The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Fifty One: Suspiciously Like a Happy Ending.
I’m sitting at my desk right now, finalizing this little treatise as four beautiful women wait out by Debbie’s desk. They expect that I’m going to either point at one or two of them or say everyone come on, or maybe just reject all of them and head for the hills. Something. I want to do something, I just don’t know what. So I’m staling by editing and reading over this nice long document, acting like I want to see what everyone has to say and how before I say anything. This was the only suggestion left to me, the Dracula method, where we all donate some journal notes to build up one coherent story.
Two problems with that are of course that we’ve got dangling questions at the end. How can we have the end of a story if we don’t have all the answers? I’m fairly worried about this, and it should help me stall for a good twenty minutes.
I never did find out why Jill was so important to Red King. I guess though, since I put my Marley in his mouth and shot what brains he had all over the Piper lawn it doesn’t really matter. It no longer matters what was going through his mind, since the last thing to go through his head was a Simon and Weschler Thirty-Eight Special round. So fuck it, I never find out why they wanted her, they’re smashed and all arrested so it doesn’t matter. I managed to top my former single night kill total by one. This, despite not hitting a single one of King’s henchmen. If Alice hadn’t been there shooting with those Rutthowers, I’d probably been blown to pieces. Still though, I got King and that made eight. I’m not going to have my keychain changed. The Seven with One Blow event was something to be remembered so that I can avoid doing that again later. I would rather not remember the night of the great Piper house fire at all if that’s okay.
The second problem is that they still don’t know who Alice’s mole is, so they could still be in place and handing information out. Alice was informed though that mole hunts go on for months and sometimes years, which is a very comforting thought really. Whatever rat fuck bastard is in there doing this has lots of other opportunities to get her killed. So that’s nice.
That’s not why we’re here though, and of course I know it. We’re here so I can work out what the hell I’m going to do when I open the inner door and look at the four of them gathered around Debbie’s desk. That might be my biggest problem, besides the money of course, but money will always be a problem. The thing is, even though there are four women, they represent more than four problems.
You see, if I stay with Debbie and only Debbie then everything becomes a very delicate dance. First, I know what will happen to our relationship. We’ll end up playing at the office, she’ll wear collar and cuffs to work and deliver the mail crawling on the floor with the envelopes in her mouth. It sounds sexy, but it causes comment if she does it while I’m talking to clients. There is also the issue that if I’m only with her, she’s not only with me. She’s with Karen even if I’m not, and that will cause complications as well. It won’t cause many, since I don’t think I’ve ever had a relationship where I was the only man the girl was with. Cuckolding seems to be a specialty of mine. Still though, I love her.
So what if I go for Alice and only Alice? Well, then I’d have to move to D.C. to be with her, which will mean I’ve got to leave Debbie, and that idea does not appeal to me. It also means I’ll have to adjust to the idea that she’d be mine and mine alone. That would just be plain weird because I’ve never been there before. It also seems sort of restrictive on her. She’s admitted to wanting to try a group thing, and here I’d be saying that we should be one and one. Still though, I love her.
I think I can only cross being with Karen off the list right here and now. That won’t work. She’s got too much going on to give that kind of attention to me, I’d be a drain. Alright, that’s not really it. The real reason is that while there has been a recent warming between us, there is still and immense gulf of icy water between us. It’s going to take more than a reunion and a kidnapping to get us anywhere near back to where we should be. I think I love her, but I’ll need a lot more research into the question to decide.
So, Jill? Okay, time for honesty. She’s great to be with in the bed room, she’s good to have on your arm, and she’s very smart and engaging. While her taste in music leaves something to be desired and she was born when I was in high school, she’s a wonderful girl with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. And she adores me, thinks I hung the moon and everything. She’s exactly the kind of girl young men fantasize about meeting someday. Well, I fantasized about meeting that sort. I could marry her, and we could get a terrier and start drinking a lot. The problem is, her adoration could turn sour and become something very nasty indeed. When a girl idolizes you, and you fail to live up to the image, then disappointment becomes contempt. There is also something not quite right with her, something is wrong there. All that might be excused if it weren’t for the last problem with her. I don’t love her. I like her a lot, but I don’t actually love her.
So then, what if I decide to keep that being with them all won’t be a problem? Does Alice move? Do we move? Do we live separately and only see each other when we can get away? Debbie won’t want to move away from Karen, Karen won’t leave her husband and wife, Alice isn’t going to want to leave her job, Jill isn’t established and can go anywhere, but we have other problems there. I don’t want to make anyone have to leave the place where they’re comfortable and happy, but I also don’t want to only see someone every four weeks or so. If I’m going to do this, I want people accessible. If I decide I want a three way, I should only have to snap my fingers outside of their hearing and then go and try to gather up lovers for the event, wooing them with suavity and not letting them know I snapped for them.
Which of course starts another problem. It’s not just the sex, there is something very comfortable knowing that everyone feels the same about everyone else. It’s nice knowing that the three of you (for an example) each love the other two as much as the other two love you and each other. You don’t have to avoid a subject if everyone loves everyone else. I know Alice and Debbie have been talking. I know they’ve been bonding behind my back. Jill and Debbie have been going out to get things for Jill’s apartment, taking Karen with them. I’m not sure if anything besides curtain rods have passed between them, but I know Alice isn’t terribly fond of Jill and she’s very wary about Karen. So no matter which combination I go with, I wouldn’t really have a circle of amour.
We also have the issue of the money, but I talked about it before so I don’t need to rehash it here. The more of it though is that that I’m responsible for other people now. A lot of people. It was bad enough when I had just had to make sure to get enough money so Debbie wouldn’t be kicked out onto the street, now we’ve got payroll to meet. We’ve got the money to meet it, but that’s not much of a comfort if you’re always worried about having to end up living at Grandma’s again at any moment. You can tell me we’ve got millions, and my paranoid brain will just rocket back to the year Dad sold the Datsun because two cars was just too much of an expense. It’s easier to just actually be living hand to mouth rather than worrying about it.
That’s academic though because Debbie takes care of the books and runs the business now. She can manage if I just stay out of her way and let her get on with things. It won’t stop me worrying, because nothing ever will, but it means that I can’t really do anything about it one way or the other.
Those are more or less the main issues. The fact that I’ve entered the news cycle once again isn’t that big a deal, I’ll pass through it like I did last time. They’re already bored with me, I can tell. Someone will make a five minute documentary spot about the event in three years for a cable channel and that will be the end of it. The fact that I’ve become a person of interest to the government is a little annoying, but my girlfriend is in the government, so I should be okay there.
So the question is what the hell do I do now? How do I manage to do this and not hurt anyone else? How do I give everyone what they want? Can I even do it? Should I just follow Debbie’s hint and go to Chicago to give Cindy Eller a try? No, probably not that. There should be at least one girl I haven’t nailed running around, give me something to look forward to. So what do I do? I suppose I could shoot my way out, if I really tried, but I might hurt one of them and that idea is repugnant to me. I could knock my desk over, use it as a shield, maybe tell them that they’ll have to come in and get me. Scream that they’ll never take me alive. Maybe I could push it up against the door, figure out a way to smash out the window and scale down the side of the building.
I’m going to have to think of something. I’ve got the bathroom in here, so there’s water, but I’ve only got half a bag of candy in my desk for food. I won’t be able to hold out and I know it.
Here is a question though, and I want you to really think about. Why can’t I just be with all four of them? Okay, Jill might get tired of me, or I might get tired of her, but with a little persuasion I think I can get her to go to college like she had planned before all of this. She can come home during breaks and that would give us time to decide what we want to do. I have affection for her beyond just the physical, it could grow into real and genuine love.
Karen and I might have some coolness right now, but there is also some warmth. She lives with Pete and Angela in Ypsi anyway, so there would be just enough distance to make traveling seem a hassle on days we didn’t want to see each other but not far enough that going would be that big a deal when we did want to. She’ll be around to see Debbie anyway, and that’s probably a bridge that’s worth rebuilding.
Alice can fly in on weekends, or I can go to her. Debbie and I can go to her, if my suspicion about what’s going on there is correct. Maybe we can open an office in D.C. and move out there. Maybe she would decide that private investigation involves less bullshit from leering old men in suits who want to protect their meager positions. Maybe a lot of things could happen and it will all turn out alright.
Debbie and I could go on in the office like we have been, but better. I have no idea really how she’d feel about a revolving door of extra girls, but if the giggling I’m hearing out there is any indication the four of them at least get along pretty well. You could do a lot worse. Believe me, I have. It could all work out for the best.
Maybe that’s my other big problem here. This is all looking suspiciously like a happy ending. At least, I assume that’s what’s going on, I’ve never actually seen one up close before. I’ve heard about them, but I’ve never been party to one first hand. I’ve only been told in vague terms what they’re like. The hero wins, which I seem to have done, he gets the girl, more than have getting the girl covered, and he rides off in the sunset.
I’d have to get out of the office to ride into the sunset, and that would require passing though the outer office, and those four are in there and I haven’t got the slightest idea what to do about them. I can hear them though… giggling about me. I’m going to have to man up, going to have to go out there and tell them what I think. But not just yet, I’ve got to work this out first, figure out what I’m doing.
They just all cackled together, at once. And then Jill said “Hard!” and they started giggling again. I can still hear them giggling.
Debbie just stood up, I know the sound of her shoes on the wood floor. Today she’s wearing my favorite outfit, and the shoes she knows I like best. Those shoes have a sound, unlike any other pair of shoes in the world. I’d know the sound of those shoes even if I’d just woken up from a three year long coma.
She’s coming to the door. I can see the line of her shadow just under the crack of the door. Hand on the knob now, but as Jill just said something she’s saying something back. More giggling. Giggling! Not laughing, but giggling. The female giggle is perhaps the worst sound a man can hear, we know it means the ovaried one are conspiring against us. It starts when they we’re kids, the giggle when they see a good-looking one and they talk about him. Then they giggle when they’re teenagers because they’re going to do something to him. Later, in their adulthood, they giggle about the things they did to him.
They giggle, they talk, and then they come and get us. If I had any male friends I wouldn’t dare tell them about my troubles because I’d only get shit for bitching about having four girls. Other men wouldn’t understand, other women would be in on the conspiracy, I am very much alone on this one. Still haven’t got an answer to the questions either.
The talking has ended, and the knob is turning. I’m going to have to think of something because the door is opening…
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Fifty: The Problem with the Check
I flew back to California on my own and only for the day. Alice is coming up this weekend, and I sort of know what that’s going to lead to. That doesn’t matter though, I’ll deal with that later. Right now I’m going to deal with this side trip, which will possibly allow you to understand one or two things. The thing is that I’m not sure anyone really understands the problem I have with the money.
I know Debbie doesn’t get it, I know Alice doesn’t get it, I know Jill doesn’t get it. Karen gets it, and for that I’m grateful, but Karen gets exasperated with me for complaining about it. It’s not just that everyone I’ve known who was rich was a shit, it’s that a lot of people who didn’t use to have money who got it later are the worst of them all. All the rich people I’ve wanted to shoot have all been the kind who gained fortunes. People who are born into it are annoying, but the people who gained it later are worse. They’re worse than the people who were born into it because the formerly poor have both a chip on their shoulder about having to have once been a pleb and no training in how to be a rich person. At least those born into it can actually pull off haughty, instead of trying to affect it in an attempt not to show that they’re still the scared little looser they were when they were poor.
The always rich just sort of toss their money around indiscriminately. They’ve always had someone to take care of things, whatever it is, so they think they can just toss a wad of bills and that’ll make everything all better. Once they pay for something they stop thinking about it, and then they get back to stealing every penny they can get because that’s how rich people stay rich. The poor become utter bastards because they’ve always been aware that money can buy power, but they never understand that there’s more to it than money. As a result, the people who pretend they earned money by stealing other people’s ideas, claiming credit for other people’s work and committing outright fraud that gets people killed are the sort you should just shoot on sight.
You see where I’m going with this? Give me money and I could become one of those fuckers. We lived in a trailer for five years after Dad got out of the army. A fucking single wide trailer! So I’ve been poor. Not really hungry, we always had food. Not ever barefoot, we always had shoes. Never on assistance, but we got close a couple of times. I heard a quite and desperate conversation one day because my sister was using one of the bathrooms and I had to use the one next to my parent’s room. When I got to the door of the bathroom, which was kitty corner to the door of my parent’s room, I heard a conversation that has haunted me my whole life.
People in movies argue loudly about money, they shout and yell and scream at each other. Real life, at least my real life, ain’t like that. My parents were standing next to their bed, muttering to each other. They were using soft voices so that my sister and I wouldn’t know about the problem. Dad was telling mom that they’d have to get rid of one of the cars. He said his Datsun was too expensive to keep fixing, paying for the insurance and all the other little things. Mom didn’t like the idea, but the fact evidently was that something had to go. So dad sold his blue Datsun and they shared the other car. We lived in a situation that almost no one I know can even begin to understand. No, Karen understands, but there are other issues there as I said.
When I was young and beautiful, people wanted me around. People with money think their money can buy anything.
Now, I’m the semi-sorta-owner of a business that this year has made something in the tune of twenty million dollars if you total up all the stock in Piper Foods along with the cash and bonds. And what was the first thing we did when we found out how rich we were? We decided to throw money at Dale’s family. I still flew out there to give Dale’s boyfriend the check myself, but I can’t help but feel like I was just trying to buy my way out of the guilt.
I got to the San Francisco office and got Shiri to take me to what had been Dale and Adam’s place, but was now just Adam’s alone. She introduced us and then more or less faded back when I came in to talk to him. He had a decent place, Ikea couch and chairs, probably the glass coffee table that separated us was from there too. I didn’t recognize it though, glass coffee tables are a tad ubiquitous looking even if they aren’t as common as they used to be.
“How are you holding up?” I asked him as I sat down.
“I’m holding.” He said, running his fingers through his fawn colored hair. “I got a check from an insurance company. They said something about the agency having a policy on him.”
“Yeah.” I said. “About that.”
“What about it?” He asked. “Is there a mistake?”
“I spent the money already.” He said, looking panicked and a little angry.
“That’s not the problem.” I said pulling the envelope out of my pocket and looking at it. “I’ve got another check that our client sort of requested we give you, but I want to talk to you about it before I give it to you.”
“I want you to understand something.” I held up the envelope. “I don’t mind giving you the check, but I don’t approve of it.”
“Why?” He looked like he wanted to get offended, but his eyes went to Shiri and I saw her make a motion out of the corner of my eye.
“Because it wasn’t my idea of how you do these things.” I said. “The boss lady, Debbie, her dad made a good living. They were never millionaires, but she’s always had money. The client, Jill Piper, her folks were millionaires. She’s never known a world without money. I never had two nickels of my very own to rub together until I was in my mid-twenties.”
“We were behind on this place.” Adam said. “They were going to foreclose. The money from… I used Dale’s money to pay off the mortgage.”
“So you not only have never had two nickels, you still don’t.” I said.
“I used to.” He said. “My parents just didn’t want anything to do with a gay son, so I was disowned. They thought if they took away the trust fund I’d de-gay myself.”
“Ah.” I said looking at the envelope. “So you know about people with money.”
“I know about people with money.” He nodded.
“I want to you know about a few things.” I said. “You know the guy who killed Dale escaped.”
“Yes.” He nodded.
“You know he got all the way to Michigan and was killed?”
“Yes.” He nodded.
“Do you know how he died?”
“The man who killed Dale?”
“Suffice to say I, ah, immolated the mother fucker.”
“Immolated?” He asked. “As in burned?”
“Yes.” I said. “That’s how someone on my level, my pay grade if you will, deals with an issue. I see something wrong and I do something about it. What he did to Dale was wrong, so I took corrective action and he understands his error now and won’t ever be doing anything like that again. That’s what you do at my level, you deal with the issue.”
“And the boss and client?”
“People at their pay grade just try to throw money at a problem and hope it goes away.”
“Yes.” He nodded. “They do.”
“Well I don’t.” I tapped the envelope in my hand with the index finger. “I’m not saying you don’t deserve this. What I’m saying is I know you can’t just go down to the pet shop and pick out a new guy like some kind of puppy.”
I set the check down and slid it across the glass coffee table toward him. He picked it up and opened the envelope, having a look at the check. He then looked at the check again and raised his eye brows. He looked at me, holding the check up to show me the amount.
“Is this right?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “Which is why the whole thing bothers me. No matter how much I’m trying to tell you that I’m not trying to buy my way out of the guilt, the numbers on that check call me a liar.”
“That’s what you think?”
“I do.” I told him. “No matter what I do, did or even what I say, that check says that I don’t think you’ll really understand unless I try to pay you off.”
“I could give it back.” He said.
“No.” I shook my head at that. “No, you deserve the money. Debbie’s paying off another two family members who were killed in Chicago.”
“You say paying off?” He asked.
“I doubt she’s having anything like this conversation with them.” I said. “Nothing like a talk on this level.”
“A ground level talk.” He suggested. “A talk at our paygrade.”
“Yeah.” I agreed.
“I know that you don’t expect that an amount of money will make it all better.” He said. “I appreciate that Dale’s killer was taken care of. And you’re right, knowing that is better than the money, but the money will help with things.”
“Okay.” I said standing.
“Thanks for coming.” He said.
“No problem.” I said.
“You did okay.” Shiri said as we drove back to the office.
“You doing okay with this?” I asked.
“I’m coping.” She said.
“I’ve got a smaller check in my pocket.” I told her. “I’m supposed to tell you that it’s for meritorious service, but it’s also a payoff. Debbie’s pretty unhappy about all you went through and she thinks that giving you a chunk of change will take her guilt away.”
“Will it?” She asked.
“Probably.” I said. “She probably will think that she’s done all she can and that you’ll appreciate an extra hundred grand in your pocket.”
“I will.” She said. “And you shouldn’t be so hard on her.”
“It does help, you know.” She said. “I’ll feel a hell of a lot better with, what seventy K after taxes?”
“She took taxes into account, you’ll take home a hundred.”
“Pretty bitchin’ then.” She announced. “I can deal with that. Not everyone looks at things like you do. I work for her. I am in this for the money and I didn’t die, so I’ll take the bonus.”
“Yeah.” I said. “I’m probably just paranoid.”
“Probably.” She said. “When you go back, are you sticking with Debbie or that federal agent?”
“I’m supposed to be announcing the answer to that very question.” I said. “And if you want the truth there is also the teenage millionaire we saved, and a shrink in the running. And just to complicate matters, I’ve been told I can choose up to five of those four women on offer.”
“I see.” She said. “So they’re even willing to allow you an unknown late runner?”
“Yeah.” I said.
“So what are you going to choose Jack?” She asked. “Which one and what amount? One, two, three, all? Who?”
“Yeah.” I said, to say something. “That’s the sort of questions they’re asking.”
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Nine: She Gave Her Angels
She gave her angels, that summer night
You ever have one of those days where you find you suddenly understand a character in a book? I mean a character that you previously didn’t empathize with, but then something happens to you and you find that you’re suddenly sitting there thinking that this must be exactly how The Badger must have felt when Toad stole that stupid motor car or whatever.
I found, as I opened the inner door that separated his office from mine that Jack made me understand a character. I understood Trillian in a way I never had before. In Life the Universe and Everything, she keeps trying to engage Zaphod, but he keeps being aloof and depressed. Eventually she walks out on him and I remember being sort of exasperated and I may have even shouted ‘Finally!’ when she just teleported herself the hell out of his life. I couldn’t understand standing by while the guy just let his depression eat him up. And there I was, watching my own version of Zaphod Beeblebrox sitting morose in the center of his greatest success and I wasn’t getting the hell out of there either. Oh Trillian, I misjudged you.
He was sitting at his desk, sunk low in his chair, which is never a good sign. He had that look on his face, like he was trying to bend a spoon in Hyde Park using the power of his mind. I’m not sure he’d left the day before, since he was wearing the same shirt that he’d had on the night before and was there when I’d gotten there. He looked like he wanted to bite something, and there I was, thinking of putting my head in his mouth.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked as I entered his office.
“What?” He asked, sharply but not angrily.
“Why does the money bother you so much?”
“You really want to know?” He sat up straight and half leaned across his desk.
“Yes.” I said. “Why does it do this to you?”
“People with money are fuckers.” He said.
“Everyone I’ve ever known, who had anything like money, was a complete and total shit.” He almost snarled as he spoke. “They think their money will buy anything, they think they don’t have to be decent human beings, and most of them are so stupid that you actually feel yourself getting dumber by talking to them.”
“You never had a problem with Liberty.” I said, putting my hands on my hips and tilting my head at him.
“Yes, I did.” He said, leaning his head forward and glaring at me. “Liberty is beautiful, and clever, and selfish. She knows how to get things, giving away whatever seems like it’ll cause her the least trouble. She bought me and sold me when I was a kid. Then, years later, when she needed something again she came and decided to buy me again. You think that car was a thank you? It was a payoff. It was just a more complicated one than a check.”
“So why did you…?” I started, but how do you ask that question?
“Because she fucks like a wild minx.” He said, more bluntly than I wanted to hear really. “Men are not smart, or deep, or spiritual. When you women do your little tricks that excite us, we loose precious brain blood and can’t do no good thinkin’ ‘bout things. We get the idea of hot monkey sex in our heads and our tiny little brains refuse to process anything not connected to the acquisition of that sex.”
“And she has money.” I said. “And people want to be around money.”
“Maybe other people do.” He said. “I’m not smart to begin with, so making me stupid with the idea of sexual gratification takes me down to a level of grunts and growls.”
“What about Char?” I asked. “She’s not a shit is she?”
“Char is sort of a shit when it comes to the money.” He said. “She uses money to get what she wants. She buys her way out of obligations, pays off people when they become tiresome. Char is okay, if you keep her at the right distance, but I wouldn’t want to be twenty-four and in her sights again.”
“What about me then?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest, readying myself for the blow. “Am I a shit?”
“You can be a little selfish sometimes.” He said, raising a palm. “You can be a bit spoiled once in a while.”
“I see.” I’m not sure if I looked like I was about to burst into tears, but I felt like I was. “So I’m a shit too.”
“You aren’t a shit.” He announced.
“Just selfish and spoiled?” I asked.
“Sit down.” He said pointing at the red leather chair.
“I don’t feel like sitting.” I’m afraid something had come up from someplace and I was having a bit of a moment.
“Sit down!” He stood up and shouted so loud that my legs ignored whatever orders my brain was giving about steadfastness and sank into the blue chair. I couldn’t get them to listen, but I could at least disobey a little.
“I’m sitting now master.” I managed to snap at him, putting my feet flat, my knees together and my fists on the arm of the chair so I could avoid the classic position of supplication. “Do you want me to pant like a dog too?”
He walked around the desk, and I was positive that he was going to hit me. I stuck my chin out, because I was going to be damned if I would flinch from his blow. I did close my eyes though, because I didn’t want to see it coming. If I could see it coming, I might flinch. He stood in front of me, and I could hear his breathing as he stood there. His breath came out twice, each time sounding like a bull’s snort.
And then I felt the back of his hand.
However, it was not a well deserved smack that I got. He stroked at my cheek with his knuckles, and then started wiping the tears from my eyes with his thumbs. He held my face in both his hands while he worked, and I could hear a sort of resigned sigh come from him. I felt horrible then, thinking like I had that he intended to beat me.
“You are a little selfish sometimes.” He almost whispered the words to me. “You are a little spoiled once in a while. A little. Once in a while. These are flaws, but they’re your flaws and I love you for them. I am unreasonable and difficult to talk to because of my propensity towards sullen silences and my paranoid need to never tell anyone anything. These are flaws and they’re my flaws, but I can make you come so hard that you need to use your fingers to uncurl your toes so you forgive me for them.”
“That’s not why…” I started to say, and then he did slap me.
“Man is talking.” He didn’t slap hard, not excessive. It was the sort of open handed slap he’d learned to give as part of our play time, just like the phrase. I suppose if you don’t get that sort of play then there isn’t a good way to explain why it made me feel so good.
“Sorry. I just sometimes think…” I was cut off when he gave me an almost identical slap across the other cheek.
“When spoken to.” He told me and then leaned back.
I know he’s not really comfortable with this, but he knows I like it. If I didn’t explain to him my need for correction, he would never even raise his voice, he never did in the past. He’s only started since we started again, after I told him about my college level discoveries.
“Yes Jack.” I said, putting my hands in my lap like a good girl. “Sorry Jack. I deserve another one Jack.”
“I’ll decide when you need hit.” He told me, which is just mean. Getting me started like that and then saying that was enough.
“Yes Jack.” I tried not to sound disappointed, but I was just starting to enjoy that.
“What the hell am I going to do with you?”
“Put me over your knee and tan my hide, Jack?” I bit my lower lip and flashed my eyes at him. He likes that, it makes him open to suggestion. “Tie me to the bed post and flog me?”
“While it would pass the time, that’s not exactly what I was referring to.” He said.
“I know Jack.” I said.
“You want me to answer that dangling question, don’t you?” He asked.
“Not just me.” I said. “Jill and Alice deserve and answer to it, so does Karen for that matter. You should really have some kind of decision for them this weekend.”
“You’ve been arranging things, haven’t you?”
“Maybe.” I said, and felt an impish little smile crawling on my lips.
“You have an opinion?” He folded his arms across his manly chest and glared at me.
“I like Alice.” I said. “Jill is okay, but she’s got a lot of growing up to do. You know how I feel about Karen.”
“That ain’t no kind of answer and you know it.” He said.
“I can’t pick for you.” I said.
“Do you think we could do it?” He asked. “Could you manage it?”
“Can you?” I asked. “That’s really the important question.”
“I asked you first.”
“You know I can.” I said. “Now, can you?”
“I’m still thinking about it.” He said. “When have you arranged for Alice to get here?”
“She’ll get her Friday.” I told him. “Karen and Jill have cleared their schedules so we can all line up in front of you in silky lingerie, and try to entice you.”
“I see.” He said. “You know what?”
“I’m going to take your suggestion.”
“Which one Jack?” I asked, I couldn’t remember making one.
“When we get home, I am going to tie you to the bed post and we’re going to see how bright of a red your ass can get.”
“Are we Jack?”
“Yes.” He said. “I think you’ve got it coming.”
“Am I being punished or rewarded Jack?” I asked, leaning forward so he could look down my shirt.
“Well, we’ll see how you feel about it after it happens.” He said.
“You’re going to have to say something definite.” I told him.
“Fine, you’re being punished.” He said.
“Not just about that.”
“Yeah.” He said sitting down in the red leather chair and taking my hand in his.
“You really don’t have to choose between us you know.” I told him. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can pick everything and go with it.”
“Maybe.” He said. “Maybe.”
“You’re going to have to pick, why not just do it?” I asked.
“Just do it?” He mused.
“You can’t wait around forever,” I told him. “This requires action on your part.”
“You’re right.” He said and seized his hand around my wrist. He yanked me across to him and with a pretty quick motion had me across his knee with my fanny aimed in the air. I cried again, my mascara ran a lot, but it was just from the pain of being spanked. He made good on his word when we got home too. That’s why I’ve got to type this while standing. That’s a good pain though, I like this pain. It makes it hard to sit, but it makes me happy in my heart.
Assache I can handle, it’s heartache I can’t abide.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Eight: Changing Faces
Alice Liddell’s Diary
The strange thing about giving an interview to someone who writes books is that you’re not just done in a few hours. You’ve got to have meetings for days, and you’ve got to keep talking. You talk and talk and talk and when you run out of things to say, the guy prompts you with another question or two and you’re expected to then take up the story for another half an hour before the next question.
The TV interviews are easier, for the most part. Jack’s true crime buddy makes the interviews feel like we’re friends, like he’s on my side. He’s got three hundred pages to fill, he wants as much of the story as he can get his hands on. The TV people are trying to get a reaction for their viewing audience, they make things a little harder. I managed though, I must have done alright because they kept asking me to come and talk about things on some show or other.
Fortunately, Jack was right about gaining attention. It did help a lot when people started pestering the right people that maybe I was really a good girl who faced extraordinary circumstances. It didn’t make facing the review board anything like a walk in the park, but knowing that a fair few important people liked having a face for law and order that people might want to look at helped.
I’m glad to say that I was cleared of any wrong doing, was told that some of my methods were naughty but that was about all. I even got Jim to sign off on some of the more recent documents from the Thinkonomics/King file. I wish to point something out though, I’m not a national figure. I’ve been on CNN three times, total. I’ve been interviewed for Time and two small industry magazines. I’m not even the flavor of the month, I’m just a flavor for the day.
I’m actually being looked at for promotion now. Even when someone in the news decided to take what I still think of as an unnatural interest in my private life, it doesn’t seem to have hurt any. I’m still not happy to have to explain that I don’t feel possessive and what my boyfriend does is only between me, him and the other ladies involved, but it hasn’t done as much damage as I thought it might. If anything, I’ve got a few people who are more interested in getting me higher now. Being outted by some news paper twerp who wanted to try and make a scandal out of a polyamorus bisexual being considered for high position in the agency actually worked against him since it caused a lot of people who wouldn’t have cared one way or another decide that I was worth protecting and elevating.
And that’s, sort of the other problem. Two problems. The first is that I don’t want to be anyone’s poster child or test case. I’ve always wanted to just do my job and go home to whoever it was who was waiting for me to get home. And that is the second problem. The person I want to go home to is in Michigan, and he’s not going to leave Debbie to come here. I wouldn’t want him to either. Nothing has happened between us, but I think that I if I were going to buy Jack I would want to make sure Debbie came as part of the package. I’m pretty sure that Debbie doesn’t want to leave the area Karen is in, and I don’t want to make either of them move but I need to be here if I’m looking at promotion. So I can’t even be with the people I want to be with, except for trips and vacations.
And, I’m going to say it, Jack has got to decide what he thinks he wants to do. He’s still just sitting around, being indecisive and waiting for someone else to make the decision for him. I’m guessing one of us is going to have to tell him to make a decision or it’ll get made for him. Which brings me to the call I got this morning…
“Alice Liddell?” I said as I answered my phone.
“Hi Alice.” Debbie’s voice came across the line.
“Hi Debs.” I said, I think must have I caught that from Jack, because I would have never called a grown woman ‘Debs’ in the past. “What’s going on?”
“Can you come up for a week, or maybe just a weekend?”
“I think I can.” I said. “Why?”
“I think it’s time we have a talk with him.” She said. “I would rather all four of us confronted him at once and demanded some kind of word out of him.”
“Tell him he’s either got to say yes or no?” I asked.
“I think we’ve just got to tell him to say yes.” She said. “He wants to say yes, it’s in him to say yes, but he’s got some sort of mental block or something. He’s never been really comfortable with stability and this feels stable.”
“Maybe if we told him you and I were sleeping together he could mentally tell himself he was doing each of us behind the other’s back.”
She laughed at that. It was a nice laugh. I liked hearing her laugh. That’s a stupid path to start down. I shouldn’t be talking like that, I shouldn’t even be thinking it really. You start at the laugh, then you think about her lips, then the way her shoulders move when she walks, and it’s just nothing but trouble from there.
“That would be dishonest.” She said.
“Not if we started.” I said, which was sort of going into a little game we’d been playing with each other. It was the sort of game where you pretend that you’re not dead serious with what you’re saying.
“Oh, if only my darling.” She said, playing along with me. “But you’re too far and we’ve got this sulking penis carrier between us. I’m afraid he’d disapprove.”
“He can’t interfere.” I said, “If he gets in the way, we’ll just squeeze him between us and talk about shoes and cute skirts until he gets disgusted and leaves. Then you’ll be all mine.”
“When can you come?” She asked, and I wanted to say about ten minutes after we get him out of the way, but her tone had changed and we were being actually serious now.
“I’ll have to arrange a few things.” I said looking at my calendar. “A couple of days?”
“Okay.” She said.
“Are we going to have to make decisions?” I asked. “Because they’re really talking about that promotion for real.”
“I don’t think so.” She said. “Not yet, but we’re not the ones who are stalling and making everyone wait.”
“Okay.” I said. “Is he okay?”
“He’s very annoyed about the money.” She sighed.
“Why, aren’t you getting paid?”
“Yes.” She said. “But Jack’s got this… thing about money. He keeps thinking that he’s betraying his working class roots because he spent a summer working in an injection molding factory one year and a machine parts shop another year. The idea of financial security worries him more than the idea of being broke. I don’t understand it, but he’s always convinced that money causes more problems than it causes.”
“Strange.” I said, because almost nothing about that made any sense to me.
“I know.” She said. “So we’ll see you in a couple of days?”
“I’ll call you tonight.” I told her. “I’ll have to check some airfares and stuff.”
“I’ll take care of that.” She offered. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not fair to make you pay.”
“Oh.” I said. “Thanks.”
“Just call me tonight and tell me when you can get out here.” She said. “I’ll get everything else arranged from there.”
“It’s going to be alright, you know that, right?” Debbie said. “He’s going to make the right choice, and he’ll work like hell to make it all work.”
“I know.” I said. “I just feel like he could run off again at any moment.”
“I don’t think he will.” She said. “I think he’ll stay this time.”
“I should hope so.” I said. “I don’t think I could take anymore abandonment without developing some serious issues.”
“I won’t let him do that to you.” She said.
“Thanks.” I gave a little laugh. “I’ve got a question though.”
“What happens if I get this promotion, and he does what we know he’s going to?”
She didn’t say anything for a while, and I almost wanted to ask if she was still there when I heard her take in a long breath. It was pretty clear that I’d asked the question she didn’t have the answer to yet, which is probably why we were all waiting for him to do something. Jack would have and answer if we asked him, he’s good at answers to tough questions.
“I think we’ll have to discuss that when it happens.” She said finally. “Jack’ll have an answer. Christ. How stupid does that sound? Like we’re just a bunch of silly girls who need rescuing and a man to lead us along and tell us how it’s going to be.”
“We could try to make up our own minds.” I said.
“No.” And I swear I could perfectly see the shake of her head and the little sardonic smile creeping across her lips. “If we did that, we couldn’t make this all his fault somehow.”
“Well that’s true.” I laughed, and it all seemed like it was going to be okay. “I’ll call you later tonight.”
“Okay.” She said. “We’ll see you in a few days.”
“Yeah.” I said. “Yeah you will.”
And they did.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Seven: How You’ve Grown
Because we can’t make up for the time that we’ve lost, I must let these memories provide.
This shouldn’t be so hard.
“Come on Karen.” Debbie said. “You should at least write one.”
I’ve tried a few times, but it’s not going well. Normally I just sit and listen to other people pour out. After an “hour” of that I make an obvious suggestion and we go from there. What I’m not supposed to do is give my opinions. I’m not supposed to talk about other people or how I feel about them.
Still though, Debbie can do this and Jack can do this, so I should be able to do it. I’ve read enough of these, I should be able to provide at least one entry. It’s not easy though. I’ve found that out just trying to make notes about what I wanted to say and what I wanted to write. I’ve gone through the whole event a dozen times and I think I’m still a little shell shocked to be honest.
Let’s break down the last year? Shall be? Angela had her gall bladder removed after discovering her stones at three in the morning, and that was a fun trip let me tell you. The next three or four weeks after that were no picnic either. She didn’t get really sick, but there was an illness that swept through the house right after her surgery. After that, I found out that Jack had come out of the coma he’d spent almost two years in.
That was… problematic to say the least. I know Debbie doesn’t know about everything. Even if Jack and she talked about it, there are things he didn’t talk to her about. Things I said and things he said, things we both did. It doesn’t matter now, but it goes a long way to explaining why it was tough for me.
However, Debbie came to me and said I should see him. I think it was that memoir thing she’d written, it got her thinking about a lot of things. I won’t say that I was against the idea, but there were things between Jack and I. We worked it out though, mostly because we agreed that mutual forgiveness and satisfaction was better than mutual stubbornness and resentment.
And that worked for a while, and then he went back to work and I didn’t really see him for a couple of weeks. I came over once, but for the most part he was out of town for that time. And then I was kidnapped, along with Debbie, the day after Jack caused so much trouble out in California. Debbie called, telling me she was sick, and they grabbed me when I went to see her.
Once it was explained that they’d kill Debbie if I did anything stupid, I decided not to do anything stupid. I stayed with Debbie while our kidnappers let us go to work and act like everything was normal. I should have slipped someone a note or something, it’s so stupid to wait around for the male lead to rescue the weak and feeble womenfolk. I didn’t write a note though, I waited for him to come save us. I could have told Pete or Angela what was going on when I called them each night instead of pretending I was staying with Debbie while she had flu, but I didn’t.
I’ll admit to being scared, but most people would have been scared in that situation. People like to think they wouldn’t be scared in those situations. They’d like to think they’d be tough and strong, but evidence shows they’re not. Most people get scared when offered violence and intimidation tactics. We fear the violent man because we fear pain for ourselves and for others.
Jack wasn’t scared, but Jack isn’t healthy. He’s got a self destructive streak that comes off him like a smell and any intelligent woman can smell it a mile off. However, the chief problem is that his self-destructive streak smells like sex. Not just sex either, but the sort of sex you don’t tell your friends about because it’s too good to share with them. The sort of sex that you’d deliberately not talk about when you’re an old woman and your granddaughter finds a flower pressed in a book. The sort of sex that still makes you go weak at the knees days later just thinking about it. He’s not healthy, but neither is a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and I’m not good at resisting that either. The point is that Jack didn’t get scared, not for an instant. He just hit the guys who were watching over me and took me away.
He came and rescued me as if I was sitting in a tower and he had ridden up on a white charger instead of a gray Skylark. He came, and he saved me so I could go home to my husband and wife and children. Because eventually you have to go home. Jack’s nice to be around, and you’d want to be around him, but you can’t keep him. He’s like one of those guys you maybe knew in college. The kind that you’d see at parties, and he’d be fun to hang out with, but you’d never actually give him your number or let him know what dorm you lived in. It’s not that you were afraid of him or anything, but you’d only want him around when you wanted him. You know what I mean? Like, you’d only go to some parties because he was going to be there? And you’d always go to his place? You know? Yeah. He’s like one of those guys. I know how that sounds, but there are at least a few women out there who know the kind of guy I’m talking about.
Part of the problem is that I see guys who are like him all the time. They don’t have his charm, or his abilities, but I see them. Young men who have to struggle with the simplest expressions of their feelings. Trying to get a suicidaly depressed young man to open up, even a little bit, is quite a task. It can be even harder when you see the first man you ever really loved in each of their faces. Men repress too much. Jack represses too much, it makes him difficult to deal with sometimes. Debbie never talks to anyone else about the long stretches where he won’t do anything besides sit at his desk and scowl at things for days on end, but she tells me about it. Of course neither of them will admit the problem exists, and that makes it all the more frustrating.
And that’s why I have trouble dealing with him. I know what he is, he’s an undiagnosed depressive. Of course I can’t tell them that, because it will sound like a diagnosis and I can’t diagnose someone I’ve had that close a relationship with.
The other problem of course is that he manages to attract so many women. I’m fully aware that if one is going to be even remotely successful in the poly lifestyle, one must abandon jealousy, or at least deal with it better, but god damn! I mean God Damn! It’s not even that I want to feel jealous so much as I’d like to feel he has some sort of selection process. I’d like to know I’m more than a warm hole to him. He tells me I am, but he might tell them all that. How can one really believe him when he probably really does say these things to all the girls? He probably means it with all of them too.
I’m not sure about the millionaire’s daughter actually. We had some time to talk, a lot of time before Jack got back and every single person within the tri-county area with a badge showed up. He didn’t tell her he loved her, in fact he’d told her he didn’t because they hadn’t had enough time for that sort of feeling to emerge. She said that he’d told her that love’s bloom hadn’t blossomed yet and they would have to wait to see what color the bud was, but that was just her talking because I know he wouldn’t use those words like that.
Maybe he didn’t tell her, maybe he doesn’t tell all the girls. Maybe I shouldn’t be feeling jealous, after all I was the one who cut off communication after that big fight we had. I didn’t wait for him, I developed along certain lines. He then developed along certain other lines, and I shouldn’t fault him. I just can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we’d all be a little more mature. I wouldn’t have found the two people who are best for me in all the world, that’s what would have happened.
That’s probably where all this is going though, I don’t think Jack and I are going to be very close again. We will see each other, we’ll keep in touch now, we might even go out alone on occasion, but we’re not going to be close like we were in that summer. I’d like to be close with him though, closer than I am now.
I’m going to have to work on that, getting close to him, making sure those fences are mended. I’ll work on it, and hopefully he’ll meet me half way. I do love him, and I want to be with him, just within certain terms and boundaries. I shall have to work on this a little more, see how he feels, we’ll have to have a discussion at some point.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Six: Now Who’s Rich?
By: Jill Piper
Jack let was good about his word, letting me stay with him if I wanted to, but he was right. His place was too small for two people. It was alright when we were in bed together. Everything was alright in bed though, but nothing would ever be not right in bed with him. Outside though he was tripping over me and I couldn’t get around him. It wasn’t something you notice at first, but after a week it gets to you. He tried to make it easier for me, but the place was made for one man to live and occasionally entertain.
I had an idea how to get us both out of that situation though, two days after dad was killed and his house was burned down. I wish I felt something more for him than that. It seems shallow to just say he was a man who died. I can’t say anything conjure up any more feeling for him than that though. He was a man who used me, abused me, and then was killed by one of them men who helped him abuse me. I’m not happy he’s dead, but I haven’t been sad about it either.
So it was a couple of days after that event that Jack took me to his office so I could talk to Dad’s lawyers. I had him sit with me, to make sure that someone else was around if I didn’t understand something. I wasn’t scared of them, I just didn’t know them and I was a little shy now.
They looked like TV lawyers, with slicked hair and neat suits and all that. Jack let them into his office, but we had a problem because I was sitting in the big red leather chair and he was going to sit behind his desk, which only left one chair for the two of them. I suppose they could have sat on each other’s lap, but it seemed rude to ask them. Jack though, he had a solution.
“Jill, why don’t you sit at my desk?”
“Where will you sit?” I asked him.
“I’ll stand.” He told me and then leaned against the window frame. “Maybe lean against the wall, which looks quite cool.”
“Are you Miss Piper’s representative?” One of the lawyers asked.
“Close enough.” Jack said.
“Very well.” He nodded. “Miss Piper, I’m Henry H. Barber. This is my partner Henry Parker.”
“Parker?” Jack asked. “Related to Nathanial?”
“Yes, he’s my cousin.” Parker said.
“We have your father’s will, which needs to be read and gone over.” Barber said. “However I can tell you that besides the legal wording of the document, and a few small bequests, the entire estate is to be transferred to you.”
“How much is that?” She asked.
“Well.” Barber cleared his throat. “The recent events have created some complications. The house being destroyed, obviously changes our numbers.”
“And then there is the other bequest.” Parker added, pulling his briefcase onto his lap and opening it. “Which involves Mister Collier. Or rather it involved your company.”
“What’s he talking about?” I asked Jack.
“You’re father made some interesting offers about payment.” He told me.
“I have a letter here, from Mister Piper.” Parker said. “He does make some interesting comments about payments.”
“Half the kingdom?” Jack said, and I was sort of annoyed because I felt like he was talking over my head.
“So you did have that conversation with him.”
“What?” I asked, I hate it when people do that. I’m a grown up now, they should stop acting like I’m not here.
“You’re father agreed to pay Collier Investigations one half of his total holdings if you were returned safely.” Parker said. “That’s what this letter states.”
“So I should pay Jack half my money?” I asked.
“No.” Jack said. “Your father was under a great deal of stress.”
“He states that the agreement was half his company, land and assets were to be turned over to you as long as you were to rescue his daughter from harm.” Parker said reading over the letter. “I’m afraid, Miss Piper that this would stand as a part of the debt incurred by the estate.”
“I’ve got to give you half?” I asked him. “Is that right?”
“No.” He shook his head. “Your father insisted on those terms, I only agreed to them because I needed to start moving.”
“How much is the estate?” I asked, trying to sound grown up and commanding.
“Sixty percent of the stock for Piper Foods. The house and land in Michigan, but of course the house has been destroyed by the fire. There is also the house in Florida and the one in California. Then there are six bank accounts totaling about seventy million and another eighty-five or so in assorted stocks and bonds.”
“And I would pay Jack half that?”
“No.” Jack sighed. “Because you’re father was insane when he made the deal.”
“If he was not competent.” Parker started, but I was sick of this bullshit. I was a multi-millionaire and I wasn’t going to have anyone dictate to me. Daddy taught me one thing, people with money don’t have to listen to people who don’t.
“Please be so good as to start the paperwork to transfer a quarter of the estate to Mister Collier’s company then.” I said, putting my foot down.
“Jill.” Jack said.
“Shut up Jack, I have more money than you.”
“Not for long.” He growled. “You keep spending it on every dumb thing your father promised.”
“I’m not.” I said, turning to him. “I’m ignoring his request.”
“Pardon?” He asked.
“I’ve decided to ignore my father. I agree that he was probably insane. However, you saved my life, you spent a lot of money and if that man who died in California has a family then you’ll need to give them at least two million in compensation, which comes under expenses. Now, do you want the house in California or Florida?”
He just stood there, looking at me with his jaw hanging open. He wasn’t slack jawed, but like a lion in the zoo on a hot day. He looked like he would have jumped on me and bitten my face off if we’d been alone. He closed his mouth after a few seconds and his jaw clamped tight before he let it loosen. He then walked to the door and opened it.
“Debbie, would you come in here for a second please?” He asked her.
Debbie came into the office, almost slinking like a snake as he strode like a big cat. He went back to leaning on the wall next to the window and looked at all of us around the office. He then introduced everyone by pointing at them and giving their names.
“Parker, Barber, Jill, Debbie, Jack.” He said. “Now will you please explain to this young lady why she can’t just give us a quarter of the estate her father left her?”
“Well the letter said half.” Debbie said, shifting her weight onto one leg and looking sexy and smart and magnificent as she did so.
“I’m ignoring my father.” I told her. “I think he was probably crazy.”
“Probably.” Debbie said, giving me an approving smile.
She’s been approving of me more lately. I’d taken Karen’s advice and called the psychologist she referred me to. There hadn’t been time to have an appointment yet, but I’m going to when it comes. I’ll do what I need to do for them, I’m learning how to be an adult.
“And I think that the family of the man who died should get two million out of that share.” I told her.
“We have a two million dollar retainer.” Debbie told me. “I can transfer that to them.”
“We have two other men killed.” Jack said. “In Chicago.”
“I’ll add another million and they can all have one each.”
“And you don’t transfer them funds.” He said, glaring at Debbie. “You go, you look them in the eye, you tell them you’re sorry and that you know nothing will replace their loved one. Then and only then do you hand them the check.”
“Okay.” She said and then her eyes flicked to the other people in the room. There seemed to be a sort of staring contest and she broke it by saying something. “Yes Jack.”
I’m not sure why exactly, but that seemed to satisfy him somewhat.
“Well then it’s just a matter of paper work then.” Barber said standing up.
“Sit the fuck down!” Jack yelled. “We’re not through here yet.”
“Why not?” Debbie asked him. “We’re supposed to take payment for jobs. We can’t just burn checks any more, we’ve got a payroll to meet.”
“Don’t.” He started and stopped mid-sentence, I think he was going to say something, but he remembered we were all there and checked himself.
“Do you have a detailed copy of the estate?” Debbie asked Barber.
“Yes I do.” He said. “But I’m not sure about…”
“You can show her.” I told him. “These are my friends Mister Barber.”
“Well.” Barber began, but stopped when he caught Jack’s eye looking at him.
“Mister Barber.” I said leaning a little forward and hunching my shoulders like the powerful people do in the movies. “These people are my lovers. Both of them, together. If you can’t handle the idea of giving my girlfriend, who I trust with everything, those papers than just give them to me and I’ll give them to her and get another lawyer.”
Jack looked at me, I could feel him looking at me. I’m not sure what look he was giving me, because I was going to be damned if I was going to be seen looking to my man for approval of outing myself.
“I meant no offense.” Barber said handing Debbie a packet of papers.
“Thank you.” She smiled and looked at the papers quickly.
“We’ve just got to make sure of your wishes.” Parker said.
I looked at Jack, who seemed to be fuming about the whole thing. He was doing it in that very quiet way that I hadn’t really learned yet. In about two hours I would learn that the quite fuming meant that he was really genuinely furious. At the time I thought he was annoyed for telling the lawyers about us.
“Should I have not said?” I asked.
“That’s not the problem.” He said softly and reassuringly. “I don’t care who you tell about our personal arrangements.”
“Oh.” I said.
“You shouldn’t be blowing your money like this, just as soon as you get it.”
It seemed to really bother him that I was talking about paying him so much, even though it was half of what he’d agreed to with Dad. It seemed so odd that anyone should be annoyed about being given money. I haven’t had a chance to really talk to him about it, I hope I get to someday.
“Okay.” Debbie said. “This looks okay. If we get one of the houses I’ll take the Florida house for preference. We could use it as a base of operations when we start down there.”
“Do I need to sign something gentlemen?” I asked the lawyers.
There was, and there were a few things I had to read over and a few things to arrange. A few more things to sign and I had to agree to a few meetings with them to sign a few more things when the arrangements had been made. Jack looked annoyed through the whole thing, but Debbie didn’t seem to mind. If anything she looked like she was enjoying it.
When the lawyers left, the three of us were left alone in his office. He at down in the blue and gold chair and ran his finger in a small circle round the brocade. He bit his lower lip and looked at the both of us. I know he was annoyed, and I know I should have felt like I was in trouble, but all I could think of was how sexy he looked like that.
“You need a bigger place.” I told him.
“You do.” Debbie agreed.
“I like my place.” He growled.
“It’s a nice place.” Debbie told him.
“But it’s too small.” I said. “If I’m going to be living with you now, you’ll need a better place.”
“You’re just staying with me a couple of days.” He said and started fumbling verbally. “I’m not living with anyone. It… wouldn’t be… fair.”
“He’s probably right there.” Debbie said, not really leaping to my defense so much as meandering towards it. “It’s not just you with him. Not just me either. There’s at least two others and probably more that I don’t know about yet.”
“Thank you for making me into a slut.” He snarled.
“The point is,” Debbie told me. “He doesn’t know what he wants to do about it yet. Do you understand?”
“I think so.” I said. “He doesn’t know if he has to pick one, or go with all of us or only a couple or whatever?”
“Right.” She said. “And until he does work out what it is he wants to do, he’s going to have to have his place to himself.”
I sort of got it then, it just clicked in my head. If I pushed too hard, he’d push himself away trying to get room to breath. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I would have to give him some space. I could feel something click in my mind, and I felt like I’d grown up a little bit right then.
“Okay.” I said. “I’ll have to find a place though.”
“There’s no hurry.” Jack said.
“But I’ll have to do it.” I said. “And I will.”
“Okay.” He said. “And we’ll help you. You won’t have to do it alone.”
“Thanks Jack.” I said, trying to sound like Debbie did when she said it to him.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Five: Suspension
Alice Liddell’s Diary
Things happened the way I expected them to for the next two days. Reporters had questions, but I was able to do it all in a single press conference with a few of the higher ups around. Then there was the thing I’d been hoping to avoid. Someone at CNN got a look at me and I was put out front because I’m mildly attractive. That was the start of an annoying bit of celebrity I could have done without.
I’m not going to go into that right now. Instead I would rather focus on what happened when I got back to Washington. I’d been in my office for half an hour when Jim called me to his office for a conference. I knew what I was going in for, I knew how much trouble I was in. I knew that a review board made up of a dozen of my most jealous co-workers was going to be the best I could hope for. There was so much that I’d screwed up and so much had been screwed up for me, I’d be lucky to maintain a desk. I was in deep trouble.
When I got into Jim’s office it was clear how much trouble I was in. Krendler was there, and Richard Wragg himself had come down to Jim’s office to bawl me out. I sighed as I looked at the three of them and started to walk into the room.
“Morning Jim.” I said to him as I went to the single chair that was left vacant near his desk. “Mister Krendler, Mister Wragg.”
“Alice.” Jim started as I sat down. “This may be uncomfortable, and it may be trouble.”
“I understand.” I told him. “I’m ready.”
“I’ve looked over your report.” Wragg said. “Did Collier shoot King?”
“You have a relationship.” Krendler said. “It’s not impossible to believe you said King shot himself to protect Collier.”
“No sir.” I said. “King shot himself because he didn’t want to be taken in.”
“Even just among the three of us?” Jim asked.
“Jim?” I asked.
“I’m just asking.” He said. “Is there anything you changed? Anything you didn’t say?”
“Why?” I asked.
“We’re concerned that information has been passed from this office to Red King’s organization.” Krendler said.
“I seriously doubt that you screwed up badly enough to expose yourself like that.” Jim said. “Someone had to have told them where you’d be and when you’d be most vulnerable.”
“Frankly, you’re lucky not have been killed.” Krendler added.
“Lucky.” I said. “If luck comes in the shape of a man willing to stick another man’s head in a car door and kick it as hard as he can, I guess I did have luck on my side. It’s nice to get lucky like that.”
I could see that made them all uncomfortable. I’m going to admit that I liked that. It was something Debbie had suggested, throwing out phrases that could be thought of as a double entendre, but isn’t really. You could see them trying to decide if I’d meant getting lucky as a sexual thing, and then caught themselves thinking about a female colleague in sexual terms and tried to get the idea out of their head so they wouldn’t be typical men in our field.
“Yes, well.” Jim said, clearing his throat.
“You also broke protocol though.” Wragg said. “You shouldn’t have been vulnerable like that.”
“Yes sir.” I said. “I’m aware of that.”
“She was working under my order.” Jim said. “An order you approved.”
“I know that Jim.” Wragg said.
“We’re not trying to accuse you Alice.” Jim said. “We’re trying to find out how you were given away, and if possible we’d like to know who did it. Whatever procedural irregularities you may have needed to engage in can be dealt with later.”
“Maybe we should go over your report.” Krendler said. “You can answer any question we may have.”
And that lead to a four hour dissection of my report, my career, my relationship with Jack, his relationship with Debbie and Karen, and of course the invasion of my private life from the age of four. That sounds like I’m glossing, and I guess I am. I have no desire to relive that interrogation with two bad cops and one good cop. At the end everyone had made a lot of notes, and what would amount to about three type written pages worth of corrections to my report had been written out.
At least I managed to remain in the closet, and with Krendler and Wragg I remained inscrutable as far as to what degree things had progressed. They don’t need to now if I’m still actively sapphic, or if I agree that Jack can stick it wherever he wants into whoever he wants. I didn’t tell them anything either way, but I hinted that something might be going on, which is a childish game to play but I did it anyway. I did have to admit where the silenced Rutthowers came from, but I think they decided to leave it out for the time being. After all, they’d been taken away and Jack didn’t feel like claiming them.
“I’m afraid I’ve got no other option right now.” Krendler finally announced. “We’ll have to hold an internal investigation on this matter.”
“Agreed.” Wragg said, and I could feel my career sinking right along with my heart. “We’ll have to put you on leave Agent Liddell.”
“Sir.” I didn’t whine, even though I could feel it wanting to happen.
“I’m sorry Liddell.” Wragg said standing. “We’re going to have to sort all of this out though. This whole King affair has turned into a shit storm and we’re going to have to make sure we make good.”
“So we put the cute girl up as a blood sacrifice so the bureaucrats can keep their cushy offices?” It just… well it just came out. “You know when Red King announced a sacrifice he had the guts to actually take physical action rather than just hide behind petty official bullshit.”
“Alice!” Jim yelled.
“Give your weapon and identification to Agent Palvier.” Wragg said, “Coming Paul?”
“Give me a minute.” Krendler said. “I’ll be right there.”
Wragg left as I pulled my gun off my belt and placed it on Jim’s desk. Krendler stood up and came to Jim’s desk as I set my ID wallet down next to the holstered gun. I sort of thought that I wouldn’t be coming back here again. Maybe I could get a job with the Collier Investigations company, I had an in with the boss after all.
“This isn’t going to be a witch burning Liddell.” Krendler said standing next to me. “Wragg chose a bad way to express it, but we’re not looking to hang anyone out to dry.”
“It’s just a little administrative leave.” Jim said. “We’ve done this before, and you know what it amounts to. Some senator gets angry, yells at us in private, we announce stronger training or some bullshit and we all get back to work.”
“It’s not like Red King was some kind of saint.” Krendler told me. “This has been a difficult case and we’re still not really done with it. People are going to want to call it over because King is dead, but we all know better.”
“What’s most important is that we find whoever has been handing information over to the opposition.” Jim said. “Probably any irregularities in your work could be explained through that. Work on that, we’ll get together and write up a report about how you were getting worried about leaks and things.”
“Yes sir.” I said. “I’ll work on that.”
“It’ll be alright Agent Liddell.” Krendler said.
“Sure it will.” I sighed.
“Take a few days.” Jim said. “We’ll hold down the fort here for a while. You take a little vacation or something.”
“I’ll do that sir.” I said.
I made it all the way to my car before I started to cry. Despite their claims I knew I was going to be the one on the cross when the time came. I’m supposed to be an independent career woman, tough as nails. I am. I think I am anyway, but I needed support then. I did what anyone else would do at a time like that, I called my boyfriend. How silly does that sound? A grown woman calling a grown man her boyfriend? Particularly since, if anything, I was really calling Debbie’s boyfriend. He hadn’t made an official statement to me yet, and I didn’t know if he was going to. I needed the support though, so I called him.
People who work in normal offices with normal office politics don’t get what happens when you put law enforcement and office politics together. They always think you’re just being paranoid when you complain about them being after you, or trying to blame the current debacle on you. Of course they don’t understand screwing the Merkowski account, which hurts the company profits, is nothing compared to screwing up a criminal investigation where people die. It makes putting someone on the alter and sacrificing their career a lot easier if you can blame a death on them.
I called Jack and I told him what was going on. He didn’t call me crazy though, he didn’t tell me I was over reacting, for the most part he didn’t tell me anything. What he did was quietly sat and listened as I poured out the entire situation to him combined with my fears and worries thrown in. It took the better part of an hour and I was back in my place by the time I was feeling that I was about done.
“And that’s it.” I said as I came to the end.
“Okay.” He said and there was a silence for a few seconds before he spoke. “Tell you what? I think we can turn this to our advantage.”
“How?” I asked.
“I’ve been watching the news this morning.” He said. “And I can’t help but notice that a lot of people have questions about the young and beautiful federal agent that was in the center of the latest Jack Collier bloodfest.”
“Yeah.” I sighed. “I know.”
“So use it.” He said.
“Do some interviews, tell them things.”
“I can’t just talk about an on going investigation like that.” I said.
“Even better.” He said. “Tell them nothing about this case, but talk about everything else.”
“I’m not sure I can do that.” I said,
“I think you can.” He said. “We’ll tell them all about the Wonderland case, all about the Columbia Freedom case, just let them get a look as you and those perfect blue eyes.”
“The Freedom case was a debacle.” She said. “So was the Wonderland case.”
“That’s not important.” He said. “What is important is letting them see you, letting them get used to looking at you, letting them see how cool you’re being under pressure.”
“But I’m not being cool.”
“You will be.” He said. “When it comes down to it, you’ll be cool.”
“Who should I start with first then?”
“Why don’t you come up here?” He asked. “We’ll talk about how best to take the interviews. I’ll get you in touch with a true crime writer I know. Get a book deal going, get famous, they won’t dare burn you then.”
“They might for going public with things.” I said.
“Nonsense.” He said. “You know what to tell and what not to, you’ve done this before. You just get them to fall in love with you and it’ll make getting rid of you a very dicey proposition. If you get some people who are even more powerful than the ones who are dangling swords over you to say how great you are the danger will fade back a little.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah.” He then laughed. “And if it doesn’t work that way, we’ll open a D.C. Office and put you in charge of it and that’ll show ‘em. They’ll quake in fear at the very thought of me coming to town to help in an investigation.”
“They might at that.” I laughed.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Four: All For You
It’s hard to say what it is I see in you, wonder if I’ll always be with you, words can’t say it, I can’t do enough to prove, it’s all for you
They didn’t like the idea of arresting me, which is what Jack always tells me when relating these stories later, so they sent Alice in to talk to me. She entered the room, looking harassed and tired. We weren’t in one of the rooms with mirrored glass, so I was pretty sure they weren’t watching us. Maybe there was a little camera, but at the moment it seemed like we were actually alone.
“Got tired of talking to them?” She asked as she pulled the chair around the table so she could sit next to me instead of across.
“I want to go home and go to bed.” I said. “I’m tired and I need a shower. And I just want to lay down in bed and hold onto Jack and never let him go.”
“Me too.” She said.
“What are we going to do Alice?” I asked.
“Well, in a little bit I’ll make them let you go home and have a shower.” She shrugged. “And I’ll see about making them let Jack go.”
“Does he go home with you or me?” I asked.
“Is that the ‘what’ you were asking about?” She asked.
“Yeah.” I said.
I felt her hand on my knee then felt her fingers run across my thigh and grasp my hand. I grabbed back, because it was nice to have someone’s hand to hold. I found myself thinking that I did like her, she was nice, and how it wouldn’t be a bad match if the three of us were together. I shouldn’t have been thinking like that. We were in a lot of trouble, and there was going to be more trouble to come, I shouldn’t have been thinking how beautiful the line of her jaw made her.
“Maybe I can bring him to your house.” She said. “Maybe he can sleep between us and we’ll split curling up against him between us.”
“Maybe.” I agreed, except I know for a fact Jack never sleeps if you try to put him in the middle. I thought though that it wasn’t important to tell her that, and if she could sleep in the middle I sort of thought there were worse things that could happen then sleeping next to her.
“Is this going to work?” She asked. “You were there first. Are you going to have… problems?”
“I don’t know.” I said, wondering if she was thinking along the lines I was. “I don’t think so.”
“We could give it a try for a while.” She said. “I think I’m about to have a long stretch of administrative leave anyway.”
“We could give it a go.” I agreed. “We’ve just got to get Jack to agree.”
“Do you think he won’t?” she asked,
“He’s bad about deciding important things.” I told her. “He’ll have to do something, but he’s going to drag his feet.”
“I see.” She nodded, “I’ve sort of noticed that.”
“He thinks about you all the time though.” I told her.
“I can sort of tell when he’s thinking about you.”
“Oh.” She blushed. “He’s like that is he?”
“Yeah.” I told her. “You’ve just to forgive the fact that he thinks no one could ever possibly reciprocate a feeling towards him. He’s sort of an idiot like that.”
“I don’t know how soon I can get him out of here.” She said. “I’ll do my best.”
I was only there another ten minutes after that, and mostly it was waiting for Jack to be able to come and talk to me before I left. He looked like he wanted to start slapping cops when he got to the room where I was.
“They’re going to let Alice take me back to your grandmother’s.” I told him as he closed the door behind him.
“Okay.” He sat down across from me and looked at the table. “You’ll need the keys.” He pulled his keychain out of his pocket and slid it across to me. “The one with the G symbol is the back door. That’s the one we came in through. I assume you know what the two with the heron on them are.”
“Yeah.” I smiled looking at those, my very own classic. “The round one is the door, the square is the ignition, right?”
“Can I ask something?”
“How did you survive that fall?”
He smiled like a little kid who was just asked how the magic trick worked. I could see that for a moment he didn’t want to tell me.
“There was a tree.”
“A tree.” He said. “About half way down the hill there was a tree. I aimed for that, which is why I had to jump myself. The limb I hit broke, but I caught the trunk and I didn’t fall. Then I just pressed against the hillside really flat and when they were done shooting I started climbing up.”
“Oh.” I said. “That makes sense.”
“The rest will have to wait until I can sell the book rights.” He looked at his cell phone for the time. “Right now I’ll have to go see what they want to do about Jill.”
“You know how long they’re going to keep you?”
“No.” He shook his head and looked annoyed. “However Alice said she’s starting to get annoyed and that she may announce we’re done as soon as the local superior gets her and gives her the green light.”
“Are you going home then?” I asked, trying not to ask leading questions about coming to my place and curling up next to me. I didn’t want to look too eager. “I mean if you wanted to come to my place and curl up next to me that would be nice. You could even bring Alice if you wanted, I wouldn’t mind.”
I didn’t say I succeeded, I said I was trying.
“Funny.” He said. “She asked roughly the same thing. Only she said she was sure you wouldn’t mind if we came over together. She was talking about sleeping on the couch, but you two have clearly conspired differently.”
“Not yet.” I tried to smile, but I was tired.
“Karen is probably the only one left at my Grandma’s house now.” He was holding his head up with his arms, and just looked tired now. “Unless they brought her here too. We’ve got to get Cindy back to Chicago, ask Greta to come get her or something. Find out which guys they killed, do something for their families.”
His arms fell on the table and he fell forward. His head made a pretty good thunk sound as it hit the table. He muttered something that sounded like ow, but I couldn’t be sure. He looked so tired, I wondered if snoring wouldn’t be too much effort for him today.
“I’m pretty sure things can be done tomorrow.” I told him. “Right now, Cindy probably just wants a shower and a bed like the rest of us.”
“Aren’t I sleeping with enough of you?” He asked and then giggled. “You’ve got a pretty big bed but it ain’t that big.”
There was a knock at the door and some cop who knew Jack well enough to call him by his first name popped his head in.
“Jack?” He asked.
“Mmm?” He asked, not lifting his head.
“Miss Piper says she needs you.”
“Oh?” He asked.
“Well, she’s a little scary anyway.”
“When they told her that her father had been killed she just said ‘Good’ and asked if we’d get you.” He said.
“Two minutes.” Jack waved.
“That is another complication.” He didn’t even bother raising his head up to look at me. “Jill is…”
“Still enamored of you?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He nodded with his forehead on the table, which meant most of his body moved instead. “That’s a way to put it.”
“And you slept with her because she’s a pretty girl and you’re Jack Collier.” I told him. “You didn’t mean it to happen like this, but it did and now she thinks she planted a flag on your pole and you’re not sure about the whole thing.”
“And she’s not going to take kindly to being shoved to one side.”
“No.” He shook his head.
“But we really don’t have to shove her aside.” I told him.
“Maybe.” He said. “I’m not sure. I don’t know.”
“You’re going to have to come to a conclusion about that sometime.” I got up and gave him a kiss on the ear. “For now though, claim that things are moving very fast and you don’t want to hurt anyone and that’s why you can’t dump any of us. You’d hurt one of us, and make the rest of us think you were a cad if you decided to stop with any one of us. You’ll have to just keep the plates spinning for now.”
“I do love you.” He said. “You know that right?”
“Yes.” I said. “And I love you.”
“I didn’t sleep with Cindy.” He said that like it was really the most important part of all. “I didn’t sleep with Shiri either, but she’s a lesbian and in a committed relationship.”
“I’m choosing to view that as an oversight on your part.” I told him. “You just haven’t had an hour with her since she actually turned eighteen. Now that she has, I’m sure you can slip in an hour with her.”
“I’m so glad my claims of love mean that much to you.”
“I never doubted that you love me for a second.” I said as I opened the door to go. “I just know you can love so many other people, you show concern for so many, and you do have a limited skill set in that you can get girls to go to bed with you and then b so good that they pant after you for another ride. Don’t think I’m insulting you, but I’m perfectly willing to stay with you forever without an exclusive contract, so just long as I get a regular dose of affection.”
“Love you too.” I told him, and I went to get my car and go home.
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Three: Holding Out For a Hero
Chapter Forty-Three: Holding Out For a Hero
I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light.
If Jack’s going to complain about this Legend of Jack Collier thing he’s going to have to stop doing things like this. It’s really not fair of him to both behave like the sort of character that’s stepped out of the kind of books I used to make myself wet as a teenager and complain about people acting like he’s some sort of superman. He’s going to have to pick, which I keep telling him anyway.
The first thing I saw was some sort of flashing in the house, like someone had started a fire. Then there was the crump of an explosion and the house did burst into flames. The front room of the house was flaming in a few seconds and who was on the front porch? Who was standing here in his trench coat and fedora, looking like some kind of mix between the man with no name and every detective from every movie I ever saw? I almost thought he was in black and white for a moment as he stepped away from the door, his feet crunching on the glass that broke when the fire exploded.
“Red King.” He said pulling out one gun and then the other. “I’m calling you out bitch!”
“What the fuck?” King asked, looking at Jack as he walked down the porch steps.
“I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gum.” Jack announced and raised the two guns.
I ran, since no one seemed to want to keep an eye on me. They were all interested in what Jack was doing, far too interested to bother with me. Jack started shooting them, and as far as I could tell he hit one of them with each shot. There were nine of them all together, and they fell like flies under his onslaught. What’s odd is how fast it all was. He fired six shots from the old Webley and then four shots from his Marley, all within about ten seconds. I stopped running and turned when the shooting had stopped and saw him standing with only Red King left alive.
“So Red.” He announced as he put the Webley back in its shoulder holster. “It is down to you, and it is down to me.”
He opened the Marley and spilled the bullets into his hand. He made a show of throwing away the empty shells and replacing the two good rounds. He then loaded the other four bullets into the gun and closed it. After doing that he tossed the gun to Red’s feet and pulled out his pocket knife.
“Okay Red.” He announced. “You saw me load it. Let’s see if you can grab that gun and shoot me before I get to you and cut your guts out with my knife here.”
“I could get that in an instant.” He said looking at the gun.
“So go for it.” Jack said, taking a step closer.
“Don’t do it King!” I hadn’t seen Alice coming from the side of the house, but there she was, beautiful in the fire light. She was aiming a pistol at King, but looking at Jack. “This isn’t the wild west. We can take him in.”
“Who flipped you?” He asked her. “Who gave you up to this prick?”
“We’ll find out.” She said as the first started to catch on the second floor of the house. “We can take him in.”
“What do you think Red?” Jack asked as he walked closer. “You want to go with her or me? I’m ready to use your guts for garters, she’s ready to arrest you and put you away for the rest of your life. I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t think either one is very attractive. If you decided to walk away though, I’ll let you get arrested and I’ll back off. I won’t kill you if you go with her.”
“Oh you are such a sweetheart, aren’t you?” King sneered.
“Just shoot him Alice!” I called out. “We can put the gun in his hand.”
“No.” Jack said. “No, he’s got to make up his own mind. Free will, it’s got a beat and you can dance to it.”
“I’m not going to give myself up.” King announced.
“Well, I’m tired of this so I’m not even going to cut you now.” Jack closed his knife and slipped it in his pocket. “I think if you go for that gun now Agent Liddell will probably shoot you though. I mean unless this has all been some massive game where Alice is really on your side.”
“No.” She said, “I’m on your side Jack.”
“Good to hear.” He announced, not taking his eyes off King.
“Fuck you.” King said and reached down to grab the revolver.
Alice fired one shot, which went through the big man’s thigh. He fell to his knees, gun in hand and shouted. He looked at Jack and then looked at Alice. I could see from where I stood that the gun she was holding was out of bullets, the chamber of the automatic was stuck in the open position. He couldn’t see it though, I think he thought it was trapped. He stuck the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. His head didn’t explode or anything, the bullet didn’t even come out. He just shot and fell over.
“Well I didn’t see that coming.” Jack said as he walked up Red and took his gun away from the corpse. The two of us walked towards him as the roof started to burn.
“Is it over?” A voice called out from the side of the house.
“It’s over Cindy.” Jack said, an arm around each of our necks, kissing each of us on the forehead.
“All over.” Alice said. “I’ll go take care of her and get a car.”
“You know Debs.” Jack said, his arm still around my neck. “I’m glad we live in the suburbs of Michigan.”
This sounded like crazy talk to me. So much so that I could only react with surprise after he told me it. I think I even came him the weird mutant look after he said it.
“Are you?” I asked.
“Oh yeah.” He announced turning to watch the burning building as Alice pulled her car away from the burning. “Because the suburbs are so calm and quite. You never get weird religious cults that want to rape girls for no good reason in the suburbs. Nope! The suburbs of Michigan are dead boring. Never get international gangs of assassins kidnapping industrialists daughters, don’t have serial killers. You’re ex girlfriend never turns out to be a psycho, trying to get you to help murder her ex-husband and her business partners and rivals. Not in the suburbs of Michigan!”
He was beginning to raise his voice now, as part of the house began to collapse in on itself. It wasn’t because I couldn’t hear him though, he was just starting to loose his cool a little. I think it had all been too much for him.
“You don’t have kidnapped girls shooting you, you don’t have to live in a coma for three years, none of this trading of children, no fathers raping their own kids, no incest so complicated you need a flow chart to work out who is related to who and why they shouldn’t be fucking! Oh and being chased by psycho cult leaders across the country while everyone has some super secret they refuse to share doesn’t happen either. OH NO! Never have to set an entire house on fire because you can’t depend on anyone besides yourself not to have be part of the conspiracy against you. Yeup. That never happens here in Michigan! I’m so glad we live here! Imagine what it would be like if we lived in one of those immoral cities! I might have to solve a simple jewel heist or something. Oh the ignominy! I SURE AM GLAD WE LIVE IN MICHIGAN WHERE WE DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF SHIT!”
As he shouted that, the house collapsed completely and ash and cinders flew up so high into the sky you’d think they got lost and became new stars. He stopped and watched as they went up and up. He then put his arms around me and kissed my neck.
“Are you okay?” Alice asked as she approached.
“He’ll be okay.” I said patting his shoulder.
“Should I?” She pointed over her shoulder, looking at me with a question in her eyes.
“Come on.” I said waving to her. “He needs a hug.”
She put her arms around him, and I put my hands on her arms because that was the furthest I could reach. I kind of got the idea that it would be okay now though. It had passed, he would be alright now. She kissed my finger, I stroked her chin, we were okay together. It was comfortable the three of us could probably be comfortable.
“We probably should call somebody.” Jack said finally. “Make sure the fire gets put out properly. Go get Karen and Jill, go home. Go to bed.”
“Where are they?” Alice asked, still holding onto him and rubbing her cheek against my hand.
“Flat Rock.” He said, still holding onto me.
“Where the hell is Flat Rock?” She asked. “Is that in Ohio or something?”
“See?” He laughed. “No one knows about Flat Rock.”
“Where is it?” She asked.
“I’ll take you there.” He said. “I’ll show you. You’ll see. No place worth going.”
“Jack?” I asked. “Are you okay?”
“No one in their right mind would go to Flat Rock.” He said. “So it’s the perfect safe house. I’ll show you.”
We all got into what he told us was his Grandmother’s old car and he started us away. Alice made a call to the local police, but none of us stayed at the crime scene. An hour and a half later, we were pulling into a drive way in what he assured us was the town of Flat Rock. It was a little place, hardly worth visiting. He got into the house where Jill and Karen were waiting. Jack called the police and told them to come get the two hit men he had in a tool shed behind the garage.
While it should have been the end with Red King shooting himself, it was only the beginning. The local police, state police and the federals, all showed up at the house, which got to be quite small with all the people in it and it wasn’t very big to begin with. After a few hours, we were all taken from Jack’s Grandmother’s old house, to the local police station to give statements and things. That took hours, and they kept wanting to go over it again and again until I got fed up and told them I was only going to talk to the feds.
“What’s the matter with us?” A big state bull called Harris demanded.
“Look.” I said, feeling like the only girl in the world with the four big cops standing around me. “I’m tired and I’m not going through this again. I’ll talk to Agent Liddell, but the rest of you can leave. If you want more from me, arrest me and you can talk to my lawyer. I’m done.”
The Return of Jack Collier
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Forty-Two: The Angriest Song Ever.
Alice Liddell’s Diary
I have never seen that kind of savagery in my life and I hope I never see it again. It wasn’t just that he was angry, it was that he approached pure viciousness to a level I’ve never seen before. All while Daydream Believer played, imprinting it’s new meaning on my brain.
If you investigate certain kinds of crimes, there start being songs you can’t listen to anymore. You can’t read some books, or watch certain movies, but it’s songs that are the worst. I can avoid watching the Texas Chainsaw movies, I don’t have to read Lewis Carol, avoiding the Billy Joel song Uptown Girl is a little harder. You see things, you hear things, you know that someone murdered fourteen children because they think The Beatles told them to, and it ruins a song. As a result, I will forever think of Daydream Believer as the angriest song in the world.
“Look cunt!” Pete snapped as he slammed the door and shouted through the glass. “You’re gonna get fucked to death. So you better just shut up, or it’ll be a lot worse! He ain’t gonna just suddenly come back and save you’re dumb bitch ass.”
Then it started, and went all at once. He was laughing at one moment, and then there was a flash of movement and the world turned into pure violence. I didn’t even realize what had happened at first, just that someone was behind Pete. For a moment I thought I was in even more trouble than I was.
Jack stood up, grabbed the back of Pete’s head and smashed him into the window. There were two more smacked into the window, but it didn’t break. He opened the door and shoved Pete’s head in and slammed the door twice, all while Davey Jones was singing that the six o’clock alarm might never ring. Jack stood back a step and gave the door a healthy kick, which caused a disgusting crack sound. There were convulsions from Pete’s body and a sound escaped his throat.
Jack opened the door, which let Pete slide out of the car on to the ground. He reached into Pete’s coat and grabbed his automatic. He stood up, checked the gun, glanced at me and spoke in the gentlest tone I’d ever heard him use outside of the bed room.
“You okay?” The sound of his voice was like rubbing silk across my face while kissing my ear.
“Yeah.” I said.
“NO!” Cindy’s voice cried out again. “Please! God! NO!
“B-R-B.” He said with such a sweet tone that you’d never know how angry he was.
He walked away toward the front of the SUV and crossed in front of it toward the bushes that they’d dragged Cindy to. I saw him in the headlights as he passed in front of the truck. His head was down and in order to look any angrier, he would need a cartoon storm cloud hanging over him. He didn’t walk towards them, he stalked. I lost him after he passed through the lights, he just vanished into the dark. Sleepy Jean was being advised to cheer up as he vanished from the realms where visible light had an effect and he became a force of nature.
Then there were the gun shots. Eight of them, several overlapping to soon for it to all be from one gun. I saw the flashes, but couldn’t see anything else until Jack emerged back into the headlights with Cindy’s wrist in his hand. She was trying to keep her jeans from slipping down her hips, since they were still open. I think they only got to opening them and she just hadn’t buttoned the fly or redone her belt. I got out of the car and ran towards him. He waved at me with the gun hand.
“Get in back, we’re going to get the rest of them.”
“Are you okay?” I asked Cindy as we got to the SUV.
“I’m okay.” She nodded, clearly shaken. “I’ll be okay.”
She got in the back, so I got into the front seat. Jack walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. He then looked down where Pete lay and fired two more shots from the gun. He tossed the gun to me and got into the car.
“You once thought of me.” He sang sweetly with the music. “As a white knight on his steed.”
He started the truck and started it away. I thought he might turn the song off, but instead he turned it up, way up. He kept singing along, except he was getting angrier as he did. By the time the chorus came around again he was banging his right fist into the steering wheel with his fist and roaring the words.
“Cheer up sleepy Jean!” He roared as we raced through the night. “OOOOh what can it mean!? To aaa daydream believer and a… HOME coming queeEEEEN?!”
He turned the lights off as he drove, clearly knowing where he was going, or not caring anymore. He was nearly screaming the lyrics by the last time the chorus was repeated. He stopped as we approached the house, which was just as well since the song was over by that point.
“You keep the gun.” He told me. “Back me up.
“What are you going to do?”
“Take back our girlfriend.” He said.
He walked toward the back of the house, where it looked like the kitchen was located. I saw Quayle sitting at the table with is back turned to the door, he was preparing something that looked like a Molotov cocktail made of a gas can and a rag.
“We’re not gonna take it.” Jack whispered as he walked toward the back door. “No, we ain’t gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it, anymore.”
“See, we make her drink this stuff. Get it all over her, and the fire will start to burn inside her.” Quayle was telling one of them men sitting at the table with him. “You then light this and toss it in, it exploded under her and you have bitch flambé.”
Jack yanked the sliding door open and walked quickly into the kitchen. There was a gun on the counter next to the door, and I know that because he grabbed it and put a round through the head of Quayle’s companion. The sound was soft and almost not there, and I saw after he threw it on the table that it was one of his Rutthowers.
“You want to burn someone?” Jack asked, so calm and sweet that I thought that voice might scare me the next time he used it to talk to me. “Let’s try you.”
He grabbed the cup of gas off the table, dumped it on Quayle and then smashed Quayle’s head with it. He yanked Quayle up and shoved him towards the hall, grabbing a lighter and setting the man alight. Quayle screamed as the flame took him and Jack gave him a kick in the chest.
“Fucker.” He turned back to the table and grabbed his things, mentioning them as he did. “Webley, Marley, Laguiole, persuader, keys, wallet, phone and my mitts. Sweetheart, take the two Rutthowers, then no one will know where you’re shooting from.” He snatched the gas can from the table and started toward the hall.
“Go around the house, this is about to turn flamey.”
He walked into the hall and raised his right arm swiftly, throwing his left hand into the crook of his elbow. The result was that his right hand snapped into the air and half way through its flight he let the gas can go. He just kept walking, cool as sour cream towards the front door. I heard a thump a scream and jumped to the floor as I realized what was going to come next. There was an explosion of flames and the screaming stopped, but a moment later the screaming of a smoke detector started. I ran out of the house through the back door and ran around to the front, not coming all the way around because I didn’t really want to be seen. There were eight or nine of them, all standing around Debbie as the flames really started to catch the house in earnest. Jack was walking down the stairs like a gun fighter, the wind blowing his coat around dramatically.
“I am up to seven for this evening!” He announced as he stepped off the flaming porch towards King. “I am looking to break my old record.”
“Kill this asshole.” King waved his cane around.
I started towards them, shooting with both of the Rutthowers at once, just like we were told never to do. It was amazing to watch him though as he shot at them with that antique revolver of his. He took no stance, not an approved one anyway. It didn’t seem to matter much though, he seemed not to miss. I’m not sure how much help I was being, since I’m still not sure about the range the Rutthowers had, but it didn’t matter. His gun handling would have given my old sergeant an aneurism, but he seemed to have them all taken care of so it probably didn’t matter.
It only took a few seconds of shooting before I was out of bullets, but it looked like we got everyone but King anyway. I decided to approach the situation, picking up one of the dead men’s guns as I did. Jack looked even angrier, if that was at all possible. I almost thought I saw a cartoon cloud over his head.
“You really want to kill me, don’t you?” Jack asked as he slung the big revolver into his shoulder holster. “Go on, draw your steel.”
“You little son of a bitch.” King snarled.
“I’ll help you.” Jack said, taking a small revolver off his hip and tossing it to the man’s feet. Then he pulled his knife out and opened it. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Go on, it’s fully loaded. We’ll see if you can draw and fire that before I can stab you with this.”
“I’ll kill you.”
“Let’s see you try.” Jack told him.
“Fuck you.” King said grabbing the little ivory handled thirty-eight.
I pulled the trigger once and hit him in the leg, a fleshy part of the upper thigh. Jack looked at me, and I looked back at him. He then looked at King and smiled, closing the knife. He tossed the closed knife from one hand to the other while King grabbed at his thigh and moaned of pain. I’m not sure either of them could see from their angle, but there had only been one round in the gun. The breach was stuck open, taunting me, looking like a baby bird that wanted to be fed.
King looked at me, then at the gun in his hand. He grabbed the revolver in his meaty fist and put the gun in his mouth while pulling the trigger. Blood exploded from the nose and ears, but the bullet didn’t exit his head, it just deformed the skull. The body sat up for a second before the muscles lost their power and let the weight fall.
“Huh.” Jack said. “I did not see that coming.”
He walked over to where King’s body lay, blood pouring from the nose, mouth and ears, and took his gun back. He took out a handkerchief to wipe off some of the blood and put the gun right back into the hip holster he had for it. I watched him do it too. I didn’t say anything about evidence, or crime scenes, or anything like that. If I wanted an excuse not to say these things, the fire broke through the roof and began to burn away at the last remaining supports for the place.
Instead of complaining, I walked to Jack and embraced him while Debbie did the same. We held him as he breathed heavily and squeezed us tight against him. I could feel the handle of his gun pressing into my chest, but I was hardly about to start complaining about such a thing now.
“Is it over?” Cindy asked as she emerged from the side of the flaming house.
“It’s over Cindy.” Jack said, an arm around each of our necks, kissing each of us on the forehead.
“All over.” I said. “I’ll go take care of her and get a car.”
Jack tossed me his keys and we walked to the skylark he had driven here in. I pulled the car around and stopped next to them as Jack was shouting something about living in Michigan being so great because you never have gun fights with gangsters in Michigan. I got out of the car as he was shouting about how much he hated living in this state and then broke down, holding onto Debbie to prevent from falling.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Come on.” She said, waving at me to approach. “He just needs us to hold him for a while.”
I put my arms around him, and Debbie put her hands on my arms. She put her hands up near my shoulder and I kissed her fingers sort of spontaneously. She touched my face with her fingers, rubbing my lower lip with her thumb. I kissed her thumb and gently bit the tip. Her fingers stroked my chin and I sort of knew it was all going to be okay. It would take a little while, but the three of us would be okay together. That was something of a break through, although it’s a strange one to make when surrounded by dead bodies.