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Liberty’s Child (Part Fifteen)

Liberty’s Child

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!



Day Fifteen: Six With One Blow


            I have totally forgotten the name of the hospital I was taken to, or what county or town it was in. Despite Trooper Jim having me talk the whole way there, I think I was more than three quarters asleep by the time we got to the hospital. I fear I bled on his window, I hope someone else cleaned it up for him because he’d been through enough to be perfectly frank. I didn’t see Trooper Jim again, but it wasn’t the last I would hear about him.


            I was in one hell of a state when I was pulled from the dark blue state cruiser and carried into the hospital, with only the most perfunctory efforts on my part to pretend like I was capable of walking. The world wasn’t spinning per say, but it wasn’t on the most stable of moorings. The fluorescent lights hurt my eyes, which had that stinging sour feeling from being up too late. I felt like what I really wanted to do was go to sleep but every time my head drifted down someone would start tapping my cheek and shaking me.


            I got an X-Ray, which was a lot duller than it was when I broke my leg as a kid. On that day, I was so wound up on shock and the shot of Wild Turkey my father slipped me that I was more fascinated by the process than anything else. Now, I was just sore and tired and I wanted to go crawl into my bed and never come out again, and as a result the whole thing was deathly dull.


            The problem with things being dull, particularly when you’ve been up a long time, is that every little thing that doesn’t keep you up is a burden. Just sitting still was a feat of Herculean strength, because all I wanted to do was fidget if I couldn’t go to sleep. I was already told that I couldn’t go to sleep by the doctors, so every one was being very helpful in trying to keep me awake. The problem there was that none of them were really very good at keeping a person awake, because you need to really pay attention to keep them up and going, and you can’t do that and do your job too.


            Fortunately, after I got out of radiology something came along to keep me awake. That something was about six foot tall, red faced, and angrier than a bull with a bee sting. I could tell by the look on his face that Crammer was in bed when they called, and he wasn’t sleeping at the time. He had that sort of frustrated look that says he was in the middle of sex when the call came and he felt duty bound to answer which ruined the moment and now the wife will be asleep by the time he gets back.


            “I suppose you would like to tell me exactly what the hell happened?”  Crammer asked as he stood in the hall way with his fists on his hips to prevent him from using them.


            “Sure.” I nodded, seeing Alice coming up behind him. She was no doubt going to defend my honor.


            Have you ever noticed that if you tell a story twenty or thirty times it always starts to sound like bullshit? No matter how you tell it, or how truthful you are, after a while you start to think you’re making things up. I have no idea how long exactly we were in that windowless room, but it was a long time. I had gotten to the point where the phrase ‘and then my knife just snapped off and stayed in his head’ had lost all meaning.


            “Good lord.” Crammer finally said. “You killed six men in five minutes?”


            “Yeah.” I nodded, realizing we were going to hash over that again. “You know, if I’d gotten just one more of them I could get myself a big belt buckle that says ‘Seven with one blow’ on it and people would think I was talking about flies on a piece of jam bread.”


            “God damnit!” Crammer yelled. “Why don’t you tell me the rest of it?”


            “Inspector Crammer,” The Doctor said as she checked the four stitches on my forehead and put a band aid over them. “This is still a hospital. I’m bending the rules by letting you interview my patient as it is.”


            “I’m sorry doctor.” He said.


            “Hey, can I go home soon?” I asked the doctor, a thin and somewhat nervous looking woman.


            “I’d like to keep you here for observation if we could.” She said.


            “Aw c’mon doc.” I whined like a four year old child. “I’ve been up all damn day, and I only slept about four hours last night. I’d really like to go home and go to bed.”


            “Well, you don’t seem to have a concussion.” She said glancing at the x-rays again and then at my sad and pathetic face. I was pulling the sad eyes thing that puppies in store windows always do in order to make people come in and cuddle them. “You need to go home.”


            “I will.” I nodded, which didn’t hurt because of the pain killers I’d been given.


            “Take it easy for the next few days.” She said.


            “No problem.” I smiled my weary and tired smile.


            “Okay.” She said nodding. “We can probably let you go home. Can someone drive you?”


            “I can.” Alice spoke up.


            “Thanks.” I said smiling up at her. “My car is out of commission anyway.”


            Another ten minutes and we were getting into her car, which she said was actually from a motorpool the agency kept. It was a silvery gray Ford, and it had all the hall marks of a rented or borrowed car. There was nothing besides her brief case in the back as we climbed in to let anyone know a human had even been in this car recently.


            “Jack.” Crammer called to me as we started to get into the car.


            “What?” I asked, pausing with one foot in the car and one on the black top.


             The air was still hot, even at this late hour. The moist air made it feel like we were walking around in a steamer or something that had been turned off but still carried enough heat to burn you. It wasn’t as hot at the middle of the day, but it was hot and terribly uncomfortable. It was just getting to were the humidity made everything feel sticky, and that could make you feel like you were starting to get cold even though you weren’t.


            “That statey that brought you here.” He said, stopping a foot or two from me.


            “Jeffries.” I said nodding.


            “He went back and found your guns.” Crammer held my Webley and Marley revolvers out to me, and I noticed my coat over his left arm. “Got your suit jacket too.”


            “Thanks.” I said slipping the guns back into their holsters and then taking my jacket from him. “The hell is this?”


            “Nothing.” He said as I unrolled the jacket and found Cat’s two silenced Rugers with five clips wrapped up with them. “They’re nothing. I’ve never seen them, neither has Jeffries.”


            “Why?” I asked, handing Alice the pistols and slipping my jacket on.


            “You might need a little extra maybe.” He shrugged. “Put them away until you really need them or something.”


            “Okay.” I said. “Do you know where UNICORN is supposed to be hiding out?”


            “Even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.” He announced. “The doctor said you needed to get to bed and rest. I’m not going to tell you to stay off this case or anything, because I know what the result of that would be. I am going to tell you though that you need to rest.”


            “I know.” I said nodding.


            “But you’re not going to.” He said.


            “I don’t know.” I said shrugging. “I think I’ll drop these guns off in the safe in my office, and then go to bed and think about things when I wake up.”


            “You should probably do that.” Crammer said. “I’m going to go home, see how much sleep I can manage to get before I have to start this whole thing over again.”


            “I can’t help but notice you haven’t harangued me for not calling you when I had her.” I said.


            “What good would it have done?” He asked. “They shot a cop in the face because he would have gotten in their way. If everything you said is true, we wouldn’t have been on guard to bring an adult to who faked a kidnapping home. Seems like they were going to hit who ever had her. I only hope the one that shot that trooper is one of those six you killed.”


            “Me too.” I agreed.


            “I’ll see you when you’ve rested up.”


            “Thanks.” I said, and got into the car. I turned to Alice and asked, “Can you take me to my office?”


            “I thought I needed to take you home.” She said.


            “I always stop at the office.” I told her, hoping that I wouldn’t have to explain further. “I need to drop these guns off anyway, I don’t keep guns at home.”


            “Okay.” She nodded and started to drive. “How much of what you told Crammer is true anyway?”


            “Oh, all of it. I just left out some personal details.”


            “Really?” She asked. “What, he doesn’t need to know some things?”


            “Damn right.” I said and leaned back on her chair.


            “You know,” I could hear a smile creeping across her lips as she spoke, “You should give up this game and come work for The Agency.”


            “Should I?” I asked, trying not to lean back so far that I would fall asleep.


            “There is a long and proud tradition of having female agents seduce men and get them to join the agency.” She looked at me and I could just make out the quirky smile. “That wouldn’t be a bad night, would it?”


            “If I wanted anyone to seduce me,” I managed through the haze of exhaustion, “You would be top of the list. If I need to join up, I’ll give you a call first.”


            “You don’t have to wait that long.” She said.


            “No.” I agreed. “That’s true. In fact, I owe you dinner or something when we’re done with this case.”


            “Yeah.” She nodded, “You do.”


            I have no idea how it happened so fast, but we were suddenly pulling up into the parking lot of my building. I suppose it’s possible that I dropped off for a moment, but I don’t remember it. I sat up, and found that I’d put my hand on her smooth and bare knee. I slid it up a little, just to hear the change in her breathing. I moved it away, and twitched the hem of her skirt down to cover the knee.


            The big red trucks should have given me a moment’s pause as we pulled into the parking lot. We don’t have a particularly big lot, so the four big red trucks really stood out parked side by side like that. Four Ford Explorers aren’t that odd a sight in Michigan, and since it was dark as we got out of her car and started towards my building, I couldn’t make out the color.


            The heat had an instant effect on me, making me feel aroused and tired and given me a false sense of having energy. I completely ignored the cars, even though a tiny part of my brain was ringing that alarm bell again. I think I was distracted by some decidedly unprofessional behavior, sadly I honestly can’t remember if she pushed me up against a wall and kissed me or if I did it to her, or if it ever even happened. I think we must have kissed some, but I was so tired that I was nearly in a dream state while walking.


            I pushed her skirt up, I must have done that because I found her silk panties in my coat pocket later. She opened a few buttons on her shirt and I remember kissing the lace of her bra. I think maybe one of us said something about the back seat of the car and the other mentioned the floor of my office.


            I think I had an idea about performing some delightful act on her, and I’m not sure I would have waited to get back to my place to perform them. Of course the fact that I couldn’t have performed at that moment if my life depended on it wouldn’t have mattered much. I was so close to sleep, and so very turned on, I almost think I could have managed it while sleeping. We didn’t get the chance to find out though, because my office door was open when we got there.


            I was so tired, so far into a dream state that I yanked the empty Webley from its holster and shoved the door open. Three men in long leather coats turned to face me. The coats were a bright red, as were the leather pork pie hats each of them wore. I may have been exhausted beyond reason, but my mind managed to make the connection of men dressed in red leather and the trucks outside. Their total lack of reaction to my gun might have helped though. They weren’t going to be afraid of a single hand gun held by a terminally exhausted detective.


            “Cardinals?” I asked.


            “Yeah.” One of them said and then pointed over his shoulder. “He’s waiting for you.”


            “Just fucking great.” I muttered. “What would you have done if I didn’t come back to my office?”


            “You always come back.” The other one said.


            “Well that’s true.” I said and put the Webley back. “Well, if he can come to me, I suppose I can go in and see him.”


            “Should I go?” Alice asked, grabbing my hand and giving it a squeeze.


            “It’s not like that.” I said and winked and smiled. “It’s okay. It’s just a meeting, come on. You can tell him what a cock-blocking asshole he is.”


            I turned the knob of my inner office and walked in, seeing him standing at the window, just like he did in December. I don’t know if he just buys suits in bulk or if that was the same suit, but he was wearing the same one that he had when he stood there in December and had come to visit me. The same gray suit, with his shirt cuffs not fastened and he wouldn’t be wearing a tie either.


This is part fifteen of twenty-three, come back next week for part sixteen 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 Liberty tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment

A few things

1) Seriously? The Metric System? Republicans now think using the metric system is dumb? Odd, I seem to remember the military uses the metric system. Why do republicans hate the military? Why do they think the army is stupid? Why oh why do Republicans hate America? I would also like to point out that it was Nixon who signed the 55 mph speed limit into law.
A better way to phrase the whole thing is come back in 2012 and ask why things aren’t better if there were no republicans standing in the way of the Dems. They won’t be better, there will always be something wrong, and there will probably be things that even lefty-pinko-liberal-faggit-liberal-pinko-lefties will be unhappy about.

2) Because of Michael Jackson, I bought a bunch of fruit snacks. Michael died, you could die at any time. My mother would never buy us fruit roll-ups, but I’m an adult now and if I want gushers and fruit roll-ups and little fruit snacks in the shape of Optiumus Prime, I can buy them. So I bought ten boxes because they were on sale. For Michael, which Holly claims is the best tribute she’s heard all week. Strangely it’s the Kroger Brand Peanut themed fruit snacks that look the most like what their supposed to be. No guessing, they’re very clear.

3) Talking about Michael Jackson got me talking about Holly’s so-called taste in music (she thinks Huey Lewis is both tolerable and an example of Rock Music*) and that got me talking about Billy Joel, and how I remember a lot of yuppie scumbags listening to Billy like they had the slightest idea what he was talking about. Which led me to singing a song called “Bloomfield Town” about an ad executive who was let go recently. You might work out what song it’s based on.
Well we’re like totally living in Bloomfield Town
But the Lexuses are gone from the ground
And I had to let the gardener go todaaaay
And we’re living here in Bloomfield town.

If you don’t live in Michigan I should point out Bloomfield Hills is a fairly rich section in our area.

4) I’ve still got a post in my work pile about how Michael Jackson has lead me to buying a bunch of Prince things, but I haven’t finished it yet. This has been happening a lot lately. I’ve got about 10 things in my work pile that are either not done or never will be. Lots of posts I’m not making. That leads to point five…

5) It is quite possible I’m loosing my marbles. I’ve been forgetting a lot of little things lately. It’s not new. I’ve always been forgetful. This slide is a gradual thing I can track too. I’ve watched my mother do it for twenty years and I watched my grandmother do it for longer than that. It never got to “Are you June’s boy?” levels, although concentration has become a bitch and a half the last year or so. Living through this, and admitting it openly, I have to say it’s not scary. I’ve always seen it as this thing we’re supposed to be terrified of on TV and in movies. “Oh dear, I walk into a room and forget why I came, I’M SO SCARED!” Well, I’m not scared, I’m annoyed. I get up, go to a room and can’t remember what I came in for and I sit there swearing. “What the fuck did I come in here for?” I’m more annoyed about the wasted time than I am scared about not knowing who people are in later years. While I could blame genetics, I prefer to blame drugs and the so-called doctors that gave them to me.

*She had a bad childhood and never saw Raiders of The Lost Ark until she was in her late twenties. I forgive her, and I try to show her the way, but it’s a constant uphill struggle because she thinks someone singing Margaritaville isn’t a reason to get the tar and feathers.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

LOtUSFLOW3R… because l33tspeek is coming back any second now.

For reasons I’ll get into later, I’ve gotten on a minor Prince kick this week. Now I was told that his new album LOtUSFLOW3R (yes that’s how he has chosen to spell it) was A) Pretty awesome and B) really a triple album in disguise. So I went to Target, who are the exclusive sellers of this album and found it cost $12 for the three albums. I have no idea who Bria Valente is beyond Prince’s new Carmen Electra, Vanity 6, what have you.

So I pulled the Lotusflow3r disc out and Syd and I gave it a listen while we did the rest of our errands. You can read a review of the album here if you want, or I can give you a super quick run down. It’s not remarkable. I’m a fan of rawer, rougher music than this. Prince used to do rough and tumble music but he’s gone in for over produced and way too slick and polished music that just fails to catch hold of anything in my mind. We were at the 6th or 7th track when Syd looked at me and said “I’m just not being blown away. It’s like funk themed elevator music.” I’ve given it a full listen now, and while that’s a fair assessment, it’s not a bad album. It’s filled with a lot of the little audio tricks Prince has fallen in love with recently, and it’s pretty good, there just isn’t anything that grabs your attention and demands you to listen to this song. Of course, there is also the problem that he doesn’t really sing about sex or use profanity anymore. While Gett Off isn’t my favorite song, it creates a balance for Diamond & Pearls. Raspberry Beret isn’t exactly explicit, but that creates a balance when you put it up against The Ladder. Without the sexy, the profane and the outrageous, the spiritual just comes off as preaching. Oscar Wilde nailed it when he said “Well, I’ll be buggered.”

What he actually said was “I may be laying in the gutter, but I’m looking up at the stars, baby*.” Which pretty much has always nailed Prince’s music I think. Well, it did until Rainbow Children, which I didn’t dig so much and Musicology was good but… nothing from it really stuck with me. Worst thing really, to be good but not memorable. If the music was a little rougher, it might not just slide off my mind and fail to take hold.
*That was actually Buddy Cole that said that. Wilde actually said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

So when I got home I put in MPLSoUND and after about 15 seconds with the opening track I had to announce to Syd that we listened to the wrong disc first. This is really more like what I want to hear from him. It’s still a shade over produced, but he’s never going to go back to the Post Punk mixed with New Wave that made up his early days. This is a good substitute though and it’s the best thing I’ve heard from him in the last 10 years (I missed 3121 and Planet Earth, so take that as you will) and I’m really pleased with this disc. Much more bouncy, more fun, and memorable sounding songs.

I’ll listen to the Bria Valente album Elixer at some point, but the scanning I’ve done sounds like pretty standard R&B Adult Contemporary stuff. Clearly, a woman singing Prince penned and produced songs. She’s fine, just nothing too exciting.

So yeah, if you’ve got $12 and you want to listen to some Prince Music, you could do worse than grabbing the new album. You can get it at the Target Website or you could go to the store and get it. However, if you go to the store, you’ll have a hell of a time finding anything. The way they arrange CDs and DVDs at Target makes me wonder if maybe there are alternate reasons for the fall of our economy. My theory is that people got fed up with having to try and find the item they wanted and went home. I figure this because stores decided to get so damn cute with how the arrange products that you can’t actually find anything unless you’ve got to know exactly where it is or have demon on a small silver chain. Even with the demon, it was a challenge to find anything, let me tell you. You could also go to LOtUSFLOW3R.com, but I don’t think a person should have to solve a flash puzzle game just to buy a fricking album.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment