The Title

by David Caldwell

Black and White: Part 08.

Welcome Home, Jigetty-Jig

He burst into the conapt. He was sweaty, almost feverish. He put the bottle of Tsing-Tao on the coffee table, along with the pack of Dunhill cigarettes. They were rewards for a job well done. She would like that. She would like that indeed. He chuckled to himself. The conapt was quiet. No sounds, except for the electric hum of the refrigerator and the crackling and sputtering of a dying fluorescent stove light. He quickly checked each room for her. He frantically wanted to tell her the news. The deed was done. He laughed aloud, startling himself. He felt giddy.

He came to the bathroom. The door was ajar. A soft, bluish light emanated from the room. He slowly opened the door, his hand in his coat pocket, grasping the butt of his gun. He could see the back of her head. It was tilted at an odd angle. The shower curtain was pulled back and he could see her right arm hanging out of the tub. He slowly walked into the room. The sight of her in the tub didn't disturb him as much as he thought it would. Her eyes were open. Duller than usual. Glazed over and lifeless. The blood that leaked out of her nose was now a crusty red line to her mouth. Sputum and vomit had dried and congealed around the corners of her mouth. Her bladder had voided and her sphincter muscle relaxed. Fecal and urine odors intertwined, the stench assaulted his nostrils, but he didn't gag. He was used to her soiling herself.

He sat on the toilet seat lid and stared at the corpse that was his wife. John Black recalled the events of the past few weeks in his mind. His retirement of three replicant prostitutes. His partner, Victor Blu's inexplicable anger with him after shooting the reps. His wife had been nastier, colder to him more than ever before. His forced medical leave. His troubled mind. The horrific images and thoughts that bombarded his psyche. Then Starke's sudden materialization, right next to him at Fat Harry's Noodle Bar. He was shocked by her presence. She spoke to him with what seemed to him like a sense of urgency. She told him that she came back to New York for some unfinished business, something to do with Victor Blu. That Victor and his wife were plotting John's demise. Make it look like a street robbery gone bad. John would be an easy mark, his mind preoccupied as of late and the fact that his weapons were confiscated by the department. Starke shoved something small and metallic into his coat pocket. Told him to be careful. Then she was gone as fast as she appeared.

John had suspected that Victor was corrupt. He'd heard rumors that Victor had organized some kind of protection racket for illegal reps, especially rep. prostitutes. He was debating whether or not to confront him or go with his suspicions to his new commanding officer. Not that it mattered any more. Victor Blu was dead. Black fired the gun Starke gave him through his coat pocket. Black didn't quite know how to feel about 'retiring' Victor. He supposed it was kill or be killed. He didn't think any one would care that a low-life like Blu was dead. Some would probably say it was a long time in coming.

Starke had said the gun was clean. Untraceable. He figured he should dispose of it soon. He doubted anyone would be able to be a competent witness against him. The pissing rain, steam and smoke in that back alley made for excellent camouflage. He wanted to come home and confront his wife. He had brought liquor and cigarettes for himself and Gen, to have a celebratory smoke and drink that he was still alive, that her scheme failed miserably. Then throw her out. If she came back, well, he would do a better job on her than her lover Victor tried to do on him.

Now, as his dead wife sightlessly stared back at him, all those harsh emotions left him. His chaotic mind began to clear and his tumultuous thoughts began to organize themselves into coherent patterns. Gen Black was a part of his past now. He often dwelled in the past. She would always be with him, shrouded in the gauze like mist of the past, in happier times. John liked that. As ever the dutiful husband, he took of his coat and rolled up his shirtsleeves and, without any vociferous objection from Gen, he began to care for her one last time.

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