This story is part of Rider’s early days, before he finds a certain video and tracks down the men who killed his mother and sister. This is also Batista’s first appearance in a Rider story, and as you’ll see, the Detective isn’t as onboard with Bishop’s brand of justice as he’d come to be. Either way: the struggle begins.
FIRE IN THE HOLE
I push the steel harder into the back of Terrance’s shaved head.
“C’mon,” he says. “You and me, Rider, we’ve similar goals.” The scum was right as well as wrong. Where I saw him and his kind as a means to an end, he only wanted atop the pile. “We’re businessmen, you and I. Way I see it, the info I’m givin’ you, I should be gettin’ a free pass.”
“Anne-Marie Shields. Did she get a pass?” Terrance was smart, played dumb, but I already knew. Put a bullet in his crotch to make him understand. I unloaded the remaining five just to let off steam.
“And this piece of shit, this Terrance, he said Toomey and his men are coming in night after next?” Batista continued to look out over Culver, the city he’d sworn to protect. Duty and honor are the things which make up Detective John Batista; what made up most of the men he stood in line with. That he now found himself in my world was something we rarely discussed. It was a given, what I did. And he’d yet to try and turn me in.
In him I see myself, a time when belief had been the norm; that this world did in fact not kick at its dead. Detective Batista and I, we have our demons, sure, each the thing that drives us on. But to be fair, that is where the similarities end. No matter how much he might think otherwise.
Toomey, though…Toomey was the here and now. And Toomey was trouble. Aggressive. Ruthless. Feral. He was high end too, lacking the moral compass most considered a conscience. Word on the street was he kept a portable wood chipper now, and that the man was unafraid to take his time if given the chance.
Bangers wouldn’t use him, slingers either, which left me two choices, both of which I could work with. Russians or Italians. Little more re-con and Bobby Carmine popped into view.
“Head-shit looking to take you out, I see.” Batista runs a hand through his greying hair, goes down about his goatee and finishes with a sigh. Politics notwithstanding, I swear the man’s as textbook as they come.
“What it looks like, yeah.”
“And just what is it you want from me?” I looked to the city’s lights behind him, looked down into the valley which had claimed so many. Culver was not the place I’d been born, but I was certain it’d be the place I’d die.
“I want unobstructed access to the south side when this goes down. I’m not looking for collateral damage. Ensure the night’s patrol is light.”
He looks at me, shakes his head, and then says he’d work on it: Batista-speak for yes.
“You’re going to need ordnance, then.” I told him yes, but that it wouldn’t be coming from him. As ever, he’d already done more than enough.
Outside Carmine’s place I load the launcher as soon as I see Toomey and his crew are given the go through. Ten minutes later and I light the night. Upon entering, I can’t help but think back to men like Toomey. Hell, to men like Carmine himself. Lowlifes who think they deserve; men arrogant enough to believe the streets were theirs; who would rob and kill and extort and have others do the very same thing in their name. I picture Mick the Fish, Danny Dolan, and Marcel Abrum. They were special, each of them, all receiving a little extra piece of my time. To Toomey I would do the same. He of the wood chipper fame deserved no less.
As the Kevlar takes two to the chest I turn, dive, but take one in the side of the leg as I return fire. I hear a click. Another. And then the gun as it’s tossed aside.
“Come if yer comin’ goddammit!” I did. It was Toomey, of course. Why men like him never died like the rest of them I will never know for sure.
Through the debris and flame and smoke I see what he’s become—intestines that stream outwards, flowing in place of his legs. Thick, they wind around brick and plaster like pregnant string. He gurgles, spits up, and as I approach I step on as much of him as I can. In the end I don’t need bullets. I only look him in the eye.
To protect and serve, Batista says. To protect and save, I respond.
I admit the difference is vast.
Beau Johnson lives in Canada with his wife and three boys. He has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and the Molotov Cocktail. Besides writing, Beau enjoys golfing, pushing off Boats and certain Giant Tigers.
Find Beau Johnson online …
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beau-Johnson/e/B079MHF7RG/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17692442.Beau_Johnson