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Shindig

 
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A Tall Shadow
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:58 pm    Post subject: Shindig Reply with quote

Somewhere far off from the bar called Charlie's sat a hill. Atop the hill there stood a large house. The grounds outside the house were green and meticulously kept and fenced in by a wall of old stone and wrought iron gates. A path of concrete split its way through the green and wound up the hill to the large house that shone like a beacon in the dark of night. It was an old building, designed to be both traditional and ornate. The grounds closest to the house were littered with bits and baubles, statues that were weathered past recognition, a fountain that bubbled pleasantly in the heart of a small garden. A security box was no more than thirty feet away from the house and inside it a middle age man stood wearing a black windbreaker and baseball cap. He was sitting in a chair and leaning back, watching something on a miniature, battery powered television that hung from a pair of hooks he'd installed years ago. Beneath the smaller screen were a handful of larger ones with camera feeds from the grounds outside the house and the gates. He checked this every so often, but in all his years working for the home's owner, no one had ever tried to break in.

He checked his watch. It was a quarter past one in the morning. He had five more hours on this shift and then the man who ran security in the mornings would be along. His name was Strauss, and he was new. It was to be his first day on the job, in fact. He was replacing a man named Clark who had fallen unexpectedly ill. These things happened. In a folder that sat on the small amount of table space the security box provided was a picture of Strauss, along with all of his background information. Their employer was as careful as ever, despite the fact that nothing of interest had ever happened in this place. Markus (who was the man sitting in the box at this very moment) had been made to memorize a series of code phrases that Strauss would have to respond to correctly before he would be allowed to begin his shift. Markus thought it was a great deal of worry over nothing at all, but he would do as he was told and be done with it.

Inside the house his employer was entertaining guests still, despite the hour. The concrete driveway that went up to a roundabout had several cars and other modes of transportation parked just off to the side. A handful of valet staff waited patiently for the guests to leave, which they had been told was meant to happen a few hours ago. But Mr. Ortiz's parties always ran lay, Markus knew. Leo Ortiz was an older man, but he had the heart of one twenty--no, thirty--years younger. Apparently he threw terrific parties, because he'd never seen a one end on time.

Markus was pulled from his reverie by the harsh sound of a buzzer. He sat straight in his chair and leaned forward to peer at the security screens and rubbed at his eyes. A black car had pulled up to the gates and was waiting to be allowed in. In, not out. He cursed under his breath. These people, coming and going at all hours. He hit a green button on the console of the security station and said, "Ortiz residence. Please state your business."

The black car's window rolled down and he could only just see into it through the camera in the dark. The driver was a heavy set man with a thick jaw and the passenger, who he could only just make out, was thin and pale. The passenger leaned slightly toward the driver side and spoke in a voice that made Markus' skin crawl. He recognized it immediately.

"Good evening, Markus," Patrick Foley said. "I have business with Mr. Ortiz. Could you let us in, please?"

Markus wanted to do anything but let that snake in the grass through the gate, but Foley and Mr. Ortiz had become close acquaintances as of late and he'd been instructed to let the man through, no matter the day or hour and so he punched the button again and answered.

"At once, Mr. Foley, sir. Be mindful of the way, there are many cars about tonight. Mr. Ortiz is entertaining guests, you see," he flicked a switch beside the button and the iron gates slowly began to swing inward, soon allowing space for the black car to roll through.

Foley's driver rolled up the window again and the car began down the driveway, steadily climbing the winding path up to the house. Markus tracked its progress through the window of his security box and so he missed the image that flicked onto the camera screens of a shadowy figure slipping through the closing gate. By the time he looked back the shadow had passed and all seemed normal.

He kicked his feet up onto the console and leaned back to watch the program that was broadcasting on the television again, muttering once more about Foley and the hour.
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Glenn Douglas
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenn Douglas slipped through the gate behind the black car that rolled through only moments before. As it shut behind him he took off to the right, falling under the shadow of tall hedges and walls. He was a ghost in the night there, staring up the hill at that large, large house. He didn't know who lived there and he didn't care. All he knew was, they were connected to Foley somehow. They had their fingers in the games the Irishman played and they were due in for a message. Glenn was done with it, time to cash out.

He continued following the wall, keeping that security box in sight all the while. From this distance he doubted the fellow inside would spot him. He took a moment to pause in a section of grass bathed in silvery moonlight. He was wearing a black windbreaker and cap, just like the man inside the security box. He had a name tag hanging from the lapel of his windbreaker that had his face on it, followed by the name Johann Strauss. It was a passable disguise. He didn't plan on relying on it for very long. He crept through the darkness and approached the security box from behind. One hand was shoved into the pocket of his windbreaker, his fingers clutching a small Ruger that he had hidden there. His knuckles rasped on the windowpane that took up the upper half of the box's door and the man inside sat upright with a start and a loud expletive.

Markus already had his hand on his sidearm when he turned to look out the window and saw Glenn there, dressed like one of the security officers for the estate. He did not fully draw the firearm holstered at his waist but he did not let go of it, either. Instead, he reached up to slide the window open and said, "F***in' hell man, you scared me half t'death!"

Glenn frowned at the man, doing his best to look confused. "Sorry, sir," he said. "I'm here for shift change. Strauss," he reached up and pulled on his name tag and held it out for Markus to inspect.

"Strauss?" Markus scowled and released his gun to take the tag and inspect it. "You're five hours early, Strauss. Your shift starts at sunup."

"There's got to be a mistake," Glenn said. "I was told one-thirty."

Markus sighed and handed back the name tag, turning to reach for the folder. "Alright...what's the first phrase again?" he asked, opening the folder. He paused upon seeing the face of the man there, who looked nothing like the one standing outside the box.

From outside the security box Glenn could spot the sudden stiffness in Markus' posture and before the other man could react, he lunged through the open window with both arms and wrapped one around the man's neck, using the other to pull his head back. He placed both feet upon the door to the box and pulled with all his might. Markus kicked and flailed, knocking over the folder and his mug of coffee, but Glenn held tight and soon the man was gasping for breath. Seconds ticked by and the man's struggling became weaker and weaker. Eventually he went limp and Glenn released him, letting his unconscious body slump to the bottom of the security box. He reached over to open the door and tied the man's hands together with zip ties, taking his sidearm and a set of keys afterwards.

He patted the man on the shoulder as though to apologize, and then he slipped away into the dark, creeping ever closer to the estate.
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The Irishman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The foyer of the estate was a grand entryway. Its door loomed tall behind Foley, rich dark wood intricately carved and tended to daily to maintain its impeccable shine. The vaulted ceiling was home to a great chandelier that glittered with light and illuminated the room in a warm, welcoming glow. Paintings and photographs littered the pristine walls, each more beautiful end esoteric than the last. The man who stood beside Foley was a handsome sort. He had a young face with strong features, dark hair, and a winning smile. He was taking Foley's coat and hat to hang them in the coat closet while another young man, similarly dressed in slacks with a white shirt and dark vest, offered him a glass of champagne from a tray. Foley took a fluted glass and walked through the foyer and into a hall with dark wooden floors and narrow walls. This hall, he knew, extended from one end of the ground floor to the other and could take him nearly anywhere in the estate.

He followed it down a ways and stepped out into a large room at the back of the house. Its rear wall was made almost entirely of glass and was able to slide in on itself to open up to a large back patio currently decorated in celebration and home to tables and stands of food and drink. Just off of the patio a small stage had been erected upon which stood a quartet of men playing instruments while some guests danced and many more sat around and spoke in hushed voices, drinking, smoking and laughing. At the center of it all was a man man with white hair and a white beard. He was wearing a black suit and tie and his face was fixed in a kind smile. His eyes were dark and welcoming and when he saw Foley, they lit up as though they were old, fast friends.

"Patrick!" Leo cheered happily. "I wasn't expecting you this evening and I'm sad to say, you've missed the best of the party," he crossed the room and headed straight for the man. Heads turned to watch and the many guests who were still in attendance fixed their gazes on Patrick Foley with a mixture of curiosity and envy, as if they were in competition for Leo's attention.

"If only I could have made it early, I'm sure the spectacle was grand," Foley said, turning as Leo reached him to walk out of the room with the man.

Once they were out of earshot Leo's demeanor changed subtly, the warmth in his voice had evaporated.

"Why have you come?"

"There is a matter we must discuss, Leo, and I'm afraid it cannot wait. Douglas, I believe, is finally on to our game. I don't know how much longer I can string this along before we make our move."

"Not much longer, Patrick," Leo said, giving the other man a look that made him shiver involuntarily.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foley and Leo entered a private study on the ground floor. The older man showed the younger to a chair by a hearth that was burning merrily, despite the warmth of the evening. Leo turned to close the door behind them and saw to it that it was locked. He paused a moment longer, his hand resting on the doorknob, his lips moving wordlessly, and then he turned to regard the Irishman with those kindly eyes of his and smiled.

"Douglas will be making a move soon, Patrick. Can you feel it?" he looked toward the large window and smiled at the shadow he saw skulking about on the grounds. "He is here, now, I believe. And coming for you, if I'm not mistaken."

Foley sat up a little straighter and scowled. "If he's here then we must deal with him, Leo. You don't want your guests to know that someone was able to break in during one of your parties. How many men do you have here tonight?"

"I have enough, Patrick. Sit tight and I will see to it that you are taken care of."

He turned his back on the Irishman and reached for the door again. "Rest assured, Douglas will go nowhere without my knowing. We nearly have him."
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He could see his reflection in the tall window that stretched from floor to ceiling. His eyes were sunken and the cap he wore cast a shadow over his face that clouded his appearance and gave him the guise of a man closer to death than he truly was. Or was this his true visage he was looking at in the reflection of the window and the nighttime sky? Glenn Douglas shook the thoughts from his head and peered past the reflection of a man he didn't recognize into the room. It was large and richly decorated and furnished. To his left was a wall that was home to a hearth with flames dancing merrily, though he couldn't fathom why anyone would light a fire in this summer heat. Even at night his bones felt weighted down by warmth and humidity, but he ignored it. A desk dominated the northwest corner of the room and the astern wall was made up primarily of bookshelves, though there was a break there for a small bar with crystal decanters full of brown and amber drink. Maybe he'd quench his thirst after the deed was done. A man sat in a high backed chair facing away from the window. He was thin and pale and had fingers like the bony hands of a skeleton. Another man had just left the room. Older, with white hair and a black suit. He didn't know the man but something about him screamed importance, screamed dangerous. Glenn had learned long ago to trust his gut and he knew that that man was his enemy, though he didn't know how or why.

The older man left and Patrick Foley was all alone in that room with its glass wall being the only thing separating him and the gunslinger who was out for blood. Glenn waited and listened. He could hear the dull roar of music coming from somewhere else in the large estate and just when the song hit its crescendo, he acted. He had removed from his pocket a small copper instrument no larger than the palm of his hand. It was flat on one side and round on the other. On the rounded side was a thin line that seemed to indicate it would open, and when he squeezed it lightly, it popped wide with a quiet click. He watched as the little device opened outward and revealed within a small set of gears that were rotating slowly around a single point that was, even as the tiny doors finished parting, extending outward with a needle fine tip. He pressed this against the glass and then let go. The device hung there suspended in midair and began to slowly spin. As it spun a high pitched whine pierced the air and he saw the glass begin to shudder and shake in its heavy frame. He took a couple of steps back and pulled out the small Ruger he'd been keeping in his windbreaker pocket and waited.

Just as the crescendo began to fall the glass fell away in flakes like snow melting away. Before the topmost shard could hit the ground Glenn charged through the weakened glass and came out on the other side in the rich study. Foley was already rising to his feet and whirling around to see the man come running in under a shower of glass. Glenn kept going and tackled the thin, pale man to the ground and began beating him with all his might before he could even get a word in. When Foley lay there weakly, his face bloodied and bruised and his nose bent and twisted, Glenn rose and dragged him to the chair. He hurled the man back into the seat and went over to the small bar and grabbed a spoon and a small metal muddler for mixing cocktails.

"Our game's over, Foley," the gunslinger said. His shadow was cast long over the wall of books by the dancing fire. It moved and writhed as though performing some macabre ritual, preparing the Irishman for his descent into the beyond. "An' I don't know who all you're workin' with, but I figure it's time they get the message, too."

He turned back to the man who was sitting in that seat, coughing and spitting up blood over his fine shirt. Glenn came closer and leaned down so that he was eye level with the man.

"What's his name, anyhow?" he asked, gesturing toward the door with the spoon. "That geezer you was talkin' to a moment ago."

Foley spit out blood and laughed in Glenn's face, though his voice was weak and haggard. "That's Leo Ortiz, Glenn," he explained. "Gods, you don't know the *** storm you just stepped into, do you? You never were very bright, Glenn Douglas. And this is one misstep you can't come back from. When he finds out--AGH!"

Whatever the Irishman's imminent threat might have been, it was cut off by the sharp cry of pain when Glenn used the metal muddler in his hand to gouge out his eye. He brought the spoon up to help pluck it clean out and caught it in his waiting palm, tossing the bloodied metal instruments into the man's lap. He turned, ignoring the Irishman's whimpers and moans and went back tot he bar to drop the eyeball into a crystal tumbler and peered down at it with cold satisfaction.

"Lucky for you, I only need the one eye," Glenn said. He held the glass up so that it caught the light and nodded to himself. "It's been fun, Foley. But like I said, the game is over. I'm done playin'."

He started back the way he came, making his way toward that window. It still stood mostly intact, with huge shards of glass floating in midair. He was careful not to step on any of the glass he'd knocked to the ground and paused only once he'd passed the threshold. He removed the small Ruger once again and aimed it at the back of the chair and pulled the trigger. Somewhere else in the house he heard the band pick up volume and the gathered crowd cheer pleasantly. He hoped it was enough noise to drown out the sound of the gunshots. The bullets pierced the high backed chair and he saw the form still sitting there go limp. Then Glenn Douglas tucked the gun away and removed the copper device from the air. The moment he pulled it away from the window all the glass flew back up and went back into place. In seconds, the window was wholly intact again and looked as though nothing had happened. He smiled and closed its little copper doors and tucked it into his pocket, walking away.

As Glenn passed the security box he tossed the keys back in, along with the unconscious man's sidearm. Turned out he hadn't needed them, but it didn't hurt to play safe. He reached over to flick the switch to get the gate open and then he sprinted across the green to make his way out before it closed again.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madison awoke with a start. It was another nightmare. The same one she had had three times before. Panting breaths and dark brows creased she raked her hands back through her hair and tried to gather herself; she had gone to the edges of her body where nerves trembled. But it was that these days could do it to her despite the fortress she had been building with Tag; indomitable love and a tight-knit unit that even bullets couldn't pierce. That the west wind could betray her, revive latent impulse.

She moved quietly from the sheets and down the hall, pale fingers tapping against the wall, and she hits the lounge. The night was haunted with premonition and bell-rings. It had been a long time since the current of the world had felt this way, but Madison knew, in that solitary moment, that something had changed. Some frequency had altered, some light had gone dark, that somewhere, blood ran cold.


Madison had dreamed again of the death of Glenn Douglas. She did not fear it being a shadow of a truth, but rather, a parable, a symbol for another kind of departing. Glenn Douglas was a man that at times seemed touched with a madness but she knew better. She knew he was simply a man with a feeling for the way things went because the world they came from was so often lived as in corridors between meanings and moments; he and her had walked those lonely, uncertain in-betweens. Together, and apart, and together. Like he, she heard and saw and felt the unexplained roar of foreboding. It tolled through the halls of their bones. There were secrets in the silence. There was something in the air.

She walked out onto the porch and read that wind, the one that would come to tug at the ends of her hair as sat opposite Penny on the floor painting and sketching, the collar of her blouse drying on the line, the strains of her gunsmoke heart when she was alone as she was now and listening to its beckon. That wind howled and moaned and wailed; it pulled at the edges of her sleep shirt, a stolen tee of Tag's that fell to the middle of her thighs.

Inside, her phone went off on the kitchen counter. She replied like it couldn't be urgent, that it wouldn't be urgent, that they had time. But the wind said stories were ending and that the time to take the most she could into her hands had come. It was time. It was the time to bury hatchets and produce her gun.
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