Deft Beck: Author
Jeffery Bosso, a young puppeteer whose mob boss father has just been assassinated, refuses to take over the family business...
Quipelli, an assassin who was shot down in a single moment by one of his own kind, only to find himself in a new, wooden body...
“Got a lighter, kid?”
So I open my mouth for the first time since I was alive, and I scare a guy to death. He slumps over onto the bed, his lithe figure losing all its color--
Just kidding. Guy's taken a bit aback by my little interjection. His mouth opens up a bit and he gazes at me like I just killed his father.
“...what do you want a lighter for...?” he manages to squeak out, still staring, like a giant whose quarters had been infiltrated.
“How else am I gonna immolate myself?” I reply, waddling on over to him, slap him on the back and get into position to jump off his twin-sized bed. “It's not the most honorable death, but it's a lot better than what happened to my old body.” Off I go, thunking onto the cream-colored carpet.
Kid stands up all of a sudden, hands shaking and eyes twitching.
“W-w-who are you?!” he stammers, falling back against the wall, keeping himself standing by pushing into the carpet with his black socks. I turn around and get a better look at who I'm dealing with.
With my beady little eyes, I stare into his, a pair of green eyes that make his rough features stand out; thick eyebrows, a caveman's chin and a rhinoplaster's nightmare of a nose only makes him look that more awkward in that wrinkled dress shirt of his. Needs a haircut, too, would keep all the grease from going to his face.
I point out at him with an unapposable finger. “You can't know who I am, but I know all about you, Jeffery...”
I move towards him, and his eyebrow slabs move higher and higher, his breathing growing short and steady, like prey being backed into a corner. However, the tension drops when I trip over a discarded pair of beige slacks sitting on the dusty carpet. I hear Jeff stammer out another question.
“A-a-are you a g-g-ghost?” he pieces out, apparently chattering his teeth. Pansy.
“...Can't you do laundry once in a while?” I query as I try to get up, not used to my new-found feather-weight. “Technically, no. I'm just using your puppet as a tool.” As I say this, I can't get a glimpse of his tiny abode from my low vantage point, so I motion at Jeff to make him pick me up.
“C'mon, kid,” I reason with him, “put me on your lap and I'll tell you allll about how I was shot down in a blaze 'a glory.” Gosh, I hope I'm not patronizing the kid.
He relents, drawing in air and exhaling, before slowly bending down on his knees and lethargically scooping me up. Kid seems tuckered out.
He sits down on the bed with a thump, and he looks into my eyes with a look of familiarity, mixed in with a bit of uneasiness.
“Okay, so, once upon a time, there was a magical place called the Capital Function Hall. At the stroke of eight o' clock P.M., there was going to be a gathering of creeps called puppeteers.” Jeff flinched, before raising his eyebrow and nodding slowly.
I continued, bringing my tiny hand outward in an arc. “Unbeknownst to the attendees of this gathering, there was a special guest in the audience! His name was Gonzo Bosso, head of the Bosso drug trade.”
“Pharmaceutical embezzzzzzzzzzlement,” he corrected me, straight-faced, eyes drooping. I ignored him and continued.
“Even less unbeknownst to the crowd was the crouching figure standing behind a bale of hay backstage, riiiiight next to the red curtain,” I explained, looking off to the side and into his vanity mirror.
“Do you know what was the most unknown thing of all?” I asked, leaning far into his field of vision. “The most unknown thing of all was...” I trailed off, rolling my googly eyes to the side and pausing for a moment.
“I don't know!” I yelled this out and there was another pause, before Jeff started to sniffle and break down into tears. Guess I hit a nerve?
Jeff-boy began to choke on his words. “It --sniff—didn't have to happen this way! Not –sniff—NOW!” I knew how he felt, but I couldn't react even if I wanted to. There was just something in me that prevented that, beyond just my wooden emotions.
For whatever reason, his reaction reminded me of my first time. Don't get all perverted on me, I'm talkin' about my first job, my first hit. Nostalgia works in weird ways when you regularly end people's lives; instead of a warm, fuzzy feeling, an assassin only feels coldness writhing under their skin, an icepack for your troubles that doesn't fix the underlying symptoms.
Speaking of ill will, I'd bet a hit that Jeffo's feeling a bit confused about all of this.
“I'm just so God-damn--hrrrrgh!!” he utters, slamming his clenched fist into the comforter of his otherwise stiff-as-a-board mattress with each word.
“Hey! No need to turn into a fat sack of tears, buddy!” Probably not the best thing to say, but he doesn't respond anyway, instead burying himself into the pillow and sobbing quietly and ignoring me all the while. Probably thinks he's having a fever dream.
...And there he goes. Out like a light bulb. Good riddance, too.
His desk lamp's still on, so I hop on over to his bedside table and poke around until the room's enveloped in darkness.
Kid's probably traumatized and here I am not giving a single damn. I know I ought to be feeling something, but I don't know where to start. It's just been so long since I've ever really been in a position to feel for someone; too much time I've spent treating people like pieces of meat. It's weird that my perspective on life is changing even with my death.
So...what am I gonna do now? Gotta think about how I'm gonna get back at that bastard who offed me! Yeah, that's what I'm going to do... Even then, what will I do after that? Probably can't sleep in this body, so I've got a whole lot of time to think. Where to start...
What's that banging? Musket? Max?
I leap up from my bed and I'm immediately wracked by pain. My neck's all stiff, probably because I slept on my shoulder instead on my back, like I always do.
The banging continues. What do they want? I lurch off the bed, feeling a small thump as I see Buddy drop to the floor.
Wait. Was that, last night... it was probably just a dream. It couldn't be.
I open the door, slowly, seeing Musket peer into the crack created by the opening.
“We mast exit quickly! It's under the ordars of Don Maximillian!” Musket whispered coarsely.
All the while, I'm thinking “...Bro's taken power already? Max...”