Red Lodge, Montana

Cody Quarterline part XIX: The Leopard and the Babe

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 XIX
by David Alsager

[Our story so far: The Saga of Cody Quarterline began over three years ago. Since then, 18 other authors have been given free rein to continue the story, adding their own twist, turns, and surprises to the plot. Finally, the saga is drawing to a close. Soon, Dr. Dan will write Part XX, and wrap up all of the questions. At long last, we'll discover what's in the Linen-Wrapped Package (LWP for short), why the Leopard is after Cody, and what Cody's mom really knows. Now, on to the 19th installment of Cody Q...]

Cody woke to find himself slumped against the passenger door of a moving pickup and the next slight bump helped him to focus on the screaming pain in his head.

“Argh.” Oh, yeah. The sky had hit him. He wondered why.

“Ah, you’re awake. Good,” said the attractive dark-haired woman driving the truck. Cody thought she was a real babe but realized that she looked strangely familiar. He wondered who the hell she was.

“Who the hell are you? You’re a real babe” Cody also wondered why he was in this truck and where they were going.

“Well, I’m…” she started to say.

“Why am I in this truck and where are we going?” He noticed it was still snowing heavily.

“Cody, I’m Kay….”

“Hey, it’s still snowing.”

“Will you shut up!”

“Sorry.”

“I’m Kaycee, Cheyenne’s little sister and we’re headed to the Cody airport to…”

“My airport? I have an airport?”

“The airport in Cody,” she said, a little tartly.

“In Cody? But I’m Cody.”

“Cody is a town in Wyoming. It has an airport. Did that blow to your head addle your brain?”

“No, I’m always like this. Why Cody? Isn’t Billings closer?”

Kaycee explained patiently that it wasn’t snowing in Cody and they had a chartered jet waiting to take them to Miami. Cody noticed then that they were crossing the Wyoming state line and the weather was indeed clearing ahead of them. He wondered why they were going to Miami.

“Why are we going to Miami?”

“To meet with your mom.”

Okay, Cody knew that, but how did Kaycee know? He decided to ask the obvious question, but she was ahead of him.

“Your mom sent me to get you. She seemed worried that you would have trouble getting there on your own. I guess she was right; it was a good thing I came on your accident when I did.

“Before Cheyenne died she told me about you and Max, as well as the Leopard and the LWP. She knew you were going to need help……”

Wait, wait. Cheyenne has a sister? And she’s really a babe! As Kaycee talked on, explaining her connection, Cody’s mind was lancing to the heart of the matter.

“…and what’s with those plaid pants? You don’t really think they’re back in fashion–as if they were ever in fashion–do you?”

Cody was still noticing that Kaycee was a babe and he rather belatedly realized that she had stopped talking and left a question hanging.

“What?”

“The plaid pants. I thought you wore Italian suits. And my god, those shoes.”

So Cody began filling her in on the last few chapters. They arrived at Cody’s airport; I mean the airport in Cody, and found the chartered jet waiting for them. Soon they were airborne, heading towards Miami. Cody slept for a long while, then woke with a start. Kaycee was still sitting in the lounge across from, a pleasant aspect. He’d remembered something.

“I thought my mom was going to FedEx the LWP and the bonds to me. Why are we meeting her in Miami?

Kaycee looked a little confused, “How would she get into the locker? You have the keys.”

“No, I don’t. I mailed them to Mom.”

“You what? When?” Kaycee appeared seriously concerned now.

“I think it was back in chapter twelve. Why?”

“So she has the keys to the locker?”

“Well, she should.”

Kaycee jumped up and went forward to the cockpit, opening the door. Cody couldn’t really hear the conversation with the crew but it appeared to be about a course change. He thought he heard “Cozumel.” When she returned, she was holding a cell phone, “It’s me. We’re heading there. The mom’s got the keys. The idiot mailed them to her. What?! How could she escape? You’re on an island. Yes, yes, I know about boats; don’t be a smartass. Well, you need to find her. What? What does Cinco de Mayo have to with the search? Oh great. And I suppose they’ll be too hung over tomorrow.” She listened a moment, “Well, we’ll head your way unless something changes.”

Cody was more confused. Who escaped? What island? And what does this have to do with his mom? And Cheyenne is dead? What does Cinco de Mayo have to do with anything. Is there any tequila on board? He began to ask these questions of Kaycee but she cut him off. Yes, she explained, Cheyenne was dead, Shirley Prine had killed her. The rest she glossed over, saying he’d find out when they got to Cozumel, but she did get up and find a bottle of tequila in the bar.

Cody felt the plane bank as the cockpit door opened and one of the pilots came aft, explaining that there were big thunderstorms over Texas and they were going to have to divert to the west. That would add distance and they would have to stop and re-fuel in San Angelo. Kaycee was clearly impatient, but there was little she could do.

A couple of hours later, the plane was on final approach to San Angelo when the cell phone rang.

“Biloxi? How did she get to Biloxi?” A long pause, then,” Well, I never trusted that Rojie. Did the guys at least save the Twin Otter? Okay, good. Does she have the keys?” Another pause, “Okay, okay. When we’re done refueling here, we’ll head to Biloxi, then we’ll take her to get the keys.”

That began Cody thinking again. His mom lived in Biloxi, maybe they would see her. But wasn’t she in Miami? And what are these keys Kaycee keeps talking about? Maybe they’d see Rojie there. He liked Rojie. He started to ask Kaycee but she seemed a little distracted.

“Cody, “she said, kind of exasperated, “your mom is in Biloxi, that’s why we’re going there. So we can get the keys to the locker. And Rojie is dead.”

Oh.

“Well, then what do we do?”

She looked at him, “We go to Miami, open the lockers, get the LWP and the bonds and that’s it.”

“What are we going to with them? And what about the money?”

“We aren’t going to do anything with them. I am going to take them to Giuseppe. And what money?”

Oops.

“Cody? What money?”

Cody was forced to tell Kaycee about the 1.5 million in yet another locker. Man, even his mom didn’t know about that. On the rest of the flight to Biloxi, he began to think that he and his mom might be in a little trouble. How come Rojie was dead? Who was Kaycee talking to? Was she really Cheyenne’s sister? Boy, she really was a babe. Who’s Giuseppe? Perhaps he should come up with a plan.

After a while he remembered who Giuseppe was. Giuseppe Lampedusa, aka “the Leopard.” Holy crap. Was Kaycee working for the Leopard? Now, he really needed a plan. But before he could put one into place they were landing at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and taxiing over to the private aviation hangers. The plane came to a stop in front of one with a sign, “Panther Jet Service.” There was a black BMW 7-series parked by the door. It was raining. Dark, too, because they had left Wyoming in late afternoon. Kaycee led Cody down the stairs and over to the BMW, where a heavy-set Hispanic-looking man held open the back door for them. As Cody leaned down to climb in, he saw a rather bedraggled older woman sitting by the far door.

“Mom! Are you okay? What’s going on?” Kaycee pushed him the rest of the way in and climbed in herself as Cody’s mom said, “I’m okay, Poindexter, but they’re making me give up those keys.”

The BMW drove off and headed out of the airport as Cody and Mom caught up. He was astonished at her story. He’d had no idea that she’d been kidnapped, escaped and caught right here in Biloxi. It seems the Leopard was using her as bait to get the keys and locker numbers from Cody.

“But I didn’t have the keys, Mom, you did.”

As his mom was explaining the nuances of this to her son, the BMW was passing through downtown Biloxi to her house in the Back Bay area. It was still raining, remnants of thunderstorms that had passed through hours before. Cody gradually became aware that she was talking about someone named Dubois.

“Mom, who’s Dubois?”

“He’s my boyfriend.”

“How come I don’t know about this boyfriend?”

“Maybe because you haven’t called me for three years.”

“Oh. Well what’s he do? Is he retired? Did you meet him at the senior center?”

“No, I met him at the library.” She was a semi-retired librarian. “He and his brother, Lander, are bounty hunters. But, what I was trying to say was that he and Lander are at the house and…”

The car turned into the driveway of a twenties bungalow surrounded by tulip and magnolia trees hung with Spanish moss. They parked behind a late-model puce-colored Cadillac DeVille. The Hispanic man, who had ridden in the front passenger seat, opened Mom’s door and Cody and Mom got out. As they walked around the car and joined Kaycee on the wide front porch, Cody noticed that it was still raining.

“Hey, it’s still raining.”

As they approached the door, Cody’s mom slipped and grabbed his arm. Caught off guard, he slipped, too, and they both fell to the porch floor. Instantly, the front door exploded outward and dozens of double-ought buckshot pellets slammed into the Hispanic man’s chest, knocking him off the porch. A second blast caught Kaycee in the abdomen and put her down. At the same moment, an elderly man wearing a raincoat and a floppy hat stepped from the side of the house and fired two rounds from his Ruger Mini-14 into the BMW, killing the driver.

Stunned, Cody helped his mom up. “Are you all right?”

“Well, no thanks to you, you idiot. Anyway, this is Dubois,” indicating an even older gentleman coming through the ruined door carrying a stainless steel Remington 12 guage. “And the man with the rifle is his brother, Lander.”

After introductions, Cody’s mom went into the house while Dubois and Lander moved the BMW onto the street and started the Cadillac. Shortly, she emerged carrying a small package and a larger bundle and they all climbed into the Caddy, she and Cody in the back.

“What’s in the packages?” Cody wondered.

“These are all the keys to the lockers and this is a pair of trousers and some decent shoes. You are not traveling with us wearing those horrid plaid pants.”

As Dubois powered the Cadillac down the street, Cody was curious, “Where are we going?”

“To Miami, of course. To get that #$%*ing linen-wrapped package.”

It was still raining.

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