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THE RETURN OF ALLIGATOR JACKSON
THE RETURN OF ALLIGATOR JACKSON?
Psychedelic. The music blaring inside of Rusty Shade's head was definitely psychedelic. It was like an intense Jimi Hendrix guitar solo that kept screaming over and over into his brain. There was nothing but the pulsating music. And of course, the drugs. The same drugs that had eaten away at the thirty year old and made him look years older than his birth certificate indicated. His once red hair was long, scraggily, and about three different grungy colors. His skin was pale and pasty. His once muscular body has been ravaged by his drug abuse and now was borderline frail and bony. The music kept him moving. He was fluid with the screeching melody.
Rusty barreled through the liquor store door with his pistol drawn. The Korean clerk behind the counter dropped his coffee as he stared into Rusty's eyes. Rusty just grunted, but the clerk knew what the addict wanted. He frantically dug into the cash register's money and shuffled it into Rusty's trembling hand. The guitars raged louder and louder in Rusty's head. His fingers squeezed. The clerk fell dead against the wall.
Rusty darted out into the night. Obeying the melody, he ran. Rusty had been out of control for years, but tonight, Rusty was the drugs. Rusty was the music. He no longer was the Little League baseball star who wanted to be a big leaguer. The little boy who could run and run. Yes, he was still running and moving quite fast. But, he was just a slave to the rhythm now. An unrecognizable stranger to those who raised him and cheered for him. Rusty shot down through 42nd Street and hung a quick left into an alley. Suddenly, there was a chill wind and kind of soundless howling and a deep voice said"rusty its your time". There was a hint of the smell of whiskey that registered in Rusty's Addled brain before the music in his head stopped.
His body flipped backward as the .45 struck. Drugs would no longer control Rusty Shade. Psychedelia had been forever silenced in Rusty's mind.
The flashing lights from the cruisers cut through the darkness. Detective Charles Bentley scowled as he looked around the neighborhood and then shook his head as he stared down at the fallen gunman. It was obvious there were several other places the grizzled police veteran would rather be. He had seen all of this before. Except the extensive damage to the dead man's neck and spine. He had truly never witnessed anything like that. But, this was another robbery gone bad. Bentley had seen many of those, although he had to admit to himself that it seems like there had been more and more of these lately. Bentley was a good detective at one time. He could be a great one at any time if the inspiration hit him just right. Nowadays, though he was hanging onto the ropes. Trying to stay on his feet just a few more years until he could start cashing retirement checks. The streets were becoming war grounds again. The city was a jungle when he first started but kind of mellowed out for a while. Now, it was worse than ever. More drugs and more guns than ever before. More dead punks on the sidewalks.
"Never seen anything like his spine," Bentley said in awe to his much younger partner Jeff Reed. "Not sure what he hit or what hit him."
"Looks like he got clothesline by a wire or something," Reed stated.
"Looks like something out of Nam. Have you noticed the smell of whiskey in this area. You can walk away and it becomes weaker but right here it is very strong."
"And it's not on his body. I mean, he doesn't smell like he's been drinking. It's kind of hanging over him like a cloud."
A officer in uniform, Jamie Pratt came in behind the two plainclothes detective. "Any ideas, fellers?"
"Looks like a bus hit him in the neck area and threw his whole back out of whack," Bentley smirked.
"No one saw a thing, at least here, anyway." Pratt offered.
Reed cut in, "Witnesses seen him run out of the liquor store. He killed the clerk and then took off down 42 nd and no one seen him once he turned into the alley."
"You can say one thing," Bentley sighed. "Something or someone saved us a lot of trouble. I don't know what he hit but it really doesn't matter. One less punk to stand trial. Looks like God done found him guilty." That statement wasn't just a smart remark coming from the old detective's mouth. He actually felt that way. The young unidentified crook was dead and that wrapped up the liquor store robbery as well. No one knew who the dead junkie was but that seemed to be the biggest mystery. That was also a mystery that could go unsolved as far as the detectives were concerned. They'd scrape him off the pavement and haul him to the morgue. Maybe an autopsy would be done to determine how he died or maybe it wouldn't. Either way, an innocent clerk was dead. Even worse than that, Bentley's night was ruined. He trudged back to the car.
"What now?" Reed asked his elder.
"Paperwork. Just more paperwork", the older detective grumbled.
A few local residents shuffled around talking about what had happened. Then, quickly as it all happened, everything went back to being a typical New York summer evening. Just another night in the big city and a smell of whiskey on the wind.
I never did hear anything about Rusty Shade’s death at the time. If it was mentioned in the paper, it was buried deep. I’m sure the shooting at the liquor store received some minor attention but the death of another street punk wasn’t of much interest to anyone. Even those who loved Rusty as a child had gradually lost interest over the years. He had just become another drug zombie. Someone who existed to get high. Everything in his days evolved around getting the drugs he needed. If he wasn’t under the drug’s influence than he was hysterically trying to determine how to get them back in his system.
I guess I should introduce myself. My name is David Williams. Yeah, you may have heard of me. I’m that alligator guy. You may recall that I was a struggling small record owner that stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of our time. It was a few years ago but now it seems like a lifetime ago.
I was down in the swamps of Florida looking for a legendary band called Alligator Jackson. At a little bar called Da Swamp, I found my target. Naturally, I never had expected that the band Alligator Jackson was actually a singing, guitar playing, and beer drinking human alligator. Yeah, that was an interesting time in my life that I think back on all the time. Those were my glory days, I suppose. Everyone has those glory days. Those times in your life that shoot by so fast that at the time it seems like a dream. Then, before you know, it seems like it’s buried in the past and just shows up at times to remind you that your best days may have past.
I didn’t get an opportunity to spend much time with Alligator Jackson. The time was a hectic blur with Alligator Jackson getting kidnapped and with me trying to rescue him. But, for perhaps the only time in my life, I felt like I was in the presence of greatness when I was around him. I never could quite understand how he came to be or why I was the one to be blessed with his company, but I knew for the only time in my life that I was part of something special. I was part of something bigger that most people had difficulty understanding.
Alligator Jackson was a true freak of nature. No one knows exactly how long he has been alive, but it’s sure it had been centuries. He was worshipped as a god in Africa hundreds of years ago. He had been surrounded by a society of protectors whose job it was to keep his existence secret. Every seven years or so, Alligator Jackson would slip into a coma. When he woke up, he would take on a new personality. When I met ol’ AJ, he was a southern rock singer. I didn’t get to know him for long, but I was deeply touched just the same. He slipped into a coma as I helped rescued him and he was whisked away by his protectors to an unknown location.
Like me, the world was briefly acquainted with Alligator Jackson. He was gone as quickly as he had appeared. I was fortunate enough to own the rights to his music. I released a couple of Alligator Jackson cds on my label - TJ Dawg Records. The cds and AJ merchandise were an immediate hit. The music business is a fickle mistress. As soon as it accepts you, it just as quickly abandons you. I stayed into it too long. I should have gotten out quicker. I soon lost most of the money that I made. I’m comfortable now but not rich by any means. The rent in New York City alone can make sure of that.
I missed Alligator Jackson. There was something special about him. He was gruff and rough but there was something charismatic and simple in nature about him. I truly missed his companionship. I began to feel like someone who lost a brother or who was abandoned by a spouse. At first, I was busy telling my story, which was actually his story. I was the hot topic of the moment as I told the world about my great discovery. Everyone wanted to tell my story as I told AJ’s story. I had a piece of AJ so everyone wanted a piece of me. But as the memory of Alligator Jackson slipped, so did my glory. I began telling the same story over and over. First, it was the media and they hung on every word. But after a while, I found myself telling the story to the guy sitting on the bar stool next to me. It wasn’t long before the bar stool next to me was the worst seat in any local tavern. Soon, it seemed like my only friend was an imaginary alligator. I started talking to Alligator Jackson when I got drunk. Of course, he wasn’t there.
I never did find the love of my life that I had been looking for my whole life. I thought I found it in Jenny. She helped me rescue Alligator Jackson. She worked for me for a while and eventually married someone overseas. After a time, even our friendship was gone. Soon, it was just me and beer. The memory of Alligator Jackson was never too far away. He became like a ghost. Haunting and teasing me. He was my only true success and now he was gone. I didn’t even manage his career right. I squandered most of what should have been a fortune. It’s almost like I felt like a traitor. I felt like the money I made from AJ was undeserved by me. It was like it was some sort of blood money.
I began to identify with The Silver Surfer. It seemed like I was destined to just float through this life alone. Whatever I touched I seemed to destroy.
“So that lil’ shit Mace is trying to scam us?” Dre Johnson said as he looked up across the table at his right hand man The Enforcer.
“Yep, guess it’s time for me to wipe and flush,” the giant laughed.
“Always someone trying to pull one over on someone. Whatever happened to respect like we had in the old days?” Dre tried to sound humorous but this continued lack of respect aggravated him.
“These young pups want to be the big dogs without doin’ the work. Everybody wants to be king but no one wants to climb the ladder to get to the throne.” The Enforcer shared his boss’s disgust.
“I’ve always liked that kid. Took him under my wing. He’s thinks he can scam me. These young wannabe’s are always mistaking kindness for weakness.”
“I guess I can use another workout. I’ll get Vampy to get some of the boys together and we’ll make a lil’ social call tonight.”
“Damn shame, Enforcy, damn shame. Should call you The Teacher. You always have to teach these punks some respect.”
“Don’t let it get ya down, man. This kind of crap keeps us sharp. Guess it’s job security for me, man. Feels good to be needed,” the big man laughed.
Dre Johnson and Derek Knight, aka The Enforcer, have fought many wars together. They know how things were, are, and are going to be. Dre Johnson made it far due to his charisma and good looks. He was the official brains of his little racket but he also made it to the top because of the muscle of The Enforcer. Dre Johnson, The Enforcer, and The Vampire started as reckless gangbangers in their teens and forged an Empire over the last twenty years.
Dre could somewhat relate to the wannabes. But Dre worked hard and paid his dues. More important in his eyes, was that he earned what he got and he never tried to scam his bosses on his way up the ladder. He started as a drug runner and made the best of his opportunities. He learned his lessons well and never tried to use what he learned against his teachers. Loyalty, charm, and his gang of friends helped him rise from the ghetto to the big mansion. He and his friends were just poor African American teenagers when they started the game years ago. Some of his friends didn’t make the climb. They were like soldiers that paid the price for the good of the gang. There were too many fallen comrades for him to even remember but often late at night he would pull out an expensive bottle of wine and sit alone in the dark and think of them. It could have easily of been him and it likely would have been if not for the Enforcer. Dre was always small as a kid though now he was respectable at six foot one and a fairly muscular 190. But, Derek, the boy who would become The Enforcer was always huge. A football star in high school who choose the gang lifestyle over football scholarships. Derek Rowe was always a team player, he just chose the wrong team.
They were poor kids. Their first taste of money led them down the wrong road. The Enforcer had grown to six foot six and over three hundred pounds of muscle. He was an awesome specimen in a tank top when he attacked the weights in Dre’s private gym. Dre would just watch and laugh. “That’s my boy,” Dre would chuckle as he smoked a blunt and watched the giant build more muscles.
Derek was more than just a big man. He had killer instinct. He enjoyed busting up his enemies. He thrived on it. He gobbled up the street punks the way a Doberman attacked his dinner. He was a black belt in karate but he majored in street fighting. No one usually lasted long enough with him for anyone to find out exactly what he knew about hand to hand combat. More than just Dre’s assassin, he was his partner. A big piece of beef that used his brain as well as his brawn. Derek and Dre were really equals. But, Dre was more like the CEO because he made a better face for their Empire. He was their Dave Thomas. Dre was a smooth talker. He learned the art of persuasion very young. His charm worked on the young girls and he perfected it on the females then switched it over into a business sense. Dre became the ultimate salesman. He was also a good student with great teachers. He watched his bosses and they took him under his wing.
What really hurt him about Mace Edwards is that Dre took the young punk under his wing and tried to teach him about the game. But, Mace being around twenty, wanted too much too soon. He started scimming a little of the drug money off the top. Now, he was starting to make his own connections and make his own deals. He was slowly building his own group of friends and trying to cut into Dre’s business. Mace didn’t want to learn and evolve into king. He wanted to replace Dre. Well, that’s what Dre feared anyway. Dre was instinctive and always thought that Mace could go this way. Mace was about to become another casualty of business. Donald Trump may say “Your fired”, but that isn’t The Company’s way. Dre and Derek run the company. The Enforcers way of terminating someone was permanent termination. No need for job references or unemployment. When The Enforcer terminated you, you stayed unemployed forever.
The Vampire usually accompanied The Enforcer on his terminating tasks. The Vampire, Floyd Cooper, grew up the Dre and Derek. If Dre was the charmer and Derek the brute, the Floyd was the showman. He was the public relations man. The Vampire. He had a ghoulish habit of sticking his face down into the blood of The Enforcer’s victims and licking it up. Where The Enforcer was serious business, The Vampire made a show of the feats of The Terminator. He turned a day of business into legend. His gruesome stunts could be as intimidating as Derek’s violent acts. The Vampire made sure that no one ever forgot. A price paid by one person was turned into a lesson for everyone to learn.
The problem with the new breed of gangsters is that they don’t respect what is right in front of them. They knew what The Enforcer and The Vampire could do. They all know the legends and turned the legends into gospel, but they didn’t think it applied to them. They would laugh about the many victims but they never think it will be their turn. They never learn someone’s else lesson. They ignore examples and perfer to become victims themselves. But Dre didn’t consider them victims because they were just getting what they deserved.
There was an incident about ten years ago in upstate New York that became folklore among members of The Company. It was a Saturday afternoon. The parking of Venture Inn was crowded with motorcycles. A group of five heavily armed black men strolled through the parking lot. The first one to enter through into the biker bar was the one known as The Vampire.
“Well, don’t everyone get up at once. We’ll let ourselves in..” announced The Vampire. About fifteen big beefy redneck looking bikers looked his way. “Dre Johnson has sent us to send his kind regards. He is so pleased with your recent success in his area that he wanted to send his good friend Derek to congratulate you.” A couple of the bikers appeared to make a move but they received indication from a couple of the armed men that it may not be a good idea.
The Vampire was on stage. He loved to perform. He walked around the room, waving his hands as he spoke. “Now, while Mr. Johnson has asked us to personally deliver a message because he has prior business engagements but he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by not extending his congratulations or is that condolences….I always get those two confused.”
A big biker about six foot five and over three hundred pounds began to get restless and moved toward The Vampire. The Enforcer came bustling over and met the biker with a quick straight punch that sent the big man back a few steps. The Enforcer was extremely quick for a man his size and quickly stepped into the biker with a quick flurry of effective punches. The man went down. To everyone’s amazement, The Enforcer quickly produced a quick blade out of nowhere. He dropped to the man who was trying to get back on his feet. Like a butcher carving a piece of meat, The Enforcer lopped off the man’s ear. He flipped the ear to the Vampire. The Vampire stuck it is his mouth and then spit it out, proclaiming: “I never did care too much for white meat.”
The Enforcer quickly ran the knife across the man’s throat. The biker fell dead. A couple of men started to rise and they were met by gunfire. The Vampire ran over and began to lick the man’s blood. Meanwhile, The Enforcer had work the man’s head free from his body. The Vampire showed it off like a trophy.
“This is the price that you pay for crossing into Dre Johnson’s territory. Dre wanted someone’s head for the infraction and he will receive it. The price will be steeper next time. So gentlemen, please think about it. You’re gonna cause me to have to buy a bigger trophy case.” The Vampire started laughing hysterically. Bartenders and waitresses were crying and screaming. The rest of the men were stunned. The Vampire took a bow and danced a little jig and then the men left quietly as they had entered.
“How many times do I have to tell you, I’m not doing anything.” Jenna Banks yelled into her cell phone. “Listen, it’s 2:15, I’m walking to my car, I’ll be home in fifteen minutes. You can come over if you want.”
There was a pause as the young two-year old redhead in tight shorts and NYU T-shirt hustled down the street.
“A girl CAN go out with her friends after work and not be doing anything. If I was up to something I wouldn’t have called you.” Jenna was completely oblivious to the footsteps that fell in behind her.
“I’m just about to my car. Just come over.” She paused for a second and changed her tone voice to sound sweeter. “Honey, will you do me a favor though, would you stop at Taco Bell and pick me a couple of tacos?” She laughed lightly and then continued. “I’ll make it worth your time, I promise. Thanks, I’ll see you in a few.”
Jenna walked past an alley when suddenly John Renko charged up from behind her and overpowered her. His hand went quickly over her mouth and he drug her into the alley. Jenna’s first reaction was to fight the attack but between the sudden panic and the alcohol she had consumed, she didn’t put up a good fight. She swung her arms recklessly. Renko, a thirty something street person easily fended off her counterattack. He grabbed by the back of the head and slung her into the ground.
“You better stop right now if you know what’s good for ya. Just enjoy it.” the larger man whispered into her ear. He now had a knife pressed against her throat as he held his other hand over her mouth. He attempted to push his body over top of her. “Now listen. If you make this easy, it will be quick and you can go home to your boyfriend in one piece. I’m gonna take my hand away from your mouth. You scream, you’re dead. Ya read me?”
Jenna shook her head in compliance. Tears were streaking down her face and he whole body was shaking. She couldn’t get her breath. She was afraid she was going to go into convulsions. He slowly took his hand from her mouth but left the knife at her throat. He was now completely on top of her. He whispered in her ear again. “Now, I need some help. Take your pants off.”
Suddenly, the man was jerked straight up into the air. His knife flew out of his hand. In a quick instant he was slung face first into the wall behind him. Jenna didn’t know what was happening. She heard a noise and felt the weight being relieved from on top of her. She could hear her attacker grunting as he was being attacked himself. She smelled an overpowering blast of whiskey. She didn’t know what was going on and quite frankly didn’t care. She got to her feet and went running out of the alley. She really didn’t care what was happening in the alley, she just knew she wasn’t going to be part of it. If she would have stayed a few more seconds, she would have heard the sickening crunch of bones breaking. John Renko fell lifelessly to the ground. Another punk taken off the streets of New York.
The same cast of characters that were on hand to remove Rusty Shade from the sidewalk exactly a week earlier were on hand to investgate the death of John Renko. But, they seemed unable to connect the dots between the two deaths. Charles Bentley shuffled around the alley and shook his head. “The bums must have been drinking down here tonight. I smell rotgut whiskey.”
His partner Jeff Reed looked around and asked, “So what do you think happened?”
Bentley chuckled. “appears a woman was getting raped and a white knight came to her rescue. Left us a dirty little present.”
“Man, did you see his kneck. Who could have done that kind of damage. It’s practically sawdust.” His cell phone started ringing.
“Who knows, who cares.” Bentley responded as he shook his head. “Seems like a weekley gathering down here lately. At least the crimes are solving themselves.”
Officer Jamie Pratt walked up. “Another good Samaritan, heh?”
“Saved us a little detective work.” Bentley responded. “Just wished he’d do our paperwork too.”
Jeff Reed could be heard in the background arguing on the phone with his wife. “I’ll get you the pills, Brandy. Leave me alone, I’m busy.” He tried to keep his voice down Bentley and Pratt heard them.
“The lovebirds are at it again.” The disgusted Bentley said shaking his head. “That boy spends half his life listening to her bitch and the other half bitching back at her.
Jamie Pratt knew very well. He was Jeff’s partner when Jeff was in uniform. He had also been having a secret affair with Jeff’s wife Brandy. It was also becoming more known that Brandy habit of downing prescription painkillers and nerve pills was getting out of hand. “That girl’s breaking him, huh?” Jamie asked.
“Dunno why he puts up with her. A young boy like that should have all kind of badge bunnies after him.” Bentley should know. His diet for badge bunnies cost him a couple of marriages in his younger days. Now, he didn’t care much for sex. Charlie just wanted a hot meal and a cold beer when he got off work and then would fall asleep in front of the television.
Jeff rejoined the conversation like the phone call never happened. “Is the girl okay?” He asked?
“Sounded like she’s bitchy a lot.” Bentley said laughing as he referred to Reed’s wife.
“Haha. You know what I meant.”
“They took her to the hospital. I think she’s just shaken up. Our hero stopped it before it went too far.”
“Did she give a description?”
“Nope. She said it was dark and she couldn’t see a thing. She’s right though. He got what he deserved so why harass someone for stopping a crime.”
“Maybe she seen him, maybe she didn’t.” Pratt reasoned. “then again, maybe she knew him. Who cares really. He won’t rape anyone else.”
“Don’t you wish all crimes solved themselves like this?” Bentley quipped.
“Lately, they have been.” Reed stated.
“Just the law of averages.” Bentley stated. “And as many crimes as we have had lately…..” He stopped. Looked at his watch. “I’m hungry. Let’s say we get some food?”
“Sounds good.” Jeff agreed.
“You mean you don’t have to ask the old lady. No errands to run?” Bentley laughed at himself as the pair walked to their car.
“Looks like a storm is brewing.” The Enforcer announced as he walked into Dre Johnson’s office.
“What you talkin’ bout, big man? Not a cloud in the sky.” Dre answered.
“Trouble in paradise. Some of the franchise’s aren’t very happy.”
“What the hell. This ain’t McDonalds. Just kill the fuckers responsible.” Dre laughed.
“Apparently Mace isn’t anywhere to be found. I’ve had people working the streets. Seems like our street team wants more money. Mace appears to be the leader.”
“You mean Mace appears to have a death wish, the ungrateful bastard. Tryin’ to build his own network. Well, if McDonald’s were having this problem, they’d cut off the beef. So first, see where Mace is getting his shit. Next, Ronald McDonald would send out the Hamburgler to exterminate the rat causing the problem. So send out a few guns in Mace’s direction. If that didn’t work, then Ronald McDonald would skin the rat himself. So, if the problem isn’t solved, it becomes your problem, BigMan.”
“I knew you’d feel that way. I’m already on it. I’m hearing though it’s farther along than we thought. That’s why Mace isn’t showing his face. He’s figures we already know. We just don’t know who’s on his side yet.”
“Sounds like we need a loyalty check. Better start checking in on our people and checking them out. See where everyone’s loyalty falls. Man, it’s a bitch when these things come from the inside. I like to know who our enemies are. I hate it when you can’t tell who’s who. If you have any doubts…aw, hell….you know what to do.”
“I’ll handle it, Dre. Don’t sweat it. The problem will be solved shortly.”
“I want Mace’s head. Tell Vampy we’ll need a special Mace is dead dance. You know the type that says, this is what that scammin’ bastard gets for not being loyal and this is what you’ll get if you do the same. You know the kind that just begs the question, ‘who’s next?’”
“I hear ya. Vampy is already looking forward to it. Things had been so smooth that I think we need this to keep us sharp and to let everyone know we still mean.”
“Yep, sometimes you just need a little public relations plan. Mace is volunteering to be severed head. We’ll parade his skull around the streets and nobody will question our authority for the next ten years.”
“I’m going to go conduct some security interviews and employee evaluations. The Company is about to do some layoffs, I’m afraid. Don’t need any pink slips though.”
“I gotcha, Big Man. Wish I could come out and play but I’m going to do so some phone work with our suppliers and tighten things up on our end. I’m going to do some proactive crisis management and get ready for the bloodbath. I want to warn our loyal people that things are good in hand and I don’t want them to be scared off.”
“I guess we needed to shake up the inside a long time ago. We got a little lazy with our inside security.”
“I think we need a vacation when this is all over, BigMan. I think we need to get away for a while and chase some foreign strange. It’s getting awful stressful. These days it’s hard to tell your friends from your enemies. These kids nowadays you just can’t trust them. They don’t have any loyalty. Greedy little bastards is all they are. They’d be making Whoppers at Burger King if it weren’t for us. We’re the reasons they have the nice cribs and cool rides. This is how they thank us.”
“I hear ya. All of this talk about Burger King and McDonald’s is making me hungry.”
“You ain’t kidding me, Enforcy. It’s the talk about killing, getting you hungry. It’s got the beast inside of you stirring. Go feed the beast, feed the beast. The beast has lots of work to do.”
“I am hearing the call of the wild, Dre. I’ve got to admit, I ain’t done any good killing in a wild and I’m getting a hard-on for the trouble ahead.”
“Go get’em, Big Guy. Make us proud. Long live The Company!”
Charles Bentley wasn’t exactly a bad cop, maybe just a burned out one. His partner Jeff Reed wasn’t incapable, just a little preoccupied with his personal problems. But when the pair showed up at the third crime scene in less than two weeks that featured a dead punk, things were beginning to make sense.
“Déjà vu?” Reed remarked. “Lots of trauma and neck damage.”
“Someone’s trying to do our job for us.” Bentley added.
“At least these guys won’t be back on the street. No judge can let these guys go.” Officer Jimmy Smith chimed in. “What’s this three in two weeks.”
“I didn’t want to say anything, but after last week’s neck damage on….what was that guys name….Ringo?” Bentley said.
“Renko” Reed answered.
“Yeah. Well, there’s not much doubt here. I wasn’t sure on that first John Doe guy, because it looked like he ran into something. But the neck injury couldn’t be that coincidental. This guy here, John Doe Jr., has the same kind of injury Renko had.” Bentley reasoned.
Reed pondered a moment and then added. “The guy who did this has to be amazingly strong. I mean he didn’t just break the neck, he mutilated it. This guy has to be big as hell.”
“At first I thought it was a good thing so I didn’t want to mention the connection in my mind. Because…well, I dunno…if this gets out it could be a good thing I suppose. I mean it wouldn’t hurt for the punks to think twice.” Bentley smiled at the end of his statement.
“Yeah, but what happens if this guy turns out to be sicker than the rest of the punks out here. I mean, also, if the public gets a hold of this, then hard telling what could happen. I mean it could be martial law. Everyone taking the law into their own hands and copycats….I don’t know. I mean, you have to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys. It doesn’t make sense,” Reed tried to make sense of it but he was offended at the idea of someone doing his job.
Jamie Pratt walked up. “You’re rambling Jethro. Ain’t it time for your cell phone to ring.”
“This is serious.” Reed countered. “This could really cause a mess, if it’s what it’s beginning to look like. I mean, there can’t be three different guys out here that are strong enough to do this kind of damage and they all decide to take out a punk in the same neighborhood in the same month. It’s gotta be the same guy.”
“Batman on the loose?” Pratt asked.
“Batman did things the legal way.” Reed blurted. “He worked with the cops. Batman respects the law.”
“You do realize Batman isn’t real?” Pratt grinned.
“What’s up with you tonight. You seem to be in a smartass mood. This gets out we’re gonna have a problem.”
“this is goin’ up over our heads, boys. We’re just goin’ to make the reports and report that it looks like there’s a connection and the powers that be will determine the rest. Looks like we’ll probably have to hunt this guy the way he stalks his victims. But the way it looks, we have a vigilante on our hands.” Bentley made his conclusion as Reed’s cell phone starting ringing.
“Uh-oh. Looks like another family crisis, Jethro.” Jamie started laughing.
Jeff looked at his cell phone and made a sigh of disgust as he recognized the number. “I’m not in the mood for this.” Jeff put the unanswered cell phone back in his pocket. He was particularly aggravated that his collegues were beginning to realize that not only were him and his wife having problems but that Brandy was now a full fledged addict.
Jeff Reed wasn’t real sure how things got so bad. They had been married for five years and just had that their second son. Things were going good then all of sudden, Brandy’s mood changed. She began becoming more irritable. Money started becoming harder and harder to come by. Jeff knew that she started on painkillers because she complained of back problems. But it was beyond all of that now. Jeff made decent money but now he found it hard to pay the simple utility bills. Their financial problems were more serious then the drug’s effects on Brandy or her mood swings. The ethical problems were eating at Jeff. Since Brandy did not have prescriptions so to get the pills, he had to resort to buying the pills off of the black market and occasionally shaking down dealers. But the biggest problem that stared Jeff right in the eyes at the moment was…..he knew who the dead man was. No one could find any identification on the man. The only thing they could find was bottles of pills and vials of crack cocaine. But Jeff recognized this man as Luis. Luis was a pill pusher that Jeff had purchased pills off of many times. He couldn’t say anything at all, but the site of Luis laying there dead made him nervous for a couple of reasons. One, he knew it was wrong for him to not say anything. Jeff really wanted to be a dedicated detective. He was a great uniform officer which is how he got promoted so fast. Then, Brandy’s problem became his.
In the back of his mind. Jeff also wondered who this vigilante was. What did this guy know? How long had he been watching Luis. Did he know who Jeff was? How strong could this guy be to do this sort of physical damage?
The crime scene was quickly turning into chaos. Someone recognized the victim as Luis Ramos and the word quickly spread through the neighborhood. In one corner, a couple of women were screaming and crying. In the other corner, officers were interviewing a stern looking women named Maddy.
“He had it coming, I tell ya.’ Maddy bellowed. “He’s a plague. A scourge on the neighborhood. He sells to kids!”
“Please clam down please.” The officer begged. “His wife or girlfriend or someone is over there giving an interview. Please be respectful.”
“Respectful of what! I’m glad he’s dead. May he be on his way to hell as we speak! This neighborhood will be a better place. There’s a few more that we need to be rid of. Whoever did this is a hero. Though it was probably another insect. No doubt a drug deal gone bad!”
Across the block, cops were interviewing Julia Perez. Julia was Luis’s live-in girlfriend and the mother of their three children. Julia was in obvious pain. Standing next to her was her friend Maria. Maria was watching Maddy from across the street and noticed the woman talking loudly and looking their way. Maria took off across the street toward Maddy.
“You! It’s busy bodies like you that causes problems!” She yelled at Maddy. “You and your reckless rumors and lies!”
“He got what he deserved. He was a drug dealing punk who made one deal too many!” Maddy answered as police intervened to head off the fight.
“Please have some compassion. Understand that someone was just murdered.” The officer that was interviewing Maddy begged of her again.
“He wouldn’t of been murdered if he wasn’t pushing drugs. How many kids have been murdered by the drugs he sold. He’s a killer and he got what he deserved!” Maddy wasn’t backing down. “we need to clean these streets up. Decent people aren’t even safe in the daylight anymore. It’s time the bastards stating feeding on themselves.”
“Please. We don’t need this now. This neighborhood is in turmoil the way it is. Please don’t make it worse.”
“Officer, you should be ashamed of yourself! Instead of scolding me, you should be out there ridding the neighborhood of trash like that. The drugs have what caused this. It’s not enough they are poisoning our kids but now they are shooting at each other and everything else. If they want to kill each other in their little wars that’s one thing. But how many innocent people will be trapped in their gunfire!”
Charles Bentley shook his head. “Looks like a war is brewing. Well, at least we know who the victim is now. John Doe Jr. becomes Luis Ramos.”
“Vigilante or drug deal gone bad?” Pratt asked the veteran detective.
“Well. At first glance, I’d go with drug deal gone bad. The man was a walking drugstore and a reputed dealer. But, the fact that the drugs are still on him…. And the similarity to the other street murders. You know, the whole neck thing.”
“The smell’s there, too.” Jeff chipped in.
“What do you mean?” Bentley asked him
“Not as strong as it has been. But, if you walk around the body, you can smell whiskey in the wind. The same smell that was over the liquor store gunman and the rapist last week.”
AJ’s Place was my favorite hangout. A drinking friend of mine had opened a bar a few years ago when the Alligator Jackson craze was going on. He asked me if he could name it after Alligator Jackson and I agreed that AJ would be a good name. At first, it was decorated with Alligator décor and featured AJ memorabilia, but after a while as the Alligator Jackson fanfare died down, Jerry started gradually replacing the Alligator theme until the name was the only thing that was still around. Even the sign outside the bar with a cartoon alligator had been replaced. A couple of Alligator Jackson cds were still on the jukebox but they were rarely played. Jerry Keller had rightfully decided that a sports theme better suited the crowd that occupied the establishment. Old habits always die hard and the one constant between the alligator theme and the sports theme was that I could usually be found sitting at the bar.
I was sitting at my usual spot, the third bar from the end when Marcus Moore came walking in on this particular evening. “Man, oh man.” Marcus started. “Another big ruckus down the street.”
“I heard all of the sirens. But then again, that’s nothing unusual around here.” I said as I motioned to the bartender Becky to get a beer for Marcus.
Marcus sat on the stool next to me and continued. “It’s a circus down there. Someone practically decapitated that drug dealer Ramos.”
“Damn. They get the guy?”
“Nope. And all hell is breaking loose.”
“It ain’t like a drug dealer is hard to replace around here.” I smirked without thinking.
“No, but his old lady is hysterical. Some of the neighbors are taunting her and saying he deserved what he got. They had to call in extra police to make sure there wasn’t a big brawl.”
“This neighborhood has been going to hell quick. How many deaths has there been around here this month.”
“It’s going to get worse. There’s talk on the street about a big gang turf war coming on.”
“What happened in the murder tonight.”
“Well, nobody saw anything, of course. It’s hard to say if that’s true because you know how it is around here. Nobody cuts in on anyone else’s problems. The whole ‘snitches get stitches thing. “
“I blame that on rap music.”
“You blame everything on rap music. Damn, man are you drunk already. Just because not everybody listens to redneck alligator music doesn’t mean that rap music is the source for all of the world’s problems.”
“No need to get personal.” I joked.
“Anyway. They say his head was just about torn off.. It was still on but his kneck was crushed. Not really even twisted just smashed.”
“Wasn’t that rapist last week strangled or something like that?”
“That’s what people are saying. That it was similar to last week. The cops won’t anyone see the bdy. But I hear a lot.”
“Well, how can someone be strong enough to almost decapitate someone? I mean, did they use a knife or an axe or something?”
“The buzz is that some dude did it with his bare hands.”
“That’s impossible…for a human, anyway.”
“Go tell it to that Ramos fucker.”
“Someone does something like that in this busy neighborhood and no one sees a thing?”
“Like I said, you know how this neighborhood goes. Someone seen something’ but ain’t no one talkin’.”
“Because ‘snitches get stitches.’ Rap music!”
“There you go again.”
“So what you are implying is that a black dude did it.”
“How do you get that. I’m just hinting that rap music is dictating culture.”
“I’m a black guy and I don’t like rap music.”
“Well, you like free beer. Becky, get Marcus another beer so he’ll shut up.” I said, only half-joking. Marcus and I have drinking buddies for a while and we get into some wild debates that are mainly in jest.
“You two at it again>‘ Becky said bringing up another ice cold beer for each of us. Becky was a beautiful site. She was a thirty year old West Virginia transplant in a pair of tight blue jean shorts. She liked to wisecrack but with her looks she could get away with it. Her mountain accent was a releif from the New York slang that filled the bar. She was hot, so very hot. She kind of reminded me of Jenny. Jenny was the bartender that helped me rescue Alligator Jackson.
“Don’t worry, Beck. I gaving up trying to educate my friend here years ago and just started keeping him drunk. He seems to make more sense when he’s drunk.” I joked then took a big swig of beer.
“At least I don’t get so drunk that I see walkin’ talkin’ alligators.”
“I guess you got me on that one, Marcus. “
“Seriously, though, man. I’m not being an asshole but have you ever heard anything from your alligator friend.”
“No. He’s a long way from here. Another country. I haven’t heard from his protectors in almost two years but the last I heard he was doing well.”
“He don’t know who you are now, does he?”
“No. He goes through changes. When he comes out of his coma. He takes on a different personality. Usually it’s based on his surroundings.”
“Interesting. You know we really have never talked about the gator.”
“I try to forget. I guess I talked so much about him that everyone got tired of it. Plus, I started really missing him. So I just quit trying to think about him.”
“It’s like losing a loved one, huh?”
“Something like that. They say he’s fine the last I heard but he’s not the same. The AJ that I knew got his personality from the Florida swamp. He was kept in a bayou bar. He got used to hell raising and drinking beer. He listened to a lot of southern rock and just started playing guitar. One of his protectors taught him how to play and they jammed together.”
“So is he still with the same protectors?”
“Last I heard he was.”
“Maybe he has a similar personality.”
“The last time I heard anything, they couldn’t tell me where he was but it was hinted that they were in a secluded jungle in Africa. They said they were keeping him away from beer this time around because he was too hard to handle when he drank.”
“No kidding? Was he?”
“Oh yeah. AJ was a handful. He was fun but still a handful.”
“How do you keep a beast like that entertained, though.”
“They didn’t say too much. Asa’s an old redneck. He’s one of the protectors. They didn’t even have cable tv or the internet down there. They have a dvd player and a stack of old dvds.”
“So somewhere in Africa there’s a huge half-human alligator sitting around watching tv. What would a walkin’ talkin’ gator be watching: National Geographic. I can hear it now. Woooooo. Check out the tail on that croccadile!”
“Sounds like Jackson. But asa being an old redneck, they had a lot of Clint Eastwood and charles Bronson movies.”
“So, he’s probably a pretty vilent ol’ gator then. How would you handle a gator like that.”
“I can’t ever picture Alligator Jackson violent. Even if you teach someone to be violent they still have to have it in them. AJ has a great core to him and I think it will always produce a good personality no matter what he’s exposed to.”
“Do you hear what your saying, though? You are saying that it’s not natural for an alligator to be violent. I’ve got to disagree about that. It is an alligator’s nature to be violent. They eat things. Human if necessary. And it’s certainly not natural for an alligator to be lying around the house watching “Deathwish” or “Dirty Harry.” and if they do influence him it looks like they’d be watching Disney or something that would keep him calm.”
“You’d think. But the protectors have been with him for so long that I’m sure they know what they’re doing.”
“Ummmm. Theses are the same guys that lost him last time, huh?”
“Yep, it sounds like they know what they’re doing all right.”
“Brandy, but BRANDY” Jeff Reed yelled into the cell phone.
“But what, JEFF?” Brandy asked back.
“We’re broke. Your ruining us!”
“What am I doing, Jeff?”
“We can’t afford any more pills. Besides, everything is drying up. Too much is going on and the black market is scared.”
“But Jeff…I need them. My back is killing me. I called the doctor. He doesn’t understand. YOU don’t understand. No one understands the pain I’m in. I feel like I’m on fire.”
“I know, Brandy. I understand. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t stand to see you suffer. But what can I do?”
“Jeff, you’re a detective! There’s has to be a way.”
“But Brandy. We’re broke!”
“That’s okay, JEFF! I’ll find some. You don’t love me! Do you understand how hard it is to chase two kids around the house and clean and cook when your backs on fire. Jeff, I can barely get out of bed. I can’t move. The house is wrecked. The kids are crying! What am I supposed to do?”
“Calm down, Honey. I’ll take care of it. I’ll find a way.”
“I knew you would, Dear. You’re special. I’m sorry for everything I really am. When my back gets better things will be great. They really will. I love you.”
“I love you too. I’ll be home soon as I can.”
Jeff Reed hung up the phone. He thought a while. How did things get so crazy. Things were perfect. He had a beautiful young wife and two great young children. He was a hotshot cop who made detective at a young age. Things were looking bright and then suddenly… Suddenly they weren’t. He wasn’t sure why. He just knew things were looking bad. Brandy was in constant pain. She wasn’t happy and as a result the kids didn’t seem happy. There was just so much happening in the streets. Crime, violence, and constant danger. He wanted to be a policeman so he could make a difference. There were times when he didn’t know which side he was on anymore. Or even worse, if all of it really mattered. There’s so much going on in the world is it even possible for him to make a difference? Maybe the best he could do was to just survive it. Maybe that’s the best anyone can do. And surviving it sometimes means doing whatever it takes. It bothered him to break the law, but he had to do what’s best for his wife. He had to make sure she survived too. If it took breaking the law to survive, then that’s what he had to do.
Jeff dialed Rich Merkins. Merkins was one of the regular dealers Jeff dealt with and Merkins was well aware Jeff was the law. Merkins was meeting Jeff in their usual spot. Jeff didn’t bother to tell Merkins that he was broke. He just told Rich to scrape together whatever painkillers he could and meet him.
It was dark when Jeff turned into the alley. Merkins was there. He flipped Jeff a baggie. “She’ll enjoy these.” Merkins promised.
“Nice doing business with ya.” Jeff smirked.
“Wooo. Where are you goin’” Rich yelled as Jeff turned to leave.
“Call this a quantity discount. Or policeman’s discount if you would.”
“What do you think you’re doing.” Merkins stepped closer.
Jeff wasn’t in the mood for this. He grabbed Merkins by his shirt collar and slammed him into a wall. “Listen. You are lucky I let you run your seedy little business. It’s scum like you that make my job hard. You’re one of the bastards that got my wife hooked on the shit. Call this the price of doing business.”
“I’ll have your job!”
Jeff turned around and busted the smaller dealer in the jaw. “Go for it, Cocksucker!”
Merkins got up and took off out of the alley running. “You’ll be sorry, man. Tell your bitch wife to start finding her shit somewhere else.
Jeff laughed to himself about what a greasey little shit Rich Merkins was and how he would rather be putting Merkins in a cell instead of handing him his hard earned cash.
Jeff Reed turned to walk out of the alley. He heard something. “Bad Cop!” A voice echoed out of the darkness.
All Jeff could see was a shadow moving ahead of him out of the alley. He could of swore he saw the shadow of a long snake or tail of some kind.
He walked to the end of the alley but there wasn’t anything there. Maybe it was his imagination playing tricks on him. There was a smell of whiskey in the air. Whiskey in the wind.
“No problem, Dre my brutha. The Vampire will put on a show they soon won’t forget. Blood will spill and Vampy will get his fill and it will be a thrill!” The Vampire cackled as he talked into the cell phone. “Thank them boys for getting the address. We will handle it from here. We’ve got two cars cruising over there now. Tell Derek to chill out. The Enforcer’s not needed this time around. The Vampire is in the house. Or will be in the house. “
Two SUV loads of Dre Johnson’s men were heading toward a house where Mace’s group were operating out of. It was in a suburb of New York. One of Mace’s friends were captured and gave up the address of Mace’s hideout.
“Blood is gonna spill/It will it will/ I’m ready for the kill/I ain’t restin’ until/ The blood spills/ and Vampy gets his fill/ headin’ toward Thrillsville” The Vampire started rapping as he hung up the phone.
“What are you on, man?” The driver of the SUV asked.
“I’m high on life, Brother Newhouse. High on life. The Vampire lives for this shit. Been a long time comin’. I warned Dre about that lil’ shit Mace, but he wouldn’t listen. He listens to anything Derek says but never to ol’ Vampy. I knew that lil’ bastard was up to no good.”
“Are we gonna drive-by?” Walter asked from the back.
“Hell no! That’s kid’s stuff. We are showmen. The legend of Vampy continues today. We are going to write a new chapter in The Company’s history. This is just a punk gang we are dealing with but we ain’t handling it like punks. We are handling it like the soldiers we are.”
“Whooo…my first shootout.” Walter responded.
“Shutup rookie. Your virgin ass is gonna see how the pros do it. I’m cutting’ off Mace’s head. Who knows? I may cut off Scooby’s too. I never did like that boy either.”
“What’s Dre expecting?” Newhouse asked. “We’ve got twelve men. Does he think they’re heavily armed.”
“We’re an army, man” The Vampire stated. “They’re just punks. We’re out to make a statement. This is business. This is war. Not only do they have to be exterminated but people have to learn from this for years. This is The Company’s way. This is how our labor disputes are handled. This is our courtroom. The Vampire is proclaiming that punk Mace as guilty. Guilty of a crime punishable by death.”
“What kind of crime?” Newhouse asked smiling as he knew what was coming.
“The crime of pissing The Vampire off. And even more important of pissing off Dre Johnson! We’re goin’ in shooting boys. No survivors. Hopefully the gangs all here. Gonna raid this place like a SWAT team!”
Back at the office, Dre Johnson was excited. “There’s twelve men on the way to visit Mace.” He told to The Enforcer who was sitting across from him. “I should have had them videotape this. It’s gonna be one of the Vampire’s greatest hits!”
“I bet ol’ Vampy’s chompin’ at the bit. He ain’t done a good beheading in a while.” The Enforcer smiled.
“He was sharpening his toys this morning. He’s like a child at Christmas. Got it on good info that about nine guys are hiding out at that house. They say Mace is scared shitless.”
“The little boy that would be king. Haha!”
“Vampy gonna teach some of the new guys how it’s done. So this kind of a training assignment. This trip should be tax development.”
“Hey, training and development is important to a company. Gotta show the new boys the ropes.”
“Yep, and Vampy’s the best.”
“You mean the second best.” The Enforcer barked and then smiled.
“Right you are, Big Man, right you are.”
The SUV’s made a stop in front of the house where Mace’s gang were hiding out. The twelve men got out of the two vehicles. “Ready, you three around back. Everybody else follow me. I’m leading us right through the front door. Party time.”
The twelve men went running through the yard. They could hear music playing. “They’re throwing us a welcoming party.” The Vampire thought. The Vampire and his cronies went crashing into the front door with their guns drawn. The other group went busting through a back entrance. They all met in the kitchen, looking at themselves and around the otherwise vacant house.
Then the house exploded. The Vampire and his buddies were no more. The only dancing was from Mace and his boys. They watched it all from a vacant lot. Laughing and congratulating themselves, they knew they just proclaimed war. Secretly, Mace was praying that The Enforcer was inside the house.
Jeff read had the instincts of a good detective, that’s why he rose through the force to his present position so fast. He knew something big was going on. It was time to put his personal life on the backburner and solve the new problem. Serial killer or vigilante. Whatever this guy was, he had to be stopped.
Jeff knew that was the vigilante in the alley. The smell gave it away. It was the same rotgut whiskey smell that was present at the three murders. What made this guy think he was a bad cop? What did he know. Jeff wasn’t ruling out the supernatural in this case. This guy obviously has knowledge he shouldn’t have. He’d have to be one badass detective or have one big crystal ball to know the things he knew. He knew that something was happening in that alley. But for some reason he didn’t attack Jeff. Maybe he understood somehow that Jeff was a good cop in a bad situation. There wasn’t any doubt in Jeff’s mind that this guy could have killed him. This guy is so powerful. He can practically grind bones into power. He has seen this guy’s work and knew right off the bat that if he was human than he at least had superhuman strength.
This killer apparently had a hunter’s instincts. It couldn’t be coincidental that he happened to be at the scene of three crimes in a span of a couple of weeks. He had to be stalking his prey. He had to know what these guys were thinking and what they were capable of doing. Every thought led Jeff Reed back to the supernatural. Something just wasn’t right and this was his opportunity to prove himself and to prove to himself that he was good.
He met up with his partner Charles Bentley the next morning. “Big things are goin’ down.” Charles announced.
“I’ve got something I need to talk about too.” Jeff responded.
“This case is goin’ to be big. They’ve determined it’s a serial vigilante. The tests have come back from all three crimes. It’s the same guy.”
“How can they tell?”
“Some traces, I dunno. They found some dna or something. Not sure right now. We’re having an official briefing soon. Tasks forces are being formed. We are now part of a team investigating this. There’s talk of Feds comin’ in.”
“So they’re sure the liquor store robber was related to this.”
“Yep. I don’t have the details yet but that’s what I’m hearing.”
“I wonder how he did it. I mean, he had to of clotheslined the guy to do the damage he did. I mean, the angle of everything points that way. Can you imagine how big and strong this guy must be to stick his arm out and do that kind of damage.”
“Well, the victim or robber or whatever you call it. Scumbag fits. The scumbag was running so if he hit something stationary then it’s possible that his neck and spine would be fucked up royally.”
“I don’t know, Charlie. Something is spooky about this. It’s really been bugging me.”
“Well, at least you have something on your mind besides your wife.”
Jeff resented the remark but acted like he didn’t hear it. “This case is going to get ugly.”
“Tell me about it. The dam is about ready to break. They are preparing how to release it to the media. The media knows something is up and if they aren’t informed then they will start making their own conclusions.”
“Hell, they will anyway.”
“True. But soon as they brief us and get the investigation organized, they are going to develop a crisis plan and prepare statements for the media. There will be press conferences and everything. All the networks will be here. This is your first rodeo, kid. Better get ready for a wild ride. We’re hitching a ride on a wildass bronco and there ain’t no saddle.”
“I did some investigating of my own last night.”
“You did, huh?” Charles had a weird look on his face.
“I checked out a few alleys around the crime area.”
“Now why would you do that?”
“Just curious. I think I saw something.”
“What was it?”
“I’m not sure. I saw a shadow that looked like a huge snake or possibly a tail because it looked like something was in front of?”
“Son, have you been into your wife’s drug cabinet?”
Again, Jeff resented the comment but continued on without flinching. He yelled out something about “I’m a good cop but I’m not catching him”. Or something like that.
Charles looked at him incredulously. “Are you serious, son? Are you delusional. You expect me to believe that?”
“I’m not kidding. And the thing that really makes me think it’s the same guy is that I smelled the same whiskey smell that we smelled at the scene of all three crimes.”
“Wow. I’ve got to think about all of this. Don’t say anything to anyone yet, kid. They’ll have your head examine…or at least drug test ya. But, you’re right. This is going to be nasty.”
“I’m telling you the truth and that’s what really scares me. For the first time as a cop, I’m really terrified. I think it’s the supernatural.”
“Oh, as if this isn’t deep enough shit, did you hear what happened out in the ‘burbs.”
“A house exploded and a whole bunch of gang bangers were inside. It’s rumored that they belonged to The Company and now there’s going to be a big gang war. But we aren’t going to be apart of that. We’re assigned to the vigilante case.”
“What’s going on all of a sudden, Charlie. I mean has the world gone totally nuts all at once.”
“It’s been heading that way, kid. You’ve just been too busy arguing with your wife to realize it.”
Dre Johnson sat motionless in his office. He was glued to his telephone listening to The Enforcer describe how twelve of his mean just perished in an explosion. Among them, his lifelong pal: The Vampire.
Dre Johnson’s reaction wasn’t how many would of thought. He didn’t yell threats, he didn’t bark orders, and he didn’t throw fits. He solemnly said into the phone: “I know you’ll handle it, Derek.”
Dre sat in his chair for hours just staring at the wall. He started to get a bottle of wine to celebrate his men’s sacrifices and dedication. He just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He almost felt numb. It was too much heartbreak for him in a short time. He had lost many close friends over the years. He was still hurt over the recent betrayal of his protégé. Everything that had been underneath the surface and stinging had now risen to the top and was hurting like hell.
He stayed in his office all night long without sleeping. In the morning he made sure that the families of his fallen men would be taken care of the rest of their lives. He moved some of The Company finances into some private overseas accounts in his name. He called The Enforcer.
“Derek, it’s over for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m out, man. It’s just not in my heart anymore. All the killing. All the loss. All the betrayal. Man, I’m just burned out.”
The Enforcer never shows emotion. Nothing surprises the Enforcer. He adapts and evolves. “I understand Dre. I really do.”
Dre faked a laugh. “I wanna go out on top like Elway did. We’ve had a great run brother.”
“We’re the best team ever… and we always will be. You’ll be back, bro. You just need some time.”
“I think you’re right. I’ve moved some money overseas. I’m not sure where I’m headed but you’ll be the first to know when I get there. Some island booty is soundin’ good right. Not sure which island yet.”
“It’s all good, bro. They only let good pussy on them tropical islands.”
“I don’t have to say anything else. You know what to do. You’ve been running the show for awhile. I’ve only been the figure head for a while.”
“You know I’d never do The Company wrong.”
“You are The Company, Derek. We need some new blood. I’m not up to trusting these young punks anymore. Mace broke my heart in more ways than one. Things have gone bad.”
“Mace will pay.”
“I know he will. But that isn’t the point anymore. Where does it end. How much money is enough?”
“You’re ready for other things. You’ve been the best, Dre. It’s time to rest and then try something new. The Company will always be there for you.”
“I know. I’ll talk to you later. Take care.”
The Enforcer was now the unofficial CEO of The Company. He had many things on his mind. There was a war to be fought. The Enforcer was a war machine. No creature on this Earth could scare The Enforcer.
“Beck, can you turn that up a little louder?” I asked. AJ’s Place was slow. The story on the news was much more interesting than anything going on the bar.
“This has been on all day. Seems they decided there’s a vigilante on the loose.” Beck answered dryly. “It’s been on all the networks. There calling the vigilante a serial killer.”
“That ought to stir up a lot of trouble.”
“It’s been dead here. It’ll kill business for awhile. Everyone’s afraid to go out.”
“Kind of hard to understand. I mean there not afraid of getting mugged, though. I mean if you aren’t breaking the law, why would you be afraid of a vigilante. It looks like only the bad guys would be afraid. Which means crime should be down,, so the streets should be safer.”
“So who’s out there: Spiderman or Batman?” Lou, the neighbor drunk howled.
“Any kind of killer has to be a nut.” Becky reasoned. “How do you determine between a good killer and a bad killer. A killer is a killer.”
“The news networks eat up stories like this. People are divided on issues like this. It’s also kind of glamorous because of the movie “death wish” and the old Dirty Harry movies. People will be split down the middle on which side is right and they’ll argue about it on talk radio and cable news all day and night.” I stated.
“Maybe it’s The Boogie Man.” Lou raged, laughing loudly.
“Crime’s out of control lately. Maybe we need something like this to clean the streets up a little. Keep the bad guys honest. A lil’ fear never hurt.”
Better watch it, Dave.” Becky cautioned. “Don’t forget this is our neighbor on the big stage. The cops hear you talking like that they may have questions for you.” Becky wasn’t serious of course.
“It’s an inside job. Look at them cops trying to soak up the spotlight. They want to be stars. They’ll all have books.” Lou was still laughing at his own comments.
Officer Charles Bentley was on the television screen. The reporter asked: “So what makes everyone so sure that this is the same person involved in each of the three crimes?”
“Well, the victims were all murdered in the same style. The necks were broken and broken in such of a way that not everyone could do it.”
“Murder?” The reporter asked. “It has been said the person may be a vigilante.”
“Murder is murder. No one has a right to take a life. When this guy is caught, he will be tried for murder.”
“Does it bother you that this man is being hailed by some as a hero?”
“The police have a job to do. One, we do not need anyone interring. Two, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. The victims in this case, if they were indeed on the wrong side of the law, are still entitled to due process. They deserve a trial. This murderer roaming the streets is not God. He does not have the right to try these people in his mind and punish them. No one does. What‘s next mob lynching. This isn‘t the wild west.”
Charles Bentley really didn’t feel that way. This was the line they have been briefed to say. Personally, he’d much rather have someone taking out the bad guys instead of shooting at the cops. It was kind of refreshing to know someone was on your side. Besides, when this guy takes you off the streets, you don’t jump bail and come back and do it again. There aren’t any repeat offenders with this guy’s method. His job will be much easier because the bad guys will think twice.
“So do the police have any suspects?” The reporter asked.
“Not at this time. I will say, having seen the results of this guy. He must be very powerful. He has done extensive damage to his victim’s necks and spines.”
“We need public flogging. Bring back hangings..” Lou roared. “Look at the crime rate in Singapore. Remember when they busted that American kid’s as with bamboo poles because he vandalized cars. I bet you that kid’s been walking a straight line ever since.”
“But no one can appoint themselves as law. No one is that righteous. ‘ Becky said.
“It can be a slippery slope.” I reasoned. “I mean who’s to say where you draw the line. We’d have a lot of ‘hey, I shot him because he messed with my wife. He was stealing what’s mine.’ It’s romantic idea, the whole vigilante thing. The idea of a fearless hero standing up for what is right, but it isn’t very practical. In the long run, it could be an excuse for some sicko to kill. It’s just a slippery slope. Once you start down it, who’s to say how far you go?”
“Kill’em. God will sort ‘em out.” Lou laughed.
“By then it’s too late if the person was innocent.” Becky said. “The prisons are full of wrongly convicted people. Those people go in front of juries. Imagine the mistakes made by one person appointing himself the judge, jury, and executioner.”
I finished off a beer and spoke. “The media is what fascinates me. There will be a feeding frenzy off this. They will poke and prod. Explore and debate every angle. The armchair quarterbacks, the experts, the protesters. It’ll be a party. People from all over the world will follow this with amazement and they are in no danger of this guy. They are too far away. Then, if they catch this guy, every one he has ever come in contact with will be interviewed. Half the country will call him a hero and half will call him a murderer. And the ratings will soar. Talkshow hosts will fight each other for the best experts and reporters will slug each other over any news from the case.”
“Careers will be made and broken.” Becky added.
“Is Dirty Laundry by Don Henley on the jukebox?” Lou wondered.
“So when it all comes down to it. It’s not about justice. It’s about ratings. It’s not really news. It’s entertainment. It’s public relations and marketing at it’s wildest.” I rationalized.
Becky handed me another beer. “It is an interesting topic. It’s almost like a real life movie.”
“The ultimate reality show.” Lou blurted out.
“I mean I’ve sat right here and really blasted the media for their role in exploiting this, but when you come right down to it, I’m extremely interested in this. They have me hooked already. And it’s very far from over.” I admitted.
The bar remained slow all evening. The patrons that did come in, all wanted to talk about the vigilante. Half thought he was a hero and half thought he was a cold blooded killer. Half wanted him to go free. Half wanted him caught.
I got caught up in the conversations and debate and stayed longer than I anticipated. I was drunker than usual by the time I left.”
“Be careful. Don’t forget there’s a killer out there.” Becky warned.
“He’s a vigilante. I have nothing to fear because I’m not breaking any laws.” I smiled.
“You’ll be public intoxicated. Better hope the vigilante likes alcohol. Better hope he didn’t have a drunken father who beat him regularly.” Lou roared.
Shaking my head in disgust at Lou’s sick attempt at humor, I opened the door and walked out into the night. It was a great night for me. It’s exactly what drinking was all about in my world. I got to talk to and stare at Becky, a beautiful woman, all night long. I got to speak and be heard. Great conversation and good friends, at least of what I remembered. I was walking down the street thinking about Becky. The vigilante was the farthest thing from my mind.
Something lunged out of the darkness and literally picked me up into the air and carried me into the alley. I didn’t have any idea what was going on. With so much alcohol in my body, my first reaction was to black out and I nearly did. Panic was the only thing that prevented that from happening. It all seemed surreal. I came to rest on the ground and as I looked up, all I could see what a huge set of teeth coming straight at me. It looked like an alligator’s mouth. They stopped right before my shaking face. Then as I prepared to die, I heard loud laughing.
“What…how…huh?” Was all I could say as I found myself looking at Alligator Jackson. “Alligator Jackson, is that you?”
“The one and only.”
“But how? I thought you had a new personality and didn’t remember anything?”
“What falls out of the head doesn’t always fall out of the heart.”
“What the heck? Are you writing for Hallmark now or something? That was unusually corny for you!”
“Good to see you, too, Big D.”
“I’ve got so many questions for you, but this isn’t the time and certainly isn’t the place. We’ve got to get you out of here. But I don’t know how we can get you to my place.”
“Just write me down the address and I’ll meet you there. I’ve got my own subway.”
“The sewer system dummy. Don’t you know that alligators love the sewer system?”
“Never thought about it. Here’s the address. I can’t wait to talk to you.”
I ran most of the way home. Well, as good as a drunk man who just had the daylights scare out of him could run. Alligator Jackson showed up shortly. I could smell whiskey as he walked into the room.
“You a whiskey drinker now?”
“I found this great little distillery’s warehouse close to the sewer. I borrow a few cases off of them every now and then. I’ll pay ‘em back some day.”
“This is so incredible. I thought I’d never see you again. How?”
“ Well, as you know, we relocated. I came to down in Africa in a small village. It was boring for awhile. Asa, Buddha, and me just sat around watching Eastwood movies. Eventually, I started roaming around a bit. I guess people were secretly finding out about me. People are scared of what they don’t understand. A mob attacked our house one night and killed Asa and Buddha. I got away. I wanted to fight but by the time I realized what was going on they had shot my protectors. The house was sat on fire. Being an alligator I swam my way out of there. There wasn’t anything left worth fighting for.”
“Wow. Sorry that happened to you. I really liked Asa and Buddha. I wondered why I hadn’t heard from them in a while.”
“There’s a lot about you that I don’t remember. But I do remember your good nature. There was an Alligator Jackson cd that Asa had. I used to listen to it. I got the address of your record company off of it and saved it in case I needed it. It was a long journey to get here but I really didn’t know where else to go. “
“Oh no! Eastwood movies. Deathwish. Bronson. You are the vigilante.”
“I stand for justice.”
“AJ, you can’t do that.”
“I do it for the good of good people everywhere. This city is so full of wrong. I’m just taking out the trash.”
“But AJ, you can’t. If they find you they will kill you.”
“If I save lives and clean out the street in the meantime it will be worth it.”
“I believe your hearts in the right place but it is morally wrong.”
“I’m only stopping crime. Everybody loves Batman when he does it. The world needs a hero.”
“But you don’t understand that you are only part of the problem. You are stooping down to their level. You are becoming one of them.”
“No, I’m playing them and beating them at their own game. These peoples actions were very predictable. Being an alligator, I’m a great hunter. I stalked my prey knowing they were going to commit a crime. I tried to be proactive but sometimes I was just too late. But, by taking these killers off of the street I am saving future lives. I know animals of all types. These people had the nature of killers. I’ve saved people from these predators. Who knows? Maybe I saved you. Instead of me that could have been Rusty Shade lurking around an alley waiting for someone to rob and murder. But, no, he wasn’t there to kill your drunk ass because I took him out of the game.”
“But, it’s not a game, AJ. No one has the right.”
“Only the strong survive.”
“Your wrong. That’s in martial law. We are not under martial law. This is a civilized society.”
“It’s only civilized if everyone is playing by the same rules. These guys were not playing by the same rules as everyone. I’m an equalizer. I protect everyone the way Asa and Buddha protected me for so long. I am the new Batman. I’m GatorMan.”
“That whiskey as rotted your brains.”
There was a knock on the door. I looked at AJ and he looked back at me.
Jeff Reed felt like his old self. He temporally put his wife out of his mind. His instincts were on fire. He was going to solve the vigilante case. He just knew it. Something in his mind told him that everything was going to work out the way it should. He was the hottest young detective in the biggest city in the world. Something happened to his confidence. He loved his wife but she ate away at his confidence. People fall in to traps that way. He lost who he was for a while because he quit believing in himself. Something clicked the on switch back on. He wasn’t sure what it was but something did. Maybe it was fate.
Jeff believed in things like fate. He knew that the occult and the supernatural were real. They were many things among us that we didn’t understand and didn’t even know about. Jeff was sure that was the explanation for this. While off of fellow detectives were going Hollywood and trying to get their name in the paper, he was going to solve this crime. Because he knew where to look. Where was that? Somewhere where no one else was looking. In the great unknown. The unknown and unexplained.
Jeff went down to the library and started researching. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for but he looked anyway. He looked up witch craft. He read about the supernatural. This beast that did the kind of physical damage that was done had amazing superhuman strength. Or simply was not human because it was hard to believe that any kind of human could crush a man’s neck like that.
This thing must also either be an instinctive hunter or have ESP because not even the best of police could be right where the crimes were happening so often. The whiskey smell was something that he didn’t get though. What was the whiskey’s connection? Could it be a witch and that was the witch’s potion? No, he was trying to hard.
He looked and looked but nothing made sense. Beast. That’s something to try. Could it be Bigfoot loose in the city? Bigfoot is just an urban myth. Myths. That’s not a bad place to look. Urban legends in New York City. Fire up the internet and see what it brings back. How about beasts.
“Hey, what’s this?” Jeff wondered to himself. An urban legend about alligators living in the sewers of New York City. I remember this myth. Maybe an alligator did this, he laughed to himself. Well, they are strong. They are instinctive hunters. But they don’t stand on two legs so they couldn’t be tall enough to twist a man’s neck almost off of his shoulders.
“Wait a minute. Wasn’t there a two-legged gator a few years back. Half human.” Jeff thought as he typed it into google. “Alligator Jackson.” Hmmmm. Interesting. The gator disappeared and was never found. “Who was that guy he hung out with?” He wondered to himself as he searched for more information. “David Williams. This is going to be tricky finding a David Williams in New York City. Didn’t he own a record label?” He continued searching. “Ahhhh. TJ Dawg Records. Let’s try CEO of TJ Dawg Records.” Jeff searched until he found an address.
“It’s late.” Jeff thought. “but if I go home now, I’ll be up all night wondering. I know it’s late and this guy is going to think I’m a nut but this address is very close. Plus, it’s right in the neighborhood where the murders have been taking place. Might as well check it out so that I can at least cross it off of the list.
Jeff headed over to David’s apartment building. He walked up to his floor. As he approached the door, he could smell a familiar stench of whiskey. He wasn’t sure what to do. Does he burst inside without reason. Maybe this guy was just an alcoholic. Besides, if it was the vigilante, he wouldn’t expect a policeman this late. Trying the civilized way first, Jeff Reed knocked on the door.
Jeff Reed knocked on the door again. I looked at Alligator Jackson. “What should I do?” I asked.
“A simple ‘who is it’ may work wonders.”
“Who is it?” I asked.
Jeff paused for a moment. He smelled the whiskey and he didn’t want to chase the vigilante off but there are rules. He took his gun out just in case. “I’m Jeff Reed. I’m a detective for the New York City police department. I’d like to talk to David Williams for a few minutes.”
I looked at AJ and he looked at me. “Let him in.” AJ said.
“Are you sure?”
“It’ll be alright.”
I opened the door and Jeff Reed walked into my apartment with his gun raised. He immediately spotted AJ and his eyes grew very large. “You, over there next to the alligator.” He motioned at me with the gun. “I’m assuming your David Williams?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And I’m guessing this is Alligator Jackson?”
“Yep, that’ll be me.”
“I’m also guessing that your are the vigilante.”
“I prefer Alligator Man”. AJ joked.
“Be careful what you admit to, AJ.” I warned.
“It’ll be alright David. Won’t it Bad Cop.”
“What do you mean Bad Cop?” Jeff quizzed.
“We both know we were in the same alley that night.”
“What are you saying?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what I’m not saying. I’ll tell you the reason to put that gun down before someone gets hurt. First of all, I’m not saying, that I’d tell on you for your illegal drug activity.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m also not saying that there’s no way that you and that little gun could ever hold me here if I chose to leave. I’m also not saying that you owe me because I could have done you in that night.”
“Well, what are you saying then?”
“I’m saying you need me.”
“I need you? How?”
“The city needs me down. All hell is breaking loose. I’m the best cop out there. I know more than anyone does when it comes to instinct. I’m not governed by greed, narcism, or jealousy. I simply stop crime. Often times in progress. The city needs me.”
“How? You’ve committed more crimes than anyone lately?”
“Once the vigilante is captured and people know it then crime will resume and maybe more. Now the bad guys are concerned there is a vigilante out there. They are afraid. They are thinking twice. I’ve solved the crime problem.”
“Big deal. That’s temporary and you’ve always increased the murder rate.”
“The media will ride this forever.” I said.
“More importantly.” AJ added. “there is a major gang was getting ready to take place. I’m sure you’re aware of that.” AJ said.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Jeff asked.
“Lives. That’s what?”
“What’s the difference between punks killing each other and you killing them.”
“When I do it no one innocent gets hurt. When they shoot it out, sometimes the innocent like a eight year-old get in the crossfire. Besides, the police know about the upcoming war but everyone’s focus is on the vigilante because it’s the sexier crime. It’s the one the media will report because it drives up the ratings that bring home the dollars. Meanwhile innocents die.”
“My concern is doing my job.”
“I believe you were a good cop once. You have good instincts. Somewhere down the line you’ve forgotten why you became a cop. I’m sure it wasn’t for the free donuts. I’m sure you wanted to do the right thing. This is your chance to help clean up the streets.”
“You help me stop this gang war and I’ll disappear. When I’m gone the threat of the vigilante will still be there and the streets will still be safer. There won’t be any more vigilantes though, I’ll be gone.”
“You have nothing to gain by taking him in.” I threw in. “We’ve been through this before. It’d create a circus and none of our lives would be the same. The media would pry through your life. Your closets will be emptied and AJ has already hinted that you have skeletons. If you want to do the right thing, it seems to me, working with AJ is your best option.”
“How can I trust a talking alligator who is a killer?”
“Try radioing in and saying you just arrested a talking alligator. I’m sure they’d come running over.” AJ laughed. “Besides, you’ve seen my work, how do you know you can keep me here until they arrive. They’d come here and I’d be gone. All you would have would be your alligator story.”
“And a dead alligator.”
“I can take a few bullets, son. The question is, can you finish me off before I get to you. Well, can you Bad Cop. Wanna risk it?”
“Never mind him.” I cracked. “He’s been watching too many Dirty Harry movies. Working together is the best solution. You’ve seen what kind of skills he has. He’d make a great partner.”
“Me partner with an alligator? A talking one at that. A drunken alligator. Crap, my life is difficult enough as is.” Jeff said lowering the gun. “Do you have a plan?”
“The wars close. I’ve got to get some more info. I’ve got my ways.”
“So what do I do?” Jeff asked.
“Trust AJ.” I said.
“Trust a whiskey drinking, walking, talking alligator?”
“Yeah, something like that.” I responded.
The Enforcer looked at the nineteen year-old gang anger sitting across the desk from him. “Mr. Deaton, may I be the first to welcome you back to The Company. You have made a wise choice in returning.”
“Thanks, Sir. I never wanted to leave. It was Mace.”
“You’re on the fast track. A few weeks ago just a drug runner…now in management.”
“You won’t be sorry.”
“You’ll get your $250,000 signing bonus when Mace is history. And great respect. Something you’d never get in Mace’s little gang. I’m reviewing one more time because there better not be any mistakes.”
“There won’t be.”
“You talk Mace into going to The Jungle. Around midnight, you get him to leave. You tell him that it’s safer if you get the car. He stays with backup. Pull up to the front but not too close so he’s has to walk out. When he does, our guys will get them.”
“How do I know you won’t get me.”
“Mr. Deaton, if I wanted you dead, I’d kill you now. I like the way you think. He’s your friend and you were loyal to him. But now, you realize you need The Company And The Company needs you.”
“I can’t change the past but this is close.”
“And Mr. Deaton, I won’t be in the attack. So rest assured that if anything happens like before. I’ll be looking for you and I’ll cut you up in little pieces. Do you understand?”
“Not to worry at all. There’s no way Mace’s little gang could take out The Company. I dunno what Mace was thinking.”
“To the future.” The Enforcer said as he raised his class of wine to meet the gang angers.
The night was working out like planned. Mace was talked into coming out of hiding and going to The Jungle. He was assured that the streets were behind their new king. Many young ladies wanted to be his queen. He had plenty of support and he was sure no one could touch him. He was tired of hiding.
The Enforcer wanted this to be a public hit. He wanted to make an example out of Mace and his punk buddies. The Jungle was the perfect stage. Once everyone seen this then there won’t be any further uprisings. The Enforcer sent five men to wait in the shadows in the parking lot. The Enforcer would be behind them further back in the alley. He could watch without being in danger and he would be close at hand if he was needed.
The plan seemed to be working this time. Deaton came and got the car. Out came Mace and three others. When they did The Enforcer’s men emerged from the shadows and began firing.
Just as the Enforcer started to enjoy the action, he heard a noise from behind him. “It’s all over for you, Enforcer.”
He turned to see a figure larger than him behind him in the shadows. The Enforcer didn’t seem to be alarmed that it was a large two-legged alligator. The Enforcer became a war machine and was ready as Alligator Jackson sprung at him. The Enforcer was quicker than AJ figured and in one motion, he ducked to his left and came in hard to AJ’s mid-section with a one two combination.
This took AJ by surprise. As quick as the second punch landed in AJ’s stomach, The Enforcer spun and landed a side kick on AJ’s chest. This staggered the gator and drove him back a couple of steps. AJ regained his composure and sprung again toward the big man. Again, The Enforcer bobbed and weaved and came at AJ’s mid-section. He was chopping the gator down with short quick but powerful body punches. AJ kept trying to go for the man’s neck but he was being jolted by lightening quick and thundering punches.
For the first time, Alligator Jackson was losing a fight. The big man was now on the offensive and coming at AJ. AJ swung again and missed, he still hadn’t landed a punch. The whiskey had taken a toll on AJ. He couldn’t maintain his balance. The big man was smooth and moving from side to side and AJ couldn’t touch him. AJ was having problems breathing. The many cigarettes that he had constantly chain smoked were betraying him now. AJ felt tired and weak.
AJ tried to back off but in doing so he lost his balance and stumbled. The Enforcer came inside on the gator and started working his way to the gator’s head. Once AJ thought he had a hold of The Enforcer but the Enforcer was too fast again.
“This guy can’t be human.” AJ thought. “He’s too fast, too strong, and he’s winning.” Suddenly, the warlord decided to go for the kill. He went for AJ’s body. He was right in AJ’s wheelhouse. It was man against gator in a wrestling match to the death. AJ was trying to go for the big guy’s throat but The Enforcer was strong. Maybe he wasn’t as strong as AJ normally but he had worn the gator down. The gator was tired, hurt, and still a little drunk. The Enforcer was in high gear. He was a fine tuned war machine and he was going for the kill.
Man and beast again grabbed on to each other. The Enforcer was boldly trying to overpower his stronger opponent. AJ knew this was his last chance. He was getting to tired and The Enforcer was scoring with solid punches. Plus, soon the Enforcer’s men would be at his side. AJ worked himself free of the big man’s grip. He then turned slightly to his left and mightily swung his big tail around. The tail caught the Enforcer behind his knees and the big man fell back as his knees buckled. That’s all AJ needed. The monstrous alligator turned around and ran. AJ disappeared into the shadows and just kept running.
Outside of the bar, Mace was the first thug killed when the firing began. He never stood a chance, the bullet almost went in between his eyes and a few more followed. Deaton grabbed his gun as the action began. He watched the first one of The Enforcer’s men take out Mace. The other of Enforcer’s men took out Mace’s friends. The first shooter turn toward Deaton in the car, but Deaton was ready. He fired first and killed the gun man. The other shooters began firing at the car. About this time, some of Mace’s friends came running out of the club with their guns ready. Deaton was killed as he tried to drive away. The rest of Mace’s friends killed The Enforcer’s men before they could escape. All of this was going on as The Enforcer and AJ battled.
The Enforcer was bewildered after his fight with AJ. He didn’t think about it at the time because he was concentrating on the fight. But when it ended, he started to wonder what he just fought. He heard the gunfire in the parking lot but elected to slop back to his office and wait for the report.
His report never really came. His men that were at the scene were all killed. He was satisfied though because their mission was accomplished. He was convinced that Mace’s gang was broken up for good. A new leader may emerge but Mace was dead. He was glad Deaton was gone as well. He despised someone that would turn on his partners so easy.
Officer charles Bentley was walking around the crimescene shaking his head. “Can’t tell one group from the other. Guess this was the big gang thing that was goin’ down or else the vigilante was really busy. At least most of them took care of themselves. We don’t have time for all of this now with the vigilante on the run.”
Jeff Reed looked at his partner and smiled. “How do you know the vigilante hasn’t retired?”
“Why would he do that? If he wants crime there’s plenty around here. This place is a regular battlefield.”
“Well, if the vigilante would have taken care of them maybe there wouldn’t have been any innocent victims.” Jeff looked at a girl who couldn’t have older than 21 laying dead. There appeared to be other victims who got caught in the crossfire.
Bentley shook his head again. “You know, if it wasn’t my responsibility to find him, I’d be all for the vigilante. He could kill all of the punks he wanted to and it would keep innocent people from getting killed. That’s the tragedy of gang wars, if just the gang angers got killed, it wouldn’t be as bad, but it never works that way. The innocent die right beside of them.”
“What would you do if the vigilante came right up to you and turned himself in.”
“What do you think I’d do. I’d slap the cuffs on him and be a big star tomorrow. I wouldn’t be proud of myself because I feel like doing what he does too sometimes. But being a cop isn’t necessarily about doing what is right sometimes. It’s just like any other job. It’s about doing what you are told or else you won’t be around. We aren’t exactly here to be the law, we are here to do what our bosses tell us to do. If they tell us to catch the bad guy and we don’t, they’ll find someone else to do it. I’m not the law, I’m a guy who wants to cash his paycheck.”
“I dunno, maybe I’m young and naïve, but sometimes I think I’m the law.”
“Don’t worry, kid. You’ll outgrow that. Just give it time.”
There was a knock on my door in the middle of the night. I was still awake. I was lying in bed wondering how AJ had made out.
“AJ! What happened?” I asked as I send he was bruised.
“I guess I ain’t cut out for this superhero crap.”
“You look bad. Are you okay?”
“Nothing that won’t heal except for maybe my ego! I got the crap pounded right out of me.”
“Who did this to you?”
“Some big ol’ dude. He can’t be human. They call him The Enforcer.”
“He must be something.”
“I failed and people died tonight.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s not your responsibility. There aren’t superheroes. Once you take out hthe head bad guy someone replaces him. There will always be evil.”
“Then there must always be good to counter it.”
“There is, AJ. But it works different. Sometimes you can’t fight it head on. The only way to fight evil is to try to prevent it. You do that through education and working with youth and preventing drug abuse and ways like that.”
“That fight takes too long.”
“But it’s the only way to win because evil spreads too fast. Good can’t win every time but evil won’t either. We can only do what we can AJ. We aren’t superheroes. They are fiction.”
“But I thought I could.”
“AJ, being a vigilante doesn’t make you any better than the killers themselves. It puts you in their league. It makes you a criminal like them. No one has the right. The big, the strong, the weak, the persecuted…no one has the right… and never will.”
“I guess I don’t belong in this society because I don’t understand it.”
“As bad as I hate to say it, AJ, you’re right. You don’t belong in our society.”
“I’m gonna head down to Florida. Gonna live in the swamp with the rest of the gators. That’s where I belong.”
“I’ll miss you AJ. I really will. But you’re right. That’s where you belong.”
“It was good seein’ you David ol’ boy. I’ll miss you too. I’ll send you a song from time to time.”
With that, he was gone. Alligator Jackson disappeared. I haven’t heard from him since then. I hope to receive some new music from him someday.
I hear Jeff Reed got his wife Brandy to go into rehab. He has more self-respect now and is doing well on the force. There always will be gangs and gang wars but for now The Enforcer and The Company are controlling most of the streets and their civil war is over.
Every now and then, as I surf the internet, I’ll read about a thug turning up dead in Chicago, Miami, Boston, or Los Angles. It seems he always has a broken neck. There’s never two in the same city though. I wonder.