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Christmas Noir: Day 24


It had begun to snow again by the time we’d gotten to the park, a fortifying dinner in our stomachs. The sun was just a memory now, the only light coming from land based sources. I pulled into the parking lot at Firefighter’s Park and looked around at the woods, the half dozen soccer fields, the woods, and the sub-division that backed up onto the park. No one else seemed to be around, all was quite.

We got to the park and stood under the glow of a lamppost, mine was the only car in the lot. I looked around and as the wind shifted, I swore I could smell doughnuts again. We were half an hour early, I checked my watch to make sure. I looked at the small patch of woods and thought about the field beyond them.

“Can you be very patient?” I asked.

“Yeah.” She nodded, “Why?”

“Church has someone watching us.” I said walking back to the car.

I drove out of the parking lot and took the car to the sub-division, trying to remember the best place to enter the field. There were two different subs, and thus two different entry ways. I decided to drive into one instead of the other and just parked my car in front of a house. I pulled the Webley from my pocket as I started moving through someone’s yard. I didn’t tramp through the cold and snowy field, but I didn’t exactly move with stealth and grace either. I could have skipped the field though, because I found the shooter near the stream that bisects the field section of the park from the spares woods section of the park. He was leaning in some of the remaining brush and looking through the scope of his rifle with his partner.

I watched as the shooter carefully reached into a box and withdrew a doughnut, taking it to his mouth with care. I thumbed back the hammer before he bit into the fried dough, because I hate to see food wasted. He stopped and the still figure of the shooting partner stiffened. I walked towards them and plucked the doughnut out of the shooters hand.

“Hands up then.” I said.

“Fuck.” Opus said turning his one good eye at me. “Shit, it’s you?”

Cocoa made no such speech, simply turning and firing at me with his hand gun that he’d drawn while my attention was on Opus. He shot went wild and stuck a tree behind me and I managed to fire a shot through his heart, knocking him down into the stream. Opus grabbed at Cocoa’s gun which he’d dropped when I’d shot him. I put the barrel of the Webley into his one remaining eye and fired, making good my promise to kill him if he ever crossed me again, and only three crosses late too.

I saw where Joe and Hardrock where now because Hardrock had fired a shot at me, which oddly stuck the same tree. He hadn’t had time to check with his scope and had just fired. I leapt down into the deep trench the shallow stream ran in and made sure Cocoa was dead by plugging him one more round, lowering the shots in the Webley to three. I started along the stream trying to decide on the best place to pop up when Joe came running across one of the foot bridges across the stream, which was more or less over my head. I fired once and caught him in the chest and fired again which brought him down. I kept along the stream and came up the other side of the ten foot deep bank slowly, because of the steep sides of the bank. I figured that Hardrock probably knew the bank was steep there and would be waiting for me to come up nearer the road, where the incline was shallower. I saw him leaning on a park bench the gun perfectly silhouetted against the new fallen snow.

I kept my hand very steady, which was hard because my soaked feet were so cold. I watched as he waited for me to come up in the most obvious place and I made sure to focus on his head. I held both hands on the gun, and squeezed the trigger very carefully when firing the gun.

It seemed to take forever for the hammer to fall, and then it took another infinity for the gun to fire and the bullet took so long to hit its target that I thought I’d missed him. I was about to throw the Webley down and pull out the Marley thirty-eight for another try when the side of Hardrock’s head burst open and he collapsed to the ground.

I walked back across the field to the place where I’d left Christmas and didn’t find here there, I then looked at the small brick building there the bathrooms where kept and saw her poke her head around, a pistol in each hand. I slid the Webley into my coat pocket and pulled the Marley out, as I walked towards the building.

“It’s okay.” I called out to her. “Church prepared a surprise, but I discovered them.”

“Who was it?” She asked as she stepped out from the building.

“Oh, just Opus and the fat man’s helpers.” I said.

“You shot them?” She asked, sounding as if I’d spoiled some plan.

“Would you have preferred they shot us?”

“No.” She said lowering her guns. “You just don’t normally shoot anyone. You hit them, but you don’t shoot them.”

“Well, they deserved it.” I said, trying to think of a reason I was defending my actions to her.

“You out of bullets then?” She asked looking at the Marley in my hand.

I didn’t get a chance to answer because Church’s car came roaring up the street and stopped near the concrete structure. He got out of the car, with his gun in hand and walked towards us without bothering to close his door. He didn’t aim the gun, but he held it in his hand like he might aim at any moment.

“You set us up Church?” I asked.

“What the hell are you talking about?” He asked me as we started walking towards each other.

“Hardrock, Cocoa, Joe and Opus.” I said pointing over his shoulder in the direction of the corpses.

“Opus is dead Jack.” Church said.

“Yeah, now.” I announced. “I plugged him.”

He didn’t answer me, but looked at his ex-wife and took a few steps towards us. We were less than ten feet away from each other, in a perfect triangle, which was enclosed in the circle of light from the over head streetlamp. He was to my right, and she was too my left, each of them a perfect ten feet from me and ten feet from each other.

“Oh, you set me up good this time, didn’t you darling?” He asked her.

“Beg pardon?” I asked.

“Wake up Jack.” He said pointing his gun at her but looking at me. “She’s killed everyone in her way and now she can not only be free of all of us, but she can rule the holiday circuit too. Is it any wonder that Patrick and so many others were killed this year? She’s going to be the only one left on the holiday circuit when she’s done, and she’s killing all of us to make sure no one can contradict her story.”

“That’s not true.” She said, holding her two guns pointed at no one, but just holding them up so they could be pointed.

“Oh come on.” I said, annoyed now. “You were so anxious to know where Thanksgiving was when you came to me. You only backed off when I mentioned Frost had him.”

“Frost will have to come next year.” She said. “Are you going to side with him now? Is that it?”’

“No.” I said, with my gun arm still down by my side. “I’ve always been on your side.”

“So I am to be the sacrifice, am I?” Church asked. “The two of you might remember you’re not the first to try killing me.”

“I don’t have to kill you Church.” She said. “I only have to wound you and get you taken in.”

“You have some proof?” He asked.

“Like they’re going to believe you over me?” I noticed her right hand now focused in on him and her left hand moved in a way I couldn’t quite define.

“What’s it going to be then Jack?” He asked holding up a questioning hand. “Me or her? Or are you once again going to just wait it out and see who wins and claim to have been on their side all along?”

I looked from one of them to the other, trying to decide. I wanted her, and I didn’t like him, but something wouldn’t let me announce a choice for her. Sandy Cloose had just been an innocent, just some girl trying to earn some extra cash for the holidays. She hadn’t been part of this world, and Christmas had just rolled right over her. My hand started to rise but Christmas’s left hand twitched in my direction and three shots tore into me.

I fell to the ground and heard the action around me more than saw it. Strange to relate, the sounds of the shells hitting the pavement, which were distinct and clear sounded louder than the gunshots themselves which were muddled and mingled with each other. The two of them shot at each other and in a few moments, whatever it was was all over.

I would like to point out that I did not pass out, I kept my mind about me the whole time. It’s just that now, while sitting here trying to consider things, I can’t exactly remember how I got from the snow covered parking lot to the hospital bed. I’m sure that if I really try, I can recall the whole thing, but at the moment it’s just a big dark blur. The hospital was just a big light blur for many days too, so there was probably just something in the pain killers they gave me.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ciarrainic
Dec. 26th, 2006 04:17 am (UTC)
How did Jack know that he'd shot Cocoa in the heart?
greyweirdo
Dec. 26th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
He thinks he did, he's making an assumption about his shooting skill.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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