Fallen From Mercy chapter 19

Dan popped two Advil and drank half of his coffee before coming up for air.  Gary stared at him, amazed that Dan had even come in.  Dan looked like a raccoon and his nose definitely didn’t look straight anymore.  Dan kept silent, trying not to let the buzz of the fluorescent lights get through the dull pounding he was already feeling in the base of his skull.  Bad enough the white light scared him when the elevators opened onto the precinct floor.

Gary gave Dan the are you going to come clean look, but Dan easily brushed it aside with the don’t even go there scowl.  Gary ignored the scowl.  “You can record your porn now you know instead of staying up late at night.”

“I wish it was that fun,” Dan hoarsely whispered back.  “Stupid dreams with that crazy guy who bit me.”

“He really got under your skin, huh?” Gary asked.

“You are almost funny.”  Dan sat on Gary’s desk, daring Gary to say something.

Gary took him up on the dare.  “Maybe getting bit is a phobia of yours that you didn’t know about.”

“I doubt it,” Dan said.  “Never had a problem before.”

“You’ve been bit that badly before?”  Gary asked.  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “I was watching this show the other night about weird phobias.  Anything could set it up,  a bad day with a dog, being bit by your cousin.  Hell almost any traumatic experience as a kid it could turn into a phobia.”

“I had a traumatic experience,” Dan said.  “Much worse than getting bit, trust me.”

Gary’s eyes lit up.  “Oh yeah, what happened.”

“I don’t want to think about it right now.”  Everything about Dan screamed drop it.

Gary didn’t notice.  “See, it’s that powerful you don’t want to even think about it.  Talk about it.  Confession can be a freeing experience.”

“Screw you and your confession.”

Gary feigned being slighted.  “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“I kiss your mom with this mouth,” Dan replied.  “Even slip her tongue.”  He then proceeded to stick out his tongue and wag it back and forth.

That stopped Gary in his tracks.   “That’s just wrong.”

“What can I say, she likes it.”  Dan picked up the paper Gary had been reading.

“Fine, we’ll leave your personal problems till a future opportunity.”  Gary pointed at the paper Dan was holding.  “That’s what I was able to find after I did some poking around,” Gary said.  “It looks like the investigation was legit.  Of course they didn’t come to vice until we had brought their canary in.”

Dan gave the paper a once over and handed it back to Gary.  “Doesn’t make sense.  Pops could have clued us in.  There’s something we’re missing.”

“I know that,” Gary said.  “I’ve put out feelers over in Pops’ neck of the woods.”  That got Dan to raise his eyebrows.  “I had a couple of favors I could call in from cases where I was able to give some evidence over to show their client was innocent,” Gary said.

Dan almost choked on his coffee.  “Bet that pissed off the prosecutors.”

“They didn’t know.  It was off the books.”

Dan saluted Gary with his coffee.  “Still, why the nice guy treatment?”

Gary shrugged.  “We’re supposed to catch the bad guys.”

“And she was cute?” Dan asked.

“That’s none of your business,” Gary said.  “Besides, when your back scratches you scratch it.”

Dan patted Gary on the shoulder.  “That’s the Gary I know.  Anything else?”

“Anything else?” Gary asked.  “Am I the only person bringing anything to this party or is someone calling this ‘Pop case, party of one’?”

“I talked to your informant yesterday.  It caused me more nightmares last night.”  Dan suppressed a shudder.

“You look like a hangover, not a nightmare,” Gary observed.

Dan glared at Gary.  “I have the twofer, thank you very much.  I’m blaming both on your man.”

“Fine, you get brownie points.”

“Thank you,” Dan said.

Gary quickly countered.  “But you’re buying lunch.”

“Kick a man while he’s down.”

“It’s been my experience it’s better to keep them down then to let them get back up,” Gary said with mischief in his eyes, “or at least that’s what my illustrious partner always tells me.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Dan said, but he decided to concede, “except maybe lunch.”

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Fallen From Mercy chapter 18

Dan looked at his bed and the beer in his hand.  He went back out into the living room and looked at his front door.  He checked all the locks and walked back to the bedroom.  “This is stupid,” he said.  Dan couldn’t bring himself to sleeping in his bed, so he went to the recliner and pushed back, downing the beer in one long pull and placing it next to the three others.  The clink made him jump a bit, but then he settled back down.  Jorge had a lucky guess.  Jorge saw the dark circles under Dan’s eyes, the way Dan was sluggish.  It was obvious that Dan hadn’t been sleeping.  Yeah, and when Dan himself was shitfaced he could throw bull’s-eyes repeatedly while blindfolded, not.

Dan struggled to keep his eyes open, but knew it was a losing battle.  Now the idea of being too drunk to dream didn’t sound so good.

That lucid dream feeling penetrated Dan’s drunken stupor.  He didn’t want to open his eyes, but he could feel Sean’s presence in front of him.

“Playing possum won’t help you, you know.  When I come to you, you can’t ignore me.  I won’t let you,” Pastor Sean said.

Dan still refused to open his eyes, but couldn’t help himself.  “Someone got up on the pompous ass side of the bed this morning.”

Dan could feel Sean lean close to his face.  “You still think this is a game?” Sean asked.

“The least you could have done is brush your teeth,” Dan replied.  “Your breath is atrocious.  Must be all that human flesh you eat.”

Sean slapped Dan across the face, slamming Dan’s head to the right.  “I think tonight I find out what makes you you.  Then I will unmake you step by step.  I will domesticate you.”

Dan spit out the blood in his mouth in Sean’s direction, his eyes still closed.  “Sorry there bud.  I’ve never learned how to cook.”

Dan heard a scraping sound from somewhere in front of him.

“What an ugly thing,” Sean gloated.  “Only something a father could love.”

Dan almost opened his eyes right then and there, but wanted to maintain some control.  He focused on his center assuming that this is only a dream.  He deeply hoped that he was right.  He really loved that ugly vase.

“I bet you have some good stuff in here,” Sean said.  Dan could hear Sean shake the vase.  “Let’s look inside, shall we?”

Dan laughed.  “Unless you’re looking for the remote or the church key then you’re out of luck,” Dan said.

“I think I just found something more interesting,” Sean purred.  “Let’s see.”

 

The back seat of the old Camaro was pretty tight, especially as he and Agatha were almost horizontal.  The chill air of late November fogged the windows, helping with the mood of there only being the two of them in the whole wide world.  Agatha’s shirt was already cooling off in the front seat and her bra was somewhere among his shirt on the floor below them.  He directed kisses up and down her body, each quiver from Agatha sending electrical shocks through his body.  Everything felt so right.  His hands began to drift lower, rubbing her skirt, shifting it ever higher.  She realized what he was doing and began to seize up.  He stopped and returned to her breasts and lips.  He felt her wariness evaporate as he kept showing her how much he wanted this moment, wanted her.

            “I love you,” he said.  She moaned in pleasure from hearing him say it again.  Her tongue sought his, her kisses as deep and passionate as his were.  She had wants as well.  She was telling him that.

            “I love you too,” Agatha breathed as they broke the kiss.

            Those words spurred him on.  Kissing her neck, nibbling lower, listening to her breathing, her moans and half formed words, trying to give her all he could, all that he was.  He shifted his lower body, grinding against hers, feeling hers respond, then Aggie began shutting it off.  He bent to kiss her again, but she pushed him off.

            “We can’t, I won’t,” Agatha said.  She looked around for her bra.  “That’s for after we’re married.  It’s wrong and dangerous.”

            “Dangerous?  How can something so good be that bad?” he asked.

            “We’re not ready to be parents,” she said.

            “But we love each other,” he pleaded.

            She shook her head.  “That doesn’t change the rules.  I would be going against who I am, what I believe.”

            “You don’t believe in us?” he asked.

            That question stopped her in her tracks.  He leaned in and gave her a kiss on her cheek.  “I know that I want to,” Dan said.

            “But what about what God wants?” she asked

            He realized he was treading on unstable ground, but he loved her so bad.  He wanted to prove it to her.  “Why did God give us this chance to be together?”

            “As a test,” she said.

            “So passing would mean denying who we are?”  Dan asked.

            “Sacrifice is sometimes needed,” Agatha responded

            He let that one hang in the air.

            “It’s not that I don’t want to,” Agatha continued, “but I promised myself that I would wait.”

            “So if we got married right now that would make you happy?” Dan asked.
Agatha sputtered.  “Are you crazy?  We can’t do that?”

            Dan looked Agatha in the eyes.  All the playfulness was gone.  It was replaced with the most serious face Dan had ever worn.  “I, Dan Cunningham take you, Agatha Crisp, to be my wife to cherish and hold in good times and bad, until death makes us part.”

            Agatha held very still, tears welling up in her eyes.  “Are you sure about this?”

            He felt so sure, there was nothing he wanted more in this moment.  He couldn’t bring himself to say anything.  He just put all his love out there and waited.

            Agatha looked at her hands where there should have been a ring.  He thought that’s it, no chance now.

            Agatha lifted her head and looked into his eyes.  “I, Agatha Crisp, take you, Dan Cunningham to be my husband, through sickness and health, in richness and poorness, to follow where you lead, till death do us part.”

            Dan was overcome with joy.  He kissed her gently at first, than harder, with the urge to show her how much he loved her, how much he wanted her. 

            Soon things were happening almost too fast to register.  Her panties on the floor of his car, him inside, their need pushing them on desire, wanting, love pouring from every inch of their combined bodies.

            Resting afterwards he pushed a stray lock of hair from her face.  She smiled at him and kissed his hand.  Contentment with what they had done, where the universe was at that moment, washed over the two of them as they cuddled in the darkness.  He thought how perfect this all is.

 

Dan’s eyes snapped open and he growled.  “Stay out of my head,” he said.  Sean didn’t even look up from the vase.  He pulled out another picture and looked at it.  Dan got out of the chair and Sean flicked his wrist and threw the picture between them.

 

            “I can’t come over.  I…” he paused, trying to figure how to say it, “I’ve decided to join the marines.”

            “Why?” Agatha asked, tears evident in her voice, even over the phone.

            “I want to be able to provide for you and our baby,” he responded.  He put another shirt into his duffle bag.

            “But why do you need to go into the marines?  My dad said he could get you a job at the plant.”  Agatha was on a roll now.  “You’d have to work the night shift at first, but it pays good and the benefits.”

            He didn’t want to go down this road, but she started it.  “I want it to be me who does this.  The other feels like it’s still your dad and I’m just following along.”

            Agatha laughed harshly.  “You can be so stubborn sometimes.”

            He tried to lighten the mood.  “That’s why you love me.”

            “So when do we get married?”  Agatha almost snapped his neck with this change of direction.

            “I think when I get somewhere a bit more stable?”  He didn’t mean for it to come out as a question.  She had him running now.

            “What’s more stable?” Agatha asked.  “Having me with you, or leaving me behind?”

            He decided to go for a different track.  “But do you want to have the baby at some base away from family and support?”

            “So you won’t take the job from my dad, but you expect his support for the baby.”  She was hot now.  Hot and looking for the fight.

            He hated the arguing and missed the nights cuddling under the stars.  “I’m going to send almost all of my paycheck to you.  I don’t want you to have to get money from your folks.  I want to do you good.”

            “Then what support do I need from my family?” Agatha asked.

            “I just figured you would want your mom and sister around to help, especially right after the baby is born,” Dan said.

            “But what about the baby’s father?”

            That question slapped him across the face.  He couldn’t answer that.  Not now.  “I am going to visit my grandfather for the next two weeks before shipping out.”

            “So you’re abandoning us?” she asked.  The tears were flowing now.  He was so glad he was on the phone and didn’t go to see her.  That would have been worse, for both of them.  It’s better this way.

            “No Aggie.  This is just for a bit, until I get through basic and get stationed.  Then I’ll send for you and the baby, and we can get married.”  Silence greeted him from the other side of the phone.  He decided to press on.  “Save part of the money I send you.  We can use it for the wedding then.”  The silence was still there, broken only by stifled sobs.  “I love you.”

            “I love you too,” a little voice said.  It tore at his heart, almost made him change his mind. This was the best plan though.  He’d thought about it for a couple of days now, and it made perfect sense. 

Agatha almost whispered, “I just…”

            He couldn’t help himself.  “What Aggie?”

            “Never mind.  If you really think this is best I have to trust you.  I took an oath to follow, even if it means staying behind.  I just love you so much.”

            “I love you too,” he said.  “I’ve really got to get going.  I’ll call you every week.  I promise, except during basic.  They don’t let us contact the outside.”

            “You do what you need to.  I’ll be waiting for you.  Till death do us part.”  There was a resolve in her voice that frightened and shamed him.

 

Dan blinked away the memory as Sean walked around the table to stand next to him.  “My goodness,” said Sean, “You do have some juicy moments around here.  I wonder what else you have hidden around here.”

“Why are you doing this?” asked Dan, already trying to find his center.

Sean took a couple of steps away and looked at a picture of Ruthie when she was five.  She had two bloody knees, but a proud look on her face as she peddled he bicycle without the training wheels.  Agatha looked a bit pale, but she had a matching proud look in her eyes.  Sean looked up form the picture.  “Because I can.  Some people say it’s impolite to play with your food, but I look at it differently.  You are now part of my flock and I am your shepherd.  The problem is people make shitty sheep.  A shepherd wants his sheep to be docile and follow his voice.”

“I can see where that would be a problem,” Dan interrupted.

That didn’t really stop Sean.  “I like it when my sheep realize their place.  Makes the shepherd’s life, my life, easier.”  He took out a cigarette and without lighting it placed it in his mouth.  The cigarette lit on its own.

“This is a no smoking building,” quipped Dan.

Sean blew smoke at Dan.  The smoke took on the shape of a dragon, blue eyes glowing from its demonic face.  “This is your broken ass dream.  If I want to smoke I will.”

Dan picked up a magazine and waved it dispelling the smoke dragon back to formless smoke.  “I hate to rush your stupid diatribe, but is this the part where you put me in my place or are you going to talk me back to sleep?”

Sean laughed.  “I will like breaking your will as I suck the soul right out of you.”

“I hope I give you heartburn,” Dan said as he lunged out and landed a strike to Sean’s stomach.  Sean folded over and Dan tried to connect with a knee to Sean’s face, but Sean danced out of the way.

Sean grew to three times his size and the ceiling overhead broke and gave way sending plaster cascading down like heavy snow.  The open ceiling exposed a white nothingness beyond.  Seeing the damage, Dan’s head felt like it was going to explode, and he fell to his knees due to the pain.  Sean grabbed Dan in one large hand and lifted him clear off the floor.  Sean squeezed and Dan could only emit a helpless yelp.  Sean threw Dan across the apartment.  He hit the back wall with a dull thud and collapsed into a ball on the floor.

Sean shrunk back down to normal.  “Now that’s a little better.”  Sean looked at the damage to the apartment and laughed.  “I think you need more remodeling.”  Sean pointed at the nothingness and pulled it towards him through the hole and into the apartment.

Dan rolled back and forth, pain pushing into him, permeating his entire being and he felt sanity begin to slip away a bit.  He tried his entering technique, fighting through the pain haze.  Little by little the pain subsided, and as he pushed it away the whiteness began to leave the apartment.

Sean released his hold on the white nothingness and leapt over the couch.  He charged Dan, kicking Dan in the face and flipping him onto his back.  Dan looked up at the hatred in Sean’s eyes.  “Cute trick,” Sean said.  Dan’s vision was then blocked by Sean’s fist punching him in the face.  “Try that again and I will just kill you.”

Dan checked his nose and saw blood.  He smiled a bit punch drunkenly.  “Killing your meal ticket doesn’t seem very smart, does it?”

Sean turned away disgusted and walked over to the shelves.  He looked at the trophies and picked one.  “This is the first trophy you ever won in martial arts.”

Dan propped himself up on his elbow.  “What of it?”

Sean snapped the trophy in half.  Dan felt the memory fracture.  Sean crushed the trophy into bits and placed them back on the shelf.  Dan realized he could remember bits and pieces of his first tournament victory, but nothing was clear.  It was all garbled.  Sean grabbed a ribbon he had one for marksmanship at the precinct.  Sean snapped his fingers and the ribbon caught fire and was consumed in seconds.  Dan could feel the memory turning to smoke in his head.  Soon he couldn’t remember what it was he had been thinking about.

Sean picked up another trophy, one that Ruthie had won in Buffalo her third year in Tae Kwon Do.  “Wait, don’t,” Dan pleaded.  He didn’t understand what was happening, but he didn’t want to forget more.  “Please.”

Sean smiled.  “I’m glad I finally have your attention.”  Sean collapsed the trophy into a pancake between his hands.  He tossed the distorted disk in front of Dan.  “Let’s see what kind of sheep you’ll be now.”

Dan heard Sean walk away, but his eyes stayed glued to the disk and the garbled memory that it was attached to.  Dan grabbed the disk and clutched it to his chest trying to remember.

Before going out the broken door Sean turned back and said, “Sweet dreams.  Till tomorrow night.”  Sean laughed as he crossed the threshold and was gone.

Dan could feel tears start to run down his face.  All he could think is what the hell just happened to me as dreamless sleep tore him away from his waking nightmare.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 17

Dan passed a twenty to a man that had made homeless his own fashion statement with a color clash of greens, yellows and reds that contrasted with his grey hair and pallid complexion.  The homeless man pushed the money into his pants and pushed his baby carriage full of goods down the street.  Dan dashed across the busy street and got into the car.

Gary watched the homeless man continue on his journey.  “Did Karro know anything exciting?”

Dan sprayed some sanitizer on his hand.  “How again do you know him?”

“He’s the most powerful person on this planet,” Gary responded.  “Didn’t he tell you about it?”

“Yeah, and he smells like salami that’s gone bad.  So once again, how do you know him?” asked Dan.  He rubbed his hands, then sanitized them again.

Gary pulled away from the curb and drove in the opposite direction that the most powerful man in the world took.  “Met him on a case when I walked the street.  I was amazed what he knew, but dealing with him weirds you out.”

Dan looked hard at Gary but he couldn’t see the sarcasm at all in Gary’s face.  “We are talking about the guy I just talked to, right?”

“Hey, without his help I never would have found Callisto in time to save Sarah Rynes,” Gary said with conviction.

“And that was?” Dan asked.  “Just because what he told me didn’t make sense.”

“What did he tell you?”

Dan rolled his eyes.  “He said that we should check at Sliders.  Some people who know some people might be able to help us with something.”

“That’s what he told you?”

“That’s it.”

Gary happily hit the steering wheel.  “Then we go to Sliders.  Did he give you a time?”

“A time?”

“For us to go.”

Dan’s I can’t believe this meter went to ten.  “To see some people, who know some people, who might help us, with something?  Sounds like a great use of time to me.”  Dan almost hurt himself using that much sarcasm in one sentence.

“And you talk to a woman about the future who books travel vouchers for a living.  My guy might not seem to be all there, but his information is usually solid.”

“And Zoey isn’t?”  Dan could see Gary was getting upset.  “Okay, then the most powerful person in the world told me I should try the Italian sausage and eggplant slider for lunch.”

“Then we go there for lunch tomorrow.”

“You know, if you hadn’t decided to forget his tip you wouldn’t have to pump me for information.”

Gary sighed.  “Yeah.  He won’t take it now.”  Gary grinned his screw you grin.  “Besides, I can tell he likes you.”

Dan wasn’t impressed.  “Next time I might forget my wallet as well.”

“Just wait.  This will work out,” said Gary.

“That’s what she said,” replied Dan.

 

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.

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.”

Fallen From Mercy chapter 14

Fleetwood Downs was what all horse tracks aspired to if they wanted to be stuck in the seventies with a slicked back bad comb over.  That was also the era of men that were still attracted to the place.  It was a good place for the horses though.  The track was one mile long of the most perfect dirt for racing this side of Kentucky, or from the other side for that matter.  As such it was a great place to break in, be it a trainer, owner, jockey or thoroughbred.  It was also a place where backdoor deals were all too possible by people looking for that extra edge to get them noticed and into the big leagues.

Dan and Gray checked through what can only be loosely called security and headed down past the track to the stables.  The way wasn’t marked, but anybody with a nose and a constitution could find the place.  The horses snorted their hellos to the two as they entered one of the buildings.  Gary looked into a couple of the stalls admiringly.

“People say lions are the kings of the beasts, but give me a horse any day,” Gary said.

Dan was too busy avoided stepping in manure to enjoy the show of horseflesh.  “Well, people don’t need to worry about getting eaten by horses.  That might be one reason to vote for the lions.”

“It isn’t about ferocity, though horses have that in spades,” Gary replied.  “It’s about the poise and power that a horse has.  They even smell of untapped energy that with a twitch of the reigns turns into pure speed.”

Dan grimaced looking for something that wasn’t horse, or speaking about horses.  “Wax poetic when I can’t smell all that untapped energy.  Remember, we’re here for Luigi.”

Gary sighed.  “You just don’t understand.”

“No, I understand.  You’ve got a jones for horses.  Been there, heard about that.  Especially last time Luigi tried his game.”  Dan kept moving through the minefield looking for daylight.

“That’s right,” Gary said.  “I guess Luigi isn’t all bad after all.  At least he appreciates one of the finer points of life.”

Dan didn’t even turn around.  “He appreciates one thing, cash.  That’s all this stuff means to him.”

Gary gave one horse a gentle pet on its nose.  “Cynic.”

Finally Dan saw a guy he recognized from the last time he was here, but after a quick mental check, couldn’t remember his name.  “Hey, you there.  Have you seen Luigi?”

The guy smiled showing his missing front two teeth.  “Who’s Luigi?”

Dan lost it and rushed the guy, grabbing him by his shirt and slamming him against the wall.  “Don’t give me that horse crap!  Where’s Luigi?”

The guy lost his smile.  “I don’t know who you talking about.”

“What’s wrong with you?” asked Gary as he forced Dan to release the guy.  “Sorry Sid.  My partner is having a mid life crisis and has decided to take it out on everyone he meets.”

Sid smiled his toothless grin again.  “That’s okay Mr. Sherman.  People pick on me a lot.”

Gary looked at Dan.  “Well that doesn’t mean Dan shouldn’t apologize.  Right Dan?”

Dan sheepishly bowed his head.  “Sorry about that.”

“That’s okay,” Sid said.  “I have it happen all the time.”

“Anyone out in the paddock?” asked Gary still giving Dan the evil eye.

Sid thought for a second.  “Handyman’s Special is out there.  He’s got a race tomorrow.”

“Let’s go check him out,” Gary said.

Dan looked around.  “You go ahead.  I’m going to poke around the grandstand.”

“Can you behave yourself?” asked Gary.

Dan was still annoyed, but knew he had to swallow his pride on this one.  “Yeah, I think I can keep myself out of trouble.”

Gary stared at him a second, trying to figure out if Dan was pulling his leg, but eventually he gave in.  “Alright.  I’ll meet you up there after talking to a couple of people down here.”

Dan didn’t reply as he walked back through the minefield.  He just knew he needed space to think about things.  Why was he getting so emotional?  This was so unlike him.  Yeah, he was spontaneous, but this was way beyond that.  Was this a symptom of rabies?  Could you get rabies from another human bite?  Would that explain the dreams?

By the time Dan had asked all those questions and answered none he was at the grandstand.  The place was mostly deserted since the first post wouldn’t be for another two hours.  After walking the length and breath of the place he began looking for Gary.  He found Gary at the betting windows.

“Trying to strike it rich?” asked Dan.

Gary placed a twenty into the window.  “Nope, but Handyman’s Special sort of spoke to me.”

Dan couldn’t resist.  “You found the racing equivalent of Mr. Ed?”

“Funny guy,” Gary said.  “You won’t understand, so I won’t even bother trying to explain.  But I do have some good news.”

“Oh yeah, what is that?” asked Dan

Gary pocketed his ticket and moved from the window.  “I was talking to Handyman’s Special’s trainer and he was approached a couple of days ago by our man.  Wanted to see if the trainer was interested in setting up a deal where they throw the next two races.  He was promised that he would then get his turn to be in the spotlight in the next three races.”

Dan smiled.  “That sounds like our Luigi.  Did the guy refuse?”

“Would I bet on a horse that the trainer agreed to throw the race?” Gary asked.

Dan thought for a minute before responding.  Then his eyes lit up.  “You sly dog.”  Dan punched Gary in the arm.

Gary moved out of reach.  “What now?”

“You just bet a race where other horses might have taken Luigi’s offer, cutting down on the competition,” said Dan.  “Where morally do you stand on that?”

“I’ll be fine if we grab Luigi and bust this thing open in the next few hours,” Gary said.  “Besides, I already sent a car to pick up our friend.  The trainer is willing to testify, so that should put the kibosh on any fix.”

“You know you’re no fun ever since you started going to church.” said Dan.

“That’s not what Agatha said,” Gary replied.

Dan looked surprised.  “Agatha said you were fun?”

“Yeah, she did.  Is that so wrong?” Gary asked.

“No, but we need to work on getting you two to the next level.”  Dan started walking to the car.

“You know that won’t happen anytime soon,” Gary said as he fell in beside his partner.

“Don’t squash my hopes man.  At least you’re in the game,” Dan said.  A smile spread on his face.  “We have hope.”

“You of all people should realize she is a till death do I part type,” Gary responded.

“One step at a time,” Dan said.  “Maybe a Mark Twain could be arranged.”

“And who gets to pull the trigger that you greatly exaggerate?” asked Gary.

Dan paused for a second to think then continued walking.  “No one yet.  Just keep up the good guy pose and let me work on the rest.”

“It’s not a pose,” Gary said.

Dan patted Gary on the back.  “Don’t worry, I won’t tell her.”

Gary gave Dan the number one salute.

Dan smiled.  “See what I mean.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 13

Gary’s car was a graveyard of coffee containers and fast food wrappers waiting to be recycled when the car was crushed.  The old Caprice Classic looked like she had seen better days, but Gary pampered her and if you looked under the hood you would see a gleaming power plant that would make a Detroit engineer blush.  He drove her with care and respect of an old lover.

Dan tried to avoid looking at the center of the dash.  There in the place of honor was a rabbit’s foot and the chattering teeth.

Gary finished his coffee and tossed the latest archeological treasure on top of its brethren.

“Tell me, why did we take your car?” asked Dan.

Gary ignored the comment.  “Maybe instead of going to your psychic hottie you could ask the chattering teeth.  They might know all and it would be cheaper.”

Dan pointed at the rabbit’s foot.  “You making fun of Zoey’s powers when you have a rabbit’s foot on your mirror?”

“You believe in luck as much as I do,” Gary responded and made the teeth chatter some more.

“I believe in luck, but not rabbit’s feet.  Come on, how lucky was the rabbit that gave that one up?” Dan asked.

Gary slapped the dashboard.  “Duh!  Much luckier afterwards.  See they only work if you have odd numbered lucky objects.  Four legs means no luck.  Everything cancels.”

Dan couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  “So you’re telling me that it was better for the rabbit to lose it’s foot.”

“Have you seen a three legged rabbit?” asked Gary.

“No.”

“See, lucky enough to not get caught again.”  Gary started to laugh.

Dan tried once again.  “Why did we take your car.?”

Gary pulled over to the curb and pointed.  “There he is.”

The he was Victor “Pops” Salvatore.  He was in his mid seventies and always dressed in black pin stripe suits and black fedoras with a feather.  Today’s color was red.  That meant either he was on the warpath or it was closest to the top when Victor was heading out.  Age wasn’t his friend and his mind wasn’t as sharp as it had been a few years ago.  Still he was a man to be reckoned with if only for who all still owed him a favor.

Pops walked into Paul’s Barber Shop.  Paul’s was a family place, both with a small f and big F, to find out what was going on.  Currently three generations of Pauls kept up the business.  The patriarch, Paul, the son Pauli, and the grandson Lil Paul held court there every Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment on Monday.  Sunday was a day of rest.

Dan stopped the teeth from chattering.  “Looks like we can get a haircut as well.”

Gary got out of the car and rubbed his hand along his bald head.  “Did mine this morning.”

“Sucks to be you then.”  Dan opened the door to a gentle jingle of bells and held it open for Gary.  “Age before beauty.”

“Wisdom before stupidity,” muttered Gary as he walked past Dan and into the shop.

Pauli and Lil Paul, sporting the same cut as Gary, were sitting in their barber chairs reading the paper.  Paul and Pops were no where to be seen.  Pauli spoke up first.  Pointing to his smooth dome he said,   “Hey man, glad you decided to join the brotherhood.”

Gary laughed.  “I can understand why I do it, but you guys?”

Lil Paul chimed in, “Show the customer the worst case scenario.  Hard to complain about a bad hair cut then.”

“True enough,” Dan said running his hand through his hair, “but I think I don’t think I’ll apply for membership today, thank you very much.”

Pauli got down to business.  “So what can we do you guys for?”

“We were wondering if we can ask Pops a question,” Dan answered.

Lil Paul looked at his dad.  “Did you see Pops come in?”

Pauli shook his head.  “Nope, haven’t seen him today.  So unless you’ve come for a haircut or shave.”  Pauli let the sound die right off.

Dan got tense.  Gary sensed it and placed a hand on his arm.  “Sorry about that,” Gary said.  “My eyes must have been broken because I was sure I saw him come in here.”

Pauli stood up and put on his don’t mess with me pose.  “Happens all the time.  Have a nice day.”  The silence said far more than Pauli ever could, even if Pauli had wrote War and Peace.

Gary started to walk out, partially dragging Dan with him.  After the bell tinkling from opening the door faded back into the silence Gary threw out, “If you do see Pops, tell him that Cunningham and Sherman are going to pick up his nephew Luigi for breaking parole.”

Lil Paul laughed.  “We’re barbers, not answering machines.”

Pauli looked at Lil Paul and let his silence speak for him again.  Lil Paul almost fell as he jumped out of his chair and quickly went into the back room.  Gary let the door close, enjoying the sound of the bells once again.  Dan finally started to calm down.  He looked at Dan, but Dan shook his head, wanting to match the volumes Pauli was saying.

Lil Paul came out of the back room a bit flustered, but he managed to keep his voice neutral.  “I guess Pops must have sneaked in while Dad and I weren’t looking.  He’s waiting for you in the back.”

“Of course,” said Gary.  He turned to Pauli.  “Happens all the time.  Have a nice day.”

Pauli never pulled his gaze off of Gary as Dan and Gary walked into the back.  There were three doors back there, but only one was open and had sounds coming from it.  Dan pulled his arm from Gary’s hold and whispered, “Why did…”

Gary cut him off.  “What’s getting into you?”

“Nothing,” Dan said.

“Better not.”  With that Gary left Dan and entered the back room.

The back room was definitely a notch above the barren front of the shop.  Here there was only one chair and it was occupied by Pops.  Paul had not followed his son and grandson and proudly wore his white hair long and wild, almost Einsteinesque.  He was lathering Pops for what looked and smelled like quite the luxurious shave.

Pops waved at Dan and Gary.  “I would invite you to sit and cut the shit with me boys, but as you see, we don’t have no chairs back here, so let’s make it quick before my lather goes away.”  Paul stepped behind the chair and picked up the straight razor, but held off starting the ritual.

Dan decided to take back control from Gary.  “Sorry about bothering you Pops, but Luigi’s been seen at the track again.”

Pop’s dismissed it with a wave.  “Luigi is always at the track, that’s his problem.  We all have problems.  Why you making it my problem?  I don’t like problems.”

But he’s not supposed to be there,” Dan continued.  “That was part of his plea deal.”

“Look, I’ll talk to him, so go on home and do something important.”  Pops waved impatiently for Paul to begin his shave.

Dan didn’t let up.  “But he’s talking to the jockeys.  Trying to fix races.  We can’t ignore that.”

“Can’t, or won’t?”  Paul seemed to take over for his customer as he expertly attacked the lather.  “There’s a big difference there.”

“Can’t.”  Dan waited for the response.

Paul looked at Pops and nodded.  “Do it.  Just make sure he knows Pops isn’t happy about it, or him.”

Dan nodded.  “That will mean a lot.  Thanks Pops.  See ya Paul.”

“Don’t let the door hit you in ass on the way out.”  After that Paul went back to work, ignoring them completely.

Pauli and Lil Paul glared at Gary and Dan as they left the shop.  “Have a great day.” Gary teased as they left the shop, the only response was the tinkle of the bells from the door closing.

Gary got into the car and slammed the car door.  “I hate asking a civilian, and I do say that in the most loose sense of the word, if I can go arrest a goofup that can’t even follow simple parole directions.  Directions that the loosely called civilian helped write up.”  Gary pealed away from the curb and put on the siren.

“Isn’t that a bit much?” asked Dan.

“No.  Not after that,” said Gary.  Gary weaved in out of traffic on the way to the track.

“You’ve got to admit.  If we hadn’t done that Pops would be pulling every trick in the arcane book of lawyerdom, including favors to make sure Luigi got out, or at the very least made us look bad.  You know what they say, an ounce of prevention…”

Gary grimaced and hit the horn to get a slow car to move out of the way.  “An ounce of prevention feels like a rose bush up my ass.”

Dan shifted in his seat.  “Ouch, that seems a bit harsh.”

That got a laugh out of Gary.  “True enough.  I hope I get my pound of cure though.”

“And that is?” Dan asked.

Gary put on his evil smile.  “Luigi resists arrest.”

Dan smiled too.  “Now that sounds good to me.”