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So Long, Chief
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Format:ebook (Digital original) $0.99 $0.99 CAD
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So Long, Chief
Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane
The old man was dying, but there was nobody to see him off. In a few more days he'd get the royal farewell, a eulogy by the police chaplain, a cavalcade of motorcycle troops, and a final salute from the fresh young faces to whom he was nothing but a fading legend. He was the last of the old breed who had outlived his friends and his usefulness and he was all alone on his final assignment.
The nurse said, "Not too long, please."
She was a cute brunette in her twenties, well worth flirting with, but I wasn't in the mood.
I asked, "Pretty bad?"
Her answer was only slightly evasive: "He's almost ninety, tires easily. Are you family?"
"No," I said. "He doesn't have any family."
She gave me a little smile and nodded. "I see. Just don't excite him."
I could have told her that there wasn't much that could ever excite him after the life he'd lived.
But I just said my thanks and went into the sterile little hospital room with the green walls and the automated bed that seemed to hold him like a waiter balancing a tray. Hard to believe that once he would have dominated a room of any size like the Colossus of Rhodes. Now he was just a textured form under the sheet.
But the unmistakable quality was there, a strange force as alive as ever, hovering like a protective screen around his withered face.
I walked to the bed, looked down at him, and said, "Hello, Chief."
He didn't open his eyes. He simply let the tone of my voice go through a mental computer check and when it didn't register, he said, "You one of the new ones?"
When he turned his head he let his eyes slide open and the old tiger was still in there. For a good five seconds he was riffling through the cerebral filing cabinet before he was satisfied that I was clean…at least up to a point.
"I don't know you," he stated in a curiously noncommittal voice.
"No reason why you should. It's been a long time, Chief. Forty-some years."
The voice still had strength, shrouded though it was in a growly rasp. "You'd have been a little kid then."
"Uh-huh. About eleven. A wise-ass young punk in a lousy neighborhood who was prepping himself for all that beautiful mob action he saw around him…the rolls of dough, the fancy cars, a string of lovely broads, just the way Gino Madoni had it."
The tiger stirred behind the eyes. It crouched, the lips curling back over huge shiny white fangs.
"I shot Madoni myself," the Chief said.
"Yeah you did. You were a fresh-faced boyo who just made detective, wading into something way the hell over his head."
"And you were…?"
"I was the little kid you rapped the living shit out of, the twerp who carried policy slips around in his school bag."
He was remembering now, and letting the pieces fall into a knowable pattern. The tiger's tail twitched. "The little kid never forgot, did he?"
I grinned at him. "Nope. It was a lesson that stuck with him."
Maybe it was my grin that did it, but the tiger suddenly hesitated, poised to pounce but curious.
I said, "That punk kid never forgot a lot of things. Like how Gino tore that girl up in that cellar and then broke old man Kravitch's arm for him. Or how Gino was always talking about how some day he was gonna kill himself a cop, only when one finally came in after him, for shooting a guard in a holdup, Gino went all to pieces. Grabbed that kid and held him in front of him, thinking the cop wouldn't shoot with the kid as a shield, but forgetting the cop was a damn good shot who could take him out, kid or no kid. That cop, that young detective, put a slug in Gino's head and that kid got splashed with the kind of memory you don't forget."
"Is that what you came here to say?"
- On Sale
- Dec 6, 2016
- Page Count
- 48 pages
- Mulholland Books