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Murder in a Sleazy Nightclub
Dispatch said shots fired. Wolfen involved. Not many detectives handle the Wolfen. I do. That's why I carry a gun and flash a badge and solve crime.
The incident occurred at Little Dick's Wolf's Club. Not the place for family dinner, rather an outhouse on the road of life filled with infected tossers, not-to-bright drug-tards, thrill-seekers wallowing in the mud pits of interspecies fornication, mob bosses. Simply put, the dregs of society.
Two patrolmen waited out front of the joint. Billy Baffin, a local boozehound, crouched in handcuffs next to their patrol car. I grabbed the matted and greasy fur on Baffin's head and slammed it against the fender. His yellow eyes wobbled. The breath emanating from his snout hit my face like a wall. He was eating on the roadkill circuit. The lowest of the low fates, addicted to booze, drugs, and whatever passed for sex thrills to a cub. So besotted, he struggled to utter human words.
"Why'd you do that?" he whined like I'd took a knife and neutered him.
"What's going on in there?" I demanded.
"You go in there, detective, you die. That bitch done shot two Alpha Wolfen dead and ain't no human detective going to arrest her hairy ass," he said. Useless loser cub talk. Not every human the Moreau virus mutated became an Alpha. Most turned into pathetic losers - - subservient, drooling ass-kissing cubs without shame, no pride, no dignity. I whacked his skull again. He took the hint I was serious.
"Give me the story from the top."
Billy Baffin gathered his pathetically few wits, shook the alcoholic cobwebs from his Wolfen brain, and spilled the events inside the club.
"She came in, the Alpha-bitch. Caught her husband, Raul, backstage doing the dirty deed with Tiffany. You remember Tiffany, don'tcha? Tiffany the mattress-back with da big fun bags and the hots for hairy chests and Wolfen cocks. Well, the Alpha-bitch pulled a Mac-10 from her handbag and emptied the entire clip into Raul and Tiffany. They done dead, real dead, dead, deadÉ" His voice trailed off into a whimper. He tried to rub the side of his head against my leg for comfort. I grabbed him and shook.
"Didn't Raul know an Alpha-bitch can sniff out her mate miles away?" I made my best growl. He laughed.
"Raul the idiot? Raul the clueless?" Baffin almost howled Raul. "That bitch is in heat and don't fear nothing."
"Who is this alpha bitch you fear?"
"It's Veronica. Remember your Veronica. She's inside, singing those torch songs about the love she lost. You know lost love, don't you detective?"
My heart died a little bit. The lady who could belt out the grand, old torch songs. She stole my heart like a siren. No longer did the flaming red hair flow over once creamy shoulders, or coruscating ruby red heels glitter beneath a little black dress clinging to her elegant, graceful curves. Alas, she was of the few women to survive the virus and pay the price of transforming into a wolf-bitch. Now she wears Vera Wang for Wolfen, boots by timber, and broken hearts. Damn me for meeting her once upon a once upon. Damn me for loving her in the time before. Damn it all.
The Moreau Virus was medical research's dream of eternal youth and longevity, an anti-agapic, a Fountain of Youth. Nothing is more unreliable than good intentions. Moreau unleashed the virus and nearly ended civilization. Five billion lives lost in less than two months. Society crawled back on its hands and knees, not like a babe in swaddling clothing suckling from a wolf's tit but a diseased prostitute sucking the hind end of some anthropomorphic nightmare. With it came all the havoc and sins of the past while promising nothing in what would be the future.
"Damn Veronica!" I said out loud. Billy Baffin knew my past. Would that knowledge surface in his alcohol and drug-addled brain to haunt me? The tiniest spark of hope filled me for time has its way of forgetting. But Billy Baffin babbled on creating an ocean of doubt in my mind.
"She's crazy, detective, really crazy. After she shoots Raul and Tiffany, she starts growling and howling for Jimmy Florida's ass because he let them use the back room for cheating tie-ups. She comes out prancing on the stage callin' Jimmy everything from white boy to a lowdown, ass-sniffing poodle with mange, freaking the shit out the bar, I mean, who the hell calls out a mob boss when he's sitting right there six feet in front of ya. And Jimmy's a big Alpha, you know, real big and nasty, and he don't take kindly to no one calling him out. But, with this Alpha-bitch he is somethin' else. He gets all weird, takes one sniff of this broad's tail, sits back on his haunches, and begs her like a love-struck cub. That's when she splattered his brains over the room like spoiled cottage cheese being puked out of some moldy Tupperware."
"And who says insanity is overrated," I thought to myself, needing a moment to shaking the fog of Babel from my brain. Why was this happening on my watch? Nothing says loving like your ex singing ballads over her dead lover and shooting a mob boss. Worse, lord knows why in the back of my sick and twisted psyche, I hoped she didn't have a bun in the oven. I knew it couldn't be mine, but I didn't want or need to cope with that today.
"So when you saw your Alpha blown away, you did what? Cheered?" I snarled at Baffin.
"No one cheered detective. We all sat there stunned like; Raul dead. Jimmy dead. Ain't every day when a broad blows two Alphas away, even an Alpha-bitch. And she's still holding that Mac-10. Makes you stop and think; do I wanna die?"
"Amazing, you still think. They don't have no awards for cowardice; you know that, Billy. Alpha's don't like cowards."
"None of us cubs would even think about taking on an Alpha. She didn't show a bit of regret. She orders the band to play them songs about lost love an' broken hearts an' started singing those sad lyrics. The shots were still ringing in our ears, and she sings. All that death makes your eyes tear up, and your heart go pity, pity, pity." He sniffed, wiping his snout with a hairy paw.
"It's time to bring down the curtain," I said. Billy shook his head, looking even more overwrought and neurotic, his beastly limbs trembling.
"She's an Alpha bitch-in-season. No human got that much Mojo. Not even you, detective. You a dead man." He raised his snout and eyes and mimicked a howl, a drunken, horndog, strung-out howl. I motioned for the patrolmen, and they hauled Billy to the wagon.
The Riot Squad, my reinforcements, arrived. I took out my Glock, loaded the high capacity magazine with the hollow-point talons for heavy duty situations like this. Cautiously, I pushed the outer door of the club open and heard a frightening sound emanate from inside. A voice like unto the death screams of tortured metal-on-metal truck brakes scarring the rails before a crash, all too mephitic and taboo. It set my nerves on edge.
Cops in riot gear slipped behind me as I moved through the bar's foyer and into the main room. The idiots of Barney Blackie and his Accordion Band were still playing those "my lover gone away" torch songs. Veronica sang, the Mac-10 in one hand, the microphone in the other, Jimmy Florida and his bodyguard dead at her feet.
Even as a Wolfen she was still beautiful. Arrest her, the detective half of my brain said. Take her right now. Ravish her like no one ever ravished her before, my libido insisted. Damn her broken promises. Damn her for being susceptible to the virus. Damn my rotten luck to hell and beat it to death with a pork chop.
Near the stage, a single Wolfen sat, transfixed by the musk of a timber wolf bitch in heat, back paws quivering, tail swishing, drool puddling the tabletop. It was Packard, the police department's only Wolfen rookie. Damn it all. I thought only human males were misogynistic pigs, but Wolfen could be real dogs.
"Damn you, Veronica. It's over. You ain't no Lena Horne, but you are a murderer. Time's come to pay the piper. Put the gun down." Her eyes turned puppy-dog sad and filled with tears. She put the microphone in its stand and settled her gaze on me. For a moment, I thought she was still in love with me, maybe even remorseful, but I was wrong.
The Lady Veronica spoke.
"So it's you, lover-boy. I weep for the past. Men are all alike, fools lusting after my body. You want to use and abandon me. Is you is or is you ain't my baby anymore. No more, never again. It's stormy weather, and I is weary all the time. I've run off and undone you. I'll always be the one that got away."
"The party's over, my darling, call it a day." I parried. She twisted the knife.
"When I saw Raul getting his knob serviced, all hope died. Blackness entered my life. He wasn't worthy of my love. So I blew Raul and that human bitch's brains to hell. Jimmy didn't even count from one to ten in my book. And you, darling, the sun doesn't shine for you because your head's stuck so far up your ass, love can never worm through. This is the end, my friend." The drummer hit a rimshot. The band hit the floor. She glared at them. She had one more chorus. I thumbed my Glock to automatic."Our love died before I walked out on you. Nothing has changed. Love me or kill me or die."
She aimed her gun and fired. Six great gouts of fire and steel blasted out of my gun before her bullet struck my chest. The white baby grand piano behind her turned pink with the splatter of her blood. I fell back against the bar, my body numb, my pain-fogged brain expecting to die.
Death's at the end of everything. Cope, I told me. Cope with your broken heart. Cope with her demise. Cope with her world gone mad.
The Moreau virus wasn't an anti-agapic. It didn't prolong life. Didn't turn people young. Instead, half the world died, and half of what remained became the Wolfen; an uncouth anthropomorphism of demented crazy, bestial, wanton, cruel, and perpetually horny.
I watched the squad as they swarmed Little Dick's Wolf's Club. Packard, the rookie, walked up to me, pushed my gun hand toward a wall, and asked if I was OK. I breathed. I abide. Her bullet lay shattered against my kevlar vest. He took my gun; Routine when a detective kills in self-defense. He bagged the bullet and my vest. Paramedics and the squad did their thing with me. They left me sitting in the back of the ambulance.
Packard returned with an evidence bag holding Veronica's Mac-10. Usually, a Mac-10 bullet could rip a vest apart, but I had a bruise, not even broken ribs.
"Why am I not dead and lying in a pool of my own blood?"
"Target bullets. No stopping power."
"That's not what ripped through Raul, or Tiffany, or Jimmy Florida and his henchman."
"I didn't see her reload," Packard blushed. Embarrassed and reticent. He rubbed his little goatee and gave me a guilty look.
"You were blind to everything with the pheromones that she was putting out."
"I'd never experienced that before. Most animal urges I can deal with but that nearly destroyed all reason in me."
The crime-scene technicians collected additional evidence. The bodies slipped from sight into black bags. The Medical Examiner would declare the cause of death as gunshot. That much was simple. The reason for death would be another matter. It wasn't merely bullets.
I knew that more investigating would get around to Packard's reverie and my past. Six bodies - - Tiffany and three stooges backstage. Jimmy Florida and his bodyguard in the middle of his club and finally, Veronica. Eventually, the wolf cubs at the tables would be found and talk. Facts nag. Even stupid crimes fit the facts. I needed an appropriate story, or my sordid reality would reveal itself.
"This can be a career-making event or a career-ending event," I said, fishing.
"Good work never ends a career," Packard said, maybe knowing, maybe understanding. "Did you know her, Sir? The way she spoke - -" That was the right question.
"Veronica, poor sad Veronica, she's better off dead." Would he take my drift? Compassion couldn't keep me in my job.
"I have to tell Internal Affairs that you knew her."
"So do I. The key to these murders is Billy Baffin. Where is he?" I didn't see him at any of the police vehicles.
"Interrogation room, downtown. The Barney Blackie's band guys said the place was packed with Wolfen and human freaks when Veronica came in and started howling out a challenge to Jimmy Florida. Said the freaks scattered like roaches. The Wolfen, however, went goofy and lapped up every drop of Bourbon and Branchwater they could find." he sounded puzzled. "I don't get it."
"Defense strategy." I said, "The old 'Christ was I drunk last night. I can't remember a damn thing' defense. The interrogators will be lucky if their witnesses can find their dicks without directions let alone their names or useful facts."
"That leaves Baffin who'll play the drunken fool and me to explain."
I wanted Packard on my side.
"Tell them that they need to find out if he made the call to 911. Remind them that Baffin is a well-known stooge, and how odd it is that he was the only Wolfen still here waiting for me. Remind them that he's too stupid just to be anywhere convenient for police. Hint that someone choreographed his movements. Probably the same someone who pushed Veronica into murder and suicide."
"We're back to Veronica," Packard said. I scowled at my verbosity. Some things are best kept quiet.
"Yes, we are. I knew Veronica intimately, biblically as they say. That was before the virus, before the gangs. The world changed after that." I paused, took a deep breath, continued: "She left me at the altar." I paused again, watching his reaction. He really didn't know, son-of-a-bitch. "Apparently, you're the only one unaware of my past. I haven't seen her since what wasn't our wedding day. Tonight was a surprise." I didn't know which was worse, the shocked look on his face or the stupid noises he made trying to ask the obvious question after my revelation.
"Did you know she was infected with the Moreau virus?"
"Of course I knew she became a Wolfen. It was gossip and snickers for months. When I was with Veronica, she was drug and alcohol-free. And before you ask, she only sang torch songs in the shower, and for good reason, she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."
"I'm sorry that I asked," Packard mumbled, faking emotion. "Procedure requires they obtain both our contacts and phone and bank records."
He left the question of diddling with Wolfens unasked. Did he think that I was one of the freaks who partied cross-species? I folded my arms across my chest and crossed my legs. He gave me that confused look that people give when you shut them out with your body language.
"She wasn't a temptation. I don't surf out of my species." I said.
"But she did." Packard surprised me with that tidbit. He knew more. "I recently read a story that the day before Moreau went aerosol, Veronica admitted to being Senator Phillippe's lover." His words hit the floor with a splat. It was all a web of deceit. I never expected to get Veronica shoved up my ass by a rookie detective let alone a former Senator. She must have been in on the scheme. That only reinforced my hatred for her.
For years, I avoided her. Ignored her calls. Rejected her gifts. Veronica's greatest thrill in life and now death was complicating everything. She knew that I'd never be one of those spineless men who ran back to her begging after being jilted. And tonight, even in death, she got her claws into me. Being shafted by a former lover wasn't on my wish list of significant events I needed to experience before I died. Sadly, if Packard didn't ask the next and most deadly question, I intended to kick him off the force for incompetence. I gave him the rope.
"The Former Senator Peter Paul Phillippe who's arguing for Wolfen rights?" I asked. He typed hard and fast into his tablet, avoiding eye contact and asked the right question.
"Do you have any connections with Senator Phillippe?" he said.
Oh, how I wished I could deny knowing the bastard. I tried to collect three payoffs from Phillippe this past week. Either Packard guessed the truth from my face or was on the take. Delicately, I half-lied.
"Phillippe met Veronica while I was assigned as his bodyguard. They were having a clandestine affair before and after my aborted wedding. I only learned about it when they went public. I hadn't seen him or her until last year when I had to investigate a burglary at his house. That ended six months ago. Since then, I haven't had contact."
"The pallid bust of shame and guilt. Malefactions' delight. You got 'splainin' to do, Lucy," Packard poked fun at my self-pitying chagrin. I sneered at him, almost growling. He looked down at his tablet and the emails that kept beeping.
"It's not nice to sneer at your boss and twirl your mustache," I said. Packard looked up from his tablet and laughed.
"I never thought you a Dudley Do-Right." He laughed. "Thankfully, anthropomorphic transformations did not destroy fingerprints, and there still are people who think we can't trace money through the banking system. Little do they know. The evidence will show that the magazine of Veronica's Mac-10 had Billy Baffin's prints all over it. There's a month's worth of phone calls and two money transfers between him and Peter Paul Phillippe. The bastard set up Veronica to take the fall. That leaves us with one big question: Which one of us gets to sweat a confession out of Billy Baffin?" Packard said, smiling.
My body relaxed as it banished any pretext of innocence. We were of the same mind; Baffin would take the fall and implicate Phillippe.
Every detective shaves corners at some time in their career. That's the system. This would be a case of multiple murders by a grief-stricken wife. If Lady Justice herself removed her blindfold and examined the eponymous results, she would be struck deaf and dumb with shame.
"You didn't think I was capable of cold-blooded murder, did you? I think Baffin was Phillippe's tool."
"Lover, cuckold, husband, executioner, wouldn't have been the first time. The woman done you wrong but in Peter Paul Phillippe's eyes, Raul done her wrong, too. Jimmy Florida dies for his stupidity. Vengeance, sayeth the Lord, is mine, and most red-blooded husbands, be they Homo Sapiens or Canis Canidae, see themselves as the righteous arm of Justice wielding the flaming sword. Veronica was the tool. Billy was the stooge witness, undoubtedly," He rolled his eyes and mugged.
"My thinking precisely, but wait," I said, picking up the branchwater bottle and reading the label. Private Stock, Wolf's Delight Branchwater, it said. I twisted the lid and smelled it. "Get this to the lab along with the Bourbon. I think you'll find the Bourbon is watered down and the branchwater is loaded with drugs. If that's the case, here's a link into Jimmy Florida selling adulterated booze and drugs."
He sniffed the bottle only to yank it away from his nose. The details that wonder-boy rookie missed began to fall into shape.
"Adulterated drinks, even more motive. One of the Wolfen crime bosses has grown greedy. Kills the competition to take over their territory. Peter Paul Phillippe, former senator and all around blackguard is the brains for the takeover." We shared a laugh. We had our perpetrator, his conspirators, the motives, the evidence, and a narrative.
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Crime solved. The city would sleep safe tonight. Secure in the protection provided by the thin blue line. Secure in the fact that Justice was done.
"Never a dull moment is there?" Packard asked, rhetorically, self-congratulatory.
"Crime doesn't pay."
"Good detective work does."
The Moreau virus was like the goddess of Justice we served, blind to the evil that rode its back, blind to the deaths of billions, and blind to the ability of men to re-corrupt the world. Human and anthro-man, man and Wolfen, both behaved criminally for a few years before societal norms returned and civilization rebuilt in a billet-doux of corruption, crime, and eventually, contrived murder in a cheap bar.
Shots fired. Wolfen involved. I am a detective. I solve crime. That's all there is, all there's ever been. Break out the booze and have a ball.
3700 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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