Deft Beck: Author
There's blood running down the side of my neck and there's nothing I can do to stop it.
I thought it would be an easy job, just kneel behind this bale of hay in a dark corner backstage, take aim as the loser with the puppet exits the stage with the curtains drawing close and fire. No one would have seen me, and no one had to know the truth. It shouldn't have been this easy to off someone like me.
I’m lying down in agony, motionless as a clamor erupts behind the curtain. It's not too often that an assassination attempt goes down at a ventriloquism summit. The target's kid is going to be devastated, but I can't feel his pain, as I’m a bit distracted right now. The mafia's going to hell anyway, even the shitstain who can throw his voice.
Another bang sounds faintly. Even in this state, I can hear footsteps behind me, trailing off into the distance. The assassaer's probably run off by now...no sense of honor these days in the killing craft. Not even among those assassaer fucks, people who kill other assassins, does this exist anymore. We’re overpaid barbarians without a voice now. The one person who wanted to put an end to this bullshit dog-shoot-cat-shoot-weasel snitchfest clusterfuck is going up in smoke.
I’m above my body now, a wisp in the wind. Everything's so blurry, but I have to find who killed me, God willing. I make a break for it and dive into the first thing I see.
Not even death can stop Quipelli.
JESU CRISTO! W-w-was that a gun?! I dart my head around as I look across the audience with Buddy lying limply across my thigh, all slack-jawed. There's sweat coating my forehead in an instant, and I don't know what to do. Everyone's panicking all of a sudden, looking around and standing up, searching for the sound's origin. They’re pointing towards the front. Maxie's sprintin’ towards Dad. Is everyth-
Oh God, Dad's been shot.
He's slumped over and Mom's trying to make him wake up.
“You fucks get over here and carry 'em into the limo!” shouted Maxie as he dashed for the door, just as the world started to spin around me.
Oh, fuck me... This can't be happening. It can't be. Of all nights, why tonight?!
I darted off the stage and behind the red velvet curtains, looking for a place to hide, almost tripping over a haystack. I don't know what to do they can't get me. I don't want them to get me please dear God and Jesus don't let them get me.
I feel faint...
The first thing I saw when I woke up is Mom's face in front of me.
“Mom...MOM!” I shouted all of a sudden, “Is Dad all-”
“Sugar, sugar, everything's going to be alright,” she cooed, rubbing my gelled black hair as I lay down on the leather interior of the limo, my heart still pounding. “...baby, Papa's goin’ to be fine, we just have to get home- MAXIE, STEP ON IT WILL YA, oh, baby...”
I laid my head down and took in the scene around me. The limo was almost empty except for my mother and Dad's bodyguard Musket; it was obvious that Mom didn't want me to see Dad over in the corner of the limo, being dabbed in the chest with a flask of alcohol taken from the minibar as Musket checked pressure points and veins.
I was sort of stiff in this position, yet I could still feel every single bump on the road as the limo sped ahead. The windows were tinted, so there wasn't any way of seeing outside. I tried to see more of Dad's face as my mother moved away for a second to look in her handbag. His eyes were closed, and his glasses were taken off. He never takes those off; this isn't good.
“Is he awake...?” I managed to get out, just before my mother moved back and resumed her consolation.
“Just go back to sleep, Jeff, we’ll take care of everything,” assured my mother as she continued to rub my hair with her left hand.
“Yeah, Jeff, I’ll take care of everything,” added Max, leaning in to my field of vision. He was barely taller than my mother, and took after her moreso than myself; they sat side-by-side, trying to smile as I lay in a half-sleep.
“Does this mean that I have to take over...” I whispered before I let out a yawn, my eyes growing heavier.
“Of course not, you know that!” Max jabbed at me, earning a quick glare from Mom, her gaudy earrings swaying with the movement of her head. We both knew that I made a point of refusing to take over if something were to happen to Dad. Max had waited his whole life for something like this, as morbid as that sounds.
Blinking my eyes a few times, I saw Musket get up from the corner of the limo, standing up from his kneeling position to that of a slouch, due to his height.
“He is still in critical condition, “ reported Musket, in his formal diction. “We do not have much time.”
“Oh, Maxie...” My mother began to tear up, pushing her head into Max's suit. He looked forlornly into Musket's cold eyes, not knowing how to respond. Musket simply went back to his position and monitored Dad.
I was beginning to get drowsier and drowsier; this had all happened so suddenly. I didn't have anything more to say, so I just tried to sleep, ignoring the sobs of my mother and the low hum of the engine.
This has got to be my worst plan yet.
I’ve got a splotch of blood on my face and no way to get it off without drawing attention. This dilemma is going to be the death of me.
It's so damn dark in here, but I can't feel anything. The only thing I’ve got to judge my position is that buzzing and thumping all around me. Hell if I’m going to try to move if I don't know where I’m going to go, so I’m stuck for now.
As far as I know, I only have one chance. There's no turning back now. There's just one problem, though; I’m going to have to deal with the target's son now.
Even from backstage, I could tell by his posture that he's a little wound tight. That's kind of weird for the mafia types, but it's a big world out there. He's gonna flip when he sees what happened to his little friend. Things are only going to get stranger from here...
Opening my eyes again, I see that I’m in my room at home. It's a good thing that the ventriloquist's summit was so close to home, right? If only we’d been estranged, then this would had never happened...
Room's empty except for me, and I’m still in my performance clothes. Everything is just as I had left it before I set off for the summit, so it can't have been too long since we got back. Even then, I can't help but think I’m missing something...
Wait, where's Buddy? I sprung out of my bed. I completely forgot! Oh, god, did they take him away or somethi-
Oh, he's right here, in his case and everything. Too bad he's upside down, though, no respect for the arts, I tell you.
I take the covering of the case off and look at him. Looks fine, minus that weird st- ugh, fuck me! This is going to take forever to buff out! I take him out of his case and lay him on my bed, face-up. My eyes wandered around until they set themselves on my special drawer, labeled “REPAIR.” I know just the trick.
Just as I started to go over there, I heard a voice behind me, which scared the hell out of me, never mind what it fucking said.
“yoUNG JEFFrEY bOSSO.... YoU HaVe AnGeReD ThE SpIrItS aND ShalL PAY DeARLyyyy!!!”