For All Nails Pt. 138e: Ultraviolet
June 4, 1949
A moment of deafeaning clarity. The shard of glass, long and wicked as a knife
through the bartender's neck. Escobar beginning to rise from the floor, blood
on his face and hands. The pain and warmth in his head, the red and orange glow
>from across the street. And the screams. Always, the screams.
"I don't know a damn thing, Danny!" Jose Marquez was covered in blood and dust
and pain. "I step into the letrina for five minutes and the fucking lugar
goes...oh, Madre de
Dios, Danny." He switched to Spanish, too furious and terrified for his second
language, cursing up a storm.
Deputy Daniel Ortega reluctantly turned and left his old friend. Marquez wasn't
badly hurt, but the doctors would watch him tonight. And for all that he wanted
to stay, well...his own grip on sanity was weak enough right now. The hallway
was crowded; the press of doctors and nurses, the babble of medical English in
the background, the smell of antiseptic and blood. Ortega was alone. _I'm a
policeman. I'm strong. The policeman es macho. El es roca... _
"Dan." "Walker." It was the first time Ortega had ever called his boss Walker.
The two lawmen found their way to an empty room and took their seats. Ortega
looked Walker over; the younger man would have been pale but for the dust and
sweat and blood. "You look like you should be colapso right now." "No, that's
just the scalp wound and the painkillers." The sheriff reached up and gingerly
touched his forehead. "Three stitches, and you know scalp wounds..." He paused,
almost shook his head, but settled for waving his hand.
"Never mind." Bush looked up at Ortega. "Five dead in the building, two
outside. Seven wounded, only one in the building." He shuddered. "It looks
like...three or four dina sticks, bundled together with some nails and through
the window. It bounced once, and then..." He cursed, shook his head, then
cursed louder at the motion. "It looks all the wounded are going to pull
through, gracias Dios..."
"Euh, siete..." Ortega stared at his hand, and at his hook. "Who would do this?
I'd heard of bombings at other Party buildings, in Viva[FN2] and San Juan, but
those were always local people; and who here would do this?" He looked at Bush.
"This is a small town; I grew up with these people. Many of them are asesinos,
but not like this. Not nochemalers, even if they do send money to the Causa on
"We'll find them." Bush spoke with the fervent sureness of an unsure man. "I've
got everyone who isn't digging through the rubble out canvassing the Redtown
area for witnesses or evidence, even the part-time deputies. Juarez is at the
harbor, looking for any new arrivals." He reached out and took his friend's
hand. "This is a small town. We stick together." It was the first time he'd
used we in referring to islanders.
"Sheriff?" Juan Cobb Escobar looked subdued. It was a very...strange look on
the man, his hands dotted with plastic bandages from the glass he'd put his
hands in. "Hablo with me for a minute?" Bush paused, started to rise, then
settled back down. _No, I won't do your white boy private time. Not now._
"Sure." He looked up at the Shore Patrol officer, who had the grace not to look
displeased. "We're still going hunting tomorrow, but if you need my boys to
help track this cabron down, canvass the area or do patrols..."
Bush paused, surprised, then spoke. "...No. Amatuers, on a job like this, it'll
just...attract attention. If your boys want to help with the clean-up, before
or after your hunt, we could use some strong manos there." Escobar shrugged.
"I'll, euh, see what I can arrange." He offered his hand to Bush. "That's some
mighty fine work you did, Sheriff." "Well, gracias..."
June 5, 1949
sun was bright today; throwing sharpness down on the impossible blue of the
sea and even on the muted colors of the Shore Patrol launch. Bush was in his
only clean uniform, with even the dress gaucho hat and five-pointed gold star.
"Bueno suerte to you, Captain Escobar. And all of you." He shook the hands of
all five crewmen, then of Captain Pablo C. Escobar himself, and managed a grim
smile. "You catch that cabron tiburon and you make him into soup. I've got my
beast to catch on land." He sighed. "And now I have to go to a memorial service
and explain to seven families what happened to their sons and daughters..."
"You'll get them, Sheriff." Escobar shook his hand firmly, for a man with his
injuries. "We're both damn good cazadors-" The captain's eyes widened; looking
over Bush's shoulder to the street behind him. "Abajo! ABA-"
Bush dropped to the dock. The navigator, his head a pink flower as a bullet
took him between the eyes. The radioman's scream as he fell from the dock, his
stomach red. The choking roar of the boat's main gun.
Bush turned his head to see a black Maria[FN3] accelerating forward, then
tearing into a lamp-post and stopped abruptly as it hit a wall, bursting into
heat and fire. The roar above his head abruptly stopped. He rose, acting on
instinct, and grabbed a tied-off line, running to where the radioman had
The man floated in a circle of his own blood, looking up at the sheriff with
pain-filled eyes. "I need some help here!" Bush started to tie the line to his
own waist, the rope rough around his leather belt, then saw The Shape.
Every muscle save his arm froze. Bush unholstered his revolver. The black form
vanished into the cloud of silt and blood around the crewman. Bush raised his
gun, the launch's crew thundering up behind him. The crewman just had time to
scream before he vanished.
Bush fired once, twice, three times, on either side of the dock.
It had been an eternity. it had been about twelve seconds.
The radioman's body was never found.
[FN1] Formerly the Kramer Clinic.
[FN2] OTL's Eureka
[FN3] Edison Motors: an old model, but reliable.