New project

Started my latest comic series today. I’m loving the dark noir feel of this series.

Branded

When a man wakes up in a ditch next to a major interstate with no knowledge of who he is or who would want him dead he sets out on a quest aided by the only two clues he has, a strange brand on his right forearm and a uncanny ability to kill people with is bare hands with the slightest of ease.

At Point Blank Comics we are Looking for an Artist

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I have just finished the script for my latest 4 issue mini series. Worms is a horror story, a mix of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Cabin Fever. It is set in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and centers around Richard and his wife Mary Anne. Richard, a mountain guide is determined to get back to his wife before the Worms takes over their bodies.

If you are interested in submitting a sample of your work please email me at hughiegibsonwriter@gmail.com

At Point Blank Comics we are Looking for an Artist

image

I have just finished the script for my latest 4 issue mini series. Worms is a horror story, a mix of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Cabin Fever. It is set in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and centers around Richard and his wife Mary Anne. Richard, a mountain guide is determined to get back to his wife before the Worms takes over their bodies.

If you are interested in submitting a sample of your work please email me at hughiegibsonwriter@gmail.com

Adrenaline : Gold Rush Part 2

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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.

“So?”

“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.
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A New Man Part 37 (the final installment)

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His mind was full of rage and he grew angry at himself for not figuring it out sooner. He knew that the case would have never been solved, and had he not come to Pine Bluff Haley would have been some other detectives’ Andy Stafford. He said as much in the note that he left on Jerry’s car at the funeral. He laid out as best he could what would happen.

He told Jerry that he would never see him again. He told him that he should not worry about the bill and that it was on the house, solving the case had been enough payment for him, and the fact was that he meant it. He had truly come to posthumously care about Haley, she was a truly talented and loving individual who was taken from this world too early. And Jacob knew that the people involved would have to pay. He didn’t tell Jerry who the killer was, he figured that it would be better, he only told him that to watch the news and the answers would come to him. No matter how the media portrayed what was about to happen, no one in the story was innocent.

***

Gravel crunched under the weight of the SUV as it pulled up to the decrepit trailer. She always hated this place, and had been thankful to have left it to live in town. She had spent several years trying to escape the legacy of her father but she soon realized that he reasons that he had done what he had done was to put food on their table.

Times had changed and but things remained the same. She may not have had a family to feed but she had a desire to never set foot on this shitty farm again. When she had been approached by Tony and his buddies at Blue’s one night back when she was on the drug task force the opportunity seemed to good to be true. She didn’t have to do anything but give them a place and look the other way and she would have more money than she would know what to do with. And it had been the truth. Until she moved to homicide and couldn’t ‘look the other way’ anymore.

Then it wasn’t enough, she wanted ‘him’. Charles was the one for her, and she knew it deep in her soul. And that little cunt wasn’t going to destroy everything she wanted because of some fucking song.

Now with the shit that was beginning to go down with the BBS she had decided it was time to cut her losses and step away. She breathed in and filled her lungs with the strong smell of a country winter. The cold had a scent all its own, and she had always found it hard to explain, but she knew it well. She had smelt it every winter in that shitty trailer with no insulation, and four comforters just to keep warm.

The familiar sound of the thin metal clanging against the metal door frame as she knocked sent her back to a different time. Back when she was a young girl and would hear the screen door clap as it slammed shot as she ran out to feed the chickens.

The door cracked open and she saw the one person she had drove all the way to see. He stood with his thick beard hiding his mouth, “What can I do for you, Kelsey?”

“Its Detective Lawson, and I have a search warrant to search the premises.” Kelsey stood at the bottom of the concrete steps with her side arm in her hand.

She heard the familiar click which she instantly recognized as the cock of a gun. Sounded like the double barrel that her father used to keep in the back bedroom.

“That probably wouldn’t be a good idea inside that trailer, Tiger.”

“Why you need a search warrant to search your own place?”

“My, place, this is my brothers place.”

The 9mm raised up from her side and Kelsey fired a shot. Tiger’s beard exploded with red as the bullet ripped through his chin and up through the roof of his mouth and into his brain sending the top of his skull flying back into the living room. Blood and brain matter splattered onto the white popcorn textured ceiling. Tigers body fell lifeless to the floor. It didn’t fall like a tree straight and rigid nor did it fly back like in some action movie. It just fell like someone dropped a sack of potatoes in the floor.

Kelsey reached up and pulled the screen door open and stepped over Tigers lifeless body.

Then she heard the crackling of sticks behind the trailer and she turned, keeping her gun aimed at the door. She could see the shadow cast onto the front yard from the midday sun. It appeared to be a fairly large figure moving from behind the house near the pond and heading around the front of the trailer. She waited expecting to fire any moment.

“Its me. Don’t shoot.”

She heard him before she saw him but she knew his voice anywhere. She had heard it for years. It was the voice of her brother, half brother, Tony Preston.

***

He thought of the note and he hoped it made clear enough that Jerry would figure it all out, but as he pulled the screen door open he knew that it didn’t matter now. It would have to do.

The smell of dirt and filth filled the living room of the trailer as Jacob stepped over the body of Tiger as he lay in the doorway. Blood covered the walls and the ceiling and it amazed Jacob, once again, how much blood actually fits into the human body. He listened carefully as he moved through the trailer room by tiny room. In a shooters stance he was ready if he saw someone and had to shoot.

Chemical bottles lay strewn all over the kitchen floor, some still half full of liquid. He saw a black 9mm pistol sitting on the Formica countertop, and it looked like the one that Kelsey carried. It smelled like nothing that he could describe, almost like the chemical smell of a high school lab except dirtier. The burners of the stove were covered with beakers and coffee pots, tubes ran from one thing to another and Jacob had no idea what any of this meant, except that it was definitely a methamphetamine lab.

Jacob moved, carefully, through the kitchen turned lab to the back bedroom of the trailer, still in a shooter stance he pushed the door open with the barrel of the gun and quickly shot inside. All that inhabited the room was open air, it appeared there hadn’t been anything here for years.

Crrreeek. He heard the front door as it opened and the clapping of the screen door as it slammed against the metal frame of the trailer. He heard the inaudible murmurs of two people talking and he looked around. He was trapped in the empty bedroom in the back of the rusty home. The trailer was tiny and only held four rooms. The living room sat at the front of the house which held Kelsey and, who he assumed was, Tony and the body of Tiger, then the kitchen turned meth lab, then the hallway which had the tiny bedroom on the right facing the front of the trailer and at the end of the hallway at the back of the trailer was a tiny bathroom.

Jacob hadn’t remembered seeing a backdoor to this shithole, which at the present time he found a little disconcerting. The voices grew louder which Jacob concluded was the result of them moving closer to the back of the trailer. He still couldn’t understand what they were saying but it sounded as if they were in a good mood. He smelled the gas of the stove lighting.

They couldn’t have known he was in the back room, he had parked the car miles away and walked in through the woods. Their vehicles had been in the drive so they hadn’t passed his car on the way in, they were already here. But he should’ve checked the barn instead of coming right to the trailer.

Suddenly Kelsey stepped around the doorway of the bedroom with a double barrel shotgun in her hand. She raised it and pointed it at Jacob’s chest. He wasn’t wearing Kevlar this time.

“What the fuck are you doing here? I thought you were leaving town.”

“The better question is what are you doing here?”

“Who you talking to in there?” he heard Tony yell from the lab.

Jacob shook his head, hoping she would understand his predicament.

“No one Tony,” she said. Then she began to whisper. “I don’t understand what’s going on here Jacob.”

“I’m here for the killer, Kelsey.”

“And who would that be, Jacob?”

“I think you know.” He stopped as he heard the sound of foot steps coming down the tiny hall, it would only take three to four steps to get to them.

Kelsey spun around and saw Tony step through the door of the bedroom. She turned and leveled the shotgun on his face and pulled the trigger sending both shots flying though his head, leaving nothing but a stump where his head had been. His body fell to the blood soaked hallway.

Jacob jumped as the sound filled the tiny metal trailer, nearly deafening him.

“Holy shit, Kelsey, you could of blown the fucking place up.”

“Oh, well.” She kicked his body as if it were going to move. Jacob somehow doubted that was the case. “Are you happy Jacob? Is that what you wanted?”

“Are you fucking crazy?”

“No,” she said matter of fact.

Jacob knew that the gun she held in her hand was empty, he also saw that her pistol wasn’t in her holster.

“Why did you just kill your brother?”

“I had to, didn’t I? He came at me with a gun.”

“You are nuts.”

“Nope,” she said again.

“Kelsey I know what you did,” he said. She moved closer to him raising the gun to his chest again. “Its empty and your gun is in the kitchen.” He raised his gun and put one in her left knee cap. Kelsey fell to the floor and screamed in pain as she gripped her leg.

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb. It started the night that we met and I saw the picture on the mantle of you with your father and brother on that dock out there. Of course it looked a little different than it does now. Then after I found the journal I get attacked by a guy who is looking for something in my room. He looked familiar but at the time I didn’t make the connection, I knew it was the copy of the journal that I had made. Someone feared something in that notebook. Haley talked a lot about the people that she met in Pine Bluff. The characters that she came across. But she only used them in code so it took some work to figure out who they were. I figured it out pretty easy except one, the lady in blue. That one took some work.”
“Fuck you Jacob,” She said.

“Calm down, I’m getting to the good part. I thought it was Charles for the longest time. He had the best motive of anyone I think. Money, fame, fortune, over one song, he’ll be big. But at first I thought it was about sex. Haley was going with him, and you didn’t like that. He told me that you liked to stalk him, is that true?”

“Fuck you, god this hurts.”

“Good. I knew it wasn’t Charles when he came at me with his knife to cut me free from some rope I was in, that’s another story, but he used his left hand. My buddy Pete in St. Louis said that she was shot on the right side, indicating to me, that it was a right handed person that killed her, you’ve drawn on me several times, Kelsey, I know your right handed.”

“That doesn’t mean I killed her.”

“After you had had an affair with Charles you started following him around and pulling him over. He said you pulled him over as he pulled out of here one day, I thought it strange that you were this close to a meth lab and didn’t think it odd, surely your years of drug task force had given you an idea this place was here. Yet you didn’t question him about what he was doing here.”

“I don’t understand how you think it was me?”

“You knew she ran everyday in park. You knew she always carried her notebooks, because you told me you ran two miles everyday and that was how you stayed in shape, Charles told me that half the department runs in that park.”

“So,” she rolled back and forth on the floor holding her knee.

“Well, you saw her there several times and she mentioned it in her notebooks.”

“She didn’t know me.”

“She knew you as the Lady in Blue.”

“Blue?”

“That was my problem as well. She of course never said that you killed her, that would be crazy, but she noted your presence and you were the only person I didn’t know. Then I remembered that you told me that you went to ALL of Damned Old Train’s shows. And Blue had told be that Haley liked to hang out backstage with the band. Then it became clear that you were the Lady in Blue’s not blue, another code.

“So you didn’t know where the journal was and I came upon it by luck, really. When I gave you the original and you saw the mention of you, you panicked and sent your brother to make sure I hadn’t made a copy like any decent detective would do.”

Kelsey let go of her leg and reached behind her back, she came back with her pistol and she raised it at Jacob. He fired two more shots into her shoulders. She dropped the gun.

“Don’t do that again. Now I’m assuming you thought that Haley was planning on taking the credit for the song that Charles had already been singing. Charles probably told you that they had wrote it together and you wanted him to get all the credit for it. In your crazy stalker mind you thought you helped him. You were able to get the page from the notebook the first day that you looked around her room. You had to make sure no one would see the page so you tore it out. The only problem was that Haley would never do that and once you gave the notebook back everyone found it odd that a page was missing.”

She lay motionless on the bloody shag carpet, coughing.

“The only thing I don’t understand is why you killed Bash.”

“I didn’t, Tony’s dumbass did after Charles and Tiger out there killed King and threatened Tony. What are you going to do now Jacob?”

“I’m sure you saw what happened in St. Louis, why I left.”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Meth labs burn down everyday.”

Jacob stood outside the trailer after he poured every liquid he could find on the kitchen floor and since Tony had left the stove on with an empty coffee pot it wouldn’t take long before it burst into flames.

And he didn’t have to wait long. The good thing about being in the country was that there wasn’t anyone to call 911. Or to hear Kelsey scream as she burned alive inside the tin can.

 

Epilogue

Walk Away

The smell of his grandmothers old musty house filled Charles’ nostrils. He had had his fill of his brothers tirades. He had made a promise to Charles that he had never intended to keep. Granted Charles hadn’t held up his end of the bargain but he knew that even if he had he would have had to do something else for his brother. In fact there would always be something else.

It had been that way since his parents had died and it would continue to be that way. Raymond had been a good kid but situations force some people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do, and Charles understood that, but he just couldn’t be his brother.

Charles knew where the money was hid. It was always there. It had been their plan of operation ever since they started the dealing. He would pick up the suitcase with two hundred fifty thousand in it, go buy the drugs, make the drops then refill the suitcase with two hundred fifty thousand and bring the profits back to Raymond at the factory. It worked without a hitch every time.

Except this time. This time there was no buy, Charles had other plans for the money. It was the plan that he and Haley had made the night her father told her she couldn’t go to Nashville. She would run away like her step father had suggested. She would go to Nashville make her mark as a writer and live happily ever after. But that never happened. Someone had gotten to her before she got out of town, but Charles didn’t know why.

He knew that it would haunt him forever but he also knew that not knowing was better than waiting around and living under his brothers thumb.

Only one thing was on his mind as he threw the suitcase into the rusty van full of guitars. Nashville here I come.

***

Jacob made the call to Rachel. It had been the hardest thing he had ever had to do, even harder than leaving. After the police pulled Andre Macklin’s body from the pond along with pieces of what would later be identified as Michael Robinson, AKA King, and the burnt bodies of Donald Adams, AKA Tiger, Tony Preston, AKA Scarface and Detective Kelsey Lawson of the Pine County Sheriffs Department had been found in what remained of the trailer it was obvious this time that she and Maggie could safely return home.

There would be no one to come after them. It had been six months since Jacob had driven to Dublin to see his family. He sat across the snow covered street and watched as Henry guided them into their beautiful home. Rachel’s lovely golden hair no longer lay hidden under a tightly wrapped white bandage of gauze. But she moved with the labor of a sickly patient or terminally ill child. She was hurting, and Jacob guessed he could only see some of the pain that he had caused, there had to be more underneath.

And he knew that she didn’t deserve that, that she was better than him, better than anyone he knew. She had an innocence of a child and he had caused her pain. He would forever blame himself for that. She would recover from the physical wounds but the emotional ones that he had brought to this family would forever linger in all of there lives. He would forever haunt her memories and he would be the thing that she would never forget, not matter how hard she tried.

Jacob pulled the Black Escalade out onto the pavement of the cul-de-sac and out of the gated community that held his family. He reached over to the passenger seat and picked up the only CD that he kept in his car. He pushed it into the CD player and opened the jacket to read the words he had read a hundred times. And even though they were written by an up and coming artist that few people knew, they rang true for Jacob as well. Written in the acknowledgements was one thank you that read simply: Thank You Haley Murphy, I’m sorry.

Thank you, Haley.

 

A New Man Part 36

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The pounding on the door of the trailer sounded like a hollow thump on a ripe watermelon. Charles stood next to Jacob with the gun trained on him, convincing him not to move.

“Doesn’t look like anyone is home,” Charles says.

Jacob took a step off of the concrete stairs that lead to the thin aluminum door and into the gravel ‘yard’. He moved around the front of the tiny single wide trailer that more resembled stainless steel Airstream RV of the nineteen fifties. Although it had been a long time since it had seen its hay-day. Now it sat on a red gravel lot with dead, brown, stinkweed grown up around it. Its green paint had long since tarnished and the thin aluminum siding had, like many other things in this town, began to rust.

Behind the house and to the right between an old half fallen in barn lay a tiny pond about a half acre in circumference. Jutting out from the front of the pond into the middle stood an dock that, fifteen years ago would have looked brand new with fresh white maple stained a light honey color and shining in the hot summer sun. But now it stood, like the barn, half fallen in and rotting beneath its self, collapsing into the pond. Cattails protruded from shallows of the pond itself, inching further and further out into the middle making the pond look smaller than it actually was.

Something resonated with Jacob about the pond, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it, it looked like a million other neglected ponds but it was what the pond should have looked like that put Jacob at unease.

The door behind them swung open and a man stepped out holding a shotgun, pointed at Jacob. He ignored Charles altogether which made Jacob think that they, in fact, knew each other.

“What can I do ya for?” His mouth moved, however not with the words but like he had been dubbed over like in a martial arts film, and it was mumbled so Jacob barely understood the man through his thick southern accent.

“Just need to speak to Tony.”

The man pumped the shotgun, sending an unspent shell flying across the yard.

“That seemed kind of silly,” Jacob said moving toward the man.

BOOM! The shoot landed at Jacob’s feet sending gravel and mud flying up onto his pants.

“Next one won’t miss.”

“Hope not, cause you only got one left in there.”

“Chokes out, got enough to put you down.”
Jacob removed his gun from Charles and placed it in his belt on his waist.

“I aint’ here to cause anyone any trouble,” he raised his hands into the air. “Just looking for Tony.”

The man shot a look over Jacob’s shoulder to Charles standing behind him. The looked seemed to be one of confusion.

“Balding guy, swastika tattoo on his neck, kind of smelly?”

The man turned his attention back to Jacob, “I know who the fuck he is. He aint’ here. Won’t be back.”

“See that aint’ good. He came into my room and roughed me up a little bit and I want to know why.”

“That’s easy, he wanted his stuff back.”

“What stuff?”

“He saw you down where that girl got killed and thought maybe you had what she hid.”

Charles stepped up, “What are you talking about?”

“That bitch took some stuff to give to you guys and Rainbow said you never got it. We had to get you more at no cost.”

“I got the shit and gave it to him the next day.”

Jacob slid close to the door while the two men argued at the steps. He reached up and pulled the shotgun from the mans hand and with a fling it landed in the pond.

“What the fuck?” the man screamed.

“It wasn’t about the journal,” Jacob asked.

“What journal?”

“The one that Haley had left there, that talks all about everyone in her life. I’m assuming your name either starts with a K or Ti.”

“Ti, my names Tiger. Donald Adams, but folks call me Tiger. Don’t know why.”

Now everyone had a face, almost everyone. “Who is K?”

“That would be King. He won’t be back either,” he said chuckling to himself.

“And the Lady in Blue?”

“Don’t know that one.”

As they slid back into the decrepit van Jacob couldn’t help but wonder who the Lady in Blue was and why this place had felt so familiar to him.

***

All the way back to the abandoned factory Charles talked to his brother on the phone, with a lot of ‘ah huhs and yeah, yeahs he tried not to alert Jacob to what had been going on at the hideout. Charles knew that of all people Jacob would probably be the least likely to say anything. However it wasn’t Jacob finding out that worried him, it was Raymond finding out about him taking Jacob to the meth makers trailer. No one was supposed to go there, in fact the only people that had known where it stood hidden were himself and Raymond, and the three meth makers, and of course Haley. Why had she gone there alone, he warned her that she shouldn’t have.

Why couldn’t he have just done what his brother wanted and put a bullet into Tony Preston when he had the chance.

“Can I ask you something, Charles,” Jacob asked, breaking the silence.

“Sure, I guess.”

“How did you know who I was?”

Ha, ha, Charles laughed. “Well this guy shows up wearing fur and alligator shoes…”

“Andre.”

“Yeah. Anyway he started asking about some dude who showed up here. You where the only new guy in town and I put two and two together.”

“Guess you told Kelsey.”

“What, no. I avoid that bitch,” Charles said hitting his blinker, gravel crunched under the tires as he turned into the factory parking lot.

“She told me you guys slept together.”

“Ha, ha, ha, yeah, biggest mistake of my life. She was the first groupie chick I banged,” he can’t believe how easy it was to open up to Jacob. He guessed it really didn’t matter after what was about to happen. His stomach lurched up and down as he felt sorry for Jacob. He actually kind of liked the guy, and hoped everything would turn out for him.

“Yeah me too,” it surprised Charles to hear him say that. “I ran into her at Blue’s, during one of your gigs actually, and I thought I would be heading out of town, didn’t really work that way.”

Charles pulled slowly through the parking lot and around the building, he took his time. Not because he was interested in what Jacob had to say, but more delaying the inevitable confusion that everyone was about to be facing. He reached for the radio and turned the volume to where it was audible.

‘I’m sorry that I made you go away

I’m sorry that you couldn’t stay

That you had to find another way

I’ve held you in my heart …’

“The crazy bitch found out who I was and now she won’t stop harassing me.”

“She won’t until your gone. She still pulls me over and it’s been six months. She actually pulled me over leaving the trailer last week. I had a load full of meth and she just wanted to flirt. She’s crazy man.”

“Hmmm. Yeah, she’s crazy alright.”

‘I’m sorry that I loved you

I’m sorry that you don’t

I’m sorry that I didn’t see

How your mind wouldn’t let your body want me…’
“Well here’s your car. But I have a proposition for you

Mr. Mallory.”

Jacob stopped mid slide, one foot out the door and nearly touching the ground. “Shoot.”

‘I’m sorry that I must go

It’s something I must do

I do it every night to get away from you

I feel the fingers like razors through the pain

I’m sorry that I’ve lost so much

But I will never be sane

***

Jacob couldn’t believe what Charles had just told him. And in fact he didn’t. If he walked into the factory unarmed and of his own free will he was asking to be shot. Gangsters don’t take lightly to people treading on their territory and Jacob knew that he had been less than friendly to them. He just hoped this Bash fellow wasn’t in there. He didn’t want to deal with the animosity that ran between them. But he knew Andre and he knew that he would have never allowed himself to be taken alive by a couple two bit thugs who were playing bad ass. But he also knew that it might be the only way to find out if Charles and Tigers story held water.

If Raymond, had indeed, lied to the Nazi meth makers about receiving the goods and they felt that Haley had stolen it, it would have been the perfect motive to have killed her. And they certainly had the means by which to have gotten the job done.

“Fine, I’ll go talk to them. Maybe clear up some of the confusion. But I can assure you that the man, if in deed there is one in there, isn’t Andre Macklin. I don’t see him allowing you to take him.”

“I assure you Mr. Mallory that it is.”

As the door creaked open Charles whispered in his ear, “Please don’t mention that you were at the trailer.”

“But I thought I could ask some questions in return for answering some.”

“Just say we were somewhere else. The Starbucks for all I care.”

“Fine I like mocha latte’s.”

When Jacob’s eyes fell on the individual tied to the chair, with blood pouring from his nose and mouth and eyes, he hardly recognized him as the man who had laid dying on the floor of his office a few days ago. He didn’t look like the man that had taken the lives of countless people, at least two of which were innocent. He most certainly didn’t resemble the violent drug dealer pimp that he was. He looked helpless and scared, but it was in fact Andre. And Jacob didn’t like the fact that he was sitting there. Jacob also didn’t like the fact that next to Andre sat in an empty chair.

Raymond sat straddling a chair that he had turned around backwards. His knuckles held the evidence of who in fact had inflicted the blows onto Andre.

“Please, take a seat, Mr. Mallory,” Raymond said, motioning with his bloody hand to the empty chair. He scanned the room and recognized the tweeker chick they called Piper, the toady they called Gordy and Raymond. Of course Charles stood by watching as well, but what surprised him was that he hadn’t seen Bash anywhere. But from the condition that Andre had found himself in Jacob didn’t think that Raymond was a better option.

“Do I have too?”

“I think it would be best.”

Jacob glanced at his lap and saw a bloody gun sitting idle, he had pistol whipped him.

“Yeah, your probably right.” Jacob took a seat in the chair. “What’s up old buddy?”

“Fak ooo,” his mouth was swollen but Jacob was pretty sure that he said ‘fuck you’.

“Let’s get right to it, Jacob,” Raymond said.

He didn’t exactly feel that there was an option involved. He wondered if there was anyway to speed this up, he really wanted to get his turn at the questions.

***

“So if your not DEA, or FBI and your no longer a cop, why did you come to Pine Bluff and start snooping around my business?”

“It really didn’t have anything to do with you, and I had no idea that it would lead me here. I got off of the train and saw Jerry, and that pitiful look in his eye did something to me and I couldn’t help but lend him the resources that he needed to find his daughter. I didn’t think I would be here, like this.”

Andre sat listening to the liar as he spun his tale. He might not have meant to get involved in their business but he didn’t come here all innocent either.

Numbness began to creep over his face, and he could barely feel the swelling in his mouth and eyes. But he knew that it was happening because he could barely talk and his vision had become blurry. He ran his tongue across his teeth looking for more than five, but no matter how many time he counted that had been the number that he came up with.

“So I guess its my turn.”

“Excuse me?” The leader said.

“Charles said that if I answered all of your questions you would answer some for me as well.”

“Ha, ha, ha, sure. I don’t think its gonna matter.”

“Why is that?”

“Someone isn’t leaving here today. I know that one of you killed Bash and I want to know who it was. Ask me your questions and we will get back to the issue at hand.”

Jacob shook his head, “I had nothing to do with Bash, getting shot, I promise you that.”

“Fine we will discuss it later. I have all day and night.”

“Did you have anything to do with Haley’s death?”

“Absolutely not, Mr. Mallory, we told you that at our last meeting and I assure you that no one here would have any reason to kill that girl.”

“Sure about that, Raymond?”

“One hundred percent.”

“Okay, what about the fact that you never got your shipment and your little trailer trash had to make you some more. Someone had to pay for that, didn’t they?”

Raymond stood up and moved closer to Jacob, please hit him, Andre thought. But to his dissatisfaction he didn’t.

“We got our shipment, I told Tony that so he would get us some more. You can’t blame a guy for trying to make an extra buck.”

“Except it pissed them off.”

“They didn’t do it, either, none of them are smart enough to do anything about it.”

“But they were watching the park and Tony thought I found a stash when I found her journal.”

“They were following you,” he said. “If they had known something was at the park it would have been gone by now.”

Andre’s head fell to his chest, he slipped in and out of consciousness. His mind grew foggy as he listened to their banter. But the tension grew and he knew that someone in this room would pay for the death of their own. And eye for an eye.

“What about your brother?”

“Charles? What are you talking about?”

Charles stood and ran to Jacob. He through a punch that landed square on Jacob’s jaw. Finally someone hit him, Andre thought.

“That song, of yours, ‘I’m Sorry’.”

“Yeah,” Charles said.

“That your song?”

“Yeah.”

“All yours?”

“I might have had a little help. Why?”

“Doesn’t sound like the song of a twenty year old boy. More like the angst of a fifteen year old girl to me.”

“It sells, that’s the name of the game, right?”

Andre couldn’t feel anything in his entire body now, and he was barely able to make out there conversation. Then as he thought one last time about how much he hated Jacob Mallory his head began to pound and felt like a someone was dropping an anvil repeatedly onto his head, then with nothing else he slipped into blackness.

***

Jacob had realized in the van that the song didn’t sound like the man that he had come to vaguely know. It seemed a good motive, he knew how to use a gun, and if he knew Haley as well as Jacob thought he would have known her habit of running every morning. It was the hit song he needed to get out of town and the one thing that would make him a fortune. He hadn’t wanted Haley to go to Memphis because she would have taken the song with her. But what bothered him was that Charles seemed to really care about her.

“I didn’t kill her.”

“Charles I don’t believe you.”

The rope behind his back begins to cut deep into Jacob’s hands as he tries to wriggle free from them. But with every wriggle they grow tighter and tighter.

“Man I don’t know what to tell you, but it is the truth.”

“What was your plan for her?”

“What?”

“Her journal said that you had a surprise for her, that she shouldn’t go to Memphis.”

“I was going to take her to Nashville. But her dad wouldn’t let her go. I told her the night before.”

“Why would you do that, she was only fifteen.”

“But mature beyond her years.”

“That is illegal, she is a minor.” Jacob grew sick to his stomach.

“It wasn’t like that. We are four and half years apart, but it wasn’t sexual anyway, she was my best friend. I told her things I never told anyone.”

Jacob sat still in his chair and, in fact, no one moved. Everyone stood or sat exactly where they were. Andre’s head hung between his shoulders, Jacob wasn’t even sure that he was still alive.

“The guy that does my recordings over there wanted to bring her on as a song writer.”

“Why a writer?”

“Haley had no interest in performing. Just loved the art of writing.”

“That’s why The Comets never performed anywhere.”

“Yep.”

“So why is ‘I’m Sorry’ missing from her notebook.”

“I don’t know.”

Jacob tried to lean a little closer to Charles to close the gap between them, it was an old trick he used in interrogations, it opened him up and made the questioned feel more relaxed and ready to talk, but the ropes restricted his movement to the point he could hardly breathe.

“When the police found the notebook it had a page torn from it, and flipping through it I never saw the song. All her friends and family say she would never tear anything out.”

Charles pulled a chair up next to him and sat next to him. “I would agree with that. She kept everything.”

“So where would it have gone? Who else knew that she would be at the pond that morning? And why would they have killed her?”

“I don’t have any answers to that, except, everyone knew that she ran at that park. The park was always packed with runners, half the fucking police force runs there.”

Jacob’s heart and stomach did a summersault, and he thought he was going to throw up. Sudden realization shoots a pain to his gut.

“Let me out of here, I know who the killer is. And I know you all are innocent.”

Charles jumps up and pulls a knife from his pocket and rushes toward Jacob.

Raymond also jumps to his feet and pulls the gun up, aiming it at Jacob and Charles. “I don’t think so Charles.”

“Why not,” he said.

“You cant trust him. Kill him and get it over with, he won’t threaten us any more.”

“I’m not a killer, Raymond, I’m not like you.”

“What do you mean? You killed Tony.”

“No I didn’t.”

 

Hardboiled

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Hardboiled is a project I am on which I am working.

PREMISE: Nick Lowe is a hard nosed PI living in post war St. Louis. His cases range from missing children to cheating spouses to insurance fraud. Life ain’t half bad for a washed up copper turned private dick. The only problem is he isn’t real, he is the work of writer Thomas Goodchild and Thomas has decided to kill him off and retire. That is until Thomas wakes up one morning in post WWII St. Louis as Nick himself, and finds himself fighting for his life and the life of his character in a world of mobsters and Femme Fatales.  

GENRE: hardboiled detective, noir, fantasy, dark comedy

A new man is wrapping up (only a couple posts left) so I am thinking of starting a new mystery series. Tell me what you think, is it interesting?

(found the photo on google images and I forgot to see where it was from)

A New Man Part 35

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Early morning sunlight rose over the tree lined horizon, not quite breaking the night that still hung over the rusty abandoned factory. The smell of winter lays thick in Charles’ nose as he pushed the gangster through the heavy metal door.

Piper stood next to a tan metal folding chair and a long piece of rope snaked through her hands. Charles felt the gangster move and wriggle, trying to get free from the zip ties that bound his hands behind his back.

“Fuck you mutha-fucka,” the gangster yelled over his shoulder at Charles and Raymond, who followed a mere three steps behind.

Charles heard the KRRRKKK of the duct tape as Piper pulled it from its thick cardboard tube.

“Don’t,” Raymond said from the back of the line, “he’s going to need to talk.”

BANG!, the sound of metal clanging as it fell to the concrete floor echoed through the nearly empty plant. Charles’ head whipped around to find where the sound had come from. Standing just to the left side of the door in which he had just entered stood Gordy, his gun trained on the gangster.

“Fuck man!” Charles said as he threw the gangster into the chair, knocking it back and sending him to the floor. “You trying to kill somebody?”

“What you talking about?”

“You gave me a heart attack.”

“Fuck you all!” the gangster yelled as he pushed himself up with his knees.

Raymond reached under his arm, grabbing him by the bicep, and pulled him onto the chair.

“Tie him up.” he said to Piper.

The gangster lowered his head and tried to wipe sweat from his face with his shoulder. Charles could see the man vibrating with anger as the metal chair scooted across the floor. He shook and kicked his feet in an attempt to escape with the chair and all. Charles couldn’t help but find the scene a bit humorous.

A loud smack of flesh meeting flesh reverberated throughout the factory as Raymond’s fist lands on the gangster’s cheek. He doesn’t make a sound, but blood began to poor from his nose.

“We’re going to get right to it,” Raymond says as he drags another chair and sets in front of the gangster. “What’s your name and why are you here?”

“Fuck you,” he replies. He lowers his head to wipe the blood but with his hands behind his back his efforts are fruitless.

Charles eyes drift to the ceiling as he stands, he turns his back and heads for the door.

“Where you going,” Raymond asks.

Charles stops ten feet from the door. “Out.”

“Nope, I might need you.”

Charles took a deep breath and built up the air in his lungs to let out a sigh. But instead he held it in, just like he had with everything that had came before with his brother. Instead he leaned against a piece of rusty machinery that stood between the door.

“Now,” he turned his attention back to the gangster. “What is your name and what are you doing here?”
“FFFUUUCCCKKK YYYOOOUUU!” he drug out the words.

Flesh on flesh echoed throughout the room again and blood now ran from his eye.

Raymond motions toward Piper and does the ‘come here’ finger. She moves toward him slowly and places a gun in his lap. The gangster lets a laugh that would send a chill down most men’s spines, but Raymond only picks up the gun and places it to his head.

“One more time and I don’t wanna hear anything ‘cept answers.”

The gangster lets out a sigh as loud as his laugh, “Fine it don’t fuck’n matter anyway. My name is Andre Macklin and I’m here to kill Jacob Mallory, then I’ll be outta your little shithole of a town.”

His eyes furrow and Charles knew that Rainbow was confused. He hadn’t told his brother about Jacob. He really didn’t think it mattered.

“Who the fuck is Jacob Mallory,” Raymond asks.

Charles releases his butt from his seat and moves over toward his brother. “Nathan Collins.”

“What, I’m confused.”

“Nathan Collins is Jacob Mallory.”

“Ok, so who is Nathan Collins?”

Piper steps up, happy she knows something instead of being eye candy for Raymond. “He is the man looking for that little girl.”

A sudden light of recognition shoots onto his face. “Oh, so what does that have to do with us?” he asks Andre.

“It fuckin’ don’t.”

The metal folding chair flies across the room as Raymond jumps to his feet. He leans right into Andre’s face, “Then why did you shoot Bash?”

“Who, I ain’t shot nobody, yet.”

***

Red and blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror as Jacob turned his Prius onto the tree lined road that headed out of town toward the river. He knew that it as a sheriffs SUV and he was pretty certain who sat behind the wheel of the vehicle. He wasn’t in the mood for an O.J. Simpson episode so he pulled the Prius off to the virtually non-existent shoulder.

The side view mirror is filled with the reflection of the signature blue jeans and blouse that are at the center of Detective Kelsey Lawson’s wardrobe. Today seemed to a be a satin mauve blouse that hung low in the neckline revealing the cleavage of her tiny, perky breasts which gave a slight bounce as she strutted toward the window of the car. She reached to peck on the window but Jacob already had it rolled down.

“What can I do for you Officer Lawson?” He asked.

“It’s Detective,” she replies. “I think you knew that already, so I hope you weren’t being condescending.”

“Not at all Detective, just a slip up on my part,” he reaches for the glove box.

“Excuse me, but what are you doing,” she said as she slammed her hand on her side arm.

“Just getting license and registration.”

“I don’t think I asked for that.”

“Sorry, then why did you pull me over?”

“Just making sure your headed outta town.”

A shot of anger began to grow inside Jacob as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I would be out of town already, had you not stopped me.”

“I see, but this way doesn’t really get you that far out of town. You really need to be on the interstate.”

“Just have to make a quick pit stop then I’m headed that way. Detective.”

Kelsey looked up and back down the road. With the early morning light making its debut above the trees that line both sides of the river the road wasn’t busy yet, but it is bound to get that way soon.

“Mr. Collins I think it would be advisable if you get out of town as soon as possible. I would hate to have to put handcuffs on you, again.”

Jacob looked her up and down, her athletic body showed well through the tight jeans and loose shirt but he didn’t like the trouble that would follow another romp with her. However fun it might be.

“Kelsey, I like you, I really do but…”

“Relax, Mr. Collins, it was a joke, but it might not be a bad idea, sounds like you might need some protection from the likes of Tony Preston.”

“Nah, he just got a good jump on me. If I saw him in the open street I think I could take him.”

“Lets make sure that doesn’t happen. You should probably run along now, have a good life, Nathan,” she said as she gave a him a wink and pats the door. “Or should I call you Jacob?”

***

Whatever he thought he had known about this girl he decided was completely wrong. He had once written her off as someone who was terrible at her job and didn’t deserve to wear a badge, but how had she figured out his true identity? Then he remembered the serial number on the gun, she had promised him that she would run the numbers and it was obvious, now, that she had and the name had come back, as he knew it would, Jacob Mallory. He could have told her that he borrowed the gun or bought it from some guy and hadn’t registered it yet but he figured it wouldn’t have done much use to lie. The fact was that he wanted to get out of Pine Bluff, leave Jerry and Haley and Kelsey and the whole town in his rearview mirror and never think of them again.

But as much as he wanted to leave the whole mess behind he also knew that he couldn’t let Haley become another Andy Stafford. If Kelsey would have put as much effort into finding Haley’s killer as she did into finding out everything she could about Jacob she could have had this case solved before he ever showed up.

As he sat in his warm Prius staring at the rusty warehouse something else bothered Jacob, although the funeral had been packed and Jacob probably didn’t see everyone who had been there, he remembered that he hadn’t seen Kelsey, so begged the question, when had she talked to Jerry to know about Tony Preston. He had been the only person who knew about what had happened.

Blistering cold hit Jacob’s face as he stepped from the warmth into the frigid morning air. The corroded van told him that Charles was inside. He felt his heart begin to race as he stepped to the heavy metal door and placed his ear against it feeling the icy cold. He instantly hoped his ear wasn’t wet, he would hate to have it stick to it like a tongue to a flag pole.

Jacob only heard silence as his ear pressed nervously to the door. He moved to a cracked window near the entryway. The white wooden frame of the window had paint flaking off and revealed the ashen color of the rotting wood beneath it. The six pane window only held four glass panels and they where cracked, ready to fall in at any moment.

He peered through the window, looking past the ancient machinery and to the lone card table where he had talked to the gangsters only a few days before. The florescent light above that hung from a chain swung lazily back and forth casting slight shadows onto the walls and revealing a cluster of people standing near the rear of the building.

Tap, tap. Jacob turned at the pecking on his shoulder to see Charles standing over him with a his hands on his hips.

“Can I help you?”

“Just needing to ask a few more questions before I head out of town.”

“Why ask questions if your leaving?”

“My piece of mind,” Jacob said, finally standing to face Charles.

“You ever think of knocking, instead of spying on people,” Charles asked motioning toward his van, “I was just about to leave, it’s a good thing it wasn’t my brother that came out here. You probably would have a hole in your head right now.”

The couple walked to the van and Jacob slid inside.

“I don’t think I can help you much more than I have already.”

“Sure, I need to know all you can tell me about Tony Preston.”

The van cranked to life as Charles turned the key. It rumbled and shook almost violently under Jacobs feet.

“I think you need to get out Mr. Collins, or Mr. Mallory whoever the fuck you are.”

How does he know too? It is definitely time to get out of Dodge. But first…

Jacob pulled the gun from his pocket and placed it on his lap. “I just want to know what kind of relationship he had with you and, or, with Haley.”

“Jesus, really? I think your chasing a dead end.”

“Just humor me.”

“He made meth for us, I mean for BBS and that is it.”

“What about Haley?”

“Not sure that he had one.”

Jacob cocked the hammer back on his gun.

“Fuck man, easy. I got three guys in there itching to shoot someone, give ‘em a reason.”

“I don’t want to shoot anyone but I will if I have to.”

“As far as I know the only time they ever even met was a time she went with me to get a shipment once from the trailer. He barely even looked at her.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah man, I swear..” a shot went to his face, he remembered something and his mouth dropped agape.

“What?”

“She went by herself to pick up an order right before she disappeared, maybe a week. I went out of town and she gave me the stuff when I got back.”

Jacob released the hammer from its ready position. “Take me to the trailer, I need to speak to Tony, seems I owe him a punch to the face anyway.”

“That probably isn’t a good idea.”

“Just drive.”

“I don’t think he’ll be there.”

 

A New Man Part 34

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She rubbed her face with a warm washcloth and tried to wipe the day away. She hoped with everything that Nathan would leave town right after the viewing tonight. Plastic bristles moved in and out of the barrel of the gun and the oily smell of the cleaning agent permeated the small living room. She put the gun back together and washed her hands in the sink.

Kelsey slid out of her shirt and pants and left them on the marble tile of her bathroom floor remaining in only her black silk bra and panties. She made her way to the bedroom and flipped up her laptop. She logged onto her e-mail and saw she had a message from Scotty that requested she call him as soon as possible.

“Hello,” he answered.

“Hey, what you got?”

“Its really bad.”

“What no cracks about my boobs or naked pics?”

“No its about the numbers you asked me to run.”

Kelsey sat up in attention. She ran to the bathroom and grabbed a robe to throw over her. “Go on.”

“He’s dead.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The man that owns the gun is dead.”

“Just tell me what you know Scotty.”

“Nathan Collins is caring a gun that is owned by a cop from St. Louis named Jacob Mallory.”

Kelsey slid down the stairs two at a time, her bare feet slapping against the hard wood floors. She made her way to the laundry room just the other side of the kitchen and pulled a pair of slacks and satin shirt from the hanger.

“Go on.”

She hit the speaker button and sat the phone on the dryer while she pulled the purple satin shirt over her ripped torso.

“Jacob Mallory was a cop for Metro P.D. a detective to be exact. He quit, and by quit I mean forced to retire early, from Metro two years ago after he nearly beat a suspect to death. The man was suspected of killing several boys in St. Louis and Mallory was working the case.”

“I remember that case, they didn’t catch the person did they?”

“No, and after he quit he became a P.I., had a sleazy practice in a sleazy part of town. Last Friday that sleazy practice burned to the ground with Mallory inside. He’s laying on a slab in the mourge as we speak. His funeral is supposed to be tomorrow.”

Kelsey had a funny thought. “Email me a picture of this guy.” she grabbed the phone from the dryer and flew up the stairs to her computer which was blinking an alert that she had a new message. She clicked on the message and hit the button to download the file.

The picture of a man in a policeman uniform with an American flag behind him filled her screen. He was a handsome man and she knew him. He was Nathan Collins.

“Gotta go.”

***

The weather had turned bitterly cold again and with midnight drawing closer he wondered if people would ever start leaving the funeral home. Jacob had been here just like the redneck had said he would be. He watched him with the tall fag and then with the redneck but every time Jacob just went back into the funeral home. He was here and that made the waiting even more difficult. He knew what he was going to do. He was going to wait until Jacob made a move for his car then he was going to block him in. Pull him in the Escalade, take him to the river. Beat the fuck out of him then shot him in the head. He was going to dump the body in the river and he was headed to Dublin to tie up so loose ends. He decided that he might have to kill the redneck as well.

Cold air invaded the warm comfortable atmosphere of the SUV and Andre turned to the backseat. He saw a man climb in. He stood almost six foot tall and skinny as a rail, he had tattoos all up his neck on his hands. Andre assumed that they would cover his arms as well but they couldn’t be seen for the heavy brown coat he was wearing.

Then the passenger side door opened, further filling the space with cold air. This man he recognized. His blue oxford, his blue jeans and his loud tie with guitars on it. Charles slid into the passenger seat, his gun pointed awkwardly with his left hand at Andres gut.

“Karma’s a bitch,” he said.

“Yes, it is,” Andre replied.

Part III

Justice is in the eye of deliverer

Chapter Twenty Three

Jacob found him alone on the park bench near the pond. The quite of the night was deafening. He had expected to hear crickets or cicadas or a frog, any noise would be better than the bitter quite. The wind picked up slightly and the chill began brake through the thin North Face jacket that Jacob wore, covering up his dress shirt. He had stopped by the hotel to pack his things and load them into the Prius.

He sat on the bench looking out over the pond as the full moon reflected off of the water and lit up the park as if where six in the afternoon, not three in the morning.

“I didn’t realize you had left the wake until I was the last one there,” Jacob said as he approached. “Mind if I have a seat next to you?”

Jerry sat silent, only motioned with his hand to the empty spot next to him.

Nearly thirty minutes passed before either of them said anything, and it surprised Jacob that Jerry’s voice cut through the night air first. It sounded more raspy than normal and he appeared to have been crying. Salt streaks created trails down his cheeks and ended at his chin where they had inevitably fallen to the ground.

“I used to go to church two times on Sundays and Wednesday evening. I don’t know why,” he said. Jacob didn’t think this to be a question or a conversation starter. He just let Jerry speak. “I think I used to believe in him, you know God. I really don’t know when I stopped or if I truly ever did. It had become a way to pass the time I think. Two times Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Ten hours a week, not counting the time I devoted to the church for picnics, bible classes that I helped teach,” he looked at Jacob and he saw that Jerry was confused, not about what to say about life. “You know I spent every Tuesday night for the last three years helping young people understand the bible’s language. I found it to be confusing to them.

“Haley and I took a group on church retreats, like a camp for father daughter bounding time. We did this every year since she was ten.” He stopped and looked out toward the moon reflecting off of the water. “You think he’s up there? Out past the moon and the stars?” Jacob again thought this more as a way to get something off of his chest. As a police officer he found it good tactics to listen. When someone starts talking just listen. “I don’t anymore, Nathan, you wanna know why? After all I’ve done for him and the work that I thought I was supposed to do this is all I get. I’m sitting on a cold park bench looking out at the moon.” His hand slowly moved up to wipe a tear from his eye that had begun to form. “He gave me everything then he took it away. Why?”

“I don’t know.” Not knowing what else to say.

“I don’t either. I’ve never done a bad thing in my life. I don’t even speed.” He chuckled slightly to himself. “I only wanted what was best for her. I don’t think she understood that. I hoped that one day she would. But I fear that she left this world hating me and not knowing that I cared. We were beginning to argue a lot.”

“About what?”

“Memphis. She wanted to know her mother. Which I can kinda understand. But that woman is a cancer. It took me a long time to get over her and I just knew that if she went there to stay it would destroy her to find out the truth about her.”

“What truth?”

“She’s selfish. She wouldn’t have done what I did for Haley. Teach her things about life, give her lessons in what it meant to be an adult. As you could see by her appearance today she can barely care for herself, much less a fifteen year old girl. Gail has her plays, her symphonies, her art projects. She thinks its classy but it is as much an escape as my trips to church. But Haley wouldn’t have gone to those things with her.”

“Your saying she would have neglected her?”

“She left her alone with me,” His hand touched his heart, this time he let the tear fall. Jacob watched as it slid down the same track that had been left by it predecessor. “It was selfish and selfless at the same time. She gave me the greatest gift in the world, but at the same time she threw her chance away. She wasn’t ready she said, but it was a lifestyle change she wasn’t ready to make.”

“I can’t relate, I’m more like Gail than you I’m sorry to say. I let my wife take my daughter and I didn’t follow. I should have.”

“Isn’t that where your going?”

“I once thought so.”

Jerry shrugged this off. Then he said, “you will. I know you Nathan. You have a good heart.”

Jacob chuckled inside. If Jerry only knew the truth.

“You didn’t answer earlier,” he said pointing to the moon. “You think he’s out there?”

Jacob sat there for a moment, he really didn’t know what to answer, if the truth were to be told, he hadn’t thought of God in a really long time. “I don’t know, Jerry. Maybe, if it makes you feel better.”

He gazed at Jacob, stared directly into his eyes. “It wouldn’t.” Jerry’s eyes fell into the palms of his hands. He turned them over and over. Jacob could feel his pulse quicken and he swore that he could feel the bump-bump of the his heart beating through the bench. Jerry’s eyes turned back to Jacob. “I’ve never killed anything Nathan. Not even a mouse. I’m serious about that, I get the live traps and release them into the woods on my way to work, and that hurts me. I have these hands that evolution gave me to protect myself, my family, provide for them everything they need. And a God that I no longer believe in made them useless to defend myself or seek justice for my daughter. Why? Because He said it was wrong to kill a man.” His eyes turned back to the moon. “And I hate Him and the moon for that.”

Jacob felt something inside that he hadn’t felt since he talked to little Andy Stafford’s mom. Every night since then he had been reliving the event that sent him on this long and crazy journey that had led him to this point. This point in time that might mean something. He felt the urge to tell Jerry the truth. Something he hadn’t done in years.

“I have done some things that I’m not proud of,” he started. Jerry turned his attention to Jacob, his mouth hung slightly agape, Jacob could tell that he had no idea what was coming. “I’ve lied to you and everyone in this town. My name is Jacob Mallory.”

“What?”

“I took this man’s identity when he died in my alley of a drug overdose. I called the police but no one came. So I used him. I’m not proud but I had to get out of St. Louis fast.”

“Who are you really?”

“I’m am what I said. I am a private investigator. I used to work for the Metro P.D. as a detective until I was fired for nearly killing a man, turns out he wasn’t who I thought he was. It wasn’t the first time so as they say three strikes and I was out.”

“That doesn’t explain why you had to leave St. Louis.”

“I stole a million dollars from a gang banger who wanted the name of a witness who was going to testify against him in the murder of a child. I didn’t feel that was such a good idea so I gave him a fake name and then shot him and burned down my office building. I put the body in there with his.”

Jerry’s face showed that he was stunned. He appeared to be shocked yet he stayed seated and quite.

“To my surprise however, he is not dead and now looking for me. So that is why I left St. Louis.”

“Would you do it again?” he asked.

“No,” Jacob answered, “next time I would make sure he was dead.” He chuckled, mostly to himself.

“What about someone else?”

Jacob’s mind flooded with scenarios that could possibly work to achieve this goal. But as he thought about it he knew that none of them would ever work. He knew what he was asking was nearly impossible and that there wasn’t really anyway that either of them would get away with it. But he couldn’t help but think that it would feel good and that it was the only justice that the person who killed her deserved.

“I think that the police in Pine Bluff will try their best to make sure someone pays for this.”

“I hope your right,” he looked at his hands again. “Because as much as I would love to do it. I can’t.”

***

The Prius, packed to the hilt, sat idling near an intersection of town where the main drag ran into the interstate. It would have been easy to just leave, pull the car on the fifty five and head north or south, or he could stay on this road and head west to Dublin, or turn around and head east across the river leaving everything and everyone behind. But something itched in his mind, something kept scratching at the surface of his brain, making him second guess his decision.

I’ve got things to do, I should get on with my life and stop chasing other peoples demons, I’ve got my own demons to deal with. His mind raced with thoughts, its like the devil and angel setting on his shoulders couldn’t make up his mind. ‘Help Jerry’, ‘Forget Jerry’, ‘Find Haley’s killer’, ‘Its not your problem anymore, all you were supposed to do was find her’, they kept at it for hours.

Jacob knew one thing for sure, he couldn’t go back to the hotel because Kelsey would surely be watching to make sure that he didn’t return. He knew every minute he stayed in town the greater his chances of someone discovering who he truly was. The longer he sat at the intersection, watching the light turn from red to green to yellow back to red at least a dozen times, the greater it became to deny that the angel, standing in his ear, was in fact correct.

This case, unlike the work he had been doing in St. Louis, had become a losing battle. There snapping pictures exposing cheating husbands had become the extent of his practice. Other than the boy killer ninety nine percent of his work on the force had been pretty cut and dry as well. In nearly every case there had been a motive or a good lead to follow. Here it seemed that she could have had been killed for a multitude of reasons, some of them more minor than others, but Jacob had learned that a minor reason is still a reason.

Jacob looked up at the light again, which had just turned green, then to his rearview mirror. He noticed the tell tale sign of an approaching vehicle. Two headlights shown through the hazy fog that settled close to the ground at the forthcoming dawn. The town will start buzzing to life now. Jacob gently eased his foot to the accelerator and pulled into a gas station parking lot. He noticed that the person behind the counter had been looking through the window at him and had probably thought that he had fallen asleep at the stoplight.

His eyes held fixed on the approaching car, wondering whether or not to stay. Everything in him save for the angel on his shoulder told him to leave. His gut, which he often found to be correct, told him nothing good would come if he stayed. He thought and the last time his gut was this vocal was when he saw poor Haley’s picture at the bus station. He knew, once again, in that instant exactly how she would be found. And he knew now that no one in town would ever know what happened to Haley.

However something as strong as his gut was telling him to find the killer and get the justice that Haley deserved, or at least try his best. This case wasn’t over. However the suspects that Jacob had were many, some looked better than others.

Jordyn didn’t seem the kind of kid that could kill someone, she always stood quite and reserved, always seemed to be thinking of something. However as they say about the quite ones, Haley’s decision to break up the band and move to Memphis may have been too much for her to handle. Haley had taken her only chance to get out of Pine Bluff. With Jordyn she certainly had motive but he had yet to find opportunity or means.

Graham, like his band mate, had a motive. In fact Graham had three motives. It had seemed obvious that he had a crush on Haley and had been rejected, which as Jacob knew, could be painful for a young man. He also was hurt by the decision to break up the band, he like Jordyn, felt it to be the only way out of this town. Graham also liked to get his drugs from Haley. With her gone he would have to find another supplier, although it might not be the hardest thing to find a new one, however, if she had quit when he needed a fix it would have been easy for him to lose control and possibly do something drastic.

Seth had possibly the best motive so far. The secret that he shared with Haley could have potentially been the greatest social and career destroyer of all, however, Jacob hadn’t found any mention anywhere that Haley planned to out Seth and they seemed to continue to be close friends.

Jerry, unfortunately had a good motive as well, actually about twenty million of them and he had opportunity since he dropped her off at the park in which she disappeared.

Also the gangsters had great motive, to get to Jerry for the debt owed to them and since she was selling drugs for them they might have felt she was stealing from them if she was trying to get money to go to Memphis. With the guns floating around the hideout they had motive and means, but where was the opportunity?

Roger Ericsson was a sexual pervert who liked young girls. He liked to run in the park in which she did, he had motive since he had admitted to being attracted to her and it had been obvious that she would have rejected him and if he had made a move. However he had no proof that Roger owned a gun.

Headlights of the vehicle neared the stoplight which Jacob had been sitting. He immediately recognized the vehicle as a big white SUV with sheriff department painted on the side. He now had no doubt that the young man at the gas station had wondered why he had sat through at least four lights. Probably thought he had been drunk so he called the police.

The white SUV hit its blinker to pull into the gas station. Waiting for the vehicle to pull to a stop next to him, Jacob clenched his hands on the steering wheel. What would he do? He really had no idea. He was in fact heading out of town like Kelsey had requested and moreover he had had nothing to drink. He just happened to be thinking. Not causing a problem with anyone.

He relaxed as the police cruiser pulled to a stop near the front of the station and a woman stepped out. Her 9 mm rested in a holster on the back of her large black utility belt. Her long brown hair sat in a ponytail at the back of her head, pulled tight. He hadn’t noticed before but the brown of her hair was chocolate in color, just like her uniform pants. As her face appeared translucent in the window of the station, Jacob recognized her reflection as Sheriff Rachel.

Jacob realized that he knew a lot about Jerry, Charles, Jordyn and Graham, knew enough about Roger to think he didn’t have anything to do with this, but he didn’t know enough about that Nazi Meth maker Tony Preston. As he pulled his tiny car back out onto the road and faced it out of town, he knew who would.

 

A New Man Part 33

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The blood that covered Tiger’s face was still fresh in Charles mind when he pulled the van into the only spot within four blocks of the funeral home. And to his disliking it left him with a three and a half block walk in the freezing cold. Steam leapt from his mouth and nostrils as the street light shown down onto the sidewalk. Charles had elected to not wear a jacket to the event due to the fact that the Haley he had known was not the type to make a fuss over formalities. But with the temperature dropping below freezing and his long walk he wished he had.

The sound of the saw that cut King into pieces buzzed in his ear as the cars sped past him. Charles could feel the wind from its whirling chain every time a car passed, blowing its cold air onto him.

The warmth from the building when Charles entered through the glass doors reminded him of the steam that came off of Tiger as he answered the door of the barn, covered in the red glow of the fresh blood. His mind held hold of these images long into the evening as he greeted people with handshakes and hugs. Haley had truly been a friend and he respected her for her love of music. When he walked up to the coffin he was saddened to see the picture her father had chosen to place as her memorial. It reflected nothing of what he thought Haley was. It reflected the way her father wanted to remember her. But his heart gladdened a bit when he noticed some of her things to be buried with her. Her notebook of music and her Les Paul, in all its Golden Maple bodied glory. Shining like a beacon from the front of the coffin.

He made his way to the notebook that sat on the table and was reminded of all the times he had helped her with music. She had a raw natural talent that reminded him of his own. She was a few years younger than him but she had it. He felt she was a star that burned out before its time, exploding in space yet touching everyone she met.

He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned. His heart fell and he felt sick to his stomach.

“Can we talk outside?”

“Sure I guess,” Charles responded. He had to act normal. Try his best to pretend that nothing had happened. That he was just a normal kid trying to live his dream. Like he hadn’t done bad things in his life to achieve those dreams.

As they stepped back outside into the cold he immediately wished he was back inside the warmth of the funeral home.

“How can I help you?” Charles asked.

“You can start by telling me all about your relationship with Haley.”

“Mr. Collins,” Charles began, “I told you before that I gave her guitar lessons.” He knew it was a lie and he knew that Nathan knew it was a lie.

“Charles, I am tired of the bullshit and I need to know the truth. I know what you done.”

What? How could he know? There was no way that anyone could have known what had happened. “W-what do you know?” stuttering wasn’t a sign of strength and he knew that if Rainbow where here in his shoes he would be stoic and he would put this Nathan Collins or Jacob Mallory or whoever he was in his place.

“The drugs.”

“What drugs?” Play dumb.

“The drugs that Haley sold for you from her fathers house.”

Oh my God! Close. “Okay. She sold for me. I get taxes from the drugs..”

“Taxes?”

“it’s a percentage of the money I collect for the drugs. I did great when I was in high school. That’s how I made my money. But when I graduated two years ago I had to find another way to get it in there. Haley’s father wouldn’t pay for lessons so we made an arrangement. She would sell for me, give me the money and I would teach her to play the guitar and give her some voice lessons.”

“Seems like a good trade then.”

“Worked out quite nice I guess.”

“Until it got her killed.”

“What,” Charles gasped. “I don’t think..”

“I think it did Mr. Luther.”

“Why?”

“Where did you give her the drugs to sell? At the park?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, why chance getting caught with them. I would just take them to her in guitar cases during lessons.”

“Did you ever meet her at the park for any reason.”

“No that was her quite time. She liked to go there to write. Everyone has their own place. Mine is shower. I know it sounds cliché, but I do my best thinking in there.”

Charles felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, he pulled it out. It said Rainbow. “Can I take this?”

“Sure,” then Nathan walked away.

“Yeah,” Charles said, “I’m at the viewing.”

“What the fuck happened?”

“I got nervous.”

“What were you thinking, Charles. You coulda’ got x’d out.”

“It’s okay, Tiger took care of it.”

“What about Scarface?”

“In the pond. Like you said.”

“Tiger said you didn’t cut him up.”

“It’ll be okay, I aint’ like you Rainbow.”

A silence hangs heavy with tension. Rainbow isn’t saying something. Then it comes. “Bash was shot four times on his corner an hour ago.”

“What?”

“I’ll be right there, wait on me.”

***

“Yeah, I’m at the viewing…I got nervous…It’s okay Tiger took care of it…In the pond like you said…It’ll be okay, I ain’t like you Rainbow…What?”

Jacob had stepped around the building but stayed in earshot of Charles. He didn’t know what he was talking about but it didn’t sound good. What was the talk about the pond?

Inside Jacob’s pocket his phone vibrates to life as well. He looks at the number and immediately he knows what it’s about.

“What ya got for me?”

“No small talk, huh,” the deep voice responds. “I just got the results back. I’m giving you the heads up.”

“Thanks Pete, I really owe you one.”

“You owe me more than one,” he joked. “Tox screen came back clean, from best we could tell. The body was pretty bad but the hair held no signs of drugs that I could find so I’d say she wasn’t using.”

“What else?”

“As I said the body was too badly decomposed to tell if she had been sexually assaulted. But in my opinion I’d say that she wasn’t.”

“Why?”

“The clothes were still on her. Buttons all buttoned, and the draw string on the pants were still tied. It appears that she liked them tight.”

“What about time of death? Please tell me you have something.”

“Can’t be to certain. It has been a while. Decomp and Entomology show it could be within a forty-eight hour period that falls right when she disappeared. So there isn’t much help there. I wish I could give you more, but its just been too long.”

“Cause of death?”

“Your not gonna like it.”

Jacob knew that no matter the cause of death he wasn’t going to like it. Nothing should have happened to this girl. “What was it Pete?”

“Gunshot.”

“Where?”

“Back of the head. Execution style. I’d say she was on her knees, or the killer was seven foot tall.”

“What caliber?”

“Don’t know. There wasn’t a bullet but I’d say small, maybe a nine mm. The entry wound was just to the right in the back of the head and the bullet exited out through the right eye socket.”

Jacob flipped the phone closed without so much as a thank you. He knew that Peter knew he was grateful and could never repay him for what he had done. But a nine mm gunshot wound with no bullet to match didn’t really leave him with much to go on. And time was running out.