Gimli was mad. Raving foaming frothing mad. He had always been this way. As far back as he could remember. The small enclosed space he pushed on through just increased his boiling black anger. He felt it reverberating through his bones as he wriggled on into the darkness, moving through the air conditioning conduits of the Hotel Sherman Melville. On his way to kill a man. No, not a man, just piece of shit that needed exterminating. That was his get out clause. That got him through the grinding days of his life.
He had always been small and had grew up slow and angry. Rejected by girls, bullied at school. He learned how to blow the fuse, very quickly. Joining the army seemed like a great idea. Until he was fucked over by them as well. Pleaded with the recruiter. But got the usual, not up to standard, spiel.
“Rules and regulations, sonny. We’ll keep you on file.”
That all changed with Tora Bora. And the extensive Kareez tunnels the T-Men used to hide from the wrath of the Great Satan. They came back for Gimli. The US Army came a calling. They insisted on giving him the stupid Dwarf name, Gimli. The anger just boiled under his skin.
“I’m no Dwarf,” he told them, “I’m a man, I’m a fucking man.”
After pounding the area with massive air strikes with no results, the US Army decided to go sneaky beaky. So the U.S. Special Operations Command, determined that a new team needed to be outfitted and trained. To work down the extensive Kareez warren of rabbit holes. Chasing the elusive T-Men. Or whatever else High Command was hunting for.
That somehow, would both light the beacon of Democracy in the Afghan and get us the Willy Wonka Golden ticket out of there.
So Special Weapons 4 was created. Home of the Angry Inch Handlers. Nobody in their right gazula wanted that gig. All that expensive Army training, just to end up on Snow White Patrol. Long Lead Dog Handlers. To a bunch of fucked up, unhappy, bitter, always pissed, sawed off shotgun sized Dwarves.
It took the Dog Handlers an age and a few stab wounds to realise they were not fucking Dwarves. They were drunkards, liars, thieves, but they were fucking men.
After swapping more than a few blows and blunt instruments they eventually got the message and accepted them as equals. Accepted them as men. Just four survived the brutal training course. They trained alongside the Dog Handlers and the Belgian Malinois. A highly intelligent and fearless breed of dog. Which could never be said of the newest recruits to Special Weapons 4. Gimli, Hurin, Narvi and Nali. Outfitted with Manitoba High Tech Vests. Trained to hunt and kill T-Men.
Deep down in the confined, claustrophobic darkness, that was the Kareez tunnels.
And the dark dank Ali Baba caves of the Tora Bora.
Then suddenly overnight the US Defence downsized. The Afghan party was over.
The day of the machete wielding bean counter had arrived. The department controlling them, just vamoosed overnight. And they were, just like that, out on the street. Switched off, discharged, gutter fucked. Kicked out of the only family that treated them like an equal. Even if that family, still thought of them secretly, as dancing Snow White Dwarves on a long chain.
But for now, the dancing Dwarves, where back on the mean hungry streets of New York.
Never able to reveal what they had done, what they’d seen. They watched with bitterness, as the returning glory boys of the Afghan campaign cashed in with their million dollar Hollywood book deals. For them, it was a problem just finding work, in the Big Core.
The City, that suffered from rampant insomnia and did not ever, give a loser a winning streak. They hung out and worked their shift, ironically, in an exclusive Dwarf staffed bar called the Khuzdul. An unmarked down some dark stairs, into a deep secret basement, type of place. A wink wink, nudge nudge, entrance by text invitation only. Guarded by the hairiest, scariest bouncer, this side of Sasquatch. Some people maintained he was Sasquatch.
Khuzdul was now firmly on the Twitterati celebrity circuit.
Here they entertained Clooney and Leonardo Wilhelm Di Caprio, plus other flavour of the month reality stars of the stage and screen.
Who came to hide from the paparazzi and stare at the freak show, provided by happy Dwarves and pissed off Hobbits.
After a few heavy drinking sessions, and to kill the ever-present pain of betrayal.
Gimli, Hurin, Narvi and Nali, feeling red faced and rat-arsed. Would start channelling their ultimate all American mumbling hero, ‘Rocky Angry Inch Rambo.’
“Taught us to operate million dollar equipment. Can’t even get a job, as a busboy. Adrian, Adrian …. Never gave us a parade.”
It always raised a laugh from the insider Hollywood patrons and gave some chump change. The Air-head A-list fuckers, never realised, they were shit serious.
Then Palmer came out of the woodwork. With an offer.
An Army spook they knew from the Afghan. Palmer looked the money.
He was tanned and dressed in a sharp suit he didn’t get from no Army PX store. Had a face with a kinda screwball smile. The kinda guy you’d instantly like. But never trust with your sister.
He got straight to the point. Do this and you get well paid. But more importantly, you get back into the great game.
A book-keeper for one of the Five Rings Cabal was spilling his guts to the Feds. They had him holed up in the Sherman Melville on the 10th Floor.
Three layers of tight security around him. Nobody could get to him. But Palmer knew, “The Angry Inch Crew,” from the Kareez tunnels could.
“How many would we need to hit?” was their first question to Palmer.
“Just one, the mark,” was the reply, “but he has two Federal Marshalls inside his room. At all times. One of the Feds was on the Five Rings payroll.”
How very convenient, thought Gimli.
“At 24:00 he’s alone with the mark for 15 minutes. While his partner, every day like clockwork, takes a leak. He unscrews the air-vent panel and lets you in. Then he sits with his face to the door while you do, what you do. Then you exit same way. It’s simple.”
Simple, thought Gimli. Why did that always seem to rhyme with, ‘Fuck-up,’ and ‘Knife in the back.’
He was due in court to testify, in seven days. So it needed to be done quickly.
They agreed to rent their military discharged souls again, to the Five Rings. Payment was agreed. Half now and half on completion of the job.
It was going to be a big payola day for the, “Angry Inch Crew.”
Palmer passed over the building plans and security schedule for the Hotel Sherman Melville.
Gimli was wearing a specially developed, Nano greased Manitoba suit. That slid him easily through the conduit shaft. Moving forward, using a twisting, rotating, hate driving propulsion. His very skin vibrated with condensed anger.
Gimli was thinking, if I can snake it here I can snake it anywhere, it’s up to me, you piece of fucking shit.
Left arm well forward. Right arm pushed well back holding his favourite Bolo trench knife. He had on the latest lightweight L-7 wrap around night-vision. It was feeding him a steady stream of data including amplified sounds from the other rooms. Top secret stuff that should have all been returned to the US Army when they were given their discharge papers. But hey, they were entitled to a few tourist trinkets from their tour in the Afghan.
Mementos of the good old, fun filled, down the white rabbit-hole days.
In the glorious Afghan.
Gimli crawled on, heading upwards.
Light, then echoes and whispers from the various rooms in passing. A businessman humping some wannabe movie starlet he was financing.
Gimli could hear the sounds of the conversation as the bed groaned.
An overweight body making a slapping noise on the squeezed starlet. Then an unhealthy wheezing sound, of a possible oncoming coronary attack.
“I’m going to be in the movie, promise, promise.”
“Yea, yea, sure, sure Baby.” Then more wheezing more slapping and more groaning.
Some sounds, came through easier than others. Like floating whispers in a madman’s Tivoli carousel. Gimli let them flow through him. As he dealt with his own, internal, hate filled conversations. That was constantly pinging around his psyche.
The army psychologist said he was borderline. Whatever the fuck that meant.
Gimli preferred the more exotic Danish term, ‘Graenseland.’ That thin territorial spaced nationalistic line, between Countries.
That fed the Great War beasts. And split houses, shops and families in two.
The line, that was here. And yet, not here. Between being human. A brother, a father, a person, a man.
And being just another, blood crazed Golem, crawling out of the insane id.
Gimli went on in the dark.
A sound of a woman screeching then weeping. The hair raising Banshee Celtic wailing melody, of a tormented lost female soul. As it wafted through the rhythm section of pipes, granite and girders.
Probably some misdeed. Some deep betrayal. A dangerous festering wound, being reopened.
Then, what sounded like a priest, praying and chanting loudly for forgiveness. To his absent God.
Spare us from another delusional fucking Nirvana sky jockey, thought Gimli. Did he really think his God, would take the Redeye, from whatever fucking new interstellar string theory construction Gig. He was away on.
Sweep into this crummy hotel and say.
“You know Mr Priest, Peter. Can I call you Peter? I agree, you’re here by forgiven, of all your sick sins. Whoosh. There you go my boy. Gone forever.
Now listen to the Big Guy, me, your creator. Go forth and pervert your way, in whichever direction, you believe your salvation lies.
Screw them all, fuck them over. Cheat them out of, every damn nickel and dime you can grab with both your slimy hands. They don’t deserve you. Pete, Peter, Baby, you’re my Rock. So let’s get out there and start fucking Rocking.”
Gimli crawled on through.
Then at last, the room with the bookie spilling his guts to the Feds.
Never trust a Fed. Angry Inch rule, ‘Numero Uno.’
Gimli peered through the grid and took in the scene. Fed number one was taking some notes, on a laptop, from the singing canary.
He obviously had a lot to say about the Five Rings organisation. Fed number two looked nervous, checking his watch. Nervous Fed was gonna be our hero. And put a bullet through Gimli. That part was very clear.
He would have his own, get out clause. For taking the thirty pieces of drug stained Five Ring silver.
“Saved the day boys. Got the little Zilch that done the dirty deed.”
A bit late on the trigger. But cometh the hour, cometh the hero with his dick in the till.
With all the Fed mutual back hero slapping. How the little Zilch had gotten in, would be quietly forgotten.
Seriously, nobody would really give a fuck about a dead canary. As long as there was a torpedoed Mr Zilch.
Fed one closes the laptop and heads for the bathroom. The Clock strikes 24:00.
‘The Twitching hour.’
The mark lies on the bed. Arms behind his head. As he stares at the ceiling and starts reminiscing. About the night him and big Tony Wong, went through eight hookers. Drinking Champagne and eating cheese and Viagra crackers to keep their peckers up.
The mark started laughing. Still lost in his, big Tony and the horny hookers’ story.
Gimli could hear the air vent plate getting unscrewed. Fumbling fingers, from our hero, fat fingered Fed.
Probably, already spent the thirty pieces of silver on that special horse for his daughter.
“Daddy, are you a good man?”
“Of course dear child. Now why would you say that? I work for the Government dear. What else would I be?”
Gimli had an answer for that.
Daddy was a thief and a liar. Daddy had sold his soul to the Five Ring hard-core brain fuckers. And the poor bastard wouldn’t even realise, he was now on the sharp edged biting end, of the big white hook. Look in the mirror hero. And see the rotting, wasting, carcass of a soul floating down the river Acheron.
Then again, don’t. I never did like sad bedtime stories. And Gimli was beginning to smell the stink of the river and feel the twist of the hook, in the back of his own dry itching throat.
Right on time, the explosives set by Hurin, rocked the building. Taking out the emergency light generators. And the room went to black.
L-7 switched to max. The world turned a ghostly green. Gimli slithered out and onto the floor and moved quickly towards the bed. His steel fingers clamped down hard, on the shocked marks mouth and Gimli started sawing away on his throat, with his razor sharp Bolo. His right knee pinned the marks body to the bed. The sharp blade was making a bloody a mess. But it went with the job description. He stuck him twice in the heart to make sure. Fuck-em was all that went through Gimli’s mind. Never could stand traitors or turn coats. The door burst open and more Feds pour in.
“Get him outta here. We’re under attack.”
Gimli can see it all. In the spooky glowing L-7 data spewing green time.
“Get a fucking flashlight. When’s the emergency lighting kicking in?”
The Feds were panicking, falling around the room, like a bunch of blind, ‘Midnight Trolls.’ They now had a thin torch-light. Which did not help them much.
Somebody shines it on the bloody stiff on the bed.
Silence, then a collective, “Shit,” as they realise their CVs will need a major update.
Nervous Fed was now blasting off rounds in the direction of the air-vent area. The rest joined in.
It sounded like the North Korean golden horde, had finally invaded Manhattan.
My kingdom for a horse, thought Gimli. Maybe he would call him Trigger.
The screaming Fed chorus of the blame game was music to Gimli ears, as he slithered at speed, along the floor and out the open door.
The fire sprinklers started, and everybody was getting very wet. Which added nicely to the madhouse confusion.
Down three flights of dark fire escape stairs he went. He was met by Nali and Narvi on the stairwell and they bagged him.
Stopping any dripping blood from giving away the floor he had exited on. And then carried him into the pre-booked family room. Quickly changed and ready for the Hotel evacuation. Helped by the fire started in the kitchen and the fast arriving New York firefighters, they stormed down the stairs and out the front door screaming like the frightened children they were dressed as. Mingling with the rest of the panicked Hotel guests. Then disappeared into the New York night.
Palmer sat across from Gimli again, in the Khuzdul bar.
He had that bemused, ‘Are you shitting me,’ kinda look on his face.
“A messy affair. The client was not impressed. Not impressed at all.”
“Deaths always a messy affair,” said Gimli, “Especially when you don’t see it coming.
The job went down as it should. Pity about your Fed pal. I see the whole team was now under investigation.”
Palmer ignored the implied accusation and slid an envelope across the table.
“As agreed, the final payment. The Five Rings will want to use your services again. By the way, there is talk of a missing USB stick. Know anything about that.”
“No, I was sort of busy that night,” said Gimli, fingering the laptop USB stick in his pocket. Always good to have some sort of leverage, when dealing with the Five Rings Cabal.
Then Palmer left, and Gimli sat drinking his cold white wine.
“Looks like we are back on the menu boys,” he said to the late arriving, Hurin, Nali and Narvi.
Just then Leonardo’s pussy posse burst into the bar. Chasing that elusive strangeness, the Khuzdul was so famous for.
So the Angry Inch went into their Hobbit entertainment mode. With their favourite mashed rendering of the Big Core classic.
“Start spreading your legs. I’m thieving today. I want to be the star of it, Big Core, Big Core.”
It was still, for now, paying the rent.