Petrolandia – Crazy Jones
“Quick!” the man said, slamming into the store. He was built of hard edges, whatever law of physics holding him together straining from the effort. He had a trimmed more-pepper-than-salt beard, a badly worn orange toque, and sunglasses on. His blue jacket looked clean, but the smell… “I need some place to hide!”
I glanced at Sandor, who waved him in.
“The freezer’s free,” Sandor said, his voice a shocking calm. “There’s some boxes you can hide behind. Go shack up in there and I’ll nab you some coffee. How long do you need to hide?”
“Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes,” the man said, nodding at Sandor, then stopping as he noticed me. He stared, vibrating. “Who’s he?”
“New graveyard guy.”
“He’s cool.” Sandor held up a hand for silence. “We did a background check before bringing him on board.”
The man accepted this and moved like a shark for the back. He was whip-thin, all muscle and wire, quiet as he slipped from sight.
“What the fuck?” I asked.
“That’s Crazy Jones,” Sandor explained. “He’s a canner.”
“Is anyone after him?”
Sandor went back to working. I went back to writing. After five minutes Sandor made a coffee and brought it into the freezer. Another five minutes went past before Jones emerged from the back. He looked around, then looked at me.
“Is it safe?”
“I think so.”
“Okay.” Jones nodded. “Okay. That’s all I can ask. Got any cans?”
“I pop a couple of energy drinks over the course of the night,” I said. “I can save ’em for you.”
“Thanks,” Jones said, then left.
Twenty minutes went by and Sandor finished whatever it was he was working on.
“What was up with that guy?” I asked.
“Eh, Jones,” Sandor shrugged. “He thinks he knows things.”
Sandor picked up his things and left.
Another few minutes passed and a wretched old van pulled up to the lot. I was not surprised when Jones got out. The van was an old clunker, a fading baby blue everywhere but the top, which was a freshly painted bright orange. Jones pumped ten dollars of gas into the van, then came in and paid with two crumpled fives.
“Used to be the government satellites couldn’t get through blue paint,” Jones explained. “They lulled us into a false sense of security while they did their upgrades. Now, it’s orange.”
“Cuz orange is blue’s compliment?” I guessed. He eyed me.
“You know your way around a color wheel,” he said. He eyes gleamed with a grudging respect. “You wanna know why they’re after me?”
“I broke the story on chemtrails,” he whispered, glancing outside. “The government never learned how I knew, but I did. You ever listen to Art Bell?”
“The conspiracy guy on the radio?”
“Yeah, him.” Jones leaned on the counter and shot me a shit-eating grin. “He’s a false flag, a fucking stooge. He’s on the radio but if you go on with him, he lets the government know where you are.”
“And you’re afraid they’ll find you?”
“Nah, I got it all worked out,” Jones laughed. “Alberta driver’s license, a PO Box in Ontario, and I live here. No one knows where I am, and I aim to keep it that way. The idiots in charge’ll never figure that one out.”
I didn’t want to point out that “chemtrails” were nothing more than fuel exhaust made visible by the atmosphere, ask him why if no one knew where he was that he felt the need to hide, didn’t want to know how the government could be both scary competent and full of incompetent idiots at the same time, didn’t want to ask him about the satellites or the sunglasses or anything else.
But it was a slow night, so I did.
“They have agents everywhere,” Jones said when I asked him about the people looking for him. “They’ll look in Ontario or Alberta, but they’re not actively looking here, not yet. They still have people on the ground this side of the Mountain but you can spot them if you know what to look for.”
“What am I looking for?” I asked.
“You’ll know when you see it,” he said, then paused. “But then it will be too late.”
“Okay, but chemtrails,” I said. “That’s…”
“You don’t know any better,” Jones interrupted. “And that’s okay. We can’t talk here and I can’t stay long – they can hear us through the lights – but they pump mind control drugs into the atmosphere and it fucks with the ozone layer and makes us all buy shit we don’t need. Can I have another cup of coffee?”
He made himself a cup and waved as he left. There was a dog in his van, a big one, there to keep him safe.
I wondered if Jon would be willing to get a dog like that for me.