Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Speechless: Part 1 of Aiming High


I had not expected to spend the time I had allotted to mourning sitting and chewing the fat with an obnoxious voodoo ghost. I didn’t like his too sweet rum. I didn’t like his top hat. I didn’t like the stink of the swamp that lingered around him.

His cigars though, they were pretty fine.

“You know why she did what she did, doan you?”

I sucked on the end of my cigar and held the smoke in, willing it to paint my lungs black. I exhaled slow, letting the rich, sweet flavor roll out. After sitting and thinking for a minute, I set my cigar down and starting signing back to him.

“I’ve got a good idea. You don’t work undercover without developing some feelings for the enemy.”

The Baron reached over and rapped on the side of my head with his thick calloused knuckles.

“I know no sound comes outta you, but I half expected to hear an echo just den.”

I sighed and picked up the fat cigar again. I ran my nose along it, breathing in the cherry scent before putting my lips up to it and taking another drag. When I was done with that puff, I started signing again.

“Then why?

“She did it foah two reasons. One, she like you. She knew if Nagumo stay alive, you never goan be safe. She figured she could kill him and protec you.”

“Alright. Reason two?”

“Guilt. She blame herself for the death of everyone in dat safe house. Since you doan tell her earlier, she figures you doan even know what happening. It makes her feel better even if it make her dead.”

I leaned back and massaged my temples. I was trying to force out the endless droning of the dead guards outside. So many juju zombies stomping about, keeping the peace. I had heard incredible things about this place. No one had mentioned though, that the colony of Louisianans and random Caribbean folks was being policed by undead slaves.

“Alright, say you’ve got this all figured out. Why does it really matter to me? I’ve been trying to die for the last two years. She died so I wouldn’t have to? Wasn’t she listening when I said that was what I was all about?”

The Baron laughed.

“Do you still put dying at the top of your list?”

I looked at the ground, leaning back in my chair. My ears were perked and searching for one sound in particular. I had heard Angela choke on the pain as the grenade she intended for her and Nagumo was deadened by Nagumo’s bodyguard. I had listened to Nagumo scream in disgust. He had no right to tears. They were mine to have and no one else’s.

“No. Killing’s going to be the game for awhile first.”

The Baron leaned back in his cracked and smiled through cracked lips, puffing on his cigar. His greasy white face paint reflected the pale light of the ceiling lamp. He was pleased with himself I was certain. I always had the feeling the death would be a smug ass and it appeared I was right.

“So, you willing to do the deal for me?”

“What do you need from me?”

“We’ve got a couple pests that need exterminating. There are a fair number of Repentant and other freelance individuals working for the Judges. They’re trying to weaken defenses here so they can knock down our defenses with one good push. Right now, we’ve got the best situation in Chrysalis Falls. The populace behaves themselves rather than deal with our undead amphibian police force. We’re entirely self-sufficient. I mean, what do ya expect? Pier 451 is twice the size that New York was. All we need is somebody to remove a couple groups trying to undermine what we’ve got going here.”

“Then you line up my shot at Nagumo?”

“I promise you, we’ll get you Nagumo’s head on a platter.”

I shook my head and grabbed The Baron’s wrist to make sure he heard me, to make sure that nothing was lost in the hand signals.

“I don’t want his head on a platter. I want to take it from his shoulders myself.”

The Baron raised an eyebrow. Without withdrawing in the slightest, he took another puff from his cigar and blew it in my face.

“You think you can take him? He’s rumored to be the best hand-to-hand guy they’ve got. He’s smart and he’s going to blame you for her death too.”

“I know. I don’t care. If he’s going to die, it’ll be by my hand. One way or another. A bullet through the eyes or a pipe to the back of his head. I want to be the one that kills him.”

I dropped The Baron’s wrist and he rubbed it slowly.

“I like you kid. You remind me of an awful lot of some of the folks I used to work with back in the good ol’ days. I’ll be going for now. Amos will set you up with everything you need.”

I nodded and The Baron’s head fell backwards, eyes closing. The paint melted into his rich, black skin and faded away. The tattered black shirt hanging from his shoulders slowly started to mend itself, the white strip of a priest collar stretching across his throat. His hat crumpled inwards, turning into a small, black rat. The rat dropped from the top of his bald head and into his lap. When he leaned forward again, The Baron was gone.

“Baron Samedi, he told me you would work with us, yes?”


Amos Moses nodded slowly, thoughtfully.

“I’ll let Mr. Heat know. If he can pry himself from his gambling, he should be able to provide you whatever weapons you may need. As for intelligence on the enemies movements or locations, Nate will be your man. They should both be down at The Bayou casino right about now. You probably want to get some sleep.”

I nodded and stood, slinging my rifle over my shoulder.

“I will call when I have them together. I will also post a guard outside your room. You have become a priority target among the Judges after your stunt on the motorcycle. Arbiter Sturm, the lionfish in charge of the assault here, has covered up Nagumo’s breakdown. The two are supposedly old friends. If Nagumo has access to Sturm’s resources, he will be hunting you just as avidly as you hunt the others. Be on guard.”

I didn’t bother to answer. I pushed the door open and let it slam behind me.

Let Nagumo find me. That’s all I really wanted. Somebody else was at the top of my to-kill list other than myself for a change.

And it felt good.

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