KARMA is a B*^%$#
Carlos Rimerez had walked out of the courthouse all full of himself. Once again they had tried to send him back to prison and once again that expensive mouthpiece of his had gotten him off. Life was good and it was time to celebrate. Carlos was a very large man with many tattoos from his many years of incarceration and several scars all over his body from fights inside and outside jails. All of his closest pals were here with him slapping each other’s backs and throwing wise cracking glances at the assistant district attorney’s men.
Several of them drove over to their favorite club and were joined later by wives, girlfriends or other female companions of the night. The party lasted until the wee hours of the morning before everyone finally left for their homes. Carlos, who was more commonly called Big C, eventually pulled into his driveway at four am. He went inside locking his entry and setting the alarm. Within a half an hour he was comfortably under his sheets and asleep. He had never been one to sleep too deeply, it did not do well to let your guard down for even a minute when you had spent almost half your life either in juvenile hall, jail or prison.
Somewhere in this sleep Big C felt a slight pricking of his skin, a scratch or insect bite. But as he tried to come awake all he saw before passing out again within seconds was a hazy shadow before him staring down into his eyes.
Julia walked over to the quad of her friend Dan Hardesty she was worried about her uncle and wanted to ask him a very large favor. She and Dan had become good friends over the last four years, not lovers but the best of friends. Dan was a political science major and although she was in liberal arts they had found much in common. This amazed the few of their friends who knew how varied their backgrounds actually were. Dan’s father was an inspector with the F.B.I. and Julia’s closest living adult male figure was her uncle Big C.
She knocked on Dan’s door and after a couple of seconds Dan was standing in front of her in his jogging sweats holding his door open for her to come inside.
“Jules to what do I owe this express pleasurable surprise?” Dan asked as he turned to close the door behind her. Dan was a tall lean young man with rather short cropped blond hair.
“Dan I need a huge favor. I will understand if you don’t think it’s a good idea but I must ask. I need to talk to your father.” Julia asked him. Her eyes were red from crying sometime recently and her hair was more disheveled than Dan had ever seen it. Even with this she was still a beautiful young woman.
“Dad, Jules what is wrong? Why do you need to talk to my father?” Dan asked her, concern filling his words thoroughly?
“It’s my uncle Dan something is wrong but I am not sure what. He is gone and no one knows where he is.” She said quickly.
“But he was just found not guilty a week ago Jules. How long has he been gone?” He asked?
“I am not totally sure, but maybe since the next morning. Yesterday was the first Monday of the month and we always have dinner at our restaurant on the first Monday and he wasn’t there and he didn’t call. I’ve asked everyone and the last people to see him, was on that night at a party around 3 am. The police are no help either; they say no foul play can be seen.” She answered with panic almost over taking her tone.
“So what do you think my dad can do?” Dan asked quizzically?
“I don’t know, I don’t even know if he will care but I need to talk to someone and your dad was the best man I could think of. Do you think he will talk to me?” She asked?
“I think so he likes you, he hasn’t ever acted like you are a part of your uncle’s problems. Let me get dressed and we’ll drive over there.” Dan said as he got up, grabbed some clean clothes and went out of the room and down the hall to change in the bathroom.
An hour later they had pulled into his parent’s driveway and walked up to the front door. Dan opened the door and yelled in to his parents letting them know who was coming in. His mother came into the entry hall and told her son to come on back to the den where they were watching a movie. Dan and Julia walked quickly down the hall and into the den where both Dan’s parents were now seated watching an old black and white film noir.
“Hello you two, what is up? You must want something to come visiting in the middle of the week?” Dan’s dad said to them.
“Dad, Julia has something she wants to talk to you about. Do you think we could talk to you for a while?” Dan asked his father?
“Sure go ahead I don’t keep any secrets from your mother, never have never will.” David Hardesty told his son.
“I know Dad but this is about Jules uncle.” Dan said to them.
“Oh I see Julia. You tell us what is going on and we will see if I am the one you need to talk to or not.” David said.
Julia started off making sure they had heard about the trial, which they had. Then she related what she knew of the party the night after and about when she was guessing her uncle would have returned to his home. Then she jumped to yesterday when he did not show up for their monthly dinner together. She finished by telling them that she had talked to all of the people she knew who were friends of her uncle. No one had seen him since the night of the trial being over. Then she added that when she talked to the missing persons department at the police department they did not seem too interested. Oh they had taken a report but told her not to look forward to much as there was no apparent foul play and most missing persons reports of this type either end one of two ways. The person comes back eventually or they are never found.
“I hate to say it Julia but they are right about the statistics most of those that don’t come back on their own are never found. Oh maybe some of the juveniles occasionally, but adults almost never and quite honestly the few that do are usually victims and become unsolved homicides. Sorry but that is the fact.” David said with solemn finality. “Why do you think he is not gone on his own?”
“Mr. Hardesty it is because of yesterday. My uncle has never missed our dinner since my dad passed away. Even when he was in jail or prison he always found a way to call at least. If Uncle C had left on his own. I would have heard from him and I have not.” Julia said.
“All right if that is the case and I do believe you. What is it you think I can do to help you?” He asked her?
Julia started to cry and Dan took her in his arms holding her close and comforting her until she calmed down.
“I don’t know but I had nowhere else to turn. I ran to Dan and asked him if he thought you would talk to me. I know what my uncle is, but he has always been good to me. Please can you help me?” Julia asked tears starting down her face again.
“You can try David. She is not asking that we break any law.” Mrs. Hardesty said to her husband.
“Yes my dear I will at least ask around in the morning and see what is known any way.” David Hardesty told all three of them.
Big C was startled into awareness with the hard slam to his body. He did not feel the sensation of falling, just the crack to the back of his head and bone snapping slam to the rest of his back as his body crashed against something hard and sharp. He tried to rise up in the utter darkness but faded back into oblivion.
Then in what seemed like only moments he felt a distinct sharp pain in his forearm and someone or something was holding that arm tight. In a flash of adrenaline Big C lashed out with his free arm smashing against what felt like a jaw and sending it flying into the dark. He heard a body crashing into something a short distance away and someone yelling curse words. Then there were scurrying sounds fading away.
He blinked his eyes several times as he rolled into a crouch but this was the blackest dark he had ever been in, there was absolutely no light at all, either that or he was totally blind.
“Where the hell am I and you who ever you are, who are you?” Big C growled in a vicious guttural tone into the bleak surroundings.
A strange eerie laugh, low and weak filtered into the darkness but it came from another direction than where he had knocked who or what ever had startled him. He turned in what seemed the direction and listened very carefully. Then he heard words faint at first but distinct if you listened and with an echoing quality that made it hard to pinpoint their direction.
“Fresh meat, nice new fresh meat.” Was all it said three times repeated and then silence again.
“Get close again you son of a bitch and I’ll make you think fresh meat. Next time I’ll kill you.” Big C spat into the bleak ebony cool thick air.
“That wasn’t Slick friend that was Johnny Pox. You can just call me Weasel, but what do we call you?” Weasel asked?
Big C turned in the dark again in yet another direction and said. “Big C asshole, are there anymore of you assholes here and where is here?”
“Hell friend or at least as far as any of us are concerned it is hell. No one here knows where here is or when it is.” Weasel said in answer. “When was the last day you knew when it was?”
“Thursday but I’m not sure how long I was out, why?” Big C asked?
“What Thursday dumb ass?” The words came from the direction Big C thought was the one called Slick.
“April 6th shit for brains what does it matter to you?” Big C spat out again.
“Shit it’s been another two months then at least.” Slick said almost sounding thankful.
There was silence again and it became so heavy you could almost feel its pressure bearing down on you.
“You can’t count the hours or days when it’s always dark Big C so the only way any of can keep up with time is when another player is dropped in on us. You’ll figure it out eventually, if you live that long.” Weasel finally said with finality not like a threat. “Johnny Pox has been here the longest. He was already here when I got dropped in almost a year ago and Slick’s been here about 6 months if your date is close. I don’t know about Johnny Pox he doesn’t say too much.”
“Over a year in this darkness, how do you live?” Big C now asked slightly more subdued?
“There is water in a pool you’ll hear it, maybe you’ll even find it. But remember what Slick said friend, remember what he said. No one brings any food here only a new piece of meat every now and then. Learn quick or digest well. Nothing you ever learned in stir or on the streets will do you much good here. There have been others you’ll stumble across what remains of them here and there, that is if you live.”
With that there was no more talking from anyone and after a couple of what Big C thought were hours he started to get thirsty and knew he would eventually have to search out for that pool of water if he was going to live. Live he intended to do because he was going to get whatever son of a bitch did this to him.
A week later David Hardesty called his son Dan and asked him to bring Julia over for dinner that night so they all could talk. At six thirty Dan and Julia arrived at the Hardesty’s home more anxious to hear what Dan’s father had to say than dinner.
“Julia first I would like to apologize for taking a week before telling you anything. Second I would like to ask, has been any new developments to change your mind about your uncle?” David Hardesty asked?
“No nothing to change my mind. But, there have been a couple of things that I didn’t expect.” Julia answered him and then asked. “Why do you ask?”
“Because some suspicious things have happened during this past week, if what you believe is true . But if you are wrong then your uncle leaving on his own seems quite likely.” He told her. “So what is it that you didn’t expect?”
“Well Uncle C’s house is empty and there is a for sale sign in his front yard. I was there two days ago that sign was not there before. His mail is not accumulating in his mailbox either.” She said.
“Those things fit with what I have found as well. When I checked on your story last week a couple of my friends in the Bureau got curious about my interest and after we talked about your concern they offered to help as they could without trying to make it an official investigation. You are right we all have heard of Big C but he has not been of any real federal interest yet.” David Hardesty started off saying. “Your story about his being acquitted and the party afterwards checked out. There was a police detective who followed your uncle that day hoping that he would find something to arrest him again. He gave up after your uncle was back in his house at four am. When he came back later that morning your uncle’s car and your uncle were gone, he hasn’t heard of him anywhere since.”
“Doesn’t that seem strange to you Mr. Hardesty?” Julia asked him?
“Strange yes, but that alone is not necessarily criminal. However in the past week while your uncle has not been seen by anyone several other things have happened. Like you assumed after going there. A mover was hired to come and pack up all your uncle’s furniture and belongings, what is odd is that they were taken to a charity thrift outlet and donated. Then a realtor came by put a for sale sign in the yard after being hired to list the property. All of this was done through your uncle’s attorney.” David told her and continued. “His utilities were all turned off and his mail has been forwarded to a mail service post box, which no one has picked up as yet.”
“My uncle would not have done this Mr. Hardesty, I know him and this does not sound like Uncle C at all.” Julia said.
“I tend to agree with you Julia; I can’t say that I could convince anyone else though. There was more, his car is gone as well and all his bank accounts were withdrawn and closed, even his credit cards were paid off and closed out, by your uncle online. Now this looks on the surface like a man moving out in a hurry, except that a lot of it was done after he was seen the last time by anyone who actually knows him.” David Hardesty looked Julia squarely in her eyes without emotion. “If you had not raised a question and not accepted the first answers you were given, no one and I do mean no one would have given any or all of this a second thought. My friends at the Bureau and I played with some possibilities a little more. Nothing more concrete yet but we are still turning it over. That’s about all I can tell you right now.”
“Do you think you and your friends will find anything Dad?” Dan asked when his father was done.
“I really can’t say. Sometimes nothing is ever found in a case like this but occasionally it does happen. We will see for a while yet. It may not be for the right reason but to Mike and Charlie it’s become a puzzle they want to try and solve so they have put out some feelers into some theories they have come up with. Like I said we will see.” David told them.
In the pitch black darkness Big C awoke to a thud somewhere in the distance. With the echo in the surroundings it was hard pinpoint exactly where. Then he heard the Weasel’s voice.
“We have a delivery Big C.” Weasel whispered in his ever crackling tone.
“Good thing Weasel it was down to you and me. Next time who knows someday it may be so long that there will only be one left and it could even be the one dropped in at night.” Big C answered.
“Could be I guess but if it is it won’t be from lack of trying.” Weasel retorted before the silence returned as thick as the dark.
A month later Dan and Julia had walked across the stage receiving their bachelor’s degrees. The Hardesty’s were there as was Julia’s mother. All three of the parents were beaming with pride at their children.
Later that afternoon when the festivities had concluded all five sat together at a table in Dan and Julia’s favorite Italian restaurant. While they sipped after dinner coffees Julia’s mother turned to David Hardesty and spoke directly to him.
“Mr. Hardesty I would like to thank you for all you have tried to do in finding my brother-in-law for Julia. Your family has been very good to her for as long as she has known you.” Julia’s mother said to him.
“We all think the world of Julia she is like a part of the family.” David Hardesty said in return.
“Have you found anything new since we last talked about it dad?” Dan asked?
“Not really, Charlie posted some queries in all the largest of cities here in the west with other law enforcement agencies and then we filtered them down with common parameters. We sorted down to only past criminals who had just been found innocent or had charges dropped. It would only show though if someone actually filled out missing persons report, so Charlie and Mike made some more calls to department heads and asked about ones who had suddenly dropped out of sight. Then we called some utility companies and checked out what other leads we could and found that over the past four years there had been a few who have not been heard of since such a trial. However none of them are connected in any other way so we can’t make a firm connection. Our director wouldn’t even think of this as a serious possibility with what flimsy conjectures we were stringing together. I know Charlie and Mike though so I am sure we will keep an eye on possibilities on the QT. I just wouldn’t want any of you to get your hopes up to high.” David told everyone.
“We thank you all the same, and we will keep praying.” Julia said thanking him.
Big C lay in the ominous dark cavern in utter silence. He was hungry and he had not weighed this little since he was in high school. His abdomen ached all the time now and water was not soothing anymore. All he could hope for was that there would be another dropped into the cavern soon. One of the cuts from his fight with Weasel had festered and was not healing well. He missed Weasel in a way because now he was all alone. So alone, so hungry and so tired of being in the total darkness. He didn’t know how much longer he could wait, maybe if he just took off one finger, a pinkie, maybe.