"The Naked Beat" drabbles by Christopher

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 215

The Naked Beat

I got behind him, bringing my arm around under his chin and getting him in a chokehold. His arms were flailing under the water as I tried my damnedest to crush his windpipe.

I was holding my breath and was determined to stay under as long as it took to drain the life out of this inhuman monster. I'd had enough.

His movement was slowly coming to a stop, like a record playing in a jukebox that someone pulled the plug on.

I thought I saw lights surrounding Jade Chen's yacht as Mr. Li's henchman finally expired in my arms...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 214

The Naked Beat

He let out a muffled cry and a helluva lot of bubbles. I hoped I was upright as I swam toward what I thought was the surface. I saw the moonlight as I raced as fast as I could and burst up, gasping and taking oxygen into my lungs almost faster than my system could process it.

A couple of seconds later, Mr. Li's henchman popped his big head up out of the water, looking disoriented, and before he could react I repeatedly punched as hard as I could in his face.

Then I grabbed him and pulled him under...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 213

The Naked Beat

It didn't help when Mr. Li's henchman grabbed my throat and squeezed so tight I thought my eyeballs would shoot out of their sockets. I judged I had no more than a few seconds left before I passed out. I did something I've never done before.

I felt around until I could get my hand between the henchman's legs, grabbing a handful of his testicles and squeezing tighter than a hungry man trying to wring the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle and onto his hot dog.

It was the first time I heard him make a sound...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 212

The Naked Beat

The water was cold and shocking to the system as we went down, the blackness of the water enveloping us like a funeral shroud. I was holding him with one arm and throwing punch after punch with the other, which was a bit like trying to swim in pudding. It wasn't doing much good so I tried to change my tactic and get behind him, but I knew if I let go of him I wouldn't find him again in this darkness.

I didn't get in a good breath before we hit the water and I was already becoming lightheaded...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 211

The Naked Beat

He turned back to Jeffrey, who landed a punch right on the henchman's jaw. His head was jarred slightly, but it didn't stop him from hitting Jeffrey so hard I think he was unconscious before he hit the deck.

Then he turned toward Rebecca. Big mistake!

I saw red as he started making his way toward her. I jumped to my feet and sprinted toward his back, jumping just before I got there. I was in mid-air as I hit him in the back and we went over the rail and plunged into the murky depths of the Pacific...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 210

The Naked Beat

Jeffrey was staggering to his feet when Mr. Li's henchman jumped up and turned his ire toward me, grabbing me by one arm, picking me straight up off the deck like I was a ragdoll. I had a feeling after this big behemoth got through breaking all my bones I would qualify as a ragdoll.

He threw me toward the cabins. I slammed into the wall almost hard enough to go through it, crumpling to the floor. It was a repeat of Jade Chen's whorehouse when he threw me against the wall, only this time Buddha was nowehere in sight...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 209

The Naked Beat

Rebecca had risen up from behind the storage locker and then gasped, seeing Mr. Li's henchman come up behind Jeffrey and me and bring both of his giant arms down on the back of Jeffrey's and my neck. We dropped to the deck with thuds not unlike falling timber. Mr. Li's henchman turned to pick Jeffrey up and I swept my leg around quickly and took both his massive legs out from under him. He hit the deck so hard I thought the boat was about to start taking on water.

He didn't even look fazed. Just extremely pissed off...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 208

The Naked Beat

Skip wasn't such a big man without a gun in his grimy little hand. I whipped him like I was his father, the last punch to his ugly mug sending him to drift among the stars.

Alex wasn't as big of a pushover, but I had every confidence in Jeffrey. He was a man's man, something I didn't think the first night he came into the café searching for his daughter.

It wasn't long before Jeffrey knocked Alex cold. We both rose up slowly.

"You okay?" I asked, breathing heavily.

He nodded.

But, unfortunately, we had temporarily forgotten about someone...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 207

The Naked Beat

Skip sure looked surprised when my hands came around from behind the chair with the rope loosely wrapped around them. I knew this was my best shot, for when Skip smacked me across the face he went slightly off-balance as the boat was buffeted by a strong wave. The gun was pointing downward, so I lunged out of the chair at him, toppling him to the deck of the yacht and sending the gun sliding away from us both.

Jeffrey knew it was time as he almost simultaneously jumped toward Alex, whose mind had already started drifting off elsewhere...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 206

The Naked Beat

"I have no choice, Jake," Alex said with a resigned tone.

"We all have a choice, Alex. Blaze chose to try heroin and look where that got her. Jeffrey here chose to mete out justice by his own hand and look where that got him. Marilyn chose to kill Blaze, and you can only imagine what's happening to her right now at the hands of Jade Chen. We all have choices, son. Make the wrong one and the consequences will haunt you for the rest of your life."

"Shut up, Jake," Skip said as he backhanded me across the face...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 205

The Naked Beat

I looked at Alex. "Are you going to be able to live with this on your conscience? Skip obviously doesn't have one, but you do. We all saw your reaction when Marilyn admitted she murdered Blaze. You go through with this, boy, and it'll gnaw at you. It'll eat you alive until the day you can't take it anymore and the only way to get it off your mind will be to put that gun to the side of your head and pull the trigger."

He was shaking his head as if trying to get that image out of it...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 204

The Naked Beat

Skip seemed to have turned into a bloodthirsty savage, Lord Of The Flies minus the shipwreck and the marauding juveniles. He appeared to be salivating at the thought of whacking Jeffrey and me. Alex was torn between his conscience and his desire to keep the life to which he'd become accustomed. Unless Skip had a religious epiphany and found Jesus, my only hope was trying to reason with Alex.

Skip started taunting us. "Well, squares. You're about to get a full dose of your recommended daily salt intake. Not to mention quenching your thirst."

He laughed like a demented hyena...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 203

The Naked Beat

We were barreling at top speed through the inky blackness toward our potential final resting place. Apparently, Alex was eager to please his little sadistic China doll, despite his ambivalent attitude.

I looked at Jeffrey, "Are you ready?"

He nodded, "Yeah. What's the plan?"

I shook my head, "I don't know yet. We'll have to play it by ear. Just be ready to jump into action when the time comes."

We put our arms behind the chairs as if we were still tied up just as Alex and Skip made their way back toward us.

I studied them both carefully...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 202

The Naked Beat

Harrigan wasn't going to make a move until I had the blackmail evidence that Jade Chen was holding. We'd agreed on that and I doubted seriously that it would change. I was on my own.

We were already pulling away from the dock, so Rebecca was stuck there with us. I told her to find a good hiding place and not to come out until I told her to. She nodded, quickly kissed my cheek, and then hid behind a storage trunk.

Jeffrey and I untied our feet but kept the ropes wrapped around them so our captors wouldn't see...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 201

The Naked Beat

I tell you this: if that girl didn't already have possession of my heart she certainly would've gotten a good grip on it this night. I knew reporters were a little daring, but I had no idea Rebecca had this kind of fire in her. She made sure Alex and Skip were still at the front of the ship before sneaking over to untie our hands.

"Don't worry," she said in a whisper, "I phoned Chief Harrigan and told him what was happening. Help is on the way."

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it definitely wasn't...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 200

The Naked Beat

Alex filled in Mr. Li's henchman on what Jade Chen had ordered them to do, and he went to start the motor. Skip motioned for Jeffrey and me to sit in two of the deck chairs at the stern of the ship. We complied.

Alex was untying the ship, getting ready to cast off. Then he and Skip grabbed some rope and tied Jeffrey and me to the chairs, hands and feet.

I heard the engines turn over as Alex and Skip went to join the henchman.

I watched as Rebecca quietly boarded the ship and hid out of sight...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 199

The Naked Beat

The moon was casting silvery slivers down on the water as it lazily slapped against the pier's pylons. It could've been quite a night for romance but for the fact that I was about to be a midnight snack for some hungry sharks.

I tried to look back without drawing the attention of our captors to stop Rebecca from coming any further. No dice.

As we reached the boat I saw another familiar face: Mr. Li's henchman, the one that got kissed by Buddha at Jade Chen's place.

All the gang was here. It was just like Old Home Week...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 198

The Naked Beat

So, not only did I not know that Jeffrey was following me, I didn't notice that my girlfriend was following him! At this rate, assuming I lived through it, I was going to be drummed right out of the Private Eye Union!

We were marched at gunpoint down to Jade Chen's yacht, the Lotus Flower. I tried to see if Harrigan was on his boat. No lights were burning and the place looked deserted. It just wasn't my night.

I glanced back and saw Rebecca sneaking toward us. I didn't need that. I was in enough trouble as it was...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 197

The Naked Beat

As we got out of the car and Alex and Skip began to corral us toward the pier, I saw a familiar car pull over into the gas station across the street. But it couldn't be my good friend Harrigan, who just happened to be the Chief of Police of Los Angeles. No, instead it was my reporter girlfriend. Great.

"Jeffrey," I whispered to him as we approached the pier, "did you tell Rebecca what you were doing? That you were going to follow me?"

He looked completely embarrassed as he nodded quickly.

It just kept getting better and better...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 196

The Naked Beat

Skip pointed his '57 Chevy Bel Air toward Redondo Beach. Alex was next to him but was turned facing us in the backseat and pointing the gun at us. I would look for any moment that I might be able to overpower one of them, but my last resort was hoping and praying that Harrigan was spending this night in his yacht and would see us being marched toward Jade Chen's boat. Hoping and praying.

It seemed like it took forever to reach Redondo, but I guess time always moves slower when you're staring down the barrel of a gun...