Multiple things occur in this story. One, with the mention of Kuwait, it dates Rider. It also puts his age a decade or so behind Batista, and if I recall, is the first time you find out he’d once been a cop. It also gives a modus operandi of sorts. Not totally, as Bishop isn’t just waiting around for past collars to finish their sentences, but yeah, it shows he’s a man who likes to stay on top of things. As well, by mentioning Kuwait, it opens the door to Bishop’s time there as a medic and in future stories, I feel gives weight to how he’s able to “reduce” people and keep them alive for along as he sometimes does. In other words: attempting to ground things in any type of reality, thy name is backstory!
A BETTER KIND OF HATE
First time I meet Lamar Purdue is in another life.
Squat for his age, he’s thicker at fourteen than the height he’d come to be in all his years.
Little man had a hound dog face and jerry curl eyes. He was polite too, politer than most, which is why things played out the way they did I suppose. All his Yes, sirs and No, sirs music to my rookie ears. The coldness in his eyes I didn’t see until later, at his hearing, and then behind bars. Rookie mistake number one. You cannot fix things. You can only try. Not me, though. Not then. I knew things. I was there to save the day.
I didn’t know a damn thing.
We found Lamar’s mom slumped in a chair, the back of her head now the top of her throat.
“Lamar. I’m Detective Rider. This is Detective Batista. You up for some questions?” I look over at Batista and he gives me the nod. Go ahead kid, it’s your show. We’d been partnersthree weeks. Three weeks and this was the first time he’d given me the reins.
“She said her banana…said it tasted like suicide.” Poor kid is what we thought, but that was it, the kid and our investigation giving us nothing more than what it looked like. Three months later I enter another house to find Lamar. He’s on the steps, same hound-dog face, same jet-black eyes. His hands are bound behind his back though, cuffed and ready to go. Doesn’t take me much to figure it out from there.
The foster family he’d been living with had been gutted and then cut into more manageable pieces. By the look of the tub and the bottles of bleach beside, Lamar was looking to try something new.
“Don’t let it wear on you too much, kid. Sociopaths will always be the hardest ones to catch.” Batista was right, but even then, it still didn’t sit.
Kuwait had yet to start.
April and my mother were still alive.
But I could not save lives because I had yet to fully see.
I see now, though. I see very well indeed. So does Lamar, even after I go to town on his eyes.
“That all you got, Rider?” He’d been released this morning, seventeen years to the day we shut him down. From behind I stayed close, followed him to an IHOP just off the 15, picked him up just as he sat to eat. “’Cause they’re worse than you from where I been.” I move forward, towards the chair, and put a bullet through his right knee.
He screams. Curses. Other knee bouncing up and down like mad.
“Man, you was a cop once! This ain’t right!”
“And all you’ve done is?” He stops at that, and then everything is still. We look at each other. I see the future as well as the past. I want to go back. I want to see the murder hidden in that young punk’s eyes. I want to stop what he did. I can’t though, just as I know I will never stop what I do; what men like Lamar have forced me to become. I’d like to say it’s centrifugal force, that something is pushing me on, that it’s pulling as well, but it’s not and I realize as much.
It’s just a different kind of killing. A better kind of hate.
It’s here I begin to cut.
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.