ice cream noir

Chapter 1I didn’t like meeting in an ice cream shop but I guess it was public

and witnesses always make people feel safe when their afraid of
getting murdered. I sat against the corner with my back to the wall,
the little table in front of me, a waffle cone filled with lime
sherbet in my left hand and my right hand loosely grasping the machine
pistol tucked in the waist band holster of my slacks, my sport jacket
draped over most of it concealing what the table didn’t. It was a
custom model that was smaller and lighter, easier to aim and conceal,
I had to lower the ammo capacity and shorten the barrel but that was
ok, compromises.
The shop was mostly empty, a cute teenage punk couple with matching
his and hers mohawks held hands in front of the ice cream glass trying
to pick the most rebellious flavor, the scooper guy stood behind the
counter staring into space, calmly awaiting their decision. I took
another lick of my sherbet, my client was late, not much, just a
couple of minutes, actually seconds, he was 23 seconds late. I
recently had this internal clock with retinal display put in, it gets
annoying being constantly aware of every passing second but it came in
handy when I had to catch a bus or keep track of a series of timed
hand grenades. I turned the display off with a thought and kept an
eye on the wall clock instead.
The doors jingled and in walked my client, at least I assumed he was
my client, this guy was way too nervous to be interested in waffle
cones. His shoulders where hunched up inside of a typical black
trench coat with belt tied and every button clasped . His hands were
shoved deep into the pockets and a matching black ball cap was pulled
low on his head, dark windshield sunglasses covered the top half of
his face. I waved with my waffle cone and took another lick just to
show that I was completely at ease, I tightened my grip on the pistol
and smiled. He glanced around the room a few times and hurried over,
one hand darting out of his pocket to pull the chair out. He plopped
down and brought both of his hands out empty, he clenched his fists
and rested them on the table. This guy was a wreck.
“So you’re the guy right?” he was almost whispering.
I spoke at a regular level “yes, I’m the man” He seemed startled by
the loudness of my voice. “Just talk normal, two guys whispering in
an ice cream shop draws attention and what’s with the get up?”
“I don’t want anyone to recognize me.”
“Wearing black only hides stuff when it’s dark.”
He opened his mouth to say something but stopped the thought before it
escaped his throat, he closed his mouth and looked at me, I couldn’t
see his eyes through those terminator shades. This guys was in need
of some guidance.
“So, what seems to be your problem, my contact didn’t tell me much
and I don’t normally meet my clients in person.”
He glanced over at the two punkers, they had chosen flavors and where
settling in to a table on the other side of the shop in front of a
glass pint display freezer, ginseng chocolate for her and devils food
fake for him, they were still holding hands as they ate their desserts
with little white spoons. He kept staring at them. “Hey, buddy,
their just kids”
“What if their assassins!?” this guy was losing it.
“Trust me, their not.”
He turned back to me. “How can you tell?”
“I’ve got a portable cyber scanner on me, there are no weapons or
cyber-ware in this room, they could be users but that usually takes
decades to master so if they are they would be too inexperienced to
conjure anything but a light for a ciggarrete.”
He seemed to relax, I didn’t really have a portable cyber scanner,
those don’t even exist, the smallest one that could cover an entire
room might be able to fit in my trunk but certainly not concealed
inside of a trendy charcoal grey suit. I just wanted him to feel safe
in my capable hands.
“Now, what can I do for you Mr….?”
“Mr. cash” he wasn’t whispering any more and his hands where
unclenched. I licked my sherbert as he started explaining himself.
“I used to work for this bookie who took bets….Your sure this place
isn’t bugged?”
“I’ve got a portable jammer too, "
“oh, good” This guy was an idiot, he must think I stole batman’s utility belt.
He continued “well, this bookie would take bets on underground
fights, kick boxing, jiu-jitsu, that type of stuff and it was my job
to come up with the odds. I would have to look at all of the factors
and come up with figures that were mostly fair but still gave an
inside edge to the boss.”
“you must be quite the math whiz.” Never hurt to pad the clients ego.
“well, I used to work for SLIDERULE INC. but there was more money in
this, a lot more. Anyway, there was a big fight scheduled, the number
one temple kickboxer in Thailand was flying in to fight the number one
underground fighter in seattle. It was the biggest hyped non
sanctioned fight in decades. I was the best odds man in the city so I
got the job, I did the research and came up with the numbers. My boss
and all his friends bet on the guy that I said would win but he didn’t
and they lost their shirts, now their blaming me. It’s not my fault
though, the jerk took a dive and now he’s retired on some coast
spending his payoff money on margaritas and hula hoops.”
" So what do you want me to do about it."
“Well, two things really, I want you to escort me out of the city and
then I want you to go to Figi and put a bullet in that fat, dive
taking, kickboxers head.”
“How do you know he’s in Figi?”
" I don’t really I was just throwing out the first tropical island I
could think of."
“so you need me to find him too?”
“well, yeah.”
“That’s three things and that will cost more.”
“fine, just get me out of this city and We’ll talk about money later,
I’ve got plenty of that.”
It didn’t seem to make perfect sense that this bookie would want to
murder the poor numbers guy just because a fighter took a dive, if
this chump new about the payoff chances are his boss did too. And it
made even less sense that he would want the poor fighter killed, he
was just doing his job. He must have done something else to piss the
bookie off like steal a bunch of money from him or maybe he did make
some horrible mathematical error and he just doesn’t want to admit it,
either way his cash is the only story I’m interested in.
“I assume you’re already packed?”
“just one gym bag.”
“and where is all of your money?”
“A numbered account with Tokyo World Bank.”
“Ok, you leave first, get your bag and meet me at my car, it’s a black
Audi and it’s parked in the alley behind the Laundromat next door.”
“Great.”
He got up too quickly and knocked the chair down that he was sitting
in. As he bent over to pick it back up the two punkers who had been
sitting at the farthest table from us stood up, their half eaten ice
cream bowls falling to the ground as their hands flew inside their
matching red leather jackets. Holy crap, youngest assassins I’d ever
seen! My hand was already on my gun, all I had to do was bring it up,
the synaptic accelerator did most of the work for me. I squeezed the
trigger twice, the first burst ripped through the guys torso making
three evenly spaced diagonal holes, two in the left lung and one in
the heart, his forward momentum counteracted the impact of the
bullets, he just sort of leaned over sideways toppling a bubble gum
colored garbage can on his way down, it let out a fresh spray of
vanilla and thanked him for disposing of his trash, he landed hard,
his head made a hollow sound as it smacked the tile floor. The
scooper kid disappeared under the counter with a squeal that cracked
as it increased in pitch.
The second burst completely missed the girl, glass from the icecream
pint display shattered behind her. She flipped the table up for
cover and fell to her knees behind it, she blindefired a round that
went wild, I guess she thought that might make me dive for cover.
My client instinctively dropped prone, probably not the first
gunfight he’d been caught in the middle of without a gun, I’d have to
arm and armor this idiot before we went anywhere else. I didn’t
bother diving for cover, she was using too small of a caliber to do
any damage to my titanium dermal armor, unless she got a head shot of
course but I was a little more aggressive of a fighter than I probably
should have been, maybe all the cyber-ware was making me over
confident. I dropped the sherbert and grabbed my wrist with my left
hand, took a second to aim and squeezed off another burst, Three
rounds blasted through the flimsy icecream shop table, she let out a
high-pitched yelp, more of surprise than pain, probably her first time
getting hit, maybe even her first run. She slammed up against the
broken display case, the jagged edge of glass sliced a crooked line in
her arm, a couple of pints of ice dream fell off the top shelf landing
on and around her.
I could see where I got her, lower abdomen, gut shot. She’d be ok if
she got to a stitcher in time, her left hand pressed against her
stomach, her other hand still gripped the gun, it was painted pink.
She looked up at me, not enough strength to lift her arm, it was like
having that gun in her hand made her feel invincible, she was probably
the only one in her high school class to have one, when your that
small its hard to imagine how big some of us can get. It was a hard
lesson to learn. I know she just tried to kill me but she was so
young, she should have been at the mall buying pink hair ties. “Drop
the gun kiddo, I don’t want to end your career in a crappy Ice cream
parlor.” She clenched her teeth and winced at a spasm of pain as she
tossed the gun, it slid across the floor towards me and bumped against
my prone client, his hands where clasped behind his head like he was
surviving a bear mauling. I hadn’t even stood up yet. Pick it up Mr.
cash. His hat had fallen off in the confusion revealing a greasy
blond mop of tangled hair.
“I thought you said they weren’t assassins!”
“They’re not, now lets go.” I got up and moved towards the door,
keeping my gun on the little purple Mohawk chick. Mr. cash scrambled
to his feet, grabbed the pink pistol, the door jingled as he hurried
out. “Audi, Laundromat.” I reminded him as he swept past me. I
backed out the door, She was getting to her knees, holding her guts in
with one hand and trying to drag her boyfriend up with the other, he
was gone, unless they had half a mill for a cyber heart and an on call
surgeon. I slid my pistol back into its holster and jogged off
towards the Laundromat.
My car was where I left it, pressed my thumb in the reader and the
door slid open, I got in, plugged the control cable into my head jack
and thought the door shut as I pulled my vidphone from inside jacket
pocket and dialed up my stitcher. He was an ex-corporate Physicians
assistant, got kicked out for treating a patient while he was high on
heroin. He has since kicked the habit. The phone connected, I was
looking at a blank screen. “whats up?” the voice was digitally
altered to sound like a famous actor. “I need a favor from you pal.”
My voice wasn’t.
“I don’t do favors, I’m a business man.”
“right well I need you to swing out to an icecream shop and scrape up
a couple of kids.”
“kids huh, friends of yours?”
“not really but everyone deserves a second chance, Ill pay you double
the regular fee.”
“I don’t normally do house calls, I’m not a doc wagon service and I
certainly don’t treat strangers.”
“C’mon, their just kids, I’ll owe you a favor.”
Silence.
“I’ll owe you a big favor?”
“Fine, fine, where are they?”
“The Swedish cream 301 shop on broadway, you might want to get here
before the cops do. Oh yeah, and one of them might need a new
heart…and a lung”
“Sucks to be him.”
“Just do what you can.”
“I’m already on the road.”
The call ended with a blip, I closed the phone interrupting the 3
second advertisement “BUY PEPSI…”
I could see Mr. cash hurrying around the corner with an addidas bag
slung over his shoulder, he almost collided with a guy carrying a
white garbage sack full of dirty laundry, he dropped his box of bleach
as he twisted out of Mr. Cash’s way. “Where’s the fire JERK!” Mr.
cash ignored him, non confrontational. The passenger door slid open
for him, he tossed his crap on the floor and squeezed himself into the
seat, it adjusted to his contours and started massaging his lower
back. “This is a heck of a car, where’s the steering wheel?”
I turned my head revealing the cord sticking out of the side of my
left temple. “oh, right”
“runs on gas too.”
“wow!”
The engine turned over with a satisfying growl. I pulled out of the
alley and turned into midday traffic. “How did those two know you
were going to be at the ice cream shop?”
“I don’t know, I guess they followed me.”
“They were there before you, did you maybe leave some information in
your computer that could have been hacked into, written something down
and thrown it into the trash, used a phone line that wasn’t clean?”
“Uuuh, yes.”
“Great, you’re an idiot, I want you to take that bag of yours and
throw it out the window,”
“what!?”
“I don’t know how they found you but there could be a microtracker or
a bug in anything you own, including your clothes and phone”
His window slid down as I talked. “why don’t you just scan it with
your portable scanner?”
“I don’t have one, now chuck it.”
“What do you mean you don’t have one, you lied to me and those kids
could have killed me…!”
“SHUT UP AND THROW THE FRICKEN BAG OUT THE FRICKEN WINDOW!”
He did, it slammed into a mailbox at 45 mph with a loud clang. “Now
take all your clothes off and throw those out too.”
“are you serious!” I reached into the back seat and pulled out a green
jogging suit and shoes. “Put these on.” He undressed, each article of
clothing getting sucked out through the open window as he went. I
reached back again and yanked a heavy black vest out from under my
seat, I tossed it in his lap. “Put that on underneath.” He fumbled
with the latches on the vest, finally got it to fit then pulled the
rest of the track suit on. The armor made him look like he actually
had a chest.
A few minutes later we were on I-6, we hadn’t said anything since I
yelled at him. He held the pink pistol in his lap, sliding the clip
in and out, cocking rounds through the chamber, reloading the clip,
just sort of getting used to how it all worked. Probably the first
time he had felt like he needed to know how to use a gun. “So where
exactly are we going?” I broke the silence. He pushed the last round
back into the clip, slammed it into the handle and placed it on the
floor at his feet, his hands rested on his knees. He looked over at
me, his voice was a little shaky, the adrenaline had left his body and
the tiredness was settling in. “I don’t really now, I just needed to
get out of the city…where would you suggest?”

Chapter 2

The Warsaw Inn was owned by an old Russian named Comrade Grustky.

The old man had a very uncooperative attitude towards corporations and
anything resembling authority. He was the owner, his daughter was the
only employee, she did the room cleaning and occasionally worked the
counter. I always used this place when I needed to disappear for a
while. The one story building had been there for decades, the walls
where solid and sound proof, it used to be a government housing
building but after the deconstruction it was abandoned. A few years
ago the old man refurbished it, painted red over the olive drab walls,
threw down some second hand carpet, built an office over the bomb
shelter, nailed some numbers on the doors and dubbed it the Warsaw.
the rooms don’t have the usual amenities which makes it unpopular with
the tourist crowd and popular with anyone who just wants to count
money, avoid attention, and reload clips.
I told Mr. Cash to wait in the car. Slamming the car door behind me
I made for the office, a cardboard sign dangling in the glass door
read “vacancy”, I twisted the handle, its rusty hinges squealed in
protest as I swung it open. The office was tiny, two folding chairs
and a card table littered with newspapers and brochures filled up the
lobby area, the old man didn’t acknowledge me. I eased the door shut,
I had to tip a folding chair, out of the way to step up to the
counter, I cleared my throat. He slowly turned his head to face me,
his fingers hovering over the keyboard of an old fashioned electric
typewriter.
“you want room?” his words came out in a thick Russian accent around a
red cigarette, bits of white ash drifted down onto his gray beard.
“yeah, one room, two beds, couple of nights.” he was always good about
keeping things professional, no small talk. He dropped his hands down
to his lap, I took a glimpse of what he was writing, the bold black
title read
“Capitalism crumbles under the red fist of the working class!!!”.
He caught me glancing at his work, “It is for newsletter.” He smiled
flashing yellow, nicotine stained teeth.
“right…., about that room?” You’d think a guy that owned his own
business would be a bigger fan of capitalism.
“One hundred of your filthy American, capitalist currency marks
please.” He held up a credit scanner as his lips closed back around
the red cig, he took a long drag, the cherry flared bright. I pulled
a credstick from my pocket and slotted it. He let the smoke out
through his nostrils and reached behind him to a hook board covered
with hanging, numbered keys and grabbed one marked 3. Numbers 5, 7,
and 10 where also missing.
“you will be staying in suite number 3, continental breakfast will be
at 2:30 am, and to activate heat turn knob counter clockwise.”
“you really serve breakfast at 2:30 am?.” I was surprised this place
even had a continental breakfast.
“I operate on Russian time, when they eat, we eat.”
I turned my retinal clock display on, it was 2am, we’d driven ten hours.
“Ill be down in half an hour then.” I took the key and left, he went
back to his typewriter, I could hear the keys clacking as the office
door squeaked shut behind me. My car was facing me, parked directly
in front of the office door. Mr. cash was sitting patiently in the
passenger seat, his hands underneath that dashboard. I scanned the
parking lot for any movement then motioned him out of the car. He got
out, the car shut the door, snapped the locks down and activated the
alarm with a low pitched ding.

The room was what I expected, Two single beds with red wool blankets
and scratchy red sheets, a set of drawers with a few Karl Marx books
piled on top of each other, turn of the century dial up phone, a thin
pine door that led to a bathroom, thick black curtains covering the
only window and a local number directory under the red phone. I
locked the door, the deadbolt needed oil, it scraped along its track
as I moved it into place.
“I guess Ill take a shower then.” Mr. cash muttered as he tossed the
pink pistol onto the bed nearest the bathroom. It sunk into the
comforter.
“sure, there probably isn’t any hot water though and you might want to
keep that gun with you at all times, even in the shower.”
He stared at me, his mouth slowly contorting like the words he had in
mind wouldn’t quite convey the idea that was in his head. He finally
spoke. “Won’t the water mess up the firing?”
“no, water hasn’t affected firearms in twenty years.”
“I guess I’ll take a cold shower then, and Ill just attach the loufa
to the barrel so I can scrub my own back.” He snatched the gun from
the bed and disappeared into the bathroom. I heard the shower turn
on.
I sat on the edge of the bed, trying to decide on my next move. I
had to get this guy to some remote town where he could feel safe for a
few months, then I had to track down the fighter that he wanted dead
and it wouldn’t hurt me to find out the real reason he is in this
mess. I grabbed the phone book and started flipping through the maps,
I wasn’t really familiar with the area this far south of seattle. I
narrowed the choices down to three unassuming southern California
towns. The shower was still going, It was 2:35, I guess I’ll go see
what Commrade Rutsky considers a continental breakfast.
I slipped out, locked the door behind me and walked back to the
office. I opened the squeaky door and left it cracked. The old man
was out from behind the counter, he had cleared the newspapers from
the card table and was ripping open the plastic covering on a
cardboard tray full of muffins. A pot of coffee (I assumed) and
Styrofoam cups sat on one of the folding chairs. “take what you need,
don’t let your American greed persuade you to eat the entire tray.” He
grinned as he spoke. He took a muffin and poured himself a cup of
thick, black, syrupy sludge. I wouldn’t be sleeping tonight anyway.
He wandered back behind the counter and repositioned himself in front
of his typewriter taking a double bite of the muffin, making a little
trail of chocolate crumbs as he went. I grabbed a couple muffins,
four actually, two white cups, and the whole pot of coffee. The old
man looked at me, the lines around his mouth pulled down into an ugly,
disapproving frown. I smiled, “Ill bring the pot back.” He nodded
slowly…“Yes, I know you will.” He muttered something else in Russian
as I shouldered the door open, my hands full of continental breakfast.
The night was cold, no breeze, My car was fine, untouched, no bums in
the parking lot, light traffic, a few dim street lights illuminated
the area. I turned towards our room and froze in mid-step. There
where two guys standing outside of door number three, it looked like
my sudden appearance had interrupted them, like they had been caught
doing something wrong, they seemed startled, their heads both turned
towards me, both where human and black trench coats hung down to their
knees. The one in front of the door had his fist hovering inches from
the red, wood, surface, the other had his hand inside of his lapel
either reaching for something in his inside pocket (like a badge) or
keeping his hand on something (like a pistol). I was willing to bet
it was a pistol. I smiled big, “What are you guys doing?” it was a
simple question but it seemed to confound them. They looked at each
other, both waiting for the other one to take control of this
unforeseen situation. The one who was about to knock took charge and
answered me. “This is our room, go away.” My face flashed back to
neutral, my right hand flew inside my sport coat, the muffins and cups
scattered across the concrete. They reacted to my movement, the door
knocker dropped to his stomach, the other brought his hand out, I was
right, his fingers clenched around a black, naked handgun. He dropped
to a knee as he brought the end of the barrel into my direction. The
machine pistol appeared in my hands, I moved so fast I might have
showed up on three frames of a 24 fps camera, I just stood there under
the flickering office light and squeezed off two bursts. The guy with
the gun got two rounds in the lung and collar bone, blood exploded out
of his back as the bullet passed through him, he flew back tripping
over his partner, he went sprawling into the sidewalk, breaking his
fall with his face, arms flopping like an under stuffed teddy bear.
The second burst punched three neat little holes in the gray concrete
next to the other guys head. I stared at him like I meant to miss
him. He was fumbling with his belt, or something on his belt, I
couldn’t see, the folds of trench coat covered everything but his head
and boots. “Don’t shoot me, we’re not even after you?” I steadied the
gun, aiming at his torso, no fancy head shots today. “who are you
after then?.., and stop moving.” I spoke in a low, commanding tone, no
shouting necessary. He pulled his arms up propping himself up on his
elbows, head turned up to look at me. His voice had a trace of an
accent, something I couldn’t place. “we were sent to retrieve one
person, we were told he was staying in room three, I’ve got a picture
of him and he’s not you.”
“Let me see the picture.” I glanced inside the office, the old man
wasn’t visible, he must have disappeared into the back when he heard
the gunshots, Russian mobster would no doubt be here shortly to clean
everything up and escort any trouble makers off the premises. The guy
on the floor pulled a printed color picture out of his inside pocket
and held it up for me to see. Yup, it was Mr. Cash alright. I had to
know more. “who do you work for and why does your boss want him?”
“Look, its no secret, this guy embezzled over 20 million yen from
Johnny Toronto, there’s an outstanding bounty of 1 mil alive, half a
mil dead, every thug on the street has a copy of his picture and an
info sheet on him.”
He flipped the sheet over, there was Mr. Cash’s real name, list of
his known hangouts, friends, contacts, physical description etc. I
can’t believe my contact hooked me up with this mark, I guess I could
negotiate a couple of million out of him but what good is that when
the entire seattle underworld is after you. At least they don’t have
my picture, I could just shove this guy in the trunk and drop him off
in the wilderness with a tent and a bag of rice, that’s about the only
place he won’t be recognized. It would be a whole lot less trouble
for me to just walk him into Johnny Toronto myself and spend the next
year on vacation but then again who would ever want to hire me again
after I turned in my own client. Johnny Toronto was a serious player,
he owned part of a chemical rendering company and ran most of the
casinos in the greater seattle area. Maybe he would give me a job
working security or something, decisions.
“well, thanks for the info pal.” I smiled and squeezed down on him,
three quick muzzle flashes, BLAM, BLAM, BLAM!!! His head exploded,
red tapioca splattered across the walkway. I walked back to the room
stepping over the two crumpled bodies. Slid the key into the door and
swung it open. The shower was still going. I moved to the bathroom
door, it was locked, I pounded on it…no response. I stepped back and
kicked the door next to knob, it splintered open swinging on its
hinges and smacked into the side of the tub. A high pitched yelp came
from behind the shower curtain. The pink gun was on a white towel
next to the sink. I picked it up and slid it under my belt in the
small of my back. I screamed at him through plastic curtain. “I told
you to keep this with you, what if I was here to kill you, what would
you do!” A hand appeared moving the curtain aside, his head peaked
out. “I didn’t expect anyone….I just…”
I cut him off. “You’re an idiot, you hired me because I know things
that you don’t…You’re an idiot!!!” This guy made me sick, half of me
just wanted to waste him right now and drag his carcass in for the
quick cash. “Get dressed and lets go, you have twenty seconds to be
in the car and you don’t have time to dry off!” I grabbed his pants
from the floor and threw them at his face, the belt buckle smacked him
in the nose, the legs wrapped over his wet shoulders he flailed his
hands. I walked out shaking my head, went back out through the door,
around the dead bodies and into my car, disarming it with a
thumbprint. The old man was still in the back room (probably) and the
Russians hadn’t shown up yet. I plugged in, revved the engine and
ejected the half empty clip of the machine pistol. I grabbed another
from a tin box under my seat and slid it into the handle, it locked in
place with a click, I chambered it, left the safety off and tucked it
back into its shoulder holster. I moved the pink pistol to the front
of my belt, shoved neatly behind my belt buckle. Mr. cash (Dennis
actually) appeared in the door of the room, saw the two bodies and
cover his mouth like a girl stifling a squeal. His hair was oily wet
and his clothes had dark spots of moisture seeping through. I was
just kidding about not having time to dry. The corpses got him
moving, he ran to the car, the door slid open to meet him, his body
spilled into the seat. “Please clear all obstructions from the
frame…” the cars feminine voice whispered as he pulled his foot in.
The door slammed.
We pulled out of the parking lot, wheels crunched on aluminum cans
and broken bottle glass. The Warsaw inn was getting smaller in the
rearview mirror, a couple of tan four door’s rolled into the alley
behind the Inn, probably the Russians, we sped up and they disappeared
from my view before I could see how many or who they really were. I
wasn’t interested in making new friends tonight.

What’s the only thing that separates predator from prey. With

animals they use what they were born with, the ones born with sharp
teeth eat the ones with flat teeth. Humans are all born with the same
genetic tools but some of us eat the other ones. What do I have that
enables me to dominate Mr. Cash, to choose whether or not he lives
through the night.

My eyes stayed focused on the road in front of me, the broken lines
turning solid, the tires making a smooth humming sound as they roll
across the pavement. I glanced over at Mr. Cash, his hair slicked
back, soggy shirt, he looked like a small animal that had been pulled
from a river moments before it drowned.
My Phone started vibrating, I pulled it out of my pants pocket, The
number showed up as unlisted, I turned the vid screen off, and
switched on the voice augmenter. “yeah?”
“It’s me, I took care of your kids for you.”
“Both of them huh?” I thought I blew that guys chest out pretty good.
“Well, the girls ok, her boyfriend didn’t make it out of the shop so I
just incinerated him on the scene, no evidence, gave him last rights,
I won’t charge extra for that.”
“How long before she walks on her own.”
“Two months, I can keep her here.”
“Whats the charge.”
“I might have a little yard work for you to do.”
“What kind of yard work?”
“A little weeding, maybe run down and pick me up a few bags of topsoil.”
“Whatever, I’m in the middle of something so Ill give you a call as
soon as I’m free.”
“Fine, bye.” The phone disconnected..BUY PEPS.. click. I could have
the ads taken off my phone but I didn’t feel like paying the extra
money, money was tight right now.
" Ok dennis.." he jerked his head around at the sound of his name.
“How did you know my name?”
“well, apparently everybody with an E-mail address knows your real
name, you are what we call a marked man, bigtime.” I told him about
the two guys from Johnny Toronto and that my fee would be going up.
“How much do you think you need?”
“Ten million.”
“That’s ridiculous, No way!!” I triggered the brake, his body flew
forward crushing his sternum into the dashboard, his forehead thumped
against the windshield tweaking his neck at a painful angle. The Audi
slumped back into a full stop. “Fine, get out.”
“No!!” I grabbed the pink pistol from my waist band and shoved it into
his ribs. “Out.” He squirmed a little as I dug the barrel in. “But,
we had a deal?”
“Right, we HAD a deal, you lied, I took the contract under false
pretenses, I would have never agreed if I knew I had to fight every
runner in the city, somebody stapled a million dollar golden ticket to
your face so get out or pay up.”
“Fine, okay okay, just put the gun away!” I did. The car pulled
forward, slowly building back up to the speed limit. I kept heading
south, away from seattle. “Our next stop is the downtown L.A. Tokyo
international Bank, we’re getting the cash, hopefully your reputation
hasn’t traveled all the way to California.”

Chapter 3…The bank….

We stopped for fuel three times, ate beef jerky and washed nachos down
with 64 ounce cola’s. I wasn’t wanted by the legitimate guys and the
illegitimate ones didn’t know what kind of car I was driving so the
ride was uninterrupted. We didn’t talk much, just information, I’m
hungry, I have to pee, You missed the exit, I didn’t miss the exit you
smarmy little white collar vomit stain, that sort of thing.
California was hot this time of year, L.A. had seven suspended
highways, city crews were constantly repairing or constructing new
roads. There was probably more street than building. The traffic
never stopped, it was like a living beast, it would swell to capacity,
tense and bloated, then relax and spread itself out after the days
gorging. Right now it was Midday, I hadn’t slept in 50 hours or
showered, my chemical regulator implants kept me awake, I could
operate at full capacity for fourteen days before complete collapse,
the systems would just shut off leaving my body to restore itself. It
would happen suddenly, one second I would be up and fireing all
chambers, then fatigue would rush over my body like an injection of
heroin, crumpling in on myself like a collapsing star. I would need
three days of sleep at that point. I’ve never gone that long before
but its nice to know I could. The longest I’ve ever pushed it was a
week. I slept for 38 hours after that one.
We pulled into the fuel station across the street from the bank in
downtown L.A., I wedged the Audi in between a red truck and a grey
station wagon. I got out first, took a quick look around and waved
him out. Our doors slid shut automatically. I talked as we stood at
the cross walk waiting for the light to change, cars flew bye like
schools of fish, it was 6 am and busy.
“Listen, I’m armed so I can’t go in the bank with you, Ill just wait
outside and make sure no one tries to ice you on the way out, the
guards in there won’t protect you once you leave the building but
they’ll take care of you while your in there.”
“Okay, what do I put all the cash in?”
“just ask them for a suitcase or something, your pulling out 10
million so they should offer you something.” He nodded.
We crossed the street weeding through the foot traffic, most of the
people were going the opposite way, I tried to get a look at everyone
in the vicinity but it was impossible, there could be a killer with an
assault rifle shoved under a trench coat ten feet from me, just too
many people. I would have preferred a more obscure bank branch to use
but since the first of the year this is the only place that deals
offers cash withdrawls, their famous for large transfers and
anonymity, sort of what an offshore account meant fifty years ago.
I stopped at the corner of the bank, the entrance was in view,
there were three panoramic cameras on the top of the revolving door
and I could see two obviously armed guards just inside the dark glass.
Their submachine guns hung low from red leather straps that looped
over their shoulders. The heavy combat armor was obviously tailored,
their companies logo on the left chest and dark visor helmets hiding
their faces. This place didn’t care about intimidating customers,
they figured anyone who had business here would probably feel safe
with these juggernauts around. And anyone who didn’t have business
deserved to feel intimidated for being such a pathetic broke chump.
My guess was there were more inside. I waited at the corner while he
went in, the guards followed his movement with their faceless heads as
he walked through their scanner. I lost him after that, I could only
see a few feet inside the building past the tinted windows. I waited
and looked at cars, first the parked ones on the street, looking for
any passengers or visible weapons, it was almost a lost cause, the
people just kept streaming by in herds, blurs of designer clothes,
brief cases, charcoal suits, punks carrying their skateboards,
thousand dollar watches next to homeless guys looking for spare bus
money.
Any one of these people could be a threat. I just had to hope that I
was fast enough if and when the action started. Hopefully we could
just get the money and disappear, drive quietly into the sweltering
stop and go sunset, hopefully. Three minutes had gone bye, three
minutes. I glanced at the car, it was fine, just sitting there,
waiting for me, waiting for mr. cash. The gaurds seemed bored, The
people seemed bored, the traffic seemed bored. Seven minutes gone bye,
the suits blended like ants, walking in wavy lines following the one
in front of them trusting that whoever that person is following knows
where the food is, or maybe the one after that does. Man its hot, the
concrete reflects… Finally Mr. Cash walked out of the bank after nine
minutes. A black hard shelled brief case in his left hand, his
shoulders tilted, pulled down slightly by the weight of all that
effing money. I scanned around like crazy, whoever kills us now gets
the bounty and the briefcase, cha-ching. Cha-suck. I stepped into the
crowd, moving with the flow alongside mr. Cash and his briefcase of
retirement. We crossed the street together with the light, I hit the
remote and popped the locks as we came up to the car. We slid inside
and were safely drifting into the slow line of midday traffic within
seconds.
“so how did it go?” I asked.
“oh fine, they were pretty good about everything, I guess I was the
only first timer in there.”
“How much did you pull out?”
“All of it”
“All ten million”
“No, all of it.”
“you mean, twenty million, you have twenty million in that little briefcase?”
“yup, 10,000 dollar bills”
“That’s retarded”
“I know”
“good luck getting change for one of those”
He put his thumb over the black reader next to the handle, the locks
released with a “snick”. He opened it just enough for a peak.
I glanced down, a surge of greed pumped through me.
“I’ve never seen that much cash before, not even on T.V.” I turned
back to the road as he closed it back up.
“well I just hope you can keep me alive long enough for us to enjoy
it.” he said.
“Your safe with me buddy, just flash me that briefcase every twenty
minutes or so to keep me motivated.”

CHAPTER 4…the heck out of Dodge….

There was nowhere to go, everyone in the underworld would know us,

the price on our heads was astronomical, almost a record. I don’t
think I have any friends that wouldn’t ice me for a million bucks. We
had twenty million though, so we just need to find someone who is
really greedy. We also need to ditch this car.
The traffic thinned as we followed it out of town. We had to stay
moving, no stops, no contact with people. The light shifted into
darkness as we drove along the last interstate highway. I’ve never
followed it past L.A., wasn’t much out here, a few small towns planted
every hundred miles. They got dirtier and more dangerous the farther
south you went. They sold gas, booze, and didn’t check ID for motels.
Law enforcement was non existent. The corporations only funded
street security for the big cities, anything outside of the limits was
open country. No real jobs, lots of dope cooks, weapon caches, and
hideouts for gangs, terrorists, or anyone with a mark on their heads.
Some of these so called “merc towns” used to get out of hand, the
corps would air strike them, lay down a few tons of napalm to quiet
the ruckus. The press found out about a couple incidents and tried to
raise public outcry to get ratings but no one cared. These places
still operate but staying off the radar is essential to their
survival. Usually whoever has the biggest stake in the town will take
responsibility for peacekeeping as well. Your welcome to join the fun
just don’t bring any heat to the village. I was hoping we could get
far enough away that word wouldn’t have traveled that far.
We made as few stops as possible, gas and food happened at the same
time. We pissed on the side of the road. After thirty hours I was
ready for a nap, even with the implants I was stretching it thin. We
needed to get somewhere safe, once I turned the accelerants off I
would crash. There was a town coming up, A sign that read “now
entering DEATH RATTLE” appeared and disappeared behind us. I could
see some red brake lights under a neon sign that said “Big Fat Dan’s”
only the G wasn’t lit up so it looked like “Bi Fat Dan’s”. There
were some other buildings, none that were open. I parked on the side
of Dan’s, pulling in close to a pair of rusted out oil drums that were
being used as garbage cans. One was brimming full of fry grease. Mr.
Cash was asleep, his head resting on the seat belt, mouth open but not
drooling even though it looked like he should be. Maybe he was
dehydrated from all the pop and jerky. I carefully gripped the barrel
of the pink pistol that sat loosely in his left hand and slid it out
from under his trigger finger. I set it on the floor at his feet and
elbowed him awake. He jerked, inhaled quickly, and looked over at me,
his eyes were trying to focus “Are we there?” he asked.
“Sort of, look, I’m going into this bar to see if we can get a room
somewhere, Just stay in here, if you want you can get out and stretch
your legs just don’t go farther than an arms length from the car and
keep the pistol in your belt. Ill be right back.”
“okay but..” I cut him off by pointing my finger at his face, he
blinked. “No-buts, don’t-go-anywhere” I emphasized each word with a
poke on his forehead. “fine” he said.
“good” I said as I swung my legs out onto the gravel, I got out and
slammed the door shut. I hadn’t realized my left foot was asleep
until just now, blood rushed back in prickling the inside of my skin.
I shook it off and rounded the corner, the door was blue but the red
neon light above made it look green. I could hear country music
coming from under it. I went inside, the place wasn’t crowded, three
men huddled around a table in the corner sharing a plastic bottle of
unmarked booze. The bar was nailed together out of what was left from
three broken bookcases and a computer desk. The bartender was putting
a bottle of the unmarked booze back on the unpainted plywood shelves
behind him. His gut peaked out from under a stained white shirt and
bulged uncomfortably over his belt buckle. A red mark was showing
were the metal rubbed skin. All the booze on the shelves were in the
same old water bottles with their original labels ripped off. I
raised my two fingers, signaling for a drink as I made my way to the
bar.
“what flavor?” the bartender asked as he pointed to three jugs of snow
cone syrup.
“red”
He held my drink under the nozzle and gave it a pump, red syrup
squirted into the clear liquid, floating around the sides like a lava
lamp. He dropped a straw in and placed it in front of me.
“Ten bucks.” he said.
I spread a few crumpled bills from my pocket onto the bar, found a
ten, slid it forward, and shoved the remaining cash back into my coat.
I shouldn’t be spending any of our small denominations, we were rich
but 10,000 dollar bills were hard to use, most places wouldn’t even
break a hundred.

to be continued…

ice cream noir

killmore99

Joined February 2008

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cyber punk, action

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