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Jim the old guy
Post subject: Overseer - chapter 19 (finish)
Post Posted: Nov 29, 2006 7:32 pm
Joined: May 31, 2005 10:36 am
Posts: 2947

“Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Murphy. It looks like she’s not in the mood...for once!” He laughs fiendishly. “Well, let’s just move on to the murder/suicide portion of the program, shall we?” This move doesn’t really surprise me; after all, he is a rat.
“You said you’d let her go! We made a deal!” I pretend to be irked, which, by the way, I am.
“Oh, Mr. Murphy, please! Don’t compound your gullibility with your stupidity. I mean, she is more of a threat to me than you are. The mere fact that she’s been intimate with several of my enemies, not to mention a handful of my allies, makes her a real threat.” Before I can reply, Sylvia yells out her own retort.
“You’re a liar! Don’t listen to him, Tex. I’ve never had anything to do with Klaus or any of it! I swear it!”
“Well I didn’t say you were involved,” Klaus answers, coming to his own defense. “But I do realize you have the capacity for treachery. For all I know you may be as innocent as you claim to be. I’m just not a risk taker.” I look at Sylvia with empathy. She’s probably lying, but I really don’t care. I think I’m falling for her, breaking PI rule #1, ‘Never get involved with a client.’
“Oh, don’t look so sad, Tex,” Klaus continues. “At least you know that you were the last, hmmm? I mean, perhaps she even cared for you - as much as she’s capable.” This Sylvia-bashing routine is becoming irritating. I firmly believe that Sylvia has the capacity to be a warm, loving and loyal person. She just needs a break.
“Look, Klaus, you gave your word and I believed you. Let Sylvia and I go and we’ll skip town. Your secret will be safe with us.” Boy, that was a whopper! Like the Colonel said, you have to bend the rules to make them work.
“Sorry, Mr. Murphy. It’s too big a risk. Besides, there’s an old saying: ‘To the victor belong the spoils.’ I’m the victor and I choose to have the spoils eliminated.”
“Well, Klaus, there’s another old saying: ‘Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.’” His smug smile fades momentarily.
“Touché, Mr. Murphy, touché. But let’s be honest. After all you’ve done to disrupt my plans for stealing Overlord for my own use, I’m not about to let you go. So, let’s get down to business. Mr. Slade? Mr. Slade?” I was kind of hoping he brought somebody besides Big Jim Slade. I don’t think that guy likes me too much.
Out of the shadows comes a figure of a man unlike I’ve ever known. Just under six feet tall, well built, industrious, murderous and cool as a cucumber, there’s none better than this high priced assassin. Yet I loathe him as much if not more than Klaus. It’s difficult to respect someone when you abhor everything they stand for.
Slade approaches Klaus from behind, gently patting Klaus’ shoulders. Klaus says, “I’ll leave the necessary unpleasantries in your capable hands.”
Smiling, Slade answers, “My pleasure, Mr. Klaus.”

John Klaus can taste it – victory! Along with victory comes world domination. He has Tex Murphy exactly where he wants him and soon he will have the other seven passcards. Coupled with his own passcard, he should be able to access the Overlord main computer and program it to obey his simplest command. In just a few moments, he’ll be transformed from a local surgical practitioner to a world-wide phenomenon. Only two tasks remain.
First, after Slade kills Murphy and Sylvia, Klaus will use his own revolver to pump six rounds into Slade’s back. Thus he will have followed the first rule of assassination: Kill the assassin. Second, Klaus will have to find Gideon and execute him as well. Of course he will inject a submissive implant into Gideon so as to extract as much info as possible from Overlord’s creator before he actually pulls the trigger. Then he will kill Gideon and dispose of the body. That will make him the sole operator of the Overlord computer and sole ruler of earth’s domain. Gideon’s dream of peace on earth with be a thing of the past. Huh! Gideon should know by now that humans cannot live together peacefully. To the contrary, they crave chaos and disorder, allowing to be sent off to war with the drop of a hat. And John Klaus will give the people what they want.
Euphoria fills Klaus demented mind. He envisions himself as the next great tyrant, dictator and unopposed autocrat. Nothing can stop him now. The future awaits! And he is the future.

Big Jim Slade observes the cat and mouse verbal debate played out by the two people he hates the most - John Klaus and Tex Murphy - with disgust. He wished they would get to the killing part of the game so he can accomplish his own personal goal - securing all the passcards for himself. Once in his possession, he will contact Gideon and offer him a trade. The old crippled up has-been will be all too happy to retrieve the cards and will no doubt pay handsomely for their safe return.
After Slade gets his hands on all that money, he will fly directly to Brazil, the one country where they don’t require background checks. The Brazilian government is only interested in one thing - money. Once settled in his personal mansion, Slade with live the life of luxury, wallowing in the hot sun, surrounded by beautiful Latino women, com-pletely retired from the killing business. What a way to go!
However, first things first. He needs to execute Murphy and the dame. Once they’re out of the way, he can proceed with his plan. Slade is exceptionally delighted at the opportunity to kill Murphy. That bloody drongo has caused him enough grief to last a lifetime. The girl, good looking as she is, has to be killed just to be on the safe side. It’s purely business. But, before he kills those two, there is one last piece of business to settle with Mr. Klaus.
Slade approaches Klaus from behind after being summoned. He sizes him up, like an eagle about to swoop down from the sky as it catches sight of an unsuspecting rabbit. The back of Klaus’ neck looks very inviting. Slade dreamed of this occasion for some time now. All he has to do is place one arm under Klaus’ chin and the other on the back of Klaus’ neck. In a quick move, snap! Broken neck. Klaus won’t feel a thing.
As he nears Klaus, Slade recalls the first time he used this move to execute someone. His Master, Soon Tan Lo, had been retained to eliminate the uncooperative competitor of a Thai industrialist. When the Japanese CEO was offered a lucrative buy-out, he flatly refused, mumbling obscene dispersions at the Thai. Master Lo had been recommended by a corrupt police official who was more than willing to offer his assistance, for a small outrageous fee, of course. The fee also included detouring investigators away from the Thai businessman.
Slade and his sensei followed the CEO for about three weeks, watching him carefully, trying to observe any routine to his activities. At all times the Japanese CEO was sur-
rounded by bodyguards. He was almost untouchable. However, each Friday night he would visit the same nightclub, known for it’s incredible food and hot women. That was his weakness - women. On the succeeding Friday, Master Lo and Slade followed their target to the same hotspot. Upon entering, they watched with earnest as the old man tried to pick up several women. He flashed money around as though it would soon be obsolete. When the businessman headed for the Men’s room, Slade and Lo saw their opening. The bodyguards went to the restroom as well. One went into the room with his boss, the other two waited outside, barring any others entry upon pain of death. When Master Lo created a diversion, Slade snuck in behind the bodyguards, entered the restroom and disposed of the guard before he knew what hit him. As the CEO exited a stall, he went to the sink and washed his hands, eyeing Slade curiously. He was wondering why his security team had allowed someone else entry. Then he shrugged his shoulders, the alcohol affecting his clear thinking ability. As he turned to use the auto-dryer, Slade came up from behind and snapped his neck, killing him instantly. He felt exhilarated then and he feels exhilarated now. Besides forced Russian Roulette, this was the most enjoyable method of execution in his vast repertoire.
Slade pats Klaus’ rounded shoulders and says, “My pleasure, Mr. Klaus.” Pleasure indeed. It would be pleasurable to break Klaus’ neck. And that’s exactly what he did.

I watched with trepidation as Slade snapped the neck of John Klaus. I had never seen an actual execution before. Turning my head to avoid further contact, I notice a self- complacent smile on Sylvia’s face. Well, maybe she had a right. However, no one has the right to take another’s life with impunity.
One shock quickly blurred into another. Although I felt little remorse for Klaus, it was one of the most revolting sights I have ever witnessed. But that wasn’t the end of the matter. As soon as Slade stood erect, I realized that Sylvia and I were facing a fate worse than death. I remembered how Sonny Fletcher described the torturous death of his wife at the hands of Jim Slade. Will Sylvia and I face the same inevitability? Time will tell, but, in the interim, I need to think of an escape plan.
“Whew! That was close. I was beginning to wonder how we were going to get out of this.” I smile at Slade, albeit a nervous smile.
Slade pulls his gun from his coat pocket and aims it at my chest. “Don’t stop wonder-
ing on my account. I’ve been looking forward to this moment ever since your first visit to my lodge. I could have lived with that bit of ingenuity if you would have stopped there. However, you rubbed me the wrong way by coming back and stealing the orders from Klaus that were meant for me. Then your little trickery at L&O was the icing on the cake. A man in my position can’t be upstaged by a nonentity like yourself. It damages my well earned reputation.”
“Would you accept an apology?” I gulp.
“Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You give me the passcards and I’ll just kill the both of you, nice and clean, like Klaus.”
“Why do you want the passcards? I mean, I can understand why Klaus wanted them. But why you?”
“The way I got it figured, once I get all those passcards, someone will pay top dollar to get them back.” Then he motions with his head towards Klaus. “I was just taking out the middle man.” Okay, now what? I better think of something quick.
“If you take a personal check, I’d be happy to put in my bid.” Oh, that was truly profound, Murphy. You currently don’t have enough in your checkbook to pay next month’s rent, let alone bribe somebody.
“Well, I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think you’re in the right tax bracket. I was thinking more along the lines of say, J. Saint Gideon.” Yeah, Gideon would probably pay dearly for their return. It’s the only way to prevent the Stalemate process invented by Call.
In spite of our dire situation, I am not going to hand over those cards to anyone. I’ll make him work for it first. “Sorry, Slade. You’ll just have to take them off my dead body.” Why the hell did I say that? Sheesh!
“Okay, if you insist. So, who goes first?” Sylvia and I exchange glances, each looking to the other for a way out of our serious predicament. The situation is hopeless, our circumstances dire, and one man is already dead. But I’m a Murphy and Murphys never give up.
My mind racing, I figure that one of us needs to make a break for it while the other keeps Slade busy. Of course, the only way to keep him busy is by imitating a practice target. One thing is for sure, Sylvia is the one who needs to make the break. I remember the penknife in my pocket. If I can slip it to Sylvia, she may be able to cut herself loose while I’m distracting Slade.
Staring Slade in the eyes, I answer by asking, “I will. But, I wonder if you’d consider granting me one last request?”
“Every man deserves a last request.” After he says that, we both look down at the carcass of one John Klaus. “Well, he wasn’t really much of a man, was he? So, as long as your request is reasonable, I suppose its okay.”
All right! So far so good. Now, I need to get close enough to Sylvia to pass her the knife. “Could I kiss Sylvia good-bye? At least that way I can die a happy man.”
In a soft, almost caring voice, Slade says, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to die unhappy.” I’d laugh if my life wasn’t on the line. “Go ahead. But don’t do anything stupid.”
I turn and face Sylvia, bending to get eye level. Unknown by Slade, I have removed the knife from my pocket and slip it into Sylvia’s hands. She takes it and conceals it as best she can. We never take our eyes off each other.
In a barely audible whisper, I say, “I’m going to find a way to get us out of here, okay?” Then I kiss her long and tenderly. If I don’t pull this off, this could well be our one and only kiss. So I make it a good one. As we pull away, I taste her blood in my mouth, causing my anger to boil once again. I think of Sonny and his wife Maria; the image of a whimpering Bosworth Clark fills my mind; next comes the names of other STG card holders: Val Davis, Rona Morgan, Greg Call, Sam Jones (who is probably dead), and the one who sacrificed himself so others can be free, Carl Linsky. Who will stand for them? Who will be their avenger? Who will step to the plate and bat for them? If not me, then no one.
“Oh, that was very touching. Now, let’s get down to business. So, who’s first?” I stare at him for an extra second. His grinning is getting under my skin. There’s nothing I’d like better than to wipe that smirk from his face.
“You know, Slade, any little girl looks tough with a gun. Why don’t you pretend you’re a real man. Let’s you and I go mano a mano, huh?” Now we’ll find out just how tough he is. He doesn’t scare me anymore. After all, I’m at least six inches taller. That should give me a decided advantage.
He laughs at my suggestion. “I’ll give you one thing. You’ve got guts. All right! I’ll make an exception this one time,” and he bends to set the gun on the floor.

Slade was almost speechless. This was a dream come true. Because of expedience, Slade was just going to shoot the both of them, grab the cards and head for Gideon’s mansion. But now, to be challenged by the one man he would really enjoy killing with his bare hands, this was pure euphoria. Murphy had caused him great loss of face and now Slade could vent his pent up anger on the hapless PI. Revenge is a dish best served cold and right now Slade’s innards were freezing.

Great! Slade agreed. Now what do I do? Sylvia will need several minutes more to free herself. I need to implement another plan of action.
As I circle Slade, I allow my peripheral vision absorbe my surroundings. There are lots of shadows, numerous shelving units filled with possible cover, and enough dark corners to use as potential hiding places. Additionally, I spot the main light switch on the wall about ten feet from my position. Turning off the lights will give me another edge, even though it may not last. Still, turning off the lights might allow me enough time to hide behind that distant shelving unit. Putting distance between me and Slade can’t be all bad.
As soon as Slade lays the gun down and begins to stand erect, I race to the light switch and pull the oversized handle downward. I got the desired effect; the lights went out. In the meantime, Slade, lightening fast, picks up his gun and fires off two rounds. One whizzes by my ear and the other ricochets off the shelving unit causing minute particles of hot metal to singe the nape of my neck. That was close; too close.
“No honor among thieves, eh Murphy?” I’m not a thief, am I? Well, maybe, if one considers my passcard collection. Maybe the Colonel was right again. I’m beginning to see his point about bending the rules in order for them to work. That keeps coming back to me like the taste of green peppers and taco sauce. “Why don’t you just come out first, make things easy on yourself. If you don’t, I might just kill your girlfriend first.” Hey! That’s unfair! On the other hand, it’s a smart move.
The lights come back on and my edge is gone. But I’m not done yet. I see Sylvia working furiously to cut through her bindings. She still needs a few more minutes. And I still have a trick or two up my sleeve - or, in my pockets. The tools from the toolbox. Maybe I can throw the screwdriver across the room. If Slade goes for it, I’ll head for that stack of crates about twenty feet away. That’ll get me near the stairwell to the upper level. That looks like a good place of cover and it may afford me an extra opportunity to find a weapon or anything else I can use against Slade.
Without further hesitation, I flip the screwdriver to my right, allowing it to hit a metal barrel. Clang! Peering through the shelves, I see Slade crouch low and head in that direction.
“You can’t hide forever. I’ll get you sooner or later. Sooner is better for me.” Yeah, I bet it is. Meanwhile, with stealth I head in the opposite direction. The lighting is poor in the corners and it offers me shadows in which to sneak to another hiding place. Now I’m behind some boxes. Slade is straightening up a bit; no doubt he’s discovered that I am not there. Now what? I still have several feet between the stairwell and my position. If I throw something off to the side again, he probably won’t be fooled. Thinking that might just be the case, I remove a few sockets from my pocket and drop them on the floor where I’m standing. Clink, clank, clunk! Slade, trying to sort things out, looks the other way. Just what I was hoping for. ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’ That’s what he’s thinking and it works well for me.
Right at the end of the stack of boxes protecting me, I see a couple of metal garbage cans. One of them is turned on its side and it looks empty. I grab it, hold it up to cover my face and upper torso and make a bee line for the stairwell. Slade recovers quickly and fires off the other four rounds. Since Slade is angry and wants to kill me, he’ll aim for the ‘kill’ areas; head, chest, stomach. But all he’ll hit is the garbage can. I just hope I can hang onto it as the bullets collide with it with the force of a runaway train.
Sure enough, two of the bullets hit the can, sending surges of severe pain shooting up through my hands, wrists and arms. My body tells me to let go of the can, but my mind overrides its instructions. The remaining two rounds ping off the wall behind me. I make it to the stairwell and am protected by the walls along its length. Upon arriving on the upper level, I glance around the room. It is almost completely barren, offering no weapons and little cover. Great! Nice move, Murphy. You’re worse off than downstairs.
In the meantime, Slade empties the spent casings on the floor and begins to reload. Sylvia is still trying to cut through the ropes. And I’m out of time. I need to get the upper hand on Slade, maybe even draw him into hand to hand combat. I know he’s good, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch a break. My time is now.
Stepping forward to the railing, I say, “Okay, okay, Slade, I give up.” Oh, that was original, Murphy. “I’m not going to get out of this situation alive anyway. But I do have a proposition for you.” Let’s see how he responds to that.
“For some reason, you don’t seem to understand. I don’t need to make a deal with you.” Well, so much for that idea. Hey! Wait a minute. Maybe I can bribe him with the passcards. Yeah, I’ll give that a try.
“You want to blackmail Gideon, don’t you? To do that, you’re gonna need all eight STG passcards. I know where you can get seven of ‘em.” I know Klaus has number eight hidden somewhere on his person and Slade probably knows that as well. But, without the other seven, Gideon won’t budge.
“What sort of bloody drongo do you think I am?” What’s a drongo? Never heard that one before. No time for that now. I slip my hand into my coat pocket and slowly remove the ball peen hammer. With my other hand, I pull out the seven STG passcards and fan them out like a poker player holding his cards. Slade’s eyes widen with greed. Just the desired effect, again. Lady luck is smiling down on me. Now, if she can just give me one more smile, I’ll be home free.
“Here’s the seven passcards, including the one Sonny stole from you.” I just had to say that to get his goat. “You let me and Sylvia go, I’ll give these to you.” I throw the seven cards over the edge, causing Slade to go into a momentary panic. His hands are moving in every direction trying to catch them before they hit the floor. He even dropped his gun. Realizing what he had done, he quickly recovered, bent to retrieve his pistol and straightened up. As soon as he did, I threw the hammer over the rail. It hit Slade’s gun hand square. Yes! The pain forced his hand to open and drop the gun again. Only this time, I didn’t wait. I hurled myself over the railing and, yelling like a screaming banshee, I land atop the murderous hitman. We tumble to the floor, roll over a few times, and then push each other away. We’re on our feet now, fists clenched, teeth grinding, and fury in our eyes. We stare at each other for a few seconds. For the first time, we seem to be sharing the same thought: forget the guns, let’s go at it the old-fashioned way.
I sneak in a couple of lucky punches before he finally blocks the next. Doing so, he grabs my right shoulder, pulls me down while bringing his right knee hard into my stomach. I double over and land on the floor, trying desperately to catch my breath. I’m not in as good as shape as I used to be. I knew I should have bought that new workout video by Willie Banks – “Bo Tai”.
Slade pauses, thank goodness, while I struggle to my feet. Towering over him, I ask blatantly, “Tell me something. Why do they call you Big Jim Slade?” Faster than my reflexes can react, he jumps straight up and lands a crescent kick on my chin. That’s the bad news. The goods news is this: he can’t do that again while I’m still on the floor.
Staring down, oozing confidence, he asks, “Well?”
Holding my sore chin, I answer, “Yeah, that clarifies it.” But I’m a Murphy and we Murphys don’t stay down for long.
As I jump to my feet, Slade says, “Well, if that didn’t, these will.” He proceeds to plant a boot on my jaw with three successive spinning kicks. Reeling backwards, dazed and confused, Slade extends his right leg and jams it into my midsection. The taste of bile rises into my throat. Maybe I shouldn’t have challenged Slade the way I did. Before I could speculate further on that thought, Slade is on me again. Only this time, I was ready. He swings wildly with a backhand designed to rearrange the formation of my teeth. However, I duck and land four successive punches; two on his jaw, two on his shoulder. He blocks blow number five and head butts me to near unconsciousness. I fall back, arms wrapping around a steel railing just in front of the antique clock. For some reason, Slade stops his attack.
Holding his left shoulder, he says, “Ow! That wasn’t too fair.”
“Are you okay?” I ask, my voice barely audible.
He thinks for a moment and then replies, “Yeah.”
With all the sincerity I can muster, I say, “That’s too bad.” Wrong move, Murphy.
Anger flared in his psychotic eyes causing him to release a volley of lefts, rights and backhands that nearly sent me into the netherworld. Blood is dripping from my nose and both lips. I also taste the life giving liquid inside my mouth. He has definitely cut my gums as well. His barrage ends with a strong right hand planted firmly around my throat. Gee, thanks! I needed the break, a little time to recoup. In fact, I need to give Sylvia an extra minute or so. I hope she hurries; I’m not sure how long I can hold out.
“You know, I hope you don’t mind me saying this,” my breaths are short and painful, “but you are good; you are very, very good. Do you give lessons?” Wrong move again, Murphy. Aren’t you ever going to learn?
“Well, yeah. As a matter of fact, this one’s on me.” And he proceeds to head butt me again. Damn, that hurts! Besides the pain, blackness tries to envelope me, coming and going in waves. Finally regaining complete awareness, I see Slade’s left hand perched and ready to connect with my nose. I believe it is known as a palm heel strike. What a nice thought as my life is about to end. This time, though, my life doesn’t flash before my eyes. Good! I was getting tired of watching reruns.
Slade cocks his hand in final preparation. If my guess is correct, he’ll drive his hand into my nose, pushing the bone into my brain causing instant death. Well, it could be worse. I’m thankful for a quick end. My only regret is that Sylvia didn’t escape. To die a failure is a man’s worse legacy. “Forgive me, Sylvia,” I say in a whisper.
Behind me, the ancient mechanical clock chimes once. Oh good! My time of death will be one p.m., Nov. 18, 2037. I feel special. Not many people die knowing the exact time of their death.
Slade glances at the clock and says, “Oh look! Time to die.” He flashes me an evil grin and then hesitates. The smile fades and a frown replaces it. He looks back at the clock. His mouth opens slightly, as though something horrible is preoccupying his mind. What on earth could be distracting him so? Whatever it was, he blinks rapidly several times and shakes his head, as though he’s trying to concentrate on his task at hand.
He stares at me for a micro-second before cocking his hand again. From behind, I see Sylvia approach. “Hold it right there, Mr. Slade.” Her voice was quivering and her hands shaking. As Slade turns to look, he finds himself staring down the barrel of John Klaus’ gun. It’s cocked and ready to fire. And Sylvia was ready to pull the trigger.

Big Jim Slade has been in difficult situations before. He thinks back to the time Sonny and his wife had escaped his grasp in Mexico. He eventually caught up with her and paid her his ‘compliments.’ But he had to flee when that meddling retired General Sam Jones and his associates quickly moved in and tried to nab him. He barely escaped.
Later, when he confronted Jones at Bunker #13, he was nearly bested by the old man. Only through means of his advanced training, coupled with his agility and physical prowess, was he able to get the upper hand and kill the old drongo.
He even recalled the night before when he allowed Larry Hammond to get off one shot before he blew Larry’s guts out. All of these were situations where he found himself staring death in the eye. And yet, he survived them all. He lived to see another day. He was given another chance to make his dead Master smile in posthumous recognition. And tonight would be no different. Staring at the wench made her uncomfortable at the very least. Using his mind, he attempted to transmit thoughts of fear and retreat into the lustful woman’s empty head. It was just a matter of time and the gun would be in his hand. Only he would not hesitate to use it - on the woman and on Murphy. Then he would collect the eight passcards and head for Gideon’s mansion. A long, bright and healthy future awaited him in Brazil. He just hoped the digital clock next to the old Mission clock wasn’t a precursor of things to come. For when the old clock chimed one p.m., the digital clock was displaying military time. Thus, the clock read 13:00 hours. Bad luck usually, but not this time. This time would be the exception to the rule.
Studying his target, he planned his next move. A crescent kick to the hands, followed by a Karate chop to the back of her neck. As ‘The Mind, The Body, The Man’, there would be no way she could ever anticipate this move, let alone deflect it. His body was tense, ready to strike. He calmed himself, closed his eyes for a brief moment, and then....

Slade let go of my neck to face Sylvia. He’s just standing there, probably striking fear into the poor girl’s heart. That shouldn’t be too tough. She’s been beaten, tied up and gagged, and verbally abused by a man who normally deserves respect for his profession - a doctor. And now she faces one of the world’s most deadly humans, a killer of international fame, renown for his use of forced Russian Roulette, not to mention his skills in the martial arts. She doesn’t stand a chance.
Although extremely weak, I will myself to my feet. Slade hasn’t a clue as to my position behind him. Arrogant and self-willed, the haughty assassin thinks I’m out of the game. No way, Jose! I’m not about to allow him to hurt Sylvia. Not again. Not today.
Just as Slade gets ready to move, he flinches ever so slightly. That’s my cue. I grab his right shoulder and spin him around. Grabbing his shirt with my left fist, I stare into his shocked eyes and say, “This is for Sonny,” and I slammed his jaw with all my might. I scream in pain and cradle my hand into my stomach. When I look to see what happened, I notice Slade is on the floor, out cold. God that felt good!
I move slowly to Sylvia and gingerly remove the gun from her trembling hands. She falls into my arms, weeping like a scared little child. I let her continue for what seemed like hours. I believe it’s called PTDS, an acronym for Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome. It’s an after effect of a very trying experience. The body lets go of pent up emotions by forcing an individual to cry. Once the crying stops, the person feels much better. As for me, I had the same feeling when I narrowly escaped the implant’s affects at NEXUS. Right now, though, I simply feel spent. Drained of any emotion at all, I just stare off to the side, realizing that my task as a PI is not finished. Gideon still must be stopped.

Now that Murphy has left, Big Jim Slade concentrates on his calming exercises. He has come to the conclusion that his situation is hopeless. Try as he might, the ropes simply will not loosen. He even tried to transmit subliminal thoughts to Sylvia, hoping she would set him free. It didn’t work as she still has the gun aimed straight at him.
Reflecting on recent events, he’s embarrassed by his actions. He had allowed Murphy to best him in several areas and then, to add insult to injury, he hesitated when the broad was holding the gun on him. This allowed Murphy enough time to recover and knock him cold. Slade remembers when he could take a punch and barely flinch. But, the solid right by Murphy was the hardest he ever encountered. They say there’s a first time for everything. Well, they’re right. That was the first time he had been knocked cold and the first time he will ever be incarcerated.
‘Why? Why have I experienced so much trouble in one case? Could it be just a run of bad luck? Is it possible to have that much bad luck? Or, is Murphy just that good?’ These thoughts raced through his mind causing him much anxiety. There has to be an answer, but what? Not too worry. Slade had a premonition of being freed some day. He reveled in the idea that, some time in the future, he would exact revenge upon the interfering PI. He would simply have to bide his time till then.
His thoughts soon turned to his superstitions: the number thirteen and sirens. That stupid LCD readout on the digital clock affected his concentration again. The number 13 had nearly cost him his life with that old general and it now cost him his freedom. Cleopatra an asp; Goliath a small stone; Napoleon his Waterloo; Slade and thirteen. Every great personage had something or someone that turn the tides against them. His own personal bane was a number that plagued him since his birth. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he heard the sound of approaching sirens. That too caused undue anxiety. His calming exercises were now ineffective. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. The past began to sear his conscience. ‘Repress it; repress it!’ No such luck. He licked his lips as they were dry as desert sand. Suddenly, he was there. His past; his childhood; terrible memories of long ago.
“No! Stay away!” Slade’s shout startled Sylvia. She was edgy as it was, but now, she was wondering if Slade was seeing ghosts.
“What? What did you say?” Her questions fell on deaf ears, for Slade was beginning to digress to another time and place. Sylvia decided to forego any further probing. The police were close now and soon Slade would be in custody. Besides, there was a good chance that her father’s death could be changed from suicide to murder. That thought warmed her inside. A million dollars! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Slade, on the other hand, was now adrift in a sea of suppressed memories that surfaced at the most inopportune time. Psychiatrists would say that a certain combination of events could trigger an adult’s subconscious to recall terrifying calamities from one’s past. And recall them he did.

Big Jim Slade was born in Perth, Australia on Sept. 24, 1999. His birth name was Nathan James Smith. Robert John Smith, a department store manager, met Elizabeth Anne Endicott when she hired in as a cashier/stock person. If there’s such a thing as love at first sight, this was it. However, she wanted children and he did not, at least not so soon. So, when she became pregnant after six months of marriage, she soon realized that love could be fleeting, especially when the responsibility of parenthood is unexpectedly thrust upon a husband. When Nathan was only a year old, Robert ran off with a well-to-do former fashion model and they headed for the USA. That left Elizabeth and Nathan to fend for themselves.
As the child grew up fatherless, he lacked the toughness to cope with inner city kids who tested his timidity daily. Nathan wasn’t sports minded; in fact he wasn’t big enough to participate in any of the local sports. Short, rail thin, quiet and shy, he became the target of bullies and all around general punks, too scared to pick on someone their own size. This caused Nathan to retreat into a make believe world of martial arts where he envisioned himself as a modern hero of the lowly and depressed. ‘If only I could be like Bruce Lee, then I would teach these guys a lesson’, he thought ruefully.
In May 2007, Elizabeth, tired from working two full-time jobs in order to make ends meet, succumbed to the advances of a swarthy, but gentle, fishing boat captain. They married in a fever and that, for all intents and purposes, described their tumultuous coupling. The Captain, as Eddie Ballantrae was called, seemed to have a fever all the time, as far as his temper was concerned. He hid it well from Elizabeth when they first met, but now that they were wed, he allowed it to break through and dominate their marriage. He considered himself to be a man’s man, and shy young Nathan was his exact opposite. Within weeks, The Captain was slapping quiet and mild mannered Nathan for the slightest of offenses. In fact, it got to the point where no offense was necessary. He would just smack the boy for no good reason whatsoever. Elizabeth tried to object, so The Captain started to abuse her as well. The mere thought of living on her own again and trying to support a child did not appeal to her, so she simply endured the verbal and physical barrage heaped upon her. To help soften the blows, she turned to drink. That seemed to placate her just enough to go on each day. When asked by neighbors as to the reason for her apparent madness for staying with The Captain, she openly replied, “He provides for our daily needs and we have a roof over our heads.”
It all came to a head one late summer. The year was 2013; Nathan was 13 years old (just shy of 14); it was September 13th; and it was a Friday. This was critical given the fact that young Nathan had developed a superstitious fear of the number thirteen. He also hated the sound of police sirens as the authorities were often called to their home by con-
cerned neighbors. The children at school stilled teased Nathan endlessly and his fanta-
sizing became more realistic in his mind. He began to view himself as a super hero who would someday enact revenge on those who caused him pain and suffering. His first target would be his stepfather who continued his assaults on the defenseless boy; his next target were the boys at school; and he even felt a loathing for his mother who, because of the drink, had totally ignored him for the last six years. However, some fond memories lingered from his early training and he allowed these thoughts to soothe his anger towards her. Maybe he would just put her out of her misery. Then he would break down and cry. He had never had such evil thoughts and now they constantly occupied his mind. He tried to suppress them, but to no avail.
School had let the children go home early as a result of a gas leak. Upon arriving home, he found his mother battered and bloody, much worse than he had ever witnessed. He went into an uncontrollable rage, shocking his mother to the point of fearing for her son’s life. She tried to restrain him from approaching his stepfather, but he would have none of it. Nathan stalked determinedly into the den where The Captain was drinking Foster’s and watching Australian Rules Football, a man’s game as he called it.
“You son-of-a-bitch!” he screamed at the heavy set fisherman. “If you ever touch my mother again, I’ll kill you!” This was the first time in a very long time that Nathan had stuck up for his mother. He left the room and immediately went to his mother’s aid. The Captain, filled with instant fury, rose from his favorite chair and stormed out to the living room. He grabbed Nathan and tossed him to the floor like a rag doll. Then, in full view of Nathan, he grabbed Elizabeth by the throat, raised her to her feet, and slugged her with the power of a canon, square on the jaw. The blood from the blow spattered on the walls and the curtains. She fell to the floor, cracking her head on a wooden end table. She laid their unconscious.
“Oh yeah? Well, what do you think of that?” The Captain, eyes ablaze, slithered back into the family room like the snake that he was.
Nathan, eyes filled with tears, ran to his mother’s side. He tried desperately to wake her up, but she just wouldn’t open her eyes. He finally realized that she was dead, killed by a merciless pig of a man who once claimed to love her. He held her close, wishing he could impart life, like the super hero of his dreams. He called out to her, but received no response. Finally, he broke down into uncontrollable sobbing, laying his head on her blood-stained clothes. When he raised his head minutes later, he was transformed. He had metamorphasized into the savior he had created in his mind. It was now time to exact revenge; to pay the pauper; to fulfill his destiny. At that precise moment, Nathan James Smith’s life changed forever.
After making a brief stop in the kitchen, Nathan headed for the family room. He saw his stepfather, relaxing in his chair, drunk as a skunk, watching TV and totally oblivious to the fact that he had just killed his own wife. Nathan approached stealthily, a large butcher knife in his left hand. He brought it down with the force of a blacksmith’s hammer and buried it deeply into The Captain’s shoulder. A blood-curdling scream filled the air, resonating out into the street, causing the hairs of neighbors to curl on the napes of their necks. But Nathan wasn’t finished, not just yet. He pulled the knife from The Captain’s shoulder, surprised by the amount of strength needed to remove such an object (the muscles tighten around a foreign device when the skin is pierced). Again and again he stabbed at the mountain of a man while he was attempting to escape the young boy’s onslaught. Try as he may, he eventually ended up on the floor, Nathan kneeling beside him, continuing the death strokes with the fury of a gale force storm. Finally, tired and exhausted, Nathan ceased his brutal attack. Looking down, he saw the corpse of Captain Eddie Ballantrae, his ‘former’ stepfather, lying in a large pool of reddish-purple goo.
By this time, one of the concerned neighbors had approached the house and peered in the rear windows. She saw Nathan kneeling beside The Captain, the bloody knife still locked in his grip. She screamed and headed for her house to call the police. Nathan’s rage soon turned to fear as he realized that he would soon be captured and detained at the local juvenile detention center. Not thinking of any possibility for acquittal, he ran out the back door and headed directly for the docks. He had no plans for escape and he knew his time was short. All he had was the clothes on his back and five dollars in his pocket. As he ran from the house, he noticed the military time on the wall clock: 13:00 hours. Bad luck.
Once he was a considerable distance from the house, he heard the sound on sirens. Instantly, fear filled his mind, causing him to momentarily panic. The very thought of incarceration filled his soul with dread. He needed a place to hold up until he could think of a solution to his dilemma. Upon reaching the docks, full of activity at that time of day, he merged into the commercial fray and was virtually lost in a sea of people. However, two things quickly became apparent. One, he was hungry and five dollars would barely pay for lunch, let alone supper. And two, he had no place to hold up for the night.
In the interim, the police had issued an APB detailing Nathan’s description. He was wanted for questioning in a double homicide. According to the neighbor, Nathan had killed his mother and stepfather, a la Lizzie Borden. Although the police had found the murder weapon at the scene, they made the usual statement that the suspect could be armed and dangerous. When captured, he would be tried as an adult, facing life impris-
onment at a maximum security prison. Of course, a 13 year old fragile boy of Nathan’s stature would be a sexual target for hard-line criminals and he would probably end up committing suicide by age fifteen. That was all too often the fate of such young ones.
After spending several hours on the lam by the waterfront, Nathan, tired, hungry and fearful, ended up walking through Chinatown just as dusk enveloped the city. He was in a strange place and he was out of place. The streets began to fill with all sorts of undesir-
ables, many of whom looked greedily at the young boy.
As a group of thugs approached, Nathan, trained by experience to recognize such ones, thought that discretion was the better part of valor and ran down an alley. It was a dead end. The toughs neared hungrily, eyes narrow slits and shooting vile stabs of hurtfulness in Nathan’s direction. Just as they grabbed him, a door opened suddenly. An old Chinese wearing a cook’s apron was about to dump garbage into an already overflowing can. When the thugs saw him, and when the cook had discerned the nature of the situation, the boys fled the alley with their tails between their legs. Not a word was spoken.
The cook eyed Nathan suspiciously and said, “You no belong here. You go now.”
Nathan, still wearing bloodstained clothes, tears in his eyes, head bowed, managed to whisper, “I got no place to go.”
The old man looked pitifully upon the young lad and asked, “You hungry?” Nathan nodded, still looking down. “Hold your head up, boy, and come inside.” Nathan followed the old man into the dingy restaurant. Seated at a dirty kitchen table, Nathan ate until his stomach ached. Then he noticed his eyes were heavy and the old man led him to a cot in an adjacent room.
“You sleep here. We talk in morning. Don’t worry, everting will be okay.” He covered Nathan with an old ragged table cloth and before he left the room, gentle snores emanated from Nathan’s mouth. He slept like a baby, somehow knowing that everything would indeed be okay.
By morning, Nathan felt refreshed. After using the toilet, though, the terrifying memor-
ies of the previous day flooded his mind. Filled with fear, he thought of running away. That’s when the old man entered the kitchen.
“You sleep good, eh?” Nathan nodded. “Now we have talk.” Nathan’s heart skipped a beat. The old man sat next to him and stared him directly in the eyes for several moments. “You in trouble, yes?” Nathan nodded silently. “My name Sam. I feed you and take you to place where no one find you. Okay?” Nathan nodded and smiled.
The old man fixed Nathan some breakfast. Afterwards, Nathan helped clean up and performed other chores much to the old man’s delight. They hit it off and became friends. Over the next three days, despite intensified police searches, Nathan and the old man talked freely about the events leading up to their chance meeting. Sam explained in detail as to how he would help get Nathan out of the country. He had a relative in Thailand by the name of Soon Tan Lo. Sam would wire him and have Lo meet the boy at the secret port where others had been met. Lo, an accomplished master of the martial arts, was always interested in new talent, especially one so young as Nathan. Young and trainable. Who knows? He just might make an expert troubleshooter for the Chinese Mafia, whose tentacles had stretched throughout the civilized world.

Nathan met Master Lo on Sept. 24th, 2013, on his 14th birthday. They struck up an instant friendship as Lo took a liking to the young boy immediately. All his adult life, teaching as a master of the martial arts, he had hoped for a Caucasian of Nathan’s ability. Lo was amazed at how easily the boy learned even the most difficult of moves with the air of an expert. Also, he was pleased with how malleable the boy’s mind was, allowing him to mold him into a perfect killing machine. In just seven short years, Nathan James Smith was ready to reenter society, only this time it would be as the super hero of his dreams. An evil super hero, but what did that matter? Evil is only in the mind of the beholder. For Nathan, it would be nothing more than another day at “the office.” He actually relished the idea of holding the power of life and death in his hands. No one would ever push him around again; no one would beat him to a pulp just for looking sideways; no one would ever best the young man who came to call himself, Big Jim Slade.
Soon after his 21st birthday, Master Lo received a notice that a certain Japanese busi-
nessman, who frequented Thailand for commercial reasons, was being uncooperative with regard to mafia suggestions. Master Lo and Nathan worked up a plan and put it into motion. Master Lo was superbly impressed with Nathan’s cold-heartedness, the ability to kill without any pang of conscience. A year and two more executions later, Master Lo turned Nathan James Smith, now known as Big Jim Slade, loose on an unsuspecting world. While Slade was able to freelance his services, he would be called upon from time to time to perform a friendly favor for the Chinese mafia. Slade was all too happy to oblige. In the meantime, he was a hitman for hire, and the charges for such a service were constantly escalating in lieu of Slade’s increasing popularity. He was in demand in every corner of the world. Yes sir, things were looking up. He was finally part of a family that accepted him and loved him; well, at least admired his abilities. He could do this type of work forever. Nothing could stop him. He was the best of the best. He even began to refer to himself as ‘The Body, The Mind, The Man’.

The police greet Sylvia nonchalantly, bringing a paramedic at the behest of Tex Murphy to tend to Sylvia’s wounds. As he did so, Eve Clements and her team made a thorough search of the old Mission. In order to send Big Jim Slade ‘up the river’ for a long time, she wanted to be sure everything was copasetic. She did not want another O. J. Simpson mess up. As far as Slade was concerned, she promised him life without parole if he ‘fessed up’. Considering the alternative was the death penalty, Slade begrudgingly complied. He told Eve the whole story, how he killed Klaus, how Klaus had hired him to do some work for him, how Klaus implanted Linsky with a deadly probe, how Slade followed Linsky to the Golden Gate Bridge and watched him jump to his death.
After hearing the entire hitman version of the day’s events, Eve turned to Sylvia, who corroborated Slade’s statement. Eve assured Sylvia that the status of her father’s death would be changed from suicide to homicide. Sylvia was ecstatic. That was a million dollar decision if there ever was one.
Eve Clements became an instant celebrity. Putting the collar on Big Jim Slade gained her international fame. Soon she would be a regular fixture on the lecture circuit, visiting several major colleges and specialty schools, giving tips on law enforcement matters. She retired from the force and was earning more money than she ever had dreamed of earning. And who would fill the void left by her absence? Some big nosed cop by the name of Mac Malden.

Big Jim Slade was tried and convicted for the murders of John Klaus and Bosworth Clark. Sylvia and Tex testified amid threats that some day Slade would get even with them. The judge took those statements into consideration and almost handed down the death sentence. Actually, he did that to quiet Slade, who had become somewhat unruly during the proceedings. Eventually, though, Slade received two back-to-back life sentences. It was possible for him to be paroled after serving the first life sentence. The only problem was that Slade would be dead before he’d be set free.
Slade’s reputation preceded him at the Maximum Security Prison located in upstate California. It seemed every tough guy wanted to test his ability. To his credit, Slade never lost a fight. After five years, he became the most notorious inmate in the prison. Even the guards respected and feared him. And just like John Dillinger, he vowed that no prison could keep him locked up. His ultimate goal? To exact revenge on Tex Murphy.


"If you look to me for illumination, you better have a flashlight!"

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