Randall and Tammy find themselves facing an implacable foe. Their only hope is for some supernatural force to come along and save them. Some supernatural force like the ever-smiling Maurice.
It was . . . uncanny!
He knew he was in the physical presence of Wilbur Harrows. The blunt end of his fist ramming into the sniveling snitch’s face like a pile driver had that bone-jarring shock of physicality he, secretly admittedly, at times truly enjoyed experiencing. His fist smashing into Wilbur’s face drove the ex-con on back onto his heels and made him back pedal, dangerously out of control in the process, clear across the front room of his apartment.
That’s when the impossible happened.
That’s when the world of the living began to phase shift with the world of the dead.
Wilbur Harrows face. It seemed to be glowing. It seemed to blur and fade. And when it blurred, the face of Lonnie Perkins . . . a laughing Lonnie Perkins . . . appeared as a replacement!
“Hello, Randall. So good to see you again.”
Randall heard Wilbur Harrow’s voice. But he was looking into the face of Lonnie Perkins. A maniacal, crazed Lonnie Perkins. Lonnie’s face kept shifting . . . kept fading just enough to reveal Wilbur’s mug for a moment or two . . . before returning to Lonnie.
Weeks earlier witnessing something like this would have made Randall doubt his sanity. But, stepping into the apartment, hands balled up into hard sledge hammer like fists and expecting any form of trouble, he wasn’t in the least bit surprised. Not now. Not after meeting the fat little counselor and being reintroduced to his daughter and grandson. At least, being reintroduced to the spirits of his daughter and grandson.
“Why did you kill my daughter and grandson, Lonnie? What had they ever done to you?”
Lonnie/Wilbur laughed. Laughed in amusement as he stepped toward Randall casually and shot a fist out in a vicious punch to Randall’s rib cage before answering.
“Pay back, old friend!” the punch caught Randall unawares, driving hard into the ribs, making Randall twist to one side in pain. “I killed them in partial payment for you killing me.”
A second fist came in, catching Randall on the point of his chin in a glancing blow. Wilbur Harrows would never have thrown two punches like this. Wilbur wasn’t a fighter. But Lonnie Perkins was. Lonnie inhabiting Wilbur’s physical shell was transforming a whiney little snitch into a formidable opponent.
Randall blocked a third blow with a sudden twist of his torso and flash of an elbow and then rammed his right fist straight into Wilbur/Lonnie’s broken nose again as hard as he could. The blow staggered the madman. But Randall wasn’t finished. Stepping toward Lonnie he brought his left around in a hard, fast hook just as he opened his mouth to speak.
“News flash, old friend,” Smash! His fist slammed into Lonnie’s jaw so hard spittle and a tooth shot out of the madman’s mouth at the same time. “I wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger the night you were murdered. Your old cell mate, good ole Wilbur Harrows himself, was the guy that did that.”
The physical form of Wilbur Harrows bounced hard off a wall and then folded like a broken accordion as it slid over the back end of a divan and rolled onto the floor. And then he was up. Wilbur Harrows body was up. Upright and floating six inches off the apartment floor. Static electricity filled the apartment with a crackling sensation of unrestrained evil. Lonnie, eyes glowing a dark blood red, threw a hand up, palm open, toward Randall. Immediately an unseen force of immense psychic power slammed into Randall’s chest, picked him up bodily where he stood, and rammed him into the far wall of the apartment. The blow of his body smashing into the wall splintered the wall’s plaster into a hundred different stress lines as large chunks of plaster and wallpaper fell to the floor.
“Why would that idiot kill me? You were the one accused me of double-crossing you two in that jewelry store heist! You were the one who said I was going to frame you and him for the heist and tip off the cops in the process. You were the one who beat me almost to death! Wilbur, that idiot, wasn’t even around when you were beating me to a pulp!”
The force gripping him with a steel like grip of pulsating energy was so strong Randall could not move a muscle. He could barely breathe. But he could laugh. And hissing out a weak croaking sound for a laugh was what he did.
“Ha . . . but was I right, Lonnie? Was I right? You were going to double-cross us. Wilbur and I were going to be the patsies to take the fall while you and Vince Harrows ran off with the loot. Come on . . . come on! Time to tell the truth. There’s nothing I can do to stop you from killing me now.”
Maniacal laughter filled the apartment as the invisible steel fingers gripping Randall’s chest began to slowly squeeze together.
“Absolutely, old friend. Absolutely! Why cut the loot into four equal shares? Getting rid of a rival like you and that sniveling little asshole Wilbur at the same time was too good of an idea to pass up. Vince Harrows was a man I could use. He took orders without asking questions. Without whining like his cousin constantly seem to do. So getting rid of two trouble jerks like you and Wilbur seemed like a very smart thing to do.”
Randall, struggling to breathe, still held against the wall several inches above the carpeted floor of the apartment, made a strained, gurgling sound of weak laughter again. Laughter that had an immediate effect on Lonnie/Wilbur’s face. Anger flashed across the madman’s face. But the immensely powerful grip on Randall’s chest backed off a bit. Backed off just enough for the big man to fill his lungs with air. Enough air to speak.
“Why are you laughing this time, old friend? You’re going to die in just a few seconds. So tell me, what’s tickling your funny bone now?”
“You are, Lonnie. You are. Don’t you get it? Don’t you see it? Ask yourself this. How did I find out you were double crossing Wilbur and me? How did I know where to find you so I could beat the shit out of you? It was Wilbur, Lonnie! Wilbur told me all about it. He found out everything through his cousin, Vince. The two got drunk after the heist and Vince spilled the beans. Told Wilbur everything. Wilbur came to me and we both went hunting for you. My plan was to beat you senseless and then pin the rap on you. Payback, buddy, for your double cross.
But I didn’t know what Wilbur had in mind. When I left you were lying on the floor bleeding. Alive but bleeding. It was your gun used in killing you wasn’t it? Wilbur used your own gun on you. I find that remarkably funny, don’t you? The sniveling little complaining weasel, the one guy no one believed could harm a fly, used your own gun to send you to hell.”
Something very strange, very ugly, happened. The two faces of Lonnie/Wilbur kept fading in and out. But this time Lonnie’s face seemed to be lasting longer and longer when his appearance emerged, whereas Wilbur’s face suddenly began appearing with the mask of overwhelming agony painted across his plain features. Wilbur was screaming in pain. In agony beyond description. But screaming in stark, absolute, silence.
Lonnie Perkins was killing Wilbur Harrows soul. Killing it in the most horrifying, most painful way possible. So intense was the madman’s concentration on killing Wilbur, while at the same time holding Randall against the wall with the vice-like psychic grip, he didn’t notice the ethereal little glowing hole ripping open the ceiling plaster above his head and allowing Tammy just enough room to wriggle into the space above him.
“Tammy, don’t! Run, girl! Run away!” her father yelled as loud as he could.
Lonnie felt her presence directly above her. With a shout of anger he tossed Wilbur Harrows soul to one side and reached up and grabbed Tammy around her throat with his psychic grip and began squeezing it as hard as it could.
“Now I got you both! Oh, finally getting rid of both of you is going to be so much fun!”
Just as the madman’s psychic grip caught captured both father and daughter, downstairs, in the street, a large pink convertible Caddy slid up quietly behind the tail gate of a faded green Chevy pickup truck and came to a slow halt. The round faced, tan complexioned little man, dressed in an impeccably tailored white plantation suit, looked to his right and up at a second floor window of the apartment building the pickup set beside. And frowned.
Apparently a moment or two later in arriving and a tragedy beyond redemption would have taken place. Quickly opening the door of the big car he climbed out of the car and shut the door gently behind him. Still with a frown on his face Maurice glanced to his right, and then to his left, and then directly across the street. Sensing the presence of no one in the immediate area the little man smiled, lifting his right hand up to his waist in the process.
He snapped his fingers. Gently. Softly. Hardly making a sound.
And disappeared. Popped out of existence . . . completely disappeared . . . off the street totally and instantly reappeared standing in front of the door of Wilbur Harrows’ apartment.
Reaching inside his suit coat the little man retrieved a clean handkerchief, and using it with some hesitation and concerns about becoming smudged with something unclean, draped it across the grimy looking door knob of the apartment door and twisted it gently open. Stepping into the apartment his eyes beheld a fantastic scene which, for any normal human of average perception, would have been too fantastic to comprehend. But Maurice looked upon that before him completely unperturbed.
On the far side of the room the back of the physical form of Wilbur Harrows was facing him. Both of the man’s arms were stretched out directly in front of him, fingers of each hand curled around as if they were holding onto something with fierce intensity. Directly in front of Wilbur/Lonnie Perkins, smashed and shoved halfway into the plaster and lathe of the old wall itself, were the images of Randall Cooke and the spirit form of his daughter, Tammy Cooke. Both had their hands up and struggling to pull away the invisible force which seemed to be gripping them around their throats. Both were thrashing their legs about as they fought valiantly to free themselves from their attacker.
They had only seconds left before their immortal souls were consumed.
A flash of hot anger swept across Maurice’s usual come, smiling face. Anger so intense it threatened, just for a second or two, to undo all the ties and stays he had used to tie down and subdue the supernatural forces which constantly pushed and screamed to be released from his soul. But he caught the finger of anger quickly. Caught it and pushed it deep into a dark recess down in the chasm of his soul and locked it tightly down. And then he stepped forward, lifting a hand to his lips, and politely coughed.
“Ahem. Please release my friends and kindly step away, Lonnie, before I am forced to do something I will later regret immensely.”
Lonnie/Wilbur’s scream of rage filled the apartment! One hand swept to one side, tossing the image of a pain racked Tammy out of the apartment altogether, as the body of Wilbur turned to face the smiling like Buddha behind him. The free hand came up and aimed toward the white suited figure and from its open palm a boiling, raging, curling beam of white hot energy shot out and filled the room with a deafening explosion as it hurled itself toward Maurice.
Maurice, calm and relaxed, lifted an eyebrow in quiet sadness, before raising his right hand and snapping his fingers. Again.
Glowing hot rage and murderous intent thundering toward the white suited little man splashed headlong into an unseen, invisible shield. Like an immense tidal wave of biblical proportions smashing into a wall of immovable, impenetrable steel, the blast of psychic energy splashing in every direction around Maurice. But not one iota of energy reached the well tailored, calm form of the little attorney.
Lonnie Perkins let go of the grip he still had on Randall Cooke and brought both hands up to aim at the odd little creature in front of him. But Randall, dropping to the apartment floor, one hand gripping his aching throat and coughing violently, looked up and at his old enemy and came to his feet. Pure rage filled Randall’s heart. Reaching out he grabbed a wooden chair and without hesitating used every ounce of his strength he had in him and brought it down on Lonnie/Wilbur’s head. The chair splinted into a dozen different pieces. Lonnie/Wilbur dropped to the floor like a discarded sack of raw potatoes.
Tossing what was left of the chair in his hands to one side, a lop sided grin spread across Randall’s face as he looked up and at his employer.
“I promised I wouldn’t kill anyone today, boss. I keep my promises. Really, I do.”
Maurice eyed his new employee and nodded. Nodded, chuckling to himself in pleased amusement.
“How did you know I was at Wilbur’s apartment?” he asked, sitting back in the chair and looking at the smiling attorney.
Maurice glanced up from his desk and smiled.
“I felt your presence moving in that direction, Randall. Just as I felt the presence of Tammy in sudden danger the moment she floated into the apartment building.”
“You felt me moving? From here? In the office? With me driving my old truck all the way across town?”
Did you know I was heading into trouble?
Tammy, floating in the air cross-legged to one side and slightly above her father sitting in the fat chair in front of Maurice’s desk, wrote in flaming letters into the air in front of her.
“When I sent you off I did not. But then, I realized I perhaps made a grave mistake and sent your father off to gather information for me. When I felt his sudden concerns envelope his soul I knew I had miscalculated. So I hurried over there as fast as I could.”
Both father and daughter, frowning, nodded in unison. Fair enough, they thought to themselves.
“So what happens next?” Randall asked.
“Well,” sighed Maurice, sitting back in his chair and creating a steeple of fingers in front of his lips thoughtfully. “Wilbur Harrows is going to be charged for the murders of Tammy and her son. He’ll be in prison for the rest of his natural life.”
And what about that asshole, Lonnie Perkins?
Maurice smiled kindly; watching Tammy’s flaming words floating in the air slowly die off into red embers before disappearing altogether.
“Lonnie is trapped in the body of Wilbur Harrows permanently. At least, for the natural life span Wilbur has yet remaining to him. That means he too will be in prison for the next thirty or forty years.”
“So,” Randall snorted, half yawning lazily and stretching his arms out over his head. “So this case is done. What’s next?”
Maurice, fingers resting against his lips for a moment or two, kept silent and then softly shrugged his shoulders before answering.
“Oh, sooner or later another case will come along. Eventually. Have no concerns about that.”
And, remarkably, the smiling little counselor was absolutely right.