JOHN BAIN is a US city detective. He has his own set of morals, honed through the years to survive in the crime ridden streets. Married but with problems he currently maintains a mistress, and attitude, and a Robin Hood approach to crime prevention. He beats the bad guys at their own game, managing most of the time to stay one step ahead of his police bosses and Internal Affairs.
Cuba Davenport is a killer who works for the Capelli
Family in the city. Out for a few drinks, lording his power and influence
over his fellow drinkers, it becomes apparent he is killing time before an
actual kill later that night.
cover by Emily Rose Sims
PUBLISHED EXCLUSIVELY ON AMAZON FOR KINDLE.
Published by Enigmatic Press 2011
John Bain took one last guilty look at the woman quietly sleeping in the disordered bed, swallowed the vestiges of his champagne, and decided it was time to go home to his wife.
The road to home is paved with good intentions. He thought he might ask for that to be inscribed on his headstone.
Earlier that night he had every intention of going straight home. When his early shift ended he had several hours before his next tour of duty. Several hours when he could have spent time with Suzy. The dutiful husband going home to his wife after a long day and evening at work. The way it should be, the way it had been until a short while ago,
That he had contrived to do anything but go to their apartment in East Side was something he was still trying to come to terms with. Going over and over in his mind was the ease with which he had cheated on Suzy; where was it going to take him?
Now it was probably too late to get it all back to the way it had been, but his conscience persuaded him that he had to try. He had too much too lose, but there was only one person who could make him change direction.
Another Saturday night. It was a fine night for a killing.
Years before, smoke would have hung in the stale air of the crowded bar and grill, as solid as promises. Smoke from cigarettes, smoke from a couple of cigars, smoke from the cracked old briar pipe the owner and regular barman, Zak Masters, kept alight from opening until late, late closing.
Now, with smoking confined to designated areas outside in the alley, the stale air was a fusion of after shaves, perfumes, sweat and lies. Beer, whiskey and burgers added their own aroma to the pungent mix of food, drink, and people.
It was ten after ten on a Saturday night and there was the usual mixed crowd in the bar. By the jukebox and game machines boys and girls barely above the legal drinking age limit fed in money and argued about selections. Every half hour or so Masters shouted at them to keep the noise down and they bought more drinks to keep him quiet.
Tables near the door carried the strained silences of long dead couples sitting together from habit. Sharing a few hours away from home in mutual desolation, any frivolous thoughts drowning before they were uttered. They spoke to order drinks, some food, but mostly they listened, like spies in a world of memory. Listened and nodded at the conversations of others, and to the cascade of music. Listened and nodded and generally disapproved of the life around them because it reminded them of what they had lost. What they had never really had.
The men sitting or leaning at the bar were older, practiced in the art of purposeful drinking. Consuming whiskey and bourbon, some dark rum for the eldest, and some bottles of strong pale liquor. They were construction workers and drivers, a bank vice-president who had retired early under suspicion of fraud, the owner of the bookies around the corner.
And a man who made his living from killing people.
Cuba Davenport would tell you he was retired, living off investment income. He would elaborate about his stock portfolio and the shrewd deals his broker arranged to keep one step ahead of inflation. The source of the money that was now legally invested would not be mentioned. No mention of the lives he had taken to be able to afford his house in the best area of the city. The fact that there was no mortgage on the house would be dropped into the conversation as often as he felt appropriate. That was quite often because he was fond of boasting.
He liked to be the big fish in the little pond. That was why he frequented the back street bars of the city where he had grown up, instead of the country clubs or the golf clubs nearer to his home. The back street bars where no expense had been spared to give an artificial atmosphere of times gone by,
He loved the infamy of his reputation, the frisson that he saw in people when they met him, when they realized, just by looking in his eyes who, what, he was.
To a man like Cuba Davenport, home, where he felt comfortable, was the pinched rundown area of yesterday’s triumphs, the flashy scratched surface of urban life. He was alive in narrow streets of brownstones cramped together in terraced tension, where a cough was heard three doors away; in alleys where twenty-four hour businesses flourished amidst the grime and shadows. In the bars, gloriously seedy in their un-modernized forgetfulness, that played host to a mixture of young and old, men and women, victors and victims.
‘Zak,’ Cuba Davenport shouted above the noise of the jukebox.
Zak Masters patiently moved along the bar. ‘What’ll it be, Cuba?’ Davenport was enough of a regular to be well known, and he was a big spender.
With an expansive wave of his arm Davenport indicated the knot of cold-eyed men around him. ‘A round, another Merlot for me, and whatever you’re drinking, have one yourself.’
Masters made his face show gratitude, ‘I’ll take a Jameson’s with you. Thanks, Cuba.’ It paid to keep on the good side of Davenport. They all knew men who hadn’t.
As the drinks were served the men thanked Davenport silently by lifting their glasses towards him or by grunting their appreciation. The truth was he wasn’t very popular. He was too brash for the local taste and always had been. He was too much the local boy made good who couldn’t stop himself flaunting his success in their faces.
They saw the rain cloud gray hair styled and blow-dried. They saw the ostentatious gold bracelet and the neck chain. They saw the manicured fingers and smelled the pungent cologne, saw the clothes that weren’t paid for weekly from a catalogue, and they remembered the cowardly teenager who would hit the smaller boys and run away; the bully who drifted into the protection rackets and then into the fringes of the local criminal gangs. No one spoke openly about what he had become. He was unpopular because they feared him as well. A lot of them knew men it was rumored he had killed.
The gangs he worked for, on contract, had dominated the area for more than thirty years, keeping the peace through intimidation and violence. They still loomed large in every day life, their influence as inevitable as Christmas and as fraught with danger.
The youngsters at the jukebox put on some more music and shouted at Masters to turn up the volume. Davenport looked across at them and gave them a stare he had perfected in the mirror of his attic bedroom as a teenager. It was a stare as warm as snow. Most of the group glanced away except one boy a little too drunk to notice the threat in the ice cube eyes. ‘Turn it up.’ The boy called out again. His friends tugged at his arm to shut him up.
‘Loud enough,’ Masters said firmly. He had seen, had anticipated, the menace in Davenport’s stare. He had seen it before.
Davenport leaned back onto the bar. On his lips a snake smile writhed as if the music from the jukebox came from a charmer’s flute
‘Bloody kids.’ A man whose arms were covered in tattoos murmured along the bar. The comment served to break the tension.
Masters laughed, a little strained laugh. ‘Spend some money though.’
‘Losers the lot of them.’ Davenport said. ‘When I was their age I was out working, not scrounging off the Government. Students and layabouts all of them.’
‘Drink, Cuba?’ one of the men asked.
Davenport made a performance of looking at his watch. It was large and gold. ‘Better not. I said I’d pick Helen up from her mother’s half an hour ago.’ He laughed to show he was the boss in the family set up. He laughed to show he was the boss here as well.
‘Next time,’ the man said.
‘Better take a leak first.’ Davenport swallowed what was left of his red wine and pushed himself away from the smooth wooden surface of the bar.
The restrooms were at the back of the bar and as Davenport reached out to pull the door towards him, someone pushed it to come out. It was the boy who had misjudged Davenport’s warning stare about the jukebox music. He was drunkenly swaying and as he stepped aside to let Davenport through he seemed to recognize him as if he was an old lost friend.
‘Listen,’ he slurred. ‘Don’t you like our music?’ He smiled a little crookedly. He was still young enough to hope people would like his taste in music, like it and like him because of it. Then he made another misjudgment. He put his hand on Davenport’s sleeve.
Davenport took the soft hand of youth, bent it round and up and behind the boy’s back. ‘Get back inside.’ He propelled the boy back into the bathroom, twisting the hand as he went. When he knew the boy was off balance he shoved him hard against the wall. The boy’s head knocked against the warm air hand dryer and he slouched to the floor.
The boy cowered against the wall. He had sobered up rapidly and the misjudgments he had made in alcohol were like a hangover reminder to him. Davenport reached down and took hold of one of the soft hands. From the hand he selected a finger, the little finger. Taking it between his own hands he bent it back until the boy cried out in pain. Then he bent it further until it snapped.
The boy started screaming. He stopped when Davenport kicked him in the balls.
The door of the restroom opened, noise from the bar crowded in and a man hesitated in the doorway. Davenport snarled and the door shut as the man left.
Davenport snatched the front of the boy’s jacket and dragged him towards one of the cubicles. He pushed open the door and took hold of the boy’s other hand.
‘No, please...’ The boy pleaded.
Davenport held the elbow of the boy’s arm so that the hand was on the doorframe. Then he slammed the door shut and the hand crumpled as bones cracked.
Davenport had forgotten he wanted to use the toilet. The excitement had given him an erection and he could never piss when he was hard. He left the restroom and went back to the group of men at the bar.
‘I’m off then,’ he announced. A few voices waved him off and Davenport left the bar. It had been a good evening.
Copyright © 2012 L.H. Maynard & M.P.N. Sims