Authors: Day Rusk
The Marquis Mark
Tripping on Tears
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The moral right of the author has been asserted.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents, other than those clearly in the public domain, either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Neither this book nor any portions of it may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the prior permission in writing of the author.
Cover design by Rhea Rusk
Chocula. I used to love this shit.”
Morgan Neil looked over to Sal Lunkin, a big, intimidating oaf of a man in his mid-fifties and one of his oldest associates. Tired of waiting, Sal had begun randomly opening cardboard boxes in the grocery store’s back room. Presently he had a shit-eating grin on his face, as he proudly held up a box of Count Chocula cereal from his latest cardboard victim. Morgan was equally as bored, but unlike Sal had learned the value of patience; in his line of business, patience was required.
“I was more of a Boo Berry man myself,” he said.
“Fuckin’ right,” said Sal. “Now Franken Berry, he’s a pussy.”
Morgan smiled; was he really having this conversation?
He checked his watch; it was about three; the hour was late. What the hell was taking them so long? He knew he shouldn’t be here, waiting to do what he was about to do, but tonight was special, requiring his personal attention; Joe deserved at least that after all they’d been through.
As Sal opened the box of Count Chocula and proceeded to wolf down handfuls of its contents, Morgan remained vigilant, waiting and listening.
He heard Joe long before his two henchmen dragged the bloody mess that had once been one of his top lieutenants through the back room’s impact swinging doors. It was obvious that in attempting not to keep this appointment with him, Joe had put up quite a fight; one he’d obviously, and thankfully, lost. The two henchmen, soldiers in his vast organization, whom he recognized, but didn’t quite know by name, were dragging Joe, each one of them holding on to one of his arms.
“What the fuck took you so long?” asked Morgan.
“We got here as soon as we could, boss. Didn’t mean to upset you.”
Morgan could both sense and see the worry and fear on the two men’s faces. He loved the fact his presence could intimidate, and despite the fact they were doing him a solid tonight, they still feared him. What they didn’t know was that after witnessing tonight’s performance, a rare personal appearance by him at just such a gathering, Morgan would probably have them both killed; while they thought they were earning brownie points with the big boss, they were really becoming a couple of loose ends that at some point would need to be tied up.
“He say anything?”
“He ain’t sayin’ shit,” said one of the men, as they both let go of Joe, giving him a little push that sent him sprawling to the cold concrete floor, where he rolled, landing hard on his stomach. Morgan began circling his friend; he knew his actions were predatory, because they were. He was circling the kill, savoring the moment. For some men the decision to kill is difficult and comes with all sorts of moral psychological considerations. That was never the case with him; killing came naturally and the act of killing never cost him a moment’s sleep. Actually, what cost him many moments of sleep was when he failed to kill when he knew he should have. Mercy never did sit well with him.
Morgan watched as Joe slowly propped himself up on his hands and knees; it was a struggle, he was no spring chicken, and by the looks of it he’d taken a bit of a beating; he struggled but he got there, and looked up at his friend, who was still slowly circling him.
“C’mon Morgan,” said Joe. “This is bullshit. It’s me, Joe, man. You’re out of your mind.”
With as much force as he could muster, Morgan kicked Joe in the stomach; it was enough to send him flipping over onto his back, once again hitting the cold concrete hard; the kick and the impact with the concrete helping to knock the wind out of him. He whimpered in pain, just as soon as he caught his breath. This brought a smile to Morgan’s face as he now knelt down to better address his friend/victim.
“If you were someone else, Joe, I’d understand,” said Morgan. “This ain’t your first time to the party, although, I guess it’s your first time on the sad side of the party. You fucked up; you know it and you know the price.”
Morgan stood up and moved to the trash compactor’s controls that dangled from a thick wire a few feet from the large metal doors of the compactor itself. Scattered around it were broken down cardboard boxes that had yet to be fed into its waiting maw. Joe watched Morgan closely, the sudden realization of his fate showing in the fear crossing his face. When Morgan’s men had picked him up and roughed him up, he pretty much knew death awaited, but he’d hoped it would be simple, like a bullet to the back of the head - simple and quick. Morgan’s sudden interest in the compactor however, held a different story; a different death; not so quick and simple, but terrifying.
“These things are amazing,” said Morgan, “very practical in an establishment such as this.”
“C’mon, Morgan, no,” pleaded Joe.
Morgan just smiled. “It’s for cardboard, you see? Everyone’s going green. Need to save the environment and such. City’s a fucking cesspool and we’re worried about saving it for the kiddies. Today’s youth. Future fucking sleaze balls and crack whores, and we’re worried that in ten to twenty years they won’t be able to take a deep breath. We’re worried about that, Joe, worried about their capacity to breath. Pretty fucking thoughtful of us, wouldn’t you say?”
Morgan moved over to his friend, whose eyes never left him. He knelt down.
“So, I’ve got to ask you Joe, what have you got against breathing?”
“Fuck you, Morgan.”
Joe knew the score. Many times he’d been the one kneeling down looking at the bloodied man and taunting him. He’d never gone the compactor route, this was something new, but, nevertheless, those he’d taunted ended up just as dead. Some had gone to the great beyond with some form of dignity, accepting their fate quietly, while others had pleaded and cried for their lives, losing whatever dignity they might have had. Joe knew the score; he wasn’t going to see tomorrow, no matter what he said or how he acted. He was beaten and outnumbered and whether he liked it or not, was probably going to see the inside of that compactor. When he was in Morgan’s position, he’d shown no mercy, and didn’t expect the man who caught him to be that cold and ruthless to show him any. Still they had history together.
“Shoot me, Morgan. Just get it over with. For old time’s sake.”
“You’re pathetic, Joe. How many guys you seen me take down over the years that thought they could take my place? How many we put in the ground? What made you think you were smarter than anyone else, forchristsakes?”
Joe just looked up at his friend.
“Examples have to be made, Joe,” Morgan said, standing up, “and I got to tell you, Joe, thanks for helping me make this point; seems you still have some use to me after all.”
Without saying another word, Morgan turned to Sal and nodded. Before Joe knew what was happening, Sal and the two henchmen were on him. Despite Sal’s size, he moved with a great deal of speed and grace. It took Joe a couple of seconds to register the shiny object in Sal’s hand; a meat cleaver. Before he could put up much of a struggle, Sal had brought the meat cleaver down, severing his hand from his arm at the wrist. It sliced through quickly and cleanly, seconds ahead of the pain that came with the realization of what had just happened. Joe screamed out in pain; it only served to amuse his tormentors. Blood was spurting everywhere; he looked at the stump where his hand had been and it took a couple of seconds for his mind to register that that was in fact his arm missing its hand. The fun had begun.
“Get him into this thing, before he bleeds out,” ordered Morgan, who was standing by the compactor’s open doors. “He doesn’t deserve an easy death.”
Joe was beaten; he didn’t even try to fight as the two henchmen and Sal picked him up, carried him to the compactor and tossed him in. It was cold and hard in the compactor, and smelled of garbage; definitely an inglorious end.
The metal doors slammed shut encasing him in darkness. He was still far too much alive in his own estimation; Morgan was going to win again.
“Don’t ever make the mistake of believing you’re smarter than me,” said Morgan as he reached for the compactor’s controls. Those in attendance weren’t sure if he was talking to them or just to himself.
Sal had his ear up against the metal doors, listening hard.
“He ain’t moving around in there, boss. You think he’s dead? I’d be kicking the shit out of these doors trying to get out if I were him.”
“He’s alive,” said Morgan. “Joe was always very practical. Wasting the energy to kick the shit out of the doors isn’t going to help him and he knows it. Pointless to even try. What he’s waiting for is this.”
Morgan pushed the large green button that immediately kicked the compactor into service. The gears made a grinding noise as it started up, and a whine escaped from it as the compactors within started making their way towards one another, scraping against the metal of the unit itself.
The four men stood there waiting and listening, as the compactor went about its grisly task. Finally a muffled scream was heard, bringing a smile to Morgan’s face.
“Told you he wasn’t dead, although he is now,” said Morgan.
Morgan turned to the two henchmen, who while happy to be there following orders, appeared a bit squeamish; they weren’t used to killing like this. Morgan couldn’t help wondering if for the first time in their brief careers, they’d finally acknowledged internally who and what they were. The fact they looked more than a little disturbed, told Morgan he’d have to arrange their deaths a little quicker than planned. Times had changed, and it wasn’t always easy to find good help, at least amongst the young generation of killers and degenerates. They suffered from consciences and a nasty habit of saying too much to the wrong people.
“Normally they put safety measures in these machines,” he said to the two henchmen, breaking them out of whatever thoughts were racing through their minds. “Just ask Sal, it was a bitch to disable. A real bitch, right Sal?”
Sal just nodded in agreement.
“Finish up in here,” ordered Morgan. “You know what to do. I’ll be outside.”
Morgan exited the back door of the grocery store onto the loading dock. It was a beautiful summer’s night, although out here, in close proximity to the dumpsters, all he could smell was garbage. He knew he’d taken a chance coming out tonight; it was important he always had deniability – an alibi, but in this case, Joe, one of his oldest friends and partners in crime, he just couldn’t let it be taken care of through the usual channels. Morgan pulled a cigar out of his jacket’s inside breast pocket and fumbled in his pockets looking for matches to light it. He owed himself a good smoke, and maybe it would help detract from the smell of the garbage.
He shouldn’t have come out tonight, but what the hell; in the long run no one would really give a damn about the death of a career criminal and killer; they’d know he was responsible, but like all the other murders committed over the decades that they knew he was responsible for, they’d be hard pressed to pin it on him. He felt good; time had passed, yet he hadn’t lost his edge. Discovering Joe’s plans had proven that. As far as he was concerned, he still had it and the city was still his for however long he wanted it.
Moonlight shone through the broken glass of the warehouse’s windows, reflecting off the remnants of its shattered offerings littering the floor. At one time it had housed a thriving business; was a hub of activity and well maintained. That’d been a long time ago. Now it stood quiet and forgotten; the many years of neglect leaving it to slowly fall apart, or worse, experience vandalism at the hands of whatever wretches found their way through its doors, seeking shelter. It had experienced a lot, but tonight was different; a macabre scenario was playing out on its floor.
Leonard Cabot struggled with his bonds. He also struggled with his thoughts. He was desperate to figure out what was happening. Everything in front of him was a blur; a surreal blur, colors and light melting into one another, swirling all around him; and within that menagerie, from time to time he caught a glimpse of something, possibly human, moving into and out of his field of blurred vision. He hoped the movement represented something human; possibly dressed in white, or at least it was a white streak it left behind as it went about its business. It seemed female in the graceful way it moved; he also detected long dark hair that seemed to blur and streak along behind it, but then again, based on the state his mind was in, he really couldn’t be sure of anything he thought or saw. And he had no idea how this could be.
He tried to move again, but couldn’t. Something was holding him in place, but what? Leonard tried hard to think; there was a good chance he knew what was restraining him, he just had to remember.
Where had he been tonight?
Leonard closed his eyes. He had to block out the imagery that was presently preying on his mind; overwhelming his senses and making it almost impossible to think. It wasn’t much help; swirling colors, images and shapes still haunted his imagination, threatening to break him; somehow they had worked their way into his head, determined to be seen and experienced. He knew he had to concentrate; whether it was primal instinct or his mind was picking up on something subliminally, he knew something was wrong. As he took in a visual display of sights and sounds he’d never experienced before, he could sense that something terrible lay within them.
It was a work night; he knew that much - or at least he thought he knew that much. He was lonely and had been ever since his wife of twenty-one years had left him, taking their kids with her. While they really hadn’t been getting along for several years before she left, she still offered some form of companionship; he hadn’t realized this until he found himself truly on his own.