Fearless – Chapter 7 – The plan

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fearless – A web novel

Chapter 7 – The plan

The day was coming to an end. I don’t know for sure how I knew as the lack of devices capable of measuring such things as passing of time was just as complete as the lack of light. The dank odour of earthen floor, human fear and stale urine assaulted me in a slightly more tangible way when there was nothing to fasten my wandering eyes on. They felt hollow and dry, suffering more from a need to see than the actual missing out on seeing what I knew was there. An odd sensation of body knowing something that mind really didn’t care to ponder. I did ponder, although not seriously, the plan.

Ah, yes, the plan. I was not terribly worried about the execution of said plan, or any consequences of “the plan” failing. As I have mentioned previously I have no fear. So my heart didn’t thunder erratically and my stomach was as serene as a Master level Zen guru on chamomile.

I had no fear for my own safety simply because fear is just another four letter word to me. I had severe concerns of other kinds though. A few issues regarding what my publisher would do when I failed to submit before deadline would have to be dealt with at some point. He was a real dickhead jerk off but he paid good money for my yarn spinning. . I had no fear of starvation and homelessness. That didn’t mean that I wouldn’t starve when wandering the streets of Ottawasearching for a dark alley where I could search for scraps of edible things in friendly companion with a skinny Labradorpoodle mix with mange. I was fearless, not stupid.

My mind lingered only momentarily on the M Malone financial situation, a shade longer on the landlord who had his chubby fist pounding my door at this very moment without a doubt as the rent should have been handed in a week or so ago and he was under the illusion that his pounding my door would produce cash just like that. This kidnapping had really been imperfectly timed but I shrugged it off and finally got to the point in my mental list of things I couldn’t fear but that nonetheless could become very inconveniently uncomfortable.

My brain raced hop skipping and twirling passed things like possible danger of involuntary bloodletting, eventual need for financial damage control of a possibly creative kind and complicated actions to be executed as part of “the plan” in only a few moments. Then I started to drift off, into a waking dream or simply attacked by one of my more imaginary states of mind I couldn’t say. It was an image I had cultured and nurtured in my mind for a long time, and as silence and darkness lulled me to fitful dozing, I found myself in front of it. I hadn’t seen it for some time and was mildly curious about the changes it had gone through. I walked toward it, floating more than stepping, and came to a halt at the gigantic door. The gate that protected my aware from my unaware.

The door was dark wood, about as thick as my ass, armoured with black metal bands hammered out by a big strong sweating blacksmith at some unfathomable imaginary time ago. That same leather clad hairy brute had also shaped robust looking hinges and bolts to hold the thing together and in place. Here and there, in no very orderly fashion protruded steel spikes with crusty blackish stuff covering the spear like tips. Embedded in the wood were pieces of broken glass and dismantled disposable razors. Framing the cathedral monstrosity, a razor-wire tangled vine in full bloom with toxic looking rodent eating hybrid venues fly-trap grew happily smacking its petals. As a friendly message to all visitors the ground before the door was littered with vicious looking bear traps alongside lazily rippling puddles of quicksand.

I swatted a curious flower out of my face, hopped over a toothy trap and ignored the puddle sucking my foot as I stepped to the door and opened it. It creaked and grumbled, sputtered and shivered in indignation as I stepped through. There I saw my nemesis. There I stood face to face with the image of my doom. There, on the far side of a mental block that had stood strong since I had built it when I was twelve years old and had just realized that fear was a verb as well as a noun and something that other people had all the time, was the one thing that could disconcert me. I looked upon the ultimate destruction of the me…. A whisper out of the darkness fragmented my trip into emo land and I slammed the door shut and flipped it the bird. I shuddered and closed my light deprived eyes and thrashed about with directing focus on the soothing safety of substantial peril at hand.

“Malone.” The whispered rumbling came from a bit off to my right and I turned to Dinky and then immediately towards the door where Dinky was heading sneaky fashion. For such a big person Dinky the oaf could move very quietly. I wondered if that was just a natural talent of oafs or if Dinky was somehow special. Oh, he was special alright, that’s not quite what I mean. I mean that since. The click of the lock saved me from further blundering through a newly discovered landscape of mindless gobbledygook.

I had had a long hard talk with Dinky. I had made it very clear and simple. He had looked at me with his wonderfully, oh damn, blue eyes waiting for me to talk and I glared at him. I spelled it out so that there could be no misunderstandings. He was still holding the pathetic piece of tissue and the puddle of piss had not yet quite sank down through the top soil of my cell.

“Dinky, You, me, escape, now!” Dinky had stared at me, eyes shining, jaw grinding back and forth and front to back for a second as he stuffed the paper in a pocket and smoothed his beard, considering. I could tell by then that the oaf wasn’t afraid of me anymore and a new thought was developing in one or more darkroom chemical baths in the back of his head. A blurred picture may or may not have become clear to him then. He smiled and winked.
“Ok.” He had said. As far as I knew, that was the total extent of “the plan” and now it was happening. “The plan” was coming in to play. If I only knew exactly what “the plan” was.

Fearless – Chapter 5 – A great man

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fearless – a serial web novel

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Read from the beginning in Fearless – Chapter 1 – The Low down

Where Amy unloads and Marcy fails to understand the subtle goings about in dark alleys.

Chapter 5 A great man

Jake Ponzi prided himself on never having killed anyone. He didn’t have too. He had others that did that sort of thing.

Another pride of his was an ability to make money. He was rich, obscenely rich and wanting to be richer. Nothing was ever enough for Jake Ponzi. He had it all, he wanted the world. That was his first waking thought every morning, this one no exception. Nothing can stop me now. He thought as He softly floated up from sleep with silk caressing his body, or was that a hand? Yes, a very skillful hand stroking him, teasing him from sleep directly into blissful, relaxed, desire. Jake murmured and extended a hand, expecting a silky swell of platinum-blonde hair surrounding a perfect face. “Monica.” He mumbled and sighed contentedly. Monica knew how to use her hands, but all of a sudden the hand went still, even the quiet bedroom seemed to freeze, but Jake didn’t notice; it felt too damn good and he wasn’t done yet. He grunted in protest. “Don’t stop now. I love it when you wake me up that way. ” He crooned and snaked the hand closer to her. It found her face and he trailed his fingers along her neck, behind the ear, and tangled them in curly locks. He stiffened. Curly? He didn’t bother opening his eyes. “Sue?”

Forty-five minutes later he was in his office, saved despite all odds after a harrowing icy morning with his balls in an emotional chopping block with a sledge hammer hovering… hovering, waiting for the blow. But Maria, not Sue after all, had decided to prolong the agony with a sweet smile as lethal as an ice-pick, and a promise of horrors yet to come. She had finally left his place. A quick shower, shave, and somewhat worried bowel movements had managed to evacuate Maria and Sue both from his mind. Now, polishing the corner of his mahogany desk with a specially designed polishing cloth, ordered for that purpose alone, he preferred to think about Heather. Now that was a piece of art. Black as sin and smooth as warm baby oil. He sighed happily and put the cloth back in its leather case. The desk was perfect. Everything in Jake Ponzi’s down town office glittered and sparkled. Jake had always liked shiny things. As a child he picked the shiniest stone, the sparkliest candy, the brightest piece of glass. His treasures. That was before he understood at an early age that coins were worth more than tinfoil balls. When he grew older yet, though, he understood that paper was immensely more valuable than both coins and glittery glass. Digital currency was still something of a work in progress for Jake’s retro mind. You couldn’t touch it, smell it, bathe in electronic money. There was something so wrong with computerized funds it gave Jake hives when thinking about it. So Jake Ponzie avoided thinking about it. Paypal what?

Jake’s gaze traveled the luxurious room and finally got stuck on a small gold frame. His first dollar bill earned through less than morally justified means rested there. Crumpled and torn, more precious than any of the once that came after. The sight of it gave him a warm satisfied glow inside, and a satisfied smug look on the outside. It never failed to make him puff up and swell a bit in his oversized leather office-chair. He sometimes wondered if Tommy Marishnikov ever noticed that the magical rock Jake had sold for the dollar was actually just a pretty stone he had found somewhere. Maybe on the beach, maybe in someone’s yard, Jake couldn’t remember. He had been six. Tommy had been four.

He released the mounted loot of his prosperous childhood from his greedy stare and reached for the phone. Pushing a shiny button he barked into the small microphone. “Anna, where is that coffee? And where the hell is that fat ass banker?”

The tiny speaker kept quiet for half a second, then Anna quietly replied. Mr. Andersson is right here, waiting… sir.” She paused, apparently to take a deep breath, and continued. I’ll bring your coffee presently… Sir. Shall I send Mr. Andersson in?… Sir?”

“Very good Anna, send him right in.” Jake shouted cheerfully into the microphone, overloading the sensitive circuit for the third time since the thing was installed. Jake sat back in his chair, waiting for the door to open.

Fat-ass Andersson was a good man. He had made more money for Ponzie’s official, and legal, affairs than anyone.

Jake liked to think he was a stock market guru. Chances are though that if Jake handled a certain stock himself, he’d have his head resting on a block of them after a week, just waiting for the ax to fall. He did however, have a knack for hiring people. So over the years he had gathered the best money-makers money, and covert knowledge of sleazy affairs, could buy. He had a bank of brokers that worked exclusively for him and were making money hand over fist. These guys were in different firms around the city and they were privy to numerous business dealings at all times. They had set up a complex system that would take knowledge, gleamed from one firm and send it out to the various other members and then the buying or selling would begin. And Jake didn’t need to lift a finger.

And they had a pretty nifty setup too. Jake gave himself a mental pat on the back as the knock came on his door and the most crooked honest man in his entire fleet squeezed through. “Joel my man.” Jake stood up and offered his hand to the bank man, making sure his Rolex peeked out of the sleeve before he grasped the mans damp fleshy hand. The handshake was as loose and clammy as always. Andersson didn’t like Ponzie. But that was alright. Jake didn’t like Fat-ass Anderson either. He grinned. “sit, please sit.” Jake waited until the other man had fitted himself in the visitors chair, placing his briefcase on the floor. Jake sat and rested his palms on the desk, showing off his diamond studded pinky ring in the process; sparkling its riches, screaming its gaudiness as if the price tag still hovered in the air around it. Anderson glared. Jake smiled, eyes shining as bright as his bleached teeth. Greedy little heart pumping with expectation. But he had to soften the ill-tempered man first. Chit chat always worked. He assumed a friendly and honest expression; one of genuine curiosity. “Elvira is doing well, I trust?”

Anderson’s face darkened into a shade of mottled purple and extruded droplets of spittle along with a sputtered word jake didn’t understand. Jake fought the involuntary cringe and failed. Oops, he thought. Forgot.

The corpulent man on the other side of the desk glared some more, but then he smiled tightly, ignoring the reference to his suddenly lesbian ex wife. He cleared his throat, wobbling the extra chins and went straight to the point. “We have a slight problem with the… ehum… off shore account. ”

Jake lost the smile and leaned forward, narrowed his eyes in what he thought was a look of power with the perfect hint of implied threat; he had practiced in front of a mirror after all, but he he wasn’t even close. He did manage to seem both severely nearsighted as well as stupid. “Problem?” He asked in his most ominous tone, but again he was way off the mark. Anderson raised his eyebrows, momentarily halted and mute by the expression on the mighty Ponzie’s face, so Jake tried again. He leaned forward even farther and deepened his voice, squinting harder and trying t drill his stare into the fat man. “what kind of problem?”

Anderson opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment, Anna tapped on the door. She struggled with the door for a moment and then she came waddling in, carrying a tray of coffee pot, cups, and butter tarts. She placed it on the desk, arranged the refreshments with pudgy fingers that nonetheless moved with efficient speed and practiced skill. After an appreciative glance and a suggestive smile in Anderson’s direction, she disappeared to her domains.

Jake stared at the door when it closed behind her generous backside, frowning. But with Anna’s so well timed interruption, Jake had lost momentum in his act of intimidation and Anderson had gotten his incredulity under control. They poured coffee and ate butter tarts, conversing politely about creative bookkeeping tips and tricks, and the sudden disappearance of four million dollars.

Fearless – Chapter 4 – An ugly SOB

Reading Time: < 1 minute


Fearless – A web novel

Chapter 4 – An ugly SOB

I strained my ears to learn what I could from the sounds my guest made. I thought, if not furiously, then quite actively about what might be going on. Curiosity never killed no cat. At least not any halfway intelligent cat. I did tense my muscles as lack of fear never made me stupid.

I was after all still chained to a stone wall in a pitch black room and safe and cuddly comfortable is probably not something any reader would associate with this particular scene. Wrong? Right? *Narrator rising a questioning perfectly shaped eyebrow.*

He or she although I doubted that it could be a she, had a heavy step. He was stomping his way across the floor towards me, then past me. His breathing was disgustingly loud and wet sounding. Past me he went like a steam train or perhaps a horny buffalo, misjudged something in his planned progress, I guess the darkness didn’t help either and he cracked his face hard against a very hard wall. He grunted and staggered wildly as far as I could hear.

Ok. Now I knew where that wall was. I was chained perhaps five paces from the door that the big oaf had come in through and not quite four paces from that wicked wall. I guess the oaf didn’t know that either. Who were these people? Escapees from the Sunny Meadow Funny farm or the local high-school jock self admiration squad?

If possible, the moron/ jock/ oafs breathing turned kind of mushy, raspy and shallow. Slobbering like a St. Bernard with a nice juicy butt chop tied to the forehead. Oh, I know it’s so cruel. But funny as hell. Ever tried it?

The oaf was making some really strange sounds now. I wasn’t insensitive by any means. Not at all. I could recognize pain when I heard it.

“Bet that hurt like a MotherFucker.” I said to the oaf in a conversational tone. I wouldn’t call it sympathy directly. Just… well, recognition of the event.

He growled. Ok, then that was settled. It really was a he. Or an “It” as nothing so far had proven that it/he wasn’t simply an “It” Even though there was nothing to see in the darkness, I let my eyes follow his movements with a slight frown creasing my brow. I liked making that face. My mother said once that it was a show of serious disapproval and that such a face should be saved for the most severe social misbehaviors. I didn’t much care about him stomping into my private little cell without a word of greeting. I didn’t really have any qualm over him promptly ignoring my presence. I could even forgive him for attacking my wall. Nah, not really. That wouldn’t do it. I just wanted to make sure that when he did find it in his very slow mind to light a torch of a similar light bringing device, he would see my face, the expression it bore, and he would maybe think twice about doing it again. I mean, it’s perfectly okay to arrive late to one Sunday dinner. If there was a really good reason that is, something like a tsunami shattering your home and destroying all of your Sunday attire. A diagnosis of medieval black plague could suffice as well. But twice?

I’m getting off topic here.

This thing, this oaf, jock, It…. Started towards me, sniffling and scraping his feet along the floor and stopped right in front of me. Well, not too too far away from right in front of me. I guess, and started growling at the wall somewhere behind my left shoulder. I listened for a long while, assuming he would stop, but when he ran out of air he started drawing another slobbering wet breath. I cleared my throat. The sound stopped and he adjusted his position slightly and continued the growling. That’s when I caught the reek of him full in the face. The rot, decay, the dross of digestion, the … the…. I whipped my head back and to the side, gagging, backing into the wall. I was trying, unsuccessfully to avoid the noxious, most likely toxic air, the breath from hell, roadside skunk and eggs fait pourri were the memories of sights and odors that decided to flash through my mind with a really creepy clarity just then. Panicked revulsion made me kick. My leg shot out and with perfect aim and a speed that was all but an instinctual reflex in my muscle memory. Naked toes met… steel. Well, ok. The steel might have been some type of plastic and in all honesty it was covered with a layer of leather or similar. That didn’t help my toes from taking a beating. A split second, joints popping, toes screaming in outrage at my brain that hadn’t quite registered the pain that was fast to follow. Excruciating. I hopped on one leg with the other pulled up. I wanted to grab my foot with hands that couldn’t grab anything at all unless I could fold myself double and take my toes to my hands while hanging from a chain. My yoga training hadn’t reached quite that far yet. I struggled for air but couldn’t seem to do anything with it once I had access to it. The stink had retreated somewhat though and it seemed safe to breathe, if I could that was. I chopped it to bits between my teeth perhaps, blew it out through the nose in quick spurts. Holy fuck that hurt. Hurt bad. I finally managed to stop hopping, stop chopping air and just stood there letting the pain do what it willed… It would fade. It did fade but so slowly. My mind was blank, not yet recovered from the stupidity of my last act. I heard something then. A bit slobbery, hoarse and rumbling. I would have called it Rhythmic growling if my mind had been clear. Suddenly I knew what it was. The bastard was laughing at me. He had taken a step back and was chuckling. A gut wobbling hearty chuckle. It stopped when he spoke for the first time since entering. In a warm and melodic bass he said: “I bet that hurt like a MotherFucker.”

The bastard Oaf kept chuckling as I felt the pain in my foot downgrade from throbbing to dull. I gingerly let it down to the cool dirt floor. It was wonderfully soothing on the burning digits. Nothing was broken as far as I knew. I had broken my fair share of bones in my life, very often due to idiotic things just like this. Things like that just kept happening to me, by no fault of my own of course. I glared at the figure I couldn’t see and heard clothing rustle and boots shifting around restlessly. He seemed to be searching for something as he kept muttering between sniffles and snorts. Well, he could search all he wanted, I had no wish to assist this intruder, I thought petulantly in lack of anything more profound to be petulant about. I endured more nauseating sounds of slimy throat clearing, hawking violently and spitting. Then a foghorn started blaring. In powerful bursts the man rid himself of mucus, and perhaps even blood and deposited it in something I really hoped was not a palm. I shuddered and stopped thinking about it. It was one of those things however that were damn near impossible not to think about once you started. Like saying, “Don’t think about a pink, or red, or green elephant or blue, or… or whatever colour sperm whale.” It’s simply not done. I dare you. Do not think about a pregnant goblin just now. See?

So I tried to think hard about a…. I couldn’t think of anything else to think about. He had at least turned away from me. I took great satisfaction in the small groans of discomfort he emitted between honking. I wondered if the inside of a brain could really tolerate that kind of sudden change of air pressure. I was curiously fascinated by the possibility but not really hopeful. He finally quieted and seemed to breathe normally. He suddenly walked a few steps away from me and when he stopped there was a scraping, a muffled profanity, and then a click and a really bright light. Actually, physics say that the light probably reached me before the sound of the light switch mechanism did but let’s not mince science here. I shut my eyes instantly and allowed the painful afterglow to entertain my visual cortex as the retina adapted to see light again. Very very slowly I opened my eyes a fraction, blinked and opened them another tiny bit. The first thing I saw was the floor, which was in fact hard packed dirt as I had suspected. My feet were filthy with greyish brown dust up to my ankles. I postponed taking a look at the rest of me. I had seen it before. More than once actually and I felt anything other than narcissistic just at the moment. I lifted my head and the next thing I saw was a pair of hiking boots, well worn but no doubt expensive and well kept. Continuing up from the boots was a pair of legs in black scuffed leather. I let my eyes slide fast past a package that I knew was well protected. My toes tingled in remembered agony. Tucked into the pants, although how it was possible to tuck anything into that sausage skin I would never know, was a plain black T-shirt stretched around a generous beer gut. On Around that, a black leather vest adorned with so many sown on patches and metal that hardly any of the leather could be seen. Out of the shirts neck line sprouted tufts of hair. The same black fur grew most everywhere else too on this creature. Head, arms, face, armpits. I stared at him. He stared at me with the bluest eyes I had ever seen. They sparkled with curiosity and narrowed with speculation. I searched for evidence of his sudden meeting with a stone wall but he seemed unharmed but with all that hair, how could I know. Thick and wild it fell down past his shoulders.
Unruly coarse hair covered his face from nostrils to neckline. He wasn’t an oaf, he was a fucking Sasquatch, but in black. He was certainly tall enough with his near seven feet and near 250 pound frame and feet of size enormous. The arms folded over his chest were covered with crude porn from elbows to shoulders.

I don’t really know what came over me then. I winked at him.
“Let me guess. You don’t drive a Honda Civic do you?”

His face split into a wide grin and he stepped towards me. He unfolded his arms and offered me a huge hand in greeting.
“Dinky Meyers.” he said with a cheerful rumble. He seemed genuinely happy to meet me. The moment stretched as I looked at his hand. It was clean, I noted. No mucus. His hand fell a few inches and the smile faltered but before he could pull his hand back I raised my right leg and placed my foot in his palm. I grinned when he carefully grasped my foot and shook it, giving me an apologetic smile. “Marcy Malone. Nice meeting you Dinky.”

Fearless – Chapter 3 – Absolutely gothic

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fearless – A web novel

Chapter 3 – Absolutely gothic

Stone, cold stone on bare skin. My skin. Where was I? I was not sure but it sure as hell wasn’t my apartment. Definitely not my bedroom, where my last memory placed me. I had a slight headache and a fading unease in my stomach. Drugged? Where the hell was I and how the hell did I get here? I looked around as well as I could but in all honesty there was nothing much to see. Darkness. Absolute impenetrable darkness. I was standing at a wall that I now knew, by examining it with my bare foot as my arms and hands had limited use at the moment. Consisted of huge stone blocks. Slightly damp and perpetually chilly. How perfectly gothic.

I blinked a few times. There was a slight difference so I hadn’t suddenly gone blind as well as abducted and strung up like a haunch of beef in a meat cooler. Well, that was something. Always look on the bright side; I had heard someone say not too long ago. Ok, assuming this was the dark side of the wall I was chained to, thee aught to be another side of it and if that was the bright side, then that is where I should go. I just didn’t know exactly how.

I started a critical analysis of my faculties, mental and physical. Everything was feeling just about right. No pain, no particular bodily needs like hunger or a need for a toilet. Perhaps a little bit thirsty but there was no dizziness. My breathing was as regular and steady as always. It was a bit cold and I shivered. I really wouldn’t have minded something to wear. I was naked after all.

That was kind of weird. Like, really weird come to think of it. I sighed heavily. What had I gotten myself into this time? I had been in some freaky situations in my two decades as a walking and talking human being but this may just take the price.

Ok, I was hanging from a steel chain in a dark room with stone walls, not very big but not quite small enough to make someone claustrophobic. At least I didn’t think so. I wouldn’t know. And I was in my birthday suit and someone had obviously brought me here for a reason I was sure.
Oh well, nothing to do about it just now. This was where I had been put and this was where I would stay unless I could somehow free myself from my restraints. It seemed unlikely.

I pulled at the steel around my wrists. They were attached to a chain that was in turn attached to the wall somewhere above me but I couldn’t see where or how. They made a sound as I shook them. A soft metallic clinking, almost melodic in its glassy clarity. They were no less than a meter in length and completely without give. Unyielding.

I gave up on the chains for the moment and examined the darkness more carefully. It actually wasn’t totally without features. Off to my right, I could make out a thin; no it was three lines of light, making an open sided rectangle. Like a door. Ok, a door. Now that was something else.

I breathed deeply through my nose but it found nothing but a slight mustiness, old dry soil and earthy decay. A dirt floor? I also noticed that my own body odour overpowered the other scents, the unmistakable scent that was simply me, now with a hint of something foreign, perhaps chemical. I needed a shower. I also needed answers.

Were they, whoever they were, trying to frighten me? If they knew who I was they would know it was useless. Or was that perhaps the point?

I had a problem. I personally didn’t think of it as a problem but I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was different. I had no fear. I couldn’t describe it to you if my life depended on it. I was surely not afraid now. Uncomfortable, yes definitely having your arms chained above your head, being forced to stand for a longer period of time would possibly be very painful after a while. Being naked was no big concern to me although the cold temperature could eventually be harmful and very uncomfortable. Fear? I didn’t know what they meant. There were other things that bothered me but I was mostly curious and baffled by the audacity of these people.

Oh damn! I grimaced and forced my back against the rough stone. I contorted and wiggled and dragged my itchy skin across the surface. I wondered how much skin I was rubbing off in the process but that was not important. I closed my eyes and groaned when I found the offending itch and scraped it into submission.

That’s when my first guest arrived. The door suddenly opened and a figure appeared outlined by light. I wasn’t very interested in who was coming, I would know soon enough and perhaps I would get my questions answered. No, I squinted to pierce the glare beyond the doorway.
The door was open for only a few seconds and I couldn’t quite discern details through the painful brightness but I was sure that what I had seen before the door slammed shut was not a crude stone tunnel or dungeon style hall. Out there were electric lights, Walls not made out of stone, light colored flooring, other doors?

The darkness returned but I was no longer alone in my cell. I waited, fearless.

Fearless – Chapter 2 – Legit business

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Fearless – A serial web novel

Chapter 2 Legit business

A scrape, a grinding, a slam. Muffled voices, hushed and agitated, steps through glistening darkness, asphalt and men drizzled on by unseen skies. Beyond the length of the wet alley, streetlights strained to spread their fragmented light, they illuminated not much more than the poles they crowned and a depressingly small patch around the base.

In the alley itself, as it stretched between two side streets which were little more than alleys themselves, darkness prevailed. There was no city funded illumination behind The Low down restaurant at all. Besides a shifting square of light cast through a backdoor that opened and closed as shapes moved through it, the narrow street was riddled with shadows of shadows of shapes. The wall opposite the rear entrance to the sleazy restaurant was bare brick; one of the reasons Jake Ponzi had selected the property. Three large garbage bins and a container stood side by side along the brick wall. Surprisingly perhaps, considering the part of town Jake had decided to open a food establishment in, there weren’t much trash lying around. People, even the desolate souls hunting for privacy and cardboard-box sleeping arrangements on a daily basis, knew not to linger in Ponzi’s alley. No one talked about it of course. It was something that everybody knew. That was, anyone hanging around Mispent Street long enough knew.

The van idled, waiting for its load, spewing its exhaust in total disregard of Mother Nature.

Guy Zaffino finished stuffing a small metal barrel in with the rest, four so far, and pushed it until it clanked into place. It was surprisingly light. It never occurred to guy to wonder what was inside it. It wasn’t healthy to wonder. It was never advisable to ask, and over the three years guy had made deliveries for Ponzi, the importance of silence had been pressed upon enough times. Don’t ask questions. The less you know, the better for you, and your family, and your pet budgie. Guy glanced around. It wasn’t the first time there, but somehow today was a bad day. The hard-edged, lanky, Blondie Guy Zaffino didn’t know where it came from, that feeling of unease. A sense of omen waiting to spring and descend over them. Maybe it was just the fucking rain. Guy looked up, into the gray ceiling of misery, for a second, and then stepped back up on the crumbling cement block that served as receiving station for the restaurant. Shitty place. Guy wouldn’t eat there with a gun to the head. But that was Ponzi for you. The guy gave out bonuses easily enough. He even treated his people to trips, gifts, anything to keep them happy. But did he know anything about food? Guy shivered; partly in revulsion and partly from the cold.

Just one more, or two. Was it two? Guy glanced around, pushed dirty blond hair back and stepped back to the dock. Guy tried to penetrate the drizzling dark to count the containers already in the back of the van. Five, six, Guy counted, but couldn’t remember how many were left to move and almost ran over someone standing in the doorway.

“Hey, what the fuck?” Guy stepped back to get out of matt knight’s immediate presence. The little shit stood there waving his hands around, blabbering like always. Knight made guy’s skin crawl. “Slow the fuck down.” The puny excuse for a man flinched visibly. “Breathe knight. Then tell me what the fucking problem is.” It was more of a growl than a friendly request and matt seemed to cower more than usual.

Matt Knight took a step forward but stopped short at the look in guy’s face. He took a deep breath and wheezed his version of a whisper. “Something’s going to happen. I knew we shouldn’t have done this tonight, I just god damn knew there was something.” Matt stopped to take another breath and glanced this way and that, shifting his gaze from left to right, to Guy, then down to the ground. “I think someone knows. I just know it. Come on Guy; don’t look at me that way. I can’t do this anymore.”

“You always think something’s going to happen.” Guy straightened up, arms crossed, turned irritated. Matt was barely visible, but the way the little shit threw his head around and how the whites of Matt’s eyes flashed in agitation… Guy saw Matt’s stare dart to the van. Guy followed it and turned, stepped to the driver side and killed the engine. Two seconds later, the car keys dangled in front of matt’s face, “No.” With a growl Guy jammed the keys in a jean pocket. , time to wrap it up, before matt shit his pants or simply panicked.

Thunk, rattle, screech. “Hey, watch…”

A mountain called Benny suddenly filled the double doorway. It blocked out the light. It stepped through and collided with Matt. Unable to get away in time, matt flew forward, stumbled, and desperately reached out for something to grab. Benny, huge as a greyhound bus and nimble as a steam driven locomotive, took a lumbering step back as matt flew forward. Waving his arms and with a scream that, if there had been air left in his lungs to scream, would have sounded very girly., he crashed into guy. Guy grunted and tried to get out of the embrace, stepped off the edge, and fell backwards. Matt followed guy down, and landed on top. As the back of guy’s head smacked into the edge of the open van hatch, matt’s forehead made solid contact with guy’s jaw.

“Hey, I’m sorry.” Benny said and lumbered over to the edge. He dropped the two small barrels he had carried up from storage, forgetting immediately how many there had been. “Guy? Buddy?” He stepped down between matt’s spread-eagled legs, missing his tiny balls with a hair. “Buddy? You okay? Buddy, I’m sorry. But I said move.” he informed his fallen friends.

One barrel rolled off the short edge of the platform and stopped in the shadows at the wall. The other one rolled at an angle and plopped down on the ground. It kept rolling and stopped only when hitting guy’s bleeding head with a dull crack. Benny reached down and grabbed Matt’s coat and started pulling him off Guy.

Matt, despite scrambling to get up and out of Benny’s choking pull on his shirt, was the first to hear it. It was still distant. Far away, but quickly coming closer. Sirens. Cops. Coming in a hurry. He squeaked and stood, clawing at the shirt. “Ok Benny, you can let go now.” He forced out while trying to listen. This couldn’t be happening. Benny let go and Matt nearly doubled over, but he straightened quickly and croaked. “Thank you.” He had known it would happen. Sooner or later, major shit would hit the chopper blades. The time had come. But then the miracle happened.

For once in his life, matt Knight didn’t freeze. He didn’t even panic… much. In one not so smooth move he grabbed the barrel and turned to Benny. The big baby stood staring at guy who lay unconscious on the ground.

“Benny!” matt barked. “Time to go! Get guy! Let’s get out of here. We are so fucking sold.” When Benny didn’t move, just kept staring in disbelief at the still form at his feet, matt turned around and threw the barrel in with the others already loaded in the van. After a quick check to make sure guy’s head, or anything else that might belong to guy’s body, wasn’t in the way, he slammed the back door shut.

“Benny!” he screamed at the big man. Get Guy! Let’s go.”

As the sirens came closer –they were still quite far off– Matt managed to catch Benny’s fleeting attention. He refrained from yelling as he knew it would do him no good. Instead he spoke calmly, although slightly unsteadily, to Benny. In a few well chosen words he made it clear exactly why they had to hurry. Simple words mind, easy to understand vocabulary, a carefully controlled parental voice did the trick. “Do you want to live the rest of your life with bubba?” he said slowly while looking straight in Benny’s eyes. Suddenly he saw a spark, or maybe it was just a glint, of understanding. Oh, Benny wasn’t such a bad guy. Matt pointed at guy. Despite his own vibrating eagerness to hurry the hell out of there, matt knew there was no hurrying Benny. But there it was; Benny nodded. Matt sighed in relief and rushed to lock the back doors and get in the van.

Benny picked up guy and carried the limp body around the side of the van. He unceremoniously dumped it on the back seat. Benny was perhaps a bit… slow, but once the sound of the sirens connected with the word “cops”, he knew they were in serious shit. Serious shit usually includes a lot of running and that, Benny understood. He slammed the door and squeezed into the passenger seat, pulled the door shut, and sat trembling, not quite sure what to do next. He willed the vehicle forward. It didn’t move. “Uhhmmmmgooooh.” he said and turned to matt. “Uh?”

In the driver seat, Matt reached for the key. It wasn’t there. Now, matt lost the sliver of control he had managed to muster and he felt like crying. The cops were coming. He was going to jail. He would live in a cell with a giant named “Yo Papa”, and he would drop his soap in the shower on his first day there. Matt was shaking all over, stared in blind horror at his other potential cellmate.

That’s when the second miracle of the day took place. Benny thought fast. He thought hard. He reached back between the two front seats and grabbed on to something to grip. Guy’s shirt crumpled nicely in his big fist and he pulled. Guy slid down on the floor with a thump and a groan. Some fumbling and groping later, he thrust the keys at Matt. “Key! Go!” He rumbled.


Marcy watched the van speed away along the alley, turn left with only a small scrape against something; probably a wall belonging to the next house over. She stood behind the corner of The Down low restaurant. When the vehicle had turned again, entering the main road, she stepped out and stopped next to Amy; her friend sat slumped against the wall. Marcy sighed at the sight of Amy’s head lolling against her chest, legs stretched out, and arms flopped down beside her. Then she glanced down at the phone in her hand and silenced the music player. The penetrating sound of oncoming sirens died just as the imaginary cars screeched to a halt close to some made up (Or maybe it was a reality show clip, she didn’t know) crime scene and radios started squealing and beeping. She looked up at where the van had disappeared. “Fun, fun.”

“Hey you!” She said and poked her friend on one of the outstretched legs.

“Whaaaat?” Amy mumbled.

“Time to get you home missy.”

“Fine…” Amy murmured. “Comfy here… Nice here…”

Marcy raised her eyebrows. “Oh yeah, such a wonderful spot to sleep in, I know. I hate to break it too you stupid, but you’re going home.”

“Fine right here, honest.” Amy whined without moving a single muscle.

“Alrighty, then. You have five minutes. I’m just going to check out what’s over there. Don’t move.” She grinned and put the phone in an inside pocket before stepping around the privacy wall.

Fearless – Chapter 1 – The Low Down

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fearless – a serial web novel

By Jenny K Brennan

Check the Fictionpage for more about this story.

Chapter 1 The Low down

I’m not much for friends. The number of real friends I’ve had over the years can be ticked off using one hand. Oh, ok, I only need a couple of fingers to count them. I’m not easy to deal with I suppose. One of the few who has managed to disregard my oddities was with me that night though; drunk and down so deep in her bottomless pit of self recrimination and alcohol induced immobility that all I could do was wait for her to get it all out. Every stupid choice, every disappointment, every ‘if I had only…’ scenario she could think of, poured out of her. This time his name was Tony. Tony the whack job. Tony the cheating bastard. Tony the lying, stealing, stupid, lazy son of a bitch. Well, that was her story and I didn’t believe it. Last week it had been Tony the love of my life; Tony the sweetheart; Tony the gentle, sexy, generous, better looking than Robbie greatest guy ever.

I didn’t mind really; I was a good listener.

“I don’t get it.” Amy whined for the seventh time and tried to untangle the sodden tissue she kept twisting and squeezing after each mopping of tears and snot from her puffy face. “Marcy, what am I doing wrong, Marshee?”

Amy Norris looked at me with her huge blue eyes from the other side of the table, lips trembling, thin pale fingers dabbing at her eyes with the disgusting looking napkin. I reached out and plucked it from her hand and gave her a fresh snot towel from the dispenser on the table. “Well, if you would stop being so fucking needy, maybe the guys wouldn’t run.” I stated matter a factly as I drained the dregs from my coffee. I looked around the nearly empty restaurant in search for someone that might be up for getting me a fresh java. When no one could be seen, I raised my cup high and yelled. “Raid! Mother-fuckers, cops outside!”

There was a rustling and a clank, a shout in a language I don’t think I’ve ever heard, and steps rushing about somewhere in the back. Finally some action. I smiled.

“Marschee? Are you lishening to me?” Amy complained and sank down even farther over her glass of Gin and tonic. It was actually just tonic this time, but Amy didn’t know that, and I doubted she could tell the difference at this point. She had started slurring and wavering unsteadily on the chair some time ago.

And no, I hadn’t been listening. I knew by heart what she would say, what she had done, what he had done, what she would do again and again. She would never learn. I knew that after hearing the same thing over and over. “You are a tiresome bitch Amy. And that’s that.”

I kept half an eye on Amy, in case she decided to throw her glass at me, as I waved and smiled at the little man who suddenly appeared between a beer fridge and a rack of dirty dishes. “Hey, you don’t look like Charlene.” Charlene had just been there, hadn’t she? She was always there, with her smoldering cigarette, plucked upper lip, and grimy pad that she supported against one huge tit while she took your order. The Low down wasn’t The Low down without Charlene.

The person that wasn’t remotely like Charlene didn’t answer. He threw his head around, stared at the door and the dark street outside for a long moment, then toward the backdoor, and then he finally fixed me with a glare that wasn’t too pretty. I tilted my head and smiled. Then I held the empty cup out for him to see, and for emphasis I pointed at it with my other hand. I raised my brows and tried for polite and sweet this time. “Am I getting a damn re-fill or what?”

The little man stared at me and stood very still. He was cute, I noticed. A bit short but Dark and obviously fit under that wife beater shirt, with chocolate brown eyes and slightly wing nutty ears. He didn’t look like a waiter at all, come to think of it. Charlene would swing a boob and that little fellow would drop like a sack of potatoes, I thought. Yeah, big girl Charlene was. This was someone new. I wondered about that for almost half a second and then I dismissed it. He looked like a guy that could get me a coffee; he had arms and fingers after all. And I wanted a coffee. I stabbed at the cup with the first finger on my left hand again and thought I’d make it easy on the poor thing. “Cup. Empty. Not good. Get it?”

“Got to… got don’t feel scho good…” Amy gurgled and I turned to her. The baby blues directed their wild stare at the table top, her nose lay pressed into the Formica, and both her hands tried to grasp the table edge to pull herself up. I sighed and put the cup down. Just as well; the ‘waiter’ had vanished. “Ok, come on you moron.” I said and hauled Amy to her feet. “Out we go. Next time I’m bringing barf bags. It’s fucking raining out there.”

I supported my wreck of a friend best I could as I dragged her to the back door. It was closer than the front door and I knew there was a tiny area protected from rain just outside it. I gave the washroom door a quick glance on the way by; that was as close to the ladies I would ever go. I would dare the rain any day. Even though it was, well, wet and cold, I was sure it didn’t transmit anything nasty just by walking through it.

When Amy tried to veer in the direction of decease central, I straightened her rout with a jerk. “Oh, no you don’t. Actually, next time I’ll…” I never knew what I had meant to say because at that moment Amy’s hand flew to her mouth and I hustled her through the back door and directed her away from my shoes. She staggered a step, nearly bumped her head against the brick wall, and finally she got it out. All of it.

I stopped listening and looked around, curious. I did long for that coffee but I had a feeling I wouldn’t get any; not until I had driven Amy home. I’d stop at the first Timmy’s I’d get to on the way home. I sighed again. “If you choke I won’t save you. I don’t know how to do the Heimlich.” I muttered absentmindedly without looking at my friend who was in the midst of evacuating the contents of her stomach. “Fucking dark out here.” I shivered slightly in the raw chilly air.

Where I stood, between two short privacy walls roofed by a noisy piece of steel, it was fairly dry. The makeshift roof plinked and plopped for every drop of water falling from the sky. There didn’t seem to be any functioning light anywhere and the only reason I still saw anything at all was a dim light leaking through a filthy piece of glass set in the door. There was a naked bulb sitting in a cracked ceramic socket high on one of the walls, but either it was broken, or it had to be turned on from somewhere inside. I glanced up at the wall across from the restaurants back wall. “You know, this is by far the worst dump ever.” I said to Amy. I started to turn to her but stopped when I simultaneously heard sounds indicating that she was not ready quite yet, and another sound from the other side of the wall on my left. It came from somewhere farther down the alley. A door opening, low murmurings, a definite curse, and a low rumble that I first thought was part of the restaurants ventilation. It wasn’t.

As I identified the stink of exhaust drifting low through the drizzle, I also recognized an idling car engine.

Curiosity has always been my curse so I stepped forward and rubbernecked around the privacy wall. There was another door there; a second back door to the same building. It was some kind of loading dock with steel railings on the two ends of a concrete slab; a double door and a small glowing sign saying ’employees only” above. “Employees, my ass.” I said under my breath.

Several dark shapes moved between the open doors and a van stood idling a few steps away from the edge. In the light coming from inside the door I made out three different men, one of whom was the short brown-eyed cutie. The waiter that wasn’t a waiter at all. I recalled the look in his eyes when looking at the front door. So, my joke hadn’t been appreciated; fancy that. The little man stood just inside the door, gesturing, and talking animatedly to another man that had just returned from a trip to the open back of the van. I strained my ears but he kept his voice low and the grumbling van motor drowned out most of the words

I recalled the look in those brown eyes. Definitely alarmed, if not shitting razor blades. “Up to no good are we?” I mumbled.

Clank, bang, scrape, thud, thud, and more scraping. What the hell was that? Barrels? That’s what it seemed to be. Metal containers, not quite barrel sized, but I had seen something like it somewhere. I just couldn’t think where, or what they had been used for. I gave it a mental shrug. It didn’t matter did it now. They sure seemed to be in a hurry. Now, that was interesting. I thought for a moment. If they were legit, then what I had in mind wouldn’t bother the gentlemen loading an unmarked van late at night with unidentifiable stuff. Now would it? I ducked back and out of sight. I glanced at Amy, but she had dropped down on her ass and sat slumped against the wall. I tried not to think about where, and in what, she was sitting. I cringed but then I shrugged. I had blankets in the car anyways, for just such situations. I had better things to think about. Amy was hardly visible in the darkness against the wall. I stepped over her legs and followed the wall to the corner and turned around it. I smiled happily and dug up my cell-phone. I had just the thing.