Sunday, July 22, 2007

Two Guns - Chapter 2 - Drive

As a matter of fact, it was still snowing by noon the next day, when Detective-Investigator Second Grade Sharon Collins left the building, straight from the ceremony. She wasn't angry, she was pissed off, and it had been all she could do to smile and nod rather than scream. That plaque next to the door - Organized Crime Control Bureau - didn't even warrant a look. Her instincts fired a second too late; by the time she was aware that there was someone behind her, he'd already closed the distance.


"Where are we going, DT?" he asked.
"Get lost."
"Come on, you have two weeks off. Don't start a vacation in anger."

Sharon froze in her steps, on the steps, then turned her head to look at the hitman. He was standing there, all unassuming in his winter coat looking way too much like a normal human being for her taste.

"Number One: We know," he said. "Number Two: We'll wait for things to settle down before we move again. Number Three: You're now officially on Silvestro's shitlist. Couldn't be helped. That's why I'm here."
"Oh, I saw how you solve problems."

Sharon didn't really know what the hell to expect from a professional assassin. But even accounting for that, having him sing was not a reaction she'd seen coming.

"Alas, my love, you do me wrong..."

He broke it off when he noted her glare. She threw her hands into the air and walked on; he chose an intercept course across the steps and caught up with her.

"Don't fucking serenade me," she said.
"You can be mad at me all you want, but I'll be on your case until my boss calls me away, so I figure we should start over. I'm Mark."
After a few seconds of walking and fuming, Sharon tried to say something, but forgot what it was. Fortunately, Mark was there to cover the silence.
"This isn't where you parked your car," he said matter-of-factly.
"Will you kindly shut up!"
"Sure. Your wish is my command."
"I wish you would feck off."
"...except that."
"Look," Sharon said, and some the steel disappeared from her voice. "Simmons."
"...Mark. You framed me. You fucking framed me! You're the last guy in this stinking city that I want to see! I keep wanting to smash your face in, okay? You get that? What I'm describing is the phenomenal amount of glass bottles I'm going to open on your forehead, right! So you'd better..."
"Get behind me," Mark said; Sharon froze again instead, which was just as good.

A car rode past them, with two smiling gentlemen inside; Mark kept his body between them and Sharon until the car was further down the street.

"What?" Sharon asked.
"Drive-by," Mark replied. "Silvestro's getting antsy. Must be something more to the drug deal. Oh, and I got their plate, if you want to check it - but I guess it's stolen."
"...o-kay. All I saw was a Volvo passing us."

Mark gave her a small smile.


Sharon didn't know whether it was superior insight or paranoia, but it was somewhat disarming.


"Nice car," Mark said, riding shotgun, and like everything he'd said to Sharon, she wasn't sure if he was being outright sarcastic or just trying to be nice and failing.

The truth was that her Mazda GLC had never been a dream car to begin with, just a "sensible" choice for a girl "starting out". After nearly a decade of using the car, the old justifications felt as uncomfortable as the seats. She'd just never managed to scratch the cash together to replace it, and now she had a guest in it. She wanted to impress Simmons somehow, though she didn't quite know why.

"So, Silvestro," she said, hoping for a nice, one-sided discussion.
"Silvestro Rodriguez, a.k.a. The Silver Colonel. His cartel has been trying to plug into the local underworld. Hiring muscle, selling product. We told him it wouldn't fly. We thought we had the problem licked, but..."
"He didn't take the hint."
"So, what? Now you're going to kill them all?"
"You know, for somebody in Organised Crime, you have a strangely naive idea of how we work."
"I'm pretty sure I know how you work."
"Okay, now that's just insulting."
"What? You kill people."
"Yeah, but..."
"But not, like, all the time."
"Yes, your honor, killing people is my job," Sharon said, aping Mark's inflection, "but I take the weekends off!"

Mark laughed.

"What's so funny?"
"You are. You're pretty morbid, Detective."
"...huh. Yeah, I guess I am," Sharon said, stopping the car at a red light. "If it had been me, I would've shot them, too."
"You would've called for backup," Mark said. "Three guys, armed. No way you were gonna try to take them in a shootout."
"You don't know me."

The two fell silent; a green light and an intersection later, Mark spoke up again.

"What's your routine, anyway?" he said.
"Generally, I work. Then I go home and sleep."
"I read. Oh, I rent videos sometimes. Why did you ask?"
"Figuring out how to protect you."


"Nice pad," Mark said, but Sharon didn't acknowledge him. His look surveyed the apartment, failing to come up with a single sign of dust or disorder. That made a certain amount of sense to him - with so much time at home and a trained "What's wrong with this picture?" eye, he figured every cop had the potential to be a neat freak. Out of random interest, he strolled into the bed room to the sounds of a running sink nearby. Again, no signs of dirt - or life. He grabbed the book on the nightstand and smiled - The Poor Man's James Bond, Volume 3. It was starting to look like his charge was rather more interesting than he'd thought before.

Then, the apartment door creaked open. With practiced spatial awareness, Mark took a silent step back against the wall, opened his coat and surveyed his options.

The Colt was right out - too much noise here, even with the suppressor. The combat knife was tempting, but likely to leave massive amounts of blood - also not good. With a sigh, Mark reached into his pocket, drew out his keyring - with attached kubotan - and gripped it in his right hand. He stole a glance through the door frame. There was a bony man there, wearing a leather jacket and wielding a suppressed .22. In fact, except for the creaking door, the intruder was doing a pretty good job sneaking about. Of course, Mark couldn't have that; he slipped through the doorway, then slowly closed the distance.

It was at this precise moment that Sharon left the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her crimson hair and switched on the light in the living room. Mark noted too late that the new light source was behind him - and that the intruder could now see his shadow.

To Sharon's credit, she didn't scream, but moved, and the tracking motion the intruder had to use to aim his gun was enough for Mark to finish his approach and punch him in the side of the head with the kubotan, barely missing the pressure point behind the jaw. The intruder dropped his gun; Mark kicked it away and followed up his first attack with an elbow to the face of the stunned intruder. However, the man easily blocked Mark's next attack and gave him a hammer punch to the kidneys, forcing Mark to spit out his breath and stumble back. Unflinching, the intruder grabbed Mark's shoulders and rammed his knee into the enforcer's chest, dropping Mark like a sack of potatoes. Sharon rolled out from behind the cover of her couch, Glock drawn, and aimed at the intruder. The momentary distraction was all that Mark needed to recover; never one to shy from painful tricks, he snapped his right foot upward, planting the steel toe of his boot right smack in the assassin's crotch. Turning and twisting on the ground, Mark swept the stunned attacker off his feet, forcing him face first onto the ground next to Mark. With a final roll, Mark was on top of the man and wrapped his left arm around the intruder's neck, then pulled it closed with all his might.

"Down down down!" Mark cough-sang with heavy breaths while the assassin's face turned reddish; after a few painful seconds, the assassin's eyes glazed over and he dropped to the floor.

"...really fucking desperate," Mark managed to spit out; his entire side was still hurting from the kidney punch and the exertion, but at least he'd won the fight.
"Is he dead?"
"No," Mark said as he picked himself off the floor; spotting the .22 on the ground, he picked it up. "Don't see a reason to get my hands dirty."
"Point. Now what?"
"Put the gun down," Mark said.
"You put the gun down," Sharon said, and there was something like a playful smile on her face.
"...'kay," Mark replied, then stashed the weapon beneath his coat. "Two things, DT. I want you to start packing. This place isn't safe."
"Yeah, not disagreeing at all," she said. "Number two?"
"I need to know where you keep your duct tape."

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