The smoke rising like steam from the open manhole, gave a curtain to a dark figure dressed in black, long cloak floating at the back .His presence scared away the crowding street cats lurking and prowling in the dark alley dustbins. The fall of the dustbin lid echoed through the street like a symbol in an orchestra. Cars seldom passed this area of town, notorious for crime. His destination, a small entrance bordered by neon lights which echoed through out the mist. As he neared the door a small spy hole slid open. The man spoke his words, muffled through his black scarf. After several seconds the doors locks slid open and the door followed. The glowing mist sucked into the open door. A man tower approached the light, built as wide as he was tall. Final checks were made on the man and he was allowed to enter.
The radio was on. The time read quarter to ten. A man confessing his hard life working in an office for a boss he hates to the number one radio station in the area. These one-to-one chats with the air host keep the lonely people entertained at night. Detective Ventura turned it off and sighed. He sat peering into the dark alley where our mysterious character had disappeared moments before. The car door opened. A small man with mousy brown hair round chubby cheeks entered the car. His appearance mimicked his attitude. It was his first day. An uneasy silence surrounded the car, rain started to fall slowly and steadily onto the windscreen. It got heavier with time and the silence grew. The repetitive motion of the wipers swishing back and forth was causing Malcolm to sweat. Ventura noticed Malcolm’s agitated motion. He decided he had to break the ice.
“So how’d u feel first day out on the job. It’s a hell of a lot different from the training aint it?” Ventura said breaking the silence.
“Oh yeah, It’s really exciting for me……what you think our next move is sir?” stuttered Malcolm.
“Well son we gotta sit tight for a while. We don’t want go bustin in there when we aint got no leads” he said proudly feeling wise and experienced. Their conversation was interrupted by a gunshot.
The room was small but had many doors. He offered to take his coat, but he refused sternly. A look of suspicion was exchanged between the two unlikely gentlemen, when the moment was torn by a voice so strong and deep that it demanded respect.
“Who the hell is it Mike? Are you gonna show um through or do I have to get off my death bed to meet him.” This voice came from a small silver haired man with definite Italian roots. His skin slightly faded from tan to grey. The man lay upon his bed propped up by a mountain of pillows. How a voice of such power and strength could come from this man was hard to believe. As he entered the room the old man glanced across. Mike announced,
“Mr Leony, the man you requested is here with a proposition for you.” His stern voice was irritating
“Ah great I have been expecting you. I feel that your skills may be of some use. Before I give you any details I want you to answer me a few questions. Firstly what’s your name?”
“My name…………..Andreas” hesitating slightly. Mr Leony looks him up and down, then smiles, “Good can I call you Andy?”
“I’d prefer if we used no names during any of our meetings.” He removed his long black coat. The thud as it hit the ground raised eyebrows.
“Mike I thought you checked him?”
“I did boss, he was clean…..at least I think he was!”
“That’s another thing you need to improve security around here!” said Andreas, as he pulled from his coat a revolver. Eyes widen. The room is silenced. A shot fired. Mike hit the floor.
“What are you doing!? Stop I beg of you there’s no need for this. Who sent you!?” pleaded Antonio Leony. Andreas was considering whether or not to tell Mr Leony who sent him. He looked at his watch. It read five minutes to ten.
Ventura bounced from his seat. The coffee flew onto the windscreen. They both looked at each other and simultaneously opened their doors. Time stood still at six minutes to ten as both officers rushed to the neon glare. They both backed up against the wall, guns at the ready. The gel from Malcolm’s hair was running into his eyes. He became agitated again,
“Sir what shall….”
“Shhhh!” Ventura interrupted. They both stood silent waiting for a sound inside or movement. Something to give them an insight.
“I’m very sorry old man” he said reluctantly.
“At least do me the honour of knowing which back stabbing bastard set me up? Who was it?” he said bravely.
“What good is it going to do you?………but I suppose it’s not going to make much difference whether or not I tell you. Ok it was John Maverick.”
“What that Bastard!” he was raging like a bull.
“I find it hard to end such a man but, you win some, you lose some.” He spoke respectfully, the gun fired.
The second gunshot went off piercing Ventura’s ears. They had to make a move; they burst in. The warm air hit them. They came to the door. It opened with a slight creak. Ventura made sure the surroundings were clear and checked the body for life signs. There were none. The curtains flailed in the wind. Our mysterious character had disappeared. Venture heard the fire escape ladder slide. His eyes met Malcolm’s and they synchronically edged toward the window. Unveiling the curtain they watched as the dark figure entered a black saloon car and drove away leaving the spray from the wet road in its wake. He had escaped.
Ventura and Malcolm got back to the station. Their captain shouted to them. They went to his office. The room was small with thin walls. Ventura had often been battered verbally by the captain. There was a name plate, which read Captain John Maverick. Expecting a good telling off, the two officer’s eyes were firmly fixed on the ground.
“Ah hell guys, what happened out there?………Look more to the point we got an anonymous phone call tipping us off about our mystery man that I have had you boys tail for the last 2 weeks” the captain spoke casually which came as a shock to the officers, Ventura spoke anxiously
“What did it say sir?”
“Well it gave us a meeting point and a time. It’s six tomorrow morning at Swallow Lake. You feeling up to it Ventura?”
“Hell yeah sir!” Ventura pounced.
“And take the rookie with you. This is good experience for him.” Captain said smiling.
A bird flew by. Its frozen frame glided across the lake. It dipped slowly out of sight. A moment later it burst into view fluttering its wings. It soared into the sky and began to circle the lake like a vulture would its prey….As Ventura followed the bird he noticed the sky; it was red. He remembered the old saying his grandfather used
“Red sky at night Shepherd’s delight, Red sky in the morning Shepherd’s warning”, he whispered. The moment was broken by a black saloon pulling up. A man dressed in black got of out the car and slammed the door. More birds burst into the sky and began to circle. Ventura saw a tall black man approach the pier. He reached for his binoculars.
“Wait! It can’t be.” His eyes widened as he confirmed his fears.
“Who is it sir? Who is it?” Malcolm inquired. A knock came at the car window. Both heads swivelled. A tall man held a gun pointed at Malcolm.
“Get out the car, and no funny stuff. I got a loaded gun here!” he said having the upper hand. They were taken to a lodge. Inside their fears were confirmed. Their captain had set them up.
“Hi guys…….well what can I say, Ventura if you had just messed up like you did every other time you would be sitting here right now. You got to close damn it!” he said as if to give them some sort of consolation. The Captain called to the man,
“Andreas have you collected the money?” he said anxiously
“Yes but I’m afraid I can’t let you have it. You see I’m a solo man I work for me and me only” he said smugly. Meanwhile Ventura had slipped his penknife from his pocket and was cutting away at the ropes which bound him and Malcolm to the chair,
“What the hell you talking bout? We had a deal. If you go back. I’ll kill you” he said furiously, before he could reach for his gun Andreas shot him in the chest. The captain fell to the ground. Andreas turned to the two men tied to the chairs back to back.
“Sorry fellas, honestly I was real impressed with you two being able to track me down. That aint an easy job, but you have got to die!”
Andreas poured petrol in a circle around the men and doused the walls and floor. The room spun faster, and faster, and faster, but Ventura kept his cool. Time was running out, Andreas lit his cigar,
“It’s been a pleasure gentleman.” He went to drop his match. Ventura rose, Andreas flinched and stumbles back. Ventura reached for his second gun in his sock. Andreas pulls back his coat and grasped his gun. Ventura fired. Andreas fired. Time stopped. The exchange of fire made Malcolm faint. Both men lay motionless on the floor. Ventura lay still as ice. Blood mixed in with the petrol and ran down the cracks in the floor. Malcolm came around and saw the two men lying on the floor beside him. He calls to Ventura,
“Sir!, come on get up. Sir?” he shouted. Ventura lay…dead? Malcolm’s attention was turned to a rising Andreas. The man rose, grasping his side where he had been shot. He leant against the door frame, his back to Malcolm. Andreas turned and reaching for his gun aims it at Malcolm. Malcolm closes his eyes and prays to god. Three gun shots are fired, but Malcolm felt nothing. When he finally opens his eyes he’s back in the same room with Andreas lying dead on the floor in front of him.
He hears the faint cough of Ventura and turned quickly to find him nursing a shot wound to his stomach and still pointing a smoking gun in Andreas’s direction. Ventura got back to his feet and ventured over to his Captain. he looked down at a man for whom he now felt nothing but sorrow for him. The captain’s eyes, as if mesmerised, gazed at the roof. They drifted on to Ventura’s eyes. Ventura drops and holds the captain by his back. The captain spoke with a groan.
“Ah, hell. Things just didn’t turn out well. I’m sorry Ventura. This wasn’t anything personal. He coughed and he died. Ventura eyes glazed like ice. The moment was broken by the sound of a dozen police cars racing to the scene. The birds broke from their circle and descended. The sky was turned from red to blue by the rising sun.
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