<< Discuss this fan fiction
Oh yes, there was pain.
There was darkness, despair and even loss of hope.
Yet I wasn’t alone in that chapel; surrounded by flowers something else moved.
The past had not forgotten me.
It is said that all Manuel Calavera could bring back to Mercedes Colomar was her ticket and himself; all he could bring back to Eva was the old beret her love had once worn.
She wore it now, in that chapel. Watching an old criminal die again, flowers creeping slowly along rib bone up his spine into his skull.
And yet despite the motto of her love to end corruption where ever necessary she decided to save that criminal from an old lesson she’d learned from her older love.
Liquid Nitrogen froze more than vine and flower, it froze my soul.
A debt repaid from too long ago.
The LSA had tracked my movements for the year after the fall of Hector Lemans; they eventually were going to arrest me after the wedding; perhaps even execute on the spot for my somewhat bloody record. Yet old friends got there first.
So to repay the deaths of those souls I had inflicted I was allowed to live and had to become my worst enemy; join the ranks of the Lost Souls’ Alliance.
However the name to me felt so appropriate than it had done to Manuel Calavera.
I was indeed Lost.
The dead cigarette burned into nothing on the sidewalk; leaving a small stain of its existence. But Carman didn’t watch it; he watched the streets.
Day of the Dead, he hated it.
The streets were empty except for the disguised agents that would nod silently; Carman didn’t get on with any of them. They hadn’t tried; it seemed the LSA were in the stage of employing old criminals to do their handiwork now. Many deserted the ranks, but some stayed seeking solace and sanctuary in the service; crime was still in the lowest tunnels of El Marrow.
Carman himself had been useful to the organization; several crime-lords were brought in because of his information. Hector Lemans had kept a small counsel of bosses and dealers within his business in order to keep watch on other parts of his underworld empire; it was surprising how far his grubby hands reached.
Rubacava had been under his control after he ratted out the crime-lord Maximino with several large deals, but Hector stole more than that from this man; he’d stolen his fiancé. Mostly for her useful connections and loyalty with Manuel Calavera; the city soon fell under Hector’s administration of which he let it fall into decay; few business’ survived except his new girlfriend’s and the local tattoo parlor. The great cat-track and empire that Maximino created soon crumbled into nothing after his own personal sprouting; his lawyer fled unable to continue the dealings with other kingpins in the Land of the Dead and so the city was nothing more.
Wasted, until Calavera came back to El Marrow.
The far side of the world was even within the reach of Hector; mostly he needed this to intercept his ‘prize’ clients and ensure they were deported to the edge of the world. When Calavera escaped from his hit-men; Hector took over the bustling port and ensured that Calavera would be assassinated if he returned to the city by that way. But the old DOD agent slipped through his grip and news was brought that Hector’s top agent Domino Hurley was finished. Puerto Zapato also fell into decay through lack of ships from Rubacava.
Another city, wasted, until Calavera came back to El Marrow.
When El Marrow recovered its name and light almost two years ago; its outlying areas began to revive too; Rubacava recovered within days it was said. The cat-track reopened and the low-life crime also spread there as well; El Marrow was now too dangerous after the police and the LSA had assumed control of the city. Yet the beatnik favorite ‘The Blue Casket’ was not opened for business for some time after its management mysteriously disappeared. And the Calavera Café did not open either; mostly because of the fire that destroyed it 3 years beforehand.
Carman had not seen these things, deep underground he’d only heard them through other field agents. The LSA had contacts and communications across the Eight Underworld; this was Salvador’s dream.
Pity he never got to see it.
Carman had spent a year in the deep recesses of the old city; in the slums where the LSA’s headquarters had been underneath the very nose of Hector Lemans. Mostly his work was administration and handling old files and recovering from the wound that he now bore with such ease. Despite his lucky escape he had to have four of his ribs replaced because of growth; his spine was fortunately saved. Eva was now his employer and boss; mostly coming and going for information.
At first he had been reluctant; then he’d remembered that day in the chapel.
And so finally El Marrow was no longer ruled by grasping kingpins and their henchmen; it belonged to the authorities.
And Carman had been allowed to see the light and became an agent on the streets; where little work was to be done and little trouble was seen or heard of.
And now on this Day of the Dead; there were no celebrations in the streets, no festival like there would have been. Even the casinos were closed.
People were back with the ones they loved.
Carman wasn’t; the one he loved had been incinerated long ago.
Something beeped in his jacket.
Pulling out the large mobile phone, he pulled the aerial out and spoke into the receiver.
“Agent Cashino you mean” came the reply of Eva.
“Whatever, you know I go by that name” he said, if he had eyes they would be rolling; never, ever had he been happy with his title.
“Yes…” a pause, not very Eva”…we have something for you- an assignment if you will”
“I’m fine on the streets thanks Eva, it’s quiet today- even more than usual” He said, looking at a crowd of bony pigeons nestling in a home of newspapers and eating the crumbs. He let out a small trace of a laugh; remembering the scrawl of Limones and how he was so proud to finally obtain messengers.
Nowadays, pigeons were last resort; they hadn’t trained a pigeon to speak or carry messages since the days when Calavera was with the LSA; too much hard work and only Salvador had the gift.
“Well…this one may interest you” she said,” It’s about Mezier”
Silence does mock.
Like she’d drawn back a curtain in Carmen’s head revealing what lay behind; bad memories and a wedding turn funeral.
Mezier; he hadn’t heard the name in years. He’d almost forgotten; he wished it had stayed that way now. Mezier brought total outrage to him along with four other names:
Mans Lewis, Majorie, Bruce and, of course, El Hachem.
Five names meant so little to others, but to him they were all that’s left.
Five bouquets devoid of a grave. Mostly because the bodies didn’t need burying.
“Carman?” A buzz as she waited.
“I’ll see you in ten” he said, that was all.
An odd wind blew that reminded him of the morning before he had stepped into a chapel; he thought perhaps then he had changed his life.
And as he looked up at the sun that was faded with an old mist; he knew somewhere on the other side of the city that same chapel was looking too.
He stepped out into the darkness and gloom that he knew so well.
Nothing had changed, nothing needed to.
Still they were surrounded by huge pipes that ensured the city’s waste and garbage was able to be dropped somewhere outside its vast cityscape. The sound of the pistons pumping inside still was like that of background music; Carman had even made a little tune to it during his time of life down here.
And coming back was nauseating; the very smell brought back those endless days of his recovery and his time in ‘imprisonment’ as he called it. He let out a small chuckle as he remembered a wall of which he had scratched the lines into how many days he’d been here; he wondered if Eva had rubbed it off like she always threatened too. He’d tried to avoid coming down here but sometimes Eva pulled him down to the slums just to remind him he was still part of this ‘organization’.
Oh cruel tormenter!
He adjusted to the darkness and walked along the mains pipe for water; huge in size so that it could fit an entire car inside and still have room to drive down safely. Here the LSA had hidden itself; between the nooks and crannies of the cities’ resources after their base under the DOD was discover; after all pigeons flying in and out of vents had to be noticed by someone. However it was an easy trick cast by the LSA to make their opponents believe they had found the ‘main’ base.
Beneath the crust of Nuevo Marrow, there were hundreds of these bases and in every tunnel information and espionage made its home.
The dull lights of a small room made visible from a reflection on a smaller pipe; loomed out in front of Carman and he came to the entrance; here it was said where Calavera’s famous car the Bone Wagon had waited with its lumbering demon driver in it; however many said this was fantasy. The bile that dripped from the overhead branches had long covered any tracks that could authenticate the story. He stepped inside the small room; with its silent sounds of mission and the rustling papers of being a spy.
Carman was pleased to see someone had removed that batch of petals from the corner of the room. It made him mentally sick to think it had once been somebody;
In fact, part of somebody he saw most days.
Underneath the glare of a ceiling lamp sat Eva, her dark curved shades showed only the words on the report in front and she seemed deep in thought; one hand reaching and scratching the beret on her head.
Almost like she was irritating Salvador for help.
Carman would have rolled his eyes; this was what Eva was now. Someone who sat by radios and screens to look over her inherited business. Some said she was afraid to face the real world; others made comment that she could never leave because the one she would have left with was gone forever.
Carman knew she kept Salvador’s ticket under her pillow; he’d seen her put it there once. The ticket, like its owner, was dead.
“Eva” he spoke now, her concentration flickered from the report, her shades flashed as she faced him now; he saw himself reflected back.
“Carman” she paused, biting on the name; obviously within her hollow skull she was summoning her formulated plan to snare Carman to this mission. Her gaze within the shades dropped slightly and then she seemed to find the memory and spoke “I-“
“Eva” Carman cut across, taking a seat in front of her” Let’s get past the lies and the excuses; you knew a simple name would drag me down here” The familiar gloom seemed to be attempting to stick to him again; he’d attempted greatly to rid himself of it.
“We have never operated in terms of revenge Carman, you know that as well as I do” she looked straight at him, almost frostily. Carman laughed inside himself, just because Eva’s revenge had been blunted by an old friend; she had one to avenge but no-one to bring vengeance too.
“Then why send for me to take after Mezier, why not get someone else to do it?” he asked.
“We…I don’t want you to do anything you cannot comply with Carman, all I’m asking for is…information”
“You’ve always asked for information and because I’ve given you that information many have been sprouted-”
“For the better good” she said simply, little weight in the words” For justice”
This was Eva, forever lacquering those she ordered death upon with goods and justice; yet from what Carman saw he couldn’t tell the difference between an agent acting in justice and a so called ‘villain’ acting in greed or malice.
“Sure” yet this was an argument Carman could never win, Eva and her organization was set in the ideas of what they believed was good and evil; Carman saw their opinion as black and white.
Similar to Hector’s actually.
“So, what do you know already about Mezier?” playing little games was what Carman loathed, but might as well let Eva take her serve before rebounding the shot with what he knew. She leaned back, and observed Carman for a moment and then spoke.
“We’ve tracked him for about six months, since he was last in El Marrow. From what we gathered he was staying in the Hotel Gracas, and left with a considerably amount of money. We believed he accumulated this amount-” she pushed forward the report and Carman took a glance.
Such amounts for a dead man was sickening, yet Carman had never given much consideration to cold-hard cash even when he was earning it. When your dead, money is little more than a luxury than a necessity.
“-from a certain deal” she continued, Carman looked up,” We believe it was conducted with an old kingpin of the city”
“Who?” Carman could think of several gangsters who would sell their assets to small-time crooks just to rid themselves of the blood that stained their fingers.
He wasn’t one of them.
Beone was powerful, incredibly powerful and probably one of the few men who could sit with Hector Lemans and truly match his taste in the consummation of business and territory. In fact Beone was a large influence in El Marrow before Hector had even begun his take-over of the downtown districts; he claimed legitimate business in the importation and exportation of goods in the city. However in truth he acquired all the assets he needed in firearms supplies and such like; Hector had made a good strategic move in cutting Beone in his deals at the DOD.
But when Beone made this accord with Hector, in truth he lowered his head to the chopping block while slipping his prized assets into Hector’s black swallowing bag of power in the city of El Marrow.
Like all those in Hector’s inner circle; it remained only a matter of time when the axe would fall.
On the night Nuevo Marrow fell, the axe fell slightly to the left.
Like every kingpin and godfather in the city of Nuevo Marrow, Bueno was instantly ruined, he grasped to reclaim his old power in the city. However the police threw themselves down on the twisted and rotted casinos and gang-houses that had risen in the city. From beneath, the LSA rose to take down the darkness that had split into once legitimate. Beone ran alone, taking what money he could and disappeared into the night.
Hoping never to be found.
“Money was life to Beone, what would make him sell what looks like his entire property to Mezier?” Carman asked,” Sell his life away to a small-time crook?”
Carman knew the answer to this question, but curiosity drove to see if Eva did.
“We tracked down Beone’s lawyer, in fact Beone never ran alone; he made sure that this poor man was there to defend him. In any case, he told us the deal with Mezier and what Beone bought from him”
“And what was that?”
“People don’t sell their lively hoods for a bad reason Carman,” she said, her voice seemed to grow thin and could barely be heard above the crackle of screens and the buzz of the radios,” they sell them for heaven…a leaf of gold” her shades flashed as she inhaled, as if the words were painful. Like fire in her fleshless mouth.
“A ticket on the Number Nine” so she knew something, Carman couldn’t seem to decided where he had known this. But his own memory had surmised as much, a twisted little remembrance from so long ago.
“Yes, and we have obviously followed cases of these tickets, since the meeting we have tracked down several cases of counterfeit tickets. I must presume that Mezier may have obtained some and was selling them to Beone-“
“-It wasn’t counterfeit”
Eva’s shades flashed, and she looked into him.
He turned away, staring at some other point in the room, perhaps the street outside displayed on a green-glowing screen.
His words had been foolish and brought upon by the unlocking of some dark memory from so long ago.
He turned to face her again, and this time she knew.
“What makes you say that?” at last she had come to the point of finally making him talk.
It was his serve.
“Mezier was a reaper at the Department of Death. He worked directly for Hector Lemans, he was…Domino Hurley’s replacement”
“Mezier worked at the DOD? Why would Hector need an agent working undercover in the Department; by the time Hurley was out of the way- he practically ruled the city?”
“Hector’s most powerful asset, the true core to his influence was his sales in Double-N-Tickets; however he still needed the tickets from those premium clients so they could be passed over to the holding fund. The real tickets were handled by Mezier, the counterfeit were then sent out to other agents who worked with Hector in the DOD”
“You knew about the counterfeit?”
“A few people did-“
“-most of course ended up in Hector’s garden though didn’t they. How did you come across that counterfeit, Carman?”
“Let’s just say I stumbled upon it by accident Eva, and leave it at that” he would speak no more of such past events; rarely could he look back without seeing the carpet of the aisle.
“Yes…”she looked surely at him again, and continued,” Of course as you know, we obtained one case of real Double-N-Tickets the night Hector was sprouted- are you saying there were more”
“I presume so-“
“No, you don’t presume Carman, you know about the tickets, I’m asking you now Agent Cashino how many other cases there are”
She knew how he hated the title; he wore it like a chain around his neck, exposing his back for beating.
“There were a few cases, not many; Hector had been scamming the DOD for years, even before Copal was head of the company. However he had to find more subtle and efficient ways of getting the tickets out of the company; that’s why he brought in Hurley. At some period Hector was under fire by the authorities for his apparent theft of tickets though they had never been found. On the night he was shot, as you know there was chaos in El Marrow; who knows, perhaps Mezier knew where the tickets where and seized the chance to exploit them?”
“We would have uncovered a case of tickets by now Carman, it’s been two years since the liberation”
“Not unless they were all taken by those who knew where they were, Hector was good at keeping some secrets, but his mouth sometimes spoke a little too much after a good meal” a humorous flicker at a restaurant in the main street of El Marrow, Hector sitting in front of Carman, laughing about his current dealings in Puerto Zapato; the man on his left listening far to eagerly.
It was his last meal, Carman made sure of that.
“Interesting” Eva leaned back once more, her skull shrouded in a veil of the gloom, her shades reflecting Carman once more as she considered her point.
“What is it that you want me to do Eva?” asked Carman, he was became nauseous of the darkness, it was closing in around him as it had done for so many months.
“Mezier is in Puerto Membrillo, tomorrow night he is leaving to the Puerto Zapato on the SS Levada. On that cruise we believe he will be conducting another deal with some low-life gangsters before the ship arrives at its first stop in Rubacava” she said” If what you’ve told me is true, then he will be selling the tickets and we cannot allow them to fall into the wrong hands Carman” her voice now showed signs of heaviness and deep consideration. Carman knew the consequences of this deal.
Neon lights on skyscrapers, dark streets where the only light was that of gun-fire.
Screams in the night, men who dressed to kill.
The filth of crime crawling up every wall.
“If you accept this mission Carman, I want you to go to Puerto Membrillo and capture and interrogate Mezier, take him to Rubacava and pose as him in the deal; but we must keep those tickets. We may be able to lower the corruption that still seems to choke Rubacava; but this is not revenge Carman, Mezier must face justice not vengeance”
Carman weighed this in his mind, justice and vengeance.
Again she layered it with a cover of black and white, yet there was little difference between them.
“I accept” he said, perhaps he could finally cast of the strings that tied him to El Marrow; putting miles between him and the chapel, and Eva.
“Good, I’ve assigned a driver for you Carman, he’ll be here tonight”
“A driver? I can drive a car Eva”
“While I’ll let you leave El Marrow to undertake this mission; I don’t fully trust you” a flicker of a smirk in her shades,” You will be driven to Puerto Membrillo. You have a ticket on the SS Levada, and you will be staying at the Frutment Hotel, Room 56. You will be met outside by a porter, wear the white card on your left jacket pocket and he will know it’s you; brush aside him and you’ll get the key. I have given you some other clothes despite your uniform. Officially in the public eye we have disbanded so you cannot attract attention, the LSA do not exist and nor do you Agent Cashino. Finally-“
She pulled something from a draw in the desk, and placed it under the glare of the light:
A can of sproutella.
Her voice sounded so distant-
“-It is standard issue, but for defense only; never wear it openly”
Carman’s hand came from behind the desk and wavered above the gun.
It was like shaking the hand of an old friend gone away, and believed forever.
The insignia of a flower on the side, he couldn’t quite touch it, it brought back memories. Black memories
People had looked down the barrel at him, and he had looked down the barrel himself;
He remembered he’d never begged for mercy; but now his mind echoed with the past;
The shouting of men.
The begging and the pleading of women.
The cries of children.
He’d silenced them all; he’d made them stop, but not in his head.
He felt his hand curve round the butt of the gun and it felt too heavy for once;
He felt like he took all those souls he had taken and once again put them on his shoulders, and it was fresh with scolding fire.
He slid the gun from the table and into his jacket pocket, in the comfortable darkness where his heart used to be.
He let go and exhaled, the weight lessened, but the burns on his bones did not.
“Carman…?” came a voice, a woman’s voice he knew so well. Eva she was called.
“I’m fine” he said, and his eyes refocused on her.
“Tonight, outside here; the driver will be waiting”
She left him, in the gloom and the dark.
So long he had tried to rid himself of the dark that was sticking on to him from the outside-
-truth is that it now grew inside him; in a pocket where he held death-in-death.
As the Day of the Dead finally began to dip into its dying hours, Carman sat on his bed, holding the gun in his hands.
Somehow his bones could feel the cold perfection of the weapon.
He didn’t know how he had dragged himself from the deepest basements of the city to the streets again and to his third story flat; but he had. Thankfully the streets were still empty; but that changed nothing. When El Marrow was bustling with souls, he seemed like a normal citizen except he carried a secret from under their feet.
Yet with this weapon he felt more; like he was holding a dangerous plague within his empty ribcage that could break out and strike them down one by one. He didn’t feel human to hold a gun, hide a gun within the confines of his clothes.
Out here, it seemed to reflect the suns rays with a malicious grin that flickered on his expressionless face.
He was thankful to be leaving El Marrow before the dead returned; he had at least a day on the open road before he returned to some civilization. By then he hoped he would have adjusted to the feel of holding death in his hand. He didn’t want to know if he’s aim was still accurate; the same curiosity that drives a painter after he hasn’t taken up the brush for many years to see if he still had the talent coursed through him.
He bowed his head, the taunting memories had stopped for now; he’d had a drink and waited by the window as his mind and body filled with the sweet sensation of smoke. This calmed him down, but didn’t help him with his problem.
It kept it at bay like darkness keeps shadows; but eventually daylight would come.
And what then?
He let the gun go limp in his hand as he began to concentrate on sleep; a sense he had learned when he realized he had no eyes. Rarely did he sleep, long had he believed that people never dream when they sleep. Dreams come when you hold the waist of your beloved, or see the birth of your child; never in the long and still hours of sleep. However he settled comfortably and allowed the sensation known as sleep to catch him in reality and rest him for some time.
Time passed slowly for a dead man.
Mezier wasn’t even his real name. His DOD file recorded him as never been given a name and so he just called himself Mezier; what replaced his name was the sins of his living days and the sentence to servitude at the DOD was a considerable number of years.
So he became a reaper; long after Manuel Calavera had left, yet that hadn’t removed Don Copal’s name from the management board yet.
The Department of Death, like most business’ in El Marrow suffered the year Manuel Calavera left the city; many partners, associates, employees, secretaries even the lowest janitors were swept up into a crime-lord takeover in which their business’ were taken over and manipulated into low-life casinos or other venues of what was now legal crime under the authority of Mayor Lemans.
Except Mezier; Mezier fell right into the pocket of Hector and his inner circle.
Unlike Domino Hurley, Hector told Mezier everything about his scam to collect the Double-N-Tickets.
The price for silence; was he offered Mezier a ticket on the train when the task was done.
Mezier refused, and instead opted for cash; Hector paid him grandly.
Yet here was the part of the story of Mezier, I’d never told anyone-
Mezier came to the attention of Hector’s oldest friend and some would say mentor; El Hachem.
El Hachem had two lives, and like most men who had two lives- one was true, the other a lie.
Black and white.
Mezier along with El Hachem and three other conspirators hoped to worm their way into Hector’s great criminal empire and steal the source of his power; the tickets of gold. The real tickets of course, counterfeit had little interest in the minds of thieves.
Of course, El Hachem knew, maybe like Salvador Limones, that Manuel Calavera would return and kill Hector once and for all. And El Hachem, being Hector’s mentor knew where the tickets were.
And as the sun of El Marrow rose on the night of Nuevo Marrow; they stole away the tickets in the new twilight hour. Hector Lemans and his power were gone before dawn had truly opened its eyes.
Mezier was the first to join El Hachem, on his own road to power.
Ironic, he’d be the first to come across me; Carman Cashino.
Because despite all the years of betraying Hector, placing the tickets beyond the crime-lords reach. All the years of dragging names and locations up for El Hachem’s death squads to hunt down for their own greed and betrayal; after all the years of fancy restaurants and fine hotels which he could access through that betrayal and greed-
He’d made a mistake.
That fatal mistake was made when he strode behind El Hachem into a chapel on the Marriage of Annette Landsby and Louis Hoeven.
Just like the rest, he would never know the real price of betrayal.
No grave in death for it to state-
Stirred awake by what he remembered of Mezier’s face, Carman felt the gun in his hand and remembered his intimacy with it.
He knew now within his heartless self he did have a love.
There were no stars that night, and the clouds covered the light of the moon.
Back in the dark, he felt swallowed again.
Eva stood there waiting, her foot tapped in the empty cold of the huge catacomb like sewers of the city.
They had waited some time already, far away the drip of old and groaning pipes ticked away second by second. Already Carman seemed to stand on the threshold of some new life; it was pure coincidence that once again this life would start in the confines of darkness.
Eva was not making conversation; there was nothing to be said between them- perhaps in her mind she was forming regret, yet this would not take root until much later. Weeks of silence with her, he knew her more like a foe eyes his enemy, than he looks upon his friend.
In friendship, loyalty and devotion can disguise an ugly truth.
Hate can clear the mind, but sometimes ones perception can become so twisted in that emotion, one believes that all acts their ‘enemy’ does is aimed at them.
Eva was neither enemy, nor friend, however she was not neutral.
Here Carman put her in what she called a ‘non-existent’ gray area.
Carman had dwelled on the meeting with Mezier, he wondered if Mezier knew he was alive.
Even during their years of association they had never talked; and the last time they met there were no words.
Carman bit back the memories of the chapel that would emerge as soon as his mind spoke Mezier, already it was gripping him; and the gun within the darkness of his coat seemed to hiss words of revenge.
Take back the life of your beloved
Carman ignored it as his own dark mind, that seemed to have been unlocked when he had touched the gun; in another life words were spoken to him- foolish words to a person who has never killed.
“It’s not you who is killing;, it’s the weapon that kills”
Long had he learned; perhaps the words of Eva as he had lain in those hours of agony with the pain of plants within his bones; that while the weapon killed, it was only by his intent.
A gun is nothing without the hand and mind that drives it.
Carman had both the mind and hand; he’d just kept them locked away all these years.
A rumble in the darkness announced the coming of his new life.
Eva turned slightly, she looked at Carman; a smile seemed to show in her shades again. The darkness before her roared and crashed, and every corner of this deep dark pit seemed to be applauding the arrival of the car; a great vibration shook through the congregated steel floor as if something demonic was rising beneath him.
The finishing effect was the blast of light that shred through the darkness and threw itself upon Carman and Eva; her shades gave a shout of light as the light halted before them, and the deep rumble of engines paused in waiting to begin again.
“Carman” Eva said, her voice slightly raised over the melody of the engines, as they dropped from a rumble to a whine and finally into silence. Like the settling of a beast.
“This is your driver”
The darkness swooped in again, as the great lights blew out and settled into nothing more than glass, electricity and heat; Carman’s sockets finally focused on the driver in the semi-gloom.
To be continued…
<< Discuss this fan fiction