June 1st, 12:30 PM
Blood. That's all that I could see, all that I am. Just a bloody wasteland, empty and desolate, with rivers of blood. Gods, I am tired. I slumped down against the wall, leaving a track of red. I considered putting pressure on my gunshot wound, but I decided against it. I am fallen. I am dead. There was no point in fighting fate.
I looked around the tortured room. I could see the bodies of the people I had just killed. No, murdered. That's how I will be remembered when this scene is discovered. A murderer, just a common killer, a common thug. Its better off that he is dead, the people will say as they return to their lives.
Gods, I am tired. Weariness is all that defines me now, I am weary of life and of pain. I fumbled for my gun, and could not feel its cold steel. I looked around for it. It lay in a pool of blood, and I remembered. I had dropped it after that fight, after I had realized that I had been hit, before I had stumbled back against the wall.
Sleep. Yes, that is what I needed. I just needed to sleep, and let myself die in slumber. Let myself drift to death in the midst of dreams.
I leaned my head back against the wall. This is what I needed, just sleep and death. Everything I wanted, no, everything I needed done is in the past, completed. I looked around the room to confirm this, seeing the bodies and the blood and the guns.
How did that old saying go? “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Confucius was right, I guess. I got my target and died in the process.
And now it came, sleep, merciful sleep, floating on the breeze to me. My eyes shut, and unconsciousness overcame me.
Darkness washed over me like the tide; it washed away my sins. I fell deep into a slumber, where I could see myself falling, eternally falling. But then I hit the floor, and pain shot through my shoulders, and I could feel myself being dragged, and then lifted up, floating above the clouds, and that is when things went truly dark.
June 2nd, 12:00 PM
I awoke. My eyes simply snapped open. I looked around and I could see lights above me, and a man sitting in a chair beside me. I felt for my wound, and touched only bandages. It was then that I realized that I was in a hospital.
“Good, you're awake.” The man in the chair was now looking at me, and as I looked back at him, I realized that he was a cop.
I adjusted myself, siting up in the bed, wincing as a sliver of pain shot up my body. I looked at the policeman questioningly, not trusting my mouth to speak.
“From the wallet we found on your body, your name is Jason Barringer. Is this correct?”
I nodded in assent, waiting for the question that I would need to speak for, to tell my story for, to confess my crimes for. And here it comes, I could sense it from how he began to shape the words.
“Mr. Barringer, we found you in a restaurant, with the bodies of several people. Do you know how you got there?”
I smiled, and leaned back into the pillows of my hospital bed.
“Officer...” I waited for him to finish the sentence.
“Officer Amos Moretta,” I continued. “I was there because I wanted to be there. I went there with a singular purpose.”
“And what was that purpose, Mr. Barringer?”
“To kill the man who took everything from me. To commit a murder. The bodies that you found there, some were by my hand, felled with my gun. Some of them were not.”
Amos sat up straighter. The slaughter, in the day that Jason Barringer was asleep, had been well-publiziced, and the public was hungering for the killer. To know that murderer's name so quickly in the proceedings would be excellent news for the department.
“Mr. Barringer, why did you kill those men?”
“Well, now, that just takes us back to the beginning of this nightmare, the start of this tragedy.” I sucked in a deep breath. “Before I begin, Officer, I am going to need some breakfast.”
Amos pressed a button, and an orderly came quickly. I ordered my breakfast, a heap of things that I really shouldn't eat and probably wouldn't get in a jail-cell, and turned to Amos.
“So. While we wait for that, which part of my story would you like to hear first?
Amos pondered for a moment, then pulled out a notebook and a pen. “Tell me about the crime.”
June 1st, 11:30 AM
It was raining. The heavens were pouring tears on me as I eyed the restaurant, as if mourning the deaths that were about to occur. The neon lights of the place twinkled. I felt at my waist for the revolver tucked into my pants. I knew how this was going to go down. The Croc, a local gang boss, was going to get a bullet in his head.
And there he was. I could see him in the restaurant, eating lunch. Next to him I could see a bodyguard, a gun thinly veiled by his shirt, reading a newspaper. BELLE FOUND MURDERED IN APARTMENT, screamed the headline.
I walked in with some shades and a hat on, to keep my identity hidden. The hostess guided me over to a table, and I sat down. The bodyguard eyed me once, and then went back to the paper. I knew the Croc came here for lunch every day, that his bodyguard doubled as his chauffeur, that the bodyguard, when the Croc finished eating, would leave to start the car. I had come here to kill the Croc. His blood was the only blood I wanted spilled. And so I ordered some lunch.
June 2nd, 12:05 PM
“Hold on, hold on,” said Officer Amos Moretta. “If you waited to kill only the Croc, why were there...” He flipped back into his notebook. “Why were there four bodies?”
“Because I didn't get a chance to wait. There was a third side in the fight,” I replied.
An orderly came in, bearing a platter of breakfast. “Excuse me, did someone in here order breakfast?”
“I did,” I said, and scotched back so the orderly could slide the table over me and lay the platter on it.
“So who was the third side?” Amos asked.
I offered him a bacon strip, which he accepted. Scooping some scrambled eggs into my mouth, I responded. “Dere was dis odder gang.” I swallowed. “Another gang, called the Reds, wanted him dead. The Croc has a lot of enemies.”
“How did they get involved?”
May 30st, 6:00 PM
Things were going poorly in the alley. Three men stood there, one an average joe, the second selling the average one some cocaine, and the third, one of the Reds, pointing his gun at them. What was supposed to be a simple transaction was getting slightly more complicated.
“What the fuck, man!” said the Red. He brandished his gun angrily. “Selling the shit is my job!”
“Well, the Croc decided to cut the middleman, mothafucker, so go get another supplier!” said the Croc's man. He whipped his own gun out.
“Another supplier? Fuck, man, there aren't any other suppliers! The cops busted ol' Willie!”
“Um, can I go?” said the druggie. Getting no response, he slowly backed out of the alley.
“Look, you can shut the fuck up and take it up with the Croc, or you can take it up with me, and I ain't gonna be gentle,” said the Croc's man.
“No fucking way man,” said the Red. “You go tell your fucking asshole boss to start dealing with us Reds or we are gonna have fucking problems.”
The Red turned, a stupid decision in hindsight. It exposed his back. The Croc's man, his emotions high, squeezed the trigger, and the bullet flew. It was not a headshot but it did hit his spine, cracking it as it continued on through the lung and out the body. The Croc's man, his anger turning to fear, turned and ran.
Blood pooled in the alley, the man not yet dead, in unendurable agony. Soon some of the dead man's fellow gangsters found him.
“Who did this to you?” asked one of them to their fallen comrade.
Wheezing, spitting up blood, he responded. “The... the Croc.”
June 2nd, 12:15 PM
I grabbed my water and took a deep drink. Moving from the eggs to the bacon and sausage, I waited for Officer Amos Moretta to speak.
“How did you find out about this?” he asked finally.
“They told me,” I replied.
“And how did they tell you? Wouldn't they be immediately gunning for the Croc?”
“Oh, they did do that. That's how I met 'em. We were meeting with the Croc at the same time.”
“And why were you meeting with the Croc? From your record, your clean. Only time you've broken the law are a couple of speeding tickets.”
I slowly chewed a bacon strip, pondering my response. I sighed. “I guess you could say it was because of love.”
May 29th, 2:30 PM
It was a normal day at the office. Elizabeth Barringer sighed as she typed away at her computer. It was a small firm, a start-up, struggling to make a name for themselves. Which was why they were located in such a bad part of town.
She glanced over at the picture on her desk. It was of her husband, Jason Barringer, and their dog. She wished he'd find a job. One of them needed a dependable source of income, a career, a future, in their employment if they were going to do as they discussed, which was the have children. They dog had been a compromise, preparation for that day.
Elizabeth heard a commotion at the other end of the office space. She stood, looking out from her cubicle. Others were standing up as well, looking around with curiosity. Her view to the door blocked, she exited her cubicle and walked forward, when her world shattered.
But it was only the door, and she ducked as a chunk of wood flew over her head. Three men appeared, rifles in their hands, and she groaned. It was the Croc.
Sure enough, the Croc himself appeared. His appearance was less than terrifying, discounting his 6 foot two bodyguard. He looked small and skinny, like he'd skipped a couple of meals. Wiry would be the term someone would use, mostly because it had a hint of positive connotation, which meant that he'd hopefully not put a knife in your heart. No, the name people called the Croc was chosen not by his appearance, but by his reputation. And his reputation spread through the room like the plague, infecting each person with terror.
“So,” said the Croc. “I have an accountant, who's very good at what he does. And one day he comes up to me, and says that there's this small firm that's renting one of our office-spaces that hasn't paid up.” He sidled up to one of Elizabeth's coworkers, and continues his tale. “And I tell him, that can't be right. They'd pay me up proper. They wouldn't be late. I trust 'em. I tell him to go check his figures again.”
He moved almost oily, sliding from place to place, and Elizabeth couldn't help but think that the Croc walked like an actual crocodile stalking its prey in the water.
“And my accountant comes back to me,” here he moved and faced Elizabeth square on, “And he tells me that he double-checked his numbers and that this firm failed to pay their rent money.”
He walked back to his bodyguard and his three men. “You look like an intelligent woman,” he said to Elizabeth. “Perhaps you can explain this, this mystery to me.” He snapped his fingers, and the three men accompanying him grabbed Elizabeth.
“I can walk by myself,” Elizabeth said scathingly to the men holding her. They looked at their boss, and after the Croc nodded, they let her go. The Croc eyed her with a newfound measure of respect, and waved the three of them out the shattered door.
“Oh, and as for the rest of you,” the Croc said as he prepared to leave. “Perhaps you can clear up this mystery, that woman, maybe she can stop, ah, explaining to me. You have till the end of the month.” He smiled, and disappeared out the door.
June 2nd, 12:30 PM
“The Croc kidnapped your wife?” Amos Moretta asked.
“How did you find out?”
“One of her coworkers called me, told me the story.”
“How come no one called the police?”
I looked at him funny. “Call the police? If we'd done that, he'd of killed Elizabeth. You had him up on charges before, and his lawyers got him off, and the snitches mysteriously died. I, and the other people in the firm, wasn't about to risk her life so you cops could run a sham of a trial.”
“Okay, fine. You didn't call the police. What did you do next?”
“Recon. I didn't have the rent money, nor did the firm. It would have taken to long to raise the money. So I looked for a way to rescue my wife.”
May 31st, 9:00 PM
Just like in the movies, I had on black. Black turtleneck, pants, boots, everything. Even the gun I had, a Glock 9, was black. Elizabeth and I had bought it when her firm decided to rent from the Croc. I was crouching in the bushes outside the Croc's house. From Elizabeth's phone, which the Croc had forgotten to remove, I had tracked her to his residence.
From watching the house yesterday, I knew that their were alarms on all the doors save one, something most security agencies do in case someone wants to come home late without waking up the neighbors. This door was in the back, and was a sliding glass door. I had brought a blowtorch with me for this, and as such I melted a hole through it. Carefully avoiding the hot glass, I unlock the door through the hole I made, and entered the house.
I slipped through the silent house, looking for Elizabeth. I passed through the dining room, with its fancy mahogany table, the library, with its ornate fireplace, and the living room, with its expensive paintings, until at last I came to what was best called the antechamber, a large room which had the front door and large windows.
The lights switched on, and I looked around half blind. When my eyes adjusted, I saw a sight that chilled me to the bone. Elizabeth was being held by two men, a third by the light-switch, and the Croc himself with a pistol in his hand.
“Welcome, Mr. Barringer, to my humble abode,” said the Croc. I looked at him silently, confusion and horror and fear etched on my face.
“You see, when the firm failed to give me the money yesterday, I knew they didn't have it, so I figured that the loving husband might try a last-ditch rescue attempt. So here she is! Congratulations. You succeeded.”
I figured it'd be best to let him finish. Nothing good ever came from interrupting the Croc, so I looked down at my wife. I could see that she was scared, and trying to hide it for me, trying to be brave for me.
“Mr. Barringer, I just want you to know that this is nothing personal. A man in my position needs to maintain a certain reputation, needs to maintain a certain fear and respect. You understand, I'm sure. So to do this, I need to do something with Mrs. Barringer here. Making a clear example of her would be easiest. Kill her, dump the corpse, spread the story. Or, just for you, I could lie. She could be one of my, ah, working girls and cut my cocaine for me. Don't worry, I'd feed her proper. What do you say to that, eh?”
He smiled at me, as if he were being extraordinarily kind to me. But I could see the truth as plain as day. The choice for me was to kill my wife, the woman I loved, or to sentence her to slavery, and make her wish I had chosen differently at this moment. A choice impossible. I sank to my knees, and then all hell broke loose.
A barrage of bullets tore through the walls and windows, and someone shouted as they kicked the door down. Men streamed in, and by the clothing they wore I could tell that they were some gang called the Reds. I stood, seeing a chance to save Elizabeth, but the Croc was faster. He, as coolly as if he were buying some groceries, raised his pistol and shot Elizabeth Barringer in the head, the bullet cracking, shattering its way through stone, as the light died in her eyes.
“NO!” I screamed as I saw her slump, blood and brains dripping from the hole in her head, in her beautiful head, as I saw the Croc wave his men out for a fighting retreat. The fight tore on through the house, but I cared naught for it. I moved forward, to hold my wife's corpse and cry.
For an hour, violence raged in the house, and then things quieted. The Reds came back to me, knowing that I was not one of the Croc's men by what I wore.
“Who the hell are you?” one of them asked.
I stood, composing myself. “I am Jason Barringer. This is my wife, Elizabeth Barringer.”
It was a curious thing. I felt no fear as I looked at these heavily armed men who could so very easily kill me. It no longer mattered what happened to me, for I was empty inside. All that mattered was that the Croc died. The tendrils of vengeance grabbed my heart and consumed it.
“Sorry, man,” said one of them, and then he told me why they came, how the Croc took one of their own.
“Which is why you came here.”
“Did you get him?” I asked, hoping that he would say no. I wanted to kill him myself.
“No. Just one of his guys. Him and the other two got away.”
“Well, the best of luck in killing that bastard next time.” I shook his hand. It seemed like the thing to do. I waited until the Reds left before calling the police, pretending to be an anonymous caller, reporting gunfire at this address. I quickly left. It was time to plan the death of the Croc.
June 2nd, 12:40 PM
We sat silent for a moment. I wiped a single tear from his cheek, before leaning back and sliding myself further under the sheets to lie down.
“Okay, so let's go over this from the beginning,” said Amos. “The Croc kidnapped your wife on May 29th. You scouted the Croc on May 30th. Also on May 30th, one of the Red's died because of a drug dispute with the Croc. On May 31st, the Reds and the Croc fought, and your wife was killed in the midst of that battle. Is this correct?”
“Then I suppose the last thing I need to know is the final battle at the restaurant.”
“Yes,” I agreed.
June 1st, 12:00 PM
I was watching the Croc carefully between bites of my sandwich. God, I wanted to kill him, just pop out of this booth and put a couple bullets into him. But no, I must stick to the plan. I must wait for the bodyguard to leave. My quarrel, my revenge, had nothing to do with him.
Ring ring, said the door as two customers entered. But they weren't customers, I knew that the moment I looked at them. It was the Reds, one of them the one I had shaken hands with last night. And even worse, they were going for stealth. It wasn't a very good disguise, and the Croc's bodyguard instantly recognized him. With a shout, the bodyguard stood and pulled out his pistol, and the Red's did as well.
“PUT THEM THE FUCK AWAY!” yelled the bodyguard.
“MAKE ME, BITCH!” one of the Reds yelled in turn.
It became clear that it fell to me to break the standoff. This was the moment that I had been waiting for, the thing that I had wanted ever since the Croc had shot my wife.
I rose like a grim shadow, the Grim Reaper come to collect his dues. Taking off my shades and my hat, I revealed my face to the world, and one of the Reds recognized me, a flicker of surprise crossing his face. I pulled my gun out, and in one moment of bliss, pulled the trigger.
The bullet, as well as the three that accompanied it, flew straight. They slammed into the Croc, knocking him down, blood and bone blown all over. With a roar, the bodyguard reacted to the gunshot, firing wildly at the Reds, diving for cover, and they did the same. I heard screams from the other diners as guns were fired and bullets flew, and they fled, a massive stampede for the door.
I had done it. I had killed the Croc. It wasn't a happy moment, a euphoric moment. It wasn't what I was expecting, this moment. It couldn't be the additional bodies, or the fact that the scene was less clean than I had imagined. I felt like I was at peace. And now that I was at peace, it was time for me to join my wife.
The Reds and the bodyguard fought, bullets gouging into tables used as cover, until one Red died. The other screamed in rage, and shot the bodyguard, a stomach wound. Still alive, barely alive, he rose and shot and killed the Red, he falling and dieing himself, his corpse crashing through a table.
Then I realized that I was wounded, and my gun slipped from my fingers. Then I fell back against the wall, and felt that inescapable weariness, that weariness not just of physical tiredness, but of emotional exhaustion as well, a kind of mental tiredness. All I wanted was sleep.
June 2nd, 12:55 PM
Officer Amos Moretta looked at me with a curious expression on his face. I could tell he understood very much my motivation. I could almost see him wondering what he would do in my situation, if Mrs. Moretta, if there was one, had been killed. But the expression left his face, with a look of cold duty remaining.
“Mr. Jason Barringer, I am placing you under arrest. You will go to a holding cell once you heal.” He stood, putting his notebook and pen back in their pockets. He then read me my rights. “For now, I need to go call the station to get a guard on you, to make sure that you don't leave.”
He paused at the doorway, internally debating whether to toss some final words to me, but then shook his head and disappeared. I waited a moment before I slipped out of the hospital bed, a dagger of pain shooting up from my gunshot wound. I had no intention of going to jail, nor did I have any intention of escaping. I was in a hospital, I was sure there were plenty of ways to die in this place.
Before I left, I said to the room before I disappeared, “I'm coming, Elizabeth. Be patient just a little more. I'll be with you soon.”