Red Lodge, Montana

Cody Quarterline part XVI: In which Cody answers the eternal question, You want chip(s) with that?

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 XVI
by Whispy McCloud

[In our last installment, Cody had finally shaken the people who were chasing him, and made it to the Mountain Man Rendezvous camp of medicine man Rojie outside of Ocher Hacienda (or was it Red Chalet?). Ruby was applying makeup so that Cody would look like his sister to visit his mother.]

“Oh damn, not again.” He was lying in the sagebrush with a freezing mist soaking his good suit, his only suit. He had wrapped himself around the large bush like he was trying to make love to it. “Doesn’t quite smell like sweet Petunia.” The light was dim, and it was almost dark. “I wonder if it’s morning or night. What the hell did Ru put in that makeup?” It got a little lighter, and he could make out the mountains. “I must be on the Chaphands bench about forty miles from Red Dog.”

He pulled himself to a sitting position leaning against the bush. Every movement brought a new pain. He felt like he had been through the spin cycle on a front loader. When he was able to stand, he could see far away headlights moving across the bench. He pitched forward onto another sage bush. A sharp stick rammed into the back of his arm. When he rubbed it for some relief, he felt a lump. “What the hell is this?” It was square and about an inch on a side, just under the skin. “A microchip. Those bastards loaded me with a chip. No wonder they’re always in my face. It’s got to come out now.” He reached down in his sock where he kept a small knife for emergencies. It was still there. It was a little bit of a gymnastic trick to cut the right underarm with his almost worthless left hand. It took three determined slices before he could get it out. There were several leads on the chip, but he broke them off in his hurry to get the thing out.

It lay there square and shiny. The source of most of his troubles. He shoved it under the sage. He couldn’t tie the bandage one-handed, so he just put on his soggy Italian suit jacket, stuffed his knife back in his sock and hoped for the best. He staggered toward what seemed to be the highway. After about a half a mile he went down and couldn’t get up. As he lay there, he heard a vehicle churning through the sand and brush. He watched on his hands and knees. It stopped, and men got out and looked around. After a while they got back in and roared back to the road. I’ve got to get the hell out of here before they come back. It took a long time to get to the road, and longer to get a ride. Finally, an older pickup stopped for him. It took the last of his strength to crawl in. There was a woman driving, and she looked awfully good. Before he passed out, he noticed two jeeps out in the flat where he had been.

He opened his eyes. This time it wasn’t bad. He was warm, dry, naked, and clean. He felt his arm, and it was bandaged. The woman sitting in the chair noticed he was awake.

“Soon as you get a little more awake, I’ll feed you some supper. You’ve been out all day. You’re about the worst case of a half-drowned pup I’ve seen. I hope you don’t mind. I burned your clothes. They were covered with some kind of nasty stuff. I shoulda burned them outside. They stunk up the house. That was a really fancy suit though. I never saw one before that had wires everywhere in the coat.”

“Wires in the coat? What the hell? How did they get there? Oh, maybe when Petunia took it in to be cleaned. It never did fit quite right after that. I wonder. I bet it was Petunia who set me up for everything.” He didn’t mention to her that there had been $1,500 stitched into the lining for emergencies. “How about supper? I have no idea how long it’s been since I ate.”

“Elk stew coming up. I like to keep one hanging, then, I don’t have to go to town.”

“What did you say your name was?” Cody asked as he slurped down the stew.

“I didn’t. There’s people on both sides of the law who don’t like me. Just call me Chrysy. That’s short for Chrysanthemum. You know, you did a real hack job on your arm. When I was cleaning it up, I found two little tubes like Norplant sticks. I’ll bet they were drugging you.”

“Then maybe everything that seems to have happened in the past few months was an hallucination.” Cody flopped back in despair and fell asleep. Sometime later, he opened his eyes to see Chrysy standing at the foot of the bed. She had changed into a nightgown and was obviously ready for bed. “There’s one more thing. The house has only one bed, and you have to share.” She blew out the lamp and got into bed. She didn’t smell as good as Sweet Petunia. Hell, she didn’t smell as good as the sagebrush. He fell back asleep in spite of the snuggling Chrysy.

“You sure do sleep soundly. I’ll give you one more chance to socialize with me. Here’s your breakfast.” Cody got out of bed and put on her robe. Outside, the world was white. He clearly wasn’t going anyplace for awhile, so he might as well just stay here with Chrysy.

Later, he lay around thinking, his head being clearer than it had been in months, There is something I know that everyone wants to find out. I wonder what it is.

[Will Cody Q every figure out what's going on? Tune in next month, same Q-time, same Q-newspaper.]

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