Where are you, Leroy Barris?
You hear people say it all the time. “Fuck this shit, man; I'm out. Imma ditch this joint and start fresh somewhere far away from here.” These dopes think they got everything figured out, you know? They think they got the guap, smarts, and luck to be able to commit metaphorical suicide with the hopes of being “reborn” within a new community. It's all a simple gig, ain't it? Just fake your own death or some shit, change your name, change the way you look, and drive very far away. Running away is a piece of cake, right?
No, it fucking ain't.
I wasn't bathing in cheddar when I left Brooklyn; I only had enough to get by. When I didn't have the cash, I found some. And even though I'm a pretty brilliant guy, my smarts ain't the only reason I was able to make it to Casa do Diaño without the police catching me. Despite all of the safety precautions I took during my time on the run, there was always the possibility that the goddamn FBI would kick down the door to my hotel room. Any well thought out plan can be blown to smithereens—never forget that. The advantage that I had in this scenario was that I didn't have a plan. I pulled all this bullshit right outta my ass and followed my gut.
That's right, folks.
I used the power of dumb luck.
But guess what?
It fucking worked.
That overly anal pansy at work that tells you life without organization would be nothing but chaotic madness? He's right, but he's a fucking putz for assuming that chaotic madness is a bad thing. Carefully planned actions are predictable and can always be countered by somebody smarter than you. Madness, however? Nobody can predict that shit—not even loonies themselves. It clearly works better than the so-called “proven methods”. After all, it saved my crazy ass from getting thrown behind bars again.
So yeah, I can say I did it. I successfully disappeared off the face of the Earth. After avoiding Rikers all those years ago, I was able to once again get away with murder. I thought I was gonna be alone in this, but I was pleasantly mistaken. Instead of snubbing me, this time Heidi was supporting me as I escaped my old, pointless life. New York was officially one giant bridge that I considered thoroughly burned. This was all fine and dandy, but there was now a huge question that needed answering.
Now that I made it to Casa do Diaño...what the hell was I supposed to do now?
On one hand, the tall naked chick that invited Dave said Casa do Diaño was a place where only the overly ambitious thrived. Did I consider myself “overly ambitious”? Well...yes and no. As I've said before, I'm very much a perfectionist when it comes to tasks that I have some modicum of interest in. I ain't some louse that half-asses his work...well, his important work, anyway. High School homework hardly classifies as an important task, in my opinion. I mean, how is fucking algebra ever gonna benefit me in the future? As long as you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you're golden; no need to turn equations into fucking haikus.
On the other hand, if you also remember me saying, I ain't got the slightest clue of what I see myself doing in five years. Two different futures were each tugging on an arm—but which one was gonna get Genghis' whole being as opposed to just his severed arm? Sometimes I feel that Heidi is right about me and that I oughta shape up. Get a job, find Jesus, get involved with the community, make amends for all the bad things I've done—you know, all that square shit that only the main character of some cheesy, straight-to-VHS Christian movie would do.
But most of the time, I say fuck what Heidi thinks. She only feels the way she does because that's what religion has been shoving down her throat for all these years. If she could get away from that, follow me, and maybe even try a little taste of my lifestyle...perhaps she could potentially be my new partner in crime; the Bonnie to my Clyde. Hell, even if she didn't want to be directly involved in crime, she could still help me behind the scenes. Maybe keep an eye on the riches I rob or maybe even help me clean my guns. That seems like the best way to go, right? It would make the most sense for a homicidal prick such as myself.
And the fact that there were no cops here?
I could do whatever the hell I wanted!
I could steal as much shit as I wanted.
I could kill the entire population of Casa do Diaño if I wanted to.
Imagine the power surging through my veins!
All that blood—oh sweet baby Jesus—the blood I could taste!
Who the fuck wouldn't take advantage of a golden opportunity like this?! But would Heidi even be willing to try something new? Knowing her, it was highly doubtful. I mean, well...well you know she...but what if—no...but then there's the...ugh. You see, my thoughts race so often that my aspirations never truly remain the same. I suppose it's supposed to be like that when you're only twenty years old. But I couldn't let age dictate that sorta thing for me right now, goddammit.
I was in a new place that was far more dangerous than the United States of America could ever be.
The NYPD probably had the Feds conducting a nationwide manhunt for me, so going home was completely outta the question.
I was with Heidi, aka a person who don't know the first thing about self-defense.
And to top it all off, she was carrying my unborn child.
I needed to figure something out fast.
As soon as the Princess Moura docked, we changed into some warmer clothes. Thankfully, I'd already mostly gotten dressed before we arrived, so all I needed was a jacket, some socks, and my shoes. Heidi had been feeling sluggish all day, so she didn't even bother to change outta her pajamas; instead just pulling a sweater over her red tank top and slipping her small feet into her white tennis shoes. Neither of us had any gloves, which gave me a strong sense of dread. Here's hoping a hotel was very close by.
“What were you lookin' at out there?” Heidi asked as I was tying my black Converse shoes. I shrugged, not telling her about the fucked up gang fight that had just transpired moments prior. I didn't need her nagging me over any dead bodies. I could just see it now; “Genghis! This place is too dangerous to raise a baby! We gotta somehow turn this ship around and go home!” Yes Heidi, let's do that. I eagerly await the stinging chill of metal handcuffs fastened around my wrists once we return to the states. After all, this child don't really need a father in his/her life, right?
“Just gettin' a good look at our new home was all,” I said, looking up again to examine the snowfall. The pace had sped up, now resembling a hard snow shower. At this rate, the snow would completely cover up the bodies of the abnormally-gifted gangsters by the dock. I smiled, crossing the imaginary fingers inside my head. “This is a new opportunity for us both, babygirl. No more New York, no more US Government, no more Dad and Roy, no more Paul...our records are completely clean here. We're free to live happily and comfortably.” I finished tying my laces and looked over at her. “Ain't it excitin'?”
She crossed her arms with a slight shiver, face looking unsure of whether her anticipation was the good kind or the bad kind. “But...what about the crazy shit that's been happenin'? What if there's giant snakes all over the city?” I got off the bed and picked up my backpack, sliding my arms through both of the straps. “Then we adopt one so no creepy mermen come to our doorstep.” I looked over at her and grinned. “We'll call him Boris and feed him a healthy diet consistin' of vegetables, fish, and would-be burglars.” Heidi couldn't help but giggle as she walked in front of me, wrapping her arms around me.
“Can we just settle for a dog? I don't think a snake would be the best pet to have around a baby. Besides, I ain't got the slightest clue how to care for a reptile.”
I chuckled, planting a quick kiss on her lips.
“Only if it's a big dog, like a German Shepherd or somethin'. I ain't gonna let some little ankle-biter like a fuckin' Chihuahua in my house.”
She giggled again and let go of me.
“It's a deal, tough guy. Now, let's get off this ship—away from the violent guard-snake.”
I nodded and picked up a bag while she grabbed the other.
“Let's go begin our new life.”
I held her hand and walked her to the deck of the ship. It turned out that the snow wasn't the only thing that picked up. The heavy wind hit our skin like a goddamn train. “Christ!” I shouted, grips on both the bag and Heidi tightening. Five seconds outside and I already felt my teeth chattering. C'mon, Genghis—toughen up! You gotta get you and Heidi somewhere warm and fast. Just tell yourself that feeling cold is an emotion that can easily be shut out and ignored.
Cold is only an emotion.
Cold is only an emotion.
“C'mon!” I commanded, leading us down the ramp. Our guard-snake had returned to its place on the bow, watching us quietly. Heidi couldn't take her eyes off the reptile, so I had to kinda yank her a couple of times to get her to keep up with me. Upon getting to the dock, I looked up and sighed with relief. My prayers were heard and the gangster corpses were mostly hidden by snow. I say mostly because Mr. Flighty-Shockhands' wings were still visible over the snow. But were they visible enough for Heidi to notice them?
Yes they were.
“Genghis! What kinda creature you s'pose those belong to?!” Heidi shouted over the wind.
Easy, it's a bird.
A large, finely dressed, freshly deceased bird.
“I dunno! Maybe a vulture or somethin'!” I shouted back, trying to lead us to one of the snowmobiles that had slid down the hill after its driver had abandoned it in favor of taking a more aerial approach to his battles. “Vulture?! Those wings are way too big!” I growled, partially from Heidi's questioning and partially from the weather. “Fuck if I know, Heidi! Do I look like some kinda bird expert to you?!”
We both gasped when we stepped off the dock. That fucking snow came up past my knees, you guys. With Heidi being a few inches shorter than me, the snow was nearly up to her ass. All hopes we had of running to the snowmobile were long gone. I couldn't remember the last time we had snow that deep in Brooklyn!
Cold is only an emotion.
Ignore the blocks of ice that were once your hands.
Ignore the hint of a runny nose beginning to form.
Ignore the numbness in your face.
Cold is only an emotion.
“Don't let me go, Genghis! Please! The snow is too deep!” Heidi shouted. I squinted through the snowfall to get a better look at the vehicle. “I promise I won't, alright?!” I responded after a moment.
The snowmobile we were approaching was one of the blue and black ones. Interestingly enough, the snow had packed around the vehicle as opposed to on top of it. My guess? These dumbasses had been running these babies for miles in the midst of some huge gang war. The result? A burning hot motor that melted any and all snow that tried to dress it. On one hand, this could be a problem if the stupid bastard accidentally overheated the damn thing. On the other hand, though, the much needed heat may possibly make me and Heidi orgasm simultaneously upon sitting on it.
As we finally made it close enough, we heard it; the steady hum of the motor. The idiot forgot to turn the damn thing off. I bent down to read the gauges on the mini-dash. Temperature only halfway; not in the red danger range. Still plenty of fuel. No flashing lights. Hallu-fucking-juah.
“Genghis, it's still runnin'! It belongs to someone!”
I groaned loudly.
I love Heidi—I really do.
But Christ-almighty I wanted to wring her neck sometimes.
“So what?! Doan you wanna be warm?! 'Cuz I dunno 'bout you, but I'm freezin' my nuts off out here!”
“But that's stealin'! We came here to get away from that lifestyle, remember?!”
I said I wanted a new life, babygirl.
That don't mean that I ain't gonna still be a lowlife.
“Goddammit Heidi, we're gonna die from fuckin' hypothermia if we doan get outta here soon!”
“Think about the baby, Heidi! Doan you wanna be a mom one day?! 'Cuz I sure wanna be a dad! I doan want our kid to die before they're even born! We can't affawd to be selfless right now!”
Silence. Not a peep other than the hum of the motor and the howl of the wind. Not willing to waste another minute, I let go of her hand and placed the bag in the back, wrapping the straps around the metal trunk-bar so it wouldn't fly off. She didn't protest to me doing this, which told me I had won this argument. If TV told me anything growing up, it was that women love to play the “baby” card. Having a disagreement with your man? Remind him that you're pregnant with his baby—every chance you can get, if possible. It's supposed to instantly trump any argument he could possibly bring to the table. Well honey, I think I've just proven that us guys can play that very same card all day long.
She handed me her bag and I made quick work of fastening it to the trunk-bar. “Lemme get on first! You get behind me and wrap your arms 'round me!” I took my backpack off and handed it to her. “Wear this! It ain't too heavy, I promise!” She nodded and took my bag, though the look she gave me made it perfectly clear that this wasn't her first choice. “You even know how to drive this thing?!” I threw my left leg over the vehicle and took a seat. “You underestimate me way too much, sweetheart! Would it kill you to trust me once in a while?!”
Genghis-to-English translation: I ain't got the slightest clue to how operate this thing.
“Just get on and keep your head down!” She did as she was told and climbed aboard, hugging me from behind. My hands grabbed the handlebars and my eyes nearly rolled to the back of my head. Either the goon that drove this thing had really warm hands, or this snowmobile had heated grips. Do all snowmobiles have that? I'm askin' you here; I ain't ever had to drive one of these things before! Either way, my hands were enjoying a nice vacation in Cancun while the rest of my body was freezing in Antarctica.
“Here goes nothin',” I uttered under my breath. I clamped the lever on the left side. Nothing happened. So I squeezed the right side. “Doan you be fuckin' bro—”
My threat was interrupted immediately as we were sent flying through the deep snow. For how fast this fucker ran, you'd think I was driving a dirt bike on dry land. It felt like the Princess Moura all over again, which is probably a major exaggeration. But you get the point; the snow had no hold on this thing.
“Genghis!” Heidi screamed hysterically as snow slung hard against my upper half. Not willing to risk flying into the ocean, I quickly attempted to turn the sonuvabitch around. The motor revved loudly once I jerked the handlebars. “Oh no you doan!” I shouted, fearing an imminent blow out. My other hand accidentally squeezed the left lever again, which caused us to spin out. However, it wasn't too bad of a spin-out; the first spin was fast, but the next slowed down and slid us over a bit. The good news was that it got us pointing in the right direction. We didn't tip over nor did we die. So I call that a success.
“Well, I think I found the goddamn brakes!” I shouted.
Heidi shivered behind my back; a combination of cold and fear, certainly.
“Good! Now get us the hell outta this weather before your drivin' makes me piss myself!”
I heard the lady loud and clear.
My hand squeezed the throttle again and we were off to the city.
The road signs called it “Oeste District”—or at least the English portion of the sign did. Down below, flashy dives blinded drivers with what I could only guess was their advertisements for either Karaoke Weekend or “Barely Legal” Night at one of the two dozen strip clubs. High above, skyscrapers mingled with each other during their never ending corporate ball. Granted, none of them look really well-kept. You know how some people get paid a couple bucks to wash the windows on big buildings once a week or so? Yeah, that clearly ain't a thing in Casa do Diaño.
The land of Manifest Destiny, I guess.
People are so wrapped up in their own ambitions that they're above menial tasks such as cleaning the grime off their skyscrapers.
Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
Everybody wants to rule the world.
Tears for Fears was right.
The heavy snowfall had attacked the big city as well. I didn't see a single car on the road and everybody seemed to be indoors where it was warm—well, almost everyone. These strangely feminine looking ice sculptures were strutting around on the sidewalk, swinging their hips like they were waiting for some Eskimo fucks to plow them with their harpoons. After slowing down to get a better look, I came to the realization that these ice ladies didn't have any clothes carved into them. A couple of them noticed us cruising by and tried to wave us over. “Geiá sou! Eíste dýo psáchnete gia kápoia epipléon etaireía?” they each called out in soft, sultry tones. Me and Heidi, dumbfounded by the sight, sped off away from them without a single word.
It was like if New York City and Las Vegas took a shitload of California sunshine together, engaged in some particularly raunchy fucking, and then popped out a new city with some neurological issues nine months later. In fact, this place reminded me a lot of the kooky conspiracy theorists that never shut up about the Bermuda Triangle. Admittedly, the mere existence of this island made me question some things. Perhaps all those people that went missing actually ended up here as opposed to some other bullshit locations like Atlantis, Hell, or the Milky Way. Perhaps wrapping tinfoil around my noggin would give me more clarity on the subject.
Despite it being sometime in the afternoon, the sky was dark enough for business owners to show off their Christmas lights. Which only served to remind me that the 25th was only a few days away and the only gifts I'd given Heidi was frostbite and a fertilized egg. There was one obvious gift I could give her, but I didn't have the money or time to acquire it. Of course, I could always bullshit my way outta buying her anything at all by using the weather as an excuse. Maybe I could repay her by giving her something nice and free, like a full body massage or a foot rub. Heidi can never say no to some honest pampering.
We eventually stopped in front of a tall building labeled “Hotel de Diamantes”. It was only a few letters off from being perfect Italian, though I'm sure it was intentionally supposed to be some other European language. In Italian, the translation would've been something along the lines of “Diamond Hotel” or “Hotel of Diamonds”. Heidi was wowed by the unique look of the building, but I gave approximately zero shits that this joint was made of diamond. All I cared about was the “Hotel” part in “Hotel de Diamantes”.
Other than resembling a high-dollar ice box, the interior of the hotel wasn't very impressive to me. Of course, my opinion didn't matter when the woman accompanying me was hopelessly dazzled by the fancy paintings hanging all over the lobby. “Look, Genghis! You think these are originals? Dey look like dey were painted back in the Renaissance or somethin'. Do you think the same artist that made them also had a hand in designin' this hotel?” I grunted nonchalantly, rubbing my runny nose with my jacket sleeve.
At least the hotel had central heating.
The desk clerk came running toward us after a few minutes of looking around. He looked about my old man's age with Roy's pretty boy face. His blonde hair was so long that it barely kissed the diamond floor. He was a scrawny motherfucker, but his snazzy grey and periwinkle suit made up for his lack of brawn. He even donned a pair of purple heart-shaped glasses with pink lens. I couldn't tell if this guy moonlighted as an entertainer during the evenings, or if he was just incredibly gay.
“Hello there!” he said cheerfully with a distinctly British accent. He held his right hand out. “My name is Alexander Porter. How may I assist you lovely couple on this dreadfully frigid day?” Heidi smiled wide and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Alexander. Me and my...umm...” I gave her a look. Even though she was having my baby, Heidi still apparently felt awkward about introducing me to others as her man. Though I guess I couldn't blame her; her and Paul's five year relationship had only been over for nearly a week. She was still getting used to whatever our relationship had become. So I guess I couldn't be too angry with her.
“Husband?” the Brit guessed, giving the both of us a toothy grin. Heidi giggled, shaking her head with the hint of a blush forming in her cheeks. “We ain't married, mister.” I put an arm around her waist and pulled her close. “Yet,” I said with a wink. Heidi's face became bright pink. Sure, I'd marry her; in a heartbeat, I would. Maybe as soon as I can afford a proper engagment ring. Or at least find a good jeweler who didn't pay for a top of the line security system.
“We actually just got here to Casa do Diaño, “I mentioned casually, “Doan gotta place to stay or—”
The desk clerk's face lit up.
“How adorable! You're new here!”
He motioned for us to follow him.
“This way, please! On us!”
Me and Heidi looked at each other, baffled.
A free stay just for being outsiders?
I was gonna like this Hotel of Diamonds after all.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, was only the beginning.
I risked a lot to come to Casa do Diaño.
I wasn't about to squander it all by being a lazy asshole.
The only move I knew to make at this point was to further investigate the red douchebag's message from the ship.
Why did he want me to find him?
Why the ever loving shit did he burn his thumb into my arm?
The sonuvabitch gave me nothing to go on.
My immediate assumption was that Zombie Bastard would probably give me some kinda vague hint through a dream or something.
Though, considering the last time I waited for an explanation, I assumed that I was gonna be waiting for a while.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
So our boy Alexander cut us a pretty sweet deal. He said that most people that came to Casa do Diaño had no other place to stay for at least the first month. With that fact plus the mad blizzard going on outside, he told me and Heidi that we could stay for a grand total of two months without being charged any money. However, any longer of a stay would result in us forking over some cash. We took the deal; it was something and something was better than nothing at this point.
So we made it to our room, enjoyed some dinner, and called it an early night.
Christmas Eve was fairly uneventful...well, for the most part, anyway.
It had been a slow day. Nausea and lethargy was fucking with Heidi big time, so I offered to have a movie marathon with her. She agreed to the idea and we spent the entirety of the day in each others' arms. I don't mind telling you that it was fucking nice while it lasted. Of course, the inevitable bout of seemingly nonstop vomitting eventually came during the final showdown in Predator. While she was busy dealing with that, I paused the movie and took the opportunity to head down to the lobby for a quick smoke break.
As soon as I lit up my cigarette just outside the hotel entrance, a sound hit my ears. “Mew...” It was a quiet sound, but loud enough for me to notice it. In any case, I tried to ignore it. Then the sound came again, though a little louder this time. “Mew!” After about two more times of this sound, I started looking around for the source.
Then I saw him.
A little black kitten trying his damndest to climb outta the snow hole he'd been trapped in.
Admittedly, the sight made me feel a little heavy-hearted.
Don't you DARE start giving me shit here.
I may have a psychopathic viewpoint on human life, but animals are different.
Let me explain before you start calling me a “softie”.
Humans are always so quick to deny their vile, brutal true nature. They're so adamant that people view them as good, upstanding citizens despite the fact that their own hands ain't exactly clean. I know this because, truthfully, every human being on the planet hates each other. It's true and you know it.
We're an entire species made up of angry, shallow cowards. Serial killers are viewed as “monsters”, but there's a massive fucking elephant in the room that nobody is willing to address. These guys and girls that actually got the balls to go out and kill people? They're only doing what's natural for our race. Our ancestors did it all the time. They fought over food, shelter, fuck-mates, their spot by the warm campfire—everything! Nobody batted an eye because—guess what—everybody was doing it. When did we decide that killing was bad? Call murder “uncivilized” all your little heart wants, but when you don't kill, you get over-population. When you get over-population, you get disease and famine. When you get disease and famine, you see the extinction of your entire race.
The world needs psychos.
But nobody wants to own up to their homicidal tendencies.
They'd rather hide behind pretty masks.
At least animals are upfront about being selfish, violent pricks.
That alone makes me respect them a whole helluva lot more than most people.
So needless to say, I already felt more sorry for this little guy than I did for any of the worthless assholes I killed and/or injured to get to where I was at that moment. My guess was that the snowstorm killed his mom and now he was all by himself. He looked like he was barely past the stage of sucking on his mom's teat—there ain't no way this little fella would make it in this weather. I sighed, dabbed my barely smoked cigarette into the building, and headed out into the snow to save this creature.
Yeah, you read that right.
Genghis Boy took time outta his day to save a little baby kitten from certain death.
Get all that laughter outta your systems, you fucking jerk-offs.
“Easy, guy,” I said in a gentle voice as I scooped the feline outta the snow. He let out another strong “mew” at the contact, but he didn't try to wiggle outta my hands. I lifted him up and held him up to my face so I could examine him. He looked at me with big, pumpkin orange eyes. His coat was completely black with no markings of any kind. After a moment, I lifted him a little higher to make sure I was being accurate in referring to him as “he”; I was.
“Where's your mom, buddy?” I said, still speaking in a comforting tone of voice.
He looked at me, not making a sound.
“Why're you out in the brick weather? You'll get sick, you know.”
“Here,” I continued, lowering him so my left arm could cradle him, “maybe Alexander has somethin' for you to chow on.”
He almost instantly started purring against my forearm as I started to walk us back into the hotel lobby.
However, before I could make it inside, he climbed up my chest and batted my cheek with his tiny paw.
It didn't hurt; I swear it didn't.
But yet I still felt dizzy, like the other two times Zombie Bastard had given me weird daydreams.
I put the cat down on the ground and barely made it indoors before I passed out.
That was when I saw the story of Leroy Barris unfold before me. What were my thoughts coming out of this hallucination? Simple; this meeting was going to be incredibly awkward. He knew of my existence for most of his life while I only found out about him nearly a week ago. How was I supposed to respond to him if he brought this shit up?
“I've waited for you for a long time now, Genghis Boy.”
I needed this guy on my team, dammit! If I was gonna make it in Casa do Diaño, I needed a partner in crime. Somebody who knew the land better than I did—somebody who knew the lore better than I did. And so I woke up undisturbed at the entrance of the hotel. My furry friend was gone, so I returned to Heidi upstairs.
The rest of the day drug on, much like Christmas day did. Alexander had arranged a special dinner for us, which was nice. Afterwords, we went back upstairs and I surprised Heidi with a rather sensual backrub. We weren't sure if it was still safe for her to lay on her stomach, so I had her lie on her side while I worked. She seemed to enjoy it, though she was bummed about not getting to properly celebrate the holidays in the traditional sense.
So while my fingers pressed themselves into her back, I made her a promise. “Tomorrow mornin', regardless of weather, I'm goin' out and findin' some work. I can't promise I'll find anythin' first thing, but I will find somethin' eventually. Before you know it, Christmas time will be here again. This time, we'll have a nice cozy fire, a Christmas tree, some presents, and a little tyke playin' with the hangin' ball ornaments.” I inched closer to her and kissed her neck. “And maybe we'll have matchin’ rings on our fingers.” My hands ran up and down her spine, making her moan softly. “Genghis, will you marry me?” she asked in the midst of her pleasure. I chuckled, sneaking my hand inside her panties. “Like you even need to ask.”
And so Christmas ended with romance, passion, and promises.
One for her and one for me.
She'd get her dream house with the white picket fence.
I'd get my feet wet in this heart-shaped wasteland or die trying.
My first step was to find Leroy Barris.
If I could do that, I could do anything in this sleazy cesspool known as Casa do Diaño.