Pry: It’s Just a Job I Do

This is the first of a four-story arc about a character appearing within the Infinatum. Over the next few months, I’ll be posting the stories as frequently as possible. You can also find these stories on Wattpad. This first story, unlike my future stories, wasn’t broken-up into smaller parts, so it may be a little long. Hope you enjoy it!

 

The following is an excerpt of an article published in “Bounty Quarterly”…

“Years after the Black Wave Event, Las Vegas has shed its family-friendly reputation and returned to its roots, much to the dismay of local and federal law-enforcement. One of the major factors for the return, and growth, of the mob and their underworld activity is the appearance of irregulars.
Considered myths, or the fanciful creations of Black Wave conspiracy theorists, a recent poll revealed nearly half of the country’s population now believe in the existence of these animal-human hybrids. Many of these beings reportedly possess incredible physical abilities, making them excellent choices for mob enforcers and assassins. But not all irregulars work on the wrong side of the law.
Amid the underworld boom comes a new wave of old-fashioned justice-for-hire. Reminiscent of the old west, bounty hunters and private investigators have been coming to Las Vegas to seek their fortunes among shady clientele. But like the legendary towns of Tombstone or Dodge City, many who come leave empty-handed, or in a casket. But, there has been one notable success story, Pry Investigations.
Associated with Baker Bailbonds in Chicago, two things make Pry Investigations unique. First, the owner, Andreas Pry. A woman with experience beyond her years, many originally dismissed her as a punk. The second is her right-hand man, an irregular known only as Dane. Together, they have proved time and again that they have the skills to compete with the best of the best. Even ruffling the fur of some high-profile competitors.
One of the most vocal opponents of Pry Investigations has been celebrity bounty hunter and reality TV star Cain Nine. Those close to Cain, his wife, fellow bounty hunter and Shopping Network star, Judith Nine, and the family, have frequently voiced their disgust with Pry and Dane’s partnership. While those critical of Cain Nine and his crew claim religious differences and professional jealousy, publicly Cain Nine has been welcoming of any help that keeps criminals off the street.
That is until video from a fan’s cell phone recorded a heated shouting match between Cain and Pry Investigations after the latter had scooped a lucrative bounty out from under the Cain Nine team’s nose. Cain is clearly heard yelling, “Them two bitches are a pain in the ass!”
Cain Nine’s lawyers are currently seeking a restraining order and potential litigation against the video being made public and owner of the cell phone recording.
Despite the animosity, many in the business have praised Pry Investigations, Cain Nine, and others for putting a band-aid on a city bursting at the seams with crime.
The state and federal governments continue to try to return Las Vegas to its status as a global, family amusement center. Meanwhile, organizations like Pry Investigations will continue to do their part to help bring the worst of the worst to justice. All hoping that someday, their desert oasis will return.”

***

Those living in the city of Las Vegas, the old-timers who remembered what it was like before everything was Disney-fied, say that when the Black Wave Event plunged the population into utter chaos and darkness, it was revenge. The ghosts of Bugsy Siegal, Meyer Lansky and all those that made the city infamous moved among the blackness, smiling, knowing, that their pacified desert jewel, would be returning to its former glory.

Three years on, and Las Vegas looks as vibrant, colorful and exciting as it did before. But scratching the surface reveals new players in charge, with new rules and greater control over their fate. After a few days, people begin to see how the tone has changed. The sex, the money, the vices, are everywhere. Sin has returned to the city, and sin sells.
Outside one of the older casinos that has been refurbished and is under new management, has a long line of people wait to get in. Unlike before, where everything was open, now exclusivity rules. Only the hottest, strongest, wealthiest, and most popular. For everyone else, there are other, seedier joints to frequent, further down the strip.
Across the street from this casino, a Harley pulls up and parks behind a flat-black 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. The car looks beat to hell on purpose. A custom-made push bumper covers the front, not hiding its scratches and dents from frequent use. The only things that hint at its worth are the air scoop on the hood and the expensive rubber on the plain-jane rims. The windows are down, as if begging to be taken for a ride. Nearby, local thieves and scum eye the car like candy in a baby’s hand. But they know who owns the car and are smart enough to keep their distance.
The Harley’s rider, Dane, shuts down his bike. His helmet is custom, with the front extended, looking like the outside of a 1930’s hot rod engine compartment. It’s a little over six inches from the bridge of his nose to the bottom of the helmet, and about six inches in length, with vents on both sides, and what looks like a chrome grill covering the front. Otherwise, he looks like a typical biker bad-ass. Leather over denim, big, black boots and a leather jacket, all looking like they’ve been dragged through a hundred miles of rocks and dirt.
Dane reaches up to remove his helmet. That’s when the looky-lous see soft, grey fur covering his fingers through the fingerless gloves. No one hears the soft click as the sides of his helmet open, swinging up, mirroring the 30’s hot rod hoods. He lifts his helmet off, revealing the reason for the custom helmet. His Great Dane head is covered in same short, grey, velvet-like fur that covers his bipedal, human body. When he shakes his head, the jowls hanging off his muzzle, flutter and flex. His pointed ears that were laying flat straighten up. He steps off the bike and stretches his six-foot-plus frame. He’s tall, not big, but well muscled.
He sets his helmet on the seat and unzips his jacket. Beneath, a vintage Dr. Who t-shirt with Tom Baker peering through.
“Nice bike dawg.” someone nearby comments.
Dane looks at the flat-black Barracuda.
A flurry of vicious barks erupt through the open windows of the car, making the local rubber-neckers jump back. A few of them reveal bandages on their hands from when they tried to liberate the car earlier.
“Growl.” Dane mutters as he gives each and every one of the gathered a dirty look.
They stand back, trying to retain whatever semblance of cool they can muster.
Dane looks both ways and stalks across the street towards the door to the casino, his eyes focusing on the Doorman.
The Doorman is taller than Dane, and nearly as wide. The tight, black shirt shows his size isn’t flab. His pants and shoes, with their dull shine reveal his high salary is well earned.
The Doorman jerks his thumb over his shoulder. “Freaks use the back entrance.”
Dane pulls out his bounty hunter badge and shows it to the Doorman. “Bounty hunter. My partner and I are executing a warrant. Let me in, or I’ll let myself in.”
“Just heel, pup!” the Doorman says, chuckling.
Dane sighs, which turns to a growl.

**

Inside, past the rows of slot machines and tables is a high-roller section. Past the mounds of muscle dressed in Armani, the big-time players drop the equivalent of an average Joe’s wages for two years without batting an eye.
Further in, at one table, a group of four play for high stakes. A pile of chips and some personal items cover the center of the table. On one side, a Japanese businessman, his girth well-covered by a suit worth more than the lives of his two intimidating shadows standing behind him. To his left, a former Nordic god of the ski slopes, his hair still vividly blonde, despite the lines and scars on his face. To his left, a young, man named Hank, with movie-star good looks and a thousand-watt smile. But his eyes are as hard and cold as the three other men standing behind him. None of which are focused on what they should be focusing on.
Their eyes are drawn to the fourth player at the table.
Andreas Pry hates wearing a dress, especially this kind of dress. But she must confess, it does have its advantages. The naval-plunging neckline, mixed with the clingy red material up front and the tight fit around her back and down her legs make her feel like a prize at the fair. A prize all the men present can’t take their eyes off of. Every few minutes, she prays to the 3M gods that the double-sided tape keeping her breasts from making an appearance continue to work their magic. Her favorite advantage of the dress has nothing to do with looks. The material pooches into a pocket against her lower back, which is perfect for her cell phone and other objects. Topping it off, a blonde wig, because men all want blondes. As a short-haired brunette, she would know.
The distraction is quite effective. All she has to do is lean forward to reveal her cards, and the men smile, ogle, and feel a tightness in their pants.
When they see her cards, they feel a loosening in their wallets.
The Japanese man barely moves, he just watches Pry stand up and lean forward to pull in her winnings. The Nordic sits back, cursing. His attraction to her is now over-shadowed by his losing to her. Hank just flashes his smile, checking her out with eyes like flesh-seeking missiles.
“Oh my god!” Pry squeals with excessive glee as she sits down, pulling the chips into a large, messy pile. “This is so much better than playing online!” she smiles at Hank. “Better scenery too.”
Hank’s smile grows wider at her words. He leans over towards her, exuding as much machismo as possible. “You’re pretty incredible, do you know that?”
Pry plasters a mischievous smirk on her face as she leans in close, her lips nearly touching his ear. Her right hand slips behind his neck and runs along his collar to the front. He doesn’t even notice the bug she attaches to his collar.
“You are so sweet to say that.” she whispers before sitting back.
She looks at him as he pours on the charm. She knows she has him now. All he sees is a sexy, red-wrapped treat. He doesn’t know that the bug will record his voice, undoing him and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he spent on surgery to hide his wanted face.
He also doesn’t know that her slim, athletic body isn’t from vanity or lack of food. It is from years and years of training, making her a lean, mean fighting machine. She knows how to take down the biggest and worst of them. The smirking jerk beside her will be easy. His cronies behind him may be another matter. Fortunately, she doesn’t travel alone.
As the Nordic sourpuss gathers the cards to shuffle, Pry reaches behind her back and takes out a bright pink girlie cell phone.
“You can’t call out, sweetie.” Hank comments.
Pry fakes puzzlement, then giggles as she leans in close. “I’m texting my girlfriend. She’s in the casino, somewhere.”
“Really?” Hank replies. “Is she as delightful as you?”
“Oh ya!” Pry says enthusiastically, “She’s the reason I’m here! She just did a photo shoot for Maxim!” She holds up a finger to excuse herself from their conversation, turns away, and sends her text.
Hank turns to his cronies and whispers something to them. They respond with lecherous looks and thoughts.
Pry slips her cell phone away, and leans back towards Hankj. He leans towards her and they whisper and chat.

**

Outside, the Doorman lays on his stomach, on the sidewalk, groaning, with his pants pulled down to his knees, revealing baby blue lingerie panties.
The people waiting in line keep their distance as Dane heads inside, muttering under his breath. “They call me a freak.”
The original Dr. Who theme comes from his jacket’s inside pocket. He takes out a smartphone that looks Frankensteined from a couple of touchscreen phones. He waves his hand over the touchscreen and it responds. He moves his fingers purposefully, opening Pry’s text message.
“Contact made. Bug on.”
Dane moves his fingers over the screen again, opening an app that begins recording and comparing Hank’s voice to vocal evidence from his police interview. The bug’s sound isn’t great, it’s very low. He twiddles his fingers over the screen, making minutes adjustments, playing with the program, cleaning it up, amplifying the audio. He needs a few seconds’ worth of conversation to confirm he’s their bounty.
He continues slowly through the crowd, keeping his eyes peeled. Seconds later, a Dalek screams “exterminate” from his smartphone, telling him the voice comparison is complete. He looks at the smartphone’s screen and smiles.
He activates the virtual keyboard and starts texting his response without touching the screen. He glances up and spots a couple of security men walking at a brisk pace to greet him. The sneers on their faces and the batons in their hands indicates the type of greeting he’s about to get. He sends Pry the message and slips the smartphone back into his pocket, just as the security duo close in and reach for him.

**

Pry feels the vibration of her phone. She giggles and apologizes as she pulls back from Hank and his grabby hands and toxic cigarette breath. She takes out her cell phone and checks the message.
“App confirms. He our rabbit. I’m heading 2 U.”
Pry sighs. She knew it was him, but having it confirmed is a relief. She turns back to Hank, smiling. “How much did that cost?” she asks, still in character.
“What did what cost?” Hank replies, a little puzzled, but still exuding cockiness.
“The face lift? The surgery? Because, as cute as my breasts are, I was thinking of going obscenely big.”
“Your breasts are…” Hank starts to say, but stumbles. “Surgery? I haven’t had–“
”You can totally tell!” Pry interrupts, “Especially when you smile. Sounds like a squeaky floorboard.”
“Squeaky…” Hank is totally lost and confused.
“I guess the fam paid for the work, since they’re used to hiding ugly things, especially yours. Sexual abuse. Torture. Rape.” she pauses, all the sweetness and smiles vanish. She stares daggers and spits out the word , “Murder.” hinting at her true feelings for him. Disgust and anger.
The cloud in Hank’s head clears. He bolts to his feet, sending his chair into his three cronies.
Pry grabs the beer bottle Hank has been nursing with her right hand and drives the hard glass into his crotch.
“Eee!” Hank squeals like a pig as his knees buckle and he drops to the floor, his chin resting on the table.
Pry stands, grabs Hank by his hair and tries to yank him to his feet. Her clenched fist comes away from his head, still holding tufts of hair. She grabs him by the shirt and hauls him forward, slamming him down, face first, onto the poker table.
“Time to pay the piper, jackass.” Pry says as she pulls out a set of plastic zip-tie handcuffs from where her cell phone was. She notices the Japanese man pushing himself away from the table, as does the Nordic guy. They aren’t looking at her, but what’s behind her.
Through the high-roller crowd, Dane spots the three cronies of their target approaching Pry from behind. One has a gun.
Dane grabs the tray from a waitress walking by. He tosses the drinks off, twirls the tray in his fingers, so that it’s upside down, like a frisbee, and tosses it towards Pry.
The tray flies straight, true and fast through the crowd.
Pry spots Dane, and the tray. She ducks.
The frisbee tray just misses the top of Pry’s head.
The hard plastic tray hits the crony with the gun in the throat.
The crony makes a loud, shocked gagging noise as he pulls the trigger.
The bullet flies.
It hits the table to Pry’s left.
Pry spins around, elbow up, driving it into the gun-totting cronies’ jaw. It breaks like glass. He screams like a little girl.
Dane charges through the crowd. “Pry!” he yells.
Pry looks back, catches a glimpse of Dane, and crouches down.
Dane uses the empty chair left by the Nordic guy as a step up. He leaps over the poker table, the dazed and bound Hank, and the crouching Pry. He does a split-kick, taking out the other two cronies.
Pry finds the bottle she used before on the floor. She breaks it and uses a sharp edge to cut the side of her dress, from her hip down. When she stands, she can open her legs, giving her a better fighting stance.
The three cronies quickly regain their feet and their courage and attack.
Pry and Dane move like a tornado of fists and feet. They have trained for these situations, knowing what the other is capable of, how they move and where they’ll be. She is fast and hits hard, going more on instinct and will-power. He has size, reach, and a little extra strength than the average human. He can’t bench-press a motorcycle, but when he connects, very few remain conscious afterwards.
Dane glances around. “More security. And their boss. We gotta grab the rabbit and go.”
“No we don’t.” Pry replies as she delivers a flurry of rapid body shots to one crony, who buckles and hits the floor.
The last crony gathers himself up off the floor and charges.
Dane spots him, turns and bicycle-kicks him in the chest.
The last crony is flung backwards onto the floor.
Dane turns and grabs Hank. “We leaving?” he asks.
“Nope.”
Armani-clad security guards surround them. A large, round, wrestler-looking head of security with the name plate of ‘Hogan’ leads a tall, slim, very well-dressed man through the crowds. They step out and confront Pry and Dane.
“Hogan.” Dane whispers to Pry.
Pry nods, smiling.
“Wig.” Dane adds.
Pry glances up, seeing the wig and pulls it off.
“Mr. Malone,” Hogan says, nodding towards Pry and Dane. “You want us to have a chat with them, out back?”
“Jeffery Hogan?” Pry asks as she offers her hand to Hogan.
“What’s it to you b–“ Hogan begins to reply.
“Mr. Malone,” Pry interrupts, turning towards the well-dressed man. “Did you know your employee, Mr. Hogan, and some of the men on your security force have been taking bribes, harboring this man.” Pry jerks her thumb Hank as Dane picks him up. “In your casino?”
“This man is–“ Mr. Malone starts to say.
“Did I forget to mention who he is?” Pry adds, loudly, interrupting Mr. Malone. “His name is Henry Glib, his friends call him Hank. He’s also known in the state of Illinois as Henry Unger-Shelton. Shelton, as in Sheltech Industries. Shelton, as in wanted for various charges including sexual assault, forced confinement, torture, rape and, my personal favorite, murder, of at least three women!”
Pry looks back over at Hogan. “Mr. Hogan here also hails from the great state of Illinois! Although they never met in the elite social circles of stately Shelton Manor, he did sell him numerous drugs, and was an accomplice in other adolescent misdeeds. And when I say ‘misdeeds’, I mean ‘assaults’ and ‘robbery’.”
“Can you have a criminal record and work at a casino?” Dane chimes in.
Pry looks from Dane, to Hogan and back to Mr. Malone, an exaggerated, comical look of puzzlement on her face. “I don’t think so.”
Hogan moves to hit Pry.
Without looking, Pry whips out her left arm, the edge of her hand hitting Hogan across the bridge of his nose.
Hogan recoils, holding his nose, his eyes welling up with tears.
“So here’s the deal Mr. Malone.” Pry begins. “We walk out of here with Mr. Shelton and let you deal with Mr. Hogan as you see fit. There’s no bounty on him, so financially, he means nothing to us.” Pry steps towards Mr. Malone, any hint of lightness or mockery is gone. She’s in serious mode. “But, in the future, if we have any business dealings within this, or any of your other casinos, I hope my associate and I will be treated with courtesy, respect, and will be given any assistance we require. Unlike this time, where you ignored our calls and inquiries.”
Mr. Malone takes a deep breath, frustrated and cornered. “Of course, Ms. Pry.”
Pry smiles. “Dane, let’s roll.”
Dane gathers Shelton and follows Pry out.
They are watched by Hogan, with growing fury.

**

Dane and Pry lead the still dazed and confused Hank/ Shelton through the crowds of people, who give them either dirty or puzzled looks. They step over the two still unconscious security guards that tried to welcome Dane earlier.
“Oh shit.” Dane mutters.
“What?” Pry asks, worried. “We got hostiles?”
“No, worse–“ Dane begins to say.
Blinding bright lights cut through the darkness of the casino, pouring in through the main entrance. People around Dane, Pry and Shelton recoil and step back, leaving them alone.
The whine of a megaphone pierces the regular din of the casino. An amplified, sleepy, L.A. voice says. “Folks, please give us space, Cain will be arriving shortly!”
Cheers erupt outside.
“Aw shit.” Pry sighs, shaking her head. “Reality TV.”

**

Outside, a couple of powerful, portable lights turn the night time to day as three black SUVs pull up in front of the casino’s main entrance. Three sets of cameramen hope out. They flip on their camera-top lamps, making the lights of Las Vegas seem tame by comparison. They whip around to get the intro-shots for stars of the show.
Cain Nine steps out just as his cameraman drops to one knee, using a low angle to make him look heroic. He wears black and grey camouflage pants with pockets jammed full of equipment, and non-lethal weapons and sprays. He doesn’t wear a shirt, as so to show off his once impressive physique. He’s no slouch, but age has worn him down. His leathery face shows the years of hardship and hard-living. Sunglasses hide eyes with bags and darkness underneath them. His once long red hair is streaked with grey. Despite his advancing years, he still has a gruff look and voice, and his size can still intimidate.
He joined by his wife, Judith. Once upon a time, she was a trophy wife, with inflatable breasts and a custom-built body. Success, celebrity, and eight kids, has softened her once hard body. Her over-done, faux-blonde hair and long, colorfully-painted fingernails that poke out the end of her gloves, that were once the envy of her fans, have become staid and tacky. She orders the other cameramen with her nasally voice that gets higher at the end of her sentences, making her sound condescending, even when she’s actually not.
Two of their grown kids join them, wearing similar outfits to Cain’s, except they wear shirts with the web address of their website across their chest. They have somewhat impressive builds, but they still have a few years of bodybuilding and steroids to go before they get as big as their dad once was.
All wear badges on chains around their neck and take any opportunity to show them off to anyone who might need reminding of how important they are, and the respect they obviously deserve.
Cain turns to his cameraman, who gets up from his kneeling position. “Andreas Pry and her associate have aided us before, and we appreciate them offering to help us apprehend this fugitive.” he pauses, then waves his hand across his neck. “Cut here. I’ll go get them, and fill them in on the situation.”
Judith storms over. “You make damn sure they don’t get away with our bounty this time!” she opens her mouth to continue when, out of the corner of her eye, she spots a fan wearing some of her jewelry. She turns and snaps her fingers. An exhausted cameraman springs to life and rushes over. “Over there, we can shoot a testimonial. Let’s go!”
Judith rushes over to her ecstatic fan, her cameraman trailing behind her.
Cain strides over to the main entrance, quietly humming his classic rock theme music.

**

Pry and Dane watch Cain approach.
“Maybe we could go out the back, catch a taxi…” he trails off, sounding exasperated.
Pry sighs. “Lets just get this over with.” she takes a step and remembers she’s in the tight, red dress. She quietly growls.
They drag Henry out and come face-to-face with Cain.
“Ms. Pry.” Cain says, as he nods. He takes his time lifting his head so e can ogling way. He doesn’t even acknowledge Dane. “How about this, you hand him over and we’ll do a quick little blurb about your organization. It’ll be seen by millions of people and it’ll give you a big promo-pop. What do ya say?”
“We caught the rabbit, he stays with us.” Dane chimes in, trying to sound chipper.
Cain reluctantly glances at Dane. “Huh?”
“Huh what?”
“Rabbit?”
“Oh!” Dane bursts out, before chuckling. He sort of regains his composure and does his best Elmer Fudd. “Ooo, I’ll get that wascally wabbit!” He smiles, as if that would explain it.
Cain crosses his arms, obviously not getting it.
Dane awkwardly becomes more serious. “Elmer Fudd chased Bugs Bunny, the rascally rabbit.” Her jerks his thumb back and forth between him and Pry. “We’re like Elmer, and Henry here is the rabbit.” he trails off, feeling uncomfortable. He turns to Pry, pretending to whisper, but not really. “I hate explaining funny things to slow people.”
“I know.” Pry replies quietly.
Dane turns back to Cain and speaks slowly. “It was an inside joke. Sort of like your ratings this season.”
Cain raises his hand and points a finger at Dane. “You watch yer mouth, freak!” He looks back at Pry. “You let’im talk to people like that?”
Pry nods. “What can I say, he makes me laugh.” she pushes Henry towards Dane so she can step towards Cain. “Now why don’t take your circus back to Utah and get your own bounty.”
Cain starts to chuckle, shaking his head. As he turns away, Judith rushes over from seemingly out of nowhere, startling Pry, Dane and Shelton. She sticks her face in Pry’s face. “You think you hot shit? You and your freak? My husband is best bounty hunter–“
”On TV.” Dane interrupts.
Judith points a finger at Dane, her long, multi-colored finger nail a few inches from his nose. “You watch your mouth bitch!”
“Bitch?” Dane replies, incredulously.
Behind Judith, Cain talks to one of the cameras. “This is how we like our nights to end. Getting the guy and going home. I think a lot of it has to do with our group prayer before we start out. We head out with a positive, loving attitude, which helps us deal with guys like this one. It’s like the big guy is riding with us.”
Judith points her finger at Pry. “And you, you gussied up little whore, I guess this is how you catch the men huh. Offer them the farm!”
Dane’s head jerks back in shock at Judith’s words directed towards Pry. “Danger Will Robinson. Danger!”
Judith points her finger back at Dane. “Shut your fuckin’ hole! You have no right to speak to me or anyone! You have no rights at all! I could run your ass down like any dog, and drive away smiling!”
Pry’s knuckles crack as she clenches them tight.
Judith moves her finger back to Pry, getting it close to her face. “You think you can take any bounty you want, right out from under us? Fuck you ya little bitch! There’s no way you’re gonna get the bounty from him, not while–“
Pry grabs Judith’s finger and breaks it, and her long fingernail.
Judith squeals like a banshee and drops like a brick, holding her finger.
“Incapacitate Henry” Pry snarls.
Dane grabs Henry, still dazed, and punches him in the face. His body goes limp and drops to the ground. “Stay.”
Cain hears his wife yelling. He and his sons turn to see Judith on the ground. The camera, still rolling, turn as well.
Cain looks up at Pry and smiles. “Been waiting for this, Pry. If ya think I wouldn’t hit a woman, you’d be wrong.” He flexes, revealing he still has muscles beneath his aged exterior. “Especially if she deserves it. And you really deserve a beatin’.”
“As the most electrifying man in entertainment would say, bring it!” Dane bellows, sounding like his idol. “You and yer pups!”
Cain Nine flexes some more. His sons do the same. “You beat that dog down. I’ll deal with the bitch.”
Around them, people entering and exiting the casino gather and watch.
Cain charges Pry. She ducks under his large, round-house swings and drives her foot into the inside of his knee. He stumbles and turns to face her. She delivers a flurry of punches to his chest as he falls, knocking the wind out of him. He tumbles backwards, falling over a sprawling Judith.
Dane front kicks one of the sons, lifting him off his feet. He falls backwards into the one of the SUVs. A quick right cross takes out the second son.
Pry and Dane stand over the beaten, groaning bodies of Cain Nine and his family.
The camera crew record everything.
Pry turns to the cameramen. “Shows over.” She turns to Dane, “Get the footage.”
Dane nods and quickly convinces the cameramen to hand over the digital tapes. He comes back to Pry as the crowd disperses. “You want to watch Cain Nine’s much-deserved ass-whoppin’ again and again?”
Pry takes the digital tapes and smashes them. “Nope. Get Henry, let’s go.”
Dane shrugs, goes over, and hauls Henry to his feet.
As they head across the street, one person amid the crowd doesn’t disperse. Hogan glares at them with vengeful eyes.

**

Pry and Dane, carrying Henry, approach the flat-black Barracuda and Dane’s Harley.
“You gotta admit, it’d be cool to watch you in badass-mode on HD digital.” Dane says with a chuckle.
Pry shrugs, her face calm and introspective. “I just don’t like putting up with guys like Cain and his family. They’re hypocritical, self-righteous, and vulnerable. They talk about being tight with God, then spew the most vile words and thoughts.” she shakes her head. “I shouldn’t have lost it. I don’t care what they say about me. But no one talks to you like that, period.”
Dane sighs, then speaks in an official announcer voice. “What better way to say ‘I love you’ than by beating up two reality TV celebrities.”
Behind them, Hogan briskly walks across the street towards them.
“Vulnerable?” Dane asks, “How so?”
“They think their wealth and popularity protects them. No matter how many men you buy, no matter the security, all it takes is one shot and he’s dead.” Pry replies, her mind accidentally digging up more subtext than she wanted.
“‘He’ who?” Dane inquires.
“He.” Pry mutters, pushing down the memories that try desperately to reach the surface. “Him. Guys like Cain. And Henry too.”
Hogan pulls out an old switchblade knife and charges Pry.
Dane and Pry’s brains are slammed with a single thought, more like an image. The meaning of the message comes through clear.
Move!
Pry steps to her right. Dane moves himself and Henry to his left. They part like the Red Sea. Leaving a space between them, where Hogan stands.
From the Barracuda’s window, a large German Shepard/ Husky mix dog shoots out through the open window. His snarling mouth clamps down on Hogan’s arm that holds the knife. His momentum knocks Hogan backwards, into the middle of the street. He falls onto his back, pinned by Fen.
Larger than others of his mixed heritage, Fen’s easily mistaken for a wolf. His black on light grey fur coat is short, but thick. His body is heavy and dense with strong muscles and bones. His large paws keep his balance, and keep Hogan pinned. His large, teeth-lined jaws are powerful. A little more pressure and Hogan’s forearm would be snapped in half. His growling comes from within his large chest, like the slow, building rumble of impeding doom. The most startling thing about Fen, are his eyes. While his right eye is brown, his left eye is a brilliant green, that almost seems to shimmer.
Pry stands beside Fen and Hogan. “Are we done?”
“Yes, please!” Hogan whimpers. “Please call off your dog!”
“He’s not mine. He’s a friend. You attack me, you attack my friends. And vice versa.”
“My arm! Please!” Hogan cries.
“Let him go Fen.”
Fen releases Hogan’s arm and stops growling, but keeps him pinned. He looks up at Pry, a happy, slobbery, tongue-hanging-out look on his face. He gives a yowls, as if he were talking to her verbally. But in truth, his mind, altered as a result of the Black Wave Event, has given him greater intelligence, as well as a means of communication, via a form of telepathy. It may not be certain words or thoughts, but after nearly three years, Pry know what it all means.
“You were awesome! But you are still grounded.” Pry says, as if reminding a kid their punishment still stands, regardless of their good deed.
Fen’s expression goes from happy to disappointed. He rolls his eyes as he steps off Hogan and heads back to the car, quietly yowling.
“Saving us doesn’t undo what you did.” Pry replies as she turns and follows Fen back to the car.
Fen stops beside the car as Dane opens the passenger door and tosses Henry onto the back seat. He leaves the door open and heads back to his Harley.
Fen yelps questioningly at Dane.
“I’m not getting in the middle!” Dane replies, throwing his arms up. “This is between you and her.”
Fen whines, then turns back to Pry, yammering.
“No, its not just about you taking the whole bag of ginger snap cookies. It about you taking my whole bag of ginger snap cookies, and giving them to Mrs. Pernepel’s tarty Poodle.” Pry shakes her head. “If those puppies come looking like you…” Pry trails off.
Fen barks happily, waging his tail as he climbs into the car, to keep an eye on Henry.
“We are not adopting them!” Pry yells as she slams the passenger door and walks around to the driver’s side.
Fen whines and gives a sad look.
Pry stops and sighs. “But we’ll make sure they go to a good home.”
Fen gives a small bark, as if satisfied with Pry’s answer.
She gets in and fires up the engine. A quick shot of gas turns the rumble of the engine into a roar. The car rocks as dust puffs out from underneath.
Behind them, Dane fires up his Harley and drives past them.
“By the way, how did you get my bag of ginger snap cookies down from the top cupboard?” Pry asks.
Fen just pants, smiling.
They drive off, leaving Hogan nursing his arm and a grudge.

***

After the Black Wave Event, some of the warehouses and office buildings were abandoned, creating patches of city devoid of businesses and reputable residences. Part of the rebuild saved many of these places, but a few sections remain.
Along the edge of the city, a few of these empty warehouses remain, not far from new homes and apartment buildings. In one small, seemingly run-down warehouse, is the offices of Pry Investigations.
The front offices were once a small engine repair shop, using the warehouse out back to do the machining and rebuilding. Two barely used office desks, with chairs, sit between a long counter with a walk-way in the middle, and two large glass windows separated by a wide glass door, all of which look out onto the quiet street.
Behind the counter are two offices, with a hallway in-between, lined up with the walk-way in the counter. Large windows allow those in the office to watch the front. These offices are used by Pry and Dane. They have top-end computers and other technology, that seems cobbled together from other parts. Both offices also have the standard furniture; filing cabinets, old metal office desks, fake plants, map of Las Vegas, and so on.
The hallway between the offices leads past a bathroom, to the warehouse behind. It isn’t large, but its plenty of room for what they need. Two steel, roll-up bay doors are at the back. The one on the left has Pry’s Barracuda and Dane’s bike parked near it. The main floor is open, with steel I-beams supports. A large combat mat spread out around the beams, with various equipment, like punching bags, Wing Chun dummies, and targets set up around the beams, or duct taped to them. Against the right wall, two large, self-contained safes act as weapon lockers. One has a label saying “Dane”. The other has a hand-painted name, “Pry”.
The bay door on the right has what looks like a green carpet, with a large water bowl and food dish. In the corner, a spacious dog house, complete with a second story deck, windows and air conditioner.
The bay door on the right rumbles to life and begins to raise up. Fen leaps up and, once inside, steps on a foot pedal. The door stops, starts to rumble down, and closes. Fen wipes his feet on the green carpet and goes into his house.
From the back of the warehouse, the front office, and two floors above, look like an older building was set inside of it, or the warehouse was built around or attached to it. A set of wooden stairs go from the ground floor to the second, connecting to a long balcony that stretches across the entire width of the floor. Another set of wooden stairs goes up to the third floor, to another balcony. A final set of stairs goes up to the roof.
The second floor apartment, the size of the office space below, is jammed with electronics and technology torn apart by Dane. Its part living space and part Radio Shack. Only the front part of the apartment, with its large bay windows looks livable. He has all the latest toys, gaming systems, home entertainment devices, and computing equipment, along with all the paraphernalia any techno geek could want. Posters of Dr. Who, Firefly, BSG cover any available space.
He sits in his recliner, half of his attention is watching the Gatchaman Anime series. The other half is dissecting an iPhone. He quickly assembles the parts and starts it. He waves his hand over the touch pad, but nothing happens. The smell of over-heated plastic catches his nostrils. He tosses it into a bucket of water. Faint sizzling can be heard.
He chuckles to himself. “Geniuses my ass.”
He picks up a newer iPhone, quickly pops it open and start rewiring it.
The third floor is spartan, with only the basic furniture and personal effects, which include some well used workout equipment and heavy bags. The walls were knocked out long ago, leaving the I-beams bare, giving the place a dirty loft feel. Near the front door, the red dress and the girlie cell phone Pry used earlier are tossed aside indifferently.
Where the bathroom would be, there’s just a toilet, a sink and large, iron claw tub. Pry reclines in the tub, the warmth of the water evident by the steam on the mirror over the sink and the haze just above the water. She pulls off the double-sided tape from her breasts that kept her dress from falling completely open. She flings them from her fingers and drops her arm back beneath the surface of the water.
The street lights shine a muted glow through the large windows, giving the space a quiet, almost warm glow. But despite the temperature of the water, Pry doesn’t feel warm, or soothed, of comforted. She stares straight ahead, her mind far away in the past.
Her eyelids droop, open, then close.
Images flash in her mind like twisted snapshots from a nightmare.
An older man lays in her arms, bleeding all over her.
She pushes a blade into another man’s chest.
Blood jets out his wound, covering her.
She stands up, blood coating her naked body.
At her feet, the man with the knife in his chest screams as other cuts open, pouring blood.
Around her, shadowy men clap their approval.
She wipes the blood away. Underneath, she is old, ugly and twisted. Her mouth is a gapping maw filled with bile and gore. Her skin hangs off her bones like bloody rags.
On one of her skeletal fingers, a large, dazzling ring.
The shadowy men surround her. When they fall, she has become death. She bathes in the power.
She opens her eyes, sadness filling her eyes. She sits forward and splashes water on her face. Her tears mixing with the water. She draws her knees up and wraps her arms around them. Her attempt to maintain control is slipping. Her chest heaves. She shakes despite the warmth of the water.
She feels as if the nightmares have always been with her. She waits for them when she closes her eyes. Even on the rare occasions when they don’t come, she fears the next night, because she knows they’ll be worse the longer they are away. In the past few months, they’ve gotten more frightening, more intense. Its as if the longer she keeps her secrets, the greater the fall will be when it comes for her. Part of her wants to let go, so bad. To tell Dane and Fen what has been eating her up. She sees and feels the concern for her. But she’s afraid of what might happen if she did tell them everything. How could she face them if they learned what she did, and who she truly is.
A faint scratch can be heard at her door.
She hears Fen in her head.
“I’ll be ok, Fen.” she finally answers.
His scratches become more insistent.
“Ok, ok, I’m coming.” Pry replies, sniffling and wiping the wetness from her face. She climbs out of the tub and wraps a towel around herself.
She opens the door to see Fen sitting there. In his mouth, a tablet PC. “He can’t just call can he.” Pry grumbles, with a smirk on her lips. She takes the tablet from Fen and touches the screen.
The tablet activates and a video image of Dane in his apartment. “Andy! We gotta finish our Farscape marathon! Two words. Ben Browder! Get your hairless butt down here, stat! And, umm, bring some cash for the pizza I just ordered.” Dane smiles in the goofy way that makes his jowls flap.
Pry laughs as she touches the screen, stopping the video. She scratches behind Fen’s left ear. He practically melts. “Tell him I’ll be down in a sec, ok?”
Fen wags his tail like mad and barks happily. He bounds off towards the stairs.
Pry heads back to her bedroom and throws on some shorts and a t-shirt. She touches the tablets screen again. She meant it when she told Hogan Fen wasn’t hers, that he was a friend. They are both more than friends, they are family. Better than the family she knew.
That is why she’ll do whatever it takes to protect them, even if it means lying to them.
*****

Pry: It’s Just a Job I Do Copyrighted © 2012-2013 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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