Welcome to the first part of The Masters Plan, an action noir novel exclusive to Steemit. I am going to try to post a new section each Sunday until the story is complete.
Logline: A straight-laced cop must become a renegade when a friend-turned-criminal from his past offers proof that his father was framed and murdered. Will he be able to uncover the true killer before becoming a victim of the same corruption?
Red Jackson stared at the ceiling as he puffed on a cigarette. The sun had been up for an hour, but he’d been up for four. He had a week’s worth of grizzled beard, and you could go shopping with the bags under his eyes. Well, for small items anyway.
The hooker stirred beside him in the bed. He’d never taken this one home before. Last night he wasn’t so drunk to think the woman was pretty, but the morning light revealed just how drunk he had been. A few years on the street, and these white girls cracked like eggshells, he thought. Still, she was soft and warm and naked, so why complain?
This is life at fifty. He smashed the butt of his smoke in an overflowing ashtray on the nightstand, and he scratched his ass.
His gaze wandered to the wall across the room. He lived in a studio apartment, and it looked like a tornado had torn through it. Maybe when the girl woke up she could tidy the place. But he still had a good view of what covered the wall. Hell, he had that view engraved on the inside of his eyelids: the photos, the newspaper articles, that face. It was the kind of smiling phony face that made you want to punch it.
The low buzz of his cell phone brought him back to his surroundings.
“Yeah, “ he answered.
“You still looking to nail Damien?” He didn’t recognize the number or the voice on the line. But the question got his attention.
The hooker opened her eyes and smiled. She had nice eyes. Sincere, kind eyes. Eyes that were all the more alluring because they’d been honed by a lifetime of practiced insincerity. But the smeared makeup around her mouth made her look like a clown. Red put a finger up to his lips to keep her quiet.
“You might want to check out the warehouse--“ He lost the end of the sentence as the girl kissed his chest and worked her way up to his neck. She must have thought she was still on the clock.
“Hang on.” Red put his hand over the receiver. Then to the hooker: “Go wash your mouth out. Your breath stinks.”
It was a slap, but the pro laughed it off. “What is it about sunshine that turns men into assholes?”
“You still there?” asked the voice from the phone.
Red locked eyes with the hooker until she broke off and walked to the bathroom. “I’m listening.”
“The TNT Produce lot on 9th and Alameda,” said the voice. “Eight o’clock.”
Red frowned. “Who is this?”
“A pal,” said the voice with a chuckle, and the line clicked off.
Red tossed the phone onto the sheets and massaged his temples. Damien. Peter Damien. He’d been in the mob’s pocket since he was the district attorney. But now he was the mayor of Los Angeles and running for governor. Damien was the reason Red had been kicked off the police force. No one had believed it when he told them about the payoff. Or no one wanted to believe it.
Red stared at Peter Damien’s smiling face on the wall across from his bed. He didn’t know who the voice was on the phone, but this might be his last chance. The only thing he wanted out of life now was to show the world who Damien was and to bring the son of a bitch down.
There was a flush from the bathroom as Red skinned into his jeans. “Hey, you’re out of toilet paper.” From the irritation in the girl’s voice, Red could tell she had given up playing the lover. “Where you hiding the extra rolls?”
Red stuffed his 9mm into the small of his back. “I’m out, baby.” He turned back as he opened the door to the outside world. “And don’t use the shower unless you plan to spic and span the place. I don’t need my drain clogged with your hair.”
As he exited the apartment, Red heard a shout from the bathroom. “Fucking asshole!”
It was a dreary Los Angeles winter day on the 405. It was that rare time of day - after rush hour but before lunch - when drivers actually have the opportunity to speed.
His cell phone in one hand, Ray Jackson clocked a random passing driver with a radar gun in the other: 68 mph. Just shy of thirty, his crisp patrolman’s uniform was as spotless as the interior of his squad car. “But we reserved Marcus the Magnificent weeks ago--”
The voice on the other end of the phone cut him off. “I’m sorry, sir, as I’ve already told you, a spot opened up at the Magic Castle, and it’s an opportunity Marcus couldn’t turn down. I’m certain your son will enjoy the antics of Jumbo Giggles, rated LA’s top children’s performance artist three years in a row by the Los Angeles Nugget.“
Ray huffed in frustration. “Doesn’t Marcus have an assistant? I mean, clowns are so lame.” Then he saw the red sports car weaving between lanes. He clocked it: 97 mph. There’s always one moron.
“I’ll call you back.” Tossing his cell onto the passenger seat, he flipped on his lights and siren.
Ray walked over to the sports car, his hand not far from his holster. The driver drummed his fingers impatiently on the wheel, and Ray caught his eyes as the man glanced back through the rearview mirror.
The driver wore a suit with no tie. Sharp, but slimy. He smiled and looked up at Ray’s approach. Ray could tell the attempted smile was the hardest thing the guy had to do all week.
“You know the speed limit on this road?”
“Sorry. Big day, and I’m on a schedule.” The suit’s “sorry” was anything but.
“Limits are set for a reason, sir.”
The suit went through his wallet. “Right. Fine. We’ll do it by the book.” He handed Ray his identification paperwork. “Here’s my license and registration, officer.” Any attempt at sincerity in the man’s voice vanished.
Ray pulled out his ticket book.
“I don’t figure it matters to a guy like you, but, I do work for the mayor’s office.”
“You’re right. It doesn’t matter.” Ray continued writing the ticket.
“I just figured maybe I could save you a hand cramp, you know what I mean?” This time the flash of teeth was a show of fangs.
Ray locked eyes with the driver as his only response and then went back to writing.
“Right, yeah. Okay.” The guy shook his head. Then under his breath, “I’ll just have it fixed.”
Ray stopped writing. “Say again?”
“No, you’re doing your job, I’m trying to do mine. No big thing.”
Ray tore off the ticket and handed it to the driver. As he did so, he “noticed” something under the car.
“Huh. Now that you mention it, your tires do look a bit bald.”
Realizing he went too far, the driver’s smile vanished. “What? Wait--“
Ray was having his own conversation on the radio. “You gotta cut him loose.” The voice was empathetic but firm.
“Captain, the guy practically spit in my face--“
“Cut him loose, Jackson. Now.” Captain Ramirez sighed. “Orders from above.”
Ray held back a curse. “Roger that.” And he tossed the radio mic onto the seat in disgust.
Walking toward the tow truck, he signaled the driver to release the car. The Slimy Suit pocketed his phone at Ray’s approach. He flashed his most sincere smile yet.
“Had to be a tough guy, huh?”
Ray handed him the keys. Said nothing.
“Catch a real criminal. Asshole.”
Ray watched as the Suit got in his car and sped away.
It was still before noon, but you couldn’t tell from the inside of the bar. The few shady patrons found solace in their glasses rather than each other. Highlights from the latest Lakers game were coming from the TV hanging above the bar.
Red slowly swirled the brown liquid in front of him. Coming to a decision, he swallowed half the glass.
The sports-cast ended and was replaced by a smiling photo of Peter Damien, the words “Next Governor?” captioned beneath it. Voiceover from the anchor, “With only two months before the election, Peter Damien has a strong lead over Democratic gubernatorial incumbent, Roger Saunders.”
Red glared at the TV. “Turn it off, Tommy. You know that guy turns my stomach.”
“The current Los Angeles mayor’s sweeping justice reforms and reduced crime rate have galvanized voters--“ The bartender flipped the channel to a sappy commercial about phone service.
“Hey, I’s watchin’ that!” The elderly drunk down the bar voiced his discontent, but Red’s sour stare froze any further complaint.
Red downed the rest of his glass, but he stopped the bartender from pouring more. “No. I’ve gotta work tonight.”
The bartender was surprised. “You’re back on the job?”
“Yeah. It’s a big fish, Tommy. Biggest of my career.”
The bartender knew it was bad business to voice doubt to his customers, so he just went with it. “Well, congratulations! When’d this happen?”
Red slapped a few bills on the bar top and he stood, a little wobbly. The bartender looked at the money and attempted to protest. “Hey, Red, you--“
“Keep the change.” Red waved away the man’s objection and pushed up and off the barstool. “I gotta go.” He rushed for the door.
The Bartender scratched his head and counted the two singles again. “But it’s not enough.” The drunk old-timer at the end of the bar cackled with glee.
Red’s big, broken-down pickup roared to life outside the window. It tore away as the elderly drunk’s laughter devolved into a hacking cough.
Thanks for reading, and if you want to see more, your upvotes are appreciated! You can find Part 2 here/