Jake & Chuck Blow S[tuff] Up

 

“Hurry the hell up,” Jake grumbled from behind the wheel of his Ram. It was four-thirty in the morning and he had been sitting in the drive of his partner, Chuck’s, house for well over twenty minutes already. He exchanged the coffee and all its goodness for his BlackBerry, quickly thumbing his third text of the morning. He made the mistake of honking his horn once – and only once before. It didn’t matter to Chuck’s wife, Bridget, that he’d forgotten he just had an air horn installed or that Chuck was running late that time, she vowed she’d shoot off his gonads if he ever did that again. And he wasn’t going to chance it that a cop’s wife knew how to aim, fire, and hit the mark.

The porch lights blinked off, then on and two seconds later, Chuck emerged, waving Jake in.

“God no,” Jake groaned and slid out of the cab, pulling his jacket around him as he hurried to the door. He was greeted by a duffel bag aimed at his six-pack.

Unsuspecting, he let out a grunt, glared at the grinning face just inside, and carted the bag to the bed of the truck, dropping it to the cement before climbing back into the cab. Chuck could heave the duffel into the bed his own damn self.

And he did, after a prolonged, very public kiss goodbye.

Bridget waved from the doorway, her slender yet shapely body outlined by the brilliant lights from behind causing Jake to quickly thrust his face into his coffee, yelping as he scalded his tongue. Chuck climbed into the cab, waving at Bridget.

“Damn good thing I had the sense to—” Jake bit off the rest of his sentence, realizing he had come very close to giving himself away.

“Sense to what?” Chuck said cheerfully, rearranging the contents of the duo cup holders to make room for his Vegas Baby! gold travel mug. Never mind the fact Jake was thoughtful enough to stop off at Dutch Bros and pick him up a double soy mocha.

Jake was that incensed he almost told Chuck, just out of spite, that he purposefully gave him an earlier departure time knowing the jerk-off would be late out of the chute, but caught himself in the nick of time. “The sense to check our route before we left. Construction on I-5 just north of Red Bluff, so we’ll go in the back way.”

“Excellent,” Chuck replied, still cheerful for reasons Jake didn’t even want to know.
It wasn’t until the snow tires had hit a steady whine at fifty-five that Jake finally relaxed and let the foul mood slip on by.

“Ready to go blow some shit up?” he asked, watching Chuck’s expression out of the corner of his eye.

“Aw, hell yeah!”

Jake revved the engine. “New Mexico, here we come!”

“Aroooga!”

“Arooga? What the fuck, Chuck? We’re not going to the car show in Mo Town.”

“What did you want me to say?”

“Something more, I dunno, New Mexican?”

“Areeba?”

“Forget it.”

# # #

“You know,” Chuck leaned closer to Jake after they were seated on the plane, just a little puddle jumper that would – hopefully – carry them into Reno where they’d board a 747 to Albuquerque, “it wouldn’t take much to bring this baby down.”

“Jesus, Chuck, rule number one of flying, you don’t talk about bombs,” Jake hissed.

“Bombs? Who’s talking about bombing anything?” Chuck replied, a bit louder than Jake cared for.

He cringed, expecting an Air Marshall to show up, pointing a gun in their faces, an all out panic to explode, women screaming, babies crying, men inventorying their family jewels.

Chuck-o-luck had picked – or rather dawdled long enough in the john so they were stuck with – the wing seats. The roar of the engines drowned him out.

Jake deftly plugged his ears with a pair of Neoprene plugs and scowled for the full thirty-nine minutes they were in the air.

Chuck slept soundly, a stupid smile pasted across his face. Jake poked him with the sharp end of a thumbnail he’d chewed off when they landed in Reno, then pretended he had no idea what happened.

# # #

Their layover was just over an hour, long enough for Chuck to take his morning dump and massage in a healthy dollop of Ben Gay into his hip. The damn thing flared up whenever the weather changed. Or after Bridget had been especially frisky the night before.

When he finally sauntered out onto the concourse and made his way to the gate, he found Jake impatiently waiting, his face beet red, tapping his watch.

“We don’t leave for another fifteen minutes,” Chuck said as he hurried up, the waiting area surprisingly vacant.

“But we board at least twenty minutes before that time, dumb ass. The plane is in the air at that time,” Jake said as he cuffed Chuck upside his head. “Jesus, you take down a senior citizen who was pilfering the paper towels or something?”

“No, why?”

“You smell like you fell into a tub of Ben Gay.” “Oh.” Chuck chuckled.

The flight attendant hustled them to the only remaining seats right next to the emergency exit doors.

“Is there any reason you are unable to assist others in the event of an emergency?” she asked as they strapped themselves in.

“No problem at all,” Chuck smiled warmly, trying not to look at the flake of mascara on her cheek. Instead, he tried to blow it away as he said, “We’re sworn –huff- police officers –puff- here to –huff- assist.”

She batted her eyes which sparkled in the light streaming in from the window as the sun rose over the high desert and pulled away. “Great,” she said in a rather nasal tone.

“I think she feels better knowing we’re cops,” he shared with Jake.

“Dude,” Jake waved his hand in front of his nose, then offered him a stick of Doublemint.

“Thanks. I can never seem to properly pop my ears without gum,” Chuck graciously  accepted. “Areeba!”

Jake pulled on a pair of headphones. Chuck popped the gum into his mouth, carefully folding the wrapper and slid it into his breast pocket for later, then settled in, playing close attention to the attendant’s directions. Only after, when she moved about, checking lap belts and overhead compartments, did he consider the fact maybe Jake was afraid of flying. It would explain his partner’s rather grumpy disposition. Or maybe he just needed that second cup of coffee he never drank before they arrived at the airport in Redding.

# # #

Both hesitated when the old converted school bus, painted in navy blue with silver lettering, lumbered up to their assigned departure spot.

“Is this a joke?” Jake asked of Chuck.

“Kinda gives me the eebie jeebies,” Chuck replied. “If a deputy with a twelve-gauge is behind those doors, I’m out of here.”

“Exactly!” Jake concurred. It did look a lot like the buses that were used to transport prisoners.

Apparently the rest of their classmates, the other passengers on the bus, had the same sense of unease. All stared as the pair boarded with the exception of the short, bald dude in a black polo shirt tucked into a pair of khakis standing at the front who greeted them – a clipboard in hand instead of a shotgun.

“Welcome to the 2008 Weapons of Mass Destruction class gentlemen.” “Thanks,” they muttered, taking the first available seats.

# # #

The earth moved and together, all twenty-six classmates whooped as a cloud of dust mushroomed into the clear blue sky.

“That was fucking awesome,” Jake grinned.

“Areeba!” Chuck howled.

Manuel Santiago, who wore an Arizona State Patrol polo turned and shot Chuck the evil eye.

“Sorry. Arooga!”

Manuel shook his head and fingered out a peacock-blue plug from his ear. “Sorry?”

“Never mind,” Jake intervened, clapping Chuck on the shoulder before any real damage was done.

The bunker doors were opened and the class trooped out into the hot sun, faces bright and smiling like a group of second graders taking a tour of the firehouse downtown.

The instructor led them across the arid soil, down into a pit that was filled with old rusted, long forgotten, junked cars, one of which had been set up on cinderblocks at the far edge of the pit.

Sipping from the bottles of water they’d been handed on their way out of the bunker, they listened intently to the instructor for what seemed like hours, each undoubtedly secretly wishing the end was near and they could get on with the demolition.

Instead, they broke for lunch, which consisted of a long ride back to the host army base, a one hour break following the hour-long lunch, and a two-hour audio-visual presentation there in one of the air-conditioned classrooms. They were told it was too hot to safely conduct demolitions out on the desert floor.

Half of the group was whisked away while Jake, Chuck, and those remaining performed small-scale experiments in a hangar on base.

“Whoopee,” Chuck said with a yawn as their mock car exploded in a poof of cherry bomb smoke and confetti rained down around it.

“Hip, hip, hoorah,” Jake droned.

It was too hot to sleep and the excitement that had built up had not been properly released. So when Jake suggested they take a walk, Chuck agreed. Besides, the dry heat seemed to do wonders for his problematic hip.

Manuel joined them along with his partner, John – a boxy looking older man right on down to his military crew cut. They were joined a building out by a pair from Boston, Mike and – no lie – Ike. No one even suggested by way of a titter or a sly smile how funny their names together sounded. The two weathered bomb squad techs looked every bit the part of bombs themselves, short fuse and all.

“You know,” Jake said as they rounded the hangar where they detonated party favors earlier in the day. “We have every opportunity to plan out something big for our turn out in the desert tomorrow.”

“Whaddya thinkin’?” Mike, or possibly Ike, asked.

“Something frickin’ huge!” Jake replied.

“Like big enough to make ‘em shake back here?” Manuel asked in a Texan drawl.

“Exactly!” Jake nodded excitedly.

Mike and Ike looked at one another, nodded in that secret, we can talk and know what one another is thinking, seeing, feeling just with a nod, way and Mike, or maybe it was Ike, said, “Yeah, we could do that.”

And they spent the rest of their evening and well into the night, plotting, planning, drawing, diagramming, and scheming for the biggest, baddest explosion the New Mexico WMD site had ever seen, heard, or felt.

# # #

The good news was that Jake didn’t have to worry about getting Chuck up early enough to be on time for when the bus took them out to the desert for their turn a detonating things. That was about the extent of good news, however.

Short, bald, and armed with a clipboard was replaced by Tall, Lean, Taser-Toting McClean, the deputy director of the little specialty school. Each individual was frisked after being stripped of any extraneous baggage including backpacks, camelbacks, and butt-bags. Goodbye to the dynamite, the C4, and the extra-long fuses they’d pilfered from here and there about the barracks. And as punishment, the sextet was given a simple barrel of gunpowder, flint, and bit of shale to build their bomb. Even as old as Mike and Ike were, they had no idea of how to go about making anything explode with those items.

Much to their surprise, Manuel was a seasoned Civil War reenactment actor and had a pretty darned good idea of how to go about getting the flint to make a spark when struck against the shale, but was a bit intimidated about how to properly lay out the powder without making it blow up within a very unsafe distance of where they set it off.

“We need some damned fuse,” Manuel said, chewing on a bit of tumbleweed as they looked about.

Chuck pointed at the weed, then pointed at a few tumbling about like fat little farmers from a kid’s PlaySkol set. “Why not just use those?”

Chasing the weeds around like clowns at a rodeo show, the sextet finally gathered up a few of the weeds much to the amusement of the others, then began disassembling the weed, winding the ends together to make a long fuse. Mike and Ike let out a trail of powder that started twenty yards out and ended in the belly of an old Nova. John got busy and struck the flint on the last remaining bit of shale while Jake blew the bit of flame towards the “fuse.” It hissed, almost pissed, licked and took off like a jet bound for Bermuda while McClean stood back, arms folded across his barrel chest, ‘bout ready to nod off.

The excitement built as the powder lit, crackling away as it ran across the desert floor. And then the flame disappeared. The crowd sucked in a breath, all eyes on the Nova. Nothing. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. McClean shook his head and turned to the next group, the kids out of Ohio who pissed their pants the first day when short and bald set off a brick of firecrackers. All the contraband was dumped out in front of them and they were given a good thirty minutes to set up their own bomb while the others looked on, seething.

And then, with a deep groan that started at the very bottom of the pit, shook their boots, rattled their heels, and wobbled McClean back and forth like a flag in gale wind, a sucking wind pulled at the sand, swirled it around like sugar at a cotton candy cart at the county fair, blowing Manuel’s ten-gallon hat up and away and McClean’s ball cap about like Dorothy’s skirt the day of the tornado. The groan became a rumble, the rumble became a bark, the bark churned into a howl, and the howl burst into the hot desert air like a jet’s engines at take-off. McClean shot straight up, his boots left rooted in the sand which was shiny, glass like, webbing out away from the leather. Manuel fell to his knees, John toppled over him like a broke cowboy, Mike and Ike rolled off to the far edges of the bowl like cherry pits being spat out. Chuck started to jump after McClean, but Jake was quick and grabbed his knees, pulling him down and down and down deep into the earth which sucked them up like quicksand. But with all that noise, all that swirling, churling, groaning, moaning, moving, grooving, in the end there was a weak little hiss and a kabang.

“Areeba!” Chuck yowled.

“Yippy-kiya-mother-fucker!” Manuel hooted.

“Son-of-a-bitch,” Mike or Ike proclaimed while the other yelled out, “Aye Carumba!”

John was too busy spitting sand out of his mouth and poor Jake was too busy laughing like a freakin’ hyena.

# # #

“We gotta go do that again soon,” Jake said as they boarded the 747 home.

“Yeah! I can’t wait to go blow up shit again!” Chuck yelled, his eardrums still humming from the explosion the Ohio kids set off. “Next time let’s blow up a fuckin’ skyscraper!”


For more of Jake and Chuck, check out the never-ending stories posted on the blog. Each week a new installment appears. These are interactive stories, meaning that you, the reader, can contribute your thoughts and ideas by commenting on the blog posts. Get things started here: Jake & Chuck’s Adventures: June Bugs.

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