After checking my car for the third time for any bugs, I got inside my SUV and slam the door, taking several deep breathes. In the rear-view mirror I see myself in my usual blazer suit with matching tie. I adjust the cufflinks of my button-up and look into the back seat where most of my life has been packed away in a hurry. I see piles of button-up shirts folded and wrapped in machine plastic, along with piles of papers and disks filled with the kind the material that might make a district prosecutor really happy to get their hands on. The empty plastic trays of what was once pre-made sushi wraps from H-E-B are a nice touch to the mess I had created for myself. The trunk is filled with nothing but suitcases.
I take another breath and dial a number from memory and wait. The dial tone is deafening.
“Logan?” it’s Kim again.
“Hi, Kim,” I say, already feeling miserable.
“You’re cutting it pretty close,” says Kim, “five more minutes and you’d be on my shit list with the rest of your family.”
“I’m on a lot of people’s shit lists right now, so it’s a long line,” I say, trying my hand at embracing gallows humor, “the vultures would be gnawing on my bones before you’d get your dig in.”
“Feeling suicidal?” her question feels more curious than anything approaching concern.
“Maybe…” I let the answer linger, not too sure whether I want Kim to feel sorry for me or probing her to see what she knows so far.
“Wouldn’t have anything to do with the two murders that happened last night?” she asks.
I find my subconscious has opted for the latter.
“What murders?” I ask, feeling nervous.
“One at the Austonian and there was another that happened in a hotel off of Oltorf,” she says, “the FBI has reason to believe that your family was involved.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know,” I tell her.
“Logan, you need to open up to me,” says Kim, already getting pissed, “you’re dodging me again.”
“No, I can’t,” I tell her.
There’s a pause on the line.
“You were there weren’t you?” Kim says.
I don’t say anything.
“Who was the victim, Logan?” she asks me.
I say nothing.
“Logan, you will not be safe if you do not tell me who they were,” Kim says, she’s slowing her speech now, “if they know that you are talking to me, they will kill you.”
“I’m going to find out for you,” I say.
“You witnessed it?” asks Kim.
“I didn’t know who they were, but I’m going to find out tonight,” I tell her.
“Where are you right now,” asks Kim, “I need to find you right now.”
“I’m sorry Kim,” I tell her, “but I have to go.”
“No!” she screams, “tell me where you are now!”
“I’m sorry Kim,” I whisper, and I hang up the phone.
I slowly placed the keys into the ignition of my care and slowly start the car. It purrs to live in the dark, barely lit parking lot of the hotel and with a sigh of relief, I’m off to the Magnolia Café on South Congress.
Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser
Molly looks at the phone as it makes long, loud chirps in the parking lot outside of the hotel. The night air becomes hotter as I feel the fear creeping into my body. I look at my laptop and see the brunette woman on the video feed dialing Molly’s phone and looking up at the camera. The woman on the screen looks like she’s pissed as she continues to look up at me. She uses her free hand to shape it into a gun cocking it at the camera and taking aim. She extends her index ad middle fingers and tilts them, symbolizing a shot that condemns us all.
I slam the laptop shut and grab Molly’s phone. I rip the phone’s battery and sim card out of the read deck and toss them into the brush.
“We need to get out of here!” Molly, says.
“Yeah, no shit!” I say as we make a run for my car.
We run to my car and get inside. I step on the gas and within a few minutes we’re on I-35 heading north towards….somewhere. A few minutes pass.
“I need your phone,” says Molly.
“No,” I tell her.
“I need your fucking phone, Arty,” she tells me, “we’re so fucked if you don’t!”
“What did you do!?” I screamed.
“Some asshole just screwed me over,” she says in a fit of anger, as she reaches and grabs my cell phone out of my pocket.
“Nooooo,” I shake my head, “please no. No, no, no, no. I don’t want this.”
Molly looks at me. I can see her face twisting into something that resembles disgust. My eyes begin to well up.
“Believe it, Arty,” she says looking at me, “we’re in on this now. Both of us.”
“No, I never wanted this,” I tell her. I feel my body shaking. I’m crying.
“I just needed the extra money,” I tell her, “please just…I’ll drop you off anywhere you want just leave me out of this.”
I pull the car over on the side of the highway, as I try to catch my breath. Molly rubs my back as I lean into the steering wheel. I look up at her and she’s holding my cellphone in her hand.
“I’m sorry Arty,” she tells me, “you’re already in too deep.”
“What are you going to do?” I ask her.
“I’m going to make a phone call to see if I can call this off,” she says, “and then I’m going to need you to get some info on someone.”
“Who?” I ask.
“Logan Webb,” she tells me, “the fucker I want is Logan Webb.”
Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser
So it’s been three months since started this little adventure and I’ve been loving the outreach and experiences that I’ve gained so far. Going back to my first few posts I remembered what I was feeling back then and how nervous I was when I posted my excerpt of Con Job and my first poetry review of Ghost in the Shell. I was nervous about it because I mostly thought I was giving the world the ammunition it needed to prove that I was a freak all along and that no one would be into that stuff. However, I kept going; I wrote more blog posts, a sort-of essay about how difficult it is to be prescient as a writer, my trepidation over the possibly popularity of the live action Ghost in the Shell, and then later the review that blew all those assumptions out of the water in one fell swoop.
Then I started Austin By Night, and that’s when things really took off. I can say that my greatest achievement thus far has been the fact that my visitor counts doubled in not only April, but also in May. Two months of exponential growth! THAT is something.
I can’t be thankful enough to the people on WordPress along with my subscribers here on this site, as well as the wonderful local community of writers in my city, my home, Austin, Texas. There are many writers on twitter and their openness and willingness to help me make me a better writer have been invaluable. And there are those who are not online, but have also helped in immeasurable ways (and you know who you are and I am eternally grateful).
I think I’m lucky that I live in a pretty cosmopolitan city that is willing to embrace and support artists like myself. Not an easy thing to be, especially in the American South, but Austin definitely deserves the accolades. Now that I’ve seen what it takes to make it as a writer, I hope to spread the signal further through here and out there.
So, what’s next? Well, I’m working on a novel right now, which I’ve posted an excerpt of over a month ago. That novel has been my off-site project as well as what I do here, along with twitter and youtube. I’ll still be posting videos and continuing the Austin By Night series for the foreseeable future and I hope you’ll still around to see the other projects that I have coming down the artistic pipe-line. Once again, thank you for your support, your subscriptions, and continue to spread the signal. In the end, it’s all up to us! See you soon!
It takes less than an hour to secure the medical equipment to properly conduct the procedure. I waited in the hotel room for the two other contractors to show up with the rest of the “props” that would finish this task and allow me to get back to my condo before sunrise.
One of my cell phones started to ring and I flip it open to answer.
“Yes?” I ask.
“Did you just order a cleaner to help wrap up your job?” It’s Kimberly, at least that’s what she calls herself.
“Yeah, I have a defector that’s about go into the deep sleep,” I tell her.
“God, I just found some asshole snooping around one of our offices at the Austonian, earlier,” she tells me, “I had to burn the body on the roof earlier. Somebody’s been talking.”
“I’m not paid to speculate, Kimberly,” I tell her.
“No, Cassandra,” Kimberly tells me, “but we are paid to keep our employers happy.”
“Uh-huh,” I say as I take the syringe of dioxin, and plunge the needle into the neck of the defector, while keeping a hand on his pulse, “did your intruder have anything on them?”
“He had his phone on him, the idiot,” says Kimberly, “I traced the only number in the cell’s memory to some parking lot outside a hotel in the downtown area, but they split before I could send a hit team over there. I can pull something off the surveillance cameras, though, if you help me.”
I keep my fingers on the defector’s pulse. I can feel it starting to slow down.
“Possibly,” I tell her, “it’s not exactly my expertise.”
“Do you have another job lined up after this?” asks Kimberly.
“Maybe,” I tell her, “it’s not clear yet.”
The pulse gives a few more slow, thumping beats and stops. The defector is dead.
“Let me know as soon as you find something,” says Kimberly, “I have a feeling this job may start to stop paying as well as it once did.”
“Will do,” I sign off and close my phone shut.
The body is limp as I stay with it inside a dimly lit hotel room that is facing Oltorf Drive in East Austin. I wait until the people I’m expecting open the door, but it is just the woman tonight. She’s dressed in a white pants suit and has blond hair. She looks much older than I do, as if she’s just aged by an extra ten years on this night alone. I can see so many new wrinkles around her cheeks and eyes.
“Sorry, my husband can’t make it,” she tells me, “He’s still trying to negotiate his release from house arrest.”
“You’re late,” I tell her.
“There was an incident at the Austonian and my son was there.” she says, as she sighs and puts her white, leather purse down, “there’s police everywhere right now.”
“How is your son?” I ask her, not really caring, but trying to feel more human than what the pills have done to me.
“Not good,” she says shaking her head and pulling out an orange bottle of labelled prescription medication, “he had to be sent home. It’s frustrating when your own flesh and blood can’t do the job you trained him for.”
I take the bottle of pills with my gloved hand and look at it.
“This man,” says the woman, “I made sure his medical records were altered to state that he had a history of heart problems.”
“Was he a loner?” I asked.
The woman looks down and raises her eyebrows.
“A loner?” she repeats the question as if it bears repeating at all, “he’s just some punk like the rest of them. Like all those other lefty ingrates who don’t know how to make a real buck in this world.”
I look up at the woman and see that she’s serious and I can’t help but raise my eyebrow at her.
“I suppose you’re right,” I tell her.
Author’s note: you can find the other chapters here at the Austin By Night page.
Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser