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    #119
    In the JP 'Gift Shop' shown in the film, 'The Making of Jurassic Park' by Jody Ducan can be seen. (From: 'Dilophosaurus')
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    Suddenly Memories: Foolsfolly
    By Dac

    A man stumbled through the front door, trembling slightly from the cold outside and staggered over to a nearby table. The bartender gave him a filthy look as he began thumbing the keypad of his mobile phone and shooting nervous glances around the bar. The other patrons pointedly ignored him; he was far from the most immoral customer the bar had seen that night, although he was certainly the most obvious about it. A casual glance might reveal nothing suspicious, but on closer inspection the ragged nature of his clothes would begin to show his predicament. An even closer look would make obvious the fact that the cold outside had nothing to do with his shivering, as the heating in the bar was cranked up but the man was still shaking. Here was a hopeless junkie, almost stereotypical, with barely ten dollars to his name and a clear destination for that little cash. He sat at his table, shaking, anxiously waiting for a response, with no company, nor any acknowledgement from any, save the bartender and his black looks. The man seated at the bar raised his hand, and the bartender slid another glass towards him, still directing his attention at the junkie.
    “You gonna buy anything?”
    The junkie did not respond. His eyes flicked this way. That way. Up. Down. There was a speed to his glances rarely seen in a human’s eyes. A muscle twitched below his right eye. It twitched again. Again. Frenetically. He had not heard the bartender. He may not have even realised he was in a bar. The only thing in the world that existed to him was his phone. The only thought going through his head was the hope his text would receive a response.
    The message tone went off, blaringly loud. It was the theme from Ghostbusters. Someone in the bar chuckled for the two seconds it played, before the junkie jammed his thumb into the keypad with sudden exhilaration. He read the message. Abruptly he stood up and stumbled for the door with much more haste than he had entered with. The bartender shook his head and sighed. He turned to the man sitting at the bar, and blinked when the man was nowhere to be seen.
    The junkie jerked and lurched swiftly down the street. The message was positive. His dealer was waiting. His anxiety was gone, replaced with elation. The man was a sad case. What his story was, no one really knew. He was dependent on his fixes. Utterly dependent. Where he got his cash, where he lived, no one could say. With the exception of his dealer, it’s possible no one even knew his name. He lived for his fixes and simply did what he could for them. How he was still alive at all was anyone’s guess. His gloves, tattered and frayed as they were, had nothing beneath them but emaciated folds of pale, sickly skin. One of his fingers was blackened and ugly, as though frostbitten somehow. His nose was at an odd angle, having been broken by his dealer once. His dealer had regretted it afterwards. He felt an odd affection for this junkie, in the same way a man feels affection for an old, sick dog begging for scraps at a table. In the outside world it would not survive. In that sanctuary, pity and inexplicable fondness kept it alive. As the junkie half walked, half tripped down the street, he thought he heard something behind him. He turned to look at one point, but there was nothing there. He didn’t bother looking after that. He guessed he must simply be hearing things, a result of not getting his fix yet, and increased his disjointed pace with vigour. He was all alone. It was 2am on an unusually cold Tuesday morning, and he was stumbling down the streets of Miami. All he wanted was a fix.
    He rang the bell on the apartment. There was the familiar click as the door unlocked, and the junkie struggled not to burst through the door in eagerness. Somewhere in the back of his head, the last remaining piece of his rational mind kept his limbs under control. He calmly stepped through the door and smoothly walked up the stairs. But while his pace was composed, his hands quivered with excitement like a child at an amusement park. He tapped on the door. It swung open. Calvera didn’t bother waiting to see who it was. He walked back into his apartment, with the junkie following him like a puppy. No greetings were exchanged. No words spoken.
    Calvera sank into his shabby leather armchair. The junkie didn’t take his eyes off him as he sat down on the floor, ignoring the couch. Calvera nearly cracked a grin. The junkie was even trained like a dog. He tossed him a small packet. The junkie nearly hurled his money at him as he scrambled to catch it. Calvera calmly picked the money up, counted it, and nodded.
    “You can do yourself here,” he said. “You got ten minutes.”
    The junkie looked up at him with a light in his eyes, the same light a devout Christian will possess when staring at a Crucifix. The manic grin was all his, though. After the moment of reverence, he spun eagerly towards the coffee table and set the packet down. He smiled back up at Calvera like a child praised by a parent.
    His head slammed into the table and he hit the floor with a thud.
    Calvera sprang up, knife in hand. It was more reflex than anything. He stared at the junkie in shock. Gingerly, he nudged him with one foot. The junkie didn’t respond. He was either dead or unconscious. Calvera kneeled down next to him and took his pulse. He was alive. Calvera stared.
    “Why’d you do that?” he said aloud. “You’re crazy, but you ain’t that crazy.”
    “He didn’t.”
    Calvera felt something on the back of his head before he heard the voice. His own head hit the table. He reeled from the pain and felt another in his arm. He dropped the knife. It hit the floor, then skittered away, as though of its own accord.
    “What the fuck?!”
    His head hit the table again. He tasted blood. Spitting it out, he stared around wildly. Nothing. There was nothing there. Something slammed into his face and he hit the floor. He felt blood dripping out of his mouth. He felt another blow. This one landed in his gut. Winded, he rolled around.
    As though stepping from thin air, the man from the bar appeared before him. His beard dripped with sweat and he pulled on some black gloves. Calvera stared warily at the man’s eyepatch. The man sat down and watched him. He didn’t move. Neither did Calvera. The man rubbed at his eye and leaned back in the armchair. His gaze never left Calvera.
    “You know who I am?” asked the bearded man.
    Calvera shook his head.
    “Good.”
    Fools didn’t bother to offer any explanation. He sat there and watched the dealer struggle for breath. Eventually Calvera choked out a few words.
    “What are you?”
    Fools’s eye narrowed. His gaze turned calculating. He said nothing. The silence was almost palpable for a full minute. Calvera struggled to sit up.
    “How’d you...get in?”
    “I followed him.” Fools kept his words short. Clipped. Matter-of-fact. There was no need to be anything but blunt.
    “How?”
    “He didn’t notice me.”
    Calvera paused. His eyes flicked to the knife. Several metres away. Too far. Fools’s gaze remained hard.
    “Don’t.” His tone was as cold as his eye. Calvera gave a twitch. It may as well have been a flinch. He looked back at Fools, regaining his breath.
    “Why are you here?”
    “To see you.”
    “You want something?” asked Calvera. Confusion punctured his last syllable.
    “You. Finished.”
    Calvera’s eyes went a fraction wider. Fools noted how bloodshot they were. He sensed the fear, the weakness, and stood up.
    “You deal bottom-line shit. Winds up with people like him. Makes more like him. Sends good people to the bottom. I don’t like that. So I’m here to tell you. Stop.”
    Calvera stared up at him. Beaten as he was, sudden anger spiked through him. He had been told what to do before. How to act. How to conduct himself. He never liked it before. It only made him angry. That had just gotten worse as he’d grown up. Abruptly furious, he forced himself up. He was taller than Fools. Heartened, he scowled at him.
    “Or what?”
    “Or I stop you.”
    Calvera swung his fist. Still unsteady, he staggered and the punch went wide. Fools vanished from sight and Calvera felt him drive his elbow into his back. He fell again. He rolled quickly, struggling to regain his footing. He felt a shoe slam into his face. He fell backward. Furious, he launched himself up and dived forwards. Fools, still invisible, neatly sidestepped him. He thrust an arm out and caught Calvera in the neck. Calvera choked and groped at his neck. Off-balance, he fell. His head hit the edge of the coffee table with a crack. He flopped over, his vision filled with grey. Fools reappeared above him. Calvera choked as he stared up at him.
    “What are you?”
    Fools’s face remained emotionless. His voice was, for the first time, tinged with emotion. It stung with raw bitterness. “A hero,” he spat.
    Calvera’s eyes went dark and he stopped moving. Fools nudged the body with his foot. Calvera didn’t move.
    “Shit.”
    Fools sat in the armchair again and stared at the dead body, lying next to the unconscious form of the forgotten junkie. This wasn’t the plan. He’d only meant to intimidate the dealer. He had learnt enough of Calvera from listening to conversations on the street. Calvera was not a reasonable man. The only persuasion he might have responded to was intimidation. The others were too preoccupied with other assignments to deal with a simple dealer, so Fools had been slipping out at night to find out what he could. Now he had a dead body.
    He stood up and walked to the fridge. He opened it, looked around quickly, pulled out a small can and snapped it open, drinking the contents. Over a week of planning, and it had all gone to hell. He shook his head as he looked back at the body, then decided there was nothing for it. He phoned the police. He told them where to find the body, then turned invisible and slipped out. He did not leave his name.

    ***

    Fools returned to the bar the next night and signalled the bartender. Taking his usual drink, he moved from the bar to a small table in the corner, swilling the drink. He had slept most of the day. No one else had seemed to notice. Erok had gone out with Tack and Spartan. Geek and Puma were busy going through police records they’d acquired. Only GD had seemed concerned. The first two nights she had noticed him slipping out late. After that, she either hadn’t noticed, or hadn’t mentioned it. She had asked him today, though. This was the first time he’d overslept. He barely noticed her questions, instead rolling over and drifting off. His sleep had not been pleasant.
    He had a death on his hands. This was not a new experience, but it got harder each time. He remembered the stories of killers, how they said it got easier with each new kill. He bit back a mirthless laugh as he thought about it. The same was not true for him. Every time he felt a bit more weary. It was never supposed to be like this.
    He swilled his drink and took another mouthful. Inside he berated himself for moping. He’d done it before, many times. The result was always the same. Nothing was resolved and he felt miserable. Another person dead, who didn’t need to be. In his head he considered attempting to justify it. Calvera had been a dealer. He’d ruined countless lives for a few quick bucks. Why should he be allowed to live when dozens had ceased to live, though his actions?
    The answer was always the same. It’s not up to the hero. The hero has to stop them, yes. Taking their life was a different step.
    Fools spat bitterly into his drink. He tried to banish the thoughts. They were useless. Childish morality warring with realism. This was the world he lived in. Knowing it was wrong, hating it, wanting to escape it, that couldn’t change it. He knew that. That’s why moralists always wound up miserable. Hoping for a better world never attained one. Trying to earn it ended with failure. He’d seen that enough.
    Except that was why he’d come to Miami to begin with. They needed to accomplish something. To save lives, one at a time if need be. They’d left so much behind to try and do the right thing. Out of what? Childish morality, naive hopes and dreams? No, more than that. There was more than that.
    Fools shook his head. These thoughts ran in a spiral that was nearly impossible to stop, once it got started. First one part of himself saying he was being stupid, then another part telling the first part to shut up, and so on. His internal arguments never resolved anything, and it was always the same tired debates. He couldn’t focus on that. He had business.
    Another man entered the bar. Fools held his drink up to eye level and pretended to study it. His eye trained on the man. Fools knew him. He was a regular here. A particularly violent, coarse one. It was a wonder the bartender let him in at all anymore. Since Fools had been coming here, the man had started three fights, participated in four more, and broken bones in twice as many men. Fools had always kept an eye on him. There would come a night when Fools paid him a visit. Hopefully not as disastrous as his visit to Calvera.
    Instinctively Fools knew that tonight was the night. The fighter, Preston, was in his usual mood. Fools watched closely and frowned. After a few drinks with his friends, Preston calmly got to his feet. He looked like the best man about to make a speech at a wedding. He hurled his mug at a man several tables over. The mug sailed through the air. Fools watched it laconically. He was the only one who noticed before it hit its target in the face. The man’s head snapped back. He gave a cry of pain. His friends jumped, startled. The reaction was instantaneous. All four of them stood and charged Preston and his two friends, roaring with fury. Fools vanished from sight as the bar erupted into chaos. Several patrons dashed into the street as the seven men attacked each other. Tables were upended. Chairs were swung as bludgeons. Glass smashed everywhere. The bartender was behind the bar, searching for his baton Fools had seen him use, but he seemed to be taking his time doing it. He probably hoped the men would injure each other too badly to return for a while.
    Fools remained in his seat in the corner, watching lazily, hidden from sight. For Preston and his friends, this was rather tame. Even the other men, two of whom Fools recognised as being similar fight starters, were not fighting rather fiercely.
    A tiny piece of Fools’s mind spoke up. Jump in and break up the fight. Do something. Stop them. That piece of his mind was promptly quashed. He was invisible, not invincible. Taking on seven strong drunk men fighting with blind fury would do nothing but injure him. He had another plan.
    True to form, Preston remained on his feet. Bare minutes after the fight broke out, one of his friends was on the ground unconscious and the other was bleeding profusely, panting in the corner. Of the other four, two had staggered into the street and their friends were on the ground. One was out cold, the other had a face full of blood and a glassy stare fixed on Preston, spitting barely-coherent abuse at him. For his own part, Preston had a slash above his eye and he favoured his right leg. In the end, though, he was the last man standing.
    The bartender snarled from behind the bar about how he’d called the cops. He held his baton tightly in one hand. Preston smiled uglily at him and limped out the door. The bartender sighed and put his hand on his forehead. The other men were too injured to see the door swing open and shut again of its own accord.
    Fools walked calmly after Preston, remaining invisible. It was not hard to keep up with him; Preston’s limp was not feigned. Fools followed him easily for three streets before quickening his pace and slipping in front of Preston and into an alley. Oblivious, Preston turned down the same alley.
    Fools met him with a garbage can lid to the face. Preston hit the ground. Before he could respond, Fools stamped on his bad leg. Preston howled with pain.
    “What the fuck, man? What’d I do to you?”
    Fools raised the lid again threateningly. Preston cowered almost involuntarily and let out a whimper like a kicked dog. Fools hesitated, his expression softening. In that moment, before he could stop them, his torrent of mismatched thoughts started up again. Was this really what he had sunk to? Assaulting bar room brawlers in back alleys? What was he going to do, beat him until he was in the hospital? What would that achieve? What the hell was he even doing here? This was just a drunk guy who got into fights, not a member of the Guardsmen slaughtering innocent people.
    Fools closed his eye and sighed, tossing the lid away. He sank down on his haunches and seized Preston by the scruff of his neck.
    “You,” he said calmly. His voice sounded like a frozen river cracking under footsteps. “I see you again in a fight. I see you back in that bar. You slip up once. Once. I will find you. You will wish I’d finished you here.”
    He shoved Preston’s head back into the ground and stormed off, trying to get his thoughts under control. The sound of sirens several streets away and the harsh glow of streetlamps did not improve his mood. Preston let out a breath and lay back.

    ***

    By the time Fools got back to the bar, the police and ambulances had been and gone. He remained invisible and sat back at his table, watching the bartender close and lock the door. The room was still a mess. Too much to clean up at this time. Fools could not blame the man for wanting to leave it for a while. The man saw as much violence as Fools did, if not more, and he didn’t have superpowers to help him. All he had was a baton and the hope that the police would get there before anything too bad happened. Fools pitied him. He was a decent enough guy.
    The lights in the bar were off, but the streetlamps cast an incandescent glow through the windows. Fools poured himself a drink and sat in silence for hours. He sat there, brooding. His thoughts continued as they had done for weeks. They reached no new conclusions. There was no resolution in his mind.
    He did give one smirk. His self-doubt, immense as it was, was beginning to remind him a bit more of Peter Parker. Bruce Wayne. Hell, Bruce Banner. How many of them had gone through some period like this? Spider-Man’s was almost never ending. But as he thought about it, the more even that thought soured. How did they ever get out of it? What spurred them back into action? What drove them? What got them back on the horse when they felt depressed and useless and...routine.
    Fools rubbed his eye in frustration.
    The first hints of dawn were beginning to peek out over the eastern edge of the city. He pulled out his phone and punched in a number.
    “It’s me,” he said.
    “Fools? Where are you?”
    He gave his location without inflection. “Just thinking things over.”
    “Have you been there all night?”
    “Most. It’s closed, but the owner didn’t see me when he locked up. Can you meet me here?”
    “Now?”
    “If you could.”
    The connection cut off. Fools put his glass down and waited. After twenty minutes he heard a tap at the door. He stood and unlocked it. GDChick stepped inside, watching him intently as she moved. Fools locked the door behind him and moved back to his table.
    “It’s OK, he never gets here until eight,” he said dully.
    GDChick sat across from him.
    “Is this where you come at night? Every time I wake up and you’re gone, you come here?”
    “Usually,” he said. “This place has the dregs of the city. Hell, look at that mess behind you. It’s about par for the course.”
    “Why the hell do you come here?”
    Fools took a deep breath.
    “Someone has to do this,” he said heavily. “The fun stuff. If there’s a mobster, or a drug smuggler, or a corrupt cop around, Erok or Geekers are all over them. Puma provides their info. Tack and Spartan follow like fresh cops on the beat. That’s great, in a city where that’s the only misrule.”
    GDChick watched him levelly. Her gaze was chilly, but not hostile.
    “It’s not,” he continued. “There’s pushers. Junkies. Fighters and brawlers and beaters. Earlier tonight I followed a guy. He starts fights here most nights a week. He brags about beating his girlfriend. Someone has to do this. Someone has to do the fun stuff. That’s on me. I walk around this city and sure, the high-level stuff chokes and stamps on people, but the thing that’s ripping out their roots is this shit. We go for the brain of a target and leave the hands to flail around. Is that what we’re here for? Is that why we came to this city? I mean, god damn it, what the hell are we doing here?!”
    He slammed his fist into the table. For all the thousands of times he’d had these kinds of thoughts, it felt good to say them verbally, for once. GDChick kept her level stare. Several moments passed before she spoke.
    “So you beat up people. You sneak out at night and fight, is that it?”
    He met her gaze and nodded. His eye was red with exhaustion. “That and more.”
    She sat back and folded her arms. “Getting bored with life in the city?”
    “I feel like we’re not accomplishing anything,” he said. “Everything we set out to do, does it achieve anything? Knock off some crooks, knock of their replacements, and so on and so forth.”
    “You sound like an old cop in a Fincher movie.”
    “I feel like Eric Bana in Munich.”
    She didn’t laugh. “I can understand how you feel. God knows why I agree with you. But that’s why we left the Outcasts, isn’t it? This, what you’re talking about, is the reason we came here to begin with. Things are messed up. Yeah, I know. Sneaking out and beating on drunks and drug dealers, though, that’s not going to make it change. If you really want to deal with things on the street level, talk to people, for God’s sake!”
    Her voice was suddenly savaged. Fools leaned back in surprise.
    “It’s not enough I have to wonder where you are every night, you’re just getting drunk and beating the shit out of people because you’re having a goddamn superpowered mid-life crisis! I mean, come on! I know you’re better that. You know you’re better than that! Act like it, act like yourself!”
    Fools sat back. The silence lasted for several minutes. He couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so angry at him. Hell, he couldn’t remember if she’d ever been this angry with him. She was right, though. All he was doing was self-indulgent whining. Angsty crap. To hell with it.
    “I’m not drunk,” he said.
    She looked back at him, confused. “What?”
    He slid the glass over. “After the rehab the guys put me through? I’m not even drinking.”
    She looked at it curiously. It was nothing but water. She looked at it, then back at him.
    “I kicked the booze habit,” he said, beginning to babble a bit. “I used it as an out once, but the guys lashed me to the bed, and got me back in the game. I don’t touch the stuff, I haven’t since then. I’d like to but I won’t, I mean...”
    “Sh,” she hissed softly. He went silent instantly. She looked at the glass, back at Fools, and gave the beginning of a smile.
    “That’s something,” she said, still quiet. Standing, she moved to the door.
    “You kicked that bad habit,” she said. “Kick this one. Get back in the game.”
    She unlocked the door and walked out. Fools sat quiet for minute, shaken more than she could have realised. After a moment he followed, locking the door behind him.
    It was probably his imagination, but the sun seemed a bit more yellow.

    6/4/2011 6:42:55 AM

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