Monday, September 18, 2017

(10) When all else is lost the future still remains



Mid-morning of the next day, at Shan’s insistence, Race had gone to collect what little he owned from the two spots he’d called ‘home’ for the last couple of years. He’d always considered himself lucky that no one had hassled him at either place, or stolen any of his meager belongings, which amounted to one battered backpack crammed full of stuff—all he had to show for his life on the streets.

He headed back to Shan’s later in the afternoon, wondering how soon it would be before he ended up out on his ass again, searching for a new spot to call his own. He knew good and well that the two squats he’d been using would be snapped up within days by other unfortunate kids needing a safe place to bed down.

As he walked the narrow path along the edge of the river he got the creepy feeling that he was being observed. It came from the sort of sixth sense any long-term denizen of the streets developed in order to avoid cops and other predators. Clambering up the grassy bank to the sidewalk above, he shaded his eyes, searching for the source of his nervousness. There were plenty of people around, as he was fairly close to tourist section of the city, but none who seemed the least bit interested in him.

Adjusting the pack on his shoulders, he joined the flow of pedestrians along the walkway leading to Riverwalk and the Aquarium. A few minutes later he was sitting on one of the benches between Jackson Park and the Cathedral, trying to look like nothing more than a wore-out tourist taking a break. With the shadows lengthening as the sun began to go down, he decided he’d better keep going before Shan began to worry, presuming of course that he would.

As he stretched and started to get up, he again had the sense of being watched. Casually he looked around. He was about to give it up as before, thinking it was just nerves, when he caught sight of someone standing in Pirate’s Alley deep in the shade of the Cathedral wall. He might have thought nothing of it but the person, a man from his height and build, was wearing a long coat that reminded him of the one the guy who had hired him had worn.

Now why are you following me, if you are. You know perfectly well where Shan lives so you can’t be trying to find that out. He started walking slowly down Chartres in the opposite direction from Shan’s place, dodging tourists while using them to cover him as he checked shop windows to see if the man was behind him. At first he though he was in the clear, then he saw the man’s silhouette in the last light of the sun on the horizon. 

Turning the next corner onto one of the side streets, Race ducked through the first open door he saw, finding himself in a small knick-knack shop. The cluttered aisles gave him a perfect hiding place, while allowing him to watch the window. Moments later he saw the man pass by. Race waited for several minutes, toying with the ubiquitous strands of beads that almost every shop in the Quarter carried, and then cautiously he left, retracing his steps back toward the Cathedral and from there he hurried on to Shan’s home.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (10)

"Just because I'm a one-man operation doesn't mean I don’t call in help when I need to," Vic said. "Well, unless doing so means breaking my confidentiality agreement with a client. Of course, if I find out my client is doing something illegal and is using me to further their ends then all bets are off."
Evan chuckled. "Now I'm picturing you in a dingy office in one of the older downtown buildings—a battered desk, a coat-tree in one corner where you hang your fedora."
Laughing, Vic shook his head as they went back inside. "I'm really very up-to-date. I've got a nice office, computers, modern furniture, and a receptionist. I've even been known to wear a suit and tie when meeting with prospective clients."
"So did Sam Spade, at least in the movies."
"That was in the forties. Everyone did, back then."
"True," Evan agreed. Changing the subject, he set the gun down on the kitchen table, asking, "What do we do with this? Do you know how to lift fingerprints? And even if you do, what good will it do us?"
"I can, but obviously not here. I don't have what I need. At the moment though, that's beside the point. Whoever tried to break in must have been looking for me, which means I definitely need to get out of here before they try again."
"You're jumping to conclusions. How would they know you were here? I mean, here specifically. Yeah they lost you somewhere in the neighborhood but…"
"You think they were going to break into every house on the block to check? No. Somehow they narrowed it down to this house. Maybe they came back earlier today and found something. I wasn't exactly in the best shape when I got away from them. By the time I got to your yard, I'd already fallen a couple of times and I crawled across it to where you found me."
"Then why the hell did they leave? They did start to open the window."
"Instinct, maybe. Or they heard us coming. Maybe they had someone watching the back of the house and he saw you come out. There could be a hundred reasons." Vic sighed as he sat down. "Whatever it was, you can bet they'll be back again and next time, they might come in guns blazing."
"Why didn't they this time?"
"Damn it, Evan, I'm not a mind reader. How the hell would I know?"
"Sorry," Evan muttered.
"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bitten your head off. I'm tense. I hurt. I'm worried that I've put you in jeopardy by being here. So, as I said, I should go."
"That won't stop them. If they see you leave, they'll follow you." Evan frowned. "You know, that could be exactly what they had in mind. Make it look like they were breaking in to force your hand and get you out where they can grab you again."
"Possible… I guess." Vic leaned back, staring off into space. "If that is why, and I do leave…"
"They beat the shit out of you again."
"No, maybe this time they take me to their boss and then I find out who's behind the blackmail."
"And end up dead in the process, which is sort of counterproductive."
"I can take care of myself," Vic grumbled.
"Yeah, I saw how well you did that."
"I'll be prepared."
"Vic, right now you couldn't take down a baby in a fair fight and you know it. It's been less than twenty-four hours since they beat you up. If it weren't for the pills, you'd be in a hell of a lot more pain than you are. So do not think you could handle—anything."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meet 'The Runaway and the Enforcer'. Out today!

The Runaway and the Enforcer
 
Beau, thirty-five, is a gangland enforcer who has gone into hiding rather than following the orders of his boss, Mercer, to harm a rival's kid. Now, all Beau wants to do is eliminate Mercer before getting out of town.

When Rick, an eighteen-year-old denizen of the streets, witnesses Beau killing one of Mercer's men who has found him, Beau takes Rick under his wing instead of killing him, as well. He offers Rick a place to stay while he figures out how to put his plan to take Mercer out into action -- without ending up dead himself.

Befriending Rick is an act Beau may come to regret. Rick convinces Beau to take him along when he leaves town -- thus working his way into Beau's dangerous life on the run -- and perhaps, into his heart, if Beau can come to grips with the fact that Rick is half his age.

Note: This story contains scenes of graphic violence.

EXCERPT:
    Resting his elbows on the table, Rick stared at Beau, asking, "Why are you in hiding, and from who?"

    "Whom," Beau replied with a trace of a smile, getting a raised finger from Rick in return.

    "Well?" Rick said when Beau remained silent.

    "I refused to do something my boss ordered me to. He took umbrage with that and decided I was a loose cannon who had to be eliminated."

    Rick nodded slowly. "Who did he want you to kill?"

    "Kid, you're too smart for your own good."

    "But I'm right, aren't I?" Rick leaned back, looking hard at Beau. "That's what you do. You kill people."

    "If I said yes, would you pack up and leave?"

    "I saw you kill that guy last night, and I came home with you."

    "That doesn't answer the question. As far as you were concerned, you put it down to self-defense, which, to a certain extent, it was. Him, or me, and I like living."

    Rick got up to pace the living room. He stopped to peer out the window for a moment. Then he turned to ask, "Good guys, or bad guys?"

    "Competitors, mostly. Sometimes our people," Beau responded, understanding what he meant.

    "So people from another ... gang? The Mob? Whatever you want to call it?"

    "Yes."

    "And you're okay with that?"

    Beau nodded. "It's a job. It pays well. And I'm protected, or I was. There's no way the cops could get to me, because I was always alibied."

    "If they did, you'd sit in jail until your boss's high-powered lawyer got you out."

    "It's been known to happen. Not to me, but to guys I work with."

    "Doesn't it bother you, at least a little bit, that you're hurting or killing people?"

    "They're our competition," Beau replied.

    "You don't go after normal citizens, or cops?"

    "First off, killing a cop would be stupid. They don't stop looking for the killer when that happens, which makes things harder for everyone, us and the other guys doing what we do."

    "And civilians?"

    "In my defense, for what it's worth, I haven't killed any, and I wouldn't."

    "What if you were ordered to deal with, oh, I don't know, the wife or kid of one of your competitors, to teach the guy a lesson?"

    Beau tapped his fingers together. "That's why I'm sitting in a rented, furnished apartment, instead of in the nice house I own halfway across the city."

    Rick smiled. "So you do have some morals."

    "Damned few." Beau smiled briefly. "One of them, maybe the only one, is that I won't kill a kid, or harm one, no matter what."

    "Nice to know," Rick replied dryly, "since you seem to think I'm a kid."

    Beau chuckled. "You're under twenty-one, so in my book, you qualify."

    Rick came back to sit at the table. "Why are you here, instead of on the other side of the country?"

    "I've got something I need to do, first. And no, I'm not telling you what."

    "If this place is rented, can't they track you that way?"

    Beau snorted. "How stupid do you think I am? It's not in my name, or any name I've ever used."

    "That's good to know, I guess."

    "You don't sound too sure."

    "I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything," Rick replied. "I see a man killed, I end up hanging with his killer, then find out you're, I guess a mob enforcer?"

    "That's what my boss calls me." Beau smiled sourly. "Among other things, now, I'm sure."

    "I can think of several things to call him, if he wanted you to kill a kid," Rick said angrily. "Like a little kid?"

    Beau shook his head. "Not kill. Beat up. And he was sixteen. His father wanted to go off on his own. My boss didn't like that."

    "And you refused?"

    "For what it's worth, yeah. And that's all I'm saying on the subject. The less you know, the better -- for both of us."

    Rick frowned. "What if he sent someone else to do it, since you wouldn't?"

    "The kid's safe, now. I dropped a hint that it might be a good idea if he vanished."

    "That must have pissed your boss off."

    "No shit."

    "So, you vanished, too. But not so well, since that guy found you last night."

 
 

(9) When all else is lost the future still remains



A few hours later, once Race had chosen a room, settled in and gone to bed, Shan made a phone call.

“Addie,” he said when she answered, “I may have a problem.”

“May?” she replied and he could envision her eyebrow cocking up in question.

“Alright, probably do. A message was delivered to me a few hours ago. It said, ‘Bang, bang, you’re dead’.”

There was a long, drawn out pause before she asked, “How was it delivered.” He could tell she gone immediately into ‘investigator’ mode.

“A young man brought it. A street kid, though he’s hardly a kid. And before you ask, no he couldn’t give me any real description of the man who paid him; just that he was tall and dark-haired.”

“You’re certain this kid was telling you the truth about that?”

Shan chuckled. “Certain enough that he’s now sleeping in one of my bedrooms.”

“Shan! Damn it. You’ve got some punk off the streets living in your house?”

“I do, but he’s different Addie. Special. He can sense us even though he can’t tell what kind of, as he puts it, ‘non-human’ we are. And, so he says, he can also tell if people are good or evil.”

Shan heard a tapping sound and knew it was Addie’s fingernail on the phone as she thought about what he’d said. “When do I get to meet him?” she finally inquired.

“Tomorrow night if you want, assuming he doesn’t cut and run come morning after he’s had time to think about things.”

“Does he know about me and if so did you tell him what I am?”

“He knows who you are; he saw the pictures in my office. But I didn’t tell him you were a vampire.”

“Good. Alright, now for that message, do you have any thoughts on who sent it?”

“Not really. We can rule out anyone blonde which narrows the field by one.”

Addie agreed. “That one is, let’s pray, gone forever now. One option is someone from the King, although why he’d target you instead of me would be the question.”

“And why warn me ahead of time. If he wanted me dead he’d just send a couple or ten of his minions after me.”

Addie laughed. “It would take ten and even then I think you’d win. But still, let’s not rule him out. He could be threatening you knowing that you’d let me know about it.”

“Good point. And honestly I can’t think of anyone else who hates me enough to play games. There are a couple who wouldn’t mind seeing me dead but they don’t know what I am so they’d just send a shooter if they wanted me eliminated.”

“Think about it Shan and make a list. We can go over it tomorrow night.”

“Will do. See you, when, around eight?”

“That works.” She blew out a breath. “Come and get me, just in case whoever sent the message is watching your house.”

“Got it, and good point. Later Addie.”

“Night Shan.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

(8) When all else is lost the future still remains



“From the outside you wouldn’t think this place was so big,” Race commented when Shan had finished showing him ground floor.

“Looks can be deceiving, in houses and in people.” When they got to the second floor he pointed the door at the top of the stairs. “That’s my room. There’s two more bedrooms as I said, plus one I turned into my computer room slash office. You play games?”

“I used to,” Race acknowledged. He chuckled, adding, “I haven’t really had a chance to in the last few years.”

“Come on, I’ll show you what I have and set you up.” The grin on Shan’s face said this was something he was eager to do. “You get good enough and I’ll challenge you, and beat you.”

“Hey I was pretty good, if you mean those on-line games.” Race grinned back as he followed Shan into the office. “Wow, that’s quite a setup you have there.”

“Yep. Game playing helps take my mind off of things at times.”

Looking around, Race saw some photos on one wall and went over to check them out. “Friends or family?” he asked, looking at one of a beautiful woman standing arm in arm with a good looking man, two young children in front of them.

“Friends.” Shan saw which one had caught his attention. “That’s Addie. Sometime soon you’ll probably meet her.”

Race nodded as he scanned the rest. One of them stood out like the centerpiece of the collection. It showed Shan with his arm around another man. The looks on their faces said they might be more than just friends. Then Race frowned as he looked at the photo with the woman Shan had called Addie. “Who is the man?”

Shan came to stand beside him. “The one with Addie was her lover. And before you get the wrong idea, the man in the picture with me was his twin brother.” There was a deep sorrow in Shan’s voice that Race picked up on immediately.

“Was, as in they’re…dead,” Race asked softly.

Shan nodded. “Of all the people in these pictures, Addie and I are the only ones left. Sometime, maybe, I’ll tell you about them.” He studied the face of the man in the photo with him, touched it gently with one fingertip, and then turned away. “Come on; let me show you what’s what on the computer.”

Race watched him cross the room, sorrow and pain limning his demeanor, and wished there was something he could do to help alleviate it. Then he shook his head. He was here because the man, for some reason, had decided he trusted him. He wasn’t going to do anything to betray that. Even though, if he was going to be honest with himself, he found Shan extremely fascinating in more ways than just the fact that he was the first Were he’d ever met. He walked over to stand behind Shan, observing what he was doing.

Shan looked up at him and smiled slightly. “I’m fine, so stop worrying. Now, I’m going to…”

He went on to explain as Race watched, all the while wondering if he really was ‘fine’ as he put it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

(7) When all else is lost the future still remains



Resting his elbows on the table, Shan looked at Race seriously, asking, “Where would you go if you had your choice?”

“I don’t know,” Race replied slowly. “I’ve never been anywhere but here. There’s a whole world outside the city I’ve never seen.”

“So pick a place.”

“Umm, Baton Rouge?”

“Race you could drive there. Besides its pretty dull.” And not all that safe at the moment.  “Be daring.”

“The moon,” Race told him with a grin.

Shan laughed. “That’s a bit beyond even my powers to reach.”

“Figured. I don’t know, honest. I’d love to visit England, Italy, the mountains, the north-east, there are so many places. Maybe someday I will,” he said wistfully. “Right now though, let me do the dishes since you cooked, and then I’ll be on my way.”

“Where to? Behind some dumpster or in some squat somewhere?”

“Not behind a dumpster, that’s gross. I’ve got a couple of places I use that are safe enough.” Getting up he started clearing the table.

Shan watched him for a moment then made a decision. “You’re welcome to stay here, for the time being at least. I’ve got the room and two extra bedrooms.”

Race spun around to look at him. “You don’t even know me. I could rob you blind and then disappear, or worse yet kill you in your sleep because as far as you know that could be the real reason that man sent me here.”

Shan roared in laughter. “Race you couldn’t kill me even if you tried, and you said you can’t be compelled by anyone so I don’t think he’s planted you here to do that. As for robbing me,” he shrugged, “there isn’t anything here that can’t be replaced so if you have that in mind, have at it.”

“I don’t,” Race replied sincerely.

“Didn’t think so. Look, as I said, I’ve got the room so you’re welcome to stay. No strings attached.”

Race chewed his lip then nodded slowly. “If you’re sure.”

“I am. Come on I’ll show you round the place and you can pick which room you want to use.”

Sunday, September 10, 2017

(6) When all else is lost the future still remains



“The last decent meal I had was, damn, a couple of months ago if you don’t count the parts of steaks and such that the restaurants toss in dumpsters.” Race stood uneasily in the center of the kitchen as he answered, uncertain what he should be doing, or not doing.

Shan sensed his discomfort and said, “Either sit or get over here and help. Okay?”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Plates and such are up there.” Shan nodded towards the cupboards. “Silverware’s in the second drawer down.”

“Set the table in other words. That I can handle.” Race stopped at the sink first to wash his hands.

“Hope you like lasagna. I have a half a one left over from a couple of nights ago. It just needs nuking.” As he talked Shan took the glass container from the fridge, putting it in the huge microwave that sat on one end of the counter. “You do salads?”

“Eat them, sure. I’m not so hot at fixing them though.”

“Fixing’s easy. You chop up some lettuce, toss it on a plate and add dressing. Like so.” Shan demonstrated.

Race snorted in amusement. “Not quite restaurant quality but it works for me.”

Soon enough everything was on the table and the two men sat down to eat.

“Can I ask something?” Race said once he’d made a fair dent in his meal.

“Can and may. What do you want to know?”

“Why do you live in the heart of the city? I mean seems to me you’d want to be out somewhere where you can run.”

A shadow crossed Shan’s face before he replied. “I live as a human, Race. This is where my business and my friends are these days. When I feel to need to connect with my Were side I teleport out to the bayou, or just about anywhere else I want to be depending on my mood.”

“Whoa. Just like that you can be here one minute and somewhere else the next? Wish I could do that.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (9)



Paddy knew the moment trouble arrived, even before Evan's comment. But then, that was his job. He left the house with Dom right behind him, heading to one of the windows on the north side.
"Not the brightest bulbs in the pack," Dom commented, as they moved in on the pair of men who were just inching the window up.
"Or they have no clue who owns the house and what he does," Paddy replied. He walked silently up behind the larger of the men, which considering what Paddy was, was no problem. He never made noise when he moved, unless he wanted to. At the moment, he didn't. He grinned when he saw the man was carrying a gun tucked into the back of his waistband. Sorry to do this to you. Not. He pulled the gun free and hit the man sharply on the temple, smiling wickedly when he collapsed on the ground without making a sound. Tossing the gun into the shadows under a low bush beneath the window, he turned to check on Dom.
Dom had been more subtle. He'd wrapped his arm around the other man's throat until he passed out from lack of air.
"Leave them here?"
"Nope, but we have to move fast," Paddy replied, hearing footsteps approaching from both inside and outside the house. "The garage." Instantly the angels and their two captives were gone. As soon as they were in Evan's garage, Paddy dropped his prisoner. "We need somewhere better to hide them while we have a long heart-to-heart about who hired them."
"I saw a house at the end of the block with a 'For Sale' sign."
"That should work, but let me check it out." Paddy left their captives in Dom's capable hands while he went to scout out the house. When he returned, he said, "It'll do."
Transporting the men there only took a couple of moments, which was a good thing, as the one Dom had choked was beginning to regain consciousness.
"Restraints?"
"No problem." Paddy stripped his man of his shirt, tore it into strips and used it to bind his arms and legs. With what was left, he gagged him. Dom got the picture and did the same with his guy.
Then they set to work.

* * * *

"It's obvious someone was here. Why the hell did they run?" Evan asked, when Vic joined him outside.
"Especially since at least one of them was armed," Vic said, pointing to a pistol barely visible under the bush by the window.
Evan bent to pick it up with his fingertips, being careful to hold it by the barrel. "In case there's fingerprints," he said.
"Planning on calling in the cops?"
Evan glanced at Vic. "We should, but no. I get you'd rather keep this between the two of us for now."
"Yeah, since one of the men who might be the blackmailer is a police detective with strong ties to the NRA."
"Ah, finally an explanation for your reluctance to involve them."
Vic smiled slightly. "You thought I was trying to play Lone Ranger?"
"Once I decided you weren't a wanted criminal—yes."

Friday, September 8, 2017

(5) When all else is lost the future still remains



“I take it I’m not the first non-human you’ve run into,” Shan commented.

“Nope. I ran into a vampire believe it or not. I think I scared him as much as he scared me. He grabbed me and tried to put me under his power so he could feed.”

“Tried to? But he couldn’t? You’re getting more interesting by the minute Race.”

“Apparently a positive side effect to all this. Whatever’s fucked up in my brain keeps me from being mesmerized.” Race chuckled wryly. “The vampire and I parted ways without his getting to feed, but I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone I’d run into him. He was actually fairly harmless as vampires go, or at least he wasn’t vicious like the ones in the movies.”

“A lot of them aren’t.”

“You know some?” Race looked at him in shock and then chuckled. “I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise given what you are.”

“I’ve known several. Some are beautiful creatures who just happen to need blood to survive, others are truly evil, and the rest run the gamut between those two extremes. Just as with humans, there are the good, the bad, and the ones who should have been destroyed at birth.”

Race leaned back, looking at Shan. “And you’ve met all those kinds, human and non-human. How old are you anyway?”

“Twenty-nine,” Shan replied with a laugh. “At least I hope I don’t look older than that. In actuality I’m just over two hundred.”

“Whew.” Race whistled in surprise. “How does that work? You’re just born to age slowly?”

“It’s comes from shifting. Every time a Were shifts they regenerate, as well as heal from any wounds they might have sustained. It keeps us young and handsome.”

“No ego there,” Race muttered. Then something occurred to him. “You said whoever sent the message could be after you because of what you do for a living.”

“One possibility. I’m a security specialist, both for setting up security systems and protecting clients when needs be. I’ve made a few enemies in the process.”

“And whoever that man was could be one of them. Can I be nosy and ask what the message was? You can tell me to mind my own business if you want to.”

Laughing, Shan said, “I think we’re sort of past that at this point. It was short and not so sweet. ‘Bang, bang, you’re dead’.”

Race snorted. “How original, not.”

“Not everyone who might want my hide is a genius by any means.” Shan frowned. “Just some of them.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Right now? I’m going to fix supper. Are you hungry?”

“I could eat, yeah.”

“When was the last time you had a decent meal,” Shan asked as he stood up. Beckoning for Race to join him he headed to the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

(4) When all else is lost the future still remains



Shan looked at Race and then changed the subject by asking, “Why are you living on the streets?”

“'Cause I have no home?” Race glanced away from the intensity of Shan’s stare.

“I think I could have figured that part out for myself. No family or they don’t want you around for some reason?”

“Let’s just say we had a strong difference of opinion about something and I chose to leave before they kicked me out.”

“Drugs, school or men?”

Race chewed his lip before answering. “Men, but what made you think that could have been it?”

“Instinct and knowing people. You didn’t say you were abused, so the odds were it was one of those. I almost ruled out drugs because you don’t come across as a druggie. On the other hand that could explain why you’re still on the streets at your age.”

“I’m on the streets because of the whole touching thing. It’s hard to keep a job when I might freeze or freak because of something I find out about a person.”

“So you can read more than whether or not they’re human?”

“Yeah.” Race sighed. “I can tell if they’re good people or bastards or really evil.”

Shan nodded slowly. “That could sort of throw a spanner in the works if you’re a waiter or a clerk or some such. How long have you been able to do this?”

“It started when I was seventeen. I was in an accident, went head on into a wall off my board, trying to miss some kid who raced onto the sidewalk out of nowhere. When I got out of the hospital, well even before actually, I started getting the color flashes. The doctors said that was because of the brain damage even though they couldn’t pin-point exactly why. They told me it would pass in time. It didn’t. It got stronger.”

“How did you come to the conclusion you were actually reading something true about the people you touched?”

“When it didn’t go away I tried to figure out if it meant anything, so I studied up on auras. I figured out they were the closest to what was happening with me. I learned what the colors were supposed to mean. Then I met…someone. By then I was doing my best never to touch anyone if I could help it unless I knew them well enough to know what they were like beforehand, like my folks and friends I grew up with. Anyway, there was this new guy at school and he seemed cool so I struck up a friendship with him.” Race went quiet, his face a study of varying emotions.

“And things progressed to the point where you and he wanted more than just friendship I take it,” Shan said quietly.

“Yeah, at least that’s what I thought. So one evening we were studying together and I decided I knew him well enough that it was safe to touch him. Hell I was going to do more than just touch, I wanted to kiss him. That was a big mistake. He was dark, very dark, black, muddy red and green, all indications of a very negative person even though he came across as just the opposite. I could ‘see’ his hatred, for me, for himself, for…everything. I was right because he pushed me away hard and left. Next thing I knew he was telling my folks what had happened and how disgusting it was. There was a big blow-out and I packed up and left.”

“Okay, that explains that part of things. What I’m not getting is how you can tell when someone’s not human.”

“The colors again plus I get a sense of other-worldliness for lack of a better description.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

(3) When all else is lost the future still remains



Shan watched Race as he escorted him into his home. The kid, well very young man he supposed, looked around Shan’s large and well-appointed living room with something approaching awe.

“It’s just a room, Race,” Shan chuckled as he opened the envelope Race had delivered. “Well now, this is interesting,” he commented as he read the short note it contained.

Race turned from checking out the DVDs that sat on a shelf beside the large flat-screen television at one end of the room. “A threat,” he asked.

“Now why would you presume that?”

Race shrugged. “A strange man asks someone who dumpster-dives for food to deliver it, and pays way too much to have that happen. I’d say it probably wasn’t a love note or an invitation to dinner.”

“You’re right about that. You’re certain there’s nothing you can tell me about this man?”

Frowning, Race tried to picture the man. “Well he was tall, close to as tall as you, and I think well-built. Hard to tell though because he was wearing a long coat, like those cowboy dudes in the movies.”

“A duster or long-rider coat. Okay. Hair color?”

“I think dark, but he made sure to stay in the shadows. I just got a glimpse of it when he walked out of the alley. He definitely isn’t blonde anyway.”

“Tall, well-built and darkish hair, not the best of descriptions. It could fit several people I know who might want to see me dead.”

“Several people? What the hell do you do that you have them after your hide, if you’ll pardon the term.” Race grinned slightly. “Oh, and what are you by the way or would you rather not say?”

“Makes no never mind to me. I’m a Were-leopard, among other things. I’m presuming that’s what you sensed.”

“Why just that?” Race plopped down on the long leather sofa, looking up at Shan.

“What else I am would still come across as human, I think.”

“And you’re not going to tell me what that is.”

“Not at the moment, no.”

“Is it why someone’s after you?”

“That, or what I do for a living,” Shan replied as he sat down.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (8)



Vic stared down at the table for a few long moments as if it held the answer for how he should reply to Evan. Finally he said, "The governor's race."
"That was like pulling teeth," Evan commented with a touch of a smile. "Which man? I know for a fact the present governor is in the pocket of big business, so I can see there'd be people who would love for him to withdraw. On the other hand, his opponent in the primary, Frank Marshall, is well ahead in the polls at the moment. He's running a very liberal campaign based on—among other things—gun control, legalizing pot, gay rights, and a ten-year plan to help the homeless. A threat to dirty his reputation might make him pull out of the race or have a sudden change of heart on one of the issues." Evan paused thoughtfully. "There's big money behind the anti-gun control people, and a couple of very powerful religious groups who don't want gay marriage or even civil unions in the state."
"And therein is the problem—finding out who, in which group, would be willing to resort to blackmail to get to Marshall."
"What's the basis of the blackmail?"
Vic snorted. "If he wasn't willing to go to the cops for help because he'd have to tell them, do you really think he, or the woman who hired me, would let me know?"
"Probably not. Do you have any idea if his wife knows?"
"Well, I haven't walked up to her and asked. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. I do know she's strongly supports every plank in his platform, but then that's what politicians' wives do—usually."
"Could the blackmail have something to do with her?"
"Evan," Vic replied, sounding exasperated, "you're asking questions I have no answers to."
"Sorry. I get like that sometimes." He studied Vic, seeing the lines of pain as well as frustration on his face. "Why don't we go into the living room where you'll be more comfortable?"
"You just want me to stretch out, rest, and maybe fall asleep again."
"No, if I wanted that, I'd have suggested you go upstairs to bed. But it's obvious you're hurting, and sitting in here on a hard chair isn't helping at all."
"Yes, doctor," Vic replied with a small smile as he got up. He placed his hand flat on the table to steady himself, but when Evan came closer to give him some assistance, Vic shook his head. "I'm good, now that my knee's unbent." He hobbled into the living room, carefully sitting on one end of the sofa. When Evan took a seat at the other end, Vic hissed in a sharp breath as he turned too quickly so he could face him. "Damned ribs," he growled, pressing one hand to his side.
"It's going to be a while before they stop hurting."
"No kidding. This isn't the first time I've been through this."
Evan chuckled. "Do you take a lot of jobs where someone decides to beat you up?"
"I try not to, but there are times when a person resents my prying into their business and lets me know about it—physically."
"Then why do it?"
"Because I'm good at it. Normally—okay, I think I can safely say I've never taken what might be called a high-profile case until now—I'm your average PI, although I try to steer clear of the sleazy side of things, like spying on a husband or wife."
"Yet, supposedly, that's what you're doing now."
"True."
"Who knows, beside the wife of the guy you're purportedly checking up on?"
"As I told you, he knows, since he gave his consent to the plan. I'm posing as one of Marshall's campaign workers. That gives me the 'in' and a reason to be at the fundraisers and campaign stops."
"Hold that thought," Evan said quietly. He unhooked his phone from his belt, pressed a button then looked at the screen. "We have company."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

(2) When all else is lost the future still remains



Race looked at the address on the envelope and then at the one on the front of the townhouse. Somehow this wasn’t what he’d expected, considering he’d been approached in a rank alley in the center of the city by the man for whom he was delivering the message. If he’d had to have guessed, he would have figured he was looking for a warehouse or some shady business building, not a townhouse on the edge of the Quarter painted a rather appalling shade of green.  But then given that it was flanked by one painted red, and another in bright yellow with green shutters, he supposed this particular one wasn’t so bad.

Screwing up his courage, he walked up the front steps and knocked on the door. For a long minute nothing happened then he heard footsteps approaching. There was the sound of locks being undone and the door opened.

A tall, somewhat scruffy looking dark-haired man stood there, one eyebrow cocked in question. “Looking for someone?” he asked, the corner of his lip quirking in amusement as he looked down at Race.

Straightening to his full five foot ten inches, Race handed over the envelope. As his fingers touched the man’s his eyes widened in shock. He stumbled back and would have fallen down the steps if the man hadn’t caught his arm.

“Whoa up, I know I’m impressive, but I didn’t know I was scary,” the man said with a laugh.

Realizing he wouldn’t get free until the man let go, Race stared at him almost defiantly as he said, “You’re not human.”

“Very perceptive. There aren’t many who would see that.” He studied Race and the young man felt something touch his mind for a moment before pulling back. “You however are human, if enhanced for lack of a better word. How did you know and does knowing also tell you what I am?”

Race shook his head. “I just sense things sometimes when I touch people.”

“And just what did you feel?”

“Like I said, you’re not human. I get…colors. Sort of like auras but I don’t see those. Just…you are red, magenta, brown and orange all blended. That is not humanly possible.”

“And in your young life you’ve seen enough to know that?”

“Don’t put me down because of my age. I’m twenty-one, I’ve been around, a lot.” Race replied angrily. “I can’t help that I’m different than most.”

“A very interesting difference. It could be useful.” The man tapped his lips thoughtfully then realized he was still holding Race’s arm. “If I let go are you going to bolt?”

“Will you chase me down if I do?”

“No. But I’d like to talk to you more about this ability of yours. And,” he added as he looked at the envelope, “find out who sent you.”

Race considered that and nodded. “I can’t help you about the man, I didn’t see his face, but yeah, sure, we can talk. Oh, I’m Race by the way.”

Letting go of Race’s arm the man replied, “And I’m Darshan, or Shan to my friends.”

Thursday, August 31, 2017

(1) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Hey kid, how much is it worth to you to get some food that doesn’t come out of a dumpster?”

Race paused, looking over warily at the man who was talking. “Depends. Who do I have to kill?”

The man chuckled. “No one. I just need you to deliver a message for me.”

“What’s in it for me?”

“Fifty.”

“Shit, for that much I’ll deliver ten notes.”

“One’s plenty.” The man pushed off the alley wall, still keeping in the shadows as he beckoned for Race to join him.

Hesitantly Race did, staying well out of the man’s reach.

The man smiled in understanding. Taking out his wallet he pulled out a five bills, folding then in half. Then he took an envelope from his pocket. “The address is on the front,” he said, tossing it and the money on the ground in front of Race.

“How do you know I won’t just take the money and run?”

“I don’t. But if you do, your life won’t be worth jack shit.”

Race considered that for a moment before nodding. “It ain’t much of a life but I’d rather keep it.”

“Figured as much. And if anyone asks you never saw me.” The man moved away to the end of the alley. He watched as Race scooped up the money, putting it in his back pocket, and then looked at the address on the envelope. “It needs to be there within the hour,” the man called back before turning, striding the last few feet onto the sidewalk and disappearing from Race’s view.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 64



“Tell you what,” Norris said, “I’ll teach you better English and you teach me your language.”

The Chupacabra hopped up and down excitedly. ::Yes::

Turing to Daniel and Jared, Norris grinned. “I think we have a kid one here.”

Watching the Chupacabra Jared wondered if that was so. “How old are you?” he asked.

::Am…:: It paused. ::Have thirty years. Am…young::

“So they have that in common with weres. They age slower than humans,” Daniel commented.

“Oh great, so I’m going to be a babysitter,” Norris muttered.

“I think you’ll survive. It’ll give you practice for when you finally find a mate and settle down.”

“I just thought of something,” Jared said. “You’re also going to have to teach him the difference between wild prey and farm animals. He may not want to attack humans but they’ll come looking for him if he kills their livestock or a dog.”

“Very good point.” Norris turned to the Chupacabra. “Where do you sleep? Oh, and what should I call you?”

::I sleep safe. In trees. Call me Ayar-Cachi::

“How bout I just call you Ayar?” Norris thought for a moment before saying, “If you want to you can stay here. It’s not big but it has two rooms. I think the sofa would easily accommodate you.”

Ayar tilted his head. ::Sofa?::

“Come on, I’ll show you.” Norris started towards the cabin, turning back to beckon to Ayar when he didn’t follow. “Afraid?” he asked, partly taunting, partly afraid that the Chupacabra actually might be.

::No fear:: Ayar snapped, hopping after Norris.

Once the pair disappeared into the cabin Jared said, “I think our job here is done Cat Boy. Do you want to hang around for a day or two just to spend time with your brother?”

Daniel considered that and shook his head. “I think he needs to concentrate on Ayar for the time being. Besides, we have to get back and let the Council know what’s going on. Now that I know where he is I can come back any time to visit.”

“Alright. Then let’s say our good-byes and go home.

The End

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 63



“You didn’t try to fight the humans?” Jared asked.

::Had…weapons. We only have mouth, claws. Not stupid us::

Jared had the feeling that if the Chupacabra could have grinned when it said ‘not stupid’ it would have. He looked long and hard at the creature before turning to Norris and Daniel. “My inclination is to let him take refuge here if he swears he won’t attack any of the humans in the area. But that’s really up to you Norris, because we’d put you in charge of monitoring him.”

Norris chuckled. “Gee thanks. But it could work. There’s enough wildlife in the area to support both him and me, and the whole forest is legally off limits to hunters, which is one of the reasons I settled here.”

The Chupacabra obviously had been listening to the conversation because it said ::Promise not to hurt humans if they do not try to hurt me::

“You’d also have to promise not to let them see you,” Jared told him.

It nodded its head. ::Promise. Do not want to be studied like brother::

“Can’t blame you for that,” Daniel said. “I try to avoid that too, even from doctors.”

::Doctors?:: The Chupacabra looked at him quizzically.

“Humans who take care of you if you’re sick or hurt.”

::Ahh. Understand::

“So,” Jared said, getting things back on topic, “assuming the Council agrees and I don’t see why they wouldn’t, you’re welcome to stay here. You will have to check in with Norris,” Jared pointed to him, “on a regular basis, at least for a while.”

The Chupacabra nodded. ::So he knows me behave::

“Yes.”

The Chupacabra turned to Norris. ::We hunt as pair?::

“I suppose we could, sure.”

::And you teach me?:: The Chupacabra seemed to think about what he’d said. ::Not hunting. About this world here::

“I’d be glad to. If you’re going to be living here it would be a good idea for you to know what you’re getting into.”

::And to learn to speak as you do::