[AC] Bush43 Daily Week Six

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at gmail.com
Wed Jul 12 08:45:57 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com

BUSH43 #47
By Jason S. Kenney


My cell phone rang, pulling my attention from random reports that had
piled up over the last couple days.  I flipped it open and looked at
the number, one I wasn't familiar with, and was tempted to hang up, but
then had a feeling I knew who it might be.

"Jeffery Carter," I said into it.

"Hello, Bush."

Unfortunately, my feeling was right.

"What can I do for you?" I asked.

"Are you being purposefully professional because there are people
around or because you don't want to deal with me?"

The latter.

"Just not sure how else to approach this, Miss Pine," I said, trying
not to clench my teeth and grind them.  Trying to not crush the phone
out of stress.

"'Miss Pine'?  Oh, my, you are being distant, Bush."

"Tracy," I said with a sigh. "What do you want?"

"I delivered Dean," she said.  "Now, it's your turn."

I closed my eyes and lowered my head into my free hand, massaging my
temples with my thumb and middle finger, hating myself more and more.

"Yeah," I said. "It is."


It was three before Cassandra called me, and I dreaded talking to her.
Not because of her in any way.  No, it was all my doing.

"Hey, you," she said, as I answered.

"Hey," I said back, trying to sound happy.

"Everything all right?"

"Just busy and tired and all," I said, leaning back in my chair.

"Wanna go get coffee or something?"


"In fifteen minutes or so.  I can take a break and meet you over

"Cass, I don't know," I said, looking at my desk, the papers all over
it, the work I wasn't really doing. "I've got a lot of stuff to get
done up here."

"Oh," Cassandra said, but she didn't sound disappointed.  "That's all
right; just thought I'd offer.  What are you doing tonight?"

"Tonight?"  Shit.  "I've got something...  The Mayor wants me to do
some crap with this mess with Carriage Hill, and then I was thinking I
might go out and about, do my typical thing and all."

"Want some company?" she asked, a hint of playfulness in her voice.

"I need some time to think, Cass.  It's not about you," I said, feeling
the need to recover from whatever she may be thinking and then
realizing that saying that just made things worse.  Shit.  "Just, well,
I haven't been out in a while, and a lot of stuff has been going on

"It's okay, Jeffery," she said, but I could hear something in her tone.
 "Do your thing."

"But, you know, now that I think about it," I said. "With us not seeing
each other tonight, I can make some time for coffee now."

"No, Jeffery, you've got work to do..."

"I can do it later this evening. I'm going to be here anyway."

"I'll just let you go, Jeffery."

Damn it, Jeffery.

"I'm sorry, Cassandra," I said.

"It's okay," she said.

"I'll call you tomorrow?"


"Bye, Cass."

"Bye," she said, and she hung up.

Goddamn it, Jeffery.


"Self was wondering if we could try and request more of this," I said
to Erlend Romanov, as I handed him the bottle and then sat in a chair
in front of his desk.  "It's a drug that nullifies Dean Williams's
powers, and they only have about ten days' worth.  They normally got it
from the federal government."

"And, is that where he wants us to order more from?" Erlend asked,
setting the bottle down on his desk and looking at me.

"It makes sense that we should ask them first.  It's another
opportunity to show how they've cut us off if they say no or where
their priorities are if they say yes."

"Jeffery, you do know what a simple solution to this is..."

"We're doing this the right way, Erlend.  Request more.  If they tell
us no, we'll find the source and go there."

"Ten days, Jeffery."

"We're not executing him, Erlend.  Let's try and get more of this shit
and work it that way."

"And if we can't?"

"Then, we sedate the hell out of him until we can."

"How humane is that, Jeffery?"

"It's more humane than killing him!"  I was on my feet.  "Erlend, we're
not having this conversation because you know where I fucking stand.
He's left alive.  We ask for more of this," I said, as I snatched the
bottle off his desk and held it up. "And, we dare them to tell us no."

"And when they do?"

I hesitated, had a thought on that, a stupid thought that was a last
ditch alternative that would keep Dean Williams alive but potentially
at the expense of my professional sanity and the security if the city.

"If they do," I said, "then we go and take it."


"Goodnight, Nancy," I said, as I walked past her desk and toward the
elevators.  "Don't stay too late."

"Goodnight, Mister Carter," she said back, ignoring the second part.
As usual.

I rode the elevator down and walked across the lobby, stepped out of
City Hall, and, instead of turning right and walking toward Isiah's or
Cassandra's or the nearest bar or wherever I normally went, I hailed a

I was dropped off in front of an apartment building I didn't want to be
at but had to be.  I walked in and was immediately stopped by the
doorman, as expected.

"My name is Fritz Thomas," I said.  "I believe a key was left for me
for apartment 7B."

"Yes, Mister Thomas," the doorman said, going behind a counter and
grabbing an envelope that he handed to me.

"Thank you," I said, tearing it open and finding they key and a note
inside.  "I'm expecting a visitor around eight this evening, a Miss
Laurel.  If you would please just let her up."

"Of course, Mister Thomas," the doorman said with a nod and a smile.

"Thank you," I said again, and I headed for the stairs, while I
unfolded the letter from Alfonse.

Dear Jeffery,

Be Good.


I balled it up and tossed it in a trashcan that stood by the door to
the stairs.

The place was pristine when I got up there.  Brightly lit and well
furnished, it looked like an entirely different place than when I'd
last seen it almost two weeks before, occupied by a man that I didn't
care for very much.

I nodded in silent credit to Alfonse for doing such a good job so
quickly and sat down on the couch, stared at the television without
turning it on, and thought.

And, I stayed like that until the doorbell rang two hours later,
knocking me out of whatever trance I found myself in.

Here goes.

I breathed deep, as I pushed myself off the couch and started toward
the door.  When I reached for the doorknob, I noticed my hand shaking
and paused.  I closed my eyes and took another deep breath, slow in,
slow out, and I opened my eyes.

My hand was still.


I opened the door.

Tracy Pine stood on the other side, wearing a red dress that hugged her
like a second skin, her blonde hair cascading over her shoulders, her
smile wide, eyes shining, a bottle of champagne clutched in her right

"Hello," she said, her left hand reaching out and touching my cheek.  I
resisted the urge to pull away.  She stepped in and close to me,
pressed herself against me, brought her face to mine, lips to mine, and
kicked the door closed, as she kissed me.

She pulled away, stepped back, and glared at me.

"If you're not going to be part of this, Bush, then we're going to have
some problems."

Fair enough.

I was quick, pinning her against the wall and kissing her hard and
deep.  I heard the sound of the bottle bouncing off the carpeted floor,
as she started to give as well as she got, bringing one leg around mine
and latching on, her arms wrapping over my shoulders, one hand running
through my hair, while the other grabbed the back of my suit coat,
nails digging into my back even through the layers of fabric.

Goddamn it.

I broke away and closed my eyes, her breathing heavy and low.

"Oh, my," she said, both her hands up, her fingers playing on my neck,
dancing up to my ears, her hands then going flat on the sides of my
heads.  "That's more like it."

"And, that's all you're getting," I said, and I turned away from her
and stepped into the apartment.


She sounded like she didn't believe me at first, but, when I didn't
turn back, when I just stood there and hung my head, took a few deep
breaths, she knew I meant it.

"You sonofabitch.  We had a deal!"

"I changed it," I said through clenched teeth.

"You can't just change it!"

"I just did!" I shouted, spinning to face her.

"You sonofabitch," she said again.  "Do you have any idea what I can do

My hand was around her throat before she could finish.  I had her off
the ground slightly and pinned against the door.

"Do you have any idea what I can do to you, Miss Pine?" I growled
through my still tight teeth.

She clutched at my hand, wide eyed, the look of shock on her face
something that will haunt me for a long time to come.

"You gave me Dean Williams.  For that, you get to walk out of here
instead of going to jail.  Or worse.  But, you are not getting any free
ride from me or this city, do you hear me?

"One hundred and twenty people, Tracy, one hundred and twenty people
are dead because of you!

"You should be fucking thankful I'm leaving you alive."

And, I let her go.  I stepped away, as she collapsed to the ground,
hacking, coughing, gasping for air.

I crouched down to her level, stared at her on her hands and knees, as
she tried to gulp for air.

"Go back to Simon and tell him that, when I find him, it will be the
last time he ever sees the outside world.  Frank too.  All of you. You
goddamn better run because I'm going to find each and every one of you
and break you, one by one."

I hadn't realized she had a grip on the bottle of champagne until it
was shattering on the side of my head.  I turned my head with the blow
but was otherwise unfazed.  I turned back to her still down, still
wheezing for air, glaring at me.

"You sonofabitch," she croaked again through what I hoped was a throat
that hurt like hell.

"Get out of here," I said, as I got to my feet took a couple steps back
and stared at her, as she struggled to her feet.

"How dare you?" she said again.  I noticed she was crying.  "I gave you
Dean, damn it.  I gave you what you wanted!"

I didn't say a word, just stared at her, and waited.

She glared back, as she rubbed her throat with one hand, braced herself
on the door with the other.

"This city will know who you are by the end of the week," she said with
a wicked grin.

"And, by then, you will be dead," I said. "Or wishing you were.  I'm
willing to make the trade.  Are you?"

"You're bluffing."

"Try me."

Her hand was on the doorknob and turning it.

"Ferguson is going to look like a picnic."

I just glared at her, as she grinned, straightened herself up, and took
a deep breath.

"Go to hell," she said, as she pulled the door open and stepped out,
slamming the door behind her.

I stared at the closed door for a minute or two before my legs buckled,
and I fell to my knees.  Oh, God, what the hell was I doing?  My
stomach was twisting and clenching, and I looked at my hands, as they
shook and shook.

I put my head in my hands, and I cried.

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