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Liberty's Child, Day Seventeen

It’s amazing how after a meal and some coffee, you can feel alive again no matter how tired you are. I wasn’t even feeling the fatigue anymore, beyond some stiffness in my muscles and a nagging feeling at the back of my head. I was feeling much better by the time Church offered to pay the check and I let him. We hadn’t discussed much as we sat at the table alone, but a thought kept bugging me. I looked over at the five Cardinals who had sat separately from us and seemed to ignore our very existence and then looked back at Church.

“You put Christmas’s ashes in a tomb or something?” I asked as we both began pouring cream and sugar into our fifth cups of coffee.

“No.” She shook his head as he stirred the cup with his spoon. “After the cremation I just took her home and as crazy as it might sound I put the urn on the mantle piece.”

“Isn’t that what a lot of people do?” I asked him, pressing the heel of my palm against my forehead to prop that heavy weight up while I put my elbows on the table.

“I didn’t intend to leave her like that.” He said drinking from the mug. “I’d sort of thought of shipping her home, having her scattered, something.”

“And instead she’s been sitting on the mantle for six months?”

“They wanted me to do time so badly.” He said and took another drink. “I’ll get to it after this.”

I raised the mug of coffee to my lips and drank nearly half of it in one big gulp. I’ve never been much of a fan of coffee, but sometimes one has to drink foul things in order to stay up way past one’s bed time. I put the mug down in order to gird myself for the fact that coffee was about to him my stomach.

“What is going on anyway?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure I knew.

“These two upstarts think that just because they can scare a few small time guys out of their towns that they came come hassle me.” He sipped at his mug again and set it down. “Really it’s just the twins having another of their stupid fights, but they’ve managed to get big syndicates behind them this time.”

“And now they think they really can take you on?” I asked.

“They have not proven to be the wisest of creatures in the past.”

“No.” I said shaking my head. “They haven’t.”

“So what is your plan?” He asked and then finished his coffee.

“We go in, rattle Dee a little, make him tell us where his brother is and maybe even find out how he thought something as stupid as this kidnapping might work out. I mean even if he got the money, how was it going to help if you got out the next day and shot him in the head?”

“Do you even care?” Church asked.

“It just doesn’t make any damn sense.” I complained, “Nothing about this entire damn day has made any sense. I mean beyond one or two things.”

“This whole thing seems a little odd really. I mean why are you even coming along for this?”

“We’ve got to cover all the bases and resolve all the threads soon or this story’s going to be longer than the Christmas story was. I’ve got a bunch of threads to finish up and as this is first person we’ve got to take care of it all with me there.”

“Your fourth wall has something of a pet door there doesn’t it?” Church asked as we got into the car.

“I prefer to think that it just has a large clock on it.” I said as we got in.

We drove into Mt Clemens, coming to stop at a space in front of an office building that was new when Regan was still president. I followed Church into the lobby and watched as walked directly towards the stairs. I followed him as he went up to the third floor and noticed that the five members of the Cardinals were right behind us, but they were defiantly letting us go first. We walked to one of the offices and Church pushed the door open.

“Can I help you?” The receptionist asked as we started right past her desk.

“Tell Dee that Church is here.” Church said walking past the rows of cubicles with me in tow.

We walked through the rows and came to an office door, through which Church and I walked through. I pushed the door closed behind us and looked at the office we’d just walked into. The room was actually a lot smaller than I had expected, or maybe it looked that way because of the three large men inside of it. The man behind the desk wasn’t so much fat as he was simply round. It was as if someone had put three balls, one on top of another and then just threw a shirt over it. The head was nearly perfectly round, the torso also looked round as well as his lower section. He had a large mouth, the corners of which turned down. He sat down in his desk as we came in, and his two guards began to move.

Church moved to my left and approached the first guard, who was dressed in overalls and a leather jacket of all things. I noticed the second guard to my right as Church moved, this one was fat, had a large drooping mustache, and had left the house in dirty jeans a t-shirt and a leather biker’s jacket. Church hit the one in the overalls twice in the stomach, once in the face and then yanked the man’s side arm from under his jacket. He threw the gun over his shoulder and hit the guard again. The second guard drew an automatic from under his vest and started to point it at Church, but found that the barrel of my Webley was already under his chin by the time he got the gun aimed.

“Let’s not do anything like that.” I said taking the automatic in my left hand and tossing it over my shoulder.

I then looked over his shoulder and saw the second automatic stuffed into the back of his jeans. I switched the Webley to my left hand and gingerly reached behind him. I noticed, with some disgust, that he’d actually shoved the gun down into the crack of his ass. I pulled the gun out, holding the handle with my thumb and forefinger and threw it away without touching it any more than necessary.

“My name’s Wally Egman.” He said, and I noticed his mustache dropped below his jaw line.

“How ya doing?” I asked. “I’m a thirty year old mulberry field.”

“You don’t take that gun out from under my chin then I’ll make you use it, then one of us will be on the floor mister strawberry field, forever. “

“It’ll hurt.” I said thumbing back the hammer. “And it’s mulberry field.”

Now that our playlet was over, Dee started to talk to Church. His voice was like that of the sort of person who spent most his youth getting drunk and doing things to cheerleaders that would have gotten him arrested if his family didn’t have money. His cheeks moved in such a way as he spoke that I couldn’t help thinking that this guy was the adult version of The Big Boy.

“What are you going to do with that Corvid?” Dee asked. I turned to Dee as his mouth started moving, but it wasn’t until I saw what was in Church’s hand than I started to worry. The anti-aircraft gun that he’d drawn out was so big that it even looked big in Church’s mitt.

“Sweet Monkey Jesus Church!” I exclaimed with surprise. “Were you going to shoot down airplanes? On Venus?”

“Just making a point.” Church said. “The five hundred is good for that.”

“That thing won’t make a point.” I said. “It’s too big, you’ll just get a splat.”

“Which will make my point nicely.” He said nodding. “The main point I wish to make is that you and your brother need to stop having this stupid fight in my state. Just because I go under for a couple of months, that’s not an invitation for you to start fucking around and trying to take over the place.”

“And if we don’t leave?” Dee asked, trying not to sweat.

“Dee,” Church sighed. “I can wipe you and your brother off the map. When it comes down to it, you two are just a thing in my dream. I’m the big bad monstrous son of a bitch here to scare the two of you off out of town.”

“You know we can’t just leave.” Dee said, trying to sound like he didn’t have the biggest gun in history pointed at his head. “Mrs. White wouldn’t approve.”

“I don’t much care what your queen thinks.” Church said. “You should also consider that she’s not here right now and I am.”

“There is something to that.” Wally mentioned.

“I know you can’t go direct to The White Queen, but you’re going to have to go to Colonel Frenchy or something and tell him that you’ve got to pull out.” Church smiled unpleasantly at the fat man in the chair. “Your only other choice is for big bad monstrous Corvid to sweep down and scatter your asses.”

“I see.” Dee said and he made a sort of gulping motion.

“I’m glad we understand each other.” Church said and like a conjuring trick the gun vanished under his jacket. He then turned to me. “Do you have anything you’d like to ask?”

“Yes.” I said and let the hammer on my gun down slowly.

“I’ll remember this.” Wally Egman said.

“If you hurry, you can be number seven for today.” I said, trying to sound less tired and jaded than I felt.

“What?” He asked.

“Six, in five minutes, including Chester Cat.” I said and was gratified to see him turn pale. “Now Dee, I’ve got one or two things to ask.”

“What?” He asked, daring to sound annoyed.

My head was starting to spin again, and the damn floor just wouldn’t stop shifting around under me. I tightened my legs and they felt okay, the world wasn’t going to fall in. I was ready to start asking my questions.

Suddenly though, something about my intended line of questioning suddenly struck me as wrong. That little bell in my head started ringing and the lights went off. There was something about the video that struck me as being totally wrong, a big bright crimson alewives staring up at me from the ocean.

“Where’s Knight?” I asked.

“What?” Dee Asked, looking annoyed that he was being subjected to Church’s little buddy.

I was annoyed too though, and if I was right Dee would be dead before much longer, so I hit him. I didn’t just hit him though, I gave him a good hard punch across the face which split his lip and very possibly loosened a tooth or two. I looked at Wally Egman over my shoulder and was gratified that he took a step back and hit the wall. I then hit Dee on the other side and watched as his rocked the other way. I then pulled the Webley from its holster and pressed the barrel into his chest. Finally I grabbed him by his tie and yanked Dee towards me.

“Where is Knight?” I growled at him.

“He’s dead!” Dee spluttered. “He’s been dead for a month?”

“A month?’ I asked.

“A month, solid.” Dee managed.

“How’d he die?”

“Someone shot him and Red and left them in the Maumee River.” Dee said as he grabbed at some tissues and pressed them against his face. “Fuck if I know what for.”

“I’m sure there was something.” I said. “How about your brother, where’s he?’

“No idea.” Dee said and then flinched back when I started to lean forward. “Look, things have changed! I swear to god I don’t know where he is!”

“Then I guess we’re done here.” I said stepping back and looking at Wally. “You should take your buddy out for oysters, he looks like he could use the protein.”

“Get fucked.” Wally said to me.

“I could have sworn that’s what I suggested for you.” I said as we left.

We walked out of the building, which was still just opening. Business hours hadn’t even really started, and the workers were only just starting to show up. I always like watching groups arrive for work, since you get to see so many women in their professional clothes. Some people might like the relaxed look, but I’ve always had a fondness for business wear.

I looked at the people moving at their best to get to their jobs, and wondered briefly if they knew how good they had it. Oh sure, they might see us and think it would be great to have our jobs, but they have no idea how tough this work is. I might have some freedoms, but I also have a lot of pain to go with it. I wondered if any of them would exchange lives with me for the last twenty-four hours or so, given a complete and total accounting of those hours.

We got into the large red trucks and I patted my jacket pockets and realized something. I pulled the Webley from its holster and opened it up, letting the spent shells spill out into my hand. I then reloaded it with the rounds from my jacket pocket, closed it up and put it back. I then repeated the process with the Marley and when I was done I noticed Church’s face. He had a look somewhere between amazement and horror. I must say that above all else I’m glad I lived to see that look, that’s the one that keeps me warm at night.

“You went in there with two empty guns?” Church asked.

“Yeah.” I nodded. “They didn’t know they were empty.”

“God damn.” He muttered and put the car in gear. “Remind me never to play cards with you.”



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC)
Mrs. White/The White Queen, Colonel (French) Mustard, the Red Queen (Red/Miss Scarlet?) - Lot of Cluedo going on here.

The Corvid - Corvidae, meaning ravens, crows, and other such things, and thus the traditional grouping of them being a murder? Makes for a pretty appropriate name for a gun like that. Also, for a guy who has cardinals, having a bird-themed gun makes sense.

Mr. Egman - something about this makes me think of Dr. Eggman/Robotnik, the villain of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Or maybe Reverend Green.

The thirty year old mulberry field is Kuwabatake Sanjuro, an alias adopted by a character from Yojimbo, who, when made into Sanjuro, changed to a camelia field, so Wally's mistake is forgivable, unless you like killing people over mistaking names in Kurosawa films. "How ya doing?" might be the appropriate opposite of "See ya around", Sanjuro's parting line from Yojimbo.

Regarding oysters, standard oysters are traditionally considered aphrodisiacs. That's the first level of "Get Fucked." If those are rocky mountain oysters, which are actually testicles, but often considered aphrodisiacs, the imperative to "Get Fucked" taken to a different level. Possibly as a dig to Wally about his need to grow a pair of testicles and be a bit braver. There may also be a "protein" joke there, but the ten-foot pole rule is invoked on that one.

The fourth wall pet-door/clock thing probably has a point, too, but the only thing I can think of is Hickory Dickory Dock, which is definitely not right. There may be some bit about an old grandfather clock tending to hold secret passages being involved here, instead. You can wow us with the specifics when all is revealed.
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
Mrs. White/The White Queen, Colonel (French) Mustard, the Red Queen (Red/Miss Scarlet?)

One point for Mrs. White, One point for Colonel Mustard, one half point for the Red Queen/Miss Scarlet because while I didn't intend it, It would come off like that.

Mr. Egman
Sorry, but it's the Egg man, as in The Walrus, as in koo koo cachoo.

Yojimbo stuff gets you 2 points.

Oysters... wow, wrong but I'll give you a point for all that stuff. Actually the get fucked is from the aphrodisiac bit so that's another point really. The Oysters are from the poem the Walrus and the Carpenter, which is told by the Tweedle twins in Looking Glass.
2 points

Last one is just nope on all levles.

Aug. 13th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Day seventeen:
Dee – as in Tweedledee and Tweedledum?
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
Aug. 13th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Wall Egman – I am the eggman, you are the walrus, koo-kooka-choo (Alice in Wonderland)

Chester Cat –Cheshire Cat
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
2 points
Aug. 14th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
LC Day 17 -- Holly's Guesses
- The man at the desk when Church and Jack go to see Dee "wasn't so much fat as he was simply round. It was as if someone had put three balls, one on top of another and then just threw a shirt over it." He's a snowman, of course!
- Wally Eggman refers to the Beatles song that goes "I am the walrus! I am the egg man! Coocoo, cachoo!"
- "...one of us will be on the floor mister strawberry field, forever." Hee, hee. Strawberry Fields Forever is another Beatles tune.
- Knight is the red knight from Alice in Wonderland.
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
Re: LC Day 17 -- Holly's Guesses
The man at the desk when Church and Jack go to see Dee "wasn't so much fat as he was simply round. It was as if someone had put three balls, one on top of another and then just threw a shirt over it." He's a snowman, of course!
No, sorry.

Wally Eggman refers to the Beatles song that goes "I am the walrus! I am the egg man! Coocoo, cachoo!"

</i>Strawberry Fields Forever is another Beatles tune.</i>

Knight is the red knight from Alice in Wonderland.
White knight actually, but close enough for a point.
Aug. 15th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
thirty year old mulberry field - from the movie Yojimbo, guy whose name means that comes into a town with competing crime lords

strawberry field forever - beatles song

Church and Cardinals - Catholic Church (need more specific?)
Sep. 2nd, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
3 points!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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