Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Pearl Jam “Rearviewmirror”
 Nine Inch Nails “Closer”
 Rush “One Little Victory”
 Thievery Corporation “Lebanese Blonde”
 Massive Attack “Teardrop”
 Frou Frou “Let Go”
 Phil Collins “Take Me Home”
We all have skeletons in our closets. Well it just so happens that some of us have dead hookers in our trunks too. That’s just the business I’m in I’m afraid and shooting hookers happens to be a skill I’m rather adept in. Indeed, this very evening, eleven hoes have been slain and, before the evening is out, I plan to make that the dozen. We’re not speaking of any random dozen either; this is the dirtiest of all dozens and one of the most dangerous organized crime syndicates currently in circulation. Or at least that is what the file states. You see, aside from a couple of admittedly sticky moments, I’ve observed squat to give me sleepless nights and been left with precious little in the way of food for thought either. I was expecting scheming, resourcefulness, enterprise, and an abundance of never say die spirit but all of the above have been in decidedly scant supply. Indeed, it’s been reminiscent of the one Christmas party when I exceeded my dose of cough syrup and snatched a candy cane from a toddler before slathering it from top to bottom right in front of the little bleeder and blowing my nose on his comfort blanket. And there was me thinking that police work was supposed to be challenging.
The thing is, after you’ve shot so many hookers, they all start to merge into one. I’m hard pushed to remember a single one of their names and ironically only Purple Pete sticks out in my mind. When the greatest hazard has come in the form of a ten-inch rubber dildo, you know you’ve had an easy ride. Granted, I’ve picked up a couple of fairly negligible injuries along the way and my partner wasn’t quite so fortunate, but he hadn’t been pulling his weight and my success rate hasn’t faltered for being one man down. If there is a bummer to be discerned then perhaps being single-handedly responsible for the accidental death of a front runner for state senate would be it and I’m still trying to figure out how to slip that one in when I report back to the chief. But my orders were to “shoot those hookers” and it’s only natural that may entail a certain amount of collateral damage. From what I hear, his policies sucked, so I may well have been doing a public service. Not altogether sure that’ll get me off the hook mind.
At any rate, spilled milk disinterests me, and I remain all about the next objective, so I guess now would be the time for us to meet and greet the queen bee and final piece of the puzzle. I’ve left Anastasia until last with very clear reasoning as every villainous act that has fallen under the dirty dozen’s jurisdiction has gone through her and she’s the linchpin of the whole shady outfit. Can she fire a gun? 68 stone cold stiffs can answer that question by way of blank death stare. Is she tasty with her dukes? The word on the street is that she has a hook like Tyson so I’m kind of relieved that my left ear has decided to play no further part in proceedings. Where are her smarts? Rumor has it that they’re packed in tight as attested by an I.Q. of 170. Most critically, is she drop dead gorgeous? Well I heard unofficial whispers that she once kissed a guy into a coma after he failed to compliment her on her evening gown. That’s right, if 99.9% of battles are won in the mind, then the same percentage are lost in the nether regions and few women can steal a man’s final breath away so effortlessly with little more than a fleeting glance. Put it this way, I’m currently driving to our final destination while rolling a cigarette. Here, see for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Easy on the eye, tough on the rib cage and all vital organs – that’s our Anastasia. I’m likely about to walk directly into the eye of a shit storm and there’s no more vicious a tornado than one with half-digested peanuts sticking out of it. Everything up until this point has been mere fluffer and I can’t afford the slightest slip this time out as she’ll punish such human error in a manner most capital. To be honest, after the unfortunate mess at The Stiff Russian, I’m half tempted to perform a U-turn right here and head for the hills faster than Julie Andrews after necking two non-drowsy antihistamine. But that’s the kind of yellow-bellied stunt that a Mike Smith would pull, not a Nick McGovern. A Nick McGovern sticks around when the heat is on, a Nick McGovern dips into his six-year-old daughter’s college fund just to bag him a hooker, a Nick McGovern discharges forty rubber chickens from active service in the blink of an eye, and a Nick McGovern wouldn’t know the word defeat if it appeared in a recurring dream dressed in stockings and suspenders and flirted with him outrageously. It just so happens that there are over a million other words in the dictionary and one of those is victory. And a Nick McGovern knows a thing or eleven about the big V.
Some rather glorious words begin with V – vanguard, vegetation, velodrome, vestibule, vignette, voluminous, voracious, and, of course, vagina burn to bare but a few bones – but none can boast the divine majesty of victory. To truly triumph in something is a goal I’ve held onto since childhood and I always believed the time would come when I was in a position to snatch it from those over-familiar jaws of a word that escapes me momentarily. Did you see what I did there? That just classifies as one of my smaller victories as the big bust is where it’s at for the bona fide landslide and I’m on my way to claim one as we speak. Put simply, Anastasia is going down faster than a narcoleptic at a Norah Jones concert and I have no intention of making it at all kindly either. Up until now it’s been business as usual all the way but here’s where the pleasure comes into play as I’ll be sporting a smiler when this black widow bites the dust. We’re talking more teeth than the tooth fairy’s swag bag and she can think again if she’s hoping to find a nickel beneath her pillowcase. This ain’t the dime store bitch.
Okay so here’s how this is going to go down. I’m travelling light this time as I’ll be needing all the fleetness of foot I can muster. That means no cell phone, pager, Game & Watch Donkey Kong, or any other gizmos that can conspire against me at the most inopportune of moments. All I’ll be needing is my seldom-failing .45 Ruger which is currently hosting a party of five shrapnel slickers, all of whom are simply begging to chow down on some collar bone. My plan is to march straight up to her third floor apartment, stopping only on occasion to adjust the duct tape currently securing my ankles in place, ring her doorbell, spin her a quick yarn to lull her into a false sense of security, wait for my moment, pop all five in her roll cage, then stroll back to my ride, spray my rapidly decomposing wing man with Febreze, and drive off way below the speed limit whistling like a cockney chimney sweep. There’ll be wham, there’ll be bam, and ma’am, I may even toss in a thank you when that promotion comes a knocking. Let’s do this shall we?
Okay so I just caught a glimpse of her through the window and I don’t know who she thinks she is looking so damn suggestive. Who cares if her hair dances about her flawless face like it just dropped rohypnol in her spritzer? I’m sure it’s riddled with split ends when you get closer. So what if her eyes are like lagoons of desire positively shimmering siren-like seduction? Conjunctivitis doesn’t make exceptions you know and I swear I just saw them cross over. And should it matter a jot that her pelt appears to have been woven from the most luxurious satin? Give her ten years and those cracks will begin to show. If she suspects to get a rise out of me then she’s probably right but, the moment her back is turned, I’ll be pinching the base of my shaft and imagining Susan Boyle in a PVC catsuit just to ensure that not a solitary inch she can claim. Granted my eyes may be glazed over but I assure you that is just my allergies. As for the gaping maw and unraveled tongue, nothing more than vague dehydration. She ain’t all that when all is said and done. It’ll take a darned sight more than impossible beauty to sway this jury dagnabbit. One more thing, do you think she’ll be put out if I knock a quick one out in her chrysanthemums?
“Good evening madam. Forgive me for the intrusion at such a late hour but I understand some of the tenants have been having an issue with the hot water and…”
“I’m sorry. Nick?”
“Yes as in Nick McGovern, Desk Sergeant I understand”
Here we go again. I don’t get it, how could she possibly have seen through my ruse in a matter of seconds when I’ve been so thorough in my preparation? I’m starting to wonder whether someone has been putting up flyers around town to foil me you know. I mean, how hard can it be to remain undercover? Time for a swift spot of damage limitation methinks.
“You must have me mistaken”
“No I’m quite sure. You’ve already wiped out eleven of my associates and I guess that makes me the money shot”
“You’ve lost me. I guess I just have one of those faces”
“Must you keep up the charade Nick? I was tipped off after you terminated Amber and Devon and you’ve been tailed ever since. I know everything”
“Well this is a little awkward”
“It needn’t be. Look, we can do this here and wake up the neighbors or you can come inside, I’ll brew a pot of tea, and we can discuss this calmly and rationally. Your choice Nick”
“And you’re not going to try anything funny?”
“You have my word. Just tea and a little conflict resolution”
I’ve seen Goodfellas, conflict resolution in organized crime circles equates to being unveiled at dawn strung up in a meat locker or having your skull-cap crushed in a vice. Actually that may have been Casino but, the fact remains, I’m not over keen on the gangland method for resolving shit. This snake is not to be trusted and doing so would be to dress up like a field mouse and cry “eat me, eat me” before spending my last few agonizing moments squeaking in agony as her stomach acids break me down into pulp. Air on the side of caution Nick, it has never steered you wrong before.
“I’d be delighted to accept your kind offer”
“Make yourself at home. How many sugars do you take Nick?”
“Does six sound excessive to you?”
“Far be it for me to judge. If it’s six you want, then it’s six you’ll get. One jiffy, feel free to channel hop while I’m gone”
I’m not buying this nicey nicey act for a nickel or a dime. She may think she can flutter those eyelids and I’ll turn instantly to putty for the molding but I’m hip to her game and will only be playing it on my terms. I’ll take her tea and hospitality but only until I’ve heard enough or she’s offered me a hand job under the kitchen table. But I refuse to leave here without first completing my objective; the finish line is within sight and it’ll take more than some chick in the crowd flashing her cans to prevent me from achieving my personal best. I’m not some wet behind the ear upstart who has never seen a pair of breasts before. Indeed, on last tally, I reckon I’m up to a hundred and that’s not including Meryl’s lingerie catalogs or the last six months internet history. Once you’ve seen one well-organized and admittedly rather plump rack, you’ve pretty much seen them all right? Then why is it so hard to stop myself staring?
“There you go. I hope it’s as you like it”
“It’s good, I take it as it comes. Thank you”
“Don’t mention it”
“I have to say that you’re not how I expected you in the slightest”
“And how did you expect me Nick?”
“Less hospitable. More angst ridden. Not quite so well-mannered”
“Well I guess you’ve caught me at a bit of a transitional period in my life. Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder what it all means Nick?”
Clearly she hasn’t met my wife. I wake up every morning and dash straight to the en suite to sob quietly. Not a day has gone by since those nuptials when I haven’t questioned what it all means and all I can come up with is eternal damnation. What does a man have to do to earn that shot at sleeping in the guest room? Had I mentioned that she snores like a bunged up buffalo and every last exhalation shepherds forth a fart? Is it normal for one not to have seen their spouse naked since Bush was in office and is it par for the course that I count the days with excitement? That doesn’t sound like a healthy, loving relationship to me and every morning I awaken is another 24-hour spell of feeling well and truly shawshanked. I may paraphrase for my response but that’s the general gist.
“Yeah on occasion”
“Me too. As a matter of a fact, today has been one of those days Nick”
“What’s been so special about today?”
“I dunno. Something just felt different. Like I’ve been living someone else’s life for the past five years and they’ve just requested it back. Do you know what I mean?”
Slightly off topic but that reminds me of this one Christmas party when I got buzzed on Novocaine and tried to force a turd back into my bottom because I swore it had appeared downbeat on exit.
“I do actually”
“This isn’t who I am Nick. I mean, this right now is precisely who I am, but everything else is just a carnival”
Is it just me or do I sense a dash of melancholia on the incline? While I know better than to trust a solitary word that leaves her soft, nibbleable lips, she’d have to be some actress to deliver that last statement so unflinchingly without meaning something of the shit out of it. I’m flabbergasted right now as this isn’t at all what I’ve been anticipating and I’d be lying bare-faced if I denied being vaguely intrigued. She’s evidently working an angle and I shall of course proceed with great caution; but I wish to know more of this cruel carnival before snuffing out its ringmaster.
“You mean being a hooker?”
“If the shoe fits right? The funny thing is that I despise what I do and cry myself to sleep pretty much every night. Ordinarily, these moments only come at night, but today it has felt…different”
Could be chlamydia. I hear that shit sneaks up on you like Uncle Ron at a Labor Day barbecue after one too many Roosters Yankees.
“I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of Nick, things I never would have dreamed of doing five years ago”
“You mean killing people?”
“Killing people. Having sex for money. Extortion. Grand larceny. Jaywalking. All of it. But do you know what I struggle with most?”
Chafing? All that friction must wreak havoc with one’s vulva I’d imagine.
“What do you struggle with most?”
“Living up to an image that I created. Living a lifestyle that I created. Watching something bud without any signs of blossom. Does that make sense Nick?”
Sorry I’m still mesmerized by those tits. But I believe I’m starting to get the message.
“Then why create it then?”
“I’d just come out of an abusive relationship with my boyfriend of seven years and was pent-up with bottled rage. He was passive aggressive and had a canny knack of making me feel completely worthless every time I opened my mouth. Mike never actually struck me but the damage was all done on the inside and I guess this was my way of channeling that”
“So you became a hooker?”
“Call girl. I started with a highly reputable escort agency and never slept with clients unless they’d been screened thoroughly beforehand. The problem was that I got a taste of just how easy it was to turn a dollar and needed to feel in control of something. Money came rolling in, I was introduced to the wrong kind of people, never once lowered my mask as I learned precisely how to manipulate and, cards on the table, found it all rather intoxicating”
“But your heart’s not in it?”
“It never was Nick if I’m honest. The heart hasn’t had much say in my decisions since I became Anastasia”
“So that’s not your real name then?”
“Anna Jane Hendrick. Nice to meet you”
“Nicholas Hamish McGovern. My grandfather was from Inverness”
What the fizzling fuck? I know I didn’t just tell this relative stranger my middle name. The most well-guarded secret south of Roswell. I’ve not confided that to a solitary soul in over twenty years and she somehow ushered it out of me willingly with nary a flinch or stammer. I’m all at sea here and would imagine that makes me no more than five nautical clicks away from being devoured by this hellish harpy. Whatever she says Nick, don’t fall for it.
“Thank you for sharing that. Do you mind if I call you Nicholas?”
She even gets to call me Nicholas? You’re gonna let her get away with this Nick? That said, she actually recites it with warmth, and the customary shudder that ordinarily accompanies those three syllables is nowhere to be discerned. This is the most unfamiliar territory I’ve stumbled into since that one Christmas party when I licked a red-backed frog and gatecrashed a toga party in a wet suit. You ever tried to hop a fence in flippers?
“So you’re here to shoot me right?”
“Erm…well I wouldn’t put it that way”
“That’s a 45. Ruger isn’t it?”
“You know your small arms I see”
“Useless information mostly. Did you know I can play the harp?”
I bet. Probably a fairy effective tool for luring wayward fisherman into one’s crawlspace before feasting on their bones.
“Do you have one here?”
“I’m afraid not. But I’d love to play again someday. Down by the sea just as dawn breaks. No audience, just me and the elements”
Just as I thought. Down by the sea. You see, she’s trying to pull a Daryl Hannah on me and there’s no way Meryl’s going to let her crash in our bathtub. Have I heard enough? On one hand I feel that I have but, on the other, can appreciate that she’s getting something off her chest and believe it is within her human rights to be obliged just that by a captive audience regardless of past discrepancy. It’s not like the final outcome need be any different, more a case of affording an alternative route to deliver us there.
“So what’s stopping you?”
“That’s exactly it. I cannot think of a solitary thing that should stand in my way. But it’s one thing knowing and another showing”
“That actually makes rather a lot of sense you know”
“I’m so sorry. Here I am reeling off my woes and I haven’t once inquired as to your well being. I really am a shameful host”
“There’s not much to tell. Toxic marriage, I’m assured I’m a lousy father, I work a job I’m learning to loathe where nobody respects me and instead nickname me Borat, have no real friends to speak of. I’m basically on cruise control”
“When do we lose sight of the important things?”
“I guess that life just happens as corny as that sounds”
“No I get you. It has a habit of moving kind of fast doesn’t it?”
“Well tonight has actually dragged but generally I struggle to keep up with it”
“Me too. So tell me Nicholas, who are you really? Forget the badge and gun, set aside any personal problems for a minute, and just reach inside”
“What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know. Something that nobody else in the world knows because they never take the time to ask”
She’s already had Hamish out of me, talk about pushy. However, I feel inclined to provide her a nugget and there do happen to be a few things that I’ve never revealed to another living person. Where do I possibly start? I’m secretly terrified of gnomes and swear blind they’re inherently evil. I once accidentally lodged a G.I. Joe up my bottom whilst bathing and lightning struck again years later when I found the little guy in the attic although, this time, it weren’t no accident. My favorite Spice Girl is Ginger and I possess a pair of women’s briefs with union jack print that I wear while reciting the words to Viva Forever when nobody’s around. I’ve always had an unusual crush on Dorothy from The Golden Girls to the extent that Bea Arthur had a restraining order slapped on me in 1997. It would appear that I’m spoiled for choice here.
“I actually detest violence”
“Me too. Can’t stand it”
“But you’ve killed almost seventy people”
“I know and I’ve thrown up directly afterwards every single time. It has been almost three years since I last had a full night’s sleep”
“I’ve got to say Anna, you’re absolutely nothing like I was expecting”
“Hope I haven’t disappointed you”
“On the contrary. You’ve surprised the hell out of me but I’m not disappointed”
“Anyway, I know you’ve got a job to do, and want you to know that I won’t put up a fight”
“You’re happy for me to shoot you?”
“Well I wouldn’t go that far. But I guess I’ve had it coming for some time now and, if anyone is going to do it, then I’d rather it be you”
“Really? No questions asked?”
“We’ve all got to go some time right?”
Is that a tear? It is you know. Talk about throw a cat among the pigeons. I thought she was supposed to be unflappable, bereft of conscience, a cold-hearted killer. It’s fast becoming clear that she’s actually anything but. Granted, she has committed some pretty heinous acts, but I had no idea she would be so conflicted about it. This is crazy, number twelve on my hit list is standing before me, positively pleading to take a bullet with no resistance whatsoever, and yet I’m beginning to doubt that I’ve got it in me to snuff her out so unceremoniously. Dare I say that I actually find her kind of sweet-natured. Am I just playing into her hands? I mean, she’s openly admitted that manipulation comes easily to her, and I know better than to place my faith in a blatant racketeer such as Anna. Yet I cannot bring myself to pull that trigger.
“Don’t feel bad Nicholas. You’ll actually be doing me a favor all things considered”
“Just give me a second here”
“Of course. Take all the time that you need”
Perhaps it doesn’t need end like this after all. She’s clearly torn and I know that feeling better than most right now. You see, regardless of whether or not I claim my twelfth scalp, the department is unlikely to overlook the unfortunate incident at The Stiff Russian and I’ll no doubt be off the force pending a lengthy investigation. My wife detests my very bones and I can’t expect so much as a lick of support from her, and there seems precious little to go back to after this. There is, of course, the small matter of my daughter Minnie although I’ll be lucky just to see her on weekends and can’t help feeling like a colossal failure after frittering her college funds. Anna and I may be worlds apart with regards to our career choices but, in a way, I’m starting to spot distinct parallels. Neither of us are truly happy, life just has a way of moving the goalposts, and we’ve learned how to make do over time. As bonkers as this might sound, I’ve not felt this kind of connection with anyone before, and I’m pained to call time on something that just feels so unforced and natural.
“Okay so here’s the thing Anna. You’ve got me to thinking and I have a question for you that I’d like you to answer honestly”
“I think you already know that I will”
“If things were to change and you could leave this all behind, what would you do with your life?”
“Be born again. Make up for all the wrong I have done. Travel. Live. Love. Do good. That may sound a little cliché but it’s God’s honest truth”
“And what’s stopping you?”
“Right now only myself. I don’t feel like I can do this alone”
“You’re a strong, beautiful, and resourceful woman. You could do anything you put your mind to I’m sure”
“That’s sweet and thank you. But I’m not nearly as strong as you might think”
“Well what about if you weren’t alone?”
“What do you mean? Are you talking about you?”
“I believe I am yes”
“But you have a family waiting for you and, while it may not feel like it currently, things will look up for you in your career. I believe that”
“I’m deeply unhappy Anna”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m not sure myself yet. Will you give me a minute to get my head around this?”
“Take all the time you need. Would you like another cup of tea?”
“Yes I would, thank you”
Okay, I think it’s high time we address the elephant in the room don’t you? I have a question or two you see, of the burgeoning variety no less, and I can think of no better time or place to get them off my chest than right here, right now. When exactly did I grow a vagina? Am I suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress here? Perhaps this is a delayed reaction to all those years of solvent abuse? I’ve misplaced a rather large quantity of my blood supply this evening so maybe I’m passed out in the car as we speak and this is just some elaborate dream? Five minutes ago she didn’t know me from Adam and now she’s willing to discard everything she knows on a wing and a prayer. That’s hardly the recipe for happy ever after is it? I mean, if she’s this impulsive now then what’s to say she won’t change her tune a year down the line and leave me up the creek in high-tide with no paddle? Am I really entertaining giving up everything I know for this woman? The police psychologist would have a field day with me right now.
“Run away with me Anna”
Is that it? Just yes? Nothing to mull over? No part of her fazed by the magnitude of what she just agreed to without so much as blinking? Where’s the caution? There are some fairly hefty red flags being raised but, in truth, it’s on direct account of them that I’m so utterly spellbound. My life has been devoid of spontaneity for too long and the events of tonight have proven to me that I do have it in me after all. I’ve just never had anyone actually believe in me before. What I am proposing is sheer insanity and yet it feels like the only logical course of action. How does that even work? I’m setting myself up for a significant fall here and that just makes the prospect of leaping all the more invigorating.
“So where do we go from here?”
“Your brief was to shoot me am I right?”
“Then shoot me”
“Okay so now I’m a tad confused”
“I don’t mean kill me. But you’ve come so far tonight Nicholas and I reckon you need to do this for yourself. Forget the chief, finish what you started if only to prove to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. I was thinking maybe my arm? Just try not to hit any main arteries on your way through”
“You’d do that for me?”
“Right now I’d do anything in the world for you”
“It feels right. It’s the only thing in over half a decade that has felt anything at all resembling right”
“The fact that you offered is the whole reason I must decline your kind offer. You see, there is nothing left to prove Anna, this doesn’t make me a man. This doesn’t define me. This isn’t who I am”
“So what now then?”
The time is now 01:30 hours on October 7, 2016 and Desk Sergeant Nicholas Hamish McGovern is about to sign off from active duty. Should you listen to my transmission chief then I apologize for not doing you proud and “shooting those hookers” as you so enthusiastically requested. 11 out of 12 ain’t bad right? Please ensure that my partner receives the hero’s burial he so rightfully deserves. Chris Valentino died for the cause, threw himself into the line of fire without any thought for his personal safety, and is twice the cop I could ever be. He’ll no doubt smell a little off-key right now and you may locate a rogue beehive in his rib cage so bear that in mind for the autopsy and you should be alright. I’m quite aware that I’ll miss this year’s Christmas party and hope you all have a wonderful time in my absence. I’d also advise against sending out a search party for either myself or Anastasia as you’ll be wasting your time if you do. You can’t find two people who’ve already been found after all.
To my mother, I want you to know that I forgive you for suffocating my hope all these years. Dad acted terribly and there is no excuse for the way in which he left you to raise me alone. I know you only wanted the best for me and can now understand why I was such a crushing disappointment to you. But mom, I’ve turned over a new leaf and just hope that, one day, I can make you proud. Alas, you’ll be needing to find someone else to soak your bunions from now on as the time has come for me to be my own man and I can’t say I’m going to miss that particular privilege a great deal. I reckon you’d like Anna you know, she’s spirited for sure and has the courage of her convictions too, in a way she’s a little like you although that’s where the similarities end if I’m honest.
To Meryl, I have only this to say, suck my big pink balls you scabby moose. While I’d love to get all sentimental about my beloved wife, it’s no can do I’m afraid. You see, you’re a vile human being, and I’m struggling to come up with even one redeeming feature so guess there really isn’t much more to say. I’m fully aware that you’ll poison our daughter against me over time and just hope that, one day, she’ll come to her own conclusions about the kind of guy her daddy was. I’m Nicholas Hamish McGovern and some may regard me as little more than nearly man. They’re well within their rights to have that opinion but I’m done with almost now and have finally found my everything. It’s funny how things turn out don’t cha think? Now if you’ll excuse me, Anna and I have a Christmas party to attend. I do hope they have solvents there.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Grueheads Films 2017