May 29, 2006

Truth is Ghost (5 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Earlier that afternoon, they had found Grimmer. They had been told that Grimmer had been in contact with the renegade bitch, the foot-long thorn in their side. Of course, if Mr. Alpha had kept his fucking eyes on the ball in first place then they would not have needed to find Grimmer and they would still be assigned to the Weave as every Clothman is meant to be.

They dragged him out of his house by his hippy mane of hair, in front of his wife and children who Mr. Alpha, to his credit, shut up with a good, hard stare that would have made Medusa and her pretty sisters proud. They took him to the fifth floor of an abandoned block of flats, carefully decorated with graffiti and the colourful detritus of the broken lives of the homeless and the drug-bound. Strike one.

There were so many derelict buildings in the vicinity to choose from – it was more like the town itself had been abandoned, suffering from an unending economic quarantine after Thatcher’s government had put a bullet in the head of the coal industry. Grimmer had chosen his bolt-hole well. Or perhaps it had been that bitch who had done the choosing.

Mr. Omega strapped Grimmer to a faded sofa with a non-threatening flower design. Real flowers would have withered and died by now, but these flowers were consigned to a living death in discarded furniture, fabric trapped in a town where inconvenient lives had been conveniently brushed under the carpet. Mr. Omega used some aerial cables they had found lying around to lash Grimmer to the sofa in a makeshift arrangement that should have been sufficient to immobilise him. He asked Mr. Alpha to check the knots were tight. Strike two.

“My name is Mr. Omega. My partner here is Mr. Alpha,” opened Mr. Omega.

“Hi,” said Mr. Alpha.

Sniffing back tears and mucus, Grimmer said meekly, “Hello.”

“Where is she?” Mr. Omega asked.

Grimmer cried them a river, his unkempt beard becoming matted and salty in the process. “Please, please, oh my God, don’t kill me!”

“Where the fuck is the whore?” Mr. Alpha interrupted with a grandiose delusion of authority. Mr. Omega glared at him, irked because he told Mr. Alpha, in very precise and moron-proof terms, to keep his trap shut. They wanted to go back to the Weave and could not afford to screw this up.

“Please! I want to see my daughters grow up! Please! Please!” pleaded Grimmer.

Mr. Omega said, “We are of men of the Cloth. We do not hurt others out of desire, only need.”

“Not like you, you piece of shit,” Mr. Alpha spat, intervening again, rising so far above his station that if he slipped and fell back down to his station by some unfortunate mishap he would have broken his neck, and Mr. Omega would have been just fucking fine with that. “You probably want to see your sweet, pretty daughters grow up so you can touch them once they bloom. That’s what people like you do, isn’t it? When you’re not blaspheming in your hand, you’re blaspheming in your head, aren’t you? You fucking heretics make me sick.”

(Later, Mr. Alpha had tried to explain to Mr. Omega that he wanted to try out a good cop, bad cop strategy. Mr. Omega had glowered at him, retorting that they had higher standards than fucking cops.)

“Please! I don’t know who you’re talking about! Who is this woman you’re talking about? I haven’t done anything! Please, I love my wife so much! Oh sweet Jesus, please!” begged Grimmer, his face all sweat and tears. All he was missing was blood so Mr. Omega punched him in the nose.

Mr. Omega followed this with a kind request. “Will you please stop saying please?

Grimmer was extremely apologetic, his face all blood, sweat and tears, and switched to saying sorry profusely instead. They did not have time for a long drawn-out interrogation so Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha, “Time for needles.”

His younger partner got out his needle-case, took a brief peek inside it and admitted, “Shit. I’ve only got a couple left.” Strike three, mate, you’re out.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2108

May 22, 2006

Truth is Ghost (4 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

“Old man,” Mr. Omega said to the old man. When the pipe and the cap did not respond, Mr. Omega repeated without change in intonation or volume, “Old man.”

The old man extricated himself from a private world. He had not been reading the paper at all, he had been daydreaming. Without removing the pipe from his mouth he said, in a garbled Scottish accent, “What can I do you for?”

Mr. Omega swelled up his body like a balloon, a seemingly difficult task for a man who knew someone else had called him a mop, and asked, “What are you doing, mate? What’s so interesting in this paper here, eh?”

The old man’s eyes became wistful and moist. He took in a deep breath and sighed with theatrical gravitas; he had obviously been taking a lot of deep breaths and doing a great deal of sighing for someone’s benefit. He shifted his position to reveal the pages he had been engrossed in and his bone dry mac squeaked with every movement.

There was a big-fucking-deal news story about a local death; some woman in her forties had slipped on a toy truck which had the ability to change into a robot and fallen from a second story window to her death. The old man said something that Mr. Omega could not make out because his emotional theatrics had wrestled the words into inaudibility.

“What? What did you say? Speak up,” Mr. Omega demanded.

“She was my little niece,” the old Scot explained. “She understood when no-one else-”

Mr. Omega turned around without a second’s hesitation and strode back to the bar with an impressive aura of disinterest. Although slipping on a child’s toy to your death from only the second story window was embarrassing, and toys which changed into robots were not even fucking cool anymore, it was probably not as bad as dying in two inches of water, the absolute minimum requirement for death by drowning. Mr. Omega had a Viking-like fear of dying an ignoble death. Mr. Alpha, ever the cheeky git, had enlightened Mr. Omega that Klingons also shared this belief. “A Clothman with Klingon philosophy, that’s got to look good on the CV, man.”

Plus, he thought some more, at least your niece is dead. Be grateful for the small mercies that The-God-To-Be graces you with. Tragedy is final and comprehensible.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2048

May 15, 2006

Truth is Ghost (3 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

What had attracted Mr. Omega’s eye was the newspaper. The headline was at least a year old – Britain Gives In, Stubs Out: Smoking Illegal – and the old man had not turned a single page since they had entered the pub. He puffed his pipe, crossed his legs, uncrossed his legs and put on the best heartfelt performance bar none of “ordinary elderly gentleman #6”. While Mr. Omega knew his reaction would probably be mistaken by that young fuck for hair-trigger paranoia, he was merely well versed in the teachings of the fearsome Cloth pedagogues. Observation is root, it was said. The old man was feigning the bystander.

“That twat needs to be dealt with,” Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha.

Mr. Omega scanned his memory, wondering if he had seen the old man before. Was there something… familiar… about that hunched-over figure? That dull, navy mac that seemed as if it had endured many a bad day at sea. Those bifocals bent slightly out of shape, that a little money could easily have fixed. Those white threads of hair shooting out from beneath a cap like the fading smoke trails of a firework. It all came together. Mr. Omega was jolted with sudden, shocking certainty – he had never seen this man before in his entire life.

“I want to check him out,” Mr. Omega said, turning to Mr. Alpha who was engaged in uncharacteristically amiable banter with the bar man.

“I can get some in,” said the bar man.

“Don’t worry about it man,” Mr. Alpha responded, “we won’t be around these parts again.”

The bar man broke into a smile of relief, complete with missing teeth and bad breath.

Mr. Omega asked the little shit who was still playing with his half-empty glass, “Well, what do you fucking think?”

Mr. Alpha turned to Mr. Omega and responded with restrained eloquence. “What the pig god of fuck are you whittering on about?”

“Manners, boy. Why don’t you go wash your mouth out with some fucking soap? I am talking about Mr. I-am-so-fucking-minding-my-own-business sucking on a pipe over there. He’s watching us. He’s been reading the same fucking page of that paper ever since we got in.” Mr. Omega banged the bar with his fist, startling both Mr. Alpha and the bar man, to add emphasis that he thought necessary to ram the point home like a blunt pencil through an eye.

Mr. Alpha answered politely but a smirk piggybacked his words. “Well I guess he obviously needs checking out.”

“I’m going to check him out, mate.”

“You do that. I’ll be right here. With this fucking sodding beer.” Having apparently reminded himself of his difficult plight, Mr. Alpha suddenly yelled at the dead air in the pub, “I can’t believe you don’t have any bloody lager!”

The air appeared rather unmoved by his outburst, but the bar man began to waddle backwards with his hands clenched into incomplete fists against his chest, as if securing the remainder of his life within them, a valuable treasure that would never be recovered if stolen.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2253

May 8, 2006

Truth is Ghost (2 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha responded, “I really fucking hate beer. There’s no lager, fuck it.” He looked up at the sweaty blob of a man behind the bar whose vertical dimensions paled in comparison with his horizontal ones. He was a walking, breathing, nightmarish advert for the alcoholic delights available in his fine establishment, although how much longer he would be walking and breathing for would be anyone’s guess. “Why don’t you have any lager, mate?”

The bar man reached under the bar and pulled out a sea-blue cap like a rabbit out of hat. He put it on back-to-front, clashing with the lime green polo shirt that failed in its one and only task: to shield an unsuspecting world from his blubber. He leaned forward with his best intimidating face. “I was in the marines, lad.”

“That twat needs to be dealt with,” Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha.

With the conciliatory tone of a dictator armed with an arsenal of WMDs that could be launched in 45 minutes, Mr. Alpha said to the bar man, “Too fucking right he does. You don’t like the suit, is that it? It wasn’t my fucking choice, alright? Or is it you don’t like a couple of Londoners in your quaint toilet water of a town that no one wants to fucking visit anyway? What’s your problem, mate? An ex-marine, huh? What did you fuck up to get yourself kicked out of the marines?”

The bar man leaned forward even more, which was an impressive feat considering the enormous bulk of his belly had already invaded half the bar with such aggressive force that war crimes had surely been committed. “I did my time, lad. What have you ever done for your country?”

Mr. Alpha had been taught to apply the tools of implication and intent in confrontations whenever possible; action carried the possibility of unwanted exposure. He responded to the fool’s manoeuvre by staring directly into the bar man’s gaze while sliding the half-full beer glass aside with calculated deliberation that implied the potentiality of an event between them. His face seemed to harden and became like sculpted granite. Emotions were no longer in attendance.

“You don’t want to fucking know what I’ve done,” Mr. Alpha began coldly. “You really don’t want to fucking know. You want to mind your own fucking business, you fucking fat shithead. Truth is ghost.” He did not blink, but did permit himself a soft smile, knowing that this would not come to blows.

The bar man acquiesced and retreated with his own smile, a weak, conciliatory alternative to Mr. Alpha’s composed edition. He had realised, at last, that he was in the presence of dangerous urban legends made flesh. Tread lightly, Mr. Alpha had intimated, because it is thin bloody ice beneath your encumbered feet this day.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2121

May 3, 2006

Truth is Ghost (1 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Their relationship was the climate of Antarctica, frosty with only an outside chance of thaw within the next ten thousand years. Despite this, just occasionally, just every now and then, just once every sixth blue moon, there were brief, fleeting armistices. These armistices, as is the dictate of the human condition, were only brought on by extreme situations and were never to be taken seriously as an indication of progress in diplomatic relations.

Mr. Alpha raised his beer to his lips, a subtle tremor in his hand, and moaned, “Beer!”

His face was Adonis, perfect flesh in perfect angles, yet his hair was a dark brown bird’s nest, scrambled and chunky. His ash-grey business suit with a mandarin collar appeared pristine from the waist up but patches of mud and dirt they had acquired during the afternoon’s activities troubled his trousers. Even though he despised the suit and the pus yellow necktie he had been forced to don, he picked frantically at the muddy patches dried out like bloody scabs and thought of the inevitability of dry cleaning.

Paying no attention at all to his junior partner, Mr. Omega was focused on an elderly man in an alcove at the far end of the pub, apparently minding his own business smoking a pipe and reading a newspaper. Mr. Alpha had once called Mr. Omega the human mop out of earshot, an affectionately hateful description attributed to Mr. Omega’s rather too manageable molehill of grey hair that topped his gaunt, matchstick man physique. Mr. Omega stared at the old man through oversized square-framed glasses that even Dennis Taylor would have been fearful of. He wore the same suit as he had prescribed to Mr. Alpha but his showed a few signs of wear and tear, much like his face and his shitty god damn piece of shit fuck holier-than-thou attitude.

Mr. Alpha blamed Mr. Omega for everything simply because Mr. Omega’s response to every situation was to blame Mr. Alpha for everything. When Mr. Omega had once yelled at him about not taking responsibility, Mr. Alpha had replied that the student had obviously learnt that lesson pretty bloody well from the master.

The pair of them had never been to this particular godforsaken town before and after their foolish mishap, losing their one and only lead to stupidity, they headed straight for the nearest pub, a small retreat called “The Retreat”. It was stuck under a forgotten stone bridge like some unwanted gum that had long lost its fruity flavour. The occasional errant train would rumble over this middle-of-nowhere bridge and hurl cobwebs carrying dead spiders that had attained bizarre, mutant proportions at the unsuspecting punters from the pub ceiling.

It was 5 o’clock and there were only a few people in the drinking house, just drunkards who had ran out of options and had probably been there since lunchtime. That was except for one old man, bathed in nicotine-stained sunlight that had ventured foolishly through the soiled windows that he sat beneath.

“He’s watching us. He’s looking to get himself cured,” said Mr. Omega threateningly in his wheezy, nasal, high-pitched voice. To Mr. Alpha, his voice would have sounded just like Marlon Brando from The Godfather if the film had been set in London. And if Don Vito Corleone had been an annoying, irritating wanker, obviously.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2231