Fallen From Mercy chapter 16

Luigi sat in the metal folding chair, his curly silver locks trickling down between his shoulder blades.  His goatee of the same color pointed to his folded hands set on the table in front of him, his eyes closed, almost as if in prayer.  His image in the mirror was that of a martyr.

Dan, looking through the one way mirror thought he looked much more like the devil if Dan thought the devil existed.  Bad people had a way of being calm that irked him to no end.  Gary came in excitedly.

“Got the trainer’s testimony as well as a couple of other people to talk to,” Gary said.  “This is going to be open and shut.”  Gary watched Luigi for a second.  “Luigi, even talking to your maker won’t get you out of here.”

Charles Hailey, a lifer in the uniform and currently serving as deputy chief of the precinct joined them at their version of the zoo.  Charles was a small mixed breed that was an adopted kid so he never knew what box to check on the census.  He carried himself like a man that had seen it all and somehow it never phased him.  He expected the worst from humanity and unfortunately always found it.  His deep bass voice was somber.  “But his lawyer sure as hell did.”

Dan pounded the mirror with his fist, startling Luigi in the next room.

Gary couldn’t believe it.  “Really?  You’ve got to be joking.”

In the other room Luigi let a smile creep to his lips.

Charlie kept up the somber bit.  “Nope.  Seems Luigi is going to go states evidence on an extortion ring put together by a group at the track, including the trainer you brought in.”

“What?” asked Gary in disbelief mixing with anger.  “Who’s prosecuting the case?”

“Laverne,” answered Charlie.

“Pops gets him elected and the Laverne rolls over whenever Pops wants to.”  Gary was almost in pain.  “Damn it!  I told Bob, the trainer, that this was an easy slam dunk.”

“Yeah, well I was the one who made us go see Pops,” Dan chimed in.

Charlie looked at the two of them critically.  “You went to see Pops about this?”

Dan nodded.  “Look I can explain.”

Charlie stopped him dead with his stare.  He turned to Gary.  “And you let him?”

Gary looked down at his feet.  “It seemed to make sense.  I didn’t feel like having my ass dragged through the press.”

Charlie didn’t let up.  “Well instead your shit trail went across my desk.”

“But how did he setup all this?” Dan asked.  “We went straight over to the track after getting Pops to agree.  It can’t happen that fast.”

Charlie’s body language screamed steamed, but his voice never broke stride.  “That’s not your problem right now.”  Charlie pointed at Luigi.  “Kick him loose and then do something police like.  Don’t make me talk to you again today.”  With that Charlie walked out of the room, head held high, but eyes down low.

“I’ve got this one,” Dan said.

“Really, after the ups and downs you’ve been having?  I’m not sure that’s wise,” Gary rebutted.

Dan gave a slight bow.  “Okay, you’re probably right.  You handle it.”

“That’s it?” Gary asked.  “You’re giving up that easily?”

“What you said made sense.”

Gary left muttering to himself.  Dan watched as Gary opened the door and waved his hand for Luigi to follow him.  Luigi asked, “Does this mean I’m going back to the tank?”

“You’re playing a get out of jail free card,” Gary answered.

Luigi gave a wry smile.  “I don’t understand.”

“Get your ass out of the chair and on your way home,” Gary said politely.

“But I thought you and Officer Cunningham wanted to talk to me.  That’s why your thugs dragged me out of bed this morning.”  Luigi was having way too much fun with this.

Gary kept on the Mr. Polite persona.  “The police department expresses it’s sincerest apologies for any problems you had getting your ass out of bed.”

“I wonder if this constitutes harassment?” asked Luigi.

Gary smiled took on a much more sinister bent and his eyes almost glowed.  “If you think you’re going to go after harassment charges please let me know.  I will make sure they will be appropriately handled.”

Luigi realized he might be pushing it a bit to far.  “No, that’s quite all right mistakes happen all the time.”

Dan muttered to himself in the other room, “Like when your mother said yes to your father?”

Gary pulled back in the sinister.  “Yes, mistakes do happen.  Thank you for being understanding.  Do you wish me to walk you out?”

Luigi got up and walked past Gary.  “No thanks. I know the way,” said Luigi

“I’m sure you do,” said Gary.

Luigi paused after Gary’s comment.  Gary decided not to press his luck further.  “Have a nice day,” Gary said.  With that Gary walked into the other room where Dan was sitting now staring at the empty interrogation room.

“This is becoming a real crappy day, you know that?” Dan asked.

Gary sat down next to his partner.  “You think?  I hate letting that twerp go.”

“Don’t let that piece of junk get to you,” Dan said.

“I can hear you guys,” came Luigi’s voice from the hallway.

“If your still there in ten seconds I’ll be able to bring you up on conspiracy to interfere in an investigation.” Dan replied.

Luigi poked his head inside the door.  “We both know that’s bull.”

“One.  Two.”

Luigi looked to Gary.  “You know that’s bull.”

“Three.  Four.”

“Sounds plausible to me,” Gary replied.

“Five. Six.”

Luigi left the room.  Gary smiled and punched Gary in the arm.  Unfortunately it was the arm here the shoulder was bit.

“Ouch!  Seven.  Eight.”

Luigi called out from the hallway.  “Okay, I give up.”

“Nine!”

Luigi’s footsteps could be heard almost running down the hallway.

“So, what do we do now?” asked Gary.

“We do police like work, just like the boss said,” Dan said.

Gary nodded, then shook his head.  “What police like work should we do?”

Dan smiled.  “Maybe we look into what Pops is trying to pull.”

“That’s not going to be popular,” remarked Gary.

“As long as I don’t hear about it before you have something.”

Both men whipped around to see Charlie standing there, a ghost of a smile on his lips, which for Charlie was a full body guffaw.  “If I do, it will be the first time I hear about it and will be pissed.  Understood?”

“Yes sir!” Gary and Dan exclaimed at the same time.

Charlie just stood there looking at his two officers.  “What else sir?” asked Dan.

The ghost smile faded into the ether.  “One.  Two.”

Dan was perplexed.  “What?”

“Three.  Four.”

Gary got it.  “Let’s get to work Dan.”

“Five.  Six.”

Dan hesitated, but Gary dragged him from his chair.

“Seven.  Eight.”

Dan finally got it

“Nine.”

The two of them pushed past Charlie and ran down the hallway.

Website Inspiration

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Use indeed.com to research job opportunities for characters with skills you need them to have.

Visit cupid or match or eharmoney to see how people reveal themselves to complete strangers

Dictionary.com to get a word of the day to give your character something new to say.

Wikipedia with its random search for new topics that make their way into your work.

Realtor.com for not only real houses in an area, but pictures inside people’s houses to give you description ideas.

Urban Dictionary to pull in a new slang term that might inspire you.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Ever wonder if we are not a part of something bigger?  By bigger I don’t mean your church or work.  That does give one the sense of something bigger, but not big enough.  What I am thinking is bigger than being part of a country, or a particular ethnic group.  It is probably bigger than the planet and solar system itself.

I am going to use your body for a second to set up what I am thinking about.  You are made up of roughly 37.2 trillion cells.  That means what makes you you are 37.2 trillion living beings that work together to live in partnership.  That partnership allows you to eat, love, and experience life.  Now your liver cells might not even know of the cells in your femur.  They would be an undiscovered country waiting to be explored, except hopefully your liver cells are homebodies and they stay with the rest of their kind in their segregated neighborhood.   So individual cells live, eat, reproduce and die all the time.  You don’t notice because as long as the status quo is maintained you just continue to exist.

Now take this model, but expand it to the universe.  I’m not trying to initiate anything religious here.  I just want you to imagine that you are one cell in something that is much bigger than you.  You don’t even need to know what that role is, but what you continue to do would be important.  I mean, you could be the appendix of this greater thing, but chances are you wouldn’t be.  Now that is quite provocative to me.

The best part is we probably will never know.  Much like that liver cell who only knows the environment that surrounds it, so are we if this is true.  We might never be able to surmise what role we take part in this community of life.  While that saddens me, it does give me one cool thought/hope.  If this is the case then life would be abundant throughout the universe, and as such we will find other parts out there.  It would be like that liver cell finally deciding to go exploring.  I just hope if we do that we don’t become the cancer.

A Writer’s Dilema

Slowly the world resolved itself and Dorothy walked out of the house.  “Crap,” she said, noticing the feet sticking out from underneath the house, “I’m going to need a lawyer.”

 

‘Do you want to play a game?’

David reached behind the computer and flicked the switch.  “No, not really,” he said.

 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you eat the whole box then puke them up,” said Forrest.

“Why do you say that?” asked the African American woman sitting on the bench next to him.

Forrest pukes in her lap.  “Because it hurt my tummy,” he said.

 


 

I look at my computer screen.  “I can’t even write good fan fict!  Time to hang it up,” I say to myself as I push away from the computer.  I pause before getting up.  “Then again, maybe one more try.”


 

 

Dr. Who stepped out of the tardis and into the hot African jungle.  The man in front of him seemed to go blue with streaks of lightning for a moment.  As the man looked around, trying to get his bearings Dr. Who said, “Dr. Beckett I presume?”

Dr. Becket replied, “Oh boy.”

 


I smile.  “I’ve still got it baby,” I say and dive back in.


 

The Unexpected Gift

Gertrude held the present in two hands and gently shook it.  The pink ribbon swayed in the handmade breeze, but the blue and white stripped cube made no other concessions to her senses.  She put it back down and stared at it, wishing she had Superman’s version of x-ray vision.

“Come on Gertie, just open it,” said Brantley.  He was like a kid at Christmas, except it wasn’t his present to open.  That made him even cuter than normal, especially when he was dressed up with his purple bowtie that almost made his blue eyes look that same shade of purple.  Normally she would be taking off his glasses and suggesting they eat in tonight, but this darn package just bothered her.

Brantley had found the package with no return address on her doorstep when he stopped by to pick her up for dinner.  Opening it up revealed the present and one of those lame happy birthday novelty tags with her Gertrude’s name and no other information. It wasn’t even close to her birthday, and she really couldn’t think of who would send her a random gift, beside Brantley of course.  This was a true suprise.

Gertrude didn’t like surprises.  That probably had to do with her floating through various group homes and foster families until the age of seventeen. Surprises usually meant packing up and heading out, or even worse, you find out your new “family” wasn’t all it was promised it would be.  Or there would be bonus possible unwanted male attention.  That sent a physical shudder down her spine.

Brantley noticed that.  “Are you okay?” he asked.

Gertrude banished those memories back down deep where the light of conscious thought rarely shown. “I’m fine.  Just a bit of excited about going out on our date tonight,” she said hopefully convincingly.  She looked into his eyes and put on a genuine smile.  Those eyes were so damn cute.  Okay, she meant what she said about being excited now.

“Well we can get going after you open it, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “I really want to see what you got.”

“We can open it later,” Gertrude said.  “Unless you were the one who left it.”  She let her voice trail off, hoping that he would confess.

Brantley shook his head.  “Nope, not this time.  Come on.  You must be curious, at least a little.”

Gertrude couldn’t shake her sense of dread.  “Listen, why don’t we go out and then I’ll open it when you drop me off.  I don’t want to be late for our reservation.”

“Really Gertie?  You want it to wait?  Come on, this is killing me,” Brantley said.

“Killing you?” Gertrude asked.  “It’s not even your present.”

“Gertrude, open the present,” Brantley said.

Gertrude looked into Brantley’s eyes.  They seemed even more purple now, but not at all cute.  Another shiver escaped down her spine.  Brantley noticed this one too and deflected his gaze at his hands.

“I’m sorry Gertie,” Brantley said.  “It’s just as a kid growing up I always wanted someone to leave me a mystery present and inside have it be something cool that I always wanted.  Maybe even something magical.”  His eyes danced at the thought.

“I don’t believe in magic,” Gertrude said.  The sparkle in Brantley’s eyes died.  Gertrude immediately wished he hadn’t said anything.  She decided to smooth things over.  “What kinds of things did you want?” she asked.

“Oh the usual boy stuff.  A new baseball mitt signed by Rodger Clemens,” Brantley said.  He paused for a second and laughed a bit.  “Of course that was before the whole steroids thing.  Then there was a new synthesizer.  I was going to be a rock star.  If I could have had a staff like what Gandalf had, now that would have been cool.  Of course in high school the best would be a cute red headed girl’s phone number.”

Gertrude involuntarily reached up and touched her raven ringlets.  Brantley saw that and immediately continued.  “That was a phase I was going through,” he said.  “Now I appreciate a woman’s smile and who she truly is inside.  That is the essence of magic to me today.”  He reached over the cursed present and stroked her cheek.  “I got lucky and found a wonderful woman who has beauty to go with that smile and that something magical inside.”

A blush bloomed on Gertrude’s cheeks.  What did I do to deserve such a wonderful charming guy?  What did such an amazing man ever see in her?  She leaned forward and kissed him gently on his lips.  There was almost a spark of electricity that passed between them.

“Okay, on that note let’s get going,” he said.  With one fluid motion he was standing and reaching into his pocket.  “We can eat dinner and maybe catch a show.  We can wait till I drop you off.”

Gertrude summoned up her resolve.  “Nope, I’ll open it first, then we can go.”

“Don’t do it,” Brantley said.  “I was being a jerk.”

“Nope, I was making a big thing out of nothing,” Gertrude said.  “I have nothing to be afraid of because I have you here with me.  There’s no need to worry about surprises because I have my big knight in shining armor.”

Gertrude caught an almost guilty look pass across Brantley’s face so she quickly stood and gave him a hug.  “Really.  I love you,” she said.  He stiffened.  Crap, went too far.  Time to do more damage control.  “Let’s see what my mysterious benefactor left for me,” she continued.

Gertrude moved back to the couch and undid the bow.  She smiled and twirled the bow in the air.  Brantley watched her, a small smile bloomed.  Next she pulled back the wrapping paper, trying to preserve it the best she could.  Folding it nicely and setting it next to her she then turned her attention to the present box itself.

“Well?” Brantley asked.  It startled her since he had come up close while she had been folding the wrapping paper.  To cover her surprise she picked up the package and put it in her lap.  She slid her nail along the tape, separating the two box flaps.  She opened up the flaps while holding her breath.  Inside she was what looked like a photo album.

“Well? “ Brantley asked again.

Gertrude took the photo album out of the box and placed the box on top of the wrapping paper.  “Don’t know.” She said as she opened the book.  The first page was a birth certificate for a girl who weighed seven pounds, four ounces on May twenty-fifth, nineteen eighty-two.  The name on the certificate was Cassandra Powel.

“Who is that?” asked Brantley.

“I don’t know,” Gertrude said.  “I wonder if this is for one of my neighbors.”  She closed up the book.

Brantley looked at the book with a look of hunger.  “The tag had your name on it,” he said.  “Maybe it will make sense if you look a bit more.”

Gertrude held the book tight.  “I think this is a really bad idea.  Let’s go to dinner.  I shouldn’t have opened it now.”

“Look, you’re frazzled,” Brantley said.  “I’ll order takeout and we can pick up a movie from Redbox.  This way you can have a chance to detox.”

“I would rather go out,” Gertrude said.  When she heard the words come out of her mouth she knew that that lie would never stand on its own.  “Okay, maybe takeout is good.  I’ll take Szechuan.”

“Okay, I’ll call it in and we can go get it,” Brantley said.

Gertrude shook her head.  “You’re right.  I’m frazzled.  Why don’t you go get it and I’ll just detox here.  This way the evening won’t be a total loss,” she said.

Gertrude could tell that Brantley wanted to say more, but he knew there was nothing more he could say without destroying the rest of the evening.  “Okay, he said, “I’ll be right back.  Don’t do anything crazy without me.”

“I think I was crazy enough already,” Gertrude said.

Brantley put on his cutest smile, leaned in, and kissed Gertrude.  This time the kiss was almost cold, but Gertrude hid her reaction.  That smile had lost a lot of firepower all of a sudden.

“Love you, Gertie” Brantley said.  He then tuned and let himself out the front door, leaving Gertrude holding onto the album, still stuck on the couch.

Gertrude counted to ten before she opened back up the album.  The second page was a series of baby pictures.  They were all solo pictures with no hint of another being present, except for the record of the photos themselves.  Page after page chronicled the child getting older.  Still no other human being was depicted.  Suddenly Gertrude lost her breath.  The girl had grown into her!  She remembered that outfit.  It was her favorite purple dress that she wore every other day to kindergarten.  The pages almost turned on their own.  Picture after picture of her caught in various candid moments on her own.  All the towns, all the different houses, all her and only her on each page.

Gertrude flipped to the first page again and read aloud the name on the birth certificate, “Cassandra Powel.”  It sounded so natural to her.  She looked at the box.  Inside was still a note and a small box that had been hidden by the larger album.  She took out the box and opened it.  There was a silver heart locket on a thin chain.  The locket didn’t want to open, so she set it aside and looked at the paper.  Unfolding it she revealed a hand written letter with an old polaroid picture of a woman who looked so much like Gertrude, but with a lot more wear and tear on her face..

Dear Cassandra,

I really should say dear Gertrude, but that was supposed to be just your middle name, an honor to your grandmother.  I’m sorry I have to give this to you now.  After so many years of only allowing myself to catch a glimpse of you now and then I had planned to stop in and finally introduce myself.  I used to imagine your reaction from finally meeting your mother.  I would fear the revulsion or rejection.  I would get excited about the acceptance and unconditional love.  So many possibilities, so many different ways it would work out in my mind.  I’m now worried though that they have almost caught me.  This is so dangerous Cassandra.  Every time I snuck to see you I knew there was a chance that they would find you.  If they did, everything would have been lost.  As it is I worry they might already have their sights on you.  I wish I was there to help you through the pain you are about to endure, but you must take up the burden on your own.  Put on the locket and all will be revealed.  If I can I will come to you, but if they do finally catch me know that I die with my love for you as my grave shroud.

Love,

Malissa Flandiss.

 

Gertrude looked at the locket and wondered what made it so important.  Just then she heard the front door open.  Gertrude quickly hid the locket and letter away in her pocket.

She stood up as Brantley entered the room carrying the takeout bags.  “No plates?” Brantley asked.

“Sorry, decompressing,” Gertrude said.

“Right.  So you weren’t looking through the album while I was gone,” Brantley said.

“I’ll go get the plates,” Gertrude said as she brushed past Brantley and went to the kitchen.  As she pulled plates from the cupboard she pulled back out the locket and looked at it again.  Did she really want to put it on?  What would happen?

Brantley came into the kitchen and saw the locket.  “Where did you get that Gertie?” he asked.  His eyes never left the silver heart.

Gertrude felt like she was being violated by the way he focused on the locket.  “It was in the box,” she said.

“Can I see it Gertie?” Brantley asked.  His voice seemed off, and his purple eyes almost seemed to glow with a reddish tinge.

Gertrude held the locket closer to her, defensively.  “Brantley, you are scaring me.”

Brantley looked at her, but that other him didn’t really go away.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that looks really, well I just want to see it,” he said.  For every slow step forward he took, Gertrude took one back until she felt the sink behind her.

“Don’t be silly, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “Just let me see the necklace.”  That voice was so distorted in her ears.  Every hair on her arms was standing and felt like they were screaming like the painting by Munch.

Brantley took another step forward and that snapped Gertrude into action.  She went to put the necklace on as Brantley screamed, “No!”  He moved faster than she thought he could, but he could only grab the locket as the chain settled around her neck and shoulders.

The world exploded into fire.  Her mind heard the voices of thousands of people at once.  The odd thing was she could make out each in turn and while the initial cacophony was deafening and confusing, it suddenly all made sense.  She knew who she was and the family she had come from.  The knowledge of generations settled upon her and took residence.  Family members from recent and far past all welcomed her into the fold.  It was as if all the memories for generations had taken up residence inside her mind.  They told her many things, but especially of the creatures that would come looking for her and the locket.  The creatures with the purple eyes.

Gertrude snapped back to the now and Brantley growled at her.  His hand was smoking where he held the locket, but he didn’t let go.  He looked at her with those purple inhuman eyes filled with hate.

“Give me the locket,” Brantley said.  His teeth grew longer and she swore he grew like two inches and a hundred pounds of muscle.

Gertrude felt fear like she had never felt, even in those dark moments she had recently reburied.  She felt so overwhelmed that she almost just gave up, but when that thought surfaced the family she just had been introduced to screamed a collective NO.  Suddenly her muscles had memories that only a lifetime, or in this case multiple lifetimes could have mastered.  She stepped into Brantley, crashing her heel into his foot while spinning and bringing her foot up and into Brantley’s jaw, snapping his head back.  The momentum tore the locket from his hand and caused him to take a step back to regain his balance.

Gertrude settled into a balanced fighting stance.  Brantley spit out a tooth onto the floor.  “I’ll take that as a no,” he said.  “Too bad.  I was looking forward to having you for dinner tonight.  Take care, Gertie.  I honestly hoped you weren’t going to be the one.”  With that he turned and left.

“My name is Cassandra and I was hoping you would have been the one,” she said to no one as the front door closed.  “What have I gotten myself into?”

A voice in her head said, “This is just the beginning.”

For once Cassandra didn’t worry about what surprises may come.  She had at last found where she belonged.

Family Problems part 7

I got off on the eighth floor and headed for Miss Myer’s apartment.  I stopped in front of her door and put on a blank face.  I wanted to be ready for whatever game it was going to be today.  I politely knocked twice, then a pause, then three more times.  The TV was blaring from the other side of the door and I was worried that she didn’t here me.  I was just about to start it out again when the door opened a crack and the noise from the TV escaped.  I love The Jefferson’s as much as the next guy, but “Weezy! ” at one hundred twenty decibels is a bit more than a man should have to take.

I thought I saw Miss Myer before the door slammed closed.  I scrambled to put my earplugs in before the door opened again.  This time when it did George Jefferson was down to the level of a jet engine.  Miss Myer waved me in and I happily obliged.

To say that Miss Myer was nondescript was quite the understatement.  Other than her age you would be hard pressed to pick her out of a crowd, or even a portrait.  My dad liked them that way these days.  She yelled at me over the blaring TV.  “I was worried you wouldn’t come in time.”

Not come in time?  “What’s wrong?  Where…”

Miss Myer cut me off before I could get any farther.  “I think the bug is in the bedroom.  It’s right through that door over there.”  She pointed towards the kitchen, away from her bedroom.  Like I said, you needed to play the game.

“I’ll get right on it.  Let me see what I can do.”  I make a beeline to the kitchen and look at the two windows.  Which one did I think was the correct one today.  I look back at the living room, but Miss Myer had gone back to watching TV.  She wasn’t going to be any help.  The problem is if I get this wrong I won’t be able to see the old man until he called me again.  Normally I am okay with that, but I had already come this far I didn’t want to have to come back.

A few seconds later I thought about what my dad had actually said in his message.  He wanted help mowing the lawn.  I looked at the two windows and realized only one pointed at anything resembling a lawn.  The other was on the side of the parking lot for hell.   That’s right, hell has parking.  How else did you think you got there?  The hand baskets are booked for the next thirty years or so, causing the line from hell.  Hell, what do you think purgatory really is.  Oh it goes to the other place too, but for some reason these days that line is much shorter.  I have this on good authority by my Aunt Connie.  I mean family never lies to you, do they?

I opened the window I selected and sure enough there was a sling right outside the window.  You needed to be brave when visiting my old man.  That and not be afraid of heights.  I just hoped that dad had this one secured better than last time.  Mrs. Smithfield almost had to have another pacemaker installed after that one.  I tied myself as best I could, said a prayer to anyone who was listening on the airwaves and let myself out the window.

I realized this might not have been the best idea after the first few minutes of dangling in space.  At least it seemed that way as I waited for my dad to beam me up.  I thought about trying to swing back into the window when I finally felt the harness jerk me upward.  The sounds of gears trying their darndest to bring me to the roof before they returned to the metal dust they had been forged from was not music to my ears, but trust builds character.

When my head cleared the roof line I saw my dad at the controls of the small motor powering his winch.  He waved at me.  That would have been nice, but when he let go of the lever to do so it allowed the motor to turn off, and as it became obvious to me, the safety was not engaged.  I plunged back down below the roofline at a very alarming rate.  Of course the only alarm was me screaming like a little girl on the homemade version of the tower of terror ride, except there were no Tinkerbell going to sprinkle pixie dust on me and make me fly.  Luckily my dad must have kicked the winch back on.  I now have empathy for what a marlin must feel like when hooked.  Unlike the marlin I was very happy to be made catch of the day.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 15

Gary stopped the car in front of LaSin.  The building lost a lot of it’s mojo during the daylight hours.  Without the red silk rope adorned with bouncers and partiers left the place looking sad and old like the factory it used to be.  Pigs and pearls came to mind to Dan.

“I’m assuming he’ll be here,” Gary said as he opened his door.

Dan got out of the car.  “Yeah, he should be.  He wants to make sure the inside is ready for tonight.  They have live bands on Mondays, so he has them pull out the stage and do sound checks all day.  Jorge doesn’t like leaving anything to chance.”

“Sometimes I think you have too much connection with the guy,” Gary observed.  “You need to realize if you dance with the devil you’re going to give him his due.”

“He and I have a lot in common.”  Dan rubbed his shoulder.  It had been bothering him all morning and the aspirin he had taken wasn’t really touching the pain.

The front door was open and the sound of microphone feedback pierced the daylight.  Gary noticed Dan favoring his arm.  “Are you okay?” Gary asked

“I’m fine.  Loud noises don’t bother me much,” Dan replied.

“No man, your shoulder.  Did you ever go to the hospital?” asked Gary

Dan shrugged, then winced.  “Nah, it’s just sore.  A couple of days and I’ll be as good as new.”

Inside the club was down right cavernous without the partiers.  The stage now took up the left hand side of the dance floor.  The roadies were still setting up the amplifiers and lights that would make most touring rock bands jealous.  This is the one place where the local bands could play and feel like they were the rock start they dreamed of being.

Gary didn’t let it go.  “You know you’ve probably got rabies.  Next you’re going to give it to me.”

Dan looked around the floor and didn’t see Jorge.  He did notice that Jorge’s door was cracked open.  “He’s here.  Come on.”  Dan descended the stairs down to the dance floor with Gary in tow.

“Are you even listening to me?” asked Gary.

“Nope,” Dan answered simply.  “And that would mean I would have to bite you.  There’s not a chance in hell that’s happening.”

One of the roadies saw the two of them and moved to intercept.  Dan recognized him as the bouncer from Friday night.  “Got you pulling double duty?  I thought bouncers all had day jobs.”

The bouncer relaxed a bit.  “This is my day job.  Besides, my band is playing tonight, Pynk Tye.”

“Really?” Dan asked.  “What do you play?”

“I’m bass guitar and lead vocals,” The bouncer said.  “Think blues with a double dose of funk.”

Gary moved slightly between the Dan and the bouncer.  “That’s really nice and all, but we have like police work to do.”

Dan shrugged.  “I’ve got to apologize for him.  He doesn’t get music.”

The bouncer smiled.  “No problem man.  I just ask if you’re going to shut the place down again you do it after our gig.”

“I’ll try man, but no promises.”  Dan grabbed the bouncer’s hand and gave him a slap on the back.  The bouncer winced.  “You okay?”

“Yeah, just a sore spot.  Nothing much really.  Anyhow, I’ve got to run.”  The bouncer moved away quicker than he had come over, and that bothered Dan a bit.

“So I don’t appreciate music now?” asked Gary.

Dan stared at the bouncer and now that he paid attention to him Dan noticed that the bouncer was moving pretty stiffly.  Almost like he had been in a pretty tough fight, but nothing much seemed visible.  As a matter of fact, that was how Dan felt.  Dan mentally shrugged.  They were both tough guys and had to keep up that image, no matter what the pain.  Then again the bouncer’s band was named Pynk Tye?  Really?

Gary waved his hand in front of Dan’s face.  “Hello there.  Anyone home?”

“Sorry about that.  I was just thinking.”

“There’s a first time for everything.”

Dan didn’t honor the comment with a response.  Instead he made a beeline for the stairway leading to Jorge’s office.  Gary almost had to run to catch up.  They fell into lockstep as they exited the stairway and walked along the crosswalk.  Just before Dan reached for the door it swung in and Jorge emerged, dressed in a stained white shirt and chinos.  He stood before them, reeking of the tequila that was missing from the almost empty bottle in his hand.

“My favorite asshole friend and his asshole friend.”  Jorge swayed perilously on the crosswalk. He attempted to point at Gary.  “Does that make you twice the asshole, twice the friend, or both?”

That got to Gary, but Dan gave him the drop it look.  He turned his attention back to Jorge.  “I enjoy a drink as much as the next guy, but four fifths of tequila before ten?”

“Soon you’ll be joining me my friend.  Soon.”  Jorge stumbled against the railing of the crosswalk again.”

“Let’s go back in your office before something bad happens.”

“What can go worse?” asked Jorge.  Jorge dropped his bottle down to the bar below, shattering it, sending shards out wide.  Jorge leaned precariously over the railing.  “Clean that up!  We’ve got customers tonight,” he yelled to the people working on the stage.

Dan grabbed Jorge and helped him stand back up.  “Now that’s the Jorge I’m used to.  Let’s go have a chat.”

Gary moved into the office and held the door open.  Dan guided Jorge to his throne behind the table.  Dan noticed that the bandage on Jorge was gone, but the wound still looked bad, a piece of his forearm missing.  Dan’s hand drifted to his shoulder, doubt and fear creeping in.

Jorge reached into a drawer and pulled out another bottle of tequila.  “Would you boys care to join me?”

Gary took the bottle from Jorge.  “Man, you need help.”

Jorge tried to grab the bottle, but Gary kept it out of reach.  “Double the asshole,” he said bitterly.  He then reached into the drawer and removed another bottle.

Dan sat down across from Jorge and looked him in the eye.  “What ever trouble you think you’re in we can help.  Don’t do this man.”

Jorge’s laugh had a bitter hollow tone that was almost more gut wrenching then if he had broken down to cry.  “You really believe that?”  With shaking hands he opened the bottle.

Dan nodded.  “I do.  Come on man, help us.  It’s that guy that bit me the other night, right?”

Jorge looked Dan deep in his eyes, the bottle forgotten for the moment.  “Have you started having the dreams?”

Gary groaned.  “He’s lost it Dan.  We should bring him in and dry him out.”

Dan didn’t respond, dumbfounded and stumbling to put two thoughts together.  Jorge saw it immediately.  “You did.  He’s going to take you apart as he sucks you dry.  I tried to stop you, to save you.”

Jorge went back into his desk and took out a revolver.

Gary immediately pulled his firearm.  “Gun down and on the floor!”

Dan held up his hands, trying to calm down the situation.  “Gary ease up.”

“Gun down!”

Dan yelled, “Gary!  Stop!”

Jorge looked down the barrel.  “If I had shot you I could have saved you.  You were always my favorite asshole.”

Gary moved closer.  “Drop the weapon!”

Dan quickly snatched the gun away from Jorge.  Jorge looked at him with such sad eyes.  “Should have shot you.”  With that he put his head on the desk and fell asleep.

Gary took out his cuffs but now it was Dan’s turn to get mad.  “Put those things away!  He wasn’t going to shoot.”

“How the hell did you know?” Gary asked.

“It’s a stupid prop gun.  He kept it up here as backup for stupid thugs.”  Dan put the tequila bottles back in the drawer and ruffled Jorge’s hair, still thinking about the comment about the dreams.

Gary opened the chamber of Jorge’s gun and ejected a bullet.  “Looks like another great piece of detective work Sherlock effing Holmes.  That wasn’t a prop. We’re bringing him.”

Dan slammed his fist on the desk.  “No, we’re not.  He didn’t mean it.”

“He pulled a gun on two officers,” Gary answered with quiet anger.  “What didn’t he mean?”

Dan ran his hands threw his hair.  “Look, cut him some slack!  He got bit too.  See?”  Dan pulled up Jorge’s arm and showed Gary the bite.

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?” asked Gary.

Dan shrugged heavily.  “Look, I don’t know.  I’ve got to think.”

Dan tried walking out of the room but Gary grabbed him.  “There’s some weird shit going on here.  I’m your partner and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you don’t start explaining soon.”  He left the rest of the sentence unsaid, but it hung heavy in the air.

Dan looked at Gary’s hand and Gary let go.  Dan murmured, “He knew about the dreams.” and then walked out of the office.

Gary followed.  “What dreams?”  Dan ignored the question and continued, a man on a mission, and his mission was to get out of there.  Gary fell into silent stride beside him, wanting to ask more, but waiting, hoping Dan would let more come forth.

Halfway across the floor Dan found his attention drawn to the bodyguard working on the stage and the slow shaking of the bodyguard’s head made Dan stumble.  Gary caught him, but it barely slowed Dan on his march out.

Dan felt if the room was closing in on him.  Claustrophobia was never one of his foils, and to feel it in such a cavernous place would have made him laugh if he wasn’t experiencing it himself.  The goal was sunshine, a cleansing daylight that would banish the panic away.  Up the stairs he climbed, up out of the murk and dark and wave after wave of despair and helplessness he was feeling.

Emerging out onto the street helped relieve the pressure of the emotions he was feeling, but only some.  The waves still threatened to pull him under, but he felt his emotional legs growing stronger against the ragged surf.  He looked around taking everything in to root him even further in the moment.  He ended his circuit looking at a very concerned Gary.

“You okay there?” Gary asked.  “You’re starting to make me nervous.”

Dan closed his eyes and counted to ten silently.

“Dan?”

Dan opened his eyes, the panic storm over leaving him a bit weak in the knees, but otherwise still standing.  “I’m okay now.  It’s just I’ve been having dreams about the guy who bit me.  Then hearing Jorge talk about the dreams.”  Talking about it under the sun made the experience sound silly, even to his own ears.

Gary kept quiet for a moment before answering.  “I can see where that might freak you out, but you do realize that it’s all a coincidence.”

Dan headed for the car.  “Yeah, but what if it’s not?”

Gary unlocked the car and they both got in.  “Hey, maybe it’s a form of PTSD.  I heard that nightmares are part of that.”

Dan didn’t look fully convinced.  “From one bite?  I’ve been shot, stabbed, and used as a human punch dummy more times than I could count.  You would think that was more stressful.”

“Maybe,” Gary said, “but I’m not an expert.”  Gary then grinned a foolish me grin.

Dan started to get a bit pissed off.  “What is that supposed to mean?”

Gary shook off his smile.  “Sorry, just a wise ass comment I had to swallow.”

“If you do that you’ll choke and I’m not giving you the Heimlich.  What was it?” Dan asked.

Gary glanced at Dan.  “Just thinking you could answer the biting thing with trying to contact Evander Holyfield.”

Dan groaned.  “That’s about the most pitiful thing I’ve ever heard.”

“I hope not,” Gary retorted.

“Why?”

Gary smirked.  “We get to talk to Luigi next.”