Untitled Pulp Story

The bullet sounded through the air, followed by a second. The first echoed with a tell-tale ping, bouncing off some unsuspecting wall, and into oblivion. The second pierced his flesh, just above the kneecap. Detective Tommy Kimball winced and hit the ground, holding his leg. He grunted softly in the face of the pain — he’d wanted to scream to the heavens, but, the tough guy inside him smashed the little boy years ago. His head stayed level, as he drew his .38 again, looking for Elwick.

The crime had long been solved. Elwick von der Waal, the young and princely heir to the Daily Rag fortune had long dabbled in criminal enterprise, this time kidnapping the beautiful Faith Flanagan, a lounge singer and waitress. She’d been missing two weeks, the world taking an interest in her, the story featured prominenty with information in the Daily Rag, things even the police didn’t know being told in each story, all written by the Prince of Monrovia.

Elwick wasn’t an intelligent man, though he was savy with his words, and casual with his money. He’d bought himself out of every courtroom he’d been in, and carried most judges on his personal payroll. Cops loved the guy, too. High stakes busts featured prominent photos of the police officer who made the arrest on the front page of the Daily Rag, Monrovia’s largest (and only) daily newspaper. Elwick personally thanked each of them, posed with a picture, and thanked them for keeping the city clean. He’d shake their hand, usually with a few bills wrapped and hidden in his hand.

Tommy Kimball, however, was no friend of Elwick’s. A former cop himself, and a sureshot for Captain, he ended up shooting an eight year-old girl during a chase, killing her. Kimball thought it was an accident, and swore his innocence. The rest of the world saw a cop shoot an eight year-old, and turned on him.

Gone was the smiling friend of the masses. For months, people would spit on Tommy as he walked the streets after his release from prison. Old women beat him with purses heavier than anvils, and twice the size. Men who wanted to prove their manhood would beat up the drunken Tommy Kimball, as he took each shot as his justice, his penance to a city he’d somehow wronged.

The laugh of Elwick van der Waal rang through the empty street, the ever present steam and smoke billowing through street level vents. The streetlights cast a bluish-white light on everything, casting large shadows. Bleary eyed from the flask of whiskey he’d taken down moments before, Kimball aimed into the smoke, and shot three times, the laugh growing louder. Three more shots, and the laugh stopped after the second.

Kimball blinked, incredulously. Had he shot him? No, he couldn’t have. He tried to stand, but, his leg betrayed him, sending him to the ground, and into the street gutter.

The laugh started again, louder — closer.

“I wasn’t going to kill her, Kimball!” the slightly accented voice of van der Waal said, in his sing-song manner. His voice was golden, crisp and alluring, and his annunciation was perfect, aside from his slight Dutch accent. “I was simply giving the world something to believe in. Just like I did with you.”

Elwick emerged from the smoke, a silver snubnosed .38 extended. His suit was polished and remarkable, the tie straight with the gig line of his body, bisecting him perfectly. His silver glasses glinted off the street lights, as he laughed again, Kimball looking at him, rage building.

“Oh, sure. I helped the world believe that you’d killed that girl. And you deserved it, too! Of all the cops, you’re the only one I couldn’t buy. I had to eliminate you, and I did. You’re tougher than I’d thought though, Kimball. I didn’t expect you to last a week, and eight years later, here you are. You’re drunk, and a fool, but, you’re still alive. Though, I intend to change that in moments.

“I want you to know that Faith called for you, every moment. She missed you — She’s the only one who stuck by you through all of this. Did you really think she was a random target?” Tommy Kimball raised his gun, and aimed at center mass, tears streaming from his eyes. The hammer cocked and clicked three times, each firing an empty chamber. “You wasted your shots, Kimball! Now, it’s my turn! Time to meet your maker! And tell Faith hello when you get there!”

The steam moved toward the two, Elwick standing in the center of the deserted street, Kimball firing his gun still, hoping that there was a seventh bullet in there, somewhere.

The garbage truck that sped down the street, slamming into Elwick milliseconds before he tried to pull the trigger was unexpected and welcomed. It swerved into a building, crushing the Prince of Monrovia under the weight of it’s load. Kimball blinked as Faith emerged from behind the wheel. His heart filled with joy and love and satisifaction and completion as she ran to him, embracing him. He kissed her, full on the lips, before looking up, and shaking his head.

“Told ya, toots. That’s why dames shouldn’t drive.”

He’d never return to the force, but, he didn’t care. The world rejected him, and hated him for a crime he didn’t commit. In spite of that, in this crazy mixed up world, he had Faith. And faith.

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