One of the Wicked Online - Harry Shannon Page 0,1

Paul Pesci. I take no pleasure in such things. Violence is one of the more unpleasant parts of my job, Calvin. It is an ugly necessity of life, nothing more.”

Calvin was weaving like an extra in a zombie movie, but he was making progress. Nicky checked his watch. “Come on, hurry up.”

The kid paused, perhaps twenty feet away. “What is it? What’s the deal?”

“Wait there.”

Nicky sighed dramatically. He moved to the left a bit, so Lucky would have a clean shot, and stomped out into the dried sage. As Calvin watched the tall man approach, a stress flashback loosened his bowels. He saw his lover and partner screaming in terror.

“Where is it?”

“What? What?”

“Where is the item that was with the cash?”

“What item? Please!”

“The disc.”

“Disc? I don’t know what you mean!”

“I think you do.”

This seemingly amiable giant had clutched a screaming Rudy’s hair in one hand, yanked that handsome face back, and used a saw-toothed hunting blade on the exposed throat. One clean swipe had nearly severed Rudy’s shrieking head. A second cut had done so.

And then the man called Nicky had left Rudy to rot in the bloody sand and drove further out into the desert. He’d been toying with Calvin for at least thirty minutes now, ordering him to run around in circles, sniping at his feet with the hunting rifle, laughing good-naturedly.

Nicky closed the distance rapidly, boots snapping twigs and silencing insects. The night took on an even bigger chill.

Calvin raised a flat, thoroughly useless palm. “Stop right there.”

The giant called Nicky grinned. He had long, white front teeth. The better to eat you with, my dear. “Relax, Calvin. As I said, I am here to offer you a deal.”

Calvin pictured Rudy again. The pain, the blood. “I’ll take it.”

“No, no,” the huge man said and chuckled. “You must hear me out first, and then decide.”

Calvin cringed. “One option is you shoot me down?”

“Oh, no. Much worse.”

“That’s just great,” Calvin sobbed. “Okay, then what’s my other choice?”

Nicky reached into his pocket. He produced a small pair of garden clippers with wicked, shiny blades. Smiled. “You carry a message for us.”

“A message?”

“We do not like wasting our time on something as mundane as locating stolen property. We have better things to do, you see. But we will not rest until this item has been returned to us, yes?”

“We didn’t know. We thought it was just money. Just money.”

“Oh, it was much more than just money, my friend.”

“This fucking disc you keep asking about? I never saw it. We don’t know anything about that . . .”

“Okay, here is the deal. I want a message to reach whoever holds our property. The disc. Perhaps then he will send it back and save us all a great deal of pain, time, and trouble.”

The boy wailed in terror and misery. “What do you want from me?”

“Nothing much, my little thief.” Nicky clicked the garden clippers. He showed large, white teeth. “Just hold out your fingers.”

One

“I know who I am,” the new client said. His voice cracked. He lowered his head and rubbed the left knee of his new slacks like a fortune teller struggling to get an image from a crystal ball. “This can’t be happening.”

Clearly it was happening, so I couldn’t offer much in the way of reassurance. He was battling himself, close to tears, so I just sat back in my chair and opted to wait him out. Sometimes silence works better than words. In fact, it can be a counselor’s best friend. Ticking seconds rapidly gain weight and a minute creates a black hole in the universe.

It takes a lot of effort to repress and divert those pesky emotions we’d all rather not have to examine. They want to express themselves. Don’t believe me? Just turn off that television and take away alcohol and drugs and sex and spending and gambling and eating and exercising and all those expensive hobbies and fetishes and obsessions and your deeper feelings have a way of rising to the top. Handle them. Piece of cake, right?

Quentin was a slight man with short grey hair. He’d turned fifty years old and lost both of his parents in an automobile accident within the same year. Quentin had been married twenty-four years. He and his wife Suzanne had three children; a daughter in middle school; a boy who played high school football; and the oldest son, who was now in college studying law. Quentin had followed a beloved uncle into the film business, and was currently