The Cody Quarterline story began in April of 2005, as a spoof article. Since then, it’s been passed around from one volunteer tale-spinner to another. Each new author has freedom to do whatever he/she likes with Cody, and the tale has taken some strange twists over the years. We still don’t know what’s going on! We do know, however, that we’ve got some creative people in town with time on their hands and maybe a few too many Mickey Spillane movies under their belts.
by Kari Clayton
As the Pinto whined its way up the hill toward Cody’s back-crackin’ hometown of Red Yurt at a tedious 48 miles an hour, Cody had plenty of time to think—an art he’d never really perfected.
Trying to sort out the events of the past year, he couldn’t help but feel like some kind of puppet on a string. Jerked here and there—Tampico and Belize, Louisiana and Miami, and whatever that was with the crazy-talking pilot. He remembered the day Max told him that Witness Protection would change his life—but somehow this seemed too much. He wondered if this was happening to everyone. Or if it was even happening to him. Clones “R” Us? The “Plan?” Some days, the only part of the last year that made any sense to him at all was that drug-laden Twin Otter ride.
All this thinking was making Cody’s head hurt, but fortunately, he was coming up on the old teepee billboard that told him he was nearly home. The steady stream of farm tractors passing him was beginning to get old.
“Just let me go home, take a hot shower, and get out of these damn Italian loafers that have been killing me since I landed in that stinky French Broad River,” Cody said aloud in the car. He sometimes found that talking helped him not to think.
Suddenly though, the thought of “home” became more painful to him than his feet. Hadn’t he been living with his girlfriend Petunia when he left for that funeral so long ago? Sweet Petunia, and her daughter Marjoram. Cody never could get enough of Marjie’s cute high-pitched squeal. S’pose ‘Tunia would even let him back into the house? He had to admit he hadn’t written, or even thought much about her since he left—he was like that sometimes. Come to think of it, he’d even managed to get himself engaged to Cheyenne—whatever her deal was—while he was away.
“Petunia’s not gonna like that,” he thought, and remembered why he didn’t like thinking in the first place. If he could only get what he came for here in Red Yurt and get back out again before Cheyenne tracked him down, he might be in the clear, Petunia-wise.
Pulling into town, he decided he’d better not go straight to her place, not before a shower, anyways. He slid into a parking space at one of the motels on the edge of town. The motel looked a lot nicer than it had when he left—he was encouraged that maybe Red Yurt was on an economic upswing. Good news if he had to stay around and do some back-cracking for a while.
Cody was sad to hear from the motel clerk that his favorite department store had been turned into condos while he was away, but remembered a great second-hand clothing shop where he should be able to find something to wear. “Anything will be better than this pitiful Italian suit,” Cody said to himself, walking into town (two and a half hours in that puce Pinto had been enough for a while).
He started getting some strange glances from passing drivers, making him paranoid again that Meatball and his thugs had followed him here. Maybe put the word out. A price on his head. He just realized, passing the trusty Laundromat, that he could be walking into the worst trap of his life! What had he been thinking, coming back here?!? But, then again, it was possible that he just looked like a psychotic homeless man, barefooted in a tattered suit, walking along the highway with a deranged look on his face. “Gotta take to the alleys, I think I remember a couple,” he said. “And stick to talking to out loud. It’s safer.”
Once Cody finally found an alley to hide in, and set things straight with the resident dumpster dogs, the going got easy. He was able to cruise right in to the familiar clothing shop, and as luck would have it, today was Dollar-A-Bag day. “Who says you can never go home again?” Cody whistled to himself.
Comfortable finally, in cast-off hiking boots and maybe-they’re-in-style-again plaid trousers, Cody headed for Main Street.
“Shit! I’m screwed!” Cody half-shouted to a row of gift shop windows. Coming toward him was Cheyenne, of all people, walking with a couple of guys who had to be plumbers (nobody else tells those jokes). He ducked into the corner drugstore, hoping she hadn’t seen him. Flattened against the wall, watching her pass by outside the window, Cody nearly collapsed.
“No! How can my Cheyenne be tickling some other guy’s ear? And a plumber’s ear, at that,” Cody wailed to the wall of Hallmark cards. Come to think of it, he wasn’t even sure Cheyenne was the real deal. Was this the Cheyenne-clone? If only she’d had her hair pulled back, he could’ve looked for the tattoo again. That was fun the last time. He started to swoon, thinking about it.
Trying to get his bearings, Cody noticed the sly grin on the face of a Round Man who just might give him a square deal. “Another of Meatball’s goons?” he thought. No, as it turns out, Cody was standing in the feminine products aisle, fondling a box of pregnancy tests. “Damn, there goes that rumor again,” he said out loud.
Figuring it was safe for him to go outside, Cody paid for the box of tests—he’d sort of crumpled the package thinking about Cheyenne—and headed for the alley. He was just nearing his friend Jackson’s old wood shop and was about to stop in, when he remembered that Jackson had bought it early on, at the tar pits of LaBrea. He never did figure out where that bullet had come from—the one that split Jackson’s Adam’s apple. Had it been his gun? Jasper’s? The whole episode was a little foggy to Cody. But he was getting used to it.
[What did Cody come to Red Yurt to get? Will plaid trousers ever be in style again? And why do all these people seem familiar? For answers to these and other questions, check back in vain next month when another writer takes up the saga.]
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