Bishop Rider Week: Sunday – Mamet and Son by Beau Johnson

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.

BISHOP RIDER WEEK: MONDAY – FIRE IN THE HOLE BY BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE.

BISHOP RIDER WEEK: TUESDAY – THE ONLY THING THAT FITS BY BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE.

Bishop Rider Week: Wednesday – A Better Kind Of Hate by Beau Johnson is here.

Bishop Rider Week: Thursday – Like Minded Individuals by Beau Johnson is here.

Bishop Rider Week: Friday – Ruin and Pain by Beau Johnson

Bishop Rider Week: Saturday – Changing Of The Guard by Beau Johnson

Bishop Rider Week: Friday – Ruin and Pain by Beau Johnson

We’re deep into Bishop’s life here, just over the middle point I’d say. It’s also close  to the end of Batista’s involvement in things too.  Not totally, no, as the Detective still helps out from time to time, just not as he had. His retreat gives way to Jeramiah’s rise, who, for all intents and purposes, ensures Bishop gets to finish what he’d started and the bodies, they continue to stack like wood. Fun fact: I had no idea I’d created Jeramiah when I had, the man (then a boy) just a throwaway line from a story I wrote years earlier. As I’ve always said: it is SO weird where stories come from.

RUIN AND PAIN

 A month after Keeko Reyes rearranges my insides I’m still pissing blood.

          “Might be time to change the way we go about things, Rider.  Last time I checked, neither of us is getting any younger.”  Batista wasn’t wrong, not about this.  It would take some doing, sure, but if we meant to continue, it had to be done.

          “First tell me about Fontane.  We get him in order, you, me, and options can go have a nice long talk at a restaurant of your choosing.  We can even do your hair.”  The detective smiles at that, a surly little thing.  I’d seen it before.  I’d see it again.  What I didn’t plan on ever seeing again was a man named Fontane.

          “Looks like the son believes he can continue from where the father left off,” Batista says.  Drug running.  Extortion.  A list the length of both my arms.  Him being here now, coming home, could only mean one thing: Time for someone else to bleed.

                                                                   —

And bleed he did, on almost the exact spot I’d taken a five-iron to his father’s inner ear. 

“Wait!  Just…wait.”  He’s on his knees, his hands above him like he’s holding up a piano.  Built like his father, dressed like his father, his face displays the same blockish shape.  “I know how you work.  I heard.  I give you somebody better, someone who might be into kids, you let me walk, right?”  The kid was serious too, what he was saying akin to what he believed to be a full-fledged plan.

I drop the nine-iron, move forward and put holes in his legs until he realizes the information he’d been given was wrong.  No one walks.  Not when kids were involved.

Not even close.

                                                        —

What he ultimately gives me pans out, his info leading us to a bungalow off Canal.  More stone than wood, with a wide front porch, it stands in one of the safer parts of Culver.  Families just above the poverty lived here now, the ones who still believed.  It was mid-October, chilly, the wind from behind kicking up like boots wrapped in gauze.  I can’t say this had anything to do with what I find, but I can tell you it has everything to do with how I respond.

Over a three-day period I watch one woman and four different men come and go.  Another man is involved—jean jacket and tatts—but him I see only as he lets the others in through the front door.  What I also see is a delivery service, Buttenham’s Pizza, two out of the first three nights I keep watch.  The kid who brings the pizza can’t be more than twenty, the Buttenham’s jacket he wears the same dried-blood color as his cap.  I concentrate on him, a plan forming, as I couldn’t risk going in, not without knowing all of the parties involved.  Isn’t until night four, when Buttenham’s returns, that it slides into place.

The kid was the key.

Also, as Batista suggested: it might be time to change the way we’d been doing things. 

“Phenobarbital.  Horse tranq.  I’m playing kind of loose with the dosage, but sixty milligrams spread out should send these fuckers somewhere south of tomorrow afternoon.”  Batista hands me the powder, pauses, and then wishes me well.

             “Just be ready with the van,”  I say, realizing more than ever that I’d gotten a very bad feeling somewhere along the way.

                                                              —

          I dump the delivery vehicle in the river and walk the remaining three blocks.  The jacket’s a tight fit, same with the hat, but it would have to do.  Dissolving, the phenobarbital is evenly spread over the two pizzas I carry.  Once inside, depending on when and how fast they eat, I’d have access within the hour.

          It’s then we’d see what’s up.  It’s then I’d decide how to proceed.

I give it another hour just to be sure.

          Inside I hear nothing but a TV turned up loud.  The place is immaculate, filled with high end furniture I’d expect elsewhere.  Hardwood floors and wainscoting throughout.  I find jean jacket and tatts at the kitchen table, face- down in a slice of pizza.  Beside him is the woman and beside her, another man.

          I continue on, deeper, toward the back of the house.  Downstairs now, I walk into a fully finished rec room.  Foosball.  Ping-Pong.  Big screens.  On one couch is another drugged piece of scum.  To his left, on the carpet, lay shitbird number five.  Farther on, I hear what I hoped I would not, the cries hitting me like cinder blocks through to the back of my gut.  I pause, one second, two, and the cries become louder, adamant.  Another room.  And then another.  This one has sex swings hanging from the ceiling and cameras on tripods positioned toward all three.  At the back of this room, in rows, are three cribs and the sixth man passed out in front.

          I shake my head.  There is no god.

                                                                    —

          Batista hands me the bag and I hand him the infant.  Two more children are passed off and he grabs me by the fore-arm.  “Make them suffer,” he says.  This and nothing more.

                                                                 —

          It takes nine hours to complete, even with the bone saw.  And it’s all on the cameras they already had in place.  I cut.  I fasten.  I tie off and cauterize.  I also lose jean jacket and tatts to the process, nicking his femoral artery early in the reduction.  Before me lay piles of arms, piles of legs.  In front of these rest eyes, now more like marbles with tails than anything.  Twelve of each, thirty-six in total, and infinitely dryer than when I began.  Save the one I lost, the owners are naked and leaking, leaning against one another on one of the bigger couches I’d brought in from the adjacent room.  They weren’t awake yet, but I planned on letting the cameras roll.

          Someone would come soon.  Either to see why no new product had come their way, or just to see what was up.  It didn’t matter.  What did matter is what I say, there as I finish up.  “Don’t come back.”  From one monster to another the language would not get lost, not with people whose only currency is pain, their only goal, ruin.

          It’s why I offer them my name, why I suggest they try and find me before I found them.

            I force myself to breathe.

                                                                 —

          Two months later.  Christmas Eve and I move from the back page to the front page as soon as the video is leaked.

          “Look how it’s been cut though,” Jeramiah is right.  Whoever released it doctored it down to how they wanted it to appear.  I do not speak in this version, not as I had when it was being taped.  Gone are the cribs as well, cropped from view.  It looks exactly as it should, the impression they’re going for blending with the perspective they require.  The thing about perspective, though, when you pair it with the right set of eyes, not everyone blinks.  Especially when most of the people in this world choose to keep their heads in the sand.  “I mean, what do they gain by putting it out there like this?”  Good question.

          The better one being: what don’t they?

                                                                 —

          I have a feeling it’s an inside job, even before Jeramiah confirms the link.  “Idiot used his wife’s credit card to buy the cribs.  Four at one time.  People and their points.  Christ.”  Jeramiah is the flipside to his father, more light than dark, but I still have a hard telling him I appreciate what he does.  We couldn’t have done half the shit we have without his intel and cash.  Wasn’t always this way either, was worse, in fact, and for some reason I fought him hardest after he replaced my leg.  Stupid.  All of it.  Batista finally persuades me with four little words: he’s not his father.  Man had me there.  Still does. 

          “Daughter lives across town.  O’Bannon and his wife the only ones who occupy the house.  I suggest dosing her before you begin your talk.  Good?”

          It was.

                                                                   —

          They say not everyone is crooked.  I believe otherwise.  Wired from birth, we all lean toward what we desire most.  It’s how far people are willing to go to bend the rules that starts the slide.  The strongest of us can recover from this, stopping well before we’ve reached the ledge.  The ones who can’t stop is where the trouble lies.  Their desires turning to justification when it comes to hurting—or the possibility of hurting—others along the way.

          From a sitting position in his bed Detective Sergeant Sid O’Bannon speaks this almost verbatim.  Almost bald, nose like a blade, he keeps stealing looks at the missus, even though I have assured her safety.

          “You think I wanted this?  These men do not take no for an answer.”  I hated his voice.  I hated his face.  But what I hated more was envisioning the questions he would have had to entertain to even get where he was.  Courtesy of the butt end of my Glock, I share this displeasure.

          “Fucking Christ! I’m talkin’!  I’m sitting here and talkin’!”

          “Tell me why you leaked the video.”

          “Scared.  Pissed.  Take your pick.  You guys end up fighting amongst yourselves, maybe I slip through the cracks.  You’re a hard man to kill, Rider.  An even harder one to catch.”  Figured it had to be someone with access on the inside.  Was never going to be anything but, not with how it went down.

          “I don’t—” I didn’t care for don’ts.  Never have.  A little bit more steel informs him of this.

          “Christ—c’mon!”  And then he quiets down, resigned-like, sleeve up and under his nose to stem the flow.  “They’re watching me.  Some are middle eastern.  More of them are white.  They send me pictures of my wife and daughter every seven days, right to my phone.  I told you: they are the hardest fucks I have ever seen and I’ve seen nowhere near the top.”

          Bingo.  Second floor.  Everybody out.  The downside was that O’Bannon stayed topside longer than he deserved.  Didn’t mean he couldn’t go unscathed; a hard push down a short flight of stairs being the best I could manage.  It left him as I needed him: functional.  For a little while, at least.  After that, who knows.  Maybe I bring back a blowtorch.  Maybe we begin where I left off. 

Time would tell. 

                                                               —

          I choose O’Bannon’s daughter.  I feel she is the easier mark.  Three days later I snap a hard-looking black man snapping pictures of Christine O’Bannon as she exits Dal’s Gym and Fitness.  She’s short, in sweats, her ponytail whipping as she walks.  He’s thick, down low, almost coiled in his seat.

When he’s done, I follow him.  It makes for a long day.  Here and there, pick-ups and drop-offs.  When he stops at an IHOP off the 1-5 I park beside his side of the car and await his return.  When we get to it, he’s difficult, like a snake sporting bones. But the element of surprise sees me through.  It’s only later, after the business end of a claw hammer makes its way through most of his right knee that I come to understand just how hard this man really is.

          All men break though.

          I bring out the sledge.

                                                           —

          He gives me a slip number and not much more.  It’s enough.

          The water is calm, cold, and darker than the night.  The yacht is called the Rabbit Hole.  Massive, it’s eighty feet at least, and I hear the festivities long before I make my way back.  I’d been there earlier, setting up charges, ensuring what had to be done, placing them below the water line, FRONT TOWARD ENEMY, every ten feet the entire way round the hull of the ship.

          The night would light.  Blood would rain.  Flesh would burn.

          I get their attention, unload the AK.  Women scream, men return fire.  I think: you lay with the devil, you become the devil.  But I end it before it begins and make good on my promise, which had been omitted from the tape.

          I told them not to come back.  What I failed to realize was this: perhaps they never left.

          Either way, this would do one of two things.  I’m prepared for both.

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.

BISHOP RIDER WEEK: MONDAY – FIRE IN THE HOLE BY BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE.

BISHOP RIDER WEEK: TUESDAY – THE ONLY THING THAT FITS BY BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE.

Bishop Rider Week: Wednesday – A Better Kind Of Hate by Beau Johnson is here.

Bishop Rider Week: Thursday – Like Minded Individuals by Beau Johnson is here.

Bishop Rider Week: Monday – Fire In The Hole by Beau Johnson

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 …

Website: https://www.beaujohnsonfiction.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007691865781
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beaujohnson44
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beau-Johnson/e/B079MHF7RG/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17692442.Beau_Johnson

MAKING THE WORLD LIVABLE AGAIN BY BEAU JOHNSON

beau johnson

MAKING THE WORLD LIVABLE AGAIN

“Look, I’ll be honest. It was only after my third ability manifested that I knew I’d be changing the world. That I’d be attempting to, anyway.”

Their eyes follow me, but as instructed, their mouths remain closed. A near insurmountable feat with this particular bunch, junior especially, but seeing as they’d been privy to my opening salvo, completely understandable.

“And I know some of you have come around to my way of thinking, but people, too little too late became popular for a reason.” I turn to the live feed and address the world. It’s not first time I have done this. I’m sure it will not be my last. Behind me, I hear a few of them readjust their positions. Twelve is their total today. Today, I hope it’s enough.

“Here we are again, yes, but instead of the White House, today I have chosen Capital Hill. Might not mean much to some, but to others I believe the nuance is not lost.”

I hold my look. I stare into the camera. Does it work? I truly don’t know. But as I’ve always been, I’m a man who has clung to hope.

“Many of you see me as a murderer. You are not wrong in this assessment. I am the villain here. Make no mistake. But I have chosen to become a monster in order to contain a monster—because of people like the ones behind me.”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, correct, but you know what else? The equation failed the human race long ago, we just weren’t aware it had occurred. Children in cages put an end to that. Add a black man out for a jog and an entire race placed beneath the knee of oppression for four hundred years and you’d have to be a goddamn idiot not to see why the center couldn’t hold.”

I stop there. I’m getting heated. It’s nothing new, of course, but as I said, I’m attempting something new. The thought takes me back to that photo-op.  Not only to how that bible had been held, but how those protesters were tear gassed by a man who felt he’d been made to look small.

Looking back, this was the moment I knew.

Wasn’t until he decides to address the nation from the Oval Office two days later that I reveal myself, however. And I know it appeared as though I came out of thin air beside the man, but that’s not how it works. I move differently now is all.

It’s when the secret service attempt to draw weapons upon me that the entire room becomes a vacuum, though. I wouldn’t allow them to move. Each muscle fibre within them held at bay by my second ability, the one I woke up to last fall.

I look to the camera then—the camera focused on the President of the United States in his chair that day. My promises made, I reiterate how it began for me, from his mocking of a disabled man and then back to the aforementioned children he’d chosen to keep in cages. Only when I bring up how he failed to condemn nazis, saying there were good people on both sides, do I reach into his mouth and pull out the bottom part of his jaw until it separates from his chest.

As I hoped it would, it gets my point across, but not before actions are taken and in through the window behind me, they attempt to shoot me in the back of the head. I am not phased, of course, and the world sees as much, the sniper’s bullet and my first ability combining to create an image you only find in comic books.

But I am not done.

Which brings us back to here, with the men and women I have brought together today.

“And to be fair, I did warn you I’d be back.” True. I just didn’t tell them who I’d be choosing. Makes me sympathetic to why some of them were weeping openly now. All told, caught out as they were, I’d be crying too.

“But there’s been a development,” I say, and inform them of last Wednesday, when my latest ability manifests itself and how I now had one new trait for every year of this particular Presidency.

Correction: what was this particular Presidency.

“Now I want you all to listen,” I continue, turning to address the larger audience tuning in. “For some of you, what is about to occur, it might very well happen within your personal space. Brace yourself is all I can say.” They would never be ready, though. Not as they should. I am something that has never been. Some would suggest I’m a god now. I’ve decided to go with evolution, or a different type of evolution, and one where the evil that people do can now be fought on level ground.

I raise my hand. I clench my fist.

And around the world implode the heads of more than eight hundred and sixty million rapists and pedophiles at the same time. One step better is Melania’s scream, there as she’s drenched by what remained of Lyndsey Graham.

“Hmm,” I say and hook a thumb back behind me as I do. “Always thought that Lady G business was the reason he chose to throw McCain under the bus. Looks like I was wrong.” It’s enough, and it ensures the majority can no longer abide by my one rule. But it’s not just screaming that begins. Others start to grovel. More beg. Pence, Barr, and Kelly-Anne most of all.

I snap my fingers and in an instant, they implode like Graham. The aisles of Congress now flowing with actual blood. I move on to Ivanka and Jared, pushing them through Melania and creating something that would make John Carpenter proud. I take Nunes next, his buddy Gaetz, then Eric and Don Jr.  It’s swift, compact, and Eric’s head rolls furthest of them all. McConnell I save for last, and I let him bleed out only after the last of his skin had been removed.

I turn back to my audience. I repeat that I’m not the good guy; that I know my trespasses and what they represent. I will change things regardless, I say, and then to those still listening, I go on about Russia, about China, and every other country I plan to visit.

I speak of returns as well; that I was not yet done with America and its sins. I mention Karla Homolka, Casey Anthony, Jim Jordan, Brett Kavanaugh, George Zimmerman, O.J. Simpson, Sarah Sanders, Stephen Millar, and advise every other enabler/facilitator who continued to stare at their screens and believed this all to be a dream to expect a visit from me as well.

I say I will get them all, but that I once I had, I held no plans to rule. That when I was done, I’d be done, and the only thing to ever pull me back would be if human decency chose to waver once more.

What I state last is the root of it all; the thing I would take care of next.

“All right,” I say. “Now that I have your attention, who’s up for redistributing some wealth? Who’s ready to dismantle some billionaires?”

Through the concrete, I hear the world respond.

BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE

KEEPING TABS a Bishop Rider story by Beau Johnson

all of them to burn

We find the shipping container within a sea of shipping containers. Inside is what we hoped were not: three distressed newborns and fifteen illegals under the age of consent. Malnourished, they’re living in the type of squalor one can only imagine. An unflushed toilet is as close as I can get, but even that is far from the wall which hits us.

Also: correction—these girls, they weren’t living. They were surviving.

What led us here is the last thing Reggie Bone told us before I relieved him of his hands.

“The abductions. The snuff films. The piece of shit admits to it being his father behind it all. He also mentioned a shipping container full of something he hoped to trade.” Batista stops in his tracks, his face seeming to recede as he absorbs the news. I feel for him. I do. But I feel more for the people these pieces of shit choose to rip apart.

“This shipping container, he give you a number?”

He did. And now we stood, doors open, the light from above and behind the Detective and me twisting our appearance into something it was not. Cowering, the girls beg, they plead, and we try our best to make them understand. Once Batista calls it in, I vacate the premises.

We weren’t done, though.

No. Not by a mile.

 

 

It was true. All of it. Angelo Bone being the one behind it all. The man hid his tracks well, too, but shell companies, they can only hold secrets for so long. What adds insult to injury is both the sentence handed down and the amount of time he actually serves.

Early release brings the number to just under eight years, and why, I’m thinking, Batista kept tabs. Means we knew his day of release months beforehand. Little more digging and Bobby Meeks pops into view, he being the person registered as Bone’s pick up that day. Outside the gate, I follow both men and the Caprice to the east side of Culver. Beyond boarded-up houses, beyond run-down streets, they slow and slide into the driveway of a house Bone no longer owned on paper but seemed to be his all the same.

Each man exits the Caprice, Angelo Bone thinner than the man who drove him there. The older man had more hair, too, all of it bunched at the back. But what I remembered most about Bone was still there: his swagger. The one that proclaimed his shit didn’t stink, not even after six decades in.

I let the engine idle. I let them get inside. Halfway to the property I decide the front door would prove the path of least resistance. Situations change though, and I could very well be wrong, but when teenagers in shipping containers is all your mind allows you to see you have to go with your gut more often than not.

I’ve found things work best that way.

 

“You do realize we are connected in a way you are unaware of,” Bone’s voice is deeper than I think it should be, and I want to hit him again but don’t believe I’ll be able to stop if I do. Behind me, coating the floor, lay Bobby Meeks, his throat a second, larger mouth. “It’s true, Rider. My youngest boy, before he’s sent upstate, he participates in a mouth train they ran on that sister of yours. This was before they made that little movie of her, of course. It’s also before you figured out it was the Abrums who did you wrong.”

Not a lot stops me cold.

Not a lot causes me to question.

What Bone says next assures me he is attempting to do both.

“But your momma? She was different. My oldest, Malcolm, he being not only the one who put her in that dumpster but the one who broke the bitch’s neck.”

I say nothing. I can’t. I do, he never gets to the car. I do, he never gets to experience life from the inside of a shipping container for himself.

As I told Batista: we couldn’t have that.

 

 

The look in his eyes is what I remember most.

“No!” he says. “Not this. NOT LIKE THIS!” But it was like that, Bone taking a knee to the face just so I could pry him from the trunk. Once inside, I take other things from the man as well. His shoes. His belt. Anything which would allow him to leave life early if he really went and tried.

When it’s over, when the bribes and pleas go away, and after I tell him we already knew about his diagnosis, this is when he finally sees things for what they are. Defeated, he looks up to me, through me, the light from behind and above me illuminating everything I have chosen to be.

It’s here I shut both doors. It’s here I add the chains. I think of those girls. I think of those newborns.

Nine years removed, they still deserve more.

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 …

Website: https://www.beaujohnsonfiction.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007691865781
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beaujohnson44
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beau-Johnson/e/B079MHF7RG/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17692442.Beau_Johnson

DICKS AND JARS AND A THIRD WORLD WAR by Beau Johnson

I needed to change the way I approached things. The laziness inherent to me is what prevented this from happening earlier I think, or maybe I’m wrong and it only comes down to what most of my life came down to: fear. Fear of failure. Fear of dying. Fear of sucking cock when I know I’m not meant to. This last one is what it’s really about, the one which screamed loudest I suppose, but the admission of failure comes in at a hard second best. It was the dick sucking though, this what ate at me most. And just so we’re clear, I’m not gay, not in the slightest, but certain things tend to occur once you make your way to prison, most of them being what you already know. It’s different when you have to perform however, and goddamn if that ain’t the truth. Does things to a man who isn’t right with what’s going down, making him a bigger target if he chooses to go and buck the program placed before him. Lucky for me I’m a fast learner.

Why was I like this? Fuck, who knows? I could say no mother or father but that’d be me making shit up. My life is what it is, and all I can do now is push forward and acknowledge my attempt at change. A planner now, everything I do is put down to paper and everything on it is then scoped out. No more cash and grabs for me. No more going in on a wing and a prayer. Two little things need to happen before I fully embrace this new way of life. It means facing certain fears already stated, sure, and only because the man instrumental to the big one is released just last week. Vic Sessions. Head queer of cellblock nine.

The man who made me his bitch.

***

Vic was actually Big Vic and he was larger than most of the men on the inside, in muscle as well as meat; my backside as tender today as that very first day, especially if the chair I choose is mostly made of wood. “You been duckin’ me, I know.” Eating at the worst type of mean he was the kind of bull queer who liked his eyeliner thick and his mustache thicker. The first time he and his boys come looking they find me in the laundry. I wasn’t alone. Not then. But the silence their presence brings causes that to change, the place clearing out faster than fat kids to cherry cola. After that it’s the cold steel of a big industrial trying to take an imprint of my face. Done, it’s a sea of orange above me, and then a happy ending for all. “Not bad, Hollister. Not bad at all. Thing is, we’re still gonna have to do something about them teeth.” Monstrous. Evil. Prison-issued leather a taste no man would ever think to acquire.

Shit was enough to drive even the most well-adjusted straight man insane.

Vic wasn’t done with me, though. Not for another nine months, three days, and as many goddamn hours.

Only then was I reborn.

***

Reborn by way of freedom—time served in lieu of good behavior. Vic doesn’t miss a beat at this, ensuring the honeymoon stage of our relationship is resurrected the night before I’m released. “You best not be shittin’ on my dick none either. You do, it’s you who pulls clean up duty. You get me?” And just in case you’re wondering, I did try to kill him during my time inside, once, but the attempt was by the old me, the Jimmy who Feared. The Jimmy I am now is going to rectify this oversight, having had a good long time to figure things out. I believe that. I really do. And only because there’s more than a lovely shade of brown in the bottom of the bowl whenever I stop to wipe.

I also gag if I let myself think about things too much. Hard enough not to, not with how many times I’d been forced to perform. I will change this though, as I think I’ve said, the outcome I seek worth every goddamn thing they’ve done to me.

Am I bitter? I counter: Can you fucking blame me?

I have to force these thoughts to the back of my mind though, ensuring they won’t fuck up my plans. This is easier said than done and anyone who suggests otherwise is either lying or straight up doesn’t know.

“You want me to do what?” said Brady Aldeen. Of my childhood friends he was the last to remain and the second little thing to this plan I have set in motion. And just so we are clear, I didn’t like him much, not anymore. The old Jimmy liked him well enough, the one who really couldn’t be bothered to put the pieces together and see how he might have ended up in the joint to become Vic’s bitch in the first place. This was another thing I was getting better at by approaching life with new eyes; at seeing the forest for the trees. It’s liberating really, what it offers a man. I say this not because of what I have learned but because of the opportunity it presents me. All told, they will never see me coming.

“It’s only for a night and it’s only pretend. Five hundred if you say yes.” What I wanted him to do was minor, his role only to get Vic into the car. He had to act the part however, and this was the thing giving Brady second thoughts.

“And you think this guy is gonna believe I’m a queer?” What could I say? That yeah, maybe, especially with the length Brady now kept his hair. Or maybe I go and mention the overly soft features he’d been born with. Maybe that. Instead I lie, saying it would be a hell of a stretch but if anyone could pull it off it’d be him. I also suggest an extra five hundred just to smooth the shit out.

Brady exhaled, closed his eyes. “Make it fifteen and you and me got business.”

“You have to be able to sell it though. I mean, this is one mean mother he gets to thinkin’ something’s up.”

“Now you saying I might not be up to snuff?”

“No, I’m just sayin. Christ, Brady. Gimme a bone here. This piece of shit had his way with me for almost a year. If anything, you think you could understand that.” For a moment I couldn’t believe the words I hear coming from my mouth. Seems I had changed already. Understandable, sure, but be it a good thing or bad was still up for debate.

“Yeah. Yeah. You were his bitch. I get it.” I see red as Brady says this, and any second thoughts I might have had in regards to him being the one who ratted me out are out the window and on their way to goddamn fucking Alaska before the man I grew up with removes himself from the bar stool. Hands going hard into his leather jacket I watch as he leaves without looking back.

Who needs enemies, right?

***

Granted, sucking a man’s dick day in and day out for the better part of a year would probably do some damage to even the most resilient of heterosexual minds. This is something I can’t quantify completely mind you. But I have to admit such things might be possible. Why else had I so easily lumped Brady into the back part of my plan? Instantaneously choosing to add him to the carnage meant for Vic? Yeah, something had broken inside of me. I just can’t give you the words. I can try. And I think I will. I’m just not sure you’ll understand. But most of that could be misconstrued, as Brady had always been in the running as the one who sold me out. I might not want to admit this but I have to. The old Jimmy refused this, his fears and the reprisals they could bring allowing the blinders to stay where they were, lapping the shit up. But this is the new me we are talking about, the one who got shit done. So maybe it wasn’t so easily I lumped Brady into my plan at all. He was only always meant to die. I just hadn’t known it yet.

Or maybe it’s just the dreams, the ones I wake from colder than I usually am. They are full of penises, these dreams, and they will not stop. Sort of leads me into what I’ve planned for Vic. If I wanted a chance at any kind of normalcy I was going to have to cut some things out. Trim the fat, so to speak.

Because it concerned Vic, it was going to involve a pretty big knife.

Good for him.

***

“Back here, man.” I could only see the outlines of their bodies because the light in the alley was far from good. Underneath me the ground is wet with rain, it finishing not minutes before I hear Brady and Big Vic’s voices coming toward me.

“Your mouth better be ready to take me, boy. That’s all you gotta know.” I’d heard the speech before, usually before lights out, but this time it would be different. If I wanted any type of life for myself it’s what had to happen. Doors shutting, I make my move and slide in the back, right behind Brady. From the passenger seat up front I see Vic’s eyes go wide as he realizes who I am and then that I’m holding a piece.

As the commercials preach: motherfucking priceless.

And I wanted to have a conversation with him; I really did, it too being part of my plan. This was not to be, not as I had hoped. No regaling of what I was about to do or gloating of any kind. Just screaming as the rage inside me steps forward and proves it has a mind of its own. Just pop-pop into each of them and then each of them goes forward. I have to pull Brady back to stop the horn from blaring but in the end it’s no real biggie. Vic’s penis is the exact opposite of this and I smile as I tighten the lid to the jar it still now rests in. Brady’s too is now behind glass but the size of his jar is better suited to jams. Each now sit on my bedside table, there for me to admire. I should be getting rid of them, both pieces being evidence and all, but I’m finding it hard to part with what I’ve done. This upsets me more than I think it should. Worrying me for reasons contrary to what I’ve already said; that by changing the way I approached things I might be able to purge certain tendencies inherent to my life. This has yet to happen. Not as I hoped it would. One step beyond is what scares me even more.

What if I just like sucking dick now? Fuck, what if I always have?

I needed to change the way I approached things. The laziness inherent to me is what prevented this from happening earlier I think, or maybe I’m wrong and it only comes down to what most of my life came down to: fear. Fear of failure. Fear of dying. Fear of sucking cock when I know I’m not meant to. This last one is what it’s really about, the one which screamed loudest I suppose, but the admission of failure comes in at a hard second best. It was the dick sucking though, this what ate at me most. And just so we’re clear, I’m not gay, not in the slightest, but certain things tend to occur once you make your way to prison, most of them being what you already know. It’s different when you have to perform however, and goddamn if that ain’t the truth. Does things to a man who isn’t right with what’s going down, making him a bigger target if he chooses to go and buck the program placed before him. Lucky for me I’m a fast learner.

Why was I like this? Fuck, who knows? I could say no mother or father but that’d be me making shit up. My life is what it is, and all I can do now is push forward and acknowledge my attempt at change. A planner now, everything I do is put down to paper and everything on it is then scoped out. No more cash and grabs for me. No more going in on a wing and a prayer. Two little things need to happen before I fully embrace this new way of life. It means facing certain fears already stated, sure, and only because the man instrumental to the big one is released just last week. Vic Sessions. Head queer of cellblock nine.

The man who made me his bitch.

***

Vic was actually Big Vic and he was larger than most of the men on the inside, in muscle as well as meat; my backside as tender today as that very first day, especially if the chair I choose is mostly made of wood. “You been duckin’ me, I know.” Eating at the worst type of mean he was the kind of bull queer who liked his eyeliner thick and his mustache thicker. The first time he and his boys come looking they find me in the laundry. I wasn’t alone. Not then. But the silence their presence brings causes that to change, the place clearing out faster than fat kids to cherry cola. After that it’s the cold steel of a big industrial trying to take an imprint of my face. Done, it’s a sea of orange above me, and then a happy ending for all. “Not bad, Hollister. Not bad at all. Thing is, we’re still gonna have to do something about them teeth.” Monstrous. Evil. Prison-issued leather a taste no man would ever think to acquire.

Shit was enough to drive even the most well-adjusted straight man insane.

Vic wasn’t done with me, though. Not for another nine months, three days, and as many goddamn hours.

Only then was I reborn.

***

Reborn by way of freedom—time served in lieu of good behavior. Vic doesn’t miss a beat at this, ensuring the honeymoon stage of our relationship is resurrected the night before I’m released. “You best not be shittin’ on my dick none either. You do, it’s you who pulls clean up duty. You get me?” And just in case you’re wondering, I did try to kill him during my time inside, once, but the attempt was by the old me, the Jimmy who Feared. The Jimmy I am now is going to rectify this oversight, having had a good long time to figure things out. I believe that. I really do. And only because there’s more than a lovely shade of brown in the bottom of the bowl whenever I stop to wipe.

I also gag if I let myself think about things too much. Hard enough not to, not with how many times I’d been forced to perform. I will change this though, as I think I’ve said, the outcome I seek worth every goddamn thing they’ve done to me.

Am I bitter? I counter: Can you fucking blame me?

I have to force these thoughts to the back of my mind though, ensuring they won’t fuck up my plans. This is easier said than done and anyone who suggests otherwise is either lying or straight up doesn’t know.

“You want me to do what?” said Brady Aldeen. Of my childhood friends he was the last to remain and the second little thing to this plan I have set in motion. And just so we are clear, I didn’t like him much, not anymore. The old Jimmy liked him well enough, the one who really couldn’t be bothered to put the pieces together and see how he might have ended up in the joint to become Vic’s bitch in the first place. This was another thing I was getting better at by approaching life with new eyes; at seeing the forest for the trees. It’s liberating really, what it offers a man. I say this not because of what I have learned but because of the opportunity it presents me. All told, they will never see me coming.

“It’s only for a night and it’s only pretend. Five hundred if you say yes.” What I wanted him to do was minor, his role only to get Vic into the car. He had to act the part however, and this was the thing giving Brady second thoughts.

“And you think this guy is gonna believe I’m a queer?” What could I say? That yeah, maybe, especially with the length Brady now kept his hair. Or maybe I go and mention the overly soft features he’d been born with. Maybe that. Instead I lie, saying it would be a hell of a stretch but if anyone could pull it off it’d be him. I also suggest an extra five hundred just to smooth the shit out.

Brady exhaled, closed his eyes. “Make it fifteen and you and me got business.”

“You have to be able to sell it though. I mean, this is one mean mother he gets to thinkin’ something’s up.”

“Now you saying I might not be up to snuff?”

“No, I’m just sayin. Christ, Brady. Gimme a bone here. This piece of shit had his way with me for almost a year. If anything, you think you could understand that.” For a moment I couldn’t believe the words I hear coming from my mouth. Seems I had changed already. Understandable, sure, but be it a good thing or bad was still up for debate.

“Yeah. Yeah. You were his bitch. I get it.” I see red as Brady says this, and any second thoughts I might have had in regards to him being the one who ratted me out are out the window and on their way to goddamn fucking Alaska before the man I grew up with removes himself from the bar stool. Hands going hard into his leather jacket I watch as he leaves without looking back.

Who needs enemies, right?

***

Granted, sucking a man’s dick day in and day out for the better part of a year would probably do some damage to even the most resilient of heterosexual minds. This is something I can’t quantify completely mind you. But I have to admit such things might be possible. Why else had I so easily lumped Brady into the back part of my plan? Instantaneously choosing to add him to the carnage meant for Vic? Yeah, something had broken inside of me. I just can’t give you the words. I can try. And I think I will. I’m just not sure you’ll understand. But most of that could be misconstrued, as Brady had always been in the running as the one who sold me out. I might not want to admit this but I have to. The old Jimmy refused this, his fears and the reprisals they could bring allowing the blinders to stay where they were, lapping the shit up. But this is the new me we are talking about, the one who got shit done. So maybe it wasn’t so easily I lumped Brady into my plan at all. He was only always meant to die. I just hadn’t known it yet.

Or maybe it’s just the dreams, the ones I wake from colder than I usually am. They are full of penises, these dreams, and they will not stop. Sort of leads me into what I’ve planned for Vic. If I wanted a chance at any kind of normalcy I was going to have to cut some things out. Trim the fat, so to speak.

Because it concerned Vic, it was going to involve a pretty big knife.

Good for him.

***

“Back here, man.” I could only see the outlines of their bodies because the light in the alley was far from good. Underneath me the ground is wet with rain, it finishing not minutes before I hear Brady and Big Vic’s voices coming toward me.

“Your mouth better be ready to take me, boy. That’s all you gotta know.” I’d heard the speech before, usually before lights out, but this time it would be different. If I wanted any type of life for myself it’s what had to happen. Doors shutting, I make my move and slide in the back, right behind Brady. From the passenger seat up front I see Vic’s eyes go wide as he realizes who I am and then that I’m holding a piece.

As the commercials preach: motherfucking priceless.

And I wanted to have a conversation with him; I really did, it too being part of my plan. This was not to be, not as I had hoped. No regaling of what I was about to do or gloating of any kind. Just screaming as the rage inside me steps forward and proves it has a mind of its own. Just pop-pop into each of them and then each of them goes forward. I have to pull Brady back to stop the horn from blaring but in the end it’s no real biggie. Vic’s penis is the exact opposite of this and I smile as I tighten the lid to the jar it still now rests in. Brady’s too is now behind glass but the size of his jar is better suited to jams. Each now sit on my bedside table, there for me to admire. I should be getting rid of them, both pieces being evidence and all, but I’m finding it hard to part with what I’ve done. This upsets me more than I think it should. Worrying me for reasons contrary to what I’ve already said; that by changing the way I approached things I might be able to purge certain tendencies inherent to my life. This has yet to happen. Not as I hoped it would. One step beyond is what scares me even more.

What if I just like sucking dick now? Fuck, what if I always have?

Bio:

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 …

Website: https://www.beaujohnsonfiction.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007691865781
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beaujohnson44
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beau-Johnson/e/B079MHF7RG/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17692442.Beau_Johnson

all of them to burn

 

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL BY BEAU JOHNSON

New plan: find a better class of man.

This is what’s going on under my extensions as Renee’s “friend” levels his gun at my head.  Well okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that, I suppose, but stuff such as this is meant to come with the territory, no?  Instead I have what I have: my sixteenth failed relationship in as many goddamn years.

Man had a handle too, which maybe-kinda-sorta should have been a tip off right out of the gate.  Me and judgement though, we tend to pretend we understand one another right up until the bruises appear, the money runs out, or the dope and drink start quenching things better than I have ever been able to.

Brings us to Renee, the newest guy in my life.  A Frenchman, I still recall his smile when we met, his big hairy hands over mine.  Hey, you would like to dance?  He says with his mouth.  His eyes are a whole other story.  Finding Dory, perhaps.  But rebooted.  The end result coming to hold not just one type of shark, but the whole damn species.

Okay, those eyes said, but first I’m gonna go on and eat you up.  And you know what?  You are going to enjoy the way I chew. 

               So yeah, I’d known from the get go I might have been out of my depth.  Sure, I like to fool myself as much as the next person and really, who doesn’t?  But there comes a time.  Christ, does there.

“No hands.  Just suck.”  A tall order, sure, but one I have always been game for.  Oh yes.  Every inch of the way.  Not because the performance is a particular thing of mine, but because I am a people pleaser to my core.  Might be because daddy touched me I’m like this.  Might be because my mother did not.  Either way, it comes down to a combination of loneliness, gentlemen callers, and bad decision making so epic, statue, honor, and erected should be the only names I respond to.  Doesn’t help I like to be fucked often and well either, but even that right there is me stretching things somewhat.  I need to always be with someone I suppose.  For the majority of time I’m awake and breathing I mean.  Gets me into trouble is what this does, and mixed up with guys one rung below the bar of standards methinks.

Brings us to the fridge full of body parts Renee and I end up staring into.  “Well, pet, would you look at this?”  He didn’t have to say it.  Not in the least.  My eyes just about outta my goddamn skull.  We’d already found what we’d come for: the dope.  What I was told was in lieu of a payment owed.  Renee’s “friend”, our “ower”, some sorta Richie-Rich type.  Chandeliers and paintings the whole place over.  Stairs and sofas and rugs so plush I could more or less swim.  Why the hell didn’t we leave when we had the chance then?  Why make our way to the lower level and the red/black curtains we should have never pulled back?

“Just want to take a peek around, pet.  Won’t be but a tic.”  But it was a tic.  Many tics.  Arms and legs.  Torsos and thighs.  Wasn’t the worst of it though.  Not by a country fucking mile.

Turning, I feel the heat of the bullet that enters the back of Renee’s head go past the bridge of my nose like breath coming from God.  My man’s chest hair and skinny jeans fly forward in response, what remains of his head slamming into a crisper full of ring fingers and thumbs.  I scream.  Go to my knees with my hands held tight against my ears.  Takes me a few seconds but I begin to realize I’m still alive.  I look up, unable to control my shaking, my eyes right into the bright blue of the dude holding the gun.  He’s older than Renee, darker, and the man-bun he’s attempting has just about come undone.

“You here by choice or did that piece of shit force you?”

There are many things I could have said.  Many things I could have done.  Wishing to remain whole, I recount my life as best I can.  Done, he says: “That so?  If it is, prove it.”

I rise.  Wipe my face.  Tuck my hair.  Take hold of the axe he motions to, the one hanging just back from the side of the fridge.  I dig in and swing, the power I unleash into what remained of Renee something I never knew I had.  It’s cathartic, primal, and I scream the entire time it takes to take his body apart.

“See?”  I say, and my breath comes out of me as it does after sex.

He says he does, yes, and then he lowers the gun.  I seem to see him for the first time as he does this, and the exchange that comes scares me more than what I have just been through.

It is the look of lust which stares back at me.  The look of love.

Fuck—just my type.

BIO: Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  He is the Author of A BETTER KIND OF HATE and THE BIG MACHINE EATS, both published by Down and Out Books.  Look for Bishop Rider’s continuing struggles in ALL OF THEM TO BURN, coming 2020, also from Down and Out Books.

beau johnson

John Wisniewski interviews Beau Johnson

JW: When did you begin writing, Beau? Did you write short stories?

Hi John, thanks for having me. I have written seriously the last ten years or so, once my youngest was out of diapers. It was then I found the time to get back to what I started before “life” (as I’ve been known to say) got in the way. I’m primarily a short story writer and have never published anything over five thousand words. One day I’ll crack the novel nut. You just wait and see!!

JW: Could you tell us about writing “A Better Kind of Hate”? What inspired this
Collection of stories?
Hmm. I would have to say Bishop Rider inspired A BETTER KIND OF HATE. I mean, once I’d written four or five stories about him and realized I had something with legs, well, things sort of took off from there. It’s been fun too, and I have always told his story out of sequence for some reason, so it’s always nice when pieces of his life I never knew existed start falling into place.
JW: How did you develop the Bishop Rider character, did you see him as your

Alter-ego?
Ha! I would say Bishop and I are as far from each other as people can get. I’d like to say I could go out and do what he does, but besides defending myself and the people who put up with me, I have too much empathy to vanquish people in some of the ways that he does. As for how he came to be, well, I came up with April Rider first, Bishop’s sister, and only after she is raped and murdered by six men in masks does he enter the fray. It’s a different kind of beginning, that’s for sure, but seeing where the big guy and I are now, I’d take it no other way.
JW: What makes a good pulp/noir story or novel? Any favourite pulp/noir authors?
Well, I think that may be more subjective than I like for a first date, John. I mean, we HAVE just met. Nah, I kid. For me it’s many things, a collection of sorts, but I guess I’d go with voice if pressed. Character coming in at a close second and plot for third. I also enjoy a good revenge tale, preferably with some dark humour thrown in. As for the names you require, there are just too many to choose from, too many greats out there, and I’d hate to miss someone and forever feel poorly because of it. However, I will mention my master, my great Uncle Stevie, and that it was his book Misery that put me on this path.
JW: What will your next book be about, Beau?
ALL OF THEM TO BURN is also a collection of shorts, but one which deals with Bishop Rider and Co. in a way that THE BIG MACHINE EATS and A BETTER KIND OF HATE did not. There are also other, unconnected tales, sure, but I found myself filling in some of the gaps in Bishop’s story, from close to the beginning of his struggles and right up to the end of his life. If might deal with a baton passing of sorts as well, but either way, as I’ve been known to say: the struggle will conclude.
BIO: Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  He is the Author of A BETTER KIND OF HATE and THE BIG MACHINE EATS, both published by Down and Out Books.  Look for Bishop Rider’s continuing struggles in ALL OF THEM TO BURN, coming 2020, also from Down and Out Books
beau johnson

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A CONSUMER: Beau Johnson

TELEVISION

I do love good TV, yup.  Some of my favourites being Breaking Bad, Justified, Lost, The Golden Girls, Hannibal (gone too soon) Bosch, X-files (season 1-7 only, sorry Doggett), the first 2 seasons of Battlestar Galactica and the TV movie Razor, The Office, Friends…I could go on.  Currently I’m in love with Fleabag and Barry, with Good Omens and on deck while I patiently await The Boys.

BOOKS

King. Anything King.  As I’ve said before, that Dude is my Vader.  Not Anakin.  Vader. Thomas Harris, of course, along with copious amounts of what I have come to call home, crime fiction.

FILMS

Oh man, where to begin?  Silence of the Lambs, of course, along with Tombstone, Terminator 2, Back to the Future (all 3), Pet Semetary (original and best), Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption, the first two Aliens, Ironman (original and #3), Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Avengers: Endgame, Misery, The Shining, The Dead Zone, Rocky 4, They Live, John Carpenter’s The Thing, 28 Days Later, Groundhog Day, Fargo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Manchurian Candidate (Sinatra version), Unbreakable…man, I could go on, but yup, those are a few I could watch over and over again.

MUSIC

I will always say The Tragically Hip, the best Canadian band to ever come out of the Great White North in my opinion.  We lost Gord Downie a bit ago and man, to be truthful, it still hurts.

TRAVEL

Wherever my wife tells us we are going, me and the boys are almost ready on time.  Me, I’m always on time.  The boys, though, two of them anyway, they take after their grandmother…

FOOD

All of it, thank you.  Save for olives (ack, the Devil’s balls) and Cheeze Whiz.  You do know Cheeze Whiz is grey before it’s put on the shelves yes…

DRINK

Coffee, water, and when I find the perfect amount of time, Bud light with ice.

ART

Don’t know him.  Never have.  I hear good things though.

OTHER

We have a Dinner Cruise Business called The Grand River Dinner Cruises which runs from May until October.  This year we are attempting something new.  We call it Beau’s Book Nook.  A little library where you can discover the greatness which is crime fiction.  If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, Caledonia, Ontario, Canada, specifically, drop on by.  As I’ve been known to say: come for a cruise, leave with a book!

 

BIO: Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  He is the Author of A BETTER KIND OF HATE and THE BIG MACHINE EATS, both published by Down and Out Books.  Look for Bishop Rider’s continuing struggles in ALL OF THEM TO BURN, coming 2020, also from Down and Out Books.

beau johnson

ANNIVERSARIES OF THE HEART BY BEAU JOHNSON

It weighs on my mind every second of every minute of every day.  Obsession does not describe me though, not to an accurate degree.  I am him now.  He, unfortunately, me.  The difference, the main difference, being our retaliations and how we’ve chosen to implement the pain.

“Your ribs are showing.” I close the cell door and put the tray down atop the roughed-in toilet.  The chains around his wrists rattle as he adjusts himself upon the mattress, his demeanour in an instant changing to what it always changes to once he realizes what’s on top of the tray.  Took some doing getting him here too, emotionally I mean, and it isn’t until his right eye is removed that he comes to understand what I have always known.  That I was capable of doing what he only ever paid his men to do.

It meant his need of solid food was no longer required.

It meant he would never again wear shoes.

“You don’t start drinking more, you’re only going to give me a reason to go in there and excavate.”  He’d respond if he could, more so in fact, but his tongue had been one of the first things to go, going early, pretty much at the beginning of what we’ll call year one.  It was joined by his left thumb and right nipple later that same year.  All three combining to become the least of what Reggie deserved.  Little could I know how difficult it would prove to keep things healthy, let alone infection free.

“Not that I’d be adverse to such a thing.  Not at all.  Inner, outer, you know it’s all the same to me.”  He makes the noise in the back of his throat, the one he’s come to use to beg.  I respond by asking him if he recalls when it had been me who’d begged.  He turns his head at this, lowers it, the concrete wall suddenly the most interesting thing in the room.  The response is far from new, coming into play about the time his need to stand while urinating became obsolete.  The old-fashioned way could still be used, sure, but the dribble aspect it creates, this is what forces the desired effect.  Year three is when this occurs.  Along with his nose and left ear it coincides with what would have been Becka’s sixteenth year.

Today is a different day altogether.  Today, Daniel would have turned ten.

“Do you remember what you said to me as you had them brought in?  When your goons were holding me to the glass?  You said how much you appreciated their names and that each of them sounded strong.  I remember this, Reggie.  I have never been able to forget.”  I have gone down this road before.  I probably would again.  As ever, he only nods, but then again, I’ve never given him much of a choice, not since tracking him down.

Caught, I’d been posing as a surgeon in a body parts ring when my own cover is blown.  Forced to watch, Reggie whispers in my ear as my children are strapped to operating tables and ripped apart and then thrown into bins.  The reason I’m left alive is meant to be viewed as a deterrent, for when me and the agency I work for decide to come at him again.

Reggie’s words.  His arrogance.  Not mine.

But it took years for me to find him, long after Janet left and I’d resigned.

“My son, he would have hit double digits today.  Means he would have been just out of diapers when you had him taken down.”  More mewling.  More trying to push himself into a corner which would never relent.  “Because of this, in honour of this, I believe it’s time I let you choose.”  He stops at that, waits, then raises his one good eye to mine.  On his face sits everything he wants, everything he needs.  It just might finally end.  The chance having come at last.

It hadn’t though.  And never would.  Not after everything that’d been done.  But it gives me what I require.  What I will continue to take from Reggie until I no longer can.

It meant we’d just begun.

Find out more about BEAU JOHNSON here.

a better kind of hate