My City by the Bay (Chapter 1, Part 2 of 3)

Almost tripping over the barstool, Sig leapt up and bolted for the back. To his advantage, there was enough excitement to cause confusion in the room. Mr. No-neck grabbed him, and Sig shifted his weight onto the guy’s shoe. There’s nothing like a searing pain in the foot to get someone off your case.

With a loud slap, the door to the alley opened up. Blinding sunlight and stench. It wouldn’t be Old Town without its aroma. So familiar… so repulsive. Too bad he didn’t have time to vomit.

The dumpster was a decent enough refuge to hide behind for the moment. Better yet, it was the place he decided to hide some supplies before he went it. Someone had one too many drinks; the packaging was covered in puke. There’s a small amount of bravery required in handling puke-soaked items, but it’s better than ending up dead. A plastic bag produced a Ruger SP101 and a paper bag with a change of clothes. There was no time to lose. He had to work fast.

He couldn’t deny it now. There was something up at this place, and it was pretty serious. If Sig could get back to the station, maybe he could start cross referencing disappearances within a certain radius of the place and find something in common. He had to find out why they were being taken. That’s part of the hunt, but first: the getaway.

Immediately after he slipped on the change of clothes, the backdoor of the bar swung open. No-neck and a friend came out to play. “Fine,” Sig thought, “I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later.” Crouched behind the dumpster, he waited. The figures peered around the alley for a starting point. Sig strained to hear any jabber from two goons who didn’t know any better.

“Why are we after this guy, again?” bumbled a tall, brutish man with a several day-old beard.

“He was harassin’ Harley, and snooping around ’bout the bodies.” Mr. No-neck had that quintessential Jersey accent. Sig winced about the cliché before continuing to listen. “We need to find out what he knows, and probably show our unwanted visitor the way to Chestnut Grove.” Chestnut Grove was the name of the dilapidated cemetery in the heart of the ghetto. Cops rarely poked around there, because of the high probability of finding the recently deceased. Less paperwork that way.

“Miss Redglove never liked unwanted company.” The lug childishly pondered aloud as he pulled back a stack of pallets, only to discover a two-inch gap made a poor hiding spot. He was a regular Baby Huey. They probably have some apt nickname for him, like “Tiny.”

No-neck was a few steps ahead of him on the intelligence scale. He had already peered into the dumpster Sig was behind and wiping his hands clean on a kerchief. The congealing food grease and liquor remnants apparently took up temporary residence on his palms. The dumpster smelled beyond foul and he was glad it was suspect free. With a little relief, he decided to scope out a nook in the building beside the bar. It was the backstage exit area for the Hips and Jiggles ‘Gentleman’s’ Club. Those walls had some stories to tell.

Knowing when to spot opportunity, Sig pistol whipped No-neck without much more thought. He didn’t want to shoot these two, as that was only used as a last resort. Less paperwork that way. The slight grunt and subsequent thud was enough to wrench Tiny out of his meditation upon an olive loaf sandwich. Spinning around, Tiny found himself with a coldcocked partner and a rather high-strung man in a pink hoodie and a snub nose.

“Whaddyado to him? Don’t make me angry, mister.” For all Tiny wasn’t, he was at least polite.

“I wouldn’t try anything smart, pal.” Sig was sure that he didn’t have to worry about that, but felt the need to say it anyway.

“You don’t wanna mess with us. We’ve gots a good thing going. I get paid and my Daisy likes the flowers I get for her.” Sig could only imagine they were from funeral arrangements.

“Listen, I’m not looking for an economics debate,” as he would probably end up using the pistol on himself, “but what I am looking for is you to step aside. Nice and easy.”

The big man’s eyes darkened. He knew failure would be bad, or at least bad in the sense he had to listen to Miss Redglove scream at him again. He didn’t like it when she screamed at him. Throwing things at him were fine, but screaming, no. She was pretty (stunning, as it turns out), and it made him very sad when pretty girls were mad at him.

“I can’t let you do that, buddy. Miss Redglove likes me to do my job.” Tiny shook his head as if he were agreeing with her in a previous conversation.

“Oh, is that who that is?” Sig said, spying over Tiny’s ham-fisted shoulder.

As surefire as basic instinct, the meat head turned to look down the street. He saw no one there. Then he saw black with a white starburst.

“MMMMMMMOTHERFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT,” yelled Sig, as he would have been better off clocking masonry. Clutching his right fist underneath the .38, he dove in a gap between Tiny and the wall.

When the brute finally sorted out all the pieces, he roared, “hey, that was cheap!” Sig didn’t stop to apologize. He was out on the street and ducking into his El Camino. With a plaintive sputter and hack, the car screeched onto the road and headed to the St. Mary’s Street bridge. That was the best way to get on the “right” side of the river. Fortunately, driving south-side of the Natawagachumi required very little adherence to traffic and safety laws.

Tiny and No-neck were making their way to a 1974 Vitamin-C Barracuda as best they could, shaking off their latest surprises. Their engine started. It wasn’t over yet.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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