In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Thirteen: Would the last one to leave please turn out the lights?
I avoided the task all day.
I opted to spend the time of my last day in the office cleaning out my desk and drawers. This required getting some boxes, and packing material since the knives John and Mina had sent were valuable and I didn’t want them damaged any more than I already had done. That took the rest of the day and I didn’t actually have time to call until about 6 o’clock or so. I thought about postponing it longer, like about three weeks after I got to Virginia, but that wouldn’t really be fair.
I sat down at my desk, pulled the phone towards me and dialed. Amazing how long it can take a phone to connect when you don’t want the person on the other end to answer. It also takes them an amazingly long time to actually pick up the phone. You’d think that the time would shrink, since this is the opposite of the sort of nervous anticipation that comes with calling someone you want to talk to. If I were calling a pretty girl, one might expect this, but I wasn’t calling a girl at all. I was calling a woman, or rather THE woman. I was calling the one woman that still had something I considered a hold over me. It was her money that had gotten me this office after all, I owed her an explanation.
“Salutations?” Her voice was so bright it almost blinded my ear.
“Hi Char.” I said.
“Hello my darling.” she replied, with a tone so breezy I felt like battening down the hatches.
“I’m afraid I have to deliver some bad news to you.” I told her.
“Would this have something do to with you turning the business over to Debbie and her leaving town?” She asked.
“You heard about that huh?” I asked.
“Indeed I did my dear.” She told me. “So would it be that you decided you wanted to annul your office?”
“Yeah it would. I’m leaving town tonight, and I don’t think I’ll ever be coming back.”
“Well, this was to be eventually expected.” She said in the same bright tone she said everything. “
“Was it?” I asked.
“Yes. You can only take so much darkness before you need to step into the light.” she told me. “Have you lined up other work yet or are you just running screaming into the night?”
“I’ve more or less lined up other work.” I told him. “Or, maybe not. I might just be running into the night.
“Your talents should not go to waste my dear.” She said. “You have so many talents.”
“Yeah.” I said, knowing what she meant by that. “Talents.”
“Is there more bothering you than that dear?”
“What the hell am I going to do, Char?” I asked. “I can’t help but feel like no matter what I do I’m going to cause someone else to get hurt.”
“You can only control so much.” She said. “You can’t be responsible for what other people do.”
“I suppose.” I said.
“Very well then.” She said. “I wish you well in your future endeavors.”
“Thanks Char.” I told her.
“I’ll see you when I come back to America again.” She said.
And with that, she hung up on me. It seemed kind of rude at the time, but looking back now I probably needed that kind of abruptness. I leaned back and put the phone back on the hook, leaning back in my chair and turning a slow circle towards the window. I looked out the big window and noticed that it had become dark. I looked around the office and found that I had indeed turned the lights on. Somewhere along the lines I’d taken the two boxes of things I wanted to keep from my office down to my car, because I couldn’t see any evidence of them here before me.
I sat in my office and looked around it, coming to the realization that I was actually going to leave this place forever. I was going to leave the Detroit area and I wasn’t going to look back. I got up from my desk and walked across the room, wondering if I should say goodbye to anyone. There was no one left to say goodbye to though. Liberty had taken Jenicia back to France with her, and everyone else I knew was dead or gone. With Eddie’s death, the last person I knew and still talked to from my old days that had been left in the state was gone. Everyone I knew here had left already, leaving me the last one to leave Detroit.
As I walked out of the office, I switched off the lights, just like they always asked.
I walked down the stairs for the last time and I started to go through a list of all the people I knew who had died in just the last year. It was a long list and I had to keep going after I’d gotten into the car and started on my way. I was on I-75, going south and headed towards Ohio before I’d gotten done with the list.
Christmas, that’s the big one isn’t it? Of course Easter, Patrick, Kwanza, Chanukah, and Sam were all gone too. All the big shows were gone now. There were those totally innocent victims as well, like Sandy Cloose, Peter Rabbit, Becky Hain, I might even be willing to put Hewie Homunculus in that list. The thugs, Hardrock, Coco, Joe, Opus, Chester Cat, his buddy the Professor and the other four that made up those six I killed with one blow. Killers like Amy Cook of course, along with Knock, The Fat Man, and my old friend Tom Noonan. Then there were just the dummies like Piggy, Jabber Walker and his little crew Borogove, Rath, Jubjub, Tove, Bander and the rest of the names I never bothered to learn. Of course we have to discuss a supreme dip shit like Smith. The Freedoms, poor little Columbia and her father Tom. I couldn’t help but feel I was leaving some names off this list, but that just proves how long of a list it was. And that was just in the last year.
I’d kind of had the idea that it was this place that had killed them. Being in Michigan, a state that was itself dying had caused them to die with it. I should have been happy to leave the place, but to be honest I could only really feel a great sense of regret. I had lived while so many had died, and everyone I’d tried to protect beyond Jack the cat had been killed. Of course the fact that the one eyed warrior was another Jack probably had more to do with his survival than my total inability to protect a single person or their interests.
There was a lot of failure behind me, and I didn’t really want to have anything do with it any longer. As I drove towards the sign that welcomed me to Ohio, I was just praying something on the Hudson wouldn’t explode and keep me in this state. If I could just get across the sate line, I felt I would be okay from there. I wouldn’t have to add my name to the list of the dead. I could see the border coming up, but frankly I’d become tired of the game and didn’t want to play anymore.
There was a large sign, pointing out that one was about to enter Ohio. It was lighted, being the only bright object in the area besides the headlights on my car. There was the border, and I would cross it in about ten seconds. As I drove towards the end of Michigan, but hadn’t quite reached it yet, I decided that I wouldn’t be narrating my story any more either.
This ends “In The Cabinet”. We are no going on a biref hiatius, but lease join us in the new year.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Twelve: The License Question
I stopped off at a late night vet I know of and had the cat looked at. I was worried about him, but besides a bit of strain he’d be fine in a few days. The owner had taken care of him though, and had even gone so far as to put one of those little tracker chips in his back. It turned out the cat was only from a few houses down the road from where Hain’s house was.
It was late when I went to the old farm house, but I decided to knock on the door anyway. The door opened a crack and a man about a dozen years older than me looked out at me. He didn’t look suspicious so much as cautious, but who could blame a man for that.
“Have you recently lost your cat?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He said.
“Here he is.” I said holding the one eyed black cat up for inspection.
“Jack?” The man asked rubbing the cat’s head and looking at the scarred face where the left eye was missing.
“Yeah, that’s my name.” I said wonderingly.
“It’s his name too.” The man said. “You can set him down, he’s an indoor and outdoor cat. Where has he been?”
“I’m not sure.” I said setting him down and watching as he walked into the house like he owned the place. “I saw him on the side of the road with his head tangled in some cord, nearly choked himself. I cut him loose and took him to a vet to have him looked at.”
“Come in.” The man said and we walked through the living room and into the kitchen where a girl of about ten was already giving the cat a saucer of milk. “How much did the vet cost?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” I waved my hand and concocted a lie quickly. “I got it for free. The vet’s tech is a friend of mine.”
“You say he was nearly choked?”
“The rope was pretty tight around his neck.” I said. “Some one just left a tangle of rope at the side of the road or something and he must have gotten caught in it.”
“You chasing things you shouldn’t again?” He asked reaching down and tugging one of the cat’s ears. Jack looked up with his one yellow green eye and winked. It might have been thought that he was just blinking, but it looked so much like a wink I couldn’t shake the thought. “That’s how you lost your eye my friend.”
“Is it?” I asked.
“There was a badger bothering the live stock about three years ago and Jack decided to prove that those were his sheep and the only person to harass them was going to be him.”
“Did he prove it?” I asked.
“Oh yeah.” He laughed. “The next morning we find Jack dragging this badger about twice his size back to the house and he’d lost one of his eyes.”
“Well, it is comforting to know that all things named Jack and be content that they are the baddest of the bad in their field.” I said scratching the cat behind the ears. He responded by rubbing up against my leg.
There wasn’t much to say after that, so I left them waving to the cat as he ran out of the house and watched me from the porch. It is fairly nice to know that if your name is Jack, you can be content to be the baddest bastard in the area. I decided that I would let him be the baddest thing on four legs and I’d remain the baddest on two. With each of us content with being the baddest in our weight class, it would never have to come down to an exhibition bout to find out who was the baddest of them all. I would win anyway, cats can’t use guns.
After that, it was my turn to go to the hospital. It occurred to me that I was going to have to explain why I had taken about seven hours to come to a hospital to get this taken care of. I kept trying to work out something as I got to the hospital and started towards the emergency room, which is all that was open at that hour. When I sat down though, I decided that telling a near version of the truth and that the police were already aware of everything might do.
“How did this happen?” The internist asked me as he looked at my hand, which was already less swollen than it had been earlier.
“A person who is already with the police decided my hand would make a good testing ground for a leather and lead sap.” I told him as he examined it.
“The police have already been informed?” He asked.
“The police already have him.” I told him. “I just need some x-rays to see if anything is actually broken.”
I won’t go into the rest of the trip to the hospital, as it’s about as dull as you think it might prove to be. It was a lot of sitting around waiting for someone to remember I existed, have them take a couple of pictures, look at the pictures and then give me the good news. The good news was that Knock hadn’t actually managed to break anything. Most the bones in my hand were cracked or hairline fractured, but nothing was broken. I was given a splint made up mainly of Velcro and plastic and told to go home to bed. I also got a prescription for something to ease the pain, but I decided that sleep was probably all I needed and went home to bed.
When I got up I arranged my things into easily packed piles and places. This is actually no great feat as my things are usually set up to be packed at a moment’s notice. I got my note book out and looked up Mrs. Pendleton’s address to tell her to pack everything away for me. This time though, I was going to have her send everything into storage for a while. I kind of thought a while would be forever, but I didn’t tell her that. I packed all my clothes that would fit into the matched suitcases my mother bought me a few years ago and put them in the car. I then left my place, wondering if I should call the landlord or just keep paying until the lease ran out. Things being what they were in Michigan, he might as well keep getting paid for the place standing vacant rather than it just sitting empty and not earning.
I got to my office right around noon, which is an odd time to get to the office and find myself alone. In a normal day, Debbie would be typing away at her computer. She would never sit at that desk and type at the computer again. I almost wanted to sit down at her desk and look at the computer, just to see if I could figure out what she’d been doing all those years. I decided not to though, I mean I’d stayed in blissful ignorance all these years, why not extend it for the last few hours I would be in this stupid state.
I walked into my office and found an envelope on the desk with my name written on it in Debbie’s handwriting. It was a fairly thick envelope, and when I opened it I found what I had been expecting. Debbie had gone to the bank and gotten about ten thousand in cash from the account and put it on my desk with a note. It was a private note, but mostly it told me simply that it was for me to travel on if I decided I needed to just go hide for a while.
I heard a knock on the door and realized that I had to go get it for myself. I got up and deposited the cash into my trench coat pocket when I passed it. It was a good thing I did because Assistant District Attorney Mandelbaum was the sort of man who would just yank an envelope of money out of a person’s hand without making sure he had a proper warrant to first. He marched past me and went into my office without saying a word. Crammer was with him, but no other bulls had come along. Crammer also didn’t just march in, but looked at me while we stood on the threshold.
“They found part of a Webley-Fosbery.” He whispered as he moved past me. “If I were you I’d do everything up to an including accusing us of planting it.”
“It’s not on you.” I whispered back. “I’ll have to get mean though.”
The two of us walked back into my inner office, and Crammer had presence of mind enough to close the door behind him like he would have if Debbie had been there. I sat down and looked at them, getting ready to ask what they were doing there. Mandelbaum started though, amazingly free of bombast this time.
“Where is your gun?” He asked me folding his hands.
“In your property room.” I informed him. “And sadly, it going to be destroyed. That’s an antique you know. You can’t get Marleys any more. The company went out of business in forty-nine.”
“Not that one.” Mandelbaum said, and I thought he must have something up his sleeve. “The Webley-Fosbery Automatic revolver.”
“I don’t own a Webley.” I said shaking my head. “The company owns it.”
“Where is it Collier?” Mandelbaum asked, starting to look annoyed.
“No idea.” I told him.
“Your gun is missing and you didn’t report it to the police?” Crammer asked cautiously.
“It’s not my gun, and it’s not missing.” I said.
“It’s your detective office, and your gun!” Mandelbaum barked.
“Wrong on both counts and please don’t shout.” I said raising my finger. “I signed the company over to my former secretary yesterday, she became my boss. I turned the gun over to her as part of her property. You’ll have to ask her for the gun, but you’ll have to go to Chicago and I suspect you’ll need a damn good reason to ask.”
“We’ve got a reason.” Mandelbaum started to shout again but I raised my finger at him and he lowered his voice half way through. “As you know, Knock is dead, and we found a piece of a Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver’s handle scale at the scene of his murder.”
“How do you know it was murder?” I asked.
“Because you put a shovel through his face!” Mandelbaum shouted.
“Then what does part of a gun have to do with it?” I asked. “I mean if I’m being framed for a killing, why a part of a gun you can’t even acquire? I mean if you’re going to have the Troy Police plant things, why not have it be something more substantial? If you’re going to plant evidence to frame me after all.”
“How dare you suggest that?” Mandelbaum actually screamed. After realizing what he was doing he returned to shouting. “You are slandering the finest police department in the country, if not the world!”
“What does the Kansas City Police Department have to do with what I just said?” I asked, and I could help but notice that Crammer actually started to laugh. He had to put his hand over his mouth, but his shoulders kept shaking.
“This isn’t funny!” Mandelbaum resumed shouting.
“Damn right it’s not.” I snapped back. “You walking in here with some cock and bull story about a piece of a gun.”
“I have it right here.” He reached into his pocket and tossed the plastic evidence bag on my desk.
“You can prove it was me?” I asked raising my left hand from above my desk for the first time and extending my finger at him. “Good enough for a court? Good enough to prove the word murder? Homicide isn’t murder Mandelbaum.”
“What happened to your hand?” Crammer asked. “Why is it in a splint?”
“One might suggest it’s in a splint to prove self defense. If you get a search warrant for Saint Joe’s, you will find that the report shows that my left hand was done over pretty well with a leather covered sap.”
“Knock had a leather sap in his pocket.” Crammer said. “It had blood on it.”
“Probably mine.” I told him. “You want to cuff him? I can shove my socks in his mouth and we can discuss this like civilized human beings.”
“Sit down Mandelbaum.” Crammer said softly.
“Sit down.” Crammer said and pointed at the seat and then looked at me. “Okay, tell me.”
“Everything I know?”
“Everything.” He said.
“Sam Hain and Knock are your murderers.” I said flatly and sighed. “They wound Hewie up on a bunch of drugs to get him to do over Becky Hain, but it was Sam and Knock. When you guys started to get close on Sam, Becky came to be hoping I could find the real killer. Sam and Knock thought she had figured it out and got Hewie to cut her up like he did. They then gave him a suggestion to kill himself through some post hypnotic trance or something. Knock explained all this while he was doing his work on my hand.”
“Did he?” Mandelbaum asked.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “He said it didn’t matter anymore because he was going to kill me anyway. Which he decided to do after realizing that he was going to have to kill everyone connected to the case. He killed that doctor, killed Eddie the Bear and he says he killed Sam.”
“With the car bomb?” Mandelbaum asked, and it occurred to me I should try and play poker with him. He was so bad at covering his thoughts I could have made a fortune on him.
“No.” I changed my tone to one of condescension. “The car bomb was a dodge, it was Sam’s brother or cousin or something. He killed Sam yesterday before he took me out to the woods.”
“How the hell did you know that?” Mandelbaum demanded.
“Didn’t I just say?” I asked, turning my head to Crammer. “I did say he was a chatty fucker didn’t I? So anyway, Knock decided that I should sign a confession which is why he smashed up my left hand. When I explained that it wasn’t going to happen, he decided that we would go for a trip to the woods. He had the grave pre-dug for me and I just had to do a little extra work before he killed me. I hit him with the shovel instead, you know the rest.”
“Did he say where Sam’s body is?” Crammer asked.
“He said he was going to deal with it later, I suppose it was somewhere on hand.” I shrugged.
“He was using Hain’s house as a base?”
“I was only in the garage.” I said shrugging again, because it felt good. “I suppose he could have.”
“You’re still withholding evidence.” Mandelbaum snapped. “You left the scene of a crime and you drew a weapon on police officers. I’m going to have you license revoked!”
“You missed the part where I struck a pissant assistant DA.” I said.
“I can’t get corroboration on that.” He growled and looked at Crammer.
“No.” I shook my head, “I mean right now.”
I shot up out of my chair with my fist back, but Mandelbaum was in such a hurry to avoid my punishing blow he tripped over the chair and fell on his ass. I looked at him on the floor and waved a dismissive hand at him before sitting back down in my chair. I looked at Crammer who looked at the ADA and then at me.
“Forget it.” I said shaking my head. “I’m leaving the state anyway. Revoke the license if it’ll make you feel like a man, I won’t need it anymore. As for leaving the scene, my hand was smashed up. I had been put through the wringer as it was. For crying out loud if the story we’ve just discussed is true, and that’s not an admission by the way, then I nearly cut a guy’s head off with a shovel. Any jury in the world would let me off and probably give me a big slice of your ass for compensation. In fact if we were to face our judgment from an almighty that might or might not exist, I wouldn’t be blamed. But I’m not taking you to court, because I don’t intend to stay, I’m leaving the state and I’m not coming back. I shall of course be telling the papers it’s because of the constant harassment I’ve suffered.”
“You’ve suffered harassment?” Mandelbaum demanded.
“Yes.” I nodded. “Not only have I caught your serial killer, and disposed of him, but I explained how he committed his crimes. My reward is to have my license revoked. Such grateful thanks. That should really encourage private citizens to help you in the future.”
“No one’s going to take your license.” Crammer said standing up. Clearly he was ready to go. “Can you prove what you just said?”
“No.” I said rubbing my forehead with my left hand, which caused some pain so I stopped. “I have no evidence whatsoever. However, now that you know where to look and the killers are all dead anyway, it should be fairly easy to piece it together.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, “Probably. C’mon Mandelbaum.”
“Crammer.” He muttered.
“Now you fucking idiot.” Crammer barked.
They left together, Mandelbaum the one in tow now. I watched them go and decided that this case was well and truly wrapped up. Oddly, I thought that I probably would find that I had a license still intact if I needed it. I couldn’t think of a reason why I might, but you never knew.
There only now remained one unpleasant task, and then I could drive down to Langley and hang out with Alice for a while. Or maybe I could go do something else, there were other offers and some of them would take me far away for sometime. I looked at the phone and decided it could wait just a little while.
This is part twelve of thirteen, come back next week for part thirteen to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Eleven: Jack The Cat and the Murderer
It may not be a surprise to you that my trip took me back to the house I’d been at when Knock decided to use my left hand as a testing pad for his sap. The sick fucker behind all this had probably watched from the window as Knock smacked my hand, which was now swollen and blackened. I would have to go to the doctor, get an x-ray at least. I squeezed my fingers closed, which caused an incredible amount of pain. The hand would close and open though, which meant I could go ahead with my plan. As I rested it on the steering wheel and hooked my thumb around the wheel, I noticed the arthritis in my right hand was hurting as well. That was nice, it’s always helpful when both sides get together and pitch in. Teamwork, that’s what I like.
I noticed something different when I pulled up to the house though and I felt a new anger growing up as my lights passed over it. I got out the car and approached he large oak tree in the front yard. From one of the lower branches, a cat had been lynched. It was a completely black cat, hung by a formerly white piece of rope that looked like it might have started out life as a clothesline.
I couldn’t stand to leave it there, besides there was the chance that it might not be dead yet. Of course it would be, with its legs waving in the growing wind, but I was going to make a stand with this one. Alive or dead, I was going to cut this animal down and I was going to take it into the house. There are some things I can’t stand, and some bastard hanging a cat is one of them.
I’d never replaced my jackknife after I’d broken the blade off in Chester Cat’s thick skull. At this point though, I wasn’t terribly worried about that fucking monster seeing that I had the bowie knife on me. I pulled the knife out with my sore left hand and took hold of the cat under its chest at the rib cage. I can’t really explain why, but something inside me made me want to treat it as if it were still alive. I gently cut the rope away and set the cat down on the ground before slipping the knife back in place.
As I pulled the noose away, I noticed that one of the cat’s eyes had been taken out sometime ago by violence. The place where the eye would have been was puffy and pink, missing a lot of hair but having more than enough scar tissue to replace it. I was going to kill the fucker, that should be clear by now, but I decided after noticing that fact it was going to take a bit longer and it was going to be a great deal nastier. I was going to make this a grisly, nasty kill, with lots of blood and screaming. I picked the lifeless animal up in my arms and stroked the cat’s soft fur as I walked to the front door. When I opened the door and walked in I heard a voice coming from where I thought the study was.
“That seems to have taken longer than it should have.” The voice came from my right.
“I came as fast as I could.” I said walking into the study and setting the cat down on a black velvet chair that the cat was likely never allowed on in life.
Sam Hain wasn’t ancient, but he was old. A ring of white hair crowned his head, but his face was fairly free of wrinkles. He looked at me, setting his pen down on the paper he was writing on. He leaned back in his large throne like chair, which had imps and goblins carved into the wood. His eyes fixed on me and his tongue moved around inside his lips.
“Jack Collier.” He announced, and I could hear the lilt of his Irish origin in his voice. “The private detective.”
“Here Peter Quince.” I responded, taking a step towards his desk. “Why the cat Sam?”
“Not why Rebecca?” He asked lacing his fingers together and laying his forearms down on his desk as he leaned forward. “Or why all those other victims?”
“Why the cat?” I asked. “We’ll get to the others. We’ve got time.”
“Have we?” He asked smiling. “Aren’t the agents of justice winging their way to us now?”
“No.” I shook my head. “No one knows you’re here but me. Why the cat?”
“If one is going to perform a scorched earth campaign, one must scorch the earth?” He smiled at me. “Have to keep one’s hand in, you know.”
“Let’s start with Hewie.” I tried to keep my voice from growling.
“The little queer?” he asked leaning back again and resting his left hand on the desk, right at the edge. “Who cares about him?”
“He cared about you.” I said reaching into my coat and touching the kurki’s handle. “He loved you.”
“That’s the little queer’s problem.” He said trying to smoothly move his hand to the desk drawer.
My hand snapped out of the coat and swung the huge wedge shaped blade of the kukri down at the corner of his desk. I didn’t do it as fast as I could though, giving him time to pull away, and the edge cut away a bit of the corner of the desk instead of his fingers. I smacked him across the face with the back of my left hand, which exploded into pain that I couldn’t dare how. I reached over and opened the drawer myself. A small chrome pearl handled S&W sat in the drawer. I tucked the kukri back into place and hooked the gun out of the drawer with my pinky stuck through the trigger guard.
“Lame.” I said tossing my right hand up and letting the gun slip from my finger and cascade over my shoulder. “All this time, being such a scary guy, and you go and reach for a dinky little gun?”
I turned and walked away from the desk and towards the cat. Somewhere along the line, the cat had actually started breathing again. The animal’s single yellow-green eye was open and looking up at me. It wasn’t sitting up yet, still building up it’s strength for that I suppose. I think it may have only just woken up in fact.
“I am not a homo.” He announced suddenly. “It’s not my fault if Hewie decided he was gonna run away with me or something.”
I picked the cat up gently and stroked its head. It purred softly, but didn’t rub its head against me because it would have to move its neck to do so. I suspected the cat probably had quite a sore neck, but it was alive. I probably would have found it funny that the one person I thought I had no chance of saving was the one person I’d managed to save.
“You know, it’s the fact that you’ve decided even at this late stage to deny things that annoys me.”
“I’m not denying anything.” He snarled. “I got Hewie and Knock kill those people for me. I even got Hewie to go against his nature and fuck my daughter before killing her.”
“But the only one you actually killed was the cat?” I looked down and stroked the animal’s head. “And didn’t even manage to do that?”
“I managed to get Hewie to kill himself, granted he went to your office for whatever reason.” He smiled broadly. “That’s killing someone, getting them to do it themself.”
“Whatever reason?” I asked.
“Yes.” He nodded, “How did you get involved? I’ve read about you in the paper a couple of times, but I wasn’t aware we had any connection.”
“You don’t remember me?” I must say I was a little surprised. “I was Becky’s best friend for all of high school and a bit beyond.”
“Oh.” He shook his head and then shrugged. “Are you one of the boys who hung around fucking my daughter?”
“No.” I said. “Becky and I were never fucking. I was the one she always came back to.”
“She said she was going to see that friend of hers from school to get me out of trouble.” He said rubbing his chin. “That actually was you?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “That was me, like I said before.”
“She pay you in blowjobs then?” He said it so calmly, so matter of factly, that it was supposed to elicit an explosion of rage from me. I decided it wouldn’t.
“No.” I shook my head and said in the same soft tone he’d used, “You got your little lover boy to kill her before we could discuss payment.”
“I told you, I’m not a fucking sissy faggot!” He shouted and pointed his finger at me. The cat leapt off my lap and ran under the chair.
“No.” I said remaining calm. “You’re quite a butch faggot and something of a sick mind controller who likes whipping little boy rumps and sticking them with all kinds of needles and things. You give the gay community a worse name than Cruisin’ does, and yet you can only kill the cat and can’t do that right.”
“Listen you.” He growled. “When Knock gets back we’ll cut you into little pieces together. I’ll kill you myself though.”
“Is that what you were waiting for?” I laughed. “Unless Knock can bounce back from having the top of his head ripped off in an hour and a half I don’t think he’s coming back in time.”
“Dead?” He asked. “You killed him?”
“Jack the Giant Killer.” I told him. “Seven with one blow and all of that. Chief badass for the Tri-County Detroit Metro area.”
“Did he tell you I was here before then?”
“No.” I shook my head
“How did you figure all this out then?” He asked looking very confused.
“You know, everyone has this idea I’m dumb or something, like I’m just not the sharpest pencil in the box.” I complained. “But you know, even if I were as stupid as you take me for I can at least master pattern recognition. I mean Christmas pulled the exact same trick in December. Who was in the car, another innocent by stander?”
“No.” He shook his head. “My brother died last month, and after we yanked his teeth out we used his body to make a close enough match to my DNA. Knock put his body in there, wired up with a hundred pounds of explosions or so.”
“I see.” I nodded. “So why Becky then?”
“My daughter would tell anyone anything, particularly over some sweated sheets.” He growled at me. “I couldn’t have her blabbing about what had happened and she’d already gone and gotten her old boyfriend involved.”
“I told you.” I said. “I was never her boyfriend.”
“Fuck bunny then.” He snapped. “Her daily source of protein!”
I got up and walked around to the desk. He looked at me defiantly and I thought I saw his hand jump. I smacked him hard across the head and then grabbed his shirt and smacked his head against the desk. I then threw him across the desk and listened as a lot of objects fell both on him and the floor. Objects of glass shattered and brass ones made clanging noises. I heard a groan and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror.
“Are you overcharged with awe?” I grabbed him by the collar and yanked him to his feet.
I couldn’t hear his reply because my ears were filled with a thudding sound, like that of a watch when placed under a cloth. My left hand grabbed the bowie knife and it plunged straight into his heart. My right hand clutched at the kukri handle, and it swept across his neck. There was a spray of blood, but not nearly as much as I would have imagined. His body convulsed a few times, but after a second or two his eyes rolled up and breath rattled out of him.
I heard then, quite suddenly the sound of a train. The rattle of wheels on rails, the cry of the whistle and the rumble through the floor. There were tracks half a mile from here, and I wondered for a moment if it was just a ghost train that had come for Sam’s soul. A look of peace came over his face, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there. The train kept rolling though, and I decided that it was probably just a supply train taking transmissions to a Ford plant.
I have no way of calculating how long I stood there, watching as the blood seeped out of him and onto the floor. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen, but nothing at all happened for a long time.
The cat had managed to stand on its own and was rubbing against my leg and making some meowing noises. I reached down and patted it on the head, and then I went to the kitchen to see if there was anything to feed this animal. As it turned out there were several cans of Fancy Feast, which I guessed meant that this had been a spur of the moment killing. I gave the cat a can on a plate and let him or her go at it. I hadn’t decided to go to the effort of discovering its sex, so I would have to say him or her for a while.
The front door opened and five men in white jumpsuits came in. One of them looked at me and then at a device in his hand. He wore a holster on his hip, the top of which hadn’t been snapped down. He could have drawn and shot in about half a second if he wanted to.
“Collier?” He asked.
“That’s right.” I nodded as I took a step into the dining room, which was on the left as you came into the house.
“We’re supposed to remove something for you.”
“In that room.” I pointed over his shoulder to his right at the door to the study. “One body, I want the knives back please.”
“We supposed to do anything to make it look like an accident or anything?” The one who was talking asked as the other four moved efficiently behind him.
“He doesn’t ever need to be found.” I told him at the black cat leapt up on the table between us. “He’s already supposed to be dead.”
“You want us to kill the cat too?” He asked nodding at the animal.
“Do you want to?” I was a little taken aback by the suggestion.
“No.” He said shaking his head. “But you’d be amazed what people ask me to do in this job.”
“No, I wouldn’t.” I said picking the cat up. “The cat goes with me though.”
“Okay.” He nodded and a thought struck me.
“Hang on a second.” I said and walked towards them. “Can you make it look like he’s been dead longer than he has?”
“We could cover up how long he’s been dead.” The guy said. “Is there a freezer in this place?”
“I think so.” I thought, trying to remember. “In the basement.”
“Let’s go look.” He walked past me and towards the basement door.
There was a large chest freezer that was mercifully empty besides a few frozen pizzas and a price club sized box of flavor ice, but those are in every chest freezer in the Midwest. They dragged him downstairs and then went through the house wiping things they thought they might have touched. I mentioned the kitchen and they started in there as well. It might have been instructive to watch them go at it, but I had other things to do tonight still. I picked up the cat and left with him curled under my arm.
This is part eleven of thirteen, come back next week for part twelve 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Ten: Knock, The Mountain Troll
I’m not exactly sure how long we were at it, but the sun had started go down before we gave up. When he wasn’t smacking my left hand into a pulp, he started going at my back or legs. It felt like he’d smashed my left hand into jelly, but I was able to hold things with it later so it must not have been that bad.
“Please.” Knock said holding his hand up in a gesture of pleading. “If you don’t want to think about yourself, think about me.”
“What?” I looked at my bloody and possibly mangled fingers.
“Think about how this is affecting me.” He said holding his hand to his chest in a manner that looked almost effeminate. “Do you think I like breaking your fingers like this?”
I looked into his face a moment and under the mask of concern and worry, saw only malice.
“Yes!” I nodded vigorously.
“Well, you’re right, but I might have hated it.” He said as he brought the sap down on what had once been my hand again.
“Fuck!” I shouted.
“You’re not going to confess for me?” He asked.
I had to take a second to breathe and over come the pain. I was about to try and hit him again, but I found I only had enough strength to talk at the moment.
“Nope.” I shook my head.
“I guess we’ll have to do this the other way then.” He sighed. “I can do it the other way, but it’ll cause more trouble.”
He grabbed me by the collar and yanked me up to my feet. I stood up and grabbed at my left hand. The fingers moved, even though the fingers and palm were blackened from the leather and the bruises. He threw me into the doors and yanked them open while I stood there. He slipped the sap into his pocket and picked my Webley up from the top of the car. He tossed it into his left hand and aimed it at me.
“Get in to the front seat.” He told me. “I don’t want you behind me having any bright ideas.”
“Sure.” I said getting into the car and buckling the seat belt.
He got into the car, keeping the gun in his left hand aimed at me. He started the car and we drove out into the country. Eventually we got out to thirty-eight mile road, then started to turn down one road then another until we stopped under a lone street light that had been erected. He turned off the car and opened the glove compartment. He nodded to himself and took my ipod out of the glove compartment and slipped it into his pocket.
“I’ll take care of this myself I think.” He said smiling at me. “Let’s go.”
He opened the door and I opened mine to get out. We walked out of the car and stood together under the light. He kept the gun in his left hand, never changing it to his right or failing to point it directly at me.
“Over there, into the field.” He said waving with his right hand.
I started to walk in the direction indicated, looking to my left to see the sun drifting below the horizon. The clouds would probably cover the sky completely soon, but for the moment there was a strip of sky where I could see the last remains of the setting sun’s light. I sort of wanted some rain, but all I got was clouds and wind.
“Across the field and into the forest there.” Knock said from behind me.
As I walked through the field, I saw plants and remembered their names. The names for different kinds of thistles and autumn flowers came to the front of my mind as my eyes happened upon them. It wasn’t anything I could control, or anything that would get in the way of my thoughts as I went. It was just something that went on as a background process.
We walked to the forest and I could see where he was leading me. There was a shallow ditch about eighteen inches deep, two feet wide and nearly six feet long. A shovel was stuck in the mound of earth that had already been dug up for what was undoubtedly supposed to be my makeshift grave. I looked at the shovel and the hole and then looked over to Knock.
“Nice hole.” I said.
“Get in and dig.” Knock said.
“No.” I said.
He didn’t argue, just pointed the gun at my feet and fired. The bullet tore up the ground and turf between my shoes and threw dirt onto my pants. I looked at the ground and then at him as he cocked back the hammer again. I looked at the hole and turned towards the shovel. I got into the hole and stuck the shovel into the dirt. I then leaned on it.
“Why?” I asked softly.
“Hmm?” He asked taking a few steps closer.
“I said why.” I told him. “Why all this?”
“You wouldn’t even begin to understand.” He said as I tossed some dirt onto the pile.
“Oh, come on.” I said, trying to egg him on. “Try me.”
“Dig.” He commanded, talking a few more steps towards me. “Come on.”
“What’s the skinny?” I asked sticking the shovel into the ground and leaning on the handle.
“Hop to Hop Sing.” He said standing on the dirt mound. “Just be glad that I’m going to take good care of your car and this gun. I like them, good car and a good gun.”
When I was a kid, about ten or so, I got a cap gun for my birthday. Something went wrong with the gun though, a spring I think, and I asked my father to fix it. He opened the gun and put the spring back, or whatever it was, and announced it fixed. When he closed the gun and checked it, he had to fire it a couple of times to make sure it worked. The gun was a child sized revolver, and it was small in his hand. Looking at my gun in this mountain troll’s hand, it reminded me of that time. It was different, but it looked enough like that to cause me to have a moment of recall.
I picked up the shovel, grabbing the end in my left hand and holding my right hand near the head. He stuck his hand out and shot the ground behind me. I turned my head to look and heard the hammer draw back again. I looked at his hand, extended out as it was, and swung the shovel as hard as I could. The point of the shovel smashed against his left hand, and another round fired from the gun. He screamed as the gun flew from his hand. He held his hand up displaying the fact that the dropping of the gun was less than voluntary. Three of his fingers were missing and a chunk of hand under the knuckles was missing as well.
I stabbed the shovel forward and caught his leg right under the knee. His screaming restarted and he reached for his leg. I then swung the shovel up and smacked his face with the pan. He fell back and I leapt up onto the pile and put my foot on his chest. I lifted the shovel over my head, ready to bring it down on his neck and take his head off. It would be one single stroke, and then it would be over. With a yell I brought down the point of the shovel and missed my target.
The shovel hit about five inches too high and went through his mouth instead of his neck. The shovel smacked something hard and stopped in place, actually bouncing a little off the part of his skull that I hit. I tried to push, but it wouldn’t go any further. His eye opened wide and he reached for my leg. His voice cried something unintelligible, while his jaw flapped down on his chest, his teeth shimmering in the dark.
His fingers closed on my calf, squeezing so hard I had small fingertip sized bruises there later. He kept making that gurgling crying sound, which sounded like the death cry of a bull hippopotamus. It was a sound that had all his lung power behind it, but the throat it was yelling from was blocked by the part of his tongue that I’d sliced through. I yanked the shovel away from his face and lifted it up again. I decided to bring it down on the exact spot, but I missed again.
The point of the shovel went through his forehead this time, but again refused to go the whole way through. His hand tightened around my leg and I shook him off as I leaned forward. His fingers still held my cuff though, because he never did know when to give up. I grabbed the end of the shovel’s long handle, shifted my weight and stepped on the pan of the shovel. I turned the handle and I gave one corner of the pan a good solid kick. The top of the head split open as I stomped the shovel as hard as I could. The brain splattered on the ground and his hand let go of my leg. I lifted the shovel once more and this time I hit my target and split the brain in half. I then lifted the shovel over head and brought the flat pan down and splattered it. I slipped back, tripped over Knock’s arm and fell down into the hole, which was at least sort of soft from the freshly turned earth.
“Didn’t they tell you?” I asked him as I panted. “I’m Jack the Giant killer. Seven with one blow, bitch.”
I got up and looked to my left, where my gun had fallen. I pick it up and looked at the handle. The scale on the left side of the gun had been broken and the top half had fallen off. I would never find it in the dark like this. It didn’t look like it would be able to be fired without cutting my thumb from the shock. I put the gun into its holster and then walked towards what was left of Knock. I went through his pockets and started to reclaim my belongings. I pulled the keys from his pocket and stuck them in my coat.
“Got my gold, well brass plate anyway.” I then patted my side where the gun was. “Got the hen that lays the eggs. Well, gun that shoots the bullets anyway. Now to get my harp.”
I pulled the ipod from his pocket and walked back towards the car. I got into the car and started the engine. I got my cellphone out of my pocket and scrolled through until I found Crammer’s number as I drove to the corner so I could read the street signs.
“Yeah?” Crammer’s voice came.
“Knock’s your man.” I said. “He smacked my hand into a pulp trying to get me to sign a confession admitting to everything. When I wouldn’t he took me deep into Armada to kill me.” I told him the two street corners and explained where they could find Knock’s body.
“You wait there for us to get there.” He said.
“I can’t do that.” I said. “I know who the killer is, and you’ll never be able to touch this person because they’re supposed to be dead already. Can you claim that an anonymous source gave you this information? Just say that one of your snitches saw him?”
“What are you going to do?” He asked.
“Go work it out.” I said. “If you can’t hold them responsible, I’ll make sure they get to someone who can.”
“I’m going to trust you on this one.” He said. “But it could get you in more trouble than it may relieve.”
“Usually to me.” He said. “Talk to you later.”
“Yup.” I said and finished the conversation like I always do. “Bye, bye.”
When he hung up I hit the engine and started away. Years of driving those back roads from a desire to be alone gave me a perfect map in my head. I stayed off the main roads and just went down the old dirt drives to stay out of the way. I made it back to the office without being seen, and I thought it was a little suspicious that Crammer didn’t call to bawl me out for leaving the scene of a crime.
I got to the office where Debbie was still on the phone to someone. She looked up at me as I entered the office, told who ever it was goodbye and hung up. She looked at me with a bit of horror on her face. I touched my forehead and looked at the blood.
“Been a bad day.” I said holding my left hand and working the fingers
“I guess.” She said. “Crammer says whatever it is, he’d better not find out about it.”
“Okay.” I nodded and took the gun from its holster. “Here, you can have this as a going away gift.”
“Your gun’s broken?” She said, concerned.
“Yeah.” I said. “It’s no big deal, just like the Marley. I mean my grandfather only gave me this gun the day I got my license because he said a detective would need the best hand gun ever made.”
“Jack.” She said.
“I don’t think I’ll ever want to shoot it again anyway.” I took a step towards my office and stopped to tell her, “You can call Crammer again and tell him that I’m just going to leave town. They should be able to figure everything out without me.”
I went to the office and looked around it for a moment. The light from across the street shown in through the window. I walked to the bathroom to have a look at myself. I was the very mask of the red death. My face was dabbled and sprinkled with Knock’s blood. My shirt had been sprayed with the red horror, and for a moment I wondered if anyone was going to let me just go or was I going to be hung from the battlements in the morning.
That didn’t really seem to matter right at that moment though. Now was a time for some old school vengeance. It was a time when a man like myself would have to do something thoroughly unpleasant to cleanse the land of darkness or some crap like that. I kept a change of clothes in the office for just such an occasion and I used it, leaving the blood splattered gear in the bathroom.
I walked to the cabinet and opened the drawer where I kept the knives from Mina and John. I took my coat off and tossed it to one side, letting it land on the floor. I grabbed the bowie knife and used the straps on it to tie it to my shoulder holster under my right arm. I tied it up in such a way that the handle was down by my waist so that I could just reach in and grab it. I then picked up the kukri and stuck it into the holster for the gun, tying it down as well as I could. I walked out to the outer office and looked at Debbie, who stopped typing and looked up at me.
“You’re going to have to tuck that one on your left a little better.” She said.
“I’m going to come back in a little while.” I said. “Will you be here?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m going to Metro right now, I’m going to fly to O’Hare and my sister is picking me up. I’ll get a place there and come back to tidy up in a while when I get a place and everything.”
“Okay.” I nodded. “I’ll mail you the keys or send them here or something.”
“Just hold on to them.” She said. “I’ll tell them to change the lock if I decide to close this office. I might keep it open. You know, just in case.”
“Thanks Deb.” I said and walked through the door. “You are quite possibly the only person left in Michigan that I actually like. I just thought you should know that.”
I adjusted the kukri as I went down the stairs, and got into the Hudson. I drove carefully, making sure not to break the speed limit as I went. I did my best not attract any extra attention than normal. My only hope was that no one had a call out for me and my car. I couldn’t be sure if Crammer was calling those shots, or if his word was going to be good to me. If anyone was on the look out for a dark blue classic, specifically a Hudson Super Six, I was going to get nailed.
I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and scrolled through for a number. Finding the one I wanted took me a moment while I drove, because I had to keep my eyes on the road as well. When I found the number I hesitated before pressing the button that would send my call. I always hesitated before calling her, and three times out of four I put the phone back down before calling. This time I couldn’t just put it down though, I needed her this time, so I pressed.
“This is Alice.” She said answering a call that clearly was coming later than a call would normally.
“Hi Alice, its Jack.” I announced.
“Oh, hi Jack!” She said, and I was almost happy to hear the smile in her voice. “What’s going on?”
“You remember how back in the old days you guys would get something on a guy or get a beautiful agent to seduce him to get him to join up?” I asked.
“I remember some of the older agents talking about how they’d seduce men and get them to join.” Her voice got playful. “Are you saying you’d like me to come seduce you? I’m in Washington right now, but maybe we could get together later this week?”
“That’d be too long.” I said. “And it’ll be easier than that for you. What I need is a bag team to come take care of a body for me.”
“What do you mean Jack?” She asked. “We don’t do that sort of thing.”
“Don’t play dumb.” I told her. “We both know you can get a bunch of guys to come clean up a place. This is important.”
“How important?” She asked.
“Well, as I started saying, you could probably need a guy who has a legitimate excuse to go around with a key fob reading seven with one blow.” I told her. “I find myself out of a job and probably without a license to detect privately very soon. I think I’m going to need the protection the Agency could provide.”
“So you need a new job and a place to hide?”
“I need a reason not to have to hide.” I told her. “But I could probably use a job.”
There was a long pause, and then she spoke again.
“Do you have an address where I can send them?”
“Yes.” I said and gave her the address.
“Okay.” She said. “It’ll take them an hour or more.”
“That’s okay.” I said. “I’ve got a use for the time. I’ll need to start right away, the longer I’m around here the more I’m likely to get hit up for something.”
“Can you come down to Virginia tomorrow?” she asked.
“Yeah, I think I can do that.” I said. “Unless something changes and I just keep driving.”
“When you get ready to go, give me a call.”
“I’ll call you from the road if all goes well.” I told her.
This is part ten of thirteen, 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Nine: Dr. Calgary, a medical doctor
When I pulled up to the address there were police from as far away as Lansing at the office. Three of the federal SUVs sat huddled together at one corner and officers were everywhere. I started to walk towards the gathering and was spotted immediately. Assistant District attorney Mandelbaum marched up to me and the way he was looking you might have thought he had intended to strike a blow. Instead he started firing words as me as Crammer and Doyle came up behind him.
“Where were you last night at midnight?” He demanded.
“Fuck you, call my lawyer.” I snapped. Not a diplomatic start, but there it is.
“Goddamnit Collier!” He shouted. “I’ll have your license if you don’t smarten up and co-operate!”
“Fuck you.” I repeated and looked at Crammer. “Tell this little cunt to call my lawyer.”
Crammer’s hands were bunched up into fists and his face was as red as a summer beet. He wasn’t looking at me with such rage though, he was looking at Mandelbaum. The look on Doyle’s face, you’d think he wanted to shoot the DA. Mandelbaum turned, ignored Crammer’s face and shouted at him.
“Arrest him!” He shouted and spun back to me, “He’s done all this! He’s killed all of them! He even gave the faggot the gun to shoot himself with.”
It happened so fast that if I hadn’t been there to see it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. I hit him in the stomach with my right fist, my left fist then hit him across the check with a sharp jab, followed by my right fist which came in for two quick strikes and then my left again to even things up. Crammer didn’t move, I think he was waiting to see if I’d let it go with those hits or not. He hit the ground on his rump and shuffled away a few feet. Crammer stayed still and looked at me, I think if I’d gone forward he would have stepped between us, but I have no proof.
“ARREST HIM!” Mandelbaum screeched.
“What charge?” Crammer asked.
“Assaulting an officer of the law!” Mandelbaum demanded.
“I didn’t see anything, besides you tripping over.” Crammer said. “You see anything Doyle?”
“I heard something.” Doyle said. “I heard him accuse Mister Collier here of murder, and of giving that kid the gun he killed himself with. That’s slander, defamation of character. He’s got two police officers as witnesses.”
“It was because you called him a faggot.” I snarled at Mandelbaum. “You can say what you like about me and mine, that’ll roll off my back. You make all the cracks about drunken Micks and the fact that Welsh is a word for going back on your word. You can say what you like about the French and the Dutch too. I don’t care. Run through my entire family tree until you get back to the drunken indentured servants that came to this country for free ‘cause they couldn’t hack it mining coal and wanted an easy out. It’ll all run off me like water off a ducks back. What you don’t do though, you don’t start calling gay kids faggot, you got that?”
“Crammer?” Mandelbaum asked, but Crammer didn’t move.
“Have you got it?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He said quickly and nodded.
“Good.” I said. “See that you remember it.”
I looked up and saw Crammer smiling. I was told later, it doesn’t matter by who, that he really liked that speech. He went on to quote it to several of his buddies. He said it showed real class, standing up for a guy who had cost me so much just on principal. It wasn’t just principal though, not just that, there was more. There was more, but I didn’t feel like explaining and I didn’t think they’d understand it anyway.
“So what do we have here?” I asked as I stepped over Mandelbaum.
“You ever been here?” Crammer asked pointing at the doctor’s office.
“No,” I shook my head and pulled the sheet that Eddie had written Calgary’s address on from my pocket. “But I was going to come today.”
“The time on this right?” Crammer asked looking at the sheet closely.
“As far as I know,” I shrugged. “I was there around midnight, maybe a little earlier.”
“Says eleven forty-eight.” Crammer said.
“Sounds about right.” I nodded. “We talked about what the list meant for a little while and I went home.”
“They pegged the time here at about midnight.” Crammer said stopping before we went into the building. “Is this list what I think it is?”
“A couple strands of hair out of Hewie’s head.” I said. “You want to bust me for taking evidence?”
“Evidence of what?” Crammer asked. “We know what happened to him.”
“Who decided to run a toxicology report?” I asked.
“I did.” He told me. “He seemed pretty hyped up when I saw you two.”
“What do they think?” I asked.
“Same thing you thought.” He said. “Who did you see to get this?”
“Eddie the Bear.” I said.
“Look, don’t get angry when I ask this.”
“Don’t tell me he’s dead too.” I complained.
“About two this morning.” He sighed. “Killed Eddie, his little friends Roo and Tig. That guy who ran his meth lab is in a coma.”
“Fuck.” I said. “So am I supposing I don’t really want to see what’s in here?”
“It’s bizarre.” Crammer said as he turned to the wall. “Who ever decided to do this cut the doctor up and then yanked up the floor and put him in. They’ve got one of those false floors where you can put cords and computer things. He was putting lots of stuff under there though and then who ever did this put him under there.”
“Try to cover it up?”
“No, big blood trail the whole way, the door was under a carpet that he pulled up. It was plain as day.”
“Let’s go look.” I said and we went towards the building.
It was as bad as I had feared it might be. The blood isn’t even the worst of it really, you get used to that. It’s the smell that’ll get you every time. I won’t describe it, because it’s not exactly a pleasant explanation. It’s pretty nasty in fact, and you find yourself distracting yourself from it in anyway you can. I saw a crime scene photographer taking pictures with the same kind of digital camera I use.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked turning to him.
“Yeah?” He asked, looking at me.
“How do you get the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each of those if it’s digital?”
“Photoshop.” He told me, perfectly straight. “You can encode a lot of text into the picture file too.”
“Oh.” I nodded, and turned back to Cramer “Anyone here when you guys came calling?”
“No.” Crammer shook his head. “Just the corpse.”
“Well, that’s something anyway.” I said.
“Where did you go after leaving Eddie then?”
“Back to the office, and then home to bed.” I explained while looking at the trail of blood where the body had been dragged. “You think slaughter one and slaughter two are connected?”
“Yes.” He said unequivocally. “I just wanted to make sure you weren’t around it.”
“I understand.” I nodded. “So do we think he’s the one who supplied Hewie?”
“That’s my thought.” Crammer said. “You have any ideas?”
“You looked for Knock?” I asked. “The big mountain troll that was working with the group?”
“We’re looking, but we haven’t found him yet.”
“They’ll have to hunt him down I think.” I said looking around and the up at the ceiling tiles for a moment I wondered if there were bodies tired to the metal supports in the ceiling.
“I suppose you can go back to your office.” Crammer said.
“Thanks.” I said.
I walked back to the car and drove back to my office. I thought about calling Char, asking her what she thought, but she’d just try and solve the problem for me somehow. I appreciate Char, I really do, but some things a man has to do for himself.
When I pulled up into the parking lot I saw the blue Taurus with the “Follow me to Big Bob’s BBQ’d Ribs N More” bumper sticker. I wondered again how many people followed Knock to my office hoping for ribs. I looked at the car and then looked at the door. I decided to check on Debbie first and started towards the door. After three paces something struck the back of my head. Judging by later events, I would say it was a leather covered lead sap. I didn’t pass out, but being hit on the back of the head with a sap is no joke. I dropped my keys, collapsed, and felt something hit my stomach to keep me down.
“Sorry about this.” Knock’s voice came to my ears as he picked me up and grabbed my keys. “Things have to be done like this though.”
I was tossed into the back seat of my car, and as I tried to get up a fist the size of my thigh smacked me in the head. The back door closed and Knock got into the front seat. As I sat up the sap swung down and whacked me across the head again. I fell down and rested my head on the seat, letting him drive us where ever he had decided we had to go.
I didn’t pass out, and I know I’ve said that before in situations which might cause you to doubt, but I kept my head off the seat so that the blood dripping out of my split scalp wouldn’t stain the fabric. So as you can see, I didn’t pass out, I just stayed down so that he’d think I was out cold. I sat up again at once more and again the sap cracked across my head and I decided to just lay quiet.
When he finally stopped it wasn’t too much later, but we seemed to be out of the suburbs or even the farm lands. We’d driven down a wooded street and up to a large house. I seem to think that it was Sam’s place, the house he bought after the divorce. We didn’t go to the house though. He was driving towards the large garage as I sat up. He pulled the Hudson into the garage and stopped. I reached for the door handle and opened it, ready to tumble out and start trouble if he swung that sap again. My hand slipped into my coat, but it only ended up feeling my empty holster on my chest.
“Fuck.” I said looking down.
“Yeah, I had to take that too.” Knock said as he got out of the car and walked to the garage door.
He pulled the door closed and plunged the room into momentary darkness. The light shone through the small windows on the doors. I noticed then that it was an old garage with two doors that slid horizontally instead of vertically. The light that shone through was bright and cold. I felt a chill as I stood up and walked around the car.
“I need you to write a suicide note.” Knock said.
“I beg your pardon?” I asked.
“I need you to admit to killing Eddie and Calgary.”
“You’re fucking nuts.” I said.
“You might claim that.” He said.
“I do claim that.” I said.
To say he slapped me is to say that it was just a little smack. His hand was the size of a Georgia ham though, and as hard as a piece of old teakwood. Embarrassing as it is, I have to admit that I spun around from the blow before falling to the ground. I have no idea if it was his hand or the sap that smacked across my shoulder when he hit it, but I collapsed again.
“You’re going to have to take the fall, I certainly won’t.” His voice was still calm and cultured as he beat the crap out of me.
I looked up at him and this time when his hand came down I dodged out of the way and gave a swift kick to his groin and stabbed my fingers into his throat. He fell backwards, dropping the sap on the ground. I picked it up and swung it down across Knock’s head. His reaction was minimal besides smacking me with his hand again. I fell back and his kicked me in the side.
He then grabbed me by the left wrist and dragged me across the floor to the work bench. The sap swung through the air again and smacked into my left hand. I hate to say I screamed, but it’s very possible. The sap smacked into my hand again and I shouted with pain again. I tried to yank my hand away, but his grip was like iron.
“You killed Calgary and Eddie?” I asked.
“No.” He shook his head. “I followed you to Eddie the Bear’s place, and then I waited for his guests to start passing out before going in to get him.”
“Who did the Doctor then?” I asked.
“None of your fucking business.” He said and whacked my shoulder with the sap.
This is part nine of thirteen, come back next week for part ten 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Eight: Eddie the Bear and his Friends
I drove to Eddie’s place as quickly as I could without attracting any attention. That’s not the easiest thing in the world to do when you drive a classic way outside the classic season. The Dream Cruise was two and a half months ago after all, but as I only have the one car I had to drive it. This means that driving to Macomb Township late at night, in a classic roadster, would normally make me something of an item of interest. I had to go as fast as I could without speeding beyond the local accepted limit. The problem is you can only go 5 or 10 over in Troy, through Clinton Township you can get up to fifteen in the right spots and you can tear through most of Macomb if you stick to the dirt roads, which are becoming a rarity as that area gets more built up.
Eddie’s friends were still having their big Bonfire, and it looked like nothing had changed beyond their host being a bit more nervous than usual. When my car pulled up a small group came walking out to greet me. They didn’t look like they were looking for trouble, rather they looked like they were afraid trouble had come looking for them. Someone called Eddie’s name as I opened the door and by the time I walked towards the group he’d scooted them back and was telling them to have fun. He yelled to some guys on a small makeshift stage to keep playing.
“Hi Eddie.” I said as I approached him. “Sorry to keep busting up your party like this.”
“Nah it’s cool.” He said smiling, and looking a little worried.
“So what do you got?” I asked.
“Let’s go sit with Owlie for a bit.” He said pointing towards his barn.
We had to go past the revelers, and through them in some clumps. They were all kinds. Some were young, some were middle aged, and some were actually old. They were all some variety of hippie or pagan type though. There were a lot of cotton skirts, rough silk pants, blue jeans, t-shirts, and of course there were those hemp and wool sweaters that were still being worn despite the fact that I remember people wearing them when I was in high school.
Walking through the youngsters in that crowd, I might have been back with a crowd from high school. Only I wasn’t, I’d gone past the line, I was over thirty now and not to be trusted. I couldn’t see it in their eyes, but I think they could see it in mine. I’d heard times had changed somewhat though, that some of the college aged girls weren’t as out of my range as I would normally think. Kids now had all these complex formulas, rather than the old ‘no one three years older or younger’ that got guys my age through our twenties. Of course, since I had a habit of breaking silly rules like that I shouldn’t have felt so out of place in this crowd of youngsters as I did. Particularly when there were guys my age and a couple of guys who were even older in the crowd.
Something must have happened to just me then, something had separated me from the people I used to hang out with when I was younger. It might have been my own paranoia, or my attempts to do right by too many people, or maybe I just was too much of a snob. They looked friendly and inviting now, but I knew if I got to know them I would notice the cracks pretty quickly. They would be so dumb that talking to them would be pointless, or pseudo-intellectuals trying to sound clever in order to get laid or they would be a bunch of drama producing machines. I couldn’t even walk through them being casually caressed by their flesh as they accidentally, or not so accidentally bumped into me, without thinking only of the negative aspects. There was a time when I would have concentrated only on the delightful aspects of their attributes. Clearly the thing that had changed was me, and for a moment I wondered how that happened. Of course a moment after wondering how it happened, I remembered exactly how it happened.
Eddie and I walked into his large metal sided barn, where the fluorescent lights shone down on his hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of plants. A smallish man with big glasses was sitting at a table where there was something like a chemistry lab that had been set up. There was a lot of equipment that I didn’t understand and two computers and even a large video microscope with a flat screen monitor attached. The little guy at the table was about our age, maybe a little older. I didn’t remember him from the old days, but I didn’t know everyone Eddie knew. That was one of the benefits of only sort of knowing Eddie, I didn’t have to know all his friends.
“What have you got?’ I asked as we stopped at the table.
“This is what he was on.” Eddie said handing me a printed sheet from the printer as it rolled out.
“I know what some of these are.” I said. “And not just the cannabis.”
“Should I describe what I think happened?” Owlie asked adjusting his glasses.
“I’ve read some of the Marquis De Sade.” I said, “So maybe I can guess.”
“How is that relevant?” Eddie asked.
“If you’d read him you’d know.” Owlie said.
“I’m going to guess that there was a mixing of drugs. These that I think are from the truth serum family were used to break down his will. These that are hallucinogenic were used in combination of some physical abuse, probably shocks or something like that. The uppers and these other things that cause euphoria were for reward.”
“That would be my conjecture.” Owlie said lacing his fingers and resting them over his stomach. “It would take me days to slice up the hairs properly and keep a record going, but I think it was a brain washing operation. He was on everything basically, but he was being manipulated to a great degree.”
“So what does that mean?” Eddie asked.
“A lot of these aren’t your run of the mill street hooch.” I said looking at the list again. “Pharmacies don’t even have a lot of this. Who would have this much stuff Eddie?”
“How the fuck would I know?” Eddie asked. “I’m a pot supplier, not the fucking King Pin. I don’t know every crooked doctor in the state. Fuck man, I mostly hang out here.”
“Don’t really have time to argue Eddie.” I warned.
“There’s a guy in Grosse Pointe, Doctor Calgary.” Eddie said as if he were giving up his best friend in the world. “He’s bent and he’s got connections.”
“Where is he?” I asked
“Aw, c’mon Jack.” He whined slightly.
“Eddie.” I said with more warning in my voice. “I really want to shoot someone in the knee. It can be you, or it can be this Calgary guy.”
“Shit Jack!” Eddie spouted and then looking at me he turned and wrote something on the list. “I did not give you that. If you produce it as evidence I’ll still deny it.”
“You did not lead me.” I read the scrawl. “Even if you did, you didn’t. It won’t matter anyway, because I’m not telling anyone anything anymore.”
“You gonna go roust him now? Cause he doesn’t live at his office or anything.”
“No.” I said, shaking my head. “I’m going to go home and go to bed. I’m sure he’ll be at his office in the morning.”
“You wanna hang out here for a while?” He smiled, or tried to. “Everybody’s chill, and I think Kylie likes you. She’s the cute blonde in the red and blue skirt.”
I had noticed Kylie, Kylie was the sort of girl I would go for. I could spend a nice time with Kylie, listening to her talk about the bands she likes and tell her about philosophy and art. Kylie and I could probably spend a good night together, and if she was really neat I could even call her later.
“No.” I shook my head. “Work calls.”
I left then, walking through the gauntlet of flesh and alluring glances back to my car. I have to mention I saw Kylie again, and she was still cute. I doubted if any of them could see the blood on my coat and shirt, which I was going to have to throw out because it certainly wouldn’t get clean at this point. I got into the car, decided it didn’t matter anyway, and drove back to the office. Char used to say who cares what they think, you’re probably never going to see any of them again. She also uses salutations as her standard greeting though, so it’s a toss up between her being a fountainhead of wisdom and a dingbat.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that Debbie was still in the office when I came back to check on things. I almost always come back to the office before I go home for the night. Even if I don’t punch in and out, it gives me a feeling of closure for the day.
“Hi there.” She said as I entered the office.
“Hey.” I said, looking at her behind her desk.
For the first time in our relationship, she was behind the desk and not typing. Normally if it was just me, she wouldn’t hold off her typing at all. She’d just look up and carry on the conversation while tip-tapping away. Now though, she was leaning back in her chair, one leg crossed over the other. She had a look on her face like she was contemplating something of great importance.
“I’ve been sitting here, thinking, ever since you left.” She said.
“Yeah.” She said rocking in the chair a little. “You were right. It does cause nothing but troubles.”
“The money?” I asked.
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I mean, I could go do just about anything couldn’t I?”
“Yeah.” I said.
“If I got some high yield bonds, or made some good investments, or let someone else do it for me, I could live off that money in style for the rest of my life. Even just sitting in a bank it’s making quite a packet.”
“Yeah.” I nodded.
“But then what would I do about you?” She uncrossed her legs and leaned forward. “You earned it, I’d owe you.”
“Nah.” I shook my head. “I owed you from when you broke your keyboard over Church’s head.”
“I owed you before that.”
“And I owed you for the other things.”
“If you decide to leave, where will you go?”
“No idea.” I said shrugging. “I’ll get in the car and drive off.”
“I think I’d go to Chicago.” She said. “My sister lives there.”
“That sounds nice.” I said.
“We could just go now.” She said with a twinkle in her eye. “We could drop this thing, which is going to get a lot nastier before you’re done with it.”
“No.” I said. “No, I can’t do that. If you decide you want to go, you’re the boss now. You can do what you want.”
“Nothing but trouble.” She said. “I think until you decide that this job is over, we should say that you’re the boss here. In Troy, you’re the boss. In Chicago, I’ll be the boss.”
“Okay.” I nodded. “But you know that means that I stick until this job is done.”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I know that.”
“Is it having the gun to your head?” I asked.
“No.” She shook her head. “It’s the whole thing. This isn’t like the other times, this is worse than anything we’ve done before and if you were right about what you had Eddie testing then it’s the worst thing ever.”
“Well, I was right about it.” I said, “It is the worst we’ve ever dealt with.”
“Even worse than Christmas?” She asked.
“Christmas at least had a reason. I can’t see any kind of reason or profit in this. This is just madness.”
“What do we do next then?” She asked.
“You get ready to go to Chicago.” I told her. “Set up office out there, go as soon as you can, go tomorrow morning and come back for your things later.”
“Jack?” She asked.
“Even if I solve this one, I’m done with this place.” I made a sweeping gesture with my hand. “You and me, we’re going to be the last two to leave Detroit. One of us will have to turn off the lights when we go.”
“What are you going to do?” She asked.
“I’m going to get the bastard or bastards.” I said with resolution. “I’m going to go home, clean up and then I’m going to shoot some mother fuckers.”
“I’ll have to arrange some things.” She said. “I couldn’t possibly go until tomorrow night.”
“Well, that’s when you’ve have to go then.” I said. “And hopefully I’ll be able to come to you for a job when you set up in Chicago.”
“Do you have any references?” She asked.
“I once killed seven with one blow if you believe my key chain.” I said walking towards my office. “But between you and me, the seventh was a delayed reaction.”
I took the holster off and put it in the safe. I then pulled the empty holster for the Marley and tossed it into the safe as well. I didn’t bother with the fire safe because I would be grabbing it first thing in the morning. When I left the office, Debbie had already left to go home. I turned the lights off in the office and walked down the stairs towards me car.
If Knock had been standing there with a big knife, ready to filet me, I wouldn’t have been surprised. He wasn’t there though. As it turns out he was busy filleting someone else at that hour. I wouldn’t learn about it until later of course, but I might as well save you the suspense and tell you that Eddie doesn’t make it to the end credit sequence of this one. Roo and Tig don’t make it either. Owlie made it, but he spent the time between those events and this writing in a hospital bed. As far as I know he might never wake up. I’ll save further details until I get them in the chronology, but I just thought you deserved to know that Eddie didn’t make it.
I went home, took off my clothes on the way to the bathroom, and stood under the shower for nearly and hour before I felt clean. Hewie’s blood had dried on my hand and up my arm. I had to do quite a bit of scrubbing to get all his blood out from under my nails and away from my skin. I felt sick the whole time I was washing him away, the only proof I had of his existence going down the drain. I felt worse about him the whole time I showered, but it had to be done. When I got done I stood in the shower, just dripping dry for a while.
I dried my hair and went to bed. I felt sick and angry with myself. I hadn’t wanted him to die, I wanted to protect him. I was getting angry at the fact that everyone kept dying on me like this. I managed to go to sleep though, and didn’t wake up until the next morning when I got a call from officer Obie of the Grosse Pointe police on behalf of Cramer and District Attorney Mandelbaum.
It seemed that I was requested to come to a doctor’s office in Grosse Pointe and when I compared the address I was given by Obie with the one I got from Eddie, I knew there was trouble ahead.
This is part eight of thirteen, come back next week for part nine 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Seven: The Office
My patience were wearing seriously thin by the time I got to Eddie the Bear’s house. To be honest, I would have to say that they were pretty much all run out by the time I pulled up and found the hippie-pagan love fest going on in the field behind his house. It was no where near dark, but the bonfire was already raging. Of course since Eddie didn’t have anything else to do, they’d gathered up quite a large pile of wood to keep feeding it all night, except Eddie wasn’t going to be doing that tonight.
I walked behind the house and some big bearded biker looking guy thought he was going to get in my way. I clearly didn’t belong at this gathering dressed as I was, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. He extended his hands and held them in a defensive position, which didn’t help when I leapt into the air while drawing the Webley from its holster. The butt came down on his nose while my knees knocked the wind out of his chest and I think I heard something crack when we landed on the ground together.
“Eddie!” I roared as I stepped over his big bearded biker buddy. “Get over here.”
“Jeeze Jack, what’s your problem?” Eddie asked as he came running over.
“You do not want to take that tone with me today Edward.” I announced as I turned and started to walk back to the house with him at my heels. “It’s been a long fucking day and it looks to get longer.”
“What’s going on?” He asked as we walked to the front porch of his house.
“You’re going to do me a favor for all the little favors I’ve done for you over the years.”
“What?” He asked. “What kind of favors?”
“Like I’ve never narc’d on you once.” I said. “And I didn’t shoot you in the leg to get your attention.”
“Yeah, but you gave Bert a hell of a wallop.” Eddie complained.
“But I didn’t shoot him.” I explained. “I need you run some hair, blood and skin samples and tell me what kind of drugs they had the owner on.”
“What?” He demanded. “Do you know what a test like that needs? Dozens of hairs, you can’t just use one or two ya know.”
“I’ve got this.” I said pulling the bag out. “Scalp and you can take my shirt for some blood samples, not perfect but I know you’ve got that chem lab.”
“That’s not what we use it for.” Eddie said.
“Eddie?” I asked, oblivious to the two dozen or more people who were watching us play out our scene.
“You remember back in school what would happen to a guy if he was fucking with me and I informed him I didn’t have time for this and he’d keep fucking?”
“Yeah, you’d fuck him up and fuck him up quick. Then later you’d fuck him up again for making you having to fuck him up the first time when you didn’t have time.”
“Right.” I nodded. “Eddie, I really don’t have fucking time today.”
“Oh?” He asked, and I think the fat bastard went pale.
“Yeah.” I leaned forward a little to inform him of the details. “Becky Hain got cut up last night, right after she came to hire me. Then the person who probably did it but doesn’t make sense shot himself with my gun while he was holding my secretary hostage. Eddie, I’m having a bad fucking day and I’m really dying to shoot somebody.”
“Oh bother.” He muttered
“Fuckin’ a right.”
“This isn’t the sort of thing that can be done while you wait you know.” He complained taking the baggie from me. “Weeks, days at least.”
“You can have several hours.” I told him. “I need to know as much as I can about the drugs this person was on.”
“What is this on the scalp?” He asked.
“Skull.” I said. “The fellow who shot himself, those are his bits. Do you want the shirt for blood?”
“Probably not.” He shook his head. “But if I make Owlie rush this it’ll be like, late tonight.”
“I’ve got some time, I need to know though.”
“Becky got killed?” He asked and looked at the revelers who were starting to play music and dance again. “We used to go out.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “Haven’t you seen even the merest idea of the news?”
“Been setting up for this all day.” He said waving. “Sort of cut off on a day like this. I mean even if Sam’s dead, the show must go on right? We’ve got to get ready to see the god off to the underworld, even without Sam.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “It’s important. Hey, tell Bert I’m sorry. Tell him I’m usually a jerk anyway but I’m having the worst night of my life. One of the only women from my past that I didn’t sleep with wound up dead today and things went down hill from there.”
“You never slept with her?” He sounded surprised.
“No.” I said. “She came to me when she needed things.”
“She never came to me when she wanted anything but to screw.” Eddie said. “That’s probably why she never banged you. Didn’t want to exchange it.”
“Yeah.” I said. “You’ll call me when you’ve got a report?”
“I guess.” Eddie nodded. “You’ll be at your office?”
“I don’t know. Call my cell.”
“I don’t have your cell number.” He laughed. “No body has ever had your cell number.”
“Oh, right.” I nodded and pulled one of my cards out. I would like to say that I just scribbled the number on the back, but in truth I don’t know my own cell number. I had to look at my phone’s book to see what the number was so I could write it down. I handed the card over to him. “If I suddenly find people know my number I will come for you.”
“I won’t do that.” He said.
“I know, but it has to be said.” I walked back to the car and got in. “I’ll get you a chunk of change for this Eddie.”
“I still owe you for the Homecoming game.” He said waving.
“Doesn’t everyone?” I asked myself as I drove away.
I got back to the office a few minutes before six and saw Preston’s silver Mercedes as he pulled into our parking lot. He carefully parked his car next to the Hudson and opened his door amazingly carefully. He looked at the Hudson with great appreciation and then at me with a smile. I think it amused him that I actually drove a classic like this, I think it amused a lot of people.
“Good evening Mister Preston.” I said smoothing my hair over.
“Good evening Mister Collier.” He extended his hand for me to shake. “It has come to pass has it?”
“Not quite yet.” I said.
“But you can see it coming?”
“When the wind is southerly, I can tell a hope from a hand-job.” I said.
“I’m not sure you said that right.” He said with one of his few and rare smiles. “Or perhaps you said it perfectly.”
“Well, I’m not as smart as some.” I smiled back and extended a hand towards the back door of my office building. “Shall we?”
We went into the office, where Debbie was typing as madly as usual. I pointed into the office and the three of us went to my desk. Debbie looked confused and I wondered what she would do if she knew what I was doing. If she’d been given any warning she would have found a way to scuttle it. The only way to do this was to ambush her like this.
“I’ll need you to sign here Mister Collier.” Preston said holding out a bunch of papers to me and when I signed I handed the papers to her.
“You need to sign right under where I did Debbie.” I said.
“What is it?’ She asked
“New Insurance policy.” I told her.
“Oh.” She said and signed, then thinking about it she looked up at me. “We renewed last month.”
“This is a little different.” I said taking another bunch of papers and signing again and handing them to her.
“What’s different about these?” She asked, and signed again.
“Well if something should happen to me, or should I need to suddenly do a runner, I can’t exactly leave you high and dry in good conscience.” I said signing a third page and handing it over.
“So what are we signing then?” She asked signing without even looking at it.
“Is it good?” I asked Preston as she signed the last page.
“Yes.” He said looking at it and pulling out a seal to stamp the pages.
“I’ve signed the business over to you.” I told her.
“What?” She stood and demanded all at once.
“You now own this office and all the assets.”
“But Jack.” She said. “I put the check, you know THE check? I put it in the business account.”
“I know.” I said nodding. “Now it’s yours to draw on as you see fit.”
“But Jack.” She sank back into the chair and I looked at Preston.
“Thank you Mister Preston.” I smiled at the lawyer.
“Thank you Mister Collier. Everything will be taken care of. I’ll see myself out.” He got up and it could almost be said he vanished.
“What the hell is going on Jack?” She asked.
“Hewie didn’t murder Becky.” I told her. “But to prove it I’m going to get myself in a lot of trouble. In fact I may have to leave town again, permanently this time.”
“But, this is crazy.” She said.
“Possibly.” I said pulling my Webley from its holster and sat on the corner of my desk next to her. “But I’m going to make sure you are taken care of and will have no worries without me.”
“What the hell is that for?” She pointed at the gun.
“Well.” I looked at my wrist watch. “I told Hewie I was going to take care of him, and five minutes later he was dead. A record, even for me. Usually people have hours after I’ve told them I’ll take care of them before they’re killed. If you don’t mind, I’m going to just sit here and make sure that the record isn’t broken. I’m getting a little sick and tired of people thinking its okay to kill people just because I’ve taken them under my protection. Makes a person resentful, to have it happen quite so often. It becomes particularly bad when I told Hewie I was going to take care of him.”
“Was he a killer?”
“The evidence was there.” I said rolling the Webley in my hands. “And he admitted to it.”
“So why don’t you believe it?” She asked.
“Because he was gay.” I said, biting my lips. “The women who were killed were killed with a great deal of attention paid to their sexuality. That means we’re looking for someone who was sexual interested in women.”
“What if he wasn’t really gay?” She asked.
“He wasn’t a good actor.” I shook my head. “When he lied, it was obvious. He wasn’t lying when he told me that.”
“So what do you think?” She asked.
“I took that section of his head that I pulled off him to Eddie the Bear.” I told her, “I think something was wrong.”
“I think the police haven’t found their murderer yet.”
“Why do you think Hewie didn’t kill those people?” She asked.
“Oh, I believe he killed them.” I said. “But he killed them like a car kills someone if you run them over, or a gun kills someone if you shoot someone with it. Guns do kill people. That’s where the NRA doesn’t know their assholes from their board members. A gun can kill, but a gun cannot murder. Guns don’t murder people, people do. Murder requires an active thought. Malice aforethought I think they still say in England. Hewie didn’t murder them, he just killed them.”
“Why this distinction?” She asked.
“I think he was brain washed to do it. Hypnotized into a killer beyond his will.”
“I thought you couldn’t hypnotize someone to do something they normally wouldn’t do.”
“If you break down the will, beat at it with drugs and other things, you could. You take a young kid in love and you starve him, beat him, rape him perhaps, give him drugs and shock therapy, you could turn an ordinary kid into a killer if you know what you’re doing.” I scratched at my chin with the sight of the gun.
“So what was it?” She asked.
“Not sure yet.” I told her. “But I’ll bet the only one left in the Sam Hain Magic Show knows something. Maybe he was eliminating all the competition or something.”
“You going to give this idea to the police?” She asked.
“No.” I said shaking my head. “One, they think the case is closed and two, I want the fucker myself.”
“So it might be this Knock guy?”
“I’m going to find out.” I said looking at my watch.
“How much longer until I’m not a record?” She asked, with a nervous smile.
“Two more minutes.” I told her and smiled at her. “Can you make it two more minutes?”
“I’ll try.” She smiled. “When do you think Eddie’s going to call?”
“No idea.” I said. “I gave him my cell phone number though, he can call on that. You going to quit the office?”
“Why would I?” She asked. “It’s my office now, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, “But you could just take the money and retire.”
“And do what?” She asked. “No, I thin k I’ll keep the place open. Besides, you need somewhere you can take customers.”
“Not much longer.” I told her. “I’m going to get my license yanked any second here. Soon as someone decides I stole evidence, or that I’m concealing evidence or that my momma dresses me funny.”
“You always think that, but you’ve never even come under review.” She admonished me.
“This could be the time though.” I said.
“I doubt it.” She laughed.
It was a couple hours later that my pocket rang and I looked at the number. It was the right exchange for Eddie’s area, so I answered it by pressing the talk button.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Jack?” Eddie’s voice came over the wire, only there was no wire because it was a cellphone.
“That’s right.” I said.
“We’ve got your report ready, as far as what he took,” He told me, “but it’ll take longer to get things straightened out into any kind of time line about when he took what. I guess you better come over so we can give it to you.”
“You can’t give it to me over the phone?” I asked.
“Jack.” He sighed. “By the time I got to the last item on this list you’d have forgotten what the first three were.”
“My memory can hold more than four items.” I said.
“I know, but the average person can’t remember more than seven items at one time.” He said.
“Yes.” He said. “And if you tried to write it down you’d stop me at every word asking how to spell the last thing I said.”
“That many esoteric items?” I asked.
“Some, but I also don’t think you’re smart enough to spell pot without help.”
“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I said, and then asked him, “do you have any expenses?”
“Nah.” He said. “This ones on the house.”
“Okay.” I told him looking at my watch. “I’ll leave now and be there in a little while. See you later.”
“Bye, bye.” I hung up the phone and stuck it back in my pocket. “I’ll be on my way then.”
“See you later employee.” She said grabbing my hand and giving it a squeeze.
“See you boss.” I squeezed her back and left her in what would be her office now, I got a good look at the ten by ten cell I’d kept her in to do her typing and wondered if I could stay there if I had to.
This is part seven of thirteen, come back next week for part eight 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Six: Hewie Homunculus, The Emo Assistant.
I got Debbie to make the call and go get the lunch, which I knew would take a while. La Shish is good, but it’s not exactly speedy. While waiting I decided to question Hewie a while to see what he knew. It would be important to know what he knew. At least it would be if he didn’t fuck it up at the last moment.
“So what did Becky really shoot you up with last night?” I asked.
“I told you, it’s just water.” He said sweat beading on his forehead ready to leap down his face.
“No.” I shook my head, not knowing that I was one sentence away from triggering an atom bomb. “I’m not going to go into my personal history for you, but I know a nod when I see one and you were on it.”
“That’s not why I killed her.” He said suddenly, and he started to hyperventilate. “I mean it wasn’t because of the morphine, it’s because Sam said I had to.”
“Pardon?” My entire body froze.
“I can’t remember why he told me she had to die, but Sam said I had to kill her just like that, and I had to fuck her to get the jizz inside her and stuff.” He started to cry and shake all over. “I didn’t want to fuck her, I hated her, but Sam said I had to. I had to so we could be together.”
“Did you rape her?” My shoulders bunched up, ready to smash his pretty little head in.
“No.” His head shook quickly and tears started to pour down his face. “I didn’t have to! They just dropped me off and told me to tell her I wanted to fuck. She was so ready for it she threw me down on the bed. I almost couldn’t do it, I’m not hot for her, but she sucked me hard so I could get a start inside her.”
I got up and quickly opened my safe, pulling the fire safe out of it as soon as it was open so I had my back to him as little as possible. I sat at my desk with the small fire safe in front of me and found the key for it on my ring. I moved as quickly as I could, but smoothly so that I didn’t confuse myself in the rush.
“I had to kill some of those others!” He shouted as I opened the safe and grabbed the Marley thirty-eight in its belt holster. “Don’t you see? Sam said I had to. I don’t remember all of them, but I can remember some of them.”
I pulled the gun from its holster and set it on the desk, with the handle pointed at me. I then stood up quickly and slung the Webley and its shoulder holster around my arms. I slipped the Marley back into its holster and slipped the gun behind my left hip. It might have been a mistake, letting him see where I put my guns, but I’ll answer for my mistakes when the Day of Judgment comes and whatever gods from whatever religion turns out to be right asks me about them.
“I want you to listen to me very carefully.” I said sitting back down in my chair.
“I need my stuff.” He whined, sounding very much like a child.
“Yeah, that’s not going to be possible just now.” I held up my hand in a gesture to stop him from interrupting. “I need you to listen to me carefully.”
“Jack?” He whined and looked away, his face a mask of pain of many kinds.
“HEWIE!” I shouted and slapped the desk. “I can help you here, but you’ve got to listen to me and you’ve got to do what I say.”
“I’m in a lot of trouble Jack.” He whined, childlike again.
“That’s undeniable.” I told him.
“I’m so tired.” He started to cry again and his body sagged.
He looked tired, worn out, like he’d been dragged much further than he should have. I have to admit I felt sorry for him, I almost wanted to go across the desk and hold his head and stroke his hair and calm him and tell him everything would be alright. I might have too, but I remembered what happened the last time I did that to someone I pretty much knew was a killer. The last time the killer in question shot me with three bullets and now I have arthritis.
“If you listen to me, and you do what I say, we can keep you out of jail.” I told him. “There are good lawyers, and they can make sure you get into a nice quite institution. You don’t need to go to jail, just a nice quite hospital.”
When Debbie is out of the office, she programs the phone to ring in my office. We didn’t used to do things like that, but times have changed and we must change along with them. At that moment, he looked like he would do anything for me not to answer the phone. To be honest, I would have done anything not to have needed to answer it. The problem was that things were as they were and I had to answer it.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Collier?” Crammer asked. “That Homunculus kid did it. The lab had him on hand to compare with. It was him.”
“I know.” I told him with a sigh. “He just told me.”
“You’ve got him?” He asked and then demanded. “You hold him!”
“Damn right I will.” I agreed.
“I’m not really happy about how this had turned out.” He said, and he sounded really sympathetic.
“I’m not exactly dancing a jig about it myself.” I told him.
“We’ll be there in three minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll bring him out, don’t come charging into my office.” I said, and then ended like I always do. “Bye, bye.”
“You’re going to turn me in?” Hewie asked, looking panicky as I put the phone into its cradle.
“I can’t really do anything else.” I told him. “I don’t know if you’ve heard about this in Junkieville, but we’ve got these funny things called laws here in Michigan.”
“You don’t have to talk to me like that. They gave it to me, made me take it, I didn’t want to.” He snapped. “And I’m not an idiot either!”
“Okay.” I said, feeling properly rebuked. “But you know then that I have to hand you over to the police. If you do what I say though, we can get you of out this. Hell, the fact that you think Sam Hain is commanding you from beyond the grave should be enough to get an insanity plea started.”
“I’m not crazy.” He demanded. “Sam did tell me to do it! Knock can tell you, he was there.”
“Calm down.” I told him. “Remember I’m here helping you. Just do what I tell you.”
“What do I do then?”
“Ask for your lawyer and don’t say anything until the one I send gets there. Then tell the lawyer absolutely everything. Everything, start to finish. From there you just sit tight until the lawyer tells you to talk.”
“You’re sure?” He asked.
“Positive.” I told him. “Everything will be… well not alright, but it won’t be as bad as it could be.”
Debbie came into the office and walked across to my desk. She set the bag of food down, looked at the empty fire safe on my desk and then at me. I nodded to her and the looked at Hewie and took a couple of steps back.
“There are five police cars waiting in the parking lot, they came just after I walked into the building.” She looked at him and then at me.
“Okay.” I stood up and looked at her. “We’ll probably need that food in the police station, they never get very good lunches there. C’mon Hewie. Bring the food Deb.”
I will admit I made another mistake by going at the front of the little procession. I should never have shown Hewie my back, that was my mistake and I’ve got to live with it. Again, if some deity ends up existing at the end and I’m called to account for it, I will tell them what I tell you here. I fucked up. I can only hope that this is mitigated by what I did later to make up for it.
When we got near the door I heard Debbie gasp and then something was snaking under my coat. Then I felt the Marley smack across the back of my head and down I went for a moment. I heard Debbie scream, the door open and legs shuffling out. I got up and burst out the door with my hand open shouting.
“NO!” I shouted to the police who had started to draw their guns. “Don’t shoot!”
“He said I can’t go to jail Jack.” Hewie shouted to me, I wondered if Debbie could hear with the barrel of my gun in her ear like he had it.
“Hewie.” I said walking towards him my empty hand still extending. “This won’t work, not like you want. C’mon, put the gun down. Let Debbie go.”
“I can’t Jack.” He said. “Sam said that I wasn’t to tell the police anything. I can’t risk it.”
“Hewie.” I dropped my hands to my sides and then held them out in a pleading gesture. “Please. At least let Debbie go, she didn’t do anything to you but bring you your lunch.”
Hewie seemed to think about it as I stepped another step closer. I didn’t want to move too quickly, because that would cause more problems than any of us could handle. As scared as I was that he might start to shoot, I was even more worried that the officers behind me would try to return fire. I’m not sure about all the police, for most of them this might have been the first time they’d ever drawn their weapons in their service. If one of them didn’t have as much target practice as he was supposed to I could be in a lot of trouble both coming and going.
“I can’t go in Jack.” He thumbed back the hammer of the Marley.
He yanked on Debbie’s arm hard with his left arm and she fell away from him having been pulled disastrously off balance. Time suddenly started to crawl as my mind snapped into a state of hyper awareness. In one swift motion he put the barrel of my Marley into his O shaped mouth, his lips wrapping around it in a fashion that looked almost sexual. I ran towards him, trying to grab the wrist of the hand that was sucking on my gun.
I might have shouted “No!” but I’d have to see affidavits sighed and witnessed to prove it to me. He pulled the trigger before I had a chance of reaching him and the bullet shot out of the gun with an amazingly soft snap sound. His beautiful and almost feminine face distorted into an ugly shape as the power of the bullet sent shock waves through his head.
A bit of his skull popped open, but was held onto his head by a flap of scalp. The bullet struck the brick side of the building causing a puff of red dust to come from the spot where brick was pulverized, much like the mist that had come out of the top of his head. A spray of blood then exploded from the wound in a spurt and he his head jerked forward then back from the shot. I would estimate that this all took about a fourteenth of a second, but it seemed a lot longer to me.
I grabbed him before he fell and in a moment of inanity I pushed the flap of skin to replace the skull bit. He slumped into my arms and I have to admit that there were tears in my eyes as blood sprayed over me. We fell over together and I grabbed at his hair as I started to sob. I hate to admit it, but I pretty much lost my shit there. I squeezed my fists hard and shook hard at him crying. I stood up and placed my right hand over my face as the tears came streaming down and I openly cried and swore.
My left hand had a grip on something and without my conscious mind knowing what it was. The hand twisted it around so that I wasn’t advertising it was in my hand. I started to move towards my office. I had pretty much had enough of the outside world for the moment and I was going to go have a good cry under my desk. Only five minutes ago I told him I could protect him, and here he was dead. I didn’t care who saw me crying in my frustration and anger.
“Collier.” Crammer’s voice came and something touched my elbow.
“Fuck off!” I screamed, actually screamed and yanked the Webley from it’s holster. “Just fuck off all of you! Leave me alone of I’ll kill every fucking one of you!”
I pushed the door to the building open, somehow I made it to my office, and got to my desk. I don’t know how long I sat there, weeping like a baby, but it must have been a while because some of the cars where gone from the street when I looked. I only looked for them after I finally got a look at what was in my left hand. It was the section of Hewie’s head, the particle of skull, skin and long black strands of hair were stuck to my hand with his drying blood.
I had an idea when I looked at it and yanked open one of the drawers in my desk. I keep some sandwich bags in my desk for just such an occasion. I put my bit of evidence into the bag, tossed it into the fire safe, locked it up with my right hand and put it into the safe. I made sure to close the big floor safe with my right hand and went to wash my hands in the bathroom. I got as much of the blood off my fingers as I could manage while leaving my shirt sleeves alone.
My toiletries attended to, I went to the phone and looked up a number. He would be home, he was always home. If he wasn’t home, or if he wasn’t answering, I would go to his house and threaten whoever was there to tell me where the hell he was. The phone rang and rang, but I got nothing. Little douchebag was suddenly going to pretend like he was too good to answer my calls was he? There was a knock on the door and I looked up. Debbie poked her head in and looked concerned at me.
“You alone?” I asked.
“Yeah.” She nodded. “They think maybe you’ve had a bad day.”
“If they knew the half of it.” I said.
“Crammer said to give you this,” She held out a slip of paper to me. “It’s a receipt for your gun. He said he’s not sure they can get it back to you, but you get a receipt anyway.”
“Yeah.” I said folding the slip and putting it in my central drawer. “Like I’m ever going to want that gun again. They have anyone wanting to ask questions?”
“He said that he’d like a statement later, but it’s all done so it won’t be a big deal.”
“He thinks it’s all done does he?” I asked.
“Well, isn’t it?” She asked.
“No.” I said looking at the safe and then considering how much trouble I was about to get myself in. “I’ve got to go out for a while.”
“Okay?” She said.
“I need you to do something for me.” I went back into the central drawer and fished out the business card I’d been keeping there. “Call this law firm and ask for Mister Preston.”
“Howe, Preston, Cheatum, Parker and Dewie?” She asked. “But I thought we used Mister Palmetti.”
“This was something special.” I told her and looked at my watch. “Ask them if Mister Preston can be here at six o’clock. Tell them that Mister Collier wants to discuss the matter we arranged earlier and that I need to sign the papers.”
“At six tonight?” She asked.
“Right.” I told her as I opened the safe up. “And I need you here when he comes, I need you to do a few things when he’s here.”
“Okay Jack.” She said as I put the baggie in my pocket.
“Did you see what I just did there?” I asked looking at her.
“No Jack.” She said, “I didn’t see you put a bag that contained evidence you took from the scene in the parking lot and put it in your pocket.”
“Good.” I said.
“I would never see you doing something that might hurt the office.” She said with a sot of sigh. “You know that.”
“Why have I never gone to bed with you?” I asked as I stood.
“It would ruin the professional feeling this office has.” She smiled at me. “And you’ve been deeply entrenched in the friend-zone since I first saw what you consider still wearable shoes.”
“Good answer.” I said and walked to the door of my office. “I’ll be back by six, no matter what.”
I grabbed my hat and ran down the stairs, hoping that no one would be left to try and stop me. There wasn’t anyone, and I was able to drive far enough through enough back streets to know that I didn’t have a tail. I didn’t want anyone to know where I was going, because they’d probably be able to tell what I was going for if they saw.
This is part two of thirteen, come back next week for part three 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Five: Becky, The Goth Punk Princess
Morning came far too early and arrived by banging on my front door. It was loud and constant as I got up from my bed. I never have that moment I’ve often heard people talk about in the morning. I wake up knowing who am I and what I’m doing. This is not always a boon, because it means I know that there is only one reason a person comes banging on your door in the morning like that.
When I came to the door and looked through the window there was no doubt. I saw Crammer through the window and almost wanted to run back under the bed, but he had seen me too and there was no point in pretending I wasn’t there. I walked to the door in my sweat pants and t-shirt and realized that it had happened again. I touched the door handle and started to open the door while trying to decide if I should tell him that Becky was dead or should I let him start hammering me with questions. I opted to let him tell me, because it would be showing off to tell him.
“What is it?” I asked.
“What time did you leave Rebecca Hain at her house last night?” He asked.
“Why?” I asked, trying to play up the fact that people are misty first thing in the morning.
“Answer the question.” He seemed to understand I was faking it.
“Why do you want to know?” I asked squinting at him. If I was going to let him tell me she was dead, I was going to make him tell me.
“She was killed last night.” He said, “Hard to say, but the M.E. thinks it was at about a quarter after one.”
“That would be right around the time I dropped her off then.” I said hitting my head on the door jam. “He was fuckin’ waiting for her in the house.”
I hit my head against the door jam a few times and then stopped. I opened my left eye to glare at Crammer and the guy he brought with him. After a second I realized what it was that had shook loose. The klaxons of alarm bells started to go off, but this time they came with a memo typed in a thirteen point san serif font.
“What do you mean hard to tell? If it was done at one, that’s only a few hours.”
“Eight right now, but six at the time we discovered her.”
“So what the hell,” I asked calmly. “Does hard to tell mean?”
“It’s just that it wasn’t that easy.” Crammer looked very uncomfortable. “She was all cut up.”
“The killer spent time playing with the body.” The other detective said,
“Let me put some clothes on.” I said opening the door for them to come in. “You can take me there.”
“I really can’t.” Crammer started, but then stopped as I walked back to my room to change.
“Who found her?” I asked as I came out after putting on a clean pair of pants and shirt.
“The cleaning woman.” Crammer and the other dick said standing up as I came out.
“Let’s go look.”
“You really don’t want to.” Crammer sounded both pleadingly sympathetic. “It’s bad.”
“I have to go see my client.” I explained. “Even if she is no longer able to see me.”
“I’ll need Doyle to stay here and look around.” Crammer said.
“Make sure he checks the car to see if I’ve driven it since about one in the morning.” I told Doyle through Crammer. “And my fire place would be a great place to burn bloody clothes.”
“Sure.” Doyle said nodding at me. He looked like he wished he would find something. I sort of got the feeling that he’d rather be mad at me for doing what I was about to see than be mad at himself for sending me to see it for the first time.
“We checked your car before we came to the door.” Crammer said when we got outside. “That doesn’t mean you couldn’t have gotten home some other way, but I think if you were going to do someone you’d have better sense than to do it like this. I’d like to think you’re more human than this fucker.”
We rode in silence to Becky’s house, and when I got in I could see what he meant. We had to wear paper galoshes over our shoes to make sure we didn’t tramp any evidence in from the outside. That was a bad sign, as was the trail of bloody foot prints that went down the stairs and out the front door. Crammer led me up the stairs, but when we came to Becky’s bed room he turned away to avoid looking at her.
If you’ve ever studied the killings of Jack the Ripper, you’ve probably seen the photograph of Mary Jane Kelly. If you haven’t, I don’t suggest looking it up because it’s a fairly grizzly sight. Even in black and white, even being more than a hundred years old, it’s pretty difficult to look at. I found myself facing a living color reproduction of that picture. Looking at the floor, I could even see that the killer had moved Becky’s bed to put it up against the wall like it was in the photo. The bed had been against a different wall if the imprints in the carpet were to be believed.
What little that was left of Becky, including the dragon tattoo on her left hand, identified her for me enough. I couldn’t use her face, because there was nothing left of it. I sighed heavily and turned around to look at Crammer’s back. I walked past him and he came down the stairs behind me, I doubt he ever looked back once, I know I didn’t.
“Who found her?” I asked.
“Cleaning lady.” Crammer said. “She said she’d been called and told to come early today, she normally doesn’t come until the afternoon.”
“So someone who knew there was something to find came and told her to find it?” I asked.
“Yeah.” Crammer said. “We’ve got that kid she worked with down at the station. He couldn’t have done it unless he boosted a car or something but he’s gave us the information that you drove them home so that’s helpful.”
“Ain’t it just?” I asked. “You know, I’m starting to resent the fact that people think its okay to kill someone just because I’ve got a case that involves them. It’s really starting to piss me off.”
“They said the explosive was put under Hain’s seat in his car.” Crammer said patting his side. “They got into his car and put a block of C-4 under his seat. There was a bit left over from the detonator, they said it was a remote detonator. The person with the bomb probably watched him get in and then hit the switch.”
“Fuckers.” I nearly spit the word without considering why I made it plural.
“You know about this slasher case?” he asked me as we walked back to his car.
“Not a damn thing.” I told him.
“Okay then.” He opened the back door of his car and pulled a file out of his briefcase on the back seat. “I had a copy made for you.”
“Thanks.” I said taking it.
“If you get caught with that, it’s probably both our asses.” He told me.
“I stole it while you weren’t looking.” I told him.
“Yeah.” He nodded. “You want to get your car and come down to the station? That Homunculus kid says you’re a friend of his, maybe you can take him home or something.”
“Yeah.” I said. “Let’s get my car and your detective.”
“We’re gonna get this fucker.” Crammer confided to me as we drove away. “The dumb ass left her twat full of come right next to the bed. Cut it out when he was done fucking her and put it on the night stand.”
“What gentle euphemisms you use.” I commented, slightly amazed at my own ability to quip. “One might not know what you were talking about.”
“Once they know whose come it is we’ll get him.” He said as if he hadn’t heard me, which he probably hadn’t. “I guaran-fuking-tee that.”
“What if it was planted to throw you off?” I asked.
“We’ll find that out too.” He said. “We’ll get him.”
The way I was treated at the police station, you’d think it was my mother that had died rather than a girl I knew in high school. I have rarely been treated with so much deference, particularly not when I should have technically been a suspect.
I gave my statement to a detective and was released on my own cognizance. I was also allowed to pick up Hewie before I left, which was nice for him because he needed to see a friendly face. I only started to wonder later why they’d let him go with me, but I’ve never really come up with a good reason. Maybe they’d decided that since he didn’t have a car or anything like that, that he could be eliminated as a suspect. I have no idea.
Maybe it was just how sad he looked. He looked pathetic, like he hadn’t had a wink of sleep all night. He also had the shakes, which I attributed to not being able to have his morning hit of whatever it was he had in the morning. While we were driving he looked at my brass key fob as it dangled from the ignition.
“What’s that mean?” He asked pointing at it. “Seven with one blow?”
“Back in July I killed six people in about six minutes and then killed a seventh about twenty hours later.” I told him simply. “This makes me the Jack the Giant Killer in the eyes of the person who gave me this car. The brave little tailor, all that.”
“So you’re used to people dying?” He asked and then the tears started. “Because I’m not.”
He didn’t cry like a little bitch or anything, nothing queeny or effeminate. It was just a kid who hadn’t slept and had two major shocks one right after the other. He put his hand over his face and then put his entire are up over it to hide himself as best he could.
I pulled off into a parking lot and put my hand on his shoulder. He didn’t shrug me off, but he didn’t lean in towards me. He just leaned against the window and cried it out for a few minutes. He put his right hand over mine after a minute and gave me a squeeze. He composed himself soon after and I gave him a tissue from the ash tray, which is all I use it for.
“Thanks.” He took the tissue and blew his nose. “I’m just not used to it.”
“Pray you never get used to it.” I told him. “So where were you last night? You don’t look like you slept.”
“I was up crying until five.” He said with a shrug. “I mean, Sam had died.”
“Something between you too?” I asked.
He didn’t say anything, but when I turned to look at him he nodded. He wiped at his nose again and reached to the ash tray for some more tissues. He blew his nose and then wiped his eyes with the other tissue. I looked out the windshield at the darkening skies and almost mentioned that it looked like rain. I looked at him though and decided to save it for the moment. He looked edgy and nervous, which made me wonder about his mental state. If he was an addict of something, he might need it soon.
If he were actually a girl, instead of a boy who looked like one, I might have put my arm around him and told him everything would be alright. I felt the urge to do so, to give him some form of physical contact so he knew he wasn’t alone in his universe of pain, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it just then. I’d put my hand on his shoulder, that would have to have been enough for a while.
“Tell you what.” I said pulling out onto the street. “We’ll go to my office and start to work some of this shit out together, you and me.”
“Well, I should really get back home. I’ve got some stuff to do.”
“Nah,” I said as if I weren’t really listening. “It’ll be cool, I’ve got a spare tooth brush at my office, we’ll get Chinese or something.”
“Okay.” He relented, I assumed that if he needed it badly enough he’d let me know about it. “We can do that, but I’ll have to get my medication from my place before 5 or I’ll start getting sick.”
“Okay.” I nodded, must not be that bad an addiction then.
We drove to the office and I could have sworn he got winded walking up the stairs. The bit of sweat on his head might have been my imagination, or it might have been that going up the stairs was a lot more strenuous than you’d normally think. Of course he looked a little more nervous as I opened the door and glanced at Debbie, who was still typing furiously on her keyboard. I stopped before entering my inner office and looked at her and then him.
“Debbie, this is Hewie Homunculus.” I said pointing at him. “This is my secretary Debbie.”
“Hi.” He said barely nodding at her.
“Have you seen the news?” I asked.
“Yeah, we lost another client.” She nodded, her fingers still swiftly moving across the keys typing whatever it was she typed when she was here.
“Hewie is connected to the situation.” I told her. “We’re going to discuss it.”
“Okay Jack.” She smiled at me with her coded smile.
“We’ll need some lunch.” He said.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “Where are the take out menus?”
She looked at me blankly for a moment and then blinked at me. It was probably just a bit too long, but she seemed to pick up quickly enough that something was up. She didn’t nod, or wink, which is always an encouraging sign. Instead she looked in a drawer of her desk and then looked up at me.
“They must be in your office somewhere.” She said putting her hand flat on her desk.
“Ah, okay. C’mon Hewie.” I said waving to him and we went into my office.
She had clearly gotten that a message was sent. The problem was that I didn’t know exactly what kind of message I was sending. I hoped I sent a message that was something around the keep vigilant and perhaps let the police know where we were sort of thing. She looked like the only thing I had said was that I didn’t know where the menus that had always been in the same place were.
We went into the office and in order to keep up the pitiful charade I’d started I had to start rifling through my desk to see if I could find the take out menus I keep in the second drawer on the left hand side. I found them after not too long, because I didn’t want to give the impression that I check my entire desk before going for one of the more obvious ones. I tossed the pack of menus on the desk and unclipped them so we could look through them.
“What do you like?” I asked spreading the menus out.
He reached for a La Shish menu and started to flip through it. He looked at the menu while sweat started to bead up on his forehead and his breath started to come a little faster. I couldn’t exactly tell, but I would have thought under normal conditions he was starting to have some withdrawal symptoms.
“I suppose this would be good.” He said pointing at something on the La Shish menu.
“Okay.” I said looking at his choice. “Let me pick something and we can have Debbie go get it for us.”
This is part five of thirteen, 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.
In The Cabinet
A Jack Collier Short
By Brett N. Lashuay
Day Four: The Show
We ended up just stopping at one of the steak places around there. Auburn Hills is a pretty yuppified area, filled with expensive houses and business buildings. It’s a bit like Troy really, but a bit more upscale. This meant our choices were either to hunt and peck, or go for one of the places right on Squirrel Road. Instead of looking around, we went right for a steak place and decided to charge it all to my expense account. Yeah, right, expense account. I knew there would be no account for this job, the job itself wouldn’t really exist another day.
“How long have you been with Hain?” I asked him as we started to look at the menus.
“Almost a year.” He started biting his bottom lip when he thought about it.
“Problem with talking about it?” I asked.
“No.” He shook his head, and there was something in his eyes. “It’s just, you know, he’s dead isn’t he?”
“Yeah.” I looked at me menu as a way of drawing his eye away from me and to his own menu. When he’d looked away I looked back up at him and only saw a worried young man. “But if we’re going to find out what happened we’ve got to investigate. To do that, I’ve got start asking questions about the people who knew him.”
“Knew.” Hewie shook his head and put his hand to his forehead like he was warding off a headache. “Knew. I mean that’s it right there isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is.” I nodded and noted that something in his performance rang false. “Let’s try this a little to the left of that though. When did the cops start harassing Sam?”
“One of those stupid bitches came when we were doing the sleep talker bit.” He grumbled.
“What’s the sleep talker bit?”
“You know how a somnambulist trick works?” He put his hands together in front of him on the table.
“No idea.” I shook my head at him, mostly because I wanted to hear how he explained it.
“It’s a simple adaptation of the mentalist act where Sam gets questions from the audience and I answer them, only in that one I’m supposed to be asleep. He fake hypnotizes me by giving me an injection of water that he tells the crowd is a truth drug and then goes out and picks gets objects from the crowd and asks me to guess what they are or gets questions about the future.”
“How do you guess the object?”
“Oh it’s all coded in the question.” He said as the waitress came by to take our orders. After a moment she went and he continued. “See if you hand the Sam a gold watch then he says ‘Can you tell me what I have here?’ well the word ‘tell’ stands for a watch and the word ‘have’ is for gold. He tells me what to say by the way he phrases the question. Then we go into people’s questions. He doesn’t even actually ask the question when some one asks about the future. Again he phrases it so that I know these people want to know about a son who died in a car crash or something like that. At some point in the bit, he signals me to make some kind of creepy answer. I then answer that I see death or misery or something like that. It gives people a fright, Sam likes that shit.”
I didn’t correct him that Sam liked that kind of shit and could no longer like anything because he had been blown to pieces. I couldn’t decide if this jittery kid was trying to tell me something, or if he was just in shock or what. He looked down at the empty spot into front of him and tapped the table. Evidently he also wanted to make sure that inanimate objects knew which of them was boss.
“So one of the people who were killed came?”
“No, like four of them.” He grumbled. “I wanted to stop doing that bit but Sam said it was too good. So we kept doing it, he even gave me things to say. I was supposed to talk about knives and blood and shit.”
“More of it came true?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He nodded and looked angry for a moment. “And they kept harassing us. I had to tell them like three times how the trick was done cause they kept bringing me in.”
“What’d they ask about?”
“How we knew who was gonna get killed.” He said and the uneasy look he’d worn since I’d first seen him returned. “Which is stupid cause all I ever said was that someone was going to die and I mentioned knives or blood or something. We record all our shows just in case and I had to play back the tapes before they’d believe I didn’t mention people’s names ‘cause some dumb ass had said I actually named the person who would die in the show the night before.”
“Did you say things like what got done in the night before?” I asked. “I mean was anything even close to being a prediction?”
“Yeah, some.” He bit his lower lip again, which almost gave him the look of a coquettish girl.
There was something beautiful and feminine in his movements when he wasn’t being conscious about them. He had an easy flow to his motions, mixed with a hint of nervousness that just made me want to put him in my pocket and keep him safe from the world. There was also the fact that he was a particularly pretty for a boy. Actually, he would have been pretty for a girl if he’d decided to cross dress. However his androgyny will have to be put aside for another day because I was worried about a case that seemed to have become a chase for a serial killer.
“What was in last night’s show?”
He hesitated, looking down at the table. He waited a long time before he said anything. His dark eyes swept around the table, and his lips worked themselves into a pout and then he went back to biting the bottom one. I waited for what I judged to be a full minute and then decided to ask again. He looked at the table, then me, then the table again.
“What was in last night’s show?” I asked again.
“He told me to talk about fire and to mention explosives.” He said finally as the waitress came with the drinks.
“What do you think is going on?” I asked him as I picked up my coke.
“Someone’s watching the shows, making stuff happen.” He drank his own coke slowly and carefully. “Something like that.”
“You think your act has been inspiring a serial killer?” I asked, “Don’t they usually work off some kind of pathology?”
“Do they?” He asked and I thought he really was puzzled. “I don’t know anything about them really. I know that guy in Silence of the Lambs ate people and stuff.”
“Yeah, he did.” I drank a little more of my coke.
We then started to talk about jazz and other things which this record isn’t really concerned with. When we finished I drove him back to the theatre. The same powder blue Taurus with the bumper sticker I’d seen earlier was in the parking lot. Most the other cars were gone besides that and a black car of a European design. I looked at Hewie and decide that he probably didn’t drive that car.
“Who likes Barbequed Ribs?” I pointed at the Taurus.
“That’s Knock’s car.” Hewie said.
“Knock gives me a lift, I don’t have a car.” He clearly lied and then asked. “Are you gonna stay for the show?”
“Yeah.” I said. “It might give me a hint or two.”
“Cool.” He smiled what might have been the first genuine smile I saw on his face.
I went in with him, greeted Becky and Knock who went into their dressing rooms to get ready for the show and started to mill about with the peons in the art gallery up stairs across from the theater’s auditorium entrance. The art gallery isn’t terribly big, but it usually has things worth looking at. When it got to be time I went in and got my seat. I won’t repeat the whole thing, because a magic show isn’t very magical if you’re reading a second hand account of what happened. Not only would this be a second hand account, but it would be from the view of someone who knew how the tricks were done.
You must remember that I did hang out with Becky during the nineties and in that time I saw her father’s show quite a few times. I found it odd that for all the times I’d been back stage at one show or another I’d never seen Knock before, but hey, he said he’d been with Sam for years and he wouldn’t lie would he? Besides, I knew Becky and not Sam. Sam barely remembered anyone who wasn’t in his circle. Becky had to introduce me almost every time he and I ever met.
It was a bit different than the show I’d been expecting though, I can say that. Sam’s show was always a bit creepy, but it had always been like having an old time magician doing his act. The tricks were old a lot of the time, but that hadn’t mattered because he gave the whole thing a slightly unsettling yet fun charm. Becky had been his assistant on and off for years, depending on her mood and if she was living around him at the time. For all her flaws, she always could add an undeniable air of sexuality to the show. If for no other reason than because the costumes she wore made her look like she made a second living as the sort of high end prostitute that specializes in cosplay.
In this show however, she was the lead, performing the tricks with Hewie as her assistant. Of course she called him Caesar the whole time, and flirted with him so furiously I thought at one point she’d mount him like a stripper poll. The costumes hadn’t changed, so if she decided to start spinning around a poll and taking off clothes wouldn’t have been that big a step for her. Still, I can’t really say I disapproved. She had the body to show off those clothes and she was a grown up who knew her own mind. At least I presumed she knew her own mind.
He looked between impassive and uncomfortable, while she looked like she was trying to do her best to liven up a show that was going to go down as ‘not one of their best’ when the reviews came back. She was competent, but she didn’t have her father’s flare and the fact of why he wasn’t there probably weighed on her mind. She was going to have to do a lot of work if she wanted to inherit the mantel though.
The show used more fake blood than I remember, but then it was getting to be time for the big show. Sam always tried to make the big show as shocking and exciting as possible. I assume that the blood was just another aspect that he’d been forced to add over the years to keep people amused. It was when the somnambulist trick started that I began to get actually disturbed by things.
“Now ladies and gentlemen.” Becky said striding across the stage in her thigh high boots and pulling a small vial and needle from the props on her table. “This is a truth serum. It will render my assistant Caesar unconscious, but able to answer any questions.”
Hewie had rolled up his right sleeve and Becky swabbed his bicep with alcohol and then injected him. He’d said it was a fake hypnosis, but judging by the looks he and Becky exchanged I would say there was something more than water in the syringe when she injected him. He sat down and she did two more tricks announcing it would take a minute for the stuff to work. I suppose the crowd watched her doing the trick, but I watched him.
Either he’d been injected with a real drug, or he’d suddenly obtained the ability to act when threatened with a needle. He slumped in the chair slowly, his progress barely noticeable unless you knew the signs to look for. He was on a nod of some kind, and I would have said it was morphine if I had been asked to swear. When she was done with the two tricks she propped him up and started walking around the crowd. I could catch the key words because she was saying each of them too loudly and emphasizing them. She wasn’t flowing properly, but that was to be expected I suppose. I think I might have been the only one to notice, because the crowd was well amused.
She came back on the stage for the end of the bit and asked one final question with a slip of paper in her hand. They’d had us write down questions and turn them in earlier so that they could answer some, but I suspect that this one was probably just a plant. She looked at it and stood next to him as she asked it.
“Can you tell me what’s puzzling this audience member?” She asked and put her elbow up on his shoulder to lean against him.
“We’re all going to die.” Hewie, as Caesar, said. “That’s what they all want to know.”
“You mean everyone here?” She smiled and bent over to expose cleavage to the audience as she laughed. “That’s pretty inevitable don’t you think? Going with the safe bet?”
The audience chuckled a little, her timing on the joke was good and we needed a laugh. Those who weren’t relieved by the laugh had at least gotten to see her cleavage, which was a nice thing to look at if you had time. It was then though that Hewie started to worry me.
“No.” He stepped foreword and I could see tears in his eyes. “You’re going to die next, and then the killings will continue. Then they’ll kill me, and still the blood shed will go on. It won’t end until the source of the murder is destroyed.”
The lights went down, the curtains swung closed and the house lights came up. A voice announced that the intermission would last for twenty minutes. I sat in my chair and watched the curtains as I thought about what was going on. I almost wanted to run out of the theater and tell Crammer that they had better investigate this group harder than they had before, but he knew what was going on here. If I was disturbed, it was probably my own fault for watching as closely as I did. It could have been that Hewie had been putting me on from the start. I got up and went to the bathroom because sitting in the chair was just making me more paranoid than usual.
The second half of the show held no more terrors for me, nothing that triggered my paranoia. The end of the show caused me a moment of trouble though, wondering if I should go down or not. I decided to go down, because Becky was my client and would want to have me approve of the show. Even if I didn’t approve, she would want me to approve so I would have to. I went down the stairs that were at the end of the hall outside the auditorium and went down stairs to the entrance I had come in. Besides, my car was parked down there. Becky was waiting for me when I came down and smiled when she saw me.
“What’d you think?” She looked brilliant under the normal light of the green room. Somehow the white face make-up and black lipstick looked better when I was close up instead of worse like it did for most people. She didn’t look vibrant exactly, but she did look beautiful.
“I thought it was alright.” I took her hand like I always would in the old days. “You need to not stress the key words during the sleep talking bit though.”
“Yeah.” She sighed and leaned on one leg while kicking at some imaginary dust with her other foot. “I’ll work on it.”
“You need a ride home?” I asked.
“Oh I should be alright.” She said waving a hand carelessly, which was her private signal to me that she was still hammered and if I let her drive it would be on my head.
Her private signals to me are quite a thing. They are so private, that even she doesn’t know what they are. It’s a little language that she can speak, but doesn’t understand, like a foreigner only knowing that “could I have a beer please” means that the waitress will eventually bring them a glass of something beerlike. Only in this case, she didn’t even know what she wanted and was signaling to me that if I didn’t take over she would do herself a mischief.
“Yeah.” I nodded to show I understood. “I’ll give you a ride.”
“I said I’m fine.” She said blinking and trying to make a horizon line with her hand. Again, the private language which really meant that if she tried to drive I should konk her over the head and carry her.
“Yeah.” I repeated. “Get your purse, I’ll drive you home.”
“Jack?” Hewie said as he came down the hall. “You couldn’t give me a lift could you?”
“I’m sucking his dick tonight.” Becky said and thrust herself against me. The alcohol content of her breath alone was almost enough to bar me from driving just from smelling it. “You go get your own.”
“I can drive you.” I nodded to him and then signaled Becky. “You have to help me carry the drunk though.”
“I’m not drunk.” She complained and looked up into my eyes. “I’m stoned. I had the booze to wash down the pills.”
“Well, that makes everything better.” I said in a tone that I knew she wouldn’t recognize in her current state.
“That’s why I love you.” She pounced up kissed me on the lips suddenly. “You always tell me I’m good.”
“I’ll help.” He smiled at me and I could see that his eyes were still blurry.
“Thanks Jack.” She put her hand on my cheek and pecked me on the lips again.
We took her to the Hudson and I have to say she showed amazing fortitude in staying awake all the way to the car. We put her in the back seat and started away towards Hewie’s apartment. On the way he looked annoyed and kept glancing back at her. He then pulled out a small pocket pack of Kleenex and held them out to me.
“She left some black on your lips.” He said holding the pack out, which proved that he was looking at my lips.
“Thanks.” I took one of the tissues and wiped my lips with it. I had to lick my lips to get it all off, but I managed.
“You and she ever been together?” He asked after a while.
“You mean as in…” I let it hang for a moment.
“No.” I said. “Never.”
“Why not?” he asked. “You’d be the right type for her.”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“You don’t like girls?” He asked.
“Have you ever slept with her?” I asked.
“No.” He said. “But as she pointed out, I don’t go that way.”
“Ah.” I nodded. “Well I do go that way, but it’s different between us. I’ve noticed the only guys who aren’t disposable in her life are the ones she doesn’t sleep with. I think we’ve stayed apart like that because she needs someone she can run back to.”
“Still, she didn’t need to tell you like that.” He complained.
“Don’t worry about it.” I said, “It doesn’t matter.”
“No?” He asked.
“No.” I said. “World has enough troubles without letting that one get in the way.”
I dropped him off at his place and when he got out, Becky woke up. I kept her awake as I drove her home and made sure she got into the house. I got her keys from her and got her into the house sitting down with her on the couch for a little while. This meant I sat up right and she leaned into me like I was the rock of Gibraltar. She didn’t cry but she did sigh heavily about once every twenty seconds and then would snuggle in a little closer.
“Jack?” She asked eventually after about twenty minutes passed.
“Yes?” I responded, knowing what the next question would be.
“Jack, why don’t you just stay the night?” She failed to surprise me. “I know I’m stoned and stuff, but it wouldn’t be like you taking advantage of me. It would just be payback for all the times I took advantage of you.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea Becky.” I said and tilted her head up to look at me.
“That’s why I love you.” She said and kissed me for the third time that night and the thousandth time in our relationship. “You’re always trying to make me be the good girl I want to be.”
I then went home myself and tried to consider what, if anything, I had learned. I learned that Becky hadn’t changed a hell of a lot. There were alarm bells ringing all over my head, but I couldn’t actually tell what any of them meant. I sat up for a while and tried to figure some of it out, but I was too tired or too stumped or had too little information or something. For about the ten thousandth time in the last three years I thought I really needed to get a kitten or something. Having a cat around would ease the loneliness when I didn’t actually act like a cad with young women. However, the amount of time I spent away from home wouldn’t be fair to the cat. Either way, my eyes were crossing because I was so tired so I went to bed.
As it turned out, I probably should have stayed with Becky. I would have felt bad about myself for a while, but things might have turned out better than they did if I’d been in the bed with her.
This is part two of thirteen, come back next week for part three 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 Cabinet tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.