The Smell of Bacon

PART I

The first thing he remembered was the sweet smell of bacon. Not just any bacon, but some sort of glazed sweet smelling bacon. His eyes and his brain battled to be the first to regain focus. Something felt cold against his face. “Wha…what happened,” he tried to mutter but what tasted like a mouthful of blood kept the words from fully forming.
“Spit it in the trash can asshole,” said a gruff busied yet calm voice.
Tommy Kirk’s eyes started to win the battle and he quickly realized that he was sitting in a kitchen. The cook or chef or whatever the fuck you’d call him was a burly, half-shaven and knit cap topped mountain of a man. “Keep the flank steak on that face my man, or that face is gonna swell up like a two year olds birthday balloons.”
Kirk felt a slab of something cold in his own hand. He pulled it from his face and glanced down. Sure as shit it was a hunk of red meat. He tried to crack a smile but the only thing that felt like it cracked was his orbital bone around his right eye. He leaned over and spit a mouthful of blood into the little red bucket the chef had placed beside his seat.
“What happened?” he mumbled.
“You my friend,” the chef replied cheerfully, “to put it bluntly, took one for the team.”
“I did what?”
“You saved McFinn’s ass my friend.”
McFinn, oh shit, McFinn…that’s right. Kirk remembered – the fancy cocktail joint, that guy raising the hefty white plate over his head behind him…
“And…you saved one of my best plates!” the chef laughed. “You’ve got a soft noggin dude. Didn’t even chip the thing! I owe you.”
“Who was that guy?” Kirk whispered.
“It doesn’t matter man,” the chef said with a suddenly very serious tone but never breaking stride with the dough he was working dutifully. “Here’s the deal. ‘That guy’ is very bad news. I’ve dealt with him many a time in my day job. He is serious business in this town. Very serious.”
His tone was sufficiently ominous to keep Kirk’s attention.
“He obviously had a “job” to do, and you warning Kirk like that – while heroic in most eyes – is very likely a death sentence in some other eyes.”
Kirk silently mused to himself, “of course”

The Paddy Wagon

The paddy wagon slammed its doors and slowly trundled down the iced alleyway with its cargo safely handcuffed in the rear. Sgt. McFinn sighed and looked at his watch. Two minutes till shift change. He would type up the Night Man report tomorrow. He didn’t want to go home back to the soon to be ex wife. Probably wouldn’t hurt to check out the new speakeasy everyone was talking about. He’d walk thru and see if the owners would offer him a cordial beverage. He slipped his badge into his pocket and headed in.

The place was packed. Everybody who was somebody in the Steel City was crowded around the bar, watching a dark haired gypsy tantalizingly crafting magic potions with deft skill. Another bartender stood next to her, like a bespectacled carnival barker, regaling the crowd with the historical footnotes they would surely taste in tonight’s special elixir. The proprietress glided past him with a welcoming smile and placed a Little King in front of him. “On the house, officer.” A wink and she was gone, into the crowd.

That’s when he saw Kirk. But it was also at that moment that Tyron “Lil Flip” Penny saw him…

The bar

Somewhat stunned by the realization that he was ducking out of this particularly brutal winter squall and into the building where his great uncle had met his final fate a half century ago, Tommy Kirk was pleasantly surprised when he’d opened the door to what turned out to be a pretty goddamn classy bar.

“Well I’ll be,” he whispered to himself, “This sure ain’t the old town I left.”

Folks were chatting comfortably and jazz was humming through the joint like a cool summers breeze. The smell of warm sauce and melting cheese filled the air and no one was cheering on another losing season in front of televisions as big as football fields.

“Well, well, well,” he chuckled as he thought, “if any of these folks knew Tommy Kirk’s story, they’d toss me out on my ass as soon as I’d turned the doorknob.” Kirk approached the crowded bar knowing that he knew just enough about drinking to not stand out like a sore thumb. Nodding to the pretty, dark-haired bartender he spoke with a quiet, lawyerly confidence “I’ll have an old fashioned please.” The bartender nodded, “one old fashioned, coming right up sir!”

“I could get used to this,” he figured as a smile started across his face. The Kirk’s were never smilers, but then again, they never seemed to have a goddamn thing to smile about.

The bartender eased a cool glass down onto the bar and slid it towards Kirk. “Hey, Tom Kirk,” said a voice from behind him. “Been a long, long time.” Kirk’s smile disappeared, he was a Kirk after all, and he turned. “Jesus Christ, McFinn?! Is that you McFinn? You’re a cop now?” Kirk could not help himself. He just started laughing. Laughing loudly. He glanced down and took a sip of his drink between chortles. Letting out a heavy sigh, he lifted his gaze back up and towards McFinn.

“McFinn,” he said with urgency, “DUCK!”

The Night Man

The Night Man swayed gently on his perch, 30ft above the ground, balanced perfectly atop the telephone pole he’d adopted as his perfect surveying spot. The winter winds didn’t bother him as he watched Tommy Kirk turn down Paradise Alley. His informants throughout the city were paid good money to let him know when someone came into town. By his walk, he knew the man was ex-military. Knew how to handle himself in a fight. But he was preoccupied. He hesitated before he walked into the new establishment that had suddenly opened its door in the heart of The Night Man’s city. He’d be keeping an eye on this place. He was still unsure as to what role it would play in the oncoming events of the sleeping town. Then he noticed the two thugs he was looking for. His eyes narrowed. Sgt McFinn would be the first to respond on the scene. He’d make sure the two perps could talk when he got there.

The air silenced and he launched himself into the fray…

Kirk’s Return

“Man it’s colder than a flat frog on a February Philadelphia freeway,” he thought as he decided to take a shortcut down the alleyway. “This was a big fucking mistake,” he mumbled aloud with no one around to hear him. The snow was cutting sideways from the north and running parallel to the ground. It hit his face with a force that suddenly reminded him of the sandstorm outside of that city, that damn city with the funny four letter name…Qatr? Qasr?… in Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield back in January of, what was it, 1991? “Jesus, I’m getting old,” he thought…or did he say that out loud as well? It didn’t really matter, he just knew he had to find someplace where he could get out of this suddenly terrible blizzard he’d found himself in.

It had been years – what, maybe ten? Fifteen? – since he had been back in his hometown and when news that Tommy Kirk was back on the streets of Lorain, Ohio, well, let’s just say that towns like this don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon for ex-con’s with a record as long as the Old Testament.

The wind was blowing in gusts and every now and then it seemed as though the snow would completely stop and the night would become surrealistically serene, damn cold, but serene. Which is exactly what happened as he approached the entry stoop with the weird red light glowing. Tommy took a quick step up and into the door cove and pulled his hoodie back.

“S..O..T..D? What the…?” He looked back out of the doorway to his left and then to his right. He swirled back around to look at the mysterious letters on the doorway again and only then did it dawn on him.
“Holy shit,” he muttered out loud. “This is the building where Uncle George fucking died.”

Introducing McFinn

“Jesus, it’s cold” whispered Sgt. Patty McFinn, the first responding officer. The precinct had radioed in the call at about a quarter past eleven. Two men had been found knocked unconscious in the middle of Paradise Alley, bolo tied together like something you’d see in a comic book. McFinn wasn’t surprised- this was the third such find this week. He didn’t touch the men because he knew Detective Shephard would want to inspect every inch of the scene. He hopped up and down, trying to stay warm while he waited for the investigators to show up. And that’s when a voice like the sound of slow, crunching gravel gripped him in a vice of icey terror: “This city is mine, McFinn. Tell your Captain to keep these lowlifes locked up…or I’ll hold him accountable.”

The Night Man.

He was real.

McFinn didn’t turn around, held hostage by a primal fear of what he’d see…until the whirl of what could only be a leather cape vanishing into the wind, released him. “Shit…”