bring on the reviews
“Someone left the door open, who left me outside. I am bent, I am not broken. Come live in my life. All the words left unspoken, are the pages I write. On my knees and I am hoping, that someone holds me tonight, hold me tonight", Hollywood Undead, Outside
My name is Kurt Slater and I am a dirty cop. I am about to die and not in the usual fashion. I did everything one normally does in the morning, except eat breakfast. I left with my suit pressed sunglasses on and travel mug in hand. I opened the door to the old blue neon and saw a card on the steering wheel, and a cellphone on my seat.
I sat down in the bucket seat and heard a strange clicking sound, it was not out of place the car was a Neon after all. The card was some generic thank you, sold everywhere. The phone rang and I looked at the tiny screen, the caller ID said, “Best Buddy”.
I answered, and "Best Buddy's", a silky, seductive voice spoke, “Slater, I heard you had a moral epiphany? By the way, the boss loved that little text you gave him. He felt he should return the favor. Did you find the gift I left you, in your car?”
I put rubbed my head nervously, the gift was most likely an explosive, triggered via dead man switch, “As a matter of fact I did, it was so thoughtful of you. Its too bad I have nothing to give you in return”, My voice was filled with mock confidence, while I bravely took a sip of the burnt bean juice. I only knew the voice, I had never seen a face, or heard a name.
"Best Buddy", laughed, “Oh no this is for all your years of loyal service. I sent a gift to the Shields family too, they opened theirs about four hours ago. I was told to end the problem, That wife of your good friend Detective Shields, and their daughter would go looking for answers. You are the final loose end in this particular story”, I hated how conversational this, "Best Buddy", was being.
“Bastard, the wife and kid had nothing to do with this, What was the kid going to do? Kill you with...” I said angrily, I almost tossed the phone out the window.
"Best Buddy", tried to be soothing, “Relax Slater it is not like there is any way to save them. Since we are such good pals, I will give you a chance to save the hottie of a neighbor and her kid. Think about it”
Gloria Jensen was a single mom, her ex was a lawyer, so you can guess how the court proceedings went. The jerk left her without a penny and got out of child support. I was friends with her son Alex, he was a good kid. “You promise they will be left alone? I told them nothing and they never suspected I was on the take”
"Best Buddy", laughed heartily at my predicament, “Oh its sweet you want to be their hero Slater. You know the boss said, he had half a mind to keep you alive, you are the secret to our success after all. He couldn't take the chance you would avenge the death of Shields and his family”, his voice now sounded amused.
I really hated how he had to talk on and on about it, “Just tell me what I have to do”, I was learning to loathe, "Best Buddy".
"Best Buddy", was now waving his superiority at me, “Slater, enjoy the moment, these will be the last ones you ever have. I bet you wish you had breakfast and enjoyed a last meal now eh?”, I was getting tired of him having fun at my expense.
“Are you going to talk me to death, or do you want to blow me up? I just want this to be over, so make with the instructions ”, I was a little annoyed by how impressed "Best Buddy" was with himself.
“I am down by the North Saskatchewan river, you will see a small ramp up the curb just down the street from you. It should launch a fair distance. Just don't stand up or all those innocent people you care so much about will die”, "Best Buddy", was acting like I was heading off to a picnic.
I turned the ignition over and revved the engine, it was at this moment, Gloria and Alex came out. I just waved and peeled out of there, driving down the street, like a righteous mad bastard. I was lucky there was no traffic. I hit the ramp and I saw a man with an eye patch waving as I went airborne. “Goodbye” was all I said as I stood.
The explosion rocked the car first, and I never felt a thing. It was like being torn apart by a million tiny scalpels. I remembered the joke about the bug on the windshield, the last thing going through his head was his ass. I am not even sure there was any of me left. All I remember thinking about is the peace death would bring me. My last moments were spent remembering my hero Detective shields, and getting revenge for his death.
I remember entering the Academy in Regina. I was a scrawny untested youth bent on doing good. I worked hard, but there were moments of doubt, especially when you are at the bottom of the class. I was ready to quit. Who wouldn't be? I was languishing at the bottom of the ladder, with no hope of reaching the first rung? Enter Detective Marcus Shields, a grizzled veteran, with a piercing gaze, and solid advice.
He stood in front of the cadets and wrote, "Grades do not make the cop, actions do", he took a sip of the steaming cup on the desk. "Some of you think, good grades, and excellent scores make the cop", several of the higher ranked cadets gave each other knowing glances. Shield placed the cup down, folding his hands in front of him, "I am here to tell you that very thought is not enough"
In his words, I found hope for a better day. I raised my hand and he pointed at me, "What does make a great cop? I am kind of struggling, and could use all the help I can get", I was aware the blood was rushing to my face and several of my fellow cadets were snickering.
"What's your name kid?", he asked me ignoring the other people
Why was he calling me out? I should have kept my mouth shut. All the same, he was a superior officer, looking for an answer. I stood in a rigid fashion, stomped my foot once, and saluted, "Cadet Kurt Slater Sir", My tone was stiff and formal.
Shields smiled, "As you were cadet", he said giving me permission to regain my seat. He gave the class a cold, unbending stare, and the snickers stopped. "Slater has a good chance of succeeding. Why? Because he sees an opportunity to learn from someone with more experience and is asking questions. He admitted he is struggling if you can not do that leave this room. Lives depend on you. If your head is not on straight people are going to die"
The room of cadets had gone silent enough for the hum of the fluorescent lights to be heard. Shields nodded in satisfaction and wrote "Be like Spiderman", on the whiteboard. The class chuckled, and even Shields chuckled.
He patiently waited for the class to calm down before speaking, "Now before you go shooting this idea down, think about it. Why would I suggest this character?", he asked Slatering his arms while leaning on the desk.
I did not feel the need to put myself further in the spotlight. I held my peace until Shields wrote. "He works well with others". He resumed his place leaning on the desk.
"Make no mistake your job depends on people. A smoking gun will not always be readily available. Evidence can only take you as far as reasonable doubt. It is the combination of experts, witnesses, and evidence that gets your conviction. If you think your badge will get people to talk, you are sorely mistaken", Shields paused to look around the room, to ensure people were listening.
Harrison a rather picturesque Male cadet, snidely said, "We invented interrogation to solve that problem", I could tell this was going to stir things up.
“You must be Harrison, your instructors tell me you, talk too much. Keep this up and they might let you direct traffic”, Shields walked over to him trench coat swaying back and forth. His solid navy blue tie hung over the desk, as he placed his hands on it. "Are you suggesting we take a grieving widow downtown? Or put a kid scared out of their mind under the light?", he asked, the now incredibly nervous Harrison
Harrison froze in hopes he would escape this uncomfortable situation, "Well...I....."
He never got to finish before Shields grabbed one of his books and slammed it down on the desk causing an echo. "What is the matter Harrison? Are you trying say you don't have all the answers? I thought you had the solution not two minutes ago”, he said staring Harrison down causing him to squirm in his seat, his friend next to him squirmed as well.
“He probably has shaken people down to get confessions...” Harrison said under his breath
Shields slammed the book down again, “You mean coerce a confession out of a suspect? I am starting to wonder why they let you in here at all Harrison. Coercion equals dropped charges”, he was applying pressure on Harrison, keeping him off balance. I knew this was a classic interrogation technique. “So tell me Harrison, how do we approach a grieving widow?”
Harrison was staring his friend as if to learn the answer via telepathy, unfortunately he was not telepathic, “I don't know”, he said quietly
Shields raised his hands skyward in appreciation, “Wow that is the smartest thing you have said all day. It is okay to not have the answer, it is not okay to remain ignorant”, he said sagely, everyone was spellbound by this paragon of good.
I had to admit watching the big dog get bit, was immensely satisfying. Notice I said "Was"
Shields turned his attention to me, "Slater, could you tell me how you would approach a grieving widow?", his voice was booming. I knew he was pissed at Harrison but it did not startle me any less.
Great, I was a mediocre interview at best, "First, I would tell her sorry for her loss. Second, I would tell her sorry I have to ask her questions, but it is critical to get the details while they are fresh. Third, I would let her direct the flow of the interview. Four, I try to ask good questions because I do not want to make the situation harder for her", my voice was a bit meek, but that penetrating gaze was a confidence killer.
Shields looked around the room, "Wow it is nice to know someone was paying attention in class. Not only does this apply to your victims, but how you talk directly affects people you work with. Treat people like crap, and every request you make will be pushed to the back of the line. It may sound like common sense, but I assure you it is not that common”, everyone was now jotting down notes.
He went on to warn us about the pitfalls of the job, including how easy it is to compromise yourself. He even went on to say some of us would join the ranks of the dirty cops. He even made a point to say they would hit you where it hurt most. Everything I learned that day was solid. Too bad I did not listen.
When I graduated I was so impressed with my fresh uniform, and my shiny badge of good intentions. Shields had tutored me in his spare time. I never did ask why. My parents were brimming with pride. Not only had their son graduated the academy, but I had also done so with honors. Shields was proud too. I did my best to live up to their expectations. I was always involved with charities, trying to help troubled kids. That all changed three years later.
I got reassigned to Edmonton, Shields and I was partnered together after I passed the Detective exam. As cheesy as this will sound, it was awesome to work with my hero.
I got the call at one in the morning. Shields came and picked me up, coffee in hand, he was always thoughtful like that. His penetrating gaze was just as unnerving as ever. As I sat down in the unmarked cruiser. I could smell cigarette smoke.
“Does your wife know you are still doing that?” as I asked him as I took the styrofoam cup
Marcus smiled, “I am on the couch until I stop, Lisa is taking a hard line on it this time. She wants me to grow old with her. I told her we were already there and didn't matter anymore”, he said with a grin.
I laughed, “I bet she made you pay for that one?”, I admired shields he had it all
“She told me, if that was the case we were too old to be bed wrestling, and cut me off”, He paused to drink from his cup, “Remember Slater, the good ones make it hurt so good, when they are mad at you,” he said with a wry smile.
I chuckled, “I will keep that in mind”, I said before the taste of burnt bean played across my tongue, “What are we being called out for?”, the cup found the holder, and I leaned into the seat.
Shields got serious, “Double homicide, in Castledowns, two members of the Grim Spades biker gang. The file is on the dash” I grabbed the file and opened it, Shields kept talking, “We either have a guy with a grudge or new players. It is the third execution-style murder in two weeks, check out the signature”
I paged through the file, rather grim sort of thing. “Six members? Man whoever is doing this is a pro. I can't say I ever saw someone with their face peeled off before. This is a message, you are nameless and faceless to me, whoever did this is wants humiliation”
Shields nodded, “I see you enjoyed the profiling course, funny thing the FBI told me exactly what you just did. They are following the same guy or crew. A gang in Helena, came down with a case of missing face”, he frowned, Shields hated rhyming. There was no explanation, but he always frowned after he did. I suspected it was because of his seven-year old's favorite book, “Fox In Socks”, he would complain about it.
My next words were, “I never thanked you for helping me out in the academy, I was the worst...”, my voice was awkward and low. I felt embarrassed.
Shields pulled over and glared at me, “Never talk about yourself like that Slater. You earned that graduation. Just like you earned this position. You did the work, I just helped you find some confidence in yourself. You have good instincts and an eye for detail, most of all you treat people good, the lab folk like you, and that is an asset”, he said reminding me I was worth it.
He started driving again, “Ummm could you radio ahead for the rookie bucket?”, my words were spoken quietly.
He nodded and grabbed the microphone next to the dash, “This is Detective shields en route to crime scene in Castledowns, could forensics prepare the rookie bucket”, he was grinning, “Good choice kid, the last thing we need is that coffee ruining the crime scene” he said as the blue an red lights of the standard cruisers filled the front seat.
It was September and the cool air of the night felt good on my in lungs and on my face. The Coroner was already there, We walked up to the steps of the weather-beaten house. We were met by Chuck Finley, the usual ME Shields worked with.
“Talk to me Fin,” he said as we entered the house, and I took the bucket from a man wearing glasses and well-kept goatee. He had a pack of Twizzlers sticking out of his front pocket, he handed one to Shields.
“It is definitely our guy or guys, the bikers didn't stand a chance, even with MAC 10's, and a Saiga twelve gauge. Cause of death is shots to the back of the head, execution style...you okay rookie” he asked, watching me.
It is a passage of rite for most Detectives and beat cops, puking at the first gruesome scene. Hence the rookie bucket. I tried to hold on, but the pictures and real life were not the same, because pictures do not have the rancid smell of death on them. My chest heaved, my throat felt the liquid rise up, and my tongue tasted the coffee, as it flew from my mouth into the bucket.
Finley smiled, “I see you got a smart one this time, what happened to Collins?”, he asked as he motioned us forward. Once you puke, things get easier. Shields says its a normal reaction.
We looked at the scene, Shields pulled our the notebook and began writing where everything was placed. There was a large pool of blood under the bodies, and back spatter on the wall behind the bodies “You remember that kid that supposedly took out half the swat team?” he asked.
Finley nodded, “Yeah I heard they sent him to Troyers”, he said as he carefully lifted the head of the dead male.
Shields knelt, “Glevins caught him trying to shoot him, said he was a demon of some kind. He got administrative leave, pending a mental fitness examine to get reinstated”
Finely was a gossip and loved all the juicy tidbits, “Come on there has to be more to this story” he said as he checked the pockets of the first biker.
Shields shook his head, “Man you are worse than my Mom and her quilting circle. Anyway, the kid was wearing a pylon on his head, no parents, no missing persons report, said his parents were killed by a demon. No police report filed on that either. It's like the kid came from the sky”, he said shaking his head.
Finely checked the pockets of the second biker, “Hmm two demon claims...”
Shields glared at him, “It's not a joke Finley, the kid was obviously traumatized, by something. If it was your kid, would you laugh then?”, he said silencing Finley.
I knelt a couple of feet away from shields. It was hard to ignore the dead eyes of the Bikers laying prone on the ground. Maybe they did bad things, but all of us have at one time. Most people think, investigating murdered criminals is a waste of time. In reality, each life taken was a life with a chance at redemption. I know I wanted that chance, but I never got it.
Finley disregarded the last statement, “On to better things” He tilted the head revealing the gaping hole in the back of the head, “No guessing here, large caliber gun, I would say a Colt. 500, or a forty four Bulldog...”
My eye caught something in the second bikers hand, I put on the latex glove, and walked carefully over to it. It was a paper, on the paper was a laughing skull will a long tongue wrapped in barbed wire. It was wearing a jewelled crown with WSC in the center. Underneath in a Black banner with white letters was, “You wouldn't kneel, So you had to die”
Shields looked over, “You got something Slater?” he asked thanking Finley before walking over to me.
I showed him the paper, “Yeah this was in his hand”, my hand was pulling out an evidence bag from my pocket, and placing the paper in it.
Shields smiled, “I see you carry evidence bags with you, it is a good habit to have”, he held the picture up squinting as his brow knitted, “Well this is new, and it looks like we have some new players in town as well. Good find Slater...”, he trailed off as his attention to the wall behind the couch.
Shields was like that, his tongue was always in cheek until he was certain he discovered something. He walked over to the wall and rubbed his finger on it. He pulled a pair of pliers he carried in his pocket, and yanked something from the wall, “Evidence bag Slater”, he said holding his discovery aloft.
I walked over at stared at the massive slug, “Did 911 tell us how many shots were fired?”, my voice was curious, as Shields place the bullet in the clear bag.
Shields smiled, “You know I was just thinking the same thing”, he pulled out his phone, and pointed to the window, “The bullet came from outside that window, or at least the trajectory says that. Check it out will you”, he said turning his attention to the call, “Detective Marcus Shields, badge number, D four-zero-six-five...”
I did as I was told, shielding my eyes from the flashing blue and red lights. There was a shrub just outside an open window, and freshly packed topsoil with shoe prints where the killer stood, and most likely made his first attempt. I, of course, asked myself why do this outside, when it was easier to take them inside.
I heard someone moving from a nearby hedge, maybe this was our guy. I drew my gun from the holster, released the safety, and carefully approached the bush, "Police come out with your hands up", I said with firm authority.
Instead of a man, and hand holding an envelope appeared, "Listen I have a proposition, you take the money, and all I ask in return is you make the footprints vanish", the seductive silky German voice said.
At first I held firm, "No thanks, taking you in could make my career" I said throwing the cuffs over the hedge, "Put on the shiny bracelets and we will have a nice conversation downtown, heck I will even throw attempted bribery on the list of charges", I said proudly of my witty response. I want to say I took him in, but we know that didn't happen.
The voice was silent for several seconds, "Okay what if tomorrow, you get a tip to take down a big fish. Teague Moloney, the Irish gun runner. How many people have died because of him? You look good, I look good, and you get that career-making bust", the voice was so hard to ignore. I just wanted to be like Shields the kind of cop people looked up to.
We all know what happened, I sold my soul for some evidence and a career-making bust, it didn't end there either. That single compromise lead to another, and another. I was in so deep, I began to wonder if the surface existed anymore. Until I had a moral epiphany.
Which brings us back to the explosion and my body being scattered everywhere. Death did not bring peace or even a shred of comfort. I was standing on the sidewalk watching the car plunge into the icy depths. Most people would panic wondering how they survived. I knew I was dead, chained to the earth by my misdeeds and endless guilt. I had gotten Shields killed. I swore I would avenge his death, once I figured out how this lost soul thing worked.
I am not going to bore you with the details of being a member of the living impaired I will say the walking through walls thing was accurate. The crap you hear about people being chained to where they died, is false. In fact, I was quite free to do as I pleased.
Obviously I went to The Shields family funeral, his sister Daria was there, she was in a special forces unit in the Canadian army. Joint Task Force Two, a well respected anti-terrorist force, and the elite of the elite in Canada. She was a beautiful woman, with short reddish hair like her brother, her body was tight and well-formed, and her eyes had the Shields stare.
She tendered her resignation after Marcus died. She took a month off of work to get her brothers affairs in order. Marcus talked about her with pride, he was always trying to get us together. “You two are good for each other, just give it a chance”, he would say.
I never took the chance, because if things went south it could ruin my partnership with Shields, and working with him, was like going to cop college. I never regretted saying no until the choice was taken away from me.
She eventually took a job at Troyers Asylum where the worst cases of mental illness are kept. The head Psychiatrist Dr. Harbinger was one of those weedy-looking men with slicked-back grey hair, and an overconfidence bias the size of the province. He looked at the resume, “I am not sure why someone with your obvious expertise would work here. Don't get me wrong you have the job I just don't get why you would quit”, his voice had that annoying ping to it.
Daria stared him down and the doctor squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, “I assure you sir I have my reasons”, she said smiling at his discomfort.
I had a look at her resume. Krav Magaw, Systema Spetznas, and kickboxing. I always wondered where she learned Systema. Maybe she did a stint in Russia? I know she was a deadly fighter I sparred with her once, never again.
Harbinger smiled, and gestured to the door, “Well let us walk to human resources, and fill out some paperwork, and you can meet some of your fellow employees. Would you mind being our security chief?...”, His voice faded as they headed down the hall.
I did not stick around for the rest of the conversation, instead, I decided to have look around the place. Pretty standard, you had the volunteer patients, wing. This is for people who want to get well. Rather boring in my opinion.
Then there was the locked unit where all the people with real problems are. I noted a couple of guys who managed to slip through the hands of Marcus because they were unfit for trial. I was just as outraged as he was when it happened. Having peered behind the curtain, I could see some of them were barely hanging on as it was.
I found the youth locked ward to be the most interesting. I especially took note of a young boy with an icy blue eye, and emerald green. In his hand was a Captain Canuck action figure missing a leg. His short sandy hair was flat against his scalp.
What caught my attention was his aura. Aura is the spiritual energy of a person, invisible to the human eye...Well not to mine. His aura was immense twice the size of the adults, I got chills when I saw him, and I am not supposed to feel anything. It could have sworn I saw it form something before crashed back against his body. His silence was his defining characteristic, add his eyes and he was more unnerving than Shields.
He entered the activity room, and for half a second he went silent, the orderlies disregarded him because they were too busy watching porn on their smartphones. One could not blame them this looked like a fairly easy job.
He passed by a girl holding a twisted branch and a tattered spell book from H.P. Lovecraft. She waved to him and held the book up to him. In front of her was a worn out doll, “Which one should try today Cyrus?” she asked the boy.
Cyrus just looked at her for a moment and pointed to her heart, and then the book. I could see pity in his eyes.
She nodded, “You are right, I will know it when I see it. Maybe today will be the day I turn my friend back into a human. Her dolly body is wearing out”, she said worriedly
Cyrus rubbed her back in an attempt to comfort her, his eyes were sympathetic
She hugged him, “Thank you for being a good friend,” she said releasing him. Returning to her attempts to recover her friend.
He passed by another boy who was wearing a cape, the moment he saw Cyrus his body began to contort, and he covered himself with the cape, When emerged from the silky cocoon, like a twisted butterfly. He was wearing horns and plastic fangs “The great dragon Bob denies you access”
Cyrus pulled a jellybean out of his pocket, and knelt before the “Bob” the dragon and offered to him wordlessly.
Bob took the candy and with a regal wave, “You may pass”
Cyrus bowed respectfully to him and moved on. His eyes were squarely set on the table with the Lego bucket.
Another child wearing a white shirt, grey sweats and a small traffic pylon stood in his way. “Please help me, the Devil whispers to me, and my protection is failing. Oh great angel of our ever merciful god”, he pleaded with the silent young man.
I could tell there was no love lost between he and Cyrus, because he ignored him and continued the short trip the Lego table. I wondered why he would be so kind to the others and not this one.
He was met by a girl about sixteen, I thought she was having a seizure at first, but she adjusted her hair, and then snapped her fingers as she approached Cyrus, “Cyrus I need your loving touch, you silence is so sexy” she said caressing his face.
Cyrus raised an eyebrow, and pointed to her heart, and then to her head. He did this three times, as if to say “Love yourself first”, something I never mastered in life.
The girl hugged him, “That is why I love you so much, you love me the person, and not the pleasures I can offer to you”, she said happily.
Cyrus once again raised his eyebrow, and walked away, Captain Canuck figure in hand. He gingerly placed it on the table next to him. He then preceded to put the Lego together.
The boy with the pylon on his head was far from finished with him and waited until he was seated at the table. He Crept up behind Cyrus with a grin filled with mischief and. “YAAAAAHHH”, he shouted startling him.
The Lego scattered like buckshot, all over the floor. Cyrus held up his hand and his pointing finger went up as if to say “That's one”, his aura spiked, and once again I thought I saw it form something. Cyrus got down from the table and began to crawl around the floor picking up Lego.
The orderlies looked up from their festival of flesh, and a chubby one said, “Quenton stop that”, and the continued to foul his mind with the obscene images.
Quenton, was far from done with Cyrus, and shoved him down, “Talk to me oh angel, rid me of Devilish voice that plagues my waking hours, and haunts my sleep”, he said on his knees begging.
Once again the Lego scattered. Cyrus planted his hands on the cold floor and regained his footing. Once more he raised his hand, and this time two fingers were raised in a wordless warning, “That's two”, he began to pick up the Lego again.
I watched the orderlies who did not even bother so say a word. Their eyes were glued to the tiny screams watching the carnal scenes before them. I could not believe they were being so ignorant. Cyrus was clearly in trouble, and they still did nothing about it.
Quenton took things too far, and took the broken action figure waving it around like a Flag on Canada day. “I got your baby, I got your baby” he taunted dancing around Cyrus.
His aura was now dancing, spiking at regular intervals, as his eyes filled with undisguised hatred on Quenton. He extended his hand out, as if to say, “That's mine give it back”
“I will return your treasure if you say one word. No more Silence, NO MORE”, Quentons voice demanded as his voice echoed around the room. The orderlies might as well have been in another dimension, lost in some dream of ecstasy, with a girl or boy, they would never have.
The other occupants had turned over a table and hid behind it. I couldn't understand why. Surely things were not all that bad, right?
His aura was now expanding rapidly and I could have sworn I heard some roaring, coming from everywhere. Cyrus raised his hand again, three fingers raised in unison, his face angry.
What happened next Shook me to the core, and certainly made me question everything I knew.