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Wonderland (Part Three)


A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!




Part Three: A Trip to Wonderland


            Peter didn’t live very far from the warehouse, which he informed me was a good thing because it meant he could walk. I’m glad he told me it was a good thing because otherwise I would have thought that it was a crappy situation. I was going to ask him some questions in the car, but the short trip made it impossible. When we pulled up to his small house, which looked like a rental if I know anything, he turned and smiled an apologetic smile.


            “You wanna come in for a drink or something?” he asked. “I mean you drove me home and all, I’ve got to do something for you.”


            “Sure,” I said nodding.


            The place wasn’t exactly dingy, but it was a place where a single young man lived alone. I didn’t see any evidence of drug use, but Mister Rabbit had mentioned that it had been drugs that had killed his career. Come to that, there didn’t seem to be any evidence of his former career either. He went to the kitchen and I heard a few sounds of glasses being removed from a cupboard and then the sound of one glass bottle. He came back a moment later and set two highball glasses down on the coffee table, having to move aside an ash tray and some magazines to find a clear spot.


            “I hope you don’t mind whisky,” he said smiling a bit, “I can get some ice or water or something, but it’s all I have.”


            “It’s fine.” I said as he poured a single finger for both of us.


            I am not an expert on whisky, so I can’t say with certainty if this particular brand was any good or not. To me it tasted like sipping lighter fluid, but then whisky always does. Considering the surroundings though I’ll have to hazard a guess and say that this probably was lighter fluid with a bit of whisky flavoring put in. I managed not to make a face though, which I claim as a great strength.


            I didn’t actually swallow, but I learned a long time ago how to look like I was taking a second drink while actually spitting out what I had in my mouth. I made a deal about booze a long time ago. If I have a drink, then Chuck can have a drink and Chuck can’t have a drink. I want him to earn that silver chip with the words “Three Years” stamped on it.


            “Did you get a good look at the one called Jubjub?” I asked, pretending to take a sip from the cup in my left hand.


            “Was one of them called Jubjub?” he asked and drank the entire glass in one shot.


            I may be paranoid, but I know a lie when I hear one. He answered too quickly, and he was trying to be nonchalant about something he should have been confused about. I set the glass down on the littered table and reached up with my right hand to rub at my chin. I watched him carefully, staring him down in fact. At first he tried to look relaxed, but I could see his nerves start to shake at him, he knew he’d been found out and he knew he was in trouble.


            “Peter,” I let a weary sigh enter my voice, “My arm hurts when I try to raise my hand up too high. If I move too quickly, it aches really bad. I can barely hold a foam rubber squeezy ball in my right hand, much less a gun. It’s for reasons like this that I don’t want to have to beat the shit out of you.”


            “You think you could?” he asked, suddenly trying to look angry and tough.


            He walked up and extended his right arm with the intention of shoving me. I grabbed his wrist with my left hand and gave him a healthy twist. He made a noise of pain and fell to his knees when I applied pressure. He wasn’t really a fighter, he was just scared.


            “I really don’t want to hurt you,” I said letting go. “I’m trying to protect everyone. Do you really want your brother hiring some of Church’s goons to find these guys?

            “Jabber would kill me,” he pleaded.


            “Come on now,” I said trying to puff my chest up, “Do I look like I’m going to let them know where it came from?”


            “I’m the only one who knows them,” he whined. “Flopsy’s going to kill me if he finds out about this.”


            “Flopsy will kill you? Jabber will kill you? Come on, is there anyone you know who isn’t going to kill you?”


            “You’re not gonna kill me are you?” he asked.


            “No,” I said shaking my head.


            “I’m in trouble,” he said choking back a sob. “I’ve really fucked up this time.”


            “If we do this fast, I can probably get you out of it,” I said standing directly over him.


            “Jabber and the gang, they told me to keep the back door open.”




            “Why do you think?” he asked. “I owe them about fifteen grand.”


            “This was you paying off?”


            “I hope so,” he shrugged. “But Jabber’s a lunatic you know? He and Bander once had a bet going about how long they could keep a guy awake while they took turns breaking his legs with hammers.”


            “Yeah, I heard about that,” I nodded. I decided not to point out the fact that no one could quite nail down when this happened, or where, or to who, but it was just the sort of thing a dumb kid like Peter would believe.


            “They’re crazy up there,” he said.


            “Where can we find them?”


            “Jabber lives in Wonderland, you know that part of town?” he asked me and I tried not to sigh.


Wonderland is not the worst part of Detroit, but it’s pretty bad. It should have been torn down along with the projects, but of course a good half of Detroit should have been torn down or refurbished. Still, I had a gun and they weren’t expecting company, they didn’t even know how to use their guns.


            “What does Jabber normally deal in?” I asked, leaning against his couch’s arm.


            “Drugs,” Peter said without having to think about it. “That’s how I got in debt to them.”


            “I thought you were supposed to be clean.”


            “Yeah,” he said with a layer of sarcasm that he probably thought was subtle. “I’m supposed to be. Had a ten day chip and everything.”


            “Well, never mind that,” I said. “We’ll get this taken care of, but you keep your damn mouth shut. Understand? You do not say a thing about any of this to anyone, ever!”


            “Yeah,” Peter nodded and looked like he couldn’t believe his luck. “Never, to anyone.”


            “Right,” I said nodding and pressing my nose with my fingers to relieve some stress. “Okay, get your coat back on then.”


            “What?” he asked.


            “We’re going to go get the stuff, and I need you to show me where they are,” I said.


            “What? Then they’ll know!” He looked scared all over again.


            “They’d know if I showed up on my own,” I said looking at him with my flat stare again. “I mean, I was there when they showed up.”


            He looked at me desperately for a long moment. He licked his lips and then bit them and looked around the room. He looked like he was on the verge of panic and I wondered how long it had been since his last hit of whatever he took was.


            “They’re going to know. I told you.” I announced and held my hand up as if I were imploring him to come to Jesus. “As long as they know you’re with me, they won’t be coming for you.”


            I had no idea how I was going to back that statement up if asked, my only hope was that he wouldn’t ask. Fortunately, his face brightened at that idea and he stood up and nodded. He looked like he had decided this was the only way to go and he’d better get it over with. He crossed the room and put his red denim jacket on.


            “Let’s go then.”


            As we exited his house and started for my car I thought I saw someone moving around a black car. Now there are lots and lots of black cars in the world, and people must get in and out of them every hour of every day. However if you are slightly paranoid, which people keep claiming I am, then you don’t believe in people just getting into cars this close to the time you get into your car. I decided to shrug it off though, if it was someone Mister Rabbit sent to watch, they would most likely be a help to us rather than a hindrance.


            We traveled in silence, the only speaking going on was him telling me where to turn. A pair of headlights followed us pretty much the whole way, though I couldn’t be sure if it really was the same set or just the same make of car. I can tell one car’s headlights from another though and I was pretty sure. The problem with being paranoid, is that you always think someone is following you.


            Driving into Detroit at night bothers some people, hell it bothers some people from the suburbs to go there in the daytime, but not me. Detroit is just another place where you need to watch yourself and keep your head. Most the things that gave Detroit it’s reputations stopped happening ten to twenty years ago anyway. The biggest problem Detroit has now is that it’s dying, it’s slowly bleeding out and at this point there is very little anyone can do to save it. One day the last person will leave and they’ll just turn the lights out. That’s one of the reasons that Detroit is currently safe, most of the big rats have already abandoned this sinking ship. The only ones left are the decent people who can’t afford to leave and the few rats that don’t have sense enough to know when to leave. Rats and guys like me who are trying to make sure everyone can stay afloat.


            We walked up to the house together and I leaned against the wall so that I wouldn’t be seen when the door opened. Then I could grab whoever opened the door and get started. I reached down for the Marley thirty-eight on my hip and checked the rounds as Peter knocked on the door. I can’t hit the broad side of a barn with my left hand, but I guessed that I was probably the only one who knew that. The door opened and I heard the voice of the one who had been bossing people around during the robbery.


            “Hey Jabber,” Peter said.


            “What the fuck do you want?” Jabber asked as he started to step out of the house.


            As he hit Peter on the face with the butt of his pistol, I decided that it would be only fair to show him what that felt like. I turned on the ball of my foot and brought my fist down like a hammer. The butt of the revolver struck him squarely on his left cheek bone and he went down like a sack of wet potatoes. I kicked him in the side as hard as I could and he rolled into the house. I followed him in and Peter, bless his heart actually came in after me.


            “Hi there,” I said as I stalked into the house and delivered another swift kick to Jabber’s side. I had to be careful and remember to kick with my left leg, or I could hurt myself again. I also had to make sure I made the kicks fast so I didn’t put too much weight on my right leg.


            “Fuck,” Jubjub said jumping up.


            “Sit down,” I said aiming the pistol in his direction and placing my foot on Jabber’s head to make sure he stayed in place.


            “Shit,” the thin shabby one with a mop of frizzy and unruly hair said.


            “Get him Borogove!” Jabber said from the floor, but the shabby one just shook his head.


            “You must be fuckin’ crazy,” Borogove said and sat back down.


            “Now mister…” I looked at Peter. “What’s this douche bag’s last name?”


            “Walker.” Peter said.


            “Now Mister Walky,” I snapped at him. “You and I and your little gang of misfits are going to discuss what a bunch of dumb fucks you are.”


            “Let him up,” A young woman’s voice called.


            “Rath, don’t,” Peter said.


            I turned and saw a slip of a girl aiming a gun at me. She didn’t understand guns anymore than the rest of them, and had just grabbed one from its resting place. She hadn’t cocked it, and I could still see the safety catch in its place. I aimed my revolver in roughly her direction and pulled the trigger. In the small room, the Marley sounded a lot louder than it is. A glass filled with what probably had been water exploded near her, splattering her with liquid and glass shards. She shrieked and dropped the gun, jumping away from where she’d stood as if the location had caused her suffering.


            “You dumb shits think you’re tough?” I asked with annoyance. “I could kill the six of you and not break a sweat.”


            I turned back to Jabber and was about to ask him a question when Jubjub jumped up and started to pummel Peter. He was punching and kicking, which Peter probably deserved, but I decided to go over to them anyway. I put the gun barrel behind Jubjub’s left ear and pulled back the hammer, which meant the sound not only traveled through the air, but the vibration went through his thick skull giving him the sound twice.


            “Go sit on the fucking couch, Jubjub,” I said calmly. There wasn’t a lot of activity going on in Jubjub’s head, but he knew trouble when it offered to blow his brains out. He got up and walked to the couch, sitting down next to the one call Borogove.


“Any of you pull any more shit like that and I will gleefully execute each and everyone of you. And do be sure, I will kill the one that fucks around last so they can see how they’ve killed each of their friends.”


I turned back to Jabber, who was sitting up and dabbing at his face looking for spots of pain. Jabber looked at me over the swelling of his left eye and nodded slightly when recognition finally struck his brain. He pointed at me, waving his finger around as he did it.


            “I know you,” he said, waving his hand some more. “I know who you are. You’re the guy who told me that stupid horse joke.”


            “And I know who you are,” I said in return. “You’re the guy who tried to rob me with a gun that wasn’t loaded and didn’t get the horse joke.”


            “It was loaded.”


            “Then it wasn’t primed,” I said. “You couldn’t do anything with that gun.”


            “I jacked you,” he said with stupid pride.


            “And where did that get you?” I asked putting the gun under his chin. “Where did you place Mister Rabbit’s merchandise.”


            “You won’t shoot,” Jabber said, and I decided I’d had enough of him.


            I won’t say I deliberately shot his ear off because that would be untrue. Really I had meant to just fire the gun next to his head, but I evidently had my angle wrong because when I pulled the trigger there was a spray of blood and the top of his earlobe was missing. He screamed and clutched at his head. I didn’t let it bother me too much, because I couldn’t show that I didn’t mean to do it. I kicked him in the chest and stood on him with the gun in his face.


            “Where is Mister Rabbit’s merchandise?” I shouted.


            “The garage,” Rath said jumping up. “The garage! Don’t hurt him again, please.”


            “You know where the garage is?” I asked Peter.


            “Yeah,” he said. “The one off Cass?”


            “Yeah,” she said, nodding fast.


            “Okay,” I said standing up straight. “Then we’re done here.”


            I nodded to Peter and the two of us walked out of the house. As we exited I noticed the black car I’d seen earlier with two people standing near it. As we approached, one of them began to walk towards me. He had a broad smile on his face and looked like the sort of person that artists draw when they want to insinuate someone is a homicidal maniac.


            “Oh, hi Chester,” Peter sounded like he might need to stop at a bathroom to clean up.


            “Peter,” the man said nodding. “Good evening. Who is your friend?”


            “This is Jack. He’s helping Flopsy out tonight.”


            “I am Mister Cat,” Chester Cat said nodding at me. “This is my protégé, Miss Heart.”


            “Hi,” she nodded.


            “I do believe we’ve met before actually,” I said, “only you were with The Duchess in those days.”


            “Oh yes,” she said, smiling as if the recognition were new. “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you sooner Mister Collier.”


            “Are you working for Flopsy tonight?” Peter was too eager to be a friend.


            “Now Peter,” Cat said shaking his head but not loosing his smile for a moment. “Do I ever divulge a client to anyone? No, of course not, not ever.”


            “Right.” Peter said. “Well, we’ve got to be going.”


            “Good night then. Pleasure to have met you Mister Collier.” He began to walk towards the house we had just come out of.


            “Likewise.” I said as I started towards my car.


            “See you later Jack,” Miss Heart said.


            “Let’s get to the garage shall we?” I asked, considering what line of business a person like Mister Cat was in and also considering that I had fired two bullets in that place.


            “They give me the creeps.” Peter said.


            “Which is why I want to be gone as soon as possible.” I said and then pulled out my cell phone. “Do you have the number for your brother’s secretary?”


            “No,” he said. “Why?”


            “I think she’ll want to be along when we get the stuff,” I said flipping trough the phone book. “I’ll call your brother and have him send her or something.”


This is part three of twelve, come back next week for part four and every Thursday until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The Wonderland tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.



January 15, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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