NOTE TO THE HATERS: No, I won’t publish your comments. But I’ll reply here. No HONEST cop likes a crooked cop. If you think that I’m anti-law enforcement, go do your homework. I’ve trained thousands and been through more than a few doors with some of the best. If you think me writing about corrupt cops is offensive — good. I’m glad you’re offended. Instead of pinging me with hate mail about being “anti-cop” (seriously, dude, do you have a brain?) go grow some balls and stand up. Or is it just easier to be a coward and go along? That badge you wear (if in fact you actually have one) is a shield to protect the innocent. Its not a license to rape, murder, and steal. And if you think it’s okay that some cops you know do that, then fuck you. Hang up your badge and quit disgracing the profession of law enforcement and the good cops around you.
And yeah, I’ve seen SERPICO, motherfucker. Pack a lunch and bring a bunch (of your friends) anytime you want to drop by. You’ll need them. But leave your catamite at home. He might get all verklempt. Jus’ saying…
Rant over. Have a nice day.
Small towns are interesting places. Or so I find them. They’re like fishbowls. Small enough to see just about everything that goes on. You can study denizen interactions much more closely than you might in a much bigger aquarium. As a fictioneer, small towns provide great creative grist for the mill.
In the next Marius Winter book, THE ACHY MAN, the action shifts back and forth from the small town of Decanter, MN — a nest of evil dominated by the extended family of an evil patriarch, The Achy Man — and Marius Winter’s stalwart band of Light Warriors in Minneapolis.
Epic evil and stalwart good. Just the kind of story I like to write. This interview on WWE legend (and my very great friend and supporter) Lance Storm’s BookMarks site outlines my interest (obsession?) with both lower case and upper case Evil from a very early age. http://www.stormwrestling.com/bookmarks/warrior.html
Small towns let you see that up close. Not just evil, but good as well; not just cowardice, but courage as well. Writ small for close study.
As a co-owner and founder of a bleeding edge DOD research & development company, I am by definition a researcher/investigator, a skill set I honed early in my professional career. My research and investigation into the nuts and bolts of how corruption and crime festers in a small town (or a large one, if writ large) has been fascinating.
I thought I’d share some nuggets gleaned from various sources here, just bullet points, on some of the real-world how-to when it comes to crime and corruption.
For the FULL story, you’ll have to read the book, coming soon, right after the next WYLDE book. Also, for my fans, I recovered the rights to my first three books, and they are available in e-book format at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Marcus-Wynne/e/B001KEE9I4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434322253&sr=1-2-ent and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MarcusWynne and Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/marcus-wynne. On various torrent sites as well, since I don’t DRM my books, but I hope you’ll spend the cost of a cup of coffee to read them.
My acknowledgements to all those crime and corruption experts who furthered my education and enabled The Achy Man. You know who you are.
HOW TO CORRUPT AUTHORITY FIGURES
MICE and RASCLS:
If you’re going to study corruption and how to corrupt, it’s good to do a survey of the literature before you launch your field work. Here’s an excellent how-to courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-57-no.-1-a/vol.-57-no.-1-a-pdfs/Burkett-MICE%20to%20RASCALS.pdf
I wrote a short story a long time ago titled “Money, Sex, and Secrets.” While that was a study in the man/woman courting dance there’s a lot of truth in that title when it comes to getting people (in this instance, people with authority and power, like bankers, lawyers, city officials, cops, deputies, judges, FBI agents, etc.) to do bad things for you.
In a small town where, for instance, cops and deputies don’t get paid a lot, you want to control high paying part time jobs – like security guard gigs. Build reliance on the part-time income and the favor requests that will come to you – for instance, maybe you know a banker that might give a “friend” a break on mortgage payments, or ease a loan along for somebody with bad or no credit.
Then when you need that “friend”, you have favors in the favor bank. What might you need them for? Maybe to get your kid off the hook for some minor indiscretion (or a major one); maybe you want to “teach someone a lesson” and are afraid or unwilling to do your own dirty work. That ties into….
HOW TO INTIMIDATE AND HARASS (and get away with it…for a while anyway)
In a small town, “big names” often can get away with directly threatening “small names.” Money = influence = favors, especially if there’s a history of significant fund-raising on behalf of sheriffs, states attorneys, mayors, and city council members. Maybe there’s a deputy or a cop that relies on your part-time income and favors and might have a skeleton or two in the closet (or the cornfield) that they’d rather not have someone know about. And so he owes you. Might make a great pawn of the Devil, you reckon?
But what if someone doesn’t take the hint, or is too high profile to come at directly?
That’s where The Achy Man starts. Here’s a taste:
THE ACHY MAN
They had been beating him for a long time.
One of them, who’d been a deputy for not quite as long as the other, wondered how long the prisoner would last. His partner, a big porcine man, had been working on the man’s face, which no longer looked like a face – it looked like old meat turning blue in the sun.
But there wasn’t any sun.
Just a quarter moon in the night sky, the only sounds beside the dull wet thump of flesh breaking under fists and boots the whisper of the wind in the corn stalks, and every once in awhile the distant hiss of a car passing by.
“How long before he dies?” the younger deputy said.
The older man looked over at him. Silent. Blood spray on his face. Considered the question. “Not long.”
He stepped away, then kicked the man curled in a ball at his feet.
“I want you to kick him,” the older deputy said.
The look on the older man’s face set the younger to almost shitting his pants.
“I’m not asking you. Kick him.”
The younger man poked at the prisoner with his boot.
A slap across his face stunned him, the solid thwock of the meaty palm across his narrow face echoing in the corn field.
“Don’t play with me,” the older deputy said. “Kick him. In the face.”
So he did.
After, when the last breath wheezed between the broken stubs of the dead man’s teeth, the younger deputy leaned over and vomited his fried chicken dinner. The older one threw him a shovel.
“I did the work,” the older deputy said. “You dig the hole. Dig it deep. And roll him in it.” He laughed. “That’s how we roll in Mason County.”
Lieutenant Dick Gant steered his Mason County Sheriff Department squad car around the parking lot in a big circle. The other deputies were careful to ignore him, avoid eye contact. Gant wasn’t a big man, but he had a hateful, bitter twist to his face, and besides the stink of tobacco that surrounded him there was always a sense of, well, jangling was what one deputy described it. Loose cannon didn’t catch all of it.
Just plain mean, was what one dog handler said.
“If he was a dog, I’d put him down,” the handler said. “No training that bitch.”
` The other deputies laughed long and loud, as they always did, as long as the lieutenant wasn’t around. The loot had a long memory, and if you got on his bad side, you never got off, and he had a gift for making life hell for people. He nursed a particular grudge for anybody who did their job well, and an open contempt for the deputies who might actually take their job and the shield they wore seriously.
Made you wonder what his idea of the job was about, but then, in Decanter, you didn’t ask those kind of questions. Not if you were a deputy and you wanted to get out of the jail and out on the road, not get caught in the hell of the corrections unit or, worse, court services.
And then there was always the question of the payroll.
Not the paycheck, meager as it was, they collected every other week.
The Loot had a lot to do with that.
But then, he’d been around for a long time.
Wilhelm (known as Will or Willy at his insistence) Eichmann threw his golf clubs in the truck of his Crown Vic, slammed the hood down and slid into the front seat. From a distance, the brown Crown Vic looked like a police cruiser; it was the same basic model as the State Police used, with a mounted light on the driver’s side, and a set of antennas on the rear bumper.
Pretty fancy ride for a bank guard, or so some of the cops he liked to hang around with said. He pretended not to hear, forced a laugh, and bought more rounds than he should, but that was the price he thought he had to pay to hang out with the real cops. Once, a long time ago, he’d thought about going for it, taking the exam, going through the academy…either the police department or the sheriff’s department, but the prospect of having to ride in a car alone, even with a gun, at night in Decanter, was something he never wanted to face up to.
So he settled for the next best thing, which was an okay paying job as a guard which led to pretty rapid advancement, and after twenty years he had his look alike cruiser, a lieutenant’s rank in the bank’s regional investigation team, and a whole team of his troops, as he liked to call them, to order around.
And he had his cruiser.
He backed out of the parking lot, shooting a hard look at a couple of old-timers who brushed by his car — washed everyday, stroked lovingly by hand himself, in the driveway of his house — almost marring the near mirror finish he liked to keep on the car. He rolled down the power window, and propped his elbow in the open window, just like a real cop, or so he thought.
He drove down Woodrow to Washington and made a left, tooling down past Sacred Heart Church, then onto the main drag that took him into the little downtown of Decanter. He parked his car across the street from the courthouse, checked the time on his cheap Rolex knock off, and went into the lobby, and paused beside the security checkpoint.
“Hey Will,” said Deputy Jeff Parrott. He was short, lean built in the same way a pit bull is, all muscle and bone, blond and with a certain coldness that led most anyone with any sense to avoid him. Hard to do when you’re a prisoner in custody, but then in Decanter, what happened in the jail stayed in the jail. Or so that was what word on the street was.
Willy Eichmann puffed up, looked around as he did, always checking to see if anyone was looking at him – especially someone of importance, somebody higher up the food chain than him, and even in a town this small, there were quite a few, in the Sheriff’s Department, the County Attorney’s office, the County Board, the bank management…the list went on.
But in his little world he liked to think he was the top dog. He wasn’t shy about reminding those that worked for him, including the deputies who moonlighted (against county regulations) as armed couriers on his armored truck runs, and they tolerated him because he paid well and on time, and in Decanter that went a long way.
“Jeff,” Eichmann said. “How’s it going? How’re the troops today?”
Jeff let the hint of a sneer cross his face and looked away. “Troops?” he said. “Yeah, us troops are just fine.”
The other deputy, a heavy-boned man with the long jowls of a hound dog, head closely shaven, crossed his arm and grinned at Eichmann.
“Hey Will,” said the deputy, whose name was Fergus. “Saw your kid the other night. Over by the high school.”
“That’s where he works,” Will said.
“I thought they was a law against school employees hitting on students,” Fergus said. “In this state I believe that’s a sex offense.”
Will grinned, quick and false, looked around. “That’s funny.”
Fergus grinned. “Yep. Real funny. Kinda weird, but what do I know?”
“Kids,” Will said. “Your kids, somebody else’s…pain in the ass. I don’t know why people bother anymore.”
“Funny thing for a father to say,” Jeff said.
Will shrugged and looked into the distance. “Some kids are more of a pain than others.”
Will Eichmann’s kid was cruising around in his red Ford Explorer, his elbow resting propped in the open window, his hand curled around a Styrofoam cup of coffee — just like a real cop. His buddy Danno was sitting in the passenger seat, flipping through a magazine of Eastern European porn, “the fancy stuff” as he liked to say.
“The fuck?” Bryant Eichmann said.
“What?” Danno (known as Good Twin) said, distracted by the high resolution close ups of shaved pussy and dick, something he thought of often in his role as catamite…
To Be Continued…
And for my long-suffering and very patient fans, here’s the second chapter of the soon-to-be released Three’s Wylde:
THREE’S WYLDE: Chapter Two
To my son, H ~ thanks for being the best Honey Badger in the whole universe!
Nico, Musing On the Afterlife In The Aftermath
…I was digging through the rubble with my bare hands. All of us were. We could hear Marines screaming underneath it all…I found a foot and pulled on it, and a perfectly formed leg from the calf down, intact and cleanly cut, like with a knife, came off in my hand. I just stood there, staring at it, and one of the corpsmen, skinny guy with glasses, looked like Radar O’Reilly from the old MASH show, he took it from me, he was so gentle…
“Gunny, let me take that for you,” he said.
…so I let him, and then I kept digging, ’cause my boys were underneath all that, all my boys…
Nico remembered The Gunny, still a big man with hands bent and twisted with arthritis, but curved into the shape of a pistol grip or a rifle stock from years in harm’s way, drinking coffee with Nico and the other Young Guns early in the morning, sitting at the table in the team room, the Gunny one of the Old Guys from SAD visiting the Young Guns on the vanilla teams and reminding them that they too could go into the Black…
…what the fuck? Where…Nina?
Nico tried to sit up again and was reminded why he had passed out and gone to The Place of Old Memories…it *hurt* to sit up.
So he lay back down and started his assessment once more, head to toe. Okay, conscious, can see, feel bleeding somewhere on his leg, okay, legs still worked, wiggle toes, deep bruising but no bone injuries yet, so why did he faint?
Overpressure, yeah, no shit, probably add to the total for his Traumatic Brain Injury (there’s advantages to being thick-headed, he reminded himself), okay, there are others down here, so let’s get on with it…what was it that crazy Old Guy at FLETC used to tell him…
Spectacles, testicles, guns and creds. Shit, son, you got all that you’re good to go…
Don’t have spectacles, though he’d probably need them soon, still had his testicles which was a relief, that’s the secret fear of any male operator who’d been in an IED environment, guns, yep, creds, at this point, who gives a fuck, I got a gun, what do I need creds for…
…you’re rambling, Nico. Time to get on with it.
Can’t sit up? Probably concussion. Well, if I can’t sit up I can crawl.
He twisted onto his side, hissed at the pain from his lower back and legs (not a break, but tore some muscles and maybe some ligaments), and reached out with his one good hand (wait a minute, did the other one work?…yeah, just hurt like hell, so now he has two kinda good hands) and then the other, braced himself and pulled, hard…the wreckage on his legs twisting and his eyes watered at the welling of pain which he shut down and put away make it small and dark, put it in a box and put the box on the shelf in the cupboard in the back of your head that crazy guy who’d taught him that had probably saved more lives with that technique than most of the gunfighters listening to him would save with their blasters, and…
…just get on with it, Nico, you got friends and fellow fighters in here, maybe hurt worse than you, and you are all there is, no fucking cavalry here, so get on with it even if you have to crawl…
So he pulled himself, oh man, that HURT, another inch or two, rested, took a deep breath, reached and pulled again, oh, a whole forearms length, all that time with pull-ups worked, that ol’ Murphy workout (God Rest You And Keep You, Murph) was paying off in spades, ah that HURT, but you know, if you go deep enough into pain, it feels kinda good, that must be the secret with all those sex and bondage freaks, me, I’ll keep the sex and they can have the bondage and I sure as shit don’t need no practice in suffering, so they can keep the whips and stuff, but man, at least the pain lets me know I’m still alive, and you know, it kinda pisses me off and that will keep me alive what was he’d said in class, roar like a lion in pain, try it, when you get done laughing all the endorphins will act as the natural opiates they are so fuck yeah, I’ll roar —
— and to his muffled hearing, his roar sounded more like a scream, so he did it again as he pulled himself along, now the rubble was down around his knees and he felt the agony of blood rushing into deep bruising and the wet feel of some other bleeding, so fuck yeah, I’ll scream again, this shit works, thanks, man…
keep roaring, dudes and dudettes, be the wounded lion, because it will keep you alive long enough to kill those who tried to kill you…
His legs were free, but he was dragging them like noodles behind him, and he lay on his side, gasping for air, tears streaming down his face, and forced himself to flex his legs, oh they’re moving but it HURTS like a mo-fo, so let’s do this roar thing again…
long as you can roar you can move, long as you can move, you can fight, long as you can fight you can kill the fuckers who put you here…
So he roared again and then he heard the sweetest thing in his whole operational career:
“Jesus, Nico. Shut the fuck up and get me out of here,” a hoarse voice.
“You bellowing like a fucking wounded cow, God, I should shoot you and put you out of your misery,” Nina said. She coughed. “What the hell’s wrong with you? How badly are you injured?”
“I’m just pissed off.”
Silence. Then laughter, punctuated by hisses of pain. “Oh, you bastard. Don’t make me laugh. My ribs are broken.”
And then he crawled closer and held her hand, the hand that wasn’t holding her pistol, as she lay there ready to kill.
A Much Battered Band of Miscreants Making Haste Elsewhere
“Shane, we need to regroup.” The driver paused. “Shane? I said…”
“I heard you,” Shane said. “We need to dismount and lose this van.”
“What about Jerry and Craig?”
“Ours not to reason why, oar’s but to do and die…” Shane said.
The driver cut the wheel sharply to the right and pulled the van into a narrow alley, barely enough room on either side for someone to pass by or get out, slammed the brakes and turned in his seat.
“Shane, cut the shit. What about Jerry and Craig?”
“I’m being too fucking subtle for you? They burn with the van, that’s the SOP, that’s what we fucking do. I don’t like it, but that’s what we do.”
“Not going to happen.”
Shane sighed. “Look, Marty, I don’t like it either. But there’s the mission. And we have to sort out this fucking mess.”
“We don’t do this to our people. Not ours. Ever.”
“We’ve done it before…”
“I haven’t,” Marty said.
“I have,” Shane said. “And that’s why I’m running this. Set the charges and we’re out of here.”
“No. I won’t.”
“Marty, we don’t need this. I’m sorry.”
“I won’t do this to a brother-in-arms, Shane.” Marty shifted and dropped his hand to his waistline. “Don’t push it. We’ll take them elsewhere and dump them, come back for them when we get the next vehicle.”
One of the other shooters reached across Marty and grabbed the keys. “Bro, I get the same thing. But they’d want us out of here whole and not arguing with each other over what’s right when we got total compromise falling down on our head. Let’s go.”
“Do it your fucking self,” Marty said. He opened the door and got out. “I’m not having anything to do with it.”
Shane watched him go. “Keep an eye on him. He’ll get over it. Set the charges.”
His remaining operators looked at each other, and then, reluctantly, did what needed to be done.
A few minutes later they hurried away individually, rally point fresh in their memory, as the van blossomed into flame and fury behind them, and fire licked over the faces of their fallen.
Mr. Smith, Enjoying The Neighborhood
….it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine…
Something about this time of the morning, when the darkness falls away into the light, always appealed to Hank, aka Mr. Smith. It wasn’t just the time to be tucked away into a hidden patrol base to sleep away the day and hunt at night, no, it wasn’t just the whole Koran thing about the time of the day when you can differentiate the dark thread from the light thread, though that metaphor always appealed to him, being a Dark Side Guy in the World of Light, so to speak.
It was more than anything else the followed-through-on-promise that there always is another day and another morning with all the potential that entailed that always, well, just made him downright happy.
So it made him happy this morning to see the light. Killing a posse of dirt bags added to his pleasure, especially since these were, well, freelanced and not exactly sanctioned, but that happens in the field.
And Hank was, first-last-and-always, a Man of the Field.
So after several of his hand-crafted pain relievers, Hank was riding a genial buzz and feeling good with the world. There were few people out, which meant he could turn the scar that had been his face so long ago up to the new sun and let the heat of it on him, blink away the tears that ran from the bright sunlight or something else, but let’s not let this introspective streak spoil a good morning.
It mattered not that he left in his wake a shattered building or three, with a significant number of his countrymen employed in the profession of keeping people safe buried in the rubble, one mediocre barista lesson in there for Starbucks and a smattering of psychopathic teenagers what happened to the world of sock hops? What was that phrase that Oppenheimer used when he saw the brilliant and beautiful tower of flame that was a nuclear blast? “I am become Death, the Shatterer of Worlds…”
“Dang, son,” Hank said. “You’re getting downright philosophical.”
Or else it’s Attention Deficit Disorder compounded with Traumatic Brain Injury and further complicated by the chemical cocktail he imbibed four times a day to keep his much battered body functioning…
“Keep on task,” he said. “Coffee would help.”
A bus rattled by him, not the one he’d disembarked from earlier, that would complicate his life right now, so he’d made the point to move away from that route. He preferred walking right now anyway, it keep the lymphatics moving and reminded him, despite the hitch in his get-along, that he could still roll with most of the best of them, at least on his good days and properly medicated.
Which, right now, meant caffeine of the sort you imbibe, preferably in a real china mug instead of a recycled paper cup. Up ahead an icon glowed: a neon red coffee cup with stylized steam rising out of it. The sign beneath it said: The Spy Shop.
“This would, in the words of Carl Jung, be considered synchronicity,” Hank said.
He opened the door. It was a classic Lake City hipster hang: Ikea tables, lots of big glass windows, a long expanse of coffee bar, artwork on the wall, a cute 20-something tattooed barista with a nose ring and a shock of blond hair under a pink beret, who gave him the double take he was used to.
“Good morning!” she said.
She actually sounded authentic, which paused Hank in his usual acerbic greeting to those in the service of those with the coin. He looked past her at the list of drinks posted behind the service bar. She smiled and gazed steadily at him. He gave her a full blast of his face…no flinch. Interesting.
“How’s your mocha?” he said, testing.
“It’s really good,” she said. “We whip chocolate granules in with the steamed milk. Very rich. Shall I make you one?”
“How many shots would you like? Our standard is two, three, and four. Depends on the size of the cup.”
He nodded slowly, considering. “How many in a mug?”
“It’s always better in a mug,” she said. “You can have as many as you like. We have a coffee cup and then a mug. You probably want a mug.”
“A mug, then. Three shots.”
“You got it. There’s some nice soft chairs in the back there…I can bring it back to you.”
“What, you want me to hide me in the back?”
She looked him right in the eye. “No. I just want you to be comfortable and enjoy it. It’s slow and I don’t mind bringing it back to you.”
He considered her. No fear. Maybe even genuine kindness, a rare thing in Hank’s experience. No shortage of situational kindness, but the real sort…rare. Maybe this was his reward for doing some pro-bono street cleaning.
“Thank you. That’s kind of you.”
“Oh, you’re welcome. Go on, pick a spot. There’s today’s paper at the end of the bar if you want.”
She turned away and busied herself with the makings.
Hank walked slowly down the length of the bar, dragging his fingers along, feeling the wood. Nice stuff. There were indeed two nice armchairs and a couch, all in leather, set up in the back around a low Ikea coffee table. He settled himself into one of the armchairs, relishing the cushy leather folding around him. He watched the girl working on his mocha; she was an artiste, for sure. She looked over and smiled.
“I forgot to ask if you wanted whipped cream,” she said.
“Sure. All my favorite food groups: whipped cream, chocolate, coffee. Who wouldn’t want whipped cream?”
She laughed. “Good call.”
She finished the coffee and brought it over to him, set it down in front of him with extra napkins. She saw him looking and she said, “Oh, I brought you a few. These mochas are always a little messy.”
“What’s your name?”
“Tara,” she said.
“T-A-R-A or T-A-R-A-H?”
“T-A-R-A,” she said. “Why?”
“I knew a Tarah with an H,” Hank said. “Long time ago. She was a singer.” He paused. “You kind of remind me of her.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the first bill that came to hand. It was a twenty.
“Here,” he said.
“Oh, you already paid!”
“This is for you.”
“Really? Wow, that’s too much, you don’t have to…”
“Go ahead. Use it for some fun. You have a kind heart. It shows. That’s what reminded me of my friend.”
She took the bill, folded it small into her hand. “So where is your friend? Your Tarah?”
Hank looked down at the elegant fold of cream atop his gleaming white mug. “I don’t know.”
“Maybe you’ll find her. Or she’ll find you.”
And with that, she went back to the counter.
Three Witches Channeling Lady Macbeth
Irina and Dee Dee, both casual in terrycloth robes, stood and watched as Kiki in her favorite Miley Cyrus pajamas tore open the Fedex box, happy as a girlie at Christmas. Kiki placed the smaller packages within the larger box in an semi-circle before her. Dee Dee noted with interest how particular and precise her thirteen-year-old protégé was; the small hands with chewed nails set every box out the exact distance from each other in a perfectly formed arc. Attention to detail was an essential skill in the cutting-edge hacker; of course there was always the danger of that pesky OCD thing, but hey, you put up with bad for the good.
And Kiki Warren was very very good. When she wasn’t being bad.
“These things? What are they?” Irina said.
Kiki looked up and smiled. “New boxes for our run.”
“Boxes? Run?” Irina said.
Kiki was happy to explain and opened her mouth to begin.
“English, Kiki,” Dee Dee said. “We’re not experts.”
“Oh, for sure,” Kiki said. “I’ve…oh, never mind…”
“What?” Irina said. She looked at Dee Dee and for once, the two of them were in agreement.
Dee Dee laughed and said, “Honey, you just work your magic. What do you need from us?”
“Oh, nothing, I’ll take care of it, should be ready in about an hour or so, I gotta pee and get something to eat…”
“You go pee. Set up where you need to. What do you want for breakfast?” Dee Dee said.
“Lucky Charms and chocolate milk, and do you mind if I put the TV on? I have my show on Nick….”
Dee Dee looked at Irina and shrugged. “Sure honey. Whatever you want…”
The two women — a Russian whore turned arms dealer turned unwilling accomplice to a major international cybercrime and a sassy California beach girl turned international assassin — looked at each other and said at the same time, “This is the daughter we never had?”
They both laughed together, at the same time, at the same thing. A first for both of them.
Irina said, “This is much trouble?”
“Not so much for the pay-off, Rina,” Dee Dee said. “I could hang it up, go south and find me some willing sun-tanned surfer boy to keep me company at night and wouldn’t talk much, buy all the shoes I ever wanted and not have to drop the hammer on another client for as long as I care to live.”
She considered that thought. “Unless they pissed me off. What you gonna do with your share, Rina? You gonna stay here in the Great White State of US of A, or you heading East again?”
“I do not know. I have not thought that far ahead.”
“That’s half the fun of the big score, honey. It’s spending it in advance. Hang out with that thought for a while. You might surprise yourself. You want some more coffee? It’s good, for hotel joe.”
Dee Dee padded, barefoot, ripple of muscle up her thigh and calf, and poured them both fresh cups, handed it to Irina who followed in her wake.
“This guy I killed,” Dee Dee said. “Early on, one of my first gigs. I was still working out my style, you know? So I went with what’s natural, get next to him, fuck him, you know how guys are after a really good blow job or a hard fuck, all they want to do is sleep? Was working, and I didn’t want to mess up what was turning into a good long run of gigs. But this guy, he never slept. PTSD…”
“What is PTSD?” Irina said.
“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Rina. What the sensitive types get when things go violent. Wakes ’em up, feel on edge all the time.” She sipped her coffee. “You don’t look like the PTSD prone type. Are you?”
“No,” Irina said. “I am not.”
“So any way, this guy, he was a contractor over in the Sandbox, got into some things he wasn’t supposed to, took the shut-your-mouth-forever payment but couldn’t keep his mouth shut, so the higher-ups contracted an outsider to make sure his mouth was shut, like, forever, you know? So I got up next to him down in Cancun, pretty easy as I was a sweet young thing in those days, we’re hanging out and I get him away from his buddies and we do an overnight down in Carmen del Playa, not far, but far enough, you know? But Lawdy, this boy does love the pussy but he never sleeps. I mean, I worked out on that boy, but he never shut his eyes for more than a few minutes at a time. I was ready to just push him off the balcony after two days, you know?
“But the one thing that boy loved more than that golden pussy was talking. He would talk talk talk about anything under the sun, he’d talk to a fencepost or the wall if I wasn’t there. But anyway…he asked me this question, the night I killed him, and I never forgot it.”
“What did he say?” Irina said.
“He said, ‘What would you do if you never had to worry about making money again? If there was no limit on what you could do?’ He said that would define who I was.”
“What did you say?”
“Oh, I said I’d probably kill him for talking so much. He just laughed.”
“And then what did he say?”
Dee Dee sipped her coffee. “Oh, I killed him, baby. Really. He talked himself to death.”
Jimmy John Wylde And The Goddess Lizzy, Reunited
Lizzy and Jimmy, in bed.
Lizzy above him, his fresh bandages dotted with light red. The long mane of red hair down over his face, dragged along and down his chest, his belly, leaving a wake of goose flesh as he shivered, her tongue darting along his belly and then lower, touching his scrotum already drawn up tight to his belly, a slow wet touch along the bottom of his straining cock, him arching up to her…
…a part of her watching herself, seeing what violence and death and injury did to this man she shared her bed with, the deep need to release, to purge, to empty himself into the vessel that she is…and she thought of a poem, something she had read to him once, long ago, something he never responded to, just sat and watched her with those deep and dark-shaded eyes, the eyes of someone wounded deep and long and hard, just taking it all in…
And she cupped him in one long-nailed hand, drew her nails gently along the velvet skin of his cock, and then she eased him into her, just the tip…
…and the line from the poem, from the amazing Tess Gallagher, the perfect line for this: “Small then, the word, holy…”
A sacrament of the flesh and the sacred duty of the Goddess, to take the Warrior into her and transform him…
And she eased her self slowly down on him, an inch at a time, and he strained upward, but she lay one hand on his chest, held him there, and reveled in how he did as she directed with just a touch…
She knew know the full Power of the Goddess, the power to take within her that hurt and hurtful Power, transform it within her, create a child from it if she wished…but now, just to transform and to heal with the gift of her body and the pleasure it brought him…
Descending down on him now, with the control and grace of the dancer and the yogini in the Sacred Dance, a ripple of her inner muscles bringing a groan from him and an involuntary gasp from her, ease up, pause, and then slide down slow, again, repeat, the rhythm increasing, a cycle of seven slow, pause, wait for his groan…then seven fast, till he was right at the brink, pause, slow, slip slowly, then seven more slow and fully, struggling now to contain herself, lower belly trembling, the ripple of the muscles deep inside her along the cock swelling to fill her, and now a slow steady rotating churn between a deep steep glide on him, faster and faster and faster…
…Jimmy arching up beneath her, the involuntary thrusts up at her, his hands clawing at her now, grasping her ass and thrusting her up and down on him…and now she surrendered herself to it, both of them pumping at each other until he broke, a hot geyser in her and then she did, arching and gasping, the two of them clinging to each other like drowning passengers from a boat slipping beneath the waves….
After. Slick with sweat. Pounding hearts. Raspy breath.
Alive. Oh, so alive.
Deon and Guz And The Business Of Freelance Gunfighting
“I think I can cover it under my rider, oke,” Deon said.
“Seriously?” Guz said, dubious. “Your insurance company gonna buy that? Man, that would be great if so…”
“They’ll cover it. I’ll have to gin up a 1099 for you, though, show that you were employed, which means, you being a government employee and all, you’ll have to declare at least some of that cash.”
“I can do that. No worries.”
“Smart lad. We’ll get the paperwork done and I’ll call my agent. Good man, Cambodian.”
“Yes. He’s a biggie in their local version of the Mafia, runs a very profitable insurance business.” Deon laughed. “Processes more than a fair share of fire and personal injury claims, you fall behind on your premiums, right?”
Guz laughed. “You run with a rough crowd, Deon.”
“Takes one to know one, oke. Now. Let’s get you on these forms.”
Deon pulled out the forms and Guz leaned over them and began to work. While Guz filled out his forms, Deon limped (the ibuprofen was wearing off) around the counter and took stock of his store. He was of a mind to keep all the guns locked up in the safe and take the rest of the day off. The shop had been closed more than open in the last week what with the demands of his extracurricular security business activities.
And a man had to make a living.
“What else do you need?” Guz said.
“Copy of your Social Security Card and Driver’s License or Passport,” Deon said.
“Digital okay? I got them in my Iron Key.”
“Sure, fine. You can use the laptop on the desk there.”
Guz slid, gingerly, into the chair and took the Iron Key hung around his neck and plugged it into the USB drive. He went through the authentication procedure and decrypted his personal ID files, dragged and copied a PDF of his passport (standard tourist, not the black or red ones, those stayed on the drive) and his original SSN card to Deon’s desktop, then hit Print. Both documents buzzed out of the wireless printer on the back work bench. Deon picked them up, looked them over, then stapled them to the declarations form and the insurance form.
“Let’s go see my friend,” Deon said. “You up for some Vietnamese food?”
“Do you need me? I should probably go home…”
“Ah, right. Shall I give you a ride or should we get you a rental car? My insurance will reimburse you for it.”
“Better go rental. Or I’ll be walking. My wife doesn’t let me drive her car. Probably never will after today.”
Deon laughed. “They’ll get you a new one, oke. Those Wranglers…consider a Cherokee. Or else a good bakkie.”
“I’d get a bakkie, but you can’t get the Hi-Lux in the US. I like those. Ran them over there.”
“Your wife would worry you’d run it as a technical,” Deon said.
“No joke, dude,” Guz said. “Let’s get that car. I gotta work on the story for her…she is so gonna kill me…”
“Women and cars, oke. Either or both will kill you…”
Thanks Be To God, Talking To God
Officer Hanks, aka known as Thanks Be To God, knelt before his open locker door. Carefully arranged on the inside of the door were three images: one of Jesus, one of Mother Mary, and one of St. Michael the Archangel. He was oblivious to the hard concrete beneath his knees and the other police officers, after a long acquaintance with his heavy hand if interrupted during prayer, held their silence for the moments it took for him.
He prayed silently the Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary, and the Warrior’s Prayer of St. Michael, and then he added, out loud, the prayer that every cop on his shift had heard for seventeen years: “And if, Creator God, you call upon me as an instrument of your justice, may my hand be steady and my aim be true. In accordance with your will, not mine, Creator God, may I be blessed with the light of your son, Jesus Christ, as I go forth to do your work as your warrior on the face of this earth. Amen.”
And the other cops, including a rookie who bore a bruise from the day he’d rolled his eyes at his FTO while Hanks prayed, all intoned aloud: “Amen.”
Hanks stood up, adjusted his belt and checked the cant of his twin holsters. Turned and grinned at the other cops.
“All right, you sinners. Let’s go shoot some miscreants, shall we?”
Nico and Nina, Hand In Hand
“Can you walk?” she said.
“Haven’t tried, but I doubt it.”
“I don’t know if I can stand.”
“Best to lay here and think it out. Give EMS and Fire a chance to get up here. They can be the heroes today.”
“They’re probably bitching about having to get off the recliner,” Nina said.
“Anybody else?” Nico said.
Nina pointed to what used to be the door into the inner recesses of the safe house. Protruding were two legs with an expensive set of heels, like the Wicked Witch of the West beneath her fallen house. “I wonder if she always dressed like that before she tortured a terrorist.”
“Torture is such a harsh word. I prefer enhanced interrogation.”
“You would, you faggot.” She laughed and then she coughed. “I told you, don’t make me laugh. Or I’ll shoot you.”
The steady chunk chunk chunk they’d heard for hours seemed closer, or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
“I pay taxes,” Nina said. “I’d think they’d bring a back hoe instead of doing it by hand.”
“They have to prop it up as they go.”
“I’m a taxpayer and a police officer. I demand a back hoe.”
“I’ll get right on that, Officer Friendly.”
“I could never be a Fed,” Nina said thoughtfully.
“Why? I heard you used to be a Fed.”
“That’s a lie told by my enemies. I could never be a Fed.”
“I know who my mother and father were.”
It took him a minute to figure it out. And that made her laugh till she spat some blood out.
“I told you, dumb-ass. Over your head and into the back yard,” she said. “In a battle of wits, you’d be unarmed.”
“I’m off my feed today.”
“What’s that, Seven and Seven?”
Nico laughed. “I’m a bourbon man.”
“You would be.”
“What does that mean?”
“I wish I had a gin and tonic. Good gin, not the crap you probably drink. Bombay Sapphire. Fresh lime. And a beach. A good one. With nobody but me on it.”
“Maybe some anonymous hard-body who knows how to keep his mouth shut and rubs oil on demand.”
“You’re easy to please.”
“Dream on, knuckle-dragger.” She paused. “I’m having a hard time breathing.”
“Keep talking. Long as you’re talking you’re getting air in your lungs.”
“You’re just afraid of being stuck in here by yourself. Probably start crying. Or doing that fucking roaring thing. What the fuck is that all about, anyway?”
Nico said, “It’s a technique.”
“Technique for what? To make everybody laugh till they drop their fucking guns?”
“Fuck you, Nina.”
“You wish, big boy. I’d leave you looking like a raisin in the sun.”
“What, you a sparkly vampire or what?”
She really laughed now, spat more blood out. “I know you’re gay, Nico. Admit it. I bet you cried in the TWILIGHT movies, didn’t you? Tell the truth…got all teary eyed and weepy with Bella and the Wolf Boy, huh? Or was it shirtless shots of Wolf Boy that got you all wound up?”
“I liked the red-headed crazy vampire girl. She was hot. Reminded me of an old girlfriend.”
“You’re a sick pup, Nico. You need counseling. Really. Marital, social, whatever they got. And a 12-Step Program, too.
“Oh, I got all those. Sex Addicts Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, you name it, I got a card. I collect ’em, carry ’em around in my wallet behind my pre-paid Visa card. I’m a charter member of the Sensitive New Age Guys group.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“We sit around and apologize for being born with penises. We have a sponsor we can call if we get a hard-on, and he’ll talk us down. I used to do the alphabet backwards, but now I’ll just think of you.”
“You be nice to me. We could be dying here together.”
“We’re not going to die. Only the good die young, so we’ll live forever.”
“If I think I’m going to die, I might fuck you. Just saying. But only if I’m going to die.”
“Why only then?”
“Look at yourself. Who would fuck you if they weren’t going to die?”
A high pitched buzz and drone, and then a drill bit came through one of the largest piles of rubble. They both turned their heads and watched the drill bit withdraw, and then a moment later the cable of a fiber-optic camera poke through.
“If you bastards have been taping us, I’m going to shoot you in the junk before I shoot you in the face. I am fucking serious,” Nina said.
The gleaming eye of the fiber-optic camera twitched towards them. Nina and Nico raised their joined hands.
But Nina never set down the pistol she clenched in her other hand.
In The Bright Light Of Day, A Gathering
Jimmy sat himself down, gingerly, in the bright red overstuffed chair Lizzy kept in her window. It looked out over her street, and between the buildings across you could see a slice of green from the park. A mug of steaming black coffee in his hand, Aleve for the aches and pains.
A tap at the door, and he heard the hiss of naked skin under silk as Lizzy answered the door. He heard Deon say, “Hello, love. How is he?”
“He’s good, Deon. Are you well?”
“Yes, fine, love. Got coffee for me?”
“Go in to Jimmy. I’ll bring it to you.”
“You are the Goddess, my love. Thank you.”
Behind him Deon’s presence, then a chair settling in on the other side of the window box, and Deon folding his skeletal frame into it, settling himself just so, crossing his legs at the knee. He looked, in this light, like a young Thomas Edgar Lawrence; all he lacked was a pipe and a kaffiyeh to complete the picture.
Lizzy appeared at his shoulder, a vision in red, a steaming mug of coffee. She rested one hand on Deon’s shoulder and placed the mug in his upraised hand, kissed him on the top of his head. Stared Jimmy in the eye, smiled, leaned and brushed his lips with hers. Went away, only her scent in her wake.
Deon sipped the coffee, sighed in satisfaction.
“A vision of the Goddess and a fine cup of coffee. Oke, anytime you want to swap lives, you let me know, right?” he said.
Jimmy nodded. “What do you hear?”
“Our fine friends in Lake City PD found the van. Burned out, two bodies in it, and they are busily digging through charred meat to determine forensics, but a private word from a like-minded thinker down there said the odds were on those bullets coming from the bullet launchers we left downtown. No sign of the others as yet, and it’s quite disturbing to consider they left their dead to burn. Either they didn’t care, or, they did care and did it anyway and the forensics won’t put a name to them.”
“Or they couldn’t E and E with the bodies.”
“Why not drop them elsewhere and come back to recover?”
“Which? Why they didn’t drop them or who they are or where they are?”
“Who and where. That’s what I want.”
“You and me both, oke. I think Lance T may have some answers.”
“He almost caught a bullet himself.”
“That’s my point. Perhaps he has some insight on why some old hippy would come in hard to drag out a handicapped Cambodian man. And then come back for Lizzy. Speaking of which, I think we need to keep her close and bring in a few of the lads. They’re not likely to forget her.”
“She told them everything they asked.”
“True. And perhaps they don’t know we walked away. And if they find out we did, they will come looking for her, because finding her will bring you and me running. See my drift?”
Jimmy did, and he didn’t like it. “Who are you thinking?”
“The Great Rassuli has a couple of likelys.”
“He trained them? Who?”
“We’ll use our people for primaries, give one of his youngsters a back up slot. We need to see The Rassuli for some off-the-books hardware anyway. I don’t want any more of mine ending up in Evidence for the duration.” Deon sipped his coffee, closed his eyes to savor the taste. “Elegant, this. Top shelf. I’m thinking Kona?”
“Jamaican Blue Mountain,” Lizzy said from behind them. “Only the best for my men.”
Deon raised his mug in salute over his shoulder, tipped his head to Jimmy.
Jimmy John Wylde nodded. Stared out the window. Watched a new day unfold.
The Great Rassuli And La Femme, Nikita
In a warehouse, in the old factory district of Lake City, across the main floor where a battered 4×4 sat next to a gleaming and lovingly restored 72 Dodge Charger, a taxicab and a tow truck, there was a stairwell that went down, down, down, a full three levels, down into the bowels beneath Lake City where only the memory of the past factories and the workers who’d toiled there were…
…and in the deepest corner of the basement level an office, a workshop adjoining, and in the workshop a bench upon which was laid out with machine-like precision the various components that, when assembled, made up an AR-15 carbine. A brilliant light above the table hid the man working in shadows; his hands were long fingered, pale and adept. Each part was weighed in the palm of his hand, measurements taken with the digital gauge he held. When he was satisfied, the assembly began: a smooth continuous flow that never stopped, slow and fluid and punctuated with the snick and snap and twang of parts carefully machined, polished, measured, lubricated and put together in an exercise of painstaking exactitude.
When he was done, he laid both his hands on the weapon in benediction.
Footsteps approaching, and then the question, in a soft female voice: “Are you through?”
“May I turn on the lights?”
A carefully manicured finger, the nail short and perfectly rounded, gleaming with clear polish, touched the light switch and stroked the dimmer switch gently up.
The Great Rassuli looked across the table as the light revealed him. Even seated, he was tall; over six and a half feet tall, but lean to the point of emaciation; long wrinkles furrowed down a face punctuated by a black eye patch, like a pirate’s but not so jovial; a single unblinking brown eye, hard and topped by a slash of grey, a grey thatch of hair closely trimmed to the skull with a long scar that ran atop the head and down beneath the patch, hinting at the injury there. Forearms rippling with the movement of fingers as long and adept as a concert pianist’s.
“May I?” the woman said.
“Of course,” he said. “I think you will…appreciate it.”
“Of course,” she said. “I’m always…appreciative.”
She came to the table. He pushed his chair back to make room for her. She brushed past him, paused, smiled down at him and his unblinking eye.
La Femme, Nikita: Five feet five inches tall, 130 pounds of taut muscle sheathed in a skin-tight black Smartwool T-shirt and carefully hemmed and fitted olive-drab Drop Zone Tactical Operator’s pants, ass-length blond hair pulled tight back from her face and braided with exquisite precision in a tight Valkyrie braid, green eyes unaccented by any make up, not that they needed any, a brilliant razor edged green, like the edge of winter ice, face smooth and unlined and showing every single one of her twenty-two years.
She held his eye, then turned her attention to the carbine, picked it up with the respect due a hand-crafted product of an artisan at the top of his game. She weighed it in her hands, stepped away from the table, then tucked the Magpul CTR stock into the pocket of her shoulder, lowered the muzzle and then used her support hand to adjust the length just so; slid her support hand and wrapped index and ring finger around the Tango Down stubby VFG out at the end of the lower rail, steered the gun in tight, stepped away and snapped a sight index along the fixed Daniel Defense rear and front sights; reached up with her support hand and snapped back the BCM Gunfighter Handle and let the bolt settle with a well lubricated snap, floated away, like a dancer, indexing on the various targets hung on the wall and then, locked tight, elbows in, aimed at the reduced target on the farthest wall and stroked the Geiselle trigger through it’s 3.5 pound pull and was rewarded with the clack of the hammer fall at exactly the heartbeat she desired.
“You would have pulled just slightly right,” The Rassuli said. “Again.”
She cycled the bolt once again, engaged the safety.
“Move, and then settle. Gunfights are not static events,” The Rassuli said.
She rose on her toes, sheathed in Salomon Fastpackers, glided like the pin up girl for flow CQB, settled, disengaged the safety, broke the trigger.
She did so.
“Best. Bring it here.”
She handed him the carbine, and he snapped onto the quick detach swivels a Viking Tactics sling, pre set for her. “Try it.”
She slung the weapon, pulled the strap tight, bounced lightly on her toes, hit the release buckle and ran the weapon out.
“Transitions,” The Rassuli said.
She raised the carbine to the ready position, then slipped her support arm beneath the sling as she transitioned the carbine to her left shoulder, and then back.
She readjusted the carbine and the sling, did it again.
“Good. What sort of optic would you prefer?” he said.
“What do you suggest?”
“T-1. Or would you prefer the Eo?”
“As you suggest. The Eo is easier for offset.”
“Yes. It is. We’ll try both, close and then far. Then you can decide.”
“As you suggest.”
She brought the weapon back to the table, laid it down with ceremony where she had picked it up.
“It’s excellent. The Geiselle trigger is perfect,” she said.
“I want you to run it with your gloves, as well. In the shoot house. It’s lighter than you have trained with.”
“Yes. As you suggest. Shall we do it now?”
He smiled, an upturn of hard lines. “Not right now. Shortly.”
She smiled in turn. Slid onto his lap and looped both of her hard, pale arms around his neck. Leaned forward and took his ear lobe in her small, perfect teeth, tugged gently, then touched her tongue to his ear and exhaled, slowly.
“Shortly?” she said. “I think…not.”
“As you suggest.”
To Be Continued….