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Authors: Sean Costello

Tags: #Canada

Last Call

Last Call

Sean Costello

Canada

In the space of a single day, twenty year old Trish West purchases her first car, gets accepted into veterinary college, and finds her rock star father, Jim Gamble, a man who vanished into the streets before she was born and now clings to life in a Toronto intensive care unit.

Eager to establish a relationship with Mr. Gamble, Trish heads out from her Northern Ontario home that very day to stand at his bedside. But along the way, she crosses paths with a man who will upend her life and the lives of everyone she cares about.

Meet Bobcat, a savage serial killer christened The Dentist by the press, a deranged trophy hunter who sees Trish as the ultimate prize.

LAST CALL

Sean Costello

––––––––

Red Tower Publications

Sudbury, Ontario

Copyright © 2015 by
Sean Costello

Cover art Copyright @2015 schmizla (via 99Designs) -
https://99designs.ca/profiles/1400240
 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.

Red Tower Publications

Sudbury, Ontario

www.seancostello.net

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Book Layout © 2014 BookDesignTemplates.com

Last Call / Sean Costello
– 1
st
eBook edition (2015)

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9731469-6-7

Print ISBN: 978-0-9731469-7-4

––––––––

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Author’s Note

––––––––

In a nutshell,
Last Call
is an exploration of the skewed world of the serial killer and the impact their deviant impulses have on the lives of ordinary people.

FAIR WARNING: This one’s
not
for the faint of heart.

The inspiration for this novel stems from an admission interview I conducted as a med student on a paranoid schizophrenic who’d just murdered three people. Within the framework of the man’s disease—and his otherwise remarkable ability to function and reason in the everyday world—what he had done, to him, seemed perfectly justified, no more shocking or deranged than swatting a pesky mosquito. That people like him live and operate among us sparked a grim fascination in me; and with
Last Call
, I’ve finally gotten around to confronting it in a fictional setting.

Sean Costello

June 11, 2015

Dedication

––––––––

This book is dedicated to my friend and business partner, Mark Leslie Lefebvre. Without his patient encouragement and belief in the work, I’d be watching sitcoms instead of plinking away at the keys, trying to get these stories told. Thanks, Mark.

With special thanks to Ric de Meulles for his unerring critical insights.

PRESENT DAY
1

––––––––

Saturday, June 27

SUMMER RAIN SWEPT through the alley in ragged, wind-driven columns, choking the storm drains and swamping the uneven pavement. At the dead end of the alley in an alcove of deep shadow, a Maytag dishwasher crate lay on its side, its open end protected from the downpour by a sheet of plastic secured by bricks. Inside the crate huddled a man in his forties, his only possessions the clothes on his back and the twenty-eight cents in panhandled change in his pocket. His skin beneath caked-on layers of grime was jaundiced, and his once clear eyes were rheumy and dull. His limbs bore the telltale pocks of needle tracks, and his scant urine was the color of bong water. People on the street called him CD.

When the rain started the night before, CD had been roaming his usual downtown haunts, stumbling and cursing in a drunken stupor, dully aware that the bottle of Lysol he’d boosted from the Drug-Mart was almost empty but otherwise oblivious. When the cloudburst drenched him and he began to feel cold, he’d been standing at the mouth of this alley and had spotted the crate. He’d been hunkered inside ever since, sleepless and shivering.

Sometimes in the dark of the crate CD had visions that might have been memories. In these visions he was a rock star, and like he always told the bums he drank with, someday soon he was gonna get the band back together and cut a new album, only these days it wasn’t albums anymore it was cds. They told him he was full of shit, but he
knew
he was a rock star because of the tattoo on his chest. It was just a matter of getting back with the boys.

And Sally. Yeah, sweet Sal.

Rain drummed steadily on the roof of the enclosure, saturating the thick cardboard, and CD turned his yellow eyes up in time to see the bellied ceiling burst and a pocket of rainwater gush in to soak him to the bone. Cursing, he rolled onto his hands and knees, tenting the sheet of plastic with his shaggy head. For an instant the world careened and he thought he might black out...but he sucked in a lungful of damp air and held it until the feeling passed. Then he cuffed the plastic aside and got to his feet in the rain.

For a length of time that seemed infinite, CD had been capable of only two sensations: hunger and pain. The hunger was always on him, vast and unappeasable, but only when fed it could he numb the pain. And the pain was awakening fast.

He fished the bottle of Lysol out of his jacket pocket, drained off the last few ounces and tossed the empty aside. Then he headed for the street, singing in a rich, whiskey-hardened voice.

“Faces come out of the rain, when you’re strange, no one remembers your name, when you’re...strange...”

As he shuffled along, working the kinks out, he squinted through the rain to the street, fifty yards ahead. A Toronto Transit bus hissed past followed by a UPS van, and CD reckoned it’d be at least an hour before the liquor stores opened.

He fingered the change in his pocket and knew he had work to do.

That was when he spotted the lone figure at the mouth of the alley. The guy was leaning against the wall out there, smoking a cigarette, and even CD found this odd: standing in the rain with his face upturned like a man basking in August sunshine—and smoking.

CD licked his lips and weaved toward the street, rehearsing his standard spare-changing rap; but when he got within a few feet of the guy, seeing that hard profile now, as bereft of warmth as the sunless sky, some withered instinct urged him to keep on walking, head downtown and find an easier mark.

But hunger trumped reason.

“Hey, bro,” CD said, unfazed when the man ignored him. The dude was bald, his shiny pate beaded with rain. CD said, “Me and my boys, we got this righteous band—Bad ’n Rude, ever heard of us? We opened for Aerosmith once at the Garden—and we’re gonna cut us a cd, soon as we can raise the green.
Not bald
, CD thought, that instinct twitching again.
That big head is shaved.
“So what do you say? Throw in a couple bucks, get your name in the credits?”

“Piss off.”

Do what the man says.
“It don’t have to be dollars. Change’ll do—”

The guy turned to face him now and CD saw that he was barely out of his teens, all thick muscle and sneering teeth.

Grinning, the guy said, “You want change?” and CD told his legs to
go
, but then the guy’s arm pistoned out and fire erupted in CD’s chest, and now the guy was advancing on him, a glint of steel in his outstretched hand.

“I’ll give you change.”

CD broke into a shambling run, forced back into the alley. It was hard to breathe now, and the warmth on his chest where the guy had struck him was tacky and wet.

“Dead end, ratman. Come get your change.”

In his panic CD lost his footing on the greasy pavement and plowed into a drift of trash bags. Hunched over, he could hear the wet suck of air in his chest and realized he’d been stabbed. Breathing was like inhaling shredded tin.

“Wait,” he said, getting his feet under him again. “Wait...”

There was a steel service door at the end of the alley and CD threw himself against it, pounding on it with his fists, the effort wrenching something deep in his chest. “Help,” he said, the word sounding as if it had been spoken underwater. “Please, open the—”

A powerful hand spun him around and the knife flickered into his belly. CD doubled over and an iron forearm thrust him upright. The man pressed himself against CD with deviant intimacy.

“I’ll change you, dipshit.”

The knife twisted and rose up and CD’s feet left the ground. He had a shining moment of clarity then, and he remembered that he’d once been a boy and that life had been different then.

Blackness spiraled in like soot raised by giant rotors, and before he was lost in it CD had a thought which, even in his extremity, surprised him.

Please, no...I have a daughter...

* * *

Sally West said, “Honey, it’s a turd. It’s too much money.”

Trish West crossed her arms. “Mom, this is the sixth car we’ve looked at. It’s the cleanest and the newest and it’s the one I want.”

Sally glanced at the tract house into which the owner of this rent-a-wreck had just vanished—“to let you folks hash this out in private”—and spoke in an urgent whisper. “For Christ sake, Trisha, keep your voice down. We can’t let this jerk think we’re interested.” She opened her mouth to recite the several sound reasons she could think of to pass on this overpriced junker, then closed it with a sigh. She felt helpless, an unaccustomed sensation she didn’t much care for...and one she’d come to associate more and more of late with her daughter.

Well
, Sally thought,
I brought her up to be independent. Too late to change that now.
She said, “Alright, you win. You’re twenty years old and what the hell, it’s your money. I’ll get you some jumper cables for your birthday.”

“You mean I can get it?”

Sally said, “You can get it.”

Trish smiled and gave her mom a hug, then ran up the path to the owner’s front door. The old fox had clearly been observing their deliberations from some unseen vantage, because he appeared at the door an eyeblink ahead of Trish, the pink slip in his liver-spotted hand. The fish was on the hook; it was a simple matter now of reeling her in.

Sally turned her back on the house and this sad little transaction. She hated this part of Sudbury, Nickel Heights. She’d grown up around here and had spent her high school years afraid to walk alone through the streets. She also hated sly, calculating men, like the scuzzy old fart currently hustling her daughter, despised the way they assumed that because you were a woman you’d swallow whole whatever horseshit they handed you, as long as it was served on a silver platter. She’d met too many of them in her twenty years as a single mom.

She leaned against the bucket of bolts that was about to become her daughter’s ‘new’ car—a shit-brown rust-pocked ’05 Volkswagen Jetta—and waited, swatting at the mosquito trying to dine on her ear.

* * *

Ting Chow was chopping vegetables in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant when he heard the commotion at the service door. His father often warned him about keeping that door locked, but he was fifteen, curious and imaginative—and his father was in China for the week. Besides, it had been a hell of a racket, sounding to Ting as if some enormous winged creature had flown beak first into the door. It was worth a peek.

He wiped his hands on his apron and unbolted the door, being careful to leave the chain-lock in place. Through the gap he heard a man curse, then flee down the alley. He tried to catch a glimpse of the guy but couldn’t get the angle right. A ripple of fear made him slam the door shut and replace the bolt; but not before he heard a moan that sounded more animal than human. And even at fifteen, Ting could identify the source of that sound: someone was in mortal agony outside his back door.

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