Hells Express


The sun is a blaze of hot molten light, burning the skin off everyone wandering the streets while the chemicals from last night fix are cooking within the veins.  PJ wanders up out of the blue.  “You got some stuff?”  he asks.

“Fuck off.”


“Get the fuck off unless you got something to say.”

He’s pausing, looking wild eyed like some hunted wildebeest being chased down by a lion.  This can only end by a cloud of dust and he knows what I’m poking at.  “Maybe got something for you but I can use some stuff and you got the hook ups.”

“You know what I need, now spit the cock out’ve your mouth.”

“Drake…I heard he blew back into town.”

I been looking for the fuck for a couple years.  “Where?”

The tables have turned for the moment.  All junkies know when they can push the envelope to get their next fix.  “Where’s the stuff?”

This better be good.  I flip the smoke away.  “Go to Jackson street, 612 Jackson.  Rap the door and ask for Big Black.”

“Big Black?”

“Yeah, he’s big and he’s black so don’t fucking laugh when you see him.  Last dude tried that shit he feed the dudes balls to his Chihuahuas and has the guy‘s nut sack for a coin purse.  Tell him Lucky sent you and to front an eight.”  I place a hand on his shoulder.  “Now this shit better be good as the shit Big Black has or I’ll come looking and stick a twelve gauge literally up your ass.”

He nods, looking around nervously.  “Yeah, he be down at Saint Francis Missionary in the mornings doing breakfast then hangs out downtown by the bus depot pan handling.  He nights out at the Lexeco homeless shelter.”

I give the nod.  “Good, now fuck off.”

He hunches over and shuffles away like a dog kicked.  “You fuckers are all the same.”

I wave a finger with a raised eyebrow at him and he quickly heads off to Jackson Street.  After a couple of years of carefully dredging the streets looking for him, I finally get a nibble.  Drake Edwards.  Serial killer, wanted for multiple homicides in several states who drifted from back east killing cops wives and girlfriends along the way before settling in Albuquerque.  He thought it would be easy pickings and starts his shit the first week here.  The first body was a twenty-three year old daughter who turned junkie of a retired thirty year vet.  She was left dumped in some forgotten corner within the ruins of the old Indian School among the trash and dumped household appliances and the molded shit smeared walls.  The homeless community that lived within the ruins denied knowing anything.

The next month it was a bubbly blonde gal who was a fuck buddy with one of the guys within the ranks.  Found her close to downtown in an old abandoned high school inhabited by a bunch of strung out junkies and drunks who filtered Listerine through a loaf of bread for a drink.

We were getting close and we had his name.  Then my partner got the news.  His pretty wife Judy went missing and turns up a week later on the other side of downtown dead.  She wasn’t pretty no more.  My partner went and hit the bottle and ain’t never came back.  We been partners for years, did everything together and our boys were on the same Little League team.

I slide into the Crown Vic and slap it in gear and roll on home to pick up a few goodies.  A points gotta be made:  You fuck with one, you fuck with all of us.   First a hatchet for the junkie gal found at the old Indian School.  Next, a straight razor for the street cops gal…gotta make sure to skin off his whole back like a deer.  Also got to make sure he ain’t pretty no more with a few cuts to widen his smile.  Tonight I’d head on over to the homeless shelter and run him outa there.  Ain’t gonna be no trial, no jail and no waste of taxpayer dough.

Hell, there ain’t gonna be any Drake when it‘s all over with.  The only thing he’ll be hearing are the sounds of his own water parched whispered screams when he begins a trip south on the Hells Express.


~ fin ~

John L. Thompson currently lives in New Mexico with his wife of twenty-nine years. When he is not searching for lost remnants of the old west, he can be found working on several writing projects or collecting antique or vintage paperbacks. He is the current cover designer for the Casca the Eternal Mercenary series written by Tony Roberts, and the occasional graphic artist for Yellow Mama e-zine. He is the author of Truck Stop and Monkey Wrench. His third novel Dead Blow, the final installment in the Truck Stop trilogy, is set to be released in September 2021 by Dusty Desert Press.