Free Fiction Friday: Matter of Time

Matter of Time

A Fire and Bloodstone Story

by Naomi Muse ©2017

Laveau gripped his bloodstone tightly in his fist. His accidental venture into time travel hadn’t gone so well the last time, but he was ready to try again. He stepped into the fire. He wanted to see where he would end up. The flames blazed bright purple around him, and he saw the red flecks in his bloodstone begin to glow. Then, as before, everything went black.

He came to on the side of the road. The magnolia trees let him know that he was still somewhere in Louisiana. Or, at the very least, the South.

He stepped into the street to try and determine which way to head to find civilization. A horn blared behind him. He turned to see a 1930s style Ford bearing down on him. There was no time for him to move to safety. He froze. The car screeched to a halt in front of him. The driver rolled down his window and stuck his head out.

“Hey, genius! Get out of the road. What are you lost?”

Laveau snapped out of his trance and jumped back. The driver’s hair was slicked back. He was wearing a white button-down shirt. Something about him seemed familiar.

“Where am I?” Laveau asked.

A woman leaned over the driver. She was wearing a black beret over simply styled hair. She wore a cardigan to match her hat and had a cigarette dangling from her lip.

“Are you lost? Can we give you a lift?” she asked.

“Are you crazy? The coppers are on our trail,” the driver yelled.

“The cops are looking for the two of us. One more guy will throw them off. Especially this guy,” the woman said, motioning to Laveau.

Laveau was sure that she meant especially having a black man riding with them. He got the distinct feeling that he was in an intolerant time. He didn’t want to go anywhere with them. The guy seemed to have a hot temper. Plus, Laveau had enough problems with getting in trouble with the police. Laveau could only travel by fire, and he doubted that there were many opportunities to set a fire in prison.

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m fine. I’ll just be going on my way,” he replied.

The driver squinted at him and scratched his chin. He reached into his lap and pulled his hand back up holding a handgun. It looked like a revolver. He pointed it straight at Laveau’s head. Laveau stumbled back a few steps in surprise.

“See, the thing is, now you’ve seen my face. I can’t have you running your mouth. I’m sure the police would love to have a talk with you. How about you climb on in. Bonnie, get in the backseat. Let me and this guy get acquainted.”

The woman, Bonnie, clapped her hands and did as she was asked. Laveau got in the car and instinctively reached into his pocket for his bloodstone.

“Whoa there guy,” the driver said. “I hope you are not planning on pulling out a heater. That could get messy.”

“No, nothing like that I assure you,” Laveau said.

He slowly pulled out the bloodstone and showed it to the driver.

“A lucky rock? I get it,” the man said, with a laugh. “I’m Clyde. This is Bonnie. Who the hell are you?”

Laveau looked down and saw that Clyde held the gun in his lap still pointed in his direction. He swallowed hard. He introduced himself while putting the bloodstone back in his pocket. Miss Marie had told him the stone would keep him safe on his travels. But Laveau didn’t feel too safe right now.

He looked over his shoulder and nodded to Bonnie while squinting to see if there were any cops in the distance. Laveau suddenly figured out where he was. He was still in Louisiana somewhere, in the early 1930s. The car could have been remodeled sure, but there was no mistaking Bonnie and Clyde.

Laveau tried his hardest to remember anything that he could about the infamous couple. The only thing that he could remember about them was that they died in a blaze of glory at the end of their career. He hoped that career wasn’t ending today.

Laveau was glad that he was well dressed so that he would blend in a little bit. If he had been wearing jeans and a T-shirt, he would’ve stood out for sure. He was wearing a simple pair of black slacks and a gray button-down shirt. As usual, his hair was cut low.

Clyde seemed satisfied with Laveau’s answer. He revved the engine and took off with a roar. Laveau gripped the door handle, trying to look nonchalant. Clyde was really flying through the streets. Laveau tried to put on a brave face. He didn’t want to look like a coward in front of his new criminal friends. Criminals were like predators. They smelled fear.

“So Laveau, do you drive?” Clyde asked.

“I do.”

Laveau said a silent prayer that the car wouldn’t be too different than what he was used to driving in his own time. Cars had changed a lot in the twentieth century.

“Good. In a few hours, Bonnie and I got a stop to make. You need to keep the car running for us and be ready to drive when we come out.”

Laveau wanted to decline. He knew they were probably up to something bad, but Clyde still had the gun pointed at him, his hand was casually resting on top of it. The implied threat was coming through loud and clear. Laveau said nothing.

A steady stream of smoke was coming from the back seat where Bonnie was sitting. They hadn’t learned about the dangers of lung cancer yet, and Laveau sure wasn’t going to be the one to tell them.

Laveau was sweating, and it wasn’t from the heat. He was a nervous wreck the whole ride. His hands were gripping the steering wheel so tightly that they were starting to hurt At least Duke Ellington was playing on the radio.

<<<>>>

The ride to their destination was uneventful. Much to Laveau’s relief, there were no police following them. They pulled up to a store and Bonnie, and Clyde got out. Clyde gave Laveau a knowing look and then told him to keep the car running. Laveau didn’t ask any questions.

Laveau was waiting outside the store when he got the feeling that someone was watching him. He thought he saw a man all dressed in black out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned that way, all he saw was a fading shadow. It made the hair on the of his neck stand up. He didn’t have much time to think about it because Bonnie and Clyde came running out of the store and jumped in the car. Without instruction, Laveau peeled out of his parking spot and raced through the streets.

“Hey, slow down pal. People might think we did something wrong,” Clyde said, with a laugh.

Bonnie reached over the front seat and shoved some money into the breast pocket of Laveau’s shirt.

“There’s your cut. You’re going to be a bread and butter man before you know it,” she said.

“A what?” Laveau asked.

“You know, the man with the cash,” Bonnie said.

This particular trip to the past was going to be tougher than he had expected. It looked like Laveau needed to learn a whole new language.

“You don’t need to share any of your…dough. I’m just driving,” Laveau said.

“The driver always gets a cut. It’s only fair,” Bonnie replied.

There wasn’t much room to argue with Bonnie. The tone of her voice made it very clear that she wouldn’t change her mind. Plus, having a little money in his pocket wouldn’t hurt. He couldn’t deny the fact that being a getaway driver gave him a thrill. He wasn’t cut out for a life of crime, but he could see the allure.

Laveau thought they would head to a hotel. Bonnie explained that they would be camping out. It was easier to come and go without anyone asking questions. Laveau’s stomach clenched. The closest he had ever come to camping was being in the trees with Miss Marie when he discovered his time traveling gift.

The more Laveau thought about it, the better it sounded. Not many people could say they went camping with Bonnie and Clyde. It might not be all bad.

They told him where to go, and he found a nice enough area to pull off the road. The air was so fresh and thick here. Heavy pollution hadn’t made it here yet. Being amid the magnolia trees made him think of Miss Marie. He half expected her to come walking around the back of a tree like she did the first time. He couldn’t help looking for her.

Once again, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching him, but it wasn’t her. The shadows seemed to be moving in the trees. He couldn’t set his eyes on a specific form, but he felt a masculine vibe watching him. Laveau looked up, searching for the moon. A full moon would have shed some light on the subject. Aside from the stars, the sky was dark.

<<<>>>

The next morning, driving through town, they heard a man shouting. On the sidewalk a was man yelling at a small dog on a leash. It looked like a puppy. He pulled the leash taught and kicked the dog. The dog let out a small, sharp yelp. Laveau couldn’t stand abusive people. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one. Clyde slammed the car into park and jumped out.

“Hey! Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Minding my damn business,” the dog-kicker replied.

Clyde took the gun from his waistband and waved it at the man.

“My pistol here says otherwise. It says how much you answer my question.”

The man paled. He tried to back away, but Clyde moved in closer.

“I’m not — I’m not doing anything,” the man stammered.

“I’m pretty sure you were roughing up the pooch,” Clyde said.

“It’s not a real dog. It’s one of those Catahoula hounds. I’m having trouble keeping it trained.”

“I said, it seems like you were roughing up the pooch. It looks like you don’t know what that means. Let me show you,” Clyde said, hitting the man on the side of the head with the butt of his gun.

The men stumbled back, holding his head.

“Do you understand now? Tell me the truth. Were you hitting the pup?” Clyde asked.

“Okay okay. I was. I was roughing the dog. I’m sorry,” the man said.

“Don’t apologize to me. I’m not the one you were hurting. Apologize to the dog,” Clyde said.

“You crazy? You want me to apologize to a dog?”

Clyde brandished the gun menacingly. The man shrunk back in fear

“I’m sorry, dog,” he said.

“You’re not sorry enough to use the dog’s name in your apology?” Clyde asked.

“I never got around to giving the dog a name,” the man replied.

Clyde’s eyes widened. The shock was written all over his face.

“You didn’t even bother to name the dog. No wonder the dog doesn’t listen to you. You know what, give me the dog.”

The man said nothing. He just handed Clyde the leash. Clyde spit on the ground in front of the man in disdain. He walked back to the car with the dog by his side.

“Hey Bonnie, didn’t you say you wanted a pet,” Clyde asked as he slid into the car.

Bonnie squealed and grabbed the puppy, covering it with kisses. The puppy wiggled excitedly in her lap, licking any part of Bonnie face that it could reach. Bonnie laughed.

“It’s a girl. I think I’ll call her Moll. She can be our little gun moll,” Bonnie said with glee.

Clyde gave a deep belly laugh and put his arm around Bonnie.

When they first stopped, Laveau thought that Clyde might kill the man. He never expected to see one of history’s most notorious criminals giving a puppy to his girlfriend. It showed how much he cared for Bonnie. Laveau could almost pretend that Clyde hadn’t just assaulted a stranger on the street to get the dog.

Laveau sat back and watched the two of them laughing and joking together in the front seat. He wondered what their life would’ve been like without the life of crime. He knew that they didn’t have much time left. They were going to die the way they were living, and in a hail of gunfire. Laveau hoped to be gone before that happened.

For a moment, he considered telling them what would happen to them in the future. Maybe, they could change their fate. It was too much of a risk. Even if they decided to go straight, they probably wouldn’t stay that way. Worse yet, they might avoid capture and kill more innocent people than they would have without his warning. Laveau couldn’t have that on his conscience. He kept his mouth shut.

<<<>>>

The group stopped at another campsite. They turned in for the night, and Clyde was snoring loudly. Laveau was sitting up looking into the fire while the puppy chewed at his shoes. He tried to turn the dog away. He heard a rustling and looked up and saw Bonnie sitting up looking at him. Her face held a worried expression.

“Laveau? Can you do me a favor?”

“Sure, Bonnie. Anything you need. You need something from the car?”

“Nothing like that. Just make me a promise okay.”

“Absolutely.”

“Promise me, if anything happens to us you’ll keep Moll safe.”

Laveau swallowed hard. They were going to die in a hail of bullets. There was nothing he could do to stop that.

“I promise.”

Bonnie’s frown disappeared, and she looked at peace. A small smile crossed her lips.

“Thanks, Laveau. I’m glad we found you that day.”

Laveau always kept his word. He wasn’t sure how he would do it this time.

<<<>>>

Time passed, and Laveau started to get comfortable with Bonnie and Clyde. He didn’t belong there, but they weren’t as bad as he expected. Every time things would be going along smoothly, Clyde would do something wild. It was like the universe was trying to remind Laveau that he didn’t belong there.

It was a big change from the lifestyle Laveau was used to living, but it was exciting. He had stayed on his family’s estate, went to board meetings, ran his business, but he had no social life. At least he was living.

The three of them were developing a kind of rhythm. Despite Clyde’s propensity for violence, he was a pretty good guy.

Then Bonnie and Clyde started talking about robbing a local bank. Laveau was just a driver, so he wasn’t too worried about his safety. In his time with Bonnie and Clyde, they hadn’t killed anyone. He didn’t think anyone had even been seriously hurt. Laveau was hoping that he caught them at the beginning of their career.

Something about Clyde today was off. He was more tense than usual. He insisted on driving to the target location, something he hadn’t done in weeks. He checked and double checked the streets, almost making a spectacle of himself in the process. It was clear that he was nervous. He sat outside the bank for far too long looking this way and that. People in the bank were starting to look out the windows.

Finally, Clyde took Bonnie and headed into the bank. Laveau slid into the driver’s seat, but he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that had been festering within him. It was supposed to be just a quick robbery, in and out.

After more than 25 minutes passed, Laveau knew that something was wrong. That’s when he heard shouting. The job had gone sideways. Two shots rang out. Laveau felt his blood run cold. Bonnie and Clyde came running out of the bank and jumped in the car.

Bonnie was pale, quiet. Moll hadn’t even barked when they ran to the car. Even the dog knew something was up. Clyde was more wired than ever.

“Did you see that Bonnie?”

“I saw it,” she said.

“This is so much easier. They take us much more seriously once we shoot someone.”

“They do,” she replied.

“Why aren’t you happier? This is our biggest score yet.”

“It is,” she said.

“What’s the problem, doll face?”

“No problems. I just know once we go this way, there’s no turning back,”

“Hey, if it means biggest scores I’m all for it. No more regular life for us. It’s you, and me against the world. Isn’t that what I told you?”

Bonnie laid down across the back seat and pulled Moll onto her chest. She nuzzled her face against the dog.

“Us against the world,” she said quietly.

“Never mind the dame,” Clyde said, turning to Laveau. “She’ll come around. You can slow down though. The cops are looking for a guy and a gal. With her lying down, they’ll just think it’s two pals out for a cruise.”

Laveau highly doubted they would think any such thing. Clyde was a little more liberal than Laveau thought he would be. Interracial friendships weren’t encouraged in the 1930s. He decided not to bring it to Clyde’s attention.

Laveau kept hearing those two shots ring out repeatedly in his head. He drove on autopilot. He knew the places that Bonnie and Clyde liked to camp out, so he looked for a heavily wooded area.

This was their first kill. Laveau knew they were just getting started. It was time for him to go. He was surprised to find that the thought of leaving them filled him with sadness. Clyde was a maniac, but Bonnie seemed like a sweet girl who was supporting her man. If they had lived in the 20th century, they might have found less deadly ways to live wild lives. No one would ever know.

There was a chance that it could have just been a wound, but something about Bonnie’s tone made him sure that someone had died. It was the only reason Laveau could see for her dulled spirit. Tonight, was as good as any to be his last night with Bonnie and Clyde.

Laveau built a bonfire. A big one. Much bigger than usual. He told Clyde it was to celebrate his success. No one questioned him. Moll ran beside him barking and nipping happily. She was glad to get sticks.

Once the fire was lit, Bonnie just sat and stared at it.

“You guys are bringing me down. We won today We should be out painting the town red,” Clyde said.

“You know that we can’t go into town. Not after the bank job. The cops would nab us for sure,” Bonnie said.

Laveau knew if he were arrested, there would be no chance of him making it back to his time. Or, to see Marie

“This celebration doesn’t seem like too much fun to me,” Clyde said.

“We have plenty of whiskey. Don’t underestimate the power of drinking and dancing by the fire in the moonlight,” Laveau said, with a forced laugh.

“That does sound like my kind of party,” Clyde said reaching for the bottle.

“I am some dancer,” Bonnie said.

“Don’t I know it doll face.”

Clyde swept Bonnie into his arms. In no time they were laughing and flirting. The earlier tension had been forgotten. Bonnie reached for the whiskey and took a swig herself. They danced and drank by the fire while Moll barked and happily trotted around them.

Laveau would miss these good times. He would even miss Clyde. There was no way he could stay. There was no way he could take them with him. He didn’t know much about time travel, but he felt like their death was a set point in history. He had learned about it in some history class. Laveau didn’t want to be the reason that history was rewritten.

Bonnie and Clyde wandered off for some alone time together. Laveau saw them in the distance under the bright moon. Behind him, Laveau thought he heard voices whispering. He spun around. At first, he saw nothing. Then the shadows started moving. He didn’t know if it was real or the effects of too much whiskey.

He picked up Moll. She’d put on some weight in the past few weeks. He wasn’t sure this would work, but he felt like he had a better chance of it working if he held onto her. He was afraid of the dog getting burnt, so he tucked her into the jacket Clyde had stolen from a nearby farm. Laveau wanted to shield the dog from the fire as much as possible.

She happily settled in his arms at first. The closer they got to the fire though, the more Moll started to squirm. Then she let out a keening whine. She tried to break free.

Laveau pressed on. Once they were close enough to the fire for it to turn purple, she stopped wiggling, but the whining increased. Laveau rubbed the bloodstone in his pocket with his free hand. He heard the ground being disturbed behind him. He didn’t dare turn.

He stepped into the fire looking down at Moll. Laveau nuzzled her face. He kept telling Moll that she was a good dog. He heard the roar of fire in his ears as he smiled down at her. As the flames turned purple, Laveau looked up. A shadowy hand was reaching out for him. Then, it was gone. So was he.

This is a new approach I’m taking to my writing for 2018. I hope you all like it! If you want to hear more about Laveau, I have stories published here and here! If you’ve read any of my stories and have requests for expansions, drop me a line.

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