The harsh light of day poured through the open doors of what once might have been a reputable establishment. The few conscious patrons inside squinted from the brightness. Some vocalized their displeasure, mostly with slurs or simple growls.
When the doors closed, a well-dressed, young man stood for a moment, regarding the dive he had entered. He looked and smelled like money and perfection. Handsome face, neatly combed dark brown, almost black, hair. He may have had a silver spoon in his mouth, but it was chewed, bent and stained. He was no push-over. The fact he walked into such a place was evidence of that. He looked around the dark, dank environs with a deep-seated loathing. Not for what this place was, but for what it hid. The animal he has spent millions of dollars looking for was in here.
The Handsome man walked towards the bar, keeping his eyes and wits about him. He stepped up to the bar and flashed a wad of cash. It drew the bartender over, and garnered attention from the low-lives.
The Bartender, either a former biker or long-term resident of some of the more serious prisons eyed the new-comer up. A smirk played on his lips and evil thoughts were in his eyes. “What can I do for you, sir?” The Bartender asked. Snickers came from a few of the regulars within earshot.
Handsome pulled out a picture from his suit and placed it down on the bar, facing up. “I heard he comes here.”
The Bartender glanced at the picture, opened his mouth to speak, but stopped. His dark machinations for Handsome’s demise were stopped cold as he slowly lowered his head to get a good look again at the picture. It was old, black and white, reminded him of a mug shot, save for what looked like a partial stamp covering one corner. It looked official, United States Government official.
“You a Fed?” the Bartender asked.
The others in the bar stirred. Instead of plotting to scavenge Handsome’s remains, they returned to their private miseries.
“Sure.” Handsome replied. “You seen this guy? He’ll look older now.”
The Bartender cocked an eyebrow in puzzlement. He turned away from Handsome. “Nope. Never seen him.”
Handsome tossed the wad of cash on the bar. The heavy thump of it drew the Bartender back. He looked at the money, it was enough to pay off the bills, the loan sharks, as well as spend a few nights in Atlantic City.
The Bartender rubbed the bar down with his rag, and scooped up the money. He looked up at Handsome, then glanced at the far corner, near the jukebox, then back at Handsome.
Handsome nodded to the Bartender and walked over to the jukebox.
The Bartender pocketed the wad of cash as fear crept up into stomach. His left hand reached under the bar and touched a double-barreled shotgun as a reminder, just in case things went to hell.
Handsome walked over to the jukebox. The front window, the lights, were all smashed. Dust and broken glass covered songs that were popular decades earlier. Beside the jukebox, a carved upon table sat partially in shadows. It was hard to tell there was man sitting in the corner. Only a dark form could be seen. Handsome half expected him to vanish like a ghost. Perhaps his vendetta had affected his mind. But the man he sought was there. This time, he was real. The evidence was a nearly-full bottle of tequila, resting just in the light, on the table. A fat worm laid at the bottom of the bottle.
“I’ve been looking for you all my life Mr. Gunn.” Handsome said. He felt his body boil with adrenaline and rage. He never felt so righteous and confident. For years, he feared what would happen this day. But now that it was here, he was never been more ready.
“Too bad you found me.” Gunn replied. His hand rose from the shadows and grabbed the bottle of tequila. The top of the bottle disappeared into the darkness as he took a long drink. The liquid and the worm at the bottom slipped down and disappeared. Handsome heard the harsh liquid being gulped down. When he set the bottle back down, it was empty.
Handsome was impressed. Having been around hard drinkers, albeit rich ones, someone downing a bottle of tequila, worm included, was a feat. He also thought it would give him an edge in what was to come.
Outside somewhere, police sirens wailed.
“No, it’s too bad you were found.” Handsome answered, as he pulled a gun from his suit and aimed it into the shadows.
“Hands on the table, in the light. Now!” Handsome barked.
Gunn placed both hands on either side of the empty tequila bottle.
“Now what.” Gunn asked. “You gonna gun me down?”
“Yes.” Handsome said, relishing the moment.
“So, how come I’m still breathing?”
“You came here to kill me, right? Well, pull the trigger already and get it over with.”
Handsome’s finger touched the trigger of his gun, but he didn’t pull it. He wasn’t sure if it was fear or something else. He decided it was something else. “I want to see your face. I want to see the face of the man who gunned down my father.”
“Who was your father?” Gunn asked. “I killed a lot of people.”
“He was a very important man. Not just to me, but to a lot of people. To a nation!”
Handsome brought up his foot and kicked the table, driving it into the corner and into Gunn.
Gunn flopped forward onto the table. The bottle fell off the table with a crash. The patrons in the bar stood and quickly exited, knowing things were about to get much worse.
“Show the man some respect!” Handsome yelled, stepping closer, gun aimed at the top of Gunn’s head. “He stood for something you could never understand!”
“He was an example.” Gunn whispered.
“What did you say?” Handsome asked in wild-eyed disbelief.
“He was an example, to all those that followed.” Gunn continued, as his hands slipped into the shadows. “Don’t fuck with the real power, or you die. He challenged them, and they killed him. His brother too.”
The table was pushed out from the corner, knocking Handsome backwards onto the floor. His gun went flying from his hand.
Handsome rolled onto his stomach, looking for his gun. He saw it near the bar. But before he could scramble for it, he felt a boot heel on the back of his neck. He also heard the click of a gun being cocked.
Outside, screeching tires filled the air.
“You should have stayed away Junior.” Gunn said, pressing his heel down. Handsome struggled, choking.
The door was kicked in. Blinding light and serious men in suits poured in, guns at the ready.
“Federal agents–” was all any of them had time to say as the sound of gunfire and smoke fill the room.
Handsome felt the boot heel lift off his neck. He put his hands over his head as men screamed and bullets tore up everything. Glass shattered, splinters flew, bullets casing scattered, and bodies fell.
When the din stopped, the doors closed. Daylight peeked through the bullets holes. Outside, ordered were barked.
Silhouetted by bullet-sized beams of light was Gunn, a pistol in one hand, an automatic rifle in the other, taken from one of the agents.
Behind the bar, whimpering was heard. “I’m shot!” The Bartender cried. “Fuckin’ been shot! What the fuck is that!”
“Shut up.” Gunn said as he slung the rifle over his shoulder. He walked towards Handsome, hauled him up to his feet, and pushed him back against the remains of the bar.
Handsome looked upon the foe he had envisioned for so many years, ever since he was a teen and stumbled across the confidential files his uncle had. He remembered the cold, indifferent look in Gunn’s eyes. The rugged, battered look on his face, as if he had seen too many things for far too long. He might be considered handsome, in a western-type of way. He could see him as a cowboy, riding the range, or a soldier in Europe, even a gladiator from Roman times. But there were two things he never expected.
One, that his eyes would be so blue.
Two, that he hadn’t aged a day since the picture was taken.
“Impossible.” Handsome said as he stared at Gunn.
“You have no idea.” Gunn replied as he holstered the pistol into his waistband. “But if it makes you feel better, when I saw you salutin’ your Daddy’s casket as it went by, I felt…” Gunn paused, searching for the right word, settling on a simple one instead. “… bad.”
Before Handsome can answer, Gunn grabbed his head and twisted, breaking his neck. His body went limp and Gunn let it drop to the floor.
He looked down at the man he just killed, thinking about Handsome’s father, his uncle, and all the other people he had killed. He began to shake his head as tears began to flow. He reached down and pulled Handsome’s corpse up and sat it on one of the remaining bar stools, his eyes were still open wide in shock at his own demise.
“I felt worse than bad.” Gunn continued, his words coming out in an emotional ramble. “I’ve been doing this a long time, killing people. It’s not as romantic as they make it the movies. I don’t feel bad all the time. I do sometimes, but, it’s not like I remember the faces of everyone I killed. They don’t haunt me. But some stick with me. Killing your Dad was nothing. It was easy. Most of them are easy. But honestly, seeing that footage of you, saluting, it stuck with me.” He stopped, looking at Handsome. “Now I’ve killed you.”
Gunn turned and leaned back against the bar, tears still streaming absently down his cheeks, a look of bewilderment on his face, as if he were presented with the ultimate question that he should know the answer to. “Why doesn’t my past haunt me?” he asked unconsciously to no one.
The business end of a double-barreled shotgun pressed against the back of Gunn’s head. At the other end, the Bartender. “Cause you’re an evil fuck.” the Bartender said
Outside, police cleared the streets, keeping civilians far away from the bar’s entrance. Closer to the entrance, S.W.A.T. officers followed their Sergeant towards the door, rifles and shields at the ready.
A gun shot was heard from inside the bar, quickly followed by a powerful shotgun blast.
The Sergeant kicked open the door and looked in.
Sitting on a stool at the bar was the corpse of a familiar, Handsome man.
The Bartender laid across the bar, a single bullet hole in his head.
The Sergeant gestured for his team to follow him inside.
As the S.W.A.T. team entered, a black sedan with blacked-out windows and federal plates drove through the barricade. It pulled up and stopped in front of the bar.
The driver, a meek-looking agent in a plain suit, got out, carrying a small briefcase. Before he could open the back door, it was opened from inside. A larger man in an expensive, well-tailored suit climbed out. He looked like a retired wrestler from days gone by. He was solid, tough, with a hard face from many hard years. But his eyes were smart, and revealed frustration.
Behind the black sedan, two black vans pulled up and two groups of men in plain suits and sunglasses stepped out and flashed Government identification. Most corral the police and gawkers, while some head down the alley beside the bar. The larger man headed into the bar, trailed by his lackey and a couple of agents from one of the vans. He ignored everything and went straight to Handsome. His frustration turned to anger and sadness.
“Sir.” The Sergeant said as he approached the larger man, “This area isn’t secured yet–”
“Understood Sergeant.” The larger man interrupted, mustering as much respect as he could to address someone who knows nothing of the situation. “You and your men can stand down. This is a Federal case now. We’ll handle it.”
“Yes sir.” The Sergeant replied like an angry, scolded dog.
The Federal agents repeated their thanks as they briskly escorted the Sergeant and his S.W.A.T. team out.
The larger man took out a cell phone and made a call. “It’s the Admiral.” he said into the phone. “We need a scenario. Something small. A plane crash maybe.” He listened and sighed before continuing. “Gather his wife and any other plausible individuals, but only if necessary.” He listened and disliked what he heard. “Just keep it clean and make it happen!” He bellowed before ending the call.
The Admiral calmed himself before turning to his lackey and the other agents. “Clear the bodies. Torch the building. Feed the media.” The agents nodded and got to work as The Admiral headed out the back door.
In the narrow back alley, Gunn leaned against the wall as he absently disassembled the rifle. At his feet, a couple of unconscious agents.
When the Admiral exited the back door, he glanced at Gunn before crouching down and checking the agents for a pulse. “They’re alive.” The Admiral commented with surprise.
“What’s your point, Douglas?”
“Just nice to see is all.” The Admiral stood, turning to Gunn. “We tried to keep him away. Gave him false leads. But he was persistent.”
“Like his Dad.” Gunn replied, tossing the remains of the rifle aside indifferently.
Gunn pushed off the wall and started to walk away.
“Stay in touch.” The Admiral said, a hint of warning in his tone.
Gunn stopped, as if thinking before responding. “No.” He turned around. “No more. I’m done. Gone! I don’t ever wanna see this miserable, manipulative, fucking country ever again. And if you come looking for me, you won’t know what to do with all the dead men I send you.”
“Gunn, you’re not–”
“Serious?” Gunn interrupted. “Like fuckin’ cancer, baby. I’ll gun down every G.I. Joe I see. And if they keep coming, I’ll bring everything, and everyone, down.”
The Admiral started to walk towards Gunn, seriousness in his eyes. “What do you mean?”
Gunn smiled. “I know too much.”
“That works both ways.” The Admiral replied. “I know everything about you.”
“No, you really don’t.” Gunn added.
They stood there in a silent showdown. Their words hung between the two men, knowing the gravity of their meaning and their knowledge.
Finally, Gunn’s malicious glee faded, along with his smile. He closed his eyes as exhaustion returned. “Just, leave me alone.”
“We will.” The Admiral agreed, “So long as you stay hidden under whatever rock you find.
Gunn nodded. He turned and headed out of the alleyway, hoping to get lost in the world and forget himself. But deep down, he knew they wouldn’t.
Early on, I made a conscious effort to not include specific times when dealing with many of my characters in the Infinatum. But as some characters emerged that had a greater history, I began to see ways of allowing some of them to interact with historical events (like the Tunguska Blast from part one of “Tales…”). With Gunn, how he affected American history isn’t said directly, but definitely hinted at. The more work I did with Gunn, the more I liked him. There’s a lot more to him that just a killer. A lot more. Hopefully someday, the truth of who he is will be revealed… in small bits.
“Tales from the Infinatum”, “Gunn” Copyrighted © 2010-2011 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.