I’m fucking around at my desk again, idle, fuming that the lacerations from the one-sided gunfight aren’t enough for medical leave, entertaining the idea of pretending to be in pursuit of a DUI suspect and “losing control” of my car in furtherance of a scheme involving a lower back injury (it still being tender from the incident at Kirchner’s), early retirement and a fatass worker’s comp lump sum when a confused looking woman is let into the bureau and directed to my desk. I scope her hard but she’s wearing way too much clothing for me to tell whether she’s a piece of ass. Curly, red, frizzy hair, reminds me of someone I knew before I got married to that fucking bitch whose sleep I’m hopefully tormenting. Someone named Annie.

She makes her way to my desk and explains she was a friend of the murdered Kirchner and wondered about his personal effects, had anyone claimed them, did anyone know about his manuscript.

Startled by mention of the manuscript, I quickly try to conceal that by asking what she means by “effects.” She replies his records, posters, and so forth. I try not to laugh and fail, then pretend I was simply sneezing, and she looks torn between believing it and lightly wounded. The Rectal Warlord is a total loss, I offer, then snicker, then pretend to sneeze to conceal that, again failing while she looks on the verge of tears.

I change gears and I ask about the manuscript, seriously but pretending to be disinterested. She says she wanted to merge it with the previous draft, which she claims to be the sole possessor of. As she says this, she shifts in her seat, contorting her spine, arching it, deliberately or not flashing a pretty hefty set of cans from beneath her sweater and I resolve to get a better look at those. Internally, I am losing my mind at the prospect of a different version of this story despite the fact I can’t make heads or tails of the one I now have.

I say we never recovered the manuscript but ask for a copy of her version, something she blanches at, seems irritated, afraid. She asks if she can have access to his apartment. On the condition of her draft, sure. This upsets her even further, but she agrees. She says she’ll meet me there, at his place.

Before we leave my desk, I ask her if she knows who wrote on his moving boxes. She seems confused by this, so I ask whether she helped him move. She denies it and wonders aloud who could look at her and see Herculean strength for moving. I stare back blankly, then ask her to spell that, and she just stares at me, asking if I’m trying to trick her into giving a handwriting sample. Realizing something, I claim that, yes, yes, that’s what I mean. I don’t tell her I still have no pens and am too ashamed to ask anyone else. But she produces one from her bag and writes Herculean on the back of a sheet of paper crumpled up in my waste basket. It’s not the same handwriting. I suppose I can just ask her if she recognizes it when we get there.

I make a masculine show of flicking open my auto knife to slash the seals and tape covering Kirchner’s door once we arrive, but it seems to merely disturb her. She hesitates before following me in. The power’s been cut, and I use a flashlight. I want her to shut the door and come closer but she stands at the threshold, the door still open, her hand on the knob as if to be ready to slam it shut behind her and trap me inside should she decide to run.

The two window arrays in the bedroom and “living room” are sealed with plywood, shattered glass everywhere, tinkling beneath my shoes like a discordant music box dancer as I try to walk over it deftly, but instead fail, and look like a fucking clumsy oaf. I wave the beam around; nothing. Everything’s in pieces. I am absolutely stunned I wasn’t killed by the at least 60 Raufoss clones the guy fired into this place.

Something creaks above us. I turn the flashlight on the ceiling.

She closes the door, and I can’t tell whether she’s inside or outside once it’s shut. I saw only her silhouette overwhelmed by a larger shadow.


For all installments of “The Ambush,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1: The Body
  2. Part 2: The Colony
  3. Part 3: The Surveillance; or, the Vigil over the Dead
  4. Part 4: The Philosophy of the Hammer
  5. Part 5: The Escalation
  6. Part 6: The Prayer Book
  7. Part 7: The Form and the Substance
  8. Part 8: The Ambush Predator