07:55:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 819 words  
Categories: Announcements, Old Ventures: Refuge

ANNOUNCEMENT: NaNoWriMo 2018, Old Venture: Refuge

I'm sorry. I know, no man is an island, but I've had trouble even being one drop of rain in a river. It's difficult, these days, not to feel like the very foundations of sanity are shaking loose. And I have struggled under my burdens, as I know many of you do. I only yesterday finished last year's NaNo (which I'll be uploading soon to the blog) and I'm going to try and publish one chapter a day this NaNo. It's going to be a rough election cycle this year, and I'm hoping we can get through it together. But if you retain none of the words before or after this, remember these: you are not alone. Amidst all the chaos, and pain, and dehumanizing horror, you are known, you are cared about, you are loved. And so long as we continue to have each other, and to hold one another in our hearts, we have hope. Below is an excerpt, a preview of a chapter I realized was important enough to write and publish out of order, where it might still have some impact. As always, check back daily for updates, on this as well as on older projects that I got behind in posting publicly. And in the meantime, may you and yours stay safe and close in these trying times.

* * *

Jack stepped out onto the stage, and for a moment was blinded by the house lights, and then the chorus of flashbulbs from the media. "I'm happier than I can say to welcome a true American hero onto this stage," the man said, flashing a wide smile.

Jack shook his hand stiffly, then waited for him to clear the stage before speaking. "I'm not comfortable being here," Jack said, "and I'm sure that shows."

The audience chuckled nervously. "That's okay. You're laughing with me," he paused, "I think."

"But I've never been comfortable using my... celebrity, I guess, like this. I've marched, with John Lewis, Martin Luther King, for many varied human rights on many different occasions. You could say I've never been apolitical... but I've always attempted to keep who I am as a man separate from who I was as a symbol. I never wanted to trade on the good I've done, and even today, that's not my goal.

"But I can no longer abide my prior silence. This is not the usual push and pull of politics. This is the rise of something far more sinister, an enemy we fought a world war against, an enemy I hoped we vanquished for good. Maybe that was naïve of me. Maybe my generation failed to keep the flames of vigilance lit.

"I didn't decide to speak until last week. I waited, hoping that sanity would return, that someone, anyone, would be able to show the Republican candidate that he's not just trying to be the leader of conservative America, or scared America, that he'll need to lead all of us. He'll need to represent the will of all of us. He'll need to represent the hopes, as well as the fears, of all of us. And their convention convinced me that realization will forever evade him. At his core, he is a divisive and spiteful man. He doesn't like the idea of an America united, unless he can force us to unite behind him, not as a good and changed man, but as he is, angry, scared and lashing out.

"And with each passing day, the parallels with the fascist rise- a rise that cost our world millions of lives- become stronger, and harder to ignore. Every day, more language about how everyone but America is the problem is used, while more narrowly defining what counts as America. I have seen this ugliness before, I have seen what it does to good men and women caught up in its throes, and I have seen what they in turn do to those they deem unworthy of sharing soil with. I wish I could be here for any other reason, truly. But we do not get to choose our burdens, only how we rise to meet them.


"So please, vote. Not just for Democrats, but for democracy itself, for a return to normalcy, to respecting our differences, and the rights of others. For returning this country to an ideal for the rest of the world to envy. For a world where our most vulnerable are cared for, protected, and safe. For America as we want her to be, and need her to be, not what she was. Because viewing who she was through rose-tinted glasses can't erase those who were left behind or excluded in that past, and we know better, now, and we have to do better. The only hope I have to leave you with is this: we can do better. I've seen it. And I pray I'll live to see it again. Thank you."

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12/01/11

  05:56:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Entrenched

11/30/11

  05:50:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 36 words  
Categories: Survival

Survival: Page 95

Due to a financial thing, it looks like Survival will be going on hiatus for a bit, another victim of our crappy economy. So enjoy this page... it could be the last one for a while.

 

  05:43:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1976 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 30: Bad Medicine

I sent Armand a text: ?Starbucks , the Street, 4.?

I left at 3:30, because I was getting antsy. I had a Frappuccino, caramel, which didn?t help. He ordered something hot, and slid into the booth with me while he waited.

?I heard someone was looking for me,? I said.

?That?s right; though it gets harder to deny knowing you when we?re necking in a coffee shop.?

?I?ll be brief, then.?

?I heard about Arnie, man, what happened??

?The whores never showed. I did my fifth, and promptly passed out. Arnie tried to one-man the rest of it. It?s my fault, leaving a junkie with four times as much junk as he could handle.?

?Man, we all got friends like that, think they can handle more shit than any man could, think their fucking the Samson of smack. But what can I do you for?? 

?I need to smuggle a phone into prison, to a dependable lowlife.?

?And what makes you think I?m the right man for that job??

?You?re a man who knows how to get things. Tell me that doesn?t spread to the prison yard.?

He thought a moment. ?Three grande, half up front,? he said.

?Five. And you can walk away with the whole thing right now.?

?Do I have to explain to you how negotiating works?? he asked, grinning at the thought of nearly doubling his asking price.

I handed him the wad under the table. ?I?m not here barter with you. I appreciate good work, and discretion, and so far I?ve gotten both out of you. Text me the number when it?s done.? 

I had a busy night ahead of me. I got a little more work done at home, then had to leave at a few minutes before seven. That was when the pharmacy closest to Daria?s apartment closed.

I waited until the owner, Devin Louie, was closing up the front door. He jumped when he heard me behind him. ?I need some ketamine.? His turned to look at me, and his eyes narrowed. ?I know you?ve had some supply issues- shortages- lately.?

He unlocked the doors and let me in. ?What?s this about??

?I have a request. But first, let?s talk about what I know. I know you?ve been arrested three times for sexual assault. Each case fell apart when the women claimed to have had only a minimal amount of liquor, but to have been incapacitated and then taken advantage of- maybe. Made the cases smack of morning after regret, and rape cases are always tried on the dependability of the witness.?

?But I think, if sex crimes ever talked to robbery, those cases would all be reopened. Because I know that at the start of the month, you had a break-in, here, in which a large quantity of ketamine went missing. Almost exactly a handful of several different medications, pretty much at random, since most of them didn?t have any recreational utility at all, were also stolen. But this was a massive quantity of ketamine, not the kind you could simply write off. You had to account for it. Hence, the faked robbery.?

?That?s a theory. But it doesn?t prove anything.?

I smiled, and laid my bag on the counter. I unzipped it, to reveal a laptop, which I booted up. ?The liquor store across the street has a camera. Old-fashioned magnetic tapes, that they keep for forty days, because that?s what their insurance told them to do. I bought one of their tapes, and had the contents digitized. Then I destroyed the tape. There?s only one copy of its contents, on this laptop?s hard drive.? His mind danced, as he fantasized about smashing my laptop, but he glanced at the gloves I was wearing, and wondered who I might represent, and if I might be armed.

I hit play. I?d already cued it up to the moment he smashed through his own front window with a crowbar. His car?s license plate was easily readable on the screen.

His head dropped. ?What do you want??

?A friend of mine hasn?t been sleeping. It makes me sick, with worry. She?s even been prescribed sleep aids, but to no avail. I?d like you to adjust her medication. I?ve filled out my own little prescription for you. I tried to scribble, to make it authentic, like a doctor filled it out. To make sure she gets it as soon as possible, you should phone her, in the morning, to tell her that there?s been a recall of the pills she has, and that she should pick up the replacement from you.?

?I can?t just change a prescription like this.?

?Of course you can. You?ve been medicating women without their knowledge all over the city. Can you tell me how this is any different? Well, aside from the fact that I?m not planning on raping her while she?s out. And you can feel free to check her records; there isn?t anything that?s going to interact with it.? He started back up his work computer. ?And my prescription, is used as a sleep aid, is it not??

He took a moment to sign himself in, and open up her records, to confirm what I?d been saying. ?Yes,? he said, cautiously.

?Then you can view this as a small price to pay for peace of mind, hers and yours.?

?Done. When it?s done.? I?d always figured that would be a condition. It was why I?d bought the cheap little netbook, for that purpose. It was interesting to me that he believed me, when I said I?d only made one copy. That level of trust in a drug-dealing rapist? was not what you?d expect to find.

My apartment wasn?t empty when I got home. Julee was in my bed. ?I started without you.?

?Working I told her.?

?You left early,? she cooed. ?You shouldn?t lie to a naked woman.?

?You aren?t naked. You?re wearing stockings, and a corset that covers some of your torso.?

?But not the naughty parts? and what part of arguing with me is supposed to be seductive??

I set my bag down on my couch, and walked into my bedroom. ?The part where I apologize profusely, and offer to make you a drink??

?That I like the sound of,? she purred.

I dropped my coat on top of my bag, then my jacket, and loosened my tie as I walked into the kitchen. It was getting to the point where I was going to need another secretary to keep my extracurricular activities straight.

I mixed two Bloody Marys, and carried them into the bedroom. ?Wicked,? she said, ?I like that.? She reached out her foot and stroked my leg with it.

?Still trying to give me a foot thing, huh?? She laughed, and took her drink, and drank a third of it in one go. ?Just trying to start the party.?  

I sat down on the bed next to her and started to unlace my shoes. ?Can we leave the stain?? she asked, leaving over to kiss my neck.

?Sure, it?s exciting now. But it?ll get old. And then you?ll want me to kill more people, just to get that spark back. And multiple homicides only make it more likely I?ll get caught.?

?It is hotter when there?s a chance you?ll get caught,? she said breathily, then kissed me.

I?d been curious if she really did want to see the bloodstained carpet, or be screwed over it, or if she just wanted so desperately to be predatory that she?d been faking it. And I could say, by the end, that she clearly wasn?t faking it.

She collapsed into my arms, and neither of us had the strength left to even adjust where we lay. ?Thanks,? she said, ?For not cleaning it up for me. It was nice.? She fell asleep in my arms. It took me some time before I wanted to sleep, but when I did, I slept like a baby. Of course, I?d never personally required barbiturates to sleep.

The next morning I stalked Daria to the coffee machine. She really hadn?t been getting enough rest lately. The bags under her eyes were starting to look even baggier. Were it not for her scrappy tenacity, I?d have had to bump her down from F to K; never underestimate  a scrapper- they just want it more- and the things they?re willing to do to get it, well, are a little beyond our purposes here, but discounting them is your loss. 

I waited until she was sleepily hovering over her own mug, trying to aim the pouring liquid.

?You?ve really got to stop taking your work home with you.? She jumped, throwing coffee across the countertop. ?Relax? I continued, ?The world isn?t going to stop spinning just because you unclench,? she glared at me, ?your fists,? I said, and nodded to her whitened knuckles. I set down my own cup and grabbed paper towels to help her mop up. My mother always said, kill em with kindness. My father had a divergent philosophy; he beat me until I?d piss myself. I like to think I apply both lessons with equal vigor.

The rest of the day was boring. I worked. I listened in on a phone call from Daria?s pharmacist. Maybe I was distracted by my evening.

Petra asked if she should come over and help, either with the cleaning or with me settling back in. But I told her I had plans, that I?d bought a ticket to a charity dinner, back when I had no plus one. Which was a lie; I?d bought the ticket the day before. But that wasn?t important- certainly not to her.   

The dinner was organized by Mrs. Shana Warwick. She was wearing a low-cut dress that proved to me she understood that if she made men?s pants tight, they?d do just about anything to make themselves comfortable again- even if that meant taking out their wallets. Definite F. With the dress on.

I?d never met her, personally, but her husband, Alex, was the junior Warwick on the board. And there was very definitely something going on with them. I didn?t have my usual kind of plan; nothing so fleshed out. I needed to know more, before I could know what I wanted to do about it.

?So you?re the company?s sacrificial lamb tonight?? she asked me with a smile.

?Baaa,? I said.

?Alex is a wonderful man, but when it comes to selling charity? sometimes I think he just doesn?t care. But I suppose the fact that he always guilts at least one of you to show is better than nothing.?

?I?m sure he just doesn?t know how to express it. It?s a different world, that he moves in.? Over Shana?s shoulder I recognized two people entering: Elizabeth Grey, on the arm of Richard Morgan. ?Though it looks like I?m not the only sheep tonight.?  

My phone buzzed. Armand had texted me the phone number.

?You know, I should probably go greet them,? she said to me.

Now, I don?t smoke, but I carry a pack, anyway, because you never know when you might need to start. Some executives are very giving with their fellow smokers; one office I worked you could skip the official meetings, so long as you were where you needed to be for the smoke breaks. I showed her the pack, ?Is there a place?? I asked.

She was stunned, of course, looking from me to the banner on the wall behind me; the event was for leukemia. ?I?ve tried everything to quit, hypnosis, even. I?ve got a prescription for a stronger patch, but my pharmacist had to order away for it.? Admittedly, it wasn?t the smoothest excuse under the circumstances. But women like contradictions. Sometimes they like outright hypocrites.

She pointed me towards an exit, that led out into an alleyway.

11/29/11

  05:47:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 331 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 51: Duck!

?Billy O?Reilly just called you a terrorist sympathizer,? Monty said, with a grin. ?And Rush Limbaugh agreed with him. That true? You feel sympathetic towards them, after they hit you with a frying pan, kidnapped you, then waterboarded you? You going to strap on a vest of C-4 and jihad me into pink mist??

?Alleged frying pan; we never did find the whacking weapon,? I said, instinctively rubbing my forehead, where I was feeling some phantom pains. ?And don?t tell me you?re dumb-ass enough to believe those blowhards. They?re bitching because they hate the entire idea of this place, because it came from a liberal idea. We could beat em all before every meal and twice on Sunday and they?d still accuse us of mollycoddling. To them it?s a political thing.?

?And for us it ain?t? We work for Uncle Sam, and sure he?s a kiddy-fiddler, with a coke habit, and more debt than most deadbeats, but he still sends us our checks. Everything we do is political.?

?No, everything we do gets politicized. The government cuts us a check because it?s a public service we provide. Just because there?s a public good here, doesn?t mean there?s anything approaching a public concern.?

?They?re building a shrine. A little Mecca here in our own backyard. A terrorist vacation spot.?

?In the middle of a US base? Seriously. It?d go over great if terrorists were retarded enough to come here to visit. It?d be that much easier to clap them in cuffs. Worst case scenario, free terrorist arrests. More likely scenario is that some apoplectic media types fulminate until they give themselves an aneurism, meanwhile normal people ignore the ?controversy? while the handful of people who actually live here feel just the tiniest bit better about themselves.?

?I?m telling you, boss, this is a world-class ballzooka about to go off in your face, and unless you want gigantic testicles in your mouth in front of a national audience, you might want to duck.?   

  05:40:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1781 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 29: Lunch Date

Petra's phone rang. ?Mark Dane's office. He's expecting your call? I'll patch you  right  through.? She placed the call on hold. ?A Mr. Armand??

?I?ll take it in here,? I said, rounding the corner into my office. I picked up the phone. ?What?s up?? I asked.

?You called me, motherfucker, ask me what's up...?

?I'd like to meet up later, if you can.?

?Look, man, if you're buying, Arnie vouched for you, but I don't go someplace unless I've got a reason.?

?I've got a proposition for you, slightly different work than you're used to, but I'd say it fits snugly inside your wheelhouse. And if you don?t like the proposal, you get a thousand just for showing up.?

?If you're fucking with me, you and Arnie will be blackballed so hard your lips will be common-law married to my nutsack.?

?I'll text you the address when it's time.? I hung up.

I wanted to meet 4ish, when respectable types would still be stuck in their meetings. I got back to some of my regular work, which was something I hadn?t done for a while. 

Then Daria's phone rang, an incoming call. ?I don't suppose you're free to talk?? a man?s voice asked. ?Over lunch?? York.

?About Dane again??

?Subject doesn't matter. If you're free, you're free.?

?The conversation matters in how much I might be able to enjoy it.?

?But I didn't ask if you would enjoy a conversation, did I? Anyway, I'll be there in just a second.?

I booted up my spying program on the computer, and heard York closing the door. ?It's been a good couple of days. First, Dane gets the shit kicked out of him. Then he flames out on not one, but two big presentations. I think the stars in the sky are smiling down on me. Which is why I think we should have that working lunch date.?

?If it's to talk about Dane, I can?t. I'm not technically supposed to be talking about him, period. Richard told me to leave him alone.'

?Then we could keep the Dane talk to a minimum.? 

?Except if you subtract the 'working' part from a working lunch, all you're left with is a date, and I'm pretty sure I said no to that already.?

?Then I'm in a bit of a bind. Because I want to go out with you. But as a lawyer, I'm aware of a certain... litigious bent in our current system. So I should stop at two rejections. And I don't know if that's something I can do. Besides, after the debacle of sleeping with one of the bosses who's now in jail, it might benefit you to spend some time with someone with iron credentials.?

?Meaning what, exactly??

?I'm saying I'm willing to take the hit to my rep by being seen with you in public. That's chivalrous.?

?That's insulting.?

?Can I be real with you for just a second? I know you thought you had your prince charming. And maybe he didn't kill anyone, but best case scenario with Clarence, you had yourself a man who cheats. His wife deserved better, and so do you. I'm better. And I'm buying. All I'm asking for is some conversation and a meal, and even if you end up hating both, maybe at least you'll exorcise some of your demons about Dane.?

?The more I learn about the guy, the more I wonder if he isn't the demon.?   

?Then maybe by the end of our date you?ll be in need of a priest.?

?To confess my sins?? she asked. She was flirting, in that welcome to Lubyanka, the KGB hopes you?ll enjoy your extended stay way she has about her.

?You know I didn?t mean it like that.?

?But you were kind of hoping I?d take it like that, anyway, let the idea creep around in my subconscious. You?re not the first lawyer I?ve gone to lunch with; maybe I didn?t hit the word ?creep? hard enough the first time around.?

 

?You do not play with kid gloves, do you? But honestly, it?s just nice to have you throwing some jabs. I was thinking you?d leave me boxing shadows by lonesome.?

?Don?t jump up and down too much; there?s still a pretty good chance you end up boxing your shadows by your lonesome.?

?You?re a dirty woman.?

?I?m just pointing out that, for a lawyer, you?re not very careful with your rhetoric.?

I tuned them out. They took a walk, down the street, to a deli, and made obnoxiously vapid small talk for a while. He made several passes at her, none of them very well formulated. And eventually, between bites of a Rubin, she told him, ?Don?t flirt with me. Tell me who you are. How?d you get here??

?Out of college, I spent time working with NPOs and NGOs.?

?So how?d you get swallowed up by the corporate machine??

?My time working in the pseudo public sector taught me that I was swimming upstream. I sued this company once. They were named in part of a pollution case, real Erin Brockovich thing, which, I found out, I didn?t have bust for. A company we owned, the current corporate we, polluted the hell out of the ground water. Then didn?t tell anybody. People got sick, a few died. The company declared bankruptcy in the face of the class action, but only after selling all of its assets to this company for a song. The cleanup was claimed as a SuperFund, meaning those people who got sick, got nothing, and on top of that, through their federal tax dollars, were paying to get it cleaned up. And there was nothing I could do about it. Legally they were in the clear.?

?But the law shouldn?t matter. What they did was wrong. The law should be a measuring stick for how wrong, and how much the wronged party is owed. So I wanted to be here, on this side of things, so I could referee from where people might listen when I blew my whistle.?

?That makes a kind of sense,? she said. ?But doesn?t approach explaining that future commodities scheme you hatched. In fact, they seem to be in conflict, since there were likely to be some innocent casualties.?

?You want to talk someone into shooting a golden goose, sometimes that means you?ve got to slaughter them some golden cattle, first.?

?I can?t tell if that?s a biblical reference, or a Homeric one. And either way, it doesn?t sound like sound strategy.?

?Okay. How about, my goal, is finding ways to make money that minimize the damage we do; but if I never do anything to make money, I?ll be ignored, and eventually fired.?

?That?s so much simpler. You should aim for concise more often.?

?I was trying to impress you with my rhetorical polish.?

?Well, for that record, I?m more a substance girl than a style one.?  

?But what brings you here? You don?t seem the hard-hearted corporate security type.?

?I was a cop. Wanted to be from a kid, watching reruns of Heather Locklear on TJ Hooker- which I now do recognize is somewhat silly. But I busted my hump for years, just to get a chance at the detective?s exam. And I passed, first time. But on my third case, the wrong kind of person?s name came up- and I foolishly did my job. My ass hit the curb before I even felt the boot impact.?

?There aren?t many things that police work qualifies you to do. But I found I actually liked security more. The stresses are different, and for the most part less. You get to know and work with people more. Cops, they shove their way into a situation, push everyone around and then leave the moment they start to have an idea of what?s going on, and how they could maybe really help. So maybe I wasn?t as happy with the job as I?d wanted- not as much serving or protecting as advertised.?

?Corporate security by its nature is the polar opposite. You get to know the company and the leadership. You still keep a foot planted in the law enforcement community, and an ear to the ground about small fires that might burn the people you?re protecting. But it?s far more personal.?

?If you don?t mind my asking,? he said, ?how did you and Clarence end up seeing each other??

?We were just talking, at one of the company parties. And we connected. I don?t get to meet a lot of new people, that I?m not aggressively interrogating. And he was handsome. And sweet. Funny. He made me feel like I hadn?t since before the Academy- like a girl, frivolous, and young and stupid. He made me feel like it was okay to be stupid, because I knew that having an affair with the CEOs brother in law was a bad career decision. But sometimes love is stupid.?

?So you love him. Was that the reason you were reluctant to come here with me??

?I don?t know if I would ever go back to Clarence. His wife divorced him, but that wasn?t him making a conscious decision to be honest with her, and really, with me. That was something that was forced onto him.?

?And you don?t want her cast-offs.?

?Maybe just a little. But I guess there?s this nagging little part of me that wonders if it wasn?t Dane who set him up. Clarence was his direct competition, and he was the one who first placed suspicion on Dane for Cliff?s death. So that more than gave him motive.?

?Means and opportunity??

?He?s smart enough to manufacture those. It?s probably just paranoia. And maybe the most fucked up thing is I can?t be sure Clarence didn?t do it. The alternate theories, that Richard had him put in prison instead of just firing him, or that there?s an evil mastermind working closely with us? Clarence making a mistake is certainly a strong contender. And if that?s true, that I was having an affair with a murderer, then maybe I just can?t trust myself.?

?So if I want you to come to dinner with me sometime, I have to outsmart an evil genius??

?Or flowers. That might be a nice start.? There was a loud beep, and the rustling sound of her digging her phone out of her jacket pocket. ?Shit. My phone?s dying. I think it might be time to get another iPhone. The past few weeks, the battery on this piece of shit?s been going even faster than it used to- and it never had that great a battery li-? her phone cut out.

11/28/11

  05:37:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1730 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 28: Repo 105

Ed called me into his office the very next morning. He had that same fucking grin on his face from the other day. He knew how much I?d have liked to punch him right in his beady little fish eyes; it brought him joy to know that, and know that I couldn't.

?How familiar are you with repurchase agreements??

?We sell an asset for a fixed period of time, on condition that we?ll buy it back, plus interest.?

?After York?s proposal fell through, Richard had me go ahead setting one up, and I?ve been on the phone with one of our European subsidiaries most of the morning, finalizing the broad strokes of some repos.?

?I know he likes money, but are we having some cash flow problems??

?You know, in this economy, one vendor doesn?t make a payment and it backs up the whole money train, so at the end of the quarter we don?t look as liquid as we ought to.? He slid the agreement across the table to me.  

?But we?re taking out temporary loans at 105% of principle, plus interest. This costs us money- a lot of it. We?re paying someone a premium so that in the short term we can appear profitable.?

?It?s a temporary measure. And it?s not the first time. Sure it won?t be the last. Stockholders are a superstitious, cowardly lot.?

?I thought that was criminals.?

?You?d be amazed how much overlap there actually is. But in part because Richard?s still pissed off about the York deal, and in part because you work for me, he wants you on point with this thing.?

?Okay, what kind of a timeline are we thinking??

?ASAP. And, in particular, you?ll be presenting it to the board this afternoon. See, Richard had been talking to them about a money-making opportunity. Now that that has fallen through, we need the repos just to save face. Which of course you can?t tell the board- because they?re the ones we?re saving face with.?   

?Lovely.?

He handed me a folder. ?That's everything I've got on the deals.? I didn't bother looking inside; he'd always been a lazy shit, coasting off the hard work of his employees. Since he was now in charge of exactly one employee directly, me, he had no one to crib from. So it was going to be light, lighter even than his usual lightness. I nodded, took the folder, and left.

I ran into Arnie in the hall. ?You got a second?? he asked.

?What are you even doing back this soon??

?They needed me on that York deal- George Morgan himself offered me the AVP slot to get it done last minute. Then you torpedoed it?

?Sorry.?

?Don't sweat it- it was a bad deal, and it was going to blow up at some point. Looking back with a little clarity, now, it would have killed my career, not made it. And I still got to keep the AVP job- so best of both worlds. But now that York's deal's dead, truth is, they don?t need me at the moment, not as much as I need rest, but there?s no going back to being on medical leave. But what?s going on? I got a call from Armand last night. Some big white guy tracked him down, and was asking questions about you. Armand doesn?t talk about customers to shitholes who aren?t, so he didn?t know you, but there?s somebody looking to, you know? Flashed a badge, too, private investigator?s license. You schtupping somebody?s old lady??

?Not as I know. But you might be able to help me. How much do you know of Repo 105??

?Wasn't that the Lehman accounting method that was technically legit but all manner of schiesty??

?And that same,? I said. ?And now we're going to make use of it.?

?Is it annual lousy accounting day again already? Now I feel like a fool for not wearing a g-string outside my pants.?

?I think you're getting it confused with annual dress like a slutty superhero day.?

?Probably, all I know is at the end of either holiday my balls hurt. But tell me true: is this the reason our department management keeps getting gutted? They pour a big vat of failure and urine down on us, then wonder why we reek of it.?

?It's what the Morgans are asking for, right now. I think they're insane, frankly, but that's what they want.?

?And how long do I have to play with this doomed idea??

?Til this afternoon, when we present it to the board.?

?So this dossier you so nonchalantly handed me, that was my execution papers.?

?I think the joke usually goes a long vacation off a short allotment.?

?I'll see if I can't find a way to make it taste more like peanut butter, less like dogshit. But I wouldn't be surprised if the board won't bite. There's a reason this shit is usually done clandestinely, in the bowels of an accounting or auditing department.?

?Yeah, well, Richard opened his mouth about York's project, so now we have to pretend like this is that, to try to save face. So I don't even know if it's something Richard expects to pass- so long as it'll pass enough muster to now arouse the fury of the board.?

?Well, I'll see what I can do- but I can't exactly make promises.? He took the folder and went off in the opposite direction.

?Excellent. And could you get me in touch with Armand??

?Uh...?

?I just don't like the idea of someone sniffing around us. I want to look into it.?

?Sure, no problem.? A big white guy with a PI license? Rand?s cousin, it had to be. But why was he looking into Armand and Arnie? That part didn?t make a lot of sense. Unless he was trying to tie me to needles in general.

Which might have made sense if there?d been traces of heroin in the needle I?d stuck into Cliff. But it was clean.

Maybe he was just sniffing, in general, hoping I?d been sloppy. But this seemed to confirm that Clarence wasn?t just going to stop being a pain in my ass. That was going to require attention, sooner rather than later. But it was also going to require a certain amount of finesse.

I sealed myself back in my office. I wasn't there fifteen minutes when there was a knock at the door, Petra, holding a sealed envelope. ?Interoffice mail. It's... got a weird texture.?

?Like al Qaeda's either sent me anthrax or a brick of Sweet n Low, or...?

?You feel it.?

It had the give of cloth, and immediately I knew what it was. ?Pretty sure it's an immature prank- hazing the new guy.? I retreated with the sealed envelope into my office.

It was another pair of Julee's underwear. At this rate, she really had to be buying them in bulk. I called her cell. ?Cute,? I said.

?Y'think? Because I took them off because I think I look even cuter without them.?

?I don't doubt. But I have this problem. I told my cleaning people not to come until tomorrow. But this woman who wanted to come over to my apartment to come the spot where I killed a guy, she can't not act like an immature frat girl. Which might be fine, if I were still into frat girls.But now I don't know what to do, since I don't want to feel like I'm reinforcing her negative behavior.?

?That's not very nice. And besides, I don't think you could pass up the opportunity...? Apparently nobody ever told her that sex is like riding a bicycle; sure it's fun, but it's never better than the first time, and each subsequent time becomes more and more like work.

?Do you think you can behave yourself for the rest of the day??

?Within reason??

?Sure.?

?For the record, I still don't think you could have denied me.?

?You might be right,? I told her, because it was what she needed to hear, then hung up. 

It was about time for my meeting. I had just enough time to grab some coffee, so I did. Arnie was late. He was almost always late. It was one of those little reasons why he was nearly ten years older than me and still my junior in the executive hierarchy.

I turned the presentation over to him the moment I could. He might have been coming down from an overdose, but I was still dealing with a savage beating, and without a doctor's note I was going to assume mine was the worse injury.

Besides, he was smarter. And he didn't disappoint. Even with limited time, he put together a hell of a presentation.

Of course, that was about to become moot. ?I?d like to weigh in on our proposed repurchase agreements with our European subsidiary,? George said.

?Legal?s already cleared those agreements,? Richard snapped.

?Yes, they?re technically legal,? George said, ?but that didn?t stop fraud charges from being filed against our colleagues at Ernst and Young for this exact practice.?

?I move for a vote right now,? said Sam Warwick, ?on the grounds that this behavior would be unethical, and could potentially expose the company to legal peril.?

?Seconded,? said his son, Alex, noddling his approval.

?Yay?? Richard asked, frowning down on me. Not a single hand went up.

?Nay? George asked, when it became evident that his brother wouldn't. Every hand on the board went up.

That was interesting. George had always hated his brother for being on top; he wanted it for himself, but had never really had the stones to do anything about it. Yet here he was, challenging his brother in front of God and the board.

It was nice Richard was going to have an entirely new set of people to blame for what had happened. As soon as I got back to my office, I called Petra inside.

?What do you know about Sam and Alex Warwick??

?They both came onto the board during the financial crisis. We were having some capital issues; their company offered a series of loan guarantees, and they came on to safeguard their investment. Why??

?Because they've suddenly come alive. I've been in a dozen meetings where they didn't say a word. But today, they hijacked a feel-good meeting.?

11/27/11

  10:46:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1669 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 27: Slippery

I turned on Julee's spying software, and idly wondered if she'd saved herself a copy; it never hurts to have recordings you can use to blackmail your boss.

I heard her office door open, then shut.

?What can I do for you?? Daria asked.

?How much do you know about Mark Dane??

?He's slippery. And any time I begin to think I've got him figured out, he does something that throws me off again. So very little.?

?I think he scotched a deal I was putting together for some commodity futures.?

?I think he did you a favor. From what I hear, that deal would have wiped out the entire floor.?

?Word travels fast up here.?

?Especially when it comes to security.?

?But I think- no, I wonder, if he didn't just blow up the deal for the good of the company. If he's got an ulterior motive, against me, against the company, I'd like to know.?

?I don't know why Dane does anything. My associate, Joel, put him through our vetting wringer, and if anything he came out cleaner than he went in. Even our other investigations- more general ones, looking into patterns of destructive behavior amongst the staff? which for those of you playing along at home is code for Julee trying to screw my master plan out of me, ?nothing so far. He skeeves me; but I still can't even be sure if he's done anything wrong at all. It could just be a vibe about him I don't like.?

?Well, since it's about that time, I was wondering if you'd like to talk about our illustrious Mr. Dane and his exploits of daring do over lunch.?

?To be clear. Are you asking me out on a date, or a lunch meeting??

?Does it matter??

?Matters a great deal... which leads me to suspect it's the former. I haven't exactly had good luck with workplace romance.?

?I heard about Clarence Rand.?

Most of what you've heard is wrong.

So he didn't cop a plea to a murder?

He plead. But that doesn't mean he did it.

Never does. But you still care about him. Carrying the proverbial torch. I can respect that. But if you'd like to go on a little friendly lunch meeting sometime.

Raincheck.

Indefinitely?

Indubitably. 

 

Julee didn't knock this time, just shoved her way inside. ?Hot, right?? she asked.

Petra called immediately on the intercom. ?Is everything all right??

?It's fine, just an overexcited member of the security staff.?

?Oh.? There was annoyance in her voice, since she recognized I was talking about Julee. She hung up. 

?It almost makes you wish they knew we were conspiring against them,? Julee said, and sat down in her regular chair. I caught myself staring, wondering if this was going to be a meeting like our last couple; she caught me, too. ?I've got on all my underthings- but it doesn't have to stay that way.?

?So you have been listening in,? I tried to redirect.

?Only when I think I'm going to hear something juicy. And tall black and handsome lawyer walking into the boss lady's office, almost the definition of juicy. But isn't it great how things have lined up?? She stood up, and leaned far over my desk. ?White on black, black on white. The goody two-shoes versus the pragmatic, devious pair of espionage experts.? I think somewhere near the middle of that sentence I'd stopped paying attention to the words and gotten lost in the way her mouth, lips and teeth moved together.

?Are you staring at my mouth when I've all but set my cleavage on your desk?? she asked, smiling. ?Men are strange.?

?Granted. But somehow, despite hundreds of years, we haven't adapted to women and their wiles. And by wiles I mean breasts, legs, mouths, eyes and occasionally feet.?

?That's because you're the inferior gender. And are you sliding in there that you have a feet thing??

?I prefer flawed. And no, no feet thing. I thought I might, for like a week in college. One gnarly big toe in my mouth later and no, no feet thing.?

?You sure? Because I have delectable feet.?

?I?d be more than happy to rub them for you, and you know, if it?s something somebody?s really into, maybe, but for my own personal satisfaction, toe sucking doesn?t scratch any of my particular itches.?

?Okay,? she said, and kicked off her shoes and set her toes on my desk.

?Okay what?? I asked, not following.

?You said you?d be more than happy to rub them, and I never turned down a massage, foot or otherwise.?  

It wasn?t what I?d meant, but I couldn?t think of a good reason not to, either, so I pushed the balls of my palm into her sole. ?Ooh, that?s nice,? she said. ?I had been just fucking with you; didn?t expect you to do this here.?

?What will the neighbors say?? I deadpanned.

?I was thinking more along the lines of that sweet little secretary of yours. How would she take it, if she walked in on this??

?We?re not going to do a Pulp Fiction foot massage bit.?

?You never let me do bits.?

?Yes, but I do let you do my bits.? She took the foot that I wasn?t touching off the desk and pushed it into my crotched. ?You don?t have to have a foot thing to enjoy a foot in the crotch- the sensual kind, not the stompy kind.?   

?So would you give another man a foot massage??

?Not the kind where one of his feet finds its way to my groin- unless I?m in prison, because that changes the rules some.?

?Sounds kinky. Can I watch??

?I don?t think that?s how conjugal visits work.?

?So am I going to get to return the foot massage tonight? Someplace more private??

?What?s wrong with now.?

?Oh, I was going to massage you with my feet.?

?Your new goal is to give me a foot thing, isn?t it??

?I see it as a challenge.?

?I?m actually staying with Petra.?

?That?s right. After the break-in.?

?I was wondering why you hadn?t asked me about my face.?

?Yeah, it was big news in the security department yesterday. Not often one of the executive?s homes gets broken- and even rarer when they shoot their attacker dead in the center of the forehead. Damn sexy, that. I can?t wait to fuck you over the chalk outline; promise you won?t clean up until I get the chance.?

?It was on carpet, so no chalk. And I think Petra may have already had the cleaners in for the bloodstains- presuming the police cleared it.?

?You don?t know??

?Been pretty out of it, the last day. He kicked the hell out of me before he died.?

?Hottest sentence ever- at least when the ?he died? comes with the connotation of ?I killed him.? If it was connoting you getting the shit stomped from you by a septuagenarian who then spontaneously keeled over- significantly less hot.?

?Noted.?

She put her shoes back on, got up and walked to the door. ?You owe me sex, though; don?t forget that.? She shut the door behind herself. I waited for her influence to dissipate, and walked out to Petra?s desk.

?I don?t like her,? Petra said petulantly.

?And why?s that??

?Half the time she doesn?t wear underwear, or a bra. And even when she does, it?s obvious, because it shoes every time she takes a step in those heels. It?s crappy enough trying not to be a sexual harassment magnet on this floor, but women like her make it harder. And the shittier part of that equation is she?s better than me. Maybe I?ve got ambitions, but I really am just an administrative assistant around here; I?m not even a part of this ecosystem, I?m a little bird cleaning the meat out of your teeth. She?s at least a high ranking person in the security department.?  

?Well, you?re my assistant, but you?re also that other thing.?

?Insanely bendable??

?I meant that other thing. Hoover, the cross-dressing one.?

?Yeah, but? it?s hard to feel that that?s even my real job. This is what I do every day. And in this? I?m somehow less important than Trampy McBraless. And it works for her. Every single man in this office drools on her pumps. The absolute worst part is that I?m jealous of her. Just being intimidated wouldn?t be so bad.?

I put my arm around her, and she buried herself in my shoulder. ?You are insanely bendable, though.?

?Some people might accuse you of fostering a hostile work environment.?

?I?m just repeating what you said, and you?re the one who keeps putting her hand in my pants.?

?Only because you put your hand up my skirt.?

?I don?t suppose we could just call it a draw.?

?I think even in a draw you end up in the wrong, since you?re the boss.?

?Damnit. Do you want to go home early, where you can console me with sex??

?Thought you?d never ask.?

?Oh, I almost forgot to ask. What?s the word on getting my apartment cleaned??

?Police won?t release it for forty-eight hours, to make sure all of their evidence is good. After that, they don?t care if whatever?s left over gets destroyed. So the earliest I could get the cleaners in is tomorrow morning. Why??

?I just wanted a chance to go through it myself, first. I think it?d be? too disturbing if I just showed up after work tomorrow to my place, cleaned up like nothing ever happened. I shot somebody, who beat the fuck out of me and was going to murder me. I think I just want to be able to process that first, stand in the room, in the ruin of my old coffee table, and let that reality sink in. So if you could move it to the next day, that?d be great.?

?Sure,? she said, ?Yeah. Anything you need.?  

11/26/11

  09:49:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1764 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 26: Hard Sell

I needed a way out, some way around management, without trying to run through the gauntlet of legal traps that were waiting ahead. Specifically, I needed to step outside the box, and talk to the woman behind the curtain. ?That US Attorney, could you set up a meeting??

 

?I'm undercover,? Petra said. ?But I'll try.?

 

She had more juice than she thought, because I got a ten o'clock meeting with the attorney.

 

She had a modest but polished office, wall to wall with legal books. That made me like her; she didn't have an area designed for famous people she'd rubbed up against, or even for her degrees. Of course, she wasn't happy to see me, and glared angrily from behind her desk. 

 

She had chin-length dirty blond hair, bordering on light-brown, piercing blue eyes and sharp features, concealed somewhat by a smart business suit. F, though I suspected immediately that she was playing for the other team. 

 

?I assume there's a good reason why someone who could pass for the guy featherweight boxers humiliate and discard needed so urgently to talk to me. Because I find it hard to believe you have any friends in the bureau.? That was when I remembered I was still puffy and misshapen, for all of Petra's work with concealers and foundation.

 

?I work at a company you're investigating. And I know that you've got a senior member of our legal team all but working for you, and an administrative assistant working through the bureau for the SEC. My company doesn't know these things. And broadly speaking, I don't think that they need to. But this investigation started by York, needs to end.?

 

?Even if I knew what you were talking about?

 

?Hear me out, before you decide to play dumb. The investigation's a bust. Let's not pretend otherwise. But I think I can turn a loss into a mutually beneficial situation.? She didn't want to give anything away. Maybe I had to bump her up to M; maybe she wasn't interested in me physically, but I wasn't interested in her romantically, so that seemed fair. ?You put out a press release, stating that your office, in conjunction with the SEC, requested our firm to look into the concept of excessive futures speculation. From the data we provided, you've been able to mark out territory ripe for abuse. The SEC  gets to write the regulations that were always its end goal, you get some lovely press, and so do we. And you have a ready excuse when your bosses ask where all those investigation funds went.?

 

?You're company is pursuing an illegal strategy.?

 

?It is quasi-legal, I checked into that. The rules on the books prohibit excessive speculation, but there's nothing approaching a definition of what's excessive. Best case, SEC could claim we were trying to excessively speculate, which would allow them to make a rule, and then force us to divest anything in excess of 'excess.'?

 

?You were trying to manipulate prices.?

 

?Maybe, if it worked, which I'm still dubious about; though really all we were trying to do was manipulate the market, which, again, is quasi-legal. And I get the feeling you're ignoring the forest for the trees. And you could very likely destroy the company with this, even though you'd never prevail in court. But this company is the fourth largest financial institution in the country. You think the economy is strong enough to withstand that shockwave? You could end up lording over another Lehman.?

 

?You're desperate. You can't even stick to a single argument.?

 

?This isn't a courtroom, and you're more sophisticated than a jury; I have multiple arguments because it's a complicated situation. I don't have to play act for you that there's a unified theory of everything explaining why this would not go to plan. I think you already know this, though; it?s why you?re still listening to me. The most important thing is this: we don't want to go to war with the US Attorney's office. A mistake was made, and steps were immediately taken to have it rectified.?

 

?Immediately being a relative term.?

 

?It's a gray area. If it weren't, you wouldn't still be talking. The case isn't as strong as York wanted it to be. And it borders on entrapment, as York was the one who originated the plan.?

 

?Of his own volition as a corporate officer.?

 

?Who blackmailed his way into the company. But this can be win-win-win. FTC gets their new rules, you get your gold star, and the company gets some good press; as a side bonus, you make yourself some rich friends, for the day you decide to run for an office you have to campaign for.?

 

?That?s disgusting.?

 

?I know. Election law basically turns all officials into whores. But by making a sensible decision here and now, you can be sure that if that day ever comes, you?ll be the kind of high priced whore who has her own million dollar condo, whose customers come to her, and thank their goddamn stars for the privilege.?  

 

She didn't get to be a US Attorney by being bad at the politicking, but she chews her lip anyway, which I take to mean she's anxious over something else. ?York doesn't get burned for this.? The man certainly seemed to inspire loyalty.

 

?Suits me. But if he tries this entrapment shit again, I'll personally see to it that he's fired.?

 

?That's fair.?

 

I probably should have taken the rest of the day off. But it wasn't in my nature to rest. Which in this case worked to my advantage. In my absence they had Arnie working on it. He was hours, if that, from finalizing a plan for pork futures.

 

By noon, the paperwork from the US Attorney's office came through the fax machine; oh, government, always significantly behind the times. I immediately scanned it in, and attached it to an email to the Morgans.

 

I'd hoped to be able to spend the next day or so recuperating in my office, so as not to show off my Quasimodo look. But the moment the email was away, I knew that would never happen.

 

Within the hour I was standing in Richard's office. He was angry, and he wanted me fired. In fact, I think the only reason he hadn't was he'd seen me work; he knew there was a reason behind this, and he wanted to know what that was.

 

?You went to the Feds,? he said.

 

?The Feds went for us. I've got a buddy from grad school who joined up with the Bureau. He mentioned it to me, in passing, not thinking about whether or not I was already in the know about it. I had him dig further. The SEC and a US Attorney had baited a trap for us. I talked them down from trying to prosecute- on the grounds that jig was up and we weren't going to go through with any of it- and instead pretending like it was all part of a good government regulatory action, working with business.?

 

?You went to the Feds.?

 

?They would have buried us, all of us on this floor. They don't need to successfully prosecute any of us. All they have to do is start making noises and occasionally mumbling words like 'Goldman Sachs,' 'Lehman,' 'Bear Stearns.' The board would castrate and then castigate the lot of us. And whatever fucktards they put in in a hurry would nosedive the value of the stock we all hold in this company.?

 

Allistair Neville was in the room. I half expected him to bury me, then and there, when he opened his mouth to speak. ?He's right. They might have been able to bend the lot of us over a barrel- at least in the press. Even if there were no convictions, would that really be any consolation if you lost control of your company??

 

?Have you any idea how many millions of dollars you've cost me, personally??

 

Arnie looked worse than he had that first night in the hospital, but I'd worked with him enough years to recognize when he was about to spout off an estimate; I glared at him to keep his mouth shut. ?But the company's intact,? I said. ?And, more to the point, I think someone in legal was talking to the US Attorney's office. They knew about this too quickly. By the time I found out about it, they knew everything.?

 

I felt bad, throwing Neville under the bus so soon after he'd tried to push me out its way, but it was the truth- his office was where the leak had come from. Richard liked not having to pretend that he knew the ins and outs of the deal he'd been pressing on us. A mole was a far simpler concept, and he snarled in Allistair's direction. ?If there's a  leak in your office I want it plugged.? Richard looked around the room, at all the men smarter than him, and didn't like the conversations we might get up to. ?Now get out.?

 

It was a victory, but a shallow, hollow feeling one. I wanted to punch a wall, or really, York, but he was a lawyer. There are very few things in this life dumber than punching a lawyer.

 

I slammed my office door. I must have been more frustrated than I realized. Petra followed me in. ?Everything okay?? she asked, sliding behind my chair as I fell into it. If she worked for the CIA, I might have suspected this was the moment she garroted me. But she worked for the Federal Touchy-Feeling Bureau of trying not to commit crimes on US soil- ever since Hoover dropped dead, anyway. The started to kneed my shoulders like they owed her money.

 

?That actually makes me feel a lot better,? I said, closing my eyes and sighing.

 

Then my phone rang, two dashes. ?That's a weird ring,? she said; ?and why'd it go straight through??

 

?Priority line. Certain customers get right through to me. Now could you excuse me,? I said. I waited until she'd cleared the door to answer it.

 

I recognized the voice immediately, saying, ?from legal.? It was York.

 

?I heard you'd joined their team.?

 

?Do you have a moment?? he asked.

 

?Sure.?

  05:48:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 915 words  
Categories: Batman Comes Out

Batman Comes Out: Caught Red-Hooded

ID: Your year?s almost up. If you?re still planning on kicking you?d better hurry up.

B: I never planned on dying before the 52 interviews were over. In fact, I think I?m sticking around for a while, yet.

ID: As in not dying, or as in more interviews?

B: Both, probably. I can?t see me shutting up any time too soon, can you?

ID: Not unless parts of Harvey?s anatomy were used to damn up your dike of a mouth.

B: Wow.

ID: Too far?

B: So far.

ID: Good. Because I wanted you distracted for a moment, because you?re not going to like this topic.

B: Christ.

ID: So you?ve figured it out.

B: Based on that? No. You just usually don?t warn me and it?s usually pretty bad, so if you?re warning me?

ID: I want to talk about Red Hood. Not just the urban legend. But the time you nearly caught him.

B: How much do you know?

ID: Enough to know if you?re lying. And if you lie, I?ll tell it my way, and the light will be as unflattering as my exceptional skills of deprecation can make it.

B: Like you said, the Red Hood was an urban legend. But because of that, criminals started using a red hood and cape get up to perpetuate it. And any time I caught somebody in a red hood and cape, well, they just said they were a decoy, and the real Red Hood was still out there. Convenient, right?

ID: So lots of Saddam body doubles.

B: Essentially. But this particular night, there was a break-in at Ajax chemicals. Some low-rent thugs. But they had along a novice, wearing the red hood and cape. I showed up, chased the thugs off.

But the Red Hood runs up rather than away. I took that as a savvy escape plan, and I chased after him. In retrospect, he was just panicked, trying like hell to figure out a way to get distance between me and him. But I pursued him, doggedly. He trips, over a guard rail over a large vat of chemicals, a lot of byproducts that were being cooked down so they could be disposed of. Ajax was doing something fairly illegal, though, because they were highly reactive, and the area where they were dumping the chemicals were supposed to be rendered inert.

The Red Hood manages to catch the rail, but he?s sweating profusely. And I get there, and as I?m about to grab him to haul him up, he freaks out, somehow believing that I?m worse than whatever?s below him- and from up there the smoke coming off it is burning my eyes and my lungs, making my nose run.

ID: Criminals are a stupid, cowardly lot. And you stupid and cowarded this guy to death.

B: He let go. But he didn?t die. Of course, you know that.

ID: And who was he?

B: He?s systematically stolen, burned or altered all of his records. I?ve never been able to ascertain who he was before the accident.

ID: You?ve been doing so well; this isn?t the time to get shy. What name would the public know this disfigured if jolly man as?

B: The Joker.

ID: The audience gasps. So you created the Joker.

B: No. I failed to save him. I terrified him, made him anxious and clumsy, and then when he fell into that vat of roiling chemicals, I failed to catch him. But I didn?t create him.

ID: Okay, I can see the distinction you want to make; you didn?t bake the crazy cake, but you certainly had a hand in stirring the batter. Cracked a few of the insane eggs, if you will. And that certainly explains some of his obsession with you.

B: I think mostly that comes from his belief that we?re alike, mirrored images, changed only slightly by the viewing angle. He honestly thinks he?s teaching me about the world, that he?s helping prepare me for its harsh realities- when he wouldn?t know reality

ID: If it were baked into a pie and thrown at him.

B: Something like that. But why now? Where?d this blackmailable information come from?

ID: Anonymous note from a Mr. White. Three guesses to who that is, and the first two don?t count.

B: Joker. Bastard.

ID: And it feels kind of crappy to be used by somebody like him, but I?m a journalist. And dollars to donuts he wasn?t going to just send this to me. This way, your version of events gets to be the lead.

B: Justify however you like. We both know what you are.

ID: All we?re arguing over is the price? It?s a bad economy all around, but it?s a worse one for journalists. You might have the luxury of principals. But mine isn?t an industry that?s ever had that luxury. It?s expensive enough trying to stick to the truth.

Besides, the difference I see between you and the Joker- the fundamental difference- is that he hides from reality, behind his delusions and his humor. You don?t.

B: That?s convenient.

ID: Sometimes the truth is. Sometimes it isn?t. I?m not an arbiter of fairness; I just want to get at wants honest, and human, and real. You do, too- because you think it?s important for people to see where who you are came from- or you wouldn?t be here.

B: But what if I?ve decided I don?t like where ?here? is getting me?

11/25/11

  03:36:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1623 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 25: Blue

Petra cleared leaving my car at the hotel with the desk clerk. He charged her for it, and when I tried to protest, she glared at me. ?Do you think you can drive? In your condition? You shouldn't have driven here.? She was probably right, because I didn't have the wherewithal to argue the point with her.

But what was really bothering her had to wait until we were alone in her car. ?You should have called me.? She swallowed; she was feeling vulnerable, anxious. ?It's my job,? she tried to cover, though we both knew that wasn't what she'd meant.

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be feeling, but I took a stab. ?I was ashamed. I was outclassed by the man who attacked me. He would have beaten me to death with his hands, and I wouldn't have even thrown a punch back. I lucked into getting a knife; it's the only reason I'm still alive.?

?I thought you shot him.?

?I stabbed him first. That bought me enough space and time to get to my nightstand, where I kept a revolver.?

?I didn't know that,? she said. ?But you shouldn't feel bad. It sounds like that guy won the musclebound freak lottery. But you've got brains, beauty- it's more than muscles that make a man.?

?I have muscles,? I protested meekly.

?I know,? she said. ?I just meant that you don't have to be a meathead to still be masculine. You're an impressive specimen to me.? She reached over her shifter and took hold of my hand. It was one of the few parts of me that didn't hurt- you know, except for the shallow cuts from crawling through my coffee table. 

She stopped the car, for a red light, and turned to fix me with her eyes, the green of tropical waters. ?And you never have to be ashamed with me.?

?It's green,? I told her, pointing to the lights. She stepped on the gas.

When we got back to her place, she told me, ?Undress. I'll take your clothes out to be dry cleaned later, but for now, we need to get you cleaned up.?

I was hesitant. There was something strange about standing in her living room, getting naked while she flitted about, putting my bag away, going to the kitchen. She emerged with a glass, but then disappeared into her bathroom. I heard her get into the medicine cabinet, start the tub filling. then she came back out. She handed me pills and the glass. ?800 mg naproxen, heavy duty stuff. And to wash it down, some wine, nothing particularly fancy, but it should help, too.?

I took the pills and downed them with the wine. I supposed she could be drugging me, but to what end? Roofies? She was planning on having sex with me anyway. Interrogation? That seemed unlikely, at this stage. Poison? I'd almost welcome that, the way my head was pounding.

I was still in the process of undress, standing there in my underpants and a wife beater, when she took my hand and led me into the bathroom. ?Make sure it isn't too hot,? she told me.

?I'd be happy to be a lobster,? I told her, ?so long as it boiled these knots out of my back.? I put my hand under the running water; it was about perfect, perhaps a little too warm, but that just meant after it cooled a little it would be perfect, and would stay that way longer.

I slipped out of the rest of my clothes, and when I turned around, I saw she was undressing, too. That surprised me. ?I'm going to bathe you,? she said, retrieving a clean wash cloth from a drawer beneath her sink.

As soon as the water was high enough to cover the jets she turned them on. Then she had me lay down in the water, and the tub was wide enough for her to straddle me. She used the washcloth first to wet my face, and dabbed softly at my wounds. Then she washed my chest; it was all very tender, perhaps motherly. There was sensuality in it, too, but it came from the gentility.

?I was in a pretty rough relationship, once,? she said, stroking my forehead with the cloth. ?He beat me up a few times. And I was young, and naïve, enough to think that was part of the way the world worked. I accepted it, at least for a while. But it made me. a little used to the damage being thrown around does.?

She washed me all over, but what caught my attention was that she kept catching my attention; she'd stare into my eyes, and then kiss me. She barely let me touch her; she said I was hurt, and was supposed to be relaxing. 

We stayed until the water was cold, and even adding new water wasn't enough to keep it warm anymore. She drained the tub, and dried me off before drying herself. Then she used alcohol to clean my the cuts on my hands, and face. Where it made sense, she bandaged them.

Then she turned awkward, looked away, and blushed. ?About sex,? she started, ?we don't have to, if you're too hurt.?

?After that bath, I think it's more dangerous for us not to have sex; we could both be killed by exploding blue ball shrapnel.?

?I'll be gentle with you, and your tender balls,? she said, smiling. 

She insisted we keep the light in her bedroom on, and I knew immediately why: she wasn't done looking at me. In fact, now she needed me to stare into her longing eyes. She took her time with me, but she never stopped looking in my eyes.

She was full of energy, or maybe it just seemed that way since I was almost completely without any. Her head had hardly hit her pillow post-coitus when she sprang back up and asked. ?Are you hungry??

I hadn't thought about it, but now that I did, I said, ?Yeah, and I think that wine hit me harder than it should have, because I haven't had anything to eat today.?

?Let me make you something. I think I have some chicken, and I can fry up some potatoes and greens. You should stay here, try to rest; I like having reasons to take care of you.? She kissed me on the forehead and bounced off.

I didn't intend to sleep, but between the wine, the bath, and the sex, I was completely relaxed. She woke me with a plane white plate heaped in food, and another glass of wine. 

It had been a long time since I'd had fried potatoes. Hash browns, french fries, and all of the other potato variations, but not old-fashioned fried potatoes. So I'd forgotten how much I loved them, especially with ketchup.

She barely touched her own plate, just watched me eat it. When I was chewing through a particularly large bite of chicken she asked, ?You know I love you, right? That this is far past what a woman does for her boss, even one she's sleeping with??

I swallowed. ?I had kind of guessed.?

?There's no pressure, or anything. I just. I wanted you to know. Because I wouldn't want to be the only one...? 

?You're not,? I told her, and pulled her into my chest.

I finished eating, and then we napped. I slept most of the day.  When I woke up, around ten that night, she stirred in my arms. ?I hate that this can't be our life, that we can't just stay here and be naked all the time.?

She got out from under the blankets and walked over to the window, and I found myself admiring the soft light coming from the kitchen reflection off her curves. ?But the world out there conspires to keep us from being happy.? She sighed, and walked back over to the bed. ?You can't go through with this,? she said.

?I'm pretty sure we're past my refractory period, ?I lifted the bed to show her, ?see.?

?I don't mean sex; you're definitely going through with that. I mean York's deal. I told you the reason I never reported Ed's harassment was that I was sure I'd be ignored, and marginalized, and eventually fired. Well, the other reason is I?ve been moonlighting. For the Bureau.?

I feigned surprise. ?The Federal Bureau? The one that investigates things?? 

?So you?ve heard of it,? she deadpanned. ?Jameson, for all of his `many other faults, was also being investigated by the SEC. We knew about the rest of it, too, which is why we targeted him in the first place, because a man with that skeleton-filled a closet was more likely to roll if pushed. But then that other crap came up from an IT investigation, and he got canned. We figured somebody in the company would probably carry on his dealings, likely even my new boss.?

?But you didn?t. To my knowledge you were never even approached about it. Which probably means somebody else took over- maybe even somebody in another department. But my investigation has been very much a marathon; this thing with York, it's kicked into a sprint. And the thing is, it's been a set-up all along. York brought it to the SEC before he ever brought it to the company. It was designed, with the help of a US Attorney, to screw the company over- at least presuming the executives were greedy enough to jump at it.?

?Which of course our bosses were.?  

?But if you go through with it, you'll go to jail. And I didn't want to let that happen.?

I put my arms around her. ?Don't worry, Petra. It won't.?

11/24/11

  05:28:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 400 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 50: The Monument

?Do you have a moment?? Omar asked, peering his head inside my office door.

 

?For the man who, as I understand it, spared me a gouging from Hamdi? Course.?

 

?It pleases me, to be rid of him. He was angry. Always. We will not agree, on many things. But society is built upon the bones of disagreements. That wasn?t something he could agree to understand.?

 

?You?ve got my ear, but please, try to be quick about it.?

 

?Islam is peace. It pained me to make war, but I made it, with sadness in my heart. Because the injustice in this world could not stand. But for those of us here, our place in that war is ended. If the stone we pushed continues to roll, perhaps someday our cause will be won, but it is now beyond our power to influence the stone. As we can no longer make holy war, we must make holy peace. But for us to have peace, there must be justice.?

 

?Sounds like we?re starting on that vicious cycle. I can?t give you that justice.?

 

?I misspoke. The justice I seek is of a different kind. I?m asking not for justice in the whole world- that is something that only Allah can grant us. What I want is justice for my fallen brethren. A token, a statue, a memorial.?

 

?We?re not going to have a shrine to the martyrs in the middle of town. That war is over- at least for those here.?

 

?You misunderstand. When I say my fallen brethren, I mean those who have died in custody. Like Ramzi.?

 

?Aren?t they martyrs, too?? I asked.

 

?They?re men who died who didn?t need to. Remembering that has nothing to do with jihad.?

 

?So it?s a warning, then. But for who??

 

?Everyone. People die, from neglect, from a lack of care, because we fail them. Because we have not made them understand their place with us in this world. People want for the security of a home. People desire recognition for their suffering. This would go a long way towards that recognition.?  

 

?So long as it?s modest, and its meaning is kept noncontroversial, I think we could swing that.? I held out my hand, and he shook it. ?Why do I get a feeling you could talk an allergic man into putting his hand in a beehive??

 

?I?ll take that as a compliment,? Omar said.

  03:34:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1849 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 24: Antimony

I called the police immediately. The dispatcher seemed to want to minimize the situation until I told her I?d shot the man. Then she told me she?d send a unit, and there?d be a homicide detective on the way as soon as one was available. Oh, and if I could please refrain from tampering with the evidence, that would also be super.

It still took fifteen minutes for a unit to arrive- though, I suppose, he was dead and I?d called it in, so I suppose the emergency had technically passed. Having a body in my apartment made me fidgety. I wanted to make some toast, or have a shower, or even a nap.

But instead I got to thinking about why he was here. It wasn?t a simple break-in. He?d never asked me for anything, not money, not my watch, not if I had any other valuables. If he was here for Rand, what had he wanted? Sure, he probably wanted me beaten, but that wasn?t enough. This guy?d just gotten out of prison, he wasn?t going to risk an assault or murder charge for whatever spare change Rand could get him from behind bars. To really get a payoff, he was going to need more. Confession beaten out of me probably wouldn?t get Rand out of prison, but it could provide the right direction for his legal team to prepare an appeal. I patted down the body; I figured he?d beaten the hell out of me enough that a little physical evidence on him would be easily enough explained. And sure enough, he had a tape recorder. I stopped it from recording, and hid the recorder behind one of the cabinet drawers in my kitchen.

The uniform who came was tall, lanky and silent. ?You the guy shot the intruder?? I nodded. He went to work taping my door with yellow plastic signage, and was just finishing when a female detective, thin and short, ducked under the tape. She had goth-black hair in a pixie cut, and was terse, cold and unemotional, and as I was the only one standing with blood all over him, she picked me out pretty quick. F. ?Have you altered anything about the apartment since the event took place??

I had a can in my hand, half-drank. ?The Coke is new. Long day, and I suspected this was going to drag it longer. I thought?

?That?s fine, sir. Where?s the firearm?? A mousy little crime scene tech was on the detective?s heals. She had a short brown bowl-cut and thick-framed glasses; F, but only because I still had a residual childhood crush on Velma from Scooby Doo. 

?Bedroom, on the nightstand.? She nodded, and the tech went scrambling down the hall, and nearly stepped on the body.

The detective sighed, and shook her head. ?Were there any signs of a break-in when you arrived home??

?Nothing I recognized. It wasn?t until I was inside the apartment that I realized something was amiss. He said something about prison, where a coworker of mine just ended up. I wonder if that?s related.?

?That would make sense. Sometimes that?ll happen. A guy on short-time will hit up new blood for easy marks on the outside. No offense.?

?None taken,? I said, gesturing to the cuts and bruises on my face. 

?But you walked in. He said something about prison??

?Yeah.?

?Then what.?

?At first I figured it was just a break-in, that he wanted my valuables but didn?t intend any real harm to me. Even when he threw me through my coffee table, I just figured it was intimidation. And I was cooperating, until he started to slam me around in the kitchen, and I realized he wasn?t going to let me live. I got ahold of a knife while he was throwing me around, but even then he didn?t stop. I made it to my bedroom, where I kept my gun. I yelled for him to stop, but he kept coming, and I??

?I think that?s enough of a statement.? There was something about her, a detached efficiency, that made me stare at her. If I thought I was capable of it, I?d have thought I was in love. M. ?This tech will have a couple of requirements of you.? The detective made a beeline for the door.

?Put up both of your hands for me,? the tech said. ?First I?m going to swab both of your hands with this. It?s an instant test to see if you?ve recently fired a gun. The swab goes in this cube, I break the seal, and, see the blue spots? Chemical residue from the gun firing. This test is accurate about 90% of the time, and it?s instantaneous. But if there?s ever any reason for this to go to court, we need something a little more exacting.? She produced another pair of swabs. ?So I take another sample, from both hands,? she put each swab into a vial and closed them up. ?We?ll test them for antimony, a rare metal that?s found in most bullets. And I?m going to need you to remove your shirt and place it in this bag. Uh, I can get a male officer, if you want.?

?That?s fine,? I said, unbuttoning my shirt.

?I can avert my eyes if you want,? she said; I was pretty sure she was awkwardly trying to flirt with me. In other circumstances I might have been flattered, and I do look good without a shirt on, but my face looked like matzo ball soup diarrhea, with maybe some stamped in plums for the bruising.

?You don?t own a Great Dane or a green van, do you??

?No,? she said, perplexed. ?Why does everyone ask me that??

?No reason,? I said, the fantasy utterly ruined. 

She sealed up her evidence. ?Has anybody talked to you about the apartment yet??

?No,? I said.

?Uck,? she said, trying to glare at either of uniforms, but she neither was in her eye line. ?It?s an active crime scene. For at least the next couple of days it?s going to be off-limits, even to you. So you should pack up anything you need. ME should be here in a few minutes to pronounce and claim the body, and I?ll officially seal the scene then.?

?So I can pack a bag, then??

?Absolutely, just don?t take anything that could be tangentially related to the case- not that that?s likely, anyway. I?ve already bagged the knife and the gun. You took a couple of good blows to the head, right??

?Yeah.?

?You might want to think about going to the hospital. It?s possible you?re concussed, in which case sleeping wouldn?t be such a hot idea.?

?I?ll think about it- when I?m capable of thinking again.?

I packed myself several days of clothes. Sometime in the interim, the ME came and started playing with the body. Something about him poking the corpse reminded me that I needed toiletries, too.

I drove my car to a hotel a couple of miles from my place. Thankfully there was somebody at the front desk. ?You look like hell,? he said; he probably thought I was homeless, or at least insane, and didn?t want to give me a room.

?My place got broken into. While I was there.?

?Shit.?

?You should see the other guy.?

?I kind of doubt I?d enjoy that.?

?I doubt it, too.?

?For the night, total?s going to come to? I handed him my credit card.

?Don?t care. I just need a bed, and a door with a lock on it.?

?Yeah, that I can understand.? He gave me a metal key, which felt all old-timey. ?117, just straight down that hall.?

I dragged my bag, grateful it had wheels on it and I didn?t have to actually lift the bastard thing again. I wanted nothing more than to sleep for several days.

But that didn?t happen. The guests around me all started stirring just a few hours later, and the walls did nothing to keep their noises out. I jammed wads of toilet paper in my ears, but all that did was muffle the cacophony, which actually made it worse, since it meant I could nearly make out what was being said, which kept my stupid brain curious.

I thought about bludgeoning myself with the lamp on the nightstand, but I was probably already concussed, and didn?t need to test my luck on that point.

Things were just starting to settle back down, and I thought I was having a conversation with a slightly angry big bird about his thoughts on big butts, how he liked them, and how little he could deny that.

It was only when I say up that I realized I?d passed out in my clothes, on top of the covers. Thankfully, my blood had all dried before I did, or I might have had to pay several whole dollars to replace the bedding.

It was my secretary, though it took a few stabs to hit the right button to answer it. ?Petra? I?m not going to be in today.?

?What happened?? She hadn?t known me long enough to know that I?d never called in to work- unless she?d read my personnel file. Which, come to think of it, seemed likely.

?My apartment got broken into. I walked into it. And I shot the intruder.?

?Jesus.?

?I should be back tomorrow.?

?Where are you staying??

?Hotel.?

?Not anymore. What?s the hotel??

?I think it?s a Day?s Inn.?

?I?ll cancel anything you?ve got today, and meet you there.?

The lobby buzzed me about having a visitor an hour later. Her expression changed the moment she saw my swollen and misshapen face, so I tried to deflect. ?I still have the room for a couple hours.?

?Yes, but what did you think I was planning on doing with you when I got you back to my place? Where I have an actual nice mattress, high thread count sheets, a wide selection of massage oils- though not so wide as to arouse weird questions-?

?But certainly enough to foment weird arousal.?

?and a jacuzzi tub.?

?That does sound inviting. And I?m 90% certain somebody peed in my bed.?

?Was that somebody you??

?I don?t mean last night- just recently- and recently enough there?s still a faint smell of it wafting up through the covers.?

?For my own curiosity, why were you sniffing the mattress for urine??

?I woke up face down on it. And I was more than a little curious if somehow I?d caused it. And if I had peed myself, I wanted the opportunity to try and hide the sheets under the bed.?

?So you?re a three year old.?

?I don?t think my thoughts on bed-wetting have evolved much since then.?

?Where?s your stuff??

?Back in the room.?

?You?re just trying to lure me back there. Though, since you can barely stay on your feet, I don?t think it?s for the obvious; you want me to sniff the mattress, don?t you??

?Would you??

?Would it make you feel better??

?I think it might.?

?Okay, give me your room key, and I?ll get your bag, and sniff your bed. But if you tell anybody about the latter, I will geld you.?

?Seems fair,? I said.

11/23/11

  05:23:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: VD-Day

  03:30:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1703 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 23: Prisoners

I left work early so I had time to stop at the prison. Clarence was allowed a small window of time for a visitor, and I was at least curious about what he wanted. He was sitting on the other side of some plexiglass, with a phone connected to my side, and probably to someone listening in. I picked up my receiver as I sat down, and he picked up his.

?What was so urgent??

?Since it?s not like I have anywhere I have to be? I just needed some human contact. Some closeness, some decency. And a favor.?

?Well let?s hear it- unless that favor involves something going into my ass, contraband or otherwise, in which case I think I can shoot it down preemptively.?

?Somebody set me up. But I?ve got a cousin with a private investigator?s license. Mostly he?s a drunk and a douche bag, and bounces for clubs because it?s easier work that he doesn?t really need to sober up for. He owes me. But I could have called him on my own- and I did- and gave him the story. At least the broad strokes.?

?I need you because I have suspicions?? he glared at me. ?But it feels too crazy to say out loud. Richard.?

?Morgan??

?He takes that family honor shit seriously. And by screwing around behind his sister?s back, I was disrespecting him, showing the entire firm that I don?t properly fear him. Of course, I only work as a deterrent, Dr. Strangelove style, if people know about it. Which probably means rumors. If nobody?s talking, then the fear of God hasn?t gone into the flock. And I don?t think Richard would stomach that. So if not him, whom??

?I?ll put an ear to the ground.? Richard?s a good fantasy enemy, and I could even see him doing it. But to what end? Avenging his sister?s honor? That seems thin even for someone like Rand.

And that?s when I realized: he was trying to play me. He knew.

But of course he knew. Prison gives you nothing but time to think, and really, once he thought about it, who else could have framed him?

Of course, that was the operative question. His wife was involved, he would intuit that much, and might even blame her. But the needle, Cliff, it couldn?t be Barbara alone. And who else stood to gain? Only me.

I was torn. We could have had one of those, ?I know you know? conversations, where we peel back one another?s onions; it did sound like fun. But it was a losing proposition for me. Rand was in prison, and out of my way; I had for more to lose and almost nothing to gain in that exchange, and far more cards to lay on the table.

Arnie?s hospital was on the way back to my apartment. He was conscious and agitated, arguing with a nurse, but he was only a day or two away from finally going home.

The nurse, K, and I did a little tango at the doorway, until I squished myself against the frame to let her out. ?Hey,? he said when I came into the room. I nodded at him. He was dour, but had something building, so I let it lay until he came out with it. ?I need help, man. I don?t even remember texting Armand, let alone shooting up. That?s a problem. But it?s brought me clarity. I know what I have to do. I have to get into a program. Clean up. And then I can take that idea to Rand and?

?Rand?s in prison.?

?You have got to be shitting me.?

?Cliff?s death. Looks like he had something to do with it.?

?Then whoever they put in his place.?

?Ed.?

?Fuck. I need a drink.?

?But? you are talking to the new VP finance. Comes with a slightly nicer office?

?And a bigger dick to swing around said office. You ass- you beautiful, connected ass. That?s even better.?

?Yep. And you?re on the short list for my old position, and I think I?ve got enough juice to push you over the hump.?

?If you?re fucking with me this is beyond cruel; I?m still fragile, health wise. You could kill me.?

?Had the meeting this morning. And I?ve already worked enough magic that it was Richard Morgan who brought you up, before I could even open my mouth.?   

?But then you buttered that bread on both cheeks, right?? I nodded with a bit of a smile. ?I?d kiss you, if I weren?t tethered to a coat rack of medicines,? he said, tugging on his IV. ?But this definitely tears it. One of these days- and I may have to get the both of us fairly hammered for it- but one of these days I am going to try to slip you the sausage. It?s high past time we took our bromance to the next level.?

?Conversationally it?s been a very sodomy-heavy day. It makes me question my social choices.?

?It?s not gay sex when it?s between friends.?

?I?m pretty sure it?s still sodomy, though.?

?Dude, you?re such a homophobe. And that?s one of the things that makes me so hot for you.?

?And I?m fairly certain recovery addicts aren?t allowed to drink.?

?Fine, then, a roofie for you, and autoerotic asphyxiation to the point of dizziness for me.?

The nurse comes back. ?Please tell me he needs his rest and I should leave,? I begged of her, but she just gave me a confused look. ?You?re no help at all. But Arnie, get better. That big beautiful brain of yours is a rocket that?s going to take us to the moon.?

?I think you?re mistaking my brain for my penis. Easy enough mistake to make. They?re both pink.? He chuckled on into incoherence as she adjusted his meds. 

?You?re welcome,? she said, as I left. She was heavy, unpleasant, and even less pleasant to look at, so stilll K, but I?d do it quickly, to repay the kindness.

My apartment wasn?t empty when I mad it back home. ?The investigator?? I asked. He didn?t answer, just rose off my couch, smiling, showing me some missing teeth. But he was too damn short to bounce, despite being a roid freak. ?Prison tattoos?? I asked, pointing at his inked up arms. I take it Rand sent along regards.

His smile got a little wider.

This was the part I was supposed to feel fear, right? About all I managed was annoyance. Then he hit me, and I fell backwards, through my glass coffee table. Still, only annoyance.

My body was another story. It still hadn?t recovered enough for me to get back up, and he tore me out of the destructed shell of my table, threw my into the corner of the wall going into my kitchenette. That set me back.

I was dizzy. But the kitchen, that was where all the sharp objects were; I stumbled inside. I managed to grab at the counter before he grabbed me again and slammed my head down on my marble countertop. My hand felt heavy, and it took a moment to register that I?d grabbed a knife.

He grabbed my collar, and seemed to be dragging me in the direction of my brushed chrome refrigerator. ?Please,? I said, managing to get my hand anchored on the lip of his jeans to pull myself up.

?Fucking pathetic,? he said, and reached a fat hand down towards my head. I used leverage from his jeans to stick the knife in his back; I seemed to recall hitting his liver would have been deadly, but didn?t really have the anatomical expertise to make use of the thought- but I did remember to twist the hell out of it.

But he jerked away and bellowed, and I lost my grip on the knife and fell to the floor, biting clean through my lower lip. But I was clearer, now. I knew I had to get away from him. A jab in the back with a blade wasn?t going to put him down, and worse, if he could reach around his own trunk he was going to have the knife in a second.

I crawled out of the kitchen, knowing I didn?t have the time to even glance back, which forced me to wonder if the next moment was when he was going to give me the knife back.

But outside the kitchenette I was able to use the husk of my coffee table to push myself up off the floor. I had to crawl through glass to get there, but no pain and all play makes Jack a dull boy.

I felt cocky enough to make the Sodom mistake of looking back. But I didn?t turn to salt; what I saw was the man finally deciding he didn?t care how much meat he was going to lose out of his back, or what they advise in first aid, and tore the knife out. The motion of it slashed blood across my kitchen walls.

I turned back around to make for my bedroom. I still wasn?t moving quickly, but at this point, neither was he. A toddler given a modicum of sugar could have run circles around the both of us, and shown the chase for the farce it was.

He gained on me, and if he?d been less enough of a coward to lunge/fall at me when I reached my bedroom he would have caught me. But instead I made it in, and shut the door. There wasn?t a lock on it, it was a one bedroom apartment, so what would have been the point? But it slowed him enough. I threw myself onto my bed, hoping after I was airborne that I hadn?t left anything pointy on it.

I made it to my nightstand as he stumbled inside the door, barely keeping his balance against it as he all but fell inside. The gun was a Smith & Wesson revolver, .40 caliber. I pointed it at him silhouetted against the city?s light coming through the windows, and in the dark, I don?t think he knew I was holding anything at all.

I had the wherewithal, in that moment, to yell, ?No! Stop!? before I shot him in the head.

11/22/11

  05:18:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 365 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 49: Biometric

?Thought you worked motor pool,? I said, surprised to see the same mechanic inside fiddling with our gunsafe.

 

?Expanding my horizons. There was a need, and a teensy bit of coursework later and I got myself a raise and a promotion. Still do mostly motor, which suits me, but now I also do fancy locks and such.?

 

?Why don?t you explain this one to me, then,? I said, pointing to our safe.

 

?It?s a combination biometric scanner and keypad entry. You and Monty have your own codes. We can restrict both codes remotely, in the event that you?re both taken hostage, to prevent the inmates from gaining access to firearms.

 

?Biometric??

 

?Reads your fingerprint, basic indicators like bodyheat, blood pressure?

 

 ?But what if I?m excited, or my heart rate spikes or something??

 

?S?why we don?t use heart rate. Because you?re likely to get a spike by the time you?re reaching for a gun. The heat, though, is less likely to be an issue. Mostly it?s to make sure you?re still alive, as in?

 

?They didn?t cut off my thumb to try and get into the armory.?

 

?Basically. If you spike too high a fever you could have issues; but mostly that?s in the form of a redundancy with Fort Gates. You know, OC calls you and asks if you?re you and getting into the armory.?

 

I wasn?t sure if I should ask the question, or how, but I needed to know to be able to sleep well. ?And what if they screwed me?

 

?Pardon??

 

?Am I giving the keys to the kingdom over to the Army??

 

?Between you and me, a determined man, with the code and the right metrics, could get in, regardless of what button some politician someplace might push. And, this system?s logged, so anytime somebody pushes that button, it?ll be recorded, along with their IP and any relevant details about their login. So you?re as safe as I can make you, all factors into the equation.?

 

?That?s all I could ask.? I put out my hand, and he shook it.

 

?Hope this is the last time you call on me- seeing as that?s usually after something goes badly.?

 

?Yeah,? I laughed.

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