Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #21 - Jochem Vandersteen

a Noah Milano short story

The look of the two crewcut gentlemen in Hugo Boss suits and red ties screamed ‘fed’ so loud they almost beat the sound of Avenged Sevenfold’s guitars on my CD player.

One of them was a Hispanic guy in his late twenties with a long, flat nose and intelligent looking dark eyes. The other one was at least ten years his senior with salt-and-pepper hair and a small puckered scar on his chin. The older one knocked against my window.

“Please open the window, sir.”

I obeyed. “Good evening, gentlemen. What can I do for you?”

“We’d like to talk to you for a minute.”

“Sure, no problem. What do you want to talk about? Rock music? Comic books?”

“Cut the crap. Get out of the car. Keep your hands where we can see them.”

“All right, relax. Relax.”

I left the car. As soon as I was out my head was slammed flat on the roof of my car. My hands were held behind me and cuffed. The holster at the small of my back was emptied of the Glock inside. I heard the slide being pulled to empty the chamber.

“You have a permit for this?”

“I do. Check my papers. I’m a registered security consultant and private investigator.”

“We’ll talk inside,” the older guy said and pushed me forward. While we walked towards the bungalow I was parked in front of I noticed the Hispanic guy looking around paranoid.

The job that took me to that bungalow was routine enough. An insurance company asked me to do a background check on a new employee. What surprised me was that I couldn’t find much about the subject, John Spiegelman, before a year or so. Oh, there was a driving license, social security number and more of that stuff but I was missing credit card debts, parking tickets, insurance claims, phone bills. A year ago John Spiegelman was a phantom. That made me decide to follow him around a bit, check out the way he was living his life. After following him from work to a local Wallmart I ended up in this bungalow in Laurel Canyon.

I was brought into the kitchen of the bungalow. There were about as many electrical appliances and cooking utensils in it as at my place. That is only a phone to call for a pizza.

On a kitchen chair was another guy in a suit. This specimen had red hair and a linebacker’s build. When he saw us enter his hand went instinctively to the shoulder holster beneath his jacket.

“Take it easy, Brock. We’ve got it all under control,” the older guy said. Then he pushed me into a chair. “Let’s talk.”

“Could you take these cuffs off first? I think the chances are pretty slim I’m going to kill you all with my bare hands, not with all the firepower in this room.”

The older guy nodded. “Hernandez, uncuff him.”

The Hispanic guy freed me. I rubbed my slightly chafed wrists. Why some people were into bondage was beyond me.

The older guy put a foot on my chair, just between my legs. He leaned into me and gave me a hard stare.

“If you’re gonna kiss me please take a breathmint first,” I quipped.

He grimaced. “Funny. Hand me your papers.” I did so.

He glanced over my driver’s license and PI-license. “Milano, huh? You’re Robert Milano’s kid aren’t you? I heard about you.”

“That could well be. What are you; US Marshall, FBI, DEA, ATF? I’m betting US Marshall, right? I think I just stumbled on a Witness Protection deal. The way all of Spiegelman’s official papers are all okay but the unofficial papertrail is non-existant... All of you well-armed suited gorillas hanging around…”

“I’ll be honest with you, buddy. I really don’t like a mobster’s son stumbling in here. Chances are pretty high you’re here to hit Spiegelman. We just can’t take that risk.”

“So what are you going to do? You’ve nothing to charge me with. Are you going to kill me then?”

He seemed to consider that. Then his head exploded.

Brock and Hernandez drew their guns. I dove from my chair.

In the door opening two armed men appeared. One was dressed in a rumpled suit with a tie way too big for current fashion. His dark hair was too long and he wore a porn star moustache that made him look like he just left a Time Machine on its way back from the seventies. In his hand was a smoking 9mm Beretta.

Flanking him was a large, bald man wearing glasses that were so big they resembled skiglasses. He had on a brown leather jacket with a fur coat, a Metallica T-shirt underneath. In his hands he was carrying a shotgun.

The two feds fired their guns at the intruders while I freed the dead fed’s gun from his holster. Then I made a run for it.

The door that led outside was blocked by the intruders so I had to choose the other one. While their guns exploded and the air filled with the smell of gunpowder I crashed through the door into the living room.

John Spiegelman, a thin man with a receding hairline and hornrimmed glasses was cowering in a corner. A goodlooking thirty-something woman with dark hair was trying to work the window open, crying and screaming. That had to be his wife. I guess they’d hurt the gunshots.

The woman turned her head to me. She saw my gun and froze. “Please don’t kill me,” she pleaded.

“Relax, I’m one of the good guys,” I said. “Let me open that window for you.” I used the butt of the gun to break the window.

John Spiegelman left his corner and scrambled to the window. “I gotta get outta here!”

“Ladies first,” I said and took Mrs. Spiegelman’s hand to help her through the window. She placed a foot on the windowsill and went through.When John wanted to follow her a loud bang announced a bullet coming our way. It went through the window, just barely missing us all. I pointed my gun at the source of the bullet. The hitmen had entered.

The three of us fired in unison. I caught the big guy in the throat. Blood spurted out, showering his glasses. I felt a bullet go through my shoulder. It burned like hell and made me drop my gun. Another bullet went clean through Spiegelman’s head. Seventies Man was a pretty good shot.

I was on my knees, my hand clutching my shoulder to try and prevent me from bleeding to death. Seventies Man kicked my gun away from me and put his Beretta against my head. So this was going to be it, I was going to die for some mob snitch?

There was a sound like a whisper, then Seventies Man’s arm went slack, his Beretta slipping from his hand. He crumbled to the floor. Blood ran from his neck down his collar.

In the doorway was an old acquaintance.


Dressed in a black duster, holding a silenced 9mm was my old mentor, my dad’s right hand and assassin. “You turn up at the strangest places. You’re lucky my two men are expendable enough to allow me to save your ass.”

“Spiegelman was in the Witness Protection Program because of my dad?” I asked.

Kane nodded. “He was one of your dad’s accountants and ready to testify against him. He sent us to take care of it.”

I shook my head. “I’m glad I left that life behind me.”

Kane gestured towards the dead body of the big shooter. “You seem to be doing a lousy job. No place to hide from your past, buddy. Just ask Spiegelman.”

“Fuck you,” was all I had to say about that. I am so quick-witted sometimes.“Right. Go outside. Have Mrs Spiegelman drive you to the hospital, get that shoulder taken care off. I’ll clean up after us here.”

I stumbled outside. Mrs Spiegelman was opening her car. It then came to me she didn’t know yet her husband was dead. Shit, I hate bringing bad news.


BIO: Jochem Vandersteen has been writing about Noah Milano for quite some years now and remains his favorite protagonist. For more about the author and his character visit http://www.noahmilano.tk/ or buy his novel, The White Knight Syndrome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #20 - Christopher J. Pimental

A Killer in the Room

Bob Stills banged open his step-son's door and stumbled in. "Wake up you little turd," he said. "We gotta roll."

Danny lay atop a bare mattress, holding his breath and squeezing his eyelids shut. Pretend to be asleep, his momma always said.

Bob, who liked to preach that he was nobody's fool, booted the mattress with a size thirteen Stanley, leaving a bloody print. "I said wake up, Goddammit, I know you ain't sleepin."

Danny opened his eyes, saw his step-father's bloody hands and immediately wriggled to the wall. "I didn't hear anything, I didn't hear anything," he said, bowing his head the way his momma had taught him.

Bob gulped the remnants from a 20 ounce Busch then dropped the can to the floor. Bending forward, hands on knees, he released a barley-flavored burp in his step-son's face. "I didn't ask if you God damn heard anything, did I?"

Danny, whose creamy skin easily bruised, and whose ribs tended to protrude, shook his head from side to side and said "No." Just agree with him, Momma always warned.

"Damn skippy, boy," said Bob, straightening up. He wiped his thick hands on his T-shirt, further smearing his wife-beater BVD. Danny could not help but stare.

Catching the little runt's gaze, Bob booted the mattress again. "What are you lookin' at?"

Danny darted his eyes down and said "Nothing" as softly as possible.

Bob nodded and puffed his chest. "That's right, boy. Nothin'" Then, "You piss in the bed again tonight, peckerwood?"

Danny shook his head but Bob ignored the denial. "I bet you did. How many nights in a row now, little pisser?" Danny continued to shake his head. "I want momma," he said. He removed his blanket and began to get up. Bob kicked the mattress again and told him to "sit the fuck down." Danny wilted back to the wall, pulled the blanket close and turned his head away. Even when he didn't wear steel-tipped shit kickers, Bob stood 6-feet tall and weighed 200-pounds.

"Where's momma?" Danny whimpered.

Bob turned, glanced into the hall, then back at his step-son.

Smirking, he said, "She's around."

Danny glanced at the open door, which seemed miles away. "Is she in the living room?"

Bob swallowed a burp then nodded. "Yup. She sure is."

The boy gazed into the hall, aching to bolt, not daring to move. "I want momma."

Bob tilted his head to the left. For a moment, he considered kicking his Danny in the jaw.

"I ought to beat the skirt offa you, little mama's boy!" He yanked the blanket from Danny's clutch. Danny closed his eyes and raised his hands to his face. Bob continued, "Ed Cook's boy is a year younger than you and he already weighs a full 70 pounds. And his kid don't piss the bed!"

Bob threw the blanket aside and pinched Danny's ear, pulling him from the wall. When he spoke again, the stink of beer-breath prickled Danny's nose.

"Maybe if you woulda stopped pissing in your bed, your momma could be in here right now. Maybe if you didn't make so many problems, that bitch wouldn't have made problems for me. This is all your fault you little shit. " He thumped the boy's head into the wall. "Don't ever forget it."

Danny curled his knees to his chest, hugging them with arms that were as thin as reeds, quite the opposite of his step-father's. "I want momma," he repeated. Tears smeared his face.

"Forget about your momma, boy. She ain't a factor in my plans no more." As if to finalize his point, Bob turned and staggered to Danny's tiny bathroom.

Before long, Danny heard the bowl water splash to life. His breathing quickened as he got off the bed and darted to his closet. There, he opened his Snoopy book bag and took "it" out as carefully as his momma had instructed.

Bob, recalling why he had awakened the little shit in the first place, leaned backwards and shouted to Danny. "Get some clothes on, you little shit. Or I'll leave you here."

When he heard the gun cock behind him, his gut clenched. Turning, he said, "What the fuck?" and fumbled to tuck his manhood into his blue-green work trousers. He never got the chance.

Danny pulled the hair-trigger just like his momma had taught him. Bob fell backwards, his free hand fluttering to his chest. He ended up on the toilet, his legs splayed, his manhood still in his hand. "You little turd," he grunted.

Danny shot him again and again, until the cylinder clicked dry. "I want momma," he repeated then dropped the gun and scurried to the living room.

Just before Bob Stills died, he heard his step-son scream like a little girl. Little peckerwood, he thought.

Christopher Pimental
Former International Surveillance and Under Cover Investigator
Miami, South America, Carribean
Present: Writer & Self Employed

Powder Burn Flash #19 - r2


For years, the government had kept a lid on the whole zombie thing. Whenever one was spotted, Zombie Action Police quickly snatched up, beheaded and ashed the zombie remains.

Most people never saw a zombie. Most people didn’t believe in zombies. Zombies were “urban legends”.

But when the cities got too crowded, the zombies went nuts. Zombies were everywhere. Their numbers swelled exponentially.

Maryanne Mason the Senator from New York became one of the biggest zombie “hawks.” This was considered quite a change of direction from her normally left-leaning politics.

“Finally, you get to take out your aggression on men,” her husband, Tom, said in his fey little voice.

“Zombies are women too, although once zombification sets in, they act like men,” she replied.

“Touché,” he said.

“Of course that probably isn’t an insult to you.”

“With our pre-nup, you can call me whatever you want. Most people call me rich. I call myself set for life.”

She devoted herself to the zombie problem.

She criss-crossed the country speaking on behalf of the Live Human Self-Protection Act, which gave attractive tax breaks for purchasing firearms. Headshots were the most effective means of self-defense against zombies.

But still the zombies multiplied.

Then came the Zombie Control Act, which made zombie hunting legal. Maryanne Mason co-sponsored the bill.

On the day it passed, she walked into the study of their spacious home in upper-state New York.

“I didn’t expect to see you here tonight,” Tom said, as he quickly turned off the computer. Porn again.

“By the way, congrats. The "Let's Kill Zombies" legislation was brilliant. Even the conservative pundits are calling it a very smart political move. There’s talk of a presidential run, I hear. It would just be too delicious to party in Lincoln’s bedroom,” he said.

“Yes, I feel the bill was smart in many ways. I worded it very carefully. Note the phrase: ‘suspected of being a zombie,’” she said. She pulled the gun out of her purse and pulled the trigger. His head became a fine red mist.


Bio: r2 works by day in the corporate world and by night in the world of dreams. He has been published in Muzzle Flash.