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Wonderland (Part Five)


A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!


Part Five: Awaken Dream Child


            I woke up to the sound to my phone ringing, which is never a good sign. Only a limited number of people have my cell number, and only one of them would bother calling me around the time I get up in the morning. However, I don’t like just picking up the phone so I checked the caller ID window anyway. It was Debbie’s cell phone, which was a little surprising because she normally calls to ask me if I’m coming into the office. It was too early for her even to be at the office though, which meant something else must have been going on.


            “Yeah?” I asked as I pressed the phone against the side of my head.


            “What the hell happened last night?” she asked, in a voice filled with more indignation than I knew she had.


            “Um, lots of stuff?” I asked.


            “Is she still in bed with you?” she asked.


            “Sadly,” I said with a heavy sigh, “two women sort of came on to me at different parts of the night and yet I still ended up alone.”


            “Poor baby.”


            “Why do you want to know what happened last night?” I asked.


            “Mister Flopston Rabbit has called me three times now,” she growled with all the anger of a woman who had been denied two hours of sleep. “It seems that his brother and secretary are missing.”


            “Oh yeah?” I lifted my right hand to wipe my face. The pain made me stop and I decided to go forgo that activity for the moment. “Did he mention his merchandise?”


            “Nooooo,” she said, drawing it out.


            “Okay,” I said biting my limp in lieu of being able to rub my chin. “I’ll give him a call then and we’ll see what’s going on. I’m sorry they woke you up, you can probably take the morning off if you want.”


            “Well, I’m up now,” she complained.


            “Well then take the afternoon off,” I suggested. “I’m doing my best to offer you compensation.”


            “Are you coming to the office?” she asked, sighing slightly.


            “Probably, I’ll have to see what Rabbit wants first and find out if I need to go sort anything out for him.”


            “Call me at the office when you know something,” she ordered.


            “Alright,” I agreed, because while I’m not the sort of boss who lets his secretary organize his entire life, I see no profit in arguing for argument’s sake. “Talk to you later.”


            “Alright, bye.”


            “Bye-bye.” I said, as I have always done no matter how silly it sounds for a grown man to perform the verbal equivalent to waving at a person when you leave the room.


            I got out of bed, walked to the bathroom and did the sorts of things a person does in the morning. I’m not going to describe them, because you don’t want to hear about it and I don’t want to tell you. The details would be pointless anyway. Suffice it to say that I was clean, free of internal physical pressures and without facial hair when I left the bathroom.


            I picked up the foam rubber ball that sat on my dresser and squeezed it a few times in my right hand. I managed to squeeze it fifty times before my hand started to ache which was progress. I’d been adding a few more squeezes each week and had gotten myself up to that. Soon I would be able to start lifting dumbbells again and my right arm might start to look less like a withered stick version of my left arm.


            After my morning workout, I picked up my cell phone and gave Mister Rabbit a call. He must have been on edge because the phone only rang once before it picked up and his voice quavered in my ear. If you never heard an actual quaver in a person’s voice, I don’t suggest you try to induce it, it isn’t pleasant.


            “Collier?” he quavered at me.


            “That’s right Mister Rabbit,” I said, trying to sound confident and alert and not at all in need of several cups of coffee, two of which should have Irish cream in them if we’re already dreaming. “I understand you can’t find Peter and Mary Ann.”


            “That’s right.”


            “Well I only left them about,” I checked my bed side clock, “maybe seven hours ago? I’ve not even had five hours of sleep, so I would suggest that you check their beds.”


            “I have, hours ago.” I could swear I heard him shudder through the phone. “I’m afraid something might have happened to them.”


            “What?” I asked, making a decision not to expose the fact that I knew what was really in the chocolate eggs. “Did they run off with the merchandise? When they left me, Peter was driving your stuff back in the truck those mutants used to take it away in.”


            “No,” he said impatiently. “The truck was outside the warehouse when I got to the warehouse. We checked it and it seems that everything is intact.”


            “So what’s the problem?”


            “I think you should come down here, it would be better if I could talk to you face to face.” He sounded a little frantic. “It’s not something I want to discuss on the phone.”


            “Oh Fuckmonkeys,” I muttered. “How bad? Should I call for support, or look out for people following me?”


            “No,” he quavered, which is not a nice thing to hear. “It’s not like that, and no one should be following yet.”


            I had another one of those moments that people sometimes report having, where they can see the future. I knew that all those kids in that Wonderland Hovel were dead, and I knew that Mister Cat and Amy Heart had killed them. I was sure that Rabbit knew that too, even though he’d claim otherwise, which is why he didn’t want to discuss it over the phone. Of course I will continue to tell myself that this is just deductive reasoning, because if I’m to rely on psychic powers I might as well quit now.


            I called the office and told Debbie that I was going to go and see Mister Rabbit at his warehouse. I then got in the car and drove down to Mt. Clemens, which I still find slightly distressing. It’s not that the place is as dingy as Detroit can be, but it’s smaller and far more pokey. When Detroit started to go downhill, it hurt towns like this and made them freeze in place and stop almost dead. While it’s still a county seat, as a town it’s barely holding on and mostly because of the county being seated there. The small town center might have thrived once, but people abandoned the small city and went to live in the suburbs, leaving it bereft.


            When I drove up to the warehouse I saw the truck parked outside, but no one was actually doing anything. It’s always a bad sign when three people are just standing together looking at something inside a warehouse. I got out and walked towards the small gathering and then saw why they were just standing there. It must have been shock for them, but I don’t shock so easy. Seeing young Jabber Walker’s head on what looked like a camera tripod didn’t stop me like it clearly stopped them. There was a lot of blood smeared on the floor, as if there had been people moving around in the blood. I looked around to see if anyone was looking and then started to shove them inside the building.


            “What the hell?’ Rabbit asked as I shoved.


            “You want the whole neighborhood to see?” I asked as pressed the button to close the large rolling door. “When did you discover this?”


            “When I called you.” Rabbit’s voice was still quavering.


            “Anyone been here since?”


            “No,” he said shaking his head.


“Okay.” I realized that if I didn’t call the police soon I would be officially in trouble. I was going to have to either call them soon or not let them know I was here at all. “Have you been to Peter’s house?”


            “No,” Rabbit said shaking his head. “Bill banged on his door a while ago, but I haven’t been there.”


            “Okay,” I nodded and looked at the two assistants. “Bill isn’t it?”


            “Yeah,” Bill said.


            “Could you go see if Peter’s at his house?”


            “Sure,” he said, anxious to get away.


            “Take Pat with you,” I said as I turned back to Jabber’s severed head. It was a ragged cut, the spine looked like it had been torn away.


            “Okay,” Pat said and the two of them left in a hurry.


            When they were gone I bent down and looked at the smears of blood, which weren’t very old but weren’t exactly new either. I had a feeling I knew where Peter had gone, and I had a feeling I knew who had taken him. I was a little worried about where Alice might be though, if Mister Cat and Miss Heart had discovered she wasn’t called Mary Ann, it might be going badly for her right now.


            “You said gold coins,” I said to him as I turned to face him.


            “Yes?” Rabbit said.


            “Heroin isn’t a Krugerrand, nor is it a gold sovereign,” I told him. “And now you’ve got Mister Cat decapitating people and delivering the head to you.”


            “I didn’t tell him to do that!” Rabbit nearly howled. “They were supposed to find out where they’d taken my merchandise.”


            “And they just happened to decapitate one or more of them and bring the head or heads back here?”


            “Heads?” Rabbit asked.


            “There is a lot of blood here for just one head.” I told him while pointing. “My guess is they took all the heads away and after bringing them here, took the other heads away leaving this one.”


            “Why?” Rabbit asked.


            “Because that’s what a grinning lunatic like Chester Cat does,” I said frankly. “He and his little helper are very deranged and very dangerous. Why would you hire hit men to investigate for you anyway?”


            “Chester is an old friend,” Rabbit said. “He’s worked for me a lot off and on. He’s never done anything like this before.”


            “Never?” I asked


            “His kills are really quiet,” he said, and I could see tears in his eyes. “I’d never have anyone killed anyway, I don’t do that.”


            I was going to press the point some more when his phone rang. He grabbed it from his pocket and answered in a hurried voice. If anything, his voice quavering even more as he spoke.


            “Yes? Yes. Okay. I understand. We’ll be there in a moment.” He closed the phone and looked at Jabber and then me. “Peter’s at home now, he’s scared though and he won’t open the door. Bill thinks if we come over, you and I might persuade him out.”


            “Okay,” I said nodding slowly and glancing at Jabber’s head. “Let’s go see Peter then and find out where he’s been.”



This is part five of twelve, come back next week for part six 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 28, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment

Glass King

Charles VI of France was reportedly so nutty that at one time he became convinced he was made of glass and took precautions to protect himself. Every time I read that, I just think of him storing himself in a box with a Styrofoam cube that has been formed with a king shaped cavity on the inside. Then I think of him being carefully placed on a shelf in the closet and only being taken out for special occasions. Because that’s what my mind does. It makes jokes about the hell that is schizophrenia without my wanting it to. Poor guy was really, genuinely crazy and I’m making jokes. Not sort of crazy, not “you did a thing I wouldn’t do” crazy, not even he has bad days crazy but sheer blow-out “dude thinks he’s made of glass” batshit crazy.

And how do I react? I can’t help but make a joke about it.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment