TERMINAL DECEIT: SS: ONE

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Hamilton Johns' lifelong friend snubs him, the suspicions of Hammy's Patrol car partner uncover a life of deceit and a pending catastrophe.

Submitted: August 16, 2016

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Submitted: August 16, 2016

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TERMINAL DECEIT

A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter One

Rupert was a prissy little man.

Although Rupert Longleat was only twenty-five, he was as fussy as most of Hamilton’s old aunts; and quite a bit more fussy than some.

Five feet five inches and weighing only slightly more than the ship’s cat, Rupert presented only a single-edged personality to the world: He was extremely unmasculine in his affect. 

He wore his blonde hair long, almost to the shoulders, wore yellow calfskin gloves and carried a black ebony cane.

He worked as a chemist for the largest retailer of potions and compounds designed specifically to kill.

The company advertisements and literature had in mind rodents, wooly aphids, ringworms, bedbugs—even ants.

Nowhere in any records or hard drives or clouds maintained by the company, were any larger pests enumerated; nor any thing with only two legs.

Rupert was not gay but he certainly set off everyone’s gaydar within moments of seeing the young man, let alone after he began to speak.

Nevertheless, on the inside, this two-legged piece of protoplasm chaff, harbored a merciless engine of killer instincts that had already rocked the three best psychiatrists in California.

All three refused to give any personal thoughts about the Longleat fellow and stuck to all the available appropriate numbers for the mental diseases that they believed ailed or did not ail Rupert.

Any further questioning of any of the three resulted in them all refusing to answer on the grounds of patient-doctor privilege.

Most of their colleagues knew there was a lot more to Rupert than the banal hogwash slapped into the per forma reports of the three best psychiatrists in the state, and a few correctly surmised—or guessed—exactly what lay beneath the misleading exterior of Mr. Longleat.

Hamilton Johns was the same age as Rupert but built on a larger scale and exuding unmistakable waves of masculinity.

He had graduated from law school but decided to enter the law enforcement industry.

The FBI and the CIA, plus the NSA all vied for his services, but Hammy was an independent guy who thought he might have more leeway if he worked in the City and earned his chops on the streets of San Francisco.

He knew a number of the officers from school days at elementary, and then Galileo High. There were even some from his days at Golden Gate Law School who were taking night classes to complete their degree with a State Bar Exam somewhere in the murk of the future.

Hammy had been a star athlete and an A student and after obtaining a degree in Psychology from USF, he hit GG night law while an insurance company paid him to investigate (they said adjust ) claims, a line of work for which he had a remarkable affinity.

Hammy was your hale-fellow-well-met times a hundred; Dale Carnegie and Jimmy Carter were all jumbled up together in Hammy’s personality along with Jack Reacher and Robert  Conway.

Hamilton Johns listed over five thousand people he knew in the Bay Area on his resume for the job as an insurance investigator.

He correctly assumed that with that number of people as a base,he would be able to shrink the ‘Six Degrees’ of Kevin Bacon down to three—or less.

Hammy even enjoyed hundreds of friendships with residents of Chinatown.

When one of the men who would be supervising Hammy decided to do a little investigating himself—to test Hammy’s claim to legions of friends, he had to talk with twenty-five people before he found someone who didn’t know Hammy; or hadn’t heard of him.

His insurance supervisor, George Kleene, was completely satisfied with Hammy’s claim well before noon and decided to treat himself to a long lunch; then he left Joe’s and beat the commute to his home in Hillsborough, a sprawling spread that comprised one of the perks of marrying a wealthy woman.

Rupert and Hamilton had known each other since childhood; attended the same elementary school; Galileo High; and USF.

They lived only a block from each other and all their neighbors didn’t know quite what to think about Rupert as he grew into his best imitation of Noel Coward with a soupcon of Wilde.

Of course, they lamented over their presumption that Rupert was a Daisy.

However, Hammy knew the truth: Rupert was all affect; and he seemed to have sensed around the time he was six or seven, that being a bit ‘girlish’, attracted acres of female attention.

As he grew older, Rupert discovered that women were drawn to him for all the wrong reasons, but they wanted to be the one to ‘convert’ him to ‘their side.’

By the time Rupert and Hammy were sophomores at Galileo, Rupert was shagging so many women that he would miss two or three days at a time just to restore his juices.

Nevertheless, he was extraordinarily clever and managed As and Bs before securing a scholarship to USF.

Hammy was really the only one who knew about Rupert’s double persona, and he was thoroughly amused by the whole ‘bit.’

However, amusement often vanished from Hammy’s emotions when several current dates of his, decided that they would rather take a break and try to convert Ruppee.

Then Hammy and Ruppee would have a heart to heart and divide the spoils; usually by flipping a coin.

At two out of three flips, and five to ten subjects at issue, these little tete a tetes consumed some serious amounts of time. Then they would laugh and drink beer and discuss literature—or football; and always, the Warriors.

Of course, rumors about Hammy’s orientation flared up on occasion but were quickly refuted by his teammates and his girlfriends and everyone had a good laugh about whatever there was in “these cruel and foolish games we had to play/ yesterme, yesteryou . . .’

Rupert graduated from USF with a degree in Social Work, but his minor was Law Enforcement. He let it be known that he valued the minor as a major part of his intended work as a Social Service employee or a Community Organizer.

Hammy talked with Rupert every day at USF if only when taking the bus or using a car of one of Rupert’s many Aunts.

Over time, Hammy essentially grilled his friend about his intentions after graduation. Rupert continued to state what he had always said: that he was going to do Social Work and that the Law Enforcement courses would go a long way for understanding the interactions of the poor and the police.

Hammy never completely believed him. 

***

“Hey; Ruppee, hey . . .” Hammy was leaning out the window of his cruiser while his partner tapped all the intricate information sources now set in SF Police cars, “where are you off to; want a lift?”

Rupert gave Hammy a startled guilty glance over a backward-looking shoulder and pretended to be too busy to bother to stop and chat.

“Hi Hammy,” Rupert managed a weak acknowledgement, “very busy, man. Catch you later.”

They had not seen each other for almost a year. Both had been busy at their present occupations. 

However, Hammy knew nothing about Rupert’s present occupation and just assumed that Ruppee was squirreled away in some bureaucratic corner of City government, doing charts for the homeless, the disabled and the mentally challenged.

Rupert stopped and crossed the street behind the patrol car and quickly vanished up Maiden Lane. Hammy watched in his rear view mirror and then a side mirror as his friend appeared to seek immediate cover.

“Another friend of yours, Commander?” Marlene Davis, Hammy’s partner always used this line whenever Hammy stopped to chat with a friend, a friend of a friend or just a casual acquaintance.

She had learned before half their first shift together that all that talk about Hamilton Johns knowing almost everyone in the Bay Area, was patently true.

“Yeah,” puzzled, surprised, “I grew up with that guy and we went through school together—right through USF; great guy; haven’t seen him in a while . . . hunh.”

“Well he sure wasn’t delighted to renew your acquaintance from where I’m sitting; in fact, I think he was booking.”

Hammy was silent.

Marlene dipped her head and looked up from under long natural eyelashes.

Hammy was easing the car to the right curb and inhaling deeply. The car stopped and Hammy turned off the engine and turned to face his partner.

Marlene was an extremely attractive young woman of twenty-eight, divorced, no children and living with her sister Jackie at their mother’s house where they attended to Mrs. Williams’ diabetes and a few other debilitating conditions.

Marlene, like Hammy, had a degree in Law Enforcement and Psychology and planned to start night law school in the fall semester.

She had a biting sense of humor and a vast knowledge of polar expeditions.

“You know, Darlene, you’re obviously correct; now the question is why; why would a guy I grew up with essentially cut me dead; and then run for cover?”

“Well he sure as hell doesn’t want to discuss it with you . . . let me run his poop through all our equipment here and see if we hit a jackpot.”

“A jackpot?” incredulous, “Jesus, Darlene, he’s family . . . what kind of jackpot did you have in mind?”

“Well, him not being—obviously—family to me, I’ll take the objective trail and see what pops. Just pretend you don’t know anything about him but your Popeye Doyle gene is strumming away and driving you nuts. You have to know. So. You load in all you have on this guy and, well . . . just wait for our Watson to spill the beans on this friend of yours.” She began punching keys, “Okay: shoot.”

“Jesus Christ Darlene, he’s a budhell, I know everything about this guy. C’mon; we’re back on that Radner case.” He turned the ignition and Darlene reached over and turned it off.

“What the . . . ”

“Humor me, Hammy; for just three minutes; now you have my Popeye nerve twitching.”

Being the good fellow that she knew he was, Hamilton searched Darlenes face for a few moments without speaking.

“Longleat; L O N G L E A T, Rupert; R  . .”

“Got it.”

“DOB,  Three three . .” Hammy then gave Darlene every number, date, combination, address . . . everything that no one else would or could possibly know about Rupert Reginald Longleat.

By the time Hammy was stating his last bits of info, almost five minutes had past.

“You look terrible, Hammy . . . you okay?” Alarm was the major ingredient of her question.

Hammy’s chin was almost resting on his chest; his breathing was ragged; he could feel that heart skip he had told the doctor about at his last check-up. His eyes were slightly crossed and almost closed. He felt himself floating away into colorless ether.

“What?” shaking his head and sitting up, “What did you say Darlene?”

There was no answer. Hammy slowly turned to look at her.

She hunched in front of a screen while a printer chattered. All her attention was focused on that screen, and with each moment her jaw appeared to sink a little lower.

“Jesus Christ, Hammy,” gulping, “this guy is your buddy? Are you shittin’ me?”  

Her eyes widened but remained clamped on the screen, “if this guy’s really the one you’re always talking about? Wow. I sure as hell hope not.”

 

End of Chapter One

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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