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Topics - Doktor Howl

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1
We arrived at the bar at just before 10 AM, while it was still closed.  Tim attached a little something to the door lock, between the lock and the frame. There was a coffee shop across the street, so we sat down on the patio and had a cup.

"Any changes to the plan?"  Tim wasn't being nervous, I don't think he has nerves; He was just checking to be certain.

"Nope.  It's going to work just fine.  Mark, are you up for this, or do you want to pull security?  Because we could probably use that, too."

"Wherever you want me, boss."

"Delightful.  You will move to the back and check the back room, then lock the back door and return to the front to stand watch.  Tim and I will deal with things.  If anyone tries to come in, it's a private party.  If they still want to come in, beat the crap out of them."

"Sounds reasonable."

I have often said that the very worst people to invite to parties are strong, competent types who don't give a fuck.  Mostly because other people get drunk and have to fuck with them.  But this kind of party, I wished I had another Tim and maybe 3 more Marks. 

Time passed.  At 10:45, I saw a man a little younger than me let himself in the front door.  He then locked the door behind him.  Or so he thought...It's amazing what Tim can accomplish with some packing tape and a bent paper clip.  He's like McGuiver meets Jason Vorheez, only without Jason's warm disposition.  And if McGuiver could punch you right in your brains.

We strolled in after the bartender, who looked up in confused annoyance.  "I swear I locked that damn thing.  We ain't open yet."

"You did in fact lock the door, Wayne.  But locks mean very little to my friends and I."  Mark was already on his way back up front, having looked in the office and the bathrooms.

The bartender was eyeing the bar.  I could tell that he was calculating if he could reach behind it before bad things happened.

"Don't bother," Tim said, "You won't make it."

"Who the fuck are you guys?  Mob?  I already paid up."

"No, we are not the mob.  Do we look like rejects from a 1970s Goodwill?"

"Yeah, well, I paid for protection, so you fuckers are gonna be in a world of hurt."

"Perhaps," I said, "but that is later, when we are different people.  Specifically, people not alone with you right now.  Now, we have some questions for you.  Ugly questions.  Questions I am sure even your mob pals don't want to hear about.  And you will answer these questions, yes.  It remains to be seen just HOW you will answer, but answer you most assuredly will."

"Fuck you."

I sighed, and motioned to Tim. 

Have I mentioned that having people is good?  It is, really, especially at my age.  My dignity precludes the sort of thing Tim does, as does the condition of my knees.  In any case, Tim walked up and punched the bartender.  It was like hearing a hammer mill drop on a pig.  An ugly sound.

I crouched, and said as much to the bartender.  "An ugly sound, yes.  I don't like hearing it...But life is full of unpleasant chores.  Now, while there is no guarantee that you will walk out of here intact, or with any sort of dignity, it still IS possible.  Shall we get down to business, or do you feel the need to do this for a while?  I do have time for you.  In fact, I have a great deal of time.  Again, shall we get down to business, Wayne?"

"How do you know my name?  I never seen you before in my life."

"We know everything, Wayne.  Everything except one tiny detail, with which we are obsessed.  So we come to you."

"What the fuck do you want?"  He started to get up, but Tim put a boot on his chest and shook his head.

"We wish to know where a certain young couple is.  They were purchased from a scumbag not far from here...And while I can assure you, with no small regret, that we are not good people, we DO frown on the purchasing of people."  My voice lost its humor.  "Especially when one of the people is the child of a very important man, indeed."

Wayne's eyes flickered around.

"You are about to lie to me, Wayne.  If you do, I shall be most disappointed.  But that isn't important.  What IS important is that my associate who is resting his boot on your sternum hates liars.  One might even say that he has a pathological hatred of them.  I shall remind you that his boot is on your sternum.  Now, slow down, and tell the mean old man where those kids are."

Mark motioned to me from up front, and then stepped to the side of the door.  Mark is a former Marine, and knows how to be silent.  This is a skill many people should develop.  A second or two later, a man walked in the door, saw what was happening, and reached for the back of his pants.  Mark stepped out and grabbed the reaching arm.  There was an awful noise, and the man fell to his knees, trying to scream.  What came out was more of a grunt and a sob.

"Quit crying," Mark said, "It's only dislocated.  Move, and I remove it." 

"That must be Lamar," I said quietly to Wayne, "You will answer my questions, yes?  If not, I am afraid Lamar may discover that you are the author of his misfortune."

Wayne stared at me for a second, his eyes flicking to the bar.

"Something behind the bar, Wayne?  Something interesting?"

Wayne just fumed.  I walked behind the bar, and looked at the floor.  Pretty much where I expected it, there was a hinged door flush with the floor.  The beer would be down there.  Maybe something else.  Maybe, in fact, we had moved fast enough.

Opening the door, I went down the steep staircase.  Jackpot.  There, handcuffed to some piping, were our lad and his girlfriend.  I smiled at them, which didn't seem to help their mood.  I can imagine what they were thinking.  I went back up and retrieved the keys from Wayne.

"Found them," I said, "They seem alright."

I went back down and unlocked their cuffs. 

"Your dad sent us," I said to the boy.

"I was afraid of that," he said.  The girl began to cry.

I had a feeling, as we hustled them out to the woefully inadequate care, that things just got complicated.

To be continued





2
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Nigel
« on: April 30, 2015, 02:35:11 am »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb4FMn-IWEY&feature=youtu.be

That's what you get for going to the pub when I can't.   :argh!:

3
We pulled up at a shithole trailer park.  The GPS seemed to indicate the NW corner trailer had our guy, but even a good GPS is prone to small errors.  Not so bad when you're looking for a hotel, but not so good when you're trying to pick one trailer out of 30 or so.  Still, it was all we had.

"So, how do you guys play this?"  Mark asked, looking at us.

"It's simple", I said, "You wait out back, and catch the little turd when he flies out the back door.  Then we stick him in the car and we go."

"What if it isn't him that comes out?"

"Use your judgment.  I'd suggest clotheslining the bastard, but you may be more prone to punch.  And then secure the person, we may have questions for him or her."

We all put vests on, and got out of the car.  Now, you may assume that we would not precisely fit in, in a trailer park.  Blue jeans, okay.  Engineer boots, mm, okay.  Black tee shirts, okay.  Black ballistic vests?  Maybe not so much.  As I walked toward the trailer, some lady stared at me from across the lane.

"What are you looking at?"  I asked, "Shouldn't you be moving in the general direction of 'away'?"

The lady vanished, and I walked up to the door, and stood to one side.  Tim stood on the other side.  I knocked, and hollered the kid's name.  No response.  I tried it one more time, then said fuck it.  Tim booted the door, which came off of its hinges like it was made out of Lego.    Inside, it was a worse shit hole than you'd expect.  A couch that probably dated from the 50s, an old-school CRT television, and bags of raw garbage all over the place.  A table with two chairs sat in the kitchen. 

The bedroom door opened next to us, and a skinny muppet with dreadlocks stuck his face out.  I grabbed him by the hair and yanked him toward Tim, who punched him in the gut.  It's funny, but you can always tell when a man gets hit square in the diaphragm.  All of his air comes out, and the look on his face says that he has just noticed parts of the universe he never really suspected existed.  Startled, like.  He collapsed, and Tim put a precautionary boot on his neck while White-boy Marley retched and tried to remember how to breathe.  I reached down and grabbed a pistol out of his waistband.

"Naughty", I said, "And cheap.  Where on EARTH did you get a piece of shit, broke-pimp gun like this?"

"Argle, wheeze..."

Tim checked the rest of the trailer, which was empty, except for some rather illegal and questionable-looking drugs on the table.  We grabbed the guy and slammed him onto the couch.  I sat next to him, and Tim stood in front of him.

"You feeling better yet?"  I gave him my friendliest grin.  He shook his head, and looked at my grin like it came out of an aquarium.

"That's okay, we'll wait.  You just nod your head when you feel like you can be useful to us.  And you DO want to be useful."

Mark stuck his head in the back door.  "Everything cool?"

"Yeah, just keep watch out there."

"Cool."  Mark closed the door.

Dreadlocks was looking a little more oxygenated, so I turned to him.

"The good news is, we aren't the police or some kind of federal agency.  The bad news is, we aren't the police or some kind of federal agency.  Do you understand me?"

Dreadlocks stared at me.  "Then who are you?", he wheezed.

"We are just working stiffs.  We're looking for a 15 year old kid who has gone missing.  He is the son of a very important man."

"Don't know what you're talking about."

"Lying.  Associate, would you please explain why I know he's lying?"

Tim slapped him across the face.  It sounded like a shotgun going off.  "We know you are lying, because his smartphone is here.  In this trailer."

"That love tap my associate gave you was a wake-up call.  Associate is an ill-tempered person,"  I said, putting my arm around dreadlocks' shoulder, "Unlike myself.  I am sweet and kind, and only want to know where the kid has gone.  If I find that out, you will never see me again.  Unless you lie, in which case you will grow sick of my face.  Now, why don't you tell me why his smartphone is here."

"He sold it to me.  He said he needed the money."

"Did he say why?"

"No, but there was some girl named Shannon with him."

"Tell me of this Shannon person."

"She was like him.  Loaded, right?  Doesn't belong around here."  His eyes darted around.  "I paid them $75 for the phone and they left."

"Lying."

Tim did some stuff.  Nothing permanent.  I nodded in approval.  Tim learned some control since our last meeting.

"Now, my little muppet, you will tell me all.  Think of me as a kindly uncle."

"You guys mob?"

"Shhh.  Just tell me exactly what happened here.  I will find out one way or the other, and the very last thing you want in this life is for me and associate to come back here.  I don't LIKE this place, and I don't want to come back.  That might in fact cost me my pleasant disposition and the majority of my happy thoughts.  Do you know which happy thought I'd have left?"

Dreadlocks stared at me and shook his head.

"You.  You would be the only happy thought I had left with which to console myself.  I don't want that.  Do you want that?"

Dreadlocks shook his head some more.  Tim leaned in with a very Teutonic deadpan.  "Talk."

"Look, the kid and the chick show up, I figured they were here to buy some weed.  He tells me his dad is a prick, like I care or something.  He tells me he's broken it off with his dad, never going home.  He was a regular, you know?  Only now, he ain't so regular.  He's looking to sell stuff for cheap, not buy product.  So I make a call, and the guys say party it up with him, get him loaded, they'd be by soon.  So I make like we're buddies, he and the girl smoke some weed, drink some beer.  I do a little rock, drink some beer.  After a while, the guys show up, and they take the kid and the girl, and they give me $500.  Never saw them again."

"They're going to whore them out," Tim said, "And I told you a girl would be involved in this."

I nodded, then looked at dreadlocks.  "Who are the guys?" 

He clammed up.

"I don't know if we've made ourselves clear."

"They'll kill me."

"Perhaps.  But that is another time, when you are another person.  Specifically, a person not looking at my associate.  See how mad he looks?  You ever see a guy look that mad with a straight face?"

"I ain't saying shit."

I sighed and looked at Tim.  "Why do they always make us do it the hard way?"

A half hour later, Tim, Mark, and I were in the car, headed to a shitty loser bar a half mile away.  I suspected that they would want to do things the hard way, too.

To be continued

4
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / LMNO DEAD.
« on: April 25, 2015, 04:28:10 am »
Eaten by a giant honeydew plant.   :cry:


5
I think I love her.   :lulz:


6
Three big men in a "full size" car.  None of us were happy about this, but the new boss is a jerk, and she insisted that we "economize", so no SUV or muscle car for us.  Mark was pissed off...When I assigned him to the detail, he was expecting the normal fun stuff.  Tim wasn't complaining much, as he had spent the winter in Russia and the horrible piece of shit he drove there didn't even have a heater, but he wasn't exactly thrilled.

"It makes us look like chumps", was his only comment.  Being a Boer, it sounded like Heinrich Himmler complaining that his staff car wasn't all that it could have been.

I didn't comment, as I was re-reading the file on my tablet.  Simple job, really.  Some exec's 15 year old son had fucked off, and the Phoenix police weren't interested.  The kid's smartphone had a GPS in it, so all we had to do - hopefully - was go where the phone was, and bring the kid back to his dad.  The exec didn't even work for our company, but the company he is with is a major customer, so there we were.  It seems the kid had a bit of a history with drugs.  Nothing serious.  Put in rehab for weed, if you can believe it, as a means to avoid a felony on his record.  My hypothesis was that the kid fucked off to party with his friends, and I said so.

"Probably." Mark said, "I remember how important weed was to me as a teenager."

"There will be a girl involved in this," Tim said, "Mark my words."

I just shrugged, as Tim turned off the highway on 44th Street, on the way to the hotel.  At least they had us in a decent place.  The new boss has no latitude on that, or she'd have dumped us in a Motel Six, where we'd be eaten by bedbugs.  Instead, we were in the Holiday Inn on 44th, which is actually one of the nicest hotels in the area, even if it's laid out like Heidelberg Castle; a huge courtyard in the center, and it takes 10 minutes to schlep your bag up to your room.

Once we'd gotten settled, we went to go grab some sushi, and meet up with the neckbeard from the cell company, who would patch us into the kid's GPS.  All very legal, the exec having signed the necessary releases, but a little bit irregular.  We arrived before the neckbeard, and sat down to have a coffee while we waited.  We got a few stares...Three apes dressed identically in black tee shirts, jeans, and steel toe boots.  It was like a Richter convention, truth be told, except that two of us were bald and one (Tim) wore a high & tight so short he may as well have been bald.

Ten minutes later, the waiter brought the neckbeard to our table.

Neckbeard looked us over.  "What are you guys?  Neo-Nazis?"

Tim bristled.  "It does not matter who or what we are.  You will sit down and shove raw fish in your mouth, so that we need not hear your prattling.  And you will grant us the access we need."

"Well, jeez, you didn't have to be RUDE," he replied.

I looked at him.  "You just called us Nazis, and you say WE are rude?"

"Don't get your panties in a bunch," the neckbeard said, "Don't know what I was supposed to think, the way you guys look."

Mark snickered.  A man his size, it came out more like a bass drum.  "You aren't being paid to think."

The waiter came up and took our orders.  When he left, I powered up my tablet and placed it on the table in front of neckbeard.  He  stuck a flash drive in it and started doing neckbeard things.  After a few minutes, he handed me the tablet and walked me through the GPS tracker.

"That tracker expires in 72 hours and will delete itself." he said, "It's a security thing.  Also, it only works for that one GPS."

I expected as much, and didn't say anything.  Our food arrived, and we ate.  The neckbeard kept trying to make conversation, but we ignored him.  Nazis, eh? 

We paid the bill and left.  I figured we'd run the kid to ground, hand him over, and go home.  Simple job.  No mess, no horrible beatings, no dealing with idiots or scumbags.

I was, of course, utterly wrong.

To be continued.

7
DON'T THINK I WON'T.

Also, job interview tomorrow.

8
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Cain
« on: April 21, 2015, 09:36:17 pm »
If you have any time for fiction reading, I suggest Harry Turtledove's alternate history series "The War That Came Early" (first book is called "Hitler's War").

I'm on book 4 and I give it a 9/10 for holy fuck.

9
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / BIG MAN PLANS
« on: April 14, 2015, 07:24:41 pm »
When I am rich, I will make Tom Selleck shave off his mustache using only his tears for shaving cream.

10
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Where I am
« on: April 13, 2015, 06:52:08 pm »
I was the kid they said would go nowhere.  Would live under a bridge.  My teachers told my parents I was a flake.  I was a small boy until my mid-teens, and I got pounded on.  Later, I went back and did some pounding of my own.  And I'm still here.

I was the original wait-a-minute private, then the nightmare corporal.  I saw horrors underground in Panama, and windrows of dead on the desert sands.  I got some scars.  And I'm still here.

I was the apprentice millwright, the Get-Us-Some-Coffee-And-Then-Clean-Up-Our-Mess pissboy.  Then an aviation mechanic for a dodgy freight carrier.  Then I met a Cheryl, and then she left with my dog.  And I'm still here.

Then I was a mook, and then The Man, and then the corporate whore fix it guy.  Then I joined the Science Gestapo and I fuck the future into existence, yet I still have to deal with petty tyrants and other crazy people.  My head is a mess and I'm firing on 5 cylinders, and reality is something that happens to other people and that's OKAY on account of

I'm.  Still.  Here.

Where the hell are you?


11
28 hours without sleep.  Again.  Past what you'd call "fatigue."  Also, brain flukes v2.0 is in overdrive, and brother, I wish I could show you what I'm seeing.  What's funny about it is that the illusions don't stand up to change very well.  Go out to the post box.  Find the keyhole, very cleverly hidden, and open the door.  Inside, my car is normal.  So I drive the post box to work, listening to Lady Gaga and ELO, wondering why postal employees never thought of this.  Why sort the mail when you can send the box?  Get out of the car, leave the post box double parked.  At least they'll know where to put the ticket.

All the other cars on the road looked normal.  This seems to fix on one particular object for each "misrepresentation" in what is now a very crowded visual cortex.  (Oh, and yes, Nigel, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is - most times - spot on, although it can make trips to the mall interesting when it's acting up.)

Science Gestapo business later this week.  If I'm still in this shape, I think I'll scare the poop right out of whomever it is that has what we want, whatever it is.  No reason to be scared, though.  We're not that kind of goon.  We're just The Collectors.  The janitors of the halls of power.  The boys that come around and make things make sense, at least to people with fully-functional brains.  ME understanding it?  That's not required.  Get the job done, worship at the altar of Uncle Isaac.  For are we not priests?  Do we not minister to the unworthy, bring the holy writ to people who don't understand it, CAN'T understand it, because the CEO has a head full of numbers with no room for opera.  No appreciation for the sacred work that We do.  He does not believe what we believe, and neither does Lillie.  We don't have the same values.

And that alone is reason to leave. 

But not until this job is over.  I don't know what it is yet, the files have not been made available this early, but it's going to be big and weird and grotesque, and more fun than I really wanted.  I can sense it, way down in my bits.  Maybe that's just the insomnia talking, or the flukes.  But still, a man can dream.  And I have very large dreams.  Huge, in fact.  Dreams so big I may never have to sleep again.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.  Hugo Gernsback laid out the plan.  It was going to be a future of rocket ships and weird science.  It was going to be a future without the hooks and razors and cheap fixers.  It was going to be a future where execs don't kill profitable ideas just because they're bizarre enough to make the other corporations crowd over to the far end of the country club bar, muttering inane shit about "going too far".  There IS no "too far".  But you can't tell them that, so I guess we all just got lost in the dark.

If you went back in time and told Mr Gersback about the present day, he'd spoo all over himself about the gadgets.  And then when you told him how They shit all over the future in every other metric, he'd shit blood in rage, call you a liar, and then beat you senseless with a grounding rod.  Hugo was a beast of a man, and he had a temper like a bottle of mercury fulminate.

Whoops.  Got a little side tracked, there. 

Anyway, like I was trying to say, we have to steal the future back from Them.  I have to, anyway.

But I can't do it here.

More after the trip.


12
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Badly Flawed Signal
« on: March 23, 2015, 11:13:29 am »
The only way to affect real change, I am told by wiser heads than myself, is to find the fatal flaw in a false belief, which will allow the entire false structure to collapse.

Say, for example, that a middle-aged man is walking through a portion of Congress Street that is under contruction, and has those wooden tunnels.  At say, 11:30 PM last Saturday Night.  And just suppose he sees a young lady coming the other direction with a look of terror on her face.  And - just as a hypothetical, imagine there are two other college students, both male, following her and cat-calling and making lewd suggestions, with the sort of smiles that say that the evenings entertainments might involve more than scaring the shit out of a 21-ish girl.

To futher the example, the middle aged man calls them cunts and gives them a one-time offer to fuck off.  The young lady panics completely and freezes, as her instincts betray her...So the situation does not end, and instead becomes a testosterone thing.  The offer expires, and a fairly brutal beating ensues.

That's how it might seem, but every assumption is a product of bad signal.

In no particular order:

1.  The boys thought they were beer-fueled studs.  If they had been, they would have had willing girls that wanted to do more than act like a terrified bunny in a world of coyotes.
2.  The notion that this isn't exactly what the boys were after.
3.  The girl had it in her head - for reasons unknown - that walking in a deserted section of the road, blocked by wooden panels from vision to and from the club entrances 200 meters away, was a proper plan.
4.  The idea that the midde-aged man was there to save her, rather than merely taking out his aggressions and pent-up frustration in a way that generated no moral qualms.
5.  That there was a fist fight.  Middle aged men do not win fist fights with men less than half their age.  This may have been the most important part; the boys expected a fist fight.  The did not expect 30 inches of #35 chain.

In addition several basic instincts were ignored.

1.  The girl sought cover behind her "defender", instead of hauling ass as fast as possible while said "defender" was between her and her tormentors.
2.  The boys were presented with something out of the ordinary, something almost surreal, and (probably due to intoxication) attempted to bluff and talk shit to a sober man who had absolutely no interest in what they had to say, and was in fact moving up for a confrontation involving lots of SHUT UP LIKE HELL.
3.  The boys failed to register the fact that a middle-aged man most likely has kids the exact same age as the young lady.
4.  The boys seemed to fall to the - understandable - belief that this was a white knight thing, which of course it was not.  It was an excuse.

The interesting point here is that if any of the above assumptions/instincts had been properly examined, the beating would not have occurred, and - more importantly - a middle aged man would not have VERY stiff muscles in his back.


13
I can finally get this shit off my chest.

You haven't seen Tom Selleck since you met Nigel.  Nigel has a medicine bag full of squirrels.  No, the OTHER kind of squirrels.  I shudder to think how she keeps them fed.  There hasn't been a single police shooting in Portland since she left.  Not one.  And the cops don't look like they've just been shocked a few times with a car battery.  It stopped raining.  Religious whackjobs find themselves without an audience.  Politicians are doing what's best for their consitituents.  Lemmings have stopped running off of cliffs.  LMNO was seen smiling.  There haven't been any unusual noises coming out of the cemetery.  The East coast has started to thaw.  Orphans have stopped devouring the elderly in Mesa.

COME BACK, NIGEL!  IT'S ALL FALLING APART!

14
Somewhere, date unimportant

The saloon was hot; the desert sun beat down on it, and there was no breeze.

Inside, the place was empty, save for four haunted lawmen - gunslingers, reallly, who just happened to have taken straight jobs at some point recently - who sat around a table drinking whiskey and playing cards.  To say 'haunted' in this situation is not a metaphor, as we shall see shortly.  The room was silent, save for the flipping of cards and the creak of the floorboards as one of them would, from time to time, go to the bar to refill his glass.  The rules said that there were to be no bottles at the table, and these four were (at the moment) rule-abiding men...To whom I shall introduce you:

Hank was from out East, but nobody held it against him, for he was a good man in a tight spot.  Hank was haunted by the ghost of his mustache.  He had, once upon a time, a glorious handlebar mustache of the sort to make Wyatt Earp weep.  But it had been stolen many years ago, and all that was left was its unquiet shade. Hank said he deplored violence, but this was the only time in his life he had lied.

Abner was from across the sea.  He obstensibly spoke English, but he could not be understood most of the time.  He had brought his ghost with him from the old world, a weeping young lady who, when roused, became a holy terror, and struck men dead with her screams.  For the most part, she merely stood behind him as he played cards.  Ghosts have patience; they take the long view.  Abner had no livelihood after things went bust, and no remaining skills save that of the fist and the pistol.  So he became a lawman who was occasionally a bandit, and on rare occasions a train robber.

Virgil was from...Well, that was sort of unclear.  Virgil had always been here.  It was he who welcomed the rest of this small group, Virgil who showed them where the booze was, and explained the rules to them, in what seemed like the distant past.  Virgil was haunted by his left hand, which had been shot off back during the war.  The fact that he wore two guns when he had but one hand surprised many people, some terminally.  Nevertheless, the others agreed he was a good host - though he denied owning the place - and they decided that none of them needed to learn more about his admittedly bizarre arrangement.

And then, of course, there was the kid.  No story of this type is complete without him; he is a Western archetype. The kid was perhaps - being generous - Nineteen years old.  Blessedly, he had none of the rudeness and impetuous manners of youth; he in fact insisted on being polite on the few times he spoke, and woe to the man that was rude in his presence.  He had no courtly manners, but rather a rough sense of elan.  A tip of the hat to the ladies - should any ladies be encountered - a handshake and a look in the eye for the menfolk.  He, too, was haunted, his ghost being that of his younger brother, dead these 5 years.  His ghost was not present.  If the kid had to guess, Kyle (his brother) would be out by the stables, admiring the horses.

They were playing for matchsticks, the last payday they had being quite some time before.  As the other three threw down their hands in disgust, as The Kid raked in the pile of matchsticks, there was a footstep on the boardwalk outside of the salloon.  The players looked up, somehow hoping not to see the only man that it could be.  And it was.  The undertaker stood in the door, holding a rolled up piece of paper...Their next job.  It is worth noting that the town's undertaker was also its judge, and that he was not opposed in the least to allowing the right hand to wash the left.  Let us be frank:  The town had a gallows, but no jail.

The Kid, who had never been bothered by the undertaker's sallow smile or his reptillian eyes, walked up and took the paper from the undertaker.  He unrolled it, and read it carefully, his lips silently following along.  The looked up at the group.  "Five hundred dollars," he said, "Alive.  No reward dead."

The other three spat.  The undertaker would have his sport. 

One by one, they grabbed their pistol belts and hats, and headed for the door.  The undertaker was already gone.

 
Somewhere else


The preacher stood over his dead mount.  He was, in spite his calling, an Earthy man, and so he swore under his breath as he snagged up his canteens, placing them in his saddlebags, which he detached from the saddle proper.  He knew the law would be after him soon, and now he was on foot. Of course, being a preacher, he was required to go armed; they would not take him without a fight, and he would save the last bullet for himself.  He didn't want to die, but he was even more opposed to doing so at the end of a rope.  And, given the nature of his crimes, that was the only possible outcome of capture.  Clemency was a fool's dream, no governor had issued such in living memory.

Laughing at the very idea, the preacher hefted his saddlebags over his shoulder and walked West, into the dying sun, the ghost of his faith drifting along behind him.

To be continued



15


 :lulz:

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