Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part IX)

“So you’re telling me that you spent three hours in a strip club and Layla Huffington wasn’t there?” Peter Tucker asked me while we were staying at the Red Roof Inn off 91. “Meanwhile, I had to smell Donovan McNabb’s farts while sitting in a van under the blazing sun?” he continued.

“That’s correct,” I replied.

“Why are you lying?”

“Why is it so hard for you to believe that I’d spend three hours in a strip club?”

“You’re a Christian man for fuck’s sake!”

“I was doing my job!”

“Goddamnit Jack! You’re hiding something!”

“No!” I screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” I threw my .38 into the mirror, shattering it into a million pieces. The gun itself, my most prized possession, was destroyed. “Pete, you don’t know the burdens I carry,” I said, “men have families, people they love. I have no one. Men have friends, people that understand them. I have no one. I have been, and I fear always will be, an instrument of God’s wrath. Only Jesus can understand the weight I carry on these shoulders!”

I stood silently by the window while Peter picked up the crippled .38. “You broke your little gun,” he said.

I said nothing.

“Sally Wally was right about you back in Cleveland,” Peter continued, “you are a menace. I know you know where Layla Huffington is. So get her and take her back to the pit of hell where you come from. But know this: today won’t be the last time you’ll see me. I will find you. You are getting what’s coming to you.”

Peter grabbed his coat and slammed the hotel door. I poured a shot of bourbon and joined Donovan on the patio where he was smoking a joint.

“What was all that commotion about?” he asked.

“It was nothing.”

Donovan took another hit off his joint and began to stammer. “You know Jack,” he finally uttered, “I’ll never forget what you did for me back in El Segundo.”

“What do you mean?”

“Shooting that knife-wielding porno guy in the face like that. I didn’t think anybody would ever kill somebody for me. That really meant something.”

“It was all instinctual. I would have done it for anybody.”

“Yeah but…it’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I’m really thankful that you mysteriously appeared to me on the streets of Oakland. After Layla left me, I thought everything was over. But I didn’t realize that this was only the beginning of my journey. While I still want to face her, I feel like I’m becoming whole again. And for that, I feel like I owe you one.”

I took a swig from my bourbon and looked out to the Riverside cityscape below. “I’m gonna cash in on that favor immediately,” I said to Donovan. “I’m going back to the Glory Hole again tonight and I don’t want you there. But I’m gonna need a SHIT TON of quarters.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part VIII)

“So it’s totally cool that we left a dead body in that storage unit?” Donovan McNabb asked Peter. We back in the Vandura en route to Riverside. Peter sat silently in the backseat. He was still pissed at me for killing his favorite porno director.

“Yup,” Peter replied to Donovan. “There’s a dead body in every storage unit in El Segundo.”

“Do you know the strip clubs in Riverside?” I asked Peter. “Would you happen to know which one Layla Huffington might be at?”

“She’s at the Glory Hole,” he said while thumbing through the latest issue of Fine Gardening.

“How would you know that?”

“You mind your own goddamn business, Jack Hardcock!”

We rolled up to the Glory Hole an hour later. Donovan was adamant that he go inside first. “I really need the closure,” he said.

“No,” I replied as I reloaded the .38. “This is about me. I’ll go inside and scope the place out.”

I put the fake mustache back on and wondered inside. “That will be a $20 cover charge,” the bouncer said to me.

“That’s outrageous,” I replied, “it’s 1:30 PM!”

“Those are the rules.” So I shelled out the 20 bucks and went to the bar area. Strippers were everywhere but I was the only patron. “What can I get you, honey?” the bartender asked me. She was a mature woman, 65 to 70. All she was wearing was a tiny purple thong.

“Bourbon please,” I said.

“All we have is Tennessee Whiskey.”

“Dickle?”

“Just Evan Williams, green label.”

“That’ll do. I’m here to hate myself anyway.”

She poured the stiff drink and I scanned the club. There was no sign of Layla Huffington anywhere. So I summoned the bartender back.

“Excuse me, but does Layla Huffington work today?” I asked. The bartender leaned forward and her boob rested gently on my forearm. “Sweetheart, Layla ain’t a stripper no more,” she said.

I lowered my head, fearing my search had come to a dead end.

“She does peep shows in the back,” the bartender continued. “Go on. Pay her a visit.”

I nodded and picked up my whiskey. A puny bald man greeted me in the back. “Sir, just step into one of the rooms, drop a quarter into the slot, and the curtains will open,” he informed me. “The performer will do whatever you ask of her for five minutes before the curtains close. At that time, you will have to insert another quarter if you want the show to continue. You will be able to see her, but she won’t see you. If you make a mess, clean it up. Enjoy the show.”

I walked into a pitch black room and dug into my pocket. I only had one quarter. I dropped it into the coin slot and the curtains swung open. The room brightened up and in front of me, on the other side of the glass, was a scantily clad Layla Huffington.

I quickly turned my head. My back was facing the glass.

“Hello?” Layla asked, “is anyone there?”

I was too terrified to speak.

Then I could hear her knocking on the glass. “You have me for five minutes,” she said, “is there anything you want to see?”

“Uhh,” I stuttered, “my apologies. It’s been so long since I’ve laid eyes on a woman.”

“You have nothing to fear mister,” I heard her say, “I do this all of the time.”

“I suppose you do,” I said.

“So?” Layla asked after a long pause. “What do you want me to do?”

I backed up and leaned against the glass, still not facing her. I couldn’t find the words. “I just want to hear your voice,” I finally said.

“My voice? What do you want me to say?”

“Who are you? Where do you come from?”

“Umm, well,” I heard her chuckle, “no one’s ever asked me that before.”

I didn’t reply.

“I grew up on a farm in Iowa,” she explained in a soft voice. I could feel her standing near the glass. “I dreamt about being somewhere, anywhere but where I was. One day, I left for the big city, expecting big things. But big things never came. I realized that I’m just a small town girl, meant for a small world. And now I’m here. It’s a tale as old as time.”

My left hand reached across my body and I placed it against the glass. I could see Layla out of the corner of my eye, but I still couldn’t face her.

“Do…” I started to say. “Did you ever love someone?”

There was a long, awkward silence. “I…I…,” she stuttered.

Then the curtains shuttered and the room returned to black.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part VII)

“I’m Dillon J Dudenburg. I’ve directed hardcore porn, I’ve directed softcore porn. I’ve studied under Stephen Sayadian AND Nick Millard. And I’ve also directed episodes of Grace Under Fire,” the famed filmmaker, recently fired from a major motion picture, informed us. He was puffing on his Black & Milds while we interviewed him in a U-Haul storage unit in El Segundo. We were using it as a “casting couch”. The three of us…Peter, Donovan McNabb,and myself…were all donning our fake mustaches while undercover as porn producers.

“That’s very interesting, Dillon,” Peter said. “Jack, do you have anything you’d like to ask?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “what does the ‘J’ stand for?”

Dillon took a drag off his cheap cigar. “Just ‘J’,” he said.

“Did you read the script?”

“Uhh, yeah,” Dillon said as he dabbed his cigar in the ashtray, “and I have a few ideas. First, I’d like to cast as our leading lady an actress I worked with on Pee On Me Vol. 9….Bella Bixby. I think she’s perfect for the role.”

“But part of the agreement was to cast a different actress that you worked with on Info Whores: Layla Huffington,” Donovan interrupted.

“Layla Huffington?! No way man!“

“May I ask why?” Donovan said. He was getting irate.

“She gave the entire cast and crew crabs man! We had to shut down production for an entire month!”

That was enough. Donovan McNabb leapt out of his seat and began to strangle Dillon. “I GAVE HER THOSE CRABS!” he kept shouting.

Peter and I wrangled Donovan while Dillon laid out on the floor trying to catch his breath. “Donovan, chill out,” I said, “that’s my responsibility!” I then kicked Dillon in the side and grabbed him by the lapels. “Where’s Layla?!” I kept asking.

“Last place I saw her was at a strip club in Riverside,” Dillon replied as he coughed up blood.

I stood up straight and ripped off my mustache. “Let’s get going,” I ordered.

“Wait a minute,” Peter said, “we have this place rented out until the 24th. So how are we gonna….”

While we were talking amongst ourselves, Dillon, still on the ground, pulled out a switch blade from his sock. As he charged towards Donovan, I drew the .38 and blasted a hole in the filmmaker’s face. His body fell to the ground as blood gushed out of every orifice.

“My god, Jack, what have you done?” Peter asked as he knelt beside the body. Then he began to weep.

“Peter, you’ve seen me kill hundreds of people,” I said, “why are you crying?”

“Don’t you get it?!” he yelled, “Dillon was the greatest artist of our time!”

“The Bible specifically prohibits the production and viewing of internet pornography,” I replied as I put my gun back in the holster. “I did the world a favor.”

Peter stood up and got in my face. “When you find Layla Huffington,” he said calmly, “you take her and get OUT of the state of California. Or else I will kill you myself.”

I lit up a cigarette and gave him a smirk. “Gladly,” I said.

Then we were off to Riverside.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part V)

“Don’t you have a whole FBI field office to run?” I asked Peter Tucker. Donavan McNabb, the guitarist I threatened to shoot on the streets of Oakland and Layla’s ex-boyfriend, was packing his van before the two of us departed for LA.

“You know,” Peter explained, “the funny thing about San Francisco is that absolutely NO crimes are committed there. What are the odds? So I’ve got nothing better to do.”

“Well if you’re tagging along with us, you’re paying for gas,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” Donovan interrupted, “this is a 1994 GMC Vandura. It’s a marvel of modern engineering. So this thing DEFINITELY doesn’t suck up a lot of gas.”

“It’s all good,” Peter replied, “I’ll just use my credit card issued by the federal government to pay for the $15 per gallon gas here in the State of California for an investigation that has absolutely nothing to do with the government.”

“Good thinking,” I said. “Well hop on in! Let’s get this show on the road!”

***

We all got high driving down the SR 1. It didn’t help much. I couldn’t shake the half naked images of Layla from my mind; something was compelling me towards her. And it wasn’t just my erection either.

“I know I’m a federal agent and all,” Peter said to Donovan, who was driving the van, “but goddamn this is some good weed.”

“For Christ sake,” I said to Peter, “stop using the Lord’s name in vain!”

“Come off your high horse, Jack,” he replied.

“No, he’s right,” Donovan interrupted, “God is all around us. God is love. We should treat him with respect.”

“That’s an interesting perspective,” I replied.

“Shut the fuck up Donovan,” Peter said. “You’re just a dumbass California stoner. I shouldn’t even be letting you drive! It would have been much faster taking the interstate!”

“What’s the rush, man?” Donovan asked.

“A girl’s gone missing,” I said, “and her mother is paying $3500 per day to find her.”

“All Layla did was move to LA for work,” Donovan said as tears began to stream down his face. “I just wish she hadn’t had dumped me.”

“There there,” I said as I patted him on the back, “I completely understand why she left you.”

Donovan pulled off to a lone gas station overlooking the California coast. Peter went inside to ask for directions and take a shit while Donovan stood around with his thumb up his ass. Meanwhile, I continued to study Layla’s dossier.

Then some jackoff in a red Porsche convertible pulled up behind the van. “Hey, are you gonna pump any gas?!” the man yelled. “You’re holding up the line!”

“There are other pumps, sir,” Donovan replied. But the gentleman wasn’t having it.

I grew annoyed as he continued to lay on the horn. Finally, I walked up to the Porsche and pulled out the .38.

“Listen here, shitheel!” I said to the man, “we’re on a mission from God, GODDAMNIT! That means we don’t have to obey the laws of man. So I hope you’re right with the Lord, because if you keep laying on the horn, you might be meeting Him sooner than you think!”

The man began to piss himself as he wept and raised his hands in the air. “I’m so sorry mister,” he cried, “I just need some gas.”

I lifted the .38 and pulled back the hammer. “Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior?” I asked.

The man bawled as he accepted Jesus into his life. Then I shot him in the kneecap for the inconvenience

Peter ran out of the gas station after he heard the gunshot and patted me on the back. “I’m really proud of you Jack,” he said, “you’ve shown a lot of restraint these last few days.”

I nodded as put the .38 in my holster. “You know, it’s just never occurred to me to NOT kill everyone I come across. I don’t what it is. I guess California has really gotten to me.”

We both laughed then continued on our journey to LA.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part IV)

“Please take the barrel of your .38 out of my nose!” the manager of the porn theater cried. “I don’t recognize the girl!”

“I know you know something!” I replied. “If you like having a nose, you better spit it out!”

“I know nothing! I swear!”

“You’re a liar. And you know what the Lord does to liars and pornographers? There’s no forgiveness! The Book of Isaiah says so,” I said. “But you will live to die another day. So get right with the Lord, for hell is in your not too distant future!”

I pulled the trigger and his nose splattered against the wall. The manager screamed on the floor as blood streamed through his fingers as he held his hands over his face.

Meanwhile, Peter Tucker was waiting outside of the manager’s office. “I’m proud of you, Jack,” he said. “You didn’t put a bullet in the suspect’s brain this time. You’re really maturing as a person.”

“Thanks Peter,” I replied as I put the .38 back in its holster. “Gosh though, this Layla Huffington girl is really hard to find. I mean, millions of men beat off to her picture everyday! You’d think SOMEONE would recognize her.”

“People go missing all of the time. I think you’ve done enough work for the day. C’mon, let’s get drunk and forget about it.”

I nodded then Peter and me left the theater and began walking past skid row. I couldn’t shake the image of Layla from my mind. There was something about her face that was haunting me.

As we were about to enter the bar, a street performer was playing a familiar tune on his guitar. “Do you hear that song?” I asked Peter.

“Yeah, it’s a shitty acoustic version to that Eric Clapton song. What of it?”

“Layla,” I said.

I walked up to the street performer and handed him a $20 bill. “You better take the money,” I told him, “cuz if you don’t give the answers I want, you’ll get a bullet instead.”

“Fuck off copper!”

I slapped him across the face with the butt of my .38. As he laid on the ground, I pointed the gun at his skull. “I ain’t no cop,” I said. “I’m Jack Hardcock and I don’t play by the rules. So tell me about Layla or else you’ll be my next victim of the day.”

“It’s just a song, man!”

I cocked the .38.

“Alright alright!” the performer cried. “She’s my ex-girlfriend! She dumped my ass and fucked off to Los Angeles!”

“Layla WHO?!!”

“Layla HUFFINGTON!”

TO BE CONTINUED….

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part III)

“Don’t forget your Winchester ammo, Uncle Jack,”Klyde reminded me before I boarded the Greyhound bus.

I chuckled a bit. “You must mistake me for some stupid moron, Klyde,” I replied, “I never forget that!”

Thankfully he did remind me because I forgot.

“Well Brother Jack,” Pete said as he slapped me on the back, “don’t you be enjoying California too much. If you come back as a Democrat, I’ll strangle you with my bare hands and hang your corpse in the front yard.”

“Heh, good luck getting passed my .38,” I said as I pulled out my gun.

We laughed and exchanged hugs before I took my seat on the bus bound for Oakland, CA. When I arrived 12 days later, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. So I grabbed my bags and checked in at the La Quinta Inn in Alameda.

“Name please?” the clerk asked.

“Hardcock. Jack Hardcock.”

“ID?”

I laid the .38 out on the desk.

“Ah yes, Mr. Hardcock. Welcome to Alameda,” the clerk said. “Room 213 is ready for you.”

I threw my bags on the bed and began checking the room for bugs and wiretaps. Nothing. Then there was a knock on the door.

“Room service,” the voice said.

I drew my weapon and cracked open the door. “What do you want?” I asked.

“I’m here to bring you more toiletries, Mr. Hardcock,” the housekeeper replied.

I opened the door and invited her in. She pushed her cart in front of her and started dispensing soaps and shampoos on the nightstand and skink. When she was finished, she parked her cart in front of me.

“Is there anything else I can get you?” she asked.

“Yes, just one more thing…”

I punched her in the face and wrestled her to the bed. As I had my knee to her back, I ripped off the wig.

“Nice try, Peter Tucker: FBI agent!” I said.

I released my knee and Peter started laughing as he rolled over. “Nothing gets passed you,” he said, “you’re as sharp as a tack!”

“What the fuck do you want? Why are you watching me?”

Peter sat up in bed and began wiping away the makeup. “Now now, settle down Jack,” he explained, “I know you’re after the missing Huffington girl. I promise to not interfere with with your investigation, the only service my office will provide is protection.”

“Protection from what? There’s nothing on the streets that I can’t handle myself. Remember, I spent six months in Cleveland?!”

“I know that! But things operate a little differently here.”

“How so?”

“Well, for one thing, I’m in charge.”

I let out a huge guffaw. “Don’t tell me the FBI put you in charge of the San Francisco field offices!”

“You better believe it, bucko,” Peter replied. “Furthermore, I don’t you running around here with that puny ass peashooter fuckin everything up! So you play by the rules or I’ll have you locked up in San Quentin! Do we have an understanding?”

“Peashooter? You mean this LETHAL weapon?”

I then pulled out the .38 and shot Peter’s makeup sponge right out of his hand.

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Jack!”

“Alright Peter,” I said as I placed the .38 back in its holster, “I’ll play it your way. But what’s with the disguise?”

“Disguise?” Peter asked. “This is how I dress.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part II)

“My daughter ran off to California to porn and I’m absolutely devastated!” cried Ariana Huffington after I invited her into the home. I handed her a towel to dry herself from the pouring rain. “I don’t know what could have led her to such a decision! She was raised in a good Christian home!”

Ariana and myself, along with Pete’s family, sat around the fire place as she explained her story. “The Devil got to your daughter,” I said, “he’s my longtime nemesis. I’m quite familiar with his tactics. So You came to the right place.”

“Can you bring her home, Jack Hardcock?” Ariana asked.

I lit up another cigarette and took out a notepad. “I can,” I replied, “but it’s not going to be easy. I’m gonna need her name, age, and her last known whereabouts. I’m also gonna need a $78,000 advancement, in cash preferably, plus a $2500 per diem.”

“Also, where we could find these pornographic videos on the internet would be helpful. You know, for research purposes and such,” interjected Pete.

“Good thinking,” I replied. “Knowing what kind of porn she does…anal, BDSM, etc…would be quite helpful in this case.”

Ariana bawled her eyes out as she provided all the requested information. Pete immediately pulled out his phone to do research. “This videos are too upsetting,” he said. “Excuse me. I’ll be in the bathroom for awhile. No one knock on the door.”

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Huffington,” I said, “I’ll bring your daughter home.”

***

I laid in bed twisting and turning all night. To comfort myself, I started cleaning my .38. But the green bean casserole that Jesseka made was running the through me.

As I was walking to the bathroom, I found Klyde…my nephew…watching pornographic videos on his computer. I lifted the .38 and fired a round into the monitor.

“Jesus Christ, Uncle Jack! I was just trying to help you with your investigation!” Klyde screamed.

“You’ve defiled yourself AND that computer,” I said. “If you’re not careful, you’ll end up just like that poor girl. Do you wanna be shoving metal rods into other men’s pee holes for a living?”

“I don’t know, Uncle Jack,” Klyde replied. “It seems like pornography is everywhere these days. I just can’t avoid it.”

“I understand,” I said as I put my arm around him. “But just remember: Jesus will be returning very soon to vanquish our enemies. All hell will be unleashed on Earth and every man, woman, and child forsaken by God will know His wrath.”

“So true Uncle Jack,” Klyde nodded.

“Now you run off to bed.”

I went to the bathroom to take a shit. While on the toilet, I began looking through my notes. They read, “Subject’s age: 20 yo. Last known location: Oakland, CA.”

Then I paused to ponder the name: Layla Huffington.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Jack Hardcock: Christian Detective (Full Story)

Jack Hardcock will be returning in November. So here’s an introduction to the man, the legend.

Enjoy.

“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.”

“Word.”

“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.

Nothing.

“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!”

“With pleasure.”

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.

“About what?!”

“Art McGarth.”

“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. 

Nothin.

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?”

“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.

THE END 

BUT JACK HARDCOCK WILL RETURN…

Whatnot n’ what-have-you

My obsession with the Gospel of Mark might seem odd at first glance. But consider this: it’s the most basic of the four canonical gospels, no one knows who wrote it, we don’t know why it was written, it is the oldest known narrative of Jesus, all other Gospels are based on it or are in some ways responding to it. Therefore, this Gospel essentially invented the story of Jesus, making it one of the most important documents of all time, literarily and/or historically.

This document is a mystery; a mystery that will almost certainly never be solved. But that doesn’t mean certain quack scholars like myself won’t give it a shot.

Unfortunately, when you spend an inordinate amount of time researching a specific topic, people tend to read more into it than what’s actually there. I try to keep that in mind while reading Mark. I don’t find this gospel to be a particularly brilliant document and whatever “themes” are there, I think, is just a reflection on the reader.

Case in point is the abrupt ending at 16:8 (the original ending, after Jesus’s death, when the women enter his tomb only to find a man in there telling them to go to Galilee):

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭16‬:‭8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What a weird way to end a story eh?

And maybe the author of Mark did have an “artistic” purpose for ending his or her story in that way. I just think he (or she) ended it there because why the hell not? I’m not saying it was a GOOD decision, just A decision.

So never read more into Mark than what’s actually there. But there does seem to be a growing consensus amongst scholars regarding its genre: it’s a Greco-Roman biography.

I think Helen K. Bond, in her book The First Biography of Jesus, makes a pretty good case for this. While Mark doesn’t fit perfectly with the biographical genre, it does share enough of its characteristics to possibly shed some light on the meaning behind this strange document.

But whatever Mark’s intention was, as Bond summarizes in her book, the story of Jesus IS, essentially, the Gospel of Mark. So whatever your beliefs are, there is a great deal of historical worth in that.

***

Personal update: my career at the toilet factory might be coming to a close. New management is taking over and, although they can’t fire me, they can make my life difficult which is how they treat veterans whenever they want a clean slate.

I don’t understand why new managers feel the need to do this, but so it goes.

So again, might be extremely busy for the next month while I find a new career. I may be writing A LOT or writing very little. Sucks, but life goes on.

jack hardcock christian detective (part xii: the conclusion)

“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.

THE END

BUT JACK HARDCOCK WILL RETURN…