General Fiction posted September 6, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
An offer, too good to refuse . . . ?

Tucker - (Part -1)

by Ric Myworld

Story of the Month Contest Winner 
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Daniel Farnsworth IV had inherited the bulk of his great-grandfather's fortune. He was an only child, as were his father's and grandfather's generations who had passed the wealth down: all the spoiled-brat variety, who never failed to get their way. And Daniel was determined not to alter tradition, or at least not until he met-up and hired Samuel Tucker, aka "Tuck."

Tuck didn’t give a damn about Farnsworth, his money, or anything else, besides Katie. And he hadn’t seen or talked to her in years. I guess you could call him a different breed, an independent, cantankerous cuss. He was unlike anyone you have ever met. A real chameleon. Out of place wherever, and around whomever, yet his special knack enabled him to blend in and fit anywhere.

It was 3:17 on a Thursday morning at Snappy Waffle. Tuck was wolfing down a Big-Champ breakfast of three eggs, bacon, grits, and a double order of hash-brown potatoes: scattered, smothered, and covered, heavy on the onions and doused in Frank’s Red-Hot sauce. A classic steaming-hot feast at the ultimate greasy spoon he called The Big Snapper, probably a shared reference to a past girlfriend.

The twenty-four-hour fast-food sit-around was the only place open in typical small-town America where the streets close up at dark. It had become Tuck’s favorite hangout on maddening nights when he couldn’t sleep.

That night, the diner was packed with a full house of regular nowhere-else-to-go deadbeats and night-on-the-town drunks who sat trying to sober up enough to negotiate driving home.  
All eyes turned to the parking lot as Daniel Farnsworth’s stretch limousine wheeled in. The stereo cranked with its thumping bass’s rhythmic beat shaking the restaurant’s glass and vibrating the floor. Its blacked-out windows kept anyone from seeing inside, while fluorescent-blue lighting illuminated the wheel wells, undercarriage, and the blacktop beneath to the extent it resembled a revolving carnival ride.

Two gigantic bruisers stepped out first. Each was uglier than a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and dressed in fine, high-dollar dark-silk suits over English collared, heavily starched pinpoint-oxford shirts. Thin, to nearly transparent, the delicate fabric revealed every muscle-rippling effect of the massive monsters’ movements. Menacing dispositions exposed, but temporarily contained.

They stood on each side of the rear door as the driver came around and opened it for the smallish Farnsworth to exit. Everyone watched his slicked-back white hair and pastel-blue suit’s lustrous sheen demanding attention.

One thug in front, the other behind, protecting the sandwiched boss between as they single-filed it inside, turned right, and walked up to Tuck’s booth, it having the last three empty seats in the restaurant.

“Hello, Mr. Tucker, may I join you, please?” Farnsworth asked, his deep-set eyes of horror-movie intensity glaring down on Tuck.

“Help yourself,” Tuck replied, just sort of tilting his head sideways for a quick peek from the corner of his left eye, waving in a come-on-down gesture and pointing to the seats.

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel said, as he slid into the booth and smiled. The two bone-crushers crossed their arms and leaned back, standing against the outer plate-glass wall. Onlookers stared, undoubtedly waiting for the brutes’ weight to shatter the glass.

Tuck lazily looked up in what some might call a who-do-you-think-you-are glance. Then he said, “I’m Tuck, not Sir. They called my dad Sir, and he was an old man.” His facial expression was somewhere between a smile and a smart-alecky grin, and obviously, Daniel couldn’t tell the difference. 
Daniel’s smile melted as he apologized, “Sorry, Tuck. I didn’t know you were so touchy or is it feminine sensitivity?”

“I’m not touchy or a person anyone would consider sensitive, Mr. Farnsworth. I’m just setting you straight right off. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, and I damn sure don’t consider anyone better than me just because they have money. Therefore, I don’t find being called or calling anyone by name disrespectful, unlike many.”

“Are you insinuating that I do?” Daniel snapped, and his brow bristled.

“Mister, I’m not insinuating anything, just stating a fact. So, don’t come in here, take a seat at my table and cop an attitude with me or you’ll find you and your goons' asses thrown out of here in a heap.” Tuck maintained his typical cool composure: all but the sound of gritting teeth, a twitching lip, and the bulge of his jaw muscles.

Daniel looked Tuck up and down before his mouth opened slightly . . . then, he said, “Those are mighty big words considering the odds . . . so, are they meant to be a threat?”

“You can take ‘um any way you’d like, and that goes for your hired help too. I don’t make threats, Farnsworth.” Now, Tuck was the one glaring straight into Daniel’s eyes, and he never flinched before saying, “Threats are words used to hide fear. Of which, I have none . . . or no more than what’s needed to keep me cautious.” Tuck stared. Daniel looked down.

“I’m afraid we may have mistaken the other’s intentions and gotten off on the wrong track. Therefore, why don’t we start this conversation over from the beginning . . . if you don’t mind of course? I didn’t come here for trouble.” Daniel’s tone changed drastically from early on, recognizing his bulldozing tactics a useless tool against Tuck.
“You could have fooled me . . . marching in surrounded by your big-buff gladiators packing shoulder-holstered steel, chests puffed out with pouty lips. I mean, if all you needed was a place to sit, why the big-chief-in-charge bravado? Sit, eat, and we can leave afterwards with no hard feelings.”

Tuck filled his mouth and chewed, leaving it open far enough that his breakfast guest could see the ugly glob of masticated pulp. Every bite revealed in an intentional disgusting glimpse from someone normally known to be a mannerly and polite eater.

“Well, I didn’t exactly come here to eat, Tuck. I came here to find you and offer a business proposition.” He waited for Tuck to look up and acknowledge him, which took, seemingly, forever.

“Not interested,” Tuck said, without raising his head, “but thanks for asking.” Everything was quiet for a moment. Then, Tuck continued, “Just the sound of proposition turns me off worse than a mouse in a blender. It sort of makes me think of an unlawful late-night back-alley deal that would surely make me sick at my stomach when I awaken the next day and realize what a slimy pig I’ve become.”

“I don’t like your smart-mouth insinuations.” Farnsworth said, fuming. “Are you some kind of mind reader who knows what I was about to ask?” Daniel’s drawers were in a wad now. Blood rushing through his reddened face like a rollercoaster on fire. On the verge of blowing his cork, somehow he managed to keep the raging blood from boiling over and asked his next question. “How about my driver picks you up tomorrow afternoon so we can meet at the club for a friendly game of golf?”

Tuck started laughing and could hardly spit out the words, as he said, “That’s a new one on me . . . a friendly game of golf. The game where two supposedly honorable men become liars and thieves, cheating anyway they can. Miscounting, changing the scorecard, using a not-so-occasional foot wedge to take a tree or obstruction out of play. Grasping at whatever gives them an edge over their fearsome foursome of hackers. No, sirree . . . count me out.”

“Tell me, how does a scratch golfer come to hate the sport, Mr. Tucker?” Daniel and everyone listening in sat soaking up the suspense, silently, wondering if Tuck would answer or ignore the question. Then he spoke.

“Hate golf? Huh, never . . . but, I gave up playing a long time ago. I don’t know where you collected your information mister—but yes—I played well. The problem was most didn’t, and likely still don’t. Therefore, I decided against wasting my time watching nitwit clowns take turns swatting little white balls with clubs as they veered off in all directions. Then, after a half-hour of traipsing through the woods, brush, and muck, exhausted from the very frustrations I shared from sitting in the cart waiting, they would finally cuss and come to the reality their balls were lost and take a drop. Undoubtedly, the only balls they ever had were made of manufactured hard rubber.”
“Well, how about tennis or hunting?” Farnsworth asked, and continued, “In truth, it won’t take long, but I need to steal a few minutes of your time to talk.”

“Look, I’m not in the mood for recreation or in the market for a job. Like everyone other than you, I could use the money, but desperation hasn’t set in yet. You seem to have done your homework on me, and I must admit, I’m not very comfortable with that. Therefore, I’m just not interested. That’s all, nothing personal.”

“You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Tucker, but there must be a way we can compromise and find some common ground?” Daniel chewed up toothpicks faster than a beaver gnaws delicate softwood aspens and cottonwood trees. 
Tuck’s cheeks and ears had turned bright red, which wasn’t a good sign to those who knew him. He hesitated briefly, took a deep breath, and sighed before he said, “Now, as for playing tennis, you’re either the pro or the chump. I just can’t see me running back and forth while someone hits the ball to the opposite side of the court and laughs inside until I collapse from heat stroke." On a raucous roll, Tuck's humorous jabs rambled on, playing to the crowds' chuckles.

"And as for hunting, unless I’m starving or have a predator stalking me, why would I ever kill a living, breathing creature when there's a nearby grocery? The sport of hunting . . . come on, what is sporting about tracking down and killing a defenseless animal? I’ll never consider hunting a sport until deer have weapons and can shoot back. No thanks, you do have the wrong person, Mr. Farnsworth.”

Frustration flared, as Daniel blurted, “I’ll get to the point, Tucker. You did a job for a Ms. Megan Melancon of New Orleans, finding her long-lost brother. I need a good detective and she assured me you would be the expert for the job.”

“Well, she told you wrong. I’m not a licensed detective. I just did her a one-time favor.”

“What can I do to persuade you for one of those favors? I’ll pay handsomely if you can help me.” Daniel neared panic mode, a trembling bundle of nerves that showed signs of his vulnerability.

“I’m afraid Ms. Melancon is far more attractive and appealing to a straight ol’ Kentucky farm boy, Mr. Farnsworth.” Tucker’s smile showed more shiny-white teeth than an opossum that had chased the stench of rot to find a critters’ Heaven at the city dump.

Daniel Farnsworth motioned toward the limo and nodded his head, his bodyguards fell in line front and rear, and they were gone as quickly as they had come.
Four days later, Tuck looked in his mailbox to find both a letter and a folder with Daniel Farnsworth’s return address. He almost scribbled “Return to sender,” but figuring what the heck, he ripped them open.

Enclosed in the manila folder he found a check for twenty-grand paid in advance for services and, detective licenses issued in Tuck’s name for six states.

The envelope contained a key to his new office, receipts for furniture, appliances, and office equipment. And a paid-in-full lease for two years, along with an option-to-purchase agreement requiring yearly rent be applied toward the purchase price.

An impressive accomplishment of an inconceivable feat, Farnsworth had Tuck’s attention, front and center.

But after much thought, Tuck would never be bought with irresistible benefits and bonuses to become involved in Daniel’s illegal ventures. And he refused to be played as a bonehead patsy or forced to associate with worldwide underworld connections.

So, he went to work . . . searching any available data on Daniel Farnsworth.

Story of the Month
Contest Winner



I can't decide if this is an introduction to Samuel Tucker or a prologue for a new book of quirky, way-down-South characters. But either way, I had fun writing it, and hope you enjoy reading it.

I was just notified that my type was too small for some to read; therefore, I've set it bigger to accommodate. I hope it helps.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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