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Repairman Jack gets a nasty surprise from Huggy Bear
When Officer Richter sent the email, he wasn’t even sure the address still existed. It had been a long time since he’d needed it, and he wasn’t sure the man on the other end was aware or appreciative of the fact that he’d stayed on watch.
Anyone who knew Richter well wouldn’t be surprised in the least. Staying on watch defined Richter’s existence. It’s what he did. He left it as simple as that. He never asked himself why, he just watched.
When he saw what looked like trouble, he reported up his Chain of Command. For eighteen years, he’d patrolled some of LA’s worst streets and reported to that Chain of Command. He’d put away some righteous trash and saved the lives of several Angelinos. Richter took a grim pride in his record of being a hard-assed street cop.
For the last twelve years, he reported a different sort of crime to someone else. The one award he didn’t tell anyone about was his membership in The Fraternal Order of Dugan Forsythe. This group consisted of policemen across the United States who patrolled the streets for a different kind of criminal. The type of violated the laws of reality.
One of the terminal hard cases he kept an eye on was James Thomas Roland (AKA: Repairman Jack). He and Roland hated one another. They were too darn much alike. Repairman Jack didn’t take crap off of anyone.
In a way, that had made him less of a threat. Mojo-Slingers that worked on their own were small potatoes to The Order of Forsythe. It’s when they started playing nicely with the other blighted children that things got too nasty.
Repairman Jack had two new friends who had issues that went to the core of what The Order of Forsythe policed against. If there were three of them today, how bad would it get next week?
Richter didn’t have enough data to answer that question. He knew Roland had put a low-life named Pete Simpson down like a mangy old dog. He knew Roland had taken up with two individuals who had “juice” as the other Forsythe Cops would have put it. This was enough of a bad situation to take upstairs. Being the good patrolman, Richter had reported a big-time anomaly going down on his beat.
Doug Rollins sat in the hot backseat of an uncoupled rig. He had just finished fueling, eating and showering at a full service truck stop in Gallop, New Mexico. The diesel had been expensive, the food bland but filling, and he was already sweating again, fifteen minutes after renting the shower stall. All of that didn’t concern him as much as the sinister illuminated screen of his cheap laptop computer.
His Outlook Exchange had a folder labeled OoF. This stood for Order of Forsythe. When the real freaks came out at night, the forty or so officers his organization kept on the beat sent word to this mailbox. The new message was from Richter, which meant Los Angeles.
After reading Richter’s report, Rollins replied with a terse, coded message. “This one’s Code Bravo. The Sparrow is in Route.” That told Richter to maintain observation while he hauled tail to Los Angeles. After doing this, he emailed his handler at JB Hunt.
He requested four days off and a load out of the San Pedro terminal. He’d be welcome to the time off, but damn lucky if San Pedro could load him up for a pay day. That was now small potatoes. He had a far more important delivery to make. He would deliver a truckload of pain if these damn Angelino Mages didn’t keep it on the low down better than they were right now.
Repairman Jack sat in the basement of Volker’s building. He and Ground Zero shot the dung heap while Jack cleaned and oiled a beautifully maintained Remington 30.06. He took out a green box labeled “Slugger. High-velocity slugs.” He loaded about 20 rounds into a bandolier that he hung over his left shoulder. He crammed 10 more into a pouch he kept concealed in a hidden pocket of what looked like a simple long-sleeved work shirt.
Volker looked intense. He was repeating some nonsense phrase to himself over and over again. Ground Zero stared at his feet. He muttered imprecations about burning someone’s crib down. They were ready, as soon as the van arrived. It was finally going to go down.
Derrick “Hawk” Chapman wheeled his Ford Expedition onto Vine. It was so sleek that t almost slithered down the road. Rudy and Petey sat in the back. They sweated nervously and stared straight ahead. They’d given up on telling lies about women and fidgeting with their weapons. Petey chewed a wad of gum more loudly and intensely than was necessary. Chapman drove straight on with a tunnel vision. He wanted it done so he could go back home.
The Expedition turned left on to Yucca. Chapman picked up his cell phone and pushed Volker on auto dial. “Hey, Porno.” He said into the phone. “We’re two blocks out. Get your s--t and meet us at the gate.” The light changed and Chapman wheeled forward to the corner of Cahuenga and Yucca. He eased it to the curb in to see three men walk out into the night.
The first one to the van was Volker. He was huffing and puffing already. A good hour before any lead would fly and their fearless Private I was already sucking O2. He carried a small backpack. Chapman hoped it had his money in it. Rudy and Pete weren’t in a mood for IOUs.
Ground Zero came behind Volker. He had dressed down for the occasion. He wore a pair of slacks, and a tennis shirt with a burning torch logo on the front. There was something screwed up about a Sterno with a sense of fashion.
The last guy in line looked like the result of bad parenting and a really hard life. His eyes were lifeless and dead. Black holes that would suck a man’s soul if he got to close to the gravity well and fell in.
The man appeared to have been genetically designed for brutal violence. He had the aura of someone who just couldn’t give a damn. It was long past bothering him. This man, Repairman Jack, had given up on passing “Go” and collecting $200 many, many years before.
The van rolled up Chauenga towards the pass. A large, glowing cross stood sentinel above them on a hill. Chapman voiced a quick prayer in its general vicinity. He wasn’t sure he wanted the savior watching him quite that closely tonight. He’d probably do quite a few things that Moses was strongly advised not to when he climbed up the mountain and came back with Yaweh’s marching orders.
They passed a left turn and then cam to a small cut-out designed for people to pull off into if their cars overheated during a traffic snarl. The end of the cutoff wasn’t totally blocked. A dirt road with pot-holes and a grassy rise in the middle snaked off into the dark and lightless forest.
“Take that path.” Repairman Jack Said softly to Chapman. “Kill the headlights while you’re at it.”
Chapman was dubious about this route, but he wanted no argument with a dead soul like Jack. He killed the lights and moved slowly down the road. Limbs beat against the side of the Expedition like a warning. It was as if the trees were telling him “This whole thing is a stupid idea.”
The vehicle had rolled about a quarter of a mile. Jack had what looked like an old Army flashlight out and was laboring over a map and compass. “Stop here.” He said to Chapman. “It’s a nice, short hike up the ravine.”
Richter and Ceballos tended not to go too far into Hollywood on patrol. Ceballos wondered why Richter drove the cruiser north and up hill. He knew they were checking out the office of a PI up on Cahuenga. The guy seemed really small time. He wasn’t sure why Richter thought he was worth the drive.
They passed the Jack In-The Crack on Sunset and Ivar. They rolled another block to Cahuenga and hung a left. As they eased the Dodge Interceptor up the pavement, Richter carefully scanned the doors, looking for an address. He just wanted to find the right number. Ceballos glanced to his right and saw the number, 214.
“There it is.” He told his partner.
“Let’s hit it.” Richter said. “We want this guy scared. He knows dirt on the Simpson shooter. Let’s make him piss in his shorts.”
They walked through a door into an old, decaying office building. Talent scouts who couldn’t find actors for a High School Drama Production occupied offices here, where burned out Hollywood careers went to die. This was a graveyard for men of no potential. It was a professional landfill for Hollywood to bury its garbage until they could retire.
Richter saw what he needed. A directory on one of the walls listed the losers by office and floor. There, on the 3rd floor, in office 33, was Lawrence P. Volker, Private Investigator, licensed in California and Nevada. Richter wished this piece of trash had gone to Vegas and stayed in Vegas.
As he made his way up the stairwell, he wondered what in the heck a bad-ass like Repairman Jack would want with Volker. Type ‘Penny-Ante Dip-sh_t’ into Google and Volker’s name would loom large near the top of returns. His record read like an Edward Arlington Robinson poem. It had more failure in it than the last four LA Dodger seasons combined.
Cogs Miller stumbled blindly through the underbrush, and wandered his way down the hill. So did fifty other members of the hive. They didn’t know why they were going, they just had been sent. Huggy Bear had something about Bad Ju-Ju and made them all think they ought to go down there. Cogs hated it when Huggy played around with the stupid Ouija Board.
As he and his fellow hive zombies neared the old dirt path the drug runners all used, he heard the sound of a motor. His telepathic link with The Hive Queen then blared. “That’s got to be them.” It said. “Kill the bad people. Always protect the hive.”
Cogs new it was going to be bad, the road lay below them and in front. About thirty feet away, a black Ford Expedition was stopped in the road. Four men were climbing out when the telepathic link in his head ordered him. “Charge!”
Chapman had just exited the vehicle, when he saw the mob of raggedy-Murphy homeless people charging him like a pack of dogs would charge a kid with a T-bone steak around his neck. He went on instinct and had his Baretta out and had taken a good, defensive crouch. He lined his sight picture up on the lead man in the mob. He dropped him with the dispassionate skill of a trained assassin.
Ground Zero got out of the van next to Chapman and saw the same crazed pack of lunatics approaching the vehicle at a dead run. “Oh, Sweet Jesus. We are screwed!” He said to himself. He did what short people always do when chased by an angry mob. He hid under a large, immobile object. He ducked swiftly under the van and began to pray he wasn’t going to have to start lighting it up in the middle of a dry and parched scrub canyon, less than three miles from Hollywood Boulevard.
Repairman Jack was jolted into action when Chapman dropped the first screaming maniac. He pulled himself up on top of the Expedition and saw a pack of crazy people attacking from uphill. He brought his shotgun out of hiding and loaded up for keeps. Next to Jack on the far side of the Expedition was Lawrence Volker, PI. He took out an old canteen he had stashed in his backpack. One that Reno had drunk watered down rum out of while scouting the hills for Geronimo.
Rudy was out of the Expedition like a sprinter from the gate. He bolted out the back and quickly drew his M911 out to do some business. His half brother Petey ran into less good fortune. Petey had attempted to load a clip into his .38, but had dropped it in the back of the Expedition. He was foraging for it on the floor when the mob hit center of mass.
Cogs Miller would never develop his own Special Theory of Relativity even without having become a zombie. Having been told to attack The Expedition, he and most of the rest of his cohort did exactly that. They ran smack into the vehicle like a tsunami of the ineluctable.
They mostly hit the vehicle on the side that had faced towards uphill. About fifteen had made it through the hail of shotgun, machine pistol and handgun fire that had been sent to greet them. Another seven lay on the ground, dead or in the final agonizing those.
The vehicle held fast at first, but then began to rock. It began to rock so much that Repair man Jack leapt off the top and rolled ten feet away from it. Chapman had bailed to the side to avoid most of the onslaught. He now had two of the hive zombies chasing him. He had winged one of them on the upper arm. It was too far gone to care and kept trying to take him down.
Rudy laid down a lethal curtain of lead which created an arc of moaning and dead bodies around his side of the Expedition. His gun arm swept back in forth in front of him like the scything motion of some grim reaper. He kept yelling. “Petey, get your sh_t together! Get out of there, Man.”
Petey fumbled for the clip for his pistol. He almost had it and then the two right side tires lost contact with terra firma. Petey felt the Expedition elevate the way a stunt car would when doing a crash scene. The Expedition passed its moment of inertia and began to slowly tip to the other side. The clip was the least of Petey’s worries when the vehicle tipped past stable and began to accelerate over to the other side.
Ground Zero was not a happy Mojo-Slinger when his turtle shell began to rise and was peeled away from him by the mob of angry hive zombies. He saw the tires elevate and saw more and more of the legs of the advancing zombies as they lifted the Expedition up and pushed it over.
“Oh, Sweet Jesus.” He said again. “We are so screwed!”
Huggy Bear sat in the middle of the hive he had so lovingly built for his queen. He sat with his head in his hands and was concentrating furiously. He kept on establishing telepathic links to his workforce of servants and kept having them severed as the enemy cut them down. He had lost four contacts already and was wondering to himself if the home team was scoring any runs yet.
Sweat rolled down his brow and his temples throbbed. The Queen kept ordering him. “Try again, try again!” She yelled incessantly. “We’ve got to protect the hive. It’s all we have.”
He felt the energy drain out of him as he dialed up the brain of an old drunkard named Jenkins.
“What’s going on?” He demanded of the drunkard.
“We’ve got to the vehicle, Boss.” Jenkins replied. “We rolled it over and trapped one inside.”
Huggy locked Jenkins in and used his ears and eyes for clairvoyance and clairaudience. He heard the slugs whistle, the pistols crack, the shotgun blast and the machine pistol spit angry, hot pestilence. He saw the bodies stacking like a mordant battlefield in a depressing Sandberg poem. He then saw Repairman Jack, up close, eye to eye, nostril to nostril. He heard the thunderous crash of his shotgun, and the sky went blacker than even the night sky in a dense vine-clogged woods.
“Your Majesty,” He said to his Queen. “It’s time to call forth the swarm.”
Repairman Jack stood over the corpse of a dull-eyed husk of a man. He’d nailed him at a range of two feet with his Remington and now wore a fairly large portion of the man’s internal organs on his work shirt. He wasn’t concerned with sartorial elegance, as three more zombies shambled towards him with malice in what was left of aforethought.
Rudy was yelling curses at the top of his lungs. He’d hammered at least fifteen of the zombies and he was down to less than two clips. His half-brother Petey has crawling out of the tipped-over Expedition and he didn’t look like he’d survived the capsizing unhurt.
“Die, you b—ches!” He yelled, as he hosed three more enemies with a rain of deadly gunfire.
His arm was hurting and he was still surrounded by enemies. He needed to gain ten yards to reach his stricken half-brother. He just hoped his luck and his ammo would hold out a few minutes longer.
Chapman felt rage that threatened to burst his temples. The Expedition that was now lying on its side had set him back nearly $50,000 by the time he’d finished installing the sound and video gear. It was the sex machine of Exposition Avenue and a bunch of stupid junkies had rendered it impotent.
Hawk Chapman’s guns pounded home deadly nails in the advancing zombies. They were running out of cannon fodder. He would run out of asses to kick long before he finished being pissed off. Only one of the creatures still was trying to get to him now. He leveled his pistol at her and prepared to enjoy dispatching another foe to their just reward. Hell had a special level for anyone who f—ked over a brother’s prize-winning ride.
His pistol went click and nothing else happened. In his fury over the damage done to the most important possession in his life, he’d lost count of the ammo. He’d planned on killing them all and letting God sort it the f—k out. He’d just lost count one victim early. Now he felt fear in a handful of dust. The zombie advanced and was three feet away. Her breath was something beyond sheer repugnance.