AUTHOR’S NOTE. This is a story I’m very fond of that explores some things that always interest me in both the fiction and non-fiction realm. Yes, I’m talking about aliens. I’m talking about UFOs. I blame it mostly on shows like Unsolved Mysteries and The X-Files from my childhood, not to mention The Twilight Zone. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my timid UFO researcher, Danny Draper. Continue reading “Danny Draper and the Aliens, Chapters 1-3”
I’ve had this desire to get back to writing some horror again, and in that vein I started developing a story tentatively titled The Affairs of Mrs. Blackwater, which will likely be my homage to the old school Hammer Horror and Universal monster movies. Below is my first jab at the opening chapter of the story, which has been nudging me for the past few days to be written.
Hope you enjoy, and let me know how I’m doing and what you think? Would you read it? Does it have your attention? What’s your favorite Universal monster movie (Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, etc)?
Godfrey Townsend entered the office of Manchester and Townsend, and found the remaining owner of the original partnership, Luke Manchester greeting him with a smile.
“Godfrey, how good to see you.” He gestured to his office. “A word?”
“Yes, sir.” Godfrey recited his usual response. “May I?” He began to remove his overcoat, which was dripping from the rain being dumped on Whitechapel without mercy. “A moment to dry off?”
Manchester nodded sternly and retreated to his cold office.
Townsend deposited his hat and coat on the rack, and took up near the fire that was nearly all but ashes. He picked up the poker and bent over to stoke it some. The coals were still hot, and he moved them around a bit, encouraging them to do their purpose. He found a few logs to the right of the mantel, and laid them neatly above the coals and attempted to get warm. It was a nearly fruitless task, as the office just did not hold heat. And the cold streets of Whitechapel rolled their brisk air under the doors, around the window panes, through the ceiling and even down the chimney.
Standing there his mind wandered from him, as his eyes met a portrait on the mantel. It was a small oil painting, a likeness of his grandfather, who was the founding father of the firm. His name now relegated to second place behind Manchester, and would likely remain so. Manchester was a crude business man, and Townsend always had trouble understanding why his grandfather ever went into business with such a man. It was his father, Robert Townsend, who had found himself in debt, who allowed himself to foolishly give up 25% of his half of the firm. Manchester had told him, it would suffice as a loan while he paid off the debt that was breathing down Robert Townsend’s neck. That in a year or so, he could easily buy it back and become half owner once more. But Robert Townsend had underestimated the shrewd and greedy nature of Manchester, and he found this out when he went to buy back his piece of the pie. Manchester simply sneered at him and said, “I’m not selling at the moment. Sorry.”
Townsend took a deep breath, not sure what to expect from Manchester on this damp morning. He was sure of one thing, it wouldn’t be getting back the 25% his father fizzled away.
He picked up his messenger bag, dusted the rain off the side with his sleeve and entered Manchester’s office.
“Have a seat, boy.” Manchester just loved to call him boy. He smiled a wicked grin behind his white beard. “I’ve got an important task for you. Are you up to it?”
“Yes, sir.” He sat and held his messenger on his lap.
“Well, pen and paper. Write this down.” Manchester also loved making him take notes, as if he were just some messenger boy writing a note to deliver to the cook about how many eggs to use for breakfast.
Townsend took out a quill, ink and paper. He sat the ink on the edge of the desk, popped the top off and dipped immediately. “Ready, sir.”
“There’s an old bird up in Wolfedale.” He stopped and sneered over his small, round lenses in their wiry frame. “Have you heard of this, boy?”
“Right. Well, this bird has had an account with this firm since its first year of establishment. And, up until last night, was an excellent client.” When he spoke, he looked around the room as if he had an audience.
“What happened? Did she drop the account?” Townsend asked.
“No. She died.”
“Oh, well, sorry to hear that.” He tried to be empathetic, afraid Manchester was going claim he really liked the old woman.
“Good riddance, really.” He picked up some warm tea and took a sip. “But…”
“But what, sir?”
“She was rich… filthy rich… and lousy at accounting.” He sighed long and hard. Then he spoke fast and sharp, like a ball from a canon. “I need you to ride to Wolfedale, and check into their Inn for a few days while you sort out the affairs of the late Mrs. Blackwater.” He raised a file from his a drawer and placed it on the desk between them. “This will give you the address, and some background to her account with us.” He bit his lip. “I never could get her to come in and write up a will, the stubborn old bird. Even sent one of our agents down there once.” He stopped again.
“Well, what happened?” Townsend asked.
“I didn’t get that will.” He leaned forward on to the desk, resting his heavy arms across the file, still unwilling for Townsend to look at it. “I’m going to be honest with you, Godfrey.” Which meant he was about to lie. “This isn’t going to be easy. A lot of paperwork to sift through, no doubt. But, it is very important to me that you do this. And that you do it well. It’s a test in a way, to see if you’re ready to take on some more responsibilities around the firm. What, with your piece of the partnership, it stands to reason you should.”
Townsend could see that it pained him to admit he owned a piece of the company. “I’ll do my best, sir.”
“You won’t.” He spoke sharply. “You’ll do better than your best. Because I’ve seen your best, and it wasn’t good enough.”
“Quite right, sir.” Townsend hated these conversations, and always looked for the easy way out, which usually involved agreeing to a lot of things he didn’t agree with. “When shall I start with the Blackwater account?”
“Now, boy!” He finally released the file from his arms and sat back up in his chair. “I’ve already sent a telegram ahead of you to reserve a room at the Inn. The owner is a friend of mine, treat him nice, and tell him I sent you.”
“Yes, sir.” He rose to his feet and turned to leave, but Manchester called him back for one more thing. It was his standard practice to intentionally forget something.
“Oh, yes.” Manchester said. “And one more thing…” He opened a drawer and pulled out a revolver. He dropped it on the desk for effect. “Do you have a pistol, boy?”
“Well, then take this one. It’s old, but it gets the job done.” Manchester smiled a queer sort of smile.
“Why would I need a gun, Mr. Manchester?”
Manchester’s eyes darkened and he leaned forward once more. “Because there are all manner of beasts in those woods near Wolfedale, and you will want a proper companion.” He patted the revolver.
For once, Townsend had to disagree, though it came out as a whisper. “I don’t like guns.”
“Trust me, boy, when you have to decide between a wolf chewing the flesh off your bones and pulling a trigger… you’ll choose the trigger every time.” He gestured the pulling of a trigger with his finger as he spoke.
Townsend caved, and took the revolver with six rounds in its chamber. He gently placed it in the bottom of his messenger and headed back out into the Whitechapel rain.
Tom Edgar woke up in the middle of the night, he had drank a little too much Jack Daniels and passed out in his chair. He was laying on the floor underneath his computer desk, and it took him a few minutes to figure out where he was and he managed to bump his head twice trying to climb out from the desk and back into his chair. He slumped back into it, he could tell a major hangover was in the works and he rested his head back on the chair. He closed his eyes and listened. He registered two sounds in his ears: a gentle rain on the cheap tin roof, that he had advised his brother Mike against, and the hum of his computer. No other sound in the house, so he figured his brother was either out cold or out of the house altogether. Mike was notorious for loud snoring, so perhaps he was gone.
Tom was trying to convince himself to get up and move to his bed, when he noticed the hum of the computer was a little too loud for being dormant. He opened one eye and looked, the monitor was on and it was processing something, but he couldn’t make out what without his glasses. He opened his other eye and leaned over the keyboard, looking for his glasses. He found the black-rimmed glasses behind the keyboard and slipped them onto the tip of his nose. He leaned his head back and looked down his nose, and through the lenses like an old man.
He wasn’t liking what he was seeing.
It was a hack for sure, and there were files being copied over to his hard drive. He didn’t remember starting a hack before passing out, so either he hacked while he was mindless or someone was hacking him.
He kicked the chair out from underneath him and fell to his knees, he crawled under his desk, reached around the back of his computer tower and yanked the Ethernet cable out of the back of his computer. Now disconnected from any networks, and the Internet, he stood up and hunched over his desk. The copying process had been broken, the connection to the hacker also was broken. He sighed, and then picked up his chair and sat back down on it. He started to examine the windows open on his computer, and found several browser windows and tabs, one file location on his drive and an application he didn’t recognize. The file location contained over three-thousand documents, all of which were new. He minimized the folder, and pulled up the application to examine it further. It was very simple and crude. A lot of coding, a lot of scripting. A lot of commands.
He went to the kitchen and started brewing some coffee, he was gonna have to be awake to figure out what had happened while he was sleeping. While the coffee started to brew, he fumbled through a box of protein bars to discover it was empty, and threw it at the trashcan. The box bounced off of the full trashcan and landed on the floor. He tore open another box of protein bars, ripped open a wrapper and took a bite of grainy-textured chocolate and peanut butter. He chewed on the rubbery protein bar and looked at the code in his head. Just a few lines he’d read while quickly browsing the application. Nothing made much sense yet, he’d have to dig in after he sipped on some coffee.
Tom walked back back into his bedroom and snatched up his iPhone from the edge of his bed. He took another bite of the protein bar and headed back to the kitchen. He flipped through his phone, and found a text message from Mindy Bloch, she was asking what he was up to three hours ago. She was an engineer at the security firm he freelanced with regularly, though they spent more time together away from work hitting the coffeehouses on the weekends for local music. She was a clever engineer, and he often considered going head-to-head with on some hack gig. He was pretty certain she could beat him, but he wanted to know for sure. He assumed answering her text message by now was pointless, since she was probably looking for someone to hangout with at the time. He closed out the message without replying, and launched an app that used a Lion logo and was called Roar. It was a simple texting application that he and Mike had developed that was more secure than anything Apple could come up with. Messages were encrypted and sent, not saved locally, and messages received weren’t decrypted until after a password was provided. New passwords were generated every six hours, and were sent to a similar app with a kitten logo called Meow. The messages were sent over a server in their house and housed only for as long as they were unread, but after they were read they were re-encrypted and purged. It took a few hours of jail-breaking on their iPhones to manually install the apps Roar and Meow.
He had one encrypted message from Mike, he looked at their Felix the Cat clock on the wall and determined he had about thirty minutes before a new password would be sent Meow. He entered the almost six hour old password and the message decrypted.
[MIKE] This is your neck calling: WAKE UP.
Tom rolled his eyes, and closed the message which then left no trace on his phone and was being re-encrypted and purged on a server that was sitting in the living room. The living room was the biggest room in the house, so they had moved out a lot of the furniture after their mom had died and kept the bigger hardware, like servers, against a wall. You could sit on the couch and look right at a mountain of servers. On the wall above their little city of networks was an HDTV, it was connected directly to a server which streamed thousands of movies and television episodes that had obtained illegally one way or another. He wrote a message back to Mike.
[TOM] I got hacked. Gonna be offline for a while.
After sending it, and watching his words transform into letters and numbers that meant nothing, and then disappear, he made his way back to the coffee pot. He took another bite of the protein bar and finished it off. He placed the wrapper on top of the trash on top of the trashcan, and then his iPhone vibrated in his hand. It was a reply from Mike.
[MIKE] Sucks to be you.
[TOM] Where are you?
[MIKE] Chilling with Mindy at Giddy Goat, listening to acoustic jazz. I’m on my third shot of espresso, I might implode. You coming?
[TOM] Nah, wanna know what’s been done to Hal.
[MIKE] Ha! Laters.
Tom sat down at their modest kitchen table and waited for the coffee. His eyelids were heavy, but his mind was racing. Normally people don’t hack you to dump a bunch of stuff on your computer, they usually hack you to take things or to place a virus on your machine. It didn’t make a lot of sense in his head, but he figured after some coffee, he’d start reading that application code again and look at what they were storing in his cloud and he’d soon figure it out, clean up and patch that security flaw. After all that, he’d be tucking himself into bed and sleeping half the day away… again.
He sat at his computer with a cup of coffee, it was his second as he’d chose to gulp the first while still in the kitchen. With the coffee coursing through his veins, and more on the way, he started looking at the application again. After half an hour of reading the code, he had determined it wasn’t complex, but unique. It was tapping into him, and tapping into someone else, and transferring files from that other person to his hard drive. At first he had thought it might have been landing on his drive by mistake, but after reading the code, it was clear that it was deliberate. He shook his head at it, and then begin the process of figuring out whose junk he had all over his computer. The code had not defined that in the server names, but when he started to look at what was in his browsers and what was on his drive he started to get a bad feeling. He jotted the server name from the code down on a post-it note and typed it directly into his browser address bar on his laptop and clicked enter. To his dismay it loaded an authentication screen branded with the United States Pentagon.
He sipped the last of his cold coffee and stared at the screen sitting in his lap.
Someone had hacked the Pentagon and transferred over three-thousand classified documents to his computer in such a way that it appeared his IP address was the culprit. He felt naked. At that moment someone in the Pentagon was yelling curse words and staring at his IP address. He closed the laptop, and dug out an external drive from his closet. He knocked some dust off of it, and plugged it into an empty USB port on his computer. He began copying all of the classified documents over to the external drive. He ran into Mike’s room and grabbed his laptop. It had not been compromised yet. He tossed it into a laptop bag lying on the floor, and ran into the kitchen. He looked at their servers. He wanted them all, but knew he couldn’t take them all. He instead grabbed one labeled Caspian, and unplugged it from the network and the wall. He tossed it into duffel bag. On Caspian were less than one-hundred unique applications, programs he and Mike had built themselves. Meow and Roar were two of the programs on the server, and so long as they had it in their possession, they could use the apps securely on their mobile devices.
He ran back into his bedroom, it was going to take an hour to transfer everything. But that wasn’t good enough, he didn’t know how much time he had before the FBI or worse came kicking in his door. He quickly closed out all programs, and re-purposed all of the processing power to just copying those documents. That cut it down to fifteen minutes. He still didn’t like it, but that was the best he could do.
He stared at that strange application on his desktop. That little program was going to ruin his life, no question of it. The application was simply named bite.exe. He dragged the icon for bite over to copy on his external drive as well. He needed to know more about the creator of that program, if he was going to figure out who was framing him. That little program was the only thing he would have in his possession, the only piece of the puzzle that might help him solve who had done it. The documents were merely leverage. After he left the house, if he got out of the house, FBI or Homeland Security would be bursting in and taking everything. His home was no longer his, the stuff in it was no longer his. At least he could look at it all one last time, Mike couldn’t even get that. By the time Mike knew what was happening coming back home would be out of the question. They had grown up in that house. Their mother had raised them on her own after their father had left, running away with some floozy he’d met on a business trip. It wasn’t much of a house, but it was home. It had always been home. Now it was a dangerous place. A place you could stay in, a place you couldn’t come back to. Not unless you wanted to end up in prison in some third-world country where the Geneva convention and other laws are laughed at in-between waterboarding sessions.
He tried to push away the fear, and absorb the house one last time. Watching the files transferring wasn’t going to make them move any faster anyway. He went from room to room, looking everything over from the doorway. He kept an eye on his watch as he quietly said his goodbyes, and when fifteen minutes were up he was sitting at his computer unplugging the drive and tossing it in the duffel bag with Caspian.
He walked out of the back door, not bothering to turn the lights on. He knew he could walk from the house to his car in the dark, but strangers couldn’t. He didn’t know if he was already under surveillance or not, but he certainly felt watched. He quietly snuck around in the dark, and when he reached his car he silently inserted the key to unlock the car the old fashioned way. He knew pressing the key-less entry would cause his lights to flash giving himself away. But he also knew that once he opened the door the dome lights would turn and he’d have literally seconds to get in, turn the car on and peel out of the drive. With the door unlocked, he counted down from ten before opening it. He could only hear the gentle rain on the tin roof, if someone was walking up behind him he wouldn’t know it. He could kill Mike in that moment for insisting on the tin roof.
Tom screamed the number one in his head, and opened the door. He flung the door open so hard it came back at him, but he was already sitting in the driver seat. He started the car without bothering to close the door, and shifted out of park and into reverse. His foot was pushing the pedal to the floor before the gear had changed, and he spun wildly in a circle out into the street. His door slammed when he stopped in the street to shift gears again. He sped off up the street and ran the stop sign that led out of their neighborhood.
He hadn’t seen anyone, and he hadn’t heard anybody either. But then again, he was so focused on getting out of Dodge, he easily could have overlooked someone or something. He kept a close eye on the rear-view mirror as he headed downtown to the Giddy Goat.
And I scream at the top of my lungs, “What’s going on?!”
If you frequent my writing space, as in this website, you may be wondering what is going on? I haven’t posted an original story of my own in a while, and the last post I did was in September and was a guest post (Jennifer Word, in fact, and it is a good read so check it out).
Well, I haven’t given up writing, so quit counting your chickens before they hatch, Sally Pinkerton. No, I’ve just been working ‘offline’ or ‘behind-the-scenes’ more than I have on posting. Which is shameful, and I promise I’ll be posting something fresh soon.
What have I been doing, you ask?
- Building ‘spaces’ for my online novellas. I’ve started to build ‘subsites’ within my TFB domain. I am currently working on subsites for ‘The Agency’ (which I plan to rewrite what is currently written), ‘The Rolling Stone’ and others.
- Building a subsite for ‘Hardboil High’. I’m also building a subsite for ‘Hardboil High’. This subsite will over time become more and more expansive, when you consider the book series is 7 books long. It includes excerpts, news, downloads and so on.
- Working on a collaborative short novel. Alongside 4 other authors, I co-wrote a String-Along story (that’s what I like to call it). We worked in a rotation, with an writing 1 chapter per rotation. It was a great project, and the end result was a pretty solid crime novel titled ‘Fatal Flaws’. We’ve made it passed the editing stages, first formatting draft, and it is on me to design the book cover soon, and provide a final formatted manuscript. We plan to have it available for purchase online in both paperback and digital download on January 1, 2012. I will release more details on that as we near the publish date.
So, as you can see, I have been busy in the writing game, just not writing and posting much. Lame, I know. And then, to top it all off, I woke up this morning with the itch to take everything I have on the site, edit, format, and publish it all as one, massive anthology. My mind is always at work, even if my fingers aren’t.
I’m also now on Google+ with my Google Apps account, which makes me happy. I’ve been wanting this for some time now, but they only recently allowed Google Apps’ accounts on. Circle me here.
I will be unveiling a new feature soon, an awesome feature. Digital downloads of some of my longer short stories and novellas. That’s right, you’ll be able to download and read them on your eReaders and mobile devices! Is that not the coolest thing ever? I think so… or my name isn’t Struggling Author.
The young man had been sitting in a conference room at the police station for thirty minutes; this was something Detective David Spencer had grown accustomed to doing. He liked keeping people in suspense, because it made them impatient and frustrated, and this often bore the fruit of an unnecessary amount of conversation on their part. Which often meant he got more than he could have bargained for initially. And when he had heard the man on the other side of the glass was employed at a local college, his detective instincts gripped his lunch and told him, This is the guy.
Spencer had been tracking the Inner-City Lady Killer, as the newspapers had coined Jason Richard Wright, ever since the body of student Cassie Lexington had been found in a ditch three miles from the campus she attended. The truth was that he was far from a suspect, but something clicked with this guy. But he knew that what clicks and convicts in a courtroom are two different things entirely. He had to prove his hunch, somehow.
Tonight he wore the same brown suit he’d worn during his interview for detective, so many years before. With it was a necktie from the same time period, it had horizontal lines in variations of brown and gold. The tie was hanging at the second button of his yellow shirt and the first button was undone. You could see a few gray hairs protruding from his chest, they stopped at the base of his neck. The jacket was a bit short on the sleeves these days, his shoulders had broadened with age–as his hips had done as well. And he knew he’d have to keep that jacket on, because he could feel the sweat on his back. This was a trait of his that kicked in when the pressure was on. He knew it, but he didn’t need this jerk knowing that.
He was sweating it, because after thirty minutes of deliberation he still couldn’t put a smoking gun in the man’s hands. He couldn’t figure out how to make the transition from a routine questioning to establishing the man as a sociopath who had at least fifteen dead girls under his belt. When his time was up, he decided to just begin with some chit-chat and just hope it comes to him.
He pulled a folded picture from the inside pocket of his jacket, it was a photocopied version of victim Faye Brown’s last high school picture. She would not be making her senior prom in a month. He looked at it for only a moment, and then carefully tucked it away again. His eyes glistened with moisture and determination. He was going to nail this scumbag once and for all.
Just before Spencer entered the conference room, his eye caught a young brunette and then it became clear. He quickly approached the girl who was part of a group of students from the academy. They were getting a full tour of the station from an officer in uniform. Spencer was digging through his pockets when he first spoke, “I need you to do me the biggest favor.” He turned to the Uniform giving the tour, “Can I borrow this one?” The Uniform simply nodded, and never ceased his dry speech about the typical historically mundane nonsense they talk about on tours. “Come with me.” And with that, he grabbed her bicep and lead her to the vending machines up the hallway. He quickly inserted some coins from his pockets and purchased a soda, “Okay, here’s the thing, I’m convinced I have the Inner-City Lady Killer sitting in Conference Room B. But, I don’t really have a good cause for asking about it, it’s pretty routine. So… sorry, what’s your name?”
“Mercedes Masterson, sir.”
“Right.” He shook her hand, “Detective David Spencer, nice to meet you. This is what I want you to do–give me five minutes alone with him and then bring in this pop. If you want, you can apologize for his long wait. You okay, can you do it?”
She responded with a yes, sir and then waited outside the door, eying her watch as Spencer entered. She could feel sweat building in her palms; she wiped each palm down the front of her gray skirt, and then wrapped her hands around the cold soda can–squeezing it for relief, for strength. She looked to her watch, and two minutes had already passed. They went so fast that she considered running off to rejoin her fellow schoolmates. That’s when she decided it was time to change her mode of thinking, it was time for an inner Pep Talk. She told herself she didn’t have anything to be nervous about. That the only one that should be sweating is the suspect on the other side of the wall. That he was the guilty one, and he was the one that had everything to lose. She looked down at her gray suit, opened the coat and revealed her black V-neck pullover. If his weakness is women, she told herself, than a woman’s what he’s gonna get. Her watch confirmed she was ten seconds past her cue, so she quickly pulled the tie from her hair, letting her ponytail fall out and her long hair bounced and waved about her shoulders. She took a quick, deep breath and than swept through the door.
“I do declare, there is no hospitality left in this world.” She feigned a higher, feminine tone of voice; southern drawl and smile, “We do feel sorry for your wait, sir. Here is a little something for your trouble.” She bent and stretched out to hand over the soda, “Though, I doubt Mr. Spencer can give back the last hour of your life.” She winked at the man, and then sneered at Spencer who cast a shocked expression of good humor her way. And with that, she shimmied out the door.
Spencer watched as Mercedes made her exit, and than turned his attention back to the man. The man had shifted himself sideways in his chair, his back now facing the door and his shoulder aimed at him. He looked uncomfortable now, whereas before Spencer had felt he was a bit cocky. Spencer dawned a half smile and joined into the game Mercedes had started for him, “We don’t have too money women working at the station, just a few secretaries, but the ones we have…” he trailed off with a sigh, “She sure is fine, don’t you think?”
“I wouldn’t know.” The man mumbled, “I wasn’t looking.”
Spencer moved his chair in closer to the table between them and whispered, “Everybody looks.”
The man had not stopped staring at the edge of the table since she had left the room, but he turned now to face Spencer with a look of contempt. He looked him square in the eyes and sternly reaffirmed that he was not looking.
“Okay, fine–so you weren’t looking.” Spencer was running out of time and was disappointed as well. The conversation was good, but what he really wanted was for the young man to take a sip of that coke. But he hadn’t touched the thing, not even once. What Spencer knew, and what the young man could not have known, was that they had a partial fingerprint from one of the crime scenes–and since the 1970s there was a simple law that stated that evidence collected on public property need not a warrant. All he needed was for the suspect to take a drink and leave just one fingerprint. The bait was set on the table, but the fish wasn’t biting.
Before the conversation could continue, Mercedes waltzed back into the room proclaiming that she suspected she’d forget her head one day. She had a cup of ice in her hand and offered it to the man, but was a little overbearing in her offer as she reached for the can before he had time to respond. The man quickly snatched the can, opened it, gulped and said the temperature was fine.
Hook. Line. Sinker. Spencer thought these three words to himself and then watched with glee as Mercedes made her grand finale. She explained that the vending machines don’t always keep cold enough, and then she tried to snatch the can back from his hands. That’s when the can fell to the floor, but she promptly swapped it up and asked if he’d been hit in such a way you would have thought a gun had gone off. He had been hit, but it was no big deal he said. She apologized several times, and then bolted out the door with the promise of another coke–though he argued that it wasn’t necessary. She said it was the least she could do as she left the room with the evidence in hand. After the door was shut, Jason Richard Wright was made nervous once more when he saw a smile on Spencer’s face. He slid a piece of paper across the table, asked him to sign on the dotted line and date it. He then informed him he was free to go.
Later that night, Jason Richard Wright woke in a cold sweat. It had little-to-nothing to do with the interrogation, though it did cross his mind at first. He was pretty confident he was off the hook, that the cheap whore had done him no harm. What had him in a sweat was the dream. It was back and more vivid than ever. Frustrated and unable to sleep, he grabbed his toolbox and drove to the all-night diner where Carrie-Ann Stekel waited tables.
Some Reunions Suck
Teen Wolf was to be his first stop; he was the Supplier. He started this mess. Teen Wolf lived in a gigantic house that he bought with the gigantic addictions and losses he fermented. He was a dealer, but he didn’t deal to lowlifes on the streets in the outskirts. He was inner city, higher class scum than the teens The Rolling Stone had maimed in the convenient store. He wasn’t top of the crop, though. He bought from the inner-most city scum dealers, than he supplied it to the lowlife dealing scum in the outskirts. The lowlife dealers sold it to any Tom, Dick and Harry that walked the streets—or in this case, Wicked Annabelle.
The Rolling Stone met Wicked Annabelle in a bar on the edge of the outskirts; that is, not in the outskirts but just inside inner city. Before he knew it, they were seeing more of each other and before he knew it they were getting hitched. And then, he really got to know her—she was a junkie, a lowlife junkie. She bought from the lowlife dealers who bought from Teen Wolf who bought from Dr. Hook who worked for Big Fish Murphy. Before he knew it, Wicked Annabelle was prematurely birthing his damaged son. The last The Rolling Stone had seen of his son, things were looking rough for the four year old. He was on tubes and all other manner of things that make one more robot than human. Wicked Annabelle’s addiction had made the boy’s life barely worth living.
Wicked Annabelle met Dr. Hook at a party; she showed up hanging off Teen Wolf. She was looking for some free hook-ups to things that could get her really flying. She desired to be high, high as a kite by then. The Rolling Stone didn’t know of this meeting, he was clueless. He was working the graveyard shift, as always. Dr. Hook took a liking to Wicked Annabelle, swaying to and fro in her perpetual midnight state. She was flying by the time Dr. Hook found her, but he didn’t mind. He wasn’t after her mind or clever conversation.
She had a body a guy could appreciate, and she was willing to negotiate. Better yet, she was cheap. That is, cheap for a guy who already owns the jazz she’s wanting—he could get all the Wicked Annabelle he desired for nothing. Just a little this and a little that from his own stash. A little loss, but it paid off in the bedroom. Dr. Hook was getting up there, but when you’re rich the ladies don’t care how shriveled you may become. For Wicked Annabelle, though, it wasn’t about the money—it was about the drugs.
Teen Wolf was currently sitting home alone, smoking a piece of his own labor. On his television set “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” was showing. He took a huge puff and his head was becoming heavier, swaying away from his neck—out ward and down, then jerking it up to see Goldie Hawn doing her hippy dance.
“Goldie, baby,” he spoke, a look of concern became his face, “You poor girl. Look at you—you’re just a body, baby,” he sniffed long and hard, “It’s The Man Goldie, baby!” He tried to focus his eyes, looking at the glass-sliding doors before him. He leaned forward in the sofa, a small fireball could be seen through the glass, “The light Goldie, do you see the light, Goldie? I see it,” the fireball faded into black and then words appeared in the dark, coming closer. Squinting hard, he read, “Team Player? What’s it mean, Goldie?” Looking up, he saw a familiar face, “Eddie? Eddie Bruno?”
The glass shattered and the bullet traveled across the living room, it entered Teen Wolf’s right shoulder. Following through with the momentum, he flipped over backwards from sitting and went feet first over the back of the sofa. Landing on his knees, his forehead sliding across the back of the sofa—he jumped to his feet and began to run down the hallway behind him, “Run, Goldie, RUN!”
The next bullet came through his right shoulder from the back, exiting out the entrance of his first wound. He fell with it, his right side leading. He fell shoulder and head first into the staircase, he tried to grab the rail but his feet and hands betrayed him. He rolled all the way down the stairs, at the bottom his neck scrunched between the floor and wall. Looking up the stairs, he could see The Rolling Stone’s silhouette looking down at him.
Teen Wolf ran through the room, it was dark and he kicked something in the process. He could feel that a toe was broken—now limping he ran towards a pair of French Doors. As he reached the doors, a bullet entered through his back—middle of the torso, just to the left of his spine. He flew forward, throwing his hands out as he did.
As he rolled across the concrete patio, he felt the glass shards cutting into his arms and legs—his heavily bearded face was riddled with shards. Teen Wolf jumped to his feet, landing in the grass. He turned and looked back to his house, “Eddie, stop! What do you want?! Just say it!”
The Rolling Stone stepped out of the shadow of the balcony above him—from which he had made his entrance—the risen moon lit his face, “One question.”
“Anything, Eddie, anything…”
“Where is she?”
“Who, Eddie?” the fourth bullet entered and exited his left foot, “Dr. Hook!”
“Yeah, Eddie,” standing on one foot, Teen Wolf rubbed his bloody foot with the broken toe, “But you can forget it. Nobody uninvited enters The Compound.”
The fifth and final bullet drove through his skull, brain and out the other side. The Rolling Stone stood over his latest victim, who squirmed and twitched involuntarily. Slowly the movements gave way, Teen Wolf’s eyes glowing with the reflection of the moon.
Inside Teen Wolf’s walk-in closet, The Rolling Stone browsed a much larger selection of clothing. He took his hands and pulled at the neck, dead and center, his Team Player shirt tore straight down the middle. He threw it on the floor, kicking off his loafers into a corner. He picked a golden, polyester button-up shirt. He slipped into some navy blue bellbottoms and completed the outfit with a brown, leather jacket. Fitting into some new, non-bloody socks, and loafers he stepped out of the closet.
As The Rolling Stone flagged down a cab, he knew what he had to face. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for it, yet—but he was tired of toying around. No one had ever survived a fight with Hawn the Hammer. It was going to take all he had—and he had nothing.
Ruby painted her lips red, after slipping into some red leather. Her burgundy hair bounced outward, down and about as she flung her locks with her fingers–freeing them from the leather. Looking into a cracked mirror, in her rundown motel room that doubled as an apartment, she teased those black lashes. A little pink blush with a tap-tap-tap on one cheek, then the other. Not too much, otherwise she’ll look like a doll and men today don’t want a doll–they want a whore.
The door shutting behind her on its own, read Room 21.
Slipping her skinny biceps into black leather, the jacket clung to her torso. But she didn’t zip up, that’s where the moneymakers are hanging out. Walking barefoot, her feet adapted to the pavements and sidewalks they graced. It was the heels that hurt. She always carried them to her block, then put them on. A barefoot hooker just screamed hippie and that just didn’t sell like it used to. This ain’t no Woodstock, Mr. Walrus.
As she walked, she slipped her earphones in and listened to her Making Money soundtrack. It mostly consisted of AC/DC, Metallica and the such like. These songs put her in a groove, a beat and–unfortunately for her, but fortunately for others and then eventually fortunately for her–a mood.
Ruby had been working the streets for seven years now. She started at the tender age of 15, soon after leaving home. She was fed up with her father and his rules. She was gonna live her life the way she wanted and no two-timing, down-on-his-luck, impotent pervert trying to change his life for the better with a strict code was going to change that.
So at the corner of Jackson, Lincoln and bitter irony Ruby slipped into those heels and the role of slave. Pulling on the chain of the dog tags about her neck, she pulled them loose from the red leather and let them drape between her shoulders. Across the street she saw Blondie. Blondie was always threatening to take Ruby’s turf. Ruby glared at her, bit her lip and gave her a finger–the worst one. Blondie smirked, quirked the head and returned the favor.
A man spoke from the shadows of the liquor store, “Hey… you a hooker or something?”
“Do I look like a hooker?”
“I don’t know,” the voice responded, “I’ve never met a hooker.”
Ruby, rolling her eyes, responded, “Yeah, your mom was a peach, I’m sure. How do you want it?”
Walking into the street light, Jason Richard Wright looked nervous, “In the alley… I guess.”
Walking into the alley, Ruby leading, it got darker and darker. All they could see were each others’ silhouettes now, and his palms were sweating, “I, uh, got off early. I’m a janitor at the University; the power went out–the sent us home, they probably won’t pay us. They never do with things like this, they expect us to use our vacation or personal hours. Even during terrorist threats, it’s pretty stupid.”
“You’re on the clock pal,” Ruby spoke, “Is this all you want? A chat?” A door opened and shed light on Ruby, a cook from the bar saw her, “Frankie, do you mind? I’m working here.”
“Well, hurry it up, Ruby,” the cook spoke, “I need a smoke.”
As the door was shutting, Jason Richard Wright saw Rupert’s name flashing in the night on medal. And then the darkness was back, their eyes adjusting again.
“Hey, how did you get those dog tags?”
“Dope off,” Ruby said.
“You stole them didn’t you?”
“DOPE OFF, buster.”
“You did!” Jason Richard Wright screeched in the night and grabbed, grasping the dog tags in his fingers. Pulling towards himself, he tried to break them from about her neck but she caught his hand with one of her own. Jason Richard Wright felt two quick, sharp pains. One in the crotch, made with her knee. The other in his right side, a switchblade penetrating–he felt it scrape a rib. The switchblade was out as soon as it was in, he fell with the nausea to the ground. His head thumped and scratched across the trash bin. He felt her smaller fingers wrap around his right wrist and it was accompanied with two cold, metal fingers that completed a circle. She pulled his arm to the door and latched the other half of the handcuffs to the handle.
Running off out of the alley, Ruby saw the lights of the kitchen again piercing the night. Turning the corner, she was gone. The last she heard was Frankie screaming her name and dictating for someone to call the cops.
As Jason Richard Wright leaned against the door, bleeding on the kitchen floor, he laughed. He laughed as he never had. After all this time, he was brought down by a prostitute.
David Spencer was sitting in his easy chair; Mercedes Masterson was making some coffee for the two of them. He looked upon her and admired the young detective who had followed in his footsteps. She too had joined the private sector after leaving the force. And, like he had hoped he would be, she was instrumental in bruising organized crime in Babylon. Spencer, on the other hand, wasn’t young anymore. He was getting up there in years, but he still had his mind.
Mercedes had made these visits more common after his heart attack; it made him feel like he was the father no one wanted but one person felt obligated to visit him in his infirmities. But he didn’t mind, she was good company. It was all just a little depressing. Deep down Spencer knew his life was quickly fleeting.
Sitting on his sofa, Mercedes handed him his coffee mug; and she smirked, “So you know this one was going to come up,” after adjusting herself in the cushion, she looked to him, “Jason Richard Wright.”
“Yeah,” Spencer spoke, sipping his coffee, “He was bound to come up sooner or later.”
“I’m curious,” she started her inquiry, “How did you maintain your sanity? Well, that is, how did you not give up? That was a jacked up case.”
Without hesitation, Spencer spoke two words, “Faye Brown.”
“Yeah,” his eyes were now going back somewhere, “Faye Brown. Only fifteen years old… whenever I got discouraged, I thought of her.”
Faye Brown was petite, in all aspects of the word. She was skinny, weighing in at only 82 pounds. She was short, standing a not-so commanding four feet and seven inches. Her golden locks, wavy and long, made her easy prey for her teenage peers. She was cute, smart but troubled. Her parents were avid alcoholics. One night she decided she was tired of it and made a decision that was unlike most she made—an ignorant one. Faye decided to run away from home and join the teenage wasteland.
She hadn’t made it very far when she stopped at a truck port just outside of Babylon. She was entering the big city for the first time, hailing from Riverside. Exiting the truck cab, she went inside to buy some snacks and pop. Then, she was going to try and find a new ride. Her company from Riverside was calling it a night, for a few hours. Faye, on the other hand, desired to put as much distance between her and the whiskey back in Riverside.
It was late at night and she mostly got turned down. Most men looked her over, but decided they would be getting in trouble if they picked up this girl. So, they would opt out and make up some lame excuse. But there was one gentleman who had been watching her for about ten minutes before she made her way to him, and he was beyond willing to give her a ride.
“Excuse me, Sir?” she asked innocently, “I wonder if you could give me a ride? I’m heading east—is that the direction your heading?”
“Could I get a ride, please?”
“Not a problem.”
Inside Jason Richard Wright’s 1993, red Ford Escort they spoke of many things. The actuality of it all was that Jason Richard Wright wasn’t heading anywhere; he was there for a girl. And once he had his, he was ready. Though, he would have driven to Detroit if he had to.
“I was never good at math in high school.”
“Oh, it’s not that bad,” Faye assured, “You just have to think within the box they give you. There’s no thinking outside the box with math… or science for that matter.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Jason Richard Wright mostly asked questions. He didn’t provide much in the way of actual conversation, he was too busy trying to get in as many glances to her body as he could. He would later admit that young and small was his preferred type. There was just something about it. Perhaps it was the control he had, since he wasn’t a large man by any means. Someone smaller would be easier to handle. Though he had to admit, the small ones always had the softer skin, “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
“The worst?” she asked, a little frightened.
Jason Richard Wright was just toying now, trying to get as much dirt as he could. The longer the conversation went, the hotter it got for him in his Escort, “Yeah… what’s the worst thing?”
“I don’t know…” she was becoming hesitant.
He felt like he was going to lose her at this point, “Well, like… did you ever do drugs?”
“No,” she laughed, “That’s stupid.”
“What about… drink?”
She snarled, “No.”
“Skinny dipping with the friends?”
Giggling, “No, thank goodness.”
“What about sex?”
They set in silence. The radio managed to get through one song and a half. Across the sky, one could see the night was threatening to give way to the sun. Jason Richard Wright was so upset with himself. He was feeling like he’d reeled the fish in, and then threw the pole into the water. But finally, Faye spoke softly,
“There was this one time…
“Tommy Kilger, he’s our quarterback. He took me out for Homecoming, which was like the coolest thing that had ever happened in my life. I was a freshman and he was a senior, and he took me to Homecoming. Well, it was fun for a while, but then he just couldn’t stop… touching. I asked him to stop, but he kept on. He might stop for like one song, but then he’d start as soon as they’d play a stupid rap song or something and then he’d be grabbing and groping at me. And grinding… I hated it. Eventually, I told Tommy I wanted to leave. So, he argued, but then gave in. On the way home, he pulled over… it hurt. I’ve never bled so much in my life.
“At home, I just went to bed. The next morning I burned my dress… I don’t know why I’m telling you this; I don’t even know you and I’ve never told this to anyone. Needless to say, that was the last time I went out with Tommy Kilger.”
Jason Richard Wright sat quietly for a moment, pondering what had just been said to him. As he slowly moved into the far right lane, he spoke again, “So he raped you?”
“Yeah,” Faye spoke, folding her arms for warmth. It wasn’t cold in the car, but it was a cold world that night.
“Why did you bleed?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed, “Because I was a virgin, and I wasn’t ready.”
“So it hurt?”
Jason Richard Wright was getting confused and frustrated with the conversation, “But it felt good eventually, right?”
“No, it just hurt.”
“At first,” he demanded, “But eventually you liked it?”
“No!” she yelled, “When someone rapes you, it doesn’t feel good. It never feels good.”
He was fuming now, void of understanding, “But its sex, eventually it’s going to feel good!”
“You know what? Pull over,” Faye demanded, “I’m done with this conversation, you’re stupid. I’ll get a ride from someone else.”
Jason Richard Wright didn’t even hesitate; he pulled off on the next exit. They had managed to drive just outside of Babylon on the northeast side. Before he could pull over onto the shoulder and park, he grabbed Faye by the back of the head and slammed her face into the dashboard. The car was old enough it didn’t have a passenger airbag; it didn’t even have a driver airbag. He continued to pound her face into the dashboard, her fingernails scrapping into his hand only made him angrier—and stronger. He continued to pound and pound and pound.
Stopping the car, he used his left hand to put it in park. He unbuckled his seat belt and turned to her, crossing the console between them. With both hands now, he pounded her face. The glove compartment fell open and dropped the registration onto her feet. But that didn’t stop Jason Richard Wright, he kept pounding away. He even got a good hit with the bridge of her nose across the door of the glove compartment, this broke her nose. Finally, he stopped. Sitting back and removing his hands from her bloodstained, golden locks he set back in his own chair. Faye slid over and propped against the door.
Stepping out of the car, he sprinted around the front of the car. As he did, he undid his belt, and pants. Opening the passenger door, she fell just before the ground–hanging, tangled in her seat belt. He leaned her back, undid the seat belt and pulled her out. Dragging her into the open field that overlooked the Babylon Industrial Park in the distance, he rolled her over. It was starting to rain now, which was fine by Jason Richard Wright, because it would wash away a lot of the blood, semen and prints.
And he left Faye there in the field. Open and bare to the sky.
Upon hearing the news, Faye’s parents gave up the bottle—cold turkey.