In Night Waits the Hunter

Author Note: I am hesitant about doing any sort of story collaboration. Too many variables can happen to ruin, not only the story but can impact your friendship with the other author. There are very few authors with whom I would do a story collaboration. But in 2012, when Paul ‘Deadeye’ Dick pitched an idea about collaborating on a story involving an off-the-wall detective who is reminiscent of the late Hunter S. Thompson, I had to jump in on the idea. Plus, the story takes place in my hometown of Moriarty, New Mexico. Paul, who had penned multiple stories on his PI character Dick Dice, was an exceptional writer and graphic artist. There were plans to write more stories with this Hunter character in mind, maybe even a novel or two, but unfortunately, this never materialized despite several files of notes. Paul’s collaboration story idea was over-the-top. I figured ‘why not?’. In Night Waits the Hunter was published in Dead Guns Press‘ Hardboiled anthology Crime and Detective in 2013.

***

“Jesus, God, crying in his heaven, what fresh lunacy is this?” Hunter choked back in hushed tones.

There are just some things men, with too much imagination and too many drugs in their system should never have to deal with when they are planning to leave a motel without paying the bill. A hairless, gigantic, dour concierge is one of them.

We stood there in the foyer in awe inside his monolithic shadow. I was looking pimp in my best orange hibiscus Hawaiian shirt and white slacks, my dark, Samoan-Mexican good looks in stark contrast to my diminutive white-bread colleague and long-time friend, Dr. Hunter S. Tomeson. He was a man of many letters. Some of which were letters banning him from different countries and others restraining orders from political figures he had savaged…

Hunter wore his customary desert camo combat jacket and cargo shorts, urban weight, generous cut. But they made him look at times like a hobo swat commando. Their myriad pockets were stuffed with useless objects that only Hunter could Macguyver into something practical when the need arose.

He had worn this outfit since his damning coverage and indictment of the Gulf War and President Bush back in ’91 and its sequel a decade later with that President’s son. His balding pate was covered with a large, white fishing hat that had various brightly colored fly hooks upon it. The size of it plunged his small, bright eyes into shadows.

Behind his tinted glasses, his eyes seemed to spark in the dark with the silvery fire of righteous fury and indignation at the towering colossus behind the front desk. The dour giant of a concierge was falling over his own feet to try and find our bill. He was making a lot of noise and mess while doing it. Was this the best Moriarty Not-so-Grand Motel had to offer as their frontman?

Where was the comely wench that greeted us last night when we checked in late? The giant loomed over us with the silent threat if we did not pay our bill. His face was as implacable as an Easter Island statue. At nearly seven-foot-tall and bald as a coot, he looked like the product of an unholy union of Lurch and Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. They obviously hired this guy to intimidate the customer into paying the bill no matter how high it was.

“With room service…extras…Let’s call it $300…” the giant rumbled.

“No. Let’s call it being a greedy cock sucker! Show me that goddamn bill, you fiend!” Spat Hunter.

This extortionate aggression would not stand with us. We were made of sterner stuff after all. We had ridden the dark rapids to the heart of the American Dream using a canoe made from a cornucopia of drugs that would’ve ended lesser men.

We had survived only slightly dampened, but mostly still with senses dry to the vagaries and pitfalls of reality and the nature of the universe. Hunter perused the bill with the acumen of the best accountant and the foul mouth of a dock worker.

“Oh, you insidious fuckin’ Gigantor. Fuckin’ Lurid Golem Bastard!”

A thunderclap before the coming storm.

“Hidden goddamn charges? Do you take us for Rio Grande Oliver Twists? Do we look like we enjoy being fucked in the ass while saying Please sir, can I have some more?

“No, sir in your Neanderthal brain you have failed to take into account who you just decided to fuck with. I am Dr. Hunter S. Goddamn Tomeson and my friend here is Dr. Watson Gonzalez.”

The giant rolled his eyes to the left and right in misunderstanding. We looked around the lobby and there was no one else there.

Tomeson continued on with his ranting. “We are celebrated Doctors of Journalism and have the power of the American press. Our pen is mightier than any sword and mightier than any gargantuan with a brain the size of a pea!”

The giant slapped his massive paws on the countertop, leaned over, and growled.

“True Americans shall never frequent your flea-bitten, piece-of-shit, Roach Motel if I can help it! As soon as my review comes out, you’re so-called business’ here is as good as finished! You will learn to your folly, sir, and rue the day when you decided to fuck with a Doctor of Journalism.”

The giant craned his neck. The sound of popping joints echoed throughout the lobby and his hands balled up into fists.

“I refuse to fuckin’ pay for this abortion! It is Un-American!”

The concierge tried repeatedly to reply or rebuke, but being low on mental munitions, he had lost a battle of wits and words with the smaller man. My friend slung another loud, foul-mouthed shot at this hirsute-free homunculus before leaving. He pointed at the giant with a long bony finger.

“And talking of abortions….Good fuckin’ day to You, Sir!”

He turned his back on the giant and flipped him the bird.

That was the last straw for the giant as he bared his uneven teeth. He glared at us like he was going to grind our bones to make his bread. He moved out from behind the counter as quick as a cougar on the hunt, the look of mayhem in his eye.

Unfazed, Hunter spun back and clenched his cigarette holder between his snarling teeth at a 45-degree angle, like Burgess Meredith in that Batman television show. His voice rose then in timber to match Moses commanding back the Red Sea. For someone that hated authority, Hunter had one of the most authoritative voices I have ever heard. He missed his calling as a leader of men.

“Cease and desist all movement towards me and do not fuckin’ look at me in that tone of voice! – Do You Hear Me!”

Little green men could hear Hunter on Mars…

“You may well be a giant white whale of a man… But I am fuckin’ Ahab!”

Hunter struck a heroic pose for one so diminutive. He took a step forward towards the giant. His long, bony finger still held out in front of him like a sword. This took the giant by surprise, and he backed up a step.

“Visit violence upon me, Sir and you’ll be messing with an expert in the ancient martial art of….“

He paused for dramatic effect and switched the cigarette holder to the opposite corner of his mouth. And hissed through his clenched teeth. “Barista!”

He stressed the last word in hushed mystic tones emphasizing the last ‘a’ as ‘aaaaa’ and producing a large open coffee flask – two parts boiling hot java one part equally boiling Irish whiskey.

I had seen the damage this self-created martial art of ‘Barista’ could do, it wasn’t pretty and wasn‘t meant to be. There were stages involved in this fighting technique that all could do but only a few could master. I cringed at what was coming next. There was that Congressman who Hunter had busted red-handed in the act of engaging a male prostitute.

That congressman had tried to assault my friend but was cleverly knocked on his ass using this fighting system while receiving swollen balls and third-degree burns… The stages always were thus:

Stage 1 – Distraction. – Consisted of catching someone off guard with comments or actions designed to annoy, distract or confuse.

Stage 2 – Blind. Disable. Discombobulate. Debilitate. – Smack or splash the opponent in the face, very fast, with a preferred hot beverage like boiling hot, black coffee. Then poke your fingers in their eyes, and smack your palms into their ears, while stamping hard on their knees, shins, and insteps.

Stage 3 – Bring The Pain.- As the opponent is blinded and burning from the coffee assault and hurting from the lower leg pain, kick and/or punch them in the love sack, stomach and face.

Stage 4 – Bring The Pain Part 2 Hit them, burn them with any available object to hand that would inflict even more damage.

Stage 5 – Bow and retreat. (Or Bow and Coup de Gras.) – Bow low. Maintain your equilibrium in salute to your defeated enemy. Then fast heel-toe to exit, grab any booze bottles that might be nearby to vanquish the thirst that always followed such brutal combat. Always run like hell. Especially if the opponent is getting back up or you hear cop sirens approaching your position. Or another option is to bow and then deliver a devastating spin kick to the rising opponent.

There were loads of variations to the art like using cold alcoholic drinks in bottles or drinking glasses and every country had its own variation. It was known in Scotland as “Glessin’-a-Gaji”, “Stitch That!” or “Fa-Kyu!”

With the giant deterred in his tracks, my friend then spun on his heel and stalked away from the giant concierge behind the desk with steps of slow deliberation. 4….3….2…..1….now! Hunter spun, he had nothing in his hand but fierce determination to run like hell once he had smacked the shit out of the beast.

“Sir! Sir!” Came a voice that halted all progress of the beginning melee.

We turned to see the giant had a much smaller man that seemed to have appeared from his gut. Tomeson flinched, blinked, and shook his head. Perhaps last night’s self-induced liquor-induced coma had been too much…or was it the red devil blotter acid that we had taken?

Either way, the little man was holding back the giant with one hand and saying something to placate him. On the last synapse boogaloo firings of an acid trip, it was an eerie sight to behold. It was almost as if the giant had been a human Russian Babushka doll all along, with the smaller version inside of him, looking on at the events unfolding from his hidden office in the giant’s belly.

He had the same features as the dour, giant concierge so we guessed they were related in some way. Were they perhaps father and son, brothers, or perhaps the worst scenario: inbred bastards created through lusty throes of equally inbred parents? The possibilities were endless. Except this smaller version was pre-set to a fake politician’s smile instead. The kind of smile that belonged to a man who would shake your hand and kiss your baby then stab both of you in the back and piss on your bleeding corpses.

Hunter pirouetted on one leg, like some drug-crazed ballet dancer, wide-eyed and searching not only for the nearest bottle of booze that might habitat nearby but also the front entrance…or maybe a tutu to throw up in.

If no booze could be found here, there was always that run-down bar down the road named ‘Pete’s Bar’ which we had heard had after-hours live sex shows, massive amounts of drugs, and an endless flow of booze. The local cops knew about it, of course, but turned a blind eye away from such activity when flashed a solid Benjamin bill.

The little man ran after us wringing his hands with a wide apologetic grin of chimpanzee proportions. His eyes looked like opposing apostrophes and his eyebrows opposing brackets. They served to punctuate his apology.

“Sir, if I may introduce myself. I’m Jimmy Moriarty, the Manager, and proprietor of this establishment.”

Hunter wasn’t really buying into his Bullshit. The little man with the Chimp Politician grin had quickly barred his way and Hunter looked around agog like the fires of hell were licking upon him, then made a quizzical whimpering sound like a dog that didn’t understand a command. He stared intently in horror at Moriarty senior’s face. His face recoiled in blind terror. I followed his gaze and devil horns seemed to be sprouting from Moriarty’s head. Goddamn, those blotter acids…were those tits growing on his back?

We weren’t here to make deals with the Devil we wanted nothing more than to leave…leave without paying the bill of course. Moriarty continued, despite our attempts to leave quickly.

“I apologize for my son, James Jr. He just started this week. The boy’s a bit on the slow side. Gigantism you see. There’s no reason for threats and hostility, here. I’m sure we can have a look at the bill again and come to some mutual arrangement?”

So much for familial unity and loyalty. This guy just sold his own son down the river so he could toady up to us. But at least the guy believed in “the customer is always right”. Something sadly missing from the World let alone America, these days. He seemed he would do anything to secure a buck short of sucking our cocks and even then, maybe.

We went back to the counter. The imbecile son blocked the front door entrance just in case things got out of hand again. We argued back and forth over the bill until Moriarty let us away with paying $100 of it as long as he allowed us another night’s stay free of charge.

Of course, there was a reason for us to return.

***

We exited the hotel with smug assurance to sample some of the local flavors. The giant grudgingly stepped aside to let us leave, but there was a disquieting rage deep within those deep-set eyes.

Hunter only smiled sarcastically at him as we left. We had other matters to contend with and that was meeting with the detectives from the New Mexico State Police for a debriefing.

While this was not exactly a savage burn we had run on this motel. We had done so repeatedly within that week with greater success. Getting a lot out of them for very little. Stealing bedding, soap, bathrobes, light bulbs, and what-have-you as we went while cheating them over the bill. The trunk of the Cadillac was packed with all these ill-gotten goods from the many hotels and motels that littered the roads and highways of America.

We had enough money should they have called our bluff but no hotelier had… No hotel, Guesthouse, or similar wants a bad rep, especially one scathingly written about them by an infamous Doctor of Journalism that had the nation’s ear like my friend. With the right turn of phrase, he could make or break a person or a business… But these establishments, especially in Moriarty, New Mexico, and the surrounding areas, had other problems, chiefly a serial killer was on the loose and had killed several residents in their rooms, on their premises.

Which was why we were here in the first place. Although we were nominally in the town of Moriarty, New Mexico to cover a two-bit, fluff, human interest piece on the “Pinto Bean Fiesta and a Pumpkin-Chunkin contest”- we actually were working a case just now while trying to cheat this Delusions-Of-Grandeur-Motel out of due payment.

You see Journalism was only but one string to our bow. My friend’s intellect, creative imagination, and intuition were staggering, and he had applied these not only to the field of Journalism but also to several other sciences that held his interest including Political science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and of Criminology.

In this field of Criminology as much as in his field of Journalism, Hunter was well named. He hunted for facts and truth and would never stop in his quest for it. He had been hired on several occasions as a freelance consulting detective when local law enforcement had fumbled the ball. Indeed his leaps of logic, deductive reasoning, and imagination, fuelled by a heady cocktail of drugs and mixed drinks had led to the capture of many killers and conmen across the world.

One of our more famous cases was the so-called “Hound of The Bakersfield’s” where the killer, Henry Stapleton, AKA “The Hound”, killed his victims every full moon in the many towns scattered across America that were named Bakersfield. Bakersfield, California; Bakersfield, Missouri; Bakersfield, Vermont, and Bakersfield, Texas. He extracted their adrenal glands to sell its derivative adrenochrome to narcotic adventurers like my friend and me. It was in our acquisition of this drug that we caught him in a sting operation with the local PD.

Several guesthouses, hotels, and motels across New Mexico had residents found crushed to death in their locked rooms. Someone or something very strong and very silent had broken into these people’s rooms and broke them apart like they were kindling. Not one fingerprint was found anywhere, nor hair or clothes fiber from any assailant. The really eerie part was that no scream was heard from the victims. Local PD and the feds had nothing but the New Mexico State Police was working on the matter.

Of course, no guest or long-time resident wanted to stay in such a place and these establishments were now either closed, on the verge of closing, or hanging on in the extreme hope that some visiting celebrity would come and reinvigorate interest in their business. And we were the very Doctors of Journalism to do exactly that, let me tell you.

We had indeed mercilessly and without compunction ran savage burns on some businesses that were not to our liking as they had got greedy with their prices like this establishment, because of this serial killer scare. But we had taken mercy on the few run by MILF proprietors as that was the gentlemanly red-blooded American thing to do. Some of these proprietors had been very grateful indeed.

We had been working with a senior detective from the New Mexico State Police Homicide Division. One Ernesto Lestrade. Lestrade to me, was a decent sort, a career cop that had made his bones on several tough cases and worked his way up the ranks with dogged determination and career ambition.

However, Hunter had a hatred for most authority figures and referred to Lestrade as a ‘buggoon’ a mix between a goon and a buffoon that bugged him.

Lestrade had called and ‘requested’ our services. It had proven to be more of an extortion element intertwined with veiled threats of serving time up in the big house in Santa Fe.

This all came to pass in a rather uneven roundabout way and went something like this….

***

Hunter had stopped by a lone hotel just on the outskirts of Albuquerque. His intentions were to ‘get ripping drunk and find a bar tramp. This was how he had put it, but he planned more than anything to skip paying the tab at all cost.

I tried to explain to him that it was perhaps not a good idea, but he refused to listen and proceeded to march off into his own self-destruction campaign. He spotted the “Rough-n-Ready” bar across the road from the Motel. He thought it to be easy pickings to establish a bar tab with promises of giving the proprietor a glowing write-up in his review of local bars.

Then it was time to find the aforementioned bar tramp and get suitably ripped until she changed into Marilyn Monroe. Once he had taken his fill he would climb out the toilet window and run out on the bill. The only fly in this ointment was that the bar was also owned by members of the Banditos biker gang.

A riot began as he decked a few of them with his “Barista” martial prowess but the inherent weakness to his fight system was that it was best used against only a handful of opponents and not the twenty Mexican badasses who were seasoned vets of the barroom brawl. Hunter was quickly outnumbered and overcome and thrown to and fro and twirled over the heads of the bar patrons.

Besides a busted lip and hurt ego, Hunter was otherwise unmolested. Thankfully a few State Police officers were cruising through the area, looking for Hunter. We had run the burn on many hotels all the way west from the state line and he was a wanted man. The riot had destroyed a fair amount of property and measured into the thousands if not close to a hundred thousand.

The officer was kind enough to slap on the cuffs and lead Hunter away to safety. In the meantime, I was ranting at Hunter about how I told him how much of a bad idea it was, but he ignored me and his better Angels.

Enter Lestrade.

After our booking session and cavity search, which I assure you is one of the most unpleasant sensations known to man, we were escorted to a holding cell. And not before long, a small, round man came into view through the bars.

He held up the manilla folder, flipped it open, and fingered through the pages. “Tomeson, Hunter S?”

Hunter said nothing and merely flipped Lestrade the bird as the cop flipped the folder shut. “Look I wouldn’t be asking you if we didn’t need your help…in a big way. When I heard you were in town, I had to see the great man for myself.”

Hunter said nothing.

He lit up a cigarette and then placed a finger on the bars and wiped away the thin film of dust. “Not exactly a suiting environment for one such as yourself. If you like being here? Then don’t help us”

“Does it look like we like it here? Fuckin’ Buggoon.”

He looked quizzical around the jail cell like he didn’t understand the word “we” and probably didn’t understand what “Buggoon” meant either. He made a face, then shrugged and blew out a stream of steady smoke, shaking his head with a humorless smile.

“I got something you might be interested in. It’s kind of like you scratch my back, you scratch mine kind of thing.”

“You can scratch the crabs of your nuts and clagnuts off your ass for all I care. Fuck off.” Hunter said dismissively and turned his head away.

“Suit yourself…. Bring in Prisoner 69666.” Lestrade nodded to someone off to the side that we could not see who was hidden in the shadows. The jangling of chains and a man appeared under escort by jail guards. The man was of considerable height, near 7ft in his socks. Of unbelievable musculature, decoratively shaven and unshaven to the point it looked more like war paint than hair. He was missing multiple teeth through a smiling maw. He was handcuffed and was being held by a couple of jail guards of equally huge muscular stature. The chained man leered at us and licked his lips.

“This is Machismo. He has a severe disorder referred to by Dr. Phil as ’hyper-sexuality’. In other words, he has a very high sex drive.”

He inhaled the cigarette and exhaled slowly. This time with a grin. “He swings not just both ways. But any direction he wants…Man. Woman. Animal. Vegetable or Mineral. If they have a hole he will fuck it…” He paused and nodded. One of the guards opened the cell door.

My own jaw dropped open. Hunter, from what I could see, had the fear of what was coming even though he was working hard to maintain control of his facial emotions.

“I’m sure you two will get acquainted here before too long….unless…”

Hunter had no intentions of getting anally ‘acquainted‘ with this character. After a single cavity search, our ass was sore enough. “Now wait just a Goddamn minute! This is still America. I shall not be threatened with getting corn-holed by a gigantor of dubious sexual proclivities – Do you hear me!!!”

“What the fuck are you talking about now? Look buddy we got shit to do with this case. I was just hoping you could help us with it.”

“Case? Well, why didn’t you say fuckin’ so?”

Lestrade rolled his eyes and facepalmed himself, then pointed a chubby finger at us. “Let me remind you. Fuck up in this State in any way again and you‘ll be back here, getting properly fucked up. You won’t shit right for a decade.”

Hunter observed the Herculean bulge down below Machismo’s waistline that would make an elephant envious and shuddered. In Hunter’s drug-addled state Machismo’s penis started to move inside the giant’s pants. Moving like a penis shouldn’t be able to move. What the fuck was that hissing noise?

Unable to peel his eyes away from the unholy reptilian terror that lurked in the giant’s shorts, his response was gulped and near breathless. “I’m sure I can help and for ever-loving God….”

He looked like he was going to throw up and jumped off the cot down to the floor.

“Get me the fuck out of here away from Machismo’s reptile zoo!”

***

We searched through the piles of manila folders until early morning. Lestrade allowed us time to go through the files alone and met our incessant demands for alcohol, preferably bourbon with mineral spirits and the familiar brand of herbally infused cigarettes.

Genius had its cost after all and they could spare some Mary Jane as they had just busted a Marijuana trafficking ring and they had the best part of 50 kilos of the stuff in evidence. We explained this would help our mental capacity to ’lubricate and exhilarate’ the neurons into finding answers.

There were seventeen victims all told and all crushed to death within a span of a year and a half. The coroner’s report stated simply that death was short but extremely painful and most of the victim’s bones had been crushed, causing massive internal hemorrhaging.

The media was having a hay-day with it. The residents in Torrance county, Moriarty especially, were in a terrified state. Citizens were speculating that a truck driver was responsible for the murders since Moriarty was a trucking hub and had several truck stops.

Hunter examined any links to this possibility. He searched the computer database for disturbances at the Travel Centers of America, the Pilot, and Lisa’s Truck Stops for any possible links. The only issues were disturbing the peace, the occasional fistfight over parking spots, small-time drug deals, and of course, prostitution. Other than these things, there was no viable link.

Only one victim really held Hunter’s interest. That of eighty-one-year-old Melinda Andrews. Even though she had been crushed so completely, her main cause of death appeared to be strangulation. A bruising imprint of a massive hand was etched across her mouth and nose area. It was as if the force of being smashed had not been enough to extinguish this grandmother’s life and she had fought back but not before managing to obtain something even more peculiar.

Hunter held up a small vial and looked into it with a studious eye. The vial contained a small sliver of rubber, black in color, and appeared to be thick. This small sliver had been recovered from under the victim’s fingernails and it was the only piece of evidence.

When Lestrade returned in the morning, he stopped by the office.

“And? What do you think Mr. Tomeson?”

“I’m curious in this matter.”

“So, you have a plan of action then? Maybe something?”

“I do. You Fuckin’ Buggoon” The insult was mumbled. Barely intelligible.

“What’s the plan then?”

Hunter looked up at Lestrade with disdain and blew out a cloud of smoke. “I must go back to this town of Moriarty of which we have set our investigative gaze, get suitably blitzed, and look further for clues like Velma and The Scooby Gang, but with greater intellect and no Mr. Withers and his Haunted Amusement arcade. But I assure you with the intake of my solutions, will the solution be known.”

Hunter stood up, stretched like a hairless alley cat and grabbed his bourbon double and swallowed the amber fluid in one gulp, and smashed the glass on the wall.

“The game – is afoot.”

Uhuh and if you fuck this up you won’t have a leg to stand on let alone afoot. Instead, you’re going to end up suspended in midair by Machismo’s huge dingus.”

Hunter shuddered at the memory of Machismo’s reptile house in his shorts.

***

Moriarty, NM was just one of the many small towns littered along I-40 that relied on its income from the passing through the traffic of truck drivers and tourists. Mainly the town was owned by several large families: the Kings, one of which had been Governor of the State of New Mexico, the Bensons, and the Sandoval family. All these families had major political ties.

But there remained a seedier side to this town. A town, whose sidewalks rolled up at five in the evening and rolled out the red carpet for evening festive community members. Evenings are filled with drunken orgies, drugs, and loose women, all vying for attention, fun, and financial gains.

We searched for several days for clues, asked for information, and of course, sampled some of the area’s lonely MILF population. There was the strip club, Topless Country, at the 203-mile marker, a lone, out-of-the-way house of ill-repute for the right amount of money, which flowed incessantly from the hands of locals and truck drivers alike. But still, there was no clear-cut evidence of wrongdoing on this trail of the serial killer.

Perhaps, we theorized, that the killer was homosexual…or perhaps bi-sexual? Or was there another link? One so obvious, that we were overlooking. Since the murders occurred in the surrounding hotels and motels within Torrance County, therein might lay the answers.

We traveled to most of the hotels along highway 41 that intersected with I-40 and all points in between. Some of the hotels were empty with maybe one, perhaps two patrons to inhabit those dwellings but, as we drove by the Moriarty Grande several times, we noticed something peculiar.

The parking lot was overflowing with patron vehicles.

How could this be? Why was the Moriarty Grande able to attract customers and yet the other hotels were empty? We also noted that no murders had occurred at this motel so surely there was a link. Yes, there was a night watchman, armed to the teeth with a shotgun, pistol, and rows of gleaming bullets attached to the belt at his waist, but was there something more here than met the eye. Surely, we concluded, that our answers lay within.

Together our joint body of evidence had led us to the Moriarty Grande Motel and several of our questions about the identity of the killer could easily be answered by the hairless ape of a colossus behind the Moriarty Motel’s front desk.

He clearly was big and strong enough to break a few bones. But then so was Machismo. If Machismo wasn’t already banged up he would be another suspect. But James Moriarty Jr was our best bet – If he was hairless all over like he was on his face and killed while naked then he would neither leave hair or fibers. However, that wasn’t conclusive and maybe a trifle too obvious, not to mention disgusting. But facts remained that excluded him as the killer.

The killer was silent, could break in and out unnoticed, and was able to subdue the victims so they didn’t scream. We had been privy to the clumsy noisiness of the giant, James Moriarty Jr as he looked for our bill. So that kind of ruled him out. Or was that an act?

What’s that echo? Did they hear us thinking about this? And where was that sound of laughing children coming from and why weren’t the little bastards answering that ringing phone. It was starting to sound droll.

The Moriarty family could still be in the frame. Hunter had discovered that every victim had some shady dealings in their past with the Moriarty family. The Moriarty’s had founded and practically ran this town. A member of the family each ran or was a shareholder in Car dealerships, Motels, Beauty salons, Bars, Supermarkets, and even the Mayoral and Sheriff’s offices. Basically, they had a monopoly on day-to-day life in Moriarty, New Mexico.

With a population of barely over 2000 people, Moriarty’s main social event was the “Pinto Bean Fiesta”, which included a festival of simple games and the crowning of a “Pinto Bean Queen”. This was our cover story for us being there after all. But holidaymakers tended to go to other areas of New Mexico to vacation.

What better way to drum up extra tourist business for the town than to stage a series of unsolvable killings in rival businesses, making it look like a serial killer was on the loose in these areas, and making customs gravitate to Moriarty? Surely it was one of the safest places to be? Ironic, really since the other thing Moriarty was famous for was being the Mecca for the procurement of pant-shittingly dangerous explosive fireworks. That part endeared Hunter to the town.

But proving this was Moriarty Clan’s plan all along to drum up extra tourism business was the damnable thing. It fitted, the motive was definitely there, and evidence pointed to the fact that they were the only town not hit by “The Night Creeper” as Lestrade had dubbed the killer. But unless we caught one of the Sons of Bitches in the act, there wasn’t a lot we could get a conviction on.

So Hunter had the idea when he saw the giant concierge James Jr. that morning, to provoke him, and see if his temper was bad enough that he would pay us a night-time visit. Making the manager, Jimmy Moriarty, comp us for another night was easy enough, maybe too easy. If they were intending to kill us that night of course he would agree to a free night – then rob our corpses.

***

Night came and Hunter had already gone through his Macguyver pockets to create facsimiles of us to stash in the beds. How was this accomplished I hear you say? Well, there’s a lot a man of ingenuity, imagination, and duct tape can do with a couple of blow-up, raven-haired sex dolls, inflatable travel pillows, two microphones, and a tape deck.

He dressed them in our clothes and we recorded our snoring onto the tape deck and wired up the mics to the fake “us”. We knew that Lestrade was waiting nearby with a small army of SWAT and other State Police officers, all scattered throughout the town so as not to be conspicuous in nature.

We had informed Lestrade to storm the place only when the alarm of the attack arose. We had detailed our intentions to Lestrade who insisted on having an officer hidden in the closet with us but we advised that the closet was too small for such a venture. He reluctantly agreed.

And when the attack did come. We were hiding in the closet. We sensed that horrible soft vacuum sensation, that sudden, almost imperceptible change in air density. It signified to some preternatural sense, which only some of us retained from our evolutionary genetics, that someone is in the room with you.

It was the giant James Jr. and he wore a shiny black latex gimp body suit from head to toe. It explained many avenues of this murder spree. A black latex suit was hardly noticeable in the nighttime shadows. It also explained why and how he never left any skin, hair, or fiber samples.

How he got into the room, we still couldn’t fathom at this point but there was the prospect that the locksmith store down the street was owned by none other than Moriarty Senior. The giant seeming clod-footedness and Frankensteinian lumbering that morning had been an act. He seemed to glide now with the practiced stealth of an eastern Ninja, closing in for the kill.

He had a blowpipe in his hand and he blew a dart into the first body and quickly reloaded the tube. This was how he had silenced each victim from screaming out as he crushed their bones. The poison on the dart must be an untraceable paralytic. The giant recoiled in surprise as the blowup doll left the bed rapidly losing air and shot up into the ceiling with a loud, farting sound.

Since we had not anticipated this, we had no option but to react….and quickly as the giant gave out a loud scream of alarm at the airborne sex doll.

Stage 1 Complete – Distraction- We pounced from our hiding place. I blocked the doorway with my bulk as Hunter jumped toward the giant. Hunter pulled an aerosol can from his jacket pocket and set it alight with his Zippo. It melted the gimp latex into the giant’s face and eyes. He bellowed aloud in agony and wiped furiously at the melted latex that had run into his eyes. In the process of this, the giant had dropped the blowgun. Hunter, casually reached down and picked it up and shot him with his own device.

Stage 2 Complete – Blind. Disable. Debilitate- With the giant not going anywhere as he fell to the floor with a hard thud, Hunter became a man possessed. He visited what could only be described as energized hell on the prone form of James Moriarty Jr. He repeatedly kicked him in the balls, stamped on them, and took a fire extinguisher off the wall and beat the flames out on the giant’s face.

The giant had only managed to swipe empty air so far and wasn’t succumbing to the paralytic, but with each kick to his balls, the giant’s eyes crossed over and he grunted in whimpering agony until, clutching his love sack, he fell over on his side. But the giant’s physiology was not that of a normal man.

Although slowed by the paralytic poison in the dart, he had recovered enough of his senses to realize that he was going to end up losing if he did not regain himself. He staggered up to his feet, grunting like a wounded animal, and moved to the balcony bay doors and was trying to open them to escape.

Stage 3 and 4 complete – Bring The Pain- Hunter then went stiff, hands unmoving by his sides, bent at the waist, and bowed deeply to the badly damaged giant. Then he spun around fast-heel-toe and launched a flying kick with a high-pitched cry through the still-closed balcony bay window. He connected the kick perfectly and I could see a bloody tooth fly from the open maw of the giant as he fell over the balcony railing… but he took Hunter with him.

By blind luck, the giant’s huge reach had managed to catch Hunter’s leg as a reflex reaction to his fall, after being kicked in the face. The giant fell, dragging Hunter over the balcony with him to fall through the Moriarty night.

Together, Hunter and the giant landed on the police cruiser that Lestrade had just exited with his Glock .40 at the ready. Other State Police officers had swarmed the parking lot but by this time, the activity was over. Lestrade was livid at his cruiser being crushed by the falling giant and the infamous Doctor of Journalism. Hunter was in a bad state other than New Mexico and had to be spirited away to Hospital. I feared that the giant had claimed his last crushing victim with my friend.

Stage 5 incomplete – Bow. Retreat. Escape Safely…

***

Hunter woke up at the UNM Medical Center the next day pretty fucked up, but alive. Broken nose, five ribs, broken left leg, broken left wrist, and broken right elbow. Lestrade would visit him every day and ask him questions about the case between Hunter enjoying the medical morphine a little bit too much.

Lestrade never questioned me and totally shut me out of the case. I just stood around in the background and listened to Lestrade trying to trap Hunter into admitting premeditated murder.

Hunter said he was sorry he had to kill James Jr. but his size and strength meant he had to give no quarter in his life and death struggle against the gimp-suited giant. He explained to the detective that the paralytic dart he had shot the giant with wasn’t instantaneous as it would be on a normal person and that the giant had managed to drag Hunter over the balcony and into a three-story death dive.

Lestrade eventually was thankful but he had a hell of a lot of explaining to do with his superiors. A dead suspect, a Crown Victoria squad car that was crushed beyond repair, deemed totaled by the insurance company, multiple man-hours wasted and the list continued on.

At the end of the conversation, Hunter was let off the hook with Murder One. Jimmy Jr would be written off as a suicide and that was plausible. There would be no way that Jimmy Jr. wanted to get caught and serve time in Sante Fe prison for the rest of his life. The taking of his life, as it was explained to the media, was preferable to a life behind bars.

Of Jimmy Moriarty Senior there was no sign…

Lestrade said as soon as “The Night Creeper” had turned his stealthy nighttime attack into open battle against Hunter, he had awoken the other residents in the hotel, and Moriarty Senior had made good his escape in the confusion. Law enforcement in all the Southwest was looking for the man.

With this Lestrade left but with a stern warning to lay off the narcotics and alcohol. There might come a time that our services would be required at some point in the future. After he had left, we began our discussion on the final notes of this case. I had brought up some facts about the Moriarty family and where Jimmy Senior might be hiding.

We also calculated that he might take a chance to murder us while Hunter was in the Hospital. Hunter wasn’t listening to me as usual and was fidgeting with the morphine injection system and a cell phone.

He was incessantly looking out the nearby window as he keyed in a number.

“Hunter, what the hell are you doing with that cell phone, I thought you hated those damn things?”

“I do my dear ‘Dr. Gonzo’ but I am not exactly making a call nor am I texting someone. If this piece of crap works as I planned then please keep watching yonder horizon.”

I ignored his comments and chose to continue on with some of the finer points of what I had discovered about the Moriarty family, now also transfixed by the outside night sky – anticipating what Hunter was portending.

I had learned that the other family members interviewed about Moriarty Sr’s whereabouts had lawyered up and went on record that they wanted nothing to do with Jimmy Moriarty. We couldn’t find any proof that the rest of the Moriarty clan was part of it. Well not so far anyway.

All they would say about the man was that he was always the black sheep of the family and he was raised unlike them in the Carney life, having run away to join a traveling Carnival and Freakshow when at an early age. He had studied knife throwing, Marksmanship, Hypnotism, Escapology, and Contortionism and passed some of these methods onto his son, who had become a freak show giant/circus strongman with his size and strength.

When the traveling Carnival had closed eventually down, the Moriarty clan reached out to these wayward sons and gave them a job running the local Grande Motel along with James Jr’s daughter who also had disappeared from the Motel in the confusion.

James Jr. though noticeably lesser in intellect than his father was slow in some matters but a savant in others. He had learned fast from his father’s skill set and doubled up on the Circus bill as “The Incredible Rubber Man” – a strange giant, gimp-like contortionist.

He never revealed his true identity, ensconced in his rubbery gimp suit as he climbed in and out of tiny spaces you would never think a 6’8 guy could fit into. He even would scuttle into the crowd and slide between the bleachers like a snake, pickpocketing the audience without their knowledge and returning their belongings after the show via his father.

Both father and son were hyper-flexible, could dislocate and relocate their bones without much pain, and could do amazing feats of escapology. In escapology knowledge of locks is essential, so this finally might go to explain how they could enter and exit victim’s rooms – or simply hide in crawlspaces that the initial Police sweep never thought to examine.

Jimmy Nixon Moriarty Sr. was a cold-hearted swine of a man and an accomplished jabber-jaw, duplicitous mask-wearing conman. He was an evil man—One who would indeed not think twice to sell his own semi-retarded son or his daughter down the river and use them as a distraction so he could escape. He was evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it.

When he died this man deserved no Christian burial or pious cremation – his casket should be been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He deserved to be in the belly of and in time shat out the asshole of a Hammerhead shark.

He deserved…Holy Shit!

I dropped down onto my face and quickly gathered my wits at the sudden loud echoing boom that erupted and shook the hospital walls. A sudden huge explosion lit up the horizon outside the hospital window turning the once dark blue night sky into a pyrotechnic Star-spangled banner. A cell phone call ended within his hand and Hunter slapped the phone shut with the flourish of a showman.

I walked slowly over to the window. I was stunned and at a loss for words.

“That, my Mexicano-Samoan friend I call ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ – I been playing around with this cell phone detonation device I came up with. I gave Mr. James Moriarty Sr the chance to die like a true-blooded American. I packed his getaway car with enough Moriarty, New Mexico made fireworks to land him on the fuckin’ moon.”

Hunter tossed the cell phone onto the nearby table.

“I knew that bastard would come around eventually to settle the score with us. Well let us see him do it now as nothing more than chunks of charred Granola”

I shook my head. I marveled at Hunter’s forward planning.

“You know what’s funny…For as long as I have known you, Hunter, I’ve never realized what the initial ‘S’ in your name stood for.”

“Should’ve been Elementary from the get-go, my dear Dr. Gonzo – it’s Sherlock.” He grinned insanely as he pumped himself full of morphine again. His grin was infectious as was the person. “Ohhhh Sweet fuckin’ medical Ambrosia. Nectar of The Gods.”

He purred as Lady Unconsciousness beckoned a finger and flashed her ass.

I laughed at his crazy grin, the obviousness and aptness of his middle name and finally I laughed at my fading, laughing reflection in the hospital window as the blissful goodnight kiss of medical morphine made me, his imaginary friend, cease to exist.

For the time being anyway when yet another weird case beckoned and the game would be afoot once more…

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