This is another early Rider story. Not of his narrative so much as me realizing I might in fact have a character with legs. It’s also the first story that connected to a previous story and when I came to understand that every Rider story had the potential to spawn a prequel or sequel. Hence, how I began telling Rider’s story out of sequence. Is it difficult to unfold a man’s life this way? At times, sure, but what I will also share is this: I would not trade it.
THE ONLY THING THAT FITS
Four boys playing fort are who found what we’d thought was the second girl, Rebecca Hall, age twelve, beat, bloodied and dead. Last time anyone had seen her was two days prior, a Monday, two steps off her school bus and sixty from home. Deputy Detective John Batista is the officer who catches the case, me, in turn, becoming his very next call. A murderer in my own right, I had no problem doing what needed to be done. Batista, giant, thick, with a face the color of pissed-off brick, knew this as well. Both of us more than proficient in the art of subterfuge we’d come to utilize. Seeing we were the very same thing we’d come to hunt meant we pretty much had to be.
The autopsy confirmed what each of us feared: rape. What it also confirmed was that Rebecca Hall was not the second victim but actually the fourth. Not to be out done, it was the girl’s stomach content which spoke loudest of all.
“It’s canine, Rider. Goddamn bastard fed her her dog.” Even strong men had bad days. For Batista, this was one. “A collie named Frank.”
“Narrows it down though, way I see it.” I was right, of course, and Batista knew as much. Didn’t mean either of us he had to like it. Scenarios just worked better this way. Same thing with plans.
Three weeks later—after every vet, pre-vet, canine shelter, dog walker and pet food store owner are interviewed from Culver City down to Hanson Falls—it’s a man by the name of Gank the CCPD looks at hard. Inheriting his kennel by way of an uncle who held a different last name, Rudy Gank had come to Culver three years prior by way of overcrowding, early release and a probation system down for the count. Wasn’t much of a surprise either, the circumstance one the core reasons the detective and I had begun what we had.
Text message received, I find the piece of scum in jeans and a beater T. Thick and wide, he’s packing a bag in an attempt to flee. It’s as he turns around that I tell him to lie on the ground.
“You ain’t no cop.” Man had me there.
“By the time I’m done with you, Rudy, I can guarantee you’ll wish I was.”
Fuck and you were the next things that tried to come from his mouth. Once he regained consciousness, I’d already connected jumper cables that stretched from balls to battery and back again. Juice turned up, the man fries, the world becoming a slightly better place in the process.
Or so I’d thought.
“It’s happening again,” Batista says, and the look in the man’s eyes tells me more than I care to know. Turns out Gank had a sibling, a brother, Henry J. Seems Henry J liked the same things Rudy did, right down to feeding his victims a lighter shade of pink.
“I mean, you can’t be fucking serious.” It was rhetorical, and Batista had said it more than a few times since we’d uncovered the link. We were at the usual spot, each of us looking down over Culver as it slept.
“Doesn’t make a difference, John. Once we find him, man’s going to die all the same.”
“I know. I know. But Gank having a partner, a brother no less, and us missing it…” I’ve seen a lot of things, more than I care to acknowledge. One thing I know for certain is that true evil is more human than mankind will ever come to admit. It also lives only to destroy. Batista knew as much, was the reason he wore the badge, but it also proved that he and I were as different now as we’d been back then.
“John. The man will slip up. We’ll get him. I promise.”
And we did, just not as I thought we would, nor when. Four years and eleven girls later I get the call. Batista. He’s at a safe house of mine, one of the bigger ones, telling me he’d finally struck gold. I move, and fast, as there was something in the big man’s voice. Shouldn’t have surprised me though, what I found, as the case had taken its toll on Batista, whittling him down bit by bit these last couple years. Empathy and ineffectiveness will do that to a cop. Sadly, each is capable of creating the worst type of fuse.
“Stop…no…too deep!” is what comes to me once I open up the floor. The screams accompanying the words are high and full, erupting from a mouth that can hardly catch what it needs to breathe. What hits me next is the smell of shit that is wet and fresh and round. As for Batista, he’s there within it, Henry Gank’s pants about his shins, his face against the wall, and Batista up inside him with a piece of rebar that could have passed for bone.
Batista is grunting, a man determined, but he is weeping as well, and it’s here I lay a hand upon his back, and then upon his wrist, and then he all at once stops and relinquishes the steel.
“I tried, Rider…thought I could…” he says, and I know how he needs it to end. I’ve always known. But we weren’t the same, never have been and never would be. I’d like to say I envy him that, but no, I’ve too much hate.
“I’ll finish,” I say and then send Batista up a level to clean up as much of himself as he could. Once I hear the floor door close is when I step towards a face so close to one I thought I’d never see again. He’d made his way to a corner, a trail of shit and blood snaking the concrete between us. I hunker down, face him, and tell him of his brother; of how that piece of scum had burned and wept and pled before I ripped apart his eyes.
The man starts, snarls, but then stops just as quick, and I can only assume it’s because Batista had taken too much from him. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I too take something from the man, his jaw, by way of hammer, but before I do, he tries his best to stand. Once up, he glares at me, finally choosing to speak. “Like I tole your friend, why we did it, why we do, it’s because even dirty bitches need to eat.” It’s only when the silence comes that I realize the time for talking had already passed.
For those of us who know, it’s the only thing that fits.
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