Night crawlers, p.14
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       Night Crawlers, p.14

          
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After Jed found out what Justin had been doing and had confronted him, he had a talk with

  Chelsea. He told her he needed to spend more time at home. He told her that Justin and Joshua had been sneaking out at night when he wasn’t home. He didn’t tell her that Joshua had killed all the cats in Red Mountain and Justin was the peeping tom. He only told her he needed to stay home to reconnect with them and make sure they would follow his instructions and stay inside the property walls.

  Jed met with Justin and Joshua and told them he was going to spend more time with them. Jed told them, “I have to be able to trust you guys that you won’t leave the property when I’m not around. I guess the only way to do that is to be here and keep an eye on you guys. So far, neither of you have done what I’ve asked you to do.” They were both a little embarrassed about what Jed said, but happy to hear he was going to spend more time with them.

  Jed told Justin, “We’re having a few problems with the old pickup but we don’t have enough money to buy another one right now. I believe the only way we can come up with enough money to replace it is to go back to stealing things. We’ll have to raise enough money to pay cash for a new one. We’ll have to hit all the places around the area like we have done in the past, even the bars in Randsburg.” Justin was excited to hear they were back in business and that Jed would be back working with him once again. He believed he wouldn’t be as lonely or bored as he had been. Jed foolishly believed it would keep Justin’s mind off stalking the girls in Red Mountain.

  Jed told Joshua he would have to “hold down the fort” while they were out getting the stolen items they needed to buy the truck. Jed told them, “When we go to Los Angeles to sell the things we steal, all three of us are going. None of us are staying home anymore on those trips.” Jed knew he wasn’t going to take any chances leaving them alone again. Joshua asked Jed, “Can we take Mister with us when we go?” Jed rolled his eyes and said, “Sure, I guess it’ll be okay, but Mister will have to be on a leash and tied to the bed of the truck.” Even though his heart wasn’t completely into stealing again, Jed believed it was the only way he could get enough money for a new truck and keep an eye on Joshua and Justin at the same time. He was hoping he could keep them out of trouble.

  It was only a few days later when, once again, Jed and Justin started going out at night searching for the perfect home to break into. It wasn’t long before they had their target lined up and ready to go. They waited until the right night and put on all their normal gear and left.

  It was around two in the morning and they were watching the property from across the street when they spotted something that took them by surprise. Just before they started to go and break into the house they noticed two men sneaking around on the outside of the house. Jed looked over at Justin and said, “Look at that! Those guys are going to break into the same house we were going to hit.” Justin got angry when he saw them and said, “Let’s go stop them.” Jed wasn’t sure what they were up to so he said, “No, let’s just watch them to see what they’re going to do.” When they first arrived at the property the two guys had split up with one going one way around the house and the other one going the other. When they got around to the back of the house Jed and Justin could hear the faint sound of glass breaking as they broke a window near the back door.

  They were both inside the house for several minutes until they finally emerged. Each of them carried a white pillow case full of stolen items. Jed looked over at Justin and said, “Those stupid idiots! They didn’t even leave a look-out to make sure no one walked in on them.” Justin replied, “Yea, that’s crazy.” For the first time, since they had been in Red Mountain, Jed realized there were other people copying their stealing activity. Justin whispered to Jed, “Do you want to knock them in the head and take their stuff?” Jed wasn’t happy seeing someone else move in on his territory and taking his loot, but told Justin, “No, I just want to follow them and see where they go.”

  As the two guys left the property they headed toward Johannesburg. Jed thought, they looked like they’re on a Sunday stroll. Not at all the way we’ve always operated. We’ve always done everything slow and meticulous and tried to make sure we weren’t seen by anyone. These guys didn’t seem all that concerned whether someone saw them or not.

  Jed and Justin stayed a safe distance behind the duo as they finally arrived at their destination. It was, an older, beat-up, single wide trailer in the middle of town. Once there, the guys went around back to a 10’ by 10’ metal building and put all their stolen goods inside. When they were done they casually headed up to the front of the trailer and went inside. They didn’t seem like they were trying to hide any of their actions.

  Once Jed was aware of what these guys were up to, he told Justin that he wanted to let them do all the work. He wanted sit back and observe and then strike when they least expected it.

  The following evening, while he was at “The Joint” visiting with Chelsea, Jed went up to the bartender and asked if she had heard of any people in Jo-Burg stealing from the people in any of the little towns around the Rand area. That’s when she told Jed a lot more than he ever expected to hear, “I’ve heard, from some of our local customers, that there are thieves they call the “Night Crawlers” and they’re from Red Mountain. A lot of people believe they were the ones stealing things out of people’s cars here at “The Joint and The White House Saloon a few months back. I’ve also heard there’s a group of people in Jo-burg everyone is calling “Tweakers.” They’re the ones that are stealing from people all around the three towns. These people seem to be a lot different than the Night Crawlers. They are methamphetamine users. They’re addicted to and strung out on crystal meth. They’re paranoid and afraid of everything, except death. I heard they’ll stay up sometimes for two weeks at a time and won’t eat the entire time they’re up. Most of them are just skin and bones and their skin looks grey. Usually they hide during the day, away from the public because of their schizophrenic state of mind. They’ll kill and, even die for the meth. They’ll even do crude sexual acts to get the stuff. Once they’re addicted to it, they want it every day for the rest of their lives. I heard, they start out doing lines, then they smoke it and eventually they graduate to “slamming” it, which is using needles. These people will steal anything they can get their hands on. They’ll steal from people during the day or night, it doesn’t matter to them. They’ll even steal things from their own family. Sometimes they’re homeless because they have been disowned by their families. Often they steal from the very people they pretend to help to find their missing valuables.”

  Jed was fascinated with what she was telling him about the tweakers. When he asked her to tell him more she continued, “We had some people in town that saw one of them walking through town pulling a little red wagon and it was full of stolen items! If he saw something of value laying out in the open, he would just throw it in his wagon and keep going. Most of the people in town are afraid to say anything to them in fear of retaliation. These people are dangerous and scary. If they’re questioned by the police about stealing something they just deny everything. Even if the Sheriff Department gets a report saying they know where some stolen goods are located, by the time the Sheriff shows up with a search warrant, the stolen goods are moved to another location. They move it from place to place to stay ahead of the law. After a lot of fruitless trips from Trona to Jo-Burg, the sheriff’s department pretty much gave up on trying to catch them stealing. They seem to be able to steal enough things or do enough sexual favors for people to get the money they need for their meth habit.” Jed said, “Wow! I had never heard of the tweakers before. They sound like they’re a pretty messed up bunch. Thanks for the heads up!”

  Jed again thanked the bartender for giving him a better insight to what the tweakers were all about. He was starting to have a good picture of what his mom and dad were going through and why his dad was always stealing from people to support their drug habit. He didn’t like the fact that he and Justin, had in many ways, become like them. They would steal anything of value they could get their hands on. They stayed up at night stealing and sleeping during the day. The idea of them being like the tweakers and the fact that the tweakers were cashing in on his territory made him angry.

  When Jed got home that night, he tossed and turned and kept thinking about what the bartender had told him. As he lay there awake most of the night, he made up his mind to spend the next few weeks just spying on the tweakers and finding out everything he could about them. He was going to try do something that would keep them out of Red Mountain.

  He started watching them while he parked down the street a few blocks away. He soon found it was true, they didn’t come out much during the day, so he started watching them at night. Some of them lived in beat up trailers and mobile homes and some were in little out buildings that looked like shacks. They didn’t have any yards to speak of and they would take things apart then just leave the parts laying scattered all around the places where they lived. A lot of times they would come out and just sit by the backdoor, smoking and fooling around with a knife or some other weapon. They never seemed to be in a hurry to do anything.

  On a few of the nights, he followed two of the guys that lived in the trailer during their break-ins. He found out that once they were finished for the night, they always came back and stashed their goods in the little metal building. Sometimes they would store up their goods for a few weeks before they took it somewhere and sold it or traded it to other tweakers for drugs.

  Jed came up with a plan to steal all the stuff they had stashed in the metal building before they had a chance to sell or trade it. One night while the tweakers were out on a break-in, Jed and Justin crept slowly over to the little metal building and broke into it. Each of them filled up their black bags with as much of the stolen goods as they could carry. They then took the items to an abandoned shack about a quarter of a mile away that Jed had picked out. It was a place where they could temporarily stash the goods. They repeated this a few times until they had all the stolen goods out of the metal building. When they were finished stealing everything from the tweakers, Jed ran home and got the pick-up while Justin waited at the abandoned building for him to get back. Once Jed returned with the pick-up, they loaded the bed up with all the items and headed back home.

  On the way home, they were laughing about it and hi-fiving each other. They knew the tweakers would flip out when they went into the empty building and saw that all their stolen goods had been stolen from them. While he was laughing about it, Jed got serious for a minute and said, “I’m not through screwing with these guys yet. I have another plan, but we’ll have to be really careful. These guys could get dangerous.”

  When the tweakers returned home that night with their new haul of goods they were completely shocked to see that someone had broken into their metal building and taken everything they had. They didn’t know what to think at first so they went running around the trailer like lost angry puppies. As their anger got the best of them, they were screaming and yelling and you could hear them all over town. They started running around to the other tweakers and blaming them for stealing their stash of goods. They continued to blame each other for several days.

  That’s when Jed and Justin made their next move to get the tweakers really fighting with each other. They dressed like they were going to break into a house but headed to the tweakers. They waited in a hidden spot down the street until late at night and then they slowly crept to one of the places where the tweakers were staying. They took several things from around the trailer and put it in their bag. They then carried the bag over to one of the other trailers where the tweakers were staying and dumped it near the front door. Once they were done with one they repeated the same thing with three other tweaker places. They had some of each of the tweaker’s personal things lying in front of the other tweaker houses. When the tweakers woke up the next morning they found out that some of their things were lying in front one of the other tweaker’s houses and they went crazy. They started accusing each other of stealing their stuff and the fighting amongst themselves began.

  It caused a lot of uproar in Jo-Burg and the fighting had gotten so bad that the neighbors had to call the sheriff’s department out to break it up. The tweakers were brandishing knives and threatening to kill each other. Several of them were arrested and taken to jail.

  Jed and Justin didn’t get to see all that was going on between them, they were home sleeping when the entire brawl broke out. Jed did find out about it later when he went to see Chelsea. When he got to “The Joint” the bartender called him over and said, “Hey Jed, remember what I was telling you about the tweakers a few weeks ago? He looked at her as if to be surprised and replied, “Yes, I remember.” She said, “Well, they all got into a huge fight with each other this morning and one guy stabbed the other one and the sheriff’s department had to come out and break it all up. They took several of them to jail.” He looked at the bartender and said, “Wow, that’s really crazy. What were they fighting about?” She said, “Who knows, probably just over some drug deal.” He thanked her for her information but could hardly contain himself as he quickly turned and walked away. He was chucking to himself because his plan had worked and he had, at least temporarily, interrupted their activities. He couldn’t wait to get home to tell Justin their plan had worked!

  It was about a month later when Jed and Justin were able to resume their normal activities at Red Mountain and they were feeling good about everything once again. They were sneaking up on a house they wanted to break into when they had an encounter with one of the tweakers. He was on a trail and by himself. Jed couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He thought he had temporarily put a stop to these guys. When Jed saw him he told Justin he was going to confront the guy and tell him to go back where he came from. Justin was hidden behind the desert bushes when Jed first jumped out from behind the darkness of a large sage bush and showed himself. At first the guy was startled and stopped dead in his tracks. When he saw Jed, he starting to back up saying, “Wow! What is this? He didn’t even realize Jed was there until he had jumped out right in front of him. The dude was about forty years old but looked much older from all the years of doing the meth. Several of his front teeth were missing and he was skinny, just like the bartender had said. His first reaction, when he saw Jed, was to yell at him and run, but he didn’t. When Jed didn’t respond to what he first said he replied, “What are you doing out here?” Jed moved closer to get a better look at him and said, “I was about to ask you the same thing.” The guy didn’t have on any type of disguise or ski mask and for just a short moment Jed thought, these guys were just lucky they hadn’t been caught by now with their lackadaisical attitudes. He must be either really stupid or needing drugs pretty bad to go out by himself to burglarize a home.

  When the tweaker found out Jed wasn’t the law trying to stop him, he took a defensive posture before he answered Jed’s question. Justin was hidden just a few feet away and behind him. Jed then asked the guy, “Why are you coming to Red Mountain to steal instead of staying in Jo-Burg and stealing from the people around there?” Before he could answer, Jed told him, “Red Mountain is off limits to you and your people. You need to turn around and go back where you came from. You need to stay out of this area.” That’s when the tweaker got even more agitated and became aggressive. He started cursing Jed and saying, “I’ll do whatever the hell I want to do and go wherever the hell I want to go and nobody’s going to stop me. Least of all, not a punk like you.” At that point he had raised his voice and he was getting pretty loud. Jed said, “Hey man, you need to calm down a little or you’re going to have the law down on you.” The tweaker just kept getting louder and more aggressive the more Jed tried to talk to him. Jed figured, I might as well be talking to a wall because this guy isn’t listening to anything I say.

  Seeing that he wasn’t getting anywhere with the guy Jed was about to turn and leave, when unexpectedly, the tweaker reached down in his boot and pulled out a long hunting knife. It had a curved handle and long ten inch blade. He started waiving it in front of Jed and saying, “I’m going to kill you, punk, if you don’t get the hell out of my way.” Jed said “You don’t need to get violent, you can go do whatever you want.” The tweaker replied, “Hey you started this fight and now I'm going to finish it. I'm going to gut you." When he said that, Justin reached down and picked up a rock about the size of a grapefruit and held it in his right hand. As the guy started to lunge at Jed with the knife, Justin leaped from out of his dark hiding place and hit him as hard as he could in the side of head with the rock. They could hear the crunching sound of his skull and the guy went down instantly. Jed thought he looked like he had just been shot with a gun. He lay on the ground and quivered around for several seconds, taking his last breath, while Jed and Justin stood there wondering what they should do. It wasn’t long before the guy completely stopped moving. Jed slowly went over to him, saw that he wasn’t breathing so he felt his neck for a pulse. Not getting one, Jed then knew he was dead. As he was kneeling over the body, Jed looked up at Justin and said, “He’s dead. You killed him Justin.” For just a few seconds Justin began to freak out as he said, “I thought he was going to kill you Jed. He said he was going to kill you!” Jed was still shaking as he said, “I know, I did too. It’s okay, you were just trying to protect me and it was self-defense. Just relax. Everything’s okay.” After Justin calmed down Jed told Justin, “You’ll have to stay with him until I go get the pick-up. When I get back we’ll throw him in the back and then we’ll figure out what to do with him.”

  Justin was still trembling as he sat down and tried to calm himself by pulling his knees up to his chest and breathing deep. Jed looked at him and said, “Don’t do anything, I’ll be back in just a few minutes. Just keep an eye on him and if you see anyone else come along, hide the body off the trail and keep yourself hidden.” Justin didn’t say anything. He just sat there staring at the guy he had just killed. Jed ran back to their house, got the pick-up and was gone for only about twenty minutes before he got back. They made sure no one was watching them as they loaded the body in the back of the pick-up and then drove back to their house, closing the gate behind them.

  When they got home Justin was still upset and stressing out about killing the guy. Jed told him, “There was nothing you could’ve done Justin. The guy was so angry he probably would’ve killed me if you hadn’t stepped in and saved me. We just have to figure out what to do with his body.”

  They were sitting on the couch and talking about ideas of what they should do with the body when Jed told Justin, “We can’t tell the law or anyone else about this guy. They’d never understand how or why you killed him. They probably wouldn’t even care whether or not it was in self-defense. The law would also have a lot of other questions about what we were doing out at that time of night. With all the burglaries that have taken place in the area over the last few years they would just blame us for all of them. Even the stuff the tweaker’s have done.” Jed looked over at Justin and laughed as he said, “They might even try to pin the peeping tom guy on us.” Justin pretended he didn’t hear what Jed said as he sat there deep in thought.

  Justin came up with an Idea as he said, “Maybe we should drop the guy in road on highway 395 and let a fast moving car hit him, they’ll think they killed him. Maybe we could bury him in the back yard next to mom and dad.” Jed didn’t like either of those ideas when he told Justin, “We may have a problem with that. What if the car on 395 stopped before it hit the tweaker in the road and they found out that he was already dead and placed there by someone.” He also didn’t want to bury him in the back yard when he said, “I feel like the back yard is sacred ground because mom and dad are buried there. I don’t want that scumbag next to mom and dad, do you?” Justin realized it was a bad idea and said, “No, I guess not.” Jed told Justin, “We just need to sleep on it and decide in the morning, when we can think straight, and then we’ll decide what to do with him.” They soon went to bed and left the body in the back of the pick-up.

  They didn’t wake up until mid-morning the next day. When they got up Jed told Justin, “I think I have a perfect place to get rid of this guy. You just have to trust me on this one Justin. We’ll take care of it later tonight, once it’s dark.” Jed waited until the middle of the night and then told Justin to hop in the truck because it was time. He told Justin they were going to take a short ride up to the old abandoned Silver Dollar Saloon. When they got there they turned off their headlights and drove around to the back of the building. Jed told Justin, “There’s an old mine shaft behind the Saloon and it’s a few hundred feet to the bottom. No one will ever look for a body down there.” Justin chuckled and said, “That’s an awesome idea, Jed.”

  When they arrived at the mine shaft, they took the body out of the pick-up and carried it over to the hole in the ground. They then dumped it and waited a few seconds for it to hit the bottom. None of the local people ever went near the old mine shaft for fear of something bad happening to them. Maybe it was superstition or maybe their fear was real, Jed didn’t know and didn’t care. All he knew was, they would never see that guy again. On their way home they were just trying to forget they ever ran into him.

  A few days later, the other tweakers reported their friend missing to the sheriff’s department. They had spent three days looking for him all over Red Mountain, Jo-Burg and Randsburg and couldn’t find him. When the sheriff’s department was finally called, they went out to the tweaker’s place and took a report and asked around, but didn’t do an extensive search of the area. They figured the guy had just decided to leave and didn’t tell anyone. They believed that one of the other tweakers may have killed him and disposed of his body elsewhere. Either way, they knew there wasn’t any chance they would ever be able to find the guy. There was no point in looking for him. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

  The tweakers knew something had happened to their friend in or around Red Mountain because that was where he was headed the night he disappeared. He was going to go Red Mountain to break into one of the houses. Of course they couldn’t tell that to the sheriff’s department or that would’ve brought the law down on them. Little did they know, their friend was lying dead at the bottom of the mine shaft behind the old Silver Dollar Saloon.

  * * *

  Chapter 15 – Joshua’s Guide Dog

 
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