Former Inspector Wallace Findings lay in his self-imposed slumber, sprawled clumsily across his bed, his palms open and a bottle of escaped pills reposed next to his left hand where they had managed to release themselves from their tubular prison. He had found sleep to be hazardous to his mental health these days; for than 6500 days at least. He had almost eighteen years of calendars to remind him of the event that had imposed such a life of malaise upon him. Yet, tonight, this self-condemned nasty piece of work was sound a sleep tonight, and on such a night as this.
This night had brought it all back right into the center of his mental vision. He could not stop recalling how he had found her and how she had died. Out his window the looming image of the sears tower was illuminated in the distance, with the two antennas flashing their red beacons. It was a clear night. The same could not be said for Wallace Findings’ head. The sacredness of the night, the lights from the towering metal monstrosity shining through his window and the malaise in his head made it almost add up to a hypnotic state. What Wallace Findings had experienced was a mental shut down for the sleep-deprived. Yet, for Wallace Findings, even his sleep tormented him with dreams that usually provoked excursions into sheer and utter depression, in effect, memories of her. Tonight, especially, would prove to be a night of dreams of reflection on things better regarded as having never occurred. Yet, there in front of Findings’ closed and tense eyes was the scene just as he had found it; just as he had found her. The same feeling as having his guts wretched right out of him came over Wallace as the autobiographical replay of diabolically evil actions filled Findings’ mind; pressing and crowding out all other more rational thoughts and images from his guilt-ridden mind.
As his mind raced behind the veil of sleep, Wallace Findings, her man, her fellow survivor, her mate and the only one she had truly deceived was this shell of a man seeing it in his dreams and what he saw was too vivid, too real because it had been real and that made it all the more authentic now. He was looking down at her. He remembered having only done that on two very different occasions; when he made love to her and when he had found her dead.
Deep within Findings’ brain dwelt a picture of a tragedy beyond any possible personal loss he could have ever imagined losing. Tonight, he could see it all over again. The greatest torment of all though, yes stronger than any other diabolical part of the memory was the latent speculation that perhaps Wallace Findings had not done it himself.
Mercilessly, the slumbering vision forced Wallace to see her there with that look of utter despair. Wallace saw himself looking down on her body, lifeless and cold. Wallace saw his hands slide under his downward gazing eyes. There was no blood. She had hemorrhaged from within and so had he for the last eighteen years. The feelings, the pain, the anger, the loss of the woman he had truly loved forced Wallace to aggressively squeeze his dreaming eyes tightly shut. When he had fully descended into that habitual dream, with his eyes staring at the back of his eyelids like some hideous bloody screen in a cinematic theatre, he found that his dream had taken him elsewhere.
The place was quiet. It was serene and dreadful with a scent of death n the air. It was large home; so many people there? Findings understood where it was because he had replayed it so many times during both his waking and sleeping hours. It was her funeral. Then the landscape changed in his mental picture again and Wallace could see himself being questioned by the police, he himself a comrade in arms.
“Wall, I put in a special request to do this investigation inquiry with you. I know you well and I thought it might be easier this way.”
“Thanks Doc; you are a good friend.”
“How are you hanging in there? Is there anything I can do for you on a personal level?”
“You can blow my brains out so I will stop seeing her like that in my mind!”
“I am so sorry for all of that my friend. You are a good cop, a good friend and were a great partner for Susan. Nevertheless, shall we get started? You reported that you were out of town the night before? For the record, could you tell me why and where you were?”
“I was assigned to a special task force and we had a meeting…Why? I truly don’t know why. If I had only declined the assignment!”
“Wall, you guys ever argue?”
“Yea, sure! You and your woman never did, Doc?”
“We did every chance we got till she…!”
“Sorry Doc, I didn’t mean to…”
“That’s okay, Wall, I’ve done my grieving and have done enough already. Let’s get you past yours first.”
“Well, to answer your question sir, we’ve had some of our best sex after one of her over-boards!”
“One of her what, Wall?”
“One of her over-boards. That’s what I called it when she was unable to maintain her self-control and sort of went over-board. Look, she was a fine woman, but she was a gutsy Latin nonetheless and I would have died for her without regard for myself! They would have had to slice me in half to get her from me, understood?”
“Yea, Wall understood. Just doing my job Wall, you know that?”
“Okay, Okay! I got ya! Doc, I want in the case!” Findings asked Doc.
“Now Wallace, you know that is out of protocol! Remember her for who you loved her as! Let us take care of this ugliness and you go and give Susan a good sending off. She loved you I think, not that I would even know what that feels like anymore, really!”
“Thanks Doc! Don’t let me down!”
“Come on Wall! You remember all those problems you had getting into the force because of your crooked feet? I liked you then and I like you now! So, do yourself a favor and go away for a while, anywhere…just out of here. We will catch the pervert who did this! We will, I swear!”
As Wallace Findings’ nocturnal images carried him into his fateful memories, he again looked up and saw the quiet, serene big house. She was there in that hideous box. Wallace felt the sudden, ever so slight thought sprint through his head in wonder if he had done that to her? Certainly, he had not protected her adequately and had let his guard down. Everything had seemed to have become so normal. Susan had moved in with him. They seemed good together; at least for the three short months they had been together. Findings had noticed that the guy upstairs was strange and Findings knew he had seen him somewhere else, but only after the awful-awful, had he understood that the man named Richard Trember who had moved upstairs had been her pimp before Findings took in and the sex trader was keeping an eye on his investment. Trember had been instantly charged with the murder, but to Wallace Findings it all seemed too clean; too professional for such a low-life as Trember; somehow too convenient. Wallace had never believed it was Trember who had really killed her. Even so, tonight Trember would die for Susan’s murder, but it changed nothing in Finding’s mind or in his dreams.
Findings always wondered about those hands he constantly saw in his dreams; hands displayed under his downward-gazing eyes. They seemed so clean, so steady, and so…professional. They were not the hands of a low-life drunk and burned-out types like the bug-man, Trember.
As if an adverse wind blew into Findings’ dream, the scene changed again and Wallace was now looking down at the woman he had loved lying in a box that would soon be placed in a permanent hole so prematurely. He had no idea that she had simply failed to tell him the most important news of his life, and when she had tried to, she died for it.
Findings heard her voice in the dream and turned his head in the direction of the sound of her voice he had so clearly heard. He saw or heard nothing until suddenly…
“Wallace, be a father to the fatherless! I loved you too.”
That time Wallace Findings saw himself seated in his chair during her funeral with his eyes rudely reddened by the thoughts and the reality of his life having been torn apart. As of yet, he had not known how much. Undeterred by the voices going through his head, Wallace saw himself again rising to speak the words that he had hoped he’d never have to say. Wallace watched through the eyes of his dream and heard all the words he had spoken about her in front of the artificially large crowd. Wallace knew that all the officers had come more for him than for her. There were not too many ex-prostitutes who had had so many of Chicago’s Finest in blue attend their funerals. They all knew who she had been, but they all agreed that such a beautiful woman should never lose her life so early. Findings’ solemn moment was overtaken by the feeling of falling and he woke up for a brief moment. Quickly, he reacted by grabbing the sheets to keep himself from tumbling downward. Findings opened and closed his eyes tightly again and he saw it all where he had left off. The pain of his shattered heart gripped him and the disaster of it all overtook him like those old images of nuclear test blasts when the fireball bowled over anything that stood in its way. It all felt so real as it replayed behind his closed, slumbering and heartrending eyes.
He stood before his friends, those who had sought to mend him and hold him together in that time that had been really no more difficult than the past eighteen years. “I’ve been a police officer for a few years now. I’ve seen a good deal of unfairness out there, even evil itself, as many of you here tonight have witnessed as well. But, in all the injustice I have seen in this heartless land, I have never seen such a complete horror as the sad and senseless death of this fine woman. Oh, I know that many of you thought I was crazy to be with her. Thank you for standing by me anyway, I will never forget it. Yet, I got to know Susan Chacon. She was a real woman, had a heart of gold and just wanted to be happy.
She would always call herself ‘trouble’ She would often say, “Wallace, I am just trouble. I’m not worth all the trouble.” Findings looked over at the coffin holding the body of the only woman he had ever loved.
“Susan, the only trouble you ever were for me was leaving me so early! I will miss you. I could have helped her! Now, I pledge to you, I will find who did this evil thing to you! I will know it when I find him too, then you can come looking for me and I won’t even put up a fight! I will not rest until I do!” He had not slept a full night since. “I love you Susan!”
As Findings slept tossing, turning and crying in his sleep, out in the corridor of Findings’ building an ominous figure in a long black leather trench coat and dark glasses grabbed hold of the door knob that opened up into the corridor that led the way to Wallace Findings’ apartment. Behind him were muddy footprints that indicated a fairly crooked set of feet had made them. Findings would have believed he had made them himself. Quietly, but in a slightly uncaring manner he entered Findings’ apartment. He’d spend a bit of time in getting to know this fallen keeper of the peace. He came to the small hallway that led to the bedroom that had become Findings’ virtual sphere of activity. He saw some pictures hanging on the wall. One of them was with Findings and his partner whom the invader had met before. He felt the lines of his own face while his eyes researched the picture’s lines. He looked at Findings’ feet. They were not straight, but nothing as pronounced as the intruder’s own paws. The unwelcome guest was disgusted a bit with that.
The man turned his attention to the bedroom that had a light shining from under the door. He opened the door and saw Findings sprawled across the mattress. He went into the closet that held her pretty things; much the same way they had been some 18 years before. He saw a trunk in the corner. The intruder took some items from his pockets and opened the trunk and placed them inside. He closed the closet and walked over to the shell of the man who was portrayed in the pictures hanging in the hallway as a former Sergeant attached to the profiling unit. That strong, tough-looking man lay passed out on his bed. The intruder bent over the bed and began to whisper a name in Findings’ ear as he had done the last three times he had visited the drug-laden former Chicago police officer.
“It’s time to get Phaire, Jeffrey Phaire, Wallace.”
He looked at Wallace Findings and bent down and kissed him on his cheek.
“I hate so much being alone.” the intruder whispered to himself.
“I know you hate it too. Just deal with it!”
He turned and made his way out of the room the same way he had invaded it and quietly uttered that name again, “Jeffery Phaire!”
Still in a deep sleep, a name and a menacing voice that accompanied it kept reverberating in Findings’ head.
“Jeffrey Phaire! Jeffery Phaire!”
It was as though someone had been whispering it in his ear constantly.
“No!” whimpered the hollow shell of a man that was strewn across the disheveled mattress.
“Phaire!” “Phaire!” “Phaire!” “Phai…” Findings’ eyes forced themselves open and he screamed out.
"Alright! I’m listening!"
Wallace Findings jumped to his feet to meet the twisting, twirling world of two chairs, beer cans and the same throbbing headache in the back of his head where some fatty tumor had grown. He was sure it was a clump of over-worked nerves.
The former Chicago Police force Sergeant of the Profiling Unit fell back to the bed and felt around for his bottle of pills. Those round tablets seemed like his only friends anymore, though they didn’t help like they used to.
Wallace Findings had been a good cop, a solid cop and right now that stupid name was going through his head as it had for the past three nights. Every time the hollow voice began to echo in his head as Mr. Sandman did his thing. The name sort of rose from beyond and would spring up and slap him across his face.
At first, he did not pay much attention to it. Now, against his own better judgment, he would lay there waiting for its proclamation. It had become an obsession; a preoccupation; the only occupation he had anymore. It had to be some kind of omen, a message, perhaps from her. Perhaps out of justice for her. Could it be a neatly tucked away name of some goon that Sergeant Findings had arrested, sent up or had been forced to eradicate? Like a mental phantom, which had refused to stay put, that name attacked him like some personage without a face escaping from the deep regions of the sub-conscientious. It bugged him. It drove him mad and his detective brain did not have enough sense to let go of it.
Findings jumbled around on the nightstand beside his bed. He found the lamp but not before losing his patience and sending the phone to the other side of the room. He flipped on the radio and picked up his bottle of narcotic friends. He peered intently into the bottle with one red eye, readying himself for his daily display of loyalty to the legal dope that kept him from exploding. He struggled to his feet and gathered up the telephone. As he picked it up and placed the receiver back in place. It instantly began to ring. Wallace Findings was so startled that he dropped the phone again and he heard a voice calling out his name. He almost tumbled forward headfirst as he bent down to pick it up.
“Yea! Whatever you want, I am not in the mood, so…”
Across the street at a pay phone a man in a long black trench coat began to speak.
“Well, get yourself in the mood then Wallace!”
“Who is this?”
“Someone you wish you knew! Listen, to me Findings.”
“You have a good reason why I should…?”
“Why is your room always such a mess?”
“Who the hell…?”
Findings put the phone on the speaker and emptied out the contents of the bottle into his right hand. The pills formed a narcotic collage of sorts. Findings scooted them around in his palm, some over-the-counter things, a couple of volumes, and three Zanex tablets. He had a full bottle of Prozac in the bathroom cabinet, but he never took them. He was addicted to depression and could not risk being relieved of it. Findings took one of the Zanex in his left hand and hurled it into the air while opening his quivering lips under the descending tablet.
"This is a consecrated night is it not? Trember and I both escape our world tonight. Yep, you really think they got the right guy who killed precious Susan?”
When Findings heard the caller’s words he turned toward the phone and the tablet he had hurled into the air fell on top of his head and plummeted to the floor. The idea of any devotion or remorse whatsoever for this killer was way out of the question. There were too many others somewhere out there just like Trember, ready to take life away to satisfy their depraved tastes.
"He’s not going to be here anymore but I will be, though he really doesn’t know me. I too am a killer and I always give better than I get. Just ask that ugly whore sister I slew here just a little while back.”
“Just who are you anyway? What do you want?”
“Want? Who am I? I want legitimacy! I want an identity! I want a life! You have a school record? I don’t! You have a birthday? Well, I don’t! I do not exist and I want to make sure the whole world knows I am, that I wasn’t stillborn; especially, one Jeffery Phaire!”
Findings heard that name again and seemed to gain lucidity that he had not known for some time.
“Phaire? Who is that guy? How do you know that name? Better yet, how do I know that name?”
“Oh, he is no one of significance except for the fact that he stole my life! He took what should have been mine! Now, I want him to pay and to wear my crooked shoes for a while! Don’t worry, you’ll hear so much more about it all, I promise! Then there was my dear old mom! Now that was a real trip! They did me without firing a shot and believe me, this is not the life, which I would have ever wanted in the first place! You don’t kill what was offered to you freely. There’d be no challenge in that at all. Never mind Wallace, just carry on and get over it at last! You’ll know me when you see us over there my man. Just keep the faith until the game’s over!"
Findings came to himself and realized that he had a weird, stricken gawking look spread across his face. Perhaps he didn’t need any stuff tonight. He felt he was already hallucinating.
“Thank you Inspector. Wallace, you-who, are ya out there?”
“Yea, I’m here, who are you?”
“That’s not important right now, but you’ll know me soon enough! I saw you there tonight. Tonight’s the night isn’t it tough guy? There will be one less killer on the roam. Or were you the killer and just feeling guilty cause someone’s gonna die for what you did? Get it out of your head! Cause you did not do it! But, then neither did Trember. Guess I gotta do all the work for us both now! Of course there’s always the other one too, the one who really did your woman, I mean. You got the wrong guy Inspector. It doesn’t really matter, though it is a bit ironic. The dude Trember got away with his trophies, but is gonna die for one he didn’t do. What indifferent justice! I’ll never be far away though, because it is as though I’m right behind your eyes. So tonight Inspector, we both get a rush! Yet, his needle will fail to give you psychological justice. You know the dude is still out there. See ya soon. By the way, clean up your room."
“Wait!” Findings exclaimed. “I can see something! I know you did something awful recently. What did you do?”
The man at the other end of the line at first panicked and then realized that it did not matter anyway.
“Well, Inspector, how about you tell me. You one of those gifted ones or something? If so, is that inherited, by chance?”
“I see a cross dipped in blood and two women dead on the floor. You killed them didn’t you? They hurt you didn’t they? I know you! I feel I know you!”
“Wow, Wallace, you are very good! Very good indeed! Just hold your fire. You’ll hear from me again. Until then, get some rest. You’re going to be busy. See you later!”
The phone clicked and went dead and the man outside walked down the street in no predetermined direction. It was just the manner in which he walked that created dread in his wake; with his long flowing hair, black trench coat, black grunge boots and dark shades. His walk shouted out to any who might have the misfortune to meet him along his way, “I was a slave, an unknown, a non-existent, but now I’m free, I’m hungry for retribution, I’m lethal to the bone and I will have my life back!”
Findings bent down to pick up the pill that had collided with the floor. With shaking hands he plopped it into his mouth. He lifted an almost empty bottle of Bicardi to his mouth to chase down the drugs. His shaking hand shook the alcohol out before it reached his lips and all over him. Findings stuck himself with his pocketknife to be sure that he was really awake. The resulting issue of blood assured him that he was indeed in the world of the living. He was both relieved and disappointed. Yet, it was all so impossible, but in his hard of hearts he knew everything was possible for the killing kind.
Findings took out a cigarette and placed the length of it under his nose as he ritualistically always did. The sweet smell helped him to pay no attention to the habit that he knew was killing him. There were so many other nasty habits, drink, drugs, insomnia but the most lethal of all, memories.
As a cop, Wallace Findings had truly helped many a poor destitute soul. He had saved many, but the recollections of diced-up bodies, horrific faces of victims and the immune, benign expressions of the monsters of his no-return, hapless and apathetic generation caused bitterness and distrust to firmly implant its roots into his soul. The society he had sworn to protect had given up long ago and had lost its will to preserve any semblance of sanity. Its protectors had become like the ones they had sought. The only thing that separated the good guys from the bad ones was a badge that remained the only vestige of a long gone day of order. The streets belonged to the ghouls. He and his colleagues could only hope to keep the “normals" from the clutches of the "abnormals", and the lines between the two were so skewed.
Over the years, since her fate had been meted out on his bed, Findings had lost his touch at imagination. All of his socks were black. They could go with anything. He had six pairs of guess blue jeans and seven flannel shirts for winter and seven black button-down shirts for spring and summer. It saved time, not having to make decisions about the mundane. He never took them off except to change into fresh ones. They were then immediately washed. He was not a grimy person. Especially, he was immaculate. She had been so too, his woman. They had fought over his apparent inability to clean the sink after a shave or to clean anything at all. He’d never change he had told himself, but he had. Yes, he became his own type of savior, all in memory of her. He had come to realize that he had been just as much a pain in the rear for her. He had cussed her out, left her for days and even threatened her from time to time. Yet, she had trusted him and he knew it.
He had tried to put the brakes on her wanderings. He knew what she had been and only imagined what she had been through. He loved her then, before she had been his, and had accepted her after. He had never told her so, but she knew it. Yet, he still did not like her taste for meat. She had silently understood what he had done for her and what she had done to him. There was a psychotic serenity about it all. Though she wanted her men, but she never wanted to hurt this man. Yet, he was a man and as it has been said; most great men are bad men. She loved the variety show in which she flaunted herself, but she needed him. Maybe that was love, quite possibly? He had brought some legitimacy to the whole charade that had been her life, at least in Wallace Findings’ memories of the dead.
Vengeance Become A Driving Force
Author Steven Clark Bradley
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