13th Precinct - Issue Three
By: Bob Yosco
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Contact Information: reviews@shadowkeepzine.com - Continuing the fascinating 13th Precinct, enjoy issue three...

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[ RealAudio Version ]

"Is there nothing you can do?"

"I am sorry but he was too new to the family and too long in such condition. I can neither reassemble nor communicate with him."

"If only…"

"Jessica please, don’t do this to yourself. Victor is gone, and even were he still among us I doubt that even he could save this man. Time to move on, my dear."

* * *

"They what?" Johnny tossed the newspaper onto the Lieutenants desk

"Take a seat." Lieutenant Haley ordered, pausing until the young detective obeyed. "Listen to me, and try to calm down. He was hacked to pieces, but the Coroner’s Assistant at the docks took enough pictures to be sure it was Boyd. An autopsy would have been great to determine the cause of death, but not having a body doesn’t make Castanet any deader, Johnny."

Johnny was having a hard time believing that his partners remains had been stolen from the morgue, and a harder time believing that no one had told him before the newspapers had gotten a hold of the story.

CORONER DROPS CHOPPED COP! Screamed the headline from the morning’s edition of the Post.

"But who’d want to do such a thing, Lieutenant? And Jesus Christ, forget who for a minute, and tell me how? How did somebody just waltz into the ME’s corpsicle shop and steal a body? The place is a vault, you’d have to be able to walk through the walls to get in there without a pass…"

"That’s enough, Johnny. Half of the squad thinks you’ve gone off the deep end since Boyd disappeared and the other half is sure, so stop this walking through walls crap right now. Whoever dumped him in the river must have realized that the current doesn’t wash away bodies like in the old days and by hook or crook decided they needed to do a better job of giving Boyd the Hoffa. Who and how is what we’re gonna find out, but I want you as far away from this as humanly possible, and if you fight me on this I’m putting you on indefinite leave of absence, so don’t push. Not after that twist you pulled on Fleming last night."

"Look, Lieutenant, I’ll admit I’m half a whack job over Boyd, but I swear that I walked into that Pawn Shop and talked to a guy who said he owned the place."

"If you weren’t such a good cop I’d take your shield right now, so consider yourself lucky you’ve racked up enough juice and I don’t order you to see the Department shrink again. I’ve seen guys who’ve lost a partner do everything from go on a year long bender to sucking their own lead candy so I give you some leeway here, but you don’t have that much juice so take some advice. Go home, play house with the girlfriend, grieve, get drunk, frig…go down to the dumps and shoot some rats for chrissake but one more Invisible Man Steals Sherlock Holmes story and you’re a step closer to getting fitted for a meter maid uniform."

* * *

Johnny sat in his empty apartment and tried not to look at the time. 10:15 AM, five minutes later than it was the last time he couldn’t help himself and snuck a peek at the clock on the living room wall. Maggie would be home around 5:00, maybe a little later if she stopped to pick up something from the corner deli, so what to do for the next seven hours?

Damn, he thought, Boyd’s harmonica. Maybe if he’d shown Haley the harmonica the Lieutenant would at least start to believe that something very strange was going on. No, the Lieutenant would probably confiscate the thing and Johnny’d be looking at another session with the head doctor, maybe worse. He sighed his way up off the couch and shuffled into the bedroom; Boyd’s mouth harp was the only concrete piece of evidence that all was not as it appeared to be, and the sock drawer wasn’t a safe enough place to keep it.

Safe enough from what? From little green men sneaking in and stealing it to add to their collection of god-awful musical instruments? Get a grip, he thought to himself as he rummaged through the drawer. Logical explanation for everything. The City was a crazy place, the 13th was a crazy Precinct, but there had to be a simple, logical way to account for everything.

"It ain’t there."

There are times when a trained professional relies solely on reflex, and Johnny had his gun out before the words stopped echoing around the bedroom. Jack home a round, modified Weaver Combat Stance, both eyes open, crouch and spin in the direction of the voice.

Nothing. He was alone, pointing the Glock at Maggie’s stuffed teddy bear collection, and the instant adrenaline surge had almost given way to confusion when the voice returned.

"Hold your water, I’m doin’ my best here." The familiar voice said. "And sweet frig, I know you’d like to waste those little shits but put away the cannon before you blow away Barney."

The Lieutenant was right, Johnny thought. Christ, even fat old Fleming was right. I’m losing my mind. I’m standing alone in my own bedroom aiming my gun at some stuffed animals and what could it hurt to answer…

"Actually," His partner’s voice said from the chair next to the bed, and Johnny spun to meet it. "Ya ask me, and hearin’ voices is one thing but answering them means you’re really screwed."

"Dammit, Boyd, is that you? Mother of God, Boyd, it can’t be you, you’re dead."

"Yeah I’m dead but we’re partners so don’t hold that against me. Wait, I almost got it."

"Got it? Got what? I swear on my mother, if this is some joke I’ll shoot the mother fu…"

Johnny lowered his gun as the air around the chair began to shimmer. Like watching the heat waves dance off the distant asphalt on a hot day, Johnny began to see the shimmering coalesce into the form of his friend. The vision winked off for a moment before coming back so vividly that he was sure it was Boyd sitting there.

"Son of a bitch, I knew it." Boyd said as he disgustedly snapped his Zippo closed and took the cigarette from his lips. "Thought I’d catch a quick smoke but no such luck. You got a good imagination, pally, but you don’t smoke and that makes me one nicotine-withdrawal’d bastard."

"Boyd…how?

"How is the $64,000 question, kid, and I’m new to alla this so take my word that it’s me. For now lets just say that I’m using your memory of me for a quick hello and leave it at that. Pisses me off a little though, my hair is a lot darker and fuller too."

Johnny turned to the mirror his friend was staring into and took a deep breath before answering. "Boyd. Are you really dead?"

"Yes, I’m really dead. On the other hand I’m really not dead, too, and if that confuses you then just think how it makes me feel. Long story short and we can chat about this later, but like I says, I’m using your imagination, your memory of me to show up like this. I could be a voice without a body, but frig, Johnny, that’s some spooky shit and I don’t want you going nuts over the deal."

"Yeah, you’re right, Boyd. Just a voice would make me wanna jump out a window, but seeing you here in the flesh after you were cut to little pieces, that makes everything okay."

"You can be sarcastic with me all ya want, but save it for later, kid. Right now I don’t have a friggin clue as to how long I can hold my end of the deal up, so listen. A while back, before you came to the squad even, I had this little run in with a pal of mine. Some crazy ass shit went down and things happened to me that I didn’t even friggin know were happening. I changed a little. The whole story you can get in a couple weeks when old Lady Hatch drops the dime on this website thing. You’ll need a code or something to get in but I’ll make sure you can read the story and that should help you understand how I’m still around. Darkness Keepers or some such shit, I don’t remember the name, but that’s not important now. Anyways, you’re right…I was wasted by these skells that figured it was payback time for what me an my pal did to their boss. Me and Vic thought we’d cleaned out the rats nest but some of the twists are still around and that’s where you come in."

"Right." Johnny said after taking a moment to try and digest what his friend had told him. "I’m not saying you don’t make perfect sense, Boyd, but if you’ll excuse me I got an appointment with the Department shrink that I really should keep, so I’ll be seeing you…"

"Cut the shit, John. You’re not nuts and you know it, so pay attention this is serious. You tell anybody about us talking and they’ll lock your ass up and that can’t happen or the bad guys will run hog friggin wild in the City. You an me are cops, kid, and we can’t let that go down. Best thing to do is put on a good face with the job and let everybody think you’re getting over losing your partner. Mope around some, sure, but cut the wildass stories or Haley tosses you on the scrap heap."

"So I suppose the whole Pawn Shop thing was your doing too, right, Boyd?"

"Yeah, I hadda get the Harmonica to you to set up the link. Don’t frickin ask me why, but for some reason you hadda touch the thing and bring it home so’s I could make a grand appearance. And I’m taking it back with me so don’t bust a nut looking for it."

"Taking it back where, Boyd? And lets say that I believe just a little bit of what you’re saying, who stole your body? Payback from such arch criminals, okay, but they did kill you so excuse the fuck out of me if I find this a little bit hard to swallow all in one sitting."

"You an me both, Johnny. Look, I gotta go before I blow a fuse or something, this is hard shit to keep up. Trust me. I’m busting my balls trying to get in touch with Vic but he ain’t answering so maybe next time you and me hook up with old Lady Hatch and she lends a hand. Like I said, she’s putting the word out soon for some help, and that’ll explain most of what went down before. Promise me you’ll be cool?"

"Do I have a choice, Boyd?"

"Nah. You put me on the pay-no-mind list and I’ll haunt your ass forever." Boyd Castanet grinned as he slowly faded from sight.

"And give a guy a break and have a cigarette so next time I can at least have a smoke."

[ End of Part III

]

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