Excerpt from the short story titled Dissolved, part of the Collection of Stories: Crimes Need Punishment
The stillness of midnight was shattered with the first of the three explosions, the second and the third obviously triggered by the original, giving birth to a large fire that quickly engulfed a wide area of closely-built structures made of light materials. In only a few minutes, the fire raged uncontrollably.
First on the scene were three firetrucks of a nearby civilian brigade, its volunteer firemen jumping out from the vehicle in a hurry, performing the roles they constantly practice to near perfection. Battling the blaze was easy: it was the unruly residents’ interference which made their jobs more difficult.
At that same moment, a city away from the conflagration, a familiar opening soundtrack of an action film could be heard. Used as a ringtone, it repeatedly played the short sampled loop exhorting the phone’s owner to take notice of its warning.
“What the hell?”
He tried to reach for it but his arm was too short. The gadget was another feet away on top of a table.
The dizzy spell was nothing new; the effects of the alcohol remained.
Slowly he stood up, balancing himself by holding to the arm rest of the chair. However, his first step fell on the pool of liquid which made him slid: he tumbled hard to the floor.
“This better be good,” he swore while pressing the respond button.
“Kevin, come quickly! There’s been a series of explosions in the middle of the slums.” His former partner, Alvin, sounded overly excited.
Since he was booted out from the unit, he could not care less whatever operation they were faced with.
“Why call me? You heard the Colonel, I am out. Call him!”
“Come on, man! You know this inside out. We could shortcut the investigation with your help.”
“I am drunk,” Kevin shouted on the phone. “You want me berated in front of many people. I can’t take it anymore.”
“What’s the matter with you? I thought you care, you want to save lives.”
“Ask the Colonel about that,” Kevin shot back. “He should be the one promoted to full retirement.”
Alvin wished he could change his partner’s mind. Kevin was pissed as hell when all he worked for was swept aside because of a simple disagreement on who to decide on the spot of an earlier operation. His partner was outranked even though he was correct.
“I’ll fill you in with the details. You’re my friend so you are responsible to give me any good advice.”
“I’ve taught you everything I learned,” Kevin calmed down. Alvin was his antidote: if he was fire, his partner was water. “You know where to find me.”
“How’s your new assignment?”
“I am a tail to a secretive Major inside a facility populated by hardened criminals. He’s bad, I am afraid.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He asked for my re-assignment which the Colonel approved immediately.”
“Let me guess. He needs a bomb expert. Not a bomb disposal expert.”
“You’re quick,” Kevin said, a germ of a doubt suddenly appeared in his mind. “Like I told you earlier, you’re ready to shine.”
Kevin was sobered by the conversation. He thought of his new job as punishment but Alvin’s remark was succinctly clear: he was moved for a reason.
The grenade rolled near the foot of the table. He picked it up and re-inserted the pin which was left still attached to his forefinger, looking more like a crude ring.
“I always like you,” he said, caressing the device. “You look real enough.”
E N D of First Part