Red Lodge, Montana

Cody Quarterline part XII: Cody and the magic diary

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.

Part XII
by Gary Robson

Cody Quarterline woke up abruptly, not recalling having fallen asleep. For a moment, he couldn’t recall where he was, but then it came back to him, and so did his fiancée Cheyenne. She walked into the room carrying a steaming cup of Earl Gray tea for him and a double lite mocha frappuccino deluxe with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles for herself. He was back home in Red Chalet, Montana.

Despite the lengthy conversation he’d had with Cheyenne the night before, he still faced more questions than answers. Before he ran off looking for the Linen-Wrapped Package™, he wanted a better understanding of what, exactly, was going on. Life had been so simple just a few short weeks ago, before Max died and came back; before the peyote, Jimmy Buffett impersonators, and assorted beatings.

“Cheyenne,” he said, “I have a few loose ends to tie up. Wait here. We’ll need some sandwiches for the trip. Would you mind packing us a good lunch?” He pulled on his ill-fitting hiking boots and strode purposefully out into the snow. His rented puce Pinto was buried, and it took him fifteen minutes to dig it out and get it started. Priority one would have to be his girlfriend, Petunia. He hadn’t spoken to her since leaving for Max’s funeral, and he owed her an explanation.

When he walked into her empty apartment, all he found was a note taped to the fridge, which said, “You haven’t spoken to me since you left for Max’s funeral, you thoughtless ape. Marjie and I went back home to Bob.” Disappointing, he thought, but that’s one less complication at the moment. I’ll track her down again when this is all over and explain about Cheyenne.

He hopped back in the puce Pinto, thinking that it really had more of a terra cotta hue, but that just wasn’t as alliterative. He wrestled it into gear and slipped down the icy roads to the Found Saloon, which was uncharacteristically quiet, even for this early hour.

“Hey, Cody,” the bartender greeted him. “What’ll it be this morning?”

“A bloody mary and the use of your phone, if you please.” The bartender handed Cody the cordless phone, and he dialed the one person in the world he could still trust. The one person who had never forsaken him. The one person who loved him no matter what.

“Mom? It’s Poindexter. Yes… Yes… No, don’t hang up! Mom! Please!” He clicked off the phone and let out a string of profanities that stunned a passing housefly. The fly fell into his bloody mary just as the bartender added the third kind of hot sauce. It sizzled softly and sank. He redialed, and walked across the room so the bartender wouldn’t hear the conversation.

“Mom, listen to me. I really need you, Mom. I know I haven’t called in three years. Mom, I’ve been in the witness protection program. Really. Look, if you’ll help me with this, I’ll pay off your mortgage. What? Yes, fine, I’ll pay off the Caddy, too. The WHAT? When did you get a boat? Fine. Look, Mom, here’s what I need…”.

Carefully, Cody outlined the situation. Locker #1325 in the Miami airport contained a Linen-Wrapped Package™ and locker #666 held a briefcase and a duffel bag. He’d overnight her the keys, and she would FedEx back the LWP and briefcase. He didn’t tell her about the $1.5 million in twenties the briefcase contained, but he did tell her that the duffel bag contained millions in Swiss bonds.

“Keep the bonds safe, Mom. Use as much as you need and save the rest for me. I promise I’ll come visit soon.”

Cody handed the phone back to the bartender and paid for his drink, adding a hefty tip for the long-distance call. He quietly stepped over to the dart machine for a quick solo game while he drank. After the first set of darts found their targets, he approached the machine, eying the bartender surreptitiously. When the bartender looked away, Cody slipped his hand behind the machine and pulled out the thick envelope that was waiting for him. He slipped it into his pocket and took another sip of the bloody mary. When the enamel on his teeth stopped smoking, he set the drink down and walked outside to the puce Pinto, already covered with a dusting of fresh snow that made it look almost salmon pink.

Secure in the privacy of the car, he opened the envelope and found a tattered black leather book with a strap and a lock. The lock was open, and the book followed suit. It was a diary. Wonderful. It was a diary that had gotten him into the Federal witness protection program in the first place. But this diary was different. It was Cheyenne’s diary. He settled back to read it.

Reading the diary was like an hour-long epiphany. Everything began to clarify. Like a peyote vision two days late, the diary ripped the mist from his eyes.

It wasn’t the Leopard that had set him up. It was Max’s wife Shirley all along. She killed Max and hired an impersonator after the funeral. She had tried to buy off Cheyenne, and when that failed, she created the Cheyenne clone (which she had named Frannie). It was  Shirley driving the black Continental that sent him hurling into the French Broad River. Shirley hired Jackson to kill Cody in Curacao, and the Meatball to kill him in Curacao. When those attempts failed, she tried to use Rojie, the peyote, the Max impersonator, and Frannie to get him on the way home.

Cheyenne was writing the final pages of the diary from a locked basement somewhere in Wyoming. That could only mean that it was Frannie the clone who was making him sandwiches at home.

As he turned the last page of the diary, a note fell out. He picked it up, and read, “Mr. Quarterline, I am sending you Cheyenne’s diary to prove that we have her safe and sound. When you crossed Shirley Prine, you made a very dangerous enemy. If you can return my Linen-Wrapped Package™ safely to me, you’re free to keep the money and the bonds. I’ll deal with Shirley. I’ll even give you Cheyenne. I just want the LWP. You know how to reach me.”

The note was signed, “Giuseppe Di’Lampedusa (The Leopard).”

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