Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spanner 4.4: The Hand-off

The one scene I wrote during AugNoWriMo 2010, again bearing its original noirish title since Revision 3. Originally, I tried to write the “waiting” scene in the static description style of Alain Robbe-Grillet. But during the second revision, I realized Robbe-Grillet in English needs more Hemingway. So revised. I first wrote it as an Interlude, but it (and the following section) became the heart of the chapter. Go figure...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 4: Special Delivery Service
Part 4: The Hand-off (Final Revision)

1 september 2014.
Seattle has its rough neighbourhoods. But the dregs of the city settle in this stagnant industrial city to the south enveloped in a miasma of pulp-mill stench known as the Tacoma Aroma. Tacoma’s east side contains Seattle’s one true ghetto, where a mafia-built netherworld of bars, strip clubs, and whorehouses has sprung up since the coup. At the epicenter of that desolate square-mile hell of urban decay stands the Russian madia’s favorite hangout, the infamous drugged-milk bar called Loco Moloko, themed like the milk bar in A Clockwork Orange complete with milk dispensers designed to look like female breasts.

By all rights, Desiree Richter-Thomas shouldn’t be here. A former DisneyPop SuperStar married to her own sister makes an irresistible target for fame-hungry celebrity hunters. But she has her own dark and violent personal history: the four dead people she used to be were all unsettlingly close to gangsters and terrorists. It goes with growing up Dictel.

Her copper hair is angrily spiked with hard gel to contrast with her soft beautiful face. She wears a translucent white blouse with the letters “di” printed on the front as a trendy postmodern signifier of Euroliterary pretensions, half-unbuttoned to expose her lacy black bra. Below the waist: black leather skirt, black satin tights, black punk-buckled synthogator boots. On her hands: racer’s fingerless gloves and a Dragonite signet. Her expression: unsmiling, alert.

Beautiful, charismatic, dangerous: Desiree is the center of all attention. No one notices the briefcase at her feet.

She sips a sugar-bomb chocolate milk spiked with amphetamine. She wants to be ready for when the Wops arrive.

The owner, Leonid Stroman, sidles up to her table and sits across from her. “Hey, gorgeous.” He speaks English fluently, almost without an accent. Much more understandable than his incompetent lieutenant Andy Williams, who murders the language every time he opens his mouth.

“What do you want?” she says suspiciously.

“Anything for me in that little black satchel of yours?”

“If I tell you,” she purrs, “I’ll have to kill you.” She smiles innocently and winks.

“Must be some big shit in there.”

“I’ll tell you what. Make sure your men are ready. There’s a Wop crew coming straight from Naples, armed courtesy of the Pope. I want ’em to enjoy the little surprise I’ve got in store for them.”

“Okay, if you say so, beautiful.” Warily, he leaves the table and summons a few burly Russkies into his office behind the liquor bar.

Desiree looks at the cuckoo clock over the entrance. Below the lock face is the little door from which the animatronic cuckoo will emerge in just over six minutes. The second hand approaches the XII with a tick, tick, tick...

She scopes the ceiling. Four hanging compact-fluorescent light fixtures, spaced evenly to give as much light to as many places in the bar, but only just light enough to turn the darkness into gloom. Half a clip should be sufficient to take them out.

The front wall has no windows. The front door, centered in the wall, is a heavy steel security door. After the Church of America decreed alcohol illegal, badside bars have gone covert like in the bad old Prohibition days when racketeers hid speakeasies within warehouses and funeral homes. No alcohol is served at Loco Moloko, but the drinks are still illegal. The “milk bar” is still just a cover. Pious prohibitionists still send the Moral Enforcers with COPCO backup, so it’s best to minimize suspicion.

Desiree looks at the dispensers behind the bar and wrinkles her nose in disgust. Gangland is a notoriously patriarchal place. The dispensers are white female mannequins with oversized breasts. To pour the milk, the bartender squeezes a breast. Each mannequin dispenses a differently drugged milk drink. You can order hot or cold.

Finally, she looks around the bar. The tables are the same color as the milk dispensers but made of a harder thermoplastic. An electric candle sits on each table. Tiny lightning dances within each candle’s bulb. At some of the tables, nervous men sit. Stroman has passed Desiree’s warning on to them. They stare at the door, waiting for the Wops to bust in. Their guns are ready for the intruders. She notices that some of them are wearing earplugs. The regular clientele are gone; Stroman doesn’t want to put them in danger, or he knows he’ll lose business. Even criminals hate going bankrupt.

At last, the time comes. The cuckoo comes out of the clock to announce the new hour.

“They’re heeeeere,” Desiree sings. She tightens her legs around the briefcase. The legband holster hidden beneath her skirt firmly holds her Glock. She fondles its handle.

Exactly on time, someone knocks hard on the front door. The knocking gets harder and more regular, as if the Wops are using a battering ram. After a few seconds, the door shatters into splinters. The Wops have arrived: eight Camorra hitmen, professional serial killers, special-forces trained, rush in, wielding Uzis from the Israeli Syndicate and Triad-made Kalashnikovs. Desiree shoots the clock cuckoo above them: a screamer she’s planted in the cuckoo goes off, forcing the hitmen to let go of their guns and put their hands over their ears. Some of them let out a scream of their own. Before they can recover, Desiree shoots out all four of the hanging lights, leaving the place in darkness. She picks up the briefcase and runs to the back while Russkies and Wops light up the darkness with gunfire.

When she exits the back door, she notices that Stroman has planted rosebushes in quincunxes within brick-walled terraces in a desperate attempt to bring order to this chaotic no-man’s land. Behind her she hears a car coming. She hides behind a rosebush. A sleek black Maserati. Figures.

The driver gets out, takes a Beretta out of the shoulder holster hidden within his blazer, and looks around for Desiree in case she has escaped the free-fire zone within Loco Moloko. She slips silently behind him, puts her arms around his neck, and wrenches his head to the right to break the neck with a loud snap. She likes his fedora, so she swipes it off his lolling head and puts it on her own. She strips the jacket of the corpse and puts it on; it’s a couple sizes too big. She slips into the Maserati, adjusts the seat and steering wheel, puts it in gear, and drives away. For security, she puts her ungloved hand on the GPS and kills it with a zap.

Once she adjusts the driver’s seat, the Maserati fits her like a glove. By now, the Wops have discovered their dead comrade and are taking to their own cars to track her down. Instead of going straight up McKinley, she crosses it and takes South 48th west toward Pacific. She figures the Wops should have spotted her by now, so two blocks short of Pacific she turns north on East A Street, which will get her to the Interstate 705 interchange and downtown more quickly and give her a little more distance on the Wops. Half a mile up, and it’s east on South 38th. They’ll be here soon. Unfortunately for the Wops, East Tacoma is completely covered with security cams: once they start speeding, COPCO will be on their tail in no time flat.

Right before the interchange, she spots a billboard. On it is the Michelin Man — phobic reaction begins against her conscious will—

don’t panic, Desiree, don’t panic don’t panic don’t panic

She takes deep breaths to try to control the fear and tries not to hold the steering wheel too hard. She forces herself to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo until the billboard is past, she’s on the freeway, and the fear subsides. As if by clockwork, the Wop cars speed down the on-ramp from 38th westbound to chase her. Sure enough, they’re being hounded by a pack of screaming police cars surrounded by a cloud of camdrones. She gets down low, punches the accelerator, and heads downtown. One of the mobsters shoots his Uzi at her; bullets perforate the back window and the windshield. Her narrow escape from death obliterates all remaining fear and puts her into the absolute calm of combat. Past I-5, off at 26th, to Freighthouse Square. She skids to a stop in front of the entrance, grabs the briefcase, leaps out the door of the Maserati and into the building’s entrance.

That train had better be here. On the way over, she had been too preoccupied with her pursuers to pay attention to the tracks. She runs down the middle of the station between the stores, threads her way through the milling crowd, hoping the cops can catch the Wops before the Wops catch her. A bullet whizzes past her: spotted! People panic and scream, running around chaotically. Their panic hides her from the hitmen. But not for long. She runs through the long corridor, looking for the next exit on the train side. At last she finds it. The train is there. She exits through the open door.

A distance from her in the direction she came from, she spots a slender black-haired woman. Is that her? She approaches the woman silently, almost shyly, hiding herself behind the passengers she passes in case the Wops look her way. Closer and closer, she approaches the woman, who is looking at the train door as passengers get off. She forces herself to walk faster. Finally, she gets close enough...


The woman turns toward her. She is gorgeous. Her slender, lithe body wears a classic little black dress perfectly. Her violet eyes look almost sad. Her sleek black hair is cut into a Neo-Wave wedge, the short hair on the left side of her head shaved into a checker pattern; above that, a prominent white stripe.

Desiree breathes a sigh of relief. It’s her. It really is her. Rukmini Ariel Shield.

Ariel smiles at her and reaches out toward the briefcase. In a delicious Irish accent, she says, “Here, let me handle that for you.”

“No. Not yet.” Desiree takes the black fedora off her head and puts it on Ariel’s. Then she puts the briefcase down, holds it between her legs, then takes the blazer off and has Ariel put it on. It fits her perfectly. She gives the briefcase to her. Then she takes Ariel in her arms and gives her a long sweet kiss on the lips.

She hears guns cock behind her. She turns and finds five Wops pointing Uzis at her. Ariel steps in front of her and advances slowly toward the hitmen. They shrink backward slowly, their faces contorting in terror. This Ariel Shield must be more dangerous than I thought... Ariel gestures her to stay close. She darts behind Ariel quickly and puts her hands on her shoulders. She can feel that Ariel feels no fear.

As much out of panic as for business, the Wops empty their guns at Ariel. Her eyes glow red, and the bullets stop suddenly in front of her—

“What are you idiots doing?” screams the boss in Italian. “Shoot!

The terrified soldiers run away. The boss takes out two Berettas and shoots at the strange woman till the guns click and click. With a flick of her wrist, Ariel sends all the bullets into him — and his entire midsection explodes into bloody shredded pulp —

Suddenly gunshots sound and the Wops jerk and fall to the platform. Several cops hold guns behind the now dead gangsters. One of them calls out to Desiree and Ariel: “Are you two young ladies all right?”

The two women smile at the policemen. Ariel answers. “We’re perfectly fine, thanks!”

The police sergeant comes up and says, “We’ll need you two to make a statement...”

Ariel gestures him to be quiet. “Sorry, Sergeant, but our business right now is much too important. We’ll give our statements later. But soon. Thanks.”

She takes Desiree into her arms, looks deep into her eyes, and says, “Come with me.”

Desiree looks at the train door. The conductor cries out, “All aboard!” She looks back at Ariel, gazes into her eyes for a second or two, and says, “Okay.”

Ariel takes Desiree by the hand and leads her onto the train. A few minutes later, the doors shut, the horn sounds, and the train leaves for Seattle.

Once they take their seat, Desiree puts the briefcase behind her feet, points to it, and whispers to Ariel: “So what’s in here that the Pope wants destroyed?”

Ariel puts her right arm around her and takes her right hand, showing the signet ring of their common ancient witch lineage: gold swastika within black-and-white hexagram on a purple field. “Ancient Gnostic gospels,” she whispers back.

“What’s wrong with those?”

“Remember the uproar over the Gospel of Judas? Rome’s reaction to this will make that look like a tempest in a teacup. This codex contains the magical secrets of Jesus himself, which threatens to destroy not just the Churches of not just Rome but America. That’s I need it.”

“So how come Uncle Dick wants it so badly?”

“He wants the power for himself.”

“You sure he won’t send men to kill you first?”

“He’s lost too many men to try that again. He fears me — us — for a reason.”

“He fears me? For what reason?”

“Obviously you don’t know your own power, ‘Livewire.’ That means I’ll have to show you.” She kisses Desiree gently on the lips, making her blush.

on to the next...

Back to Chapter 4 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 2, 6/21/11.]
[Revision 2.1, 6/23/11: Short passages from the NaNoEdMo ’11 edition of this section were omitted from the original post. They have been restored.]
[Revision 3, 10/25/11: Edited to fit new Third Revision continuity (dollars are now the same post-coup as pre-coup); Desiree’s backstory changed to fit new Black Science continuity.]
[Revision 4 Final, 7/27/12: original scene revised and improved. Final scene relocated (in setting), vastly expanded, and moved to 4.6 (4.5 in Revisions 2 and 3).]

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