Click to Subscribe
▶  More from
A Grifter at Sunset
Last Whiteman Chapter 4
Grope was beside himself with grief, for the only figure in his worldly pantheon which warranted grieving or any other concern—himself. Life had dealt Grope a hand with no face cards, not a Jack, Queen or King nor an Ace, and not even a Ten! Life, in Her cruel humor, had, however, dealt him a two-faced Joker, a card that dictated his dedication to living life as a perpetual caper.
'That motherchucker Buck Busybody Mechanic—well sell me down the river!'
'Joe Goddamned Mexican Hat, chuck that cheap-dealing tobacco-hued negro into the volcano he came from!'
'Ahmed—serves his soul-drivin' behind right, short-changed me on that fat Jap girl last summer!'
'Barrister Pox—enjoy that last glass of fun!'
'Wow, just like that I'm all out of friends. En I was bratnapping that pretty light-skinned girl for them penthouse fiends—thanks be to the god that ate my hopes that I weren't around to pitch in with the transport of that blond girl!'
'What's a slick-sliding half-baked negro to do?'
'Guardsmen?'
'Shid, they'll roast my butt for breakfast!'
'Watchmen?'
'They hates me too.'
'What a find,' he mused, as he snatched a TV card from the pocket of a fat man with out his know how, and walked on by the Machete Makers tents as he slid it into his wrist slide.
Up popped an image of a Corporate Penthouser, white as a star at night! Grope darted into the alley between the crumbling brick buildings what lead to the junk lot where the Mexicans fought their dogs and chickens and clicked activate.
The talking head of the executive, his office window showing the lights of downtown night behind him, assured him that either he had offhandedly pick-pocketed a careless informer, or that—'Chill my butt to the bone!'—a corporate agent had fed him this card to set his ass up and put him in the dock for some bad business. Well, bad business was Grope's middle name, or at least he liked to think so, because he had no mamma or poppa and narry a name save what he got from his deeds.
The Executive, old, white-haired and somehow young in the face and dead of eyes, spoke: “Officer Blatz, the receipt of your gift was most appreciated. As our relationship resides outside of Corporate channels, I have sent this message to you by way of a man who should not long outlive the receipt of this confidential statement of gratitude. Promotion has been received and must by adjucated by yourself. Officer Thompson has not been informed of his demotion—this will be your task. On receipt of another such consideration as you have already delivered into my care, reassignment to Central Tower as Senior Usher and Corporate Guardian is assured. Destroy this message and then the bearer.”
'Oh, shoot, fat boy is in for it!'
Officer Blatz ran the hostel, where all none-residents of Baltimore in Hamilton had to report and/or reside to avoid violation of vagrancy laws. Grope had no home, and slept in various ruins. But his I.D. Card in his TV phone, a perma-card, named him a resident of the city. So he would not be vagged for sleeping in the park—if he were that stupid and eager to get his throat cut—or arrested by the Watchmen for being homeless. They would just fine him [robbery, really] and let him go.
The police, like Officer Blatz, would scan his TV watch and let him go. The police were mainly tasked with crimes against Baltimore Corporation, overseeing the Watchmen and Guardsmen in each neighborhood and managing the activities of visitors. The big wigs did not like visitors that were not dignitaries, for fear that crooks from outside The City would cut in on their rackets. There was also the ultimate fear of a corporate take over, that perhaps agents of New York Corporation, which had acquired some twenty cities and was rumored to be sabotaging civic order in Philadelphia might conduct a merger.
Grope new that even now the dupe without the card would be knocking on the back door of the Hostel, three doors up, which had been the “rectory” of the church [so Pox had informed him, but why a recreational wing would be attached to an old time church, Grope could never comprehend].
Like a monkey Grope scrambled up the fencing and vinery embedded in the crumbling brick of the long-vacant medical center, bracing his back on the ancient tavern that was still open for business 2 feet across the alley behind him, and was up and on the roof in seconds.
Across the rooftops he scrambled, furtive as a mouse, nimble as a rat, wary as a squirrel—all creatures he had studied intently in his apprenticeship in thievery, burglary and brat-napping. The monster in the lives of these rodent teachers of his were the cats, who he also studied, as cats represented in the four-legged world of critters—the Police of man's messed-up world. Stupid dogs represented in their idiocy, loudness and irrational dangerousness, the Watchmen and the Guardsmen.
Within thirty seconds, Grope was over-top the side building adjacent and to the south of the massive stone church, long ago turned into a visitor detention center and manned by four “Meat” Police, old fashioned cops with guns, helmets, body armor, billy clubs and motorcycles, and Officer Blatz, their commander, a police to be feared. The roof he was on was carpeted with bones and crow droppings and inhabited by dozens of rats that resided in the empty grinning skulls of the objects of police justice, from whence they would dart to contest for gobs of flesh with the many crows that roosted above on the bell tower of the old grey-stone church.
Below him the fat black man knocked on the red-painted wooden door.
The door opened, barely framing the hulking mechanical proportions of Officer Blatz, forged in blued and stainless steel, rimmed in chrome and decorated with brass citations on his barrel-like steel chest, and the man mush-like mumbled, “Offica' Blatz, I gots you a message card...”
As the man reached for his back pocket and found it empty, then began to frantically dig into his pockets and step away in fear, Officer Blatz stepped forth with a soft mechanical wine of his hip sockets, on rubber-coated steel boots that made little sound unless an officer ran and busted pavement with the steel rim of his boot uppers.
“Offica Blatz, it were right here in my pocket when I got off da bus!”
The articulated steel arms of Officer Blatz rotated their silvery skeleton hands on their hydraulic wrists as the one egg-shaped cyclopian eye glowered red and the bullet-proof glass screen behind the blued steel grill where a mouth would be on a human, shuttered in red, emitting a voice that sounded like a chainsaw on a low rev, “Your route?”
The man stammered, “Rat, I ain't no rat, Offica!”
Grope mused, 'These stupid police need to be programmed with English so folks can understand them!'
Officer Blatz then removed the TV watch of the dupe, breaking his wrist in the process. As the man fell to one knee and wept, “Oh, Jeeze,” the seven foot steel monster held up the man's TV watch to his eye and scanned it. The pronouncement then came:
“Citizen Jerome Jackson, you offloaded the bus at Northern and Harford, walked past this location to the tents of the Marijuana Dealers to satisfy your addiction, and were pick-pocketed among the Machete Makers' tents. For this breach of Corporate trust, District Court Judge Sixteen, revokes your citizenship. Enter the Hostel. Cell fourteen is vacant. Occupy it. Feeding in the Common Hall is at Sixteen Hundred Hours.”
“Whad?”
“Failure to comply,” declared Officer Blatz, in mechanical deadpan. The police officer then slapped the dupe across the face, breaking his neck and sending blood and teeth flinging. Then, with the other hand, Officer Blatz, lifted the standing dead man under the arm, and threw him up onto the roof where Grope huddled.
The body thudded next to Grope who had pulled his head down so that Officer Blatz might not see him. As the fat dead man bled next to him and little rat feet scurried out from their skull nests, Grope kept still until he heard the whine of Officer Blatz returning through the door and it shutting. Even then he did not trust to rise and slithered backward until his feet touched the rim of the far side of the roof and then he was off, as rat-quick as man can be, darting away from the monstrous mechanical police even as the flock of pet police crows dived like a storm of beaked and winged consumption for the body of the man who had the bad luck of not being dealt a joker in his hand.
prev:  A Barrister Pox Afternoon     ‹  fiction  ›     next:  A Madness Alights
eBook
book of nightmares
eBook
supplicant song
eBook
thunderbird
eBook
by the wine dark sea
eBook
winter of a fighting life


Add a new comment below:
NAME  
EMAIL  
MSG