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13th Precinct: Issue Ten
Bob Yosco

"Most of the time he's been called the Archer. If this were the old West he might very well be The Rifleman, and back when Cro Magnon was deciding whether to eat or mate with Neanderthal, they named him the Sling, or The Spear. He can use any, and I do mean any weapon with a degree of almost supernatural proficiency but for some reason he is fond of referring to himself as The Archer. Two hundred years ago it took the combined efforts of several very talented men and women to imprison him, and several months back just one super-sized earthmover to break the seals of his geol. The proprietors of that shady body-art emporium did a very bad thing in stealing certain artifacts from the gaping hole in front of City Hall, John, and for that transgression they were murdered. Killed by his thralls for daring to disturb what was precious to their insane master. Boyd was unfortunate enough to have stumbled upon the slaughter and for that he was done away with. They would have killed him outright or done worse had they not sensed my reawakening and fled to tell their lord of my homecoming, but I wasn't really back, John, not all the way at least, and he thought to finish that grisly deed before I could lend a hand to our friend."

Vic paused to swallow a small sip of water and I took a quick glance over at Flo to be sure she hadn't decided to shoot him again. It was his decision to tell her everything. That's after she impressed him with her spunk back on the roof with the pigeon guy and the Sasquatch, and only Vic would call someone who'd taken three quick caps at him spunky. Well, maybe Boyd would have too, and that's something that was beginning to dawn on me…the personality connection between my old partner and his old partner.

"And the feeling that came over Johnny right before the door opened, that was because of what the…what did you call it, the Lingle….what the Lingle was doing to him?" Flo asked as calm as can be, and I was glad to spare Mickey's coffeehouse the drama.

"Precisely. Oh it was clothed to resemble a man but make no mistake about it Ms Ryerson, such a thrall is far from human and has many weapons at its disposal. Confusion, desire, fears, hatred, all these emotions and more are part of its arsenal."

"And you tossed it away like a sack of dirty laundry. Forget that the thing was some kind of super hypnotist or whatever, it was Shaquille O'Neal's ugly big brother so what's up with that?" She wanted to know.

"If you'd be so kind as to allow an elderly gentleman some secrets, at least for a time, I'll answer by saying that I've had some experience with such creatures. I realize that this far from sates your appetite for the truth, detective, but please believe that I am one of the good guys."

Interesting thing about women; not that I'm any expert but once they decide to believe you, they really believe you and I could tell that Flo was taking it all in and accepting it as gospel. Suspicious cop or not, she was letting her instinct guide her along and letting Vic come over to our side.

"Well we cant stay here all day, Johnny." She said. "The uniforms will only hang around for just so long while we're supposedly canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses, and the ME's gonna want the okay to move Mr. Ozmand's body. And listen, Mr. Tepecio, even if I do believe that you're as pure as the driven snow, there's a murderer out there, a murderer you claim to know and I want this bastard before he kills someone else so we're going to meet again and very soon."

Just like that. It had taken me weeks to accept the fact that things were going bump in the Manhattan night, and Flo had shifted gears from normalville to spookcity in such a smooth transition I really had to admire her guts and intuition.

"I agree." Vic answered. "It is obvious that the late Mr. Ozmand had indeed been witness to something that necessitated his demise and we should follow this lead before the trail grows cold."

"But won't they stop whatever they were doing now that the heats on?" I asked. "This Archer guy can't be stupid enough to go back to that rooftop after today."

"Intelligence or the lack thereof has nothing to do with these events, John. I've the feeling that this particular piece of real estate is somehow integral to his plans and it might very well be that he cannot move to use another area so quickly. Oh to be sure, they'll exert a greater degree of caution but for the time being they need to use that roof."

"So we might be able to catch this Archer popping up again soon?" Flo asked.

"No, not really." Vic answered. "The Archer hasn't fully recovered, detective. Not that he'll remain veiled for very long, and the evil work has been done in his name, but it is too early in the game for him to make an appearance."

"But I thought you said that the tattoo parlor creeps dug him up…" She began.

"They ventured past the damaged seal of his prison." Vic interrupted. "Since that time his servants have been struggling to free him, but he remains entombed."

"Then who's doing all the killing?" This was starting to confuse me again.

"My guess would be that it is the work of his most powerful thrall, John. One who is striving mightily to oblige the final sacrifices that will free his master."

"Then the Slasher is not the big man himself?" Flo asked.

"No, Ms. Ryerson, far from it. Your Slasher is powerful but hardly in the same class as his overseer. We destroy the underling and perhaps, just perhaps, we may venture into the demesne of this unspeakable evil and stand a chance to survive before the Archer regains his full measure of power."

* * *

We offered to drop Vic off, hell, Flo would've taken him all the way to Staten Island just to keep him talking, but he probably sensed that and said he'd make it home on his own. The Doc on the roof wasn't thrilled with us being away for so long, but we smoothed his ruffled feathers and told the uniforms to stay awake and watch for the CSI unit that still hadn't appeared. Not that they'd find anything if Vic was telling us the whole story.

"So how long were you going to hide your interesting friends, huh Johnny?" Flo asked as we headed back to the house.

"Cut me some slack, okay." I told her. "We've been partners for all of two hours so don't think I'm a one-way street, and c'mon, how many people would believe something like that anyway?"

"I guess." She said, her voice sounding far away in whatever place she went to digest stories of the impossible kind. "So where to next?"

"Well first off let's…" I began, then froze as a bolt of remembrance jolted me back to the reason I thought heading this far downtown might be a good idea.

"You like Chinese?" I asked.

"Who doesn't like Chinese, but isn't it a little early for lunch?"

"Something I almost forgot." I told her as I made a sweeping u-turn to head us in the right direction. "Since you don't think all of this is crazy we might as well scope out some of the Chinese restaurants in the area. Let's just say an old friend suggested it might be a good idea."

"Never said it wasn't crazy, Johnny, and what exactly are we looking for?"

"I honestly don't know, not yet. But a reliable source says that the place with the good duck is a place I should visit."

"Okay, why not." She sighed as grabbed the mike to call in our location. "I'll have the desk tell the Lieutenant that one of your PI's dropped a dime about the DOA on the roof but this better be good…"

* * *

"Yes, Mr. Boyd was here all the time, that's why we name the chicken after him."

Flo and I had barely parked the car on the fringes of Chinatown when she spotted the sign in the front window of the Happy Family restaurant. It advertised the specials of the day and next to last on the list was General Tso's Duck ala Castanet.

"And what's so special about the way he liked his bird?" Flo asked the smiling old waiter who had stopped to deposit two surprisingly clean glasses of water at our table.

"Very very hot, lady, the cook he groan whenever Mr. Boyd come in. Habenero peppers only for Mr. Boyd and the cook eyes water all night. You friends of Mr. Boyd? Such a shame what happened to him, very good customer and we keep his special to honor his memory."

"Yes we were good friends." I answered. "He told me to check the place out when I got a chance. Say by the way, do you remember the last time Detective Castanet ate here?"

"Oh, maybe one month, maybe little more, he was in so often it is hard to remember. You like menu?"

Flo and I said that we'd just be having some tea with a few egg rolls and the waiter never dropped an inch of his smile as he scurried away. The restaurant was cozy inside and I figured that the food must be top notch if Boyd was a regular.

"So are you going to tell me if this is a coincidence or not?" Flo asked as soon as the waiter was out of earshot.

"Okay I'll tell you but you gotta promise me that you'll take this all in with an open mind." I whispered back.

She agreed, and I started talking. I told her about the times I thought Boyd had visited me…gave her the short end of the tale and ended it with seeing his reflection in the storefront window after leaving the crime scene in Queens.

"I've never seen or heard a ghost, Johnny, but there are a lot of people who say they have, so I won't call you crazy. Especially not after what happened to us today, and after meeting your friend Vic…I still don't know what made me shoot at him like that and I swear I couldn't miss at that range…but why would Boyd send you to sample some blazing hot duck in Chinatown?"

It was still too early for a noisy lunch crowd, so when we heard the resounding crash from the kitchen it made us both jump. Not that its all that unusual for a waiter or a cook to drop a plate but this sounded like someone had tossed one of the stoves through a wall. We were up in a flash, badges out and guns drawn, but I for one was starting to feel a little silly when we stationed ourselves outside the swinging door to the kitchen and nothing else happened.

"This is really going to look foolish when the old man comes back in and we scare him half to death…" Flo began, but the scream cut her off. I led the way through the door and was confronted with a scene that would have been comical, something out of an old silent-film like the kind I liked to catch at the old Loew's on 86th Street. The elderly waiter and an even older cook were swinging what looked to be meat cleavers at a small, funny looking man in a green floppy hat, and the shouting wasn't coming from them but from him.

He was lunging at them with a wicked looking knife of his own when Flo shouted for him to freeze but a flash of insight made me put out a hand to stop her from firing.

"Bullets don't work on these people." I shouted. "He's bleeding so grab a knife." Maybe I've mentioned that Flo was a quick study but it bears repeating. She didn't pause for an instant, just picked up a carving blade from one of the tables and beat me to him. He spun, faster than a man should have been able to move, and was almost upon her when I tossed a blade of my own at him. Of course it didn't stick in, but it threw him off balance and both restaurant workers pounced like cats on a stricken mouse.

"The Master will avenge me!" He shouted, and broke free of the mêlée and ran for where one of the stoves used to be before something pushed it away from the wall. I figured we'd have him for sure, the small opening that feed in the gas pipe wasn't big enough for a decent sized ferret to squeeze through, but he…

"Johnny, that isn't possible, it isn't…"

No, it wasn't. Right before he hit the opening he…all I can say is that he shrunk. He didn't collapse and wriggle through, he shriveled in size and dove into the hole.

"You wreck kitchen, next time we kill you!" The old cook shouldered us aside and shouted into the darkness. The rest of the expletives were in Cantonese, but they didn't sound like ya'll come back now, ya hear.

[ END ]

©2002 Bob Yosco

 

 
 

Bob Yosco - Once again, Bob Yosco takes us on a tour of the strange streets of 13th Precinct...

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One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven

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