Jack Hardcock will be returning in November. So here’s an introduction to the man, the legend.
“Cleveland. Shit,” I uttered to myself. “Still only in Cleveland.”
“What’s that, Jack?” the Chief asked.
“Nothing, Chief,” I replied. “It’s just that I’ve been stuck in this godforsaken city for the last two months.”
“Eh,” the Chief shrugged, “at least it ain’t Cincinnati.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” I replied as I lit up a cigarette. “What do you got for me?”
“A triple homicide. Two dead hookers and an anonymous John.”
“So the usual, huh?” I said.
“Jesus Christ, Jack! Do you want the case or not?! I’ve got two detectives downstairs itching for a case like this and you’re up here bitching like a little bitch!”
“Don’t use that language around me Chief,” I replied. “I was raised Southern Baptist.”
“My mistake, Jack,” the Chief said, “you know me, I always try to be respectful of other people’s belief’s. Except for Seven Day Adventist.”
“So what’s it gonna be Jack? Do you want the case or not?”
I put out my cigarette and grabbed the file. “I guess so Chief,” I said, “Sometimes I wish the Lord would come back and unleash hell on this town. If it ain’t a serial killer, it’s some goddamn junkie robbing his grandmother for his next fix. I swear, you unbelievers will learn the vengeance of God! May this city be cast into Hell!”
The Chief got on his knees and begged for mercy. “Please Jack! Don’t let me burn in hell for all of eternity!”
“Then accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart,” I said, “and pray for the forgiveness of your sins.”
And on February 23rd, 2022, the Chief accepted Salvation through Jesus Christ.
After the Chief’s conversion, I loaded my .38 and asked God to guide my bullets into the bodies of my enemies. “Thank you Lord,” I prayed, “let vengeance be Yours…and mine.”
I kissed the barrel of my gun and entered the mean streets of Cleveland. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,” I uttered.
I grabbed the first pedestrian I saw on the streets. “Do you recognize this man?” I asked while holding up a picture of one of the victims.
“No,” they replied.
I slapped them across the face with the butt of my gun. “Liar!” I yelled, “Do you know what the Lord does to liars? He mutilates their genitals and they feast on them in heaven! So don’t let the devil catch your tongue! For it’s not the devil you should worry about if that happens! It’s GOD. And you WILL know God’s wrath AND the wrath of my .38!”
After the pedestrian pissed their pants, they confessed the victim’s name: Art McGarth.
So I let that poor sack of shit go and lit up a cigarette. “Not bad for an honest day’s work,” I thought.
“What can you tell me about Art McGarth?” I asked the cop at precinct 13.
“Fuck you Jack Hardcock!” the cop said. “You don’t run this city! Every time you come around here, a cop ends up dead. You’re a loose canon! I will not be cooperating with you!”
I pulled out my .38 and reached across his desk. “Listen here, HEATHEN,” I said, “I’m doing the Lord’s work by saving this city from the clutches of SATAN! You will cooperate with me or else you will be swallowing one of these bullets!”
The Chief detective of the precinct, Sally Wally, intervened. Her bottom of her skirt went just above her knees. “Jack, put that gun away,” she ordered.
“Sally, you’re dressed immodestly,” I replied. “I can’t do my job with an erection.”
“Step into my office please.”
I went into Sally’s office. I threw my coat and jacket down on the couch and kicked my feet up on her desk. “Did I say you can sit?” she asked.
“Sally, with all due respect,” I replied, “you might be over this precinct, but I’m still a man. And as a man, my authority supersedes yours.”
“What do you want with Art McGarth?” she asked, completely ignoring my comment. “This investigation is under our jurisdiction. We will handle this case.”
“The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations has asked me to look into his murder, along with the murder of two prostitutes,” I said. “McGarth was listed as a John Doe with the Bureau before I identified him and his name only appears in your databases. So what can you tell me about him?”
“After you got 14 of my officers killed in your last investigation,” Sally explained, “a federal grand jury decided that my department no longer has to cooperate with yours. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Supreme Court.”
“You see, that’s the thing,” I replied as I lit up a cigarette and let the ashes fall to the ground, “man has his laws. And God has His. And I don’t answer to the laws of man.”
“That’s why you were kicked out of the FBI,” Sally said.
“Come on Sally! I wasn’t booted from the FBI! I voluntarily left because I couldn’t work for a heathen President like Joe Biden!”
“Tell your department that if they want our cooperation,” Sally said, “they will have to get a federal warrant. Until then, get the fuck out of my office and don’t show up here again.”
I stood up, grabbed my hat and coat, then put my cigarette out on Sally’s desk. “Have a blessed day,” I said.
There was something fishy going here. Whatever Precinct 13 was hiding, with the Lord’s help, I was going to get to the bottom of it.
When I walked outside, I reached into my holster and pulled out the .38. “Don’t worry sweetheart,” I said to the gun, “this city will soon know your wrath.”
I kissed the gun and put it back into the holster.
I unlocked the door to 12th story apartment overlooking downtown Cleveland. I threw down my keys and coat then turned on the light.
The local gangster, Gregg Poppovich, was pointing a gun at me. “What do you want with Art McGarth, Jack?” he asked as he lifted a stogie to his mouth.
“I’m investigating his death, Gregg,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“Of course not,” he replied, “I just didn’t want you pointing the finger at me.”
“Now why would I want to do something like that?” I asked while I studied him over.
Gregg laughed and put the pistol away in his holster. “I didn’t suppose you did,” he said, “you’re too smart for that.”
“But you must know something. Or else you wouldn’t have broken into my apartment.”
He laughed some more. “Of course,” he said, “that’s why I’m paying you a visit. It’s neither organized crime nor police corruption. There’s a madman loose out there, Jack. I don’t know much more than you, but watch your back.”
“Thanks for your concern, Gregg. But I have the Lord’s protection. Besides, why kill McGarth? He must have had some connections.”
“Not McGarth,” Gregg said, “but the two prostitutes. They’re disappearing all over the city. I’m telling you, Jack, it’s a Jack the Ripper kind of situation.”
“A serial killer?” I laughed, “in a city like Cleveland? Never heard of such a thing.”
“I’m not crazy, Jack. I don’t believe in that silly God of yours, but I do believe in the Devil. And he’s here in this city. So you better watch yourself.”
“I’ll pray on it,” I said, “and I’ll pray for you and your Salvation. May the Lord guide you towards the Light.”
Gregg left and I took a shit. All that scotch and nicotine was running through me. I absolutely destroyed that toilet.
When I walked out of the bathroom, Sally was lying on the bed. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” she said while puffing on a cigarette, “someone light a match!”
I closed the door and loosened my tie. “You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” I said. “What are you doing here? I should really change the locks to this place.”
“Just paying you a visit,” she replied while hiking up her skirt to expose her gorgeous legs. “Have you found out anything about Art McGarth? Seeing as we’re both investigating his death.”
“His murder appears to have been collateral damage,” I said. “Other than that, I know nothing.”
“Are you sure?” Sally asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.
“Sally, I don’t know what you’re expecting to happen here. You know I don’t know what to do with a woman. I’ve never had sex!”
“I could show you,” she said as she lowered her shirt to expose her shoulders.
“No thanks,” I replied, “I don’t believe in sex before marriage. Now please leave.”
After she left, I straightened out the bed, loaded one round into the revolver of my .38, spun it, pointed it at my head, and pulled the trigger.
“Thank you, Lord, for always watching out for me,” I prayed. Then I went to bed.
I always sleep better after a game of Russian Roulette.
I returned to DCI headquarters to check in the Chief. He was shoveling jelly donuts down his face hole and getting shit all over the paperwork.
“Can you believe this shit, Jack?” he said while shards of donut was flying out of his mouth.
“I’m a Christian, Chief,” I replied, “I believe everything that I’m told.”
“Take a look at this.”
Chief handed me a report from the Pittsburgh FBI office regarding a series of murders. I had to swipe away jelly just to read all of the paragraphs.
“So what?” I asked.
“The autopsies came back from the McGarth killings. It can’t be a coincidence Jack. The same guy killing all them hookers in Pittsburgh is the same guy who killed McGarth and our two prostitutes.”
“The FBI are a bunch of jokers, Chief. I wouldn’t trust them to find a missing cat. Especially after what they did to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago!”
“Now cool it, Jack!” Chief said. “I know that you hold a grudge against the Bureau after they shitcanned you and sent you to Ohio BCI, but I expect your full cooperation!”
“Cooperation?” I asked. “The fuck are you talking about, Chief?”
“The Feds are coming to help us with our investigation,” he replied, “and I don’t want ONE word out of you! You hear?! Or you’ll be sent to Toledo so fast that you’ll bust your pants!”
“I already busted in my pants once today, Chief,” I said, “then I prayed for the Lord’s forgiveness. So don’t threaten me with a good time.”
“That’s it!” the Chief yelled, “get out of my office!”
The FBI would not be getting my cooperation. But I couldn’t solve this case on my own. So I went looking for my good friend: local gangster Gregg Poppovich.
I found him enjoying a plate of lasagna at his Italian restaurant that he owned just outside of town. I grabbed his head and shoved it into the plate.
“Jesus, Jack!” he said as he wiped away the tomato sauce from his face, “you could have just said hello!”
I laid the .38 down on the table. “I need some answers,” I said.
“I told you! I know what you know!”
I grabbed the plate and smashed it against his face. “Not good enough!” I yelled.
Gregg grabbed another towel and began wiping the blood from his face. “Is there something wrong, Jack? You seem a bit agitated,” he asked.
I took a deep breath and exhaled. “Thanks for asking Gregg,” I said, “but it seems like the FBI is always up my ass!”
“I know how you feel,” Gregg replied, “it ain’t easy being a local gangster, ya know?”
“Unfortunately, they’re coming down here from Pittsburgh to investigate the McGarth killings,” I said. “I don’t need their help. What good has the Federal government ever done?!”
“Jack, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” Gregg said, “but if you ever needed any assistance, I’m always here to help.”
“Thanks Gregg,”I replied, “you’ve always been a good friend. So since you’re offering, I’m gonna need the entire Cleveland criminal underworld to help me catch a killer.”
I couldn’t sleep that night. I even loaded .38 revolver with two extra bullets.
I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ Our Savior. I said, “Lord, every time Ohio BCI tries to give me a partner, I tell them I don’t need that shit because Jesus is my partner. Well now I’m calling on that partnership. Please let me find the killer of Art McGarth and the two prostitutes before the FBI does. Amen.”
Immediately, there was a knock on the door. It was Sally.
“Sally,” I said, “for the last time, quit coming around here. I don’t know how to fuck.”
“This isn’t a social visit,” she replied, “you’re wanted at the precinct. There’s been another murder.”
“How long ago did the murder take place?” I asked as we were walking into the coroner’s office.
“Approximately 8 hours ago,” Sally replied.
“Have you identified the body?”
“We were hoping you would help us with that,” she said. Sally then pulled back the sheet covering victim’s body.
I was aghast.
“My god,” I said, “Sally, that’s, that’s…”
“The Chief?” she replied. “Yes, how convenient. You were the last one seen with him.”
“Listen, I had nothing to do with that!”
“Put your hands behind your back,” she ordered.
“You’re making a big mistake!” I yelled.
“Am I? The Chief was killed with a bullet to the brain fired from a .38 special. That’s your modus operandi. You had a means to kill him, now I just need a motive. I hereby place you under arrest, Jack Hardcock!”
Two other officers flanked me on both sides. I roundhouse kicked one and kicked the other one in the gonads so hard that he passed out. I pulled out my .38 and pointed it at Sally. “I demand you tell me what’s going on here!” I ordered.
“You’re a renegade cop, Jack!” she said. “You are the biggest menace to the streets of Cleveland and I’m taking you down.”
I laughed. “Better luck in the next life, sweetheart,” I said, then pulled the trigger. Sadly, I only had two chambers loaded in the revolver because I was playing Russian Roulette earlier, so nothing fired.
“Sorry,” I said to Sally. Then I pulled the trigger again. Unfortunately the bullet missed her.
Before I could fire off a last shot, the two cops re-emerged from their blackout. So I jumped out a window and fell 20 floors into the dumpster below. I shattered my pelvis, ruptured my spleen, punctured both lungs, broke all of my limbs, and was severely concussed.
I laid in the dumpster where a dump truck scooped me up, poured me into a rubble heap, and carried me off to a landfill. When I awoke the next morning, I crawled out of the trash dump, and all the way to Gregg Poppovich’s restaurant outside of town.
It ain’t easy crawling 8 miles while undergoing organ failure with all your limbs shattered. But that’s just life in Cleveland.
Jack, you magnificent sack of shit,” Gregg said to me after he patched me up, “I don’t know how you do it, but I’ve never seen anyone heal from broken limbs, organ failure, and brain damage as quickly as you have.”
“That’s the power of prayer,” I said in response. “I don’t need any of that medicine bullshit. I have God on my side.”
“You have proven the Power of Christ to me, Jack,” Gregg replied. “Despite growing up in America, getting hounded daily by Jehovah’s Witnesses, raised in the Catholic Church, and the Bible essentially being the cornerstone of Western art and literature, no one has ever told me about Jesus Christ or how to receive His Grace.”
“Bow your head,” I said. And on February 27, 2022, Gregg Poppovich, local Cleveland gangster, accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.
I got up from the operating table, buttoned up my shirt, and punched Gregg in the stomach. “I’m gonna need more bullets for my .38,” I said.
Gregg was wheezing on the floor. “You could ask nicely, Jack,” he said.
“I don’t have time,” I responded, “Sally’s behind these murders, I’m sure of it. She’s already framed me, which means the FBI will be looking for me. Have you amassed your army of fellow gangsters? I’m gonna need them.”
Gregg stood up and straightened out his jacket. “They’re ready and waiting on your orders, sir,” he said.
“Good,” I replied, then socked him in the face. “I want a stakeout on Sally and a few of her officers. They are NOT to engage with any of them. Understood? Once when they have them cornered, your men should reach out to me. Okay?”
“Understood, sir,” Gregg said as he wiped blood away from his nose.
“Alright, now where are those bullets?”
I went to the back of Gregg’s Italian restaurant outside of town to do some target practice. I had just recovered from shattering every bone in my wrist after falling 20 stories into a dumpster. Unfortunately I missed every shot.
Gregg stood on the back patio laughing with a stogie hanging out his mouth. “Are you sure you’re ready for all this?” he asked.
I turned swiftly and shot the stogie out of his mouth. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” I said. I twirled the gun around my finger and put it back in my holster.
I received a page from my beeper,” Gregg yelled. “They spotted Sally alone off Market Avenue!”
So Gregg and I piled into his 78 Buick Regal and sped off northbound into town. “What are we gonna do when we catch her?” Gregg asked.
“Just gonna ask her a few questions,” I said.
But before we reached Market Square, a black SUV rammed into the side of us. The Buick crashed into the side barrier then went over the edge into the Cuyahoga River.
Thankfully the river wasn’t on fire at that particular moment.
Gregg and I were individually strapped to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. We were revived by a blinding flash of light.
“Well well well,” a voice said from behind the light. “If it isn’t disgruntled Ohio BCI agent Jack Hardcock and local Cleveland gangster Gregg Poppovich. You two make strange bedfellows.”
“By the authority of Jesus Christ, I demand to know what’s going on here!” I exclaimed.
The light shut off and in front of us were three FBI agents. I recognized one of them. “Peter Tucker,” I said.
“Jack, how’ve you been?” Peter replied.
“Pete, untie us now! I don’t know what Sally told you, but I am not the killer!”
“Yes I know,” he said, “I just wanted you to know that I am in charge here.”
“What do you mean?”
Pete lit up a cigarette. “You see,” he stated, “we know that Sally and her minions are the ones that killed Art McGarth and many, MANY others.”
“If you have something to say, Pete,” I said, “spit it out. We don’t have all day.”
Pete took a long exhale as smoke billowed out his mouth. “Sally is a vigilante, Jack,” he continued. “We’ve keeping a watchful eye on her. She’s been executing pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, stoners, plumbers, hipsters, Hoobastank, and anyone she deems a menace to society. She’s gone renegade, Jack. She thinks she’s above the law.”
“My God!” I said. “That means…”
“Yes,” Pete interrupted, “that means you were next.”
An agent came up and cut Gregg and me loose from our chairs. “Since you’re in charge,” I said to Pete as I massaged my wrist, “what happens now?”
Pete put out his cigarette and stepped out from behind his desk. “Jack, you can fool BCI but you can’t fool me,” he said. “I know you want back into the Federal Bureau. Cleveland’s a toxic wasteland. It’s Ohio’s toilet for fuck’s sake. It’s no mistake that the Browns are perpetually terrible. This city is cursed! I know that you don’t want to spend the rest of your career here.”
He handed me my .38. “All I’m asking,” Pete concluded, “is that you help me catch Sally. If you can do that, we can forget that time you accidentally burned down a retirement home and shot up a Denny’s. You’ll be back in the Bureau. What do you say?”
I looked him square in the eye.
“Pete, if I help you do this and you go back on your word,” I said, “you won’t have to wait on the Second Coming. I’ll send you straight to hell myself.”
Sally’s trail went cold. But somewhere beneath that shit-crusted anus that is the Cleveland underworld, she was waiting on us, plotting her trap.
The FBI was generous enough to fish out Gregg’s Buick from the bottom of the Cuyahoga River. Despite being busted up on the side and immersed in water for hours, it started up like a charm.
“A Buick will never let you down, my daddy always told me,” Gregg said.
“Ain’t that the truth.”
We were passing back and forth a bottle of brandy while on stakeout outside of Progressive Field. Peter Tucker sent us there. He had his suspicions that Sally would strike there next.
“What kind of idiot would send us here?” I asked Gregg. “It’s not even baseball season!”
“That ain’t true boss,” he replied. “There’s a celebrity baseball game here tomorrow.”
The blood drained from my face. “Oh fuck!” I said. “Gregg, get to the nearest pay phone and page Pete’s beeper. We’re gonna need backup.”
I knew what Sally was thinking. Celebrities would be there. That means pedos, druggies, rapists, all-around scum of the earth. She would have all of her eggs in one basket.
So I readied my .38 and scaled the fence into the stadium. It was night. The security guards were sleeping.
Sally was there. I knew it with all my instinct. I kicked open doors and trashed the stadium but found no one.
Then I entered the equipment room.
Inside were countless bald eagles locked up in cages. Strapped to them were contraptions that, when activated, would release live hand grenades onto unsuspecting people below.
“What are you doing in here?!” a man shouted. It was the bird keeper.
I lifted the .38. “Where’s Sally?” I said.
The man raised his hands in the air. “Hey man! I know nothing about that. I was just paid to do a job!”
I clicked the gun. “I’ll give you three seconds to answer before I blow your brains out,” I replied.
The man pissed his pants and continued to cry that he knew nothin. I pulled the trigger and his brains splattered all over the wall. In hindsight, that was a bad decision because I should have took him in for questioning.
C’est la vie.
I walked back out to the Buick and looked for Gregg. Off in the distance, underneath a pay phone, I saw Gregg laying on the ground holding his guts in.
I ran up and tried to stop the bleeding.
“She got me good, Jack,” Gregg said.
“Shut the fuck up you stupid bastard,” I replied. “You’re not gonna die.”
With his last bit of strength, Gregg grabbed me by the back of the neck. “Jack, I want you to know,” he uttered, “I regret every moment.”
There I held Gregg Poppovich, local Cleveland gangster, dead in my arms.
Then the pay phone rang. “Jack! This is Pete Tucker,” the voice said, “I received an urgent page from Gregg!”
“Gregg’s dead,” I said to Pete. “Sally killed my boss and now she’s killed my best friend. But I have her right where I want her. She’s here, Pete. Vengeance is mine.”
“What are you gonna do Jack?” Peter Tucker asked me at the FBI flophouse. I was washing local Cleveland gangster Gregg Poppovich’s blood off my hands.
“I’m gonna do what the Lord should have done a long time ago,” I said, “I’m gonna send her back to hell. Right where she belongs.”
“Say it ain’t so, Jack,” Pete replied, “are you actually losing your faith?”
I grabbed a cheap towel and began drying my hands. “I never question the ways of God,” I said, “but I sometimes wonder if He really has forsaken us. He’s certainly done so to Cleveland.”
Pete poured two glasses of whiskey and handed one to me. “We’ve always hated each other, Jack,” he said, “in fact I despise the ground you walk on. Someday I hope you die a slow agonizing death, preferably by fire or some means of disembowelment. You’re a piece of shit and I would love to grab this bottle of whiskey, shove it up your ass, and throw you out the window. However, unlike you, I have restraint. But goddamnit Jack, I’ve always respected your faith. And I’ll drink to that.”
“Thanks Pete,” I replied, “I needed that pep talk. It’s tough out here on the streets. It’s tough to make friends when they always end up dead. At least the Chief and Gregg found Salvation before their deaths. I do find consolation in that. I hope that someday you’ll find Peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Fuck that shit,” Pete said, “a lot of good that did to your friends. They found a guarantee into Heaven and next thing you know, they’re dead. That’s not for me Jack. I need the constant threat of Hell to keep me alive. That’s how you survive these streets.”
I shook my head. “You’re too short sided Pete.”
“No, dipshit. I just ain’t stupid.”
“Well, whatever,” I said as I downed the whiskey, “we’ve got a demon on the loose. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about the Lord is that He always vanquishes His enemies. Specifically through MY .38.”
“What a pussy ass weapon,” Pete replied.
As he raised the whiskey glass to his mouth, I fired a round right through the glass. Shards and liquid went everywhere.
“Alright, now I see what you mean,” Pete said as he wiped away whiskey that splashed on his face. “So what’s the plan? How are you gonna get to Sally?”
“Thankfully we cleaned up the blood and brains from that guy I shot at Progressive Field,” I replied. “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have killed him, but what’s done is done. Hopefully she won’t notice he’s missing and she’ll move forward with her plan.”
“And then?” I thought, “God will provide a way.”
“That sounds like a stupid plan.”
“Stop calling them the Cleveland ‘Indians’ Jack,” Pete said while we were prepping to enter Progressive Field.
“I will never give into the woke agenda,” I replied. “This is a Christian Nation and I will never let a Catholic like Joe Biden tell me who to respect! Build the wall!!!”
“You’re a moron,” Pete uttered.
Security let us through the gate and we were handed a program. It stated that at the conclusion of the National Anthem, hundreds of bald eagles would be released over the stadium.
“We gotta stop those eagles,” I said, “thousands of people are at this celebrity baseball game. If Sally armed those birds with live grenades, there’s no telling what kind of damage that will do.”
“We should split up,” Pete ordered, “we’ve only got 10 minutes!”
Security was tight. There was no way we could search the entire stadium. I had to act fast.
The Village People were prepping to sing the National Anthem. One of them stepped into the bathroom and I followed him inside. While he was taking a shit, I kicked open the stall door and knocked him out.
With him unconscious, I took his costume, added a lot of makeup, and flushed the toilet. As I exited the bathroom to search for Sally, one of the Village People, the construction worker, shouted at me.
“Hey buddy,” he yelled, “it’s time to go on!”
“Fuck,” I said, then followed them out onto the field.
I had the .38 hidden under my smock.
As we danced to an upbeat rendition of the National Anthem, I kept a lookout for Sally. When the song concluded, Deshaun Watson was coming out onto the field to throw the first pitch.
Then the bald eagles came flying.
“Everyone hit the ground!” I yelled as I drew the .38.
I ripped one bullet into the air after another. Each one made it into a bald eagle and they came plummeting towards the ground. The stadium erupted into a panic and security rushed the field.
“I’m a cop!” I yelled after they tackled me. I pulled out my badge.
Pete came running out behind them with his weapon drawn. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” he said, “What the hell’s the matter with you? Out of all the Village People, you came out dressed as the Native American?!”
“Never mind me!” I said, “What about the bald eagles?! Did anybody get killed?!”
“There were no grenades,” Pete replied, “you just senselessly shot six bald eagles out of the sky in front of everyone!”
“Damn it Pete!” I yelled, “Sally is here! We’ve got to stop her!”
There was a quiet roar overtaking the stadium. It continued to grow louder and louder. “The fuck is that sound?” Pete asked.
A large, smooth object the loomed large over the stands and was slowly moving over the field. It was the Goodyear Blimp. I squinted to see who was piloting it.
It was Sally.
“My god, Pete,” I said, “it’s a trap…”
“Shit!” I yelled. “After killing those bald eagles, I’m all outta bullets!”
“Jack,” Pete replied, “if you can get us out of this, you might make me a believer after all.”
That was all the motivation I needed. So I said a prayer: “Lord, everything that’s happened so far has led me to this point. Give me the strength to kill Sally and lead Peter Tucker to Salvation in Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Right then, as the Goodyear Blimp hovered above, Sally, who was piloting the aircraft, released dozens of live hand grenades down onto Progressive Field. Pete and I weaved and bobbed our way through one explosion after the next but when the last grenade landed, it didn’t explode.
That’s when the Lord gave me a sign.
I saw Deshaun Watson, who was supposed to the throw the first pitch in the celebrity baseball game, cowering in the corner and pissing himself in the dugout. “Deshaun!” I yelled, “we need your arm strength! If you pick up this live hand grenade and hurl it back at the blimp before it detonates, you might be redeemed in the eyes of the public for all those disgusting sexual acts you did to those masseuses. Maybe not though. But what other choice you got?! Hurry before it explodes!”
Watson gathered up the courage, climbed out of the dugout, picked up the grenade, and with all of his strength he launched it towards the blimp.
He was right on the money. The grenade exploded, and the blimp came tumbling down onto the field.
Sally was in a daze when she climbed out of the wreckage. “Holt!” Pete ordered as he lifted his 9mm towards her. But Sally was too quick. She drew her weapon and shot Pete in the abdomen.
Then she turned her gun towards me and laughed maniacally. “I finally have you where I want you, Jack Hardcock!” Sally said, “Prepare to meet your maker, Cleveland scum!”
Sally then ripped an entire clip into my direction, but to her surprise, every bullet missed. I dodged my way over to Pete’s position. With one hand over the bullet wound, he tossed me his 9mm with the other. “Pete,” I said, “without my .38, I’m useless!”
“I believe in you, Jack,” he replied, “have faith!”
I lifted the 9mm and emptied five bullets into Sally. As she dropped to her knees, I walked towards her, still aiming the weapon. “But why, Jack?” she asked, “I was only trying to clean up the streets. Wouldn’t your God approve?”
“No Sally,” I said, “Vengeance is the Lord’s. And I am His instrument.”
I fired one more round into Sally’s skull and her body fell to the ground.
“I hate the everlasting shit out of you, Jack,” Pete told me on the hospital bed. “But goddamn it, you saved my life. I’ll never forget that.”
“Good. So you’ll accept Jesus into your life?” I asked.
“Fuck no! We got lucky that Deshaun Watson was there. It happens. No need to thank god for that bullshit. Deshaun might be a sex pervert but he’s got a rocket arm!”
“Yeah? Well that’s, like, your opinion, man. Next time your life’s in danger, you might not be so lucky. But someday, Pete, I’m gonna prove to you that God’s real. You watch!”
“Fuck off, Jack.”
The mayor of Cleveland stormed into the hospital room with all smiles. “Jack Hardcock, with Lebron James gone, you’re the biggest hero to this town,” he said, “I would like to present to you the keys to the city.”
“Thank you, Mayor,” I responded, “but you can kindly stick those keys up your ass. I’m resigning from the Ohio BCI and moving on with my life. My only hope is that the next time the Cuyahoga River catches on fire, it will burn this entire city down.”
“But Jack, where will you go?” Pete asked.
“God made me a rolling stone,” I replied, “I will go wherever the Lord tells me. With the help of my .38, I will perform God’s wrath on any son of a bitch that asks for it. And I’ll spread the Word of Jesus and whatever.”
“I wish you the best of luck,” Pete said.
“Thanks Pete, but I don’t need that shit either. I have the Lord’s protection.”
We shook hands and I departed the hospital room. Where I was going, I didn’t know. My only guide was the Word of God and my .38.
BUT JACK HARDCOCK WILL RETURN…