Murphy's Law : Book 2 | Red Harvest - Part 2 - Scenes 4 - 6

Murphy's Law
Book II: Red Harvest
Part II: Scenes IV-VI
By Josie

Jack Murphy once again delves into the murky underworld to find a missing girl. Armed with only his dry-wit and cynicism, he journeys to a quiet little farm town called Waterston. It’s a beautiful place, renown for its cherries and the orchards that dotted the landscape against the rolling green hills beyond. But it’s also a world where the hunter becomes the hunted and where the forces of good collide with the evil cloaked in the myth and mysticism of an ancient belief.

It’s also a place where some find the "Red Harvest sinfully wild to enjoy, while others find nothing more than disappointment and regret . . ."

The Legal Stuff: Murphy's Law: Book II - Red Harvest  © 2009 by josie.
All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without expressed written consent of the copyright holder.


Part II: Nightfall over Waterston

Scene IV: Broken Arrow
Jack drove slowly past the Flamingo. Other than a small crowd milling about outside everything looked quiet and normal. As did the van that was parked a half block further on. No sign as yet of a response from the department, though from the stillness he could sense preparations were already underway. He parked nearby and got out to make contact with Arn. Confident that whatever operation the department was planning would be coordinated though the point Arn had already established.

He found Arn hunkered down in back of the van with Harrington. He’d been sent to coordinate the operation and told Jack a perimeter was now being established. In 15 minutes the assault group would be ready to make their move. Harrington showed him an outline of what was being planned on a map spread out on the table.

The red arrows indicated the main thrust would be going through the front entrance. That fit normal operational procedures, though Arn disagreed with the plan. He saw it as a more circuitous route, where the bulk of the security was focused. Though it was clean no one was listening even though he knew the layout better than anyone else. Again, that too fit normal operational procedures of a top down command with their collective heads in the air rather than on the ground.

“Personally I think Arn is on to something here,” Jack interrupted Harrington’s summation. “Speed is the key here, and if you’re tied up trying to work your way through the front, you’ve already relinquished the advantage.”

“No,” Harrington followed. “It’d be all that and more just to bust through that side door.”

“Perhaps,” Jack followed, obviously having something else in mind. “Well, one thing is certain. We’re not doing much good here. I’m going out to take up a position. When the whistle blows, I want to be first though that side entrance door.”

“Yeah, okay,” was all Harrington could say. He knew what Jack was feeling. If he had a partner trapped inside, he would likely do the same. In this line of work this is where the rubber hit the road, and like Jack, he’d want to be first in the line of fire as well.

Jack stepped outside and Arn followed. “Where do you think you’re going, Arn?” Jack asked.

“I’m following you in.”

“No, it’s my responsibility, not yours. Besides, we’ve got to move quickly.”

“Jack, please! I’m the one who put the bug in his ear. He wouldn’t be in there if not for me.”

“It’s too dangerous, Arn, sorry!”

“Dangerous? Jack you’ve met my wife. I’m set to retire in a week and what then? Look, after 26 years, please don’t deny me this.”

Jack hadn’t a need to read between the lines, nor time to worry about what might become of the man if he were to say no. “Okay, take up a position in front. Only stay out of sight until help arrives.”

“Yeah Jack, thanks.”

“Oh, and Arn, no heroics,” he said as he loaded his 45 then set off to position himself exactly where he wanted to be; At the top of the stairs, standing alongside that rear entrance door with his revolver in hand.

When he arrived he opened up the rear of the cleaning van and quickly latched onto a bucket before rushing 3 steps at a time up the stairs. His plan was to wait out of sight beside the door. Then just as the assault was about to begin, he’d toss the bucket down the steps hoping the ruckus would draw out the guard. If it worked, he’d have the guard secured and the advantage of speed on his side.

In sum, his plan was to move swiftly and with cunning, and it might have worked if the door hadn’t unexpectedly opened up. The guard had opened the door just a sliver to flick a cigarette butt down the steps. It wasn’t much of an opportunity. Plus with 10 minutes yet to go before the division moved in, the timing was piss poor. Still, you’ve got to take what you’re given. So with the speed of a trap springing shut, he pressed his revolver to his temple.

“Your next word will be your last,” was all Jack had to say. A moment later he had him cuffed. He then led him down the steps and stuffed him into the back of the van. With the side entrance door now open and the guard out of the way, he liked his chances of pulling it off. Only that’s where his luck ran out. As he exited the van and started to close the rear door, someone inside the cab started it up, threw it into reverse and stepped on the gas.

It’d happened so fast and so unexpectedly he scarcely had time to turn about and jump out of the way. Only jumping out of the way of a rapidly accelerating vehicle bearing down on you is a lot easier to say than do. Something Jack soon found out. As the rear wheels screeched he jumped, fell to the ground and rolled to get out of the way. He’d all but escaped from under the van, but his right leg had not. The left rear tire had caught him, shattering his leg in the process. Through the agony and the pain, he looked down at the blood that swirled around that anomalous protrusion. Even worse, he’d lost his gun.

Now broken, like his plan, it was clear neither were going anywhere . . .
Scene V: Out of the Corner of an Eye
With Vlady now gone, Gregorio pulled Cecil up off the chair and started to haul him out the door. Only Cecil was not quite so ready to go. In seems in the process of leaving under his own power, he faked a stumble and stepped out of his shoe.

"I can't walk with just one heel," Cecil pleaded his case, waiting for Gregorio to take the bait and reach for that fallen shoe. Which he did, giving Cecil the first, and probably his last opportunity to reach down for that single shot derringer.

Then with a move so quick he could scarcely believe it himself, he had his hand wrapped around that gun.

"Hold it right there," he waved it between the two men. Hurriedly he slipped his shoe back on and then cautiously worked his way over toward Michael. He wrapped a forearm around his neck and pressed the gun to his ribs, taking that classic hostage pose.

“Okay fellas, you know the routine.” He shouted, then added, “Down on the floor!" which might have sounded a bit corny, almost laughably cliché. Only laughing at his use of that well-turned phrase was the last thing on his mind as he slowly and cautiously backed out of that room latched on to Michael, his one and only lifeline.

“Remember,” he shouted his parting words, “If you follow, I’ve nothing to lose.”

Amazingly that divine intervention he had been praying for answered the call. What else could explain how he and Michael managed to maneuver out in the open unnoticed? The distance was less than twenty feet to that rear exit door, but in a room filled with security it might as well have been a thousand. Yet somehow he made it. Only that’s where his luck ran out. He had been spotted by a guard already charging toward him with a full head of steam.

“Halt! Police!” Cecil yelled taking his gun off Michael, giving him the chance to slip out of his grasp and run through that rear exit door to escape the building.

Cecil didn’t have a chance to follow, nor time to think about whether he was prepared to use that one bullet if given the opportunity. The man was on him too quickly, tackling him and knocking the gun out of his hand. Leaving him to fight a battle he could not win, and worse, any moment others birds of prey would be swooping in to feast on the harvest.

It didn’t look good. He was out muscled, out of time and out of bullets — save one. A shoe; as in stiletto, long, sharp and deadly - which by chance had fallen off during the course of the scuffle and landed next to his hand. All he needn’t was one clear shot. An opportunity he soon got, his aim fair and true, hitting him square in the eye with that steel pointed heel. The man rolled off clutching his eye in pain giving Cecil the moment he needed to jump up, run through the door and latch the dead bolt lock just as four others arrived.

With one more door to go he ran toward the rear entrance door . . .
Meanwhile, outside the club . . .
Jack lie sprawled out, his leg shattered. Now, all but a motionless target he looked up and saw a woman step out of the van. It was the same woman he had seen in that picture with Michelle. It was Vlady, wrapped in a long black cloak, clutching a broomstick she banished like a make-shift spear. Then standing over him she peered down through the shadowy hollows of her raven-like eyes.

“You too are police, yes? I didn’t know of you. No matter. It’s too late for him and too late for you.”

She raised that make-shift spear and was about to act on her words when Tatiana came running out the door. She stopped, looked up and smiled. “Mircea! Veni” (come)!

“Yes mistress,” Tatiana replied.

Jack looked up and saw Tatiana advance down toward him. Only it wasn’t just her. She was a multiple of one, and with each advancing step Jack could see pieces of them all. The Michelle he’d seen in that photo, the Michael he had met in that Sanger Street apartment, and the Tatiana he’d seen at the Korean cleaners.

Plus another he had not met as yet. His eyes were dark, his face ghostly pale. It was the face of an ethereal presence that lived in the twilight. That place between the real and none, the good and the evil. Where there exists no more conscious thought than that possessed by a Great White moving in for the kill. It was as tangible as those ravenous eyes, and as real as the hiss and the snarl. Mircea’s face! The new Michael trying to break out, with each step forward growing increasingly stronger, though as yet, did not rule.

Now standing beside Vlady, she handed Tatiana the make-shift spear. Then she rose up and stretched out her arms wing-like, as if to take flight. There she stood peering down, the black cloak draped down from her wing-swept arms, the lust of a raven in her cold black eyes.

“Mihai! Ridică-te!” (Rise up) she hissed.

“Michael!” Jack reached out and Michael lowered his eyes.

“Michelle! Soma tău forţă!” (summon thy strength) she baited.

“Michelle!” Jack whispered while Michelle stood there and grieved.

“Tatiana! Soma tău putere!” (summon thy power) she scowled.

“Tatiana!” Jack implored. Tatiana’s tears rained, filled with disappointment and regret.

Then to the face who would consume them all she commanded . . .

“Mircea! Este a ta de a devora!” (It’s yours to devour) she compelled.

“Mircea!” Jack echoed and Mircea still stood motionless.

Though he knew it was only a matter of time. Vlady’s presence was to strong and Mircea’s heart was already too cold, too dark and too distant to change that.

“Michael!” He again reached out like a forgiving man, broken, but not fallen. A man at peace with himself, lying maimed and defenseless, yet victorious in his defeat as Vlady compelled him to swoop down and feast on the bounty of the Red Harvest.

Only he saw something else too, out of the corner of his eye . . .

*          *          *

Cecil ran full steam toward that rear exit door. When he arrived he found the door open and the guard gone. Below, at the bottom of the steps he saw Vlady and Tatiana with a weapon in his hand and Jack on the ground under attack.

Without thinking, he hopped atop the handrail and then without concern as to whether such a head first leap like that was even survivable, he executed the perfect Swan dive to save his friend . . .

“Jaaaaa-ck!” came a frantic cry, sounding not unlike the caw of a ravenous crow swooping down from the dark sky above. As Vlady loomed like a vulture preparing to feast upon his carcass, so too did that swooping black blur race down toward Vlady. Traversing the distance like a falling star, landing square on her back where she imploded upon impact with the ground.

Jack looked over at the sprawling heap. It had been a calamitous event. Especially for that Vlachian vulture who had been standing in the middle of the road and failed to look up to see the oncoming truck. It didn’t look good for the fallen star who’d ridden her down either. Obviously a fall like that was bound to have had some deleterious effects, whether cushioned from the full impact or not. Still, with no immediate signs of movement, he feared even worse.

Though slowly, miraculously, one small twitch at a time that picture began to change. Until finally that fallen star did rise up her head, albeit with a bloody mouth and grinning a grin absent a tooth.

“I got her, Jack!” the words came out slurred and as disjointed as his jaw appeared to be.

“Cecil!” Jack voiced his disbelief, his head in a swoon. “Is that you?”

“At your service, sir,” Cecil sounded rather punch drunk, and with his eyes rolling around inside his head, not entirely in control of his wits.

“At your service?” Jack repeated to himself. “It’s a wonder he’d even managed to survive the fall. Courageous,” for sure, he lauded the heroics, but even faint as he was, he wasn’t going to let Cecil know that.

Instead he quipped with a groan riddled with pain, “Well, damn it all son. You were too quick on the trigger. I had him right where I wanted him.”

“Sorry boss,” Cecil cocked his pretty blond head and slurred. “You want me to go back up and try again?” He grimaced, sucked in some blood then offered up another toothless smile.

The pain that shot through Jack might have been worth the laugh had he not spotted the four thugs who had been in pursuit of Cecil now standing at the top of the steps. They were already racing down toward them when the meter ran out on those 15 minutes Harrington was waiting to start the assault.

Lamps lit up the sky and in rushed the 3rd precinct armed to the teeth, swarming in like ants on the march over a decaying carcass. Jack shifted his focus back toward Michael, err, Tatiana, err, Michelle who was now kneeling down beside him.

“Hey over here,” Michael signaled toward one of the advancing officers, “Get some medical help over here quick.”

Jack looked up and smiled at the boy dressed as a flamingo girl. The shadowy hollows of his eyes didn’t appear so dark anymore. Nor did he look so ghostly pale. Hardly the harbinger of death, though Jack had always known that.

“Are you alright?’ Michael asked.

“Yes,” he wanted to say, but couldn’t say. He suddenly felt overtaken by faintness and his rapidly tunneling senses made putting words to his conscious thought no longer possible. The best he could do was look up and watch as one medic now on the scene supplied him with oxygen and medication. While a pair of others wrapped a splint around his shattered leg before hoisting him onto the stretcher. Beside him another team worked on Cecil and what was left of Vlady. Then when ready, they were taken to the waiting ambulance.

Only the much needed infusion of oxygen had managed to clear Jack’s head. It also infused new life into his weakened state. Leastwise enough to reach up and tear the inhalator off his face.

“I don’t need this, boy!” he grumbled and scowled at the medic walking at his side.

“Yes you do, sir,” he sought to replace it, but before he could wrangle it free from Jack’s grasp, out came, “Hey, you ain’t by chance Romanian, are you son?” He eyeballed him with a steely-eye glare.

“No, sir, I’m pure blooded Italian.”

“Open up son and smile for me,” which the medic did, while Jack, overwrought with suspicion thoroughly scrutinized his two eye teeth.

“Huh!” he grunted, “No caps!”

“How’s that, sir?’

“No caps! I guess I got them all.”
Scene VI: An Ocean of White Blossoms
St. Marks Hospital, 6 a.m . . .

Jack hobbled out his room and down the hall toward Cecil’s. It wasn’t his first time on crutches, but no matter how your cut it, that step-swing-step glide is slow going with a cast running thigh high weighing you down. Still, if you think he was looking for sympathy, think again. He was armed to the teeth with his dry wit and cynicism as he walked in and saw Abe, Arina, Michael and Carl Rutherford beside Cecil’s bedside.

“About time you showed up,” Jack curtly blurted out. “I thought you knew how to read a map.” He rattled off, and continued on with that step-swing-step glide.

“I do.” Abe seemed pleased that the medications hadn’t dulled his friend’s wit. “We’ve been here. We’ve followed you ever step of the way.”

“Thanks, buddy,” Jack shook his hand.

“Good to see you on your feet.” Abe followed. “So how did you manage to escape from under Nurse Cruella’s all-knowing eye?”

“Evil nurse Thorndike? Easy,” Jack opened up his hand to show Abe the sleeping pills she had given him. “Once I found the combination.”

Abe laughed, “On the bottom of the top desk drawer?”

“Yup, right out of the text book.” Jack massaged the tortured line of thought.

He then turned toward Cecil, wrapped up in bandages lying upon the bed. With a step-swing-step he inched in a bit closer then delivered that time-honored punch to the forearm. Jack’s way of telling a man he was someone he wholly respected. “Abe, meet Cecil Benover, one heck of a cop. Cecil, meet Abe.”

“We’ve met,” Abe answer for him. Mainly because Cecil had his mouth wired to support the fractured jaw he had sustained in the fall, along with a concussion and a fractured rib and some teeth. Needless to say, he wasn’t quite himself, though the doctors did manage to dissolve that glue. His scalp looked red and peeled and his face looked none too pretty, but at least the swelling had gone down enough to see the old Cecil under there, somewhere.

“He looks great in a dress too,” Jacked smiled. “You make me proud, kid.”

Jack at last turned to Michael. He smiled at Arina who was holding his hand sitting at the foot of Cecil’s bed.

“How’s Michael doing?” he asked and then, “Ah, I mean . . .” he sought to correct himself after realizing his mistake. Only he was beaten to it.

“Michelle!” Michelle called out her own name.

“Yes, Michelle is doing well,” Arina returned his smile.

Jack wanted to kick himself for having made the mistake. Besides the obvious fact that she looked like the girl next door, she had also made a conscious effort to present herself as one. In fact she looked ever bit that vision he had seen bouncing down the steps of Lindquist Hall a few days before.

Her golden blonde ponytail was arched high, like a prancing young filly on promenade. It was a wig of course, but the fullest of her pink and white gingham dress looked just the same. As did the eagerness he saw painted on her parted, red stained lips. Then there was that whiff of teen spirit filled with the optimistic spirit of youth.

That was the young woman he saw wrapped around Arina’s affections. The boy, the girl who’d tasted that lush red fruit, so seductive in its allure, so sinfully wild to enjoy. Yet despite everything Vlady had taken from her, the one thing she could not take was her will to resist lusting after still more. A temptation she had resisted, and in the process, she saved herself and Jack as well.

Of course all that was behind her now, as was Vlady. The power of her persona, her chemistry and her evil machinations that once held such sway were now gone, dead and buried along with her history. It had evaporated into thin air like the dark apparition that once was, but in truth, was never really there. Only the stench of her evil and the consequences of her hate remained; though no longer in Michelle.

Once ghostly pale, her eyes so dark, she was now vibrant, alive, with a “joie de vivre” as luminous as the rose in her cheeks. Yes, true, it was in a form Vlady had created, but clearly this was not a face of her making. This was a new face, born from the essence that was now free to run through her veins once Vlady’s deadly venom had been flushed out. A face of her own choosing that was now free to flourish, and with Arina’s help, to become one with herself again.

“I’ve got something to show you, Jack” Carl’s voice cut through his thoughts. With Vlady’s ring in hand, he handed it to Jack.

“How’d you get this?”

“Abe grabbed it, States evidence.”

“You saw her?” Jack asked.

“Yes, she looked very mortal and very undone.”

“Did Arina see her?”

“Yes, she was with me and Abe. She got a good look.”

“She spat too!” Abe chuckled, looked down and pointed to his shoe. “Just like my mama used to say, ‘I spit on your bones’.”

“Good, I’m glad. She needed to see more than anyone. Right, Arina?” He turned to ask.

“Yes,” she spoke as if finally free of the burden she carried. “She was mortal. She had always been mortal. She was an evil, a pestilence. Now she is just one less for the world to suffer.”

“Good, now you need to get that message out.”

“This might help,” Carl cut in. “Look at it!” He pointed to the ring. “Look what’s inscribed inside the band.”

Jack did, bringing it up close and examining it with one eye. “It says, made in West Germany.”

“Yes, it’s a fake! It couldn’t be anymore than 10 years old.”

"A fake!” Jack shook his head, not wanting to believe a man of his stature could possibly entertain the notion it wasn’t. “Of course it’s a fake. It was all a con game, professor. You know that, right?”

“Yeah, I read the Marquee before I paid me 10 cent admission.” He recited what Jack had once told him. “However, I’m the type of guy who needs to see it for himself. If the guy behind the mask isn’t revealing himself, I need to sift through the clues until the irrefutable evidence reveals itself.”

“Besides,” he went on, “it isn’t important that I know. It's important that they know," Carl looked over at Arina and Michelle.

“Spot on, professor,” Jack followed, then reached over and placed the ring in Arina’s hand. “See, there are no hexes, no voodoo, no vampires looming in the night.”

“It's yours, Arina.” Jack followed. “Keep it as a memento, or do what is right and show the others that they are now free, no longer bound to the past." Then he turned toward Michelle. “No one can give back to you the years you've lost. I know the wounds are deep and time alone cannot bring them to heal. But love can.”

“Arina,” Jack took up her hand. “Michelle isn’t the one. At least not the one Vlady tried to convince you she was. She is however your one and only chance to bring an end to your suffering. Take care of her Arina. She's more precious than all the rings in the world."

With that she cried, and Michelle, the victim of so much hate and deceit, reached out to hold her. No longer was her heart too dark, too distant or too cold. Vlady’s spell broken, she was again whole, a single embodiment of a beautiful young girl, with a voice as poignant as her smile.

“Mama!” Michelle uttered, and “Mama,” Jack’s voice echoed.

“A private moment?” Abe asked after a long silent pause.

“You think?” Jack replied, then asked, “So, where’s Arn?”

“Upstairs, room 1430.”

“He didn’t . . .?”

“Oh no, he did exactly as you said. They found him holding the guys in the lounge at bay. Only the one he didn’t see got the jump on him. He smashed Arn in the head with a bottle before Arn managed to regain the upper hand.”

“Tough Irishmen. Now I know how he managed to survive 31 years with that wife of his. Is he hurt bad?” Jack wanted to know.

“A nasty gash, but I understand he has a pretty thick skull.”

“Yeah, you got that right. You been up to visit him yet?”

“Not this morning. I was just fixing to go up when you came in.”

“So what’s keeping you?”

“You,” Abe laughed. “You’re slowing me down, old man.”

“Look who’s calling who old.” Jack replied, already step-swing-stepping on one leg on his way out the door. “You’re the one legging it out in that cushy job raking up them cherry blossoms.”

“You mean up there in Waterston, where the ocean of white blossoms dot the landscape against the rolling green hills beyond?” Abe echoed what Jack had once said to him.

“Nicely put, Abe,” another step-swing-step further along.”

“Your words,” Abe added.

Yes, those were his words, a memory from his boyhood. More an utterance, really, that Abe had remembered him saying on their drive along River Road. Something quite personal that when spoken, brought to mind the vision of his mother sitting on the blanket amidst the snow-like pedals that covered the ground.

That vision and all that had transpired in the last few days weighted on him deeply.

“Yes,” he wanted to say, but couldn’t say as the tidal wave of memories swept over him. Like his step-swing-step, his thoughts swayed between the joyousness in Michelle and Arina’s embrace, to the regret for having lost touch with the beauty of that moment beneath the cherry trees so long ago.

“I admit, it is beautiful,” Abe kept pace with that step-swing-step glide.

Maybe it was that he really did need that medication. Or maybe it was that he could no longer keep his emotions in check. Whatever the reason, as he replayed those once lost memories, the beauty in his mother’s voice eclipsed even that of his friend’s. “Yes,” she had said, “the blossoms are beautiful . . .”

And “Yes,” Jack finally managed to utter. “. . . and later will come the harvest of the lush sweet fruit, sinfully wild to enjoy.”

“You gotta be careful though,” Abe followed in reply. “Eat too much and you’ll be bellyaching like them crows.”

“There’s the hitch, Abe.” Jack choked through watery eyes. “In every little sin there’s always some disappointment and regret.”

“So I’ve been told, my friend, so I’ve been told!”


. . . Jack hobbled across the parade field on his crutches, just as obstinate as ever and still clinging to his pig-headed notion of self-sufficiency. . .

End of Part II

Acknowledgement: I need thank Amber Talamasca for her contributions and Amelia French, for her support and guidance. I’d love to thank my editor as well, but I’m afraid my dear friend cs. is a bit too modest to accept the accolades so richly deserved.
 ©2009 by josie ©. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without expressed written consent of the copyright holder.

To Be Continued in Book Three

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