Jack Collier: Private Eye
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Twenty-Six: Trouble
It may be irresponsible of me, but I’m not going to describe the next three days worth of work because it’s boring. The problem there is that it always makes detective work seem more exciting than it is because storytelling conventions require taking out the hours days and sometimes weeks of mindless grind that goes with the job. Still though, I’m telling the story, not you, and I get so bored even thinking about it that my eyes cross. So you will please excuse me while I ignore the three days of ground pounding and foot flattening we performed while looking for the place most likely to have Jill kept away in a dark room.
It was a frustrating and increasingly hectic few days, with me checking the clock every fifteen seconds on that last day. It was the last day after all, only a few hours before zero hour and we had only just decided on what was probably the best bet. When looking in a situation like this, you look for who looks shifty, who looks paranoid. Who has extra security, who has too much coming in or out the door? The problem is that just about everyone out there had too much security going on. Legalized pot had made the entire state paranoid. What’s interesting is that if I hadn’t made a few mistakes, and they hadn’t made a few mistakes, I probably wouldn’t have found her in time.
The house was in the hills. Don’t ask my which hills, because I can’t remember. We’d more or less come to the conclusion that this one house was probably the place because it had seen an increase in security in the last few hours. We’d been watching half a dozen properties playing the old 47 Ronin game, and I got to be the mad man, and this was the place. I wasn’t sure though, so we were harmlessly trespassing on the grounds when we spotted the suits walking toward us. Shiri, Dale and I were standing together, looking like two gay burn outs and their annoyingly out of place dealer. I just didn’t get the memo that we were going to be street kids that day, and I’m ten years older than the both of them so I wouldn’t have fit anyway.
“We’ve been spotted.” Shiri said as she looked over Dale’s shoulder.
“We’re being fenced in.” Dale said as he looked over her shoulder.
I kept looking at the house and didn’t look at either of them. I was trying to decide what I was going to do while slipping the leather persuader out of my back pocket and sliding it up my sleeve. I was pretty sure that we were in trouble by the way Dale’s arms tensed up and the way Shiri’s legs moved as they came close.
“We were just looking for a place to hang out till dark man.” Dale started. “Sorry man, we’ll just…”
Some one hit Dale across the mouth and I finally decided to look at the group that had approached us. A little runt who looked like he worshipped the ground Buddy Holly walked on was adjusting a pair of brass knuckles on his hand. I looked down and saw Dale spit out a mouthful of blood and what looked like a tooth.
“No.” The little Buddy Holly look alike said succinctly. “You were snooping, weren’t you? Shall we try again? We’re you snooping?”
“Of course we were.” I said.
“I wasn’t talking to you.” He snapped at me. “I was talking to the faggot.”
“Well you should have been talking to me.” I said.
“I was talking to him.” He pointed the hand with the knuckle dusters at Dale.
“Well talk to me instead.” I said, sounding just a little too arrogant. “It’s more sporting if you hit me.”
“Oh yeah?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I said. “I’m more used to be hit with illegal weapons. We’ll both enjoy it more.”
“Oh these.” He gave me a prod in the stomach that bent me over a bit but didn’t do much more than let me know we were both there. “I’ve got lots more than these.”
“Good to know.” I straightened up and looked down on him, which is unusual because I rarely tower over anyone.
“So what are you three doing here?” He asked.
“Snooping.” I told him. “I thought we’d established that.”
He swung his fist, but it was in such a big wide arc that there was no effort getting out of the way. I blocked with my left arm and tapped him in the belly with my right fist, just enough for him to know I knew how to hit. He staggered back a few steps and looked like he wanted to leap on me. He didn’t though, not matter how much he wanted to, which was an important note for both of us. Something looked broken in his eyes, like a dog that was raised wild and wouldn’t ever be completely tame.
“Who are you?” He asked, after regaining his composure.
I looked behind us and saw that while this fellow had come with three guys, there were another four that had come up the other path. If I ran down the hill, I could get into the house and check to see if that was indeed the full compliment of security staff. Heck, they might even shoot at me to show me if they were armed or not. I looked at the little guy and his large companions and thought of how best to answer that.
“I’m Jack Collier.” I said. “These two said they lived around here, so I asked them to show me this place.”
“Collier?” The little guy asked, tilting his head from side to side, bringing little cracking noises from his neck. “You’d be the private eye from Michigan then?”
“That’s right.” I nodded.
“We thought you people were in
“Some are.” I said. “I came out here.”
“Would you be the Jack Collier who was part of that big Seven With One Blow thing a few years ago?” His face looked cold, implacable, and very cold.
“That’s right.” I told him. “Although it was really six with one and the seventh came a lot later.”
“You killed a good friend of mine.” He pulled out what at first looked like a slim pocket knife, until he hit a button and I realized it was a switchblade. This boy was full of illegal weapons today, this one was one of those fancy out the front types that pops straight out and then flicks back in with a touch of the button. “I’m Steve Quale, Chester Cat was a friend of mine.”
“Well, he wasn’t easy to kill.” I told him, waiting to see if I couldn’t get him to stab at me. “That should make you happy.”
He snarled at me for a moment, which was not an attractive look for him. His eyes flicked to the left at Dale and then back at me. I should have jumped then, I’ll admit it. I should have seen what that flick in his eyes meant, but I’m not as smart as some people. His hand moved with a flash of speed that would have left a cobra gaping and the blade slashes across Dale’s neck.
Dale’s eyes bulged, his hands went to his throat and he started to stumble as blood began to run down his chest. I caught him half way through his fall and pressed my hand against the large wound on his neck, trying to staunch the blood flow. It was pointless because keeping the blood in his body only meant there was more to go into his lungs and drown him. I sat there for a moment or two, while blood soaked between my fingers and dropped onto my pants and into the dusty ground around us.
“You killed a friend of mine, I killed a friend of yours.” Quale said.
“He wasn’t a friend of mine.” I said looking up at him. “I barely knew the guy. He just worked in the office out here.”
“So he was one of your little faggots.” He sneered. “This would be your pet dyke then.”
I started to stand up, intent on giving him a good hiding, but he was faster than me. In fact, Mister Quale was faster than lightning. Somehow he’d gotten his brass knuckles back on his hand and smacked me in the face with them. Then hands were on my shoulders and arms and another pair of strikes hit me in the stomach.
“You’ve got your little army of sodomites, and I’ve got an army of righteous men.” Quale said. “You people don’t know what you’re up against. You think this is some little gang of punks? We’re the soldiers of God, we’re going to sweep with our hands of fire across the land.”
His fist hit me again, and my head was filled with the songs I’d never bothered to hear. My brain was still rocking from side to side when Quale announced it was time to go see someone he called the bitch. Or maybe he was going to let me see her, or let her see me, something like that. I wasn’t too terribly clear on the details because at that moment I was trying to keep my brain from leaking out of my nose by concentration alone.
I was in trouble though, that much was clear. I had clearly screwed something up because I was being dragged along by two guys about the size of
This would have been a time to come up with a plan, or attack with sudden violence and save the day. The problem was that my guns were back at the hotel, because I didn’t think I’d need them just yet. I had a pocket knife, but my arms were being held by the two guys who could each stand in for
Why can’t it ever be following a guy around to see if he’s really broken his leg or is just faking it to get the insurance benefits. No, it has to be adventure, excitement, and really wild things. Someday I’m going to get my head caved in, and this was starting to look like the day.