Zero, Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

Snyder settled into the breakfast cove with Mama Borden and two steaming hot mugs of peppermint tea.

Mama Borden picked the lint off her genuine African mud cloth caftan. “I don’t know why you hang around with that Chico.”

“He’s my best friend.”

“Every time I see him, he’s with a different woman. White, Black, Asian. Doesn’t matter. He plays them all.”

If you understood what Chico’s been through, maybe you wouldn’t be so harsh. 

“He’s my friend and I don’t have that many.”

“Son, bad company corrupts good character.”

Snyder laughed. “What makes you think I have good character?”

“I raised you, didn’t I?”

Mostly his grandmother did. New topic. He sipped his minty tea. “So, what’s new?”

“I’m moving.”

Snyder’s eyes widened. “Moving? You’ve lived here since before I was born.”

“Yeah, but it’s time I downsized. All you kids are gone, except Cerulean.”

“What will Cerulean do?”

Mama Borden cast a glance at the door to Cerulean’s workshop. “Baby, he’s the reason I’m moving out. It’s past time he got his own life, found a good woman, married and raised his own babies here.”

Snyder laughed. That notion was surely born of Cerulean being the only sibling genetically related to Mama. The ladies Substitute Daddy’s age would all be menopausal. “Cerulean, marry? He’s as ready as you to have us all out of the house, Mama. He’d be lost without you.”

“That’s not healthy, son. He needs to find his own way. Hopefully not down to South Carolina like the rest. I don’t under-stand why they’ve all gone back there.”

“It’s because they love you, Mama.”

Mama Borden raised her eyebrow. “Anny, they left their mama all alone because they love me? I’d love to know how you figure that.”

“Mama, this pond is three percent goldfish. If you’re going to insist they only catch goldfish, they’ve got a lot more gold-fish to choose from in South Carolina.”

Mama Borden grabbed the car keys off the table. “Let me show you the retire-ment center.”

Snyder walked out of the house. In their run-down West Boise neighborhood, Mama’s well-maintained house stood out like a sore thumb next to its dilapidated neighbors.

They drove down Curtis and cruised past trees lining the road into Garden City. The light turned red at Chinden and they stopped.

A stream of cars passed by, many of them illegal gas guzzlers. Loan sharks, dishonest car dealers, and adult book stores dotted the armpit of the Treasure Valley. Activists blamed Garden City on the Em-pire, but other than the public harem at the corner of 42nd and Chinden, Garden City had been like this for more than a century, at least according to old timers.

The light turned green. In under a minute, they were past the ugliness and back to trees lining both sides of the road. Curtis became Veterans Memorial Parkway and changed to 36th Street when they pass-ed the Dimitrovs Grocery Store and another public harem.

Snyder cleared his throat. “So, where am I going to stay if you sell the house?”

“Life is great at Super 8.” Mama laughed. “Anny, you’ve been in town four days in the last two years. They’ll let guests stay at the retirement home for up to 48 hours, and I don’t expect you’ll need more than that.”

Snyder stared out the window.

A redhead with a white purse exited a preschool. He caught a brief glimpse of a zero keychain latched on the purse.

“Stop the car.”


“Stop, or I’ll jump.”

Mama Borden slammed the breaks.

Snyder jumped from the car and ran after the ecoterrorist. He pulled his Colt revolver. “Stop, or I’ll shoot.”

She kept going.

Mama called something, but Snyder’s focus blocked the meaning. He caught up with the ecoterrorist and tackled her to the ground. He reached into her mouth and got bitten. Screaming, he pulled the cyanide capsule from her mouth.

She cursed. “What are you doing?”

He glared, nursing his sore fingers. “Back at you, sister. That zero on your purse is the emblem I saw with two hijack-ers. What did you do at that preschool?”

The ecoterrorist smiled. “You’ll find out in about three minutes.”

Snyder sped for the preschool, pulled his phone out from his pocket, and dialed 9-1-1.

“9-1-1 emergency.”

“A terrorist has planted a bomb at the 36th Street Day School. It detonates in two minutes. The suspect is fleeing on foot, headed north on 36, female Caucasian, red hair, blue eyes, about 60 kilograms, 160 centimeters. White purse, a zero emblem keychain attached.”

Snyder dropped the phone and raced in the school. He flashed his Intelligence badge. “Everybody out! Emergency!”

He ushered twenty little girls and two teachers out of the school. The teachers counted heads. The younger gasped, her hands flying to her mouth. “Marmalade!” She rushed towards the building.

Snyder grabbed her. “No, get back.”

A police car pulled up. Snyder dashed inside the school.

A four-year-old Asian girl stood out-side the bathroom. “Hello? Hello?”

Snyder ran over to her and picked her up. “We got to get out of here.”

He ran towards the door and opened it. A loud click sounded.

Behind them, the building exploded into flames.

Continued Next Week in Countdown

Continued Next Thursday

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