This is part of a much larger thing, the "Party Crashers" project. it will all appear on this blog eventually, and hopefully, at a theatre near you!
Chapter One: Dented Metal
Dexter Pepper knelt on a patch of leaves in the middle of a cool dark wood. The sun managed to poke its way through the branches and limbs and hit him squarely in the eye like needles from heaven. He held his arm across his face to shield from the light, and then lowered his head to see the dirt before him, studying the ground, noticing the leaves and the dirt and the twigs- The muddy water that lay three feet before him. This was the earth, and soon enough, he’d be returned to it through the magnificent process of decomposition.
He wasn’t supposed to die today. He said that to himself, not out loud, but over and over in his head as if he could will away the inevitable. He couldn’t shake the piece of Beethoven that replayed itself over and over in his mind. This was a nervous compensation his mind had launched in order to soothe the stress of his eventual death. Dexter had been in the same situation one hundred times before. Someone was always attempting to end the reign of Dexter Pepper and Bookie. It was a constant. Some fresh upstart with an itchy trigger finger would want to know if he could be the one to stop the legend in its tracks, or some old pro from a life Dexter had forgotten would try his hand at taking down the king.
It was all old hat to him now.
He figured that there was no reason to run anymore.
It was as if he had nine lives and he’d lost count of which life he was leading. It didn’t matter. When the time came, the time came and it would be over and Dexter Pepper and Bookie would be no more.
He thought, though, that this was always when he remembered that he promised himself to look up that Beethoven piece. He always promised to look up the piece of music if he made it through one more time. It was almost enough to live for; to make it through, just to find out what that infernal song was that repeated the same seven or so measures over and over in his head whenever he was close to death.
He also wondered what Bookie was doing right now. Was he O.K.?
Dexter felt the distinctively cool barrel of a .45 revolver press to the back of his head, and his mind went clear. No wondering, no Beethoven…no Bookie. He drew in one last breath, and held it.
There was no real reason behind this.
He felt the shot before he heard it. It was a mule kick, the most pain he had ever felt. A shock of white-hot pain resonated from the back of his head around and through to his eyes and all he could see was white, blinding light. This was Excedrin headache number nth. And there was the ringing. The vibrating, high-pitched ring that bounced it’s way around his skull as he was lifted up from the shot, almost to his feet, and fell in slow motion towards the puddle that lay before him. Right before the splash, he heard the shot.
And that was it. Not with a bang or with a whimper, but with a bang and a whimper.
The last few bubbles rose to the top of the puddle and then it was silent.
Johnny Saccharine couldn’t resist blowing the smoke from the barrel of the gun as he turned, smiling, to walk from the woods. His stride was almost joyous as he swung the briefcase at his side.
Once clear of the woods, Johnny opened the passenger side door of his car and dropped the briefcase in, then walked to the other side. The sounds of English to Spanish teaching cassette began when he started up the car. He reached for the glove compartment and opened it, then took the .45 from his coat and placed it on the passenger seat atop the briefcase. He rattled around for something in the compartment for a minute until he found another gun, a 9mm. He placed the .45 in the compartment, closed it, and put the 9 in his coat. Smiling again, Johnny pulled onto the old dusty road and away from the scene.
As he drove, Johnny ate freely from a small box of NutraSweet, lit a cigarette and began to scan the area for a payphone.
No one ever questioned the reason Johnny’s diet consisted mainly of artificial sweeteners and nicotine. No one ever got close enough. Johnny Saccharine was a contract killer from the old school, doing his work as it came, taking his jobs over the phone only, and always finishing what he started. Ever so often, there was a situation that organizations wanted handled out of house, and that’s when they called on Johnny, the hit man with the million-dollar smile and the anger only a mother could escape. He thought he’d seen a payphone on the corner as he drove Dexter to the place of his death.
This was the halfway mark. Only one month left until he would leave for Spain and take over the family business, which was still contract killing- only this time in Spain. There was a phone on the next block, he remembered.
Johnny sped up in order to make his deadline. The call was expected in less than two minutes, or he’d loose the $200,000.
Johnny stood impatiently at the payphone, tapping the glass with his keys. After the tenth ring, he snatched the receiver from its socket, and began to beat the walls of the payphone with it. He stormed back to the car. Johnny was fuming. The icing on the cake was an empty box of NutraSweet. He screamed something in Spanish, and banged on the horn. He peeled onto the highway to find the nearest grocery store.
The metal plate was dented now. The metal plate he’d carried with him from the war. They’d offered him plastic, but here was nothing romantic about a plastic plate in your head. He had fought for his country, he had taken quite a few bullets and three months of the best torture the enemy had to offer, so the least they could do for him was give him some good old American stainless to cover the piece of skull he’d lost for uncle Sam.
Dexter raised himself from the mud puddle, and coughed up about half of the water that was in it. Was this life seven or eight? Did it even matter anymore? It was dumb luck like this that kept him going. He felt the back of his head and looked at the blood that covered his hand. There was a dent in his metal plate, but that was it. The bullet had just… ricocheted. Of course, it hurt. It hurt like a son of a bitch, but he was still alive. He’d beaten the odds yet again, taking a point blank bullet in the exact spot where he’d taken one x many years ago, and the consequences of the first bullet, a metal plate, being the reason why the second bullet didn’t kill him. If he didn’t have such a son of a bitching headache right now, he’d actually laugh at the irony.
He felt his pockets for a cigarette. He had just quit this morning. The Pall Mall’s helped him to concentrate on what his next move would be. He drew in deep, and looked at the sky. It was starting to get dark now. It was the golden time of day. It was funny; he never realized how beautiful the world was until just after he’d escaped death.
Now it was time to add a little more death to this beautiful world. If they’d tried to kill him, then Bookie was next. He had to save his pal. No bullet, no metal plate, nothing was going to stop him.
He finished up the butt, stood up from the cold dark ground, and started to make his way, stumbling, from the woods.