You can read part I here.
“En route!” his voice came back. That was great. Just as we were breaking back into the city light we both could hear a car moving our way at great speed — my, but wouldn’t that attract a bunch of attention? The Cantor’s premonitory dream about things going wrong appeared to be all about him. We saw him make our same right turn as before. He closed with us and then passed us on by. I was quite certain that he was just going to turn around and pick us up gracefully. That he did.
Cantor stopped and Kay-Kay darted forward to the passenger door — she was always trying to bogart the front seat — I hated that. I grabbed her by the back collar and tugged her up and out of the door well, pointing her to the back seat. I was just an ass like that. She obediently and quietly (yay!) helped herself to a healthy dose of the back seat and let it fly.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ Almighty Cantor — where in the name of fuck were you… fuckin’-fuckin’- fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck…etc,” so charming was she.”
“SHOOSH, Kay-Kay… mensch!” I had to break the chain of expletives so we could get to the civil truth.
“Ok, Cantor… so?”
“Stopped for the scheduled comms shot with base… INMARSAT is dead; not working at all.”
Yessir, I hated the guts out of that news. I almost even blinked, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Being hunted and out of comms, now that was way closer to the end of the world. I was with the Cantor at the base when he made the INMARSAT test calls to two different mission corollaries. The phone didn’t work now but it wasn’t Cantor’s fault and that was that. The problem we faced at the moment is that the comms plan back at the base called for people to come into the RS to look for us if we missed scheduled contacts.
We needed a phone. Cantor wanted to get out of town to use a phone, but the problem with out of town was that it was out of town, and the town was where the phones were. So he just wanted to at least get out of the town center and more on the periphery. Heading toward the opposite end of Vlasenica we encountered a dreaded roadblock but worse: it wasn’t a police block… it was a just-some-crappy-looking-thugs roadblock.
The Cantor made no bones about flipping a bitch and heading the other way. The roadblock too made zero bones about picking up follow. Cantor and I jetted a single mutual glance and got on with it. Meanwhile, Kay-Kay added her contribution to the situation as only she was capable:
“Hey… heeey… HEEEEEEEY!!! THERE’S A (FUCKIN’-FUCKIN’-FUCK-FUCK-FUCK… etc,) CAR FOLLOWING US… HEEEEEEY!”
“Steady, Kay-Kay; we got this.”
“How about that Zanzibar or something like that Bistro-looking place on the northern outskirt, that white building with the blue trim for a phone? I’ve passed it a hundred times and always wondered what it looked like inside,” I suggested.
“Sounds good,” agreed the Cantor, “if we don’t hit another roadblock,” a response worthy of another mutual glance.
“SHIT… I THINK HE’S TURNING WITH US… he’s turning… he’s turning… FUCK HE TURNED WITH US AND IS STILL FOLLOWING!!
“Geo, I want you to swap with Kay-Kay; I want you alone in the back where you have plenty of room to move around with a CAR if it comes to that. Kay-Kay, did you catch that?”
“GODDAMNIT THAT FUCKER IS GOING TO TURN AGAIN WITH US… he’s turning… turning… OH MOTHER FUCKING SON-OF-A-BITCH HE TURNED WITH US AGAIN!!!”
“OMG, Geo just roll back there and stuff her up here in the front seat and get a gat into action, please.”
“Please,” — manners are crucial at times like these and I appreciated the hell out of the Cantor, for I doubt if I would have complied had he not said “please.” I nosed over the passenger seat where Kay-Kay was kneeling and gawking out the back like a dog calling out the painfull obvious moves of the car on our six.
With no interest in crafting the most gracious and elegant method to transition Ms. Potty-mouth out of the backseat, I embraced the Cantor’s instructions and stuffed her (literally) into the front seat where she landed awkwardly upside down with her face pressed against the passenger floorboard. It was rough. I wasn’t mad at her but was getting stressed out.
“HE’S STILL FOLLOWING US… HE’S — HEY, LET GO… LEMME-GO, LEMME-GO, LEMME-GO — OOOPH!!”
We arrived at the Zanzibar or something like that bistro-looking place. Cantor was going in to make the call. I was going in with him because I was his back. We told Kay-Kay to come in and have a coffee. She didn’t want to do that and was making such a fuss about getting rough-handled that we elected to let her stay in the car:
“Slide over in the driver’s seat then, Kay-Kay; if those toads pull in and come into the bistro, turn the car around and be ready to drive fast if we come out fast.”
“OK!!!” oh, Lord… yeah, she was really happy with that idea and was back in the game. I just rolled my eyes and fumbled for cigarettes. Inside there was nobody but the door was open. A receptionist appeared as we heard the cracking of gravel outside in the lot — the toads were here.
Cantor was already asking for a “Phone? Phone?” when the two toads came through the door. The receptionist right away pushed back out of sight:
“Nema fone (there’s no phone),” the older of the two toads declared.
“Da sediš (have a seat),” he offered with a gesture of his hand as the two of them sat down.
I stuffed a cigarette in my smoke hole and Cantor reached over to pull one from the pack as we sat down too.
“You don’t suck fags,” I said quietly
“You don’t either,” he reminded.
“Odakle si (where are you from),” the older toad said looking specifically at Cantor.
I smiled, shrugged, and shrugged more: “I don’t know, I don’t know, no govori Serbi.”
“Odakle si, Sam (where are you from, Sam — the Cantor’s real name)?” the toad persisted as he put his feet up on the table and rocked back on the hind legs of his chair, hands clasped behind his head like he was planning to stay there awhile. I was blinking now, stunned to hear this asshole say Sam’s name. That had been a welterweight game-changer and the Cantor wasn’t gaming these brothers anymore.
Cantor bent forward in his chair as if to adjust his shoe, then reached forward and grabbed the suspended front two legs of the toad’s chair. He stood and yanked that chair up and out from under the toad and raised it over his head. The toad almost hovered like in a cartoon a split second before falling heavily flat on his back expelling every trace of tidal and residual lung volume he had in him. He totally lost his wind as Cantor brought the chair smack-down hard on top of him.
Realizing I was not there just to watch the Cantor’s magnificent performance I turned my attention to the younger toad who had dashed through the first door he could see — which happened to be the bathroom — and slammed the door behind him. As he bolted I saw he had a gat tucked in his pants; well, we all did though.
As I began to flail for the front door Cantor told me aggressively not to run but to just quick-step. That was a heads-up of him because there was snow and ice and I would likely have ended upside-down. I just wondered how the hell he thought of such things at times like these.
I scooted in the backseat as Cantor took the PAX seat and Kay-Kay wheeled us out. The two toads rushed out of the bistro. The older was not of the age to run, hobbling with one hand over his heart as if to stave off an attack. The younger promptly slipped and crashed onto the porch because he tried to run. Their car tried to give chase but never even got a chance to get on-step. It lurched and rocked and its back tires flopped about limply.
“Nooooo freakin’ way… NO FREAKIN’ WAY! They got two tires flat as pancakes — both rears! Those freakin’ idiots couldn’t do any better than that?! They fail at maintenance 101!”
We held our composure through one last traverse of Vlasenica as we bailed out from the south side of the city. With no roadblock in view, we peeled off a celebratory bout of shit-talking! Kay-Kay just quietly drove on.
The Cantor and I shared a few more yahoos and high-fives then got ourselves back to game faces though still elated. The Cantor gave Kay-Kay a little playful punch in the shoulder and grinned:
“Super job behind the wheel… wacha say, Cray-Kay?!”
She said nothing, but with eyes still wide from excitement she held out her closed fist to Cantor as if to give him a thing. He held a palm thereunder and into it, she let drop… two tire Schraeder valves — me, damned as I ever was!
By Almighty God and with honor,