-well, maybe that’s not quite what Short-Round said, but still…
The Boy is trying to jam a wooden block into my Wife’s coffee. I’m sitting hunched over this ridiculously complicated three-piece ergonomic keyboard, complete with seperate axis controls and pedals. It used to be the controller system to some Mecha game for the X-Box system, but Professor Victory has helped jerry-rig it to the Writing Station. Despite being sensible luddites, we need all of these hi-tech components to keep The Compound running smoothly. I think there are an easy dozen computers running at any given moment, half that while we sleep, just to keep the life-support going…
Sleep. Jesus. It’s gotten difficult lately, what with the Creditors, and the Boy; and this horrible, grotesque lurching feeling I get everytime I close my eyes. The physician thinks it’s a dietary problem, or maybe some sort of hideous parasite I picked up in a Central American swamp… or hell, maybe it’s low frequency resonence causing me to spasm and lurch? Who can say?
The Boy doesn’t believe in sleeping like a human anymore, so we have been contemplating putting his crib up on the roof-top porch. “It’s not like he’s afraid of the bats,” my Wife points out. “He keeps catching them and doing strange things to them… unless he’s doing it because he’s afraid…”
She pretends that she never confessed to the Bat Murder herself, and I let it slide, not feeling like ducking coffee on a Monday.
“Nonsense!” I shout. “The Syn family cannot feel fear, it’s genetically impossible. At least for the West Coast branch.”
But the fact remains, the Boy is making sleep very difficult. For one thing, there is the kidney kicks and throat punching. Then there are the Creditors and their Night Creatures…
It was very early when I awoke, foggy-brained & frozen muscled. It’s a horrible time of the morning to be awake, it’s not quite 4am. I’m barely able to move: they say the KGB used to grab people at this hour, the human body’s biorhythm is at it’s lowest and they are at their most succeptible to Fear and paralyzation. My Wife has one leg tossed into the open-sided crib semi-flush against the round bed… drunk nights are hard, as we often end up facing in opposite directions, and the Boy will often kick off one of us to find the other, like the kids in the Battle Room… I’ve come awake with that half-dangerous sense that something is Wrong, that something isn’t Right, and that I should be Armed.
“Excuse me, am I addressing Mr. Doctor Sine?” asks the shadow looming at what might be the bottom of the bed. I can barely make out the insect-like profile of a man wearing NVGs through the mosquito netting. He has a thick accent, probably from Pakistan: it’s an out-sourced bill collector’s accent.
“Fuck you, I’m sick,” I hazily inform him. “There is no such person at this domicile, and you are intruding on my beauty sleep.”
“Hello, Mr. Sine, my name is Peter Samson, I am sorry to bother you, but it is very important that you are aware of the overdue balance on your World Bank Black Credit Card ending in the numbers 0666-” said the gargoyle in that sing-song voice.
“It is very important that you listen to me…” I began, but like all of his ilk, he kept talking over me. “-it is very easy for you to come back into the good standings, at this time, Mr. Sine, if you will only-”
“It is very important that you listen to me, rude fucker, because there is a feral Baby crouching behind you, and my Wife has a M84 Grenade under her pillow,” I finished.
The Wife held up the grenade, pin already removed, and let the spoon flip off. The gargoyle started to finish by rote: “-all we need is a payment at this time, Mr. Sine, and you can-” FWHUMP!.
A flash-bang in an enclosed room can be pretty horrifying. The M84 Stun Grenade will produce a 1 million Candela flash, as well as a terrifying wave of sound. Even to someone who is expecting it, the results are disorienting. To someone wearing Night Vision Goggles, or using any other kind of light-amplification-device, it can theoretically cause permanent blindness and utterly fry the hardware of your extremely expensive equipment. The gargoyle lets out some sort of garbled screech and flings his arms up, wrenching off his headset. I had slammed my forearm across my eyes as my Wife detonated the device, so other than some head-ringing, I was fine… and I’m used to operating under uneven equilibrium.
I stretched out my left leg in a perfect thrust-kick, my calloused big toe slammed into the gargoyle’s chest. The armor-gel vest would keep him from any real damage, even a bruising blow would be absorbed by that stuff unless I used a shotgun. But the impact threw him just a little bit off-balance, and the giggling baby on hands and knees behind him did the rest… the gargoyle hit the ground hard, and I wrenched the single action revolver from the magnetic clamp along the I-beam.
“Hey, pal. Do I have your attention?” I cocked the weapon. “This is a .454 Magnum, okay? Do you savy ‘four times the impact of a .44 hollow-point’? Anyways, what is your name?”
The gargoyle blinked several times and opened and closed his mouth: pressure was returning to his head, like dropping too rapidly in an airplane. My wife jammed a stick of gum in her mouth and picked up the baby, heading down the hallway to find a quiet room that didn’t stink of gunpowder to go back to sleep in, no doubt.
“My name is… Peter Samson? Mr. Sine, it is important, regarding your credit card-”
I shrugged and stepped on his throat, silencing him with a squawk. “Sure, fine, Peter. You look like a Peter. Anyways, Peter, here is the thing: I’ve worked in telephone sales, and I’ve worked in customer service, and I’ve worked in direct action. And you were sloppy tonight, Peter. Very sloppy. For one thing: always listen to your customer. I know, I know: I’m just some deadbeat, right? Fuck their feelings, just get ’em to pay off the vig, am I right? Of course I am. But here is the thing: If you had listened to the customer, you wouldn’t be laying on your back right now with a hand-cannon aimed at your chest. And that armor-gel will absorb maybe half the blunt trauma, spread it out. It’ll sure as hell keep the round from penetrating your skin. But the other half of the blunt trauma won’t be spread out over your entire torso, the 2nd half will over-power the armor-gel’s capacity and crack your sternum in three or four places… the cartilage holding your ribs in place will seperate and snap… horrible, horrible pain, Peter. God only knows what will happen to all the organs behind all that. All could have been avoided if you would only listen. My name is not Sine. I am a Reverend Doctor of the Divine Miracles. My name is Syn. Pronounced like the thing what gets you sent to hell. Do you have hell in your country? A foolish side-question. What is important is that you understand why I am being lethally honest here. It is the lesson. Do you understand? What is the lesson here, Peter?”
“Mr… Sine… I am sorry to bother you, but this is involving your World Bank-”
Persistant fuckers, aren’t they? Bill collectors. I mean, shit. You miss a payment deadline by a week and they don’t give you any rest. They can’t deviate from their scripts because they don’t comprehend the language enough to do so. And then they get sent on a low-priority collection to some customer that probably should be red-flagged as High Risk, and end up in a dumpster East of Downtown on The Nickel with a shattered chest… half blind, with ringing ears, and then someone is beating on the side of the dumpster with a collapsible baton, making a horrible gong noise that doesn’t help with the after-effects of the Flash-Bang…
Yeah, someone is whanging that gong and screaming “Fresh meat! Come get some!” and suddenly all of those 5th Street Shanty-dwellers are pawing at your equipment belt and your high-speed cloths and your cab fare… they even steal your ID cards with your real name on them, “Peter Samson” my ass, and maybe gang-rape you or slow-roast you over an oil-drum fire for breakfast. Your bones will be used to make spears, for rat hunting in the kipple. Terrible, terrible job, bill collecting.
I hated doing it, I really did. But he gave me no choice. It’s very dangerous, to call a man by the wrong name in the wee hours. As soon as we get this pitch set up at a studio, or some other cash-cow dies, then we’ll see about paying off all those medical debts. It’s crippling. Infuriating, and you can’t eat too well on less than 60 dollars a week in LA. Plus, .454s are expensive rounds to keep in stock. Over-the-counter is around four dollars a bullet, and I don’t have the nerves to cast hand-loads.
I don’t know, between the Worries about Money, the Boy and so forth… well, sleep just isn’t an easy creature these days. Money. I don’t like it, but I like not having it even less. I resent it, to be honest. Almost as much as I resent the people who don’t give it to me for being a creative genius, and resentment is a weird trip to get heavily into, my friends. Very weird indeed.
But even Jesus Christ knew that you need a little scratch to keep the wolves at bay, which is why he was a very good businessman with his fishing racket. Sure, he had carpentry to fall back on, but nobody likes to just inherit the family business, except the terminally lazy or congenitally stupid. Yes, even Jesus knew, and Crom is strong in his mountain.