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Some like them dead
By James Davidson II
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 James Davidson II
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe chamber was moist and cool but not uncomfortable. The air was alive with a rhythmic current, ebbing and flowing, stronger than a draft but not quite a breeze. It was as if some gargantuan, slumbering, beast was providing a gentle breath to caress and calm the weary subterranean traveler. The walls of the chamber were wet with condensation and streaked with milky, green, limestone deposits. A mineral odor, damp and stagnant, permeated the place. The overall feeling was that of being in a cave, but it was actually a large, domed, underground room.
The room was furnished with twenty gray metal desks and matching chairs constructed with the dull efficiency expected of government furniture manufactured during the Cold War era, neither pleasing to the eye nor particularly ugly. They were just desks and chairs with no distinctive design or marking, welded together to provide only a modicum of comfort to underpaid government cave dwellers. The walls were lined with empty consoles, each with its own swivel stool, memorials to the ghosts of command post workers who had gone about the daily business of nuclear deterrence. The furniture was also covered in slick limestone droppings from the ceiling.
Outside of the chamber's unlikely location, the only thing remarkable about it was one of the desks, which was unremarkable in and of itself. What set it apart from the others was the small form resting on its back in the center, a small child, his face relaxed and serene. His cheeks were pale from the cool air. The day before that same face had been flushed from the warmth of the sun, the cheeks ruddy from the carefree exertions of a child hard at play.
As the sun retired for the day, and the air in the cavern began to mirror the temperature of the cooling concrete shroud above, the face would loose the illusion of being in comfortable repose. The blood remaining in the diminutive body, having recently lost the use of a beating heart to force it along its not so perpetual route, would settle to the bottom of the shell. As post mortem lividity set in, the pearly inner flesh of bloodless wounds would start to contrast against the boy's pale blue skin. In time, the body would begin its metamorphosis into the dust from which it had come. Before that happened, however, it would spend some time looking exactly like what it was ... the body of a small boy, mutilated and alone.
Chapter TwoElliot had his own internal theme music, an edgy rock and roll action hero score that generally played in a continuous loop inside his head whenever he was doing something he thought was particularly cool, which was often the case. Not that he was often doing something particularly cool, but the narcissist in him liked to think everything he did was cool. His theme music, however, stopped abruptly when he looked down and realized he was covered in blood. As the crashing cadence of his heart slowed and the adrenaline faded, he turned his consciousness inward and tried to determine if any his aches and pains needed immediate medical attention. He'd heard stories about soldiers who suffered fatal wounds but still continued to fight. They didn't even realize they were hurt until the surge of adrenaline abated, and they dropped dead. He suspected dropping dead sucked; he didn't think he would allow the dropping dead thing to happen tonight.
Satisfied with his quick self-examination, and a prognosis of not dropping dead in the immediate future, he bent to take a look at the freshly dead and oozing carcass at his feet. Most of the blood on him had splashed out of it. In life, this newly rendered pile of goo had been a biker who went by the gentle moniker of "Hatchet". He suspected this wasn't a given name and, although he didn't know what Hatchet had done to earn it, he was pretty sure it was indeed earned, and had likely involved a hatchet.
In life Hatchet hadn't been much to look at. He was the poster boy for outlaw bikers: fat, hairy, filthy, and rank. Now he was bloody, fat, hairy, filthy and rank; and he was missing half his face. That part, Elliot mused, was actually an improvement.
Hatchet's bowels had loosed after Elliot pressed his government-issued 9mm to his head, pulled the trigger, and given him a bloody lobotomy. The smell of shit was in the air. Elliot's face was covered in a fine crimson mist from the blowback. Yuck! Who knew what manner of disease Hatchet had been carrying? Fucker was probably a disease playground. He hoped the biker didn't have any of the three H's (the HIV, the HERP, or the HEP), because he, himself, hadn't come out of the scuffle completely unscathed. He'd sustained a number of small cuts and abrasions, and his right eye was starting to swell shut. Hatchet didn't just look like a grizzly bear, he also hit like one. There had been more than a small amount of bodily fluids exchanged while he and Hatchet battled for survival. Hell, he would have exchanged less body fluid if he had fucked him. Killing someone up close and personal was much more intimate than sex. You could have sex with a person many times over, but you could only kill a person once.
Hatchet was starting to smell worse in death than he had in life, but not by much. The smell of death, on top of being covered in Hatchet's coagulating blood, was making him nauseous ... and thinking about Hatchet and sex in the same span brought up his gorge. He choked it down.
Note to self: Don't shoot anybody else in the face, at least not at close range. The thought made him giggle a little. He had to force himself to stop, and realized he was a hair's breath from hysteria. If he started laughing now he would loose his fucking mind.
Think, think, think.... think! He needed to clean up, but he should wait for back up. Okay kids, one real dead biker, one blood drenched special agent, no backup, this was what was known in laymen's terms as a drug deal gone real bad.
Where was his backup, anyway? He'd been about to buy five-hundred dollars worth of crystal-methamphetamine from Hatchet in the parking lot of the Crazy Bull Saloon and Pool Hall, which he had taken to calling Bull's Dingus Redneck Emporium (but only to other cops). This would have been just little starter purchase to build some mutual trust. Before he could pull out his wad of money, though, he had one of his flashes, a familiar feeling of déjà vu. Everything slowed down as he watched Hatchet, now in stark techno-colored relief, pull that big fucking knife he wore in a functional leather sheath on his right thigh and skewer him through the gut.
The premonition only took a second, and then Elliot was back, looking at Hatchet who was still standing in front of him, beaming his most disarming grin right at him. What Hatchet didn't know was that his face was simply not accustomed to smiling, and so his unpracticed muscles only managed to twist his ugly mug into a reasonable facsimile of a cheerful, deranged wolverine. Hatchet dropped all pretenses of friendliness, however, when he noticed Elliot noticing his insincerity and the resultant change in Elliot's demeanor. He reached for his companion, the aforementioned big ass knife. Elliot grabbed for Hatchet's knife hand, even as the biker formulated the best way to skewer him with the nasty, well-worn blade. Hatchet responded by hitting him across the face, and he just knew he'd be feeling that in the morning. He kicked the biker between his legs and, when Hatchet dropped his hands to cover his violated gonads, hit him in the head with his elbow. It wasn't pretty, but over the years of training in a variety of exotic fighting techniques all around the world, Elliot finally came to understand that, in a pinch, kicking a man in the balls and bopping him in the head with something was a flawless one-two combination.
The elbow to the head sent Hatchet to the ground, but since the big man's head wasn't a particularly sensitive vital organ, he managed to grab Elliot around the waist and drag him down with him.
As they rolled around grappling on the blacktop, Elliot had another flash: Two in one night, the moon must be aligned or some shit. In another couple of seconds or so he's going to grab my gun and completely wreck my evening. Elliot's gun was nestled snuggly inside his waistline in a concealed holster. He was on top of Hatchet, and in that instance, he realized he wouldn't get a better chance to end the fight and live to tell about it. He pulled his weapon and shot Hatchet point blank in the nose.
He noticed some bar patrons standing outside of the mock saloon doors of the club. They had gathered to watch the fight but couldn't be bothered to intervene. There would later be witnesses who would testify that Elliot had clearly achieved the upper hand, when, for no reason, he shot the dazed and defenseless biker in the face, than started to giggle a little. He could still hear the music coming from inside. The fact that there were folks still doing Friday night bar folk stuff while he sat on his haunches by a man whose face he'd just blown apart, was overpoweringly surreal, and a testament to the caliber of Bull's Dingus clientele.
As he watched in horror, the bar patrons faded and reformed in front of his eyes. They turned into an old English tribunal, complete with white wigs and black robes. He looked down at Hatchet. He wasn't dead! He had to be dead! Half his brain was on the ground for crying out loud! Hatchet, face dripping, flecks of brain and bone falling off of his leather jacket, stood up. Towering over Elliot now, he cocked his arm back ready to finish what he started. He swung the blade hey that thing looks like, well ... a hatchet! Elliot looked at the court smugly; Do you see? Do you see why I had to kill him? This is what he planned to do. Do you fucking see? Sometimes, I just know! The blade connected with his neck. He closed his eyes bracing himself for death, and ... woke up.
"Sometimes I just know," he mumbled, but the dream had faded and the court could not hear his defense. The dream was an old and uninvited friend. He hadn't had it in months. Why now? Must have been the booze, Elliot concluded.
Why had he drunk so much? This was harder to answer, but finally Elliot came up with the penetrating insight of Why not?
Since Idaho he hadn't trusted in his natural talent, his training, or his experience. It had been two years and the inquiry was still going on. Who would have figured Hatchet was the idiot half brother of an Idaho Senator? Looking back, that was probably something that should have shown up during the investigation preceding the ill-fated buy/bust. Actually, a lot of things should have come up: like the fact that Hatchet was also a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. That might have clued Elliot in early to the fact that Hatchet wouldn't be inclined to merely sell drugs to a black guy. It was a wonder that Hatchet's penchant for being a double-crossing asshole, and his deep-seated hatred of all things not white, hadn't come up during one of the endless preoperational briefings he had been forced to suffer through. Briefings that had included every inconsequential detail the team could dredge up, to include (no shit) the fact that Hatchet was not circumcised. Now what the fuck did Elliot's crack team of special agents think he was going to do with that tidbit? For some bizarre reason, they thought that the esthetic appeal of Hatchet's dick was worth citing, but his raging racial bias hadn't even rated an honorable mention. That little bit of clarification would have saved him, and the biker, a lot of grief. Wasn't somebody supposed to research that stuff? He probably should have seen it coming, or taken the initiative and done a little extra research himself. After all, it was his ass on the line.
In the months that followed "the incident," Elliot had explained to various Air Force inquiry officers, over and over, the unclassified version of his story minus his "premonitions". He got to tell the real version to an intimidating group of people who only introduced themselves using first names like Bob or Mike in a windowless room on an Air Force installation that, as far as he could tell, didn't appear on any map. What made them truly scary was the fact that they didn't appear to have any sense of humor, or any human emotion he could discern. Elliot was convinced they were going to throw the book at him and he would spend a long time at Fort Leavenworth. The weird part was that they believed him, but they didn't know how to appease the politicians. They resorted to the world's oldest solution; ignore it and hopes it goes away. They let him keep his badge and found a nice carpet to hide him under in the form of a small OSI office in Colorado.
Elliot had bigger problems at the moment, however, because the sun, as indifferent to the comfort it provided as it was to the pain it could cause, had found Elliot's apartment and was searing through his Venetian blinds. It forced its way between his slit eyelids in a determined effort to fry his retinas.
Okay, judging by the feeling in his gut, he was dying. Things could be worse. He called on his gods, prayed to his ancestors, and whimpered a bit for his mother.
Someone must have heard his prayers because he was still alive. He didn't particularly want to be alive. At the moment 'alive' hurt. His body was drained. His senses, all six, were dulled and his spirit was weak. To make matters worse, his teeth felt hairy, alien, and somehow alive, as if they might decide they needed a life of their own, free from his abuses, and crawl out of his mouth to check out how the other half lived in the high rent district. They could find some nice yuppie mouth to live in, something with caps and a view, and an owner who drank bottled water instead of tequila. Elliot would be left toothless and blithering, and it would probably serve him right.
He didn't think he would have a headache. He had drunk plenty of water and popped five aspirin after he staggered in and before he passed out. But it was too soon to tell, because he couldn't feel his head. God! He had to stop drinking. He was thirty-five years old and becoming a walking cliché: the divorced, bitter, boozing, cop.
He remembered when it used to be one of his private jokes. If anyone asked him why he'd become an OSI special agent, he would tell them it was simple: he wanted to retire after twenty years of thankless service, three bad marriages, with a drinking problem and a beer gut. It wasn't a joke anymore. He was working hard on developing the drinking problem. He'd just finished one bad marriage. The beer gut was a long way off, but he definitely wasn't in peak fighting condition. He tried to inventory his senses, picking one at a time, concentrating; sight ... check, hearing ... check, smell ... check, that other thing ... check. He'd started doing the exercise as a teen and now he barely thought about it, just push the button and start the self-diagnostic.
Sensation was creeping back into his body. He could feel his head, which was starting to throb a bit and demanding to be felt. Now he cursed the gods for letting him live. He rolled out of bed onto the hardwood floor of his bedroom. Hey, new perspective. He reminded himself to buy some throw rugs, make the place look a little homier.
He lay with his cheek slowly conforming to the flatness of the hardwood bedroom floor, watching the dust-balls under the bed near his face dance to the rhythmic flow of his breath. He tried to lift his head, only to find his drool and sweat had somehow managed to bond his cheek to the floor like some foul epoxy. His own bodily fluids were conspiring against him. It was just as well. He wasn't sure he wanted to stand up anyway. Plus, if lying in a pool of drool on a dusty floor wasn't the right place to be and the right fucking time to be there, he didn't know what was.
After a while, strength and feeling started seeping back into his limbs. He was pretty sure he was alive and likely to stay that way. He pushed himself up to a sitting position by the side of the bed, and stood up on legs that were unsteady, but apparently still functioning. Convinced that his legs could walk as well as stand, he shuffled his way towards the bathroom.
Excerpted from Some like them dead by James Davidson II Copyright © 2011 by James Davidson II. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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