Dustin held up his phone and keyed in Steve’s number. “This can be worked out I’m sure.” He said pacing back and forth along the length of the car.
Kitten Kennedy started weeping.
Steve picked up almost immediately. “You coming back?” He asked answering the phone.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve.” Dustin growled.
“What?” Steve said, sounding genuinely surprised.
“You know God damned well ‘what’!” Dustin spat. “You reported the hearse as stolen.”
“No I didn’t.” Steve argued. “I swear. I wouldn’t even know how!”
“Then who did?”
“Marcus.” Steve said bitterly. “Ever since you left that boy has been acting like he owns this place.”
“I’ve barely been gone for more than an hour.” Dustin remarked. “You can’t even control your staff for an hour?”
“I’ve been hiding.” Steve answered indignantly. “Pretty much as soon as you left that kid called the cops and ever since they’ve been running around here asking to speak to whoever’s in charge. That’s why I need you back!”
“Did he tell them that you were planning on leaving Mr. Perez to die down there?” Dustin asked glancing in the direction of James and his wife. For an instant, their frozen smiles faltered. Just a little.
“No.” Steve said, sounding as if the mere suggestion of such a thing would be beyond the pale. “He actually told them that you sent that dude out to sit at the hole. That’s why the police want to speak with you.”
“What?” Dustin said almost choking on the word.
“Yeah.” Steve quipped. “You told us to let him sit there, remember?”
“I told you not to take him out of there by beating the hell out of him.” Dustin groaned.
“It’s not the same thing!”
“Oh hell.” Steve suddenly blurted out as if a thought had just occurred to him. “You know what? I bet I did report that hearse as stolen.”
“You don’t know?” Dustin asked skeptically.
“Well, when the police came, I called that GPS place to see if one of those dorks could tell me how to find you on this stupid system of theirs.” Steve replied. “They asked why I was contacting them and I told that my hearse had been stolen.”
“God damn it Steve!” Dustin barked. “Did you change the codes? The unlock code I got when I sat up the account doesn’t work anymore.”
“I had to.” Steve defended. “I didn’t know what they were.”
Dustin was livid. “How’d you even do that?” He asked.
“I’m the primary account holder!” Steve shot back angrily. “I own the damned hearse. I have a right to change whatever I please whenever I want to.”
“I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do.” Dustin seethed into the phone. “You’re going to call the representatives at Activa back and you’re going to tell them to get on the phone with the police and let them know that this is all a mistake.”
“Sure.” Steve replied.
“Then you’re going to ask that they unlock the ignition so I can restart this hearse and get on my way.”
“I’m not doing that last part dude.” Steve shot back.
“Why?” Dustin spat.
“Well,” Steve said. “I know where you are right now. I want you to stay put so I can come and get you.”
“You’re taking me hostage?” Dustin asked in disbelief.
“I’m not taking you hostage.” His partner retorted. “I’m just coming to get you so I can take you back to work.”
“I don’t want to be at work.” Dustin replied through clenched teeth. “If you try to take me back against my will then you’re taking me hostage you idiot.”
“It’s not like that at all man.” Steve laughed. “God damn, you are one dramatic bastard. I just need you to come in and finish out the day. Heck, I’ll give you a month off once all of this is straightened out.”
“I don’t want a month off.” Dustin said balling his hand up into a fist. “I’m not coming back and you can’t make me.”
“Well you can’t stop me from coming to get you.” Steve chided.
“TURN THE DAMNED HEARSE ON!” Dustin screamed into the phone.
“No.” His partner answered. “I’ll be right there.” Then he hung up.
Dustin took one long look at the dead phone in his hands. “Jesus Christ!” He shouted.
In a mixture of anger, frustration, rage and helplessness Dustin started to beat the device against the roof of the hearse. It came apart after the third time that he slammed it down denting grey surface of the vehicle but still he kept hitting it again and again until there was nothing left to hold. The action surprised everyone. Even Kitten Kennedy stopped weeping and looked up.
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked with a stern, motherly tone.
Dustin kicked the side of the hearse.
James took a step forward. “Whoa there buddy.” He said.
“Screw it!” Dustin spat kicking the vehicle again. “Just screw it and damn it all to hell!”
“It’ll be okay.” The artist said cautiously making his was around the idle car to pat him gently on the back. “It’ll be fine. God will show us the way.”
Kennedy stood dragging her arm across her face. She seemed to have recovered completely from her crying fit. “Are the cops coming?” She asked in her usual disappointed sounding manner.
“No.” Dustin spat looking down at his shoes. “Steve’s calling them off but he’s coming here to take me back to the cemetery.”
“Then fine.” The woman said. “Good.”
“He’s going to take your father back too.” Dustin continued. “He’s not the type to get things done. It’ll be a week or more before you can arrange a cremation.”
Kennedy turned to face the trees.
Alexis smiled. “I know.” She called eagerly over the car. “We can walk to our friend’s house and get them to help.” She suggested.
“Good idea.” Kitten Kennedy snorted turning back around. “And what about my father? “I’m not leaving him behind on an empty road.”
James shrugged. “Why not bring him along?”
Dustin looked up. “What?” He asked.
“Sure!” James replied casually. “I saw some kind of stretcher thing folded up back there. Why not use it and just take him to my friend’s house?”
Kennedy shook her head. “That’s crazy!’ She replied.
“Oh they’re great people!” James continued with a chuckle. “They won't mind a bit.”