I passed by a solid wooden gate that was holding back a mountain of sand that was used in the pouring of concrete. It was a massive square structure so I couldn’t duck around it when I heard a noise from behind. I started running straight ahead, turning back to see Cal. He had noticed me and began pursuing. My foot caught on a metal rod that was lying across my path. I went down face first. I rolled over and saw Cal standing about twenty feet from me.
I couldn’t clearly see his expression but knew he was grinning…
Harrigan must’ve found a knife somewhere. Any port in a storm, as they say. The two of us had a lot of experience with using whatever we had at our disposal to stay alive.
I realized how much of my adult life I had spent either taking someone else’s life or trying to save my own. It was a sobering epiphany.
But a philosophical analysis of my existence would have to wait for another day. Cal and Striker still had to be dealt with. I gripped the pistol I’d gotten from Diamond’s goon and kept moving slowly through the shadows…
The gunshots continued. I wondered if Harrigan was doing his impression of a duck in a shooting gallery, running back and forth trying to make them waste ammo. But that wasn’t really his style. That kind of reckless behavior was usually reserved for someone like me.
I reached a trailer that looked like it would be the construction foreman’s office and slipped behind it. I tripped over something as I started moving again and looked down and saw a body. My blood ran cold.
But it wasn’t Harrigan. It was one of Diamond’s goons.
He’d had his big throat slit…
The goon became aware of something behind him and turned to see the shadowy outline of a sledgehammer hit him right in the face. I heard what sounded like the short whimper of a dog that was cruelly kicked in the side and then the goon fell backwards like a redwood tree that had been sawed off at its base.
Even in the darkness I could see that his face had disappeared, replaced by a bloody lump of flesh. I picked up the pistol he had dropped in the dirt and continued my prowl.
One down and three to go…
I heard two gunshots on the other side of the construction site, splitting the otherwise silent night in two. I could only hope that Harrigan hadn’t been hit, but I had to concentrate first on saving myself.
I hid behind a metal storage container, listening for any sign of movement. I heard another gunshot on the other side of the site. It startled me so bad I nearly soiled myself.
One of Diamond’s goons was approaching the container, scanning the darkness all around him.
I waited until he passed by the container and then stepped out and swung the sledgehammer…
I was running flat out, darting between any structure I could find, trying to put some distance between myself and Diamond’s cadre. I assumed Harrigan was doing the same.
I barely heard Cal as he yelled what I was hoping he would, “Split up and look for them! Kill them on sight!”
Okay, I wasn’t hoping for the second part of that speech, but the four men separating was the best way to ensure Harrigan’s and my survival.
I was looking around in the dark for anything I could use as a weapon. I found a sledgehammer.
That might work…
I looked at Harrigan, “Thanks.”
He smiled, “It was a joy to know you, Jake Randolph, and an honor to serve alongside you in the war.”
We were just about to pass several stacks of steel and lumber.
“Speaking of the war,” I said, “remember Alsace?”
He grinned, “Now?”
“Now,” I said.
We both stopped and Diamond’s goons kept walking. We each elbowed one in the face and then darted for the stacks, Harrigan to the steel on the left and me to the lumber on the right.
I heard Cal yell, “You stupid idiots!” as Harrigan and I disappeared…
Cal and Striker were in front of us and the goons were behind us, guns still methodically trained on us.
Striker looked back as we were walking, “Jim, we still don’t have to do this. Help us do in Randolph and you can join the fold and everything will be fine.”
Harrigan chuckled, “Shawn, the only fold I’m interested in is the fold in your backside where I’m going to put my boot! And as far as Randolph goes, he makes a thousand of the likes of you.”
That was probably the nicest thing Harrigan had ever said about me…
By the time the smoke cleared we were exiting that little town with two MP 40 submachine guns on our arms and a lot of blood on our hands.
We weren’t quite as outnumbered in Bakersfield and the firearms were considerably less powerful, if no less dangerous, but I believed the same tactic might work here. I only hoped Harrigan remembered that incident.
Cal pointed toward a spot in the center of the construction site, “Can you see that? That’s where the building that will be on top of you will be built.”
The goons started pushing us from behind…
We elbowed the two soldiers behind us in the face and then ran for the alley we had just passed. The guys we’d elbowed were stunned temporarily, and by the time the other soldiers that were walking in front heard the commotion and turned to respond we had disappeared into the burnt out buildings. We split up, knowing we had to take them all out or we’d never be able to get back to our own lines. Causing them to divide their forces meant we had the edge. We were in the shadows, constantly changing positions until we could strike…
During the war Harrigan and I had been doing some reconnaissance outside of Alsace, France and been separated from our unit. We were then captured by a small group of German soldiers. We were at the edge of a bombed out village just before dawn, when it’s always darkest, or so they say.
There were a few soldiers in front of us and two directly behind us. We looked at each other, instinctively knowing what the other one was going to do. We stopped walking but the two men behind us kept coming toward us, unaware we had stopped moving…
There wasn’t much light but we could easily make out that this was a vast construction site, with multiple structures being built; single-story buildings as well as high rises. It looked like it was going to be an industrial complex in a couple of years. Harrigan and I had to make sure we weren’t buried in the foundation of this complex.
This would be a great place to play hide-and-seek. There were stacks of steel and lumber, portable metal buildings, cranes, bulldozers, many places to get lost in.
Maybe that would be our way out of this…
I could tell we had driven off of a paved road and onto a dirt road, and Harrigan and I as well as Diamond’s goons began bouncing up and down as we drove over some pretty bumpy terrain.
The van finally came to a stop and I heard Striker and Cal disembarking from the cab. The doors to the back went flying open.
Cal said, “Welcome to Bakersfield, gentlemen.”
The goons motioned with their guns for us to exit the van, which we did.
I was starting to get a little concerned, but figured Harrigan and I could handle it…
We must’ve driven for more than an hour, sitting in the back of that van staring at the dim shadows of Diamond’s ugly henchmen.
Harrigan leaned over, whispering, “Why didn’t they just kill us and then dump the bodies? Why take the risk of transporting us? It makes this seem like a bad movie.”
“Don’t get all existential on me, Harrigan. Suppose they got stopped by the police? You’re a cop. You know they take a dim view on people driving dead bodies around the city. What if that cop wasn’t on Diamond’s payroll?”
He nodded, “Good point, well taken.”
It was getting toward 2 am as Diamond’s big goons herded Harrigan and me into the back of a van and then joined us inside, staying just out of our reach. They had their formidable pistols trained on us constantly. It would’ve been very dangerous to try something in that confined space. Even one shot gotten off could ricochet around and kill Harrigan or me.
Once we were inside we began driving on what seemed like an endless journey to Hell. I could hear Striker and Cal conversing in the cab of the van, laughing heartily about our imminent demise…
Striker, Cal and the two goons gathered me and Harrigan up and started toward the door. Harrigan was my back-up in this so now there was no one to ride in on their white horse to save the day. This was all turning to shit. But, Harrigan and I had been in worse situations than this, at the hands of nothing less than actual Nazis.
Milton called to me as we started out the door.
“Jakey? Thanks for being my friend,” Milton said with a tear in his eye.
“Milton, I will always be your friend,” I truthfully said…
Cal cracked Harrigan in the side of the head, who dropped his gun and fell to the floor. He motioned for Diamond’s two goons to come grab Harrigan and drag him over to where Milton and I were.
“Alright,” Diamond said with a smile, “now that that’s handled, here’s how this is going to work. Striker, you and Cal and the boys take this shamus and this city stooge out to my construction site and bury them where the slabs for my new buildings are going.”
Striker said, “What about Milton?”
“Don’t worry,” Diamond said, “I’ll take care of him.”
“Now,” Harrigan said as he walked backwards to the bar, still holding the gun on Diamond and his men, “I’m going to phone you all a taxi, courtesy of the City of Los Angeles.”
Diamond grinned, “Copper, I won’t do a second of jail time and I’ll eat your badge for breakfast in the morning. You have no idea how high my influence stretches.”
“Yeah, I’ll risk it,” Harrigan said as he reached for the phone behind him.
I yelled to try to warn Harrigan as I saw Cal pop up from behind the bar but I was too late…
“Anyone with a weapon better cast it to the floor now. That includes you, Shawn,” he said as he looked at Striker.
Everyone complied. Striker was trying to save the situation.
“Jim, listen. You don’t have to do this. Once we take out Dunn and Randolph no one else will be the wiser. Diamond will cut you in.”
Diamond nodded, “Absolutely. Always happy to supplement a cop’s meager income. Half the L.A.P.D. is in my pocket and a few city officials too. The more the merrier!”
Harrigan chuckled, “That’s right. Keep digging yourselves a deeper hole. I’ll wait right here.”
I looked at Diamond, “You’re a real piece of shit, Diamond, and someone seriously needs to flush you into the sewer where you belong.”
He grinned, “Perhaps. But it won’t be you.”
“No, it’s gonna be me,” Harrigan said as he stepped out from the club’s foyer holding a pistol. I didn’t know how long he’d been in the club but it was obviously long enough. He approached us, all assembled near the stage.
The expression on Striker’s face was absolutely priceless. He looked like a balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade right after the air was let out…