Part II: The Rundown

 

I quickly gave her the rundown about my other hobby- bounty hunting and told her I needed her to act as bait to get Chafee into a secluded place so I could take him down at gunpoint or failing that get him staggering drunk so I could bring him back to the plane. Normally I wouldn’t ask a bystander to get involved in this kind of this but since Arlene isn’t normal and we’ve done far more dangerous for kickst. That normal, sane person I’m hypothesizing’s rational response would be to decline then run away. Arlene wanted to know if she gets a gun too. Thankfully age had not mellowed nor made her one bit more sane.

I passed her my back up piece, a tiny Colt’s 1908 Baby Browning semi-automatic, under the bar. She slid off her stool then straightened her jacket and smoothed her skirt. Her body language subtly changed on her walk over to him. Her step slowed from it’s normal bounce to a slow slink, her shoulders and hips flowing along with it and she put on the most femine of airs as she moved. Some heads began to turn as she flowed past, one even proferred a beer which she snatched up without breaking stride or making eye contact him.

I put money on the counter for our collective drinks and watched her work. Chafee was about to get up when she boxed him in, her hand lightly touching his knee. She put the still capped beer to the table edge and slammed the top off with a bang of her hand then offered it to him. He made room for her and after she gave him a few sly words had him hollering for another round.

Arlene buttered him up then helped him down another round. It was high theatre, the way she laughed and feigned interest. I could never do it in a hundred years. After ten minutes of this the pair got up. Arlene discreetly dropped a piece of paper on the table as she did. He took her by the arm and they went around the back of the room and upstairs.

“What the hell is this?” The bartender held up the coins I left on the bar. Not really thinking I’d just dumped on it a motley collection of American coins mixed with those of the Philippines, Brunei, Sarawak, North Borneo and a couple square Malay States pennies.

I snatched the coins back from his hand and shoved them into a jacket pocket. “Pasalubong! Souvenirs, you ingrate.”

While paying the man for real I saw from the corner of my glasses a waitress heading for Chafee’s table. A single swipe off her hand and she had all the bottles off the table and onto her tray. She put the note on the tray too and started off for the next one. I bound from the bar and pushed my way to her, nearly knocking the woman into a patron as I did.

 “Sorry, this is for me.” I said, snatching the note from the tray. Arlene had written “404”.

“You want the bottles too?” She asked smugly.

“I’m good.” I said and hurried after my quarry.

 

There is one great pro to bone-chilling cold jacket weather and that’s what you can hide under a jacket. Alone but for the floor creaking beneath my boots I casually pulled my Colt’s Walker revolver from under my flight jacket as I approached room 404. I didn’t plan to fire it, having this beast shoved in a guy’s face is enough to force compliance.

Thumbing back the hammer I prepared to kick the door open.

“Uno.” I said under my breath, beginning the count. “Dos. Tres.”

With a kick the door crashed inward under the weight of my boot. I moved in swiftly after, horse pistol leading the way. Chafee’s was a typical dinky hotel room, a twin bed, minimal furniture and with a glorious view of the factory across the street. The once red wallpaper had turned pink with age and a squeaking ceiling fan turning lazily overhead provided the room’s only circulation. Arlene sat on the edge of the bed while Jim and a younger man stood on either side of her. They froze at the sight of my Walker.

“Hi.” I said pleasantly. “Welcome to two for one night.”

Arlene got up casually then pat Jim Chafee on the cheek and gave him her best Pan Am smile. “I promised you some excitement in the bedroom didn’t I?”

He looked at me in disbelief then back at her. “You didn’t disappoint.” Disgust dripped from each word.

Arlene tightened her smile and gave him a curt nod. “Now for the fun part.” She produced the Baby Browning from her purse and leveled it at him. His face went red and at once he looked helplessly enraged, betrayed and frightened. It was hard not to laugh at it. I didn’t of course, that would be unprofessional.

As Arlene sauntered to my side, her eyes and gun never leaving him he shifted his attention back to me. “I shook you in Borneo.”

I cocked my head at the news. “Did you now?”

With Chafee safely covered by Arlene I pointed the pistol at his friend. He was younger than Chafee, little more than a teenager with slicked back dark hair and from the fear in his round eyes I’m guessing has never been held up at gun point. “Who’s he?”

“An associate. I’ve many associates.”

Amused I replied, “That so?”

Then from behind me came a reply: “It is.”

Cold steel tickled the back of my neck for a moment. Jim, his ‘associate’ and the old friend behind me all shared a slight chuckle. I joined in too and raised my hands. Arlene did the same.

The associate behind me gloated. “Jim felt like he’d been followed, but didn’t know it was you, Tilly Jane.”

I replied, “Glenn. Don’t you have some shit to kick?”

Glenn Adix, one of Chafee’s more notorious “associates”, tried to relieve me of my weapon. The moment his fingers touched my gunhand I made my play. Like a flash my elbow shot back, smashing into the gunman’s nose. His gun went off beside my head, rendering me deaf; a horrid squeal took over my ears. Despite the pain I completed my move, swinging around fully I faced him and used my momentum to drive my left hand up under his jaw. I followed with a vicious pistol whip that cracked his cheekbone and sent him reeling. With the stunning blow he dropped his weapon.

Splinters exploded near my head from a badly aimed gunshot. I spun and dropped to a knee, my revolver ready to kill. Arlene was on the floor, Chafee’s young associate stood over her firing the Browning. Chafee disappeared through the open window behind him and made his getaway via fire escape.

The kid’s stance was poor and his hands shook but he was trying to shoot me so I returned fire. My own horribly aimed shot ripped through his side and he toppled backwards onto the fire escape with a scream. The Browning slipped from his fingers and onto the side walk four floors below.

“Mattie…” Arlene looked at him and then me. She’d never seen a man shot before and even though it was in self-defense she didn’t know what to make of it. Or so I thought.

“It was him or-” Before I could finish strong arms snapped shut like a steel vise about me, squeezing the air from my lungs and lifting me off the ground. Glenn had regained his composure and was more than a little pissed. I flailed my legs in a fruitless effort to kick him as he laid on the brute force with a harder squeeze, the constricting grasp popped my back and an involuntary spasm almost cost me my pistol. Not that it could do me any good; without a good grip I couldn’t properly thumb back the single action’s hammer again.

I snapped my head back violently, hoping to break his nose but instead the back of my skull met a solid wood beam covered in cheap wallpaper with a bang that made my ears ring worse.

 “That was rude Tilly!” He growled. Or something like that. My hearing was still pretty off.

He swung me sideway, trying to bash my head into the door jam. Throwing my legs out it caught me on the side of my knee which while not as bad as taking it to the head still hurt horribly. I kicked against the door jam with my other leg and drove us back into the hall. Glenn backpedalled into a wall and with a second furious kick I got him square in both ankles. He let go and together we collapsed in a heap in the hallway. I brained him with the Walker’s 9” barrel, smashing it hard into his temple one way then swinging it backhand and smashing it butt and barrel into his other putting Glenn out cold.

Arlene helped me up, my knee screamed in pain when I tried to walk on my own. Ignoring the pain I ran out on the fire escape. I stepped over Chafee’s bleeding associate then froze. I was above a busy street with nothing between me and it but the metal grating that laughably passed for the escape floor… and four stories of open air. Chafee, a satchel in hand, had just touched down on the second floor escape landing and looked up. Momentarily forgetting my fear of heights I drew a bead on him.

“Mattie don’t!” Arlene shouted at me. “I hear sirens!”

I held my shot and Chafee went back inside through a second story window. Then a fire truck roared by four stories below us.

“Oops.” Arlene said sheepishly.

“It’s not over yet.” I limped back into the room and found Glenn was missing, so I kept my weapon drawn as I rushed back into the hall. A couple just coming up the stairs panicked at the sight of me, the woman screamed and the man threw up his hands, babbling something I didn’t pay attention to as I charged past him and down the stairs, taking them in twos and threes. Every other step my knee radiated waves of pain and finally on the second floor landing it gave out on me, but I caught the handrail before falling. After weeks of hounding him I was too close to let Chafee slip away again.

He wasn’t on the second floor so I restowed the piece under my jacket and made my way back down to the barroom floor. Only now did I notice Arlene wasn’t behind me still. I’d have to help her deal with what just happened later. The bar was as I left it, still full of patrons swilling and smoking to their hearts content.

The little shiny-headed bartender was pouring a shot of whiskey when he caught sight of me. His hand shook and he over-poured into the glass and on his hand as he tried his damndest to pretend he didn’t see me.

He muttered an apology to his customer and handed him the drink.

“Where is he?” I said tersely. I didn’t let him respond before raising my voice slightly and repeating my demand.  The bartender started to respond when another party entered the conversation.

Over the din of the bar and my ringing ears I almost missed a soft voice say, “Excuse me, sir.”

A police officer, blue uniform, shined badge and all came up beside me and my heart skipped a beat. I’d have taken him for a college kid with his soft featues and softer blue eyes if it wasn’t for his uniform. He nodded politley then turned his focus on the bartender.

“We heard there was a disturbance. Possibly a shot fired from the upper floor of this establishment.”

The bartender glanced at me and smirked. He then told the police officer, “There was as a matter of fact. One of my customers had… brought this woman to his room or possibly hired her-” He theatrically gestured at me.

Putang ina mo!” I spat. The rookie turned his attention to me, as did his partner. He was watching from about four steps back, observing how junior handled himself. The partner was older and judging by the size of his black mustache, a real police force veteran.

“Quiet, we’ll interview you next, but for the time being I’ll have to ask you to step over there with my partner.” Junior said in a polite yet stern tone. I think. The ringing in my ears still hadn’t subsided and he spoke so soft it was hard to catch every word he said.

“What?” I stalled and pointed to my ear. “Speak up, I work with airplanes.”

He repeated himself louder. “Please go to my partner! We’ll deal with you next.”

There wasn’t a chance I could let him slow me down. “The bartender is covering for a wanted-”

The rookie ignored my plea and grabbed my wrist, thinking he’d pull me over to his partner. He let out a yell of surprise as instead I grabbed his wrist and collar, pulling him into me and down onto my knee. It would have been perfect except my other knee still throbbed and by putting all my weight on it the joint gave out again and I fell back onto a bar stool. The bartender swung a bottle at me from behind as the veteran sprung at me, billy club out and striking. I dodged sidelong, falling from the stool and onto liquor soaked hardwood as bottle shattered on club, creating a glorious eruption of liquid and shards of glass then flew everywhere.

The bartender howled in agony as the tip of the club, the most dangerous part, cracked his hand. He dropped like a sack behind the bar still yowling. The rookie came at me now drawing his own baton as I staggered to my feet. Like the amateur he was the kid overextended his strike. I let it pass before me with practiced ease, then twisted it from his grasp and brought it down hard on his collar bone. Before he could fall to the floor I’d tossed it at his partner, striking him in the middle of his blue hat, laying him out.

“I’m sorry about this.” I told the rookie right before kicking him in the head, laying him out too. I was remorseful this had to happen but it was for a good cause. Looking around I found myself the last man standing in the now deserted saloon. The patrons had all fled during the fight. Though wounded I stood victorious and alone. Well… I pulled the Walker from my coat. Almost alone.

The bartender sat on the floor behind the bar; he’d shoved his bleeding and broken hand into an ice bucket.  Now it was my turn for theatrics. I put the Walker’s out-sized .44 barrel to his hairless head and brought the hammer back with a menacing click.

“Where is Jim Chafee?” I demanded.

“In the basement…”  He whimpered.

 “Salamat po.” I holstered the horse pistol and limped off for the basement as quick as I could. My ears still rung but I could swear I heard sirens now.

         

(C) 2011, 2012 D. Krigbaum      Contact: jakelivescomic@yahoo.com      Comfortably Numb      Red Skirts