Hey guys, this a call to arms, of sorts. I’m looking for a few folks who would like to be test subjects, if you will. I’m in need of some Beta readers for a set of stories I’m writing. I need people who are willing to read my stuff, for free, before anyone else has the opportunity. The downside, they may be a little rough, your job as a beta would be telling me what are the last few things I need to fix before I send the manuscript off to, Max, my editor. Please, if your interested in helping me out send me an emil to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll explain more expectations, don’t worry, it isn’t hard work, if you can read and can be honest with me about my work you are perfect for this job. Like and share this post as well. I can use all the eyes I can get on these things.
Available at the end of the month is Driver. The next Pine Bluff Mysteries installment.
Tommy Waters is a down on his luck ex-con when his cousin convinces him to drive the getaway car in a bank robbery, but this easy job turns deadly when his partners are murdered and their stolen money disappears. He is forced to drive for the man he stole from in order to find the money and discover who murdered his friends.
Driver is a noir thrill ride of pure adrenaline and suspense.
The early morning moon still hung in the sky as the sun began to rise over the New Haven Museum. The red and orange of sunrise a beautiful backdrop to the castle look of the building. Its towers rising on the corners merely for look with no functionality. The forest was cold on the dark winter morning as I sat in the dark. There had been several reports of muggings around the museum and I had a feeling that RS would be making their appearance soon.
It wasn’t long before I had gotten my wish. A nerdy young woman with disheveled hair and Birkenstock shoes got out of her prius. A young European male approaches her and pulls out a chrome revolver and shakes it at her. Scared she dropped her purse and her attacker pushes her to the ground. Suddenly from out of the shadows comes her knight in a white van. He chases the male mugger around the corner and the woman scoops her purse and rushes inside the museum.
Quietly I move along the outside of the parking lot just inside the woods hoping I had not lost the mugger and the security officer when I hear rustling of leaves. I stop, listen and as the sound grows closer I can see long blond hair. Calico kneels beside me.
“Did you see that?” she asks.
“Yep, lets see where this goes.”
We move silently around until the white van just comes into view. The officer steps out of the van to the male who is now leaning against the side of the building. The officer pulls out a wallet and hands the man an envelope. I think I am starting to get a picture of what is happening.
The sun continued to rise behind the estate as I approached the front gate. An RS officer waved as I pushed the button on the remote control and the gate opened as my Mercedes glided up the cobblestone drive. My mind raced as everything I had witnessed over the last couple weeks rolled around, bouncing off the walls and trying to comprehend the plan. I missed on major component to this whole scenario. Why? What was Rosu’s endgame? What could he possibly gain from creating such a rouse as to have the city guarded by his men? He couldn’t possibly be making that much money from a security firm.
Bags hung under my tired eyes as I sat down in my desk chair in front of the board I had created in my study. Haze filled my eyes as I tried to make out the plan. Following the red strings from newspaper articles to push pins of RS locations. It made no sense to me.
“Here you go boss,” Eli tossed a newspaper on my desk. “We need to talk, sir.” “What’s on your mind?” I stared at the board, paying him little attention.
He pulled a chair up beside me. “I am going to have to quit.”
“What?” he had my attention now. “Why? What have I done, do you need more pay?”
“It isn’t that sir, I know.”
“You know what?” playing dumb, hoping he didn’t really know, or that it was something else.
“I know what…who you are. Adrenaline.” He said.
I shook my head, not able to force the denying words out of my mouth. I couldn’t lie to Eli.
“Yes you are, all the signs are there, I’ve collected enough evidence that I know. I don’t want to prove it to anyone. Lets just say it would kill me to keep a secret like that with me.”
“I don’t expect you to, I only expect you give me time to fix it.”
“Fix what, Simon? Let the police handle this.”
“They can’t, or won’t, I don’t know.” Standing my bones creak and I grow dizzy and loose my footing. Stumbling gravity pulls me head first toward the board. I never saw Eli jump up, I only felt him grab me as my fall comes to a sudden stop.
“Sit down sir,” he guides me back to the chair. “Relax I am not going tell anyone who you are. I swore to your father that I would protect you and I plan to keep that promise. But that means that I have to ask you to stop. I understand why you went to Mexico, I get why you want to save this city. And I get that you need have something to leave as your legacy like your father. But figure out a way to do it safer, this life as Adrenaline will kill you.”
My ears were ringing and anxiety had my chest heaving in and out. Something in me knew that Eli was right. I knew that I couldn’t live this live this life forever. I am only mortal and have mortal flesh and bone, unlike Dr. Indestructible who was mostly bio-engineering and mechanical parts.
A headline from the newspaper drew my attention away from Eli. LARGEST GOLD DEPOSIT IN NEW HAVEN HISTORY TO ARRIVE TOMORROW AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE. I jumped to my feet and grabbed a pair of scissors and a push pin, after cutting it out I pinned in on the board and looked at Eli.
“What do you see?” He asked. “All I see are a bunch of red lines and newspaper articles pinned to a board.”
“You used to be in the military, if this were a satellite photo of an enemies city what would you see.”
“That’s not exactly what I did in the military.”
“Focus on the red lines,” I pulled all the newspaper articles down except the one I had just hung and the picture became clear. All the lines surrounded the reserve article.
“He is protecting the reserve? But why?” He asked.
“Not protecting it, surrounding it. In preparation for an ambush.”
I had one person that wanted to get the Rosu family as much as I did and I had to convince him that I wasn’t crazy. More to the point I had to convince him that Adrenaline wasn’t crazy. And I would need some help from the girls to help me.
The black sedan sat near the intersection of Grand and Market just two blocks south of police headquarters. Calico and Blur hopped through the intersection jumping from car to car and off onto the sidewalk. A blue minivan, distracted by the commotion, didn’t realize the light had turned red and sped into the side of a red sports car causing a chain reaction. The black sedan became trapped between three cars, boxed in. Detective Henry Parker was just about to step out of the car and assess the situation when I slammed my foot into the door closing it on him. I slid into the back seat and tossed a large envelope into his lap.
He glanced at the evidence and tossed it in the passenger seat next to him. “What is this?”
“I think you know what it is.”
“I don’t ask questions if I already know the answer.” He glances in his rear view mirror. He won’t be able to make out my face for the hood that hangs over my eyes casting a shadow on my whole face. “Adrenaline?”
“In the flesh. That Detective is the latest plan Rosu has hatched. I’m giving you the opportunity to the right thing and arrest him.”
“I’m sorry son but at this point the only person to have broken any laws that I know of is you. I can’t arrest someone on the picture evidence of some vigilante.”
“I’m not ‘some vigilante’ I am Adrenaline. If you and your men will not do something about Rosu and his crime family and make this city safe again, WE will.”
I shot out of the back of the Detective’s car and got lost into the crowd and could see him looking for me. He stood outside the car staring into the crowd oblivious that he was looking right at me.
Nash Industries sat lit up like a Christmas tree atop Commerce Tower in the heart of downtown New Haven, until nine p.m., at that time the lights go out everyday so that is the time I start my stakeout, the girls have been hitting Rosu’s men hard the last few days but have yet to come by Nash Industries. That is until I spot two hyper flexible girls bouncing across the city streets being chased by a half dozen police cars.
I watch as The Blur runs along a raised concrete balcony a few feet above the sidewalk on one of the buildings below. She is like an acrobat on speed, the girl is amazing. The Calico Cat is no less impressive as I watch her scale a nearly flat wall in a matter of seconds. A few moments later they had lost their tails and were sneaking into the parking garage below The Commerce Tower. I quickly make my way back to Nash Industries and watch as they take out two guards with a couple tasers.
I finger the Kali Sticks on my back as I inch closer to the elevator. They should be coming any moment. I can see the numbers counting up slowly reaching me. As the doors open I dart in with Kali Sticks drawn, but it is empty. The elevator dings as the doors begin to close. There is only one floor lit up on the button tree, the basement button. I get a glimpse of Calico and Blur as they dart out of the stair well laughing as I was left to ride the elevator to the basement and then back up.
I didn’t figure my chances were good that I would find them when I got back to the offices. I moved cautiously in a prone position with my gun drawn. Not about to miss these chicks again I pushed the door to my office open and saw them sitting on a couch in one corner of the office, a left over from my father. He liked to do business there while drinking scotch.
“Please have a seat, Adrenaline,” Calico said.
“Why don’t I just shoot you?”
“Why would you?”
“Because you killed someone close to me.”
I charged them.
Calico, like a cat, jumped from a seated position to the coffee table in front of her and then in one swift move was in the air, flipping over and then behind me. My head stung as her foot struck me, knocking me to my knees. Blur shot from her seat with her knifes drawn and began slicing them in criss cross motions, bouncing off my armored suit. She throws a roundhouse kick that lands on the side of my face knocking me to the floor. Calico does two quick cartwheels and straddles my shoulders dropping to her knees. She places her right knee to my throat and I feel her muscles tense. Stars began to form in my eyes as my oxygen level drops.
I awaken on the couch unable to move, my hands and feet tied behind my back. My mask sits lonely on my desk. They know who I am.
“Well Simon Nash, I must say I am a little surprised. I had no idea a billionaire playboy was such a hard ass,” Calico said.
“You like the sound of your own voice don’t you?”
“Actually I like the sound of bodies falling to the ground after I cut them down for being the pigs they are.”
“My uncle did nothing to you, I guarantee you that.”
“I didn’t kill your uncle.” She said.
“No you didn’t, your sidekick did. Or are you the sidekick I haven’t figured that out yet.”
“You haven’t figured anything out yet,” Blur said. “I didn’t kill Uncle.”
“It was your knife, I saw it.”
“I won’t deny that, but I was trying to save him from Rosu’s men.” The Blur said. “But I failed.” Her head hangs at her small chest.
“I loved him like a father,” Calico steps into my line of view. She bends down, God she has an amazing body, and her blond hair flows like corn silk. Her green eyes look familiar to me.
She pulls her small blue mask over her head revealing her beautiful face. Katrina Mason had loved him like a father and he loved her like a daughter. A single tear rolled down her cheek and I felt a tug on the rope that tied me down. Then it went slack. Blur stood behind me sheathing one of her knifes. Blur was right, I hadn’t figured anything out. I heard the ding of the elevator and swung around to see the familiar dark figure step out of the sliding door.
“When did it start?” I asked Dr. Indestructible as we sat in my office taking advantage of my fathers scotch.
“That night you were at The White House and Rosu’s goon chased me down. He raped me.” Katrina said.
“That explains why you sliced his crotch.”
“He deserved worse,” Blur said.
“You’re right, he did.” I said. “I’m just lost as to what is going on.”
Richard explained that he believes that Rosu is planning something big in the city, what it is exactly he couldn’t be sure but he believes it has something to do with the Rosu Security Firm. He had under bid or muscled his way into ninety percent of the security business in the city.
Within a week I had discovered that The Romanian had secured the business of Kikomoro Tower, Toro Corp, Nash Industries, New Haven Art Museum, New Haven Hospital and nearly all of the warehouses in the Boneyard District and nearly all the industrial buildings in the Ford District as well as the residential neighborhoods of Saints, Coyote Village, Haven Village and Louis Falls. This gave him access to the whole city and soon his security officers outnumbered the police three to one.
The police looked at this as a blessing, less work for them. I on the other hand had a feeling this was exactly what the Romanian wanted.
Sitting atop the Mia Bella watching the dark building that had once been The White House. It looked lonely sitting there with its windows boarded up.
Two men stood outside next to the door smoking cigarettes and cutting up. They appeared harmless but something in the air felt wrong. Crystal Theater was about to let out its production of Fiddler on the Roof. Tuxedos and evening dresses filled the streets. Soon my attention was drawn to an older man and woman with pearls around her neck as they walked toward The White House. The two men stamped out their half smoked cigarettes and turned to move toward them.
I quickly climbed down the fire escape and talked into my ear piece. “I’ve got two muggers en route to an old couple.”
I pulled the Kali Sticks and jumped to the cold winter street. Just as I made my move on the two men, two Rosu Security Officers stepped out of a dark alley, how had I missed them? I spoke into my ear piece again.
“I’ve got two RS officers in pursuit.”
The officers swiftly and silently take down the muggers just as the couple notice they are in danger. They taser the two muggers who fall to the ground and begin to shake in pain. I watch in silence as the couple run to the officers thanking them the whole way. The officers handcuff the two muggers as the couple climb into their BMW and drive away thankful for Rosu Security. A small cargo van with the newly familiar Rosu Security logo sits next to the theater. The officers drag the two men and throw them in, putting on a show for the snapping cameras and flashbulbs of the paparazzi. I decide to follow as they speed away but lost them within two blocks.
“I lost them,” I said into my ear piece. I had a feeling it was going to be a long night.
“I haven’t seen anything tonight,” Dr. Indestructible said. “I think we call it a night.”
Cool early winter air filled my nostrils. Standing atop Louis Mountain overlooking Coyote River I could hear nothing but howling wind as it whipped in from the canyons below. The sheer rock cliff that stood before me was an out. A way to let it all go. A way to never care about Nash Industries, never care about those that I’ve lost, never care about Christof Rosu and his Romanian Mafia. I have no true friends, and no family that cares about me. My father left me in charge of a company I give two shits about and the responsibility of a city that doesn’t want my help.
Gravity began to tug on my shoulders as I leaned over the edge. The moon full hung high in the sky and all was calm. It seemed for an instant the world stood still. The force of the planet pulled harder on me as I bent my knees and extended them with a great force.
I instantly felt the wind whip against my face and I was free. Nothing for me to do except fall. Edward was gone, Russell was gone and New Haven was gone. They all had been left at the top of that cliff. I thought about nothing but the fall, the helplessness and the freedom of sky.
I closed my eyes for a second to feel the adrenaline as it pumped through my veins.
It lasts for only a second and I pull the cord to the chute and I come to a sudden stop, popping back to reality. Base jumping was truly an escape for me.
I maneuver the chute so I am headed toward Nash Estates with its high wrought iron fences. Beyond to the fences stood a large blue Colonial with white trim and white pillars. The mansion stood over looking the Coyote with New Haven in the skyline to the front and Louis Mountain in the back of the mansion.
A white cargo van with the RS logo on side sat just outside the gate. It had been part of the contract with Nash Industries for the Rosu Security to guard Nash Estates as well. Needless to say I was growing a bit uncomfortable with my new bodyguards. I think I would stick with Eli, who was waiting for me at the mansion and as my feet touched the roof of the house.
I checked my watch, heart rate fine but I’m a full thirty minutes late. I guess its a good thing he works for me and not the other way around. Inside my home office he had the things I had asked for, a large map of New Haven, post its, thumb tacks and red string.
After placing all the items on my office wall I began placing thumb tacks on all the locations that I knew had procured the services of Rosu Security. Next we began to string it all together and a red web appeared on the map. The city was completely covered with red string.
His company literally had eyes on the whole city. But all that work done and I still couldn’t see what he was up to. And I knew Rosu so I knew he was up to something. I left Eli to stare at the board after it had given me a headache.
The upper middle class neighborhood of Coyote Village didn’t look the kind of neighborhood where a superhero would live. But that is exactly where one lived, Dr. Richard Thomas aka Dr. Indestructible.
Richard Thomas had been a noted bio-engineer who worked for Nash Industries when he was shot by a man he experimented on, he gave the man his sight and the man tried to take his life. Richard and my father were best friends and Gerald Nash gave him a new body, the real Six Million Dollar Man, more like six billion, but who is counting. Dr. Indestructible sat behind his kitchen table with his wife Mary and his two daughters. I sat across from him. Munching on carrots sauteed in brown butter we glared at each other. Something told me that if he had answered the door and not Mary I would still be out in the sedan with Eli munching on celery sticks. He didn’t speak, he only glared. After we finished our awkward dinner and Mary took the kids upstairs to get them ready for the evening, Richard showed me to his office. I had been here many times. Richard had been the one to take me under his wing when…when it happened.
“How could you?” I demanded.
“Do what Simon?”
“You know what. You killed my uncle.”
“I assure you I did no such thing.”
“You might as well have. Your little proteges did.” He rushed me placing his large had over my mouth and pushing me back hard against his study wall. His black eyes stared into mine, they blinked with lights inside them. I knew that Richard was in there somewhere but I really couldn’t be sure how much of him was real and how much of him was android.
“You will not speak of my life inside my home, you know the rules Simon and just because your uncle died doesn’t give you the right to break that sacred bound we had.”
He released me but I knew he would be on me in a second if I mentioned it again. But I had to. “I’m sorry, know that, but I have to know why they would want Uncle Ed dead.”
“It wasn’t them, I can promise you that.”
“I saw her knife, the one they are calling The Blur. Who are they Richard, tell me.”
“I will not, It is our bond, just as I will never tell your secret.” He sat down behind his desk.
“Do you remember why I came to you?”
“And what did I tell you?” He asked.
“That you would die before you gave my secret.”
“That’s not the only time I’ve made that promise. You will never get it from me. Think about why you came to me, think about how we have ended up here. You will figure it all out. Trust me when I tell you that your origins are closer than you realize. You can show yourself out.” He said as he pointed to his study door.
Leaving Richards home and driving back to mine I couldn’t help but think of Russell.
We left The White House at two a.m. one summer night. After a few drinks I was feeling bulletproof. “When are we going back up? I cannot wait to jump again.” I said.
“Dude it’s your building, you tell me when,” he was along for the ride.
Being the best friend of a Billionaire surely had its perks but the truth was that I wouldn’t have had any other friend and Russell never wanted anything from me. I guess that always made me want to offer it more.
“There is something about the feeling of falling. The feeling just before you pull the cord that I can’t explain. When you going to jump with me?”
“Man that is your thing, I will continue to pick you up when you jump, but I’m not jumping from a building.” We laughed and hugged each other. He rubbed my head like I was his little brother and I had just done something to make him proud.
Screams suddenly filled the night air as we made our way through Sherman Park. We knew it was dangerous to walk through the park at night with the upsurge of violence lately, but it was one more thing for me to get an adrenaline rush from. Besides my father had paid extra police force lately to patrol the area. That however didn’t explain the scream.
High pitched shrills grew louder as we crossed a small creek and got to the heart of the park. Suddenly a rustle of leaves caught my attention to the right.
“Man I told you we shouldn’t have come this way.” He said.
“Oh don’t be a pansy.” I teased.
Screams echoed throughout the park and I bolted into the woods. I could hear the heavy foot of my friend running behind me then suddenly I heard nothing and saw nothing.
When I woke up I could feel a wet warm and sticky substance on my face. I pulled my hand across it lifted it to my face, crimson blood filled my fingertips.
“Russell,” I tried but I didn’t hear myself, the words were quietly falling out of my mouth. All I could hear was a piercing ringing in my ears. I must have been blindsided with a something. Someone must of hit me in the head.
“Russell, where are you?” I stood up and staggered around, searching the woods and the path where we had been but found nothing. I reached into my pocket for my phone to call the police but found only an empty pocket. Searching all my pockets revealed the same thing, I had been mugged.
After I crossed the small creek again it grew so dark that I couldn’t see. I stumbled over something, my foot dragging across something soft. I bent down to get a closer look and found myself staring right into the eyes of Russell, his dead blue eyes.
….yet another jewelery heist has led to the death of a Rosu Security Officer near the Boneyards in New Haven…CLICK…Rosu Security Officer stabbed in heist is only the latest death in the crime spree…CLICK….this marks the seventh Rosu Security Officer to be attacked in a crime spree officials are calling the worst the city has seen since Gerald Nash introduced his bill….CLICK…”they are going down, we will catch these criminals. And that is exactly what they are, just because Mr. Rosu has ran some less than ethical businesses in the past there is no evidence that this business is anything other than a legal up standing business.” That was Detective Henry Parker, the head of the new ‘Anti-vigilante task force set up by Mayor Natalie Blume…CLICK…
I find it disconcerting that everyone thinks that The Romanian has turned over a new leaf, this business is far from legal, it has to be a front for his extortion scheme, the one that most likely cost my uncle his life. He had nothing to do with Rosu other than he was just one more victim of his greed.
The funeral appears to be over,” Eli said as the few people that had came dispersed. I stepped out of the car and walked slowly through the falling leaves to the hole that held the box that held my uncle. My father hadn’t even came back for the funeral. He said he had too many things to finish up at the ranch.
I bent down and picked up a hand full of dirt and tossed it into the open grave.
“He was very proud of you.”
Her voice was sweet. I turned to see Katrina standing a few feet away leaning against a tree. Her blond hair blew in the autumn breeze and her short black skirt showed her firm legs. I had forgotten until now that Ed had told me that she used to be a gymnast in college. She was beautiful and her Eastern European genes showed on her small frame. She certainly was stunning.
“I know, I only wish I could have helped him.”
“You did your best Simon. He would have never blamed you for anything.”
I thanked her and was on my way. I was headed back to my car when I realized she would be without a job. What an odd thing to think. I couldn’t let that happen, he loved her like a daughter. I turned to her, I dug the keys out of my pocket and tossed them to her.
“What is this?” She asked.
“The White House.” I said.
“What about it?”
“He left it to me. I don’t want to work it, it’s yours, I don’t think I could step foot in there again.”
She tossed them back. “Me either, thank you though.”
“Will you be okay, money I mean?”
“I’ll make it.” She said.
I walked back to her and handed her my card. “My cell is on there, call me sometime, I mean if you ever find yourself needing a job.” She wrapped her long slender arms around my neck. Then a small framed woman walked up beside her.
“Simon, this is Allison Berry, my roommate.”
“And girlfriend,” Allison added casually.
“Oh, I had, I mean…” I stammered.
“It’s okay, really,” Katrina said.
We all parted ways and I went to my estate across The Coyote in the Hills.
Staring out my window onto the city I found it difficult to concentrate as my mind flowed from Ed to Russell to the vigilante’s and to Dr. Indestructible. What had he meant about our origins? How could I be remotely close to these women, these murderers, these thieves? I had to have answers and I had only one idea on how to get them. I had to ask them. The buttons beeped as I dialed the number from the card I held in my hand.
“Hello, I have reconsidered your offer.”
“Oh, well I’m glad you have come to your senses Mr. Nash, I will swing by your office tomorrow to work out the details. I’m sure this will be a fantastic working relationship.” His voice was like nails on a chalk board as I thought about sleeping with the enemy. But partnering with The Romanian seemed the only way to draw The Calico Cat and The Blur to me.
Time grinds to a stop when your bored. I really hate sitting behind this desk and pretending to care what goes on in the floors below me. Truth be told I have no idea what is even going on anymore. All I can focus on is the two women in the street a couple days ago. They were good, green, but good.
I looked up from my computer to see Tyler Dixon, CEO of Nash Industries, standing in my door. His shirt pulled tight and tucked into his pants with his large belly hanging over his belt. Once Dad left, my first order of business was to make a no dress code rule, business casual, I hate wearing suits.
“You have a visitor, Chrisof Rosu.”
Oh, I know the name, Mafia Don Chrisof Rosu is very well known in New Haven and a major opponent of my fathers efforts to clean up the city. His real name is not nearly as well known as his alter ego however, The Romanian.
“I really don’t have time for him.”
“Well you really don’t have a choice.” Mr. Rosu staggers around Tyler Dixon and waltzes into my office and pulls up a seat in front of me before I can say anything.
“I heard about your father retiring, wish him a congratulations for me the next time you speak to him.” I do not respond to him. “However, I am here on a business call rather a social one. I would like to talk to you about using my company, Rosu Security, for all your security needs.”
Blood flowed to my face setting it afire, my blood pressure shooting through the roof. I glance at my wrist watch and check my pulse. Seventy and rising. “You have some nerve walking into my office after the hell you put my father through offering to ‘secure’ my buildings, are you out of your mind? I will not even dignify that request with an answer. Please show yourself out of my building Mr. Rosu.”
“Very well Mr. Nash, but I am sincere about your father, please tell him for me.” He stood and tossed a card on my desk, “In case you change your mind.” Tyler Dixon stood watching through the door. As Christof passed him, his eyes darted to the floor.
* * * * *
….witnesses claim the two masked perpetrators attacked the security guards around twelve a.m. this morning taking them by surprise. They made off with an estimated two hundred thousand dollars in jewelry and cash. They wore matching blue ‘costumes’ and blue masks covering their eyes. They are considered armed and dangerous. Police are urging citizens to stay clear of the two….
Clicking off the t.v. I had heard enough. I knew the two women in the video surveillance photo’s they placed on the screen, although I didn’t really like the two names they gave them, I really don’t understand media given names sometimes. That is why I had picked my own and let them know. Calico Cat and Blur seemed to be a lot better than the last time I had laid eyes on them.
Light from my phone lit up the office. I rarely leave work anymore because of all the stuff I have to do as a real job, one that pays the bills, the one that puts food on a lot of people’s tables. I contemplated ignoring it until saw it was from The White House. Not that White House but my uncles bar. I hadn’t been to see him in months and I’m sure is worried about me. Truth is I was worried about him as well.
“Yes,” I didn’t mean for it to sound so short.
“Hello, I am calling for Simon Nash,” it was a female voice I didn’t recognize. “This is he.”
“I didn’t know who else to call.”
“What is wrong?”
“Can you come to the bar?”
“I’ll be right there.”
The beeped and the light went out as I turned it off. I turned off my computer and was in my car in a matter of seconds. What was going on? What could possibly be so important that Uncle Ed would have a server call me?
* * * * * * * * *
Eli La Croix pulled the car to a stop a couple blocks from The White House. He had no choice, police cars lined the streets ahead and the unofficial entrance into Haven Village, was blocked by street barricades and yellow tape. A police office walked up to the window and my driver lowered it.
“We are sorry but those two psychopaths are tearing up Haven Village.”
“We need to get over to The White House,” Eli said. “The owner called my boss who is his nephew, he is worried about him.”
“Go around, up Grand and come in from behind, there shouldn’t be anyone up there.”
“Thank you, Officer,” Eli said rolling the window up again.
It took us a little longer to get there but as we pulled up to the bar I jumped out before Eli had the car in park. I was in the bar before Eli was out of the car. I was at the bar before Eli was to the door. I was the first to see him laying on the bar, a knife in his chest. His had clutching a snub nose revolver as it hung limp over the bar. Eli was at my back grabbing me as I tried to get to my uncle. The one man I truly thought of as a father. Blood pooled beneath him and soaked the hard wood bar as it mixed with spilled beer and cigarette ashes. “Simon we need to go back outside and call the police,” Eli said.
I knew he was right, I knew that I didn’t need to compromise any evidence that be left behind so I scanned the small bar as quickly as could without moving. It appears to be a burglary gone wrong. His register drawer stood open, no money inside but a trail to the door, he probably drew his gun and fired at the men, firing because near the front door there were two bullet holes in the large storefront windows. Also near the front door, on the bare concrete floor lay two drops of blood.
Lights and sirens quickly filled the window and it felt like slow motion as the police officer came through the door, we drew his weapon and badge, I could see his mouth moving but I heard nothing, my mind flooding with images of my Uncle standing behind that bar, the one place he truly loved to be.
I turned slowly and looked one more time at the knife sticking out of my uncles chest, I knew that knife, I had seen it before. It belonged to Blur.
“Mr. Nash, my name is Detective Henry Parker, I work for the NHPD, I am going to have to ask you to step outside.” He ushered me to the door as the CSI guys came in and started putting numbered cones down and flashing pictures of the scene. I didn’t need photographs, the images would be burned into my memory forever.
Sitting outside in the cool autumn night I couldn’t help but wonder why would they want Edward White dead? Why did they want to rob him? They had been hitting high end jewelry shops and art galleries. Not small time bars on the north end of Haven Village, they couldn’t have gotten more than a hundred dollars from his register. There was only one man that I knew could help me, and I knew exactly how to get him.
In the weeks that followed Edward and Katrina had been visited by the goons on several occasions finally forcing him to concede and take the ‘protection’. I sat across White’s on the roof of Mia Bella, a swanky Italian restaurant that all the movers and shakers liked to patronize.
Unfortunately I wasn’t here for a social call, I was here to watch the goons that had entered my uncles bar twenty minutes ago. Suddenly I got a feel of eyes on me, studying me as heavily as I studied the goons.
Then I heard the soft steps of a familiar foot. Dr. Indestructible knelt beside me, his voice soft and comforting. He placed his hand on my shoulder and let out a sigh.
“You watching over your friends I see.” “Someone has to.”
“They’re heating up again. With Gerald gone they feel they have free reign and with the police failing at every turn they may just be right.”
“I can’t let that happen.”
“You can stop anytime, Adrenaline. You only got into this for the rush, remember?”
Too bad he had a point, I had only gotten into this for the rush, the thrill, the high that I got from the adrenaline rush that came from vigilantism. I was nothing like the good Dr., he had to do this, compelled by an inner drive that I wasn’t about to try to understand.
Dr. Indestructible had been the first ‘superhero’ I had heard of in New Haven. He patrolled the streets at night with an iron fist and the respect of the city. Unfortunately he went too far one day and had to begin to fly under the radar after a goon for a local Italian Mafia family pulled a gun on him and he pulled the mans throat of his neck. Caught on camera Dr. Indestructible became what he fought so hard to destroy. I knew he hadn’t had a choice but the incident became a public relations nightmare.
“Yeah but things have changed.”
“That was your handy work in Mexico wasn’t it?”
“You could tell?”
“Why didn’t you ask for my help?”
“I had to do it alone.”
“Yeah you’ve changed.” He nodded to the bar, “how many men in there?”
“Piece of cake,” he said.
His black hood hung over his full black mask and his black gee made him look like a ninja assassin perched beside me. I on the other hand stood out like a sore thumb, blue jeans, a dark grey hoody and a white blood stained hockey mask. My knifes sheathed at my thighs and my gun on the small of my back. I reached for the Kali Sticks that crossed my back as the door to Whites opened and two beefy goons exited counting a stack of cash. The Dr and I stood ready to leap the two stories onto them when suddenly out of the dark alley just below us two figures bolted toward the men.
One held a sword and the other two small knifes about six inches in length. The one with the knifes moved like lightening, her feet peddling underneath her, in one quick leap she was atop a small car and she bounced to the side of a van with her right foot, she spun in a twist of the body and landed on her feet just inches in front the two men. The girl with the sword strutted up behind the two stunned men.
“Give us the money,” the one with the knife says.
The two men laughed and stuffed the money into their pockets. “Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” One of the goons, the one that put the gun to the back of my head swung his fist wildly and connected with knife girl’s face which sendt her flying into a cargo van. The alarm began ringing, echoing off the surrounding buildings.
I started to leap when my friend placed his hand on my chest, holding me back like a mother places her hand across a child when a car comes to a sudden stop. He shakes his head at me. “I think they have it under control.”
Sword girl swung her weapon landing it behind the mans knees. He screamed out in pain as his body collapsed to the sidewalk. The goon who followed Katrina outside that night turned and raised his hand. A black Colt 1911pointed at her. He pulled the trigger and I could see her chest explode with a burst of power. She flew into the building behind her with the force of an erupting sun. Her head slammed into the brick wall, and she slid down nearly lifeless.
“It doesn’t appear that they have it under control.” I stood and leaped from the edge of the building landing flat footed onto the roof of a semi truck parked below. Taking another leap I landed about ten feet from the scuffle. Knife girl keyed up and pulled her two knifes, she darted for the shooter, taking a running jump along the brick wall she kicks off into a somersault in the air. Thrusting the knifes downward they bury deep into both sides of the shooters neck. The gun slid slowly from his hand landing with a thud on the ground.
A rustling turned my attention to the sword girl, her chest held the slug from the shot. I look up toward the Dr. who stood staring, watching like a father lion witnessing his cubs taking down their first antelope. Sword girl stood in her dark blue costume, long blond hair flowing behind her in the breeze and a blue mask covering her eyes. She stepped slow and deliberate, taunting the attacker. She raised her sword above her shoulder, pointing toward his groin. Swiftly with the force of a train, she sliced and blood poured from his leg. His body shivered as he laid on the sidewalk. She severed his femoral artery, he’ll be dead shortly.
The two women in their matching costumes jet off into the dark, I looked back up at Dr. Indestructible, but he was no longer perched atop the building. The night which had quickly grown silent was broken by the sound of sirens. I decided it best to leave.
Eli pulled the black sedan to a stop outside of an old warehouse on Euclid in Haven Village. Haven Village was once the industrial epicenter of New Haven. After the industries moved across the river to be closer to the Boneyards (the warehouse and shipping district of the city) the area fell into decay and disrepair. After my father planned the reconstruction of the city Nash Industries offered businesses the opportunity to move to the area at a cheap rate and were offered tax breaks by the local government in order to revitalize the neighborhood. This prompted a rise in the theater and arts, restaurant and nightlife in the area and it turned into the cultural center of the city. I stepped out of the sedan and onto the sidewalk, my foot landing on the damp concrete. Leaning back in I told Eli there was no need to wait on me I would be awhile and would get a cab home.
Taillights disappeared into the dark as I stepped into a little bar that I enjoyed frequenting, The White House. Edward White stood behind the bar drying out a bourbon glass. His long gray hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his white beard hung to his chest. He wore a vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt and pair of blue jeans. His bar wasn’t a dive but it wasn’t high class either. Few people visited Whites but the ones that did were regulars and Edward knew everyone of them. He sat a bourbon glass on the bar as I pulled up a stool.
“I was expecting you,” he said. His voice was rough like he gargled pea gravel every morning. “Usual? ”
I threw my overcoat over the back of the stool and sat down. “You know what, I think I will have a beer tonight as well.” I downed the bourbon as he pulled a bottle from the cooler and twisted the top. “How’s things been going?”
“Okay, same ol’ same ol’. Business has been steady.”
I turn the beer up and drink it half down in one giant chug. Katrina steps up behind me and asks Edward for a couple beers.
“Hello Simon,” she says. I can sense some hesitation in her voice. A nervousness that I don’t place immediately.
He hands her the beers and Katrina bounces off. Her red ponytail bobbing back and forth as she makes her way to a table. I haven’t seen the guys in here before.
“What is up with her?”
“These guys have been in here the past four nights and they are giving her the willies if you know what I mean.”
I did, “Have you asked them to leave?”
“I can’t, they are Rosu’s men.”
I knew of Rosu, Christoph Rosu, the head of the Romanian crime family and real nasty piece. After the reconstruction the police force was doubled and the mafia in New Haven all but ran out of town. Only recently a few rogue groups have since grown into power and began testing the limits of the law and authority in the city. The meanest of these were the Romanian Mafia, formally known as the Gypsies.
“They keep wanting me to take their protection, for a fee of course.” “Seems to me you don’t need any protection, that is what the law is for.”
“Try telling that to them, Ever since your father announced his retirement the mobs have been making moves. They think with him out of the city things will start going back to ‘normal’.”
As I guzzle down the last of the beer Edward puts another in front of me, “I’m sorry to hear about Sarah, I wish that the Mexican government could have done more or gotten there sooner.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Listen Simon, if you need to talk to someone I’m here,”
Edward placed his hand on my hand and squeezed. He has always had large hands. As a child he would place those large hands over mine and as I had gotten older I expected them to get smaller but they hadn’t, its like they grew as mine grew.
Regina White had been his sister and my mother. Uncle Edward has always been there for me, after my mother died two years ago he pulled me from the gutter outside of this bar and took me to his house. As much as he hurt himself his concern was my my wellbeing. He wouldn’t tell my father where I was hiding. My protector, my gaurdian. I wished there was something I could do to return the favor.
Katrina bounced back toward the bar, her green eyes glowing in the dim light of the bar. “Edward, I have an emergency, is it okay if I go, its just those two guys and my shift is over anyway.”
“Sure dear, be careful going home, okay.”
“You know I will,” she leaned across the bar and gave him a peck on the cheek.
In a second she had her jacket and was out the front door. The two men stood, one following her and the other coming toward the bar. He stood behind me and placed his strong hands on my shoulders, I could feel his tenseness. He slammed my face into the bar and pulled a pistol from his pocket. Then he placed the barrel to the back of my head.
“I wouldn’t move from that stool if I were you,” his eastern European accent was thick and barely understandable, but I got the gist. “Listen carefully to me old man, if you do not take the protection I will make sure that everyone you care about suffers. Even Mr. Pretty Boy here. I saw you on the t.v. standing next to your father man thees afernoon. Don’t think you are going to follow in his footsteps, we are taking back our city.” He pushed the barrel harder onto the back of my head.
My fists clenched as I could hear Katrina scream, her shrills echoing off the old brick buildings. My eyes darted as I saw Uncle Edward’s hand sliding under the bar, I knew he kept a sawed off shotgun under there, Ol’ Susy he called it. I just hoped he wised up and left her under there.
The goon turned and walked toward the door, the sound of his heavy footsteps growing quieter as he reached the door. I looked and Edward who looked at me and I gently shook my head and mouthed the words, ‘not now’.
Edward pulled his hand back as the door slammed shut and the screams of Katrina quieted. The sound of a loud sports car drowned out anything else in the city. Blood poured out of my nose and soaked my white shirt and blue tie. I turned and to my surprise a battered Katrina staggered through the door and collapsed to the floor.