Pennies for the Dead (Full Story)

Sorry for playing the hits, but I’m still undergoing writer’s block. I’m trying to jog my creativity by starting shit on Instagram, but that takes time.

Honesty, I forgot about this story. I posted it a year ago and while it isn’t my best work there’s still a few good ass jokes.

So enjoy

Pennies for the Dead

So I was doing a seance during the middle of the night-in a cemetery-when a security guard approached me.

“The hell are you doing?” he asked.

“Conjuring the dead. What does it look like?”

“Well hurry up. Gates close in an hour.”

So I cranked up the spirit box and pulled out the Ouija board. I asked the spirit box, “is a Joe Morris present?”

The box scanned through the channels before saying “Beelzebub”. Oh shit, I thought. I probably just cursed myself. 

“No no no,” I replied. “JOE Morris.”

The box continued to scan but I was receiving no answers. The Ouija board was no help either. It kept spelling out “anal sex” and “go fuck yourself”. This was getting me nowhere.

I packed everything up and took out my flashlight. Next to Joe Morris’ tombstone was the name “Jezebel Morris”.

Dorthy Morris neglected to tell me that name.

Joe was Dorthy’s father. He was allegedly poisoning in 1952. The autopsy, however, was inconclusive. Dorthy’s been wanting this case solved her entire life. Now, in her twilight years, she lived a reclusive life on her family’s estate while her brain slowly demented away. 

In my opinion, Joe died by natural causes. You know how men lived in those days. But I hadn’t had a case in months.

Was it wrong of me to take this elderly lady’s money? Yes.

I immediately left the cemetery and stopped at the Voodoo shop. I had to do something to spurn any demonic curses, ya know? Afterwards I drove to Dorthy’s estate.

I pounded on the door. She was hard of hearing.

“Is that you Lyle?” she asked 

“No ma’am. It’s Ty Carson, private detective,” I replied. 

I opened the door and found Dorthy with a blanket covering her lap in front of the fireplace. She was playing checkers. 

“Who are you playing checkers with?” I asked.

“I’m not playing checkers.”

I quickly moved on to the business at hand. “I did what you asked,” I said. “I went to the cemetery to talk to Joe. I found out that the dead aren’t too keen on talking.”

“But I talked to Joe this morning,” she replied.

I ignored that comment.

“Who’s Jezebel?” I asked.

Dorthy gave me a puzzled look. “Jez has been dead for years,” she said.

“I know. Who was she?”

“No. I can’t betray Joe like that.”

“But she might be key to understanding Joe’s death.”

“No. That matter is closed.”

I shrugged. I figured that I could just go through public records in the morning. As I began to leave, I turned around. 

“Oh, by the way,” I said, “the spirit box and Ouija board came to about $150. That will be charged to your account.”

“$5,000 you said?” Dorthy asked as she pulled out her checkbook.

“Yes.”

***

I couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed.

I had a hunch that it was the repo man coming to take the Geo Metro. I pulled out my .38 and shouted into the dark. “I have your filthy money!” I yelled. “Show yourself!”

Out of the shadows, I heard a thick Boston accent: “Are you Mista Cahson?” it asked.

“What’s it to ya PAL?!”

The figure stepped forth slowly from the shadows. He was tossing a baseball into the air. 

“I’m Mista Pete Morris,” the figure said. “I’m son of Dorthy Morris, your client. I understand that you’ve been taking my mutha’s money.”

“She’s been giving it to me in larger amounts than I’ve been asking. That’s hardly stealing,” I replied.

“Hey ohhh, buddy! I ain’t said nuthin about stealing.”

“Then you better make your point. I have a .38 aiming between your eyeballs.”

Pete straightened up his jacket and began stammering nervously. “All I’m asking is that you let me in on the cut,” he said.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “I work better alone. Besides, fuck the Red Sox.”

“I’m tellin ya,” Pete said, “there’s somethin goin on with Dorthy.”

“Yeah, it’s called dementia.”

“No. There’s something else goin on up there at that estate. Something that can’t be explained, not of this world. Some things just can’t be stopped by bullets, ya know?”

Pete then tossed the baseball again and I shot it out of the air.

“I haven’t found one yet,” I said.

“Look, I have all the answers you’re looking for,” Pete continued. “The death of Joe Morris is deeper than you think.”

I put the gun back into my holster. “Buddy,” I said, “if you’re trying to grift your rich elderly mother out of her money, you’re gonna have to find another angle.”

As I turned around to finish my walk home, Pete spoke up again. “I know about Jezebel,” he said.

“So do I pal,” I said as I continued walking, “she was Dorthy’s sister who died of pneumonia a year before Joe’s death. She was 20 years old.”

“That’s not the whole story,” Pete replied, “in fact, she wasn’t Dorthy’s sister.”

I stopped, turned around, and pulled out a cigarette. “Alright bucko,” I said, “now you’ve got my attention.”

***

“Sorry babe,” I said to Sheila. “I got the whiskey dick.”

“It’s alright, I’m used to it,” she replied. “Maybe you shouldn’t drink before sex.”

“I wouldn’t know. Never tried it.”

Sheila climbed out of bed and got dressed. As she put her shirt on, she noticed the crap on the floor. “What’s this stuff?” she asked.

“Don’t touch it,” I said, “that’s a spirit box and a Ouija board. You might awaken a demon from hell. Trust me, that’s one can of worms you can’t close.”

“What are you doing with that?”

“It’s some case that I’m scamming *ahem* I mean helping some old lady solve.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“Oh yeah, totally.” I looked over to the clock and noticed it was 7:30pm. “Speaking of, gotta get to work.” I got out of bed and threw my pants on. “You can stay here for the night,” I told Sheila, “but remember: DO NOT touch that damn Ouija board.”

I was running late. I had to meet Pete at the Morris estate where he was going to shed some light on Jezebel’s identity. 

I arrived 45 minutes later. It was nearly pitch black. I grabbed my flask and flashlight and got to work. “This better be worth my time,” I told Pete. 

“I told you that you’re not gonna need that .38,” he said.

“You let me be the judge of that.”

We began venturing into the woods. There was allegedly a cellar back behind the mansion that contained the remains of Jezebel. “I’ve been told all my life that this is an old Indian burial ground,” Pete said.

“Why didn’t you tell me that before I pissed on that hedge?” I asked. 

“There it is,” he said. I shinned my flashlight in that direction. The cellar was only a few yards ahead. 

“How far down is it?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I never been down there.”

I lit up a cigarette. “You go first,” I said.

Pete gathered up his courage and proceeded towards the cellar. He took a deep breath before going down the stairs. The cellar was deep. Too deep for my liking.

I put one hand on the .38. 

Finally we reached the bottom. We were standing in a wide, musty corridor with multiple chambers. “What the hell was this place used for?” I asked Pete.

“Supposedly this was a torture chamber for runaway soldiers during the Civil War. Many slaves lost their lives down here.”

“Pete, I’m beginning to think that your family deserves to be cursed.”

“What’s this?” Pete asked. I shined the flashlight over to an old fire pit littered with ash and bones.

Then the cellar door slammed close.

I pulled out the 38. “Stay calm,” I said.

“I told you there’s something strange going on here!”

“Shut up Pete.”

“I can’t die down here! The Celtics are in the playoffs!”

“Pete, so help me god, if you don’t shut up I’ll shoot you myself!”

Suddenly my flashlight went out. Then something grabbed Pete. “Damn you Brad Stevens!!!!!!!” he screamed before disappearing into the dark.

I started firing indiscriminately into the shadows.

“Pete!” I screamed out. 

There was only silence.

The flashlight kicked back on and I shined it all around the corridor. Pete was nowhere to be found. “Fuck this,” I said as I sprinted back up the stairs and to the car.

I floored the Geo Metro back to the apartment. I rushed in through the door and began frantically looking for the Ouija board. “Damn it Sheila!” I yelled. “What did you do with the Ouija board?”

Sheila stumbled out of the kitchen with a glass of wine. “The planchette began moving around,” she said as she slurred her words. “It started spelling out ‘You’re next’, ‘Hail Satan’, and ‘I heart ass’ I didn’t know what that meant so I threw it into the fireplace.”

“Sheila,” I said, “I might’ve opened a portal to hell.”

***

I quietly hoped that Pete lived a lonely, miserable life. He never mentioned anything about a spouse. His mother was barely cognizant of his existence. Honestly, he seemed to be a stupid sack of shit and nobody would have missed him.

But I didn’t want anyone reporting his disappearance. What would I have told the police? That he was sucked into some black hole in the middle of the woods?

I had to find Pete. And finding Pete probably led to solving the mystery of Joe Morris’ death.

Actually, I could have walked away from this entire thing and no one would have been the wiser. But I knew the spirits were listening in. I had to get to the bottom of this thing before they got to me.

I picked up the spirit box. “Listen here, damn you,” I said, “I know you can hear me. I want some answers! Where’s Pete? Who’s Jezebel?!”

The spirit box began scanning through the channels before spitting out “suck.my.penis.”

That’s it, I thought. I reloaded the .38 and went back to the Morris Estate.

It was 12:30am. I pounded on Dorthy’s door. “Is it the milk man?” I heard her ask. “Come in!”

I opened the door and there was Dorthy playing Trivial Pursuit alone. “Damn it Dorthy!” I said, “I need answers! Who’s Jezebel?!”

“Jezebel? She’s been dead for 20 years.”

“Records say she died in 1951. Stop jackin me around!” I pulled out the .38. I meant business.

The candles around the aged mansion began to flicker. Random objects started to move: books flipped open, mirrors were rattling, the record player was blasting Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’. Dorthy meanwhile went into a trance. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she backed up into the shadows.

I turned on the spirit box. “Alright Jezebel! I know you’re on to me,” I said. “Talk to me! Let’s settle this thing!”

Suddenly the doors flew open. A woman floated into the room. Her eyes were as dark as night. 

I lifted the .38.

But it was Sheila.

“Sheila, you’re drunk,” I said. “Go home!”

“I am not Sheila,” the demonic voice said. “I am Jezebel!”

***

“I don’t know Sheila,” I said, “you’ve faked demonic possessions before.”

“Try me, asswipe!” she replied. Then I pumped a few bullets into her chest.

Nothin

“Alright, so I guess you’re Jezebel,” I said. “Where’s Pete?”

“His soul resides in HELL for all eternity!!!!”

“Good, he’s a Boston sports fan,” I said, “he needs to know how that feels.”

“You will join him soon enough!”

“Sorry sister, I already live in Ohio.”

I pulled the trigger again but I already emptied the revolver. I threw the gun at her and started running down the hallway while screaming for my life. 

I hid in the closet under the staircase. Of course, it didn’t take long for her to find me. Using her demonic powers, Jezebel began to eat my soul. I started praying. “God, I regret everything,” I said. 

Then God responded. Thunderbolts began raining down on Jezebel from some unseen force and she retreated into the shadows. I was still alive. 

I crawled out from the closet. In front of me stood a wizard-like figure dressed in white robes and holding a staff.

“Thank you Jesus,” I said.

“I’m not Jesus,” the figure replied. “I’m Joe Morris.”

I stood up. “Joe Morris? Shouldn’t you be 120 years old?”

“119 to be precise.”

Then Pete ran down the hallway. “Ty! I’m still alive!” he said.

“I thought you went to hell,” I replied.

“I did. It ain’t such a bad place. I got to meet Dave Cowens.”

“He’s still alive dumbass.”

“Are you sure? By the way, did you piss your pants?”

“I did. It’s a side effect of my elavil prescription. Where did Jezebel go?”

“She went back to hell to lick her wounds,” Joe Morris said. “We must go to the cellar, return to hell, and make sure she never returns.”

“Fuck that,” I said. “This ain’t my problem. I’ll just collect the money from Dorthy and be on my merry way.”

Right then, a possessed Dorthy flew down from the ceiling and attacked me. While I fought her off, Joe Morris released more thunderbolts from his staff. Finally, she flew off of me and began writhing on the ground before whatever cursed spirit that possessed her left her body. Dorthy was dead.

“Mother!” Pete screamed.

“She hasn’t been your mother for a long time,” Joe said.

I took a moment to gather myself. 

“Alright,” I said, “I need to change my pants before we go to the cellar.”

***

“So you’ve been in hell for 70 years Joe?” I asked.

“Why is that so hard for you to believe?”

“Did you die first? Or did you go down there for shits and giggles?”

“Unbeknownst to me, my family has been guarding this portal to hell for 200 years. Jezebel was a maid at our estate and I went outside my marriage to be with her. But Jezebel was secretly the devil and she cast me into the portal.”

“So is your body buried in that cemetery or what? If so, how the hell are you standing here with a flesh and blood body?”

“Don’t worry about it. The point is there’s been a rebellion in hell. Spirits are escaping to this earth and if we don’t stop Jezebel, there will be hell on earth!”

“Relax Joe, you’re just describing Toledo,” I said.

“You already made that joke.”

“How can three flesh and blood men stop an army of evil spirits?” Pete asked.

“While in Hell, I learned the ancient dark arts of Mesopotamia,” Joe replied. “I’ve been made a priest in these ancient religions. All I have to do is bless your weapon of choosing, and voila.”

“Can you bless the bullets of my .38?” I asked.

“Sure can.”

“Hell yeah!”

“What about my pocket knife?” Pete asked.

“That’s a pretty lame weapon, Pete.”

“Grab as many weapons as you can carry,” Joe replied. 

“What about this machete?” Pete asked.

“What about this IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun?” I asked.

“Yes, yes. I will bless them all. We must hurry though.”

“Thanks Joe!” I said. “By the way, I’ve always wondered: what’s it like having sex with Satan?”

***

“Just be warned,” Joe said to me, “Hell ain’t what you think it is.”

“How so?”

“You just have to see.”

Joe, Pete, and I gathered our divinely blessed weapons and proceeded to the cellar in the woods. Joe went into the portal first, then Pete. I hesitantly went in last.

I felt my body break down into its molecular and atomic parts while time and space melted down. Then reality reconstructed itself and the three of us were in a large theater.

On stage was a nude couple: one an elderly woman and the other an average-looking dude with an abnormally large dong. A horse was also on stage. It was a community theater production of Equus.

“Ah shit. Now I know what you mean,” I said.

We rushed out of the theater, side by side, weapons on ready. We were men on a mission, a mission to find…and kill…Jezebel. And more importantly, we had to stop the dead from invading the earthly realm. 

Outside the theater, we hailed a cab. The driver stopped and we all piled into the back. “Does anyone want to sit up here with me?” the driver asked. “Son of a bitch,” I said then got in the front seat.

“Where to?” the cabbie asked. “Downtown” Joe replied.

The cab driver then blasted Jon and Vangelis from the radio and was humming along. I turned to the backseat.

“Hell seems more boring and mildly irritating,” I said, “much like Minneapolis.”

“Yeah, but imagine spending spending eternity here,” Joe replied.

He had a point.

The cap pulled up to a downtown bank. We all piled out of the car. “Are you sure that the Empress of Hell and all of Damnation is here?” I asked.

“Of course, with their ungodly interest rates, there’s nowhere else she could be!” Joe said.

So the three of us…a wizard, an idiot, and a guy with a shotgun…walked into the bank lobby. We went up to a loan officer.

“We’re here to see Jezebel,” I tell the man.

“Do you have an appointment?” he asks.

I cocked the shotgun and blasted a hole in his chest. “She’ll be with you shortly,” the loan officer replied.

Security guards rushed into the lobby and began firing indiscriminately. Pete became an absolute beast and started slicing away with his machete. Joe unleashed fire bolts from his staff. I unloaded shell after shell from my shotgun.

As we looked over the absolute slaughter of security guards, with blood and guts strewn about the lobby, Joe nodded his head. “I think our plan is working out pretty good,” he said.

“I’m out of shells,” I said and dropped the shotgun. Then I pulled out the .38 and kissed it. “But I still got six shots.”

We all went into the elevator and Joe hit the button for the 666th floor. “Holy shit!” I said. “How many floors are in this building?” 

32 minutes later, we arrived. Jezebel was in a conference call with all of her minions. She was planning the final stages of her Hellish invasion of earth.

“What took you so long?” she asked.

“Your slow ass elevator,” Pete said.

“You think your earthly powers can stop me?”

I lifted the .38. “Nothing can stop these bullets sister.”

***

I instantly wasted 5 bullets. 

Sadly, I had to borrow a weapon from Pete. And let me tell you: it ain’t easy killing demons with a pocket knife.

In the midst of the mayhem, I lost track of Jezebel. “She escaped to the roof!” Pete yelled while decapitating a goblin.

I sprinted up the stairs to the very top of this 666-storied building. I was out of breath when I reached the roof. Jezebel was waiting.

“Your pathetic little weapon will do nothing to me,” she said.

“That’s not the first time I’ve heard that,” I replied.

Above the roof, Jezebel was opening a portal to Earth where all the spirits of this evil domain could trespass. I was running out of time. So I rushed Jezebel with the knife.

As I leapt towards her heart, she blocked my movement, knocking loose the pocket knife.

I was on the ground. Powerless. Jezebel laughed. “What a weakling,” she said as she put her pitchfork up to my neck.

“If you kill me,” I asked Jezebel, “where am I gonna go? I’m already in hell!”

“If you think it’s bad here, wait till I send you to Bridgeport!”

I closed my eyes in preparation for eternity. Then thunderbolts rained down on Jezebel. While Joe unleashed his unholy powers from the staff, Pete went absolute apeshit on Jezebel with his machete. This severely damaged her powers, thus closing the portal.

With her powers nearly drained, Jezebel stood at the edge of the roof. “Halt!” I yelled before Joe could make the final kill shot. “Jezebel still possesses Sheila’s body.”

I looked deep into Jezebel’s eyes. I could still see Sheila. “Sheila,” I pleaded, “I know that we never had sex because of my undiagnosed ED. I know that I’d often disappear into the bathroom and leave you with the bill. I know that I’d also clog the toilet and blame it on the cat,” I said, “but I also know that I love you and you should probably attend AA.”

Right then, Jezebel began to spastically writhe on the ground. The evil spirit departed Sheila’s body, and there alone stood a defeated Jezebel.

With one bullet left, I pulled out the .38. “Back to where you belong Satan: Massachusetts.” 

I pulled the trigger.

The flash from the barrel echoed throughout Hell. In a puff of smoke went Jezebel.

I couldn’t believe it.

“Is she gone for good?” I asked Joe.

He looked out to the horizon. “We defeated her for the time being,” Joe said. “But the devil is never really gone. Where Jezebel resides now is in a hell of her own making, a place so unfathomable that God himself wouldn’t dare set foot. So Norway probably.”

I walked over to an unconscious Sheila. I kneeled down to awaken her. “What happened?” she asked.

“Just a temporary demonic possession. Nothing to worry about,” I said. 

Sheila stood up and looked down to the sprawling city below. “Where are we?”

“We’re in Hell dear,” I said.

“It looks like Orlando.”

THE END

Flashback: “Dr. Si”

People ask me all the time: what’s your worst story?

And the answer is the story you’re about to read…Dr. Si. It’s poorly written, the jokes don’t land, and the character motivations make zero fucking sense (much like an actual James Bond story).

Some background though: the last “Detective James from LA” story I posted was The Man with the Golden Eye, which was the second in the series. While Dr. Sí, for all intents and purposes, is a direct sequel to that story, it’s actually the fourth in the series. Magnum Enforcer, the third entry in the Detective James saga, is actually a banger that I might republish here at another time. But you really only need to know two things from Magnum Enforcer: it introduces the Korth .357 magnum WHICH James uses to senselessly kill the villain at a Chucky Cheese in the story’s conclusion, plus Mr. Ree is formally introduced (although he’s in the first two stories)

However, knowing that information prolly won’t change a thing because this story’s still a piece a shit.

Dr. Si

“I’m Amish now,” I said to Admiral Majors and Izzy. “I don’t believe in violence anymore.”

“You mean to tell me we drove all the way to Pennsylvania from Los Angeles just for you to say you’ve taken a vow to never kill again,” the Admiral asked.

“Yes. I killed a man in cold blood. Not out of justice,” I replied. “I felt pure hatred. And I hope to never feel that again. That’s not God’s way.”

“The man you killed was a bent cop AND a serial killer. Fuck that guy!”

“No,” I said. “You see this,” I pointed over to the wide green pastures. Off in the distance, Amish brethren were erecting a barn. “This is God’s way. Hard work and community. That’s what will get us to heaven.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this bullshit,” the Admiral replied. “So you wanna play hardball eh? Fine. $2 million. I am offering you $2 million of tax payer money to join my force. One of our top nuclear scientists have gone missing, and we have reason to suspect that the Ionian Liberation Front is behind it. You’ve dealt with those guys before. If you change your mind, you know where to reach me.”

The Admiral stormed off. Izzy bashfully stood around.

“What’s her name,” she asked.

“Miriam,” I replied. “She’s a good woman. She’ll make an excellent mother.”

“I’m happy for you,” she said. “I’m seeing someone too. I gave Admiral Majors a hand job on drive over here. He’s taking me to dinner tonight.”

“I wish you two the best of luck.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Goodbye James.”

“Goodbye Izzy.”

After I finished tending to the cattle, I washed off the bull semen then went to the homestead for supper. Miriam served me up a plate of beans and cornbread. 

Miriam was a plain and simple Amish woman. We married during the fall harvest. Her father was Ezekiel, one of the community leaders. He was generous enough to take me in.

“Didist thou havest a good day,” she asked.

“I did Miriam. This is a well-earned supper after an honest day’s work.”

“The Lord hath blessed us. I am pregnant with child.”

“This is swell news indeed. The community with rejoice at the announcement.”

We smiled and held hands while we sat around the fireplace. I was loading tobacco into my pipe when Ezekiel stopped by.

“The Lord has brought forth good news,” I told him. “Miriam is pregnant with child.”

“Praise the Lord indeed,” he replied. “I am going to be a grandfather.”

The two of us went to the porch to watch the sunset. I took a match to the pipe. “So what brings you by Ezekiel,” I asked.

“I’m afraid Brother Peter is not doing well,” he said. “He won’t likely survive through the night.”

“That’s a shame. Miriam and I shall pray on it.”

“Unfortunately, I bring more bad news. Bandits have returned and stole four more chickens. We don’t have the funds to replace them. I’m afraid that we are having trouble feeding the children and the harvest isn’t bringing what we need. Times are hard indeed.”

“The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away,” I said.

“I wish someone would do something about these bandits. They have drained all of our resources for the winter,” Ezekiel said.

I puffed on the pipe and rocked in the chair. “I’m sure the Lord will provide.”

That night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I sat up and kissed Miriam on the forehead while she peacefully slept.

I grabbed a shovel and hid behind the chicken coup while I waited for the bandits. I heard twigs snapping and bushes rustling. They were close.

“Stop right there or I’ll bash your head in,” I told the two bandits.

They laughed. “You’re Amish,” they said. “You can’t hurt us.”

“Grab my cock and find out,” I replied, referring to the rooster.

We had a stare down. I waited for one of them to make a move. One went for his pistol and I smashed the shovel right on his dick.

“My dick,” he yelled.

The other one leapt at me and I knocked his clean off his shoulders. Blood sprayed all over the coup. I went over to the other man laying on the ground.

“Don’t kill me,” he yelled. But I smashed the shovel right into his guts.

I buried the bodies deep in the woods.

I took the shovel and began digging behind the barn. Out of the dirt I pulled out an old oak box. 

Inside the box: the Korth 357 magnum.

***

“I’m sorry Miriam,” I said before I departed for Washington. “I’m doing this for the money. I must save our Amish community.”

We exchanged goodbyes and I rode my horse and buggy down to Washington DC to rendezvous with Admiral Majors at the Pentagon. 

“I knew you couldn’t refuse my offer,” the Admiral said. “Now take off that Amish bullshit. You’re a colonel in the Army now.”

I donned my uniform and saluted the Admiral. “Welcome to the Kill Force,” he said.

We boarded a plane and flew to The Hague. “What’s this about,” I asked the Admiral.

“We’re going to meet with Angelika Antoluktokoloplos. She knows the whereabouts of our missing nuclear scientist. Right now, she’s standing trial for war crimes.”

Angelika: my former nemesis turned ally during the Franco De Werner case.

Izzy flew along with us. Her and the Admiral were now married. “The President married us. We had the wedding on the White House lawn. You should have been there,” she said. She was trying to make me jealous.

“I’m so happy for you Izzy,” I replied.

Also on the flight was none other than Mr. Ree. “Well as I live in breath,” I told him. “I thought you died back in Los Angeles.”

He laughed. “No, I had an increased blood flow from that massive erection while I was pretending to be a prostitute. That’s what saved me. Thank god for viagra,” he said as he was popping viagra. “Now I always walk around with a boner.”

Me and Mr. Ree shared a few drinks at the airplane bar. “Keep the martinis coming,” I told the bartender.

“I heard you turned Amish,” Mr. Ree said.

“I’m a new man now,” I replied. “I’m only doing this for the money.”

“You get paid to do this?”

We got rip roaring drunk at the bar. I couldn’t sleep on the flight. Mr. Ree gave me a Xanax.

That morning, the plane landed at The Hague. The Admiral, Izzy, Mr. Ree, and myself were escorted to the maximum security prison by a NATO officer, Maj. Jzerkov. 

“Be warned,” Jzerkov said. “The prisoner is uncooperative, she hasn’t given up any information regarding the whereabouts of the Ionian Liberation Front.”

“Just take us to her,” the Admiral said.

Angelika was locked up in a 3×3 glass box, chained to a chair. “Why is she nude sir,” I asked Jzerkov. “To prevent suicide,” he replied. “These terrorists will stop at nothing to avoid answering for their crimes.”

“Well well well,” Angelika said. “If it isn’t the Admiral and his lap dog. It’s Private Detective James from Los Angeles, isn’t it?”

“It’s Colonel James now,” I replied.

“Where’s our missing nuclear scientist, Ms. Antelukolpolous,” the Admiral asked.

“Why should I tell you anything?”

The Admiral took me and Jzerkov aside. “Release her into my custody,” he told Jzerkov.

“This is highly irregular Admiral! She’s standing trial,” Jzerkov replied.

“Look, I need a bargaining chip.” 

Jzerkov thought for a second. “Alright, Admiral,” he responded. “But you owe me one.”

The Admiral nodded and went back to interrogating Angelika. “Okay Ms. Anolupolokolopos,” he said. “We are prepared to cut you a deal: charges will be dropped and you will be released into my custody….IF…if….you provide us any information. Just a name will suffice.”

Angelika sat back in her seat and smiled. “If you plan on going after the Ionian Liberation Front, you better bring bigger guns.”

“Angelika, please cooperate,” I said.

“Alright,” she responded. “You want a name, here’s a name. The man who kidnapped your highly esteem scientist is none other than…,” she gave a long pause. 

“Dr. Sí”

***

Angelika was loaded onto the plane, strapped to a dolly like she was Hannibal Lector. Maj. Jzerkov was generous enough to give her a jumpsuit.

This time, the plane was bound for Hawaii, the last known location of the nuclear scientist and Dr. Si. 

“Are we getting drunk on the plane again,” Mr. Ree asked.

“Damn right we are!”

Admiral Majors joined us at the bar. He was to brief us on our mission.

“The rest of the Kill Squad will join us in Honolulu,” the Admiral said. “Sgt. Private, Captain Corporal, and Lieutenant Sargent have been fully briefed on the situation.”

“Maybe I’ve been too drunk to pay attention,” I said. “But what is our mission?”

“I thought it was obvious,” the Admiral replied. “Retrieve the scientist and kill all the bad guys. How complicated do you want this to get?”

“What about Dr. Sí? What will we do if we capture him?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

After drinks, I went to the cargo bay to talk with Angelika. I dismissed the guards and removed her mask.

“Can you remove the straps please,” she asked. “I need to use the bathroom.”

I unstrapped her from the dolly and watched her closely while she used the toilet.

“Does this turn you on,” she asked.

It kinda did but I played it cool. “Just making sure you don’t escape,” I replied.

“Where am I gonna go? We’re on a plane.”

I didn’t reply. She wiped and flushed the toilet. “Gonna wash your hands,” I asked.

“Why? I didn’t shit on my hands. So what do you want to talk to me about?”

“What’s the deal with Dr. Sí? Why is he so important?”

“This technology he possesses, you couldn’t possibly imagine its power.”

“A nuclear weapon?”

“No. Something more powerful.”

“What could be more powerful than a nuclear weapon?”

“You have a small imagination.”

I scratched my head. Maybe I was too drunk to have this conversation. “Well what does he want with a nuclear scientist,” I asked.

“Nuclear power can be used for other things than just weapons.”

“Care to divulge?”

“Set me free from this cargo bay and I’ll tell you everything.”

“I’ll have to discuss that with the Admiral. He’s particularly concerned about the….”

I turned around for a second and Angelika leapt at me with a makeshift knife (that she presumably snuck in up her ass (or vagina)). I was quick enough to grab her arm and throw her to the ground.

I laid on top of her for a brief moment. We stared into each other’s eyes while I restrained her, my mouth inches from hers. We were both aroused by the sudden burst of action.

The guards rushed in when they heard the commotion. “I got the situation under control,” I told them.

I stood up and ordered the guards to strap her back to the dolly. “Our conversation is done here,” I said. “I’m gonna go jack of…er, I mean, get a Jack. A Jack and Coke. I’m gonna go get drunk.”

But I didn’t go to the bar. I rushed to my cabin to beat off.

***

The Kill Squad met us at Honolulu Airport. While we were unloading in the hangar, Sgt. Private, Lt. Corporal, and Cpt. Sargent gawked at Angelika.

“I’d like to stick my penis into her vagina, if you know what I mean ,” said Sgt. Private.

I bashed him in the face with the butt of my rifle. “Watch your mouth. Ms. Antolonolupolopolos is under our protection. She is our guest and you will treat her as such.”

“Enough,” the Admiral said. He walked over to Sgt. Private, pulled out a 9mm, and shot him in the head.

“Jesus Christ,” I yelled.

“I will not tolerate insubordination in this unit,” the Admiral said. “Lt. Corporal, Cpt. Sargent…get rid of the body.”

I walked over to Mr. Ree. “Does the Admiral usually shoot people for insubordination,” I asked. 

“Oh yeah! All the time. Don’t worry about it.”

Afterwards, the entire squad, plus Angelika and Izzy, was airlifted by helicopter to a remote location in the jungle…on the other side of Diamond Head. We set up headquarters in a small hut where we planned our excursion.

The Admiral laid out a map on the table. “Dr. Sí and the scientist were last seen at this location,” he said while pointing to a spot on the map. “I believe they’re now here,” he continued while pointing at a different spot. “Do you agree, Colonel?”

“Sure,” I replied. “Why not?”

“Good. We will head out at 0600 tomorrow morning. Load up on extra ammo,” he said to the group. “We’re bound to run into some resistance.”

The squad retreated to their huts around the camp. I ran into Izzy on my way out.

“The Admiral is a great guy, isn’t he,” she asked.

“He’s a crazy asshole. I’ll say that much.”

I noticed that she had a black eye. “You know Izzy,” I said. “If you ever need to talk about anything, you can come to me.”

“Oh, this black eye,” she asked. “This is nothing. We get a little carried away in the bedroom.”

“Well be careful,” I replied. “No choking stuff. I learned that one the hard way.”

Meanwhile, Cpt. Sargent was harassing Angelika in her hut. An explosive collar was placed around her neck in the event she tried to flee or attacked someone in the group.

“If you don’t leave Angelika alone,” I said to Cpt. Sargent, “I’m gonna place that collar around YOUR neck.”

He glared at me as he left her hut.

“I don’t need your protection James. I can take care of myself,” she said.

“I think you do. Any one of us can detonate that collar if you put up a fight. Some men here might take advantage of that.”

I took a seat while she sat up on her cot. I decided to take the first watch.

“The Admiral is gonna get you killed,” she said.

“Probably. But he’s paying me well. That money will help my wife and Amish community.”

“You have a wife? And you’re Amish?”

“You sound disappointed.”

“You’re not my type.”

“Is it because I’m Amish?”

“Just don’t get yourself killed on my behalf.”

We bantered for awhile. She fell asleep and unfortunately I did too. 

Later that night, men snuck into the camp. They hooded, muzzled, and kidnapped Angelika and me. When the hood was lifted from my head, I was in a laboratory.

Angelika was nowhere to be found. 

They placed me on my knees, hands bound behind me. Even worse, the explosive collar was now around my neck.

A man in a white lab coat walked in front me and lowered himself to my face. 

“Hello James,” he said. “I’m Dr. Sí.”

***

“Well shits assholes,” I said to Dr. Sí. “We’ve been looking for you. I guess the search is over! Can I go now?”

“Not so fast,” he responded. “I need to know where your Kill Squad is going.”

“First I want to know what happened to Angelika,” I demanded.

“Fair enough,” he said. Then Dr. Sí turned to the corner of the laboratory. “Angelika, come join us.”

Angelika stepped out, all dolled up with her red hair flowing down to her shoulders. “Sorry James,” she said. “You’re not my type because Dr. Sí is my type.”

The two kissed passionately in front of me.

“I do want to thank you, Colonel James, for returning her to me,” Dr. Sí said.

“Hey, not a problem,” I replied. “Can you return the favor by removing this explosive collar from around my neck? Once when they realize Angelika’s missing, this thing will blow my head off.”

“First, where is the Kill Squad going?”

“They’re probably coming here!”

“We are certainly not at where they are going.”

“Then what are you worried about?”

The doctor turned around and looked at a computerized map of the Hawaiian islands. “I am a man of science, colonel. In order for my experiments to work, I need EXACT measurements. I cannot afford unpredictability. So again…where is the Kill Squad going?”

I was running out of time. The collar was going to detonate at any moment. Then I remembered…

“$2 million,” I said.

“$2 million?”

“Yes, $2 million and I give up the coordinates of the Kill Squad plus any other state secrets you want in order to sweeten the deal,“ I replied. 

I was bluffing about the state secrets part. I didn’t know shit.

“$1 million,” Dr. Sí responded.

“Deal. The coordinates are 113.998N 737.746W. Now get this collar off of me!”

Dr. Sí laughed and ordered the guards to remove the collar. “Thank you for your cooperation colonel,” he said. “But as an insurance policy, I’ll place this collar on one of your acquaintances.”

The guards rolled in Mr. Ree, strapped to an upright gurney.

“They kidnapped me too,” Mr. Ree said. “Can you believe that bullshit?”

“Ohh come on,” I said. “Don’t kill Mr. Ree! He’s cool! Besides, that thing will detonate before the squad reaches its destination!”

“That’s just a chance I’m willing to take,” Dr. Sí replied. 

“Look, I don’t give a damn about Admiral Majors or the Kill Squad. But there’s a woman that’s traveling with them: Izzy. Please don’t kill her,” I pleaded.

“Colonel, relax,” he said. “I’m not looking to kill anyone, except for Mr. Ree over there. I just want to see that thing go off.”

“I don’t understand.”

Dr. Sí put his arm around my shoulders and started walking me around the laboratory. “I understand your confusion. You see, has anyone told you the truth about that missing nuclear scientist?”

“To be honest doctor, for this entire mission, I’ve kinda been asleep at the wheel. I don’t even know that scientists’ name.”

“Ah, let me show you.”

Dr. Sí opened a door and out walked an old man in a lab coat. I think I was supposed to be impressed by this.

“I don’t know who this is,” I said.

“That’s J. Robert Oppenheimer.”

“Who?”

“J. Robert Op…the father of the atomic bomb?! What are you? Some kind of fucking moron?”

“You cloned him?”

“No asshole! I brought him from the past into the future! Don’t you get it yet? I invented time travel!!”

I walked up to Oppenheimer and looked him up and down. “Welcome to the future,” I told him. “We killed Hitler.”

“I know that, dumbass,” he replied. “We should have dropped the bomb on him!”

I looked back over to Dr. Sí. “So what? You invented time travel. Big whoop. How can you use that against the Kill Squad?”

“That’s why I brought my friend Oppenheimer to the present. You see, we created a new kind of weapon: a time weapon.”

“That sounds pretty fucking stupid, Dr. Sí,” I said. “How can you weaponize time?”

“Well you see, if you can triangulate the space time continuum, the quantum field fluctuations will…”

“Okay, sorry I asked,” I interrupted. “That science shit is boring. Cut to the chase. What’s gonna happen to the Kill Squad?”

“I will fire a plasma energy weapon at their coordinates. When the weapon reaches them, it will generate a quantum field around them and they will be transported to a different time and place.”

“My god,” I said. “A non-destructive weapon. You’re a genius Dr. Sí.”

“So you’re not a complete fucking idiot after all,” he replied. “It is far more humane than the nuclear weapons of the last 80 years. Imagine: no more nuclear fallout, no more mass death…we simply transport our enemies to a different time, different place.”

I looked around the laboratory…at all the scientists running around, to Oppenheimer, to Angelika, and then over to Mr. Ree.

“I cannot deny your genius, Dr. Si,” I said. “But it appears that the only one in danger here is Mr. Ree. If you’re really are humane, you’d remove that collar.”

Dr. Sí nodded. “I suppose you’re right, Colonel.” He looked to the guards. “Remove the collar.”

The guards walked over to the gurney and removed the collar. As they were about to dispose of it, it detonated, killing and maiming several of them. 

Out of the confusion, Oppenheimer attacked one of the guards, grabbing his machine gun.

“Put down the gun Oppenheimer,” Dr. Sí said.

“No,” he replied. “You’ve been holding me hostage here. I’m not your puppet!”

“But Bob,” Dr. Sí pleaded. “We’ve been building something special here. Don’t you want to finish our work?”

“No! No more weapons!”

More guards rushed into the room, forcing Oppenheimer to drop his gun. 

“Sorry Bob,” Dr. Sí said. “It appears your time is up.”

Mr. Ree was released from the gurney. The two of us were ordered to raise our hands and were rounded up with Oppenheimer.

“Lock these scum up,” Dr. Sí ordered.

***

“This is science gone haywire,” J. Robert Oppenheimer said. “I should have never agreed to help Dr. Sí.”

“Don’t beat yourself up,” I said to him. “We’ll get you out of here and back to your own time.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” he replied.

“Sure it does. It’s science! Anything is possible.”

“We can’t just go ‘back in time’. Doing so would violate all sorts of Newton’s laws. When the quantum field is generated, the individual is transported to an alternate timeline. The laws of physics remain the same and the outcomes in these timelines might be similar to our own, but it’s not the same timeline. Am I making sense?”

“Nope,” I replied. “But we’ll get you as close to your timeline as humanly possible.”

“Forget it,” Oppenheimer replied. “Our best option is to disarm the weapon to prevent this from happening again.”

“How do we do that?”

“There’s a special property in the element of gold that penetrates through space and time. If the gold is removed from the nano chambers, the weapon would be powerless.”

“Sounds like a plan Bob.” I looked over to Mr. Ree. “Do you think the Kill Squad will alter course and find us?”

“I doubt it,” Mr. Ree said. “I don’t even know where we’re at.”

“We’re at the bottom of a dormant volcano,” Oppenheimer said. “They’ll never find us.”

“Shit,” I said. “Then we have to take matters into our own hands. We just need an opportunity.”

Angelika then peered through the opening of our cell door. “James,” she said, “just hold tight, I’m gonna get you out of here.”

“Angelika,” I replied, “I thought you were with Dr. Sí.”

She then reached her hand through the opening to touch my own. “Dr. Sí is no friend of the Ionian Liberation Front. He’s no friend of peace and justice. I don’t want this technology to fall into the wrong hands.”

“Get us out of here and we’ll destroy it,” I said.

“No! Think about it James. With this weapon, we can right all the wrongs. We can undo our violent past and create a better future.”

“I don’t know Angelika.”

“Please, I’ll get you out of here. But let me have the weapon.”

I thought for a second and agreed to her terms. Then she grasped my hand tightly.

“What’s your wife’s name?” she asked.

“Miriam”

“She’s a lucky woman. Perhaps in another time….”

She let go of my hand and closed the opening. I heard some rustling outside, then a few gunshots. After a few moments, the cell door blasted open. 

Angelika walked across the rubble wearing a skintight leather suit and holding a Heckler & Koch M27.

“Alright boys,” she said. “Let’s blow the top off this volcano.”

***

We stole guns off some guards that Angelika brutally murdered and ran down the corridor.

“The time weapon is is being held three floors above us,” Angelika said. 

We began to feel tremors all around us. I asked Angelika the last time this volcano erupted.

“About 25,000 years ago,” she said.

“Then this thing could go off at any moment. We better hurry.”

We went down the corridors and up the stairs in an attack formation. Angelika and I covered the front. Mr. Ree and Oppenheimer covered the rear.

When we reached the room holding the time weapon, the Kill Squad…along with Izzy….was there. They altered course and stormed into the volcano earlier in a bloody, devastating firefight. Not many survived.

“Thank goodness you’re alive,” the Admiral said. “And you found J. Robert Oppenheimer. Excellent work. Lt. Captain, please dispose of the scientist.”

Lt. Captain cocked his pistol and raised it up to Oppenheimer’s head.

I raised my rifle to Lt. Captain.

“Pull that trigger and you’re dead,” I told him.

“But Colonel James,” the Admiral said, “this time travel stuff is against the laws of God. We must destroy all of the evidence.”

“No,” I said. “Oppenheimer has as much right to exist as the rest of us.”

Dr. Sí then rushed in with his guards. “Well well,” he said. “Glad you’re all here.”

We were surrounded. We dropped our weapons.

Dr. Sí walked up to the Admiral. “I’m happy to see you’re doing well Admiral,” he said.

“This ends today doctor,” the Admiral replied.

“I think not,” he replied.

Dr. Sí walked over to a control panel. In a corner across the room, the floor moved, revealing a lava pit.

“I’m sorry Admiral,” the doctor said. “But you can’t go where we’re going.”

The guards grabbed the Admiral and pushed him towards the pit. “You’ll never get away with this,” he yelled.

“Of course I will. I control time! Think about the possibilities Admiral! We could have taken over the world. You never understood that.”

“Izzy, don’t let them do this,” the Admiral screamed. She walked over to him and the guards.

“You’re one abusive son of a bitch,” she said. Izzy then roundhouse kicked him into the fiery pit. When the screams stopped and the flames died down, Izzy turned around.

“Can I go home now,” she asked. “I didn’t want to be here anyway.”

“I’m sorry madam,” Dr. Sí replied. “I cannot let anyone leave here alive.”

“So what happens now? This volcano will erupt at any moment,” I asked.

“Exactly Colonel. In a few moments, I will time travel out of here and this volcano will erupt, destroying the evidence.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Angelika said. Dr. Sí walked up to her, grabbed her hair and put his lips on her.

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us,” he said. “I gotta go.” 

He went back to the panel and a countdown started. A laser dropped down from the ceiling which would release a plasma field around its target, triggering a spacetime ripple that would permit time travel. 

“Before I forget,” Dr. Sí said to me, “here’s the $1 million I owe you. Where I’m going, this money is no good.”

He threw a metal briefcase as my feet.

“Alright,” the doctor said, “let’s get this bullshit over with.”

The laser then fired out a beam, creating the field around Sí. While the guards were mesmerized by the sight, Oppenheimer ran into the field, pushing the doctor out. 

There was a bright flash of light, then Oppenheimer was gone…lost somewhere in time.

“You fool!” Dr. Sí yelled. 

Out of the confusion, Angelika attacked the guards and took a gun. She began spraying bullets across the room. I picked up the briefcase and ran for cover. 

I grabbed a rifle from a dead guard and began shielding Izzy. Mr. Ree then engaged in the firefight. 

When all the guards were dead, Angelika threw down her semi-automatic and grabbed Dr. Sí. He tried to put up a fight.

“Angelika!” he screamed. “This volcano will go off any second. We don’t have time for this!”

“Time’s up bitch!” she said. Then she threw him into the lava pit. A large flame shot up in the air.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ree was monitoring communications between guards over the radio. “Reinforcements will be here in a minute,” he said. 

I handed the briefcase to Izzy. “Make sure Miriam gets this,” I told her. 

We shared one last look. “Mr. Ree and I will give you cover while you escape,” I said. “Angelika, go with her.”

“But I didn’t get the weapon,” Angelika responded.

“Let it go,” I said. “You can save humanity without it.”

I reached out my hand to hers and we looked deep into each other’s eyes. “Goodbye Angelika.”

She gave a pause. “Goodbye James,” she said.

Izzy and Angelika, along with a few surviving members of the Kill Squad, ran back down the corridor. The tremors were beginning to pick up.

Mr. Ree and I stood behind the control panel, waiting for reinforcements to arrive. “Ready to go where no man’s gone before,” I asked him.

He put a cigar in his mouth. “You’re reading my mind.”

As guards were pouring into the room, Mr. Ree provided cover while I fiddled with the controls. The laser pointed in our direction and released a beam. The field surrounded us. 

Where…or when…we were going, only God knew.

Then there was a brilliant flash of light….

*********

Izzy, Angelika, and the Kill Squad made it out of the volcano just as it erupted. As they watched the explosion from a safe distance, Izzy turned to Angelika.

“Do you think they’re dead?”

Angelika looked to the ash cloud hovering over the jungle. She thought for a moment.

“No,” she replied. “They’re out there…somewhere in time….”

THE END 

Flashback: “The Man With the Golden Eye”

I’m not gonna say I’m suffering from writer’s block. But I’m certainly lazy as shit.

So here’s another flashback from the early days. It was a sequel to Shoot Me, Deadly and it’s by far my least read story. It’s not nearly as good, plus it’s replete with grammatical errors.

But, eh.

Whatever.

The Man With the Golden Eye

The phones were ringing off the hook. Everyone was missing something: cat, dog, prosthetic arm, leg, penis, you name it. Business was booming.

But I needed help. I was on the phone all the time. Not solving cases.

Isabella brought in lunch: a Philly cheesesteak from Tony’s off 5th Avenue.

“Gee mister,” Isabella said. “After I sent a butthole pic to that producer on the internet, I’ve been getting all kinds of acting job offers!”

“That’s good to hear Izzy,” I replied. “But you can call me James.”

The calls kept coming. I couldn’t keep up. Unfortunately, between the court fees, medical bills, fines owed to the state of California for burning down a nature preserve, and replacing the window in my office after a man fell through it, I couldn’t afford help.

“Say James,” Izzy said. “You look swamped. Since you saved my life and all, the least I could do is help you out with your business.”

“Oh you’re a lifesaver Izzy. I had to let go of my secretary the other day. If you could sit at her desk and answer phones, that would be great. Just ignore the calls with a Sacramento area code,” I replied.

As I was explaining the job, Sgt. LP Anderson of the LAPD called.

“What do you know about Franco De Werner?” Anderson asked.

“He’s around 5’10.5 with a great head of hair. He’s the biggest arms manufacturer on this side of the Mississippi. He’s been a financier of various counter-revolutionary movements in South and Central America. In fact, his eye got shot out in Nicaragua for which he now wears an eye patch. He’s earned a reputation as a solid middleman between the CIA and various fruit companies in war-torn countries. He graduated summa cum laude from Emory, earned an MBA from Wharton. His wife is Becky, they have two children ages 15 and 18. His drink of choice is Kentucky Bourbon, and he enjoys the works of Dostoyevsky. Otherwise I don’t know much,” I said.

“Well the FBI called, seems like a shipment of Werner’s has gone missing en route to Costa Rica. If you provide your assistance, the FBI said they’ll drop their investigation into you. I’m assuming you know they’re talking about,” Anderson asked.

I sighed.

“Very well,” I said. “Tell your FBI contact that I’ll set up a meeting with Franco De Werner.” I hung up the phone.

“Lazy bastards,” I thought to myself.

I went to Izzy. “I need you to gather all the information you can find on Franco De Werner. Print it off and slide it under the door of the bathroom. I’ll be in there for awhile,” I instructed.

The Philly cheesesteak went out as fast as it went in.

***

I took the California 1 up to Malibu. Again, I got pulled over.

“You need to stop fuckin around,” the officer said. “I’ve seen your kind before. You come around here thinking you solve everything. But you can’t. You’re just one man. You can’t change the system.”

“First off,” I replied. “Weren’t you a sheriff in San Luis Obispo last week? And secondly, I’m just helping the FBI on an investigation into Franco De Werner’s missing property. I’m not trying to change any system. And third, how the hell do you know who I am? Hand me my ticket and fuck off.”

The officer glared at me for awhile then wrote up the ticket.

“I better not see your face around here again. And fuck this piece of machinery that you call a vehicle,” he warned.

“I’ll have you know that I get 12 mpg in this piece of machinery,” I replied.

The cop flipped me the bird and walked away.

I pulled up to Werner’s beachfront property. As I walked towards the house, a 50 cal. machine gun knocked up a bunch of sand and blew my bowler off. I dropped to the ground and pulled out my .45.

Seconds later, there was a laugh and a man walked up. His smile was perfect.

“Those commie bastards did me a favor by shooting out my eye. My aim has never been better,” the man said.

I stood up and knocked the sand off.

“Mr. Franco De Werner, I presume?”

“Indeed,” he replied. “You must be the investigator the FBI sent. Welcome to my humble abode. Can I offer a refreshment? A bourbon perhaps?”

“A change of underwear if you’ve got it.”

We went inside to Franco’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home. His servants offered cucumber sandwiches and some 90 proof Elijah Craig.

“I heard you slaughtered an entire mafia up in the mountains,” Franco said.

“How did you hear about that?” I asked.

“For a man in my position, it pays to have eyes everywhere,” he replied. “I could use a man like you.”

“I’m just here to assist the FBI, Mr. Werner. Not for a job interview,” I said.

“Right”

Franco sat back in his seat and lit up a cigar. Villains love their cigars.

“There was a whole shipment of M4s and Carbon 15s going to counter-revolutionary forces in the jungle. The communists had to of intercepted it,” Franco explained.

“How could they have known?” I asked.

“I must have a rat in my midst,” he explained as he puffed on his cigar. “I need you to sniff him out Mr. James.”

“I’m a simple private investigator Mr. Werner. Not an undercover agent.”

Franco took a drink of his bourbon.

“I know about your troubles. I know about you burning down an apartment building, about the massacre in Big Bear, about your medical bills and unpaid fines to the California Highway Patrol. I can make all your problems go away if you do me this favor: join my team, and find this mole.”

I thought for a second, then poured a glass of Elijah’s.

“I’m all ears,” I said.

***

“Do be careful James,” Izzy said.

“Be sure to pack my Beretta 93R,” I replied. “Things might get heavy.”

Izzy handed me my aluminum edition suitcase and drove me to Burbank International. I was headed to Belize to pick up the trail of Franco De Werner’s missing arms shipment. 

To infiltrate his elite team of mercenaries, Werner provided me with false credentials. My name: Carlos Newhouser…a half-Austrian, half-Mexican, former member of Spetsnaz. 

My mission: snuff out the communists.

Kill, if necessary.

At the airport, a rag tag crew of rednecks, Arabs, fishermen, nomads, musicians, accountants, fur trappers, Canadians, dope heads, dope dealers, truckers, Canadians, hockey players, Arsenio Hall, and former special forces were there to greet me. This was Franco’s crack team.

“I’m Carlos,” I said.

Everyone glared. 

“Anyone gonna say anything?” I asked.

A female stepped forward.

“Welcome to Belize, Mr. Newhouser,” she said. “I’m Angelika Anotolukolopolous.”

Angelika was red headed. She spoke with a Scottish accent.

“Let me take your bags,” she said.

“No thanks,” I replied. “I prefer to carry my own.”

We all piled into the bed of a jacked up 95 F-150. Anna tried to brief me on the situation while on our journey to the hotel.

“What?! I can’t hear you through this loud ass Diesel engine!” I said.

“Franco has tasked us with finding the missing arms shipment! He suspects the communists of stealing it!” she replied.

“I know! We’ve already gone over this!”

We arrived at Helena Bay Family Resort. The hardened crew gathered by the poolside bar while children ran and played about.

“I heard you torched a school in Sarajevo because you suspected they were harboring communists,” one of the mercenaries said to me. “You’re one cold blooded son of a bitch.”

“Better dead than red,” I replied. I looked over to the bartender. “Mai Tai please.”

Angelika stepped out in her bikini. The ruffians glanced over and went back to their mojitos. I stripped off my shirt and jumped into the pool.

Angelika looked me over through her Ray Bans.

“I see you have a good taste in music,” she said. She was referring to my Def Leppard tattoo. 

I hopped out of the pool and dried off.

“Thanks,” I said. “Got it during their Slang Tour in 96.”

“I’d like to see what else you got,” Angelika replied. She was playing seductively with her straw between her lips.

“On my left ass cheek is the Whitesnake tour from 92,” I replied.

She slipped me the key to her room.

“Come see me tonight, after 10:30. I’ll show you what I got,” and with that Angelika got up and slowly walked away.

She suspected something. We suspected each other. But I had to follow my leads, and Angelika was at the top of my list.

After 10:30, I unlocked the door to her room. 

“Angelika?” I asked.

From behind the bathroom door appeared Angelika in a purple corset and black undies.

“Well,” I said. “I don’t see your tattoos.”

“Hello James,” a woman’s voice said from behind. 

I turned around and there stood another Angelika in the kitchenette.

“Sorry ladies, I only brought enough protection for one,” I said.

“Please sit down,” the Angelika in the kitchen replied.

I complied.

“Care for a drink?” she asked.

“Irish whisky,” I replied.

A third Angelika appeared and handed me a glass.

“Can I have the bottle please?” I asked. “What’s going on here?” 

“We are genetically enhanced clones from the Ionian Liberation Front,” the first Angelika said. “We know you’re not Carlos Newhouser. You’re a hack detective from some agency in Los Angeles.”

“Genetically enhanced?” I asked.

The second Angelika took my glass and smashed it against her head.

“I see what you mean,” I said.

“We’re after Franco De Werner. Join us, or you won’t be leaving this room alive.”

I thought for a second, then I saw an opportunity: The burrito I ate earlier was roaring back with a vengeance. So I stood up.

“I need to use the bathroom,” I said. “It must be Montezuma’s Revenge.”

“Very well,” one of the Angelika’s said begrudgingly.

I sat on the toilet and started thinking through my options. As I stunk up the room, a forth Angelika handed me a roll from behind the shower curtain.

“Don’t forget to wipe,” she said.

***

“If you stray a foot, I’ll murder you where you stand,” one of the Angelikas told me.

All the mercenaries, 40 of us in total, boarded the black hawks en route to the jungles of Honduras. The three other Angelikas disappeared hours earlier. Only one was left to watch me.

“Why are you after Franco De Werner?” I asked her.

“In addition to killing our comrades, he holds the key to a secret nuclear arsenal somewhere under the Gulf of Mexico. If we can capture him, we’d control enough fire power to destroy the Western Hemisphere,” she replied.

Well fuck me, I thought. Angelika(s) plan was to massacre the mercenaries in the jungle during their communist hunt, forcing Franco down to Honduras. 

I was caught between a rock and a hard place: between a diabolical madman and a kill squad of four genetically enhanced clone-ladies

“But why me though?” I asked. “Are you aligned with the mafia? Are they still pissed because I torched the shit out of them in the woods?”

“Just shup and do what you’re told.”

The choppers dropped us off on the beach. We set up camp for the night. All the men gathered around the various fires, cracking open one Keystone Light after another.

It became a beach party.

I stood watch along the tree line. Angelika handed me an MK 556. She pushed me up against a tree and grabbed my dong.

“Remember,” she said. “I am always watching you.”

She then kissed me and disappeared into the jungle. I began to cry.

The men started to get rowdy. I told them to quiet down, that the communists could be watching.

“What are you afraid of, Carlos?” replied Tiger Tanaka, the most ruthless of the bunch. “You’re the most notorious arsonists in Eastern Europe. Quit being a puss.”

Tiger then pulled out a Henri Selmer saxophone and started rockin’ out like he was Clarence fucking Clemons. This noisy instrument was echoing across the bay and into the jungle.

“Damn it Tiger! If you don’t put that loud piece of shit away, I will shoot you myself!” I yelled.

“I ain’t afraid of nothin in this jungle!” he yelled back.

Ironically, a tiger then jumped out of the woods a mauled his face off. The men quickly scattered into the jungle, leaving their weapons behind. I fired a few rounds at the animal before it disappeared.

“There’s tigers in Honduras?!” one of the men yelled. I shrugged.

Angelika must have something to do with this, I thought.

The men attempted to retrieve their weapons. Every time they got close, the tiger would reappear and drag one of them into the woods.

“It’s an ambush,” I said. “We must fall back.”

“Fall back into the jungle?! WITHOUT OUR WEAPONS!” said Thomas Jane “Little” P.P., the explosives expert.

“Calm yourself, Little PP,” I replied. “Fall back and we’ll regroup.”

As the men retreated, trip wires began going off. A fireball would light up the sky and body parts would fall back into the trees.

“We’re gonna die!” screamed Little PP. He ran ahead a few yards in front of me before falling into quicksand.

I extended my rifle to pull him out, but he kept sinking deeper. “I don’t want to drown!” Little PP yelled. “Please kill me, Carlos!”

When I realized that I couldn’t rescue him, I lifted up my rifle and fired one round into Little PPs chest. I watched as his dead body sunk below the surface.

The screams of men continued to echo across the jungle. I heard growling behind me. The tiger was near. I fired a few rounds into the bushes and ran off.

I hopped across a trip wire and hid behind a tree. “Come at me mother fucker,” I said. The tiger jumped out and hit the wire. The explosion was brilliant.

Tiger blood rained from the sky.

I sat down and radioed in.

“To Angelika or whoever’s listening,” I said. “Tiger’s dead. Both tigers are. There can’t be very many of us left. But I’m still standing. If you want me, you’re gonna have to come down here and get me. 

But be warned: it’s gonna take more than a tiger and a few land mines to kill me.”

***

The warm breeze blew through the trees while the sun beamed down. Dead and mangled bodies littered the jungle floor.

I rested beneath a tree, waiting for the Angelikas.

A chopper rattled in the distance. The trees rustled as it hovered overhead. Four ropes dropped down to a clearing in front of me.

The four Angelikas lowered down.

“You’re coming with us,” they said.

“Not today sisters!”

I attempted to fire off a clip, but my rifle jammed. I threw the weapon down. If it came down to hand-to-hand combat, I was fucked.

Three of the Angelikas attempted to corner me. One stood back. I threw a grenade, but one caught it and threw it back. The explosion knocked me back a few feet.

The chopper continued to hover overhead.

As I laid there in a daze, I suddenly remembered: Izzy packed my burst action Beretta. The Angelikas were inching closer. I pulled out the sidearm and unleashed the three rounds into the chopper.

I could see the pilot’s brains splatter across the glass. His body leaned forward and the helicopter came careening down into the jungle. As it exploded, fire rained down onto the three Angelikas.

They might’ve been genetically enhanced. But as I’ve learned time and time again, no one is immune to the destructive force of a fireball.

I walked towards the last remaining Angelika. She instantly cowered down.

“Don’t kill me! I’m the original, I’m not genetically enhanced,” she screamed.

“Where’s Franco?!”

“He’s holed up at the abandoned airstrip a few klicks away.”

“You’re taking me to him.”

I held her at gunpoint as we journeyed towards the airstrip. Franco was in the hanger while his private jet rested on the runway. 

“Here’s your communist mole,” I told him.

“Excellent work, Mr. James,” he replied. “Now that I can trust you, I’ll reveal to you my secret plan.”

Franco turned around and removed his eye patch. A brilliant flash of gold appeared from where left eye once was. He laid a steel briefcase on the table.

Inside was a ridiculous looking retinal scanner.

“When I run my golden eye through this retinal scan,” he said. “50 scud missiles armed with nuclear warheads will fire from beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Each aimed at a major city in the Western Hemisphere.”

“You’re a madman, Mr. Werner,” I replied. “You’re not even gonna attempt to blackmail world leaders? What kind of villain are you?”

“Once when the world’s major cities have been destroyed,” Franco continued. “They’ll blame the communists, and leaders of the world will have no choice but to use my services to defeat them.”

“Billions of people will die, just so you can make a profit,” I replied.

“Basically, yeah.”

I’ve seen these cases hundreds of times: madman wants to destroy the world just so he can make a few extra pennies. People will do anything for money these days.

“With that type of destruction,” I interjected. “Nuclear winter could last ages. Are you sure that you completely thought the consequences of your plan, Mr. Werner?”

Franco pondered for a second.

“Shit, I guess I didn’t,” he replied. “Oh well, it’s a risk worth taking. But tonight, we feast!”

Franco left the hanger. Angelika was locked up behind a gate.

“James,” she said. “Franco killed my friends, my family. All I’ve ever wanted was justice. Please don’t let him do this.”

Franco returned with his servants. They were bringing in cartons full of local cuisine out of the jet. He poured a glass of bourbon, then lifted it to make a toast.

“To the future,” he said.

I had to act quickly.

***

Franco stuffed his face with Chile con queso and guacamole. When he finished, he pulled out a cigar.

“Time to get this show on the road,” he said.

Franco ran his golden eye through the retinal scan, which initiated a countdown. He laughed as he lit up the cigar. When the clock reached zero, the computer informed us that all fifty missiles were launched, all aimed at the fifty largest cities in the Western Hemisphere.

“We better get the fuck outta here,” Franco said. “We don’t want to be on the ground when those warheads hit.”

Angelika, myself, Franco, and a few of his minions boarded the private jet. When we were up in the air, Franco was still amused with himself.

“In 19 minutes,” he said as he puffed on his cigar. “We’ll be the richest fuckers in the universe.”

Then he leaned forward as his stomach cramped.

“Damn it,” Franco said. “Montezuma’s Revenge.” He got up and ran to the toilet.

I looked over to the steel briefcase that controlled the warheads. “James, do something!” Angelika yelled.

I swiftly leapt out of my seat and kicked the guard in the dick. “Ow! My groin,” he yelled as he fell to the ground.

With the guard incapacitated, I opened the briefcase and attempted to redirect the missiles. However, I didn’t know how to operate the computer.

“Remove the handcuffs James, I know how to do it,” Angelika said. I took the keys off the guard and set her free. She redirected the missiles into space, where they’d all converge to create one massive explosion.

Moments later, the sky lit up…almost as if there were two suns resting on the horizon.

“Congratulations Angelika, you saved the world,” I said.

“We still have a problem,” she replied. “One missile is not responding to the commands. It’s headed straight for Mexico City.”

I thought for a moment.

“What’s our flight path?”

I busted into the cockpit and knocked out the two pilots with the butt of my rifle. “Our path takes us near Mexico City. We can intercept the missile with this jet,” I said.

I took control of the cockpit in an attempt to steer the jet into the missile. I never flew a plane of that magnitude before. I flew a Cessna once. I figured that flying a Lear at 745mph couldn’t be that different.

“Two minutes to intercept,” Angelika yelled as she was putting on a parachute. I climbed out of the cockpit and began strapping into one on as well.

I kicked open the emergency exit and the cabin depressurized. At that moment, Franco ran out of the bathroom and began firing his Ruger. Angelika grabbed his arm and attempted to knock it out.

“Jump James!” she yelled.

I jumped out of the plane. Angelika engaged with Franco for a few more moments before throwing him out of the plane without a parachute. Then she jumped. 

The missile crashed into the Lear, detonating the last nuclear weapon several thousand feet above us. We deployed our parachutes. When we were 20 feet above the ground, Franco rifled out of the sky like a lightning bolt, grabbing ahold of me and crashing us into the ground from his tremendous momentum. 

Franco somehow managed to keep his cigar in.

We wrestled on the ground, with him getting the better of me. When Angelika landed, not even she could overtake him. I took out my Beretta, but Franco kicked it out. 

While I was laying on the ground, Franco grabbed the gun and aimed it at me.

“Goodbye, Mr. Private Dick.”

The wind then kicked up and my parachute blew on top of him, obscuring his view. I jumped on top of him and began to strangle him.

By this point, I’ve probably killed hundreds of men. But there’s nothing like killing a man with your bare hands.

Franco gurgled for a bit, then the bones and muscles in his neck began to break. When his eyes rolled back into his head, I loosened my grip. 

“Let him go, James,” Angelika said. “He’s dead.”

I took my hands off his lifeless body and stood up.

“That was fucking brutal. Jesus!” Angelika told me.

I began to strip off the parachute when a man fully decked out in military regalia came out of nowhere and began to clap.

“Well done, well done,” the strange man said.

He walked over to Franco’s body and picked up his cigar. “I am Admiral General Colonel Majors. United States Navy,” he explained.

“Where were you guys when we needed you?” I asked.

“You were never in serious danger. We were monitoring the situation the entire time.”

Angelika and I look at each other.

“But 50 nuclear missiles were launched,” I replied.

“Don’t worry about it,” Admiral Majors said. “What’s important is that I’m here to recruit you into my ultra top secret kill force, the most lethal unit in the world.”

“Why me?”

“You’re a killing machine James. You know that. You love the thrill of taking a man’s life. I watched it with my own two eyes. Face it James, you were born to kill.”

I finished taking off the parachute and threw down the Beretta. “I’m a simple LA detective, Admiral,” I replied. “I seek the truth. I’m not very good at it, but people pay me to do it. But I’m not a killer.”

“Suit yourself,” the Admiral said. “But this isn’t the last you’ll see of me.”

Angelika was later arrested due to being wanted by INTERPOL. Something to do with “terrorist activities” in 14 countries. I called Izzy.

“Mission complete,” I told her. “I’ll back in LA in a couple of days.”

“Oh that’s wonderful, James,” she replied. “Did you find that missing arms shipment? It would be really bad if all those weapons fell into the wrong hands.”

“Fuck! I forgot!”

THE END 

Flashback: “Shoot Me, Deadly”

This is the second short story I wrote for the blog, the first, of course, being my magnum opus A Shot At the Title.

Clearly I was going for a 50s pulp novel kind of feel. And I think I was partially successful there. Keep in mind, I put even less thought into these stories then than I do now.

So I’ll let you be the judge.

Shoot Me, Deadly

I burned the apartment complex down while making nachos. After the court cases were settled and 20 people were made homeless, I needed the money.

A strange man walked into my office. He laid his briefcase on the desk and pulled out his revolver.

“I’m here to offer you a shot at redemption,” he told me.

“What’s the case?” I asked.

“You’re the worst private dick in town,” he said. “I need a moron, a dipshit, a loser, a complete piece of shit that would be willing to take the fall when things go south.”

I took out a cigarette and thought for a moment. Fuck it, I thought. I needed the paycheck.

“Give it to me,” I said.

“A mafiosos daughter has gone missing. She was last seen in San Diego. Here’s her picture.”

She looked like a woman that could eat your heart out and save room for dessert.

“What’s the dame’s name,” I ask.

“Isabella Maria,” he replied. “She was a spoiled brat. She dropped out of law school to pursue a career in phlebotomy but got caught up in the wrong crowd if you know what I mean.”

“Drugs?”

“No, improv comedy. She was terrible.”

“Well,” I said. “I’ll need a $5,000 deposit and a list of references.”

“Just send me the bill. Everything you need to know is in this briefcase.”

The briefcase was a Boccio. Italian leather. Not sure why he bothered. A Manila folder would have worked just fine.

“I didn’t get your name sir,” I said.

“My name’s not important. But what I represent is.”

Fuckin weirdo.

The man left and I told my secretary to not take any calls. I went back into the office and pulled out a handle of Everclear. After popping my Zeldox and Zoloft, I lifted the glass up to a picture of my dead mother.

“Welp, things are shit and they ain’t getting any better,” I said.

And down the hatch she went.

***

I took the Sunday drive up to San Luis Obispo in my Chevy SSR to visit Isabella’s father, the mafioso Roberto Benigni Vittorio Stararo. Or “Vito”.

The county sheriff pulled me over.

“You don’t know what you’re getting into James,” the sheriff said.

“Just hand me the ticket so that I can be on my way,” I replied.

The sheriff wrote up the ticket and gave me another warning: “I better not see you or this piece of shit vehicle in my county again.”

Asshole.

I pulled up to Stararo’s estate. His wife came out to greet me.

“I’m Michaela Sabine Stararo,” she said. “Vito is fox hunting. He’ll be joining us shortly.”

She was wearing a white blouse tucked into her equestrian pants with boots. Her figure could make a man have a boner, if you know what I mean.

Michaela invited me in and offered a Chardonnay.

“Are you Isabella’s mother?” I asked.

“Her step-mother. Poor girl. She never got to know her real mother,” she replied.

I took a sip of the Chardonnay. It was Laguiche, ‘09. 

“It must be rough being an LA detective,” Michaela said.

“If people quit disappearing and fucking around on their spouses, I’d be out of a job.”

Vito walked in with his Winchester. “È questo il detective idiota assunto dal mio socio?” he said.

“The fuck did he say?” I asked Michaela.

“Vito welcomes you into his home,” she replied.

Vito had to of been 90 if he was a day. Michaela was clearly a distraction from that fact. Still, tough old man. He pulled out a cigar and poured a Chardonnay.

“Quindi questo perdente pensa di poter trovare mia figlia?” he asked.

I looked over to Michaela.

“Vito is prepared to give you all the information you need to find his daughter,” she said.

“I need to know her entire background. Who her friends are. Her lovers. Her enemies. And any enemies that you might have, Mr. Stararo,” I said.

“Chiamami Vito,” he replied.

We talked for hours discussing the case. We went through the bottle of Chardonnay. Then another. Then came the brandy.

As I prepared to leave, Michaela came up to me. “LA is a long drive,” she said. “Why don’t you stay in the guest house. I’ll have the servants prepare it.”

Why not, I thought. It sure beats sleeping in a burned down apartment building.

As I was laying in bed, Michaela came in wearing a silk robe. She slowly walked towards the bedside.

“Stanotte siamo solo io e te,” she said.

Michaela dropped the robe and climbed into bed.

***

I woke up in Vito’s guest house. I was alone. Except for the large bald man standing over me.

“Who the fuck are you?” I asked

“Luigi. Michaela wants to talk to you.”

“Can you give me a minute? I still got morning wood.”

“Now”

Luigi escorted me through the garden to the large chateau. There, standing in the kitchen, was Michaela holding a glass of brandy.

“Vito died”, she said.

Luigi punched me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. While on my knees, I tried to catch my breath.

“My condolences, Mrs. Stararo,” I said.

“Don’t give me that shit. What happened to Vito? Where were you?” She asked.

“I think you know where I was.”

Luigi then socked me in the face. I got up and wiped the blood from my nose.

“Does it look like foul play? The man was 90 years old and drunk as hell last night,” I said.

Michaela downed the brandy.

“No,” she replied. “I need to know if I can trust you.”

For good measure, Luigi kicked me in the dick.

“I don’t know who any of you are! I was just hired by some man with a leather briefcase to find Isabella!” I said.

She waved Luigi out of the room and handed me a towel.

“Is this how you treat all your guests?” I asked.

“Sorry, a lot of people have wanted Vito dead for a long time. With him gone, I don’t know if they will come after me,” she said.

Michaela grabbed an ice pack and put it over my eye. “I’m going to need protection,” she said longingly.

“I just got my ass kicked. Are you sure you’re asking the right person?” I replied.

“Don’t go back to LA. Stay here with me.”

“I gotta find Isabella.”

“I don’t know where she is. But as long as she stays away from here, she’ll be safe.”

“I can’t take that chance.”

I grabbed my bowler hat and coat. “I’ll check on you soon. If things get tough, come to LA,” I said.

I took a shot of brandy and departed.

It was clear that Michaela was behind the death of Vito. I’ve seen these cases hundreds of times: wife gets jealous of husband, wife kills husband, wife takes husband’s place as head of a crime family. It’s a tale as old as time.

But one thing was clear: Isabella was certainly in trouble.

I arrived at the LA office. The secretary said that the strange man looking for Isabella was sitting in my office. I walked in and hung up my coat.

“Well well well Mr. Italian Leather, perhaps you have answers for me,” I said.

“That’s what we’re paying you for Jimmy,” he replied.

I sat down at the desk and put my feet up. “Who’s ‘we’? Vito’s dead,” I said.

“I know. I see that Luigi paid you a visit,” Mr. Leather said referring to my bruises. “She’s dangerous you know?”

“You don’t say?” I said sarcastically. “Do you really think this is my first rodeo?”

“I know that you’re a busy man, so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. But I want you to meet me on the campus of UC Irvine on Thursday,” Mr. Leather told me.

“You could have told me this by email,” I replied.

“I just wanted to make sure you got the message.”

Mr. Leather stood up and as he was walking towards the door, I said: “if you’re gonna make me drive all over SoCal, I’m gonna start charging by the mile.”

“Keep sending me the bill,” he said. Then he shut the door.

I told the secretary that I didn’t want any interruptions. I popped open a beer and a Vicodin and took a nap.

***

I put a hurtin’ on the whisky bottle, hoping that it would clear my head. Nothing about this case made sense.

I met Mr. Leather at UC Irvine. He was sitting alone in an empty theater.

“What’s this about?” I asked.

“Take a seat. I’m about to make your life a little easier,” he replied.

Two other people entered the theater. The lights dimmed and the curtains opened. Entering stage left was Isabella, all alone.

“I guess I owe you a refund,” I told Mr. Leather.

“Forget it,” he said.

Isabella began her solo performance with a vaguely racist monologue. Then she stripped to her underwear and two nude men flanked her on both sides and they began rolling around on the floor.

“The fuck is going on?” I asked Mr. Leather.

“It’s art.”

The two men then turned around, spread their ass cheeks, and took a squat while Isabella pissed all over the stage. The performance ended with her reciting the lyrics to Motownphilly. When the curtains lowered, no one clapped.

“That was godawful,” I said to Mr. Leather. “I’ve never seen anything more disgusting in my life.”

But when I looked over, Mr. Leather was nowhere to be found.

I went back stage. Isabella was in her dressing room removing the clown makeup.

“Keep trying kid,” I told her as I lit up a cigarette. “You’ll get em next time.”

“Did you enjoy it?” she asked.

“No, my mother was Canadian so I’m partly offended. But keep your head up.”

“Oh,” she replied and slumped back in her chair. I walked over to cheer her up.

“Look,” I said. “If you’ve got a passion, you gotta keep chasing it. Sure you’re gonna hit some potholes in the road, but keep going. You’ll get there eventually.”

“There’s just nothing that I’m good at.”

“That’s not true. You’ve got talent. It just needs some finessing,” I said.

“Yeah I guess,” Isabella said while she was packing her things. “Say, who are you mister?”

I took a big hit off the flask and offered it to Isabella. “I got some bad news kid,” I told her.

She took the flask and waited for the news.

“Your father is dead,” I said.

A blank look came over her face. Then she took a drink. “Was it Michaela?” she asked.

“I suspect it was.”

Isabella sat back down and looked at the floor. “I knew this would happen.”

“Your life is probably in danger,” I said. I took out the wad of cash that Mr. Leather paid me and I handed it over. “You need to get out of town.”

“But there is nowhere I can go where they can’t find me.”

I took out a pin and paper and wrote down an address. “This is my father’s old cabin up in Big Bear. Lay low there and I’ll come and get you in a few days.”

“But who are you?” Isabella asked.

“I’m James, Private Detective.” I handed her a business card. “Also, one other thing.” Then I handed her a .38 special.

“You may need it.”

She packed the items into her purse.

“Go now,” I said. “There’s some things I got to take care of here. I’ll see you in a couple of days when I have more information.”

I drove back to the office for the night. The apartment was still burned to shit. I walked in the office, removed my coat and holster, turned on the light, and there was Michaela and Luigi.

“Sorry, business hours are over,” I said.

Luigi picked up a phone book and ripped it in half. Michaela stood up from the couch, again with a glass of brandy in her hand, and walked towards me in her form fitting gown.

“But darling,” she said. “We’re just here to check in on a case.”

When she got close, Michaela head butted me and I fell backwards into the filing cabinets. While dazed, I tried to stand up and reach for my holster. Luigi grabbed my hand and threw me over the desk.

“Couldn’t this have waited until morning?” I asked.

“You need to tell us where Isabella is going,” Michaela said.

Luigi picked me up by the shirt and held me to the wall. I thought that this was the end until Mr. Leather busted in with his Tommy Gun.

“Let him go,” he said to Luigi. “Or I’ll blow you ten new assholes.”

***

“What’s it gonna be Luigi?” Mr. Leather said with his tommy gun.

Luigi paused and slowly lowered me to the ground. Leather pointed his tommy at Michaela.

“You’re not gonna get away with this,” she said.

“Beat it bitch,” he replied.

Luigi quickly reached for his sidearm. Mr. Leather unleashed his machine gun, blasting holes and blood everywhere. Luigi smashed through the window, falling five stories to the ground.

If the bullets didn’t kill him, the fall certainly did.

Michaela pulled a single shot derringer out of the bosom of her dress, hitting Mr. Leather in the stomach. She ran out the room. I ran over to him.

“We gotta get you to the hospital,” I said.

“Can’t. They’ll take me to prison.”

“I was a medic in the Army, I can probably stop the bleeding,” I replied.

“I’d rather go to prison.”

I helped the blood soaked Mr. Leather to the car. As we sped out of there, he took out a cigarette.

“Where you taking me?” he asked.

“The only place we can go.”

We arrived at the Big Bear cabin early in the morning. Isabella helped carry the wounded man inside.

“Who is this guy?” she asked.

“You know,” I thought for a moment. “That’s a good question.”

As Mr. Leather began fading in and out of consciousness, he began speaking to Isabella.

“Am fost îngerul păzitor al tatălui tău. Și sunt și a ta. Dar timpul meu este aproape terminat. Ai încredere în acest om prost,” he said.

“Am știut întotdeauna,” she replied.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“It’s not important,” Isabella said. “He doesn’t have long.”

“Obviously!”

“Just let me die,” Mr. Leather said. “It’s time.”

“Are you ever going to tell me who you are?” I asked.

“Fuck off,” he replied.

I shrugged and did what I could to stop the bleeding. I stayed by his side all morning.

“What’s the deal with Isabella?” I asked him.

“Poor girl,” he said. “Vito had her mother killed when she was just a little girl. Vito never understood his daughter. She grew up lonely, neglected by her own family.”

“Why did Vito kill her mother?” I replied.

“I’ll never tell.”

“Did you kill her?”

There was no reply. The mysterious man was no more.

I buried him that evening.

Isabella joined me outside over his shallow grave. I took out another cigarette.

“I don’t know if this guy was a pervert or your guardian angel. But either way, I think he was your biggest fan,” I told her.

“Michaela will find us,” she replied. “We gotta move.”

I handed her the money out of Mr. Leather’s wallet, then I emptied out my own.

“Take this,” I said. “Go to New York. Go do Broadway. Go do stand up. Go do something with your life. That’s what our mystery man would have wanted.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“My father buried an entire arsenal from his time in Korea under this land. I outta put it to use.”

***

If Michaela and her army wanted to lay siege to this cabin, I was fully prepared.

After Isabella said her final goodbye, I began work on a defensive attack. Booby traps, trip wires, and explosives were scattered around the perimeter. Thanks to my father’s arsenal, I had RPGs, M16s, M4 Carbines, AKs, AR-15s, Uzis, and all the usual weapons you’d find in these stories.

I climbed up into a deer stand, and watched. Waited. I stared down the scope of my rifle. A caravan of black SUVs was rolling down the dirt road.

The first vehicle struck a trip wire, causing a massive explosion. It obliterated the SUV and the one behind it. Eight people were killed immediately.

Men in the vehicles behind began fanning out into the woods, but they kept triggering the C-4, causing more explosions and death. The unlucky ones got caught in bear traps where they became easy prey for the mountain lions.

I realized that I created a horrible, if not tragic, death trap.

I climbed down from the deer stand and ran back to the cabin. I knew that the men who survived the initial barrage would eventually breach the defensive perimeter. So I armed myself with multiple automatic weapons.

Meanwhile, explosions kept going off. I grabbed the RPG-7.

I knew Michaela was getting close. One of her men yelled “you fucking bitch! You told us that we’d only be facing three people! Not the threshold of hell!”

Her men started to retreat. So my defensive campaign suddenly became an offensive one. I fired an RPG right at her gaggle of men, killing or maiming all 20 of them.

The few survivors that weren’t screaming in agony began to fire back. So I let loose another RPG.

I looked out into the woods. Fires were emanating from the charred remains of hundreds of dead bodies. It was lighting up the night sky. Yet none of the bodies were Michaela.

I slowly paced through the woods. Then a bullet went right through my left kidney. I fell to the ground and Michaela popped out from behind a tree, doing all kinds of strange martial arts.

She round house kicked my face. She broke one of my arms, both legs and my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was helplessly crawling on the ground.

“Where’s Isabella?!” Michaela kept asking while punching me in the face.

“If she was up your butt you’d know where she was,” I replied.

Out of frustration, Michaela stood up and pointed her Glock 19 at me. “Goodbye, private dick!”

Luckily, I had dozens of sidearms on me. So I managed to rip a clip into Michaela before she got off a shot.

With fire all around me, I managed to craw back into the cabin. I might’ve been a fuck up my entire life, but at least I’d go out the way I wanted.

I lit up a cigarette and looked over to a picture of mom and dad.

“I’ll be with you soon Ma and Pa!”

And I closed my eyes.

….

Unfortunately I woke up in the San Bernardino Community Hospital. Isabella and an FBI agent were in the room.

“I couldn’t leave you there mister,” Isabella said. “You were sitting in a pool of your own blood with all your limbs broken.”

“Despite the horrendous injuries and the state we found you in, you’re expected to make a full recovery!” the doctor said.

I didn’t have health insurance.

“You somehow managed to slaughter the entire west coast mafia. There will be a federal investigation into this,” the FBI agent said.

“Do I need to lawyer up?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, BIG TIME,” the agent replied.

“Aren’t you so happy to be alive?!” Isabella asked.

That night, I cried myself to sleep.

THE END

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Full Story)

“Why did you give me this ‘Jesus Saves’ tract?” the bank robber asked me. I had the .38 pointed directly at his skull.

“Because I’m giving you one last choice,” I said. “And I suggest you accept the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior.”

“And what if I tell you that you can wipe your ass with this?”

I shook my head in disappointment. “Then tell Satan he’s next,” I said. I pulled the trigger and unleashed the full fury of my .38 right there in the bank lobby.

Shouts and screams echoed throughout the halls while the robber’s brains spewed out onto the marble floor below. I raised my hands to calm the crowd. “No need to thank me,” I said, “I’m just a good Christian Samaritan doing his job. Have a blessed day.”

I exited the bank just as the police arrived. The officer in charge started yelling in my face. “Goddamnit Jack Hardcock!” he screamed, “you had the suspect disarmed and apprehended, but you shot him anyway!”

“It’s good to see you too Sarge,” I replied sarcastically. “I figured that I save the taxpayers money by executing the bastard right then and there.”

“That’s not how justice is done!” he exclaimed. “Get out of my city before I throw these cuffs on you!”

“With pleasure,” I said then spat on the ground. But that’s the kind of thanks I get for being an instrument of the Lord’s Wrath.

***

“It’s time to go to Bible study,” my brother Pete Hardcock said. Him and his wife were kind enough to allow me to sleep in their garage while I got my life together. This was a year after I saved the city of Cleveland and Progressive Field from a renegade FBI agent. To pay the bills, I was now doing private detective work; stalking cheating spouses and such. It was beneath the dignity of a lethal holy weapon such as myself.

“You know I don’t need that shit,” I said to Pete, “I don’t have to read the Bible. I know everything in it is true and divinely inspired. That’s good enough for me.”

Pete’s stay-at-home wife, Jesseka, brought me a plate of green bean casserole. “Where’s the bourbon?” I asked.

“You know we don’t drink in this house,” Jesseka replied.

“If God didn’t want us to drink, He wouldn’t have made Kentucky bourbon,” I explained.

“Say Jack,” Pete said, “why don’t you come to church and meet a nice Christian lady. You’re 21 years old. Don’t you think it’s time to settle down and start a family?”

“Poppycock,” I replied. “How can I settle down when there’s so much evil on the streets? Like I tell everyone, I’m a blunt instrument of the Lord. So I have no thoughts or desires of my own.“

Pete and Jesseka’s son, Klyde, came rushing into the garage. “Uncle Jack,” he said, “someone’s at the door for you.”

“Back to work,” I uttered to myself. So I pulled up my pants, lit up a cigarette, then walked towards the front door. There I found a woman with tears streaming down her face.

“Are you Jack Hardcock?” the woman asked. “My daughter has gone missing. I need your help!”

***

“My daughter ran off to California to do 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? 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.

***

“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 went up to the room, threw my bags on the bed and began checking for bugs and wiretaps. I found 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.”

***

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 while 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!”

***

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 no one commits crimes 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.

***

I threw Donovan McNabb against the wall in our room at the Cecil Hotel. Then I put a knife to his throat. “Did you bring an extra toothbrush?” I asked. “I forgot mine.”

His hand was shaking as I took the toothbrush from it. “Relax,” I told Donovan, “why are you so stressed out?”

Right then, Peter Tucker startled me as he came in through the door carrying a trey of coffees. I drew the .38 and blasted the trey. Piping hot latte got all over him. 

“Goddamnit Jack!” Peter yelled. “That’s the fifth time I’ve had to go to Dunkin Donuts! Will you stop blasting every trey I carry in?!!”

“We’ve been in LA for two days!” I said as I put the .38 back into the holster. “We’ve got nothing! NOTHING! We need Layla Huffington before it’s too late!”

“Too late for what?” Donovan asked. “She’s already in the porno business.”

I then backhanded him across the face. “I know that,” I replied. “But maybe it’s not too late to save her.”

“Save her?” Donovan said as he rubbed his cheek. “I don’t think she’s in any danger. I just want to talk to her to get some closure!”

I kneed Donovan in the ballsack then threw his head into the mirror, shattering the glass. “Goddamnit Donovan! Don’t you get it?” I said. “Layla is under the clutches of Satan! The Lord has made it MY quest to rescue her! MY QUEST! And when the Lord speaks, I answer the call! So you best not get in the way, or you will be the NEXT one to swallow a bullet.”

Peter stood back in quiet contemplation as he rubbed his hand across his face. “Donovan, will you step outside the room, please?” he requested. 

Donovan granted his request as he wiped blood from his temple. Peter closed the door behind him. “I know what’s going on here, Jack,” he said. “I know you too well. You’ve been watching her videos, looking at her naked pictures constantly. That’s too much for a man that doesn’t masturbate.”

Then a dark revelation came to me. I looked down at the broken shards of mirror at my feet. “And I want her for myself, is that what you say?” 

“It’s an obsession,” Peter replied, “an obsession that has gotten ahold of many men in your position. And as a man with 20 years of backed up semen running through him, it’s an obsession that will crush you.”

I nodded in agreement. “So what do you recommend?” I asked.

“Seeing as you are emotionally compromised in this case, I’ve had no choice but to utilize my massive FBI resources to track Layla Huffington down. So I posed as a porno producer and got in contact with a director that has worked with her many times before,” Peter said. “Plus, you should beat off every once in awhile.”

“Who’s your contact?”

“A very well respected man in the business,” Peter replied. “His name is Dillon J Dudenburg.”

***

“ 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 a whole 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.

***

“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 anyway.”

“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.

***

“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. 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.”

***

“I don’t know what you want from me, mister,” Layla Huffington said from behind the one-way mirror, “so you DON’T want me to take my clothes off?”

“No,” I replied, “I want to preserve your dignity.”

I finally gathered the courage to look at Layla. She was everything that I had hoped for. God was speaking to me at that very moment. He was telling me that it wasn’t a sin to gaze upon her; she was already mine. 

“Look, if you just want to talk,” Layla said, “I can just meet you at the bar. It’ll cost you, of course, but at least I’ll be able to see your face.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” I said.

“Why not?”

I didn’t know how to reply. So there was a long silence then the curtains fell in front of the mirror. I dropped another quarter in the slot and they opened again. 

“You must have a lot of quarters,” Layla said, “you’ve been here for two hours and told me almost nothing. Sure, not having to take my clothes off makes things easy. But it’s been really boring. So please, say something.”

I figured it was time to come clean. After all, it was costing her mother thousands of dollars a day for me to find her. So I took a deep breath and considered my words. 

“Layla, I can’t get you out of my mind,” I explained, “I’m a lonely man. But that’s the cost of being a blunt instrument of the Lord. Yet I’ve been sent on a mission to find you and return you to your family. But I can’t shake the feeling that God has finally smiled upon me and said ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’ So he delivered you to me.”

Just as I had feared, a look of puzzlement fell over Layla’s face. “Excuse me?” she laughed, “Is this a joke?”

“This is certainly not a joke,” I replied.

“Look, I don’t know who the fuck you are! And my family? Those abusive fucks? They can go to hell! I’ve spent my whole life trying to get away from them and there’s no way I’m going back!”

“Layla, listen to me…,” I said. I was beginning to panic. “Maybe you’re right,” I continued, “maybe we should meet face to face at the bar…”

“Like hell we are!” she interrupted, “you stay away from me!”

Layla pressed a panic button. The lights went out and the curtains closed. I began pounding on the glass. “Layla!” I yelled. 

Two large bouncers stepped into the tiny room. “Sir, you need to leave,” one of them ordered as he laid his hand on my shoulder. Without my .38 special, I had to rely on my physical prowess to overpower the men. So I utilized my signature move: a kick to the scrotum so hard that it induced vomiting.

As the bouncers barfed all over the floor, I took one of their taser guns. Then I roundhouse kicked the one-way mirror and the glass came crashing down.

***

“Layla, wait! I love you!” I yelled as I chased her out of the strip club and into the parking lot. As she frantically dug through her purse to find her keys, I pulled out the taser.

“Don’t make me use this,” I warned her. I inched closer towards her as she swiftly opened the door to her vehicle. 

“Stay the fuck away from me!” Layla screamed. Then she swung around and nailed me in the stomach with a pair of brass knuckles. I dropped the taser as I fell to the ground. 

Layla then squealed her tires as she attempted to back out of her parking space. But standing behind the vehicle was Donovan McNabb. “Layla!” he shouted. 

She slammed on the brakes and put the car in park. “Donovan?! I could have killed you!” she screamed through the window. Then she stepped out of the vehicle to confront her ex-boyfriend.

“Donovan, goddamnit!” Layla shouted, “how the hell did you find me?”

“Nevermind that!” he replied, “I was worried sick about you after you ran out on me!”

Layla slowly rubbed her fingers through her hair as she tried to find the words. “I’m sorry I did that,” she replied, “I just didn’t have the courage to tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Donovan asked, “That it was over?”

Layla began to stutter. “I…I don’t know,” she said, “Donovan, I just don’t know who I am, okay? When I’m here, I want to be there. And when I’m there I want to be here. I just needed time away.”

“You could have said so!” he said.

Before Layla could answer, a squad car pulled into the lot. The police officer slowly rolled up and shined his bright light into our faces. I climbed to my feet as I was still struggling to catch my breath. 

“Everything’s alright, officer,” I said, “no need for the law. Thank you for your service and blue lives matter.”

The officer slowly opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle. I couldn’t see his face as I was still blinded by the light. Then I heard a faint laugh. 

“Well well well, Jack Hardcock found Layla Huffington,” the officer said. Then he stepped in front of the light and his face was plain as day.

It was Peter Tucker.

“Peter, I don’t have time for your theatrics,” I said, “let me get Layla and we’ll get the fuck out of California.”

“You know Jack, I was thinking…,” Peter replied, “I could save the taxpayers a lot of money by just killing you right here.”

“Look, how many times do you want me to say I’m sorry for killing your favorite porno director?”

“Dillon J Dudenburg was his name, Goddamnit!” Peter yelled as he pointed his 9mm at my head.

“Whatever. You can’t kill me. There’s too many witnesses. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in prison for murder and impersonating a police officer?”

“I’m in the FBI. I AM THE LAW.”

“Peter,” Donovan interrupted, “Jack saved my life. I will be forever grateful for that. So if you’re gonna kill Jack Hardcock, you’ll have to kill me too.”

Peter thought for a moment, nodded, then turned the gun on Donovan. He pulled the trigger and a bullet landed square in his chest. 

Layla screamed as her ex-boyfriend fell to the ground. That provided enough of a distraction for me to grab the taser gun and fire it towards Peter. The hooks grabbed ahold of him and he began to spaz out. Yet that wasn’t enough to bring him to the ground.

“I’ll get you next time, JACK HARDCOCK,” Peter yelled. While volts were still discharging through his body, Peter pulled off each of the hooks like they weren’t shit, then he slowly walked back to the police car and drove away. 

Layla was holding a dying Donovan in her arms. There was no stopping the bleeding. As he was drawing his last breath, he grabbed me by the arm. “You were right, Jack,” he said.

“About what, Donovan?”

“There is an afterlife. I see it now.”

“Do you see Jesus?”

“I don’t see Jesus,” he explained, “but I do see Satan. Oh shit…”

Those were Donovan’s last words.

***

Care for a Fruit Roll-up?” I asked Layla. I was riding in the passenger seat while she was driving down I-10. We we’re leaving California for good. 

“No,” she simply replied.

“More for me then.”

We didn’t say much. Before we left, I loaded Donovan’s dead body into the trunk. The two of us were still covered in his blood. 

“I’ve been wondering, Layla,” I said, “have you gave any thought to what I told you back there at the strip club?”

“The fuck are you talking about now?”

“You know…about me being madly in love with you, God sending you to me, and all that jazz…”

Layla then swerved off to the shoulder and slammed on the brakes. The sudden stoppage made me spit out my Fruit Rollup. 

“Get out,” she demanded.

“But why?”

“I’ve known you for maybe four hours and you’re already the craziest son of a bitch I’ve met.”

“Layla, I’m just asking you a question. I have feelings, ya know? And you’re not being very receptive to them!”

“I’ve got my boyfriend’s dead body in the trunk, and you want to talk about FEELINGS? Who do you think I am? Your mother? Your therapist? Fuck you AND your feelings!”

“But…but…I know that God…”

“You think that God is on your side?” Layla interrupted. “Then good for you buddy! Maybe he’ll give you a ride cuz I certainly won’t! Now get out of MY car!”

I stepped out of the vehicle stunned. But before I shut the door, I leaned forward to say one more thing. “Layla, I just want to say that I will always love…,” but she squealed the tires, with the sudden force shutting the door closed, then off she went…going 9-0, eastbound down I-10. 

Other than the blood soaked clothes on my back, I had nothing. The sun was just dawning over the desert horizon. 

About five miles down the road was a lone gas station. I walked inside, grabbed a biscuit, and tossed it into the microwave. Then I walked up to the station attendant.

“Gotta take a shit,” I said.

“Bathroom’s down the hall.”

While glancing through a porno mag while sitting on the toilet (I must’ve been in Nevada), I heard a commotion outside. I quickly wiped my ass and stepped out of the bathroom. The attendant was being held at gunpoint by a couple of bikers. One of them was holding a .38 special. 

Before they noticed me, I grabbed my biscuit from the microwave. “You guys should really try the food here,” I said as I chewed on the bread.

The biker with the .38 turned his weapon on me. “Give us your money too, pal!” he ordered. 

So I took out my wallet and pulled out a $5 bill. “I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I’ll make you a deal: you give me that .38 and I’ll give you this $5 bill.”

“Or else what?” the biker chuckled.

I took another bite of the biscuit. “Welp,” I wondered aloud, “then I hope you’ve accepted Jesus into your life. Cuz you’re about to meet him.”

The two bikers nervously cackled while sweat poured down their faces. I stared them down while continuing to eat the biscuit. Finally one of them looked over to the other. “Can you believe this jackass?” he asked.

Then I threw the rock hard biscuit into his face, wrestled the .38 out of his hands, and shot dead the other biker. With the last thief on the ground and my knee to his throat, I pointed the .38 between his eyes. “I’ve already sent two people to hell today: Donovan McNabb and your friend here. Shall I make it a third?” I asked him. 

The biker cried as he shook his head ‘no’. 

“Then accept Jesus in your life,” I said.

“I accept! I ACCEPT!” he yelled.

“Then I’ll see you in heaven,” I replied. I pulled the trigger then bits of skull and brain matter went all over the floor. 

I stood up straight and secured the .38 in the front of my pants. Then I looked over to the attendant. “Sorry for messing up your floor,” I said, “and for clogging your toilet.”

THE END.

JACK HARDCOCK WILL RETURN 

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part XII)

“Care for a Fruit Roll-up?” I asked Layla. I was riding in the passenger seat while she was driving down I-10. We we’re leaving California for good.

“No,” she simply replied.

“More for me then.”

We didn’t say much. Before we left, I loaded Donovan’s dead body into the trunk. The two of us were still covered in his blood.

“I’ve been wondering, Layla,” I said, “have you gave any thought to what I told you back there at the strip club?”

“The fuck are you talking about now?”

“You know…about me being madly in love with you, God sending you to me, and all that jazz…”

Layla then swerved off to the shoulder and slammed on the brakes. The sudden stoppage made me spit out my Fruit Rollup.

“Get out,” she demanded.

“But why?”

“I’ve known you for maybe four hours and you’re already the craziest son of a bitch I’ve met.”

“Layla, I’m just asking you a question. I have feelings, ya know? And you’re not being very receptive to them!”

“I’ve got my boyfriend’s dead body in the trunk, and you want to talk about FEELINGS? Who do you think I am? Your mother? Your therapist? Fuck you AND your feelings!”

“But…but…I know that God…”

“You think that God is on your side?” Layla interrupted. “Then good for you buddy! Maybe he’ll give you a ride cuz I certainly won’t! Now get out of MY car!”

I stepped out of the vehicle stunned. But before I shut the door, I leaned forward to say one more thing. “Layla, I just want to say that I will always love…,” but she squealed the tires, with the sudden force shutting the door closed, then off she went…going 9-0, eastbound down I-10.

Other than the blood soaked clothes on my back, I had nothing. The sun was just dawning over the desert horizon.

About five miles down the road was a lone gas station. I walked inside, grabbed a biscuit, and tossed it into the microwave. Then I walked up to the station attendant.

“Gotta take a shit,” I said.

“Bathroom’s down the hall.”

While glancing through a porno mag while sitting on the toilet (I must’ve been in Nevada), I heard a commotion outside. I quickly wiped my ass and stepped out of the bathroom. The attendant was being held at gunpoint by a couple of bikers. One of them was holding a .38 special.

Before they noticed me, I grabbed my biscuit from the microwave. “You guys should really try the food here,” I said as I chewed on the bread.

The biker with the .38 turned his weapon on me. “Give us your money too, pal!” he ordered.

So I took out my wallet and pulled out a $5 bill. “I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I’ll make you a deal: you give me that .38 and I’ll give you this $5 bill.”

“Or else what?” the biker chuckled.

I took another bite of the biscuit. “Welp,” I wondered aloud, “then I hope you’ve accepted Jesus into your life. Cuz you’re about to meet him.”

The two bikers nervously cackled while sweat poured down their faces. I stared them down while continuing to eat the biscuit. Finally one of them looked over to the other. “Can you believe this jackass?” he asked.

Then I threw the rock hard biscuit into his face, wrestled the .38 out of his hands, and shot dead the other biker. With the last thief on the ground and my knee to his throat, I pointed the .38 between his eyes. “I’ve already sent two people to hell today: Donovan McNabb and your friend here. Shall I make it a third?” I asked him.

The biker cried as he shook his head ‘no’.

“Then accept Jesus in your life,” I said.

“I accept! I ACCEPT!” he yelled.

“Then I’ll see you in heaven,” I replied. I pulled the trigger then bits of skull and brain matter went all over the floor.

I stood up straight and secured the .38 in the front of my pants. Then I looked over to the attendant. “Sorry for messing up your floor,” I said, “and for clogging your toilet.”

THE END.

JACK HARDCOCK WILL RETURN

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part X)

“I don’t know what you want from me, mister,” Layla Huffington said from behind the one-way mirror, “so you DON’T want me to take my clothes off?”

“No,” I replied, “I want to preserve your dignity.”

I finally gathered the courage to look at Layla. She was everything that I had hoped for. God was speaking to me at that very moment. He was telling me that it wasn’t a sin to gaze upon her; she was already mine.

“Look, if you just want to talk,” Layla said, “I can just meet you at the bar. It’ll cost you, of course, but at least I’ll be able to see your face.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” I said.

“Why not?”

I didn’t know how to reply. So there was a long silence then the curtains fell in front of the mirror. I dropped another quarter in the slot and they opened again.

“You must have a lot of quarters,” Layla said, “you’ve been here for two hours and told me almost nothing. Sure, not having to take my clothes off makes things easy. But it’s been really boring. So please, say something.”

I figured it was time to come clean. After all, it was costing her mother thousands of dollars a day for me to find her. So I took a deep breath and considered my words.

“Layla, I can’t get you out of my mind,” I explained, “I’m a lonely man. But that’s the cost of being a blunt instrument of the Lord. Yet I’ve been sent on a mission to find you and return you to your family. But I can’t shake the feeling that God has finally smiled upon me and said ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’ So he delivered you to me.”

Just as I had feared, a look of puzzlement fell over Layla’s face. “Excuse me?” she laughed, “Is this a joke?”

“This is certainly not a joke,” I replied.

“Look, I don’t know who the fuck you are! And my family? Those abusive fucks? They can go to hell! I’ve spent my whole life trying to get away from them and there’s no way I’m going back!”

“Layla, listen to me…,” I said. I was beginning to panic. “Maybe you’re right,” I continued, “maybe we should meet face to face at the bar…”

“Like hell we are!” she interrupted, “you stay away from me!”

Layla pressed a panic button. The lights went out and the curtains closed. I began pounding on the glass. “Layla!” I yelled.

Two large bouncers stepped into the tiny room. “Sir, you need to leave,” one of them ordered as he laid his hand on my shoulder. Without my .38 special, I had to rely on my physical prowess to overpower the men. So I utilized my signature move: a kick to the scrotum so hard that it induced vomiting.

As the bouncers barfed all over the floor, I took one of their taser guns. Then I roundhouse kicked the one-way mirror and the glass came crashing down.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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. 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 anyway.”

“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 a whole 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…