Angels and ministers of grace defend us! I’ve been in my first fire fight. I should probably knock on wood or throw some salt on a mirror or something, but I did pretty well. At first I choked, and I was even surprised that my gun was in my hand. I guess all that practice with Torsten really did take. Of all the people I’ve been tutored or instructed by, the old Swede was the best, and I miss him greatly.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ve discovered two things. One: that there are dark things in this dark world. Two: I am one of those dark things.
The Russian is missing. Gone. Poof. Like a puff of smoke. When the Doc pushed Andray’s captain on details, we got nothing but a bum rush out the front door, hats and coats be-damned. Maybe we’ll find him in a couple of days at some German whore house, although I get the impression he isn’t the type. I have a feeling something more sinister has happened. Whether it’s linked to the eyeless, skinless bum, I have no idea. Worse, we’ve lost our safe passage into the Russian quarter, which means that my dream of running cigarettes and whiskey in, and vodka out will require heavy revision.
Without any concrete leads, either on the Russian, the eyeless bum, or safe passage, the Doc decided it was time to get some more information on the only thing we had: the Sanskrit message. There’s an expert at the Museum fur Naturkunde, so we made our way in that direction. That actually proved to be a good move all around, as I ran into a guard just getting off the night shift, Whats-his-name Malarkey. It might be Jim, or Sean or something. I don’t recall, and I’m never good with names. Malarkey was pretty memorable as an ironic name for such a serious guy. I got the immediate sense that he knew something, and he seemed like he knew how to handle himself. Two things that are definitely good for what we’re doing. I must have convinced him or something because he gave me his address before he headed off, and that may have made the difference between writing this journal and having someone else write my obituary.
I started shaking pretty badly after that, Mr. Jones was visiting with a fury, and it was well past time for me to figure out a backup plan. Doc wanted a root beer, and Pips is always up for a drink, and so am I if Pips is paying. I’d heard of a place where I might be able to make a connection, and luck was with me. Der Falcon was the guy’s nom de guerre, and he was charging an outrageous amount, but this is Berlin, and everything is outrageous, not just the French accents. I made a potential deal for a larger purchase which should keep me going for three months, and maybe I can track back to Der Falcon’s supplier. That could beneficial, dangerous, or both.
Der Falcon also provided me with a potential safe conduct contact, an MP named O’Hara at Checkpoint Delta. Turns out O’Hara is a tough-as-nails woman, and I certainly wouldn’t want to cross her. She was on duty, so we arranged to meet at the Eagle and Talon after her shift.
This is when my poor memory kicked out, and I told the others about a murder suicide that I’d read about in the American quarter. Some soldier had killed his wife and then himself. I’m not certain why it grabbed my attention at the time, but with nothing better to do, we headed in that direction.
Thank whatever benevolent gods there are for the Doc. It’s just not in his nature to adhere to most societal norms, and sometimes that’s a detriment, but when it comes to barging into a crime scene, almost no one stops him. He looks like he knows what he’s doing, and he looks like he belongs, and plain clothes usually says “higher rank.” I couldn’t pull it off, at least not yet, but so far it’s gotten us further than almost anything else. This clearly wasn’t a murder-suicide. Doc did his Sherlock Holmes thing, and I questioned the officer still at the scene while Pips kept watch. We got lots of information, but the best part was Pips. Some groundskeeper had caught his attention, and he’d tried to talk to him. The guy clearly knew something, but wasn’t giving it up easy. When Doc and I came down, Pip pointed him out to me, and then we did a little play acting where I pretended to hit Pips and Pips took it like a champ, selling it all the way.
That’s how we learned about the Well Dressed Man. He was there about the time the murder-suicide went down, definitely out of place, especially in his new silver Porsche.
Another lead. And a potential car for me. I have a feeling this isn’t the kind of “discussion” that is going to take place reasonably. The guy may have killed Heinrich the bum, as well as this American soldier and his wife. He’s dangerous and isn’t likely to just turn himself over and answer all our questions while sipping tea. That means violence, and that also means, if we survive, a “free” car, perhaps some other resources.
By this point, it was time to head over to the Eagle and Talon, and O’Hara was waiting for us. She seems like a good sort (good by my definition), and capable. We made a quick deal, shook, and my dream of financing us with some initial crates of cigarettes and bottles of booze is back on the table. She also might be able to get me Vicodin for far less than Der Falcon, but that remains to be seen. If it’s real enough, we might even forego the cigs and whatnot and go straight for the higher priced grease.
I’m not exactly sure when, but at some point Pip made a squeal about getting his hands on a gun. Not wanting another repeat of bailing Pip out of jail for his gunplay, I loaned him one of mine sans clip and bullets. He kept on about needing a gun, after the German police took his. Apparently, they frown on shooting people, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, even if those people are homeless bums. So yeah, I loaned him one of mine, but no bullets, no clip, and no stops off at the store to get some. That was two mistakes all wrapped into one. No, it was three mistakes, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
My god, this was the day that just wouldn’t end.
By mid-afternoon, we were at the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (German DMV), and Doc managed to talk his way into their records. Mein Got!, but they have a lot of records, and if it wasn’t for my years of trying to do nothing, with reading being only slightly more effort than nothing, it might have taken a leap year to get through all of them. But the Doc and I set to it with a vengeance, and we knocked one right out of the park, finding the Well Dressed Man, and also finding out that the same bums who rolled our dear Pips had also spoken with Porsche driver.
That meant Pips was likely to see his friends in the French Quarter again. But knowing what we knew, I strongly suggested we go see if Malarkey was up for this. I don’t think it’s possible to have too much muscle. It wasn’t easy to convince him, even though he’d caught glimpses, but the money is a motive with a universal adapter. God how I miss money! I think the majority of these operations would be about a thousand times easier if I had even a tenth of my father’s fortune.
With Malarkey now in tow, the Doc, Pips and I headed into the French Quarter. It wasn’t hard to find the bums, they were in roughly the same place, and doing the same thing. Malarkey and I approached cautiously, with Doc under strict instructions. Things went decently, until I pushed too hard, and then they broke. We were in a fight for our lives, and these bums seemed to have supernatural strength and absolutely no fear whatsoever. I mean Malarkey and I both pulled guns, and they didn’t even miss a beat.
I did. I didn’t exactly choke, but I made the mistake of thinking they could be stopped by the threat of violence. But Torsten always told me that if I pulled my guns I should shoot, not talk. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
So here was my first mistake, I gave up one of my guns before a potential fight. I’m not very good at a great many things, life in general being at the top of the list. But one of the things I am good at is shooting. Being trained by a World Champion helped put a razor edge on that ability. It’s no brag to say that out of everyone in that fight, two guns in my hands would have ended things a great deal sooner. My second mistake, after giving up one of my guns was giving an unloaded weapon to Pips. He knows how to shoot, and giving him an expensive paperweight was a real mistake. I had reasons, but I knew that we might see violence, and I should have rectified the loaned gun one way or the other.
We won, but we I’m pretty certain we all bled too. The Doc was really banged up, so I grabbed him. Malarkey was solid enough, and he grabbed one of the unconscious bums. As the sirens started getting closer, we got the hell outta of Dodge, and made it to Pips place for some quick medical action.
This is where I made my third mistake. With everyone safe and sound, and the immediate emergency over, I realized I was better capable of defending myself, Doc and the rest if I had both of my guns. Maybe we would see more action, or maybe we wouldn’t, but I wanted my gun back. Pips refused, and then things got heated.
So much has been taken from me. My mother, my father, my home, my money, my life. Pretty much everything that I was or thought that I was. Everything I had, or thought I had. It’s gone. It’s all gone. I’m a collection of bad habits held together by an addiction and semi-disgraced professor. Of all the things I have, that connect me to my past, and that haven’t been taken away, these guns were not going to be among them. They were gifts from the man who taught me to use them, the man who saw something in me that was worthwhile. I wasted most of that, but not all of it, and if his gift and his knowledge can make the world a little better, a little brighter . . .
I tried to talk to Pips, but he wasn’t having it. I don’t know where his head was, but my words had no effect at all. Malarkey must have understood. Just as things got heated, he walked over and clocked Pips a good one. If I had gotten the gun from him then, it would have been at an end, but the Resistance fighter was tough. He’s tougher than me, that’s for certain. We traded a couple punches, and I knew immediately it wouldn’t end well for me if it went on that way. I don’t recall the gun coming into my hand, but I recall exactly that I was ready to use it. I wasn’t beyond reason, I wasn’t going to kill Pips, but he wasn’t going to keep the gun a minute more. He made the decision for me when he pulled that wicked knife of his. I shot him. Shot him in the leg. He went down like a sack of flour. He was still conscious when I took my gun back from him, and I don’t regret it for a moment.
I feel bad it came to that. It’s really bad that we’ll be down a man at full strength for a week or three. But no one is going to take these guns from me.
Not while I’m alive.