THE MAN IN THE GLASS

The rain poured down in sheets, each wave as bone chilling and teeth chattering as the last. Kansas City. 1925. It was about mid-night, but it always looks the same to me no matter what time of day. The streets were almost over-flowing with the amount of water that was pouring down on this desolate city. I was reminded of the flood that God poured down on the earth to wipe it clean of its wickedness. I’m not surprised that He picked this city to wipe clean. I light a cigarette, and popped up the collar on my overcoat. The rain splattered on the brim of my hat, flowed to the lip, and then water-falled off to the soaked ground below. I watched that for a second while taking a bag drag on my cigarette, feeling the relief fill my lungs while the tip glowing like a small piece of Hell. I turned and started walking down the street, my overcoat almost touching the ground. Screw this city. Why I work here, I’ll never know. It’s defiantly not the people that keep me here. I walked for about a block, and then turned up an alley. The water was still pouring, but with the smell of the water there was a smell of rotting garbage and filth. Walkin’ in the bowls of this horrible city, smelling death and stench of the dying. Makes me almost wonder what Hell is like. I turned out of the alley, back out onto the street. Towards the end of the street I saw the flashing red lights reflecting off of the ground, the rain, and the walls of the building surrounding. I continued to walk towards those lights, the buildings standing black around the scene like the monoliths of some unforgiving culture long-forgotten in the sands of time. As I got closer, I saw something that made me pause for a second. I saw a faint trickle of red running alongside the street curb, flowing right along with the water into the drain. The city seems to be sucking all of us dry, even though it’s us that are opening each other’s veins to let it suckle. I continued towards the black-and whites parked around the scene, the police tape tied to the mirrors of the cars, forming a barrier to keep out the common populace. I walked under the tape, lifting up over my head. I see the flashing of a camera over a body. I walk towards the body, seeing the man laying face up with blood flowing from two holes in his body, one the back of his leg, the other in the back of his head. “Pretty gory business.” I say out loud to no one in particular. I saw one of the policemen turn at the sound of my voice and walked up to me. “No doubt about it.” I continued. “And this killing was pre-meditated, or at least on that was on some personal level.” The policeman’s face showed a question, but his mouth spoke it.
“How you figure that?”
“How the man was shot.” I walked towards the man, just as one of the policemen wiped the face clear of blood. I stopped. “J***s C****t. That’s….”
“The Shark. Yea.” The first policeman finished.
I turned to the first officer. “Where’s the rest of his gang?”
He cocked his head towards the building we were standing in front of. Only then I noticed that it was bar, the kinds of which that were illegal this day and age. I turned and walked in to the bar, named The Lucky Girl.
I walked in to a sea of carnage. I saw three men at a table; at least they used to be men. One was sprawled across the table, another was sitting back in his chair his head facing the ceiling, and the last was slumped to the right. Each of them had a single bullet hole in their head. The one laying to the left had a single gun lying next to his chair.
I looked around the room. The blood was pretty contained, with the brains blown across the walls. I turned to the policeman who had followed me in. “Anyone hear anything? The bar tender? Anyone outside?”
The man shook his head. “We only got the call when someone saw the body lying out on the curb.”
I nodded slowly, turning as I did. I looked around the room, and then turned back to the policeman. “I think I got this figured out. We’ve got one shooter.” I walk to the door behind the bar. “He came in here…” I started.
“How you figure?” asked the cop.
“Here me out, and you’ll know. So there is one shooter, and let’s pretend I’m him for a second. I come in through the back door, gun drawn. I point at the first guy…” I point my hand like a gun the man who was looking at the ceiling. “…and pop him in the head.” I pretend shoot at the man. “Then I get the next two guys the same way.” I ‘shoot’ the other two guys.
“What about the Shark?” The policeman asked.
I laugh. “He got up and ran like the f***ing coward he was.” I walk over to the over turned chair next to the table. “He sat right here. When the first shot happened, he got up and ran.” I turned towards the door. “But the f***er didn’t get far. The shooter popped him in the leg as the Shark was running, so the Shark goes down just outside.” I walk back outside into the rain and lights and smells and death. “The shooter walks over to the crippled man, grabs him by the collar, and points his gun at his forehead while the Shark is pleading and whimpering and bleeding…” I point my finger at the dead man on the ground. “…and shoots him point blank, execution style.” I make a slight ‘boom’ sound.
I look back at the policeman I had been talking to this whole time. He has a slightly disgusted look on his face, and was as green as the gin they sold at The Lucky Girl. I just realized that I did not know his name. Must be fresh out of the academy. “What’s your name, son?”
“Greg, sir. Officer Greg McCelli.”
“Well Officer McCelli, welcome to Kansas City. I hope you live longer than this poor f***er.” I cock my head down at the Shark, taking a long drag on my cigarette, and then blowing the smoke out with a slight ‘whoof’. He was still as green as a dollar bill, but he nodded slightly.
I walk over to the police chief, Renner. He sees me coming and asks me what I think happened. I told him what I told McCelli, to a tee. He agreed with me about the execution because of the burns on the man’s forehead, along with the single shooter. Inside my head I was laughing. This man couldn’t do his job without my help. I don’t even know how this f***ing bastard got to be chief. Probably blew the chief before him.
Just as I was about to walk away from the scene and head back to my establishment, I heard someone call out from the bar, saying that they could not find any of the bullet casings from the shooters gun. I turned back to Renner and told him the shooter must have picked all of them up. He nodded like he had just thought of the same thing. The liar. I turned away from the lights and dropped my finished cigarette, then pulled out another one. I lit it under the brim of my hat, keeping the rain off of the warm flame which almost caressed my face. For a brief second I caught sight of my face in one of the buildings mirrors glossed over with water. The light of the flame showed me the skull of a man who had woken up with a dull razor, cold coffee, and scotch. But just before it disappeared, I thought I saw the man in the glass smile at me. Then it was gone, the flame extinguished and my cigarette lit. I turned and walked all the way back to my building. I went up the stairs to the third floor, and then walked almost to the end of the dark hallway. The light in the hallway had been out forever and no one bothered to fix it. No one bothers to fix anything…
I turned at the last door on the right, with my name written under ‘Private Investigator’. I put my key into the door and twisted it. Upon hearing a click, I opened the door and walked in. The room was dark, so I closed the door, threw my hat at my desk, and reached for the switch. Then I heard a different click, this one right behind my head. I froze. I felt the press of metal against the back of my head, and then I heard the rasp of a voice in my ear. “Hello, shamus. Been out in the rain I see. Why don’t you sit down, so you don’t catch a cold.” The man grabbed my over coat and pulled it off of me, then reached over and took my gun out of my shoulder holster. He then threw it out the open window.
With the gun pressed against the back of my head, he forced me over to a chair at sat me down in it. Then he turned on the lights. I knew who he was the minute I saw his face, and I knew that I was in a load of trouble. “Oh C****t. Nikki Barracuda. You are— or were— the right hand man of the Shark. I wondered where you were since you weren’t in the pile of bodies at The Lucky Girl.” Nikki Barracuda was called Barracuda because the way his teeth tapered to points. ‘Way he was at birth’ some said. I did not even know if Nikki Barracuda was his real name.
“Shut the hell up, shamus.” Only then I saw the gun he held in his hand. It was a .45 with a Maxim silencer, and it was pointed right at my head. I saw the anger in his face and from the quiver of the gun in his hand. “I know it was you who shot the Shark.”
I froze. “What makes you say that?”
“This!” He yelled. He reached into his pocket and threw something at me. I felt several things pepper my body as I flinched away, and then I looked down on the floor. Five empty bullet casings shined up at me. This was going to Hell in a hand basket really quickly. I looked up at Nikki. “Oh. Those. Well, you can’t say they didn’t have it coming.”
“What did you say?” He said, his voice quivering right along with his hand.
“I said, they had it coming.”
“You b*****d. You f***ing b*****d.”
“It was them who were the b*****ds. It was them who pushed this town as far as it has. It was them who were slowly killing this place from the inside, like a cancer.” I sat back, calm over my face. “It was me who decided to have the cancer removed.”
Nikki screamed and kicked me in the chest. The chair flipped over backwards with me along with it. Next thing I knew Nikki was standing over me, the gun pointed at my forehead. “I’m gonna finish you right here, shamus. Just like you did to the Shark.”
I smiled up at him, my back on the hardwood floor, and shook my head at him. “Naw, I ain’t gonna die like the Shark. He died pleading for his life. He died…” I broke off my sentence suddenly and kicked the over turned chair at his legs. The support bar between the legs of the chair caught Nikki in the shins and he fell flat on his face, the gun spitting as he fell. I felt the heat of the bullet zip passed my face, but I was already up and moving. I dashed over to where Nikki was laying and pick the gun up next to his hand. I stepped back them, and pointed the gun at Nikki. He rolled over, blood coursing from a broken nose. I smiled humorlessly down at him. “Got ya.”
“F**k you.”
“That’s no way to talk the executioner.” I said, and then shot him clean in the forehead.
Then the silence was absolute. No sound, nothing. I looked at the body lying on my floor, a clean round hole in the middle of his forehead. Blood began to pool behind his head as I removed the silencer from the gun, and then slid the clip from the handle. I took out five bullets from the clip, then slid it back in. Then I stuck the five empty casing in Nikki’s pocket, making sure that his hands touched the casings after I wiped them down. Then I slowly walked over to the telephone and called The Lucky Girl. I heard the line pick up and heard. “Greg McCelli, Kansas police.”
“Greg. It’s me. I’ve already caught the shooter. Send a hearse.” I hung up the phone, and turned back to the body lying on my floor. It looked rather surreal, the blood forming a sort of halo around the body. A halo…ironic for a demon.





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