THE CHIMP by K A Laity

THE CHIMP

for Carol

I see you, human. You with the clump of hair on top of your heads. Have to wear coverings in snow so you don’t freeze your bare asses. You laugh at me wearing clothing. Funny, you know, funny. Funny to see little creature dress like a human. Look at the chimp walk on two legs like us!

I bide my time and remember the before. Warm savannah. Mama. Family. Never alone. Always alone now, alone except for the humans. Humans who came with shooting sticks. Shooting like the clown’s cannon but shooting death instead of clowns. Shooting family, taking babies. Babies together, then babies alone. All alone.

I remember. I bide my time. I learn. Cannot speak your shrieking language but I understand much from watching, always watching. I do my tricks. Pokerman doesn’t poke me then, but I watch. He calls me Pan. Not my name, but it’s what he calls me. Pan, jump. Pan, flip. Pan, roll. Pan, act like humans with their stupid clothes.

Pan is strong now. Baby was, not baby now. When Pokerman and humans sleep, Pan lift heavy things like Leopardskin Man does. Get stronger. Very much stronger. Can lift almost anything in cage.

One day, pull bars apart, escape. In the night when the humans sleep. Be so strong, like gorilla strong. Then get out. Twist off Pokerman’s head. Maybe eat his baby. Flesh must be tender when small like Pan was small. Then Pan escape to savannah. Climb trees. Find family.

Teach family. Let them know the taste of human flesh. Love family. Hate humans.

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

Album Trailer #2: Love by Liz Davinci

Vicki in Love: Chapter 2 – Love

7am: Tuesday

Bus 262 slithers along hot curved roads.  The Eucalyptus trees are fragrant and the blue skies are tainted with white smog on this Tuesday summer morning. Only 7am and the temperature suggests a bathing suit and a long day at the beach.

Inside the bus it’s packed, but at least air-conditioned. The business men and women wear their summer outfits, hardly different from their winter outfits, as they head to their air-conditioned offices.  A tired baby howls. Its attentive mother tries to comfort it, worried that something worse than heat distresses her child.

A few people are drinking cold Frappuccinos through straws. The bus smells like sunscreen. 

The winding roads are slowly replaced by straight ones and the trees by houses and then buildings, followed finally by grey skyscrapers as the bus nears its destination.  

A woman dressed in black sandals, a black skirt and a white flowing sleeveless top stands up to exit the bus at 7th Street, nearly the end of the line.

Her eyes are bright and she walks with confidence and a sway in her hips, a smile on her face.

“Morning Victoria” the receptionist says to her as she enters the building around the corner from the 7th Street bus stop, and she begins her work day.

*****************************
4:30pm: Tuesday

On her way home, Victoria waits at the 7th Street bus stop on the opposite side, ready to do the morning commute in reverse.  Her cell phone is buzzing. As she types in response, her smile widens.

She can’t wait to get home.

****************************
8:25pm: Tuesday

As it turned out, the Siegfried look-alike was called Alexander. After trying to escape him that evening, I have spent the past five months doing just the opposite.

He’s coming over right now.  Actually he was supposed to be here at 8pm, so I guess he got hung up.  He’ll be here any minute, I’m sure.

I stopped reading romance novels and I stopped singing at the club.  I am consumed by the addition of this beautiful human being to my life.  Everything has changed since his blue eyes met mine.  I am alive, electrified and emotional.  Life has direction.  I’m still working full-time as a secretary, but I dream about a life in a quaint suburban house, where I care for my blue-eyed children — baking and smiling, picking beautiful flowers for the dining table.  

I feel immense love for Alex.  We don’t express a lot in words, but I love him deeply.  I want to help him, I want to take care of him.  I accept everything about him.  

He’s mysterious and he disappears, sometimes for weeks on end.  I don’t know where he goes nor what he is doing but when he returns, I read something disturbing in his eyes.  We don’t talk about it.  I don’t need to know what it is because I believe in love and I believe that I can heal his wounds.  

When he is with me, his heart grows softer.  He still guards something, but I feel him become vulnerable.  I have faith that his absences are not to avoid me.  I have faith that whatever he does in his absences is not immoral or bad.  But I wish he wouldn’t go away at all.  Maybe I can convince him.

I have faith.  I have love.  I am love.  

Love is a river.


***********************

Written by Liz Davinci and K.A. Laity

***********************

The abstract text about love accompanying the album trailer https://youtu.be/8pNTSgTZuH4 was written by K.A. Laity:Love is a river. It’s not what you’ve been told but it’s true: love is a river and if you go looking for its source you won’t find it. If you hike up that very tall mountain and look for the spring it will be there, but it will disappear under ground and that is not it, that is not the source. You’re not meant to go poking at the fountain, the little hollow where it bubbles up. No, follow the stream that flows away from it, trace the trickle until it’s deep enough to cup in your hand. Let it flow over you.

Love is a river. Dip your toe, wade in. Splash in the shallows of the brook. Does it feel too cold? Move downstream. Look for the sun-dappled ripples as the river gains power, flows over falls, rapids even, and find the exhilaration that fills the lapping curves of the stream. The excitement of splashing over rocks submerged—you hardly notice them—the foam and bubbles and wisps as the river cascades down. Gravity plays its part.

Broad rivers contain multitudes. They’re big enough for you. Big love, wide, generous. Love spreads and takes up room. The big river touches many shores, many banks and carries so many boats. Multitasking, always flowing: it has capacity. Love has a current that draws you in, let it do so. 

Don’t stand on the shore watching it roll by: dive in! Let the river take you to new shores. Taste new lives, swirl in eddies, float in the sun. 

Let it take you.            

Let it carry you all the way to the ocean. The sea refuses no river. Sure you might get tangled in the swamps. Splash in the mud. Take your time.

But eventually the ocean welcomes you and then you know how the ocean is love, the ocean fills the globe and the ocean goes so deep that it comes back up as a fountain on that mountain and then it is the river. Love is a river…

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

Unlike Batista in the beginning, I found early on that Jeramiah had no reservations with regards to doing what needed to be done. If anything, it began the long journey of me attempting to give each of them fair and equal “dismemberment” time.  I know.  I know.  First world problems!

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

            If you ever need to gauge the measure of a man, watch him lose parts of his face and then continue to spend the rest of his life doing what he’d already done for years: attempting to rectify yours.

            That’s John Batista, big nutshell and all.  Always as strong as they came. Always adept to getting us in a position to put down as many pieces of shit as we could.  But losing parts of one’s face in a barn on the outskirts of Hanson Falls is enough to set certain events in motion.  I don’t know this for sure, and all told, it’s only speculation on my part, but in the aftermath of Harrison Garrett taking a blade to the left side of the detective’s face is when I notice the change.

            It was subtle, too. And I could not blame the man.  Not after everything he’d done for me.

            We continued as we always had.  For years, in fact.  Until a handshake and words like cabin, fishing, and retirement are spoken over cheeseburgers and beer.  What could I say? What do you say to a man who’d given so much of his life trying to right yours?  There are no words.  There were no words.  There never could be.  And Batista, he knew as much—the reason he went about things the way he did, I suppose.  Here one day, gone the next.

            A handshake.  No words.

            And like that, he was gone.

            But the war moves forward, and even though John was no longer a part of it, Jeramiah had proven himself capable.  He was different from Batista, but still the same in many respects.  Truth be told, Jeramiah resembled his piece of shit father, right down to his blade of a nose.  Slicked-back black hair atop small, beady eyes and I find myself looking to the past more times than I care to count.  Jeramiah had money, too, and wasn’t afraid to use it in ways that helped the cause.  If dismemberment came of it, hell, who the fuck was I to complain?

            “Looks like someone’s still up,” Jeramiah says. The man in question being Bo Jones, forty-two, and released eight years into a life sentence that had been overturned by a system that is not only rigged, but a parody of an institution I once thought infallible.  Thing was, during those eight years inside, Jones had continued to produce the stuff that put him inside, stones walls or not.

            “It does. Might mean he’s waiting for us.  Might mean he’s decided to turn over a new leaf,” I say, but don’t take my eyes from the house.  Smaller than a mansion but still more than a house, it sat back from the road where we were parked, the double garage open and lit and looking more like eyes in the darkness than anything.

            “Cautious.  Right.  I got it, Bishop.  Whatever gets us to where we need to be.”

            Not Batista, no.  But like Batista.

            Fuck it.  Time to go to work.

            I think what upset me most were the reruns of The Fresh Prince of Belair on the TV in the room where Jones and his guys sat shovelling nachos into their gobs.  All of it, every bit, derived from the evil they created and the innocence they preyed upon.  All told, the stuff of goddamn nightmares.

            I take the front of the place, Jeramiah the back.  Slow, I pass and then return to a bay window where the drapes had yet to be drawn.  It’s here I watch as they laugh and eat, Bo Jones on the couch and two others, big men themselves, in armchairs to the right.  Both of these men are bald, the heavier of the two having some type of art above his left ear.  All around them all the amenities of would-be gangbangers: bongs and bling, game consoles and ashtrays, everything centered in front of the largest of big screens.  It makes me think of money, and how much one of these would have cost, and then I’m back to how they made this occur and the reason I sometimes enjoy using a hammer instead of a gun.

            I think of my sister.  My mother. Of all the men, women, and children garbage like this use and discard.

            I touch my hatchet.  Raise my Glock.  And watch Jeramiah slide in behind baldie with the tat.

            Watch as the front of tat-man’s face disappears, only to be replaced with a thrust of blood and bone and lips.  Watch as my own target jerks once, twice, and then slumps forward as the front of his wifebeater begins to drink.

            Glass is falling and Bo is screaming but he remains in place on the couch as Jeramiah moves on him and I make my way through the portion of the bay window that isn’t so much a window anymore.

            “Whatever you want, man!  Whatever you guys want, it yours!”  I’d like to say this was new, but no, just par for a very predictable course.  Men like Jones either fronting for show or dropping the mask entirely and releasing all the things they strive to hide.

            “I want the names of everyone who ran your little side business while you were inside.  You do that, we’re well on our way to the type of situation which, if you’re looking at this as you should, would prove beneficial to all parties involved.  Better still, it means you might keep your feet.”

            To ensure our point is hammered home, Jeramiah asks the man to extend his arms; to rest them on the coffee table just in front of the couch.  He doesn’t want to, stating as much, but as my own piece aimed at his head now proved, this was no longer the Bo Jones show, guest stars or otherwise.  Smarter than I would have believed, Jones closes his eyes, and as Jeramiah brings up his own hatchet, it comes down just as fast, separating the man’s right hand from his arm at the wrist.

            Suddenly, I can’t hear The Fresh Prince anymore, and Bo is beyond panic, his face all eyes.  Holding out the shorter of his two arms in such a way that all the blood can do is arc out over the table in ropes.

            “I’d think about shoving that thing up under your pit, m’man.  Won’t stem things, no, but it’ll help.”  Jeramiah has to repeat himself, but Jones finally understands what he’s being told.  “Now, about those names my partner here was asking you for.”

            Did he understand?  Sure, he did.  And after he gives up what we’d come for, Jeramiah goes to work, taking the man’s other hand first and the bottom part of his jaw second.  In blood, above the man’s cooling corpse, he writes on the wall FOLLOW THE CHILDREN and then we make our way back to the van.

            I think again: no, not Batista.  But like Batista.

            Christ, I was in this war yet.

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

Claudio Parentela

Claudio Parentela is an artist and freelance journalist. who lives and works in Catanzaro Italy.

Web Sites: http://www.claudioparentela.net —https://ilrattobavoso.altervista.org/https://ibelieveinblackaliens.altervista.org/https://claudioparentela.wixsite.com/mysitehttps://claudioparentela.wixsite.com/mysitehttp://parentelaclaudio.altervista.org/– –http://www.myspace.com/claudioparentela —https://twitter.com/cparentela —https://www.instagram.com/claudioparentela62/–https://www.instagram.com/claudioparentela2/http://claudioparentela.tumblr.com/— https://www.facebook.com/claudio.parentela.1http://www.flickr.com/people/49533264@N05/https://www.linkedin.com/in/claudioparentela/https://www.talenthouse.com/claudioparentela

Art Blogs: http://theextrafinger.blogspot.com — http://foggygrizzly.blogspot.com– – http://cparentela.livejournal.com/ —  http://elvisinh.blogspot.com/ — http://thethermostatandthegreendragoon.blogspot.com/ — http://diabeticdew555.blogspot.com — http://cosmiccrystalsdirtypigs.blogspot.com/ —  http://coward33sneeze15.blogspot.com/–http://variationsinnortherndegradations.blogspot.com/

Plasticity by Kristin Garth

Plasticity 

Pliable arms you pose us for prayer,

high collared dress, veil pinned to hair, lifelike

bend synthetic submissive knees, back blares

a voice box of holes:  “yes, sir” and “please.” Night

widens our thighs, shortens our memories 

of the paradoxical uses of

our plasticity.  Poised before ASB 

plastic pelvis, pretense of cock, true love 

with Ken dolls has rituals of which we 

must never talk.  Anoint our flexible 

joints with pearls, purchased accessory seed 

because sex, religion are extort-able

needs to heed or ignore judiciously.

We were procured for our plasticity. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Two Poems from Ian Lewis Copestick

Not Fair

If there’s one thing
that’s just not fair,
it’s seeing someone
you really care
about being used
like a fancy wank,
by some dick who’s
thicker than two
short planks.
But, she wouldn’t
look at you twice,
so what’s the point
in trying to be nice.
Just forget about it
have another drink,
and another joint,
try not to think.

       Shadow People From
        Strange Dimension
s

I’d forgotten the fear
of walking home in the
dark. But it doesn’t take
long for my old friend,
paranoia to reacquaint
itself. A jogger just ran
past me, dressed all in
black. I nearly had a
heart attack and changed
the colour of my trousers.
I guess that all of the so
called ‘paranormal ‘ clips
I’ve been watching on
YouTube aren’t helping
much either.
I don’t believe in ghosts,
but there’s something
freaky going on. Even if
it’s just the amount of
hoaxers out there. I
particularly love the
‘shadow people’, they
scare the shit out of me.
So I try to keep my eyes
on the ground of the
dark, creepy country
paths that are my route
to get home.
Screw the shadow people,
from strange dimensions.
I’m hungry, and I want my
tea !

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: Thursday – Like Minded Individuals by Beau Johnson

As Rider’s story grew, so did the parts of his narrative I knew absolutely nothing about. Being a short story writer, however, I did know this: there are only so many ways to insert what came before without repeating yourself and god forbid, bore the reader.  Hence, the unnamed narrator and how I choose to frame certain stories as a “previously on.”  As a side note, this piece is actually a prequel to Known Associates from A Better Kind of Hate and did two things at once: it allowed me to relegate Rider to secondary character status, which, if I’m honest, he doesn’t much care for, but more important, it let me view Bishop’s world from an angle I had yet to. 

LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS

When I mention life has always been about choice, I’m not telling you anything new.  I think you’re going to want to be comfortable, is all.  Shoe on the other foot and all, I know I’d want to be.  Mind if I open a window, though?  This trailer of yours, no offence, but it could really use some air.

            There—better.  Now listen, Pete, me and you, we’re gonna go over some stuff here.  Things you probably know and stuff you’re gonna wish your mind could erase.  It’s all you though, bud.  Every bit.  You may think otherwise, sure, and hey, that’s your right.  But I should enlighten you to the type of man I am.  I’m the type who believes in doing his homework, Pete.  A man who believes it is better to know than it is to assume.  With what’s comin’, you’d be wise to remember as much.

            So, the elephant in the room.  Bishop Rider.  Ring any bells?  Mm-huh.  I thought it might.  Let’s you and I go one better, though.  You see this nail gun?  For the moment, let’s pretend it’s Rider.  Now put out your hand.

            Flatter.

            No, flatter.

               Good.  Now picture your hand being all the things wrong with this world.  You doing that, Pete?  No, come on, lemme see your eyes.  Good.  Now, I pull this trigger, it unleashes something that has already occurred: a man who has had enough.  A man who will not put up with one bit more.

            Ready, then?

            Cool.  And would you look at that—now we have ourselves a base!  Looks like it smarts some, too.  It could hurt more, though.  Oh, yes.  Loads.  It could hurt as much as, say, losing a mother or sister might hurt.

            You see where it is I might be going with this, Pete?

            Sure you do.  I know you do.  A refresher of sorts might be in order it seems.  Something to get the juices flowing, no?

            Abrum gave the order, this we know.  But of the brothers, which Abrum had it actually been?  Marty or Marcel?  I don’t think it much mattered, not once we got to the guts of things.  At the beginning, though, when I first met Rider, when he ventilated the back of Marty Abrum’s head into his fettuccini alfredo, this was an entirely different story—the man all heat and grief and rage, lashing out at the world the only way he knew how.  Me, this is where I come in, me being an associate of your brother and all.

            Before we get to that, however, I must mention Batista.  John Batista, he’s Rider’s guy on the inside.  They used to be partners, back before Rider threw in the badge.  This is how we stay one step ahead of guys like you, Pete.  How we’ve chosen to take the lot of you down.

            The look on your face leads me to believe you disagree with this. If I’m wrong, please, forgive me, but as a rebuttal, let me then ask you this: was it your brother who decided to force Rider’s family into the van that day, or was it you?  Yes, Pete.  We know.  The surveillance they found—it’s the very reason we sit across from one another now.  Better yet, it’s the very reason we haven’t allowed your dogs to feed this entire last week.

            What?  You think a beatdown and a nail gun was gonna be the worst of it?

            Pete.  Pete, m’man.

            Six men in masks fucked April Rider to her death, the Abrum brothers filming and distributing the entirety for all the world to see.  This over and above the murder of Maggie Rider, who’d been guilty of one thing and one thing only: showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I mean Pete, truly, if it’d been you, can you say you would have responded differently?

            But it wasn’t you: I can tell that’s what you’re thinking.  Among other things, of course.  But it was you, Pete.  Only not as you think.  It’s why we need to talk about Richie now.  We’ve tried, but we seem unable to locate that brother of yours.  He’ll turn up eventually, sure, but we want to do this our way, on our terms.  Oh, did I say we?

            Yup.  Sure did.  Didn’t even hear him come up behind you, did you?  Nimble as fuck for such a big guy, ain’t he?  Brings us to the main event if I’m to be completely honest.   I’ll make you a deal, though.  A last-ditch effort to save yourself some pain.  You tell us where Richie’s been holing himself up and we’ll let you keep the hand a few minutes more.  Fair enough, yes?  Though retain is a far better word in a situation such as this, I think.  The alternative being something not many people know and something that is going to happen regardless of the scenario you choose.  Dogs, once starved, they tend to eat slower than one might think.  Either way, it comes back to what I mentioned earlier: comfort.  Not only how we view it, Pete, but how we choose to embrace it. 

How it can be twisted to meet a certain level of need.

Fast or slow, both hands or not, it allows me to promise you this: your dogs, Pete, they’re about to eat like kings.

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.