Days go by. I do a few passes on our next bust’s Myspace.
Making cookies. Yum! 2 days ago.
Almost my birthday! Going out to Dave and Busters! 2 weeks ago.
His site takes me to his mother’s, his brother’s, his sister in Winnipeg’s, his best friend in Aurora’s. I jot down the asshole’s address from a post a few weeks ago in which somebody wanted to drop off a futon, and his phone number from the information section of his page. I also add any pertinent notes: “The old trick knee acting up on me again” or “My Car broke down”
Outside, the storm has passed. Snow like icebergs piled along the streets, frozen in clumps in the shade. Saw a bird in a tree on Friday, and yesterday, I shit you not, I think I saw the sun. It’s Monday now. Normal people catching buses to their nine to fives, jogging at ungodly hours. I sit in my hobo tower and look at them over my nose, wake up at 11:45, shower, throw a bagel in the toaster, and turn on my TV, because I live alone and it’s either that or buying a cat and talking to it. The Channel 9 morning news is cycling: tensions over oil prices, debates over fracking on the Western Slope and, after the break, another stabbing outside of a local nightclub; and then the weather.
It creeps into me like a sickness. One of those moments that you forget about later. One of those moments where you knew, knew, your life was changing, but it doesn’t matter after the fact because you couldn’t do anything about it. I toss back the bagel, take a drag off my coffee, pull the notepad with the shit I jotted down about Orenthal in front of me, and take the safety off the pen. Two movie trailers, a Kia commercial, and a Doritos ad, and I’m back with morning anchor Mick Reynolds, broadcasting live from in front of the Stampede. I’ve written:
No I.D. on the victim.
No fucking reason to keep writing.
Body was found this morning by some poor bastard who fell asleep in his car the night before and wandered out to take a piss. Found the kid in a bush. I look down at my notes and can’t figure out why I’m writing them. Won’t until later.
Weather comes on: cloudy today, cloudy tomorrow, highs in the 40s. I turn off the TV, grab my SIG Sauer off the table and cram it into the paddle holster. Throw on my Carhartt, and hit the lights on my way out.
Outside I hook it right down to Colfax. On Colfax I stop and wonder where the fuck I’m going.
Nine hours later finds Harkin and me beneath the flood lights in Congress Park. It’s cold. Frost on the grass like shards of broken glass, crunching beneath us as we grapple, striking open-handed, rolling, spitting, clawing, choking. Steam curling off our labored breath like white fire, the unremarkable thumping of our fistfalls, the quake of our bodies on the frozen ground.
We don’t do disciplines. We don’t do dojos. We train to overwhelm, to debilitate, to survive. I feign a jab, shoot for Harkin’s waist. He stuffs me, leg sweep, and we go down, but I roll to side control, try to sink a key hole lock on his strong arm but he comes underneath, rolling with it, and finds my back and even though I protect my throat from the rear naked choke, he plants an arm triangle hard, fast, and deep. I wiggle around for a few seconds, but we both know I’m fucked. This particular choke takes about 90 seconds to put you down, though, so I ride it to the end of the tunnel, and finally tap out when the darkness starts creeping in on my periphery. Lying on our backs beneath the white light, Harkin asks, “Got much on the Orenthal thing?”
“A bit.” I’m not all there yet. Say: “Stacy?”
He makes a noise that sounds like: Ugh. Then he says, “Tonight.”
The blackout recedes, darkness fading into colorful bugs of light that float through my line of sight. On 8th, cars drive past, and if anyone were to look right they’d be confused. So far nobody’s called the police yet, though, and we’ve been fighting in public like this once a week for the last year. City living for you: a family drives by in their Range Rover, kid says: Mommy look at those two men fighting. Mom says: Those are called hobos, honey.
The first time I ever fought Harkin he tried to kill me. We were in boot camp, Army Combatives 1, and I had been living on the streets for a while, so I had been in a few fights. Harkin had been living in the woods. He joined the army like this: Harkin used to live with his dad on a farm in Virginia. His mom had been out of the picture for as long as Harkin could remember, and when he 13, his dad kicked the bucket from a combination of hard living and a .45 caliber bullet in his brain that had started in a box, found its way into a clip which had wandered into the handle of a 1911 that had been pressed against his dad’s temple while his dad was holding it. The bank repossessed the farm, and the police tried to take Harkin in as a ward of the state, except nobody could find him. His house was situated on about 600 acres of heavily wooded Virginia deciduous, and Harkin just kind of disappeared into it for about four years. The bank sold his land to a rich family, who decided to build a golf course on it. Nobody knew what happened to the quiet kid who used to live there until somebody started shooting skeet with golf balls in midflight. When they finally caught Harkin, they closed the case of the exploding golf balls and the broken-into Walmarts in one fell swoop. A thoroughly impressed judge asked him what he wanted to do with himself, and Harkin said “Sir, that’s up to you, but I personally wouldn’t want me doing it in this country.” Rangers lead the way. Two years of GED classes and foster care later, Harkin was on the bus to Fort Benning.
Which is where he tried to kill me. We were sparring, and I threw one of my patented, hobo-tested sleeper holds on him. Long story short: he went all Rambo on me, and then I went all Rambo on him, and then we both went all Rambo on the drill sergeants who tried to break up the melee, and then we both did a shitload of pushups. We’ve been best friends ever since. We made it through basic together and swore we’d kill for one another, got deployed to Iraq and proved it. When we both promoted, he to Ranger Battalion and I to Criminal Investigations, we kept in touch, and when Harkin finished up his enlistment, he found me here in Denver.
Sweat freezing to my face in the moist grass, say, “You heard about those kids getting stabbed out in front of clubs?”
Harkin says, “Heard about the one last night.” Then, “Kids?”
“Yeah, read about a different one a few days before. Out in front of the Rose.”
“Didn’t know they were related.”
“I don’t know for sure, either. Just weird.”
The night stretches around us, cars passing on 8th like a meteor shower.
“We shouldn’t be training tonight,” I say.
“You’re gonna need everything you got for when Stacy kicks your ass—”Harkin open-palms me in the face, and we’re fighting again.
Sebastian Parks is drowning in a flood of his own creation. Dishonorably discharged from the Army, he's wracked with night terrors and an anger that he can't abate. Unemployable and uninterested in anything resembling a normal job, Parks makes his living in fugitive apprehension, finding wanted felons on Facebook and thumping them into custody with his ex-military buddies John Harkin and Eric "Etch" Echevarria. When the body of a teenage Muslim boy is found in front of a downtown Denver nightclub Parks, Harkin and Etch are called on to do what they do best: Find bad men and make them pay.
First-time author Kellen Burden serves up edgy humor, brutal action and characters you can't get enough of. Flash Bang will keep you turning pages until the end.
Received "Honorable Mention at Los Angeles Book Festival 2014"
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Genre – Thriller, Mystery
Rating – R
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