was waiting for an opportunity. He laughed. “I’m not intending to harm either of you. Soon as I’m through I’m out of here. So you just play it cool, ok?”
Jake sank back on the hay, rubbing his head and neck. “You got any water?” he asked.
Mason pointed to a crate, half full of plastic bottles. “Plenty over there son. Help yourself.”
Jake hauled himself up and hobbled over to the crate, picked up a bottle with both hands and screwed off the top with his teeth. He guzzled the tepid water as though it was a cool mountain stream and splashed the remnants on his face to clear his head.
Mason watched him take the opportunity to take in his surroundings. Inside the barn were fuel drums and vehicle parts, all neatly stacked. Leading up to the front was a dirt road; unkempt foliage, bushes and trees behind. In the middle of nowhere. “Okay son, now you had a look outside, there’s no one around to hear you right now. Just sit yourself back down next to Anna and keep quiet. I don’t want to engage in any socializing right now, ok?”
Mason referred to his watch, picked up Jake's gag and stuffed it back in the kid’s mouth. The water was drugged, but he couldn’t take a risk. He made sure Jake’s hands were firmly tied around behind his back, and then shook Anna but she just moaned. She could wait. He would enjoy her after his masterpiece. He might even let Jake watch and learn a few things from the master. Not that Jake would have any chance to practice his new skills. No loose ends. That reminded him. Fairview would be delivering soon.
The Seneca tanker truck lumbered up the dirt road and came to a halt around the back of the barn where Mason directed it. “I brought it up myself,” said the guy with the scrawny neck, looking resplendent, if a little lost, in new green coveralls with ‘Fairview’ imprinted across the chest, and heavy duty working boots. He looked around. “Where you want it? In that tank over there?” He pointed to the large container on a raised platform.
Well, yes it would do. Unused for maybe a year, but Mason had cleaned it up enough so the guy wouldn’t be suspicious. Mason beckoned him out of the cab. “I appreciate it,” he said. “Seeing you’re on your own, I’ll lend a hand if you show me how it works.” Excellent. The guy would drain the fertilizer into the tank and show him the whole process technique. Then the guy would be a loose end.
“Well thanks. After I finish with you, I’m planning on a fishing trip. Drive overnight to the lakes. Peace and solitude for the week-end away from all this Bees activity. Whole town’s gone crazy these last few weeks.”
Better and better, thought Mason.
“You taking family?” asked Mason, keeping him talking. Pumping for information.
“Hell no, I’m divorced, wife moved north somewhere. No kids in these parts. And believe me, life’s a whole lot easier, even though I got a business to run.”
No one to miss him. No complications. It was all coming together as he knew it would. A milk run. But he needed to check out one other issue. “Your tanker seemed a bit slow coming up the dirt road; you need to get it serviced or anything?” Mason asked.
The guy nodded. “Yeah, I’ve been too busy running things. Needs an oil change and a new filter. Maybe some replacement plugs. Usual maintenance stuff, these Seneca trucks are pretty reliable. Not a lot goes wrong.”
No problem then, thought Mason. He could do that. Better to be sure than have it break down or something. And then another thought crossed his mind. “You mentioned the Bees. Their groundsman use your services?”
”Sure, I got a delivery lined up for next week when it all calms down again.”
“What’s their set up like, then?” asked Mason. “A bit more complicated than my simple old tank here. You get problems filling theirs?”
The guy was in a talkative mood, and explained the techniques to a grateful Mason.
“Well that about finishes it,” the guy said. “My truck’s bled dry. I put every last drop into your tank.” He waited expectantly, and Mason didn’t disappoint him. Just moved in close and used a combination of a friendly choke hold followed by a vicious head yank to sever the vertebrae. Didn’t want blood on the overalls. Another loose end taken care of and his naked body carefully buried beside the mobster. Mason rearranged the hay bales, put the guy’s overalls to one side and began servicing the Seneca.
The bird watcher recorded the Fairview tanker moving up the dirt road towards the barn. It didn’t come back down again. He unscrewed the top of his thermos and poured out a cup of warm coffee. He could go up and introduce himself; after all they were neighbors so to speak. He thought about his run-down place and his sexually demanding wife. It was his fault, he should never have married someone so young and his libido couldn’t keep pace. Never had really, no interest especially the perverse games she wanted to indulge in.
She would have suited Dan, he was a big guy who could handle himself, and so unlike him. If it hadn’t been for the car accident, Dan might have made the big time. Now he eked out a living as one of the Bees’ physiotherapists. Although ‘eked out’ was probably not quite correct. There were win bonuses and other rake offs. But Dan was welcome to that life. As far as he was concerned, bird life was a complete fascination to him. That settled it. He would stay put in case he missed out on his Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
Jake appraised his job. Mason had woken him from his drug-induced sleep and he couldn’t remember anything after drinking the water. He had to keep the hose in the neck of a drum until Mason had pumped all the gas into the tanker outside. Then move on to the next one. Then empty the jerry cans into the drums and repeat the process. Where the hell did Mason acquire a tanker, he thought? And what was he going to do with a tanker full of gas? Whatever it was, Mason was up to no good. Gas could ignite, fires could burn. People could die. Was that what Mason planned? It didn’t make much sense. Tankers were big, noticeable. Any spillage would be immediately detected and the area cleared. Mason couldn’t just drive a truck around in the middle of a crowd, it wasn’t practical.
With the first fuel drum in place and with Mason pumping gas out, he tried to clear his mind and think back to what he and Anna knew about Mason. Talented sports jock with a first rate, but mentally unstable mind. Army logistics in combat zones. Vehicles’ specialist. Trained killer. Until he got hit and was medically discharged. No, driving a tanker around wasn’t part of Mason’s intentions. Mason had a much more devious purpose for the tanker and the gas inside.
Jake knew the odds were stacked against him. How could he compete with the maniac? How could he rescue Anna? She was out of it most of the time. Mason kept her drugged, and for what purpose? He hadn’t laid a finger on her, her clothes were untouched. Just as though she didn’t exist. And how long before Mason decided they were loose ends. Jake shuddered, remembering Emma.
He had no illusions about that. Mason’s eyes had revealed the lie. He shuddered, and his mind flashed back to his college days. One of the lecturers had requested the class to write a short essay entitled ‘Living with a psychopath’. His brief effort had gained a ‘D minus’ and intellectual disapproval. He had written, ‘Kill him before he kills you.’