Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming short story collection, For After Midnight, coming out either next week or the beginning of May. This specific excerpt comes from the anchor story (a novelette), ‘All In the Line of Duty’, in the collection. Hope you enjoy.
“Hey…wake up back there…it’s time to pay for your ride.”
“Huh…” Wilfred stammered, coming out of a wild ride from his nightmare.
“I said, it’s time to pay for the cab ride…ain’t nothing’ free in this country. You should know that better than most, cop boy.”
“Hey…” Is all Wilfred could get out before noticing it was dark outside. “Hey, what time is it? Where the hell are we?” He was more than confused. The last thing he remembered was the cab driver saying Veronica’s name and then telling him to shut up. Now he didn’t know how long he had been out or where the hell they were. It was dark all around the car.
“All in due time, brother,” the man quipped. “By the way, my name is Nacar…though some call me Nicky.”
“Uh ok, Nacar…whatever…how much do I owe you?”
“That’ll be three hundred and fifty nine dollars, Mr. Carrasco.”
“Three hun…wait, how the hell do you know my name?”
“I know pretty much all there is to know about you. Your name is Wilfred Carrasco, you are forty-three years ago, lead a law enforcement team for the US Marshalls in New York City, live on Huckleberry Boulevard in Greenpoint, had a wife named Veronica and two daughters, Juliette and Samantha. Juliette was eleven and Samantha was sixteen. They expired by the way of hanging on your front porch exactly four months ago,” Nacar slurred, “Is that about right?”
“Uh, yeah. But…”
“Yeah yeah…you want to know the details of how I know such things. Like I said, all will be reveled in due time. Now, about your cab fare,” Nacar reminded him.
“Oh that…uh…I don’t think I have that much on me. Is there any way we can work out a deal of some sort?”
“Hummm…let me think,” Nacar mumbled, rubbing his stubble covered chin. “Ah yes, I think we can make a deal, Lieutenant. How about we take a walk? I don’t know about you, but I could really use a squirt and a nic-stick.”
Wilfred agreed that a smoke, even though he hadn’t smoked for years, sounded like a wonderful idea. He also wondered why he hadn’t started smoking again since Veronica and the kids passed away. It was only for her that he quit the first time and without her around there would be no one telling him how bad it was for him and his family’s health. Shit. He knew it was bad for him even at the time. But so was chasing bad guys and getting shot at. If anything was going to be the early death of him; Wilfred always figured it would be from a bullet and not a cigarette. But he loved his wife and family and decided to give it up for them. Sure, he smoked a stogie after a big-time bust, but didn’t inhale and never told his wife about that, because he figured that if he didn’t inhale it couldn’t possibly be as harmful to him like smoking cigarettes by the carton like he had done before.
Wilfred reached over and tried the door handle. It wouldn’t budge.
“Uh, Nacar…Nicky…whatever…the door is locked back here.” Wilfred had to shout as the dark man had just stepped out and closed his door behind him. “Hey, Nacar…the door…it’s…”
Nacar strode around the back of the car and came up next to Wilfred’s window. He leaned down and smiled at Wilfred through the dirty glass. Wilfred shot an eyebrow up and looked back at him. Seeing him this close, he noticed that the dark man had deep black set eyes, a large smashed nose, thin lips, bright-white teeth and back hair – extending in a ponytail down to his buttocks. Wilfred gave a ‘what the fuck’ wave of his hand and then pointed down to the locked door. Nacar smiled back at him, stood up and dug his left hand into his pocket. Wilfred figured he was going for some sort of weapon, so he instinctively reached to his side holster…
His Glock was gone. All that he could feel was the empty leather holster by his left breast.
Nacar pulled out a crumbled pack of cigarettes, Wilfred couldn’t tell which kind, though obviously not from this country, not with the strange writing on the side, pulled a stick from the pack and lit it with his right index finger.
Wilfred’s eyes jabbed open to the site. Was this guy really lighting a cigarette with his finger? Nah, that couldn’t be it. Probably just used one of those pansy-ass lighters that are small as shit and you can barely flick the bastards, Wilfred thought to himself, but wasn’t entirely sure he believed his reasoning.
“Hey,” Wilfred shouted. “You gonna let me the hell outta here or what? Listen, if you’re into some freaky sex shit, you can just forget it. If you try, I promise you, I’ll put your ass in a world of hurt.”
Nacar inhaled deeply, as Wilfred watched the tip of the cigarette burn bright for a few seconds and then die down. The dark man then bent down close to the glass again and blew the smoke right at Wilfred. If it weren’t for the glass in between them, it would have gone right in Wilfred’s eyes.
This guy is either a crazy S.O.B. or just wanting to get his ass kicked, Wilfred said to himself. Either way, I’d be happy to accommodate this bastard. Have to deal with enough of these loons out on the streets to let some cabby with a bad hair cut ruin my day.
“Hey, you crazy mother…let me the hell outta here. I ain’t shittin’ ya…you don’t let me out, I’ll bust my way out and kick your…”
Suddenly Wilfred heard the lock click and the door swung slowly open.
What the shit is going on around here?
Wilfred stepped out of the car, slammed the door and slowly started walking in the dark man’s direction. It was strange to Wilfred that he had to walk at all to catch up with the bastard, as he was just at the car’s door a moment ago and now he was more than fifty feet away.
“Listen, buddy,” Wilfred began, giving chase, “I’m not sure you know who the hell you’re dealing with here. I am a registered US Marshall and people are expecting me in D.C. I was supposed to be there early this morning, so I’m sure they have already sent out an APB on me. So, it would be in your best judgment to get your ass back in the car and…”
“Listen,” Nacar croaked, “Don’t you hear it? It’s your fate blowing on the wings of angels…ok, well, maybe not angels exactly, but things with wings nonetheless.”
“Come on, Wilfred. You can’t tell me you don’t hear it.”
“I don’t hear shit buddy. I’m a fucking sane individual. I don’t smoke crack or do acid or shrooms and I sure as shit don’t drive people around in a cab to God only knows where and…”
Wilfred suddenly realized where he was at. He sure as hell wasn’t in D.C. He was close to New York City. Very close. Looking past a few tall oak trees he could see the skyline in the distance. Its unmistakable glow of hope, money, freedom and fear looming high into the clouds of heaven.
Wilfred whipped his head to one side and then the other.
He looked down and saw where he was at and where he was standing.
He dropped to his knees and started shaking. The tears beginning to run down his face.
Nacar started to laugh somewhere in the distance, Wilfred couldn’t see in which direction he had escaped.
“Oh…my sweet girls. My lovely Veronica. My dear princesses, Juliette and Samantha.”
Wilfred was back in the cemetery.
His first visit since his girls’ untimely deaths.