Blood on the Paddle – Chapter Five
April 2, 2015
The End. That’s how this story will finish. With an ending. With a conclusion, a denouement, an answering of unsatisfied questions. Everything wrapped up in a neat little package with a satisfying bow. If only life were that simple.
I can’t see any end to this. Except maybe ‘Happily never after’.
I turned it over in my head a billion times. The rights and the wrongs. Flipping them like thick airy American style pancakes. The morality of the eggs congealing with the necessity of the flour and the impulsiveness of the milk. With a teaspoon of incendiary baking soda for good measure. All bubbling away on the skillet that is my tired mind. Flip. Flip. Flip. Heads I lose. Tails he wins.
I had still not asked him his name. I didn’t need to. All I needed to know was that he was the most dangerous man I’d ever met. And that in a matter of minutes, one of us would be dead. He grinned maniacally from the shadows to my left as I banged on the safe-house door.
‘Detective Garrison. Here to see the girl,’ I barked through the bolted oak.
‘But I thought you were… suspended.’ He can’t have been more than twenty. This was their foolproof plan to protect Sandra, the last living lollipop lady in town? I was right not to trust them with her safety. If I could gain entry this easily, he could have too. So why was I escorting him right to her?
The door edged open and the pimply face of the young officer, all flushed and nervy, peered out.
‘God damn it, son,’ I growled with a practiced weariness. ‘Open the door. Or I’ll have your badge!’ The door closed again and then, after the jingling of a chain, re-opened fully. ‘This is Miss Rebecci’s attorney. Mr. – eh – Mr. Smith.’
‘Who?’ The young man’s face crumpled in confusion. But almost immediately his dead body crumpled in lifelessness. Bang! I watched him slump to the floor and then turned to the see the maniac holding his smoking berretta, still smiling like the lunatic he undoubtedly was.
‘Why did you do that?!’
He shrugged with a casualness that confirmed his insanity, if such confirmation was still needed, which it wasn’t. ‘We omelette makers can’t mourn the cracking of every egg, can we John?’
I pored over this dire situation, like yellow eggy liquid mix flowing onto the heated frying pan of my conscience. It was impossible to know where the salty, sinewy egotistical ham ended and the cheesey possibility of redemption began.
I stepped over the twitching corpse of the rookie and headed for the bedroom. She was asleep when I entered. She stirred and shielded her eyes from the light cascading in from the hall.
‘John?’ she groggily whispered. ‘Is that you?’
‘I’m here Sandra.’ I took her hand in mine.
‘Did you find him?’
I nodded, fighting back tears.
‘Did you kill him?’
I shook my head. ‘He’s here with me. I’m so sorry. I’ve messed everything up. Please forgive me.’
She sat up rigid in the bed and flicked on the bedside lamp. ‘But John, there’s no-one there,’ she stammered, turning pale. Twist!
‘What?’ I looked around. He was nowhere to be seen. ‘But we came here… together.’
Sandra gripped my face with her delicate palms and looked deeply into my eyes. My brain was scrambled like eggs heated in a pan with butter, milk and seasoning.
‘But if he doesn’t exist…’ I shuddered. ‘Then who— ’
‘Sorry about that,’ the maniac interrupted. ‘I needed to use the toilet.’ He stood in the doorway grinning like the psychopath it was no longer in doubt that he was.
Sandra screamed. ‘It’s him! Why did you bring him here?!’
‘I don’t know. I sort of thought he wasn’t real and that I was him all along. Or something.’
‘What?! What are you talking about?! Why the fuck would you think that?!’
There was no time for explanations, as the confirmed nut-job raised his berretta barrel and trained it at Sandra. I leapt forward, springing off the bed like crispy bread from a toaster.
Bang! The gun went off and I felt hot steel slice through my taut bicep. We grappled. He was lanky and slight. But his undisputed mental instability more than made up for his lack of strength. He pinned me and raised the gun nozzle to my temple.
‘Farewell, John Garrison,’ he sneered. ‘It’s a pity. We made quite a team.’
I closed my eyes and exhaled deeply.
BOMP! I thought, that’s not the sound a gun makes. Opening my eyes, I saw Sandra standing over me, lamp in hand. The certified wacko lay bludgeoned on the floor.
Sandra smiled and offered me her hand. ‘Let’s go home, John Garrison.’
‘Can we stop somewhere for breakfast?’ I smiled, weakly. ‘For some reason, I’m absolutely famished.’