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

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So okay, maybe I had good reasons for being jumpy lately, but when did I start getting the cold sweats over a little old lady? Just because she didn’t look like a little old lady but rather some early thirty-ish bombshell even though her birth certificate said she was sixty-five shouldn’t make me nervous, not after all I’d been through in the past few days.

"More tea, Detective Hamilton?" She asked when she caught me staring at the bottom of an empty cup.

"Johnny, ma’am, please. I’m not here as a cop, I just want to talk to you about a mutual friend." I answered, wanting some more of whatever it was she’d given me but not wanting to seem like a hog. "And no thanks, good tea though."

"Why thank you, Johnny. Now why don’t we dispense with whatever formalities seem to get in the way of a good conversation? On the telephone you mentioned Detective Castanet. You also spoke of a dear friend of mine, Victor Tepecio, so how can I help you?"

I didn’t want to call her. I’d had that…that whatever it was, dream or hallucination deal with Boyd and was trying real hard to forget the whole thing when my email box got full of invitations to stop by and visit this particular Website. Boyd had mentioned something about some lady posting a story about what he and this Tepecio character had done, and my curiosity had gotten the better of me.

"I don’t know where to begin so I guess I’ll start at the top, and you can kick me out of here anytime you want if it all sounds too nuts for you to handle, ma’am." I said, cursing myself for not asking for more tea just so I could at least have something to fidget with. "My partner was killed, so bear with me before you call for the twist wagon. Detective Boyd Castanet, he’s one of the names I mentioned, and lets just say I got hold of some information that lead me to believe you might know something about this crazy mess. Not that I think you’re involved or anything like that, but I did see the story you put online and I figured you at least knew of him and might be able to help me."

"Yes, an interesting bit of horror and mayhem, wouldn’t you say?" She asked. Peoples eyes really don’t twinkle or get flashy gleams like bad writers always say, but I’d bet cash money every hack who’d used such a description must have seen the look from someone like Jessica Hatch. "The tale in question was sent out to a select audience, Johnny and no longer exists in cyber space…did you by any chance try and print it out?"

I did. I tried half a dozen times before my computer crashed so bad I had to let it sit for a few hours and rest. And I swear I saw a little smoke coming from the stupid box, but the pc-geeks tell me that’s impossible.

"I must have ran out of ink for my printer, or something, but yes, I did try and it didn’t work. And you’re right, ma’am, it was an interesting story. Was it for real?" I blurted before my mouth had time to ask my brain if such a question was an even halfass intelligent thing to say.

"Ah, literary license, my dear young man. I will tell you that I was not the person responsible for this piece, but I do believe that the author infused a great deal of reality into what does read like pure fiction. The intent of releasing it was for certain people such as yourself to have a better understanding of what had transpired before both Detective Castanet and Victor disappeared. Now tell me; has Boyd visited you yet?"

I’m glad I didn’t ask for more tea. Spraying it across all the expensive furniture of her living room would have made me feel even more the dope, but at least my cop training kicked in before my mouth hung open for too long.

"Ma’am…" I tried to mumble as I framed my response.

"Oh enough of the ma’am this and ma’am that, Johnny. Jessica will do just fine between two people who are becoming friends. And a friendship should not begin based upon a lie, so tell me the truth. Has Boyd been to see you?"

"Um, uh, yeah." I whispered to her, glad that my eloquence hadn’t deserted me.

"Good. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? There’s a great deal to say and it will be difficult for you to digest it all in one sitting so I’ll attempt an outline of what has transpired and you can ask questions as we go along…"

**

Hot coffee. Black. Boyd had turned me onto having it with him every morning and if ever I’d needed a quick jolt to my nervous system it was now. I peeked around the diner to see if any of the patrons were staring at me as if there was a Step Up and Have A Look At The Nut Job sign hanging on my back. The story I’d read online was about Boyd and this guy Vic taking on some serious twists in the basement of the Museum of Natural History. That and more. And Boyd goes belly up, drops by to see me after he’s dead, and this strange isn’t the word for it lady tells me that oh sure, it was all for real. My partner had some kind of history as a demon-killer, or whatever the hell it was he and his buddy danced with in that big old basement, and according to Jessica Hatch some of the skell hangers on were left over from when their boss got kicked out of town.

So there’s your motive. The missing part of the original puzzle on why Boyd was hunted down by some goons just because he stepped into a robbery gone sour. But was it a robbery? And of course none of it explained why he was still around. Ms Hatch, hard to call her old lady Jessica after seeing her, almost had me believing that Vic wasn’t really dead, not dead as dead should be. To me dead had always been one of those ultimate deals. Cant be a little pregnant, cant be a little dead, but Jessica swears that it isn’t me going nuts; enough of Boyd is left around so that he’ll stop in and chew the fat when he gets the chance.

Yeah. Boyd Castanet…Demon-Stalker extraordinaire, and cant kill his ass for love or money. And even if it were all true, how the hell do I bring this deal to the Lieutenant? Check this out boss; I got the skinny on why Boyd was whacked and who did the deed. Who told me? Well, Boyd told me, and then this young old chick filled in the blanks.

Yeah. I lose my job in a New York second, and all I ever wanted to be was a good cop. I waved the waitress over and asked for more coffee. Had to be a way. If any of what I’d experienced was the real deal then I couldn’t let Boyd down just because it sounded strange. But I couldn’t go to anyone at the house with a story like that, so… so that meant I was on my own. Go back to the shop and they partner me up with another old guy who has one foot in his retirement condo and the other careful not to step on any banana peels and ruin…Jesus, how long did I have to find Boyd’s murderers? If I go back with my tail between my legs and swear everything is just peachy, then they leave me alone for two weeks tops before marrying me to a partner. Two weeks to crack the nut, and maybe, just maybe…

**

"Come on by anytime, Johnny, and next time bring that pretty gal of yours along."

I nodded back to Harry and gave him the thumbs up as I pulled my car away from the entrance to the delivery alley of the Museum. Three days back on the job and I took my first lunch break away from the house to stop by and have a quick talk with Harry Carson. Nobody can remember when Harry wasn’t in charge of the back gate to the big old building and I figured that if anyone could give me the straight scoop on the supposed fire they’d had last year it was he.

"Fire my Irish ass, Johnny." Harry had said around a mouthful of hotdog as we shared a lunch in his office. "Some rich puppies went Goth and made a mess of the place. Tommy the computer kid thinks they must have somehow hacked into the security thing and shut off the alarms, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Fire was a little thing that made more smoke than anything else, and that was started just to let some of the little pricks get away. No less than six guards patrol those corridors Johnny, and not a one of them saw or heard shit from shinola, so that means they paid somebody off. That or they were invisible."

So the Museum story checked out, and I hated to even think it, but Jessica’s account looked more and more plausible, but that still left me with zilch as far as tracking down Boyd’s killers. How exactly does a guy go about getting himself initiated into the spook-catchers club?

"Same way you get to Carnegie Hall, kid. Practice, practice, practice."

Somehow I managed to hit the brakes before I mowed down more than two or three garbage cans, and I spun the car off the mercifully unoccupied curb right before the hydrant that was next on the hit list.

I didn’t want to look, but the reflection from what I could see of the back seat told me I wasn’t alone anymore so I took a deep breath and turned to see my partner, seatbelt fastened, sitting behind me.

"Boyd, if you’re gonna do this on a regular basis can you ring a bell first or something, anything to keep me from catching a heart attack?" I asked as soon as I regained the power of speech.

"Hey, don’t blame me, Johnny, you’re the one who brings me back. I barely had enough time to slap on the belts before your Evil Knievel impersonation, and you know I never was fond of your driving to begin with." Boyd’s ghost, or whatever it was responded. "Now do me a favor and take us on a nice slow drive downtown."

"Sure boss, whatever you want." I mean, why fight it right, he was back again so I figured I’d go along with the program and see where it led. "Downtown’s a fairly big place, Boyd, anywhere in particular?"

"First you call the house and leave a message that a snitch turned you onto something so the Lieutenant shouldn’t get nose bleeds thinking you jumped ship. And you know the place, kid, Second and Fourth. Time we both paid a visit to the Yak."

**

Where it all started, at least for me. The Yak Hair Tattoo Parlor was a surprisingly spacious place of business near the Indian Restaurant District of Manhattan, and like all older establishments had a back courtyard for deliveries and garbage removal.

"Couldn’t this wait until dark?" I asked, feeling more like a thief than a cop as we negotiated the narrow alleyway that led to the rear of the building.

"Don’t know about you, but for me this place is scary enough during the day." Boyd answered, looking and sounding so much like his old self that I could feel the old rhythm we had begin to kick back in as if he’d never gone. And died and been cut to pieces and had his body stolen.

"Then before you up and disappear on me again, how about telling me why we’re here?" I asked.

"Well you cant come here on your own, that’s for sure." He started to explain. "I did and learned the hard way that the skells we’re dealing with can’t really be hurt by flesh and blood people; they’re just not altogether on this side of the playing field if you get my drift."

"You mean they’re ghosts too?" I whispered as we approached the door that should lead us inside of the Parlor.

"No such thing as ghosts, Johnny. These twists are real enough…shame you never caught any of the old Twilight Zone shows, or the Outer Limits, now there were some really interesting…"

"Jesus, Boyd, I know what they were." I interrupted. "And Maggie’s a fan of the old Sci-Fi Channel series Friday the 13th, but how’s that explain anything?"

"Yeah, I used to catch that show myself, redhead was some looker. Alls I’m saying is that there are different sort of…planes of existence, and while you can’t touch them, they sure as hell can touch you."

"So you’re around to ride shotgun in case any of these guys show up? And why now, why right this instant?" I wanted to know.

"Payback for me if they do come out of the woodwork, yeah. And don’t ask me how, John, all I know for sure is that there’s a real good chance we’ll catch one of these mopes in the act. And you don’t have to whisper until we get inside, they can’t hear anything out here, not like me. Juice I got was purer stuff than theirs, so make all the noise you want but do me a favor and jimmy the door okay?"

Juice he got was…sure. Yeah, that explained everything and nothing. But why not. I didn’t drive all the way here just to chicken out and hey, if I was caught doing a B an E while talking to an invisible friend what could they do to me?

They all think I’m nuts anyway.

**

End of Part IV

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