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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tom Disappears - An Excerpt from "Killing Tom"

Jack prowled the dark aisles of Temptron in night-vision goggles, military issue, that had been obtained through the Greek for two cases of diodes and rheostats, or some shit like that, which had somehow managed to fall off a skid and find their way to the trunk of Jack’s car. The left eye flickered on and off once in awhile, which caused minor temporary vertigo and nausea, but other than that, they were in splendid military working order. Jack had taken to forgoing the boom-box with the blown out speakers, opting instead to patrol the dark warehouse and grounds in complete, utter silence, hoping for a chance to use the Glock 9mm tucked in his polished leather holster on an unsuspecting ne’er do well.

The cell phone vibrated in his jacket pocket and Jack answered it quietly. “Capricorn, here,” he whispered.

“Working?” Walter asked.

“Of course, I’m working,” Jack replied. “It’s two in the morning on a Thursday, isn’t it?”

“Me, too,” Walter shared.

“Good,” Jack said. He lurked around another corner. Another corner that was now safe from prowlers, junkies and thieves.

“Some dumbass spilled a pallet of liquid detergent tonight,” Walter said. “It took the idiot over two hours to clean it up—it was like a Laverne and Shirley episode…”

“That’s good, Walter—is there a particular reason you’re calling?”

“Yeah, you insensitive prick, I called to tell you that the entire Jewel now smells Spring-Fresh, and if you have any shopping to do, this could possibly be the most enjoyable olfactory place on the planet in which to do it. But, fuck you now—you’re not allowed in this Jewel anymore. Only nice people can shop here.” Jack could hear Walter pouting on the other end of the line.

“I’m sorry,” Jack whispered, skulking further into the darkness. “It’s just that I’m working…”

“Me, too,” Walter repeated. “But who do I chose to call on one of my only two breaks in this back-breaking shift?” He paused for effect. “My insensitive, selfish, dick-head friend.”

“Alright, alright,” Jack said. The left eye went out in the goggles and Jack nearly fell down and vomited.

“I called to tell you that my mother called me this morning, and Tom’s disappeared.”

“Twitchy?” Jack said, clinging on to a steel rack and clapping the goggles on the side to restore the vision in the faulty lens. “Where’d he go?”

“She doesn’t know. She’s thinking about calling the police, though.”

“Wow,” Jack said, the lens flickering on and off like a nightlight in an electrical storm, only serving to intensify the feeling of nausea. “I mean, I understand him leaving your Mom and all—who wouldn’t—but disappeared?”

“Like bad breath in a hurricane, gone!” Walter said.

Jack nodded in silence, finally flipping the goggles from his eyes, plunging him into total darkness. Bad breath in a hurricane? He wondered exactly what that meant. But obviously Walter was proud of the metaphor, so Jack did not question it. “What do you think is going on?” he asked.

“Dunno—something sinister, I’ll bet—Lady MacBeth is calling me back when I get home from work, so I’ll know more then.”

“Wow—disappeared…Call me later,” Jack said, squinting into the darkness.

“Will do,” Walter said, and hung up. Jack replaced the phone in his jacket and stumbled away from the rack to which he had been clinging, hoping to God that he could find his way back to the light switch without barking a shin on something sharp.

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