The man in the white satin jacket and black jeans flicked the cigarette butt onto the ground, stomping the embers with his black snakeskin boots. He sticks his hands in his jacket pockets and leans up against the cold red brick of the liquor store.
Dallas Pressly is in a sour mood tonight, as usual, and the mickey of whiskey he downed five minutes ago isn’t making light of the situation. He’s ready for a fight, and he’s come to the right place to find one.
A stocky blonde man inside the liquor store has been dithering about the beer displays for the last 10 minutes, Dallas expects the gun will come out soon.
As if hearing his cue on stage, the blonde man in the store slowly pulls a black baklava out of his jeans pocket and drapes it over his face. He pulls a pistol out of his jacket’s left breast pocket, a grungy beat up police issue nine millimetre.
Before the man reaches the front of the store by the registers, Dallas is opening the door and stepping inside. He watches the blonde man walk down the isles towards the register in the dome shaped mirror hanging from the roof.
Dallas reaches into his jacket pocket and draws a large revolver. He crouches down in the isle next to the stocky blonde man, and trails him to the front of the store.
“I want all the money in a bag!” The blonde man starts shouting as he picks up speed towards the registers. He’s pointing the pistol at the cashier, with a look of grim determination on his face. This has been planned out for weeks, there’s no going back for Ted Gareth.
Before Ted is within 10 feet of the cashier, Dallas emerges behind him with the barrel of his gun in his right hand. A sickening squirting sound erupts in the blonde hair of the man as the butt of the revolver comes down on his head. He crumples down onto the ground.
The tall, pretty cashier looks on in astonishment, her wide open mouth the size of a grapefruit. She begins dialling for the police on the phone.
“No need for that darlin’.” A slow smile spreads across Dallas’s face. “We don’t want him to think he can get away with scaring a pretty thing like you, now do we?”
The cashier, with the nametag reading Susan, blushes bright red. She’s completely taken by this tall stranger with the black curly hair. He’s handsome, as handsome as a man in his forties can be anyways.
“What are you going to do with him?”
“I’m just going to show our pard’ here that Susan doesn’t take kindly to having guns shoved in her face.”
He grabs the man by the cuffs and drags him to the doors. He lifts the man up onto his shoulders and carries him outside. He starts heading towards the harbour. Ted only weighs one-fifty soaking wet, and the walk to the water is no great task.
Dallas flopped ted down onto the cold concrete of the harbour warehouse. His breathing is ragged, and the blood coming from his temple still trickles down his cheek.
He’s dealt with this kind of scum a thousand times. They all have the same story, dad left, mom was a stripper and the man is out to get him. Maybe 10 years ago those stories meant something, but today they just seem like so many excuses.
When he first started protecting the city, he had his reasons. There was so much more hope back then, he envisioned a place where you could get your milk from the corner store and not worry about having your throat slit. His father had always had great plans for Dallas. When he didn’t meet those expectations, he fell into fighting on the streets. It was only when he realized his opponents weren’t getting back up that he saw his path to his fathers redemption. Perhaps he wouldn’t make a difference with a pen and paper, but his fists were something people listened to.
That was so many years ago, and so many scars and beatings ago. He’d been fighting since he was twenty-five, he was forty-seven now. His need for his fathers acceptance had died in his thirties. In his early forties, he began to question his role as protector of the city. Now he fights because it’s what he knows.
He’s never killed before, it was part of his code. As years went on, he found himself resenting his own rules, feeling rage boil up inside his bones. Why should he protect the ones who have caused so much pain?
Dallas brings the gun up to Ted’s forehead. The foul stink of whisky meets his nostrils, Dallas didn’t leave the liquor store without a bottle.
“Woah! Hey man, you don’t have to do this!”
“Shutup.” The crisp clack of the shot rings into the air. Blood spatters across the white satin jacket as bits of skull fly into every direction.
Nick Hambry was a solitary man. He worked alone as a detective on the New York police force, a perk of having a father as commissioner. Serving to active years in the air force had cooled him off, had cooled him off so much in fact that the silent respect around the station didn’t seem wrong for such a young man.
His father was a short, stout man with crew-cut brown hair, Nick was the spitting image of him. He had also inherited his fathers boy-scout-like belief in good, and had a strong sense of duty in the line of work.
When the file came in for the dirty cop found in the slums of New York Harbour, Detective Rhymer scowled and shoved it to the area of his desk unofficially labeled “not important”.
“You got that report yet Rhymer?” Asked Nick as he walked up the isles of desks.
“That sleaseball Gareth? Who cares?” Rhymer crumpled the file and tossed it at Hambry.
“This town cares,” Nick unrumpled the file and put it into his briefcase , “And you’re a cop, John, for gods sake you should care.”
Nick Hambry looped the spiral stairs down to the first floor of the police station, continued through the front doors and began walking towards his white squad car. He thought about the fingerprints found at the site, whoever had done this had been careless.
Dallas sat in the old Plymouth Duster, chugging down the last half of a bottle of bourbon. How stupid he had been! He panicked, he broke his only rule, he had killed. There would be so much evidence left behind, he knew he couldn’t go home. They were likely already searching every last inch of his apartment.
He knew that he would have to change cities, change his name even, and get out of dodge. This was the least thing from his mind, what tickled the back of his neck and made his hair stand up was much more sinister. He drank his liquor and smoked his cigarettes because he felt something new and heinous inside himself.
Hate filled up his heart at that moment, and the wicked depths of his being presented itself. It had felt good to put an end to that vile creature, and it had been so easy. This was his city, and now his city had one less piece of garbage to worry about.
Maybe he wouldn’t leave so soon, maybe he would just do a little more work before he moved on. He might even die trying to accomplish his mission, but he always knew that was a part of the job.
Dallas flicked the switch on the glove box with his thumb, and the black door fell open. He grabbed the revolver sitting there, and checked that each chamber had a bullet. He put the revolver into his white satin jacket, now tinted red from last nights encounter, and started the engine of the car.
Nick arrived at Dallas’s apartment some time after noon. After doing a quick lookover, and discussing with local officers, he departed.
What he had found in the apartment disturbed him. So many liquor bottles, and what looked like the beginning of a cocaine addiction. Garbage lined the floors and the kitchen looked like it hadn’t been used in months. There were pictures of criminals on every wall, with scrawling’s of hate and spite written in dark red.
A picture of a woman sparked Nick’s interest. Her face was familiar, as he had worked on her case four years ago. Murdered, left in the street to die. The picture was broken and lying on the floor next to the bed, with tears and blood stains all over it.
An image of Dallas flashed in his memory, the tall man in the white satin jacket. He remembered interviewing him, the man hadn’t spoken much. Mostly he looked like a man with something to die for.
As weeks went on, the body count piled up. Rapists, murderers, thief’s, all dead from a shot to the head from a .44 magnum.
It took several months for a pattern to emerge, detectives used the pictures found in Dallas’s apartment to build a map of targets. Nick Hambry asked that he be sent alone to talk to Dallas, he thought that he could bring him in peacefully if he could just talk to him.
Nick’s squad car pulled into the hotel parking lot. The streets had been blocked off for a mile in each direction, police expected shots to be fired. Some strings had to be pulled, but Nick was granted his wish to go in alone.
Nick checked that his pistol was loaded, and holstered it on his hip. He grabbed the bullhorn off the passenger seat and stepped out of the vehicle.
“Pressly, I know why you’re doing this. She’s never coming back Dallas.” Nicks voice blared out from the bullhorn.
Dallas was crouching behind the concrete railings of the second story of the hotel. A big .44 revolver in his right hand, and a bottle of vodka in the other.
“You don’t know anything! Can’t you see what I’ve done, what I’m doing? You cops have your laws, and look what that gets you, 507 murders last year. How many of those were repeat offenders? You tell me how many were repeat offenders and then you tell me to stop.”
“Those laws protect people, we don’t just murder people. We saw what you did Dallas, we know you’re the one who has been cleaning up the streets all these years. You’ve had enough though, I understand that. Anybody would have snapped much sooner then you did. This doesn’t have to end with you in a body bag.”
Dallas reached the revolver over the railing and fired a couple shots, crack crack. Nick dodged behind the police cruiser, calling for backup on his walkie-talkie.
Nick unholstered his weapon and began firing at the railing. Pieces of concrete flew in every direction. Dallas ducked and returned fire.
A slug flew out of Dallas’s revolver and hit Hambry in chest. He reeled over and began puking up blood. Before the police units up the street could arrive to help him, Nick Hambry had bled out.
A red Plymouth Duster roared down the road behind the hotel.
A father must teach his son that there is a line. A line that whenever crossed, so should that man step into his other side, the darkness. As Nick Hambry Sr. chases Dallas Pressly day and night, he wonders what lines he should have crossed with Nick. How far should he have taught his son to push those lines. His son now dead, he questions his moral high ground, what if Nick had just ignored that dirty cop? Let sleeping dogs lie? Let Dallas clean up the streets for us a little, and you go home to your wife. As Nick Hambry Sr. sits home alone in his armchair, sucking a bottle of whisky, he thinks about his own prerogatives.
The hatred and the sin has spread to his mind, it eats up every corner of him. As bodies pile up around the city, Dallas is soon forgotten and a new monster arises.