Sunday, January 18, 2009

Secret Identity #1.4

You never know who will cross your path, Barney wrote down in a journal. Most people are just background characters who are seemingly unimportant. People come and go and you may not even notice if one of them were to disappear.

Barney stood at the checkout in his neighborhood grocery store just after midnight. He was talking to Myrna who was a short and stocky redhead. She was wearing the standard green apron the manager of the store had all his employees wear.

"...So the tornado was expected to go right through the town but hit this giant hill and turned south then died down and the storm ended. That's the closest I ever want to come to a tornado," Myrna laughed as she handed Barney back his change.

"I've lived in Centropolis my whole life so I was never all that close to tornadoes," Barney chuckled.

"How come tornadoes never seem to go through big cities?"

"Ha! Don't tell Topeka that," Barney laughed.

Two nights later, Barney was back in the store talking with Myrna again. He was having her bag up his gallon cartons of chocolate and white milk he had just bought. "...And that's why I hate text messaging! He sent that message to me when he meant to send it to her. You'd think he'd double check that especially since he put her name into the text message!" she was noticeably upset but laughed as she wrapped the plastic bag around the milks and shoved them into another plastic bag.

"Guys can be jerk. I can't believe the way guys treat women sometimes," Barney said.

"I can tell you would never do that," Myrna smiled.

"No, I'd double check before sending the text."

"See? I knew you were a good guy," Myrna handed him the bag of milk and smiled at him.

It was several nights later before Barney came back and Myrna seemed to be in a dream-like state. "I want to move back home," she said. "Centropolis just hasn't been kind to me and I'm ready for a change. I should've known that I was born to just be a country girl."

Barney just listened to her, enjoying the sound of her voice.

A couple nights later, Barney returned and Myrna was gone. A stubbly-faced guy was in her place. Impolite and surly, Barney felt even more depressed as he left the store. Barney came back a couple nights later and saw the same guy working the register. Barney just left the store and returned to his apartment. The next day Barney went to see the store manager. "I don't know. She was a good employee. She just didn't show up for work a couple nights ago. Not like her to just not show up."

"Thank you," Barney said and began to turn around. "Oh, do you have her address? I just want to make sure she's all right."

"So I have free run to do what it takes to get the job done?"

Cal Nolan sat calmly at his desk in his office as he spoke to the person standing across the room. "Within the conditions we have already prearranged, Cross. You violate the terms of that contract and I will have you hunted down and killed like a rabid dog."

"Deal, Nolan. Just don't call me Cross," the man held out his hand and a compact gun appeared. It was very sleek but obviously very powerful. "It's Bloodspill."

Barney stood outside the high rise building that housed Myrna's apartment. It was an older building in an area that was the first expansion of Centropolis after the Civil War. It was a decent neighborhood despite the number of run-down buildings. Barney began walking up the stairs in the building--there was no elevator. Myrna lived on the ninth floor so it took Barney a while to walk up all the steps. Barney passed a couple of fellow tenants and nodded courteously to each of them.

When Barney got to Myrna's door. He softly knocked and waited about to minute and listened for sound or someone coming to the door. He then knocked louder and waited and listened. He then pulled out his tool he used to unlock doors and quietly and quickly got the door open and slipped in.

The apartment was a mess but no more than what Barney had thought it would look like. Barney decided to start in her bedroom. He pushed open the door and saw piles of clothes just laying on the floor. Myrna's mattress was just on the floor, pillow and blanket lying askew. She had two posters hanging up, one of the music star Pink and the other was an aerial view of Centropolis. Barney started in her dresser drawers and was stunned to see that she also had clothes in there. All he found was clothes and envelopes of pictures and moved to the bedstand next to the mattress on the floor.

A lamp sat on the bedstand along with an alarm clock. Barney opened the drawer and saw a hairbrush, hair scrunchies and some lip balm and a digital camera. Digging deeper in the drawer he found an iPod, flashlight and some condoms. He glanced over into the trashcan nearby and saw amongst the tissues, wads of paper and fast food wrappers a used condom. Barney sighed loudly and slid the drawer shut.

Barney started over to the closet but suddenly another girl entered the room, holding a baseball bat. Barney could see she was pregnant and looked like she just came home from work.

"Who are you? What do you want?" she shrieked.

"I'm Barney Renauld, a private detective. I'm looking for Myrna."

"Why? No one else cares she's missing," the girl put down the bat and crossed her arms across her chest.

"I go to the store she works at when she's there. We talked and got chummy..."

"The only guys she got chummy with she slept with. I'd suggest you check with them to find her but I couldn't give you names and only vague descriptions," the girl said.

"So she slept around a lot?" Barney asked.

"Not because she really wanted to but because she wanted some good to come out of this city. She had a dead-end job, no friends, bad apartment and her younger sister was knocked up. The city hasn't exactly been kind to her."

"She said the exact same thing," Barney said quietly. "You're her sister? What's your name?"

"Melanie. And I'm seven and a half months pregnant, just so you know," she said.

"Okay," Barney stammered, embarrassed that she knew what he was wondering. "Do you have any idea where Myrna might be?"

"No. And if I did, I would try to find her myself. Without her, I can't support myself. She was working to get me back home to Greensburg to be with our parents."

"Don't worry, Melanie. I'll get you back home to Greensburg," Barney said.

"Hmm," Melanie tossed Barney's comment away. "I'm gonna go lie down. Look around if you want, just be quiet. Lock the door on your way out."


Barney went back to looking around Myrna's bedroom. He fumbled through the closet, her dresser drawers again, through the clothes on the floor and through the trashcan but found nothing. He stood at the bedroom and eyed the room slowly, looking for anything that could tell him where Myrna was. He saw something on the ceiling in the corner and walked over to it. It was a decent sized crack in the ceiling. Barney pulled a chair over and stood on it. He reached his hand in and felt something. He pulled it out and saw it was a videotape. Breaking the Glass Ceiling III the box read. Barney automatically noticed it was an adult video.

"Well, this could possibly help," he sighed.

Mike waited in the reception room of his father's office while Cal was on the phone. After about ten minutes, Cal exited the office and walked to his son, who stood up. "Mike, my boy! Good to see you. Please come in. What brings you here?"

The entered the office and Cal shut the door behind his son. "Well, Dad, I have tried several papers in Centropolis and even a couple in the surrouding suburbs and no one will hire me. But yet they say that they love my stuff and that it fits the paper perfectly. I don't know what's going on."

"Well, job interviews can be very difficult. Maybe you can call the places that rejected you and ask what you did wrong," Cal suggested, turning away from his son.

"I was wondering...I have one last interview with the Leavenworth Daily Constitution and I was wanting you to make a phone call for me," Mike said.

"I'm surprised at you, son," Cal began, turning to Mike. "You've never asked me to use my influence to get you anything before. Why now?"

"Because I really want to work for a newspaper. I want to be a journalist and apparently I can't do this by myself. If I can get in, I could but no one's biting."

Cal exhaled sharply. "Son...Mike, I can't help you out with this."

"Why not? I know you hate journalists and the free press but this is important to me. The one time I ask you for help, you..."

"It's not because I don't want to. I can't. I told the editors not to hire you. I had my people make a few threats to the editors if they hired you. I don't want my son working for a newspaper. It's an insult to the Nolan name," Cal revealed.

"I can't believe you did that, Dad! Actually I can believe it but can't believe you went through with it when you know how important this is to me," Mike stood up and approached his father. "You done some pretty monsterous things and I have stood with you, albeit relunctantly, but this is the last straw. I'm moving out and away from you. Your son will no longer stand next to you when the media starts disecting your life. You are on your own, Dad. Good-bye!" Mike turned and left the office, slamming the door hard, rattling the windows.

Cal just stood next to his desk, staring.

Barney sat in the run-down and grimy office of Neil Rostock. Neil produced the video Barney found in Myrna's bedroom.

"I need to know when you filmed this video," Barney handed Neil the video and he eyed it suspiciously.

"Oh, this was probably six to eight weeks ago. You can make a lot of movies in this business. Sorry I can't narrow it down for you but I'd have to look it up in our directory," Neil handed the video back.

"Do you recognize the girl on the cover...the redhead?"

"I do. She was very popular around here when filming. Myra or something like that," Neil said.

"Was this the only movie she was in?" Barney asked.

"Yes. Which is unfortunate. I called her to be in a second after this one turned out to be so popular but she refused. Shame. We offered her triple what she got for that one."

"Why are you sweating?" Barney asked suddenly.

"It's hot in here. I need to turn down the heat," Neil said.

Barney glanced at the thermostat that read 62 degrees. "Mm. Did you see Myrna at anytime after filming this?"

"We did meet for me to offer to role in another movie. We had lunch, she refused, I paid and we parted ways," Neil said.

"I mean no offense, Mr. Rostock but I think you are lying," Barney said.

Neil leaned back and two guys came out of a room behind him. They were holding guns directly at Barney who was unflinching. "Strong words, Mr. Renauld. What proof do you have?"

"None. But from your demeanor I know you're lying. Myrna is missing, Mr. Rostock and there is no way she would just run away or something. She was caring for her pregnant sister," Barney said. Neil slid a pair of sunglasses over his eyes and wiped his brow with his sleeve.

"I haven't seen her since our lunch about a week ago. I hope she's all right," Neil said. "Please feel free to talk to anyone else in the video or with the production but I doubt anyone here knows anything."

"Mm. I'll leave now. Thank you for talking with me, Mr. Rostock." Barney got out of the chair and left the office, closing the door behind him and turning his back on the guns pointed at him. "Liar," he whispered softly.

Three bodies lay shot to death in the alleyway as Bloodspill exited the alley onto the street. It was his eighth kill since leaving Cal Nolan's office yesterday. He was proud of what he accomplished. Collateral damage. They didn't have to die but he preferred it this way. He was hoping Visor would show himself soon.

Bloodspill came upon a group of people leaving a movie theatre. He killed all of them, bringing his total to 25.

"That should bring him," he said.

Visor swooped down only a couple later as police car entered the area. Bloodspill manipulated a larger gun in his hand and used it to destroy the police cars. Visor flew head first into Bloodspill, plowing him into the theatre wall. Bloodspill used his big gun to blast Visor off of him. The shot propelled Visor into the middle of the street.

"I can't believe it took you so long to finally come. And you call yourself a hero," Bloodspill scoffed.

Visor staggered to his feet, unprepared for Bloodspill's move. "Well, I am new to this. Why are you doing this?"

"For fun. And because I was hired to," Bloodspill said and had another decent sized gun appear in his hand. He began shooting randomly at Visor who attempted to dodge the blasts but was hit a couple of times.

Visor flew at Bloodspill and punched him across the jaw, sending him sprawling. The guns hit the pavement and vaporized. Bloodspill quickly had another gun appear and shot at Visor. Visor was hit and sent back into a charred police car. Bloodspill run over to Visor and changed the look of the gun into an even bigger one. He pressed the barrel of the gun to Visor's temple and pulled the trigger. Blood spilled out of Visor's mouth and ear and his hair got singed and his visor cracked.

"This was a lot easier than I originally believed. Sad excuse for a hero," Bloodspill teleported the gun away and brought in a couple of even bigger guns.

"Like I said, I'm new," Visor coughed and reached for Bloodspill's hands. He knocked the guns out of Bloodspill's hands and grabbed ahold of them. Visor squeezed as hard as he could until he heard snapping. Bloodspill began panicking and screaming as his hands were being crushed. More police cars were able to arrive and see Visor bring Bloodspill to his knees.

As Bloodspill was taken into custody, he kept cursing, screaming and crying. Visor was talking to one of the officers about the fight. "So what exactly did you do to him?" the officer asked.

"I noticed that he could teleport weaponry into his hands so I took a chance on just shattering his hands. I know it hurt him but he's killed a lot of people just because someone hired him to kill me," Visor explained.

"Whoa. Someone hired him?"

"That's what he said. Hopefully you can get that information from him," Visor saluted the officer and flew off into the sky.

Cal watched the proceedings on the huge TV in his office. "Get Bloodspill the best doctor you can find to help him with his hands. While he did fail, he does good work," Cal told his lackey.

"And what about Visor, sir?"

"I know someone who can at least get him out of our hair for awhile but he is of no consequence right now. You are dismissed Oakley," Cal waved and turned away from the TV. Oakley left the office.

Kismet followed Neil around for an entire day. Not secretly or quietly but very noticablely. Every deal he made was witnessed by her and the deal went south. People Neil normally associated with ran the other way. As the sun began to set, Neil finally broke down. "What?! What do you want?"

"Even the pregnant sister angle didn't get you to budge, Mr. Rostock," Barney said, coming out of the shadows. "How does it feel to be missing from your life? Having a superhero follow you around isn't the best thing for a man in your profession."

"Why? Why are you doing this? Is this about that girl?" Neil started crying as he fell to his knees.

"'That girl'. Yes, it's about 'that girl'. You know where she is. You know where Myrna is!" Barney yelled.

"My boss demanded that she be in another film. I asked her and she turned me down. I just let it go but my boss he threatened me to bring her in. I went back to her and she turned me down again..." Neil sobbed uncontrollably but continued, "So I killed her. I told my boss she was hit by a car and he let it drop. It was her or me. I didn't want to do it but I had to...It was her or me."

Barney and Kismet watched Neil curl into the fetal position and sob on the broken sidewalk.

About a week later, Barney wrote, a funeral for Myrna was held in Greensburg. Her body was fished out of the Missouri River after my confrontation with Rostock. I paid for Melanie to travel back to Greensburg and was able to collect enough donations to help pay for a good funeral. Myrna's family asked me why I did this. I wasn't hired, I got nothing from it but their gratitude and I barely know Myrna. I just shrugged. 'Every background character is still a person' I said. And they all deserve justice.

Next Week
Barney is hired to solve a murder in the suburb of Tecumseh. Mike moves in with Andy, Kyle and Jess and goes to see if Alexis can get him hired at her paper. Andy returns to work and meets Mariah Routh after having a bad day.