Jack

 

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

― Sun Tzu

 

Frank was behind the bar which is where he always was.  Pauli, Carmen and Carmen Junior sat at the table next to the rusty cigarette machine a few feet away.   You could tell Pauli was nervous.  He kept fiddling with his keys, his eyes darting between the door and the table in front of him.  He was anxious about who was expected and didn’t need to hear Carmen and Junior spouting off about taxing or waxing the guy.  To Pauli, that was pure madness.

“Listen,” Pauli said, “Just give him the money so we can live another day in peace.”

“Fuck him,” Junior barked.  “Say the word and I’ll bust a cap in him the minute he walks through the door!”

“Not today”, said Carmen shaking his head.  “We got a couple more notches for him to carve in his gun barrel.”

The sawed-off shotgun sat on the shelf at Frank’s knees.  It had been there forever.  Usually it made him feel fairly safe, but not today.  He checked it for the third time, and found it fully loaded once again.   I ain’t fired this thing in quite a while, he thought.  It should still work but….

“I’m not going to pay that son of a bitch!” declared Carmen.  “The way I see it, he owes me one on the house.”

“Yeah,” agreed Junior swilling down the rest of his bourbon.  “Let that motherfucker sweat one time.”

The bar was over a hundred years old and smelled every second of it.  Everything was worn out, faded, dented and dirty. The chairs were sticky, the floorboards creaked and the lone, crusty ceiling fan pushed more dust than air.  It hadn’t made money in decades, at least not from alcohol sales.  Carmen didn’t give one fuck about that.  This is where he came to make pay-offs and take collections.  He didn’t want random customers wandering into the joint.

“Just pay him the money, Carmen.”  Pauli’s face was a little more blanched than usual. His leathery skin looked like it had aged in dog years.  He and Carmen had been in business together four decades now, but Pauli never had any stomach for the rough stuff.  He was the brains.  Carmen was the muscle.  Pauli figured he had enough money and didn’t want to push his luck in any direction where he might end up dead.  He had two mansions, three yachts and a condo in Naples.  That’s where I should be right now, he thought!  Not risking a pissing contest with the guy got a fire hose for a cock.

Junior, being Carmen’s eldest son, lived in a shadow black as ink and larger than life.  It was doing a number on his ego.  He was always trying to embiggin himself.  Junior was like a cartoon character gangster.  The gold plated Glock .45 strapped under his left arm looked more like Hollywood bling than a deadly weapon.   He wore track suits that would blind Liberace.  Junior was big like a refrigerator and cold like one, too.  Steroids and free weights made him rock hard and antsy like frog on an electrified fence.  Like his father he wasn’t satisfied with merely having a metric ton of cash.  He wanted to be the baddest motherfucker on the block, too.

Leaning on the bar Frank was literally and softly whistling Dixie.   He did this anytime he was nervous.  He knew that the deadliest hitman in the history of Greater Metropolitan Detroit would be there any minute now.  The dude wouldn’t be armed.  No one ever came heavy for meetings with Carmen and Pauli, but the dude was just as scary un-armed.  All Frank had to do was drop down behind the bar.  It had been reinforced with three-quarter inch high carbon steel plates a decade ago.  When and if he came back up that double-barrel would be in his hands.  If nothing else he would be sure to deafen anyone left alive in the joint.

When Frank looked up from the shotgun, he damn near shit his pants!  “Jack”, he stammered.  “I didn’t even hear you come in!”

Neither had anyone else, but there he stood.  He was wearing a black hoodie, black sweat pants and black sneakers.  It was the first time they’d seen him wearing anything other than an Armani suit.   This was not good sign.  Frank started making himself shorter.

Junior reacted first.  Popping up from his chair he approached Jack directly.   He held up his non-shooting hand and said, “You know I gotta do this, Jack.”   He walked like he was trying to shake a frog out of his drawers.

Jack shrugged and raised his arms to let Junior pat him down.  He’d been through this routine a thousand times.  When Junior discovered no weapons the tension in the room dialed down a notch or three.  Junior took his seat, and Jack sat across from Carmen with Pauli on his left.  Junior was on his right.  He did not sit square in the seat, but instead angled himself toward Junior.  “Just came from the gym,” he lied.

“This is a business meeting and you come in gym clothes?” asked Carmen.  It really didn’t matter, but Carmen was intent on bending this guy a little.  It was important Junior see him wield power.  Jack’s radar was already on high alert.  He’d spotted surveillance cameras trained on the bar while trying to find a parking spot so he picked up the ‘disguise’ before coming in.  Right now he decided to stay cool and let things play out some more.  “Where’s my money?” he demanded.

“I’m not paying you, Jack.  You come into my place of business and you disrespect me by wearing a clown outfit, like some ghetto rat goes around jacking cars, and you demand money?  You’re lucky I don’t have Junior take you out back and teach you some lessons, Jack!”

It jumped off so fast only Jack knew what happened.  His left hand speared Junior’s wind pipe while his right hand grabbed the gold-plated Glock out of its holster.  He got off two rounds into Junior’s chest before anyone could move an inch then spun around and blew off the top of Frank’s head just before it cleared the bar.  A blood-red spray sprang onto the filthy barroom mirror behind him.  Staring down the smoking barrel of the Glock, Carmen’s.  butthole was so tight it could’ve crushed a golf ball.

“The money,” demanded Jack.

Carmen’s quivering hand removed a fat envelope from his breast pocket, and threw it on the table.

“Your office,” instructed Jack, waving the Glock under Carmen’s nose.  “The both of yous.”

Jack could hardly believe it.  The fucking safe door was already open!  He looked over at Carmen and said, “What good is a safe if you don’t lock the safe door, Carmen?” and then shot him between the eyes.

Pauli was brave.  He said, “Jack, can I at least sit down before you shoot me?  I don’t know why, but I just don’t want to die standing up.”

“Sure” replied Jack.  He shot Pauli in the knee and smiled at the high pitch scream bursting from his tired old lungs.  Pauli hopped around on his one good leg at least twice before falling over.   When his butt hit the floor Jack shot him in the head.  It was the least he could do.

 

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

― Sun Tzu

 

“Well Jack, seem you have only two options.  You can run and hide, or you can kill yourself.  Of course, some day they find you.  They always do, unless you let me send you China.”

“Very funny, Chu.  I’d rather whack myself,” Jack replied.

Chu smiled, which was a rarity.  That is why Jack liked him so much.  He didn’t give a fuck about nothing and was chronically hard core and this was amusing.  Chu had never been to China, nor did he know anyone who lived there.  He pretended to be Chinese right down to the phony accent.  Both his parents were Chinese but he was born and raised in the Cleveland.  He felt being Chinese gave him a mystique.  Chu was a double X super master tenth degree black belt in whoop ass and had taught Jack everything he knew about the subject, along with about a dozen other operators around the world.  Chu was a ‘kill people’ tutor, but he was not without a sense of irony.

“So, Grasshopper, what you going to do?”

It was Jack’s turn to smile.  “Kill me a bunch of Wops, I guess.”

“I so happy hear you say that,” replied Chu.  “Only pussies run away and hide.”

“I’m going to need some equipment and intel.  Can you get with your boys for me?”

“Your wish my command, Sahib. My feet like wings,” replied Chu, bowing with great exaggeration.  “You want me jack you off now too, Jack?”

“Ha ha, very funny. Besides, your hands are too bony, Old Man.”

*****

Bennie was on his cell phone talking to Nickie the Neck.  The FBI was just there and showed him the picture of the face reflected on the glass. It was Jack for sure, but he claimed ignorance.  He surely didn’t need no FBI guys crawling up his ass, and didn’t need Nickie the Neck wanting an exclusive contract either.  Bennie refused to budge.  “Whoever brings me that prick’s head first gets the million bucks, Nickie. That’s the deal.”

“Well, what if I whack the guy that whacks Jack, and I bring in the head?” asked Nickie.  Shooting people was how Nickie solved most problems.  He had a one track mind.  He was an unusually poor shot, but always carried lots of bullets.

“I don’t give a fuck, Nickie!  It ain’t my money!  You do something pisses off Sonny that’s your business.  He whacks you, who gives a fuck?  Are you feeling me, Nickie?  Just kill the prick and bring me the fucking head already!  I’m supposed to be in Miami now!  Oh yeah, and the FBI just came to see me. Don’t do nothing stupid, okay?”

“I’m just warning you right now, Bennie.  Anybody gets in my way I’m gonna blow their brains out and ask questions later.  That’s a lot of money we’re talking about here.  Marie wants a new kitchen with that oven what goes into the refrigerator or some shit.  She never shuts up about it.  I’m gonna have to start sleeping in my fuckin’ car!”

Bennie hung up.  Fucking Sonny!  He hated working for Sonny.  He should be in Miami right now but fucking Sonny wanted him to handle this personally.  Why couldn’t Bluto or Brows take care of this?  Shit, Sonny hated fucking Carmen!  He should be giving Jack the million dollars!  Bennie turned to go back through the kitchen door of his restaurant, but that wasn’t going to happen.  Instead, he came face to face with Jack.

How in the fuck?

“Give me the phone,” demanded Jack.  He had Junior’s gold plated Glock in his hand.

Bennie tried begging.  “Please Jack I’m not in the muscle end of this thing.  You don’t gotta shoot me!”

Jack took the phone.  He granted Bennie’s final request and broke his neck with a swift chop from the blade of his hand.  The snap was louder than Jack expected in that deserted alley.  He looked around and saw nobody, so he left the body where it fell and headed for his car parked around the corner.

*****

Because he was such a poor shot Nickie liked to grab people by the throat and shoot them in the face.  That is how he got his name.  But, then one day he shot a bit too low and blew off his own thumb so now he just shot guys from a couple feet away, and usually from behind.  The name however, continued to stick.

Nickie’s wife nagged him relentlessly about stuff that made his brain rattle.  To get away from her nagging, Nickie the Neck would slink out to his car to play his thousand watt stereo until he calmed down.  Nickie had very eclectic tastes.  He liked a little of everything.  He turned the key, and after only a brief delay James Brown was singing how he’d paid the cost to be the boss.  Nickie really liked this song.  He bounced and wriggled in the seat of that Escalade like he was backing up James himself.  And then Nickie the Neck saw Jack’s face in the rearview mirror.

“Turn it down!” hollered Jack.

Slowly Nickie reached forward and turned the volume knob on his stereo.  “Hey Jack, did you know Bennie is looking for you?”

“Shut up, Nickie. Give me your phone!”

Surrendering his phone with a shaky hand Nickie pleaded, “Not in the face, Jack!”

Coming from Nickie the Neck, Jack found this request ironic.  Jamming the barrel of the Glock into the back of Nickie’s head he squeezed off a single round.   By the time the slug reached the back of Nickie’s face, it had expanded and fragmented and spalled which created a jagged hole the size of a fist as it exited.  Nickie’s brains and blood left a mess on the dashboard and windshield of the Escalade and that pleased Jack to no end.  James Brown didn’t miss a beat.

“Look at me

you know what you see,

you see a bad mutha!”

*****

Special Agent Cogent and Special Agent in Charge Sterwid stared at the photo on the desk. It was just a face reflected against a filthy pane of glass taken by a camera one hundred feet away. But, right next to that picture was the picture they just got back from the NSA computer which enhanced the first picture a hundred fold.  “That shit really works,” declared Special Agent Cogent and Special Agent in Charge Sterwid agreed. Bennie Bellotti about shit his pants when they flashed that picture.

“That was a waste of time,” proclaimed Cogent.  “We got a face, but no name.”

“Yeah, let’s just do what we always do in this situation and put up a bunch of wanted posters and wait for some snitch to give us a lead,” suggested Sterwid.

“What the Hell.  This guy’s a ghost.  We’ll never get over-time approved to chase his dumb ass.”  Cogent was serious.  He needed overtime badly.  “Let’s get on Nickie the Neck and see where he leads us.”

“Wait a minute, let’s think this through,” countered Sterwid.  “If we could think of an angle to call this a terrorist threat we’d definitely get some OT!  Maybe we say the mob is laundering money for Haji and we think they got greedy so the terrorists hired dumb ass here to collect.”

“Yeah, that might have legs,” agreed Cogent.  “We’ll claim he’s from Sicily or some shit.”

“Yeah, and we know Sonny owns that meth lab and is distributing to them punks over in Dearborn Heights.  What their name?”

“Haji,” answered Agent Cogent proudly.

“It’s only a small lie.  We can milk this for at least a month, I bet!”

“Yeah, especially if shit keeps happening.”

‘Yeah, wonder what we can do to expedite that?” wondered Agent Sterwid.

*****

 “If your enemy is of colic temper, irritate him and draw him out into our battle.”

–Sun Tzu

 

          Sonny had a diner on Linwood at Chicago Boulevard and Jack liked eating there.  This was one place he would not blow up or burn down.  He liked it because the service was great and the cook reminded him of Alice from The Brady Bunch.  Jack ordered ham and eggs and coffee.  As usual, his waitress gave him great service, but today he left her a three hundred dollar tip instead of the usual twenty spot.  He was gone before she knew it.  She didn’t see the busboy nab the cash either.  The busboy lurked nearby not feeling guilty at all.  But then Jack circled back.  He sat down in the same seat and in seconds the waitress was by his side pointing her pencil and scowling.  She studied Jack hard this time around and picked up the scent of gangster.  How did I miss that before?

Jack cut her off before she could speak.  “You’re new here aren’t you, Dorothy?  Please, sit down,” he asked politely.  Dorothy sat down, but wasn’t happy about it.

“I’ll give you ten, no twenty thousand dollars if you send flowers to this guy I’m about to tell you who he is.”

“Make it thirty,” snapped Dorothy, wondering if this was some kind of stupid joke.  She even scanned the room for hidden cameras.

Jack smiled.  “Make it forty,” he countered.  After all, it was Carmen’s money, and this lady looked like she could use the cash.

After giving him a rather queer look, Dorothy said, “Are you serious?”

“As a heart attack, Dorothy.  Write down the name.  I want them flowers to arrive first thing in the morning.”

“When do I get the money?”

“Soon as you make this list.  It’s in my car.”

*****

Potted plants and flowers began arriving at Sonny’s offices on the fifty-third floor of the Rec Cen five minutes after they opened.  Every flower shop in the greater Detroit Metropolitan Area was delivering something or another.  One came every ten minutes or so and each was addressed to a different employee.  The harried security guard thoroughly checked every delivery person and package, but found nothing suspicious.

Sonny rolled in at his usual time of elevenish o’clock.  He was the only gangster in the entire building and this was a matter of personal pride for him.  If he was going to be on top, he wanted to be there in every way possible.  Next year, when the offices on the seventy-seventh floor opened up, he would move the entire operation upstairs.  He noticed immediately all the flowers and asked, “Where in the fuck all these flowers come from?”

“You got a call in your office, Mr. Flabino,” reported his receptionist and niece, Marie, totally ignoring his question.  “The guy said it’s important.”

“Everything’s important,” barked the King of Detroit strolling through the plate glass doors to his corner office.  He picked up the phone and pressed it to his ear then noticed the funeral wreath tucked in the back corner of the office.  What the fuck?

“Sonny, Bubby!  How’s life treating you?  Did you’s guys get the flowers I sent?”

Sonny looked at the caller ID. “Jesus Christ, Jack, you gotta a lot of balls!  Why you calling me on Bennie’s phone?”

“He don’t need it, Sonny, on account of he can’t hear no more. Or dial and stuff.”

Sonny took the bait.  “MOTHERFUCKER!”

“And I thought you were a hard-ass all this time,” replied Jack.  “Say, Sonny, did you check the flowers for C-4?”

Four hours later, after the Detroit Police Bomb Squad had assured Sonny there were no explosives in the flowers and the landlord had changed his pants, Sonny was still in a sour mood.  Pouring himself a stiff drink he stared out the big window and cursed Jack aloud.  “Motherfucker, you are gonna get yours, asshole!”

Sonny’s personal cell phone rang just then.  He checked the number before answering.  It was Nickie the Neck.  “Yeah”, he said.

“Hey Sonny, it’s me, Jack.  I got a question for you.”

“How’d you get Nickie’s phone, Jack?”  And then he thought about his question for a second, and felt like a fool.

“What can I say?” answered Jack.  “Listen Sonny, I just want to ask you if I whack myself do I get to collect the million bucks?”

Sonny almost answered, but then remembered he was on his personal cell phone and anyone could be listening.  “What are you talking about, Jack?  I don’t know nothing about that.”

“Sure you do,” replied Jack.  “I’ll give you a minute to remember. In the meantime, too bad about your Bugatti.”

 

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

–Sun Tzu

 

Chu was throwing knives at a Vegetarian cookbook nailed to a tree in his backyard when Jack arrived.  Chu did this often to relax.  “Hey Jack!  Glad see you ain’t whacked yet. Did you bring Cheez Whiz?”

Jack reached in his pocket and threw the Cheez Whiz to Chu.   “You got any more of that C-4 lying around, Chu?”

“No, but I got shit load thermite.  That do?”

“Yeah.  I need a mercury switch and a digital detonator, too.”

“It’s in garage.  Help yourself,” replied Chu letting go another knife.

*****

Sonny sat at his desk fuming.  Fucking Jack!  He was making him look weak and stupid. He’d gone through his entire rolodex of hitmen this afternoon exhorting every one of them to work fast and do it messy.  When his phone rang he answered without even checking the number.  That was a mistake.

“Hey Sonny, go over to them offices where you can see your marina from on the east side. I’m about to sink your yacht.”

“God damn it, Jack, you touch that yacht and I’ll have your balls for lunch, you motherfucker!  And stop calling me on Nickie’s fucking cell phone!”

There was no “boom” per se.  The yacht just suddenly became enveloped in a huge ball of flames.  And then the yachts on both sides of Sonny’s starting going up, too.  And then the whole marina was burning out of control.  How’d that happen so fast?

Jack said, “That thermite shit can burn anything, Sonny.  You want, I can send you over a quart or two.”

Sonny couldn’t respond because he’d already thrown his cell phone at the wall.  Sonny paid cash for that yacht from the proceeds of numerous drug deals which were facilitated by that yacht.  His insurance would never cover an arson fire for the yacht let alone the entire marina.  He still didn’t even know why the hell Jack was nutting up like this, but was starting to suspect Carmen might have done something extremely stupid.

*****

Coleman A. Young International Airport on Conner Street in northeast Detroit was about ten times smaller than Metro, but it had its advantages.  For one thing, it was a lot less busy and for another security pretty much sucked ass.  You could flip a twenty at any check point and drive right through, but all Jack was carrying were fifties.  He didn’t care.  They were Carmen’s.  Spread the wealth, that’s what I always say!

Jack figured Sonny was rousting all his guys out on the street looking for him, but they were probably flocking to bars and whore houses instead because they really weren’t THAT interested in finding him.   He was also fairly confident none of them would think to go hide out at the airport.  He cruised right in like he owned the joint.

There was no one at the hanger when Jack pulled up.  He strolled over to Sonny’s Lear jet and placed the thermite charge in the wheel well right by the gas tank.  Jack punched a few numbers in the digital timer and it started clicking down.  Piece of cake!

As he was driving away he tried calling Sonny, but got no answer so he sent a text.

“Sonny, what has two wings, a tail and is burning out of control?”

*****

Cogent and Sterwid were busy men this day.  All Hell seemed to be breaking out in Detroit.  The Bureau had even approved overtime.  Sterwid was leafing through a brochure he picked up from the Chevy dealership in Royal Oak.  He had his eye on a fire engine red Camaro SS.  All Cogent could talk about was paying down his student loan. He told Sterwid he was a moron for buying such an impractical car, but Sterwid laughed.  “You only go around once,” he explained, “might as well go for the gusto!”

They were standing next to the remains of Sonny’s marina as fireman sprayed water on the fried remains of yachts and buildings and equipment.  A Coast Guard cutter was off shore and the swabbies were taking videos with their cell phones.  They yelled insults at the fireman while grabbing their crotches.  The fireman flipped them off and shot water at them.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

“Sonny is going to be pissed,” stated Cogent flatly.  “He kept his mistress on that boat.”

“You know, I still got some of the surveillance video we got the night of Sonny’s orgy.  That shit was whack!”  Lighting a cigarette Sterwid said, “We on the wrong side of the law, Agent Cogent.”

Just then Cogent’s phone rang.  “Shit. We gotta head over to the airport.  Looks like someone just wiped out Sonny’s air force.”

          “You mean Metro or Coleman A. Young International Airport?” asked Sterwid.

“It will always be ‘City Airport’ to me.”

Shaking his head, Sterwid replied, “You’re such a fuckin’ caveman, Cogent.  You wanna drive by Tiger Stadium on the way, or will that bring you to tears?”

“Eat shit and die, Sterwid!” spat Cogent.  “You got no respect for nothing!  And, technically it was called, ‘Briggs Field’.”

 

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

–Sun Tzu

 

Jack was on Woodward and saw the zoo sign and realized after all these years in Detroit, he’d never been to the zoo.  Fuck it, he thought, I got time and I need to dump this car.  A few minutes later he parked the car next to the water tower and wiped it down for prints.  He gave the clerk a fifty and said, “Keep the change.”  He didn’t really stop for any exhibit until he came upon the monkeys.  This was something he could relate to.  He fired up a cigar and leaned on the courtesy fence smoking away.  A solidary chimp scooted up and planted itself directly across the moat from him.  He could see intelligence in that chimp’s eyes, and felt a certain kinship developing.

Jack threw his cigar to the chimp.  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  The chimp picked it up and began smoking it immediately.  Jack was tempted to throw him Junior’s gold plated Glock.  In fact he considered this for quite a while but wasn’t sure if the chimp would know how to work the safety.  Fuck it, he thought, releasing the safety.  He wiped his prints off and tossed the pistol over the moat and walked away whistling Dixie.

Five minutes later a class of fifth graders happened by the chimp exhibit led by their teacher and a couple of helicopter parents riding herd.  Of course, the children were quite excited to see the chimps and were exhorting them to do something.  They all noticed the chimp smoking a cigar and scratching his head with what looked like a shiny, gold colored handgun.  One mommy piped up, “Now who would give a chimp such things?” Her voice was shrill and immediately gained the attention of the chimp in question.

*****

Chu was on the phone, but he couldn’t stop laughing.  Jack was starting to get annoyed, but Chu finally regained his composure and explained the situation.  “All TV stations at the Zoo, Jack.  Did you give monkey Junior’s Glock?”

“Well, yeah.”

“You crack me up, Jack.  That monkey won’t give pistol up.  CNN has it lead story!”

“Are you recording it?” asked Jack.

“Hell yes, I’m recording it!  On six stations!” replied Chu.  “This the funniest shit I ever seen!  They got SWAT team going in now.  They tried hit the monkey with tranquilizer gun, but he wouldn’t sit still long enough.  Them stupid PETA people even getting involved!”

“Cool,” answered Jack.  “I got one more stop to make and then I’ll be over.”

“Hey Jack, bring more Cheez Whiz.”

 

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

–Sun Tzu

 

The next time Jack’s cell phone rang he was on the roof of the Motown Furrier’s shop on Telegraph near Nine Mile road.  He wouldn’t have answered but saw that it was Chu.

“Yeah?”

“Jack, you gotta see this!  Your monkey just shot another monkey that tried take gun away!  Three SWAT guys fell into moat running away, and they arrest twenty PETA members that climbed over fence!  What the Hell you doing?  Where’s my Cheez Whiz?”

“I’m on the roof of Sonny’s fur shop.”

“Oh yeah!  What you doing up there?”

“I just drilled some holes through it, and now I am pouring five gallons of banana extract through the holes.”

“No shit,” replied Chu.  “Where you get banana extract?”

“Your garage,” replied Jack, “right above the shelf with the primacord and thermite.”

“Oh yeah,” Chu said, remembering.  “I got that for gig in Brazil that never happened.”

“I figured you didn’t have a need for it.”

“Jack, I like this side of you.  So imaginative!  Maybe hope for you yet.  I mean, if you don’t get whacked and shit.”

“Yeah, I feel like a new man.”

“Good.  Don’t forget the Cheez Whiz.  Oh look, the monkey seen the cops holding pistols and now he is mimicking them!  Jack, I gotta go!”

Jack poured the second bottle of banana extract into the second hole and tossed it to the side.   He was surprised when Sonny took his call.  “Hey, Sonny!  How you been?  How’s your wife and my kids?  They set a date for Carmen’s funeral yet?”

“Fuck you, Jack!  It’s only a matter of time, asshole!”

“I don’t understand you, Sonny.  Carmen’s been a thorn in your ass for ten years now.  Why don’t you just give me a pass on this one?”

“Jack, what about Bennie, and Nickie, and my car and my marina and my airplane?  You want a pass on them, too?”

“And your fur shop, Sonny.  Don’t forget about that!”

“What?  Did you burn up my fur shop, too, asshole?”

Laughing out loud Jack said, “Hey, shit don’t burn up.  It burns down.  But, no, I didn’t do neither of those things.  In fact, if you can guess what I done, I will pay you back for all the damage.”

“What the Hell did Carmen do to you, Jack?  What the Hell is this even all about?”  Sonny was exasperated.  This had been the worst week of his life and he just wanted it over.  His connection at the phone company told him to keep Jack online for as long as possible and they would get a fix on his location no problem—but fuck!  Jack is TELLING me where he is!

“He grabbed my pecker.  Said he wanted to jack me off.  What the fuck, Sonny!  You can’t talk your way outta this now.  We’re taking this shit to the wall.  Anyway, I gotta go.  I gave Junior’s gat to a monkey at the zoo and it’s all over the news.  I’m gonna go watch it with a buddy of mine.  Oh, and I’m leaving Nickie’s phone on the roof of the fur shop, but first I’m gonna call in a bomb threat to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice with it.”

*****

“Oh Jack, you missed the best part!  That monkey saw how cops holding guns and he figured shit out.  He even got off a round.  He only shot light pole, but it still scared shit outta them fools!”

Jack smiled.  “You know, Sonny gave Junior that gun on his twenty-first birthday.  It ain’t gonna be hard to trace once the cops get their hands on it.”

It took a minute for Chu’s laughter to subside.  “Oh Jack, you a real motherfucker!  Let’s call up and order dozen pizzas to Sonny’s office.”

“Why fuck over the poor pizza guy, Chu?  You know Sonny will never pay for them things.”

“You probably right, Jack.  You got a big heart, you know that?”

“So, what’s the monkey up to now?”

“He hiding out behind some them fake rocks.  They shoot tear gas at him, but wind shifted and blew back in their faces.  Fucking news crews and PETA and zoo people had to run away.   I think they calling Jane Goodall or some shit now.  You bring my Cheez Whiz, Jack?”

“Yeah, I bought a dozen.”

“You good boy, Jack.”

 

“Being unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with your enemy.”

–Sun Tzu

Sonny was going stir crazy. He snorted another huge line of coke off the gold plated serving tray and started vibrating like an alarm clock.  This was the longest he had ever held up in his office complex and he needed it to come to an end fast.  He didn’t care where he went as long as it wasn’t here.  His first bright idea was to hire a Brinks truck to transport him to the airport, but they gave him the run-around then told him they had to check with headquarters.  Next he started calling private security companies but his vague description of the threat seemed to put them off, as well.  His own crew had suddenly become impossible to contact.  Finally he got through to Micro Security Consultants in Grand Rapids, but they said it would take three days to ramp up for such a job and even then, they could only guarantee his safety with 42% confidence, whatever that meant.  And then the phone rang.

“Yeah,” he spat into the phone.

“Sonny, what the fuck is going on over there?”

It was Bobby from New York.  Shit, thought Sonny, just what I needed!  “Fucking Jack went off the deep end, that’s what’s up.”

“Sonny, this is no good.  No money is coming in and that thing with that guy over at that place didn’t happen, you know what I mean?   People are getting concerned, Sonny.”  Bobby sounded calm, but Sonny knew he was more than a little pissed off.

“I know.  But I got this Jack thing going on and the FBI is crawling up my ass along with the local PD and every asshole with a boner.  I’m eating pasta with fucking ketchup sauce over here, Bobby!”

Bobby was not sympathetic.  “Listen, Sonny, what the Hell did you do to piss this guy Jack off?”

Sonny snickered.  “You said ‘Jack off’, Bobby!”

“Do you hear me laughing, Sonny?”

“Sorry, Bobby.  I didn’t mean no disrespect, you know.  I’m going nuts here over this shit.  I don’t know what Jack’s deal is.  He says Carmen grabbed his pecker or some shit.”

“What?”

“He said Carmen grabbed his pecker!” repeated Sonny.

“Well, I don’t give a fuck what Carmen done, Sonny.  You gotta fix this shit pronto.  People are worried about you over here.  They talkin’ like you in over your head.  Are you feeling me?”

“Yeah, Bobby, I’m feeling you.”

“And what the fuck is going on over at that zoo?  You got anything to do with that shit, Sonny?”

“No, Bobby!  Some idiot gave a monkey a gat or some shit,” lied Sonny.  “That’s all I know.  You know this town is crawling with morons.  I can’t be responsible!”

“Yeah right, Sonny.  Did you happen to see the gat in question?  You know it’s a gold plated Glock, don’t you?   How many of them do you think are floating around, Sonny?”

Sonny dropped the phone to the floor and vomited a pint of pasta and ketchup.

 

“Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.”

–Sun Tzu

 

Sterwid and Cogent couldn’t believe their ears.  The wires they illegally placed on all Sonny’s phones hadn’t yielded much until just now.  “Sounded like Sonny just blew chunks,” observed Sterwid.

“Yeah, that call from New York must have made him shit his pants, too,” offered Cogent.  “Bad Bobby didn’t sound none too happy.”

“Yeah, and we need to get that gun from that monkey!” declared Sterwid.

“We should hightail it over to the zoo and take charge of that situation.”

“Fucking A,” agreed Sterwid.  “That chimp could break this whole case wide open!”

*****

Tony arrived at Detroit Metropolitan Airport at eight o’clock that morning and hailed a Yellow Cab.  His first stop was Riffee’s Waffle Emporium for breakfast and to pick up a Taurus .44 magnum.  Sonny owned the place and used Riffee for various and sundry dirty work.  They did illegal abortions in the basement and ran a bookie operation out of the apartment on the second floor.  Riffee walked with a limp and smelled like garlic and piss all the time.  Tony got out of there as fast as he could.

Gun in hand, Tony stole a Chrysler 300 out of the parking lot from some flour salesman who was trying to peddle a load of stolen pork bellies to Riffee.  Riffee slipped the moron a mickey so he could sell him to some organ thieves from Hamtramck for ten big ones.  This was a business he did not let Sonny know about.

Tony was there to whack Jack and Sonny, but not necessarily in that order.  His hemorrhoids were killing him from all the sitting down which did nothing to improve his foul mood. He stopped at the Greektown Casino before doing anything else to see a guy about a thing which he didn’t want the bosses back in New York to know about.  The only thing was the guy wasn’t there.  He was gone to some furrier place to pick up his wife’s coat which she wanted to take on the cruise to Alaska.  So, Tony played the slots for a few hours because he could do that standing up.  He called Sonny between pulls on the slot machine lever.

“Yeah,” answered Sonny.

“This is Tony, I’m here to help.  Come on down to the Greektown so we can talk.”

“No, Tony, I ain’t even leaving the Ren Cen.  Who in the fuck knows where that fuck Jack is!”

Tony hung up.  His day was going to total shit. That fuck head Sonny is gonna pay for this shit here!

 

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.”

–Sun Tzu

 

Jack was getting a pedicure at Sonny’s nail shop on Lahser.  He loved this place and felt a little sad for what he was about to do.  He didn’t think about this too long because just then Chu called.

“Hey Jack, remember that babe with the big nipples works out at the airport selling fake passports to Canadians?”

Jack thought for a second.  “You mean the blonde what carries that chrome ice pick?”

“No, the red head.  The one that shot Petey Gompers in Shane Park with a pellet gun.”

“Oh yeah, I dated her sister for a while.  She got me floor seats at the Palace when the Pistons weren’t sucking ass.”

“Yeah, that one.  Guess what.”

“What?”

“She just saw Tony come through Metro.  Call me right away.”

“No shit?”

“Yeah, Jack.  I wouldn’t shit you.  You favorite turd.”

“Tony the Goose, or Tony Jowls?”

“Goose.”

“Okay.  I’ll be by in a few pick up that goose gun you got in the hall closet.”

“You so poetic, Jack.  You want slugs or buckshot?”

“Neither.  Load me up some of that shit you got from Bulgaria when you did that thing for those guys with the beards.”

“Gonna make big mess, Jack.”

“I’m gonna send a big message, Chu.”

When Ding Fow finished his feet, Jack tipped her five hundred bucks and told her to clear everyone out of the shop.  He said they had about three minutes.

 

 

“And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.”

–Sun Tzu

 

“Shoot the chimp,” ordered Agent Cogent.

“See those TV helicopters up there?  They are filming our every move!” explained the SWAT sniper.  “I ain’t shooting that monkey unless Obama orders it himself!”

“Give me the damned rifle,” ordered Special Agent in Charge Sterwid.  “I’ll blow that monkey’s brains out if you’re too afraid.  This is a fucking Level 5a priority case!”

“You qualified to shoot a Remington 700?” asked the SWAT sniper suspiciously.  “It kicks like a mule and that trigger is real touchy.”

“That’s classified,” replied Sterwid grabbing the rifle from the sniper’s hands.  “Go tell your commander to get the breach team ready.  I want them in there the second I drop that fucking chimp.”

When the sniper scurried off Agent Cogent asked, “What the fuck is a Level 5a priority?”

“I just made that shit up,” answered Sterwid.  “You know how to shoot one of these things?”

“Fuck no.  I was trained in bank fraud.”

“Shit,” replied Sterwid.  “Well, fuck it.  Here goes nothing.”

Using the handrail as a rest Sterwid knelt and acquired the chimp in the Trijicon ACOG TA31-D 4x 32mm Dual-Illuminated rifle scope and yanked the hair trigger.

Nothing happened.

“Maybe the safety is on,” offered Agent Cogent with a giggle.

“Which one is the safety?”

“That little lever that says ‘safety’ I imagine.”

“Cool,” replied Sterwid.  “I’m just going to wound the little bastard a bit.  Get him to drop the pistol.”

“Good idea,” replied Cogent.  “Aim for his shoulder.”

*****

Sitting on the edge of his couch Chu was mesmerized by the unfolding scene on his 105 inch HD flat screen TV with theatre surround sound and six channel DVR.  The Channel 7 helicopter crew was zoomed in tight on the chimp with the picture in picture while the rest of the screen was filled with some suit fumbling with a military grade sniper rifle.  “Ah shit, this gonna be good,” he said to himself.  Jack had just departed with his goose gun and the shells juiced with fulminate of mercury.  “He gonna be sorry he missed this!”

*****

Sonny slipped his Brooks Brothers suit jacket over the bullet proof vest and viewed himself in the mirror.  “Shit!” he exclaimed.  “This makes me look like a complete fucking pudge!”  When his personal cell phone rang he was careful to identify the caller before answering.  It was Tony.  Shit!

“Yeah.”

“Sonny, I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

That was not a good sign.  “Listen, Tony, hold off a second.  I gotta do this thing over at that place before the guy ain’t there.”

“You mean, Jack?”

“Yeah.  I got what you call a window of opportunity.”

“You gonna do this yourself?”

“Yeah.  I mean, no.  I got some guys coming with.”

“Save me the trouble, huh?”

“Yeah, you can head back to New York if you want.  I got this.”

“Okay, sounds good to me.  I’m gonna catch the next flight out.  I’ll tell Bobby you finally decided to man up.”

“Yeah.  You do that.”  Good, thought Sonny. He bought it!

“Yeah, right,” murmured Tony shaking his head.  Fucking Sonny!  Tony left out of the Greektown Casino and started waddling toward the parking structure with every step grinding like sandpaper on his hemorrhoids.  All he could think about was shooting Sonny in the ass six or seven times for all the pain and misery he was putting him through. To top it off, there was a sign on the parking structure elevator what said ‘out of order’.  Now he had to climb five flights of stairs!  He made it all the way to the second level and looked up to see Jack standing there with some kind of gun looked bigger than an elephant dick.  This can’t be good, he thought.  He said the first thing what came to his mind.

“Jesus Jack.  Let me turn around so you can shoot me in the hemorrhoids at least.”

Jack simply waived the gun.

*****

Chu was now on his feet, leaning over, his mouth agape!  Blindly he reached for his phone and called Jack.

“Yeah.”

“Fuck Jack!  You gotta get here and see this shit.”

“You mean the monkey shit?”

“Yeah, the monkey shit!”

“On my way, Chu.  Hey did you know Sonny had a meth lab above his nail shop?”

“Yeah, Porky moves product to that terrorist cell in Dearborn Heights.  Hadji Boombah or some shit.  Remember, they started coloring it blue like in TV show.”

“I musta forgot.  I think I accidently whacked those guys in that fancy law firm next door, too.  I mean, they coulda lived through that explosion, but I’d be surprised.  Them meth chemicals blow up big.”

“What the fuck, Jack!  Now where I go get nails done?”

“I don’t know.  I’ll give you Ding Fow’s cell number.  She can come right to you, I guess.”

“Okay. Hey, how’d the goose thing go?”

“Messy.  I need a change of clothes.”

“Just get back here fast, Jack.  The monkey shit is gone out of control.”

“I think I need a tetanus shot, too.”

“I got some in basement.”

*****

The emergency medical technician advised Special Agent in Charge Sterwid to go the hospital and get the gash around his eye sewn up, and get treated for a concussion.  Sterwid would have none of it.  Special Agent Cogent worked vigorously to keep a variety of pissed off officials off Sterwid’s case.  The zoo director was especially angry.  The round that missed the chimp had gone right through the fake rock and hit a kangaroo in the pen on the backside of the monkey exhibit.  The Channel 7 news crew, of course, had gotten all this on tape and CNN was pushing it worldwide.   The PETA contingent was growing exponentially and threatening to storm the gates.  The zoo was quickly becoming a circus!

“What the fuck!” exclaimed Special Agent in Charge Sterwid.  “It was like a fucking bomb went off in my hands!”

“You’re lucky you didn’t knock your eye out,” observed Special Agent Cogent.  “That SWAT guy should have warned you.”

“I barely even touched that fucking trigger!”

 

“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”

― Sun Tzu

 

The only good thing was the chimp freaked out and threw the gun away and some SWAT cop sprinted in and retrieved it.  But now the Channel 7 camera was zooming in on the corpse of that kangaroo and this was the only thing keeping Sonny from fleeing his office.  He’d never seen a dead kangaroo before.  What the fuck?

Suddenly the coke and anxiety and nervous energy focused itself like a sun spot in Sonny’s narcotic addled brain and an idea was born.  Sonny snapped into action like an industrial strength mouse trap and in seconds had his safe open and was grabbing wads of cash, his passport and then the ivory handled solid silver letter opener Don Balboni gave him at his confirmation.  Without even closing the safe door he sprinted from the office, right past the elevators to the stairs giddy with thoughts of freedom and release.  He hopped down the stairs all the way to the basement and found himself in the parking garage faced with his next decision: Which car should I steal?  He went into a brief stall, but then the obvious answer hit him like a school bus:  The fastest car I can find!  And there before him, like it had been conjured up by some latter day gangster genie, sat silver 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and God damn if it didn’t have a full tank of gas!

*****

Chu had to hose Jack off in the backyard.  It was like the scene from Pulp Fiction only a lot smellier.  “Why you shoot Tony ass, Jack?”

“He asked me to.”

“What the fuck?”

“I know.  I am done granting last requests.”

“Jack, maybe it time you take break.  You know, go kill people in another country for a while.”

“What’s up with the monkey?”  Jack wanted to change the subject.

“That FBI guy shot the kangaroo.”

“Good.  I hate kangaroos.  Maybe I’ll go to Australia for a while.”

“Good idea, Jack, but what about Sonny?”

“Fuck Sonny.”

“Yeah Jack. Fuck Sonny,” agreed Chu. “You kill Sonny any time.”

 

 

“The ultimate in disposing one’s troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.”

—Sun Tzu

 

Jack had to admit it was brilliant.  Chu had dressed him up in a set of desert camos complete with sand colored boots and boonie hat, slapped a large gauze bandage on the left side of his face and hung a set of fake dog tags around his neck.

“There,” Chu proclaimed.  “You look the part perfectly!  I call buddies at Langley and they clear you all the way, but Jack, you running up quite a tab with these boys and they don’t like getting stiffed.”

Jack smiled.  He had been waiting for this moment for years.  “Look in that safe in the garage floor under that ’32 Ford you’re never going to restore, Chu.  There’s a hundred large for your boys and little something something for you.”

The expression on Chu’s face went from paternal concern to something one might show after a surprise prostrate exam.  “What the fuck, Jack?  How you know about safe?  Nobody know about safe!”

“The student must exceed the master, Chu!” replied Jack smugly.  “Ain’t that what you always taught me?”

“I say that bullshit to everybody I train, Jack!  I don’t think anybody ever actually do it.”

“Well, let’s not hold hands and swap spit over it.  Sun Tzu would be so disappointed!”

“You straight up fucking American Jedi, Jack!”

“And you stole that line from a movie.”

“What can I say?  I like Timothy Elephant.  Just one more question, Jack.  What you leave for me?”

“Half of what was in Carmen’s safe and the firing pin from the gun I used to whack Tupac.”

“I know how much you loved that firing pin, Jack.  I am truly honored.  Here your passport, ID and plane ticket.  First class all the way, Jack.”

Jack took the papers and stuffed them in his camo pants pocket without looking at them.  “Who am I today?”

“Nobody special,” replied Chu.

*****

DTW to SYD.  Jack boarded and found himself in seat 1A next to the window.  The hot looking stewardess fawned over him like he was a movie star and really started purring when he asked for a blanket and pillow.  She did her best not to stare at the gauze bandage covering half his face, just like everyone else he encountered so far.  Jack chose not to prolong her agony.  The name ‘Jackie’ was stamped into her silver flight wings prominently displayed on her ample breast.

“Took some shrapnel in Afghanistan, Jackie,” he reported solemnly.

“Well, Sweetie, don’t worry about anything.  I am going to take such good care of you!  And thank you for your service!”

Jack smiled and acted like it pained him to do so.  “I just need to get some sleep, Darlin’.”

“I’ll make sure you’re not disturbed, Sweetie,” replied Jackie and Jack could tell she was for real.  Smiling, she touched his shoulder then backed away like a geisha girl.  Jack spread the blanket over his chest, pulled his boonie hat down to his nose, leaned his seat back and closed his eyes.  It was going to be a long flight.  He planned on sleeping through most of it.

*****

The TSA agent sat on the edge of the desk staring down at Sonny with a look of utter disdain on her face.  They were in a pale green room with no windows and a heavy steel door and had been there for over an hour.  “You are going to make me miss my flight, asshole!” complained Sonny for the thousandth time.  “And then my lawyer is going butt fuck you with a flagpole and bankrupt your family!”

Shileel Cantor was in a quandary.  This was one guy who could make good on that threat.  Everybody in the D knew who Sonny Fablino is. But, if she let him out to board that plane, and if he did something stupid, it was her ass anyway!  She was reaching for anything to get her out of this jam.

“But Mr. Fablino I just have to know why you are attempting to board this plane while wearing a bullet-proof vest?  It’s in the rule book, Sir,” she pleaded.

“Alright already, I’ll level with you.  Some asshole is trying to whack me, that’s why.  You think I like wearing this rig?  I look like Philip Seymour Hoffman in this damn thing!  You think I like that?  Now, damn it all, what’s it gonna take to get me on that fuckin’ airplane?  You want some money?  I got some money.”  Sonny pulled your typical choke-a-horse bankroll from his jacket pocket and started peeling off hundred dollar bills.  “Just tell me how many?”

This was probably the biggest decision Shileel Campbell was going to make in her entire life.  Numbers blasted through brain life fireworks through a sky of acetylene gas.  It had to be enough to make it worth the risk, yet not so much that he’d say no.  And, it had to be enough for her to lose this job over, which wasn’t a huge deal but would definitely be a pain in the ass.  When she realized that, the decision was made.  “I want ten million dollars!” declared Shileel with all the finality she could muster.

Shaking his head, Sonny said, “What is it with you people?  Do I look like I’m carrying ten million dollars?”

That pissed Shileel off.  You people!  What the Hell?  “Could be in your bag down there,” she snapped.

“I don’t have any bag, or luggage or fuckin’ golf clubs, Lady!  I’ll give you ten grand cash right fuckin’ now.   Take it or leave it.”

“Make it twenty,” countered Shileel.

“Ten, and you can have the silver Camaro in US Park ‘n’ Ride row K with the letter opener in the ignition switch, too.”

Shileel didn’t know what to think of that, but figured she’d take it anyway.  She knew a guy who would buy that Camaro no questions asked.

“Done!” she declared.

*****

The stewardess took one look at Sonny and had to fight hard to keep the disgust off her face.  She recognized him immediately.  His picture was in the FREEP in a story about explosions at a marina and the other airport.  And, on top of that, they held up the flight for ten minutes waiting on him.  “Ticket please,” she said as passively aggressive as she could.

Sonny slapped the ticket in her hand and gave her a smirk. “Bring me two double bourbons before we takeoff, and some of them headphones things.”

“Seat 1D.  Right to your left, Sir.  I’ll get your refreshments immediately.”

Sonny didn’t like the tone of her voice.  He went from smirk to sneer, and then trudged off to his seat.  Next to him was a pencil-necked suit with a laptop computer.  Sonny hated computers, and he especially hated the laptop kind—and everyone who had one.  He tapped the guy on the shoulder and said, “Hey, don’t you know those things give you the cancer of the balls?”

 

“Quickness is the essence of the war.”

–Sun Tzu

 

‘Non-Stop’ starring Liam Neeson was the in-flight movie and Sonny knew at least half the fucking plane was watching it because when the screen blinked out for a few minutes he heard a ton of moans, especially from the peasants back in coach.  But, like magic when his sixth double-bourbon arrived the movie reappeared and everyone was once again happy.

Out the window all Sonny could see was water and clouds.  He figured they must be over some ocean or something.  He felt the urge to piss and was sure to upset the geek’s laptop as he left his seat.  In fact, it actually hit the floor and Sonny accidently stomped on it.  Sonny said, “Sorry, Asshole,” then stumbled into the toilet by the stewardess’ compartment.  Unzipping his fly he remembered the coke stashed in his underpants and was filled with exuberance.  How did they not find that?  He didn’t think about it long.  Holding his pecker with one hand he used the other to access the baggy of nose candy and in seconds was snorting a snatch of brain fire un-contaminated by any cheap ass cut.  Some of his piss even made it into the toilet, which he didn’t flush before turning to the mirror and saying, “I’m motherfucking Godzilla, Bitches!”  He should have never opened the toilet door.

But, he did.  Sonny took a single, very long stride from the toilet because suddenly his legs felt like broomsticks.  He had to grab the bulkhead to keep from careening out of control.  His body swung around and by the time he caught himself he was face to face with the passenger in seat 1B.  It was a soldier of some kind, but when he pulled that stupid hat off his face Sonny about shit his pants.  What the fuck?  It was Jack!

Jack was surprised too, like for the first time in a long time surprised.  He froze while staring into Sonny’s bloodshot and dilated eyes.  Booger sugar covered Sonny’s crooked, perspiring nose.  His breath wreaked so much it could make a prison sissy gag.  His bottom lip quivered like a stop sign hit by a fleet of hummingbirds.  When Sonny spoke he did so very, very loudly.  He actually said the two words, which sounded like a single word, that got the attention of everyone within fifteen rows.

“Hi Jack!” hollered Sonny at the top of his electrified lungs.

The screaming was immediate and ear piercing.  For the second time in multiple decades Jack froze.  What the fuck is wrong with these people?  At least half of them were screaming, “HIJACK!” and the other half were just screaming!  That caused a ripple effect and inside of two seconds it seemed like the whole fucking plane was screaming something or another. This pissed Jack right the fuck off.  On top of all that, Sonny was now drooling and some of it splattered down on his pant leg.  Jack sprang into action.

The toe of Jack’s combat boot caught Sonny in the crotch at about forty-five miles an hour.  The impact not only straightened him up, but also lifted him a good three inches off the deck.  But, he didn’t have to worry about falling back down because Jack’s right hand latched onto his throatal area and launched him into the stewardess’ compartment like a Lawn Jart shot out of a canon.  That didn’t last very long either because airplanes are small and have a lot of very hard metal walls.  The coke amplified every pain receptor in Sonny’s now convulsing body just as his vision was blinking the fuck out.  By the time Jackie stabbed him in the cheek with the serving fork, his broken neck had short circuited most of the nerves from his shoulders down. Jack hardly needed to ram him head first into that heavy aluminum serving cart and come down on his spine like a jackhammer with his knee.  By then Sonny was already dead.  He wouldn’t even care Jack slipped a RUGER SR22 pistol into his breast pocket.

“Oh my Gawd!  You saved the plane, Sgt. Stryker!  YOU SAVED US FROM THE HIJACKER!” announced Jackie with all the gusto she could muster.  Everyone started clapping and cheering and whistling, and Jack for the third time froze.  This time he was faking it, but just for a split second.  As he rose from Sonny’s mangled corpse he pulled the boonie hat from his head and held it over his heart.  Then, he opened his mouth to speak but at the last second slowly keeled over into Jackie’s arms and pretended to pass out.  They fell to the deck together in a heap.  Jack’s face landed against Jackie’s boob and the flight wings which drew just enough blood to soil his collar.

*****

Chu almost kicked Ding Fow in the face he came off the couch so fast.  His thumb found the volume control on the remote and he pushed it up to sixty.  Before his very eyes appeared 105 inches of Jack’s passport photo with the name, ‘Sgt. John M. Stryker, USMC’ in a military stencil font below. Under that the words, ‘Foiled hijacker attack mid-flight’.  What the fuck?  Chu couldn’t believe his eyes.  Ding Fow ran from the room holding her ears as the CNN anchor lady with the big tits and fiberglass blonde hair told the story about how Sgt. John M. Stryker, USMC, heroically killed the hijacker, BUT POSSIBLY IN AN ACT OF GREAT HUMILITY disappeared from the hospital where he was being treated for severe injuries sustained during his battle with the hijacker.  The hijacker was identified as Sonny Anastio Fablino, of Detroit, Michigan.  A known member of the mob he was fleeing investigation for alleged terrorist activities and murders occurring in the Motor City over the last several days.  Fablino was wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a high-powered handgun, and was in possession and under the influence of dangerous and potent illegal narcotics and over fifty thousand dollars in cash.  Federal and local law enforcement agencies were now scouring Detroit for all known associates of Sonny Fablino.  The search for stewardess, Jackie Caputski, who aided Sgt. Stryker continues…”

“God damn, Jack!  Don’t you dare tell me you planned it that way! I never believe you!”  Chu looked down at his cell phone on the coffee table, but decided against it.  “Fuck you, Jack.  I wait for you call me,” he whispered.

Chu lowered the volume on the TV and scratched his head with the remote.  “I wonder if Ding Fow give me blowjob?”

 

 “If fighting is sure to result in victory, than you must fight….”

― Sun Tzu

 

New Jack

 

“Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

When Jack pretended to pass out Jackie worried he might die.  She accompanied the stretcher to the ambulance and remained attached to him all the way to the examination room.  The doctors and nurses tried chasing her away but she stood her ground like a mama bear.  Finally they gave up and left to discuss Jack’s injuries which were baffling to say the least at this point.  After ordering x-rays and blood tests they peeled off in different directions and silence rolled in like a fog bank on a sail boat.

Once Jack determined he was alone with Jackie he ripped off the fake bandage and placed his index finger over his lips.  Shhhhhhhh!  Jackie nodded her head which pleased Jack to no end.  He then slid off the gurney and peeked through the curtains, never once releasing the firm grip he now had on her hand.  He turned and pointed his finger at her feet and she knew immediately to kick off her shoes. He took another peek through the curtains and drew Jackie forward as he crept from the examination room.  From there to the parking lot Jackie never saw anything but the back of Jack’s head.  It was so beautiful she wanted to kiss it.

The next thing Jackie knew they were standing beside a shiny black Jaguar and like magic a knife appeared in Jack’s hand.  It took him but a couple seconds to open the door. When he turned to her and said, “Get in, Darlin’!” she nearly fainted.

Jack leaned under the dashboard and after a few seconds Jackie heard the motor roar to life.  How did he do that?  She saw Jack buckling up so she followed suit.  He rolled out of the parking lot like a leopard on a game trail.  Out of nowhere a cell phone appeared in Jack’s hand.  He punched in a few buttons with his thumb and pressed it to his ear.  “Oscar, this is Jack, need an exit strategy a-sap!  Yeah.   Yeah.  No, got a babe with me.  Yeah.  No!  Boats are too slow!  Yeah.  Okay.  Yeah, passports and the whole nine yards.  (Jack then turned and snapped a photo of Jackie with the cell phone.)  That’s her.  She’s gonna need clothes and all that female type stuff.  Okay.  Yeah. Be there in twenty.”

Jack tossed the cell phone out the window then turned to Jackie, “We’re going to Fiji.  You okay with that?”

Jackie nodded.  She was too dumbstruck to speak.

“You got kids?  A husband?  A boyfriend?”

Jackie shook her head.  She had a daughter, but that girl was on her own.

“Okay, you’re with me now, and it ain’t always gonna be shits and giggles, you understand?”

Again Jackie nodded even though surely she didn’t understand.  Her heart rate was full blown flutter and her brain was deer in the headlights.

“Just one more thing!”

Again Jackie nodded.  Please don’t tell me you’re married!

“Who taught you how to use a serving fork like that?”

“Martha Stewart,” she reported.  “Did I do good?”

Jack smiled and with authority slammed the shifter into third gear.  The Jag leaped as the engine wound up, it almost caught up with the beat of Jackie’s heart.  How they got to the beach she would never remember.  Just Jack.

Jack let Jackie out on the beach and drove the Jag into the ocean.  What the fuck!  For a second Jackie panicked, but Jack popped out of the frothy black water and jogged onto the sand lickety split.  He held out his hand and she grabbed it.   “We got to go this way for a hot minute.”  He led her to a rocky peninsula that stretched far out into the sea and said, “Better if I carry you from here.”  Jackie swooned into his muscular arms like a bouquet to a beauty queen.  Her ride out was spectacular.  A few minutes later some kind of seaplane dove in, landed and taxied right up to them.

“This is Oscar,” Jack said pointing at the pilot, but before she could respond he was pulling her into the cabin.  They settled into the rearmost seats and immediately started ripping off each other’s clothes.  Oscar leveled off at a hundred feet and pushed the throttle levers balls to the walls.  It was going to be a bumpy flight.

 

“You shouldn’t underestimate an enemy, but it is just as fatal to overestimate him.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Bobby Bennetti was in a foul mood.  You could tell he was in a foul mood because he was sitting on a bench in Central Park feeding the pigeons shards of Alka-Seltzer tablets which most of the time either killed them or at least made them very sick.  Bobby hated pigeons, and killing them always made him feel better, except today.  He was getting very little remunerative benefit from killing pigeons today, but that didn’t stop him.  Shit on my car will ya!

Tony Jowls and Fart Face Freddie stood off to the side.  It was their job to make sure no harm came to Bad Bobby Bennetti, and to drive his car.  It wasn’t a bad job except on days like today when Bobby’s ire sent stinging waves of tension through the spine of anyone within staring distance.

“I think he’s getting worser instead a better,” observed Tony Jowls.

Fart Face Freddie agreed.  “He just ain’t been the same since we lost Detroit.”

“Good thing Sonny got himself whacked on that airplane.  Bobby had caught up with him he’d a put Georgie Meat Hook on his ass.  Woulda took three months for Sonny to die,” explained Tony.

“Forget about it!” replied Freddie.

Tony Jowls lit a cigarette.  “Wonder what Bobby gonna do.  He always does something after he kills some pigeons.”

“What can he do?  Fuck, there’s nobody left in Detroit.  Fucking feds got them all on that fucking RICO shit. And who the fuck wants to leave here for there—specially ‘cause they ain’t caught up with that fuck Jack yet.  I mean, who the fuck wants that kind of heat?”

Tony considered this for a moment.  He blew out some smoke and said, “I dunno.  With Bobby it ain’t the money.  It’s the principle of the thing.  He don’t like being chased outta nowhere by nobody.  And now that the niggers and the spics and the rag heads is running Detroit it’s like a slap in his face.  I promise you one thing, Fart Face, Bobby is gonna do something.”

“God damn it, Tony.  Don’t call me that no more!”

“Sorry.  Force of habit,” replied Tony sounding completely insincere.

“So, what you think Bobby is gonna do?  It’s not like he can send a bunch of guys to Detroit and whack all them assholes.”

“Why not?”  Tony flicked his cigarette butt at one of the pigeons.  “If he wants that city back, and the five million bucks a week it earned him, he’s liable to do anything.  And, my guess, he wants that fuckin’ city back and will probably decide to start whacking people.  Anyway, that’s what he usually does in this kind of situation.”

“Look, he’s waving his finger at me.  I better go get the car,” declared Freddie.

“Hold up a second, Freddie.  He may just want some more of them Alka-Seltzer things.”

 

“It’s the unconquerable soul of man, not the nature of the weapon he uses, that insures victory.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Deputy Director Earnest J. Stone shook his head and threw the commendation certificates onto his cluttered desk.  “I still can’t believe we have to do this.  All those morons did was shoot a fucking kangaroo!”

Assistant Attorney General Larious Belzer saw it differently.  “Look Ernie, you assigned those very same morons to that case.  You were living it up in Jamaica and not answering your phone when all this jumped off.  Your idiot second-in-command approved the over-time they requested.  Now, it’s your dick on the chopping block.  You’re just damn lucky so many of those mob guys rolled over on each other so we could make the RICO cases stick.  If not for that you’d be chasing paper hangers in fucking Oklahoma.  You have no room to bitch.”

“But, Jesus H. Christ why do we have to give them morons commendations?  Isn’t it enough that they get to keep their fucking jobs?”

Belzer smiled.  He hated the FBI.  Those pricks had turned down his application thirty-five years ago and that wound still stung.  “I’m not going over this again, Ernie.  Just give them their promotions and their commendations and leave them the fuck alone before the guy upstairs starts asking for your balls on a platter.  Besides, those two are single-handedly responsible for more damage to the mob than your whole division has been able to accomplish in ten years!”

Leaning forward, Stone pointed a stiff finger right at Belzer’s bulbous nose.  “What are you talking about?  That fucking hitman did more than those two ever did.  Without him none of this would have happened.  We should be giving him the commendation!”

“Yeah, well if we could find him, we would,” snapped Belzer.  “You just better hope PETA drops the law suit.  They get you on the stand they’ll make you pull down your pants and spray you with moron paint.”

Stone sighed and sunk his face in his hands.  “Everything is politics nowadays.”

“Where you been?” asked Belzer.  “It’s never been any different.  Nothing has changed.  Now go make nice with Sterwid and Cogent and smile for the fucking cameras.  And Ernie, don’t ever make me fly up here from D.C. again.  This place stinks and it isn’t safe.”

 

“There is only one type of discipline, perfect discipline.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Roger McHale studied the parts strewn across his desk and realized he’d made a mistake.  He should have never taken apart the new energy particle grenade sent to him by the research and development sector.  Now he couldn’t get it back together.  What if I do this wrong and it goes off?  All Roger knew is that if it did ‘go off’ fifteen hundred square feet of office space would be vaporized along with about thirty of his co-workers.

The phone rang and that was great.  It took his mind off the grenade.  “Field Ops,” he said.  “McHale, Roger.”

“Roger, it’s Bobby Bennetti in New York.”

“Bobby Baby!  What it is, my brother?”

“Stop talking like a nigger, Roger.  It upsets my stomach.”

“You’re too tense, Bobby.  You need to lighten the fuck up.  Hey, why don’t you come down here and we can go shoot some dolphins with this new sonic canon I’m testing out.  It shoots this invisible canon ball like thing.  Splatters shit everywhere!”

“Roger, this ain’t no social call.”

“You’re such a downer any more, Bobby.  I remember when you used to be fun.  What the fuck?  You’re dick stop working?”

Anyone else, Bobby would have sent an army of hitmen after him for talking like that.  But, Roger was CIA and he needed something from them.  He had to take any kind of shit Roger served up.  “Roger, I need something.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  What else is new?”  Roger was getting bored of this conversation already.

“Listen up, Roger, you owe me!”  There was a little more oomph to Bobby’s tone this time.

“For what?” asked Roger.

“For me giving you them sand niggers with the depleted uranium, that’s what for.”

“But you sold them that uranium, and we let you keep the money.  Technically, I could have sent someone over there to whack you for that shit.  How in the fuck do I owe you anything?”

“Let’s just call it good faith,” replied Bobby.

“What do you want, Bobby?  But I got to warn you, whatever it is, you are going to owe me big time.  I mean real big time.  Like the biggest time ever,” warned Roger.

“Whatever, Roger.”

“Fuck you, Bobby.  Call your FBI buddies.  Who’s that dickhead over there?  Stone?   I got his home number if you want it.  Or better yet, his mistress’ number.”

“Hang on a second, Roger!  Now who’s uptight?”

“Okay, what do you want?”

“You know that guy what whacked Sonny on the airplane?”

“I know ‘of’ him.”

“Well, that’s it.”

“That’s what?” asked Roger, slightly confused.

“That’s what I want,” replied Bobby.

“What, so you can whack him?  You want me to be party to first degree murder!  Is that what you are asking for, Bobby, because if it is I cannot do that.  I can only do that when my boss tells me I can do that.  I cannot, repeat cannot, go around helping gangsters whack motherfuckers.  It’s not in the code, Bobby.  We got scruples over here.”

“I don’t want to whack him, Roger.  I want to hire him.”

“To do what?”

“Whack a bunch of other motherfuckers,” explained Bobby patiently.

“Not any politicians or government guys though, right?  I can’t be a party to those kinds of whackings either, Bobby.”

“Nah, just some minority type gangsters and various other assholes what don’t be showing me proper respect.  Nobody that’ll piss off anybody important.”

Roger thought about this for a moment.  “In Detroit?”

“Yeah, Roger, in Detroit.  I want my city back.”

“I thought New York was your city, Bobby?”

“I got lots of cities, Roger, now you gonna help me or what?”

“What’s in it for me?”

*****

 

Ding Fow brought in this big plastic bucket filled with tiny orange fish.  Setting it down in front of the couch she told Chu, “Put feet in.”

What the fuck?

“Why I do that?” asked Chu.

“Fish eat skin,” answered Ding Fow.

“But, I need skin.  Be hard walking no skin on feet.”

“Fish eat only dead skin,” explained Ding Fow.

But, before he could get to the bottom of this fish thing, his phone rang.  “Yeah.”

“Chu, it’s Roger.”

“Hey, Roger!  You old cocksucker, you!  What you want?”

“I got a guy wants to talk to one of your guys about a job in your neck of the woods.  He’s got hard cash long as a racetrack and he’s in a hurry.”

“What guy?”

“Bad Bobby Bennetti.”

“You lay down with anybody, don’t you, Roger. You got no shame?  Which guy he want?”

“Stryker, you know, the one that whacked that hijacker.”

“I don’t know nobody done that, Roger.”

“Don’t fuck with me, Chu.  We’re talking big money here.”

“How big?”

“Fifty large for me if I can find him.  I’ll give you half.”

“I dunno, Roger.  Maybe Bobby just wanna whack my boy.  Tell you any kind a dumb shit.”

“Nah, it ain’t like that, Chu.  He wants to hire him for a job is all.”

“What kind of job?”

“He wants him to whack every minority gangster in Detroit.  Bobby wants his city back for some fucking reason.  Go figure.”

“You lie, Roger.”

“Scouts honor, Chu.”

“So, he want my boy whack all these fools so he have Detroit back, and he won’t whack my boy?”

“Yeah, I mean, not until the job is done at least.  You know how them Wops are.  But, the way I figure it your boy is smart enough to get out of Dodge before Bobby’s guys can whack him back.”

“You gonna help again?”

“Sure.  I like your boy.  He’s got class.  We can’t let guys like that get dead,” explained  Roger sincerely.

“How much pay?”

“He’ll need a semi-truck to haul it.”

“Need half up front,” declared Chu, “or no deal!”

*****

Agents Sterwid and Cogent were on their tenth shot of Old Number 7 and had plumb run out of toasts to make.  Both still wore the little lapel buttons given them by Deputy Director Stone.  They’d dropped off the commendations at the picture framer on the way to the bar.

Cogent still had trouble looking at Stewid’s face. That ugly scar around his right eye looked like pig skin and it just made Sterwid too fucking creepy looking.  He lit up another cigar and blew the smoke straight up at the ceiling.  The waitress had given up trying to stop them, but it wasn’t because they were freshly decorated FBI guys.  It was because they were drunk and armed with very scary looking pistols.

“We’re responsible for thirty-five arrests and over fifty hundred years of punishment, we are!” announced Agent Cogent, hoisting his shot glass toward the heavens.

“We did that one already,” reminded Agent Sterwid.  “Twice I think.”

Cogent wagged his index finger at Sterwid and said, “There’s a new sheriff in town, and we are them.  We are going to kick ass and take names!”

“Yeah we are,” agreed Sterwid.  “We gonna eat lightning and shit thunder!  We gonna put the bad guys six feet under!”

“Damn, Dude!  That is so cool.  We should get some t-shirts made up say that shit.”

“Yes sir, we should!  And we should get us a bad ass car to drive with a big motor and fancy wheels.  We’ll fill up the trunk with all kinds of guns and explosives.  Be like those two cops on TV.”

“Yeah, and maybe even a helicopter with one of them big ass flood lights you can control with your foot,” added Cogent.  “And one of them ‘go fast’ boats like on Miami Vice.  Wouldn’t nobody get away from us then!”

Sterwid nodded his head.  “Yeah, like that ghost motherfucker.  That’s the motherfucker we got to catch.  We got to catch the motherfucker no other motherfuckers can catch.  We got to catch the big one that got away.  We catch that motherfucker and we’ve just punched our ticket to Washington.  Be sitting our asses at the Big Boy table.  We’d be the ones hanging commendations on lowly ass field agents.”

Cogent considered this for a moment before responding.  “That dude is long gone, Sterwid.  He ain’t never coming back here.”

Sterwid leaned back in his chair, burped, and said, “Lucky for his dumb ass he don’t come back here. We’re ready for him now.”

 

“For in war just as in loving you must keep on shoving, or you’ll never get your reward.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Jack had no illusions about what love was.  He didn’t have a clue.  In fact, not until he met Jackie did he even give love a sober second thought.  This morning, lying beneath the sheets in his cabana with a slight breeze blowing through the window, with Jackie emitting light snores two inches from his right ear he finally came up with a concept of love he could live with.  Under no circumstances could I kill this woman.  And just like that one of life’s little mysteries was solved.

Jack and Jackie inhabited that cabana on a remote Fiji beach for nearly three months now.  Jack was having the most splendid time of his life, and was certain Jackie felt the same.  She better!  After all, she had abandoned her job, some shitty cracker box house in Ferndale, and a 1999 Chevy Impala.  Maybe that is how Jackie defined love, thought Jack.  It didn’t matter.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was a great piece of ass, didn’t ask questions, and was a very quick study.  She had beautiful chestnut colored hair which flowed down to her shoulders like willow branches.  Her complexion, now tanned in the Fiji sun for ninety days, seemed exotic and Jack found it intoxicating.  She even shed a few pounds although Jack didn’t think she needed to.  He wanted to wake her up right then and there and bone the living shit out of her, but the phone interrupted him.  He knew who it was without even looking.  Only one asshole could track him down this far out.

“You couldn’t even wait until after lunch to call?”

“You funny, Jack.  It after lunch here.”

“So, how’d you find me?  One of your snitches?”

“Google Earth, Jack.”

“So you’re not going to tell me.”

“You figure out, Jack.  I got business for you.  Big business!”

“You always say that, Chu.  Every single fuckin’ time,” replied Jack slipping lightly out of the bed and creeping silently to the kitchenette.

“Hey, you don’t want job, no sweat off my back.  I give it to some other asshole.  Make him rich,” taunted Chu.  “Maybe some guy smart enough not get face plastered all over worldwide news TV.”

That one stung a bit. “Listen, Chu, it couldn’t be helped.  I mean, what are the chances?”

“So, you DIDN”T plan it that way?  Tell truth, Jack!”

“No, Chu, I was just as surprised as you were.”

“Okay, you want job or not?  I’m a busy man, Jack.  Got things to do, people to see, places to go!”

“Let me guess, you’re sitting on your couch and Ding Fow is rubbing your feet, right?”

“Wrong, Jack!  Fish eating feet skin. You not so smart, after all.  You wanna hear about job, or what?”

“What the Hell,” surrendered Jack.  “Lay it on me.”

“You gonna love this, Jack.  Bobby Bennetti want you come Detroit kill off competition so he get city back.”

“No shit,” replied Jack.

“Yeah, no shit.  And if you take job, I got you plenty back up.”

Jack hesitated for a moment.  “Chu, there is one slight complication.”

“What the fuck, Jack!  That’s why I like you.  You never complicated.  What the fuck?”

“I’m in love.”

“I would’ve never guessed that!  Fuck it, bring her along—it a ‘her’ right, Jack?”

“Yeah, it’s the stewardess.”

“It okay.  Bring her with.  She can stay with me while you whacking them guys.  I make sure Ding take good care of her.”

“One other thing, Chu, were you serious about fish eating your feet?”

*****

Shileel Cantor was on her second to the last room of the day at the Quick Sleep Motel on Grand River near Mack.  She hated this job.  Only the slime of society rented these rooms.  Hookers and drug addicts and other assorted low-lifes buzzed around the joint like flies on donkey shit.  The only good thing was she got paid in cash every Monday by Ruthless Ray or his partner, Shark Tooth Toby.  It was the only motel she ever heard of to use brown colored linen, but she had to admit that was kind of clever.  Stains didn’t show up that good on them.  This was the only job she could get after the TSA fired her.  She used every penny of the ten large on that fuckhead lawyer who got her off with probation.  Fucking Sonny Fablino!

As she left one room and headed for the next, Ruthless Ray appeared and stopped her in her tracks.  He had that stupid toothpick in his teeth which drove her crazy when she talked to him.  Why don’t he just get some chewing gum?

“Listen here, Shileel,” began Ray.  “’Member dat silver Camaro you sold me back a couple months?  The Z28 Camaro, the one with the silver letter opener in the ignition?”

“Yeah, Ray, how could I forget?”

“Why didn’t you tell me it belong to Sonny Fablino?”

“Cuz it don’t.  He just the last one done stole it.  Who told you that shit anyway?”

Technically, Shileel was right, but Ray had a point to make.  “The letter opener got his name on it!  Yeah, well, here’s the deal.  That shit ever blow back on me it gonna be your ass, too.  You feeling me, Shileel?”

“I feel ya, Ray.  But don’t you think if that shit was gonna come back on you, it woulda done it by now?”  Shileel thought her logic was flawless.  “Besides, you done already chopped that car up, right Ray?”

Ruthless Ray shook his head.  “Nah, my nephew he liked it so I give it to him.”

“Well, Ray, if you done that how can you come back on me like this?  You told me you was gonna chop that car up.”

“I know what I says, but sometimes what Ruthless Ray say don’t work out that way, you understand?”

“No Ray, I don’t be understanding,” challenged Shileel.  “Explain that shit to me.”

“Let me explain it this way, Shileel….” but suddenly words seemed to escape Ray’s brain.  He shook his finger at her a couple times and then slowly walked away.  Moron!

The last room of the day was the worst room of the day.  It looked and smelled like someone had a pig orgy in there.  Used condoms and ketchup bottles littered the shit stained carpet and one of the pillows was covered with blood.  It took her almost an hour to clean it up. The sheets just had to be burned, brown or no brown.  Finally she was able to push her cart onto the balcony and start thinking about home and some rum and coke and a long pull on a fat blunt.  Right now, that was as good as it gets for Shileel Cantor.

She left her stinking maid’s uniform in the employee lounge before leaving out.  Before she could make it to her car, however, she ran smack dab into Shark Tooth Toby, the brains of the operation.  She could deal with Toby.  He was nobody’s fool.  He ran the prostitution rackets and gambling operations all over the city now that Sonny was gone.  He was obviously cleaning up.  That wasn’t no used Cadillac he was leaning up against.

Shileel even managed a smile. “Hey Toby, what it is?”

“Listen Baby,” Toby began. “I got some work you interested. Pay good money.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, and it ain’t cleaning motel rooms, neither.  You wanna talk about it?”  Toby smiled big then narrowed his beady eyes.  “Start tomorrow.”

“Legal work?”

“Oh no.  Nothing legal about this shit at all.  But, the pay is five hundred a day, and you get to carry a gun.  I ain’t gonna ask twice.”

 

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Pedro pointed at the stack of garbage bags on the left side of the basement and said, “Those are all the ones.”  He pointed at the bags in the middle of the floor and said, “Those are all the fives, and the ones on the right are all the tens.”

“Shit!” exclaimed Chico.  “This is a stupid problem to have, you know.”

“Yeah, Homes,” replied Pedro.  “We got more money than we can count.  We got more money than we can hide.  We got more money than we know what the fuck to do with.”

“I wonder how Sonny used to handle shit like this?”

“I don’t know, Homes.  He had airplanes and shit.  Maybe he fly it all someplace like Switcherland.”  Pedro shook his head.  “I never imagined some shit like this.”

“Did you give some to the church?” asked Chico.

“Yeah, two bags full yesterday,” answered Pedro.

“You pay off the cops?”

“Shit, they even paid in advance for a month.  I’m telling you, Chico, we got to do something.  The next shipment is due in tomorrow and this problem is only going to get worse!”

Chico shook his head.  “If only them cartel assholes would take the small bills!  Then we wouldn’t have this fucking problem.”

“I can’t believe we have this problem!  How in the fuck can we have too much money, Chico?”

“I’m gonna go see Shark Tooth Toby,” replied Chico.  “Maybe he can think of something.”

“Oh man, you gonna trust that dude?  Are you loco?”

*****

Finally the shipment of bullets came in, and Haji couldn’t have been more pleased.  It was not so easy selling guns with no bullets and he was losing customers to vendors from other states.  But that was no longer a problem.  Akram finally come through and now he was surrounded by hundreds of cases of ammunition and extra magazines.  He’d be rolling in cash in no time!

Haji punched in Pedro’s number into his cell phone.  It only rang twice.

“What up?”

“I got them things you needed.  Lots of them.  You can pick them up any time,” announced Haji with great pride.

“On my way,” reported Pedro.  “And triple my original order, Homes.”

Haji smiled and surveyed the boxes surrounding him in the basement of his dad’s Dearborn deli.  Pedro wanted ten cases of nines, ten cases of 7.62×39mm NATO, and ten cases of 380 ACP.  Multiply all that by three, and you come up with Haji racing upstairs to use the deli calculator.  It took him five attempts, but he finally came up with a number.  He grabbed the tab sheet off the calculator then went out back to have a smoke and wait on Pedro.

Pedro pulled up in his lime green 1964 Impala low-rider with the tinted glass and hydraulic suspension.  He didn’t hit the horns this time.  He just got out of the car and said, “Show me the shit, Haji.”

Down in the basement Pedro was obviously impressed and couldn’t stop nodding his head.  “Dang, Homes, you could start a fuckin’ war with all this shit you got up in here!  Come on, let’s get me loaded up!”

Twenty minutes later the back end of Pedro’s Impala was sagging like fat granny boobs and Haji was asking for payment.  Pedro reached into his back seat and lifted out a black garage bag looked to be stuffed to the brim.  He flung the bag at Haji who was almost knocked off his feet catching it.

“What the fuck, Pedro!  You know I only take cash!” exclaimed Haji figuring he was being paid in weed.

“You is, Homes,” explained Pedro.  “Ain’t nothing but cash in that bag.”

Haji smirked then started fiddling with the twist tie.  “I gotta count this shit first, Pedro.”  When he saw what was inside his mood deflated completely. “What the fuck, Pedro!  You pay me with one dollar bills?  What the fuck am I supposed to do with all this shit?  Did you even count it?”

“I weighed it, Homes,” reported Pedro.

“So, how much does it weigh?”

“A little over twelve pounds,” answered Pedro climbing back into his car.

“How much is that in dollars,” asked Haji, almost pleading.

“Google that shit, Haji, that’s what I done.”

Before Haji could protest Pedro fired up the Impala and was sliding down the alley.  What the fuck!  Haji yanked out his cell phone and after his sixth or seventh try Googling finally learned that he had actually come out ahead on the deal.  Now all he had to do was find a way to turn those one dollar bills into bigger denominations.   Just to be sure Haji took the garbage bag full of cash and weighed it on his dad’s meat scale.  It came up at fourteen pounds and six ounces.  Haji didn’t know if he should mad or happy.  On the one hand it was more money, on the other hand it was more of a problem.  Sometimes being a player ain’t easy. 

 

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

The pile of money sitting on the workbench was two feet long and a foot high.  All the bills were neatly stacked and bound with paper wraps.  It didn’t even look real.

“Good thing I don’t pay taxes,” noted Jack.

“Yeah, no shit,” replied Chu.  “What you gonna do with it?”

Jack shook his head.  “Fuck, I don’t know. Throw it in with the rest, I guess.”

“Bobby gonna expect a lot for this much money, Jack.  He send file with list of names and notes on everyone he want hit.  It’s thick file.  Even for you it gonna take a while.”

“Fuck Bobby,” replied Jack flatly.

“Yeah, fuck Bobby,” repeated Chu.  After thinking about this for a moment, Chu asked, “What you mean, “Fuck Bobby, Jack?”

*****

Jackie Caputski borrowed Chu’s Ferrari and wearing the Halston dress Jack supplied was speeding down I-96 at one hundred and twenty miles an hour.  With the windows down her hair and the white silk scarf around her neck whirled and twisted like a bull whip cracked by an angry cowboy.  Some frat boy in a yellow Corvette chased after her when she blew by, but Jackie just mashed the accelerator to the floor.   The Ferrari jumped like a jet fighter on afterburners and in a second or two the Corvette was but a speck in her mirrors.  The speedometer read one-sixty as she rocketed through Howell, the Ferrari just loving the three lanes of smooth concrete.  As she crested the last hill before hitting Brighton, just for a kick, Jackie punched the red nitrous oxide button on the steering wheel.

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

She screamed past Milford at one-seventy before bleeding off speed with a steady slacking on the gas pedal.  When the needle dropped below felony territory Jackie’s eyes swept the instrument panel.  She’d burned through three-quarters of the tank.  She got off at the Novi exit.  At the Shell station Jackie climbed out and leaned her ass against the fender of the Ferrari. Some goof in a minivan pulled up behind her and stopped.  He couldn’t keep the smile off his lips.

“Hey!” she said.  “Can you pour me some gas, Big Fella?  I have no idea of how these things work.”

And he did.  Gladly.

When the goof was done, Jackie tossed him a hundred dollar bill and said, “Get a haircut!”  She smoked the tires pulling out and ran the red light at the corner.  She wanted never to give Chu back this car. It was truly outrageous.

Jackie rolled to a stop at the curb in front of her house in Ferndale and realized there was absolutely nothing in that house she actually wanted.  Picking up the cell phone Jack gave her, he called it a ‘burner’, she punched in her daughter’s number.  Jackie got right to the point.

“Don’t ask me any questions about where I’ve been or what I’m doing.  In fact, don’t ask me anything.  Just listen.  The house in Ferndale and everything in it is yours.  Same with my Impala.  It’s at the airport.  There’s thirty-five hundred dollars in my savings account at Comerica, and about six grand at PNC.  That’s yours, too.  I’ll have a lawyer contact you with all the details.  He’ll handle everything.  I’ll call you once in a while to see how you’re doing.  I hope that asshole husband of yours treats you right, but you’re a big girl now so whatever.”

“But, Mom—“

“Don’t ‘but mom’ me.  I found happiness and I’ll be damned if I am going to let anyone piss on my parade.  I wish you the best, Honey, but mom’s got her groove on now.  Bye!”

Jackie slapped the Ferrari into first gear and dumped the clutch.  She was sideways half way down the street but still managed to whip the car through the left hand turn.  Once she was straightened out she flipped the cell phone out the window just like Jack had told her.  Damn, she loved that man!  Where had he been all her life?

Back on the expressway she almost drove the speed limit wanting to make this ride last as long as she could. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring came on radio.  She wondered if Jack liked that song.  She stamped hard on the accellerator.

          “It’s two a.m., the fear has gone

I’m sittin’ here waitin’, the gun still warm…”

*****

Chu stared at his computer screen, then glared at Jack, and then went back to staring at his computer screen.  There were monitoring Jackie through the GPS data and internal video camera Chu installed in the Ferrari.

“Jack, your woman crazy driver!  She wreck Ferrari you buying me new one!”

Jack smiled.  “Turn it up.  I love that song!”

“You such a fuckin’ white boy, Jack.  You should grow mullet.  Get some tattoos.”

“Maybe I will, Chu.  How much for the Ferrari?”

“One point two and some change.”

“Take it out of the pile.”

“Twenty grand more I give you extended warranty.”

*****

 

Cogent couldn’t resist one second longer.  “What is that, Sterwid?  You get a new piece?”

Sterwid twirled the gun around by its trigger guard and then pointed it right at Cogent.  “Yup.  SIG Sauer P220 Super Match .45 caliber. Got this bitch for a hundred under list from Charlie over in Accounting.”

Extending his shooting hand Cogent asked, “Can I check it out?”

“Nope.  Nobody touches this thing until I get it on the range and pump some rounds through it.  This ain’t no amateur’s gun, Cogent.  This is what real motherfuckers carry.”

“Well, what are we doing sitting around this office for?  Let’s go to the range!”

“Yeah, we can take my Camaro!”

“Can I drive?”

“Are you fucking nuts, Cogent?  First you want to shoot my gun and now you want to drive my new Camaro?  You’re the asshole who wanted to pay off his student loan.  All fun and no play, Cogent, that is what you are!”

“Bite me, Sterwid.  Come on, let’s go already.”

An hour later Sterwid was blasting away at silhouette targets with his new pistol and Cogent was pretending to be awed.  “Wow, you shot him right in the nuts that time!  Not bad for emptying the whole fucking clip!”

“Think you could do better?” challenged Sterwid.

“Gimme that thing.”

Cogent at least hit various parts of the ‘body’ with each shot, but that was not a good thing.  It gave him confidence.  “Watch this,” he said as he swung the pistol behind his back and attempted a trick shot.  Who knows where the round went, but the back of his shirt caught fire from the burning powder exiting the barrel.  Sterwid almost fell to the floor he was laughing so hard.  “You’re such a ‘tard’, Cogent!”

Cogent stripped of his shirt and threw it on the floor.  “Last time I did that I nailed the guy right in the belly.”

“Hey, that reminds me.  Got a call from a snitch this morning.  Seems that Mexican’t, Pedro, got hooked up with Haji over in Dearborn.  Took a trunk load of rockets out the basement of that Deli or some shit.”

“Haji the meth dealer?” asked Cogent.

“No, Haji the guns dealer and meth dealer.  Dude is taking in garbage bags full of cash according to my snitch.  Akram says Haji is starting some kind of gangster jihad.”

“We better get on that,” declared Cogent.  “This could be huge!”

 

“Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Shileel found herself in a very small booth fronted with a two-way mirror which was framed with heavy steel plates.  Below the mirror was a rectangular slot the size of a toaster that could only be opened from inside.  Above the mirror was a red light which at the time was turned off.  Shark Tooth Toby pointed at it now and said, “If that light starts flashing, you stick that AK through that slot and pull the trigger.  Don’t stop until you run out of bullets.”

They were in an abandoned factory off Jefferson that Toby had converted into a casino of sorts.  Right now it was empty, but according to Toby in a few hours it would be jam packed with suckers.  Shileel pointed at the mirror.  “Is that shit bullet proof?”

“Oh yeah, it’s real bullet proof.  Stop a fuckin’ bazooka, Shileel,” answered Toby.

Shileel tapped the glass with her finger nail.  “It don’t feel like it.  It ain’t nothin’ like that glass at the corner store.”

“Well go get your ass a job at the corner store, Shileel.  Can you shoot that gun?”

“Make sure the safety off, cut the selector lever to ‘full auto’ and pull the fuckin’ trigger.  My brother got one these, Toby, got it from Haji.   Shit, everybody in town gots one.”

“Fuck them motherfuckers, Shileel, all YOU got to do is wait for that red light to cut on.”

“And you gonna pay me five hundred dollars a day to sit here with this machine gun waiting for that red light to come on?”  Shileel could hardly believe this.  There had to be a catch.

“You only get the five hundred if you have to shoot.  If you don’t have to shoot, you get a hundred,” explained Toby patiently.  “Hopefully, you won’t ever have to shoot, usually when that happens the place gotta close down for a while.”

Shileel gave him a ‘look’.  “Well, I guess it’s better than cleaning rooms at that filthy motel of yours.  Who be the one turn that red light on?”

“That would be me.”

“How long my shift last?”

“Eight, nine hours.  Maybe longer sometimes, but if it do I’ll tear you off a little something-something extra.  Plus, you get free pizza when you hungry.  Just call the bartender on your cell phone.  He make sure it get to you.  Oh yeah, and you get Sunday off.”

“What if I gotta go to the bathroom?”

“I’m working on that, Shileel.  For right now just use that bucket right there under the chair.”

“And, what happens if I shoot somebody?”

“They probably die.”

“Then what I do?”

“Sneak out the same way we come in, and don’t ever tell nobody nothing ever.”

*****

 

Georgie Meat Hook plopped into the overstuffed chair in Bobby’s office and bowed his head ever so slightly.  “So, I’m here.  What can I do for you, Boss?”

Bobby got right to the point.  “I want you to go to Detroit and keep an eye on that Jack fucker.  You know, make sure he is fulfilling the obligations of the contract he took.”

“I can do that.  Anything else?”

“Yeah, after he’s done I want you to whack him.  Nothing fancy just make him dead,” explained Bobby.  “Bring me back his ear or something.”

“We got anybody left in Detroit I can use?”

“Just that lawyer and the guy at the welding supply shop, Joey.  Joey can get you anything you need, and the lawyer can get you a place to stay over on the river.  Other than that, keep a low profile.”

Georgie Meat Hook nodded.  “What kinda intel we got?”

Bobby slid a photo across his desk.  “Got this from the FBI when he whacked Sonny on the plane.  It’s his passport picture.”

Georgie studied the photo intently.  “That’s it, Boss?”

“That’s right, Georgie.  Don’t fuck around.  He’s killed more people than AIDS, and he’s wired in tighter than snake pussy.

“Yeah, yeah, he’s a tough asshole.  I get it.  What’s in it for me?”

“You can have Sonny’s old job this thing goes okay.”

Georgie considered this for a moment.  Detroit sucked ass, but Sonny lived large.  “Yeah, okay, I can do this thing.”

New York Bobby stared at the ceiling for nearly a minute.  Georgie could tell he was deep in thought so he didn’t interrupt.  Finally Bobby says, “Take Rocko and Tony Jowls and Straight Razor Larry and Quido from Queens and that new kid, Donnie Brasker or something what sells the diamonds.”

“Sure Boss.  Will do.”

“And get my fucking money back from that Jack asshole, too,” ordered Bobby.

 

“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

On the table was a Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD 380, three United Cutlery Lightning Bolt Triple 7.25″ throwing knives, a garret made from piano wire with walnut handles and a box of cherry Jello mix.  Twenty-five feet downrange sat a stack of hay bales with a silhouette target tacked up.

“Pick up gun first,” ordered Chu.

Jackie picked up the gun.  It felt ‘right’ in her hands.  Chu told her to fire, and she did immediately.  All six rounds hit the target in the chest.

“You shoot gun before?” asked an incredulous Chu.

“Never,” reported Jackie.  “Can I do it again?”

“Sure,” replied Chu.  “We got lots of bullets.”

For the next hour Jackie shot the gun and Chu loaded clips.  He couldn’t believe how fast she was catching on.

“You have lots of brothers?” asked Chu.

Jacking shook her head.  “I was an only child.”

Next he picked up one of the throwing knives.  First he taught her how to use it in close order combat, where to slash and stab people and how to block attacks.  That took all of ten minutes.  Again, Chu was amazed.

“Your father soldier?”

“No, he was a librarian.”

When it came to throwing those knives, however, she did not catch on right away.  This pleased Chu to no end.  He loved scolding students.  Finally he said, “That good enough.  Probably never throw one anyway.”  The garret took another five minutes and then they were staring at the box of cherry Jello brand gelatin.

“What’s that for?” asked Jackie.

“You eat one of these every day for a week,” explained Chu.  “Make fingernails hard as rocks.  Someone grab you, you rake eyes or squeeze balls.  They not do that shit again.”

Jackie poured some of the powdered gelatin mix into her mouth and tried to swallow.  Belatedly Chu produced a bottle of water for her to wash it down with.  It took her five minutes and she had massive clown lips before it was done. “Now what?” she asked.

“Teach Kung Fu.”

“How long will that take?” Jackie asked sounding bored.

“Ten minutes I teach you three moves.  You practice every day no matter what.  Be dropping fools in no time.”

“I don’t understand, Chu.  I’ve got Jack to protect me.  He told me as long as I am with him nothing on the planet can hurt me.”

For some reason Jackie sounded a bit insincere.  For the life of him, Chu could not figure out why.  “Are you with Jack right now,” asked Chu. This make her stop and think!

“I see what you mean, Chu.  What do you want to teach me first?”

 

“Never let the enemy pick the battle site.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Haji was stopped for a red light at Telegraph and Michigan Avenue when suddenly the passenger’s side door swung open and some white dude jumped in. He jammed a Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistol in his ear and said, “Drive!”

This wasn’t the first time Haji had ever had a gun pointed at him, but it was surely the biggest one.  Of course, being a gun dealer he recognized it right away.  The barrel opening was as big as his thumb.  This one was blue steel and had a laser sight.  The guy holding it was steady, had cold blue eyes, close cropped blond hair and a jaw bone square as a mail box.  Haji eased the car forward when the light changed and tried to remain cool.  After a half a block the guy said, “Turn into that Burger King.”

White dude had Haji pull all the way to the back of the parking lot and turn off the motor.  Haji for sure thought he was a dead man, but this guy started talking instead of shooting.

“Listen kid, I know you got a good little gig going on here since Sonny got whacked, but Godzilla is on the way and he is going to rape you with a gorilla dick and then snap your head off and shove it up your asshole.  You understand me?”

Haji nodded though he had no idea what this guy was talking about.

“Here’s the deal, believe it or not but I’m here to keep you alive for a while.  The guy in New York wants his gigs back around here and all the money they made him.  Sooner or later he’s gonna show up at your door and he probably won’t ask any questions.  You argue with him and he’ll just kill you, and maybe your family, and maybe your neighbors if he’s in the mood.  You following me so far?”

Haji again nodded.  He fought hard to stop the pee from seeping out of his pecker but was losing the battle a drop at a time.

“Good.” White dude threw a scrap of paper on the dashboard.  “Anyone, and I do mean anyone comes around fucking with you, you call the number on that paper and the cavalry will come a running.  Got it?”

Haji nodded again.

“I know you’re confused and shit, but don’t worry.  You’re only part of this equation if you fuck up.  I’m after the New York guys, not you, but you fuck me and I swear I will rip you apart with my bare hands and feed you to rabid dogs.  You got that?”

Haji nodded again.

“Now get out of the car and walk inside and get yourself a cheeseburger.”

*****

Jackie was cooking dinner when Jack arrived back at Chu’s ranch.  There were steaks, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and cherry pie for dessert.  Jack was starved and wolfed down the meal like it was his last.  Chu sat there staring at him.  “You fucking heathen, Jack.”

“Oh, let him eat, Chu,” protested Jackie.

Ding Fow giggled.  “Yeah, leave Jack alone, Chu!  He big tipper!”

Ignoring all of them Jack picked up the steak in his hands and used his teeth to rip the meat from the bone.  He may even have started growling.  He said something, but no one could understand it.  Ding Fow couldn’t stop giggling and Jackie couldn’t stop imitating him.  Chu pushed up from the table in disgust and said, “Jack, come see me in basement when you done abusing food. I got intel for you.”  Jack burped then nodded.  A few minutes later he got up and followed Chu.  Jackie was oinking like a pig as Ding made monkey sounds.  This pleased Jack to no end, he blew a level ten fart leaving the room.

“New York Bobby bringing in A-Team,” reported Chu.  “You know the type.”

Wiping his chin with the back of his hand, Jack said, “Good. I am fucking bored to death, man. I gotta get back in the shit. I ain’t heard a shot fired in anger in weeks.”

“Talk about me stealing lines!” barked Chu.

 

“Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Haji had just told Pedro and Chico about being accosted by the stranger with the huge fucking pistol.  Pedro and Chico then told Haji the same thing had happened to them, and Shark Tooth Toby.  None of them could make heads or tails of it.

“This Cavalry guy, you think he’s ‘five oh’?” asked Pedro.

Haji shook his head.  “Nah, man.  This dude is way too crazy to be a cop.”

“Could be one of those cops like on the TV show ‘24’, you know.  One of them cops don’t even need a fucking badge or nothing,” offered Chico.

“What did Toby say?” asked Haji.

“He don’t know.  He’s more worried about them New York guys than this guy.  Says we should get strapped,” explained Pedro solemnly.  “We is probably in a war.”

“Yeah?” asked Haji.

“Well, we’ll know after tomorrow night.  We meetin’ at Toby’s joint.”

“Yeah,” replied Pedro.  “Everybody gettin’ they hole card pulled.”

 

 

“In case of doubt, attack.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Georgie Meat Hook and his crew rented six black Cadillacs and were traversing the city hunting Jack and minority gangsters.  Joey had come through with the necessary hardware so they were all strapped like Poncho Villa.  They agreed to meet back at the condo on the river for dinner and to strategize their next move.  Georgie told them not to do nothing without talking to him first, he wanted everyone to get the lay of the land before going off half-cocked on some bloody shooting spree.  Of course, these guys weren’t the kind to listen, and offered up half-assed excuses for whatever stupid stunt they pulled.

Rocko shrugged and said, “I had to do it, Georgie.  The guy was selling crack outta Carmen’s old joint.  I couldn’t let that shit pass.”

Tony Jowls was next.  “Hey, some spick cut me off on Telegraph.  I had to get his attention somehow!”

Shaking his head Georgie slammed his fist down on the table and said, “No more fucking killing and shit until I say so.  We’re supposed to be here on the fucking QT and yous guys is causing all the wrong kinds of commotion.  Remember Jack?  He’s in town.  You want that bastard to find you before we find him?  You wanna get dead?”

“Hey, why you yelling at me?” asked Donnie Brasker or Brasko or whatever.  “I didn’t shoot nobody!”

“Yeah, Donnie, you ain’t never shot nobody!” noted Straight Razor Larry.  “What the fuck is up with that?”

And then Quido slammed his fist down on the table.  “Shut the fuck up all of yous!  I’m getting a migraine over here!”

It was Tony Jowls who finally shut them all up.  “Look, I got some actual dope on this shit so shut the fuck up and listen!  I met with that nigger Shark Tooth Toby and unbeknownst to him he has solved all our problems.  He told me some guy calls himself Cavalry paid him a visit and this guy sounds a lot like our boy Jack.  Seems this Cavalry guy has been paying visits to a lot of assholes around town, and warning them about us.  Even gives them a number to call if they spot us.”

Georgie considered this for a moment then said, “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”  It was a plan they could all agree on. It involved bushwhacking Jack and then whacking everybody else.  It was what they always did.

 

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Cogent and Sterwid were leaning over the tape recorder on Sterwid’s desk.  They were listening to a surveillance tape and it was enough to make their mouths water.  The tape itself was only a few minutes long, but the conversation it contained was huge beyond huge.

“Where’d you get this?” asked Cogent excitedly.

“I got Akram to plant a bug on Haji.  It’s been a fucking gold mine.”

“And this is the first I’m hearing of this?” protested Cogent.  “I could get in a lot of trouble!”

“Look, Stone is up at Mackinaw Island for the week, so technically we are in charge.  Come on, Buddy!  We’re on the brink of solving the biggest case in Detroit’s criminal history, Cogent, hands down!”

“I thought the Hoffa case was the biggest case in Detroit’s criminal history?” challenged Cogent smugly.

“Okay, in this century then.  Either way, I think we just punched our ticket to Washington.”

Nodding his head Cogent agreed.  “Fucking A!  We got the New York mob, the local Detroit scum bags and that dumbass ghost all in the same place at the same time!”

“And all we gotta do is throw in a couple of tear gas canisters and handcuff them assholes when they come out,” declared Sterwid.  “Which reminds me, we’re going to need more handcuffs and probably a school bus or something to haul their asses in with.”

“You don’t want to call in any backup?”

“Fuck no!  We can’t take any chances on this leaking out.  There’s more dirty cops in this city than any other city in the world, Cogent.  You know that!”

“Except for New Orleans.”

“Well, yeah, but that goes without saying.”

*****

 

Jackie was staring lovingly into Jack’s eyes as he traced the lines of her ample breasts with his trigger finger.  “Did you really tell Chu you never shot a gun before?”

“Yes, I did, and I really played dumb with the throwing knives, too,” she cooed.  “I’m just glad it wasn’t grape Jello.”

Jack smiled.  “He made me eat lemon-lime.”

“Ewwwwww!”

“Listen, Darlin’, you still want to shoot someone?”

“Of course I do, Sweetie.  That’s why I have been practicing every day.” Jackie pointed her index finger and worked her thumb like a hammer.  Taking aim at Jack’s heart she said, “You promised!”

“Okay, I got someone for you, somebody really, really bad.”

“That’s good, Jack.  I don’t want to shoot any good guys.”

“Oh, and that Ferrari. It’s yours.  I bought it from Chu.”

Jackie’s eyes flipped to high beam as she jumped on top of him and started grinding her hips.  “Me so horny!  Me love you long time!”

“Giddy up, cowgirl!”

 

By the time Jack drug his ass out of bed Jackie and Chu were five hours gone.  Ding Fow was lying on the couch eating a Pop Tart and watching the Jerry Springer Show.  He gave her a wink as he passed through to the kitchen for some coffee.  On the counter was a large envelope Chu left containing the new intelligence stuff from Roger.  Jack emptied the contents on the kitchen table and quickly worked his way through it.  Afterward he took it outside and burned every last page in the bird bath Chu carved by hand out of a slab of granite.  Scratching his nuts, he yawned and decided to go back to bed.  There wasn’t shit he could do until nightfall anyway, might as well rest up.

 

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Ruthless Ray and his nephew had the door tonight.  As usual they were swilling forty ouncers of Old English and smoking blunts the size of bananas.  Most people they knew and just waived in. Those few customers they didn’t know couldn’t get in without a bribe.  The silver Z28 was parked just a few feet away.  It still had the solid silver letter opener in the ignition.

Jack watched all of this through his Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars from the driver’s seat of the dark blue Crown Vic he’s stolen in Birmingham earlier.  He was parked at the furthermost corner of the lot and was slumped deep in the seat. His head barely cleared the headrest.  He’d been there for three hours now, which was two hours longer than Ruthless Ray and his sidekick had been at their post.  When they pulled up in that sweet Z28 Jack was genuinely impressed.  Nice ride!  Now there were six black Cadillacs scattered in front of him along with a host of other cars. Tony Jowls was the last to arrive. None of them even bothered to scope the lot.  Their situational awareness is for shit!  Jack glanced at the luminescent dial on his watch.  All he was waiting for was the call for the cavalry.  And then the bright orange school bus, with the headlights turned off crept into the lot and stopped.  What the fuck?  It had ‘Electric Avenue Baptist Bible School’ printed on the side.

Incredibly, Ruthless Ray and his partner failed to notice the bus and the two guys climbing out in FBI windbreakers.  They were so stoned by now Jack doubted they would notice if their hair were on fire.  Through the binoculars he saw that each FBI guy was carrying a tear gas canister in one hand and a pistol in the other.  Where’d these morons come from?  Fucking Roger’s intel sucked!

Jack had to make a decision and he made it fast.  He slipped out of the Crown Vic to tail the two FBI guys, or possibly imposters, around the side of the building.  Dressed in black and wearing a balaclava ski mask Jack was invisible as he crept through the shadows and ducked behind any cover to be had.  He could hardly believe what he witnessed next.  The duo walked up to one of the exhaust fans and started yanking off the steel grill.  That is when it dawned on Jack these two fools were going to attempt to throw those tear gas canisters past those spinning fan blades!  He willed his cell phone not to ring before these clowns completed their mission.  His cell phone obeyed.

Because it was well rusted and very old, the grill pulled off after only a few clumsy attempts.  The clowns tossed it to the side then took a couple steps back.  Clown number one yanked the pin on his tear gas canister and heaved it at the opening.  He was not successful.  The canister bounced off the protective shroud and right into the spinning blades, whereupon it burst open and was flung right back at the clown who threw it.  Jack could not tell exactly where the mangled canister hit the clown, but he was pretty sure it was in the facial area.  The guy hit the ground like he was slapped by Thor’s hammer.  Meanwhile, clown number two was quickly overcome by the tear gas propelled at his face at the speed of jet exhaust, and started flailing around like a marionette controlled by a psychopath.  Rubbing his eyes and stumbling around aimlessly clown number two finally did a header into an abandoned forklift.  He was down for the count.

At that moment, Jack’s phone rang—into his earplug that is.  He answered it coolly.  “Yeah.”

It was Shark Tooth Toby.  “They here,” he whispered. “Come and get ‘em Mr. Cavalry.”

“Be there in thirty minutes,” Jack lied, and hung up.  He threw the phone up on the roof of the abandoned factory and started slinking toward the front door.   He was within three feet of Ruthless Ray before being detected.

“Hey, who the fuck” were the only words Ray could get out of his mouth before the heel of Jack’s 11 inch Corcoran Jump Boot snapped into his chest slamming him like a crash test dummy into the concrete wall.  Jack wasn’t really trying to kill him, but that is what happened anyway.  He smacked the kid across the nose with his Desert Eagle.  The kid lived, but didn’t wake up until the doctors revived him in the ER a couple hours later.  His memory loss would be total.  Jacked yanked the flash/bang grenade from his cargo pocket and pulled the pin.  It had a short fuse.  He kicked in the door and lofted the canister toward the ceiling. No one noticed it until it started descending and went off at eye level.  Jack was in a crouch by then with his eyes closed tightly, the cotton balls in his ears dampening the bang.

*****
Shileel was fast asleep with the AK47 laying in her lap and her finger wrapped around the trigger.  Her shoeless feet were propped up on the two-way mirror with her chair leaned back against the wall.  A stream of drool leaked out the right side of her mouth while rap music buzzed away in her earbuds.  On the floor beside her was an empty pizza box and next to that was a bucket half full of urine.  Shileel was too lazy to dump it every night.  Right now her brain was dreaming how she was at some exclusive night club and handsome players were fighting for her attention.   She was drinking champagne from a fluted glass.

When the concussion of the flash/bang grenade shattered the ‘bullet proof’ glass Shileel’s brain did not in fact engage.  Instead, her entire body tensed including the finger wrapped around the trigger of the AK47 assault rifle–which she did not relinquish as her chair slipped out from underneath her.  The AK expended twenty rounds before she even saw the flashing red light.  Glass and concrete chips rained down on her from every direction. All she could do was scream and shit her drawers!

*****

The crowd went wild, but everyone was too disoriented to move with any real speed.  They just screamed and brought trembling hands to their eyes and ears.  White people were easy to pick out.  Their faces stuck out like flesh colored glow sticks.  As Jack came out of his crouch, he pulled up the second Desert Eagle with his left hand. The last thing he was expecting to hear was the report of an assault rifle, but there it was.  Tapping the triggers lightly kicked on the laser sights and their first focus was the direction of the gunfire.  In an instant Jack realized whoever was shooting, they were not shooting at him, but that blinking red light stalled him for second more.  Move!  Jack spun to acquire his real targets.  Straight Razor Larry was dead nuts in front of him sitting at a poker table looking dazed in his brain.

BAM!  One to the head.  Down goes Larry.

Jack saw Rocko run face first into a support post and go into a backward stagger.  The Desert Eagle in his left hand barked.

BAM! BAM!  Down goes Rocko.

Tony Jowls was at the bar, of course, and was trying to get his gun out.

BAM! BAM!  Down goes Tony.

Out of the corner of his eye Jack spotted Quido trying to duck under the craps table.  He didn’t quite have the flexibility though, and banged his head which made him stand up and stumble backward.

BAM! BAM!  Down goes Quido.

He spotted Georgie and Toby heading for the back door.  They were feeling their way along the wall and in another two steps would make it.

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!  Down goes Georgie and Toby.

BAM! BAM! BAM!  Just to be sure.

Some other idiot Jack didn’t recognize had the audacity to stand and draw a pistol out of his waistband.

BAM!  Down goes idiot guy.  Right nasal cavity.

BAM!  For the gall of it. Left nasal cavity.

Out of the corner of his eye Jack picked up Haji crawling along the floor.  Pedro was right behind him with Chico right behind him.  BAM! BAM! BAM!  He swung to his right in time to see the black chick falling out from behind where the mirror was.  The red light still flashed.  She smacked a table on the way down, and stopped screaming when she hit the concrete floor head first.  An AK47 tumbled out onto the floor with her.  It was all Jack could do to keep from giggling.  The Go PRo camera on his shoulder caught it all.  Chu is gonna love this!

One more to go.  Come out, come out wherever you are!  Where in the Hell was this Braser or Brasko kid?  As if on command, Donnie running came out of the men’s room holding his pistol over his head.  Jack heard him yelling, “I’m a cop, don’t shoot me!”

What the fuck?

Jack considered this for about a millisecond and then shot Brasco in the foot.  “Stay down!” he ordered, but it was hardly necessary.  Brasco latched onto the stump that used to be his foot and keeled over immediately.  He was down for the count, too.

Mission accomplished Jack sprinted for the door while throwing the second flash/bang grenade over his shoulder.  When he got back to the parking lot he saw that the FBI clowns had regained consciousness.  They were now stumbling drunkenly towards the factory door.  Fuck it, Jack thought jumping into the Camaro.  The letter opener didn’t faze him a bit as he gave it a twist. Vroom!  He was around the corner before he yanked off the Balaclava and kicked on the lights.  Easy peazy lemon squeezy!  Now, let me see what this beast can do!

 

“I always believe in being prepared, even when I’m dressed in white tie and tails.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

The loud banging got Bobby’s attention immediately, but he didn’t get out of his chair until he heard a female’s voice screaming, “Let me in, you bastard!  Let me in!”  And then the banging would start again.  Bobby slid out of his easy chair and crept like a cat to the front door. Putting his eye to the peep hole he couldn’t have been any happier with the view.  Her back was to him, but that body was loaded for bear!  Her long blonde hair was all puffed out and she was wearing only a pair of very sheer pink panties.  Her ass looked like a ripe Georgia peach!  She was calling some motherfucker every name in the book.

“You cocksucking faggot bastard dick-sucker!  Open the door!  Let me in you little shrimp motherfucker!  Let me in right fucking now!”

“Damn,” Bobby murmured.  “With an ass like that I gotta see the tits on this girl!”  He reached for the door knob.

The female in question didn’t seem to notice him opening the door.  She continued screaming and banging and every time she did her ass did the cutest little jiggling thing Bobby ever saw.  He could feel an erection coming on.  His whole body was heating up.  “Young lady, can I help you?”

The young lady who turned around had the greenest eyes Bobby had ever seen on a human, and a rack that sent his brain into hyper motorboat gear.  When he saw the pistol she yanked out of her panties it was far too late to do anything.  The bullets ripped through his flesh like sharp forks through fresh tomatoes.  The penthouse ceiling rushed away from him as he fell back, and then everything went black.  Bad Bobby Bennetti was no more.

Chu opened the door, threw a black trench coat over Jackie’s shoulders and dropped a pair of pink sneakers at her feet.  Jackie buried the .380 in a pocket then knelt to pop on the sneakers.  In seconds they were running for stairwell and a few minutes later slipped into the Ferrari with Jackie behind the wheel.  She pulled away stealthily just like Jack had taught her, only flicking on her headlights when she came out of the alley.   Half way down the block she yanked off the blond wig and threw it over her shoulder.  Chu asked, “You think Ding Fow marry me?”

 

“So forever in the future,

Shall I battle as of yore,

Dying to be born a fighter,

But to die again, once more.”

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR

 

Black Jack

“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”

–Genghis Khan

 

Jack was on the prowl with a Remington R5 and Chu was right beside him with a Vector CRB.  They worked in standard military assault formation toward the alley behind the bistro.  Aiming down the barrel Jack led the way and monitored right.  Chu had his six and monitored left.  As they cleared a burnt out hulk of a car Jack went prone just as the RPG round shot down from the second floor balcony of the hotel across the street.  It blew Chu to smithereens.  Rolling to his left Jack failed to acquire his target in time.  Through their headphones they heard Ding announce triumphantly, “Chu dead!  I shot right in pussy!”

Emptying a clip into the wall of the hotel Jack yelled, “Your ass is mine now, Ding!  Eat lead!”

Chu leaped from the couch, threw his controller hard against the cold stones of the fireplace and damned Ding to Hell.  “In real life I kill shit out of you, Ding!”  They could hear Ding laughing from the bedroom and through their headphones.  It was embarrassing.

“I kill shit outta Jack now.  Use VKS!  One shot one kill, Jack!  You dead man!” bragged Ding playfully.

That is when the emergency tone on Jack’s cell phone cut through the air.  Jack punched in the code and heard the words that pumped his adrenalin at the speed of light.  “JACK! THEY ARE TRYING TO KILL ME!”

He was in mid-leap over the coffee table when he asked, “Where are you, Darlin’?”

“I-96 NEAR US-23!  JACK, HURRY!  I CAN’T OUTRUN THEM!” screamed Jackie.

“I’m coming, Darlin’!”  Jack kicked open the door and raced toward Chu’s garage, kicked in that door and spilled inside.  The triple black Caprice with the reinforced bumpers and Chevrolet Performance ZZ383 C.I.D. 425 HP engine was a no brainer.  Chu barely had time to climb in beside him, but the garage door was not so fortunate.  It only raised three inches before Jack stomped on the gas and released the transmission brake.  Leaving a Wily E. Coyote like silhouette in the garage door the Caprice exploded onto the driveway and bit hard.  Jack jerked the wheel to negotiate the sharp left leading to the highway.  He flipped his cell phone to Chu who was already grabbing patch cords from the glove box.  In seconds Jackie’s voice was booming through the seven speaker stereo with the dual twelve inch kickers in the trunk.  The heads-up display beamed her GPS data onto the windshield.

“JACK, HURRY UP THEY’RE GAINING ON ME!”

They were six miles away.  “I’ll be there in three minutes,” screamed Jack into the microphone sewn into the sun visor.  “Hit the nitrous, Darlin’!”

“I CAN’T, JACK!  I’M ALMOST OUT OF GAS!” screamed Jackie in return.

“Who’s chasing you?”

“I DON’T KNOW!  SOME GUYS ON MOTORCYCLES! JACK, HURRY! THEY’RE SHOOTING AT ME!”

The Magnuson MP1900 TVS supercharger wound up and pushed the tachometer needle into the red.  Jack was passing traffic on the shoulder, the wrong shoulder, and had Chu damn near pissing his pants.  After securing his own five point harness Chu reached over to buckle Jack in.

“Guns!” screamed Jack.  “Get the guns!”

Chu unbuckled and wormed into the backseat.  Pulling down the backrest revealed a small arsenal.  He hollered, “What gun you want, Jack?”

Jack couldn’t answer right then.  He was busy avoiding the three car pile-up he’d just caused.  Swerving back into the right lane he bounced off a UPS van which was just enough impact to keep him going straight.  He could see the overpass up ahead and knew he had to start braking.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw the red Ferrari surrounded by a fleet of black sport bikes passing to his left.  Slamming on the brakes he cut the wheel and told Chu to pass up the sawed-off SAIGA-12 full-auto shotgun.  The Caprice whipped onto the entrance ramp like a crack head down some dope house stairs.  Jack mashed the gas pedal as he reached for the shotgun.  “Grab the AK and get their attention!” he yelled.

Climbing back up front Chu hit the button for the sun roof then gingerly stood up on the seat.  He didn’t even attempt to aim with Jack driving so crazy.  He just sprayed and prayed.

“JACK!” screamed Jackie.  “DO SOMETHING!  THE MOTOR JUST STOPPED!”

It was all Jack could do to dodge the bikes and shot up bikers spilling around him on the expressway.  A couple guys he didn’t completely miss.  “Get out of my way, assholes!” he screamed.

“Take the shoulder, Jack!” screamed Chu while changing clips.  “I clear path!”

Jack jerked the Caprice left just behind a volley of tracer rounds and saw the Ferrari not more than a hundred yards away.  There was a biker on either side of it.  The rider by the driver’s door leveled a sawed off double barrel shotgun.  “Hit the brakes!” screamed Jack into the visor mic.

Jackie didn’t hesitate and it saved her life.  The shotgun blast missed the Ferrari completely but blew the rider on the other side off his bike and under the wheels of another biker who catapulted into yet another bike and the whole mess of them hit the pavement hard.

“Good girl!” screamed Jack.  By now he was on his own brakes and swinging the Caprice sideways to sweep out several more bikes and riders.  “Grab the wheel!” he yelled to Chu as he leaned out the window and started blasting away at the next closest targets.  BAM! BAM! BAM!  Three more bikes bit the dust.  The Caprice skidded to a stop alongside the Ferrari and Jack was out of the car shooting from the hip as he raced toward Jackie.  Snatching her out of the seat like a rag doll he dropped two more bikers before tossing her through the open Caprice door.  Chu tossed him a willy peter (white phosphorous grenade) and said, “Nuke the Ferrari, Jack!”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” screamed Jackie a millisecond too late.

 

“Those who were adept and brave fellows I have made military commanders. Those who were quick and nimble I have made herders of horses. Those who were not adept I have given a small whip and sent to be shepherds.”

–Genghis Khan

 

Sterwid propped his feet up on the desk and blew smoke from his foot long cigar.  He tapped ashes on the floor and said to Cogent, “I heard Stone was in tears when they fired him.  Charley said he saw the whole thing.”

Shrugging his shoulders Cogent said, “Thirty years down the drain.  They even told his wife about his mistress and that crib down in Jamaica.  If you ask me, that was just plain wrong.”

“Better him than me,” offered Sterwid.

“And me,” agreed Cogent.  The jagged, half-crescent scar on his forehead wasn’t healing well, and he couldn’t resist reaching for it constantly.  This pleased Sterwid to no end.

“Now that I’m the boss, I’m gonna simplify things around here,” mused Sterwid absently.  “We’re gonna do some real law enforcement for a change.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.  We’re gonna go full-blown Dirty Harry.  Really shake shit up.  Do it old school.”

“That’s what I’m talking about!  What do you want to do first?”

Before Sterwid could answer the phone rang.  Whoever was calling, they had Sterwid’s complete and total attention.  To Cogent the call lasted practically forever.  Finally Sterwid dropped the phone in the cradle.  He drew in a lung full of smoke and blew it toward the ceiling.

“So what the fuck was that all about?” asked Cogent anxiously.

Sterwid shook his head and took another long draw on his cigar.  “The cop gods must really love us, Cogent my boy.”

*****

Having ducked the gun charge, but still having been apprehended in an illegal gambling operation, one which also was involved in human trafficking, narcotic distribution, prostitution and identity theft, Shileel Cantor most definitely violated the terms of her probation.  Sitting in a holding cell at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, wearing an orange jump suit a size too small and smelling of excrement, Shileel wanted nothing more than to rip someone’s face off and shove it up their ass.  She was that mad.

Next to her on the bench was some crazy red-headed girl with blood-red colored dollar signs tattooed on her neck and fifteen piercings in her ear.  She had a silver tongue stud and a habit of touching it to the tip of her nose.  This amazed Shileel to no end.  Finally she could resist it no longer and asked, “How the fuck you do that shit?”

The red-head shrugged, “I was born that way.”

Ten minutes later they were fast friends and sharing arrest stories in great detail.  Barbie got popped because she was carrying her old man’s pistol in her backpack when some asshole ran them off the road and into a drainage ditch.  “I was knocked right the fuck out,” claimed Barbie.  “The fuckin’ pigs found the pistol in my backpack, which is fuckin’ illegal search and shit, but they charged me with it anyway.  But the worst part is my old man bought it.”

“Damn!” exclaimed Shileel sympathetically.

Pointing her boney finger at Shileel, Barbie said, “Hey, I remember you!  You’re the one who let Sonny Fablino on that airplane, ain’t you? I saw your picture in the paper!”

“Dumbest thing I ever done,” admitted Shileel.

“What they got on you now?”

“Probation violation.  It’s a long story.”

Barbie snapped her fingers.  “You got nothing to worry about, sister.  The jail is over-crowded and they’re letting all the non-violent offenders out.  They’ll kick you loose right after your hearing. You be back at the crib in no time!”

Shileel brightened right the fuck up. “For real?”

“Yeah, they do that shit every week,” confirmed Barbie.

They sat there in silence for a few moments until finally Shileel felt compelled to ask, “Anything I can do for you when I get out?”

Barbie smiled.  “As a matter of fact, there is one little thing.  I can’t trust the phones in here and I need to get out a message.  Won’t take you but a second, and you get a fat stack in the process.”

 

“Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.”

–Genghis Khan

 

Lazerus Wembly’s face was pale in the reflected light of the laptop computer before him.  He was not a happy camper.  They had lost some guys here and again, but never thirteen in a single day!  What the Hell is going on?   The four different newspaper accounts he’d read so far didn’t jibe with the tales told him by the numerous surviving members.  He studied the photo of the burning Ferrari surrounded by crashed sport bikes and blood smears staining the expressway.  This just doesn’t make any sense!

“Jessie!” shouted Lazerus.  “Get the fuck in here!”

Jessie Rafters was the vice president of the Black Death motorcycle club.  He stood six feet four inches, weighed in at about two-sixty and had long, stringy black hair.  Like everyone else in the club he had a blood-red dollar sign tattooed on his neck.  He sauntered into the room holding a fifth of Jack Daniels by the throat.  His Smith & Wesson 9 mm was tucked neatly into the waist of his black leather pants.

There was a single table in the middle of the room. It looked like it had been hewn by saw tooth beavers tripping on acid.  On the wall behind Lazerus the sacred painting of the giant dollar sign hung.   It had actually been painted with blood from the founding members.  Aside from Lazerus and a couple of ratty old chairs, that was all there was in the room.  The Black Death motorcycle club are devout minimalists.

Lazerus pointed at the chair and told Jessie to sit the fuck down.  “First things first, Jessie, add up all the dead guy’s shares and bring ‘em to me.  I want this done pronto.  Then, get a hold of that asshole you know in the FBI and pump him for intel on whoever it is that whacked our guys.  Then get Rat Ear to pick up the bikes from the impound yard with the stake truck.  Got that?”

Jessie nodded.  “We still got that job in Pinkney we have to deliver on, and the other one in Flint.  I can get Crazy Eyes to do the Pinkney run, but who you want to handle the Flint job?  Them guys up there are real fucking touchy lately.”

Lazerus considered this for a moment.  “Send Fat Willy and Sucker Joe, and tell them to leave their old ladies at home this time.  I want a call when they arrive and another call when they depart.  Tell ‘em to take a digital scale, too.”

“Gotcha, Boss,” replied Jessie.  “Got any idea when the funeral party is gonna be?  We got chapters driving in from all over the state.  Ain’t good to have them guys sitting around with nothin’ to do, you know how antsy they get.”

“At the lake house in a couple days.  Usual time.  I want this shit behind us fast,” declared Lazerus.  “Have Headshot arrange security, but tell him not to go fuckin’ nuts.  Let everybody keep their guns unless they demonstrate they can’t behave.”

Again Jessie nodded.  “So, Laz, you think this thing was just a freak of nature, or is someone coming down on us?  I mean, I was there and I ain’t never seen anything like it.  Those guys came out of nowhere and were loaded for fuckin’ bear.”

“Don’t go jumpin’ to conclusions, Jessie.  Just get that guy of yours and find out what you can.  We deal with facts in this club, not a bunch of wild ass speculation.”

*****

When they got home Jackie went right to her room and slammed the door.  Jack was right on her heels, heard the click of the lock, and beat a hasty retreat.  They sent Ding in to calm her down while they went to the den to review the highlights of the Ferrari’s flight path on the computer.  “You really should have pulled that stuff when I told you to, but I’m glad you didn’t,” Jack admitted.  Ignoring him, Chu pointed at the computer screen.

“She okay after she leave lawyer’s office.  She jump on the Southfield and goes fuckin’ crazy, Jack.  She going one-sixty and get real squirrely,” noted Chu.  “I bet she hit a guy there.”

“Yeah,” agreed Jack.  “She was all the way in Wayne County, too.”

Chu shook his head and continued.  “I bet she sideswiped one of them assholes and panicked.  I guess there were about thirty or forty riding in that group.  She probably burnt up nitrous right away thinking she could drop them guys and get away.”

“Yeah, she didn’t bother calling me until she realized that wasn’t gonna happen.  Shit!  She could have got herself killed!”

“Lots of strange stuff going on, Jack.  You see any patches on them guys leather jackets?” ask Chu suspiciously.

“No, come to think of it.”

“And they all riding crotch rockets painted the same color, black.  I never see a crotch rocket biker gang like that before.”

“And they were armed to the teeth and ready to kill.”

“Them assholes organized, Jack.”

Before Jack could respond he heard Jackie clear her throat behind him. He and Chu immediately turned to face her.  Her eyes were beat red and her cheeks were streaked with mascara.  Slowly she composed herself.  With a trembling lip she finally said, “Jack, I forgive you for blowing up my Ferrari.”  It looked like she had something else to say, but she turned and walked away.

Shaking his head Chu said, “You better go with her, Jack.  I finish up here.”

As Jack left the room Chu reached for his cell phone and dialed up Roger McHale.  It took only three rings.

“Field Ops.  McHale, Roger.”

“Hey Roger!  Need some help.”

“Let me guess.  Outlaw bikers.  It’s all over the news, Chu.  When I saw the body count I knew it was you and or that kid of yours.”

“Long story, Roger.  I need intel on biker gang.  Very strange bunch of guys.  What you got?”

“Off the top of my head?  These are some bad hombres, Chu.  They call themselves the Black Death.  You gotta kill a cop to get in.  All they care about is making money.  They don’t give a flying fuck about all that macho shit, but they’ll do practically anything for a buck.  Even let chicks get full membership.  They don’t care what you look like as long as you earn and got some balls.   Personally, I don’t think you have much to worry about.”

“Why not?” asked Chu.

“Because, they worship the almighty dollar, Chu, and they have very strict rules.  If there’s not any profit in something, they just don’t get involved.  End of story.”

“Sounds like bullshit to me, Roger.”

“Believe what you want, Chu.  These guys claim to be minimalists, whatever the fuck that is.  Word on the street is you can have a ton of dough in the bank but outside of your bike, you better not sport any kind of bling that would bring attention or cause envy.  They’re super hard-core, Chu.  Supposedly they take whatever gun you whack the cop with and put it in some special vault. Then, if you get weak in the knees they got some serious leverage over your ass.  So far, nobody has broken one of these clowns yet.”

“No shit.”

“Yeah, no shit.  And Chu, be very careful with these guys because they are definitely wired in.  I’m sending you the file now.  Burn that shit when you’re done with it.”

“How many are there?”

“Nobody knows for sure.  They’re extremely hard to identify and extremely hard to catch.  They do counter-surveillance and everything.  Them bikes they ride, most of ‘em go a hundred and eighty easy.  They can ride, they can shoot and they can gangster with the best of ‘em.  Let me tell you, Chu, probably ninety percent of what they do we don’t know about. Nobody’s got more than a sniff so far.”

“You not try hard enough, Roger,” replied Chu flatly.

*****

 

 

Shileel dropped four quarters into the pay phone at the bus station downtown and punched in ten numbers.  Three rings later a throaty male answered.  “Talk,” was all he said.

“Barbie sent me,” reported Shileel.

“Where are you?” asked the voice.

“Bus station downtown,” answered Shileel nervously.

“What are you wearing?”

“A green hoodie and pink Nikes.”

“Stay there,” ordered the voice.  “Look for the man in black on a motorcycle.”

The phone went dead in Shileel’s ear.  She hung it up, retrieved her change, and slid over by the windows near the entrance.  After about five minutes she saw the man in black and scurried out the door.  He stopped at the curb and killed the engine. The black full coverage helmet with the tinted visor stayed on his head.  He waived Shileel over with a wag of his finger.

“Barbie sent me,” announced Shileel.  “She told me to tell you she’s putting a hundred large on the bitch that killed her old man.”

The man on the bike nodded his helmeted head.

Shileel continued, “Barbie said you’d give me five bills.”

The biker reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a wad of bills.  He peeled off a handful and slapped them into Shileel’s waiting palm.  Before she could count it he fired up the engine and sped away.  She watched him until he disappeared around a corner then started counting.  There was exactly five hundred dollars in her hand.

*****

 

Jackie proved inconsolable.  Nothing Jack tried worked even a little bit.  Finally, after about three hours of trying he got frustrated and stormed out of the house.  He took Chu’s Shelby Mustang GT 500 out of the garage and was at no time kind to it.  Everyone was fast asleep when he returned in the morning.  He went straight to Jackie’s room and without saying a word snatched her up out of the bed and walked out the front door.  Her feet didn’t see the Earth until they were in the driveway where a cherry red Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 sat poised for action.  And then Jack began his speech:

“Built in Italy. Just arrived from the future. Lamborghini has a history of revolutionary thinking. Whether in terms of design, like the iconic scissor doors.  Or in terms of technology such as the V12 engine and carbon-fiber technology. Going far beyond what was previously thought possible is just as much a part of our brand as our core values: uncompromising, extreme, Italian.  These values are the reason why every single Lamborghini is breathtakingly unique. The Aventador LP 700-4 represents a whole new level of performance, sets new benchmarks in the super sports car segment, and provides a glimpse into the future. It’s a car that’s already achieved legendary status.”

“Where are my keys?” demanded Jackie.

“In my underpants,” answered Jack.

 

“One arrow alone can be easily broken but many arrows are indestructible.”

–Genghis Khan

 

Special Agent in Charge Sterwid was about to make the most intelligent decision of his life.  Putting his fists on his hips he drew up his chest and announced, “We’re gonna need some help, Cogent.  These motherfuckers are for real!”

Cogent agreed.  “No shit!  They maybe already killed about a hundred cops across the country.  Who you gonna call?”

“That crazy motherfucker over at ATF,” answered Sterwid resolutely.  “The one that got part of his brain blown off over in Iraq.  You know the dude, Cogent.  He trained Detroit SWAT and led that raid on the Cartel down in Texas a few years ago.”

“But how you gonna get him over here?”

“Interdepartmental agreement,” answered Sterwid.  “I just learned I can do one of those things if I can figure out which paperwork to use.  I can even grant unlimited overtime once I find form OT5211-K.  And then there’s form K9402-D, which gets me one of them sniffing dogs.  Form HC6902/9 gets me a helicopter.  Do you think we’ll need one of those?”

“Hell yes!” exclaimed Cogent.

“Okay, I want you to find all that paperwork and fill it all out and bring it to me to sign.  I’m going out for a three hour lunch with that girl Katy over at the DA’s office.”

 

“It is not sufficient that I succeed – all others must fail.”

 –Genghis Khan

 

Earnest Stone sat across from Jessie at Cheli’s Chili Bar on East Adams Street near the Opera House.  The dude was not smiling and was definitely not happy.  Jessie bought the first round.  After the drinks arrived he got right down to business.  “Need the bitch driving that Ferrari.”

“I can do that, for a price.”

“How much?”

“Ten large.”  Stone was spit-balling, but figured he had little to lose.

Shaking his head Jessie said, “No fuckin’ way.  “You give me the intel, I pay you what it’s worth.  Take it or leave it.”

Stone had no choice.  He needed cash so he could get out of the country and leave that bitch high and dry.  The shark lawyer his wife hired had him by the short and curlies.  All the savings, the house and half his pension were hanging by a thread.  “Okay.  We do it your way.  The bitch’s name is Jackie Caputnik.  No one knows exactly where she is since she took off with that John Stryker guy.”

“Not good enough.  That don’t do shit for me.”

“Well, there is one other thing.  She’s got a daughter.  Maybe you can get to this Caputnik woman that way.  That’s what we usually do.”

Jesse thought about this for a second.  If he had the address it was worth maybe a grand.  “You give me an address I’ll put some cash on the table.”

Stone pulled a shiny gold pen from his jacket pocket and scribbled the address on his napkin.  “Here,” he said sliding it across the table.

Jessie picked up the napkin and read the address.  “Okay, but I want that pen, too.”

“But this is my thirty year FBI pen!” protested Stone.

 

“If you’re afraid – don’t do it, – if you’re doing it – don’t be afraid!”

― Genghis Khan

 

Ding Fow walked into the kitchen lazily and plopped in the chair next to Chu.  He was drinking coffee and studying some stuff she didn’t care about.  She draped her arm over his shoulder and stared intently into his face.  Finally he looked up and met her stare. “What the fuck you want, Ding?”

“When you ask Ding marry you?” she replied.  “Jackie say you ask her first.  Are you crazy or something, Chu?  Why you not ask me?”

Chu sat his coffee cup down and scratched his head.  He was not expecting this at all.  “I don’t know, Ding.  Shit crazy around here.”

Ding was not buying it.  “Tell you what, Chu.  Ding asking you.  You got ten seconds decide before I walk out go see Jimmy at the mall.  He got job waiting for me.”

“I marry you, Ding,” announced Chu.  What the Hell else am I going to say?

“Good,” proclaimed Ding.  “We go now buy ring.  I want fast car like Jackie, too!”

“You can have the Shelby.”

“I can’t drive shift car,” replied Ding.

Just then Jack and Jackie entered the kitchen both looking like they’d fought off a hurricane in a steam room.  Jackie went for the coffee maker while Jack fell into the chair across from Chu.  “What the fuck are you two so happy about?” he asked.

“We getting married!” declared Ding.

Jackie set a cup of steaming coffee in front of Jack.  “That’s wonderful!  When?”

Ding looked at Chu who just shrugged and said, “I don’t give a fuck.”

“Today,” decided Ding without hesitation.

“Congratulations,” murmured Jack reaching for his coffee.  “Ding, you know Chu is getting the better end of this deal, don’t you?”

“Ding not getting any younger, Jack.  Not ashamed admit I settling.”

“Hey!” protested Chu, but Jackie cut him off before he could say anything else.

“Come with me, Ding.  There’s not much time.  We’ve got a lot to do!”

“And a lot of money to spend, too I bet,” complained Chu.  “Jack, I blame you for all this!  You know I have to give Ding the Shelby so she say yes.”

“Chu, about that Shelby,” began Jack shakily.

*****

 

Lazerus and Jessie stood facing the lake with their backs to their heat crackling crotch rockets.  It was a beautiful sunny morning.  The water was flat as a pane of green glass.  Off to their right sat a large pile of firewood stacked like Lincoln Logs on a grass carpet.  Next to that sat a large pile of crashed motorcycles.

“So, Barbie is putting a contract out on that Ferrari bitch.  I guess that kinda un-complicates things,” remarked Jessie.  “That makes it business, not personal.”

Lazerus spat into the sand and shook his head.  “Yeah, but it creates another mess.  Everybody and their brother are gonna want to collect that hundred G’s.  We just can’t allow this to go out as an open contract.  It will draw too much heat and that is always bad for business.”

“What’re you gonna do?” asked Jessie.

“At the funeral we’ll hold a lottery.  Whoever wins gets the contract.  That’ll shut Barbie up and keep the troops in line.”

“Who’s gonna win the lottery?”  Jessie knew Lazerus would never leave this up to chance.

“Headshot.  He’s marrying my little sister.  I figure this will get them off to a nice start and keep her out of my wallet for a spell,” replied Lazerus.

“Helluva wedding present, Laz.  You’re sis’ is lucky to have you.”

“Well, she’s the only family I got.  I’d do anything for that little girl, and if Headshot fucks this up he’s going for a long ride off a very short pier.” Lazerus considered this for a moment and then added, “With a stick of dynamite jammed up his ass.”

“I’ll make the arrangements.”

“What did the fed give you?”

“Just the address to the bitch in question’s daughter.  He says no one knows where the actual bitch is.”

Shaking his head Lazerus turned his gaze back to the lake and said, “So, we’re supposed to snatch the little cunt and make her tell us where mommy is.”

“Yeah.”

“I hope you didn’t pay too much for that weak ass shit,” spat Lazerus.  “Seems like a lotta work on our part.”

Jessie handed the gold ink pen to Lazerus and said, “I gave him a grand of the counterfeit stuff Hank took off that cattle rustler in Minnesota.”

Lazerus read the inscription on the pen.  Earnest J. Stone, 30 Years of Service, FBI   He slid the pen into his vest pocket and said, “Good enough.  Okay, I thought maybe it would be easier than this but the thing is still do-able.  Headshot should still be able to pull this off.”

“I could always help out,” offered Jessie.

“Nah, I got other plans for you.”

“Okay, just thought I’d offer.  I’m gonna head into town and pick up the rest of our shit now.”

“You do that, Jessie.  I’m gotta take a crap.”

*****

The stack of paperwork sitting on Sterwid’s desk the next morning was impressive indeed.  Cogent had been one busy ass beaver!  Sterwid attacked the stack of forms with his pen not bothering to read a single one.  When he threw the last form into his ‘out’ box he picked up the phone and called Cogent.  He arrived a few seconds later carrying an official FBI coffee mug and jelly donut.  Sterwid told him to take a seat.

“I had Brinkley over in I and T do a work up on that motorcycle thing the other day.”

Cogent looked disinterested. “Fuck that.  That ATF guy you were asking about is in jail.  I guess he shot his wife in the face with a flare gun or some shit.”

“Too bad, we could’ve used him.”

“What did I and T dig up?”

“Lots,” replied Sterwid.  “I’d email you the file but I forgot my fucking password again.  Take this hardcopy and give it a good going over, then come back here and tell me what you think.”

“What do you think, Sterwid?”

“I think if we have any chance of cracking this case at all, we’re gonna have to bend a few rules to do it.  Maybe even break a few.  Maybe even commit some crimes and shit ourselves.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Cogent.  “Is there a form for that kind of shit?”

“Unfortunately, there does not seem to be one of those.  But, in the back scratching department, I just went into a little debt with the Secret Service.  Seems these Black Death assholes got them Secret Service guys all worked up about some counterfeiting.  My guy is supposed to call me later with some dope from the mint or some shit.  It’s all real technical and brain based, I guess.  Anyway, I want to be ready so get on that file right now, Cogent.  I want to be briefed by close of business today.”

“Don’t be an asshole, Sterwid.  I’m just as responsible for you being in that chair as you are, you know!  Shit, it should actually be me!”

“Yeah, well it’s not, Cogent and do you want to know why?”

“Bite me!”

“Because you are such a fucking nerd.  Now go home and get your shine box, Tommy!”

*****

Headshot found the address easy enough.  After parking the stolen exterminator van in the driveway he walked up to the front door and rang the bell. It went ‘ding’ and then ‘dong’.  Nothing fancy.   A few seconds later a cute little thing wearing cut-offs and a tank top sidled up to the ratty screen door.  She had long brown hair and shiny green eyes.  Headshot noticed the cell phone in her hand and that her fingernails were painted pink and a silver wedding band.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Yes, your husband called and said you had a roach problem on the north wall.”

“He did?”   Sandy didn’t think that was true, and this guy looked more like a port-a-john pumper than a bug killer.

“Yeah.  He told me to get come right away.”

“Maybe I should go ask him,” Sandy said backing away from the door– but not quite fast enough.  Headshot sprayed her full in the face with aerosol synthesized fentanyl.  She drew in a lungful in a panic and was immediately ganked. Stumbling back into the wall she could do nothing to flee from Headshot who flung open the screen and and grabbed her by the throat.  The sidewalk blurred beneath her until she was tossed headlong through the side door of the van.  She felt herself being cuffed and gagged, but by now she was just a passenger in her own body.

In seconds Headshot had the van down the first side street, and in minutes onto a northbound expressway ramp.  An hour later Headshot backed into the garage of a dilapidated farm house the club used to store high value merchandise.  Yanking the girl up by her hair he splashed bottled water on her face and yelled, “Wake up, bitch!”

Slowly Sandy started coming to.  As her brain cells started firing and her vision returned, the reality gradually set in.  What the fuck?  Just then beard dude slapped her hard and asked, “Where’s your bitch mother?”

“I don’t know,” cried Sandy.

BAM! Another hard slap to the face!

“Where’s your bitch mother?”

“I don’t know!  She ran away!”

“Well who the fuck does know?” demanded beard man.

“I dunno!” cried Sandy receiving another slap.

“Well, someone got to know?” demanded beard man once again with a hard slap to the face!

“The lawyer,” whispered Sandy.  “Please stop hitting me!”

“What’s this lawyer’s name?”

*****

They were on their third pitcher of Margaritas and Chu was attempting to fast dance with Ding on the picnic table.  Jack pelted them with ice shards with one hand while Jackie tugged at his other in attempt to get him up and dancing, too.  Finally she succeeded and it was something to behold.  Jack was a bit stiff at first, but Lee Michael’s Heighty Hi loosened him up quickly.  Staring into Jackie’s eyes he dropped his ass a few inches and got a for real groove going on.  Pretty soon Jackie was mimicking him and feeling very damn sexy for it.  Damn!  This boy CAN dance!  Jack twisted a shoulder at her and blew a kiss as he stagger-stepped sideways with one hand over his heart.  The other hand undulated on the end of a straight arm.  He snapped his finger and drew Jackie to his chest then twirled her away like a human lasso.  Jackie’s heart pounded in her chest.  Her nether regions turned into blast furnaces.  Jack spun around and shook his ass in rhythm with the cow bell, his hands wafting slowly up over his head.  “Shake that thing!” yelled Chu as Jack spun again and stagger-stepped back to Jackie as leaned forward giving her rack a wicked shake.  Tucking his thumbs into his belt Jack jab stepped back and forth while slowly licking his lips.   When the song faded off into the night Jackie fell into his arms and said, “Take me to bed or lose me forever!”

Jack didn’t ruin the moment by pointing out Jackie’s theft of a movie line.  Chu did that by demanding Jack make another pitcher of Margaritas.  “And don’t be so stingy with tequila!” he demanded as Jack retreated from the patio into the kitchen.  “And hurry!” prompted Jackie further.  “I’m putting that song back on!”

Dancing around the kitchen mixing up the pitcher of drinks Jack started singing the lyrics of Heighty Hi.  He used a big stirring spoon for a microphone.  He didn’t see Jackie’s cell phone vibrating until he went for ice in the refrigerator.  Normally, he would never consider touching her phone, but tonight was special and he wanted to tell whoever it was to not bother her.  It could wait.

As it turns out, it could not.

 

“An action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.”

― Genghis Khan

 

The pile of wood stood before them, doused with gasoline, ready to fire up.  A stack of body bags sat next to that.  Lazerus raised his pistol over his head and fired a single shot.  For the next few minutes he explained the details of Barbie’s contract and how it was going to be handled.  Jessie, Barbie and Serilda appeared at his side with a gallon jar filled with scraps of paper.  Lazerus reached in and stirred up the contents before yanking out his hand holding a single scrap of paper.  “The name on this paper is the only person who can collect on this contract.  Anyone else tries, they go in the lake,” announced Lazerus.  He then read the name, “Headshot.”

After a few seconds someone in the crowd yelled out, “Headshot ain’t even here!”

“Don’t matter!” responded Lazerus.  “He’s on important club business.  Which brings me to my next item that happens to be the very reason we are all assembled here tonight.  Rules have been violated and punishment is due!  Now, the Craw was killed and Barbie was with him when they went off the road.  Instead of stopping and giving aid to a fallen brother and sister, a whole bunch of you assholes went after the culprit responsible for this tragedy.  In the process we lost another dozen brothers.  And because we lost another dozen brothers we lost nearly ten percent of our earning power.  That is why their shares, instead of going to their families, is going right back into the club account.”  Lazerus let that sink in for a second before pulling out his pistol and blowing the top of Jessie’s head right the fuck off. BOOM!  He also let that sink in for another second before continuing.  “I did not want to do that.  I’ve known Jessie since Gladiator School at the Reformatory in Iona.  But, Jessie had it coming sure as shit.  He’s our fuckin’ VP and he was right there with all the idiots who chased after that car.  He dies, the rest of you get taxed.  Ten grand apiece and it better be here by the end of the week or you go into the lake.”

There was some low level grumbling, but no one seriously challenged Lazerus.  He waited a full minute before announcing, “Okay, let’s get this party started!  Throw Craw on the wood pile but the rest of ‘em go in the lake where all the losers go.”

*****

“I still can’t believe you got us a surveillance drone,” declared Sterwid.  They were standing behind the operator in a bunker at Selfridge Air National Guard Base just north of Detroit.

“It was easy.  I just filled out form DR-90909/911.”

“Look at that picture quality!” remarked Sterwid excitedly.  “No one has ever got these guys like this before.  They’re always wearing helmets or masks.  There must be about a hundred of them!”

To the operator Cogent said, “We need every face in that crowd as close up as possible.”

“Roger that,” replied the operator.  “I got the facial recognition software from the NSA running in the background.  Should have a list of names to go with those faces in a few seconds.”  Almost immediately text sprung up next to each face the camera grabbed.  Sometimes it just read ‘foreign national’ and their physical measurements.  A few others came with names, addresses, phone numbers and known associates.

“This shit is truly fucking amazing!”

Pointing at the screen Cogent said, “That’s Lazerus Wembly who just popped that guy.  He’s the president of the club, Sterwid.  I remember him from the file, and now we got him on video committing murder!”

“Yeah, if we can find the body we do, and that is a mighty big if.”

“No problem,” replied the operator.  “That drone can loiter for hours.  I just tagged that body with laser paint so it shouldn’t be hard to follow.  Look, they’re dragging it over to that boat.  I bet they dump it in the lake.”

Cogent made masturbatory motions with his right hand while Sterwid slapped the ass of the imaginary pony he was riding.  Finally they ran out of gas and settled back in behind the operator.  “I’ve been meaning to ask, Cogent. How’d you know where to send that drone to?”

“Easy.  I got that Barbie bitch sprung from the Wayne County Jail this morning with form ER81750/E.  I had the drone track her from there,” answered Cogent smugly.  “It was a one in a million shot, but fuck, I figured we were due.”

Shaking his head, Sterwid said, “Put yourself in for a raise, Cogent.  I think its form PR-2011/Z.”

“You signed that form yesterday, Sterwid. Don’t you pay attention to anything you sign?”

“That’s what I pay you for, Cogent.”  To the operator he said, “Can you get a close-up on that red-head’s boobs?”

In a second the camera zoomed in with text following before the zoom was complete.  Serilda Wembley, sister of Lazerus Wembley.  Facial recognition software is so fucking hot!

*****

 

Roger McHale sat at his desk enjoying the drone feed in real time along with and unbeknownst to agents Sterwid and Cogent.  An hour before Chu had called and threatened him with every bone in his closet if he didn’t produce some hard intel and fast.  Chu was damn lucky Roger was in his office when the priority alert popped about Barbie Babcock being illegally sprung from jail by the FBI.  That at least shut Chu up for an hour.

Roger punched up a code on his computer which sent the drone feed directly to Chu.  He coupled it with audio from the operator’s bunker at Selfridge.  As pissed as he was at Chu for blackmailing him into this shit, Roger couldn’t help himself from enjoying the caper as it unfolded.  When he saw the text appear next to the copious boobs he punched out an instant message to Chu.  “200K.”

*****

 

Jack hated to do it, so he told Chu who made Ding Fow do it.  Either way, Jackie was fast asleep in her room and wouldn’t wake for at least twenty-four hours. She’d probably have one Hell of a headache when she awoke, and would definitely be pissed when she realized she was chained to the bed.  That is how it had to be.

Jack went total dead eye once the intel came in.  He geared up and jumped in the Caprice without a word.  Chu fed him coordinates which fired through the air to the HUD display in the Caprice.   From the gun safe under the fireplace he pulled his L115A3 AWM sniper rifle with the DARPA’s One Shot XG scope and the silencer crafted by his own grubby little fingers.  Since Jack left the Shelby at the Lambo dealership all that was left was Jackie’s car.  It took him ten minutes to properly wire it up and equip it.  He threw in two pounds of RDX and some detonators for good measure.  “Forgot gold chains,” he muttered sarcastically as he rolled out onto the highway.

*****

 

Sterwid and Cogent were starting to get bored with this game.  After the bodies were dropped in the lake and the bonfire was lit, not much was happening.  The operator yawned and stretched his arms.  “Why don’t you guys move in now?  Haven’t you got enough?”

“It’s a priority level 5a,” claimed Sterwid.  “The director himself has to sign off on it.  We’re just waiting for clearance.  You can go home if you want.  We can handle it from here.”

“Yeah,” agreed Cogent.  “We got this.”

“So, you want me to leave my five million dollar bird in your hands and just leave, is that what you are saying?” asked the drone operator.

“Tell you what, just make one more pass and then you can bring it home,” instructed Sterwid as he poured himself another cup of coffee.  “Get me a few more close ups of that red-head.”

The camera caught Serilda leaned up against a tree away from the crowd.  She was smoking a cigarette and talking on her cell phone.  A black leather jacket now covered her shoulders and her boobs.  Just as Sterwid was about to tell the operator to shut the thing down a gloved hand reached around from behind the tree and clamped down on the Serilda’s mouth.  In an instant she was gone.  Sterwid leaned in too quickly and before he knew it his coffee was spilling all over the operator, his joy stick and the surge protector all the equipment was plugged into.  Blue sparks popped out of the monitor as it went black.

“ASSHOLE!” screamed the operator leaping out of his seat.

*****

 

Roger was feeling generous so he grabbed control of the drone, took it up  to an altitude of five hundred feet and punched in a course back to Selfridge.  I’m so fucking good!

His desk phone rang and it was Chu.  “How’s my boy doing?”

“He’s right on target.  Grabbed the tango a few minutes ago and dee-dee’d the fuck outta there.  You’re a go.”

“Roger that,” answered Chu.

“Just let me know when you want the cavalry.”

*****

 

Duct taped like a mummy and tossed into the trunk of the Caprice the little bitch still kicked and screamed.  Jack swerved the car back and forth which was sure to rock her world a bit, but she persisted with her pain-in-the-ass behavior.  It didn’t matter.  He was almost to his destination.  He pulled her phone out of his cargo pocket and plugged in the patch cord to the Caprice’s onboard computer.  The display popped up on the windshield and in a few seconds he saw all he needed.  “Secure Comm Chu,” barked Jack into the visor mic.  In a couple seconds Chu responded.

“We’re a go, Jack!  Relaying data package in three, two, one—Now!”

Red text and photos jumped up on the Caprice windshield.  “ETA?”

“I’m five or six clicks out.  Right on schedule!”

“Well, stop wasting time talking to me.  Secure Comm out!” snapped Jack as he whipped the Caprice onto a bumpy dirt road.  A quarter mile later he ground to a halt in the driveway of an abandoned grain silo.  The little bitch was still putting up a fight, but that would be over shortly.  He grabbed the syringe full of amobarbital from the glove box and hit the trunk button.  “You’re going to feel a little prick,” he explained jamming the needle in the bitch’s ass.  Her tantrum subsided seconds later so Jack ripped the tape from her mouth. He had but one question.  “Where’s Headshot?”

Having tended to that little piece of business he went back inside the car and picked up bitch’s cell phone.  The second most frequent number in her call list was Lazerus.  Jack punched the ‘call’ button.

“Where in the Hell are you, Serilda?”

Jack couldn’t help but snicker.  “In the trunk of a car waiting to die.”

“Who the fuck is this?  How’d you get my sister’s phone?” barked Lazerus.

“Shut up and listen, fuck-face.  Your boy Headshot’s got a girl I want back and I got the sister you want back.  Are you gonna cooperate or am I going to have to torture this little bitch for a few months?”

“I don’t know nothin’ about that shit!”

“Fine.  Sorry I bothered you.  This was all a huge mistake on my part.  Bye!”

“Wait a minute!” shouted Lazerus.  “Let’s talk about this!”

“Too late for talk, asshole.  You’ve done fucked up beyond all your wildest dreams and now a metric ton of fiery shit is dropping into your fan.”

“What the Hell?”

“Be at the north end zone of the Big House in fifty-seven minutes.  Bring the girl and that asshole, Headshot, with you.  I see anybody else little sister gets a Bowie knife up her ass.  You feeling me, dickweed?”

“Oh, I’m feeling ya, pal. Just one thing, if there is anything fucked up about Serilda I will personally hunt you down and butt-fuck you with a rocket launcher!  You have no idea of who you’re messing with, Mister!”

“Whatever.”

*****

The drone operator could not be consoled, so Sterwid took Cogent into another room to discuss what to do next.  “You still got that chopper ready for us?”

“Yup,” replied Cogent.  “Right over by the hanger behind where we parked the car.

“Okay, call the pilot and tell him to wind that thing up.  Then, call the State Police and give them the coordinates so they can get their SWAT team rolling.  Call the county sheriff too and let him know what we’re up to.”

“Bad idea, Sterwid.  I bet Black Death is wired into the local PD.  We better wait until we’re ready to jump first.  And, the State boys will probably take a couple hours to get there.  Them assholes are for shit with their paperwork.”

Sterwid considered this for a second.  “Yeah, okay.  We’re gonna need some machine guns, too.”

“Form MG-6002/KIA, Sterwid.  I got two M60’s in the trunk of the car and four boxes of ammo.”

“Great!” exclaimed Sterwid.  “You know how to work those things?”

Cogent smiled.  “I downloaded a manual from the internet.  We can study up on it during the flight over.”

Rubbing his palms together Sterwid said, “I love it when a good plan comes together!”

 

“I am the flail of god. Had you not created great sins, god would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

― Genghis Khan

 

The bitch was crammed in a smelly old duffle bag lying underneath the goal posts in the south end zone.  Jack was behind the tall brick wall bordering the field in front of the bottom row of spectator benches.  He played Angry Birds on the bitch’s cell phone waiting for Lazerus and Headshot. This game is addicting!  Someone hollered from the other end of the field.  Two rather larger figures and one tiny one descended the stairs.  The tiny figure had a black bag over the head.  Jack ignored them until their third holler.  I want these assholes real fucking nervous!

“Over here, assholes,” yelled Jack climbing over the wall and dropping down onto the field turf.  Dressed completely in black even the bright moonlight revealed little about him.  It did the same for the bikers who still wore their helmets, visors up.  Jack unzipped the duffle bag and kicked the bitch where he thought her ass should be.  Groggily she spilled out, her hands still taped along with her mouth and thighs.  She could move, but not too fast.  Jack stood her in front of him and brought the Desert Eagle up to her temple.  “Move!” he barked!

Jack stopped at the forty-five yard line on his side of the field.  Lazerus and Headshot stopped on the forty-five yard line on their side of the field.  Lazerus held Jackie’s daughter in front of him in exactly the same way Jack held Serilda.  Lazerus, however, was cheating.  The trigger of his forty caliber Beretta PX4 Storm was already pulled.  His thumb was holding the hammer back.  If that thumb slipped off the girl’s brains would be splattered.  Jack saw this right away and smiled.  It was giving Lazerus a false sense of security.

Headshot carried a Mossberg 500 Tactical Persuader shotgun, but he held it in one hand.  This amazed Jack, but he wasn’t about to say anything.  You can’t fix stupid!

“That’s far enough!” barked Jack.

Lazerus spoke first.  “So, how you want to make this little exchange?”

“Exchange?”

“Yeah,” yelped Headshot.  “Don’t you know what that is?”

“I didn’t come here for no exchange, asshole.  I came here for a gunfight!”

“Lazerus was truly confused.  “Don’t you care about this here little gi-“

Jack snapped the Desert Eagle forward and shot Lazerus just below the fingers gripping the butt of the Beretta.  The impact of the fifty caliber round pushed his hand and the pistol back three inches just as his thumb slipped off the hammer.  BAM!  Lazerus blew off most of his own head with his own gun and didn’t even get a chance to consider the irony.  Jack’s second shot split the difference of Headshot’s eyes.  A death spasm must have caused him to jerk the trigger.  The blast of the shotgun blew a sizable patch of field turf all to Hell and made Sandy jump and keel over.  Jack pistol slapped the back of Serilda Wembley’s head.  She stumbled forward and fell perfectly centered on the big, maize block M on the fifty yard line.  Jack took aim on her forehead.

BAM!

*****

Chu parked the Lambo in the driveway of a baby-mansion just over a wooded hill from Crooked Lake.  Roger confirmed no one was home, and Chu knew the Lambo wouldn’t look out of place there.  He was up and over the hill in no time and had reconned the area, planted the explosives and found the perfect hide inside of five minutes.  Thirty feet up in an aged oak tree Chu brought the sniper rifle to bear and began scoping out targets.  “Old MacDonald had a farm, ee I ee I oh. And on that farm he shot some guys.  Bada boom bada bing bang boom!”

He spotted Barbie in the woods squatting to take a piss.

PFFfffffftttt!

He spotted some guy out on the dock puking into the lake.

PFFfffffftttt!

The pair of knuckleheads out in the row boat were easy.

PFFfffffftttt! PFFfffffftttt!

Some tramp was blowing the guy sitting on a log next to the cottage.  Her back was aimed directly at Chu.  A twofer!

PFFfffffftttt!

A head bobbed up in the lake.  Someone was out there swimming.

PFFfffffftttt!

Chu could see clearly into the bathroom of the cottage.  Some guy, with his hand braced against the wall, was obviously taking a civilized leak.  The window was wide open.

PFFfffffftttt!

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  Oswald was a fag,” murmured Chu.  Remembering the GoPro camera strapped to his shoulder he immediately regretted stealing a line Jack would most definitely recognize.  Fuck it!  Jack can eat shit!

Chu focused on the vehicles next.  There were a lot of them, but he didn’t have that many bullets.  He put the thirty rounds he had left in the front tires of different bikes and cars then slid out of the tree with his repelling rope.  As he reached the top of the hill he flicked the activate switch on the detonator—without looking back.  The Earth shook beneath his feet.

*****

 

Jack laid Sandy down in the bed next to Jackie.  Thankfully the ‘medicine’ had not worn off yet—on either of them.  He removed the handcuff from Jackie’s wrist and crept from the room without making a sound.  When he got to the main room Chu was just walking through the door.  He was smiling like a kid at Christmas.  “Feel good to get back in the shit, Jack.  Maybe I come out of retirement!  Are we good?”

Jack nodded.  “We’re real good.  Did you make the call?”

“Yeah.  They even beat them FBI guys.  Cops probably shooting it out with the ones left alive.”

Plopping onto the couch they breathed shared sighs of relief and stared blankly at the 105 inch flat screen for a good minute before Jack broke the silence.  “We still got one huge problem.”

“We?  Jack, that your problem, and don’t try pawning it off on Ding, either.  You gotta tell Jackie yourself.”

“How pissed you think she’s gonna be?”

Chu shrugged.  “Hard to say, Jack, after all, you did just buy her a Lambo and it was because of her bikers steal daughter.”

“Maybe if I take her back to Fiji she’ll forget all about this.”

“Jack, you don’t know shit about women, do you?”

“What makes you such an expert?”

“I don’t claim be no expert, Jack.  I just know Jackie never forget about this shit.  You drug her and don’t tell her what’s going on?  She gonna want a piece of your ass, Jack.  That shit etched in stone.”

Jack kicked his jump boots onto the coffee table and leaning back into the couch said, “Fuck it.  You wanna play some Call of Duty?”

Chu shook his head.  “Controller still broke, Jack.”

“You still haven’t seen the movie I made at the ghetto casino.  Want me to throw that in?”

Chu shrugged.  “No Jack.  Colbert Show coming on.”

 

Jack Off

          When she was thirteen Jackie looked like she was seventeen and acted like she was nineteen and this was the problem.  Coupled with a high IQ and the manipulative manner of an only child she was well beyond what most parents could handle.  Her own parents based all judgments on her grades, which was a parade of A’s, and A pluses.  She was their ‘accomplishment’.  Dad ran the graduate library at the University of Michigan.  Mom lawyered for Ford Motor Company.  Most of the time they thought they were the smartest people in the room, and didn’t realize they are actually short bus riders when Jackie was present.

Jackie, or Jaqueline, told many lies to her parents.  Over time the lies grew in substance and stature.  Her parents always believed them.  After a while she didn’t bother saying anything, and that was just fine, too.  She was at the head of the class in most every way possible and that bought a truck load of trust and goodwill.  She damn near ‘took’ her dad’s car this night, except that it was the lamest car on Earth.

Instead she called the guy and waited on the porch for him to arrive.  Arrive he did in shiny red Corvette.  It growled in the driveway when he punched the gas.  Bad boys, bad boys—what cha gonna do?  Jackie hopped right in.

Randy offered her rum and coke first.  Then he offered straight coke.  By the time they reached the party her brain was a rattle full of marbles.  They did shots in the laundry room and where Randy also found the basement door.  There were twelve steps and Jackie missed every one.  After the rum and the coke Randy had one more surprise.  He popped it down his date’s throat before she could inquire or protest.   “Party on!” he said.  A few minutes later Jackie was partied on by several young drooling, red-faced boys including one who drew a penis on her cheek with a laundry pencil.

That’s where they found her the next morning.  Passed out, covered in puke, and lying naked on a pile of moldy rugs.  She was still incognizant at that point and her purse was nowhere to be found, so the homeowner parents called 911.  It just got worse from there.

No one knew better how much she had fucked up than Jackie herself.  When they arrived home from the hospital her parents screamed at her for a half hour straight then sent to her room.  Now she was getting the silent treatment.  A few months later she wished for the silent treatment.  Jackie was very pregnant.   She was sent to live with Aunt Jean in Rockford, Illinois.  There was a school there for girls in her ‘condition’.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Aunt Jean liked narcotic drugs and was quickly developing a fancy for young girls.  Jackie could do nothing until the baby was born, but endure.  Three weeks after relatively easy birth she was feeling fairly spry and more than just a little angry.  She stole Aunt Jean’s brand new Jeep CJ5, emptied her bank account and split for California.  It was a trifecta fuck up from the get go.

*****

Finally Chu could take Ding’s snoring no longer.  He rolled out of bed stretching his arms while shuffling to the window.  After a long, waking yawn he flung open the curtains and stretched to the heat of the morning sun.  Life is so good!  BOOM! A bullet pierced the glass an inch from his temple causing years of training to kick in.  He fell backwards in an arc with his arms extended onto to the bed where he snatched Ding by the hair. (It was the first thing he could gra.)  Ding screamed at the top of her lungs right up until her head slammed in the oak hard wood floor.  Sorry Ding!  Chu snatched the Glock from the night stand, racked in a round and leaped action.

“SORRY CHU!”

It was Jack.  Why is Jack shooting at ME?  What the Hell is going on?

“JACK!”

“Yeah man, my bad!  I knew it was a bad idea before we even did it.”

“Who is ‘we’?” asked Chu.”  He didn’t move a muscle.  Ding was starting to groan.

“Oh, it was Jackie!” answered Jack.

“Sorry Chu!” offered Jackie.  “I think one got away from me.”

Chu crept up to the window sill and looked out.  Why is Jackie in football helmet?  “What the fuck, Jackie!  You almost kill Chu!”  She was holding Jack’s Desert Eagle and rather cavalierly thought Chu.  He ducked a little lower and yelled, “Jack you moron!  Take gun from Jackie NOW!”

Jackie wasn’t happy about it, but she handed the gun to Jack.  “Don’t be such a baby, Chu!”

So, here’s the story.  After the run in with Black Death MC Jackie decided she better improve her skills and use bigger guns.  She liked Jack’s Desert Eagles and decided to try those.  You got to remember that by now Jackie had been training hard for a sizable amount of time with the best tutors possible.  She could do eighty man type push-ups and bust two-by-fours with hip punches.  Desert Beagle more like!  I’m not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf!  Jackie was feeling her oats.

Laughing at her Jack made weak girl jokes all the time and not necessarily just to motivate her.  He knew it steamed Jackie’s pressure gauge.  Besides, it was some great tutor shit to do.  He even made her wear a football helmet to shoot the Eagles. It was the silliest thing he’d ever seen.  “What are those supposed to be?” she asked, pointing at the front of the helmet.

“Wings,” answered Jack.  “I got that from a Michigan player a few years back.  Long story.”

“Muck Fichigan!”

Jack wondered what that was all about but then Jackie was ready.  First he tucked the Eagle into the waist band of his underpants and did perverted stuff with it.  Jackie lunged the trigger and that made him stop.  He was such a doofus!  Finally, Jack handed her the Eagle and gave the speech.

“It’s gonna jump in your hands, Darlin’, a lot more than you think!”

Jackie shook her head and spit through the facemask.  “Where have I heard that before?”  And then, “What do you want me to shoot?”

“Just try keeping it level.  We’re not gonna try to hit anything just yet.  I just want you to get a feel for what’s in your hands.”

Jackie opened her mouth to sass him but accidently touched off the trigger.  BOOM!  The Eagle jumped back hitting her square in the facemask knocking her ass right the fuck over.  Unfortunately, Jackie couldn’t stop pulling the trigger.  Counter-fortunately Jack only loaded two rounds.  Unfortunately, when Jackie fell backwards she was pointing at Chu’s bedroom window.  That part was not in the plan.  Either way, Chu had to take Ding to the emergency room.

*****

 

When Jack saw several empty boxes of cherry flavored Jello brand gelatin in the waste basket he was curious.  What the fuck?  He asked Ding who said she preferred grape.  EEeewwww!   Chu laughed and said, “You still believe that shit, Jack?”

The process of elimination complete Jack deduced that it must be Jackie.  As he went to find her he found Chu and Ding scrambling out the front door with suitcases and wearing Hawaiian shirts.  “Where the Hell you two going?”

“None of your business, Jack.  Time for honeymoon.  Don’t take this wrong way, but you and Jackie not invited.  Don’t forget feed dog.”

“But we don’t have a dog!”

Too late, Chu slammed shut the door and was gone.  A few seconds later the Shelby charged down the driveway with the horn blaring.  What the fuck?   Then he remembered the Jello and Jackie and resumed his original task.  He found her next to the swimming pool sharpening her throwing knives on a wet stone.  She looked up, smiled then spit on the stone.  Jack could feel wood growing.

“Hey there, Sweetie,” she said.  “Are you happy to see me?”

“I’m always happy to see you, Darlin’.  You complete me.”

“I’m telling Chu you said that!” threatened Jackie.

“Not until he gets back you won’t.  He and Ding just left on their honeymoon.  They said we’re not invited!”  Jack really sounded hurt.  Jackie thought that was cute.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie, I think the gun ‘thing’ spooked him a little.  Besides, me and Ding have been planning it for a while.  They’re going to Fiji!

“But that’s OUR place!” protested Jack.

“I suggested it.”

Jack didn’t know what else to say so he asked about the Jello.

“Oh yeah,” admitted Jackie freely.  “I’m getting my nails strong.  It also helps keep my lips red.  Come here and taste, Sweetie!”

“What the Hell else are you NOT telling me about, Darlin’?  And why do you suddenly need stronger nails?”  Jack was getting frustrated.  Jackie poked him with a stiff finger.  “Well, don’t pee your pants, Sweetie!

*****

 

Vlad Pinknov checked his equipment for the last time then slammed shut the case.  He nodded to the attendant to load that and his duffle bag before swinging into the passengers’ cabin and taking the last seat.  It was his charter.  No one else was coming.  Well, except the hooker and her sister who’d never been on an airplane before now.

A few seconds later the twin jet engines spun to life.  They cleared for take-off immediately and were airborne three minutes ahead of schedule.  At thirty thousand feet Vlad reached for his satellite phone to check in.  All systems remained a go.  Vlad settled into his seat and pulled a copy of Mad Magazine from his backpack.  There were three dozen in there, just enough for the long trip.  Alfred E. Newman’s face reminded him of Chu.

*****

 

Jacques Fibberoux had been on his way for three days already.  He’d booked a luxury berth on a cruise ship and brought along the girlfriend he spirited away in the dark of night from the Greek guy.  His equipment he shipped ahead on FedEx under the name, Stick Bawtocks.  It was his signature move, that and leaving Tootsie Pops in the mouths of victims.  Jacques fished another ice cube from the bucket and plopped it in his drink.  He didn’t even know the girl’s name let alone speak whatever language.  All she wanted to do was fuck and shop.  What did Jacques care?  She was using the Greek’s credit card.  He popped another Viagra.  It was ‘go’ time.

A couple hours later Jacques stumbled out of bed onto the floor.  The satellite phone tumbled off the nightstand and smacked him hard across the noggin.  God damn that thing is heavy!  That’s when he remembered he had to call in.  It took him four tries.  All systems remained a go.  That’s easy for them to say!  The hard butt was calling and he wasn’t sure he had it in him.  Jacques was probably the only guy who would gladly turn around and forget the whole caper.  He had serious doubts about Marcus’ plan to begin with.  It relied too heavily on precise timing and speed.  Chu was the personification of unintended consequences.  Shit could get stupid fast.

*****

 

The guy who was already there was Marcus Smith from Mississippi.  Marcus had a thing about being first.  For some reason he thought it earned him some kind of hitman street cred.  Being ‘brute’ sized guy didn’t hurt any either.  Marcus could bench press a Volkswagen and curl a refrigerator.  His specialty was silent death, but he wasn’t very good at it.  Most of the time, he just snapped guy’s necks, but sometimes he would pull their arms off and beat them to death with the big end.  Marcus had huge appetites for trash talk and malt liquor.   There was no real order to his vices.  It just happened when it did.  He called himself a Buddhist Baptist but he only prayed when he killed people.  He asked his god to please send his victim to Hell so that he could kill them over and over until eternity.  Apparently Marcus thought eternity ended someday. And this was the guy who had the biggest axe to grind with Chu.

*****

 

Jackie ran into Barry at a truck stop in Kansas.  She suffered multiple cuts and bruises and the Jeep was destroyed.  Little baby Sandy was just fine, though, and Barry proved to be a good sport.  “After all,” he said, “I did steal that truck what you hit.”  He took her to his home in the country with the meth lab in the barn and the still in the chicken coop.  It wasn’t so bad.  She held her nose when he wanted sex, and dirty as he was his bank roll was fat.  Three months later some shaved-head asshole showed up to collect a long overdue debt, but Barry having insufficient funds gave up Jackie and the baby in lieu of payment.  That’s how she ended up in Mexico.   Asshole sold her to a business man who wanted to Americanize his five kids aged two to nine.  The business man was a notorious narcotics smuggler, gun runner and a widower.  He wasn’t the kind of guy one said no to, or even talked to unless he asked you a direct question.  He told Jackie, “Keep your mouth shut, don’t leave the property without a bodyguard, and keep your mouth shut.  If you fuck up I will bury you and your daughter out in the dessert in the same hole with my wife.”  Jackie believed the shit out of him.

The kids were a handful, but Jackie never complained.  She and her daughter were treated very well.   There was gourmet food and an excellent cook, luxurious shelter with a sweet pool and a complete service staff.  She was allowed to order designer clothing from an exclusive catalog—as much as she wanted!  When Sandy got an ear infection a bona-fide doctor was fetched inside an hour.  There was even a satellite dish which got all her favorite stations back home, and a huge Hi-Def flat-screen TV with DVR to watch them on.  Sandy had her own room with all the amenities and a highly qualified tutor arrived four days a week to work with all the kids.   Once a bodyguard came onto her and Mr. Business man witnessed this.   Jackie never saw that bodyguard around again.  She often wondered how she’d fell into this golden bucket full of roses, but she never questioned it out loud.  Her only worry was how long could it last?

Longer than she thought as it turned out.

*****

 

Agent Sterwid stood next to the hospital bed of Agent Cogent two weeks after the ‘event’, and smiled.  Cogent’s arm and shoulder were wrapped in bandages and hanging from a traction rig.  The photographer told them not to move.  That was the photo the FREEP printed on the front page in the next edition.  The other photo was of Sterwid and Cogent standing next to a safe the size of a walk-in closet.  That’s where the cop killer guns were ‘uncovered’.   Cogent was shot when a deputy accidently discharged his firearm in an unsafe manner while celebrating the ‘victory’ over the Black Death motorcycle club.  The papers were calling it, The ‘Clash at Crooked Lake’.  (According to the records, Crooked Lake was the actually name of that body of water, too.)

So, Sterwid traded in the Camaro SS and drove out in a Corvette.  The Bureau gave him paid leave to travel around bragging about the ‘investigation’.  Sterwid got a standing ovation at the Eastern Michigan University graduation ceremony.  In fact, he was generally getting rave reviews everywhere.  The FBI figured this out right away.  Sterwid was a star!  They took away his gun, but other than that he was still a full-blown Special Agent in Charge of basically nothing but his mouth.  Sterwid did not maintain this trajectory long.

The problem was free drinks everywhere he went.  Without Cogent around to rein him in Sterwid went plum nucking futs.   During a night on the town with the Detroit SWAT contingent Sterwid went clean over the edge.  The hooker he’d brought along cell phone videoed the entire crew sucking lines of coke and burning up fat blunts.  So, when she turned up dead the next morning no one knew what the fuck happened.  To be sure, Sterwid didn’t snap her neck and throw her in the Detroit River.  But, he did run his car into lamp post, back up and hit a Subaru, pull forward into a pet shop window and pass out behind the wheel of his official FBI car.

*****

 

The note said, “Jack, Honey, I got something I have to do.  Be back in a couple soonest.”   He’d just come from Bill’s Bar & Marina where he’d annoyed Curtis the bartender for three hours about how fucked up people are.  Bill finally told him to go home and complain to someone there and Jack thought that was an excellent idea.  It didn’t work out so well.  The house was empty.

Jack dialed Roger’s number, but got a machine.  Shit!

Jack wasn’t in a ‘thinking’ mood, he was running on liquor, loneliness, and stupidity.  He jumped back in the Caprice but it wouldn’t start.  The fucking gas tank was empty!  That meant he had to suck siphon gas from the lawn tractor and that meant a for sure mouthful of gas.  It took fifteen minutes five of which Jack spent throwing up.  I feel like I ate a rotten dinosaur booger!  Talking about it didn’t help.  Out on the road in the open air seemed to work magic however, and he made for the nearest gas station.  He arrived just as the engine sputtered and quit.  Bing bang boom the nozzle was pumping and Jack started calculating where Jackie might be.  It was also when Jack realized the ‘no questions’ deal with Jackie was a two edge sword.  Shit!   And then the front tire went flat.  That reminded him of Sandy.  His mental synapses were taking wrong turns everywhere, but somehow make perfectly good sense.

Half an hour later found Jack speeding down the expressway toward Ferndale.  He hit the construction traffic on 275 and slowed to a crawl.  Idiots were driving like fools which made Jack act like a jerk.  He yelled at the top of his lungs at everybody, flipping them off for whatever.  It took an hour to reach I-96 one mile inside of Wayne County.  Jack called for ‘secure comm’ and ordered Roger up.  Still no answer!  Where was that asshole?   And that was exactly when Jack’s situational awareness sucked the greatest ass ever.  KABOOM!  He never saw the granny in the Lincoln Navigator until the wreck was over. The airbag was set for Chu, not Jack.  It was damn lucky it didn’t snap his neck!  Jack’s vision blurred as he approached granny.  He might have been drooling, either way granny was scared shitless so when he leaned in her window she popped him with a Cheetah 2.5 Million Volt Purple Stun Gun square in the forehead.  Jack snapped back like a party favor propelled by a leaf blower and right into the path of oncoming traffic.  The Volvo with square bumper nailed him right in the nuts and that zapped his brain completely out.  The cop car coming straight for him veered sharply, bounced off a Chevy Volt and plowed hard into the retaining wall.  Jack saw none of this.  He was cuffed and in the back of a stinking cop car when his brain finally rebooted.  It was too late to argue by then.  From what Jack could remember it wasn’t his fault, but if the cops searched the Caprice close enough it would be his fault.  Fuck me!

They took him directly to the Wayne County Jail and locked him to a cold steel bench that was sticky and scratched full of insulting graphiti.  Next to him was a sassy black chick who kept chirping at the desk sergeant to call her cousin.  Jack figured he needed a few aspirins but hated like shit to ask.  Then the guy on his other side groaned.  It was some goof in a puke soiled suit and pissed pants.  He looked like he’d drunk a bucket of possum cum.  With his free hand Jack checked for his wallet and phone and of course they were gone.  God damn thieving cops!  Now what the fuck am I gonna do?  The black chick interrupted his train of thought.

“These motherfuckers violatin’ my civil fuckin’ rights up in here.  You a lawyer?  You look like a motherfuckin’ lawyer.  You wanna take my case?”

Jack’s eyes were getting fuzzy again, but his brain was a full go.  He looked the black chick up and down and said, “No sugar, all white people ain’t lawyers and I don’t appreciate the stereotyping, but I am sure you are here by mistake!  What’s your name?”

“Shileel, and that asshole next to you ran into my Subaru.” said Shileel.  This motherfucker she was yacking to looked vaguely familiar to her.  “What’s yours?”

Funny, Jack couldn’t seem to remember it at that time.  He looked at Shileel and said, “It’ll come to me in a minute.”

Shileel pointed at his forehead and noted, “Look like a vampire done bit you on yo’ dome.”

Jack’s vision returned just like that, but now he couldn’t hear.  He looked at Shileel and spun his trigger finger in tight circles.  She didn’t understand.  She wasn’t supposed to.  Jack was just buying time until his ears came back.  Shileel asked, “Is you okay?”

“Yeah, I heard that.  You asked if I play hockey.”

“You need a doctor, Mister.”

“No, I’ll be just fine.”

The drunk on his right started gurgling like he was about to puke.  His breath was already stinking up the air like a jail house sissy.  Then Jack saw the wallet hanging half out of his breast pocket and picked it while the desk sergeant went for coffee.  Jack’s elbow just made it up to the suit’s jaw before the desk sergeant sat back down.  The drunk in the suit went bye-bye.

Shileel said, “Did you just kill that man?”

Shaking his head Jack said, “No, I dislocated his jaw bone.  He’ll be just fine in a few weeks.”

“Damn!”

There was nine hundred dollars and some change in the suit’s wallet, and several credit cards.  There was also a FBI badge.  Some dickweed named, Derwin Sterwid.   Jack tucked the wallet into his breast pocket.  He looked over at Shileel and asked, “You know much about women?”

“Is you retarded or something, Mister?” replied Shileel.  “Did your mama smoke crack?”

Jack smiled. “Maybe, probably.  You wanna get out of here right now?”

“What’s the catch?  They’s always a fuckin’ catch, Mister.”

“You gotta help me find my girlfriend,” answered Jack.

“You ain’t gonna kill her or nothin’ are you?”

“No!  I’m going to ask her to marry me!”

“Uh huh.”  Shileel double-smirked at that one.

“No, really!”

“What’s in it for me?”

“A hundred dollars and a ride home, anywhere you want to go, on me.  I just need to ask you some questions about women.”  Jack was using his best ‘honest’ voice, but it came off sounding creepy to Shileel.

“I’ll take that hundred right now if you please.”

It was just too easy and Shileel didn’t quite know what to think.  This guy, who still couldn’t remember his name somehow managed to talk his way out of the cuffs and the jail—and got her out with him!  How in the Hell?  Shileel just had to know how he pulled that shit off.

“I used the drunk guy’s credit cards to post our bails and used some of the cash to bribe the desk sergeant.  It’s not rocket science.”  He didn’t mention anything about the guy being a FBI agent.  He figured she’d find out soon enough when they arrested her for credit card fraud.  The important thing was he was free.  Then he remembered his cell phone was in the Caprice, and in seconds he remembered where the cop told him the Caprice was impounded—and since he hadn’t already rushed him to a federal lockup Jack was confident they hadn’t found the weapons cache.  A lot of his memory had returned.   Shileel had her cell phone.  Jack told her to call a cab.

*****

 

Jackie loved taking long walks in the desert at sun down.  With Sandy on her shoulders she’d tromp out for a few miles to get some real exercise, but there were no round trips.  Sandy humped her own ass on the way back home.  Tonight, about a hundred yards from the house Sandy broke into a run and challenged mom to catch up.   Timing her speed to coincide exactly with Sandy’s arrival at the back door, Jackie plowed ahead.  As it turned out, that was the wrong thing to do.  They both saw it, at the same exact time.  Little bodies cut to ribbons and scattered about the living room.  Business man’s  head sat by itself in bloody pool on the coffee table with bull horns jammed in his bloody eye sockets.  Both girls shrieked in terror and froze.  It took ten minutes for Jackie to compose herself and get moving.

The safe was bare but the money in the toilet tank went undetected.  There was about eighty thousand dollars, and along with the four by four out back Jackie set off to get out of Mexico alive.  Five miles down the road, with Sandy still screaming in her ears, Jackie realized she had no ID to cross the border.  “Shut up, Sandy!  Mama has to concentrate real hard now!”  She turned north and shut off the lights.  She wouldn’t need them, there was no road where she was going, but at least the dessert moon was full.  Coyotes howled all around them.

But that was then, and this was now.  Jackie sat poised with Jack’s cell phone, her thumb hovering over the ‘call’ button for the sole ‘unidentified caller’ listing.  Jack was climbing into the shower, and was good for twenty minutes at least.  Here goes nothing!

“Field Operations.  McHale, Roger.”

“I need intelligence on a subject.”

“I know who this number belongs to, and you’re not him, lady.  Where’s Jack”

Jackie didn’t panic.  “In the shower.  I’m his partner, Jody Culpepper, and I need that intel pronto, Mister Rogers!”

“No you are not.  You’re Jacqueline Caputnik, only child of Fredrick and Ethyl Caputnik, deceased.  You got knocked up and sent to your aunt in Illinois to have the bastard kid a one Sandy Caputnik, eight pounds seven ounces.  You then car jacked your aunt, ran into some asshole who sold you to some other asshole who pawned you off on a Mexican cartel boss.   Then, you came back home after said idiot met his somewhat unexpected demise.  You put seventy-seven thousand, six hundred and forty-two dollars in First Federal and rented a house in Ferndale, Michigan.  Then, you became a stewardess until Jack wooed you away for a life of adventure and romance.  How am I doing so far?”

“How do you know all that?”

“Computers, I got a gigantic one.  What do you want, Ms. Caputnik?  I’m kind of busy right now.”

“I told you, intel on a subject.”

“Long-lost loved one?  Missing relative?  Someone who might end up dead possibly?”

“NO!”  Jackie was starting to get pissed.  Mr. Roger was a real asshole.  “Can you do this or not?”

“Does Jack know?”

“No, and don’t you go blabbering about it either!” warned Jackie.  “Don’t make me come find you!”

“I promise not to blabber, please don’t hurt me, Ms. Caputnik.  Um, there’s something else I’m supposed to say to crazy callers, but it escapes me right now.  Something about shut the fuck up.”

“You’re not very friendly!  Chu calls you a dickhead!”

“Listen Jackie, if you promise me no one is gonna die, I’ll get you some intel on your ‘subject’ as a favor to Jack.  Have you got a name or do I need a Ouija board?”

“Randy Shatner,” whispered Jackie.

“What’s that, I didn’t hear you on account of you whispering.”

“Randy Shatner!” barked Jackie with authority.

“Okay.  Let me see here.  I got fifty-seven of them in the US, but only one resides in Michigan.  Could this be your ‘subject’, Ms. Caputnik?”

“Did he go to Michigan State?”

“Yes, he did in fact attend that fine institution.  You want his transcripts?”

“No, just the file.”  Jackie had no idea what she was asking for.

“How you want it?”

Jackie hadn’t thought of this.  “How do you usually send files?”

“To the requestor.  Listen Jackie, I’ll just send it to YOUR cell phone, okay?”

“Hold on, I’ll give you my number.”

Roger hung up.

This happened two days before Jackie left that note for Jack.

*****

 

Chu carried Ding through the threshold and all the way to the king-size bed.  After shedding their clothing they went at it like nuclear powered bunny rabbits in a briar patch.  An hour later they took a break for vodka and the Cheez-Its Chu packed in his suitcase.  This is how it went for the next twenty-four hours.  Finally they were overcome with hunger and trekked into town for supplies.  The man with the long dreads and ragged clothes sold Chu some epic chronic at an outrageous price.  “You got robbed,” Ding claimed.

“It so nice not having Jack around,” mused Chu.

“I miss Jackie,” confessed Ding.  “Maybe I call her.”

“No fuckin’ way, Ding.  Then Jack find us!  You know Jackie has big mouth.”

“She already know, Chu.  She helped me plan.  Now shut up and get me turkey pot pie!”

“You not even steal line right, Ding.  You should give it up.”

*****

 

The impound guy understood cash.  Sterwid provided all of it and then some.  Jack burned up the cards until the machines said fuck it and ate them. He gave Shileel half.  They were humming down the road in the Caprice when Shileel had her epiphany.   “I know where I done seen you, Mister.  In the newspaper!  You that nigger kilt Sonny Flabino.  I knowed I recognized you!”

Jack nodded his head.  “I was instrumental in his untimely realization of the laws of physics.”

“You snapped his fuckin’ spine, you mean!”

“Same difference,” replied Jack.  “Now it’s my turn to ask a question.  If you were my girlfriend, and everything was going just perfectly, why would you leave me this note?”

Shileel read the note.  It took her forever.  “Fuck, I don’t know.  Maybe she got a boyfriend.”

“No,” stated Jack flatly.  “That ain’t possible.”

“If you say so, Mister, you know her better than me I guess.”  Shileel didn’t feel like arguing with a guy who killed and maimed people at the drop of a hat.  “Is that all you wanted?”

Jack fumed.  “Yeah.”  He said nothing else for the rest of the trip.

*****

 

“You should have giant bear tattooed over those names, Marcus,” advised Vlad.  “It look stupid have six crossed-out names on shoulder.  Make you look like real loser”

“Shut the fuck up, Vlad.  Did I ask for your advice?”

“I agree with Vlad, Marcus,” piped in Jacques.  “But not a bear, on that I cannot agree.  A man of your countenance should opt for something much more subtle.  Perhaps an erupting volcano with a unicorn spraying out molten lava would be more suitable.  Plus, it would take attention off that abomination on your neck.”

Marcus shook his head.  It had been like this ever since they hooked up.  One would insult him and the other would try to one-up the other.  He was getting fed right the fuck up with this shit.  “Fuck the both of you.  How about I tattoo my fist on your fucking noses?”

“Marcus, I hear you saying that you are angry and need to express yourself,” observed Jacques.  “Don’t you agree, Vlad?”

“Marcus inner-child feel pain but have no words make him heal,” added Vlad.

“Very insightful, Vlad, I think you may be onto something with that.  Marcus, tell us about your childhood.  Help us to help you,” instructed Jacques.

“Yes,” agreed Vlad.  “This why wife’s leave Marcus, he not in touch himself.”

Jacques giggled.  “You need to touch yourself more, Marcus.”

“First of all, neither of you got room to talk.  Jacques you’ve been married three times, and Vlad, you’ve done it at least two times that I know of.  Second of all, kiss my black ass!”

Pointing his wagging trigger finger at Marcus Vlad said, “This exactly the problem, Marcus.”

“Have you tried wind chimes and ocean sounds, Marcus?” asked Jacques.  “I read an article in Vogue the other day about how that stuff can work miracles with anger issues.”

“Did it work on your mama?” snapped Marcus.

“I can’t believe you went ‘there’!” quipped Vlad.

“He has mother issues, too, Vlad.  This is more serious than we thought,” added Jacques.

Marcus shook his head then leaned into the spotter’s scope.  Chu and the girl were cooking something up in the cabana and this made Marcus hungry.  He could see Chu chopping up some kind of ugly fish while Ding made coleslaw.  Neither of them wore any clothing.  The view was bitter sweet.

“It my turn to look,” declared Vlad shouldering Marcus from the scope.

The sun seemed to take forever to fall from the sky.  Chu and Ding had cooked and consumed their meal before it was dark enough to move about undetected.   Finally Marcus said, “Let’s do this!”

Vlad said, “You’re not boss of me!”

Jacques said, “Yes, who put you in charge, Marcus?”

*****

 

To kill time Jackie once again reviewed the ‘file’ on her cell phone.  Randy had grown into a world class asshole by adulthood.  According to the file there were numerous sexual harassment incidents at work and his second wife filed for divorce after catching him in bed with the neighbor’s wife.  His first wife ran away to Petoskey but there was nothing in the file as to why.  Jackie could only guess on that.  Probably beat her up, she surmised.  Now Randy was a big shot at some car company in the public relations department and owned a huge house in Bloomfield Hills.  He had a drinking problem and several DUI’s of which no less than three involved collisions.   Once again she studied the photo.  He hadn’t changed much.  He was still big, but the spare tire was inflating around his belly and that golden blond hair was turning dishwater brown.  His appetites didn’t seem to have changed much, though, and that is what Jackie was banking on.

Jackie heard some voices and checked her six.  Sure enough large Mr. Asshole walked in with several of his buddies.   Jackie applied another layer of ruby red lipstick.  The boys took a table just a few feet away.  Randy told the other assholes a joke about a girl with a wobbly ass and double-vision.  The other assholes laughed boisterously.  Jackie fumed.

*****

 

Jack pulled to a stop at the curb and looked over at the house to his right.  It was completely dark and looked like it hadn’t been inhabited for years.  Shileel said, “Uh huh, ‘dis the place.”

“Wow!” was all Jack could say.

“What that over there?” asked Shileel pointing her finger to his left.  He turned just in time to take the full brunt of the swung baseball bat to his forehead.  Down goes Jack!  He woke up a short time later lying next to the curb with his pockets turned out.  The Caprice was nowhere to be seen.  Jack staggered to his feet and tried to get his bearings.  Just then it started raining very hard.  Perfect!  A block later Jack went to steal a Plymouth Neon but it had no steering wheel.   He tried the green 1986 Turbo-Coupe Thunderbird next, but it had two flat tires.  Jack trudged three miles in the downpour before finding a ‘steal-able’ car.   He got the 2012 KIA Optima four miles before it ran out of gas.  Shit!

Finally Jack gave up trying to steal a car and stood out on the road with his thumb out.  He barely knew where he was and still couldn’t remember his name, but everything else was clear as a bell.  He could even remember the phone number of the taxidermist in Guayaramerín, Bolivia who sold him the handmade blow dart tube.  He could remember Chu’s seven bank account numbers and jacking off in the closet during that raid in Karachi after greasing the tango aiming a LAWS rocket at the team.  He fired a single shot with the MP5 that he took off Haji and hit Mr. Tango one inch above his right eyebrow and one point seven inches right of the thickly creased forehead.  The guy had two gold teeth and some scribble tattoo on his right forearm.  That’s when the grenade went off.  That shit he could remember perfectly.  Jack about crapped his pants when the horn next to him blew.  Some peckerwood in a rusty pick-up truck was offering him a ride.  Jack hopped right in.

“What’s your name, son?  I’m Josh Whales.  I’m going to see my son in Iona.  Been in these parts long, son?  I mean this particular neighborhood.  It’s not exactly what you might call white friendly, unless you’re armed.”  Josh pulled open his camo vest revealing an old, rusty six-shooter.  “All you gotta do is act crazy and carry a gun.  And, let me tell you another thing, young man, if you’re down here chasin’ drugs or pussy, you’d be better served…”

Jack’s brain stopped at the word ‘pussy’.  Jackie!  “Hey mister,” interrupted Jack.  “I’ll give you a thousand bucks if you drive faster, talk lesser and drop me off at my doorstep.”

Josh threw a hard look at Jack and asked, “You got it on you?”

*****

There was a sleazy motel across the street from Chicks Bar on West Warren.  It was the kind of place where nobody saw nothing.  She’d booked a room there that afternoon.  Randy had swallowed the hook but said he had to ‘check out’ the men’s room before leaving.  Jackie smiled. “Take your time, Sweetie!” and blew him a kiss.  Randy was talking on his cell phone and one handed the inbound kiss like a touchdown pass.  He ran smack into the wall celebrating.  A picture of the bar twenty years ago fell to the floor and broke into pieces.  Randy laughed and said, “Dumb son of a bitches!”

Jackie paid the tab with cash and tipped the bartender triple huge.  A few minutes later Randy was ready to go.  “Come on,” he said.  “Take my car.”

“But, it’s only across the street, Sweetie.  We can walk.” Jackie put on her best ‘little girl’ voice, but Randy shook his head.  What an asshole!

“I ain’t leaving my car in this parking lot.”

That was hard to argue with.  “Okay,” was all she could say.

Of course, Randy drove a gold painted Chrysler 300.  The asshole even opened the door for her and helped her into the seat.  Jackie’s situational awareness was for shit.  She became acutely aware of this when the guy in the back seat snapped a seatbelt around her neck and yanked.  Then, the door slammed on her right ankle.  She had but a few seconds until Randy climbed in on top of her.

*****

 

Marcus planted the explosive charge on the utilities box as Jacques and Vlad took up posts on either side of the door wall to the bedroom.  They thought they heard Chu making horse noises.  Quite clearly someone was slapping the shit out of someone else’s bare ass.  Jacques pinched his lip to keep from giggling.  Vlad masturbated with his MagLite LED 3 D-Cell Flashlight.  Then Marcus arrived and cut short their antics.  He said, “This is going to be so great!”

Vlad and Jacques nodded eagerly.

Three seconds later, and a full minute before it was supposed to, the charge on the utilities box blew.  There go the lights!  Charge!  Marcus breached first but the screen they forgot to cut caught him off guard.  He broke through but not with the split-second precision as out-lined in the ‘plan’.  Vlad was pushing Jacques from behind, which wasn’t part of the ‘plan’ either.  Vlad was just being a smart-ass, and it caused Jacques to trip over the raggedly torn screen left in Marcus’ wake.  However, everything did go much better after that.  Vlad cleared the gaggle of bodies no problem and was on Chu like white on rice.  Or was it Ding?

*****

 

Josh was telling Jack about when he killed Charlie in “The Nam” back in the day when men were men.  Josh claimed he melted the barrel of his M16 he killed so many gooks.   He was at some place called ‘Kay’s Son’ or some shit and Charlie had it surrounded.  Josh was getting more and more excited.  He started waving his arms around as he ‘learned’ this young buck a thing or two about war.  Some chopper gunner messed up and took out half his unit and now Josh was slamming the dash with his fist.  He wasn’t ready at all when Jack shouted, “THAT’S MY EXIT!”

*****

 

Cogent finally arrived to ‘sign for’ Sterwid.  He was being detained by doctors not cops.  He was in no condition to drive.  Detroit PD dropped all charges because they couldn’t figure out how his jaw got dislocated, or how those two clowns used his credit cards to spring themselves.  Sterwid nodded his head sarcastically as some cop mumbled out an apology.  When the nurse gave him a shot in the ass and he was too tired to even yelp.

Cogent’s arm was in a sling, but the smile on his face beamed.  “You’re such a fuck up, Sterwid!  You’re ONLY fucking job is to run your fucking mouth and here you are with a busted fucking jaw!  I mean, can you see the irony?  This is so fucked up in so many fucking ways.  Shileel Cantor and dumb ass!  Of all people!  That’s it I’m calling Mr. Guiness because this has got to be a world record fuck up.”  Sterwid’s greatest indignity was yet to come.  Cogent had the keys to his Vette.

*****

 

By now Jack still couldn’t remember his name.  Plus, he didn’t know what day it was.  Actually, he was thankful to be alive.  When Josh rolled the pick-up truck off the exit ramp Jack remembered he wasn’t buckled in like Josh was.  The rest was just a blur of shattering glass, dust and tire smoke. The truck landed right side up with the motor still running.  Josh punched the accelerator and that F150 jumped out of the gulch onto the exit ramp like a cork from a champagne bottle.  Jack was amazed, but he still wanted to kill that crazy peckerwood.  Josh slammed on the brakes.

“Which way we go now, Mister?”

Jack climbed out and was about to slam the door when he heard the distinct ‘click’ of a hammer being cocked.  Shit!  Turning around slowly he said, “Take it easy, Josh!  Don’t do nothin’ stupid!”

“You owe me a lotta money, son.”

Fuck this peckerwood!  “Kiss my ass if you think–”

BLAM!  Jack couldn’t believe it!  Josh shot him in the toe!  And then just drove off!  Un-fucking believable!

For sure he’d sustained multiple concussions, and everything below his brain hurt like holy Hell, too.  He missed Jackie and that hurt more than he would have ever imagined.  And he missed Chu, too.  And Ding.  He missed everybody and everything the way it used to be.  The surviving half of his toe was killing him!  Life is so fucking cruel!  Jack set off in a painful jog which lasted a long time.  After seemingly hours he spotted the mailbox with the purple ducks painted on the side a hundred yards down the road and increased his gait.  He hugged that mailbox when he reached it, then staggered off up the driveway with it in his hands.  The Shelby and the Lambo were parked in front of the garage!  Jack’s spirits leapt!  He was almost half-running when he reached the front door.  It was locked tight.   Shit!

“Fuck you, Jack!  Use key.”   That was Chu, but not ‘normal’ Chu.

Jack reared back and kicked in the door with his good foot.  The inverse shock effect didn’t feel good in his brain.  It took a few seconds for his vision to clear, but even then he wasn’t sure.  Jackie was sprawled out on the couch like a murder victim.  She had a neck brace on, a bag of ice on her upper face, another on her ankle and bloody bandages on the fingers of both hands.  Chu, lying flat on the floor looked worse.  He had an obvious bullet wound to his thigh, a bag of ice on his face, another bag of ice on his genital region and a rather greasy bandage on his right shoulder.  Ding was laid back in the recliner groaning.  She had a walking cast on her right foot, bandages over her left eye and her left arm was in a sling.

What the fuck?

 

Low Jack

 

Now the story gets confusing because nobody was particularly proud of themselves.  Every one of them, save Ding, lied their asses off making it impossible to sort fact from fiction.  Jack still couldn’t remember his name, but he could remember everything else.  They started fucking with him by calling him Fido, and Karen, and Mork to see if he’d respond.  Jack didn’t like that game and put an end to it by naming himself, Clint, after Clint Eastwood from the movies.  When the laughter subsided Jackie told him his real name.

“Jack,” he repeated pensively.  “Are you sure?”

As the scars healed and the bruises faded they became more talkative and stopped insulting Jack’s vampire bite as much.  One by one the stories came out starting with Chu, or rather Ding.  She told it much better.

“Fuckin’ maniacs knock out lights and jump Chu.  I grab pistol start shooting.  It dark!” she explained.

Chu took over from there.  “Three former students with monkey brains put ‘Dong’ tattoo on shoulder.  Big joke!  Supposed to be, ‘Ding’, but fucking asshole Vlad spell for shit.”

“I like it!” opined Ding.

Jack asked, “Why’d you shoot Chu?”

“Fog of war, Jack.  Shit happen.”

“She shoot Marcus and Jacques, too,” continued Chu.  “Marcus right in ass.  Then she crease Jacques’ scalp.”  Chu paused for second and looked directly at Jackie.   “One thing I wonder about.  How assholes find honeymoon spot?”

Busted.

Jackie immediately changed the subject by telling her story.  She worked backwards and spared the details.  “I didn’t kill anybody, let me get that out of the way first.  Long story short, I performed a public service and didn’t get arrested.   And the Jello thing is for real.”  Jackie turned to Jack when she finished her short but harrowing tale, “Your turn.”

The three of them shook their heads and booed.  They said Jackie was the worst story teller ever.  Only Ding knew the whole story and she wasn’t giving anything up.  It would be months before the whole truth came out, but even then Jackie would be drunk in the telling.

Jack’s was the stupidest story to be told by far, hands down, no contest.  So, he didn’t tell it.  “I was in a car wreck and some gang banger stole the Caprice.”  Nobody believed him for a second and a new game of make-up-the-Jack-story sprang forth.  Unfortunately, Jack found it quite entertaining and worked to egg them on.  Reverse psychology, that shit failed like a motherfucker which pleased Jack to no end.  Everything seemed back to normal.

A few days later Jackie threw a Zombie party before all their scars and bruises healed completely.  Ding hooked up three gallons of Zombie juice and told Jackie, “This barely enough for Fido!”  They all laughed.  Chu grilled ribs and corn on the cob while Jack kept telling him he was doing it wrong.  Jackie kicked on the stereo and guess what came up?  Jack dropped the spatula on Chu’s toe as Jackie beckoned him forth with a come hither wink and twisting pinkie.  And they had a party that couldn’t be beat.  Every last one of them was too drunk for sex that night.  Jack dreamed he was in ‘Nam’ with Josh when Charlie was through the wire.  Gunships flew in low overhead.  They sprayed hot lead and tracer rounds all over the fucking place just as Jack’s weapon jammed.  That’s when Jackie screamed!  “JACK!”

Outside the window a Pavelow helicopter hovered blinding them with its searchlight.  Commandos in black gear burst through the door leveling submachine guns with laser beams.  These guys are good!  “DO WHAT THEY SAY!” barked Jack raising his hands.  Jackie did the next best thing and kicked in the balls of the first guy reaching for her.  He groaned and squeezed off half a clip into the floor.   Now Jack was committed.  He snatched the MP5 from his guy and swung it into the face of some other guy. But then some other guy jumped on his back and clamped his armed around his throat.  Shit!  Jack flipped forward to deliver the full weight of his body onto this attacker just as he slammed into the textured slate floor tiles. Who are these guys?

Suddenly he heard Chu call up, “Stop beating up guys, Jack!  They here protect us!”

Once order was restored the four of them sat on the couch waiting for someone else to arrive.   The gaunt old lady who walked into the room Jack hadn’t seen in years.   “Does Margaret Thatcher know your robbing her wardrobe?” he asked.

“Shut up, Jack.  You’re officially activated.”

“Oh no, I’m not!” protested Jack.  “I’m getting married next week.”

“No, you are not getting married next week, and you’re also not going to Fiji.  Jackie will understand I promise you.”  Margaret Thatcher held up a picture of a man who looked like a mountain lion scratched out his eyes.  “Won’t you, Jackie?”

Jackie nodded her head and whispered, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“So, Jack, here’s the plan.  We plug a homing bug in your ass and send you rattling around Detroit until Chu’s old friend shows up and tries to kill you.”

“They gonna lo-jack your ass, Jack,” murmured Ding with a giggle.

“Does it have to go in my ass?” asked Jack.

“It’s sewn into your armpit, Jack.  We are not that vulgar.”  Margaret Thatcher paused before her next announcement.  “And we’re taking away your gun.”

“What the Hell?  No way I’m doin’ this unarmed!  What the Hell you wanna do that for?”

“Jack, what is your middle name?” asked Margaret Thatcher.

Fuck!

“That’s why, Jack.  You can carry a small, dull knife if you want, but no guns!”

While Jack sulked Chu asked, “What friend?”

“Need to know, Chu, and you have no need.  Rotating teams will guard this place and nobody leaves except Jack when WE send him.  Please don’t make my men shoot you all full of holes.”

“When do I start?” asked Jack.

“Oh you started a long time ago, Jack, but you’re just collateral damage now.  Chu’s the primary target.   You’re just chum to throw in the toilet water.”

“Eeewwww!” groaned Ding.

*****

Jack walked back and forth under the hot sun in front of Comerica Park for an entire afternoon that first day.  When the TV news van pulled up to do a story about the fans his handlers told him to get in the background if he could.  He felt like a total idiot but did as told.  And why wouldn’t they tell HIM who the target was?  It was his ass being used for bait!  This was the most ridicules strategy he’d ever heard of!   He sauntered over by the news van and peeped inside.  Shit!  They sprayed me!  Jack had three seconds of consciousness left.  He used it reaching for the gun that wasn’t there.

*****

 

Chu was the first to escape, and did so heavily armed.  He took the black Humvee the team used after dispatching the driveway guard with a blow dart.  Chu eased out of the driveway but stood on it when he reached the highway.  He figured he had twenty-four hours, give or take.  Margaret Thatcher’s target wasn’t any great mystery.  It could be only one person and this asshole was a real piece of work.  He just hoped Jack didn’t get in the way.

At Howell he pulled off at the outlet mall to switch cars.  He took everything he needed and stuffed it into the blue Escalade the swarm of teenage girls just exited.  It was full of pot smoke and perfume smells.  As an afterthought Chu stuffed rag in the gas tank of the Humvee and lit it.  Fuck Margaret Thatcher!

Chu entered back onto I-96 heading east until he turned south on US-23 which he followed all the way to eastbound I-94.  Twenty minutes later Detroit Metropolitan Airport appeared to his right and he swung in. Drones could not monitor there, too much airplane type traffic.  He parked in the long term structure across from the terminals.  In five minutes he’d loaded all the gear into a gray Chevy Tahoe with Canadian plates.  Nothing looked out of the ordinary as he swung back onto eastbound I-94 and headed into Detroit.

*****

 

“I’m going to charge him for that vehicle,” declared Margaret Thatcher.  The drone got it all on video.  To the operator she said, “Stay on him. I want a report every ten minutes.”

“He’s going to lose us at the airport,” reported the operator glumly.

“Alert the advance teams.  We have sixteen hours if we’re lucky.  I don’t care whose balls you have to squeeze find that little twerp now!  Where’s Jack?”

“In the box.”

“Good.  Be certain he stays there, I’m on my way.”

The triple black Chevy Suburban was waiting for her outside.  An agent opened the door for her then retreated to the tail car and climbed in.  The caravan moved swiftly out of the parking lot and into the street.  Margaret Thatcher punched in a number on her cell phone then watched as a dazzling display of numbers raced across its tiny screen.  Finally the connection locked and the screen displayed a single word:  TRAITOR.

*****

 

It had thick glass walls as opposed to gray steel bars but it was still a cage and Jack hated being caged.  He spent several hours staring at the floor just trying to make sense of what was happening, but couldn’t get it to add up.  Finally he said ‘fuck it’ and started exercising just to divert his mind.  He’d done a thousand crunches, and was on his two hundred-fifty-ninth pushup when Margaret Thatcher walked in the room.  He saw her out of the corner of his eye and blatantly ignored her.  She took a seat on a stool her aide provided and waited patiently for him to stop.  He did the last one incredibly slow then slipped into the lotus position, still not facing her.  They remained silent for a least a minute.  Jack knew she would break first.  She was a very important person and such people were always in a hurry.

“Can you quit sulking for a minute?  Jack, we have to talk.”

Always the hard-ass.  “I don’t have a middle name,” was all he said.

Margaret Thatcher rose from the stool and walked from the room.  She told her aide, “Get him dressed, give him back his guns and bring him to the garage.”

Now dressed in tan Dockers, a plain white t-shirt and a pair of black Nike running shoes, two serious looking guys with riot guns escorted Jack into the garage area.  Once inside he could barely believe his eyes!  There sat the Caprice.  Margaret Thatcher stood in the corner concentrating on her cell phone, acting like Jack’s entrance didn’t mean shit.  Jack approached the Caprice and started inspecting.  Every crinkle and crease had been repaired and a fresh paint job applied.  He noted the new twenty inch rims with the fourth generation run-flat tires Goodyear would not release to the public for years.  The interior was upholstered with cloth now instead of that ugly black vinyl shit, and the back seat contained an arm rest.  There were at least a dozen cup holders.

“It’s yours, Jack.”  Margaret Thatcher said walking toward him.  “At least for this job anyway.”

Jack didn’t bite.  She knew damn well it was wired nine ways to Hell.  Some present!  Margaret Thatcher paused for a second before boring into him with those steely, gray eyes.  She realized it wasn’t working and smirked.  “Welcome back, Jack.”

Jack just stared at her, so she continued.  “Yes, Jack, we set you up and we set Chu up and it was all working quite splendidly up until a few hours ago.  As much as it pains me to have to say this, we need you back, Jack.”

Jack remained silent.  “It is not an end-of-the-known-world type problem, but it is damn serious.  Remember those nine gentlemen in Riyadh you let get away some years back, Jack?”

That was an outright lie, but Jack didn’t bite.  He wasn’t positive, but he thought he was seeing cracks in Margaret Thatcher’s crusty armor.  She was talking too damn much.  He let her dig herself in deeper.

“Well, they are back and back in a big way.  They’re in the States, Jack, and last we knew were all heading here—from different directions, of course, but Detroit is their destination nonetheless.”   Margaret Thatcher tried letting that sink in, but Jack said nothing.   “I suppose you want to know what all this has to do with Chu and yourself?”

Jack remained a statue.

“Well, we know for a fact the leader of this group contacted Chu about a month ago.   Chu didn’t report it, so as far as we’re concerned, he’s in on the whole deal.  He’d be dead already except we are extremely interested in the whereabouts of his contact.”  Margaret Thatcher was lying, just like she always lied.  All Jack had to do was believe the opposite of whatever she said, or at least something close to the opposite.  Now that he was in his right mind he saw it all with crystalline clarity.  Either that or he was totally insane.  It really didn’t matter anymore.

Margaret Thatcher started pacing.  “Jack, I haven’t got time for another one of your childish tantrums.  I need you to find Chu and find him before he meets with his contact.  We’re not asking you to kill him, just to bring him in.  There’ll be no negotiating on this, Jack.  You don’t want to do it I’ll have you killed where you stand.”  Riot gun guys racked in shells and smiled.

Jack climbed into the Caprice.  “Open the doors,” was all he said.

He came out from the garage onto Trumbull Street and knew within an hour what he just left would vanish like rain drops in the ocean inside of ten minutes.  He caught the Fisher Freeway and headed west but got off on the first exit.  A few minutes later he was parked on Bagley a block short of Cass.  He grabbed the three inch lock-blade knife he knew would be in the glove box and the ten grand he knew would be under the radio in the dash.  He had to climb out to get the first aid kit from the trunk, scanning the skies as he did so.  After stripping off the t-shirt he took the lock-blade and slashed open the incision in his armpit.  He pulled out the RCD chip he set it carefully on the dash.  The second one, the one they never told anyone about, took a bit more work.  The medical crazy glue sealed him up just fine.

Some black kid who barely looked old enough to drive got the keys to the Caprice and the ten grand in exchange for his hoodie.  “There’s machine guns and grenades behind the back seat,” Jack explained, “and enough explosives in the trunk to take out a city block.”  The kid did not need to be told twice.  He raced off leaving Jack in a cloud of smoke and dust.  The drone had just re-established visual on the Caprice, but it didn’t know who was inside, and failed to recognize the figure in the blue hoodie with Dockers strolling in the opposite direction.

It was twenty blocks to the safe house, apartment rather, that only he and Chu knew about.  It was above a bar run by a fat lady named Phoebe.  She had pink hair and her establishment catered to rednecks, peckerwoods and NASCAR fans.  Jack slipped in the back door and saw the back of Chu’s head at the table under the ceiling fan.  Without looking Chu waved him forward with a wiggle of his trigger finger.  Jack sat down with his back to the wall so he could see both doors.  Chu slid one of his Desert Eagles under the table then leaned back in his chair.  “Lilith,” was all he said.

“That’s what I figured.  Margaret Thatcher must be getting desperate.  She couldn’t shut the fuck up,” explained Jack.

Chu looked at his wrist watch.  “Be here in…..”

The girl with the almond shaped eyes and long black hair strode in the front door like she owned the place.  She wore skin-tight Levi’s, a World War Two vintage bomber jacket and rawhide moccasins laced to the knee.   Taking one look at Jack she said, “Fucking vampire bite you on the brain, Jack?”

Jack grabbed his crotch and sneered.

Chu said, “Lilith shut the fuck up and sit down.”

“When you gonna teach him how to talk, Chu?” she asked, referring to Jack who was now stroking an imaginary penis.  “Is he asking for a lobotomy or did he just find that thing?”

Chu slammed his fist down on the ratty, imbalanced table bouncing his coffee cup right onto the floor.  Right away Jack froze and Lilith shut up.  Phoebe told them all to cool down.  She had the shotgun in her hands now, and just wanted to finish her cigarette in peace.  After a few tense seconds, Chu said, “Sorry Phoebe.”

“Yeah, sorry Phoebe,” echoed Jack.

“My bad, Pheebs!” sang Lilith.

The conversation then continued on a more sedate level.  Chu said, “Lilith, why Margaret Thatcher want me kill you?”  It was a serious question.

“Who?” asked Lilith obviously confused.

“Grandma,” clarified Chu.  “Jack call Margaret Thatcher and it stick.”

“Oh, Jack actually thought of something?  Did you give him a reward? He loves it when you rub his belly.”

This was too much.  Jack fired back.  “Yeah, Jack think of something!  Now Jack here to save Lilith from getting whacked by Margaret Thatcher.  Jack saving Lilith’s narrow little ass!”

“That’ll be the day,” spat Lilith.

“Shut up, Jack, and shut up, Lilith!” ordered Chu.   “What the fuck matter with you morons?  Lilith, he beat you fair and square.  Let shit go!  We got serious problem, which Lilith, you dump in lap.”

That shit was all too true.  Holding up her hands in mock surrender, Lilith said, “I got the nine guys Jack missed in Riyadh.”

“Bullshit!” challenged Jack.

Lilith rolled her eyes and said, “I didn’t kill them, Jack, I recruited them.”

“How you do that?”  Chu was honestly perplexed.

“Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll.  Same way we always do it.  That and a shitload of money” answered Lilith.  “It’s not rocket science, Chu!”  Then she realized who she was ‘talking down’ to, and apologized.  She blamed it on Jack.  “Every time I get around Jackass I get this way!”

Chu scolded her for the play on Jack’s name, then asked, “Where they are we go kill?”

“That’s the fucked up part, they’re all coming from different locations.  You know the drill, typical tactical terrorist training compartmentalization for dummies.   I only know where they will all be at nine-thirty tonight,” answered Lilith.

“Okay, so we go there, shoot them all up and Margaret Thatcher rides off on her broomstick.  Bing bang boom!” explained Jack.

Chu held up his hand to shut up Lilith who was clearly cocking an insult in her mouth.  “Jack, these same guys put you in hospital six months.  Remember slug doctor’s not take out of Jack’s brain?”

“Well, it’s out now, Chu!”

Lilith laughed.  “Jack, quick!  What’s your middle name?”

Chu took the set of Colt .45’s from his pockets and set them on the table.  “Next one of you make joke, Chu gonna shoot.”

Lilith zipped her lips and Jack held up his hands.  The joke ban lasted until Lilith revealed the rest of the details and Chu explained his plan.  Lilith nodded her head and smiled.  She liked it.  Jack thought it a bit too simple.

“We need another guy,” argued Jack.

“Where we get another guy on short notice, Jack?” asked Chu.

“I know where!” exclaimed Lilith proudly.  “Let’s get that chimp Jackass gave the gun to at the zoo!”

*****

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch Jackie and Ding were tired of not having their men around.  They had no problem being lazy and unproductive, but now that they’d become accustomed to regular sex they missed it even more.  When Ding actually said, “Me so horny!” Jackie fell out of her chair laughing.  “What so funny?” asked Ding.  Jackie showed her the YouTube video with her Ipad and they both had a good laugh.

After getting used to them in the day, the guards weren’t nearly as scary.  The girls talked about how easy it would to escape, but had no clue where to escape to.  However, having healed up from the ass whooping she took at the hands of the perverts at Chicks Bar, Jackie was once again feeling her oats.  She decided that doing something was better than not doing something.  She told Ding they needed to think just like Jack and Chu think, and this made Ding laugh so hard she fell out of her chair.

That’s when Jackie remembered Old Margaret Thatcher didn’t let Jack take his cell phone with him.  It was still on the floor under his filthy sweat socks and the towel he dried them with.  She ran up and retrieved it in a jiff, but then wasn’t quite sure who to call.  Ding told her to call Roger.

“How do you know Roger?” asked Jackie.

“He customer of Ding’s long time ago when he in the D.”

Jackie punched in the number and Roger answered in two rings.

“Field Operations.  McHale, Roger.”

“Roger, it’s me, Jackie!”

“Oh Geez!  I thought you might retire after them two peckerwoods wore your ass out in that parking lot.”

“Quit thinking, Roger, it’s not your strong suit.”

“Let me guess, you wanna know where Jack and Chu are, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Off the grid.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means nobody can find them.  Not you, me or the crazy lady with the gray hair and elephant skin.”

“Margaret Thatcher?”

“Grandma.”

Jackie hung up Jack’s phone and was ready to give up.

“Fuck it,” said Ding.  “It not moving story along anyway.”

*****

 

Lilith was Chu’s first female student and the reason he never took another.   Some Sheik from Yemen sent her over at age twelve and if it weren’t for him paying immediately the twenty million Chu demanded, he would have sold her to the gypsies.  He’d just kicked Jack’s hard-headed ass out the door and in walks Lilith, which really wasn’t her name.  It was the name he gave her because she reminded him of a character in a sitcom he hated.  She was twice as hard-headed as Jack with half the physical ability but double the brain power.  Lilith got the grape Jello mix, one box per meal.  “Fingernails very weak,” explained Chu.

On her eighteenth birthday Chu handed Lilith a fake passport, a bag of cash and told her to go kill some guy in Madrid.  He was shocked when she came back alive.  Handing him the most exquisite solid silver bracelet for a male he’d ever seen she said, “I pushed him in front of big truck.  His initials are on the bracelet.”   So began the legend of Lilith the ‘intentional accident hitperson’.  Guys fell down elevator shafts, caught fire starting furnaces, got their ties stuck in paper shredders, peed on exposed electrical wires, and cleared snow-blower nozzles with the motors running.  It didn’t matter.  They were just as dead as if they were shot or blown up.  She did kill guys in the tradition manner some of the time, and never ever took stupid chances on unsure things.  But when she was on, she was all the way on.  No one was surprised when Lilith got fired, too long of a story to put here anyway.

Tonight was different and not by just a little.  The nine motherfuckers coming into town would definitely not be tricked into looking for a crack under the fender of a heavy car.  Chu, Jack and Lilith sat around a table in the safe house/bar/apartment loading clips for the night’s festivities.  Shit was getting serious and no one was cracking wise now.

“Lilith,” Jack began, “Soon as you drop that guard don’t hesitate.”

Chu agreed. “Yeah, hit one or two and take cover. Wait for us!”

“I gotta tell you, Chu, I’m scared shitless,” confessed Lilith.  “These guys don’t exactly like taking orders from women.”  To Jack she said, “I’m convinced your boy is gonna-”

She couldn’t finish her sentence.  Jack move quickly to reassure her, “I won’t miss, Lilith.  I never miss.”

“We kill everybody, Lilith,” added Chu.  “Tango One go down first. He got bomb.  Jack know job come first.”  Chu was in a zone, total hardcore gangster spy in Ant-fucking-Artica cold Doctor Spock mode.  “Discipline!” he barked absolutely.  “Follow plan maybe two live!”  To Lilith he demanded, “You one must not miss!  Not Jack!”

Lilith tried to smile, but her face just couldn’t tell that lie.  She snatched up her Glock with the silencer and headed out the door without another word.

*****

 

Jack was underneath an old dusty tarp thrown up against a stack of railroad ties.  He was fifty feet from the killing field.  Chu was in the bucket of a front-end loader to the left of Jack and about forty feet from the killing field.  They both had M16 A4’s with triple-taped clips.  They both were using iron sights because they were old school and believed scopes useless in close order gunfights at night.  They didn’t have grenades or explosives either because this gun fight was in an oil refinery.   Behind them stood rows upon rows of giant storage tanks with enough combustible energy to fry half of Detroit.  The Marathon Refinery was already making southeast Michigan the most polluted property in the state and Jack and Chu didn’t want to make it worse.

Security was almost non-existent so Jack and Chu made it to their hides without a hitch.  Lilith was supposed wander around the fence like a homeless person, take out the guard at the booth and open the mechanical gate for the bomb toting terrorists to drive the UPS van through.  Chu and Jack were supposed to stop that van with concentrated gunfire then kill everyone.  The first clips in their assault rifles held armor piercing rounds to pierce the engine block and radiator.  After that it was straight up lead with little x’s cut into them to pierce that sand brown skin of their targets.  Theoretically, it should take ten to twenty seconds.

“Making call,” said Chu into his tactical mic.  That would release Akram and his band of merry idiots who were the diversionary tactic meant to snag Margaret Thatcher’s attention.  They were out on Belle Isle with a trunk load of dynamite and an actual surface to air rocket launcher for the drone when it came to investigate–hopefully.  If this worked, every advance team in the area would head in that direction.  If it did not, getting the fuck out of that refinery was going to be a cast iron bitch.

Between Jack and Chu sat the security gate.  The guard was smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.  He never saw or heard Lilith creeping up behind him, but he sure as Hell felt the tranquilizer round puncture the fat on his lower back, not his throat.  He cringed and fell flat onto his face.  That was not how it was supposed to go, but Chu figured same difference.  Jack wasn’t so sure. Lilith dragged fat ass into the guard shack and hit the button for the gates.  It was ‘go time’.

The UPS van rolled in five seconds later, and that is when everything went horribly wrong.  The driver stuck a shotgun barrel out the door and it lit up like a Roman candle.  Lilith was blown back into guard shack like a fly swatted into a wall.  From here on it is impossible to tell the story exactly as it happened.   It could be told in dozens of ways and still not do it justice.  It was very complicated, but I’ll give it a try.

Sixty rounds hit the front of the UPS van in exactly two point seven seconds.  The windshield shattered, the engine exploded, the front tires popped, and the van nosed into the pavement like a middle-aged skateboarder.  The thirty-round barrage Jack put through the radiator into engine block also found pay dirt in the gas tank, which burst into flames and sent bad guys leaping out the back doors where they were not so easy to shoot.

This is what Chu did.  When he saw Lilith go down he sprayed the windshield killing the driver and presumed shooter, and the guy in the passenger’s seat.  His reload beat Jack’s by maybe a half second.  He was in the air and out of the bucket shooting Tangos like a mad man as he streaked toward Lilith’s crumbled body.  Tango six he missed but Tango seven wasn’t so lucky.  He took a full burst to the face before Chu chucked the A4 and came up with the Colts. Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!   Three 5.56×45mm whizzed past his ear but a POP! POP! caught him hard in the right pectoral Kevlar.  That shit hurt!  Chu spun and acquired.  BLAM! barked the right Colt.  BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! barked the left.  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!   That’s more than nine guys!  “YOU ASSHOLE! GET DOWN!” yelled Jack into his earbud.  Chu ducked. Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!   “MOVE YOUR ASS!” screamed Jack.  Chu leaped forward and three steps from Lilith the security guard sat up and put three rounds from a Python .357 magnum into his vest.  Down goes Chu!  The security guard then caught an AK volley across the chest from one of the Tangos.  George Wallace Pickering Junior was not wearing Kevlar.  He died fast.

This is what Jack did.  Unfucking believable!  Fucking Chu emptied his clip and was charging!  That was definitely not part of the plan!  Jack made the fastest clip change in the history of mankind while jumping out from beneath that stupid fucking smelly tarp.  He acquired Tango Six a half second too late.  Jack saw the muzzle flash just as he squeezed the trigger.  The dude was dead before he realized he missed.  Jack acquired right and found Chu flanked by three assholes with AK’s.  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!   BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!  How many of these assholes are there?  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!   “YOU ASSHOLE! GET DOWN!”  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!  “MOVE YOUR ASS!”  Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!  “OUT!”  Fuck this!  Jack shouldered the A4 and grabbed his Eagles, extended clips punching out from the butts.  Fuck a silencer!  I need noise and lead!  He charged toward Chu in a half-crouch.

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

He reached the side of the now fire engulfed UPS van and reloaded right dog.  He could hear Chu moaning and Lilith coughing.  They were fifteen steps away.  Jack made it seven.  POP! POP! POP!  Down goes Jack!  All three hit Kevlar, but one found a crease and ripped into his right shoulder.   Through his earbud he heard Chu say, “Jack! Tango One out there!  GO NOW! I GOT THIS!”

Chu was right.  Hit a centralized tank and many KABOOMS were sure to follow.  What idiot would charge into a herd of gas bombs wondered Jack?  “STOP THINKING, JACK!  MOVE!”  yelled Chu.  And move Jack did.  The guy who shot him went down first.  Left dog smelled him behind an empty fifty gallon drum.  How stupid!  BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!   Jack was in full sprint pumping the Eagles in his fists like dumbbells.  Into his tactical mic he screamed, “Phoebe!  Plan B!”

“Oh Jesus, Jack, there is no Plan B when you don’t even follow Plan A!”

“Get to the damned gate, Phoebe, ASAP!”

*****

 

An Iraqi flag flew above Old Glory on the Flagpole Belle Isle at the exact same time fifteen junk cars exploded and thirty small weapons started shooting wildly in the air.  The racket could hardly escape anyone’s attention, including the drone making its pass along the river three miles upstream.  Four different software programs analyzed the combined data one hundred thousand times in three milliseconds and advised the operator to investigate.

Airman Chris Occulup was not at all comfortable.  The Selfridge Base Commander hovered over his left shoulder, and the mean old lady hovered over his right.  These two clowns were worse than Sterwid and Cogent!  The shotgun wielding sun glass wearers didn’t exactly bring calm to the room either.  This is some fucked up shit!

Mean Old Lady said, “Make the pass.”

Base Commander nodded.  “Lock the heat signature and let the drone take over.  We just need a straight pass. Five hundred feet should do it.”

“Yes, sir!” snapped Airman Occulup.  After punching in a few codes the auto-pilot took over and Occulup released the joystick.  The drone was now two miles out and swooping south, southeast.  A hundred seconds later the camera feed brightened on the screen and images focused.  After about five seconds Mean Old Lady had seen enough.  “Put it back on course now.  That’s just a bunch of gang bangers.”  The drone passed over-head of the carnage and began its climb.  Airman Occulup was about the explain how more efficient it would be to allow the computed flight pattern to complete when the Base Commander grabbed his shoulder and asked, “What’s that?”

The threat radar alarm screeched into the air as the little yellow plume of fire grew larger by the second on the screen.  “Do something!” screamed the Base Commander a split second before the image on the monitor went blank.

Mean Old Lady left without saying a word.

*****

 

Now Chu could breathe.  He was sure two ribs were broken, but he wasn’t bleeding.  He hadn’t been shot again in the last few seconds and this was a good thing.  Rolling onto his side he surveyed the area, nothing but prone bodies and blood spatters.  He started crawling over to Lilith when  Tango whatever popped his head around a large wooden wire spool.  Asshole!  Chu kept crawling.   “Lilith!” he whispered as loudly as his lungs would let him.  “Shut the fuck up!  I’m hunting wabbits!” whispered Jack in return.   Tango whatever stood up with an AK.  BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

When Chu reached Lilith she was barely breathing.  Vests weren’t made to stop close range shotgun blasts, but at least this guy used buckshot.  Slugs would have been much worse.  The bad news was some of the buckshot hit her in the gut.  It was very bloody.  The sight of Phoebe skidding to a stop a few feet away didn’t hurt one bit.  She helped Chu get Lilith into the back seat of the stolen 1988 Monte Carlo before asking, “Where’s Jack?”

“JUST GO!” yelled Chu.  “Jack find own way home!”

*****

 

Tango One was disciplined, and well prepared.  He had a suppressed MP5 with two extra clips, seven pounds of C4 with detonators, and the night vision goggles currently guided his path quite well.  But, he wore leather soled boots and was looking instead of listening.  Tango One made much more noise than Jack’s now bare feet.  Jack could hear him and smell him, he didn’t need to see him.  When he heard the boots stop he knew he had just seconds to act.    Jack snapped into a sprint taking huge steps while bringing the dogs to bear forward from his chest.  Around the winding stairway Jack saw Tango One hold up his hands and smile!  BAM! BAM!  Jack blew both of them off at the wrist sending Tango One crumbling into a heap.  Snatching the satchel he tore open the flap and looked inside.  There was a digital timer, a gaggle of wires and a few bricks of C4.  It wasn’t like in the movies.  Jack simply yanked all the wires out and the bomb was disarmed.  There were thirty minutes left on the detonator!  What the fuck!  Jack dropped the detonator in his cargo pants pocket then checked on Tango One.  In spite of his better judgment he tied off Tango One’s wrists with wire ties before shooting him in the right knee cap.  Leave some scraps for the locals!

Jack’s feet found all sorts of jagged things running back to the fence.  He knew he was on his own.   Sirens and police lights were everywhere but it was clear they hadn’t organized yet.  He popped on his boots, slipped through the fence and did a scan of the area.  Ten minutes later he was in a stolen Buick Reatta headed downtown.

*****

 

Lilith died in his arms three minutes from the ER.  All Chu said was, “Take us home, Phoebe.”  It was the longest short ride Phoebe ever made in her life.  She went around the block twice to give Chu some time to compose himself.  They got her upstairs and into Chu’s bed then Phoebe left them alone.  Chu shut the door and she heard it lock.  That worried her a bit.

Jack limped in a half hour later spitting up blood and leaking it from all over his body.  Pointing at his leg Phoebe asked, “What happened there?”

Jack hadn’t even realized he’d been shot in the leg twice.

“You’d better sit down, Jack.  You been shot in a lot of places.”  Phoebe kept finding new gunshot wounds with her finger.

“How’s Lilith?” he asked before falling unconscious to the floor.

*****

 

Chu pulled seven slugs out of Jack that night.  Three barely punctured the skin, and two had bounced in off of something hard and were more shrapnel than anything else.  But the last two were tricky.  The first was deep in Jack’s shoulder and took Chu a good fifteen minutes to dig out.  As Phoebe closed up that wound Chu went after that last bullet.  It was deep in Jack’s ass and took an hour to wrestle out.  Fifteen minutes later Jack started groaning.  “I don’t have a middle name,” he said.  He didn’t speak again for three days.

When he did wake up Chu was sitting there staring at him.  It was almost as if Chu willed Jack back to consciousness, but then Jack realized he was being poked in the ass wound.  “What the fuck, Chu?”

“Lilith dead.  I bury her in Lake Huron.  No one ever find body,” explained Chu.  “Lilith alive for everybody else.  She shoot Jack up and make getaway.”

Jack didn’t like the second part, but was too weak to argue about it.  “You know, Lilith was working for Margaret Thatcher, Chu.”  Jack felt he just had to get that out of the way immediately.

“I know one month ago,” admitted Chu.  “How you figure out?”

“She asked me my middle name.”

Chu shook his head.  “Didn’t think Jack caught that.”

“So, do you mind telling me what this was all about now?”

“Margaret Thatcher got leaks in panties,” explained Chu patiently.

“I know that, Chu, who the fuck is she leaking to?”

“You not gonna like this, Jack.”

“You always say that, Chu,” replied Jack.  “Just skip to the part where we kill Margaret Thatcher.”

Jack Ass

 

Margaret Thatcher crushed Jack’s cell phone under the heel of her sensible shoe before starting her speech.  Jackie and Ding were cuffed behind their backs and sitting attentively on the couch.  “No more cell phones, no more TV or computers, no more radios, no more Ipads, no more leaving this room after daylight, no more bathroom trips without sun glasses over there watching them, and no more sass or eye rolling!”

“But Jerry Springer marathon start today!” protested Ding.

Margaret Thatcher ignored her.  Sun glass shotgun guys stood behind her grimacing.  She pointed at them now.  “These men get a bonus if they shoot you.”  The girls were sure Margaret Thatcher had more to scold them for but her cell phone went off and that shut her up.   Without so much as a glace she marched out of the room.

“Well, hello, Chu.  How nice of you to call.”

“Chu’s in the other room napping.”  It was Jack.

Margaret Thatcher’s heart skipped a beat.  “Sure he is, Jack.  Prove it.”

Her email alert went off a second later.  There was a photo of Chu’s sleeping head next to the latest edition of the Detroit News.  The headline read, “Cold Snap Coming!”

Back to the phone she asked, “Where’s Lilith?”

“In the wind,” answered Jack.

“Can you prove that, as well?”

“Take me about a week, but you’ll be dead by then.   You’re not the only one wired into that house.  There’s a hundred pounds of C4 secured in strategic places like the one you’re standing over now.  We’ve got sensors everywhere.  Don’t fucking move an inch Margaret Thatcher.”

“Jack, we both know you’d never blow up your future wife just to get at me.”

“Why not?  I have before.”

That sent a chill up Margaret Thatcher’s thin crust spine.

“Tell your dogs to stand down and AMSCRAY the fuck out unless they want to die on this hill with you.  We’ll be there in an hour.  No drones.  I’ll be wired to a mercury switch.  I go down, the ranch goes up, we all go to Hell.  Got that Margaret Thatcher? I’ll be watching from here on. Don’t try to leave.”

“Oh for Heaven’s sake, Jack!  Don’t be so melodramatic!  The watch dogs stay, so if you still want to come the door’s open, you big baby.”  It was the last smart-alecky remark Margaret Thatcher would ever make.  “Hey!” All she saw was gun barrel when she turned around, and Jack’s smiling face.  “Any last words?” he whispered.  When Margaret Thatcher opened her mouth to speak, Jack put a round through it.  Pfffft!   Downstairs Jack heard Pfffft! Pfffft! Pfffft! Pfffft! Pfffft! Pfffft!, then “Clear!”

Now the only problem was what to do with all the bodies?  Six crack hostage guards and one old lady all with various parts of their head’s blown off.  They jammed and crunched the bunch of them in the second Humvee which Chu drove closely followed by Jack in the Shelby.  In about an hour the Humvee was sinking into the depths of Crooked Lake having been run off the dock of at blown up cottage.  One hour later they were back at the ranch where Jackie and Ding cussed them out for not un-cuffing them before leaving.  Jackie stopped bitching first.  A dark stain was snaking its way down Jack’s leg!  “What’s that?”

“It’s not piss, Darlin’!” he said throwing up his hands.

“You still asshole!” spat Ding.  To Chu, “You bigger asshole!”

 

Chu flew to DC for three days and came back laughing his ass off.  He told Ding and Jackie to take a walk then found Jack playing Call of Duty in the living room.  He was getting his pussy took for real.  Chu plopped down on the couch next to Jack and grimaced.  Ribs still feel broken!  Finally Jack tossed the controller to the floor and said, “Fuck you, Chu.  Thanks for not inviting me.  I’m being sarcastic in case you didn’t notice.”

“I get you de-activated again, Jack.  Told them brain cracked in skull. Need one year heal.”  Chu giggled.  “Fools offer million dollar for Lilith.”

“They think Lilith killed Margaret Thatcher and the six dwarfs, right?”

“Fuck yeah. I give them gun you do it with.  Tell them Lilith left behind.  They eat that shit right up, need scapegoat fast, Margaret Thatcher big problem.”  Chu paused and took in a breath.  “First I like thank Academy.”

“Ahhhh shut the fuck up with that shit, Chu.  You’ll never get that weak sauce by me. When do I get my half a mil?”

“Jack, when you move fuck outta my house?  You come here for weekend and never leave.  Ding and me think time move out, and take Jackie with you, Jack.  You stop bleeding, right?”

‘Yeah, two days ago.”

“Doctor Chu pronounce you ready get the fuck out.”

Of course, Jackie and Ding figured this out during their long and boring hours in captivity.  The bags were packed and ready when Chu hit the door.  Asshole Roger even leveraged them first class tickets and ground transportation.  Chu actually found out during the plane ride home when Ding called.  It was part of the plan, and he loved it, really fucking loved it.

“Okay, Chu.  I hear ya’,” drawled Jack.  “Give me another week to start looking and maybe a few more to find the right place.  Shit, I’ll have to move some money around and arrange a real identity.  I don’t even remember where my car is!  Maybe I should call Roger and have him find it.”

“No Jack,” interrupted Chu.  “You leave right now.  Bags in Lambo,  Jackie got tickets.  You get married, stay long time, not call ever, do that romance shit.  Get Jack ass!  Get Jack ass!”

Jackson

 

The last day of every month was report card day, or at least that is what Chu called it.  Jack had no reason to argue.  Like every other day it started with hand to hand combat in the empty barn that smelled like cow shit and was dank as a witch’s G-string.  At precisely nine o’clock in the morning Chu would walk through the south door the scorn on his face looking like it was forged by a blowtorch.  Jack would stumble in the north door a few minutes late, eating a bagel and whistling obnoxious rock n roll songs.  The thing was, he really didn’t even realize how badly this pissed Chu right the fuck off.

They started out with empty hands but Jack always resorted to picking up a hoe or a hammer or a length of chain or a broomstick or a horse shoe—you get my drift.   They fought and didn’t stop fighting with until Jack was knocked down with his back on the manure stained concrete floor.  Chu would then scold Jack for what he did wrong then send him out for his daily ten mile run carrying a car tire or a tree stump or whatever Chu felt like making him bear that morning.  This had been going on for three years now.  On this morning Chu walked into the barn carrying the shiny13th century Kamakura katana, the blade he claimed killed over a thousand brave warriors.  Jack walked in on time on this morning. His hands were empty.  If only brains big as balls!  Chu’s eyes narrowed to slits.  Did Jack have a Neo moment last night, wondered Chu?

They approached and bowed at seven feet.  After that it was for real as it would ever be. Chu never attacked.  Attacking a prepared opponent is very hard and Chu wasn’t there to train himself.  Jack was surprisingly disciplined with his first three jab steps, and they were lightning fast.  Too fucking fast,  faster than ever before fast.  Of course, he went weak side but instead of darting in and out like usual he split the angle feinting a retreat to catch Chu’s lead knee with a heal kick that made him howl like a coyote with a cactus enema.  (Longest sentence in this segment, btw.)  Jack outsmart Chu!   That bacon wreaking paw snatched Chu’s throat a nanosecond before the katana blade trimmed the peach fuzz from the kid’s chin.  Painfully, slowly Jack did a one-armed military press with Chu’s fully rigid body.  “Learned that from David Carradine on Kung Fu reruns.”

“Shut up, Jack.  Put me down now! Choked out Chu”.  It was legit win.   Chu had no choice but to give Jack his props.  “’Bout time, Jack.  I work miracle on Jack dumb ass. We go shoot guns now.”

“I like guns.”

At the shooting range Jack picked up the Beretta 9mm and hit ten tea cups mid-air.  “I don’t even know why we come here,” complained Chu.  The kid wasn’t missing a thing today. “Try something new.  Close right eye.”

POP! POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!

“How’s that?”

“You not Carlos Hathcock yet.

“Carlos who?  Was he like a cowboy or some shit, Chu?  Or did he kill a dinosaur?”

“Shut up, Jack.  Pick up rifle shoot big dildo on fence post.”

Jack picked up the Remington 700 with the fancy scope.  He loved this gun and always slept with it after a good day on the range.  Chu refused him the bipod.  Kneeling to the ground Jack said, “I don’t see no dildo on any fence post?”

“Then Jack fail eye test.  And Jack?”

“What?”

“Shut up, shoot gun.”

Fully prone now and wrapped around the rifle like a python on a piglet, Jack acquired said dildo quickly through the fancy scope.  It was large and veiny with a droopy ball sack.  “If it was flesh colored, it would look just like mine.”

“Shut up, Jack!” barked Chu.

“Chu, are you telling me I have to shoot that dick, at a thousand yards no less, in this wind, uphill and cold bore?”

“One shoot one kill, Jack.  Most honorable way.”

BOOM!

“JACK! YOU IDIOT!  WHY YOU SHOOT SO FAST?  SCARE SHIT OUTTA ME!”

“It’s a circumcised dick now, Chu.”

Leaning into the spotter’s scope, Chu said, “Supposed to hit middle, Jack, left too much dildo on post, must mark down.”

BOOM!

“JACK! STOP FUCKING SHOOTING!”

“Sorry!  Fixed it.”

“Put down gun, Jack!  Done fucking with you today.  Now teach Jack drink whiskey.”

“You mean, I finally passed?” asked Jack reaching for a hug.

“No hug, Jack!  I finally kicking you the fuck out.”

“Would you please just talk like a white person, Chu?  Everyone is complaining how hard it is to read the words coming out of your mouth.”

“Jack, shut up!” barked Chu.

Three hours later the quart of Jack Daniels was nearly dry and Jack hadn’t stopped asking stupid questions for all three hours.  He even made Chu break out the video tapes and photos commemorating his trials and tribulations as Chu’s student.  He was truly sick of this kid.  Chu, in fact, was absolutely sure no one on Earth liked or cared about Jack and never, ever would.  The kid was like a hairy wart on a burning hemorrhoid while you were chained to an electrified torture chair.  No other student had so arbitrarily and frequently told Chu to ‘fuck you’.  At first he just smacked the shit out of the kid.  But that didn’t work so he locked him in a closet for three weeks.  That only made him worse.  Chu read every child rearing book and magazine article he could find but nothing they recommended worked on Jack.  He even tried a ball gag, but even the ones with locks didn’t last long.  This kid got crazy good problem solving skills!

Out of nowhere, Jack asked, “What’s my whole name?”

“Jack Jackson,” chirped Chu.  He saw no reason to expend valuable brain energy on this question.  Besides, truth be told, he didn’t actually know.

“What’s my middle name?”

“Jack have no middle name, just Jack and Jackson.”

“Where was I born?”

“Jackson, Michigan.”

“Fuck you, Chu.  You’re making that shit up.”

“Jack ask, I tell.  Don’t ask questions, not Jack strong suit.”

“Okay, then just tell me how old I am?  I don’t know what I’m supposed to act like.  I look like those kids on That Seventies Show, but I don’t act like them.  You treat me like that Daniel San kid in The Karate Kid, but you act like Uncle Charlie from My Three Sons.  What’s up with that?  I feel like Luke Skywalker but not as girly. But for real, I actually look like The Boz back when he was bad ass before Bo Jackson crushed him.”

“You watch too much TV, Jack, make you retarded.  You not come with owner’s manual.  Grandma drop off tell Chu fix.  Say brain broken, something ‘bout jacking off.  I do best I can.  I never ‘fix’ kid before, only men. No more questions.”

Jack looked a tad distressed for a moment.  He scratched his scalp with one paw and his chin with the other.  But, he shook that shit off soon enough and plowed in another question.  “So, what’s next?  You gonna kick me out?  That’s what everybody else always did.”

“Yup.  Kicking Jack dumb ass out.  Going Bolivia first, then Syria.  Start out easy job and work way up.”

Looking off in the distance Jack shook his head.  “Easy job?  That don’t sound like any fun.”

“Shoot nun.  Easy as pie.”  Chu inspected his fingernails closely.  “Leave in ten minutes.”

“Good!  I hate fucking nuns!  I can’t remember why, but I’m sure I do. Can I take the Remington with that bitchin’ scope and some match grade rounds?”

Nuns had beat the living shit out of Jack at the orphanage in River Rouge, and made him attend mass every fucking day.  He deserved every fucking swat, kick and thumping they put on his young, rebellious, vulgar, obnoxious ass, that was for sure.  But these bitches for sure enjoyed it and that drove Jack nuts!  Grandma’s granddaughter was a sister there and she was bat shit crazy about discipline.  Jack was like her white whale.  This is why Jack couldn’t remember much of his childhood.  Sister Marie put out his lights more times than tornados hit Kansas.  She carried a thirty-eight ounce Louisville Slugger under her habit.  No, a for real baseball type bat, as I said before, she was bat shit crazy about discipline.  Sister Marie was actually half-assed sane about it until Jack shook his erection at her, then said, “Go get me a turkey pot pie, BITCH!”

Sister Marie and her gang zipped Jack up in an equipment bag with a bar of soap in his mouth, but he wasn’t aware of that.  He was unconscious, of course.  When he woke up it was to the sound of a trunk lid creaking open.  The next face he saw, which seemed to take forever, was some Asian guy wearing one of those golf outfits you see in cartoons.  He didn’t look none too happy either.   Then grandma’s face came into view, she was only like eighty back then.  She smiled and said, “You can jack off all you want now, my boy.”

Okay, now back in the present after that terribly long but extremely informative aside, Chu explained how the nun ran an orphanage of three hundred kids in a remote village thirty miles from Punata.  The bad part was she made those kids process coca plants for the Colombian Cartel, and she sold girls to sex traffickers in Guatemala, and she performed basement abortions, and she sold guns to the local rebels.  Of all people, this pissed off the Knights of Columbus in Hamtramck who had sent over a millions dollars to Sister Clarisse’s fake charity web site over the years.  Chu golfed with the guy who broached the contract thing.  “Do on house, Rodney,” spat Chu.  “Send new kid.  He hate nuns.”

“Gun there already, Jack.  Take nothing on airplane.  Boris and Natasha meet at airport.  Do some shopping, see some sights, eat local cuisine, kill nun, get on fishing boat to Syria.  Not complicated, Jack.  Might have to clean fish.”

“Do I get paid for this, Chu?”

“Jack want get paid for shooting nun?  You fucking nuts, Jack?”

So began the killing career of the legendary, Jack Jackson from Jackson.  No matter what kind of crazy fucking mission Chu or Grandma sent him on he just refused to get himself killed.  He’d show up at Chu’s door bragging about his last Op like he was Mohammed Ali punching that rubber gorilla.  Then, Grandma would call and scream about something stupid Jack did during the Op.  These are Chu’s favorite three:

“What moron told that kid to use explosives in Central Park?”

“He’s not authorized to kill agents of the French générale de la sécurité extérieure!”

“A fire, Chu! He said it all burned up in a fire!  Does he really expect me to believe that?  Do you know where he is right now?”

Jack sent Chu postcards from every Op he went on.  It was absolutely the dumbest thing Chu ever experienced from an operative.  The following are three of Chu’s favorites:

Photo of monkeys at the Singapore Zoo.  “Hey Chu, found your uncle. He wants his golf clubs back.”

Photo of the Champs-Élysées:  “Hey Chu, remember that frog you said was a dickweed?  Rivet!

Photo of Niagara Falls:  “Hey Chu, I Lilithed a guy!  Wish you were here!”

And then the packages started arriving.  When Jack started earning Big Boy money he went plum fucking nuts spending it.  A stuffed dolphin was the first thing to arrive, followed by a half a main gun barrel from a Russian T84 assault tank, followed by a hundred pounds of spoiled dates, followed by a Fender Telecaster signed by Keith Richards, followed by a bloodstained hat from the Queen’s Guard Buckingham Palace Detachment, followed by a box full of veiny pink dildos from some company in China.  ‘Tagat Packtis’ was scrawled across that box.  Chu had to build a pole barn to store all Jack’s shit.  He didn’t mind when the jet black Porsche 911 Carrera was delivered with the keys in the ignition.  The title was in glove box and it bore Chu’s name, along with a spot on forged signature.

When Jack got fired, for the first time, the boys threw him a party where Jack bragged about every fucking thing he’d ever done better than anyone else period.  Pointing at every asshole in the room he listed the individual ways he was better than they were.  He was sailing through the frosty Detroit midnight air before anyone remembered the river being frozen two stories below.  “Tuck and roll, Jack!” yelled Chu!  And it’s all fun and games until someone goes to the Emergency Room with a gunshot wound blazed out from the inky darkness by a guy losing battles with sobriety and gravity.  “You assholes not take Jack guns first?” asked Chu incredulously.  “I not responsible for this!”

It was just part of Billy’s ear.

Six days later Jack was rehired, but demoted somehow that in no way affected his net pay.  He started calling himself, Cochise, like the Indian, but people ignored his dumb ass.  Everyone hated working with Jack, especially Chu’s other students.  He was the ‘Oh Shit!’ guy on every Op.  There was no ‘in between’ with Jack, either his mouth or his gun was shooting off constantly.  After Karachi three SEALS resigned their commissions and vowed to kick Jack’s ass with sledge hammers if he ever showed his face wherever the fuck they were ever again.  “Your mom,” Jack replied. “I saved your asses!”

There was no second Jack firing party.  By then everyone knew he was some kind of shit that never went away completely.  If Grandma had known how to work the safety on Agent Prendall’s Walther Jack would’ve been dead the third time she fired him.  “You said terminate with extreme prejudice!” Jack retorted.  He’d strapped three pounds of C4 in a horse saddle.  Unfortunately, the guy rode off with his mistress into Central Park that morning and the tactical comm was ‘hazy’.  Jack did what he always did.  KABOOM!  “It was just a hooker!” was his best defense but he didn’t stop there.  “And the guy, and a couple pedestrians.  And you know, the horses.”

He wasn’t even twenty-one, according to That Seventies Show, and here he was breaking into the freelance gun for hire business.  Chu got him extremely dangerous jobs in extremely far off places just to keep Jack out of his hair, but Jack kept coming back alive.  And the packages, they kept arriving all the time.  Chu refused to accept the Siberian tiger and it cost him a thousand dollars to ship it back where it came from.  When the Russian bride appeared Chu was quick to check the title. SHIT!  JACK!  The note read:  Me so horny!  She lasted almost a month before fleeing with his diamond cufflinks, an antique Colt Peacemaker and the Turbo Carrera.  Her note read:  Fuk U Chu!

Good Riddance!  Jack arrived the next day pretty fucking shot the fuck up.  “Don’t bleed on rug, Jack!” ordered Chu.  It took several hours for Chu to ‘heal’ Jack who wailed like a little girl the whole time.  Finally Chu got around to asking who shot Jack up.

“Tango One,” murmured Jack.

“About time, Jack,” muttered Chu disgustedly.  “Got job in Mexico for Jack, sunshine and fresh air do Jack good.”

“Senioritis and Margaritas, just what I need!  Where in Mexico, Chu?”

“Ciudad Juárez.”

“Not again!”

“Target rich environment, Jack, no murder laws.  Stop at Cabela’s get plenty bullets, kill any Mexican wearing too much bling, Jack.  Take you maybe two month.”

“Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a bunch, Chu!  Give me about a week to heal up and see a real doctor, and then I got to drain the gas out of—“

“No Jack!” interrupted Chu.  “Car coming ten minutes, pack your shit, Jack!

And here is when the story about Jack killing four guys before getting out of bed came true.  The bed belonged to the ruthless, drug running hombre Hector DeSlicer Los Expresso.  Jack was sharing that bed with Hector’s sex crazed eighteen year old daughter when Hector and his body guards burst through the door.  At that very moment Jack was begging for anal, and Franchessa was saying no fucking way in Spanish.  The bodyguards must have figured Jack for easy pickings as they charged in without their guns drawn.  Either did Jack, but his were under the pillow making them much easier to get to.  Nine BAMS! later Jack took aim on Franchessa’s sweaty forehead.  “You set me up!”

“I marry you now, Jack!” she cried.

BAM! barked right dog.

And so it went for the next couple of years until one Jack day had enough and grew homesick.  He showed up looking hang dog at Chu’s front door and said, “I want to hear people speak American!”  Chu got him work with the Detroit Mob and that ended with the start of this story.

See Jack one.

Cracker Jack

 

DOG TEAM 1 Tactical Mics NSA recording 4-55679ME-9. As Suwayda, Syria. Operation Cheese Whiz.  Transcript as requested. EVAL Protocol Easy Niner.

 

Moe:  This must be the place.  I’d ambush me here.

Larry: Roger that.  I’d kill the fuck outta me here. It’s perfect!

Curly: Where are you guys?  I don’t see nothin’!  Can I lock and load now?

Moe:  Shut the fuck up, Jack.

Larry:  Where in the fuck did you find this kid, Moe?

Curly:  Am I fucking Curly or am I fucking Jack?  And I’m not a kid, asshole!

Moe:   Shut up, Jack!  Okay, it’s run the fuck away time.  Curly, you got point.  Don’t fuck up!

Larry:  He don’t know what point is, Moe.

Curly:  Yeah, I do! That means I’m in charge and you guys have to follow wherever I go.

Moe:  Curly, get your ass in gear, Boy!  Larry, go kick Jack in the ass!

Larry:  Roger that.

Curly:  I’m gonna kick your mom in the ass!

Moe:  Jack, Curly, asshole, just fucking watch for tangos, you moron.  I don’t want to get killed tonight!

Larry:   Roger that.

Curly:  I got Tangos!

Moe:  Jack, don’t shoot until Larry gets–.

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!

Larry:  Asshole!

Curly:  Tangos down!  This is just like that Call of Duty shit!  Can we call in an air strike?

Moe:   Jack, stop shooting shit!

Larry:  Holy shit, TWO O’CLOCK!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Jack, who fuckin’ trained your dumb ass?

Curly:  Your mom.

Moe:  Shut up, Jack!  Okay, let’s dee dee the fuck out of here.  Jack, take us to hide one.

Larry:  He’ll never find it, Moe.  Let me take point.

Curly:  TANGOS!

Moe:  Shoot!

Larry:  Break left, Moe!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!…. PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Larry:  That last one was mine!

Curly:  Balcony!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Jack, you think maybe we’re going in the wrong fucking direction?

Larry:  DUCK!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Okay, enough of this shit!  I got point, Larry on my six.  Curly just keep killing shit!

Larry:  GRENADE!

KABOOM!

Curly:  My bad!

Moe:  Larry, put that fucking monkey in the fucking middle NOW!

Larry:  Jack!  Shoot the—

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

KABOOM!

Larry:  –guy in the suicide vest!  Asshole!  Moe, get us the fuck out of here!  Jack, you asshole, next time shoot him in the head not the vest!

Curly:  DUCK!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Damn it, Jack!

Larry:  Whooaah!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!

Moe:  RPG!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Larry:  Nice fucking shooting, Jack!  Out-fucking-standing!

Moe:  Suck Jack’s dick later, three o’clock!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Curly:  OUT!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Jack!  You asshole!

Curly:  UP!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Larry:  You killed the fuck out of that mule, Curly!

Moe:  Jack, stop fucking shooting!

Larry:  Curly, shoot that guy!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Curly:  Like that?

Larry:  Yeah, just like fucking that!

Moe:  Hey, we’re fucking clear ahead. MOVE PEOPLE!

Larry:  CURLY!  Leave that asshole’s ear alone!

Moe:  Jack, check our six!

Curly:  Six fucking what?  How come you guys won’t tell me anything?

Larry:  Moe, can we please go home now?

Moe:  Affirmative.

Larry:  Curly, you got left.

Curly:  Right.

Larry:  Left, Asshole!  LEFT!

Moe:  Shut up!  Some moron in DC probably hear this shit and think we’re nucking futs!

Larry:  Well, we fucking are nucking futs!  Curly, your other left!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Curly:  Fuck you, I thought I saw movement.

Moe:  Jack, don’t—

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Oh shit!  Rooftop!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Who fucking taught you how to shoot, kid?

Curly:  Your mom!

Moe:  If we live through this shit I’m gonna kill your ass, Curly!  Larry, throw the comm!

Larry:  Roger that…….We got three minutes to kill.

Moe:  Don’t tell ‘em they’re coming in hot or they’ll chickenshit out and leave us.

Larry:  Roger that.

Moe:  Jack, I want you to kill anything that ain’t us.

Curly:  Now you tell me!  Hey, I think I need some more bullets.

Moe:  Larry, just shoot that asshole now before I have to.

Larry:  Roger that.  Hey Curly, where do you want it?

Curly:  In your mom.

Larry:  Hey Moe, how about I just shoot him in the balls?

Moe:  Ahhhhh shit!  Jack! Nine o’clock!

Curly:  That’s a TRUCK!  I never shot a truck before.

Moe:  SHOOT!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Curly: OUT!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Damn it, Jack!  I want you never to be out of ammo again!  Larry, give that asshole a clip!

Larry:  Shit!  Evac is early!  What the fuck?

Moe:  MOVE!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Curly:  I missed one!

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt!

Moe:  BREAK RIGHT!

Curly:  Your mom!

Larry:  Where the fuck did you come from anyway, Curly?  Why we dragging your dumb ass on this Op?

Curly:  Fort your mom and you guys are supposed to be training me, but I ain’t learning shit!  What a rip off!  You guys don’t even have any tats!

Larry:  Are you six years old or what, Curly”

Curly:  Is your mom is six years old?

Moe:   Would you two just shut the fuck up already and do your fucking jobs?  We gotta get our story straight.

Larry:  What?  We got scared and ran the fuck away.  Curly shot up half the fucking population and a mule but we got away anyway?  That story?  You mean the truth?”

Moe:  It would help if one of us was wounded.

Larry:  Don’t look at me.  I ain’t doin’ that shit three times!

Curly:  What chu talkin’ bout, Willis?

Moe:  Jack, you gotta shoot yourself.

Larry:  Yeah, Curly, it’s your turn.

Curly:  Tell your mom to shoot herself!  You can jack me off if you think for a second I’m stupid enough to shoot myself!

Moe:  Then, Larry’s gotta shoot you, Jack. This is what they mean when they say ‘take one for the team’.

Larry:  Yeah, Curly, what Moe said.

Curly:  I am not, repeat not, gonna shoot myself no matter what you assholes say!  You guys ain’t the fuckin’ boss of me!  I ain’t even really in the fucking army!

PPFfftttt!

Curly:  ASSHOLE!  ASSHOLE!  YOU JUST SHOT ME!

Moe:  Think of it this way, Jack.  They’ll give you a medal.

Larry:  Sorry Curly, I had to do it.

Curly:  No you didn’t!  What’s the matter with you guys?  I saved you asses!

Moe:  Oh yeah, Jack, thanks tons.  Larry will jack you off now if you want.

Larry:  Yeah Curly, let me find my tweezers.

Moe:  You’re a fucking crack baby aren’t you, Jack?

Larry:  You eat pickles, Curly?

Curly:  Fuck you!  Give me your mom’s Tampax!  I need a bandage.

Moe:  Come on, Jack, we’ll carry you onto the chopper, do the whole wounded hero shit.

Larry:  You can tell everybody how you saved our asses.

Curly:  But, we failed the mission.  Won’t your mom be pissed?

Moe:  We fail over ninety-five percent of the time, Curly.  And do you want to know why?  It’s because intelligence sucks huge donkey balls, that’s why.

Larry:  But today’s it’s because they saddled us with your dumb ass, Curly.

Curly:  But, we at least killed a bunch of guys, and that is a good thing, right?

Moe:  You didn’t kill any women or children did you Jack?  They’re really cracking down on that shit.

Curly:  No kids, one woman, but she was flipping me off…with her finger…that was like attached to her hand which was attached to her arm.”

Larry:  “So, you’re trying to say she was armed, right Jackass?  Is that the pun you’re trying to pass?”

Jack: Worked on your mom.

Moe:  Well, in that case, good fucking job as long as you didn’t shoot her in the fucking crotch or nothing, Jack.  You didn’t shoot her in the crotch, did ya?”

Curly:  Forehead.  She had a mole there.

Larry:  Time to go, Moe.

PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!  PPFfftttt! PPFfftttt!

Moe:  Jack!  Stop that shit!

Curly:  I thought I saw a pussy cat!

Larry:   Asshole!

Moe:  Cut the fuckin’ comm link Larry.

Larry:  Roger that!

Curly:  I wanna hear you guys bark like a dog!  Come on, we’re the dog team, after all!  Let’s bark, DOGS!  AHHHHHWOOOOOOOO!

Moe:  Shut the fuck up, Jack!  SEALS don’t bark, you moron!  We’re ‘sposed to be silent!  That’s why we use silencers and are always sneaking around at night.

Curly:  Can Larry jack me off now?

Larry:  I bet you don’t even have any hair on that thing yet, kid.

Curly:  Your mom does.

 

Jack Shit

 

After roughly a year of marriage Ding was beginning to wear on Chu.  He still appreciated the fact she kept a semi-clean house, would cook two meals a day for him, and remained a wildcat in the sack, but other than that he didn’t have much use for her.  He needed the company of peers, or at least some fools who thought they were peers.  So, when Jack and Jackie showed up with Roger, Marcus, Jacques and Vlad Chu was ecstatic to have intelligent people to talk with for a change.   The girls cooked up tubs of grub and filled other tubs with ice cubes to chill the boatload of booze they sent Jack after.  At midnight they knew enough to disappear.  It was ‘man time’.  Real women wouldn’t want no part of that shit.

There is only one way to recount the conversation and that is to go to the tape which the NSA thought they were secretly recording.

 

Chu:  Nice tattoo, Jack.  Who is, Jockie?

Jack: It’s Jackie.  Vlad just fucked up the ‘a’ part.  Somebody want to tell me how I get caught up in this stupid little fucking prank of yours anyway?

Marcus:  Chu paid us.

Jacques:   He made us an offer we could not refuse.

Vlad:  Which we still not paid for!

Marcus:  Oh, we getting’ paid alright.  I ain’t leaving here until I do, at least.

Chu:  You get money.

Jack:  Well, you didn’t have to drug us.  Jackie’s still pissed about that.  She thinks Jacques was feeling her butt.

Jacques:   After that little SNAFU with Chu and Ding we couldn’t take any chances, Jack.  Sorry, but ‘safety first’ is our new motto!  Anyway, I barely touched her butt for more than a few minutes.

Roger:  Geez, Jack, there is so much you don’t know.  How in the fuck you stayed alive so long is a fucking miracle!  You guys know what this asshole did?

Marcus:  I know he thinks he killed Tango One.

Vlad:  No, I think Roger talk ‘bout Grandma.

Jacques:  You’re both wrong.  Roger is obviously talking about when Jack boned Lilith in chopper coming back from Mozambique and Jack didn’t know she had the crabs.

Chu:  Jack say Lilith give blow job!

Marcus:  And you believed him?

Jack:  I never said I killed Tango One.  I said I blew off his hands and knee cap, and Lilith did in fact blow me.

Marcus:  That wasn’t Tango One, Jack.  That was a deep cover Pakistani intelligence officer, and let me tell you, he’s pissed!  He puts up his hands to surrender, and you shoot them off?  What were you thinking?

Vlad:  Yeah, Jack.  You moron!  You not see timer at thirty minute?  Why you think he do that shit, Jack?

Jack: You’re all full of bullshit!

Jacques:  It’s the truth, Jack.  Marcus beat Tango One to death with his left arm years ago.  Marcus, wasn’t that in Tikrit?

Vlad:  Fallujah, and Tango One bleed out after Marcus rip arm off and light on fire.

Roger:  Yeah, what was up with that, Marcus?

Marcus:  So I could put in the report I killed him with a firearm.

[LAUGHTER]

Chu:  Marcus, sometime I think you more fucked up than Jack.

Jack:  Fuck you, Chu.

Jacques:  Jack, did you really shoot that guy in the ass with an elephant gun?

Jack:  It was a goose gun, Jacques, with hot rounds.

Marcus:  It’s a miracle you actually hit him, Jack.  Wasn’t he like six feet away or something?

Vlad:  Jack deadly inside six feet, Marcus.  Never miss.

[LAUGHTER]

Jack:  At least I didn’t let Ding shoot me in the ass, Marcus!

Marcus:  At least I didn’t let some peckerwood blow off my big toe, Jack!

Chu:  Jack get shot in ass too, Marcus!  I take bullet out.  See skid marks all over Jack underpants.

[LAUGHTER]

Roger:  Hey!  Stop insulting Jack already.  Fuck, he killed Grandma, after all.  You guys should be buying him drinks!

Jacques:  Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

Vlad:  Here, here!

Chu:  Jack ask if Grandma rob Margaret Thatcher wardrobe.

Marcus:  Jack, you one of them crazy ass suckers that never learn, aren’t you?

Jack:  Fuck you.

Vlad:  Jack got last laugh on Grandma.

Jack:  I shot her right in the mouth from like a foot away.

Marcus:  And you still managed to hit her?  Jack, have you been practicing?  Shooting old ladies is some hard ass shit, my brother!

Jacques:  Did you use a silver bullet?  You never can be too sure!  I can think of two gentlemen I shot in the mouth who lived until I shot them again.  They were Bulgarians.  Bulgarian’s are hard to kill, just like Jack.  Jack, maybe you come from Bulgaria?

Marcus:  Yeah, Jack, they jack off a lot in Bulgaria.

Jack: Fuck you both.

Vlad:  Company find body yet, Roger?

Roger:  Nah, nobody really looked very hard in the first place.  Everybody hated that bitch.  They’re more interested in catching up with Lilith.  That little cunt is proving very had to locate.  I got a hundred operators, three drones and a fucking satellite looking twenty-four seven and haven’t even got a sniff of her ass.  I even got a team on Chu here.  Willoughby thinks Lilith will circle the fuck back.  He’s such a by-the-book idiot.  It’s costing the taxpayers millions.

Chu:  Bet fifty large you not find Lilith in one year, Roger. You pay, I take you meet Lilith.

Jacques:  I’d like a piece of that, Chu!  Put me down for fifty on Roger.

Vlad:  You bet against Chu, Jacques?

Jacques: What can I say?  I think he’s due.

Marcus:  Roger’s a fuck up.  Put me down for fifty on Chu.

Roger:  You’re on, assholes.  Roger gonna get paid!

Jack:  I just wanna know if they found out who Margaret Thatcher was selling the intel to.  Chu wouldn’t tell me, said it would make me too mad.

Roger:  She was selling it to Chu, you big dummy!  How did you not see that?

Jack: Bullshit.

Chu:  It true, Jack.  I make ton of money off Margaret Thatcher, sold all her shit to the Russians.  She tell me kill Lilith.

Jack:  In-fucking-credible!

Jacques:  Oh grow up, Jack. We all do that sort of thing.  It’s expected of us!  It’s the American way!

Vlad:  I sell same shit Chu sell to Russians back to Americans and mark up ten percent, Jack.  It Russian way, too.

Marcus:  All’s fair in love and war, Jack.  Blame it on free enterprise.

Jack:  You’re all a bunch of fucking traitors!

Jacques:  Very rich traitors, Jack, it’s how the game is played.  You see, in a totally paranoid and delusional environment such as where we exist…oh I forgot the rest, drink up, Jack!

Chu:  You should talk, Jack!  You one steal hundred million dollar from cartel, tell Margaret Thatcher burn in fire.

Marcus:  What?

Chu:  Yeah, and then he empty Carmen safe only leave Chu a lousy couple mil.  How much really in safe, Jack?

Jack:  Fuck, I don’t know, three bags full.  I didn’t count that shit.

Chu:  Then how know Chu get half, Jack?  How know?

Roger:  I only got a lousy hundred fucking K!

Jack:  That’s ‘cause your intel sucks ass, Roger!

Marcus:  Sure do.  Roger, you know that asshole in Karlstad you sent me to?  He’s a damn fag!  Asshole tried grabbing my junk!

Roger:  You’re such a racist, Marcus.  Dude was just checking you for a wire.

Marcus:  In the sauna?

[LAUGHTER]

Jacques:  You know Lilith killed a guy in a sauna once.

Vlad:  Two guys, Jacques, other guy civilian.  Wrong place, wrong time.

Jacques:  Thank you for pointing that out, Vlad.

Vlad:  Not problem.

Jacques:  I seem to remember she fiddled with the thermostat and then parked a car up against the door.  I guess it was like if you put a salmon through a dishwasher cycle.  All their flesh and meat just fell off their bones.

Vlad:  They in there three days.

Marcus:  Dishwasher?  What the fuck you know about a dishwasher, Jacques? Your metaphors suck ass!

Chu:  Marcus judging metaphors.  Hell freezing over now.

Marcus:  I’m the only one here who done went to college, Chu.

Jacques:  You went on a football scholarship, Marcus.  They kicked you out after you got caught raping the mascot!  You were only there a week.

[LAUGHTER]

Jack:  He wasn’t really raping it, Jacques.  I heard it was consensual.

Roger:  In Georgia it’s legal if you get the permission of both parents.

Vlad:  I no see what big deal is.  Do that shit in Russia all time.

Chu:  Jack can dance.

Marcus:  No he can’t.  Only black men can dance.

Chu:  No, Jack can dance.

Jack:  I thought we came out here to talk shop?

Jacques:  Perhaps Jack can give us a demonstration.  Get up and twirl around a bit, Jack.

Roger:  Yeah, Jack, shake that ass!

Marcus:  I don’t even want to see that.

Chu:  Jack break Marcus record, too.

Marcus:  No he didn’t!

Jacques:  Oh my GOD!  No one thought that record would ever be broken. Maybe Vlad when he turned eighty and finally used that tactical nuke he stole from the Jews, but even that was a bit iffy.

Marcus:  No, Jack didn’t break my mother fucking record, Jacques.

Chu:  Margaret Thatcher put Jack over top.

Jack:  What record?

Roger:  What the fuck, Chu?  You didn’t even tell the kid?

Chu:  Jack work three year Mexico.  He kill four guys before he get out bed in morning.  Close gap with Marcus.

Marcus:  Roger, you sure you counting those two in Montreal?

Roger:  That was a car accident, Marcus!  You were at a red light and that idiot and his wife plowed into your ass end and went through the windshield!

Marcus:   So?

Roger:  Tell him, Chu.

Chu:  Not count, Marcus.

Marcus:  I bet if I was white they’d count!

Chu:  Write letter.  Send Dr. King.  Go have dream, Marcus, but Jack still number one.

Jacques:  You haven’t taken a job for almost two years now, Marcus!   I told you to kill that waiter in LA, but you wouldn’t listen.  What did you expect?

Marcus:  I can’t kill a black man for being late with my soup!  If he was white I might could, but not a brother man.

Roger:  Just accept it, Marcus.  Jack is a fucking lean, mean, killing fucking machine and now you’re just the next dude in line.  Jack is new school, and you’re old and busted.

Marcus:  That’ll be the day.

Jack:  What’s the prize?

Chu:  Shut up, Jack!  Adults talking.

Vlad:  Hey Jack, what Vlad middle name?

Jack:  Asshole.

Jacques:  You did it wrong, Vlad!  You have to ask Jack’s middle name.

Roger:  Same difference.

Chu:  Quiet!  Everyone!

[FART NOISE.  LAUGHTER]

Roger:  Jack, tell everyone that shit you said to Grandma right before you blew her brains out.

Jack:  You mean the part where she said she knew I would never kill my future wife, or the part about last words?

Roger:  Yeah, that shit.

Marcus:  Jack can’t tell stories for shit.

Jacques:  He’s much too angry, much like yourself, Marcus.

Marcus:  Fuck you, Jacques.

Chu:  That remind me, Jack sweep porch for bugs?

Jack:  No.  I went out and got Vlad’s shitty vodka and the Colt 45 for Marcus.

 

[FIVE MINUTE SILENCE]

 

Marcus:  Jack, you’re such an asshole.  We done said all kinds of shit up in here already!

Jacques:  No harm, no foul.

Roger:  Marcus’ just mad ‘cause he’s not the king anymore.

Vlad:  Roger, Chu tell me you steal drone.

Roger:  I didn’t steal nothing, I just took control after the operator fucked up.

Jacques:  Well, where is this mystery drone now?

Roger:  Who the fuck knows?  I sent it back to Selfridge but it never got there.

Chu:  Good thing your name not Pinocchio, Roger.

Marcus:  I could really use me one of those things right about now, Roger.  Do it have them Hellfire missiles on it?

Roger:  I told you, it got away.

Jacques:  Stick to your guns, Roger!

Chu:  Good have you guys back here.

Vlad:  Good be back, Chu.

Jacques:  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

Marcus:  Word.

Roger:  You da man, Chu!

Jack:  Is this where we pick partners and go jack each other off?

Chu:  Throw Jack in pool.

 

[LAUGHTER, THREATS, GUNFIRE, SPLASHING]

 

Jack:  You guys fight like girls.

Chu:  Shut up, Jack!

Jacques:  Chu, these towels smell like spring time.  What do you wash them with?

Marcus:  Yeah, this shit smell real good.

Chu:  Ding wash towels.

Roger:  Give me one of those things.  I wanna smell, too!

Vlad:  Smell like lilacs.

Marcus:  Hey writer guy, go get me another Colt!

Chu:  You not supposed talk writer guy, Marcus.  Stop aiming gun at him.

Marcus:  I will when Vlad do.

Vlad:  I aim over writer head.  This is Jack’s gun, Marcus.  It fucking hand canon.

Marcus:  I know that. Who else shoot a big stupid looking gat like that?

Jack:  Your mom.

Marcus:  You went there?

Chu:  Shut fuck up both you.

Jacques:  Marcus, I got ten large that says Jack can out shoot you with that gun any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Marcus:  Bullshit.

Vlad: Put money where mouth is, Marcus.

Roger:  I’m with Jacques.

Chu:  Jack outshoot all you assholes.  Best natural shooter I ever see.  Step big, Marcus, fifty grand.

Marcus:  Bullshit.  Let’s do this.

Jack:  I’ll shoot left handed, Marcus. Give you a fighting chance.

 

[UNIDENTIFIED NOISES, CURSING, LAUGHTER, GUNFIRE 47 MINUTES]

 

Jacques:  Pay up Marcus.

Marcus:  Fuck you!  I told you, I lost my contact lens so the bet was off.

Vlad:  Jack win fair and square, Marcus.  You sore loser.

Roger:  Who wears a contact lens in only one eye?

Marcus:  I do motherfucker, you got a problem with that?  I got that one eye shit disease, ambliopieah.  It generic, my momma give it to me.

Roger:  Whatever.

Jack:   You suck, Marcus.  Maybe you should start using shotguns and shit.

Marcus:  Fuck you, Jack, little punk ass white motherfuckering asshole Clutch Cargo looking–!

Chu:  Throw Marcus ass in pool!

 

[LAUGHTER, THREATS, GUNFIRE, SPLASHING]

 

Chu:  Why throw in deep end?  You know Marcus can’t swim”

Vlad:  He fast learner.

Jacques:  No, Vlad. He just sank to the bottom and ran out.

Marcus:  Fuck all of you.  Try that shit again, I dare you!  I triple dog fucking dare you!

Chu:  Jacques tell Lady Di story.  Shut fools up.

Jacques:  Do I have to, Chu?

Chu:  Either that or go in pool.

Jack:  What Lady Die story?

Marcus:  Like the one where you shot Tupac, Jack.  I still don’t believe that shit.  Jacques lying his ass off, fucking fairy tale what it is.

Vlad:  Jack really shoot Tupac, Marcus.  Vlad there.

Roger:  You never said why, Jack.

Jack:  I hate that rap music shit.  It ain’t American.

Marcus:  Here we go again.  White bread motherfucker telling us what good music is.

Chu:  Shut up, Marcus!  Jacques, tell story.

Jacques:  Okay, if you insist.  It was a dark and stormy night and all through the house–

Chu:  You want go in pool, Jacques?  Tell story right.

Jacques:  Alright, here we go, boys.  I got a call from a friend who knew this guy who was in close with the Royal Family and he intimated there was a definite interest in a certain princess being…I don’t know, brought to heel.  He said something else, but what that was escapes me right now.

Jack:  Was it that guy the IRS killed last year?

Jacques:  You mean the IRA, Jack, and no, it was not that guy.  The Royal Family typically doesn’t socialize with the Irish Republican Army.  Anyway, one thing led to another and I found myself in perfect position to persuade that snot nosed little brat that she should start behaving herself and stop embarrassing her family in every which way.

Vlad:  I got Lady Di tea cup and saucer. Be worth millions one day!

Marcus:  Shut up, Vlad.  Don’t nobody care about your shit.

Jacques:  Anyway, I was in tight with the head of security at the Ritz and after a little cajolery—

Marcus:  What the fuck is cajolery?  You making that shit up, Jacques!

Roger:  It means he jacked the guy off.

Jack:  How much did you have to cajole this guy, Jacques?

Chu:  You idiots shut up.  Let Jacques tell story.

Jacques:  Thank you, Chu.  Anyway, I made it into the limousine with the chauffer’s uniform the security director loaned me, and told the driver I was the official driving supervisor.

Marcus: And he believed that shit?

Jacques:  I was very convincing.

Vlad:  Jacques stuck gun in ribs.

Jacques:  Yes, I did, Vlad, thank you very much.  Well, then the paparazzi engulfed the car and Dodo and the princess came out and in the ensuing confusion I drugged the real driver and stomped the gas pedal just as we were pulling away.  Dodo and the princess were so busy looking out the back window at the paparazzi they didn’t see that rather large concrete pillar we were heading right for in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.

Marcus:   How come you didn’t get killed?

Chu:  Shut up, Marcus!

Jacques:  Because I was the only one prepared for the collision.

Jack:  Why didn’t you just shoot the bitch?

Jacques:  Because Jack, I was supposed to Lilith her.  They didn’t want a scandal.

Jack:  You see that’s why I never do assassinations.

Chu:  You shoot vice premier of Peru, Jack!

Jack:   But not for political reasons.  That was strictly business.

Roger:  Yeah Jack, political business.

Chu:  Shut the fuck up both of you!

Jacques:  And we hit the wall and I ran away before anyone saw me and they blamed it all on the driver.  The end.

Chu:  Tell part stiff you for bill.

Jacques:  They never paid me.  The End, again.

Marcus:  Nigger never let that shit happen, Jacques.

Chu:  Stop using ‘n’ word!  Marcus go back in pool.

Jack:  Marcus, what the fuck is that on your neck?

Marcus:  A fucking tattoo.  You got a problem with it?

Jack:  Looks like a red dollar sign you fucked up trying to cover up.

Roger:  Yeah, Jack, you fucked up Marcus’ gig.  He was supposed to infiltrate the Black Death MC and take them down.

Jack:  Well, excuse the fuck out of me!

Marcus:  You know, Jack, I had to off a cop to get that gig.

Jack:  You shot a cop?

Vlad:  A crooked cop, Jack.

Marcus:  Shot his ass in the face.

Jack:  Who fucked up fixing that dumb shit?

Roger:  That would be me.

Marcus:  I should’ve had Vlad do it, but I didn’t think he could spell a dollar sign.  They don’t be having that kind of shit over in Russia.

Jack:  Looks like a dick shitting a turd.  Good thing you’re black, Marcus, or that shit would really stick out.

Roger:  What do you expect?  I was drunk as Hell and doing lines of coke all afternoon.

Vlad:  You right, Marcus.  Vlad do better.

Jacques:  I don’t know, I kind of like it, Marcus.  It has the whole post-modern impressionist psychopath thing going on.  I really think it speaks to your troubled inner child and restless nature.  It’s totally bereft of taste and style.

Marcus:  I got your fucking inner child berefting right here, Jacques!

Vlad:  Always about Marcus dick.

Marcus:  Fuck all of you.  I hope all your dicks die in a fire.

Jack:  What is with you guys and dicks?

Jacques:  Funny you should ask that particular question, Jack.

Marcus:  One in a million shot, Jacques.

Jacques:  Aren’t they all!

Roger:  Yeah, speaking of dicks, Jack, what the Hell were you thinking impersonating an FBI agent?  That asshole was their poster boy!  They know it was you, Jack!  I had to tell ‘em you were from Australia!

Jacques:  He did what?  I didn’t hear about that part.

Roger:  Oh yeah, then he used the guy’s credit cards to bail his silly ass out of jail.

Marcus:  And don’t forget the black chick.

Jacques:   That’s against the law!  Jack, I’m surprised at you!  Arrest this man!

Jack:  I was having a bad day.  Sue me!

Chu:   Quit whining, Jack.

Jacques:  I’ve been meaning to ask, Jack, why did you hold a shootout in the football stadium of the University of Michigan?  And, as a follow up, why did you blow that poor child’s brains out on block M?

Chu:  Tell Jacques football helmet story, Jack.

Marcus:  Jack can’t tell stories for shit, Chu.

Vlad:  Need no helmet for football in Russia!

Marcus:  Shut the fuck up, Vlad.  I wanna hear this.

Jack:  Tom Brady gave me that helmet.

Roger:  What for?

Jack:  We were in a bar one night and he mouthed off to some asshole who just happened to have a gun on him so I socked him in the brain.  And then I socked the bouncer in the brain, too.  I socked a bunch of people that night, even some dude’s girlfriend.  I don’t remember why, but I’m sure she deserved it.

Jacques:  Either Jack has PTSD or a drinking problem, or both.

Vlad:  Jack mentally ill.

Marcus:  What’d you expect?  Chu babied his ass.

Chu:  I not baby Jack.

Jacques:  Yes, you did, Chu.  Who was Jack’s first assignment?

Chu:  Nun.

Jacques:  The prosecution rests.

Marcus:  That’s what I’m talking about.

Jack:  That nun had a mean streak in her a mile wide!

Vlad:  Don’t hate on Jack.

Roger:  Jack, you shot her in the back from a quarter mile away.  Chu told me all about it.  He said you wore a rosary for the next year.

Chu:  Jack scared shitless.  Think God come down from Heaven and kill him.  Have nightmares and everything.

Jacques:  Chu, thanks to you we all have nightmares.  Isn’t that right?

Vlad: Sometimes when awake.

Marcus:  I hate them things.

Roger:  My wife sticks a thumb up my butt to stop them.  It works, but I hate that shit.

Chu:  Nightmares good.  Make you regret sins.

Jack:  What sins?

Vlad:  Vlad not sin.

Jacques:  In order to have the concept of sin, you must have the concept of a god.  I reject that notion, but I pray every day I’m wrong.

Marcus:  Don’t sit next to me anymore, Jacques.  Baby Jesus is gonna fucking kill your fucking ass for sayin’ shit like that!

Vlad:  Vlad think he like Hell.  Russian winters getting old.

Jacques:  Baby Jesus is going to fucking kill my fucking ass?  Marcus, is that in the Bible?

Roger:  I’m going for the old death bed confession.  You know, make it into Heaven without having to do all that heavy lifting and shit.

Jack:  Me too.  Until then, I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I wanna do.

Chu:  If Jackie let you.

Jack:  If Ding let you, Chu!

Chu: What that mean, Jack?

Jacques:  I’m going to bed.  I refuse to talk religion with a gang of psychopathic hitmen, and Roger.  Thank you all for an evening I’ll never be able to forget.

Vlad:  Me too, Jacques.

Marcus:  Yeah, me too, early day tomorrow.

Roger:  Yeah, fuck it.  I gotta be back in DC tomorrow for that hearing about that missing drone.  Need to be fresh.

Chu:  It’s five thirty in morning, Roger!

Roger:  Fuck it.

Jack:  Good night, girls.  Don’t worry, Jack will stay up and watch the perimeter, keep all you old farts safe.  Hey writer guy, get the fuck out of here before I shoot your fucking dick off.  I wanna be alone.