By Zazamell Grantodo 1 Comments
Chapter One – Idle Hands
“San Betral is experiencing a record-breaking amount of rainfall here, Tom. Downtown is literally swimming trying to maintain its composure. Motorists really have to be careful out there. The streets are extremely boggy and will cause people to hydroplane if they are not paying attention,”
Rachel Stewart always had a knack for pointing out the obvious. The thunderclouds over San Betral had not dissipated in over a week. Twenty-eight inches and counting were flooding into the overwhelmed gutters. Zazamell closed the blinds and sank into his old leather chair, smoldering cigar chomped between his teeth. He cycled through manila documents containing crime records in the city. Everything seemed normal, all except for the police mortality rate near the docks. It skyrocketed during the past week from none to twelve in just seven days. He pulled on his coat and hat, locked the door to his office behind him, and stormed out to his car.
The San Betral dockyard had been a main source of income for the city ever since its conception. Fishing, tourism, and beachfront property all contributed to the wealth of the area. Yet, for all its commercial success, there seemed to be a rising concern in the harbor related to the rain and cold weather. Whenever the temperature seemed just right, the locals began to call it the Hour of the Boogeyman. Something stalked the night and hunted down the families of the wealthy fishing businessmen firmly established in the area. They called him the Rain Man and a dozen cop fatalities were just enough to have Zazamell pissed off enough to look into the myth.
The first place he checked was the Harley Hook ‘Em Fishing Enterprise headquarters, where recent widow Charlotte continued to grieve in the office of her husband’s company. At first, she was shocked and appalled by Zazamell’s skeleton-like appearance, even going so far as to throw a vase at him when he opened the door, but they settled on an ultimatum once he showed her his police badge. He sat across from her as she wiggled uncomfortably in her husband’s chair. A picture frame laid face-down on the desk between a pencil holder and a stack of shipping papers held down with a whale-shaped paper weight. Various ornaments of captaincy decorated the walls, including an old helm and anchor. Zazamell removed a pen and notepad from his coat.
“Now Ms. Harley, how would you describe your husband?” He said, expecting the usual sentimental reply.
“He was kind, and honest,”
“He loved to work and treated his employees well. He loved everything about the sea,”
Zazamell scribbled the word ‘honest’ in quotation marks right before jotting down the fact that Marcus Harley had been married four times before he met Charlotte.
“Interesting – what can you tell me about how he treated other fishing companies? I remember buying fish from a Wallace Packing Company every Saturday for three years, then reading about how their warehouse was mysteriously burned down,”
“Are you insinuating that my husband caused that fire?”
“I’m asking how he responded to competition,”
Her supermodel features were ruined with tear streaks and wrinkles of pure rage. Zazamell took his leave, slamming the door behind him.
April 14, 2012, and the rain continued to pour.
The day of Marcus Harley’s funeral was quiet, still, and wet. No wind swept the rain under the tent erected for the congregation. Twenty of his closest friends and relatives, including all four of his ex-wives, were there to mourn. Zazamell watched them all weep and pray from under an old oak tree, his fedora sopping wet from how long the process dragged on for. He had to wait even long for the final mourner to leave. After he was certain there would be no more interference, he approached the freshly-poured dirt and stared at the tombstone.
“Marcus Harley, beloved husband and father, bringing the treasures of the sea to the people since 1976. He will be sorely missed.”
The freelance detective shook his head and tapped the dying embers of his cigar awake, knocking a layer of tobacco ash to the ground in the process. He stood there, contemplating his next move, until he realized that he was being watched. Five aisles of graves in front of him stood a figure in a damp waterproof trench coat with large gloves, boots, and a respirator mask that obscured his face. Most striking of all was the large cinderblock impaled on a steel pipe he toted in one hand as if it were a mere twig. Zazamell kept his hand on the butt of his pistol, ready to fire off a full clip of .45-caliber rounds at a moment’s notice if he had to.
He did not need to wait for long.
A strong wind whipped the rain in a sudden torrent around the detective, obscuring his vision for a moment. In that moment, his strange visitor found enough time to make a hasty escape without a trace. Zazamell walked over to where he thought he saw the man standing. He found no evidence of a single footprint in the moist earth. For the first time, Zazamell questioned the validity of his cigar. At length, he returned it to its proper place between his molars and inhaled deeply.
Later that night…
The parking lot to Harley’s Hook ‘Em Fishing Enterprise seemed surprisingly empty - not even the cleaning staff could be found, which suited Zazamell perfectly. Fewer witnesses meant fewer excuses for not having a search warrant. He picked the lock to the front door without incident and climbed inside, sliding past security cameras with meticulous ease. He casually walked up the stairs and strolled down the hallway he was met with to Marcus’ former office. The door creaked uneasily as he put weight against the handle. It was not locked. He fingered the grip to his Colt Anaconda and kicked the door open, holding the revolver in both hands and ready to fire at anything that moved.
Nothing even so much as twitched as he studied the dark office.
He kept his revolver ready to fire and closed in on Marcus’ desk. With one hand, he sifted through the mountains of paperwork until he found a manila folder labeled “Wallace.” He was just about to sit down and read through it when he actually managed to stand up and caught sight of a dark shape dominating the space immediately to his right. A flash of lightning illuminated the glass eye protection on the figure’s facial respirator before Zazamell leveled his firearm at his assailant’s head. He recognized the man from the graveyard.
What he forgot about was the cinderblock hammer he carried around.
With a single swatting motion, the much larger humanoid figure sent the freelance detective cratering into the wall. He knocked down several priceless heirlooms in the process, but the pain his brain swam in dulled his sense of artistic taste and sensibility for a moment. He shook his eyes open from fluttering into unconsciousness and fired off two shots from the Anaconda, each .44-caliber round visibly sinking into the mountainous chest of the giant. He staggered backward, most likely due to the massive momentum of each shot, and Zazamell saw his chance involving the off-balance assailant and the chandelier hanging just above him. With a desperate leap, he caught the light fixture and slammed his feet into the giant’s wounded chest, sending him crashing through the nearby window and down five floors – over thirty feet – and onto the pavement below.
Clutching where he had been struck by the cinderblock hammer, Zazamell limped over to the broken window in order to look out at his fallen attacker. To his surprise, there was no body, no evidence of an escape attempt, and certainly no sign of bleeding bullet wounds despite two empty casings in the drum of his revolver. Zazamell gathered what he could, remembering the “Wallace” folder, and hurried out of the warehouse just as police sirens were starting to scream in the distance.