The Docks I

He tossed his cigarette over the edge of the pier.

Smoking was his nastiest habit, but he couldn’t help himself. It’s what he’d always done after a tough job. Especially after killing someone.

The nicotine was starting to ease the jitters in his jagged, broken hands.

“You should get that checked out.” His partner approached with his rifle on the ready.

“I’ll be fine,” He answered as he looked over his shoulder to his partner.

He checked his hands. The blood had soaked through the wrapping on his hands.

“You’ll turn into one of them junkies.” His partner slung the rifle over his shoulder and drew a pistol.

“Been there, done that,” He turned from the peer and walked past his partner. “You found the brother?”

His partner shook his head. “You?”

“Nope,” He said. “I can barely tell these junkies apart.”

“Suprised you found the girl.”

“Me too.”

“Boy can’t be far behind.”

“Nope.

He had to take out a dozen of the junkies to get to the girl. For drugged up and malnourished people, junkies had ungodly strength and endurance beyond logic. His mark nearly gnawed off his hand before he was able to subdue her.

“These bastards bite hard,” His partner said.

“Yeah,” He grabbed the potato sack holding the unconscious woman and slung it over his shoulder before walking the body to his car and popping the trunk. “And they’re strong.”

“We should check another nest,” His partner suggested.

He popped the trunk and dumped the body in. “No.”

“Why not?” His partner asked. “We don’t, another suiter will.”

“Don’t care.” He slammed the trunk closed. “Bad idea.”

“I need that bonus,” His partner said. “Ain’t leaving without the brother.”

“Shit,” He muttered.

His partner would do it with or without him.

“They’re only two of us,” He said.

“Those ghosts are more interested in the next high than us,” His partner said. “Just help me look through one of their nests.”

He watched the charcoal colored smog overtaking the river.

“Just one?” He said.

“Just one,” His partner answered.

He sighed. “Just one.”

The smog reminded him of something he couldn’t quite remember, but he could feel it gnawing at his subconscious mind.

He checked his ammunition before following His partner to the hangars just beyond the docks.

All the hangars were opened and abandoned. No traces of ever being used. Except one.

“Got your bolt cutters?” His partner asked.

He drew the cutters from his belt. “Yep.”

The fog had grown thicker over the years.

It bothered him. He didn’t know why it bothered him. He couldn’t let it bother hi-

“Hey?” His partner snapped a finger in front of his face. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” He answered.

“You keep looking out there,” His partner said.

“Ever thought of just catching a boat out of here?” He asked.

“I mean, I could,” His partner replied. “But never thought about it.”

“Why not?”

“Just never did.”

“Not curious?”

“Not one bit.”

He drew his pistol.

“You’d be sailing to another shithole place,” His partner answered.

“You sure about that?” He asked.

“The whole planet is a shithole.” His partner said. “Why not remain in the shithole you’re familiar with.”

“How do you know?” He asked.

“Should probably just sail out there.” His partner said. “Since you’re so curious.”

“Perhaps I will,” He answered.

“Could use the bonus to buy a boat,” His partner said.

“And I’ll sail to the edge of the goddam world,” He said. “And you’ll ride out too.”

“Count me out,” His partner said. “I’m fine an dandy in my shithole.”

“Know anybody who’s sailed out of town?” He asked.

“What do you mean?” His partner questioned in reply.

“Have you ever seen boats sail out?” He inquired.

“All the people I know are businessmen,” His partner answered. “They’re too busy making money to go sailing.”

They walked along the docks and approached the biggest building on the pier.

“These businessmen have yachts?” He asked.

“Of course,” His partner answered. “Several.”

“Any of those yachts leave port?” He questioned.

His partner looked off to the smoggy sky. “Probably. Will have to ask next time.”

He couldn’t think of a time when he’d ever left Rose City, or whether he knew anybody who had left Rose City.

His lip quivered.

“You got a smoke,” He asked his partner.

His partner shook his head.

“Shit,” He muttered.

His overthinking would always get the best of him when he didn’t smoke. The last drag was all he had left until he got back to town.

“C’mon, let’s clear this place out,” His partner said. “The wife’s expecting me home early.”

“Alright, I’m good to go,” He clipped the chains on the door.

His partner nodded as he pulled the hammer back on his pistol.

He opened the door.

A gathering of glowing white eyes stared out to them from the darkness.

“Alright…” His partner lowered his pistol and drew a picture of their target along with a glowing white vial. “Free drugs for the first junky who leads us to this kid.”

Rockstar’s Rent II

Part I : https://darrionjwrites.com/2019/02/13/rockstars-rent-i/

Do you know who the fuck I am?

He side-eyed the trashy, piss-coated alley.

He thought of trying the alley again but didn’t have the energy or the patience to tussle with the diseased cats and Thick-neck bouncers who antagonized him with their lies, claiming they didn’t know who the fuck he was.

My goddamn name should be in lights. My guitar and I made this goddamn club.

He made that Goddam city. The Rose ain’t shit without him.

A black limo crossed the corner of his eye and drove past the block.

The same limo, fueled by the pain and oppression of Landlord’s tenants, which drove past three times before.

He examined the cracks in his guitar.

The neck of this guitar was one drop away from irreparable.

The fire escape did more damage to him than he first thought. He wanted justice. Payback.

He fought back tears as he dropped his guitar to his side.

A very special woman gave him that guitar. Taught him how to play.

Sister Nanci.

The guitar was one of a kind. She was one of a kind. Its why he named his guitar after her. Landlord was going to pay for the guitar with his money and with his blood.

Screw this.

He shoved his way to the front of the long line and dared everyone with his eyes to say something.

Half the spot was his. He should not have to wait on a line to place which was mostly his. The son of a bitch owner, Bird-Killer., owed him big time, and he was there to collect the debt.

“Wait,” Bouncer ordered.

“What?” He said.

Thick-neck bouncer waved in half a dozen whores in front of me.

He bit his tongue.

Allowing whores before him.

He took a deep, calming breath.

He wasn’t in the mood for static. Perhaps he’d deal with thick-neck bouncers after his sit-down with the owner. Until then, he’d exercise restraint and patience, like one of the delusional peaceniks with the drum circles he liked spitting on.

“What do you want?” Thick-neck asked.

“Entry,” He answered.

“No can do.” Thick-neck looked him up and down. “No shirt no service.”

He could kick himself for not grabbing a button-down and loafers before leaping from his from his second story window to escape If he’d have just stayed an extra minute, dug through his closet for some decent clothes and in turn allowed Landlord the proper time to cave in his skull with a shotgun cane, he’d be headless, but at least his body would be appropriately dressed to enter Bird-killer’s crappy establishment– which he partially owned.

He smirked. “Look buddy-“

“I’m not your buddy,” Thick-neck snapped.

“I’m here to see Bird-killer.” He replied through his teeth.

“And who are you?” Thick-neck said.

“He knows.” He pointed to the second floor window.

Bird-killer was watching their interaction. That creep loved to watch.

The black limo pulled up to the end of the block.

Shit.

Landlord and his limo was stalking him. Waiting for him to leave Bird-killer’s block.

“Your boss knows me,” He pleaded.

“Pretty sure he doesn’t,” Thick-neck said.

He attempted to step around Thick-neck to enter the club.

“Back of the line.” Thick-neck shoved him hard.

He tripped on the curb and lost grip of his guitar.

His night couldn’t possibly get any worse. The dark clouds were thickening.

Nanci hit the street and shattered into three parts.

No!

He fell to his knees.

He lost Sister Nanci twice. The pain felt like he did.

He stood to face Thick-neck.

Thick-neck cracked his knuckles like he was go for a scrap. “Try that again and I’ll-”

Thick-neck didn’t see him coming.

He cracked Thick-neck across his jaw with a leaping elbow. A hundred and fifty pounds of force across Thick-neck’s obese melon before chopping him across his buffalo shins.

Thick-neck staggered back and bulldozed a trio of whores who were politicking with a couple of simps at the door.

He didn’t want to kill Thick-neck, he just wanted the guy to know he meant business. Give him something to think about the next time he put hands on him.

Thick massaged his face before wiping the blood from his lips.

“You done fucked up,” Thick-neck said.

No sir, you fucked up when you finished my guitar.

I took a high-guard fighting stance.

The elbow shot should had dropped Thick-neck like a sack of oranges, but the bouncer was clearly juiced and thick like a coconut. He was prepared to chop Thick-neck down like a tree– he had nothing better to do.

Two more buffalo-built bouncers stepped outside the club.

Aw fuck.

Thick-neck and his two behemoth buddies were on top of him in a blink, beating his ribs and twisting him like a pretzel in the streets.

A whistle.

Thick-neck and his two bouncers immediately hopped off of him and returned to the door.

He spotted the silhouette of a man wearing a feathered fedora in the upstairs window.

He wiped the blood from his nose as he staggered to his feet. “You better talk to me.”

He looked down the street.

The window was cracked in the limo.

“You owe me bitch,” He screamed at Bird-killer in the window. “How quickly we forget, partner.”

Landlord was watching. Waiting. Landlord wouldn’t dare make a move on Bird-killer’s block. Honor among demons.

He turned his attention back to the window. “I built this place!”

Bird-killer stepped away from the window and closed the blinds.

Seconds later a young lady stepped outside to speak with Thick-neck.

That ungrateful…

He helped build that club. Bird-killer would be a drugged up nobody if he didn’t bring him into his circle. The fedora wearing fairy was a subpar drummer who lacked the talent to make it in that city without him, which is why he resorted to pimping and weapons-dealing.

Ungrateful bastard.

Thick-neck approached him again.

He raised one hand to a half-guard with the other holding his ribs together.

He was going to lose the fight but took satisfaction in the idea that he was about to be beaten to death and Landlord was never going to get his rent.

“Bird-killer will see you,” Thick-neck said.

He lowered his guard. “That’s what I thought.”

He snatched the pieces of his shattered guitar from the ground and followed Thick-neck into the alley to the VIP entrance at the side of the club.

The hall was dark and he could feel the rumbling of the shitty music in his bones.

Bird-killer had done renovations since he’d last been to the spot. The VIP entrance was completely separate from the club.

He followed Thick-neck through the dark hallway and up the stairs and into the office.

Bird-killer was behind his desk.

Behind him was a view of the club floor and to his side was a view of the street.

The limo was no longer there.

“Stain,” Bird-Killer pointed to a seat. “Please.”

He took a seat.

Bird-killer poured him a drink. Vintage bottle. Expensive looking.

That’s more like it.

He took the drink and downed it in a single gulp.

It was like cold medicine going down but set fire to his chest.

He wanted another.

“You here for me?” Bird-killer asked in his effeminate voice.

“I’m here to collect,” He replied.

“Oh.” Bird-killer poured and slid him another drink. “Not here to pay off your debt.”

My debt?” He gulped another drink.

“You owe me a lot of money sweetie.” Bird-killer poured and slid him another drink.

“Owe you?” He drank another. “Bullshit.”

You owe me, Bird. The world owes me.

Bird-killer took a seat, crossed his legs to the side and rested his chin on his clasped hands. “No matter….”

The room started to spin.

“I’m happy,” Bird-Killer said. “You’re here to pay either way.”

His fingers froze..

Crash!

He lost his glass and nearly melted out of his chair.

“I promise you it’ll be painless,” Bird-killer said. “I owe you that much, partner.”

Pain…less?

The drinks. Bird-killer slipped him something heavy.

“You backstabbing piece of… …” He slurred.

The room went black. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t see shit. But he could hear.

“Prep him for surgery,” Bird-Killer said.

“Yes boss,” Thick-neck replied.

Shit.

The Sleepless Sleuth

Seven days.

He propped his leg on the chipped windowsill as he emptied what was left of the pill bottle past his lips.

Clouds in the sky. Gray clouds.

Looked like rain.

He hoped it wasn’t rain. The integrity of the roof in that dilapidated building couldn’t take another washout.

Cracks in the ceiling were spreading. The leaks were decaying the walls.

Thank goodness he didn’t keep too many of his important files there.

Time for a new office.

He reached past the powder vial in his breast pocket to draw his stuffed envelope.

A faded picture fell out of his pocket and onto his lap.

He picked up the picture and stared at it a while before placing it in his pocket, closest to his heartbeat, once again.

Rest easy, Sister Nanci.

He stared at the wrinkled envelope.

It’s an envelope he’d been carrying around for weeks. An envelope some street fiend would have gutted him to get their hands on. An envelope he should have used to repair the moldy roof, or a lease on an entirely new office on the North Side of town. An envelope he thought of gifting to someone far more deserving than he was instead of pissing it away on another commercial space.

She can do so better than this dump.

He stuffed it in his pocket before washing down the pills with a mix of two day old cup of rancid coffee, melted ice with a splash of vodka.

Breakfast.

His vacation was imminent. It was seven days away and no amount of old joe, case files or expensive street pharmaceuticals were going to keep him in the city past seven days. It wasn’t his reservation to cancel. The vacation was happening whether he wanted it to or not. And, something told him that it would be a trip from which he would never return.

“Your desk is full,” My assistant said from the doorway behind a cart with a single file.

“Sorry.” He turned to face her and nearly kicked a tower of files from his desk. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Into the office?” She asked.

“Into work,” He replied.

“I’ve been here since morning, Malone.”

“That so?”

He was buried so deep in his thoughts, so focused on his works, that a marching band could have set off a fireworks display in his waiting room and he wouldn’t have noticed.

“Have something for me?” He asked.

“Work.” She handed him a file.

“I was hoping for coffee.” He stared into his empty cup.

“You’re out of coffee,” She said.

He placed the empty mug on his desk. “I figured… If you have time.”

He hadn’t left the office in a few days. Maybe weeks. He couldn’t recall the last t..ime he hit the market for food.

“I’ll buy coffee,” His assistant offered.

“That’s kind of you,” He said.

“It’s nothing,” She took his mug.

He hadn’t eaten in days. He’d been so distracted in his mad rush to solve cases before his vacation that he kept forgetting to eat.

He felt normal. He felt no pain. No weakness. His stomach was unusually silent for someone who is starving themselves to death.

“Anything else?” His assistant gestured for the empty pill bottle he was squeezing.

He was gripping the bottle so tight it had left his fingernail dents in the empty white label.

“No thanks.” He pocketed the empty bottle. “Just coffee.”

She cleared old cigarette butts from his desk and ashtray. “There’s a client.”

No time for any new cases.

“Uh huh.” He flipped through the new file. “Where?”

“The waiting room…”

“No kidding…”

“Will you meet with him?”

“When?”

“Now?”

“Unlikely.”

“Right…”

He had more important things to do than to take on a new case. Also, it wasn’t like he needed the money. He had more money than he needed to take care of himself and to pay for a new faucet for the bathroom and paint to cover up the green fuzz growing on the walls.

He felt her staring at him. “Yes?”

Her posture was like one of those billboards in Time Central. Blaring, bright and boisterously advertising her innermost thoughts. All she needed was a cigarette and an over the top pose.

“Ask me anything, alright?” He faced her.

She huffed. “Are you leaving again?”

“Yes.” He returned his attention to the file. “Soon.”

“How long this time?” She asked.

Wish I had answers for you.

“Last time it was weeks.” His assistant cleared all the solved case files from his desk. “How long this time?”

“A few days, hopefully,” He answered.

“That’s what you said last time,” She answered.

“Sorry,” He replied.

Silence.

“Need someone… to water your plants?” She asked.

He shut his file and clasped his eyes. “Yes…. Please. That would be appreciated.”

He loved his plants. His plants were colorful and too beautiful for that world. He would hate to return from his vacations to see his beloved plants dried up.

His assistant perched her lips. “Okay.”

“Slip this into a red folder.” He drew a pen and wrote a few notes in the file before placing the file on top of the pile. “File it under solved.”

“I just handed you that file,” His assistant opened the file.

“I know.” He replied. “It’s connected to the big arson case we just solved.”

He remembered the Arson case being an open and shut one. The Police Chief wanted to give him credit and the keys to the city for that one. He refused. He neither wanted nor needed anymore accolades from the city.

“I’ll have the courier collect it,” She placed the file evenly atop the tower of solved cases in her cart. “And I’ll tell the client in the waiting room you solved his case.”

“Thanks,” He said.

“How much should I charge him?”

“Nothing… Tell him it’s on the house.”

“Will do…” The little lady shuffled quietly out of his office before he could reply to her insistence on seeing the client in the waiting room.

He faced the window again but didn’t bother reclining.

He thought about his cases were getting easier to solve, and how there was no need to leave his office anymore to solve them. Much like he never needed to see a chess board for more than a second to beat the pants off of a park hustler. He learned early in his career that people in that city were walking-talking game pieces– at most, wind up toys. Everybody’s movements. Everybody just played their positions from sunrise to sundown. Wake to sleep. Birth to death. People in the city were like flesh-carved chess pieces, and Rose city was the overcrowded, noisey, polluted game board, tearing at folds in the center and barely being held together with flimsy tape; and all he needed to see was a first move. One move and then he could step away from the table, and call in checkmate from a pay phone from the South Side of town.

Sad.

He grabbed his scarf, hat and pistol.

He once considered himself lucky for his omniscience. He once considered himself God’s favorite– if a God existed. It took him six vacations to realize the truth.

He yawned.

Truth was, he was cursed. He was being force-fed things his tired mind and deteriorating body could barely handle.

He needed some air.

The one case he couldn’t solve was his own– what’s happening to him. The human brain wasn’t built for what he was being forced to carry. There was no way to stop it. His next vacation was going to kill him.

He needed a cold shower and a hot meal.

He threw on his hat, holstered his pistol in his pocket and wrapped his scarf around his neck before leaving his office.

He waved to his Assistant as he walked past her and some other guy in the waiting room. “Take the rest of the week.”

“Malone…” His assistant chased him into the hallway. “Are you leaving now?”

“Just heading out for some air,” He paused allowing her to catch up.

“And you’re coming back, right?” His assistant questioned. “For your coffee.”

He peeked back into my office and noticed a small, jittery looking man slouched over in our rickety waiting room chair.

“Maybe tomorrow,” He said.

“I won’t make it until then.” She painted a smirk across her face. “The coffee.”

“Thanks.” He pulled the fat envelope from my pocket and handed it to her. “Take the kid out for a steak.”

The contents of the envelope would allow her to buy steak dinners three times a week for the next month. Knowing her, she would use forego the luxury and spend it on something more responsible rent and groceries for the next six (months).

She took the envelope. “He doesn’t eat steak.”

“Pie then,” He said. “Get pie.”

She nodded while examining the envelope.

The envelope he handed her could be severance pay. He hadn’t decided yet. It may not be his decision after all after he goes on his forced vacation.

“Thank you,” She said.

His assistant didn’t even check the envelope. She just held it in her hand like an empty pack of cigarettes.

He called the elevator.

He didn’t deserve her. Not only was his assistant the lifeblood of their agency, she was the most honorable, warm-hearted person he’d ever meet. She was a partner, a friend; the closest thing to a wife and family he’d ever have in his waking life.

“I’ll buy fresh coffee.” She tapped him on the chest with the envelope. “And some new chairs for the waiting room.”

“That would be nice,” He replied.

Ping

The elevator arrived.

He stepped into the elevator.

She waved at him as the door closed and the elevator descended.

He stuffed his hands in his pocket instead of waving back.

He was never good at goodbyes.

The elevator rumbled down to the first floor. He saluted the door man before leaving my building for the darkness and the drizzle.

His car was parked out front.

Fuck driving.

He tightened his top button started his way up the damp street in the opposite direction from his apartment.

The Stockton’s had a monopoly on refueling stations. On all energy in the city. He’d sooner walk in the rain and catch pneumonia than to give those gluttonous bastards another cent of his cash.

“Sir,” A sheepish voice called from his flank.

If he had to guess based on his voice, his stalker was an unimposing man. The nail-biter from the waiting room must have been following him for a good mile.

“Mr. Malone, I was hoping you’d take this case,” nail biter said.

“It’s closed,” He replied. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

He wasn’t even in the mood to humor nail-biter.

“It’s not,” nail biter insisted.

Arson. A hospice ward full of coma patients incinerated by a lone wolf lunatic. It was an open and shut case. One of the easier cases to solve.

“Mr. Malone, you’re the only one who can solve this case.” The stout little guy positioned himself in front of him.

“Nothing left to solved,” He said. “The arsonist is getting the chair in a week.”

Executions were speedy in that city. Trials were quick and efficient. To save space in the overflowing jails. Soulless but practical.

“No…” Waiting room man blocked his path. “You locked up the wrong guy.”

“What’s your name?” He asked.

“Cyrus,” Waiting room man replied.

“Okay Cyrus,” He jabbed his finger into Cyrus’s chest. “I caught the right guy.”

“Not this time,” Cyrus said.

That Cyrus fellow was really trying his patience.

“Get home safely.” He stepped around Cyrus and started walking.

“You’ve got seven days right?” Cyrus said. “Your sleep cycle. Seven days until you go on your vacation.”

He paused. “What did you say?”

“I know what happens when you sleep, Mr. Malone,” He said. “Where you go….”

He drew his pistol grabbed Cyrus with his free hand and slammed the portly man against a store gate.

“I have visions too!” Cyrus pleaded as he gasped for air. “You and I are the same!”

He pressed his pistol against Cyrus’s temple. “Choose your next few words carefully.”

There was only one person in the city who about his vacations and she’d died months ago.

Rest easy, Sister Nanci.

He nearly Cyrus’s front teeth shoving his pistol in his mouth. “Say something useful.”

If the man know about his… then he’d know about how to fix it. If Cyrus didn’t know how to fix him, then he would have to immediately remove Cyrus from the equation.

“The arsons… my visions… your Insomnia…” Cyrus coughed. “Where you disappear to twice a year…Its all connected.”

He removed the pistol from Cyrus’s mouth and took a step back. “Connected how.”

Cyrus hunched over, trying to recapture his breath.

“Connected how?” He asked again. “Answer now.”

Cyrus stood tall and handed him an envelope. “You’re the only one capable enough to find out.”

He opened the envelope.

On the inside was a tape labeled Sister Nanci, and it was dated on the label as recorded seven days ago.

“First, we listen,” Cyrus said. “Then we bring her back from the dead.”

Rockstar’s Rent I

77408001-guitar-sketch-

Goddam apartment. Can’t stand it. 

Putrescence in the atmosphere. Emanating from the mold crusted vents and the endless cracks in his one bedroom death-trap. Stagnant, like the rotting sphincter of a weeks old rat corpse but worse.

Damn.

He taped his guitar neck.

He may have cracked the guitar across the spine of a moron who interrupted his music set. Idiot. Damaged his instrument more than he damaged the disruptive moron.

Strings popped. Pegs missing. Freaking guitar neck was one hard strum away from swinging like a wooden guillotine.

Mental gaps flooding… Recalling the night.

Head pulsating.

He caught a glimpse of himself in his cracked mirror. His sickly- pale frame and sunken eyes.

Tape. He needed tape.

He searched.

Not a single piece of tape below the sea of empty bottles and ripped pages.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

“Open up!’ Landlord roared through the keyhole.

Rent day? Crap. Losing whole days now. 

“Hold on!” He abandoned his tape search to find booze.

Thoom! Thoom! Landlord pounded with something heavy.

He found a half empty marble flask. This’ll do. 

He opened his door. “What?!”

A gelatinous, cane-carrying gimp with a kickable face, piss-colored eyes and teeth like rotting toenails was at his door.

“We want you out,” Landlord said. “Tonight.”

He smirked.  “I’m all paid up, bitch.”

Landlord narrowed his eyes.

“Gold watch I handed you was collateral,” He said.

“What gold watch?”

He laughed. “Don’t play stupid.”

The watch worth more than your shitty existence. 

“I’ll pawn the watch. Get you cash,” He said.

“Bullshit.” Landlord popped two cupcake sized pills. “Pay what you owe then hit the sidewalk, deadbeat.”

I shrugged. “And my watch?”

“Ain’t no watch, shithead,” Landlord jabbed him with his cane. “Get out or get your kneecaps split.”

He balled his fists. “A threat?”

“A vow. ” Landlord poked.

Each syllable of Landlord’s threats and lies echoed in his mind.

Pak!

He smacked Landlord’s cane from his hand. Backhanded Landlord across the face.

Landlord staggered. Rubbed his jaw. Wiped tears. Rushed him swinging like a blind swordsman on steroids.

He snatched the cane out of the air.

Cane was heavy. Denser than it looked. Nearly broke his hand when he caught it.

“Wait!” Landlord pleaded.

He beat landlord bloody with the cane. Kicked him and his cane down the jagged stairwell.

Landlord screamed. “Has-been prick… You’re finished!”

He slammed the door.

Tried to be peaceful. Fuckin landlord wanted this. 

He walked to the window. Stared longingly at Rose City’s skyline.

Fucking city… Just die already.

He took a swig from his marble flask.

Forget the watch… not worth it.

Boom! A blast through the door caused a hole as big as his torso. Dust cleared and two piss yellow eyes were peering through the hole. Landlord pumped his cane. Aimed.

A pump action cane… interesting.

He grabbed his guitar. Escaped through window and onto the fire escape. Flashed Landlord his middle finger.

Fire escape gave way. He and the rickety structure crashed four stories onto the sidewalk.

Assassins Curse III:”… slippery edge.”

Biting lips

Part I Here

Part II Here

She licked the venomous gloss from her lips. Swallowed hard.

It’s done. Now it was her turn. To die. To set herself free.

The negligee she wore was literally to die for. Red and glossy all over with a candy coated sheen.  She was a heartshaped box of chocolate wrapped in a silk ribbon. To die for. 

She smirked.

The perfect outfit for the perfect night.

She admired the full Red Moon– shades lighter than her silk negligee. She admired the shining constellations. Tracing them with her fingertips. Admired the post-midnight darkness spreading illusions of clean, shimmering Rose City harbors. She knew better.

“Proud now, mother?” She laughed as she dried tears.

One kiss. One taste of her poison. Widows orgasm. Slow agonizing death in a lipstick dispenser.

She’d taken vials of his blood. A sweet chaser for her champagne and deadly venom she concocted for him.

She longed for the power to resurrect the dead. So she can disarm him again with her pleasure. So she can reintroduce him to the worst agony. Over and over again. For several goddam eternities.

She finished her aged champagne. Tossed the bottle over the railing.

“Fuck!” She screamed into the watery abyss below.

His face. Etched into her nightmares. Her wrists.

She took years preparing body and mind for him. Advanced degree. Martial arts. Gun ranges were her sanctuary. The men she fucked. Women. The countless people she killed. Mobsters. Assassins. Law enforcement. Friends. Her innocence. Her humanity. Parts of her capable of feeling love. She murdered them all. For him. And all it took was a simple kiss. She wanted more. Needed more from him. There had to be more.

She climbed over the bridge railing. Tightroped along the slippery edge.

Murdering him was supposed to release her. Free them from purgatory. But slaying the demon only blackened her void.

Turbulent waves below. Sharp concrete slabs from broken platforms blanketed by waters.

She’d condemned herself to hell. Their faces were fading. He’s rotting but still robbing her of everything. She’ll jump. She’ll shatter on impact. She’ll drown and see their faces clearly once again.

The memory of his body turning cold made her lip quiver. Warmed her pelvis.

She gripped the railing. Clasped her eyes.

The sound of the crashing waters a hundred feet below piqued memories of the spa where she ended his life. Of her breasts pressed against his slender, muscular frame.

She trembled.

I… hate.. you… 

She parted her robe. Parted her lower lips with her fingertips. Slow, deep circular motions to spread the wetness running down her thighs.

Her one-handed grip on the rail was slackening.

She bit down hard on her bottom lip as her body erupted.

“You… took… Everything… from… me.” She moaned.

Fwoop! A sharp pinch on her neck.

Warmth vanished. Replaced with arctic cold. Rage. Dizziness.

She faced her assailant.

“My love.” He withdrew the needle from her neck.

“You!” She jerked away from him and lost her grip on the railing.

Assassins Curse II: “She’s everything…”

Read Part I here.

His insides were bleeding.

Deteriorating organs. Malfunctioning brain. Heart. Lungs. Fading.

Half paralyzed.

Never felt this way before. Weak… Falling to pieces… In love. So in love.

He’d escaped from the trunk of an old car. Gutted two watchmen patrolling the area. Kept one alive for questioning.

Head cloudy.

She used something potent.  A deadly agent. He died twice. Returned once. For another taste of her succulent lips. Her poison kiss. An aphrodisiac. The things she did to him. She’s the closest to heaven he’d ever be.

“Where’s this?” He struck the guard.

“Scrapyard.” Guard trembled.

He narrowed his eyes. Scanned area for landmarks.

Grandmother’s tune flooding my thoughts…

“Not yet.” He whispered an answer to his grandmother’s calls.

“What?” Guard looked frightened and perplexed.

Eyes blurring. Glowing, mountainous silhouettes of city skylines. The ports. Shipping containers across rivers.

Definitely the East Side. Cross town. Way across town. She meant for me to disappear. Cars get crushed in the morning.

“Who dropped me?” He asked.

He snapped the Guard’s pinky finger.

“Fuck man!”

“A woman?” He gently gripped another finger.

“Yes!”

“How long?”

“Six… Six hours. No seven.”

“Six or seven?”

“Seven! Right after second shift.”

No weapons. No matter. He’s efficient with bare hands. Precise. Guard better not try anything.

He thought of her hands as he dragged Guard by the hair into the security room.

Thoughts of her caressing his chest. Writing love letters in cursive with her fingernails down his stomach.

He ordered Guard into a corner.

“I’m sorry,” Guard pleaded.

“I know,” he replied.

He recalled footage. Hours ago.

There…

His heart fluttered…

An angelic woman. Graceful. Pure sorcery in blood red silk as she dragged his body to the trunk before disappearing off camera. Our first dance.

The bridge. Certain that’s where she’s heading.

They were connected. Intertwined. She’s everything to him. Everything he never knew he needed.

“Your phone,” He demanded.

Guard slowly offered his phone. “You were dead, man.”

“I believe you,” He calmly replied.

Guard had pictures in his phone. Loving wife. Kids.

Love didn’t exist to him until six… no, seven hours ago. Before his killer wrapped her lips around him.

He dialed.

Screen glaring. Characters blurring. Head throbbing.

He pushed call.

“Hello?” A woman answered.

“Hello, sister.” He replied.

“Starvation. Pestilence. War. Death,” Sister said.

“I pray for healing.” He answered.

“God hears all prayers.”

“Thank you, Sister.”

Call ended.

Vrrrrr. Vrrrrr. Cell phone vibrating. Unknown Caller.

He answered. “ I’m… poisoned.”

“Specifics?” Sister asked.

“Unknown… Fast acting.” He cleared sweat from his forehead.

“How long?”

“Seven hours.”

“Who did it?”

“The mark.”

“Delivery system?”

“Lipstick.”

“She alive?”

“Yeah.”

“Poisoned too?”

“Maybe.”

“I’ll track her.” Sister suggested.

“Not necessary.”

He knew her location.

“Client won’t be happy.”

He coughed. Spat blood.

“Cancel the contract… return the money.”

Sister was silent. Frustrated breaths. Sister was contemplating something. Next steps. Betraying him.

“Someone will arrive soon.”

“Thanks…” He had a thought. “Wait.”

“Yes.”

“Send… Roses.”  He said. “And champagne. Top-shelf.”

Part 3 soon.

“Ilana’s call”

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Ilana frantically searched for her car keys and taser. She was an hour late for her tattoo appointment with ‘Freeze’, the only tattoo artist capable of drawing Buttercup and Blossom. See, Freeze was an ill-tempered and impatient drag queen with switchblades who moonlighted as a bar-tending dominatrix at a bar frequented by homicide detectives. She understood having two jobs. Understood life as an enterprising diva. Tatts and hairdos don’t pay for themselves. She needed to get her ass in her car.
She snatched her keys and was about to leave when her phone rang.
“What?” She answered.
“June’s calling,” Camaiyah said.
“Impossible,” She replied.
“Seriously.”
“Can’t be him.”
“What do I do?”
“He can’t trace anything back to you.“ She leaned against the counter. “Even if he did manage to escape.”
“Back to us.”
“Don’t do that,” Ilana warned. “There’s no us.”
“I’m not the one who hacked him.”
“You paid me. I did a job.” Ilana used her phone to trace Camaiyah’s location. “I’m just a third-”
Her phone buzzed.
“Party…” She checked her phone. “He’s calling?”
“How did he-”
“Shut up.” Ilana interrupted as she frantically pushed ignore.
But the screen was frozen. Phone kept ringing. Text and email inboxes flooding.
“Damn it.”
“What?”
Phone answered on its own. Speaker phone activated…. on its own.
“I know you’re there, Ilana,” June said.
Camaiyah was silent. Breathing hard. Swallowing spit.
“I know everything,” June said. “I just want to talk.”
‘Lies’ she thought. June wanted vengeance.
“Okay, lets talk.”

Assassins Curse I: “…her frozen heart.”

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Assassins were bewitched by her smile. Her thickness. Her full, succulent lips. Her sharp glances, piercing him deep.

His hand trembled as he aimed.

His red dot. Between her bosoms. Inches left of her frozen heart. All he had to do was squeeze. Empty his clip and end it.

“Someone hired you?” She asked.

“Yes,” He replied.

“Who?”

“Someone who don’t like you much.”

“Shame.”

She stepped closer.

“What’s stopping you?”

“Nothing.” He didn’t know what else to reply.

Disoriented. Weak. Blind with desire. Consumed.

She disarmed him with a smirk.

That’s all it took. A smirk.

His grandmother forewarned him about her.

Son… Karma will come for you…  His grandmother would say.  And poison you with her smile…

He never took his grandmother seriously. An old southern woman with superstitions and stories of evil spirits and spells. And curses. She wasn’t one to take seriously.

She undressed him. Button by button.  Backed him slowly towards the pool.

He couldn’t help himself. Frozen. Immobile.

She circled him as she disrobed. Lassoed his neck with her nightwear. Lead him towards the bubbling Jacuzzi. Stripped him of everything he had.

Gun. Knife. Keys. His free will.

“Want to know something?” She asked.

“What?”

“I knew you’d come.” She pressed her warm body against his. “You have a possession of mine.”

“Your heart?” He answered.

“No,” she replied.

“Your love?”

“Getting colder.”

“Your body?”

“Keep guessing.”

She was calm. Unlike her heart. Her heart raced.

She pulled close. Fulfilled one desire. Fulfilled desires he was unaware of.

“You owe me something,” She said.

“I do?”  

She nodded.

“Want to know what?” She asked.

“Yes.”

She tiptoed to reach his ear.

“Life. You owe me a life.” She whispered. 

He staggered  back. Wiped his nose.

Leaking nostrils. Red covering his fingertips.

She kissed him on the cheek. “For all the lives you ruined.”

He heard his grandmother’s voice… Calling.

Come on home, son… face judgment. 

No… Not yet… Please. Not now.

He collapsed. Struggled to move. Breathe.

“Sleep well, my love.” She smiled. “Send the devil my deepest regards.”

Shit… 

Read Part II here.