I'll come up with something in a minute.

Know what?

I’m chewing Juicy Fruit right now.

This is a neat ad for it too.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Things and steaming snow

One day I hope to post things that aren’t me bitching about stuff breaking.

The computer is fixed (and I’m actually starting to believe it won’t explode on me at any moment)
The basement isn’t dry yet, but the water is receding nicely. Mostly it was the equivalent of 90 feet of rain all in one afternoon that did it.
One or two people keep thinking I’m cranky, or angry, or that I’ve got a thorn in my paw or something. Partly the events of the last few months have caused stress, partly I’ve got a thorn in my paw, partly there’s something else.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s have some pictures…

Syd thought it would be cool to have King Kong as the tree topper this year. An angel wouldn’t have been appropriate for our house hold, and neither would a star, so she announced that King Kong would be awesome.

When I went to the store though, I became convinced that she wanted Godzilla. They had the 1968 version and the 2003, among others. So I bought two of them and decided she could pick the one she liked. She then announced that she’d said King Kong, and not Godzilla, but that I was very cute and she didn’t care which symbol of my delightful error went on the tree.

So they both went up!
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This actually is one of those situations where I can quite legitimately say something like “Yeah, atomic lizards on my tree! Where’s your god now?”

Speaking of Syd, she actually took these shots of Fancy under the tree.
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AND NOW!
The steaming snow incident.
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December 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Updates

The water in the basement has fallen back a bit. For those of you who missed it, we had 18 inches of snow last week. Then on Saturday we had a day so hot the snow was steaming. Then we had water in the basement. Not the whole basement, it never filled the whole thing, but we had encroachments. We bailed like crazy but it did very little good and I think we may have over worked the sump pump. Two days later and the situation seems to have stabilized a bit.

There is less water than there was when I finally managed to get to bed last night. Rather I should say when I went to bed for the last time. I went to bed at 7 because I was completely wiped out from not really sleeping the night before, and then woke up at 9:30 to find that it was not 9:30 am, but rather that I had “slept” for only 2 and a half hours. Anyway I put markers on the floor so I could check the progress, but it’s so obvious the water has gone down. Also! Just for laughs, 2 of the places where I put markers are natural puddle locations. So while most the water has moved, there is still a puddle with its edge sitting right up against my marker.

Anyway, the water is down quite a bit today so I think I’ll go shop-vac some of it up because, you know, I like doing new things that I haven’t spent the last two days doing.

HOWEVER! I did get a 14 gallon shopvac for $30 on Saturday. No idea why, because I didn’t see any sale advertised and it was a $90 shop vac, but the receipt showed that it was the price for that item.

In consumer whore news, I bought The Men Who Killed Kennedy, The History of Rock and Roll and Mafia – The History of the Mob in America with my pagany pagan holiday money. I am now rich in new documentaries.

Then I ordered the Alien Quadrilogy and the Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Volumes 4, 5 and 6, which will mean I have all of them. Warner claims that 6 is the end of this project.

Now I have to update my Amazon Wishlist to get all the things people bought me and all the things I bought myself off it. Speaking of which, when we hit January the 12th day I’ll do a full run down with photos and everything.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nice things

One of the nice things about VEWPRF is that people will buy you neat things that you’d never buy yourself. Not because they’re too expensive or because they’re impractical, but because they’re dumb. Give you an example.

Syd’s brother got The Marvel Encyclopedia and brought it over to show us. And I was thinking, “Gosh, that’s neat.” while also thinking, “You do know about Wikipedia, right?” And while he probably does know that the Marvel Database exists, or at least he can find the wiki articles, that doesn’t stop the book from being really cool. It’s one thing to be able to look up a six page article on one of the less well known X-Force members, it’s another to be able to flip through a book and read over a who’s who of Marvel lore.

I didn’t actually get anything like that because I totally NEEDED a Konjo knife. Needed. Not wanted but wouldn’t buy myself. It was a requirement for the continuation of life on this planet and it’s just as cool as I hoped it would be. I also needed a switchblade, an HTF Recon knife (which is a lot bigger and chunkier than it looks in the photo), a samurai movie, some Stephen King movies, Red Vs Blue Box set, Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, Halo 2, um… sure there were a few other things. OH, Some toys and candy and stuff. New edition of Scene It, that’s cool. See? All needed things, that are important to life.

The knives especially, but it’s all important stuff.

December 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Bacon, it’s what’s for New Years

You know what always drives me nuts? When people declare the very obvious as if it’s something new, or secret, or somehow a private matter people never share. Like Bacon. We all like bacon (except for vegetarians, but we can all agree there is something wrong with those people) and we all know that bacon is yummy. So every time I hear someone say things like “Bacon is Awesome!” or “Bacon is the most delicious thing ever!” I have nasty tendency to then announce in a voice just as excited as theirs “Yeah! And water is wet… FUCKING GNARLY!”

I mean really. Yes, I know, we all know. Announcing that bacon is good, like you’re somehow the first person to discover or express this idea just makes me think you’re somewhere around the Caboose level of intellect. What bugs me even more, is the way it’s announced. The people who do this tend to say it in a way that makes me interpret their statement as, “I would never express this feeling if I weren’t absolutely positively sure that everyone around me would agree. I only allow myself to get excited about things I know I won’t have to defend in any way shape or form.”

Announcements of Christmas tend to get me the same way. “Woooo! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!” Of course you do, you’re a man child who hasn’t figured out you can’t hide from the horrors of the world under a bed of nostalgia for three months. Lots of people, most people in fact, do love Christmas. Why are you declaring it and listing off everything associated with it like someone is going to demand you defend a 1500 year old holiday? And why are you expressing all this like you’re the only person to ever actually like the holiday season? Lots of people like it. No, really, they do.

And besides, these days you just might get some arguments, because A) not everyone loves Christmas but more importantly B) Those who do are getting a little fucking fed up with people wanting to celebrate it for three fucking months. Sorry to be mean and nasty, but it needs to stop. The line must be drawn here! This far! No Further!

I like Christmas Day. I even like the week of, and I’m not too anti-December on the whole. When the first decorations turn up in AUGUST(!) BEFORE MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY(!) then I start to get a little annoyed. Actually, that’s not so much Christmas as the holiday season being all together stretched out too far. Last year I saw those little champagne popper things with 2008 written on them in September before I saw any snowmen or santas out. I get worn down and I feel like the specialness has been stolen away by too much exposure.

Still though, Bacon, VEWPRF, yeah I know you like them. Just about everyone likes them, please stop announcing how awesome they are like you’re the first one to notice. I thank you in advance.

Note: Children are exempt from complaints about announcing the very obvious. Pretty much everything is new to them, so it’s okay if they announce that bacon is awesome.

EDIT: Really, what I’m saying is that bacon will have arguments one day. People will begin to say that bacon everyday isn’t a good thing. That a constant influx of bacon every day for three months is bad. There will be a War on Bacon, and the two sides will argue a lot about who is right and who is an asshole. So don’t over do bacon, because too much of a good thing is just too much. You should also buy your bacon presents early to avoid the rush at the malls. Man, I hate Bacon shopping. That’s why I buy all my bacon presents online now.

December 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hard Boiled Christmas (Day Twenty-Five)

Hard Boiled Christmas

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

Day 25: The Last Day

 

            I woke up in the hospital bed that I’d been sleeping in for a few days and found that the trouble had not ended yet. Frost was standing over me, watching me as I woke up. He didn’t look amused, but he didn’t look angry either, he didn’t look anything. My eyes moved around a little and I saw a man standing in the corner, just waiting.

 

            “Oh fuck.” I muttered. “Look, I know I didn’t do what you said, but there’s a good reason for that.”

 

            “Oh yes?” His cold voice was like a void that you could just fall into and never stop dropping.

 

            “Yeah.” I said nodding as best as I could. “I just can’t think of what it might be at the moment.”

 

            “Well, nevermind.” Frost said, almost sounding life like for a moment. “You’ve got enough problems as it is.”

 

            “It’s all going to be blamed on me, isn’t it?” I asked.

 

            “No.” Frost said shaking his head. “It’s all come down on Church.”

 

            “What about Christmas?” I asked. “Is she okay?”

 

            “That’s why it’s all coming down on Church.” He said.

 

            “Because she told them everything she said she was going to?” I asked, even though I knew how lame it must have sounded.

 

            “Because she’s dead.” Frost said. “Church shot her three times in the chest. She missed him with every shot she fired.”

 

            “So he’s okay?” I couldn’t help but feel strangely relieved to hear this. I had been about to shoot him, and outside of her thrall I realized that I really didn’t want to.

 

            “Yes, just like you’ll be soon.” Frost smiled, but he unable to look reassuring. “You’re lucky she was using such a small gun. The bullet in your side got caught in your ribs, the one in your leg only went far enough in to tap your bone and the shot in your arm is little more than a deep cut. You’re in for a few weeks of physical therapy rather than a few years.”

 

            “Yeah.” I nodded. “I’m so lucky that someone who planned out the deaths of, what is it, eight people?”

 

            “Something like that, probably more.”

 

            “So, yeah.” I looked Frost in the eyes, and realized there was something he was worried about. “I’m very lucky that someone who meticulously planned the deaths of eight plus people managed to only have very weak rounds in her guns, despite having two snipers set up.”

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “She had two snipers set up to take out Church.” I said watching his expression for the tiniest sigh, even a little flicker.

 

            “How do you know that?” He asked, his shell of cool starting to show the tiniest signs.

 

            “They could have shot us at any moment, and a good moment would have been when I was leaving because they might not have another chance with me.” I watched and thought I saw the slight change in his expression. “And if she’d died there, then Church would have known I’d hunt him to the end of his days. Besides, she seemed sort of disappointed that I’d killed all of them. So they were there to plug Church, which is why she was ready with small little bullets that would hurt me but not kill me. She was going to have them kill Church and then shove me out of the way without killing me. Then she would have come back for the show and everything would have been wonderful. Then she would have come for you.”

 

            “Oh?” He said, and I think he was beginning to grow uneasy under my gaze. “How do you figure that?”

 

            “Easter’s dead, Patrick too.” I said staring into him. “She and the Fat Man had been pushing the others out of the way or killing them so she could slowly take over the whole year. Her stuff already was starting in September, and despite everyone being very afraid of Sam, she was moving in on his turf. She would have taken out Thanksgiving, and no matter how powerful you are she’d have come for you one day.”

 

            “Well that won’t be an issue now.” I almost thought he was beginning to look slightly flustered. “She’s dead and the world need never know about the rest of it?”

 

            “Why not?”

 

            “Because everyone thinks she died in that hospital bed.” He said, and he smiled uneasily. “She’s was dead before she died.”

 

            I wished that he wouldn’t try to smile, because it looked horrifying. I wished that he would just go back to the unflappable cool he had been showing all the years he’d been vaguely threatening me to stay away from his business. However, I had him by short hairs and decided to give them a tug. I could see the figure in the corner more clearly now, and if I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to, I would be okay.

 

            “No.” I said shaking my head slowly. “Sandy Cloose died in that hospital bed and I’ll back her parents if you don’t acknowledge that fact.”

 

            “Would you?” Frost asked, and in his emotionless demeanor a person could imagine a threat.

 

            “Yes I would. I’ll tell everything about everything. Including all those who have died under your watch.” I nodded. “That will bring in the big boys, and you will be in a world of shit.”

 

            “This requires you to still be alive.” He said snatching a pillow from the side of the bed and holding the ends tightly in his hands. “You could just die from your wounds and no one would say a thing.”

 

            Chuck Struble can move, though you wouldn’t think so. I’ve personally never understood why people think fat men can’t move quickly. With all the extra bulk, you’d have to have extra muscle under there, and unless he’s going to knock things over every time he walks he would have to be nimble. Chuck was quick, and quiet as a cat. And I’ll never have to ask which side his loyalties are on so long as Debbie and I stay friends because there is nothing he wouldn’t do for her.

 

            Frost froze suddenly when the barrel of Chuck’s Berretta touched the back of his right ear. No one moved for a very long time, and eventually Frost dropped the pillow on my lap. Chuck drew the pistol away maybe ten inches, giving just enough room for Frost to turn and look at my fellow Private Eye.

 

            “Who are you?” Frost asked.

 

            “I’m a friend of Jack’s.” Chuck said in his clear voice. “That’s all you need to know.”

 

            “His name is Chuck Struble, a brother gumshoe.” I told Frost.

 

            “If something were to suddenly happen to him, I would come for you.” Chuck said, keeping the gun pointed directly at Frost’s forehead. “If something were to happen to me, my five employees and four special gentlemen that you couldn’t bribe with the Claughman Diamond have instructions to kill you first.”

 

            “I see.” Frost said, sitting down on the chair next to my hospital bed. “What would I have to do?”

 

            “All you have to tell the truth about is how Sandy Cloose died and that Church killed Christmas.” I told him, “We can just leave all the rest alone and when they ask questions we just tell then we don’t have the answers yet.”

 

            “All right then.” He said. “I can deal with this I suppose.”

 

            “It’ll hurt a bit, but you’ll feel better in the end.” I told him.

 

            He stood up again, and took a good look at Chuck and then at me. He turned and walked out the door, vanishing away from my story. I wanted to put my hands behind my head and smile at Chuck, but it hurt like hell to move.

 

            “What will he do about the show then?” Chuck asked. “I mean Yule might be able to take over this year but she’s not really up to the whole thing.”

 

            “Oh that won’t be much of an issue.” I waved the idea away with my left hand. “He’ll just go ask someone else for a performer in that area. The show has been going on just the same for years, only an occasional actor has changed. It was once Mithras, then Yule, then Christmas. Maybe he can get someone from Buddha to play a part.”

 

            “What?” He asked incredulously. “You’ll get candy canes for Buddha day?”

 

            “Why not? It’s all part of the Vague Early Winter Possibly Religious Festival.” I tried to snuggle back into the bed, but really being shot means that everything hurts and you can’t be cool and snuggle back. Also, the hospital gown makes you terminally uncool. You can’t ever imagine you’ll be cool again after wearing that stupid thing.

           

            It was another week before I was able to leave the hospital and go home. Home however had been closed up and was still the site of ongoing investigations. I went back to the office, wondering what I might find there. I had to take the building’s elevator, as my leg wouldn’t support me up the stairs. The wounds weren’t big, but they did hit the bone in all places despite Frost’s statements. My leg hurt a lot and I was told that I’d probably not being running much in the future. There was also my arm that was probably going to be in a sling for sometime and then if I was able to raise my hand over my head that would be remarkable progress.

 

            I opened the locked door of the office and looked at the empty desk where Debbie no longer sat. She must have taken the money and ran for it, which was just as well because I was thinking of closing up shop. I wasn’t going to be able to be much of a detective anymore, not with a limp and a bad arm. Still, I couldn’t help but feel abandoned, but I also couldn’t help but feel that I’d deserved it. I left the door open and limped across the floor to my desk.

           

            The whole thing was over now, all over and there was no more. No more home, no more detective agency, no more Christmas, no more me. I leaned back and closed my eyes, wondering what exactly I was going to do with myself now. I heard someone walk into the office and opened my eyes to see them. Church was standing at my desk and looking at me. I leaned forward and looked back at him.

 

            “Hello Jack.” He said after a while.

 

            “How long until you have the trial?” I asked, assuming he was just out on bail.

 

            “A little while.” He said smiling slightly. “But it’s only a weapons charge.”

 

            “Pardon?” I asked.

 

            “They decided not to press charges on anything but my gun.” He waved his hand carelessly. “I forgot to get a permit or something.”

 

            A permit wouldn’t have helped him, as a convicted felon he was unable to get a permit for a gun in Michigan. He wasn’t ever supposed to be able to have a gun. However, a minor weapons charge after the events of the last week seemed amazing to me.

 

            “But you shot Christmas.” I said flabbergasted, “Surely they still charge when you kill someone.”

 

            “I can prove she shot you first.” He said smiling a bit more. “I had someone with a camera watching the whole thing. They don’t want to go there with me. Not after the mess they allowed her to make and all those little helpers with rifles.”

 

            “You were ready for it all huh?” I asked.

 

            “I was.” Church nodded. “She shot you and tried to shoot me so I shot her dead and then I took you to the hospital and you got blood in my car.”

 

            “I’d offer to pay you, but I think my secretary ran off with the company funds.” I sort of wanted to unload, to tell him that I would have shot him if she hadn’t shot me, that I was feeling like a real piece of shit. I wanted to tell him how I sort of guessed that it was all over for me. All I could actually manage though was, “Besides, I’m thinking of closing up shop.”

 

            “I thought you might.” He said and reached down for a gym bag at his side. “I brought you this, as a last payment.”

 

            He set the bag down in front of me and pointed to it. I opened the bag and found it stuffed with neatly stacked hundred dollar bills in ten thousand dollar bundles. I looked at the money and then looked up at him. He in turn looked down at me, which made it nice and circular.

 

            “There’s a little over two hundred and ninety thousand. I calculated a rate for you, hope you don’t mind.” He said nodding to the bag. “I’m sure you could find some way to make a bit of money on your own with a start like that.”

 

            “Yeah.” I said considering the money. “I probably could.”

 

            “Well, I’ll be seeing you.” He said and walked out of the office and into the hallway.

 

            I looked at the money for a moment or two. I could just burn it. I didn’t really deserve the money, not the way I’d acted. It wasn’t just that I almost shot him, it was that I’d come so close to helping her. She’d killed, terrorized, and lead me around by my… heart. Despite all that, I had been willing to help her out of all of this and get away. It was just as well Debbie was gone, I should be so lucky to be able to run away from myself.

 

I looked at the still open door between my office and the waiting room. I watched as the door opened again and Debbie came walking in with a bag of fast food. She smiled at me behind my desk and came into my office. She placed the lunch bag next to the gym bag, pressed her palms on the desk and leaned over to either give me a view of her cleavage or get a good look at me.

 

            “I thought you’d have gone.” I said.

 

            “Where was I gonna go?” She asked me. “Besides, with a quarter of a million in cash I’d have been found pretty quickly.”

 

            “Oh, so you did go to the box?” I asked.

 

            “Well, yeah.” She said nodding. “You said to.”

 

            “It’s nice to know you kept the office open.” I told her.

 

            “I didn’t have anywhere else worth going.” She said. “And after what happened I figured I didn’t need to fear anyone.”

 

            “Not so long as you still have your keyboard handy.” I said.

 

            “Yeah.” She nodded. “How are you?”

 

            “I’ll be fine.” I said, trying to smile. “We might need to close the office, or change our line of work, but besides that I’m good.”

 

            “You’re sure?” She asked.

 

            “No.” I said. “Take this gym bag down to the bank and put the money with the rest of the emergency funds.”

 

            “Don’t you want to deposit it? Get some interest?”

 

            “No.” I shook my head. “I don’t want him to think that I used it for anything. I don’t want anything to do with that money. I don’t even want to look at it.”

           

            “Okay.” She picked up the gym bag and walked out of the office with her lunch.

 

            After a while, a long while I guess, I could hear the clatter of her keyboard and considered how much had been destroyed over the last couple of days. If nothing else, a sense I had of myself was going to need serious repair. It was too much to think about though, and after a while I just looked out at the clear sky as it darkened. I could see a long way out the window, but not half as far as Christmas had gone.

 

 

 

 

This is the end of Hard Boiled Christmas. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. Wonderland, the second story in the Jack Collier Series, will begin next week on Thursday the 1st.

If want to read the rest of this story, one of the tags here should help you. The HBC tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment

One Last Thing

For all the people who do like it, do like things shoved down their throats NO! NO! I will not just cut and paste, it just looks… wrong! I can make cheap sex jokes later.

I’ll start again… BUM! Oh what a give away!

For all the people who do like it, like celebrating, who are of the religion/cultural background that do celebrate it, I would just like to say…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Now you all know who’s side I’m on.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Bah! Humbug!

For all the people who don’t like it, don’t like things shoved down their throats, don’t like people assuming they’ve been assimilated, don’t like being rolled over by other people’s religion/culture… I would just like to say…

FUCK CHRISTMAS!

Now you all know who’s side I’m on.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Hard Boiled Christmas (Part Twenty-Four)

Hard Boiled Christmas

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Day 24: The Exciting Climax

 

            It had begun to snow again by the time we’d gotten to the park, a fortifying dinner in our stomachs. The sun was just a memory now, the only light coming from land-based sources. I pulled into the parking lot at Firefighter’s Park and looked around at the woods, the half dozen soccer fields, the woods, and the subdivision that backed up onto the park. No one else seemed to be around. All was quiet.

 

            We got to the park and stood under the glow of a lamppost, illuminating us for the world to see. Mine was the only car in the lot, and yet I didn’t feel like we were alone. My sister claims I jump at shadows, she thinks I’m paranoid. I looked around and as the wind shifted, I swore I could smell doughnuts again. Paranoia, my sister would tell you that I’ve always been paranoid and secretive. We were half an hour early, I checked my watch to make sure. I looked at the small patch of woods and thought about the field beyond them.

 

            “Can you be very patient?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah.” She nodded, “Why?”

 

            “Church has someone watching us.” I said walking back to the car.

 

            I drove out of the parking lot and took the car to the subdivision, trying to remember the best place to enter the field. There were two different subs, and thus two different entryways. I decided to drive into one instead of the other and just parked my car in front of a house. I pulled the Webley from my pocket as I started moving through someone’s yard. I didn’t tramp through the cold and snowy field, but I didn’t exactly move with stealth and grace either. I could have skipped the field though, because I found the shooter near the stream that bisects the field section of the park from the sparse woods section of the park. He was leaning in some of the remaining brush and looking through the scope of his rifle with his partner. The partner was crouching, looking through a pair of binoculars, ready to spring up when he needed to. He wouldn’t stand up far though, there is only so far you can go when your full height it three feet.

 

            I watched as the shooter carefully reached into a box and withdrew a doughnut, taking it to his mouth with care. Nice to be right once in a while. I thumbed the safety on my Webley-Fosbery Automatic before he bit into the fried dough, because I hate to see food wasted. He stopped and the still figure of the shooting partner stiffened. I walked towards them and plucked the doughnut out of the shooter’s hand.

 

            “Hands up then.” I said.

 

            “Fuck.” Opus said turning his one good eye at me. “Shit. It’s you?”

 

            Cocoa made no such speech, simply turning and firing at me with his handgun that he’d drawn while my attention was on Opus. His shot went wild and stuck a tree behind me and I managed to fire a shot through his heart, knocking him down into the stream. Opus made an attempt to grab at Cocoa’s gun when I put the barrel of the Webley into his one remaining eye and fired, making good my promise to kill him if he ever crossed me again, and only three crosses late too.

 

            I saw where Joe and Hardrock were now because Hardrock had fired a shot at me, which oddly stuck the same tree that Cocoa’s round had hit. He hadn’t had time to check with his scope and had just fired. I leapt down into the deep trench the shallow stream ran in and made sure Cocoa was dead by plugging him with one more round, lowering the shots in the Webley to three. I started along the stream trying to decide on the best place to pop up when Joe came running across one of the footbridges the straddled the stream, which was more or less over my head. I fired once, catching him in the chest, fired again and that one brought him down. I kept along the stream and came up the other side of the ten-foot deep bank slowly, because of the steep sides of the bank. I figured that Hardrock probably knew the bank was steep there and would be waiting for me to come up nearer the road, where the incline was shallower. I saw him leaning on a park bench the gun perfectly silhouetted against the new fallen snow.

 

I kept my hand very steady, which was hard because my soaked feet were so cold. There was so much cold that it was painful. My legs cramped and wanted to cease up like my dad’s old Datsun used to do on pretty much any morning. I did my best to block out the pain and the cold though, just like Tracey had taught me. I watched as he waited for me to come up in the most obvious place and I made sure to focus on his head. I held both hands on the gun, and squeezed the trigger very carefully when firing the gun.

 

            It seemed to take forever for the hammer to fall, and then it took another infinity for the gun to fire and the bullet took so long to hit its target that I thought I’d missed him. I was about to throw the Webley down and pull out the Marley thirty-eight for another try when the side of Hardrock’s head burst open and he collapsed to the ground.

 

            I walked back across the field to the place where I’d left Christmas and didn’t find her there, I then looked at the small brick building there the bathrooms where kept and saw her poke her head around, a small Drexel automatic in each hand. I slid the Webley into my coat pocket and pulled the Marley out, as I walked towards the building.

 

            “It’s okay.” I called out to her. “Church prepared a surprise, but I discovered them.”

 

            “Who was it?” She asked as she stepped out from the building.

 

            “Oh, just Opus and the Fat Man’s helpers.” I said.

 

            “You shot them?” She asked, sounding as if I’d spoiled some plan.

 

            “Would you have preferred they shot us?”

 

            “No.” She said lowering her guns. “You just don’t normally shoot anyone. You hit them, but you don’t shoot them.”

 

            “Well, they deserved it.” I tried to think of a reason I was defending my actions to her.

 

            “You out of bullets then?” She asked looking at the Marley in my hand.

 

            I didn’t get a chance to answer because Church’s car came roaring up the street and stopped near the concrete structure. He got out of the car, the bandage across his nose almost glowing in the harsh light of the streetlamps. With his gun in hand, he walked towards us without bothering to close his door. He didn’t aim the gun, but he held it in his hand like he might aim at any moment.

 

            “You set us up Church?” I asked.

 

            “What the hell are you talking about?” He asked me as we started walking towards each other.

 

            “Hardrock, Cocoa, Joe and Opus.” I said pointing over his shoulder in the direction of the corpses.

 

            “Opus is dead Jack.” Church said, but sounded unconvinced.

 

            “Yeah, now.” I announced. “I plugged him.”

 

            He didn’t answer me, but looked at his ex-wife and took a few steps towards us. We were less than ten feet away from each other, in a perfect triangle, which was enclosed in the circle of light from the overhead streetlamp. He was to my right, and she was to my left, each of them a perfect ten feet from me and ten feet from each other.

 

            “Oh, you set me up good this time, didn’t you darling?” He asked her.

 

            “Beg pardon?” I asked.

 

            “Wake up Jack.” He said pointing his gun at her but looking at me. “She’s killed everyone in her way and now she can not only be free of all of us, but she can rule the circuit too. Is it any wonder that Patrick and so many others were killed this year? She’s going to be the only one left on the circuit when she’s done, and she’s killing all of us to make sure no one can contradict her story.”

 

            “That’s not true.” She said, holding her two guns pointed at no one, but just holding them up so they could be pointed.

 

            “Oh come on.” I said, annoyed now. “You were so anxious to know where Thanksgiving was when you came to me. You only backed off when I hinted that I might not be completely stupid.”

 

            “Are you going to side with him now? Is that it?” She demanded.

 

            “No.” I said, with my gun arm still down by my side. “I’ve always been on your side.”

 

            “So I’m to be the sacrifice, am I?” Church asked. “The two of you might remember you’re not the first to try killing me.”

 

            “I don’t have to kill you Church.” She said. “I only have to wound you and get you taken in.”

 

            “You have some proof?” He asked.

 

            “Like they’re going to believe you over me?” I noticed her right hand now focused in on him and her left hand moved in a way I couldn’t quite define.

 

            “What’s it going to be then Jack?” He asked holding up a questioning hand. “Me or her? Or are you once again going to just wait it out and see who wins and claim to have been on their side all along?”

 

            I looked from one of them to the other, trying to decide. I wanted her, and I didn’t like him, but something wouldn’t let me announce a choice for her. Sandy Cloose had just been an innocent, just some girl trying to earn some extra cash for the holidays. She hadn’t been part of this world, and Christmas had just rolled right over her. My thumb pulled back the hammer on the Marley without my telling it to as my hand started to rise on its own. At that moment, I think I was about to gun down Church. However, Christmas’s left hand twitched in my direction and three shots tore into me.

 

            I fell to the ground and heard the action around me more than I saw it. Strange to relate, the sounds of the shells hitting the pavement, which were distinct and clear sounded louder than the gunshots themselves which were muddled and mingled with each other. The two of them shot at each other and in a few moments, whatever it was, it was all over.

 

            I would like to point out that I did not pass out. I kept my mind about me the whole time. It’s just that now, while sitting here trying to consider things, I can’t exactly remember how I got from the snow covered parking lot to the hospital bed. I’m sure that if I really try, I can recall the whole thing, but at the moment it’s just a big dark blur. The hospital was just a big light blur for many days too, so there was probably just something in the pain killers they gave me.

 

This is part twenty-four of twenty-five, come back tomorrow for the final installment. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The HBC tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment

Deck the Halls

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December 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment