[MISC] Stolen Garbage #10

Jamie Rosen jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Sun Mar 27 12:34:19 PST 2005

Bobby-Jane, that's like throwing the baby out with the...


In the city, the siren song of traffic jams called out to the hidden
psyche. It was a warm night, a night that smelled of uncooked turkey
fat and the sort of spices that you couldn't even name, let alone hope
to pronounce properly. Three men sat on garden chairs in an unfurnished
bachelor apartment, waiting for a fourth.

The first man was not, properly speaking, a man at all -- he was a
woman who bound her chest with tensor bandage, who had a military
crewcut and and a tendency to sit with her legs spread open in baggy,
second-hand jeans. Her name was Tim, and she prefered to be called

"What the Hell's taking him so long?" Tim asked, checking his watch for
the sixth time since he sat down.

The second man, who was almost six feet in height even when he sat was
sitting down, and who had a series of concentric circles scarred into
his bare chest, lit up a cigarette and shrugged. "Damned if I know," he
said, taking a long drag on the white cylinder, which was dwarfed by
his huge hands. "You know how he is." He was about to take another drag
when the cigarette went out by itself.

"Please to not be smoking," said the third man, whose most notable
feature, physically speaking, was his lack of any notable features. "I
am not to be allowing myself inhaling of such problems."

The giant man made a motion as if to stand up, but Tim's hand on his
forearm stopped him. Before he could decide what to do, the door to the
apartment burst open.

"Tim! Hi-Ho! Marginal Error! So good of you to come," said the man who
stepped into the room. He was the only one of them in business attire,
a slender man with a broad face and no nose to speak of. In his hand he
carried a briefcase, which he placed on the floor while he continued to
talk. "Since we are all present and accounted for, I suppose we might
as well get down to business?"

"You're late, Pellican" Tim said, glaring at him.

"I am in no way late," Pellican said, unsnapping the locks on the
briefcase. "The meeting does not start until I arrive, ergo I cannot be
late." He flipped the briefcase open and began distributing the folders
that were inside. "Now, since you are here, I take it that you have
accepted your assignments?"

"What are they?" Tim asked.

Pellican wagged his finger, smirking. "Now, Tim, you'd think that by
now you'd have learned that you don't find out the assignment until you
agree to it. Otherwise you might turn it down, and then we'd have
someone running around knowing what we were doing."

"As opposed to usual, when we run around not knowing what we're doing,"
Hi-Ho said, lighting up another cig and throwing a dirty look in
Marginal Error's direction.

"Exactly. See, this guy's got spunk." He pointed at Hi-Ho. "Now, you're
all agreed?"

The other three nodded yes.

"Good. Open your files. It's a typical job, three assassinations.
Nothing you haven't done before."

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

The inside of the bathroom stank of stale urine and unwashed hands.
Marginal Error shifted his weight on the toilet. He never liked
waiting, and waiting in smelly bathrooms was one of the worst types of
waiting he had ever encountered. Still, a job was a job, and payment
was payment.

Outside, he could hear the sounds of news reporters and secret service
agents. The fat man wouldn't be coming into this joint without it being
checked out first. So Marginal Error took a deep breath and slipped
into the gutter between panels -- nobody ever thought to look there.
There was a bang and a clatter as the secret service came into the john
and checked out every
stall, every urinal, every air duct. Nothing doing.

When they were gone, he slipped back out of the gutter and checked to
make sure he had all of his equipment. Change of clothing, check. Gun,
check. That was about it, really. Then he took another deep breath, and
kicked the washroom door open, his finger already pulling down on the

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

For some reason people didn't like the guy. Hi-Ho couldn't figure out
why, but he didn't care much either. As long as he got his payment,
he'd be happy. Or at least, he wouldn't care.

There were people everywhere, but nobody paid him any attention because
his disguise was working perfectly. Most places, being a giant and
dressing funny gets you noticed right quick. But not here. They
wouldn't even know what was going on until he'd already whacked the

He heard the high-pitched voice, and for a second he thought maybe he
did know why people didn't like him after all. "Hi, kids!" It was
inane. It was pandering. It was raking in the big bucks.

Hi-Ho slid one hand to the large plastic cap he was wearing, to make
sure his gun was still in place. It was. He turned a corner and got the
mouse in his sights, and then he made his move.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

Tim waited for no man. If his quarry wouldn't come to him, he'd go to
his quarry. It worked out quite well, all things considered. Nobody
liked to have fun more than this bastard, and Tim flew when he was
having fun. Like an arrow, he flew. Everyone below him -- frozen. Stuck
in the moment like ants in molasses. Clowns always had fun. It was
counter to what people had always assumed, had always told Tim. But Tim
could tell differently, because he was living proof.

Landing, touching both feet on the ground, Tim saw them all begin to
move again. They wouldn't be having fun for much longer, and he'd have
to get away some other way. But Tim moved swiftly, and if he did it
just right, he'd get a chance to have one of those abominable burgers
before he left.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

In the apartment, Pellican had a big smile on his face below where his
nose should have been. It had all gone perfectly.

	*	*	*	*	.	*	*	*	*

"You ever notice anything weird about the world, Harry?" Detective
Michael Maas asked, taking a bite out of his honey cruller.

"Can't say that I have," his partner answered. "People live, people
die. That's about it."

Maas snorted. "Spoken like a true burnout."

Harry shrugged. "Nah. I mean, all your life, you live. Then, when it's
over, you die. What else is there?"

"You never thought about Heaven?"

"Sure, I've *thought* about it. Can't say it's ever been too present in
my mind though."

Maas took another bite of his cruller and washed it down with a big
gulp of chocolate milk. "Tell me this, though. You ain't never -- you
ever wonder about the way people die?"

Harry looked at him. "That's my job. Last time I checked, it was your
job too."

Maas shook his head. "No, no, what I mean is -- I don't mean the who
did it, or the why. I mean, haven't you ever looked at some of the
cases we get, or some of the ones we don't get but wind up in the
paper, like that damn clown... You ever look at them and go, "Damn! I
mean, what the Hell?" You ever do that?"

Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure I follow."

"Well, like... this guy who came out of the washroom to off the St
Nick, only a couple of minutes after they checked the whole place out
top to bottom... and then he disappears without a trace? It just
doesn't add up."

"You saying it's a conspiracy?"

"I'm not saying anything, except... well, damn it all, it's just weird,
you know?"

Harry shrugged again. "People live, people die. That's about it."

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

Damn it all.

Tim kicked at the bars of his cell.

Damn it ALL!

They'd locked him up in the women's prison, hadn't listened to him when
he told them he was a man and he should be put with the other men. They
said some bull about it being for his own protection. Like Hell.

He kicked the bars again. That bastard Pellican had hung him out to
dry. No escape route, no way to get out except whatever he could think
of, and Pellican knew as well as anyone that Tim was a killer, not a
thinker. They weren't going to make a statue out of him with his hand
on his chin. Hell, they weren't going to make a statue out of him at
all, most likely. Even that damn clown had a statue at every one of his
damn stores.

Yelling out something that wasn't even close to a word, Tim punched the
bars this time and broke every bone in his right hand. Shit. That hurt.
It got him nice and quiet, though.

"You keep going on like that, you're gonna break something," his
cellmate said.

"Already have." Tim sank to the floor against the bars, holding his
right hand in his left and not looking up at her.

She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "Well, that won't
do. I guess I should have mentioned it to you earlier."

Tim ignored her. He'd heal all wounds, eventually. Eventually.
Eventually, he started to talk again.

"I'm not even supposed to be here," he said.

"None of us are, honey."

"No, I mean -- I should be in prison. Hell, I killed the damn clown and
I'm damn happy. But I shouldn't be here with... women."

His cellmate raised her eyebrows. "Oh really?" She chuckled, but Tim
silenced her with a look.

She wasn't unattractive, although her time behind bars had taken its
toll. On the outside, in a club or bar somewhere, he may have put the
make on her.

"I know that look. Don't even think it."

"Wasn't thinking anything," Tim said.

"Good. That should be easy for you."

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

Pellican was wearing a ten-gallon hat and sitting in an leather
armchair he'd had brought into the apartment when his operatives came
back. Well, two of them did.

"Howdy," he said, tipping his hat. "Good job."

Hi-Ho looked around. "Where's Tim?" he asked.

"Oh, he's in jail."

The big man's eyes widened. "Jail? What the Hell's he doing in jail?"

Pellican raised his hands in the universal "I don't know" gesture.
"Whatever it is you do in jail, I suppose," he said. "Can't say I've
ever been, myself."

"What went wrong?"

"Nothing went wrong."

Marginal Error sat down on the floor. "Then it was to be a set-up, I am

Pellican laughed and got out of his chair, going to look out the window
that stretched out before them like a menopausal hooker. "Set-up's just
another word for planning ahead," he said. "Tim needs to be in jail at
the moment. That's all you need to know."

Before he knew what was going on, the window was open and he was
dangling upside down out of it.

"Thanks, Marginal Error," Hi-Ho said, casually shaking Pellican by the

"Not to be thanking me. I am being as fond of Tim as you." He glanced
at Pellican. "And to be as disliking of this one."

Pellican sputtered. "Now, now, guys, you don't want to do this, trust

"Do what?" Hi-Ho asked innocently.

"Drop me."

"If you say so."

Pellican scrambled and felt warm liquid running down his belly from his
crotch. "No, no, I don't say so. Listen to me, listen to me." He was
breathing hard. "You -- if you drop me, maybe I go splat on the
pavement, maybe I don't. But you... first of all, there won't be
anybody to get Tim out of prison when it's time."

Hi-Ho glanced at Marginal Error. "Seems to me the two of us could make
a pretty good go of it."

"You don't have any idea what you're talking about. But second of
all... second of all! Yes, second of all, you'd both be dead before you
had the chance."

"What are you to be meaning?" Marginal Error asked.

"What I *mean* is that if you drop me out of this window, all the
people up above me on the food chain are going to know within minutes,
and you'll be reclassified as 'rogues'. And that means every other
person on the food chain, whether it's above or below, will either be
looking for you or will have someone else looking for you. And it won't
be to say thank you. Now, are going to bring me back in, or are you
going to throw away all three of your lives?"

Hi-Ho looked at Marginal Error. "Seems to me we don't have much of a

	*	*	*	*	.	*	*	*	*

Tim sat in that jail for over a year. They kept bringing his case up in
the courts, hoping to send him to the chair, to the chamber, to the
squad. But every time, something blocked them. Red tape. Bureaucracy.
Technicalities. Never enough to get him free, no, but enough to keep
sitting there, waiting.

Marginal Error visited him twice, slipping in from the gutter between
panels when the woman in the cell was out in the yard. Just to let him
know that they hadn't forgotten about him. That things were
progressing. That he was of the essence.

More than once, he thought of running out. He knew they couldn't stop
his steady march. But, he also knew, the guards were quite adept at
killing him.

Whenver his case came up on the docket, another one got bumped back.
Everyone was so preoccupied, so caught up in prosecuting the so-called
"clown-killer" to the full extent of the law, that they never noticed
it was the same case getting bumped back, again and again.

	*	*	*	*	.	*	*	*	*

When the moment was right, Pellican gave them their instructions.
Marginal Error snuck into the jail, lifted the keys from a fatally
inattentive warden, and slipped into Tim's cell. Hi-Ho, meanwhile,
commandeered a Brinks truck to set up a diversion -- by the time the
authorities were there, the massive man was gone, and they were too far
away to do anything about the incident at the prison.

	*	*	*	*	.	*	*	*	*

"What the *FUCK* was that all about?" Tim screamed at the top of his
lungs, trying to grab hold of Pellican by the lapels. The other man was
too used to this sort of behaviour to be caught offguard, though, and
danced ably away from Tim's outstretched hands and across the empty

"No need to get violent," he said, dusting off one lapel. "We got you
out of there, didn't we?"


Pellican shrugged. "What's a year here or there? The point is, I came
through for you -- like I always do. Like you always come through for
me. We wouldn't have picked any old person for that job, you know." He
turned on the charm. "It had to be someone we trusted, someone who'd
themselves to us again and again. Someone like you."

Tim frowned but refrained from yelling.

"Do we ever find out what that was all about?" Hi-Ho asked from his
seat on the floor.

"Yes," added Marginal Error. "I am being curious."

Pellican chuckled. "Of course not," he said, unsnapping the locks on
his briefcase. "I'd think you'd know by now that that's against our
policy. We tell you what our goals are, and there's one more person who
might work to keep us from accomplishing them." He pulled three folders
out of the briefcase. "Now, since you are here, I take it that you have
accepted your assignments?"

The three men exchanged glances, then nodded yes.

"Good. Open your files. It's a typical job, three assassinations.
Nothing you haven't done before."


Author's Afterward:

I need to find a way to post with all my nice old formatting. I miss my
fancy-pants title graphics.

If you're reading this, then no doubt Stolen Garbage #9 has already
made its way to the electrons out there in internet-land. I find this
most interesting, because as I write this, I haven't even thought about
what #9 will be. Yes, for some reason, I wrote #10 first -- and rather
than renumber it, I've decided to go with what fate or karma or kismet
seems to have dictated.

In all honesty, I wrote the preceeding story so long ago I barely even
remember when it was. The file's properties indicate it was created in
March 2002 -- it's now January 2005 as I'm writing this, so almost
three years have past. I've moved three times, had three relationships,
and held three different jobs in that time. Three, it seems, is a
significant number in some obscure, inscrutable way. Three central
characters in the story. And the skipped issue, of course, was #9 --

Meh. Enough of this. I have too many other things to be writing to be
wasting my time with a afterward that really doesn't say anything.

****Stolen Garbage, all characters and contents copyright 2005 ****
**** Jamie Rosen.                                              ****

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