Also by Stellen Qxz on obooko:
The Undercover Groomsman
Cloak & Stagger
In a world where bad people do bad things to good people, someone has to be there to stop them. In Magic City, that someone is Birmingham’s Best Bodyguard! Here now a new collection of Derrick at his best, or maybe his worst, depending on which side of his sights you’re on.
DAMAGE: Human flesh peddlers have always been the low end of the gene pool, vermin who prey on weakness and inflict misery on the innocent. So isn’t about time someone gave them a little taste of their own medicine?
BAD GUY: Everyone has a choice, but some people always seem to make the wrong one. And when a bad decision brings deadly consequences to the family of an old friend, Derrick responds the only way he knows how, headlong and unstoppable.
THE BREAKER: A reporter is riding high after breaking a major story on political corruption. The lies and shenanigans of a once powerful politician are now laid bare for all to see. As the spectacle trial begins, The Breaker has a front row seat in the courtroom to witness the fruits of his labor. But not everyone is happy, and somewhere out there someone is looking to see that the man’s next story is broken on the obituary page.
BODYGUARDS: The job is never easy, the threats ever-present, the specter of violent death a constant companion, but when it comes to putting it all on the line to protect a client, no one does it better than Birmingham’s Best.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: Everybody asks the question at some point in their lives. What would my life be like now if… At a retirement party for an old friend, Derrick takes a journey into his past, revisits old decisions, and embarks on an adventure through time where he experiences what his life could have been like on a different path, and how disparate it might be today but for the road not taken.
Excerpt from BAD GUY:
Ah, knife fighting, my least favorite thing in the world. Right after blowjobs. Yeah, I know, I’m weird that way. Probably the only guy in the world who’d rather have his penis cut off with a dull paring knife than have a willing member of the opposite sex… Damn, it makes me shiver just thinking about it. Of course, there is the little matter of the knife fight…
Amateurs and knives, as with most things dangerous, don’t mix. On the plus side, since they are amateurs, they make all kinds of dumb mistakes, like the guy in front of me right now. His first mistake was pulling the knife. His second was not moving quicker to stick it into me. His third, coming too close to me. That was going to cost him dearly.
Despite advancing years, my reflexes are as good as they were thirty years ago. My hands moved with lightening speed, grabbing the wrist of the hand that held the cheap switchblade, twisting the wrist up and backwards, while at the same time pulling my would-be attacker forward and off balance. He yelped in pain, his mouth twisting and his eyes widening.
I kicked him in the left shin with the tip of my boot, causing more pain, while continuing to twist his wrist and now moving him in the opposite direction. The knife fell from useless fingers as I put my right leg behind his left and then suddenly released my grip. He fell to the ground with a painful thud, holding his injured paw under his opposite arm, whimpering.
I kicked the blade away, glanced to my left as I took a quick breath, feeling the adrenalin flooding my body. A few feet away, Ollie lifted another young black man clear off his feet and slammed him into the side of the house we were all standing outside of. Then, for good measure, he did it again before letting him slide to the ground. There were already two others down there. Both, presumably, put down by Ollie. I had just arrived moments ago and had to confront the knife wielder before there was time to ask questions.
Ollie glanced over at me, grinned, sort of, at least for Ollie it was probably a grin.
“Glad you could make it to my party,” he said gruffly.
“My pleasure,” I said amiably, nodding at the men at his feet. “Garbage day?”
“Yeah,” he said. “And naturally I thought of you.”
“So happy you did,” I said. “Want to tell me about it?”
“Not yet,” he said, turning left and walking toward the front of the ramshackle house. “Later. Once we get out of here.”
Ollie and I have known one another for a long time and have backed each other’s plays scores of times with little or no explanation. He’d done if for me often enough, so if he needed me to do it for him now, I’d play along. Hopefully there wouldn’t be anymore incompetent knifemen along the way.
It was nine-thirty on a cool late October evening. I’d been at home an hour ago, cleaning a couple of my firearms in preparation for a job I had to do tomorrow night. Actually, they didn’t really need cleaning, they were Glocks after all. But it was something to do as I considered the upcoming job, what I had to do, all the angles, the layout of the venue, the potential threats.
Then my phone buzzed, and because the caller ID revealed Ollie’s name, officially known as George Oliver, I picked it up on the second ring. Now here I was in one of the less breathing friendly parts of the greater Birmingham metro, known as Gate City, a rundown area just north of the airport where to say violent crime was rampant was to do an injustice to the word rampant. It averaged at least three shootings a week, sometimes more. Drug deals, robberies, prostitution, every bad thing you could imagine went on in this part of town. Cops knew it, everybody knew it, and anybody who didn’t absolutely have to be there had departed a long time ago. That left the bad guys and the people who had no other place to go or the resources to get out.
I avoided this area most of the time. In fact, last time I believe I was here was about ten years ago, at least. And that visit had led to violence as well. Not entirely my fault. Emphasis on entirely.
Ollie had asked me to meet him at a house on Ball Street and 35th Court North, just off Vanderbilt Road. I knew Vanderbilt, but had to use the GPS on my phone to find the exact address. The drive from my place downtown to Gate City this time of night would ordinarily take about fifteen minutes or less. But tonight there had been a major accident on I-20/59 and that added another twenty minutes to my trip as I hunted for an alternate route and then found it would be easier to just deal with the slow down.
When I arrived at the house I could hear a ruckus coming from the right side of the house. I stepped out of my jeep, my elbow automatically touching the but of the pistol on my right hip. There was a second one at the small of my back, butt turned toward my left so it could be accessed with my weak hand. Ollie had just dropped the second of the trio with two vicious punches to the gut and a knee to the crotch when I came around the corner of the house.
I saw one of the two young men still standing pull out his blade and didn’t even bother shouting a warning before wading in. Now I was following Ollie to the front of the rundown shotgun house as the wind picked up. I noticed the Para-Ordnance pistol in his gloved right hand. Drawing the Glock from my right hip, I moved off to his left as he walked up the rickety steps to the porch and over to the door. It was dark, practically no street illumination in this neighborhood. And most of the houses were dark, too, as was the one we were standing in front of.
Ollie rapped hard on the door.