Sunday, December 23, 2007

hard landing

A shot rang out in the humid night air, and a pigeon was startled into wakefulness by a stray bullet ricocheting off the wrought iron trellis beneath its dirty little feet. It took off into the sky, a panicked, nervous flight, seeking a more tranquil locale. It took off, and as it did, it let loose a big glob of runny white shit, narrowly missing the executor of the aforementioned commotion. There was a second shot, but by this time the shithawk was already safely out of the way.

Then, the blinding red-orange light like a wavering future sunset, a solid beam of killer energy.

I withdrew my raygun from the fat man's back, tucking it into my coveralls, and stood to my full height, allowing the charred rotund corpse to fall to the alley's wet pavement. I stood there for a moment, watching as thick black smoke curled up from the man's vast chest, and frowned at the ruination of perfectly fine French-cuffed shirt.

The wail of sirens already. Nothing gets by the sensors. I crouched low, making quick work of unburdening the corpulent gentleman of his riches. An exquisite gold watch, fine cufflinks, and tiepin. Like looting was instinct, I was through the pockets in a matter of seconds, relieving my victim of petty cash and coins. Then I struggled a little with the massive weight of the colossal body, heaving it up just enough to extract the fat wallet from its confines.

Flashing blue lights whipped by one mouth of the alley and then the other. I stood tall again, but couldn't shake the feeling that I was forgetting something. Holding perfectly still for a moment, finger touching pursed lips, I calmly inspecting my handiwork. More flashing blue light momentarily invading the darkness, this time tipping me off to my lapse – the glint of shining metal on the man's fat ring finger. I was relieved to find it slip off with no trouble at all.

“Guess you shouldn't have been cruising for whores, mate,” I said, giving the puffy cheek of my victim a friendly slap. “Whatever would wifey think?”

The fat man could not have been allowed to live. Not after witnessing my slow descent from the sky at the bottom of a parachute. He had stood there watching the entire fall, I could see him, fat face bathed in moonlight, fat, black hole of a mouth agape.

The fat man had watched as I leapt from the black helicopter. Watched as I plummeting through the night sky before pulling the cord. Watched as I fluttered slowly down, and watched as I missed my target, the warehouse roof, becoming entangled in the ironwork of the fire escape. The fat man had watched it all and could not have been allowed to live. Especially not after he had pulled out a gun and started shooting, missing me by mere inches with one shot. Luckily, I had managed to cut myself free before the fat man could load a fresh clip, and shot him, concentrating the beam on him, before my feet even hit the ground.

Cutting my chute down from the fire escape, I threw it on top of the fat man's corpse before dowsing the whole pile in lighter fluid and striking a match.

“Cheerio,” I said, setting it alight. Then, there was a loud chopping and the whooshing of air, and I looked up just in time to see the mysterious black helicopter float away. I couldn't help wondering who had dropped me, and why. And who were they and what did they know?

Purposefully striding out of the alley, small fire already becoming a blaze behind me, I glanced up and down the street. Then, with all the cool of a star athlete on top of his game, I crossed to the other side, casually strolling down the block. I didn't even flinch when a squad car slid up the kerb alongside me, flashing blue.

“See anything funny around here, then?” the cop grinned, leaning awkwardly out of the car's window. He was all gleaming white teeth set in a burnt brown face.

“Naw,” I said. “On my way down the block to tidy up some windows for the bank on the corner.” I drew attention to my coveralls with an exaggerated shrug, gave my nametag a casual flick. “Heard a few shots fired, but that's nothing so extraordinary for this area is it?”

“All too ordinary,” the cop snorted, taking a sip of coffee from a polyurethane takeaway cup. “You'll make sure you get out to vote next week, hey?”

“Ah,” I said, waving the remark aside, “voting's not for me. One man can't make a difference, can he?”

“You'll do well to get out and vote for General Montalvo.” It wasn't so much a suggestion as it was a command, and the cop sat there leaning out of the window, glowering.

“I guess I'll be seeing you at the polls,” I said grudgingly.

The cop smiled broadly. “We'll leave you to it, then.”

I nodded my appreciation and continued down the block while the car roared away.

“Goddamn cops,” I muttered. “Pigs, all of them. No matter what country a guy's in, grunting, filthy swine.”

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