Excerpt: Fall from Grace

When Joey plugged a leak, he preferred to use a .45 automatic at point blank range. The pistol had a lot of things going for it. Its accuracy and stopping power made the gun very popular on the streets and in the media. Evan found that out the hard way. The technician spilled his guts before Joey shot him. It wasn’t like Evan had any choice in the matter. Joey was a very persuasive fellow especially when he had time, a little rock salt and a cheese grater to work with.

Evan, like Manny before him, had gotten greedy and too smart for his own good. The techie planned to be out of town long before anyone found out who sold the casting. It might have worked if not for Tyler being in the right place at the right time.

Joey entered through the back of the house. He caught the technician in the process of packing his bags. That’s when Even went to his backup plan: bribery. When that failed, he resorted to blackmail. It was laughable. Joey knew something that Evan and most amateur blackmailers never live long enough to learn. You can’t blackmail someone who has everything to gain from killing you and nothing to lose. It was that simple. Professional blackmailers and extortionists know that murderers make the worse targets. They are willing and able to kill to protect their secrets, trusting that whatever evidence that might be hidden away will stay that way.

Joey didn’t like trusting in fate so he took the extra time to ask Evan where any blackmail material might be hidden. There wasn’t any. It was a hollow threat. That brought a smile to his face. The answer to Joey’s next question made it disappear. He let his displeasure be known during Evan’s final moments. The tech sold copies of the casting to several people including a news reporter. In a few hours, it would be on the morning news. Joey holstered his pistol and thought about this latest development. He didn’t hear the back door open.


Even with the quick stop to pick up some hardware, Janson made good time. He felt better carrying his gun. Even though no one ever tried anything in this part of Long Island City, he had a feeling he would need it.

The Chase Corporation, headquartered in the old Citigroup Building, was responsible for neighborhood security. Janson had some experience with them. He knew their security teams focused on protecting its corporate assets. Any good they did for the neighborhood was an unintended side effect.

The other major company in the area was Silvercup Studios. The networks who used the studios pulled together to hire Darkwater International, a self-described private military and security firm, to protect their interests. Everything Janson heard about Darkwater was bad. Darkwater was a relatively new company, once considered a joke or a myth that you read about in one of those mercenary style magazines. They were little more than a bunch of amoral thugs and killers willing to do whatever it took to protect their charges. At one time, the government contracted their services overseas. This allowed the company to expand and grow.

Although both corporations kept the peace, there was bad blood between them. One of Darkwater’s missions had resulted in the deaths of almost two dozen civilians. Some of those massacred happened to be employed by the Chase Corp. There were charges that the shooting was a cover for a paid assassination or a botched kidnapping. The allegations were never proven one way or the other but it made the two companies lifelong enemies. Many thought it was a bad idea for the two companies to be working security in the same area. With the amount of money Darkwater was being paid, they didn’t care what anyone else thought. They had a job to do and a paycheck to collect. Nothing was going to come between them and the almighty dollar. In this cold war, the crime rate plummeted.

Janson saw the telltale signs at the back door to Evan’s house. The scratch marks on the lock and the door left slightly ajar told him someone had beaten him there. From the sounds he heard inside the house, he knew that someone was still here. Someone was moving around inside towards the front of the house.

It had been a long time since Janson had done anything like this. When he was a cop, he always worked with a partner or squad of men. Those were the days. He felt like he was a part of something bigger than himself. It made him proud to wear a uniform, until Internal Affairs came down on him. That was when he changed. There was no point in being a good guy if your own people were going to hang you out to dry. He saw the system for what it was: a flawed and crippled thing. When he was found innocent, it was too late. There was no going back to the job for him.

Janson used what he learned as a cop to work outside the system and make it work for him. Some of what he did was illegal but it was also a way to strike back at the city that had betrayed him. He kept telling himself, it was time to retire. It was time to move on. That was his plan until Tyler showed up on his doorstep with talk of being framed. Janson had to help him.

The gun Janson drew wasn’t a service revolver. He carried a Rattler machine pistol. The Rattler was every bit as deadly as its namesake and just as intimidating. The distinctive sound combined with the volume of fire it could put out was enough to send most people running for cover. Its large magazine and fast reload time made it popular for those who could afford one. The gun wasn’t a magic wand but in the hands of someone who knew what he was doing, the Rattler was a force to be reckoned with.

Janson wasn’t a marksman or a crack shot. He prescribed to the “wall of lead” school of thought. You fire enough bullets at someone and one of them is bound to hit. It wasn’t something they taught you on the force. He took the safety off and slipped into the house. Janson thought he was making enough noise to wake the dead. Even his breathing sounded loud to him. With every creak of the floorboard, he expected someone to emerge from one of the rooms with a gun.

Janson found Joey and Evan’s corpse in the living room. Joey was hunkered over, doing something to the door. What was left of the technician was bound to a chair. Janson didn’t see what was used to scrape off parts of Evan’s face arms and chest. He didn’t want to know what device could be used to inflict such horrid looking wounds. As far as he was concerned, the salt was overkill. Instinctively, Janson knew that this psycho was responsible. He would do the same thing to Janson if given half a chance. It took all of Janson’s willpower not to shoot Joey in the back. He needed this animal.

“Don’t you move,” he said, keeping his voice low and under control.


Joey didn’t move but he did curse. Tyler had done it to him again. No wonder the boss hated the caster. He underestimated him and now he was in a bad spot. The weasel called his buddy Janson for backup.

“I want you to raise your hands slowly, stand up, and turn around.”

Joey did as he was told. Janson looked like he did from the caster’s broadcast. Maybe, he was a little smaller than Joey initially thought. The broker was older than him, in his early 40s, but definitely fit. There was just a touch of grey in his hair and beard that gave him a distinguished appearance.

“You’re Janson, right?” he asked. Maybe, Joey could talk his way out of this. It was worth a shot. If he could get Janson to lower his guard, he might be able to turn this around.

Janson just looked at him. Joey didn’t find the man’s silence encouraging.

“Look. Maybe, we can cut a deal,” Joey said.

“Shut the hell up.” Janson said, his voice taking a hard edge for all its quietness. “You think talking is going to get you out of this. I bet the guy in the chair thought the same thing. Maybe you think I’m stupid enough to believe whatever bull you try to spoon feed me and I drop my guard.”

Joey was about to protest when Janson said, “You’re about to lose any argument you plan on making.”

Joey didn’t think Janson would have a problem shooting him, especially if he gave him any more lip. Joey was smart enough to heed the warning and keep his mouth shut. He would have to wait and hope Janson screwed up. Everyone screws up. It’s all a matter of when and where. He just needed to be ready for when the moment arrived.

“Good boy. Now, I want you to put your hands on your head, take two steps towards me and kneel,” Janson said.

It was almost panic time. In Joey’s line of work, the guy on his knees was either going to eat a bullet or worse. If that happened, he wouldn’t be around to capitalize on any mistakes. Maybe, Janson had something else in mind. He might want Joey in a position that would make it hard for Joey to try anything. Either way, the odds of Janson screwing up before Tyler arrived were decreasing rapidly. Joey started to do as he was told when there was noise at the front of the house. The window by the front door shattered. They both saw the black cylindrical object that had been tossed inside.

Janson probably knew what it was. The man averted his eyes and put a wall between him and the front door. Joey didn’t know what it was but Janson’s reaction worried him. He jumped to the side, grateful for the distraction. This was his chance. His hand clawed for his pistol when the object exploded in a brilliant flash of light and noise.

Author Commentary

This is an excerpt from Fall from Grace. I thought I had posted this months ago. Instead, it’s been sitting in my draft folder. The only things I will say about this scene is that it takes place in the middle of the book and Joey is one of the bad guys.

The flash fiction piece, Pass or Fail, takes place between Fall from Grace and its sequel, Redemption Song.


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Filed under Excerpt, Fiction

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