And here we find Bishop close to the end of things. And if I’m honest, killing him was one of the best ideas I’ve ever come up with. It may sound weird, sure, but hear me out. When it first crossed my mind it came down to two choices: let him go out in a blaze of glory or allow him to continue to right the world the only way he feels he can. By choosing the second option, man, it opened up story possibilities I never knew existed. Which, in reality, gave birth Rider’s new adventures, a standalone coming next year and aptly titled (if I do say so myself ha!) Brand New Dark. Anyway, that’s all, folks. Big thanks to Paul for giving me this opportunity, what I’ve dubbed “Rider week”, and thanks to all of you who have stopped by and checked out what I never thought could be.
MAMET AND SON
I have outlived many. Sending men and women alike to whatever might occur after this life by choice and many more because of the assistance I received in ensuring their destruction. For years I have done this, with people on my side falling along the way as well. Alex, who for a while did see things from our side of the fence, taking the ultimate ride with his guts fastened to a trailer hitch of a van now decades in the ground. Ray, a man and brother from a war that never should have been, lost to a madman I rarely discuss. And Batista. John. A man who allowed me to grieve my sister and mother the only way I was able. His death hit me as I knew it would, and if I’m honest, I never once envisioned myself going out the same way as he. Not exactly as the detective had, no, as I’ve been fortunate enough to retain my mind, but same as John, the cancer remains aggressive, turning two would be officers of the law into the opposite of what they strived to be. Opposite of what we chose to be.
Doesn’t mean I get to rest.
“I see you’ve been feeling more like your old self,” I hear the smile in Jeramiah’s voice before I look up from the screen. He’s in his usual attire: jeans, black sneakers, and a plain white tee. For a middle-aged man, he could do worse. He’d also gotten himself a slick new haircut, but it wasn’t his hair he’d come to discuss.
“Mr. Abrum, whatever could you mean?” I take my cane and tap the part of my leg that never gets cold. Not for the last thirty or so years at least.
“You want the short version or the long version?” That smile again, and then he goes and gives me what I already knew. What I’d already lived. Long story short: days after we bury Batista, Jeramiah gives me a gift, a man whose name I hadn’t heard in years. O’Bannon. We end him together, in one of the older warehouses, cutting him to pieces as we listened to him scream and beg from the chair he was bound to. All fine and good when we get to the end of things, but what it did in the aftermath, what it sparked in me, this was what Jeramiah was on about.
It awoke something. Something I never thought would sleep.
I felt sixty instead of seventy. Fifty instead of sixty.
Eventually leading me to a certain type of support group that never need exist.
“They’re calling it a hate crime. You believe that?” I did. And not because I’d read the same articles Jeramiah had. Lived it too many times to believe otherwise. What I didn’t tell him was even though I felt like I’d been in my prime that night, once I raise that AK to my shoulder and feed each pedophile lead from behind, it almost knocks me off my feet to do so.
“They call it whatever they need to. Always have. Always will. Me, if in fact it was me, I’d call it a start.” This gets him to sit, and I pass him what I’d been working on as he adjusts his chair—what I thought might happen once he realized the chance to do what he did best had come back into play.
“Back in business, then?”
Batista was gone. Ray was gone.
But Jeramiah and I, we remained.
Eight years ago, outside Hanson Falls, Lori Hobin disappears. Located two days later, “unresponsive” and rearranged into “more manageable pieces,” she fills to capacity the black with silver trim suitcase she’s found in. Cause of death is determined to be strangulation and Yancy Mamet, Hobin’s boyfriend at the time, agrees to as much, but states that this was how his girlfriend liked it during intercourse and in truth the whole scenario had been an accident from the outset.
Up to a point, the premise worked, until you remained sane and looked to the more manageable pieces part. Add this to the smear campaign Mamet’s father puts forth, digging up the girl’s entire sexual history as part of his son’s defence, and eat the rich becomes as viable a conclusion as it should always be.
Unfortunately, it’s enough, and Mamet receives the best of all possible outcomes: a plea deal. Time for time served. Time for good behavior. Time for time stole. In the end, Lori Hobin’s life and dismemberment being reduced to everything it shouldn’t be.
“Makes me think you have something special in mind, Bishop.” I did but offer no comment. We drive on, into the night, not yet sure if I’d require one suitcase or two.
We go with the larger number, and only because Bill Mamet still drew air. In the spirit of keeping things equal, however, we ensure each piece of luggage stands as it should—black with silver trim. The problem, of course, were the heights of both men. Yancy more doable above the knees, but Bill Mamet, taller than his son, proved the more difficult task. I’d taught Jeramiah how to deal with such situations long ago, though, and if I keep with the honesty, he’d become much better at reducing people than I ever was. Where once it took nine hours and a bone saw for me to make an example of five people, Jeramiah has everything tapered off, cauterized, and in each suitcase in well under two. Puts us back on the road and onto the hardpan just as the sun slips toward night.
Overgrown and double stacked behind a defunct coffee shop that hadn’t operated in years, the shipping container is a destination I’d used before. When sometimes the people within our sights deserved a little something more. Far from new, the rusted hull is flanked by other discards—paint cans, oil drums, and stacks of skids arranged like steps. Most are already in shadow, but before we lose all light, Jeramiah removes our guests from the van. As he does, I remove the chains from our container of choice. Each upright lock protesting as I attempt to unjam them and the right bay door doing the same as it finally comes free. Inside, a different darkness looms, and the smell of faint decay greets me like a grin. I set up both battery powered lanterns. I set up my chair. Jeramiah wheeling in one suitcase after another as I do.
“You sure you have it from here?”
I told him I did; that what I had to say wouldn’t take long. What did was awaiting each man to wake from the anesthetic. It reminded me of Mapone of all people, and how at one time a no-eyed piece of shit had to wait for me to come around, there before one of his cronies took their best shot and with an axe made sure my days of running decathlons came to a screeching, separated halt. A good time this was not, but I received Jeramiah as a trade-off, and seeing how far we’d taken events since, I admit to requiring a moment or two were anyone to ask if I’d do it differently if given the chance to repeat things. Here now, waiting as I was, the question wasn’t so much—
Groggy, confusion comes first, followed by what I take for discomfort. Could be the other way around, but because of the gags, I truly don’t know. The size of their eyes, though, this I do see, and I watch as they come to register that the heels of the feet now beside their heads were in fact their own.
“The thing is, each of you make it easy for someone like me.” I say, and it has the desired effect. I lean forward, down, each set of eyes as slick and wet as their heaving chests. “But Lori Hobin, she was never given the time to contemplate how her life could end up fitting into forty-two inches of fabric produced overseas. With the time each of you have left, I’m going to suggest you try.” They scream behind their gags, they grunt, panic and self-preservation attempting to fight for a type of dominance not many men get to see play out. Beyond this, as I see the feeling begin to come back into the extremities still attached to their naked frames, is when I replant my cane and take my leave. Hearing them claw at the metal behind me, dragging themselves toward me, I reach the door and before I close it, look to them one last time. A dead man watching dead men.
Dead men who finally see.
Both locks turn into place. Each one easier than when I opened them. But before I can apply the chain, I hear them reach the door. Gag-less now, fists and voice join forces to berate the metal, each adding to the festivities in their own special way. I pause, lean my head against my side of the container. It’s cool to the touch, not unpleasant, and then Jeramiah is beside me. He takes the chain from my hand, runs it up and through each latch, and then he takes my arm as he has so many times these last few years and we make our way to the van. I’d like to say it was a perfect system, but I can’t. I’d like to say I’d come to terms with how it’s going to end, but I can’t. What I could control, I did control. What I couldn’t, I at least tried to. All things remaining equal, I believe that puts me square.
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.