Render Unto Caesar (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: May 1, 2015 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , , ,

I almost didn’t make it in time for the challenge this week (working on another long form story, and having a hard time getting my head space in order. My mashup is supposed to be the spiritual child of DIRTY HARRY and THE WIRE.

Errm. Yeah, not in my usual wheelhouse, but maybe tangential to it. Without further ado, RENDER UNTO CAESAR.

“Wake up, Smalls.”

The voice came from the corner of his tiny, one bedroom apartment. Smalls didn’t even open his eyes, sitting up, hand grasping, and failing to find, the pistol he kept under his pillow.

Blinking, he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness.

“You really should invest in some more security here, Smalls,” the voice said. The voice belonged to a figure, but it was too dark, even with the street light leaking through the dirty window, for Smalls to know for sure who it was. That voice though, that hard edged knife of a voice, it was familiar.

“Who the fuck are you?”

The stink of Sulphur filled the room as the figure lit a cigarette. In the brief light of the flame, Smalls saw the squint-eyed look, the hard features, and the eyes as cold as the harbor in January.

“Detective Killian.”

“You recognize me. I suppose I should be flattered.”

“Guess you took my gun?”

Killian turned the light on next to the chair and Smalls shielded his eyes against the sudden stabbing bright. On the arm of the chair was Smalls pistol. His shotgun rested on the table. “I didn’t want there to be any unfortunate misunderstandings.”

Smalls snorted. “So you’re not here in any official capacity then?”

Killian cracked a ghost of a smile, gone as quick as it was there. “If I was, you’d already be in handcuffs and in the back of a squad car.” He leaned forward in the chair, and Smalls saw the nickle-plated hand cannon in the shoulder holster. “Or you’d be dead.” Killian paused, chewing over his next words. “I’m here because I think we can help each other.”

“Oh of course. And how can I help my friends in the police department?”

“Cut the bullshit Smalls. The only reason we don’t drag you in is because you hurt the same people we’re trying to keep a lid on. And that’s what I want your help with.”

“To hurt someone? I thought the police were there to serve and protect?”

Killian’s left eyebrow lifted up toward his hairline. “You really believe that bullshit, Smalls? Most of the time we’re left picking up the pieces after its way too late to protect. No, there’s bigger fish out there right now, and I need your help finding him.”

“Using me as bait then?”

“That’s an ugly way of putting it.”

Smalls shrugged. “Ugly sort of business isn’t it?”

“It is that,” Killian conceded. “Doesn’t change the fact that together we could take down one of the largest assholes out there right now.”

“Who’ve you got your sights on, Killian?”

Killian put his cigarette out in the ashtray on the table. “Caesar Morris. You know him?”

Smalls broke out into a grin of his own. “Shit, Killian, why didn’t you say so in the first place? I’d kill that motherfucker for free.”

“Good. Now put some clothes on. We’ve got work to do.”

***

“Sure this is the place?” Killian asked.

Smalls reached around and pointed at the building. They were sitting in Killian’s car, smoking cigarettes and waiting. “He’ll be coming out that door in half an hour. Maybe less. He’s got a girl he keeps there.

“So, where’s the rest of the team?”

“Team?”

“Yeah, backup.”

Killian chuckled. “Take a look in the mirror.”

“Why?”

“You’ll see my back-up there.”

“What? Oh now, Killian, you’ve got to be shitting me. Just us two?” Smalls laughed, but there was an edge to it that betrayed his nerves.

“Don’t tell me your having second thoughts here, Smalls.”

“Huh? Oh no man, not me. Shit. This is your play, man.”

“Good, because here he comes.”

Caesar exited the door, paused to look up and down the street. He stepped out, fingers on the remote lock of a Cadillac Escalade flashing its lights in response. He adjusted a suit that would have cost Killian two paychecks.

Killian eased his sedan behind Caesar, keeping a steady distance behind him. He wished he could afford to bring more of his team in on this, but if it went sideways he wanted to be sure that nobody but him got in the shit for this. As for Smalls, well, he was a known criminal, wasn’t he? If things went well, know would know of his involvement. And if it didn’t, well he might be dead, but no further in disgrace as it was.

They followed the Escalade out of the city and into the outskirts.

“Where is that motherfucker going?” Smalls asked, but Killian could only shrug in response.

The Escalade pulled over by a suburban house, and Killian and Smalls kept driving by. The house was in general disrepair, sagging gutters and flaking paint. The overgrown yard and boarded up windows marked it as a victim of the times. Killian parked the car a ways down, and they watched in the mirrors as Caesar exited and headed inside.

“Not so abandoned then, huh?” Killian observed.

“How do you want to play this?” Smalls asked. He could feel his heart racing, same way it always did before he pulled a rip-and-run. This though? Offing a member of criminal royalty? This shit was on a whole other level.

“How are you with that shotgun?” Killian asked. “I figure you take the front, and I’ll take the back. You think you can handle that?”

Smalls smiled. “Bet your ass I can.”

Smalls waited outside the front door. He’d approached, crouched low and moving fast in case there was anyone looking. There weren’t many houses out this way, but there were a few. Killian guessed they had about fifteen to twenty minutes to get in and out before the police showed, and neither one of them wanted to be there when that happened.

Smalls counted silently to one hundred, giving Killian time to get into position. He aimed the shotgun at where the door hinges would be, and blasted them out. Kicking the door open, he swept the shotgun across the room.

A heavy set man tried getting up from the couch he’d sunk into, struggled to clear his gun from where’d he stuck it in his pants. Smalls pulled the trigger of the shotgun, the boom echoing through the house. Red bloomed on the man’s chest and he sank back down, sucking hard.

Another man rounded the corner, pistol in his hand held gansta-style, pulling the trigger. Smalls dropped to the ground, bullets hitting the doorframe. One bullet stovepiped in the chamber, and the thug stared at in disbelief until Smalls fired, the blast catching the man in the midsection and knocking him to the ground.

Smalls scrambled to his feet, headed toward the back door. He got there in time to see Caesar stop, drop his hand down to his belt for his gun. Smalls brought his own gun up, but then the back of Caesar’s head blew open, and he collapsed to the floor.

Standing there in the backdoor was Killian. The two men stared at each other, guns pointing at each other. They nodded at each other, then each backed away solely, knowing that when they met again it wouldn’t be nearly so amicable.

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