sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vigilante Moon (part two)

Vigilante Moon (continued)

a fictional short

The Party had rules about naming businesses. If you were a Party member, you could give your business a fancy name. If not, you could only identify the service offered. All it said on the outside of Dewey’s pawn and loan was ‘Pawn & Loan”, written on the glass window. Likewise, the restaurant next door had ‘Indian Food’ written on the glass. It misled many people because they went in expecting curry or saffron rice. Nelson Begay didn’t serve that kind of food because Nelson and his wife are feather Indians, not red-dot Indians. Speaking of which,  I told John, "I’m hungry for some of Nelson’s green chili stew and fry bread.”

I polished off the coffee, wiped out the cup and replaced it in is perch of honor, as Dewey grabbed a key to lock up the business.

Dewey and I have been eating Nelson and Mitzie Begay’s cooking for at least a decade and never tire of it. They hired a union cook years before. He never shows up for work. They pay him for not showing so the ISEU guys don’t bust up his place. It doesn’t keep them from trying to get him to hire another union worker who does a no-show. Nelson goes along to get along but he’s a solid guy. He has a small, private, pistol range in the basement of the store and only shoots when there is roadwork or a thunderstorm since firearms ownership is strictly forbidden for non-Party or non-union members. Dewey and I have a longstanding deal with Nelson and Mitzie. We don’t pay cash for food, but I bring ammunition. Nelson comes out way ahead because he trains the common people who can’t afford to buy themselves into the Party or the union, to shoot. Dewey sells pistols and I hand over the ammo that I take for free from the police department. This time I brought two boxes, twenty rounds each, of .357 Magnum riot control rounds.


When I handed Nelson the two boxes of pistol cartridges, back in the kitchen, he whistled low. “The Party authorized us to use magnum rounds with Teflon coating over a steel core for riot control because one bullet will go through two or three people, thus ultimately saving on the number of rounds we need to fire. Hollow points just take out one rioter and they feel it’s a waste.”

“Are you expecting a riot, Sergeant Mike?” 

“I’m not, Nelson, but the Party lives in fear so they’ve been stocking up with these new revolver rounds in addition to all the other equipment we have.”

While we were talking in the kitchen, Dewey started eating a burrito in the front of the house. When I walked through the door to the front of the restaurant that I saw a person who did not ‘belong’ in the neighborhood through the glass.  He gave off a vibe that was not in keeping with people who lived and worked around there. The guy was vaguely familiar and I racked my brain to figure out where I’d seen that guy before.

Before I could investigate further, two guys from the Brotherhood of International Workers walked through the door of Nelson’s Indian Restaurant. I knew both of them. Ivan Brock, a red haired man with fetal alcohol syndrome features who worked the docks as a stevedore until he moved up in the union and Greaser Morris, also a former longshoreman and even more of a thug than Ivan. 

“Ivan, Greaser.” I said in a barely civil tone.

Ivan took in my police badge with its prominent emblem of the Progressive Party and then looked at the array of weapons I carried.

Greaser just said, “They call me Todd now, not Greaser. I don’t lube pump jacks anymore.”

I ignored them. “Freddie Dill and a new guy were by here not two hours ago. The ISEU beat the BIW yet again. You union guys need to get together on who you’re leaning on and when because you’re interfering with the lawful business of the Police Department.”

Ivan and Greaser were stupid, but they did understand the system. Sergeants and above belonged to the Party, which means the money they beat out of businesses was kicked up through the department with everyone taking a taste. From there the squeeze went to the Party Leadership. Union members who interfered with the police, found themselves dropped from union rolls, forced to compete with the citizens, usually landing in jobs where labor was arduous and the compensation small. There were also recently enacted laws authorizing the police to shoot non-Party members who were interfering with “lawful business”, which meant squeeze. Both Greaser and Ivan knew that too. As union underlings, they did not belong to the party and were fair game.

Back in the days of credit cards, people came to rely on plastic over cash. Those days vanished with the political majority of the Progressive Party in Congress. Credit cards allowed one’s political rivals to count how much money went where.  They enacted a ‘fair tax’ in response to political pressure to do so, but quietly instituted the squeeze system because it netted them more profit without bothersome accountability to other politicians. I haven’t even seen a credit card in ten years, and there is scant need of them since all serious business entertains some form of barter and black market dealing. We live with it whether we like it or not. I’ve been told the Europeans still use credit cards but who knows if the reports are reliable? I haven't seen a European in a decade either.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I’m as bad as the other Party guys because I didn’t have the guts that Dewey had to tell them to shove it. As much as I might beg to differ, you’re right. 

I supervise a foot beat because I’m inept at collecting. I’m simply not a very good earner, and neither are the guys and gals who work for me. The good earners gravitate to vice, narcotics, intelligence and traffic enforcement where the big money is raked in. The elite executive protection and Party Liaison squads who protect police commanders and Party officials and provide drivers and bodyguards to the great and near great don’t have to be good earners. They simply need to be brutal. In the past year we’ve seen slots in Party Liaison go to members of the Brotherhood of International Workers and the International Service Employees Union rather than to trained and vetted police officers. One sergeant’s billet in the Public Control Bureau went to a member of the National Transportation Worker’s Local 919 last month.  

I knew Halvard Drummond from when he worked as a shop steward at Reliable Trucking. He moved directly from an army officer’s slot to the shop steward job and now he continued his career path with the police department's Civil Unrest Division. Such were the sacrifices required by the party. 

I mentioned Drummond, because it finally clicked that he, Drummond, was the person who didn’t fit in, outside the window at the Indian Restaurant. He’d been dressed up to pass for a street vagrant, but it was Drummond. The only remaining question was why he was there.

“Dewey, I saw Howard Drummond outside just a minute ago.”

“Was he wearing his army captain’s uniform, his shop steward shirt or his police Gestapo outfit?”

“Neither. He was dressed up like a bum.”

Dewey said, “That’s odd, he’s the sort of guy who likes to let you know he’s there.

I stepped out into the sunshine and looked around but I didn’t see Drummond. So, I walked out onto the street with my lunch wrapped in a tortilla forming a burrito and ate as I watched. If you never wore a badge, you won’t know what I’m talking about. Civilians walk the streets or ride on trams and don’t pay attention to the people around them. All I’ve done is watch people and where a civilian wouldn’t see anything amiss, it stands out to a cop, particularly one who walks a beat. Drummond stood out as if he wore a neon sign.

Dewey followed me a moment later. “Do you think it was Drummond, or maybe a bum that looked like Drummond?”

I stared at Dewey.

“Okay, Michael Francis Xavier Muldoon, you’re never wrong about a thing like that.”

“That’s right, I’m not.”

A bum who looked out of place stood down the street, but it wasn’t Drummond. His eyes were fixed on the Third Interstate Bank building. I crossed the street and walked over to him.

“Step into my office.”

He looked up at me. Face well shaved, plump bordering on over-fed, dark eyes in a skull framed by a raggedy, hooded parka, gerry curls drifted out next to his face.  

“Pull back the parka.” Hair styled with long, greasy ringlets.

Dewey followed me when I walked over. “What do you make of that?” He saw the same thing I did.

I pulled my electroshock blaster /stunner from its holder and twisted the charging handle. It gave off a low hum and vibrated as it powered up. You can say one thing for the Party. They like their troops to be well armed.  In addition to a conventional pistol, I carried the blaster, two conventional hand grenades, two stingball grenades, and a short sword with a sharp blade on one side and an entry blade for chopping doors down on the other.

“Break out identification,” I ordered.

“Don’t have any,” the man said. 

I put his age at somewhere between thirty and thirty-five. His  eyes darted to me, then to Dewey, then back to mine. “If he wasn’t there, I’d take you, flatfoot.”

Dewey still walked like a police sergeant, talked and behaved like a police sergeant and kept his hair spiked short in the police fashion. For all this guy knew, he was still a cop. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dewey sensed the same thing I did.

What to do? I did what anybody on the beat should do.  I fired a blaster round at him. Each blaster fired up to forty rounds called ‘bees’ that were about the size and shape of a large bumblebee. Each bee had a potent enough charge to put a horse or cow on the ground and into convulsions. They completely incapacitated a healthy human being. If the human being in question had health issues, it could be fatal.

It wasn’t fatal to the fake bum, because I only fired two bees, but it did put him into convulsions.  I hadn’t deactivated the bees and they continued to send a gazillion volts through him.  So he bucked and twitched, foamed at the mouth like a rabid dog and his bladder and intestines voided. Only then did I deactivate the bees. 



8 comments:

  1. Now THIS is getting seriously interesting. MOAR!
    (Yeah, I'm a nerd).
    But seriously, this is really good stuff!

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    Replies
    1. This four-part story is a bit of a teaser, but I'm gratified that you're enjoying the read.

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  2. What a blast! Subdued the perp and cleanse his colon at the same time. That is police service for ya.

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    Replies
    1. "To protect and serve...when we f$%king feel like it"

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  3. Replies
    1. The larger story is a study in planned political kidnapping.

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  4. I like the way the cop hero takes down the Austin hippy. Nice touch.

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