Read Peak Oil Online

Authors: Arno Joubert

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Suspense, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Alexa Book 2 : Peak Oil

Peak Oil

CONTENTS

Chapter One

Neil Fight

Hitchikers

Mac

Laiveaux

Dabbort Creek

The Bar

Jailed

Barman

Fitch

Chapter Two

Alexa in jail

Dwight Harvey

Timer

Ocelot Inn

Mary-Lou

Chris Fitch

Voelkner

Phone Call

Words

Watched

Diner

Chapter Three

Hotel

Pictures

Attack

Harvey

Refatex

Becks

Jet

The Visit

Chapter Four

Canteen

Ryan

Passport

Accident

Visit

Diversion

Procession

School

The Talk

History

Chapter Five

Patsy

Pauline

The Jog

Ranch

Resolve

Meeting

Savant

Lucy Beck

Arrest

The Note

Chapter Six

Drive

Ryan and Fitch

Enter the refinery

Scout

Shot

Rescue

Neil Allen

Torture

Escape

Laiveaux

Bruce to Dabbort

The Rescue

Chapter Seven

Car crash

Bella

Bruce Bryden

Voelkner

Retrieval

The Call

Laiveaux arrives

Skyfall

Recovery

They Meet

Enter Refinery

Take-out

Toporov

The Confession

Chapter Eight

Daddy

Mary-Lou

The Fire

Prayer

Dream

The Talk

Shale

Murder

Investigation

Chapter Nine

Neil Watches

Follow Doctor

Neil at Ranch

Prepare

Meet Fitch

Break In

Reunion

Jail

Codes

Mary-Lou breaks codes

Last Meal

Ocelot Pen

Hospital

Finish

Dismiss

Ryan

Arrest

Bitten

Rebuild

Let's Talk

Preview

Acknowledgments

CHAPTER ONE

Gypsy Fair

Forth Worth, Texas

The two fighters were surrounded by a rough-looking crowd. Tattooed men wearing white vests and jeans and gold-cord necklaces were slapping their fists into their palms, shouting and jeering. Scantily dressed women wearing too much makeup shrieked one-liners that the snot-nosed kids on their hips shouldn’t have had to hear at such a young age.
 

Neil rolled on the ground, leaving a trail of dust in his wake. The crowd around them jostled backward, instantly enlarging the diameter of the ring. They whooped, shouting encouragement to their favorite fighter.

Neil shook his head and gasped. The guy had sucker-punched him without warning. He wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving behind a brown smudge of caked dust on his forehead. He looked up as his opponent advanced with a sneer, the man’s hands opening and closing as if working on an invisible stress ball.
 

He reminded Neil of Bigfoot or the yeti or some fictitious monster you had nightmares about as a kid after staying up late to watch
The Twilight Zone
. Big and hairy, he had small beady eyes, spaced close together below a unibrow. They darted around in his oversized skull, scrutinizing Neil intently like a predator probing its victim for any potential weaknesses.

Neil pushed himself up and rolled his head on his shoulders. He spat blood on the floor and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Lucky shot. You won’t get a second.”

Neil circled the man, keeping his arms to his side. The crowd clapped rhythmically, baying for blood. “Get him Tommy, wallop ‘is ‘ead in.”

Glancing at the loudmouth in the crowd, Neil made a mental note. Bloody Pete Ramboli. Asshole. He would deal with him later.

Bigfoot saw his opportunity and lunged, throwing a sharp right. Neil ducked below the blow and retaliated with a right hook to his stomach. The large man doubled over, and Neil swung his body up, the back of his skull landing with a sickening crack on Bigfoot’s chin. The man stood up straight, swinging his arms like a tightrope walker trying to keep his balance. Neil finished him off with a roundhouse left to the jaw.
 

Bigfoot corkscrewed to the ground, landing face-first in the dirt. Small puffs of dust billowed up from a flaring nostril, the only sign the hairy ogre was still alive.

Neil’s face tightened in a pained grimace as he shook his hand. A section of the crowd had rushed toward him, shouting their congratulations and lifting his arms up high. The majority of the people dispersed slowly, muttering and swearing beneath their breaths.
 

Two men heaved Neil onto their shoulders and proceeded to parade him around the ever-dwindling circle of onlookers like a prized trophy.

“Oy, Pete,” Neil yelled at the spectator who had wanted his head bashed in. The man turned around and jutted out his chin, a questioning look on his face.

Neil punched his finger toward the man. “You’d like to challenge me?”

The man frowned and grinned sheepishly as he shook his head.

“If you want to make pissy remarks, be willing to enter the ring; you know the rules.”
 

The man curtsied and bowed with a flourish of his arm before turning around on his heel and trotting away.

“Schmuck,” Neil said as he was lowered to the ground.

A short, plump, dark-haired woman wearing a miniskirt and stiletto heels started ululating. “Fort Worth’s pride, the Lion of the West, our new champion.” She held his hand aloft. “Neil Allen, undefeated after forty-eight bouts of bare-knuckle boxing and the new title holder.”
 

The crowd cheered and pushed forward, each one trying to clap Neil on his back or shake his hand.
 

A tall, skinny man with a pockmarked face and a pencil behind his ear handed Neil a rolled-up wad of cash. “Your match fee,” he said. Neil nodded and stuck it into his pocket.
 

Alexa sauntered up to Neil and kissed him long and hard before she pulled away and looked into his eyes, breathing huskily. “How do you like my new suntan?”
 

He grinned at her. “I needed some time to warm up,” he said, wiping his bleeding knuckles on his jeans. “I stink, and I need a drink.”

Alexa screwed up her nose and handed Neil his T-shirt. “I don’t mind. I’m used to dirty men.”
 

Neil snorted. He loved the small freckles on her nose; they seemed more prominent whenever she was excited. She hardly ever wore makeup, but his aunts had convinced her to wear some lipstick. He thought she looked prettier without it. He pulled the T-shirt over his head and hooked his arm around her waist.
 

They ambled along behind the small crowd, heading toward the marquee tent pitched in the middle of the small town of White Settlement, Texas. Neil thrust a protective arm in front of Alexa as a horse and cart raced by, the driver urging the horse forward. They jogged across the raceway before the next one arrived.

Raucous laughter and loud voices greeted them as they entered the tent. A band played an upbeat gypsy tune, and young women were gyrating and swinging their hips to the beat.
 

The band stopped playing and people turned to gawk as Neil entered the tent. The throng clapped their hands and cheered as he pushed into the crowd, pulling Alexa along by her hand. He shoved his way to the bar, acknowledging the praises and compliments with a nod as he passed.
 

He ordered two beers, lifted his glass to the air, and shouted, “
Solk us away from the taddy
.”
 

He drained his glass and wiped the froth from his lip. The crowd replied with an “Amen” and toasted with their glasses held high in the air. The band started playing again, and the loud conversations continued where they had left off.

“Mary, bless these weary bones,” Neil said with a groan as Alexa massaged his shoulders. She clucked like a mother hen and dabbed some whiskey onto his grazed knuckles with a Kleenex. The short woman with the miniskirt and high heels noticed them and bustled over.

She walked up and cupped Neil’s chin. “My darling little nephew. You fought like a true champion.”

Neil smiled and pecked her on her cheek. “Thanks, Auntie Estelle.”

She took his hand and placed it flat on her pushed-up bosom. “We have missed you, Neil.” She jerked her head toward the fighting ring. “That monster beat every young lad who had courage enough to face him. He had to be taught a lesson.”

Neil nodded. “You could have given me a moment to stretch before pushing me in with him.” He wiggled his jaw. “The bozo caught me off guard.”

The boisterous crowd hushed as the defeated fighter walked into the tent. A path opened for him as he headed straight toward Neil, his pectoral muscles bouncing up and down over a muscled stomach.
 

The man stared down at Neil and pointed a stubby finger at him. “They say you’ve never lost a fight.”
 

Neil shrugged. “Came close when I was young. I nearly lost this one.” He stood up and faced the man. “You gave me a run for my money.”

The crowd murmured, and the large man grinned. He stuck out a hand and Neil shook it. “Good fight, Traveler.”

People cheered and whistled. Neil was the new champion and he had saved the man’s dignity—the best possible outcome anyone could have wished for. There would be no rival clan fights tonight.

“Amen,” Neil said with a laugh and ordered the man a beer.

Bubba Bartlett cursed as the tanker truck shuddered and jerked. He eased the vehicle past a sign that read, “Dabbort Creek, 5 Miles Ahead.” He pumped the air brakes and put the truck into neutral, coasting it to a halt on the grassy shoulder next to the blacktop.

Bubba glanced at the blonde guy beside him. “Shit, man, this is as far as I can take you. I’m out of juice.” He slammed the steering wheel. “Son of a gun, I shouldn’t have tried to skip the last fill.”
 

The young man smiled guiltily as if it were his fault.

Shit
. He had always followed Mr. Fitch’s instructions to the T. He had been a Refatex driver for the past three years, and he was doing well.
Show me a truck driver whose unemployed wife drives a brand new Benz SLK. Nope, I’m doing better than well. I’m doing A-OK.
 

So whatever Mr. Fitch asked of him, Bubba always did, no questions asked. And Mr. Fitch’s instructions had been clear. He had found the young man off Route 288, exactly where Mr. Fitch had told him he would be.
 

Bubba was supposed to drop the guy at Mo’s Diner in town; Charlie was waiting to take him up to Mr. Fitch’s estate. But Bubba had been late, and he decided to skip a fill, thought they would make it to Dabbort in time for sure. And now he was going to be even later. And Mr. Fitch didn’t like his drivers being late.

“Why don’t you fill it from the stuff in the tank?” the blonde guy asked with a stupid smile, jerking his thumb to the tanker trailer at the back.

Bubba shook his head. “It’s Brent Crude, son. No way I’m goin’ anywhere with that.”
 

The young man grinned sheepishly. “Guess I have a lot to learn about the oil business.”

Bubba chuckled. The poor guy was due for a job interview up at Refatex. This sure as hell wasn’t the best way to be starting a new career working for Mr. Fitch. He glanced at his Rolex. The next tanker wasn’t due for another two hours. Bubba pulled a red lever on the dash, engaging the parking brake, and yanked the key from the ignition. “Nothin’ else to do than hike, I guess.”
 

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