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Wonderland (Part Ten)


A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!

Part Ten: Trail’s End


            My only real hope was that I could get Peter away from all this and get someone arrested for the killings without getting my own face put into a meat grinder. How though, that was the question wasn’t it? There was someone I could call, but I didn’t like the idea of that, because I already owed too many favors to people over this stupid case.


            I carefully pulled my wallet out of my back pocket and took the check from my wallet. If I were a normal private eye, this would be a considerable sum of money. However, after the event in December I had quite a few dollars floating around. Money wasn’t an issue here, and really I could just walk away and pretend like I’d never been involved. I could just tear the check up and decide to cash in my vacation days, go to Europe or possibly take that trip to South Americawith the professor looking for the Lost City of Chachapoyas or whatever it is he thinks he wants to find down there.


            I had my fingers on the check, ready to tear and absolve myself from the situation when I stopped. I was going to have to actually get this taken care of, wasn’t I? I set the check down on the desk in front of me and picked up my squeezy ball. I did a few squeezes with it in my left hand and then tossed it into my right and started my exercises. My left hand kept tapping at the check, as if it wanted to get in on the rehabilitation but didn’t know what else to do.


            There was a time when I would have just called up Dee and let LION beat UNICORN all around the town, but that didn’t seem to be a helpful suggestion here. Even if LION did beat UNICORN all around the town, then what? Peter would still be in trouble, Amy would still be psycho for me, Alice wouldn’t get her arrest and I wouldn’t get to see that bouncy dance she talked about. Nope, calling Dee had no foreseeable profit to it.


Sadly, this check didn’t have a lot of good to it either, being written a couple of hours before the Wonderland gang got hit. If nothing else, this check was really a tie, it was something to implicate me. I really should just get rid of it. I looked at all the zeroes, and then at the book of matches I keep for just such an occasion.


I scrunched the check up in my left hand and dropped it in the metal tray. I then lit the match and touched it to the end of the check. I’ll never understand why, but checks you really don’t want to burn always seem to take longer than other things. I watched the check slowly catch fire and then watched as it smoldered in the tray, only the sound of Debbie’s key board to entertain me.


            When the check was well and truly dead, I picked up the phone and called Cary’s cell. The phone rang, and rang, and rang. Each and every ring was like a dagger of ice stabbing into my back. I got up to ten and hung the phone up, I rushed across my desk as fast as I was able and grabbed my coat off the hook.


            “Call Crammer.” I told Debbie as I put my coat and hat on. “Tell him there either is or was a decapitated head in Mister Rabbit’s warehouse. If he gets there quick he might even catch them at it.”


            “We’re giving up a client?” She asked.


            “Burned the check.” I said and went out the door. I was nearly down stairs when I heard her scream.


            “You burned the check?” Her voice carried from her throat at her desk, through the door, down the stairs and directly to the base of my spine. She hates it when I burn checks.


            I got in the car and despite the fact that I was no doubt being followed, went more or less directly to the motel. I didn’t noticed anyone following me directly, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there, I was sure they were around. That’s the great thing about being paranoid, you never feel alone. Even when you are completely alone, you always think there must be a ghost in the room with you.


            I got to the motel and was going to kick down the door and start shooting. What stopped me was the fact that I had to stop half way up the stairs because my right leg started to hurt. This caused me to decide to just walk to the door and bang on it with my gun. I reached for the gun though and discovered that I had taken it off at the office and didn’t put it back on my belt when I left in a rush.


            So I slowly walked to the door and banged on it with my fist instead. Someone peaked through the closed curtains and a moment later the door opened. Cary was standing at the door, her hair dripping wet, and a towel wrapped around her. She smiled at me with them bleary eyes of someone still in the land of after glow.


            “I said no entertaining.” I growled at her.


            “Let’s see you resist.” She said turning around and letting me into the small room with her.


            “I was very good at resisting.” I said as she reached down and grabbed her panties, stepping into them and drawing them up without showing anything. “I didn’t pinch his ass or anything.”


            “Oh you couldn’t pinch his ass, it’s like marble.”


            “Cary.” I said sternly.


            “Yes Jack?” She asked, too hyped up on endorphins to mind.


            “Where is he?”


            “In the shower.” She said pointing a finger towards the bathroom.


            “Why didn’t you answer your phone?” I asked.


            “I was fuckin’.” She smiled again.


            “Focus.” I snapped my fingers in her face. “This is me being angry.”


            “Sorry Jack.” She laughed like she wasn’t really sorry though.


            “I thought something had happened.”


            “Well it had.”


            “Focus!” I shouted.


            “My O face happened.” She said and laughed.


            “Go in there and tell him we need to go.” I told her. “I was probably followed here.”


            Her demeanor changed suddenly, her face dark  and worried. She shivered a little and walked to the bathroom door.


            “Why’d you just stand there and act like we were just playing?” she asked.


            “I didn’t want to worry you.” I sighed at her.


            “Oh.” She said and opened the door to the bathroom.


            I should have heard him coming up the stairs, I should have heard him walking into the room, I should have heard him breathing. What I heard was the whoosh of his hand as it brought the pistol down. I turned just in time to catch the blow on my shoulder instead of taking the crack across the side of the head. It didn’t matter much because his leg swept put mine and he pushed me down on the bed, putting the pistol barrel behind my head.


            “Just sit tight Collier and this will all be over in a minute.” He said patting my sides with his hand.


            “Red?” I asked craning my head around to see Red’s face.


            “Don’t.” Another voice said from the door, no doubt mistaking what was going on. “We’ve got strict orders against wet works.”


            “Knight?” I asked as I focused on the old man in the doorway. “When the hell did you two start working together?”


            “Back when LION offered me a lot more money.” Red said straightening up and putting the silenced pistol back into its holster.


            “LION’s here too?” I asked.


            “Not officially.” Knight said clasping his hands over his belt buckle. “Officially this area is Church’s domain, but while he’s away Mrs. White wants to make sure things aren’t going to waste.”


            “Church won’t like that.” I commented.


            “I don’t think Mrs. White much cares what he likes and doesn’t like.” Knight said with the calm confidence of someone who could kill you before you knew he’d even moved.


            “What’s going on out there Jack?” I heard Peter’s voice coming from the bathroom and silently cursed him. I could have probably gotten these two out of here without letting it slip that he was here.


            “Red.” Knight said nodding at the door.


            Red unholstered his gun and walked the two steps towards the bathroom. If Knight hadn’t been there, if I had been up to my normal physical standards, and if I’d lost all my marbles, I could have taken Red. Of course if I had done that, he would have shot me easily and with Knight here I had no chance at all. He tried the knob and then knocked on the door. I wondered if Peter was dumb enough to try and wait out his patience by hiding behind a door that would probably splinter if you hit it. Peter was dumb enough to get into this situation in the first place after all.


            The door opened and I was glad to see that Red’s reputation for being a hands on kind of guy remained in tact. The door opened and he gave a good healthy jab into the door and hit someone. It looked about high enough to be Peter’s face, which had already suffered greatly, but could do so a little more for the latest gaff. He then reached into the bathroom and yanked Peter through the door, slamming him against the wall. His gun aimed quickly into the bathroom and then having made its point, swung around training on Peter’s head.


            Peter was, as far as I could see, only wearing his jeans as red patted down his pockets. Peter just stood silently with his hands against the wall, looking like he had done that a few times before. Red grabbed him by the neck and led him to the floor, walked into the bathroom and came out a few seconds later.


            “So, he is here.” Knight said.


            “What do you want from him?” I asked as Red sat down on the single dresser the room sported, which was really so there would be a place to put the TV.


            “We are supposed to bring him in.” Red said putting the gun away. “Dee would like to have him as a bargaining chip. I think Dee’s a little annoyed because Mister Walker was supposed to deliver a large shipment this morning. It would have robbed UNICORN of significant funds.”


            “So you decided to watch me and follow me down here?” I asked.


            “We only found out about this an hour ago.” Red said watching Cary walk through the area around where Peter was lying down.


            “How did you know to follow me then?” I asked patting the side of the bed and looking at Cary. She sat down next to me and gripped my hand.


            “Our man in Rabbit’s group said you were working for them on this.”


            “Bill said that about me?” I asked. “I was only brought on yesterday.”


            “Pat said it.” Knight smiled. “He didn’t say you were only just brought in though.”


            “Well I was.” I looked down at Peter and then at the bathroom as Cary came out fully dressed. “Still, how did you manage to follow me so quickly?”


            “We were just on our way to your office, you can sit up Peter, its okay.” Knight said looking down on the prostrate former porn star. Peter looked up and sat up. “We were on our way to talk to you about what happened when you came out of your office. Red just deiced to follow you on a whim. When you came here we decided to see what you were up to.”


            “Fortuitous really.” Red commented.


            “Not to harp on it Cary,” I said placing my hand over hers, “But its things like this that make me say no entertaining.”


            “Sorry Jack.” She said.


            It was interesting, and highly suspicious that my phone chose that moment to ring. Red looked at me, I looked at him and then turned my gaze to Knight. If I did this wrong, I could get a bullet in my head. If I did it right, we might all get out of this alive.


            “You’d probably better see who that is.” Knight said.


            I nodded and looked at the phone and recognized Alice’s number from what she’d written down for me. I decided on a tactic and looked at Knight when I spoke my first volley.


            “It’s my secretary.” I told him. “She’s supposed to have called someone for me, they must have told her they want to find me.”


            “Okay.” Knight nodded.


            “Hi Debbie.” I said as I put the phone to my ear.


            “What?” Alice asked.


            “Did you call Crammer and tell him about Rabbit’s warehouse like I asked?” I hoped she picked up what I was trying to tell her.


            “That would be why they showed up then.” She caught up quickly, which is nice.


            “That’s good.” I said smiling. “They say anything?”

            “Are you in trouble?”


            “Mmm hmm?” I confirmed. “Everybody wanting to know where I am?”


            “Well…” She sounded like she still hadn’t quite figured the whole game out yet. “They want to see Peter, I suppose you too by extension. They’re ready to offer him immunity of he spills.”


            “Okay.” I said nodding. “Well, he can have an appointment today if he wants. I’ve got Peter with me now.”


            Red shook his head slowly, I glanced at Knight and saw he was just rubbing his white mustache with his fingers. It was a warning from Red, but there was some permission to continue from Knight, so long as I was careful.


            “Where are you now then?” She asked.


            “No, I can’t do that.” I said as if I were excusing us from a lunch date. “I’m tied up with another matter at the moment. We’re still at the hotel and it seems he ran up a bill.”


            “Which hotel?” She asked. “What can you tell me?”


            “Okay.” I sighed heavily and rolled my eyes. “Where is his office? On Woodward, okay up by Mary-Anne street? That by the Liddell Motel? Yeah, I think I know where that is. Well don’t tell him to keep his hopes up, I don’t know how long we’ll have to be here.”


            “I think I’ve got you.” She said. “I’ll see what I can do.”


            “Well no rush, I mean it’s not like they’re pulling guns on us or anything.” I offered in perhaps a more sarcastic tone than I should have.


            “Leave your phone on the line with me, I can have them track you if you leave.”


            “Yep, okay. Bye-bye.” I pretended to press the end button, and then pretended to press it again and dropped it in my coat pocket.


            “Another client?” Red asked.


            “No,” I said shaking my head. “The federal prosecutor wants to talk to Pete here.”


            “Why?” Knight asked, placing his hands on either side of his big silver belt buckle.


            “Because Mister Cat and Miss Heart made him get his prints all over a whole lot of evidence last night.” I said looking at Peter. “While doing that they made him get covered in a lot more evidence, which is why I brought him here to get showered. Nothing I can do about the prints, but I could get him cleaned up in secret. That way the police would at least have to work a little when they got him.”


            “Why was Chester getting me covered in that stuff?” Peter asked, and I had to lie or nothing would work.


            “Because when they told your brother that you led me right to them, your brother decided you were in on it.” I said, which was totally untrue as Amy said that she and cat still hadn’t discussed it with Rabbit. Having already lied, I went with it. “So your brother decided you would have to go away.”


            “So that’s why they’re here?” He asked pointing at Red and Knight.


            “No.” I shook my head and prepared to tell the biggest whopper I’d told since at least Thursday. “Your brother was going to get you sent to jail, these guys thought they were going to kidnap you for ransom, not knowing that Flopston wouldn’t really be that concerned as all he’d have to do is tell the police that the opposition had taken his brother away for safe keeping. There by, he would be rid of you, and fuck LION’s shit up pretty good. The resulting investigation would prove to be a shit storm for pretty much everyone but him for the next few months. With Church scheduled for release by July anyway, LION would barely be able to gain a foothold. Mrs. White might not be worried about that, but Dee knows that Church could crush his head between his nuts while rolling over in his sleep.”


            “Is that right?” Knight asked.


            “That is.” I lied, to a man who could kill me without a noticeable difference to his day. “Let’s face it, Church being away leaves a very tenuous chance for one group or the other to take over. You fuck around too long and when Church gets out he’ll boot both your asses and give you nothing but a plum cake for your effort.”


            Knight stroked his mustache for a moment, Red stood up slowly and looked at Knight. Knight, still clearly thinking, ran his hand over his bald pate and then around the crown of white hair that had remained when his hair line receded. Red didn’t believe me, but then Red wasn’t in charge. Knight didn’t believe me either, but he knew that I might be telling the truth. A lot of the things I’d said were true after all, Church might not be able to take on both groups on a national level, but he could get them both the hell out of Michigan if they didn’t establish themselves quickly.


            Knight was either agree with me, or kill me. I really hate not knowing how things are going to turn out when there is an assassin ready to shoot me in the back of the head.




This is part ten of twelve, come back next week for part eleven 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.

March 6, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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