Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, November 25, 2011

So close.....

Expect no coherence. Official Word count is 48,972. Here is what may be the new opening.


It started at 240 Centre Street. Middle of the night. Middle of winter. Middle of everything around me going to hell. Streets empty because it’s so late. Just cars parked along one side near this series of ugly brick buildings going two, three, five, seven stories up. Rickety fire escapes dripping down the front to the tallest one, like a growth, making its arched windows seem to want to hide from it. Stores on the ground floor all closed up and hidden behind rolling security panels. Even across from Police Headquarters, the city’s not safe.

My girl was parked right under one of those fire escapes. The roof down on her Caddy, even though it’s close to snowing. It’s like she wanted me to see her, wanted to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone, or something. Put an ache in my heart to know that she cared so much, especially after all that’d happened.

I shouldn’t of been there. Should’ve just got in that Caddy and let my girl drive me to my mom’s or home or anyplace else but there. And I thought about it for half a second. It’s just, I didn’t realize how bad off I was. Didn’t realize that if I went into HQ, like I always did this time of night, the life I had would end. Completely. Totally. Forever.

But like a robot I started across the street. And HQ -- man, once again its old, baroque, snotty looks seemed to be glaring down at me like I was some piece of trash blowing past in the wind. It takes up the whole block, this thing, with its columns and half-hidden windows and balconies, and the iron railings to hold you back from dropping into the gullies between the narrow sidewalk and basement filth, and the stupid dome on top making it look more like a capitol building than a place too old to work in the modern world. I even heard bats squeaking overhead, invisible in the black, black sky.

It was gonna get decommissioned, later in the year, and it looked it with how unkempt it was. Climbing the steps to the main doors, I had to hold onto the banister and step around crumbled up bags and broken bottles and newspapers flapping against the poles. Seemed like half the lights were either busted or missing, making being there even more treacherous.

It was even older and darker, inside. Lights burned out. Trash on the floors. Shadows everywhere. But there was still this big brusque cop at the reception desk, like always; and like always, he didn’t look up as I entered and said, “ -- Hey, Lenny.” My voice cracked, I could hear it, but Lenny didn’t.

“Lombardini. How ya doin’?” was all he said.

“I -- I been better,” I said, “but thanks. Been a long day. All these lights missin’ -- where’s maintenance?”

Lenny just shrugged and kept working. He had a lamp on his desk so he didn’t need anything more. I just sighed and headed down a corridor, aiming for the locker room.

I swear to you, to this day, that corridor seemed to grow longer and darker as I went. And there were these shuffling sounds, fresh and new, coming from everywhere. My breathing quickened. My eyes darted about, wary. Why were so many fixtures missing light bulbs, completely? That didn’t make sense, unless they’d been removed, deliberately. Make it harder to see into the darkness. Into the shadows. Perfect for an ambush.

I hesitated. Checked my pistol. Undid the safety harness then peeked around the door to the lockers. It was dark and empty and so quiet, even my breathing seemed to echo.

I started to shake. I’d been doing that a lot, lately, once I’d realized what I’d got myself into. Then I carefully slipped past the aisles and aisles of lockers, creeping closer and closer to mine. I saw nothing. No one. Just shadows filling the room.

I was sweating now, even though the building was cold. I finally reached my locker, leaned against it and looked down, and even though my hand was shaking, I could see this thin trail of blood whisper over it.

Aw, no -- no -- I’d been shot? I’d been hit?

I almost fainted but cught myself by slamming my head against the locker. Twice. Three times. Back in control, I fumbled with the lock, smearing blood on it before I was able to open the door.

I heard that shuffling sound, again, and froze to listen. Nothing but silence.

I pulled off my coat. My shirt was soaked with sweat -- and blood. I wiped my face. Blood smeared over it.

I heard the shuffling sound, again. Closer. I started to quake, inside.

“Bobby?” I called. “Bobby, that you?”

A whisper of a sound came from my right. I turned to find a gunman standing at the end of the lockers, raising a pistol!

Everything shifted into slow-motion as I yanked out my service revolver, dropped to one knee and fired at him.

My first shot hit his left knee. The second ripped through his thigh. Two more hit an arm and a shoulder.

He got a couple of shots off at me and I think one clipped my arm, but then he crashed against the wall and landed in a sitting position, his leg twisted under him.

I rose slowly, in complete disbelief, and inched up to the guy, pistol ready but shaking in my bloody hands. Barely under control. I heard voices and footsteps approaching.

The guy lifted his gun, unsteady.

I fired, again! Hit him in the forehead. The bullet exploded through his skull.

Blood splattered over me. Covered me. I collapsed, about ready to pass out -- and then I saw it. I saw the gunman’s gold shield. He was a cop. A detective! I’d shot a cop in police headquarters!

“Man, was there gonna be hell to pay for that,” I thought as I quietly drifted into darkness.

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