Son of a Bitch
• • •
“You wanted to see me, Boss?”
“I did, Jacky. I did.”
He closes his ledger and slides it to the side, folds his hands on his desk. Then he unfolds them, gestures to the cushioned chair in front of his desk with the right, and asks Jacky why he doesn’t take a seat.
“Sure.” Jacky takes a seat. “What’s this about?”
“How did you sleep last night, Jacky? You have any good dreams?”
“I dreamed of fire, Mister Verneeti.” Jacky tightens one fist. “Just like I do every night.”
“That’s right, just like you do every night. And those dreams of fire were cut short this morning, weren’t they, Jacky?”
Jacky nods. “The earthquake. Whole damn Motel rumbled.”
“I know it did, I felt it too; still, I’m sorry to hear that, Jacky.” His voice is that of a weasel the size of a blue-eyed Bengal tiger. “You weren’t the only one, either.”
“I reckon I wasn’t. Citiots probably felt it all the way out in Bur.”
“Maybe they would have, Jacky. If it was an earthquake.”
A cocked eyebrow. “Pardon?”
“The ground shook before the sun rose, Jacky, but it wasn’t an earthquake.” His hands unfold, gesture, and fold again as he speaks. “I got a call right before it happened. From the boss.”
“What did the slimeball want this time?”
“No, not Tristan, Jacky. The big boss. The one,” a finger with many rings jabs skyward, “up top.”
Jacky nods. Only thing he needs to do with his mouth now is keep it shut.
“He told me there was a problem in the Compound, Jacky. Someone broke in. Someone real bad.” Sniff. “Someone workin’ without a license, someone doin’ his job real well. Do you smell what I’m cooking for you, Jacky?”
“How many dead?”
“All of them, Jacky.” A slow eyes-closed shake of the head. “The Compound is gone. Blown to smithereens. Took everyone with it… except the ‘man who did the job.”
Both fists tight, “The Whoreson…”
“It wasn’t him, Jacky. Not this time it wasn’t.”
Francesco Verneeti slides an unstuffed folder to Jacky.
“Why don’t you take a look?”
Jacky opens the folder. Takes a look. Squints.
“Who the fuck is this?”
“You understand why I wanted to see you,” Mister Verneeti explains. “He’s a ghost, Jacky. Nobody’s seen him before, no one knows where he came from, how he got here, what he’s after. The Internet Culture Company can’t even get a track on him, he must’ve removed his chip.”
“Or he never got one.”
“Or he never got one,” Mister Verneeti nods, wholeheartedly agreeing. “His name is Jonathan Knox, and if the Compound is any indication, he’s best described as hard to kill.”
“We’ll see.” Jacky closes the folder, stashes it in his duster. “Last known whereabouts?”
“Nowhere,” says the Boss, “but I’d start around the lake. Had to wash up somewhere.”
“When’s the contract going up?”
“It’s not, Jacky. But his picture’s going up on the news in a few hours. I do not expect it to be done before then, but shortly after would be fine.” His hands fold, mayhap for the last time. “Shortly after would be just fine.”
Jacky Daniels rises from the seat. “I’ll do what I can, Boss.”
“And you’ll be paid handsomely when it’s done. One more thing, Jacky.”
Jacky sits back down.
“The Finnigan twins…”
“What about ‘em, Boss?”
“Use ‘em,” instructs the Boss, “but only if you need ‘em. You and I, Jacky? We’re the only ones in the Wu Star being kept in the loop on this little situation. Maybe it stays that way. Maybe it doesn’t.” He shrugs with great effort. “One way or another, it needs to be handled.”
“I’ll handle it, Frank.”
“And you’ll be paid handsomely.” Verneeti leans back in his big velvet chair, the cushion colored like a bloodstain. “Now get the fuck out of my sight, and don’t come back until the son of a bitch is dead.”
This has been the first subchapter of the second chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
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