ADVENTURE THE 6TH: THE VERY BRIEF RETURN OF RIGOR M.
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For those unfamiliar with the posting structure of a blog: postings appear in the order they are made by their author, not necessarily in the order that would most benefit an ongoing series such as the one you are about to read. Since the purpose of this blog is to be an ongoing thriller, simply removing the previous chapter to alleviate confusion is not an option – since no one coming to the series after the first chapter had been removed would be able to follow the story line.
Therefore, if you scroll down or visit the archives in future months, you will be able to read this continuing drama in the manner and order it was intended to be read. For this reason and purpose each subsequent adventure in the ‘Eddie Mars’ serial will be marked by a number. If you follow these numbers marked at the top of each chapter in their numeric order - eg ‘Adventure the 1st’ - you will be able to follow this continuing saga.
For those savvy to the blog world – this disclaimer may seem redundant, and for that no apology is made. This disclaimer is meant to better acquaint new readers in how the entries in this blog will be posted and how best to follow the series from this point on. And now…
Adventure the 6th: The Very Brief Return of Rigor M.
“Did he give you any trouble?”
“He didn’t recognize me.”
“It’s almost too easy.”
“It’ll all be over soon.”
“As soon as I find out what he knows.”
I’m caught in a whirlpool of echoes, voices entering and leaving my consciousness before I can get a handle on what’s being said and who’s been saying it. I feel numb. My head’s moving only the rest of me’s standing still. I’m lying down – I think. I hear music, again - I think.
“Bring him too, Simms.”
“Yes, Mr. Hemmingway.”
I get hit - but good. It starts to bring me out of whatever they gave me at the bar. I fight like hell to shake the last bit of aftershock from my drooping lids. Gradually, the whole scene comes into focus.
Well, if it isn’t old home week. I’m surrounded - and not by friends. I look down. I can see my shoes and Jock Hemmingway’s standing at the foot of my bed. Or is it my bed? No, it’s not even my room.
Where am I? Hemmingway’s got his hands tucked into his coat pockets. Even in an Armani he looks like a five dollar leach.
Appropriately propped against the wall behind him is my old pal, Rigor Mortis still looking as though death claimed him last month, only somebody forgot to bury the body. On a stool next to him there’s some other poor bastard fit for the slaughter; shoulders slumped, head covered in a black velvet bag. The two make for a pretty lifeless pair.
Nobody moves at first. It’s like Dali threw up in here, full of misshapen misfits, fractured - and pieces missing.
Marysol’s there. So’s Cynthia, standing next to some neck-less hulk I’ve never seen before. At Hemmingway’s command the thug takes another whack at me.
“Take it easy, Muscles,” I say, feeling a warm crisp line of fresh blood running from the corner of my lip.
“That’s enough,” Hemmingway tells his stooge, “Welcome back, Mr. Mars. Did you have a nice trip?”
“I can’t say as I remember much of it,” I admit groggily, “Though I’m not too keen on who’s in my party. I must be traveling coach.”
Hemmingway smiles, that gruesome little Cheshire grin that could freeze water.
“First class, my friend…first class,” he says, “Only that’s about to change for some of us…”
I try to sit up but realize my hands have been tied to the bed.
“Purely precautionary,” I’m told.
“Yeah,” I mutter, unable to think of anything else to say.
Hemmingway leans in.
“You’re a fascinating character, Mr. Mars,” he admits, “Dumb, but interesting in the breadth of your stupidity anyway.”
“Albeit,” I tell him, “never seem to learn from my mistakes.”
I glance over at Cynthia. She’s unimpressed.
“I’m a very busy man, Mr. Mars,” Hemmingway explains, “and I’m neglecting my guests. So why don’t you make this easy on us both and tell me what you’ve done with the list.”
Maybe I’m not as sober as I thought.
“What list?” I ask.
I know it’s the wrong answer even before I say it.
“Oh, dear,” Hemmingway waxes facetiously, “We’re going to go that route, are we?”
But for once I’m on the up and up. I really don’t know what he’s talking about.
“Look,” I begin, “All I know is I’m hoofing it down the highway when some broad in a convertible decides to give me a lift. She pulls into the club, buys me a drink and sets me on my ass before I can say ‘last call’.”
“That broad happens to be my daughter,” I’m told.
“We all make mistakes.”
Muscles gives me a good back of his hand but I take it without giving him the satisfaction that he’s getting through to me. Hemmingway calls off his Pitt Bull and lays down the law.
“Mr. Mars,” he says with the glassy dead stare of a shark, “You and I both know what I’m talking about. Regrettably, I can’t afford you the opportunity to last the night. You’ve made that impossible, not I.”
Hemmingway gives a nod to Muscles but keeps him at bay.
“You see Simms here is the brother of the man you threw off the scaffold at my warehouse. It was you at the warehouse, wasn’t it?”
I give him a nod of satisfaction, turning my attention to Muscles.
“You’re brother was out of shape, big boy. What’s a’ matter? Not enough steroids to go around?”
He’d take care of me right then, only Hemmingway staves off the inevitable with a light wave of his hand.
“Incredible,” I say, “Does he sit up and roll over when you snap your fingers?”
“You’re already a dead man, Mr. Mars” says Hemmingway, “But suppose you tell me what I want to know? Clear your conscience.”
“Why should I? What’s in it for me?”
Hemmingway motions for Rigor to step in. He does, bringing the bagged mystery to its feet and forcing it down on the bed next to me. I suddenly realize what the trump card is. It’s Carolyn. Stripping off the head covering I can see that she’s terrified. For the first time in her life, behind those eyes, all pistons are firing.
“You work for Mr. Trent,” Hemmingway explains, “Think of what it will do to him if she winds up with a toe tag. I’m appealing to your sense of chivalry now, when I say she’ll be unharmed if you cooperate.”
“That’s no guarantee,” I say.
“It’s the only one you’ve got.”
Rigor sticks a thirty-eight in her ear.
“We’ll count to three,” Hemmingway says.
What a cliché.
“You can count to a hundred,” I tell him, “The answer’s no.”
“One,” Hemmingway begins.
Does he mean it? I can’t tell. Why the elaborate set up? Carolyn should already be dead.
“Time is of the essence, Mr. Mars,” Hemmingway explains, “Two.”
There’s a light tap at the door. Marysol opens it and a waiter steps in. He’s unmoved by the cheap theatrics playing out before him – chummy…real, chummy.
“Excuse me, sir,” the waiter implores, “but you’re wanted downstairs.”
Marysol nods and motions for Cynthia; the two vixens slinking off like a couple of cougars getting ready to pounce on the next availably hapless male.
“I detest a show of force, Mr. Mars,” says Hemmingway, “So I’ll leave you in more capable hands.”
To Muscles: “Do what you will. Only get me that list.”
To Rigor: “Kill him when you’re done.”
But the rope on my left hand is letting go. I think I might be able to get some leverage on the situation. I let Muscles go to work because with every violent shake that knot loosens a bit more – hopefully it snaps before my neck does. In between whacks I spot a glass pitcher on the nightstand next to the bed.
That’s it, Muscles. Come on. Another toss up and I’m free. Instead, he gives me a fist full of hate in the left eye and it stings like a poisoned poker. The rope lets go. But before I can recover, Carolyn gives out with an unexpected and fairly swift kick; the spike of her left heel digs into Rigor’s gut and knocking the gun out of his hand. It’s a surprise – for us both.
Muscles lunges for her, giving me the perfect opportunity to let him have it with the pitcher. He’s bloodied and disorientated, but it won’t keep.
Rigor tosses Carolyn to the floor. He’s not as dead as I thought, but neither is she, nailing him in the crotch with her pointed toe before retrieving his gun from the floor. Silencer ready, she lets him have it with a couple of hot ones in the belly before taking care of Muscles too with a bull’s eye in his brain.
“Where did you learn to shoot like that?”
She unties my other hand.
“Let’s get out of here,” she says.
I grab her firmly by the arm.
“Not so fast,” I explain, “I just came from your old man’s place. He thinks you’re sunning your ass in Biarritz.”
“Is that what he told you?”
“Well, he said you where far away.”
This amuses her. I can’t figure out why, but she finds it funny. She smiles, her dimples fit to be licked like a lollypop.
“Then he’s got a surprise coming, hasn’t he?”
“The night’s full of surprises,” I tell her as she finishes untying me.
“Then here’s one for you, Mr. Mars” she replies, “Michael Trent isn’t my father. He’s my husband.”
...the end?!? ...not by a long shot!
Eddie Mars will return March 17, 2006 in his next adventure
- Racking Up Points
@ Nick Zegarac 2006 (all rights reserved).