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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Chapter 16

“Upsy daisy,” I said, calling my bike to the surface. I heard a slight gasp from Dru. I turned around with a smile on my face. Dru’s eyes raced back and forth, I think she was wondering where the hidden mirrors were. I didn’t take the time to explain it to her. I gave her some partial truth. “It’s a hidden storage area; a voice activated hidden storage area.” That was believable, right?

I gave her my only helmet as she hopped on without question. I fired the bike up and streamlined our way into the grayish dusk of the late afternoon.

She instinctively gripped me around my waist and I instinctively grinned. It felt nice. We raced down to the district and parked near the same spot I had the day prior.

“Stay,” I told my bike. It listened as usual. Dru looked at me like I was crazy; I didn’t bother to explain it to her. I hoped something would come up so I could show her my capabilities, instead of telling her. It would be easier that way.

We walked to the entrance of Night Shade and stared at the line extending around the corner. We didn’t have much time to begin with, let alone waste standing in a line with a hoard of gelled haired too much cologne wearing youngsters.

The bouncer blocking the door wore a simple black shirt, stretched beyond its physical limits, with the word ‘Security’ on the front. He was tall, dark and extremely muscular. He represented the standard type of person that worked in this line. We headed to the front of the line and I pulled a $50 from my pocket, hid it in my palm, and gave the brawny man a handshake.

He pulled the rope back and let us enter, much to the distaste of the crowd. It’s amazing what a simple piece of paper could do.

The club was loud.

The club was extremely loud.

Was I too old for this scene already?

There was a bar to the right as soon as you walked in. Three bartenders hustled back and forth but there were far too many drinkers than there were people who could help them.

The wait would have been agonizing for anyone with a real need to drink. You would wait twenty minutes for a drink and pay $12 for a draft beer, it’s easier to get drunk at home and play video games online. Online the people you cuss at have no idea who you are; it’s a win, win.

The lights flashed to the beat of the music. There was an outdoor patio on the other end of the building for the smokers. They huddled together, shoulder to shoulder. Not only were they smoking their own cigarettes, but they were also second-hand smoking everyone else’s, doubling the pleasure.

Lines everywhere for everything: the bathroom, the secondary bar outside, and even the DJ’s booth–It’s hard to get your groove on if the right jam wasn’t playing through the speakers.

Dru had a picture of her brother with her and we decided that the bar would be the best place to start; bartenders are the Wikipedia of the socialite world.

The wait had to be long because there was a line about 5 deep at the bar. Oddly enough it had only felt like a minute, the combination of the lights flashing and the music thumping had put both of us in a trance. This place should come with a warning: If you have history of seizures or heart attacks please do not enter.

A male, younger than me, very tan, and sporting a million dollar smile finally came over to help us.

“Good evening you two, what can I get you to drink?” He asked a little hurried but understandably so.

Dru took the lead, pulling the picture from her sweatshirt.

“Do you remember seeing this person?” She asked thrusting the picture close to the man’s face.

“Yea, Webb, he comes here all the time.”

“You mean he came here all of the time,” she said with uncontrolled emotion.

“Right, sorry about that,” he said.

It was my turn. Dru didn’t need to get too emotional, too soon. She pulled her arm away from the bartender and put the picture back into her pocket.

“Did you know Webb personally?” I asked.

“I knew him, yea. He would come in here with Deals a couple times a week.”

The bartender started looking around, tapping his fingers on the bar like he was getting impatient. The longer we talked to him the more money he was losing.

“One last question, was there anything unusual about the night he was shot? Do you remember an argument, new people around him, or anything like that?”

His eyes were vacant for a second or two. He was trying to replay the night in his mind. They came back into focus and he answered.

“Actually, yes, there was something a little different. When he came in he was with Deals and no one else. When they left, Webb had a blonde woman underneath his arm. She wasn’t a regular, but she looked expensive. Sorry you two but if you aren’t ordering a drink I need to get going.”

The bartender left and hurried to the other end of the bar. He started waiting on a big group of college students. Each student wore something glowing around their neck, wrist, and pretty much anywhere else. I didn’t get it.

We shoved our way through the crowds and made our way out of the front entrance, back to the street. It was full dark by now and the streets were getting crowded. A group of cross dressers were getting out of a taxi across the street, three business men were walking into a strip club called Night Stories, and many other types of people were going in many other directions. There’s everything for everyone here. And then some.

We walked anonymously towards my bike, focusing on our next step. We still had no idea what our next step should or would be.

“What did he mean when he said she looked expensive?” Dru asked breaking our silence.

I cleared my throat, not because there was something in their but because of the topic at hand. I knew what the bartender meant; I had hoped she did too because I didn’t want to have to explain it to her.

“Maybe she was just very pretty. Your bro looks like he could’ve landed any girl he wanted. He had money to throw around and good looks. What else could a woman want?”

“I guess so. I don’t think that’s what the bartender was implying. Do you think he meant she was a…a hooker?” She asked me, keeping on the one topic I wanted to stop talking about.

“Umm, yea. I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant. Sorry, you had to find out like that.”

“I’m not sorry,” she said. “He’s a good guy but everyone has their faults. I’ve always known he was a bit of a whore, a womanizer if you will. I never thought he would need to pay for it. I guess having more money could change a person like that.” She spoke very easy about the subject, something I wasn’t capable of.

We continued to my bike, once again in silence.

We were in eye-shot of our way home and slowly, at the end of the block, two, dark SUV’s moved like shadows out of the corner of my eye. They looked like gleaming eyes of a two-headed monster as they approached.

“What kind of shoes do you have on?” I quickly asked Dru as I turned toward her in a panic.

“Cross-trainers, why?”

“I wanted to know how fast we would be able to move.”

I grabbed her by the arm and headed back the way we came. The SUV’s roared to life speeding after us.

“Why are we running?” Dru asked in between breaths.

Before I could answer her, gunfire erupted. Guns were extended through the rolled down windows and bright flashes burst out. I wished they were just camera flashes; the paparazzi getting a close up of yours truly, but they were not. They were flashes of death–the bright light before the end. But I wouldn’t be so willing to walk into these lights.

 

Chapter 17

Errant shots kept ringing out, whistling by us as we zigzagged through the street. One of the cross dressers with high the super high heels who I saw getting out of the cab earlier went down in a heap. The pooling blood matched his/her sequined dress as it pooled around the lifeless body.

We needed to get off of the main street. I couldn’t have any more innocent people suffer because of my unwillingness to die. Even in my time of distress I put others before me; I hoped that didn’t get me killed one day.

Still holding onto Dru’s hand I turned right, down a side street. The massive SUV’s wouldn’t be able to fit through here. I wanted it to be enough of an inconvenience that they would give their pursuit up.

I was partially right; the trucks did stop, but instead of giving up the men leapt out and continued their chase on foot.

Six men jumped out in all. They were dressed in their fanciest Kevlar vest’s and night vision scopes on their pristine assault rifles. We continued our running and dodging techniques that had worked so far to avoid the constant spray of bullets.

“Where are we going?” Dru asked hastily.

“Wherever people aren’t shooting at us.”

We turned down side streets and kept moving forward. Behind us, our pursuers did the same. They couldn’t close too much distance but our stamina was beginning to slowly fade. Dru was in remarkable shape. If we lived through this maybe we could go running together. I needed to get back into shape. I have as much stamina as what I imagine a sloth possessed.

I was done dodging bullets: mentally and physically. I was ready to do something a little more my speed; something a little more destructive. Dru and I made it to the end of a backstreet.

“Get behind that dumpster and stay there.”

“Why?” She asked.”

“Because–I’m done running.”

I don’t know if it was because I wanted to impress Dru or because if I had to run any farther my heart would burst.

I scurried up a fire escape and dashed across the roof. The men behind us hadn’t made it to the street we were on yet. They were taking their time, surveying the alley, moving forward cautiously. They moved like a well trained assault team.

I was running as fast as I could. Considering I was already fatigued, my speed was a little slower than I would’ve liked. So I wasn’t done running altogether; I was just done running away. I made it to the fire escape at the other end of the building. It would drop me directly behind the gunmen.

I quietly stepped down the metal steps, which was harder to do than I would’ve thought. The cold steel echoed with the slightest of my movements. I managed to drop down to the street, behind the team, and continued moving forward, staying in the shadows.

Every step I had taken I made good use of. I was gathered my energy as I ran. I built up a healthy amount, holding it directly under the surface, ready to break through at my command.

The alley-way wasn’t even big enough for one car. It was lined with trash of all kinds. Broken bottles, torn bags, and what looked like urine stains decorated the alley. I forced myself to ignore the smell and tried breathing through my mouth. There would be nothing good to come from me throwing up right now. I readied my strength and focused my anger. I tip-toed closer to the group. Shhh, Wes, shhh.

I formed the blast in my mind, shaping it to the alley. It was like the alley was one big giant mold, and I used that, filling it with my power. Before the last man in line turned around, I unleashed my energy in an unseen blast of power; it swept through them…all of them. They flew in every direction, landing hard on the asphalt below. I rushed over to each of them making sure they were no danger to Dru or me. One guy, looking just like all of the rest, decided he wasn’t done fighting. I grabbed his rifle and hit him in the side of his face with the butt of the gun.

“That’ll leave a wicked bruise.”

Now there were new blood stains to go with the urine and others in the surrounding area.

The point man stirred but posed no danger. I strolled over to him; he was the only conscious one left. “Who do you work for?” I asked. It was a simple question and the easiest one to come up with.

He took in a deep breath and didn’t answer me. Dru had come out of her hiding place by now, her mouth wide. She should’ve believed me. There was no magic trick to explain what had just happened. She had been by my side when I asked the man the very easy question. Yet, he didn’t answer.

“It looks like he doesn’t want to talk Dru. What do you think about that?”

She didn’t think very much of it at all. She crouched down in a judo position and squared herself to her target. She let loose with a confident and practiced strike. Simply put, she kicked the shit out of his ribs. I need to stop underestimating her. At every turn she has been more than capable of handling herself.

“Easy lady, we need him to speak. He needs to be able to breathe.” I told her. I was secretly smiling; it was fun to see a woman of such beauty kicking the crap out of her would-be-assassin. She wasn’t as vulnerable as she looked. She had punched me already and now she was stomping on some thug-for-hire. It was easy to say I liked the way she worked.

“Pi…rell..iii,” he answered before he passed out. Of course that’s what he said, why wouldn’t he. Jace was everywhere but nowhere to be found. He was a ghost in my life and haunted my dreams.

“Who’s Pirelli?” Dru asked.

“He’s the puppeteer.”

 

Chapter 18

We left the brute squad to bask in their pain, making our way back to my bike as carefully as possible. There was a trail of bullet holes and the now cooling body of that poor cross dresser that would’ve lead the police to yours truly. I could already hear the sirens in the distance. There wasn’t much time to get out of here. We kept to the back streets and in the shadows. I grabbed Dru by her hand and held it tight, not for any reason in particular, but the contact of our skin, palm in palm, erased some of the tension that had been piling on me. Everybody has their breaking point, even me.

My bike was, as we had left it, shining in its two-wheeled glory.

We rode back to my palace in silence. Only the cold breeze lashing out at us as we sliced our way through the night air. Dru gripped me even tighter than before; I liked that.

We pulled in behind the church and both hopped off. I set my bike over its resting place and murmured aloud, “Sleep”. And it did. The earth swallowed it whole.

Dru looked on, still astonished or shocked by everything she’s seen. Magic was and is very real and it’s much more than cheap card entertainment and having your mind freaked.

I made sure to walk ahead of her as we went through the back door. I let the securities down silently and Dru remained unaware of how dangerous my defenses really were.

Gizmo met us as we entered the great hall. It was the first time he had ever done that. He usually met me at the stairs, but I knew he was there for Dru. You think that I would get the extra love because I feed him and give him a whole side of a comfy bed. But no, he was a ladies dog, and I would never be able to change that.

I don’t think I’m too different than Gizmo; a lady around definitely changed the status quo.

We walked to the kitchen and Dru sat down by the table.

“If you’re hungry I have some burgers, chicken nuggets, and some corn dogs. But they’re all vegetarian.”

“Really? I would not have guessed that about you. I can’t say I’ve tried too much of that stuff. But whatever you’re having will be fine,” she replied. Her elbows rested on the table, her face resting in the palms of her hands. I set a cup of water by her before putting a pile of nuggets in the toaster oven.

I downed a glass of water myself before popping open a soda. I just wanted to get it out of the way so I could have something with sugar in it.

“I like ketchup with my nuggets, what do you like?” I asked. “I also have ranch and BBQ sauce.”

I don’t think she was paying any attention to me or to anything else for that matter. Her face was still buried in her hands.

I opened the mini-oven and retrieved our dinner. I piled them on to a single paper plate and set them in the middle of the table. I opened another bag on the counter and pulled out two treats for Gizmo.

“Here,” I said to Dru, “do you want to make Gizmo an even happier puppy?” I held my hand with the treats out to her.

She looked up at me, with her mascara running down both sides of her face. I handed her the two treats. I left the room and headed to the bathroom two doors down. I grabbed a handful of tissue and headed back to the kitchen where I found Gizmo chomping enthusiastically and Dru giving him a simple smile. I handed her the tissue and sat down at the table, ready to eat.

I had already placed two paper plates down and with them, all of the dipping sauces I could find. She never answered me.

She took a bite out of a chicken nugget and set it down, looking lost in her thoughts again.

“What’s on your mind?” I asked her in between bites.

“Everything and nothing,” she replied. “The fact that I was shot at tonight and chased down the streets; my brother is all but dead; and the only thing we learned tonight was he left with a hooker on his arm.”

“I think the call girl is a more important fact than you think. There are ways to figure out where she worked. Everyone belongs to somebody,” I told her, eager to keep hope alive in her broken heart. “We weren’t shot at for asking a bartender some questions. We were shot at because someone thinks we know something. Your brother was targeted because he might’ve actually known something.”

We wrapped up our dinner in silence. Dru ate the one nugget and sipped her water. I finished the plate and my soda. I cleaned what little mess there was and opened my freezer pulling out the bottle of vodka that I always kept in stock. I slapped two shot glasses on the table and poured each of us a shot.

I picked up my glass and raised it, Dru followed my lead.

“To finding a working girl and putting Matt at peace.”

We drank the elixir together. Dru sighed heavily afterwards. It was getting pretty late. We were both beat. Watching someone die as you run from a barrage of bullets could have that effect on you.

“It’s late, Dru. We’ve earned a good night’s sleep,” I told her. “Please, stay in my room it’s comfy, and Gizmo will be there to protect you.” He would protect her but he wouldn’t need to. The defenses of this building were more than capable of dealing with most anything anyone could throw at it.

“That’s awfully sweet of you but I’ll go home and stay in my own bed. I know in a short time that we’ve been through a lot. But I don’t think sleeping here is necessary.”

I stared at her with an even expression set on my face.

“It wasn’t a question. The people who came after us today know who you are by now. I’m not taking the risk of you going home and being ambushed,” I said firmly.

“I don’t get a say in this?” She asked with her hands on her hips.

“No, I’m afraid not.” I motioned her to my room and she gave in. I pulled out a clean fleece blanket and a clean pillow case out of my closet. I changed the case and threw the clean blanket on top of the black comforter. I couldn’t remember the last time I had it washed. It’s not cheap to get a velvet comforter dry-cleaned.

“The bathroom is the second door after the kitchen. And please, don’t go out any of the doors leading outside. I’ve set the alarm already. Very bad things would come from that.”

“So, I’m your prisoner?”

“No, you’re my pro-tec-tee, there’s a difference. Please don’t go out, it’s very important. There are a lot of awful people out there, and they don’t like me very much and because of that I take my security very serious. So…no sleep walking,” I said. “Do we understand?”

She probably wanted to put up more of a fight, on principles alone, but if she was like me she was tired. I hadn’t led her astray as of yet. There wasn’t any reason for her not to trust me

Her shoulders slumped and she shuffled into the room. In the short time we had known each other we had been through hell and trust was the only thing you can lean on in situations like these. There’s nothing like being chased and shot at to bring two people close.

I left my room with Dru and Gizmo tucked into bed. And of course Cy, the one eyed teddy bear, and the giant tennis ball were there too. I left the hall light on in case she needed to get out of bed; I didn’t want her to stumble down the stairs in the middle of the night. That was one reason, the other being if she was fumbling around in the dark it could wake me up and that wouldn’t be a good thing either.

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