Son of a Bitch
• • •
“I was moving through the woods pursuing a lead on a case and… I guess I wasn’t looking where I was going. Got ganked by a piece of broken glass or something. I, uh… I sort of broke into someone’s cabin and stole the cloth, wrapped myself up, then went on my way. I didn’t want to get caught, you know?”
“Yes I do,” Sylvester says with a smile. “I sure do, Bee-lane. So what’s this case you’re pursuing?”
For the love of Christ, is this guy a detective too? “Oh, um… I was chasing after a… a woman.”
“Yeah, a woman. A vigilante from uh… from Bur City. Calls herself… Lady… Sparrow.”
“Lady Sparrow? What the hell kind’a name is’at?”
“Unoriginal, tell you that much right now,” Jonathan Knox promises. “She has a bunch of sparrows tattooed on her chest. Every time she, uh… every time she… blows up… a… TICC… oh, no, sorry, that’s not it. Every time she offs a TICC-tac she gets a new one done. Old bird’s got a whole flock of them, she’s a local menace up in Bur, but she’s on the run now. I’m trying to find her to uh, to possibly collaborate with her. Rumor had it she left the city and came through Wuester on her way out, so here I am.”
One eyebrow cocked, locked, and loaded, Sylvester rubs his chin at Jonathan Knox. “Huh. Well I’ve never heard of any Lady Sparrow s, but I suppose I wouldn’t if she’s makin’ moves out in Bur City.” He slaps Jonathan Knox hard on the back. “Well it’s good to have you here, Nick. You can help us find this Knox son of a bitch so Cody over there can turn the corpse over and get in with the Wu Star.” He turns to Cody. “Isn’t this perfect? The planets are aligning for us, Cody. I think we’re onto something good here.”
“Yeah, ‘Vester,” he agrees, though he sure don’t sound like it. “Me too.”
“Well listen, I got’a get movin’, Cletus is waiting for me back at the house. I just wanted to give you the message, Cody.”
“I appreciate it, ‘Vester. Good thing I was here, huh?”
“You ain’t kiddin’.” He rises, bumps fists with Cody. “Cletus would be pissed if I had to run all the way to your house.” He then bumps fists with Jonathan Knox. “Good to meet ya, Nick Bee-lane. Glad you’re working with us. Later on, boys.”
‘Vester turns and jets. Cody and Jonathan Knox marinate in an uneasy silence. Finally, Cody throws the meat on the grill.
“How’d you do it?”
“The Compound. How’d you take it out, Knox? I don’t want more bullshit, either. You’re going to start telling me the truth and nothing else, understand?”
“I haven’t lied to you, Cody,” says Jonathan Knox. “Not once. I crawled out of the lake a few days ago, I–… I didn’t touch the Compound ‘neath Atacama. Not this version, anyway.”
“Not this version? And just what in the hell is that supposed to mean?!”
“I was telling you earlier–”
“You know what?” Cody decides. He stands. “Why don’t you save it? I’ll make this all really easy for you, Jonathan Knox. I’ll make it easy for the both of us. I’ll snuff you out right now.”
“Take it easy, Cody,” Jonathan Knox pleads. He’s trying to squirm away but the couch isn’t that big. “You don’t need to do anything irrational.”
“That’s how you hurt your foot too, isn’t it? Taking out the Compound.”
“No, it was glass! Look, if you want to kill me then fine, kill me. But let me tell you the rest of my story first.”
“Now why the hell should I do that, Knox? A ticket into the Wu Star Motel is more valuable than any story you or anybody else could tell me.”
“Maybe so,” Jonathan Knox agrees, “but that doesn’t matter to me anymore. Call it a last wish, if you must. Will you do that for me, Cody? I’m not going anywhere, my foot’s fucked all the way through Sunday. Can you just hear me out? I don’t want to die with all this on my conscious.”
Cody sniffs, huacs, and splatters a glob of snot against the floor of The Hut. Right on the Goddamn floor for crying out loud. It’s not even a dirt floor, it’s hardwood planks, and he spits right on it. Jonathan spat on the floor of the prison room, but this is The Hut, this isn’t the prison room. How could Cody spit right on the Goddamn floor??
“Fine, okay, I’ll listen to your story, Knox. But then I’m going to kill you and haul your corpse to the Wu Star, and nothing you could possibly say will change my mind on the subject.”
“I know it won’t. I only ask to be heard, I don’t want to keep all this bottled in. Also… I’ll ask that you do it quick when the time to do it comes.”
“That,” with tightly folded arms, “I can oblige.”
“All right. Thank you.” Jonathan Knox takes a deep breath. “So I was in the prison room, strapped to the table for years, kept alive by whatever the preacherman was pumping into my body through those tubes inserted into my skin via the needles. Did I men–… I mentioned the needles and tubes before, right?”
Cody doesn’t say a damn thing.
“So, um… so… one day a guy walked out from behind me. He called himself the Master God of Life, and he gave me a device. Said he plan–”
“Wait,” pauses Cody, blinking fast with hand a held out as to balance himself. “You… did you really just say Master God…? Did I hear that right?”
“Yes, I… did,” Jonathan Knox confirms. “That’s not even the craziest part of the story. Cody, the prison room was the bottom floor of the Compound ‘neath Atacama, but not the Compound on this planet. I was living on a different Earth entirely.”
“And that’s fine, Jonathan Knox, but I don’t give three shits from the same horse about your alternate Earths. To be frank, I think I’ve heard enough of your story already.”
“What? So… so you’re just going to kill me?”
“No, you damn fool,” Cody spits sternly, “you just saved your own hide. For the time being, at least. I have a story, Jonathan Knox, same as you, same as everyone else in the world. It’s a story I’ve never told, but I think it’s time to let it out.”
Jonathan Knox doesn’t know what to say. “Fine,” he wings with a flap of his hands. “Uh… yeah, fine. Go ahead, Cody.”
Cody sits, leans into the cushion, folds his hands in his lap, and goes ahead.
This has been the end of the sixth 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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