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Hard Boiled Christmas (Day Twenty-Three)

Hard Boiled Christmas

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay


Day 23: The Two of Us, Alone



            I’ll skip the unimportant details if it’s all the same to you. We met at the mall, and then we adjourned to a hotel were we could have our conversation in some kind of privacy. It wasn’t a cheap room, it was in one of the business class hotels dotted around Troy for out of town executives to come stay at and feel important. We’d gotten the best room in the place, which had more floor space than my first apartment. Any other day of the week, this place would have seemingly important people talking about seemingly important things. Today, actually important people were going to discuss actually important things, which made me feel like we were in the wrong place.


            I put my arms around her as we looked out the window towards the exploded and confused suburb that is Troy and as I place my hands at her waist I felt a small flat automatic pistol in each of her jacket pockets. They weren’t big guns, but they would do to kill a man if fired properly. I moved my hands away from the guns though and wrapped them around her waist, pulling her back into my front. She smelled like cinnamon, like holly leaves gently simmered, like the way sparkling crystal looks. She smelled like heaven and she was soft and warm and in my arms again and I could have just melted away right there. She might have killed five or six people though, some small voice mentioned in the back of my head, and that voice made me break away from her.


            “I need something to drink.” I said and walked towards the small bar where a stocked mini-bar explained that while I couldn’t get drunk on the contents there might just be enough to get tipsy for the price of the national gross product of New Zealand. Except I couldn’t because I wanted Chuck to get that little bronze medallion for sobriety.


            She took off her jacket and moved around the hotel room, looking around like she always had. That is to say, she was so beautiful that just watching her made me want to weep. She walked aimlessly, knowing how beautiful she looked. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular. She just liked examining things, seeing how nice they were or where corners led. In a way, she was like a cat that had to sniff around before she could be comfortable. 


            I poured myself a seventeen-dollar mini can of coke, which was just enough to get a mouthful of liquid, but little else. I down the drink in one gulp and looked at the beauty before me. She looked so small, sitting on the large industrial sized couch. She looked even smaller, now that she’d taken her jacket off and let it rest on one of the hundreds of chairs around the table that could have seated a meeting of all the shareholders in both Dow and Jones’s many companies.


            I would like to have been hard with her, to tell her that she was going to start telling me everything I wanted to know or she was going to feel the back of my hand. In truth though, I couldn’t even show her the rough side of my tongue, which some of a perverse mind might wish to call a tragedy. She looked up at me with doe like eyes and smiling lips, patting the seat next to her.


            “Come sit my darling.” She said placing her hand on the cushion and rubbing it with her hand. That couch cushion is a filthy son of a bitch. I would have given so much to be touched so tenderly at that moment.


            I was supposed to be questioning her, I was supposed to be finding out what the hell was going on, but all I wanted to do was to crawl into her lap. I wanted to press my lips to hers, to hold her so close to me that we would become almost one being. I wanted to take off her clothes to examine every inch of her and see if everything was as I’d left it so long ago. I wanted to be with her, I wanted to have her, I wanted her to have me and I knew if I started having answers, I would stop having her.


            A pair of voices were having an argument in my head, and as heated as it was getting there would soon be broken furniture up there. One side was pointing out, with much swearing and thrashing about that she was probably a killer, that even if she hadn’t killed anyone she had been instrumental in their deaths. The second voice, with much smack spoken about the first voice’s mama, pointed out that she could have been the devil incarnate for all it cared so long as she wanted us near. There was also a series of grunts from the lower quarters of my being, but those were base and don’t bear repeating in something so lofty as the written word.


            The argument raged in my head, which meant that the rest of my body was left to fend for itself and make its own decisions. Of course, the body is a piece of meat without the brain to think for it, so the outcome of this situation should surprise no one. I walked to the couch and sat down near her. I could feel her warmth from where I sat, it radiated off her like the electric heater Debbie kept under her desk. She was generating heat like there was a fire inside her.


She looked at the space between us and closed the gap by pushing her smooth firm thigh right up against my own. She leaned into me and slid her arms around me, her body acting like water to make as much of her body press against mine. The argument continued, but I must admit that the side arguing for trusting her and to hell with consequences won when her face turned up towards mine. I tiled my head in and pressed my lips against hers.


            A firestorm exploded in my brain, the two voices were burned away and all that was left was the grunting animal located in the nether regions. Kissing her was like what I imagine having religion suddenly dawn on a person must feel like. It was as if a world that hadn’t made sense for so long had suddenly come into focus, like having a gauze curtain pulled away, like seeing color TV after having only known black and white.


            As she tilted her body to lean into me and press the fullness of her weight against me it dawned on me that I didn’t care about answers any more, because I had the one answer I wanted. There was nothing more important than this moment of return, which was all I’d been looking for. I felt her body shudder as I gripped her and pulled the both of us up to a standing position. She pressed her head against my chest and we adjourned from that living room to one with furniture more amenable to our ends.


            I will not go into a description of the fumbling of buckles and the discarding of clothing as I have always found the making of true and genuine love is embarrassing for those not involved and if I have no other form of privacy, I will have this one. I will not fall into some trap about numbers of times, or if the sound was in stereo or DTS 6.1 surround sound with the bass turned all the way up. These things are none of your business, and they do not bear any great amount to the tale beyond the fact that they happened. I will simply advance the story to a point where something that might in some way be your business happened.


            It was dark when we lay in the bed, her body half stretched across mine and half on the bed. I could feel desire still raging within me, but I was receiving calls from my body reporting that they couldn’t comply with demands anymore. The body complained that it had gone far above and beyond the call of duty, and had performed more events for longer periods than it could ever recall having done. My desires weren’t sated, but I couldn’t respond to those desires at the moment. I would at the very least have to have something to eat to gain back essential proteins and zinc which had been lost in the process. Besides, it wasn’t like we wouldn’t have time for more of that. I wasn’t going to let her go, not ever again.


            I pulled her closer to me, squeezing her in so that her nose was right up against mine. She smiled and put her arms around me as well, then she kissed me, and again it was like seeing white fire burning in my brain. We only whispered to each other, our faces so close that our lips kept brushing against each other’s as we talked.


            “We’ll have to talk about this sooner or later.” I said to her.


            “I thought we were doing, not talking.” She said with a giggle.


            “Not that.” I said, smiling at the thought. “We’ll have to talk about what comes next.”


            “Dinner?” She asked.


            “And after that.” I sounded more serious than I felt.


            “I know.” She sighed slightly, but didn’t move away like I feared she might.


            “We’ve got to keep you safe from everyone, find someway to get you out of all this crap, push it off on someone else so you can be free of all this.”


            “How do we do that?”


            “Well, for starters what happened and when?” I pulled away, and pushed myself up on my elbow. I could tell I was investigating now. “And don’t go giving me that story about Sandy working with you for months and months. I know she only worked long enough to get her face smashed in.”


            “How did you know that?” She asked, looking genuinely surprised.


            “I am a detective you know.” I tried to keep hurt out of my voice.


            “Oh.” She said as if considering this for only the first time. “Right, sorry.”


            “So let’s be honest about it.” I said sitting up, “How much trouble are you in really?”


            “Big trouble.” She said sitting up and getting out of the bed, increasing the distance between us. I would like to say I was too in tune with my detecting skills to notice the perfection of her nude body as she stood, but that would be lying. “I guess I’m in as deep as I’ve ever been.”


            It was distracting, looking at her butt while she half turned to let me see one naked breast. Had my body not sent a note to the brain reading, “Fuck? No!” then I would have once again abandoned the line of questioning in favor of further explorations. As it was though, my brain was able to keep just enough of a hold on the problem at hand, which proves my brain is a bastard that doesn’t want me to be happy.


            “Who killed Sandy then?” She looked at me with a worried expression and I sighed, I could feel anger beginning to boil in. “Alright, if you don’t like that question, why did you have to kill Kwanza and Chanukah then?”


            “What?” She asked as she slipped her shirt on and buttoned a few buttons to keep it closed.


            “I’ve got two points where I know you’ve lied to me.” I told her holding up two fingers as a visual example. “Frost doesn’t know who killed those two because while Frost knows it was your guns he thinks that you were in a hospital bed. The second and stronger point is that you told me you hired Sandy Cloose months ago and it was more like days ago.”


            “Noonan was supposed to take care of Sandy.” She said looking out the window. I wondered for a moment if she even knew she was standing in front of a full-length window completely naked. “He was just supposed to arrest her, or pretend to. I was supposed to disappear you see? I think he really got the Fat Man’s little helpers to get her. They must have misunderstood, or Noonan gave them different instructions.”


            “And Chanukah and Kwanza?” I asked, placing my hands on my knees.


            “Yeah.” She nodded and began to cry. That made her look small and vulnerable, which was like a spike right into the back of my brain. “Noonan said he could prove I tried to kill Sandy, he said he could pin the whole thing on me. He said that I would have to do what he said.”


            “And what else did he want you to do?” I asked, trying not to interrogate, but knowing I was.


            “He said I’d have to go back to Church eventually, but that we would have fun together before that.” She sat down on the bed and started to sob into her hands. I pulled her close and she sobbed into my chest for a while before regaining her composure. “We never did anything. I put him off long enough.”


            “Why did he want you to go back to Church?” I asked.


            “He never said.” She told me while wiping her eyes on the bedspread. “I guess Church got to him, Church gets to a lot of people.”


            “Yeah, he does.” I commented while thinking of what complete shit she was talking. “But not Tom Noonan.”


            “What?” She sat up.


            “If you keep lying to me, I can’t help you.” I said slowly and distinctly. “Tom didn’t have much brains but he knew better than to go up a blind alley with someone like Church. Tell me what’s really going on or I won’t be able to protect you.”


            “But.” She started and I cut her off.


            “I don’t care.” I almost shouted. “I don’t care what it is you’ve done or had done. I don’t care who’s died because of all this, I don’t want to see Frost or Smith’s colleagues or anyone else get their hands on you and put you in a little cage to only come out during the month of December. If they get a hold of you, you won’t even get a show trial. They’ll just lock you up and tell everyone that you’re afraid for your safety. If we’re going to save you, I’ve got to know everything and I’ve got to be able to put it on someone. Church is the best candidate because he deserves to go down and if necessary he can take care of himself.”


            She broke down again, sobbing like a chastised child, which was her usual defense in these situations. She cried, and I felt wretched for yelling at her, but it had to be done. She sobbed and I put my arm around her and waited. I didn’t tell her it was okay, or soothe her, I just held on. She was going to have to find out that I was serious.


            “You don’t care if I did it?” She finally asked in a small and cracked voice.


            “I love you.” I said, and hated myself for it. I knew I was going to betray her, so I completed it by lying to her. “All I need is to know what you’ve done so I can make sure the best way to frame up Church.”


            “I’m in too deep for that.” She said shaking her head. “Any kind of trail would make the whole story fall down, it wouldn’t work.”


            “Why did you really kill Kwanza and Chanukah?” I asked. “You can at least tell me that.”


            “The Fat Man told me to.” She said, changing her story completely. “He wanted them out of the way because they competed with me too much. He set up this whole thing with Church, so they could get rid of all the competition and make peace between them. Noonan was trying to help me get away, he was supposed to attack that girl.”


            “Sandy?” I asked to remind her that Sandy Cloose had a name.


            “Right.” She said pointing a finger. “Church and the Fat Man had been negotiating for sometime, but they kept up the appearance of animosity until everyone else had been pushed out of the way. Since I was supposed to be dead, they knew Frost wouldn’t be able to tell who’d killed the two of them so they made me do it. I thought if I got away, if I could go into hiding, it would cause them to suspect each other and I could slip away while they fought it out.”


            She was lying, but I couldn’t bear to accuse her again any more than I could stand to try and sit through another version of the story. I was pretty sure that if I asked her another question it would turn out that Hardrock was the second shooter on the Grassy Knoll, Cocoa was shooting from the book depository window, and Joe was the magic bullet that Opus found on that stretcher.


            “How long have you been planning to get away?” I asked.


            “For a while.” She said wiping a few more tears away. “I don’t know how long really I’ve planned it, but I decided I was going to do it after the show last year. The fat cunt got drunk and tried to force himself on me. I shoved him away and he got mad and threw a bottle at me. His three little helpers got him out of my room and I guess they made sure he understood what he’d tried to do was wrong, but I decided he had to go after that. That piece of shit tried to take my clothes off? Tried to tell me that it was because of him that I was so successful?”


            She shook her head and I could see a look on her face that I didn’t like. She was getting into telling the story now, and a lot of bitterness was flowing out of her. I had a feeling that before she was done, she would have told me everything. All I had to do was to keep her talking.


            “I managed to get myself off the stuff during the winter and early spring. It was hell, and I lost a lot of weight and almost died, but I managed. I managed and I started working out to put muscle back on my body. I mean look at me, I was never in as good of shape as I am right now. So I decided to kill the fat son of a bitch, to get rid of everyone. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s bitch anymore, at least no one’s but my own. I was going to do things the way I wanted, the way I’d always wanted.”


            “Opus didn’t kill the Fat Man, did he?” I asked.


            “No.” She said. “Opus couldn’t have gotten close enough, Hardrock would have shot him in two. I did it. I walked right up to that child molesting little bitch and I plugged him three times in the chest.”


            “Why didn’t Hardrock shoot you in two then?” I asked, letting it roll out towards her.


            “Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe never liked that piece of shit.” She said turning towards me. “They were conveniently out trying to kill Church for me while I shot that fat fuck.”


            In spite of all she had just said, I wanted her. I wanted to kiss her, to hold her, to make love both savage and soft to her. She was right, her body was better than it had ever looked, and I really wanted it. I decided to lob out the last question that I had, which I hoped would put everything into place.


            “So what was my role in all of this to be?” I asked, leaning back against the headboard. “Why has everyone come to me?”


            “I didn’t know they were going to.” She said kissing me, “I never knew they would come to you.”


            “We’ll have to get Church to meet us somewhere.” I said changing the subject. “Have to find a way to ambush him.”


            “He always meets people at Firefighter’s Park.” She said.


            “Does he?” I asked.


            “Just about.” She said. “Which is dumb because it’s easy to ambush someone there.”


            “Is it?” I asked, remembering the smell of doughnuts at the park.


            “Yeah.” She said nodding. “That’s usually where he does it.”


            “Okay.” I said nodding. “I’ll call him and tell him that we’ve got to talk.”


This is part twenty-three of twenty-five, come back tomorrow for part twenty-four and every day this month until we’re done to see what happens next. 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 23, 2008 - Posted by | Fiction |

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