Quantcast

Jump to content

» «
Photo

The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic

49 replies to this topic
Prasdana21
  • Prasdana21

    Snitch

  • Members
  • Joined: 24 Sep 2016
  • Indonesia

#31

Posted 08 December 2016 - 08:12 AM

I like your story, Michelle is one of my fav characters in GTA IV. When will you write a new chapter? :/
  • saintsrow likes this

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#32

Posted 11 December 2016 - 11:41 AM Edited by saintsrow, 4 hours ago.

 
This chapter follows CHAPTER 20
 
Karen’s getaway with Max continues...
 
Are the bad guys close behind her?  She doesn’t know ... and that’s the worst part.
 
 
 
CHAPTER 21:  Pain from the Past (Part 11):  Brazilian Getaway Special / The Red Eye Express
 
 
“Finally, Max and I were on the road, and we started to walk, at a fast pace.  We had to cover about two kilometers in 30 minutes, to reach the bus stop in time. We could still make it.”  
 
“Then abruptly, Max stopped.  He looked down at my feet and my pants, and his own legs and clothes, to see if they looked excessively grass-stained or muddy, such as, for example, if we had just crawled out of a wrecked car in a creek bed, or something.  It was a good time for a double-check, before the day got any darker.”  
 
“I plucked off some burrs that had stuck to my jeans, when I bounded through the brush to go potty.  Other than that, surprisingly, with a quick brush-off of leaf and broken twig debris from each other’s backs, and out of my hair, we looked clean enough, for what we had been through.”  
 
“I asked Max, who was wearing shorts, if his legs itched from the bugs, or from being scratched by all the brush.  He said, yes, they itched like hell, and his arms, too, from all the brush-cutting he had done, but he was tough enough to resist scratching them.  Now that’s *hardcore* badass.”  
 
“The sun had gone below the horizon, and it was getting to be dusk, now.  There wasn’t much traffic during the walk.  A few cars whizzed by, none stopping, which was fine, since I didn’t want anyone getting a close look at me, yet, until I got much further away from the fun and games I had participated in today.”  
 
“Max walked on the outside, kind of blocking the line of sight to me as the cars drove past at closest approach, which helped.  Also, he looked like the big tough guy that he clearly was, which probably dissuaded any drivers from stopping to offer us a ride.”  
 
“Even better, I was grateful that, so far, no Bahia police cars had pulled up, full of cops piling out and slamming me face down on the pavement, hogtying and arresting me for multiple murders, along with a few miscellaneous charges for assault and battery, arson, possession of deadly weapons, grand theft auto, trespassing, disturbing the peace, speeding, reckless driving, property destruction, arson, tearing up the flower beds in a fancy condo enclave, operating a motorcycle without a permit, and generally putting the big hurt on some of their gangster shadow employer’s stooges.”  
 
As Max and I walked along the roadside, making good time, we didn’t say anything.  I didn’t feel like talking, instead just mentally switching between contemplating my failed career, and continuing the train of thought I had started while crouching on the hill, hoping to come up with some next intelligent steps that might keep me alive and free.”  
 
“Max, lost in his own thoughts, didn’t have anything to say.  I could tell that he was an introvert, not a small-talk kind of guy.  When he spoke, it was for a purpose.  That suited me fine, now.”  
 
“I started to think, now, about what my mentors might be doing.  I wondered if they would be able to keep my name hidden, and even hide my past presence here in Bahia, so there would be no evidentiary association to them with my crimes of the day, if the police questioned them.”  
 
“Just like with David’s murder, although the cops would know that the mentors knew more about the situation, they could just shrug their shoulders and keep defending their original cover.  They’d say, ’How could we know who attacked us?  We were going to ask *you*.’”  
 
“In fact, so far, it was only David’s mentor who had a public presence here.  My mentor might do the same thing we did before – take the other Mesa into the countryside for a while, just disappear and remain unknown, until the cops backed off.”  
 
“Our mission had been set up to allow for contingencies, just general good opsec practice.  David’s murder had been a contingency, but it had been handled without blowing the op, at least until my rogue rampage, which I’d guess probably qualified as another ‘contingency.’  This one might be harder to cover up.”  
 
“I was vacillating between hope and hopelessness.  Independent of the cops, the gangster scum would now surely be thinking about vicious, quick revenge on me, and David’s mentor, because they would know that my rampage was revenge for their bomb attack.  They would be more insistent than the cops.”  
 
“If the police had already traced the Mesa back to the mentors, the trouble could really be starting for them.  But it was possible, even likely, that the Mesas were not directly traceable to us, probably instead pointing to some nonexistent owners, which would be Agency practice.  I decided to take comfort in the possibility that the Mesa trail might be a dead end.”  
 
“Probably by tonight, Agency planners, with their fake diplomats and fixers, would have time to come into the game, both remotely and face-to-face, to help impede the police investigation, to shield the op from exposure generally.  Hopefully I would benefit collaterally from that.”  
 
“I could still assume that the insurgents immediately started trying to track down David’s mentor, probably with help from their paid cops, and their eyes in the streets.  They wouldn’t care if it were my own rogue op, or if David’s mentor had ordered it.  They’d go straight to our new office, if and when they could find it.”  
 
“From there, it could be only a short step to my mentors being killed in retaliation, in some sh*thole jail cell, if the Agency didn’t have time to intervene.  I just had no knowledge of how things were going – the uncertainty was stressing me out, almost as much as the certainty of what would happen to me, if I didn’t get away from this.”  
 
“I was working myself up to another episode of big-time regret about this whole mess I had created.  As I was mentally walking through more of the events of the day, looking for more loose ends to worry about, in a random order as they occurred to me, my thoughts turned to the old man at the cantina, where he was going to stay, and for how long.”  
 
“I hoped that he would be able to keep out of trouble and still do business at his place, after the cops discovered and cleaned up the mess on the beach.  The cops, or the gangsters, would surely want to interview him, to ask if he was there when it went down, which he would, of course, deny.”  
 
“He would have to stay away long enough that the cops could convince the gangsters that line of inquiry was a dead end.  He’d probably have his own local friends or customers stop by his place occasionally, in the next couple of days, to keep tabs on any lingering gangster activity there, so he’d know when it was safe to come back and do business again.”  
 
“From that, I thought, yet again, about that final shootout at the beach, and how very close I had come to becoming a sorry example of bullet-riddled gangster payback – or almost blowing myself to bloody shreds, along with anyone around me, like Max and the old man.”  
 
“Up until now, I was only concerned with getting away from that scene, fast.  Thinking through the actual moments of that mad encounter, now, it struck me, how random and unbelievable it was.  Sometimes, fate is measured in milliseconds, or millimeters.  In this case, fractions of a second made all the difference.”  
 
“Max had saved me, requiring an almost instant decision on his part, as I had suddenly blasted into his quiet afternoon, out of nowhere.  That coincidence seemed even more weird and unreal, now that I had time to think about it.  If he hadn’t been there, it would have been game over for me, at that moment.  Why did he save me?”  
 
“’How did you know to shoot those bastards, back there at the beach?’ I suddenly asked him.  The words just came out, voicing what should have been my private thought.”  
 
“After just a moment’s hesitation, to register my question, coming at him totally out of the blue, Max replied, ‘Well, ... it did look a little one-sided, three assholes about to unload into a stunned teenager – that’s what I thought you were – without bothering with the negotiations.’”  
 
“He continued, ‘That’s the kind of scenario you see down where when a poor kid lifts a loaf of bread from the wrong grocery store, and the owner and his brothers take off after him, to make an example.  Their version of law and order.  I didn’t know the background, but generally, whenever I see a bunch of sh*theads pulling out guns, I just start shooting them.”  
 
“Sometimes, you have to choose sides in a hurry,’ Max added.  ‘Nothing more to it than that.  Basically, I see, I shoot.  I’m just a dumb move kind of guy.’”  
 
“He paused, apparently thinking of whether he needed to elaborate on that, then he added, “’Even though it’s gotten me into some deep sh*t, ... in the end, it was usually the right response.  I’m still here, anyway, but I sure as hell shouldn’t be...’”  
 
Max went silent, and I thought that was the end of it.  I wondered what he meant, that he shouldn’t still be around, when he further added, ‘... thinking back, I have worse regrets, when I didn’t start shooting soon enough.’”  
 
“I wanted to find out more about Max, later, when I felt like I could breathe free, but now was not the time – I felt like I was out of energy to talk, and I was sure that his could be a long story, even if I could get him to tell me.  For now, if anything, I needed to stay focused on escaping.”  
 
“I started to realize, generally, how tired I was, really fatigued.  Three nights of grieving and restless sleep, being on adrenaline all day, killing 9 or 10 scumbags, thrashing a dirt bike in a race for literal life or death, and almost getting sprayed point-blank with a couple of SMGs, tends to do that to you.”  
 
“On top of that, resigning myself to the big sleep, the final curtain, courtesy of a grenade, was weighing on me.  The Agency calls it the Easy Way Out, but when you’re about to do it, you find that it’s a bit more complicated, and emotionally draining, as the memories of your whole life, and the sudden cosmic uncertainties of your existence, all rip through you in an instant.”  
 
”It’s funny, at that moment, in the sand, as soon as I realized that I wasn’t going to pull the pin, although I didn’t have even a split second to think about it at the time, a phrase, a random memory, popped into my head, sort of bringing me back to the realization that I was still on this side of the rainbow.”  
 
“It was a quote from a rapper; I remembered it from college, some party I attended.  The quote was, ‘I’d never wish death on nobody.  There ain’t no comin’ back from that.’  I didn’t realize how deep, and how infinitely serious, that little throwaway line was, until it had almost happened to me.  A one-way trip to eternal oblivion.  The heaviness weighed on me.” 
 
“After my lone question to Max, I returned to my pessimistic thoughts and worries, turning them over in my mind, with no resolution.  As we walked, and each minute ticked by, my fear started to increase again, thinking what a stupid decision it was to be exposed out here, walking on the open road, with nowhere to flee, if the gang were to figure out that I had come this way.  Now I was regretting that we had abandoned the car.”  
 
“I started to obsess with the feeling that the cops or the gangsters could be on us at any moment.  The crime scenes were hardly an hour away, by car.  I wished I were halfway across South America by now, away from all this, but I wasn’t.  I was working myself into another panic.”  
 
As we walked, all those sorry thoughts must have shown in my expression, in addition to my already bad case of ‘I’ve-thrown-my-life-away-again’ face.  Max could probably sense it, even in the dimming evening light, just by the way I was hanging my head, even without looking directly at me.  I was feeling increasingly nervous and paranoid at any sound of a vehicle approaching us from behind, and feeling really down, in general.”  
 
Finally, we could see the bus stop a few hundred feet ahead.  Max suggested, ‘When we get near the crowd up here, maybe you should try to act a little bit animated.  Just a little.  You know, try to look normal, as opposed to looking like a morose, desperate, shifty-eyed fugitive killer, I mean.’”  
 
“As if I could just change my mood, like that, especially with all the worries I had generated for myself, today, on top of the grief of David’s death.  Under my breath, I grunted a dry, downbeat, sarcastic ‘Right,’ in response.”  
 
“He continued, ‘This is just a suggestion – we look like American tourists, so we should play the part.’  He paused, then added, ‘To make it clear, I don’t mean as a fawning couple, but just as fellow travelers, headed up the coast, enjoying the leisure life, such as we are.’”  
 
“’Leisure life,’ I sarcastically repeated.  ‘Shhhiiiittt,’ I sighed, chuckling dryly, at his little joke.  But even that small distraction, a few words from Max, made me feel better, knowing that I wasn’t alone in this, for now.”  
 
“Max then fished the bus route map out of his pocket.  I thought he was going to double-check the schedule, but he said, ‘On the back of this bus map are some ads for tourist traps along the green line, here.  You can see which ones are up ahead, and which ones are behind us.’”  
 
“’Maybe when we come up to the bus stop, we can just say a couple of coherent English sentences about one of these places, to fit into the tourist role.  Then I’d suggest that we don’t overdo it, and just stand off to the side, where we hopefully won’t get bothered.’”  
 
“Max continued, ’And after we get on the bus, it’s probably a good idea not to do much talking, about our present situation, obviously.  When we get to the end of the green line, we can go outside the terminal and strategize, before getting on the transfer bus at the Sergipe border.’”  
 
“I liked that approach a lot – and I was glad that Max said ‘our’ situation.  It was so wonderful that he had at least temporarily bought into this debacle with me, and he was thinking logically for both of us.  My day had been just a little out of the ordinary, and I wasn’t back to clear thinking, just yet.”  
 
“Losing David, and going rogue, had cut loose my sense of belonging to the Agency, and with it, that confident feeling that I could rely on my automatic, trained reactions.  When acting for the Agency, the sense that they had my back, that I was part of a large, powerful machine, made me feel much more confident.  I realized how much I missed it, now that it was gone.”  
 
“I was just winging it now, and it was probably going to go downhill from here.  I only had one clear goal, to get as far as I could, as fast as I could, from the scenes of my crimes, without tripping myself up, by doing something stupid.”  
 
“We quickly came up to the bus stop.  Per Max’s suggestion, I had squinted at the ads on the bus map, in the falling darkness, and as we got within earshot of the five people waiting there, I made an innocuous comment about a restaurant in Salvador, that was advertised on the back of the map.”  
 
“Max said one generic sentence about a hotel up ahead, in Sergipe.  All the people at the stop were local, no English-speaking tourists, which was good, as they might have engaged us in conversation.  As we approached, we walked up behind the crowd, and no one made any particular effort to get a close look at us.”  
 
“It occurred to me that the mention of the hotel name might be good disinformation, in case any of these people were to be questioned about me, later.  It was a random choice, and there was no reason that we would actually go there.  At least I was still thinking a little bit tactically.”
 
“We had arrived at the stop with about 5 minutes to spare, if the bus were to be on time.  We continued to hang back behind the crowd, silently.  After a minute, I just sat down cross-legged on the berm and rested.  I was exhausted, with vague aches flashing through my limbs and back and neck, from the various exciting vehicle wrecks I had enjoyed today.  After all that, plus the brisk walk, it felt so good, to just sit still.”  
 
“Before I had a chance to start thinking about my situation again, I think I dozed off, just plopped down there on the ground, my chin in my hands.  I came back to reality when the Linha Verde bus arrived, only about 5 minutes late.  That arrival was a great relief to me, hoping that it would begin the journey to take me a long way from my troubles.”  
 
“After waiting for the five locals to get up on the bus, Max and I stepped up and boarded.  While I lingered behind him, Max showed his ticket, and bought one for me, to go the rest of the Linha Verde to Sergipe.  The driver didn’t take any special notice of me.  So far, so good.”  
 
“We walked to the back, passing a couple of passengers nearby, one asleep, and the other completely absorbed in playing solitaire on their phone.  Max took the window seat, and put me on the aisle, saying that he expected I might have to run back to the bus’s toilet, based on my emergency bio-break at the stream.  Ha ha.”  
 
“After only a kilometer or so on the bus ride, I didn’t know it then, but soon I had fallen deeply asleep, my body quickly seizing the opportunity presented by this new droning, calm, gently swaying environment.  "I was exhausted physically and emotionally.”  
 
                                                                  ---
 
“I suddenly woke up, with a violent start, as I felt someone’s arm grab me from behind.  It was dark.  At first, I didn’t realize where I was, but my panicked thought was that I had been caught by the police or the gangsters, pretty much exactly what going on in my restless dreams.  I felt paralyzing fear, for a moment, and then the impulse rising in me to lash out, with all my force, to make a last stand.”  
 
“Then remembered I was with Max, and I realized that he was holding me, his arm around me, on the bus seat.  I was a little surprised, and I quickly looked up at him, wondering why he had suddenly grabbed me.  He just said, ‘You almost fell off the seat, into the aisle.  Go back to sleep.’  I understood, and was quickly asleep again, my head resting on his chest.”  
 
                                                                    ---
 
“Much later, I was jolted awake, by the bus lurching to a stop.  I didn’t know how long I had been asleep.  The dim interior lights in the bus had come on, so all I could see were reflections in the dark windows.  I wondered if we had already gotten to Sergipe, or if this was another bus stop.”  
 
“I dazedly looked up toward the front, and I heard and saw the driver opening the door at the front of the bus.  He was talking to someone standing outside the door, out of my line of sight.  Then I was able to see lights moving, through the windshield in front of the bus, and some activity out there, illuminated by the headlights.”  
 
“Suddenly, a policemen stepped up, walking onto the bus.  He paused and said something quietly to the driver.  Then his eyes roamed across the passengers, and it looked like he was about to head down the aisle toward us, at the back.”  
 
“My fear went full scale, instantly!  I realized now that this must be a police checkpoint, out in front of the bus.  I imagined that it was an APB just for me, and I knew my life was over!!  Oh, god, I was suddenly so scared!  My heart was beating faster than I knew it could.”  
 
“I tensed every muscle, ready to leap, run up the aisle and past the cop, knock him down, take his gun, to do something, anything!  As I thought further, my mind suddenly racing, I began to anticipate how I would be able to bolt from the gaggle of cops that were surely outside, waiting for me.”  
 
“Would they shoot me down, as I tried to run?  Which way should I go?  Could I run off the road, through the brush?  Could I carjack a vehicle from any other civilians waiting at this checkpoint?  Could I carjack one of their cop cars?  Could I jack the bus and toss out the driver, smashing my way through the checkpoint, before they could unload multiple clips into me?  No way, I thought.  Pure panic engulfed me.”  
 
“Max tightened his grip on me, his arm still around me, with an almost excessive amount of force, and said, quietly, ‘Cool it, calm down.  We already got through one of these rodoviária checkpoints, a while back.  Set up by the Federal Highway Police, the Highway Patrol.  You were conked out, drooling on my shirt, during the last one.”  
 
“He continued, ‘It’s a typical thing on these longer bus routes.  They’re just looking for local troublemakers, drug traffickers, thieves, cheating husbands, political dissidents, the kid who banged the mayor’s daughter; you know, the usual suspects.  It’s not all about you – you’re not the only perp in all of Brazil; you’re probably not even the only fugitive mass murderer today.’”  
 
“He continued, ‘Now wipe that look of wide-eyed terror off your face, or they’ll think you’re a first-time drug mule or something.  And stop shaking, before you get us both busted.  Pretend you’re asleep, leaning on me.  It worked last time, and you didn’t even know it.  You’ll be fine.’”  
 
“While trying to assess the validity of Max’s suggestion, I was momentarily paralyzed with indecision, between my instinct to survive, and my growing trust in him.  He had helped me plenty, already.”  
 
“After a couple of seconds, I did as Max suggested, and laid my face back down, against his chest, to the warmth that was still there.  It’s irrational, but it made me feel safe, like pulling the covers over my head, when I was a little girl.”  
 
“In practice, I figured that if there were trouble here, Max could handle it – I wasn’t alone, now.  The cop was still busy talking to a couple of passengers up front, in the seat behind the driver.  I hoped to hell he hadn’t seen me almost lose it.  I was still shaking.”  
 
“Max slightly loosened his iron grip, and said to me, hushed, ‘Just take some deep breaths.  Relax all your muscles.  Zone out.  Pretend you’re meditating or doing yoga or some new age sh*t like that.  Don’t worry.  You’ll be looking away from him, with your head down, so he won’t even be able to see your face.’  I tried to do what Max said.”  
 
“My eyes were closed, but I could hear the highway cop getting closer now, as he continued to work his way down the bus aisle, toward us, talking to the other people on the bus.  He was asking some of the passengers their name, and their reason for being on the bus.”  
 
“I was still terribly worried, but I felt safer, with Max holding me, still fairly tightly – much safer than if I had been alone.  I probably would have completely lost it, if I had been in this situation by myself, only hours after my rampage of vengeance, afraid that the police were in closing in on me, every minute.”  
 
“Eventually, the policeman got back to us, and asked if we were Americans.  ‘Americanos?’ he said.  Max said yes, that’s us, the ugly Americans, and the cop started talking in accented but fair English, asking for our names, passports, where we were coming from, and where we were going.”  
 
“I was still feigning sleep, my face hard against Max’s chest.  I could feel Max tense his muscles, ever so slightly, just in case he had to act quickly. My fear level stayed – I couldn’t help but think again that this checkpoint activity was all about me, despite Max’s assurances, and I wondered how he was going to answer the cop’s questions.”  
 
“Max casually replied that we were coming from São Paulo, and we were taking the slow road to the Yucatán, ‘the *real* slow road,’ he added.  ‘I’ve got lots of time.  I’m a retired snipehunter, ... professional.’  He paused, then added, ‘Business was good.’  I almost laughed.”  
 
“In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t too rational for me to think that the cops, or in this case, the Brazilian equivalent of the Highway Patrol, would be on to me already – it wasn’t really likely they would have figured out yet that I was the perp they might or might not even be looking for.”  
 
“But on the other hand, I was worried about the gangsters already tipping the police that the fight had headed north, if the thugs in the cars had reported back, by cell phone, where they were chasing me, just before the showdown on the beach.  They must have called, at least, to report the location of their three dead buddies by the cabin in the woods.”  
 
“Even if the description were just ‘an American woman, throwing grenades and shooting everybody,’ it might be enough to suspect me.  We weren’t that far away, yet, less than 60 kilometers, probably.  I didn’t know how much they knew, and that ambiguity left a lot of room for worry.”  
 
“Max told the cop his name was John Marston, and said my name was Lara Croft.  I thought, wait, what the hell?  Maybe that’s the name that Max is using on his passport, but it made me more worried, that if the cop saw my Karen Daniels passport, in my jeans pocket, I’d be in even more trouble.  I wasn’t a happy camper right now, for sure.  But I continued to pretend sleep.”  
 
The cop asked, ‘What’s with her?  Why can’t she answer for herself?’”
 
“Max kept his arm firmly around me, still wary.  He replied, ‘Montezuma’s Revenge, amigo.  She ate a bad chimichanga for breakfast.  We got some pills at the drogaria; knocked her right out.  Maybe she shouldn’t have taken them on an empty stomach.’”  
 
“Max went on, ‘You don’t want to wake her up, or she’ll probably turn around and barf down your pants.’  Then he paused, apparently waiting to see if the cop would believe him, but quickly added, ‘I already found out what that was like.  It wasn’t pretty.’”  
 
“I was still scared half to death, but Max’s humor was starting to lower my stress level.  I kept still, aware of every muscle, consciously relaxing everything, as Max had suggested, to ensure that I didn’t give myself away with a nervous tic, like tapping my foot, or something.”  
 
“The cop made a doubtful grunt, then said, ‘Let me see her passport.  And yours.’  But Max didn’t budge.  I could tell he wasn’t the least bit intimidated by this kind of thing, the threat of trouble with the police.”  
 
“Max answered, ‘She’s really sick, pal.  She already blew everything out her ass a couple hours ago.  Jesus, what a mess.  I’m tellin’ you, Federale, it’s best just to let her sleep.’  I thought, goddamn, Max, that’s too much information.  But now he really was almost making me laugh, trolling the cop, hard.  I had to keep still.”  
 
“The cop didn’t say anything for a few seconds.  It sounded like there might be a standoff.  I was getting seriously worried again.  Max was dead still.”  
 
“But then the cop said, ‘The fine for not producing a passport on demand is 100 dollars American, cash.’  There was another uncomfortable pause, only about a second, and then he added, ‘Each.’  
 
“We were in a bribery scenario now, I understood, with some relief.  It wasn’t about me.  Max decided to bargain, or to troll the cop some more.  He said, ‘Funny thing, the last guy said it was 50 bucks.  Law’s changed in the last 90 miles?’”  
 
“Max waited, making no move, for the policeman’s response.  I was aware now, of the other passengers, talking casually, just relaxed banter, having picked up their conversations from before the bus came to a stop at the checkpoint.”  
 
“I guessed that they regarded this as a typical occurrence – no excitement, nothing to see here.  Just another day on the bus, another police checkpoint, no panicked Americanos going to be beaten and dragged away screaming, while demanding to call their lawyer, as though they had any rights down here.  It was all over but the negotiations, now.”  
 
“I waited for the cop to say something.  Instead, I heard him unclip a radio from his belt, and he mumbled something into it, maybe to let us know that he had cop friends he could bring into this.  From the tinny, harsh-sounding speaker, there was a simple, distorted, one-word acknowledgement.”  
 
“I was suddenly worried that the next sound from the radio would be, in Portuguese, ‘Americans?  Is it the crazy American woman murderer?’  My fear rose again, and I held my breath, but there was no further reply.”  
 
“Then I felt Max moving to reach into a pocket in his shorts, with his free hand.  Since I was facing away from the cop, I was able to open my eyes to dimly see what Max was doing.  He rustled around in the pocket and slipped out about five or six $20 US bills, reached past me, and handed them to the cop.  He said, ‘This is as good as it gets, pal.  You’re rich.’”  
 
“There was another silence.  I could tell that the cop took the bills, and then he again spoke a short, indistinct phrase into the radio.  There was another short reply and a burst of static, and I heard him click the radio back on his belt.”  
 
“That was that, apparently.  Business was successfully concluded.  I think he was happy to get that much, probably four times his wages for today, or more, depending on the local black-market foreign exchange rate for US dollars.  Jackpot – for the cop, and for me.  I think I audibly sighed with relief, but I hoped the cop hadn’t heard it, or just thought I was me breathing in my sleep.”  
 
“Max had mostly loosened his hold on me, now.  Still not moving, I kept my head down, sensing that the cop had turned away, and then I heard him walk up the aisle to the front of the bus.  I hoped that was all there was to it.  He said something to the driver, and then I heard the driver close the bus door.  After another 20 seconds or so, the driver slapped the bus into gear, accelerating.”  
 
“I let out a long, shivering sigh, my teeth almost chattering with fading fear, my face still pressed against Max’s chest.  Max squeezed my shoulder a little bit, in response.  We were on our way, again, to Sergipe, and I soon fell back to sleep, the adrenaline surge once again fading from its now familiar hollow in my gut.” 
 
                                                                   ---
 
 

Prasdana21
  • Prasdana21

    Snitch

  • Members
  • Joined: 24 Sep 2016
  • Indonesia

#33

Posted 12 December 2016 - 12:52 AM

Finally, a new chapter and it's a great one :D

  • saintsrow likes this

Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

  • Zaibatsu
  • Joined: 01 May 2009
  • None
  • Most Creative [Writing] 2016
    Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#34

Posted 16 December 2016 - 08:48 AM

Two years in a row. Keep up the hard work, man. Congratulations.
  • saintsrow likes this

Hullian111
  • Hullian111

    Humberside County Did Nothing Wrong

  • Members
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2016
  • United-Kingdom

#35

Posted 20 December 2016 - 09:10 PM

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."
  • saintsrow likes this

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#36

Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:24 AM Edited by saintsrow, 26 December 2016 - 11:22 AM.

Two years in a row. Keep up the hard work, man. Congratulations.

Thanks for your kind words.  I do feel a bit guilty about intruding on your writing section in 2015, out of the blue, with this story.  Since the serialization of this story is rooted in the ever-popular Karen Daniels thread, it surely got more exposure than the serious work here in this writers' subforum.  So I can imagine that's the main reason the KD story got the degree of forum recognition that it did, both years.  
 
This serialization went way beyond what I expected or planned.  I should have stopped it at Chapter 6.  But it kind of took hold, and this stuff just kind of writes itself (though I have to be sitting at the keyboard for it to do so).  Writing it is almost the same thing, in a way, as reading it for the first time, and wondering where it's gonna go.  The part that takes real time is the re-writing and the editing, but even that's pretty fun, too.  
 
Now, this serialization is at a point where I feel like it needs a proper conclusion, rather than just sputtering out because I got tired of it.  A third act has formed in my mind, but unfortunately, it's going to require 10 or so additional chapters, to wrap up.  I'm afraid it's in danger of dragging out into exposition without enough interspersed excitement.  
 
I recall reading some writers' advice (maybe in your thread) that writers have to keep writing, to maintain their discipline, and they have to finish what they start, or they can't legitimately wear the label of "writer."  So I'm going to try to push through to the end of this thing.  My biggest and real worry, right now, is that I don't see it all converging to some grand, inevitable, dramatic conclusion, but just kind of continuing the story until an episodal stopping point.  That would be disappointing.  Maybe it will shape up as I get there - that's part of the fun.  
 
Writing this thing been a fantastic learning experience, seeing how word choices are made, tuning up the flow and the rhythm, kind of emulating an author that I like, while trying to maintain a style of my own.  This process has given me great insight, actually, into the artificiality of novels and scripts / screenplays.  Now, when I watch a movie, with each scripted line, and each plot device that comes along, I can imagine the thought process of the writer and the other creatives, and the practical limitations and problems, of each medium.  Movies in particular feel very artificial to me now.  That's not a bad thing - it's satisfying to watch and re-watch them, in that way.  

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#37

Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:30 AM

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  

 

I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.  


Hullian111
  • Hullian111

    Humberside County Did Nothing Wrong

  • Members
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2016
  • United-Kingdom

#38

Posted 26 December 2016 - 07:46 PM

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  
 
I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.
*coughs up link* - https://www.fanficti...Fall-Of-Liberty

Karen pops up in C13. But read the whole thing for context, its really good.
  • saintsrow likes this

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#39

Posted 26 December 2016 - 09:49 PM

 

 

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  
 
I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.
*coughs up link* - https://www.fanficti...Fall-Of-Liberty

Karen pops up in C13. But read the whole thing for context, its really good.

 

Thanks for the link.  The story does look good, atmospheric, at first glance.  I'll take a closer look in next few days.  So I see 758 GTA fanfic stories there - depressing, as I said, to be such an insignificant part of this landscape.  It's like going to the library or the bookstores, and seeing thousands of books - it's overwhelming.  But thanks again!  


Carbonox
  • Carbonox

    Too weird to live but much too rare to die

  • Daily Globe
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2011
  • Finland

#40

Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:54 PM

 

 

 

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  
 
I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.
*coughs up link* - https://www.fanficti...Fall-Of-Liberty

Karen pops up in C13. But read the whole thing for context, its really good.

 

Thanks for the link.  The story does look good, atmospheric, at first glance.  I'll take a closer look in next few days.  So I see 758 GTA fanfic stories there - depressing, as I said, to be such an insignificant part of this landscape.  It's like going to the library or the bookstores, and seeing thousands of books - it's overwhelming.  But thanks again!  

 

That's only the ones rated from K to T (a default setting for guests). When taking everything into account, there's a whoppin' 1.5K of them. :p

  • saintsrow likes this

Hullian111
  • Hullian111

    Humberside County Did Nothing Wrong

  • Members
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2016
  • United-Kingdom

#41

Posted 27 December 2016 - 07:35 AM Edited by Hullian111, 27 December 2016 - 07:40 AM.

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  
 
I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.
*coughs up link* - https://www.fanficti...Fall-Of-Liberty
Karen pops up in C13. But read the whole thing for context, its really good.
Thanks for the link.  The story does look good, atmospheric, at first glance.  I'll take a closer look in next few days.  So I see 758 GTA fanfic stories there - depressing, as I said, to be such an insignificant part of this landscape.  It's like going to the library or the bookstores, and seeing thousands of books - it's overwhelming.  But thanks again!
That's only the ones rated from K to T (a default setting for guests). When taking everything into account, there's a whoppin' 1.5K of them. :p
K to T?

Oh god, there's some Rule 34 fics in there somewhere.

Anyway, let's get back on topic.

Carbonox
  • Carbonox

    Too weird to live but much too rare to die

  • Daily Globe
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2011
  • Finland

#42

Posted 28 December 2016 - 04:41 PM

 

 

 

 

 

So we're writing about Karen?
I raise you a quote from my favourite fanfic. Simple, yet effective. (am on mobile) (INEXPLICIT SPOILER WARNING)
" "Karen?"
She smiled.
"It's Michelle, actually." She said, before she fired."

Using a Google search, I couldn't find this fanfic that you referenced.  Can you point me to it?  
 
I have to say, I may just glance at it for now, because I don't want it to color or influence my work in process.  Also, when I start looking at the massive amount of fanfic out there, just for GTA IV or the GTA series themselves, let alone everything else, I get a bit depressed about how insignificant this writing effort is, just whistling in the wind, tears in the rain, piss in the pool.  You get the idea. :p Takes a few days to recover from that.
*coughs up link* - https://www.fanficti...Fall-Of-Liberty
Karen pops up in C13. But read the whole thing for context, its really good.
Thanks for the link.  The story does look good, atmospheric, at first glance.  I'll take a closer look in next few days.  So I see 758 GTA fanfic stories there - depressing, as I said, to be such an insignificant part of this landscape.  It's like going to the library or the bookstores, and seeing thousands of books - it's overwhelming.  But thanks again!
That's only the ones rated from K to T (a default setting for guests). When taking everything into account, there's a whoppin' 1.5K of them. :p
K to T?

Oh god, there's some Rule 34 fics in there somewhere.

Anyway, let's get back on topic.

 

Just to add to my comment, not everything is really worth checking out - especially after GTA V came out, they've had a lot of unoriginal fics where a female OC falls in love with Trevor.

 

Instead of that, I prefer reading something more creative, like a male OC falling in love with Karen Daniels. You don't see that every day. :sly:

  • saintsrow likes this

albanyave
  • albanyave

    Hustler

  • Members
  • Joined: 26 Feb 2011
  • None

#43

Posted 04 January 2017 - 07:56 PM

Hey saints. I've been reading Karen s adventure and I am really enjoying your style. Your writing has a lightness to it. Even when stuff is hitting the fan, your words flow easily. This is truely a feel-good story and I find myself cheering for OP to win at everything. He is so lovesick.

Great job. Two awards in two years. Well deserved. Keep at it.
  • saintsrow likes this

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#44

Posted 18 January 2017 - 03:27 AM Edited by saintsrow, 4 hours ago.

Karen's desperate story of escape finally continues ...
 
 
And I ran, I ran so far away.
I just ran, I ran all night and day.
Can I get away?
 
 
Karen has survived a potential brush with the law, while on the late-night bus taking her away from her rampage of blind revenge.  But can she really get away?  
 
 
This chapter follows CHAPTER 21
 
 
CHAPTER 22:  Pain from the Past (Part 12):  Brazilian Getaway Special / Borderline Anxiety
 
 
Karen was still going strong, with her long tale of troubles in Brazil, and I was entranced.  The Los Santos night was coming on, as we leaned on the railing at the end of Pleasure Pier.  Since we both were still wearing our executive suits and jackets from the conference, the cooling night air was not at all uncomfortable; in fact, it felt good on my face, which was almost feeling a bit flush, with the gravity of Karen’s story.  
 
Karen continued, “I slept the rest of the way, to the bus terminal at the Sergipe border.  I woke as the bus bounced over a low curb at the entrance to the station.  Max noticed me coming around, and said, ‘End of the line.  This is where we get out.’  He was still holding me to keep me from falling off the seat.  Disengaging from Max, I sat up, yawned and rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up.”  
 
“We waited until all the other passengers had gotten off.  I got to my feet, steadied myself, and felt the aches of my exciting day darting through my limbs and neck, but they weren’t too bad; not a problem, yet.  I woozily headed up the aisle, while Max pulled his duffel bag from under the seat in front of him, and followed me.”  
 
“As we came up to the front, I looked closely, in the dark, at the bus’s old analog dashboard clock.  I knew it was working, because I saw the driver checking it when we first got on.  It was after midnight-thirty, now.  I wondered if Max had gotten any sleep on the trip; I figured, probably not.”  
 
“We stepped down from the door, into the poorly lit parking area for the buses, some distance from the station.  The other passengers had already gotten their luggage, and were heading for the building, followed by the driver, after he had locked the cargo door.”  
 
“We were standing just outside the door of the bus, which faced away from the station.  Max said, ‘I’m going in to get a schedule and tickets for the bus line, on up the coast.  It’ll probably only go as far as Aracaju, though.  Might be a good idea for you to stay outside, over here behind the bus, in case there’re cameras in the station, or outside it.’”  
 
“I agreed, good idea, for me to stay away from the station, and thanked him again.  I remained standing on the dark side of the bus.  After a minute, still weary, I sat on the pavement, in shadow, leaning back against the warm front tire.  No one was around.”  
 
“While sitting there, I started trying to think again about all the consequences of the day, to evaluate my risks, but I didn’t come up with any new thoughts, and having no new information, I couldn’t bring myself to run through the same litany of concerns in my mind, yet again, like another cycle of a nightmarish fever dream.”  
 
“Instead, I tried thinking toward the future.  But that wasn’t working, either.  My mind was numb.  I was gripped with the simple concept of getting away, with an ominously growing feeling of regret about my actions, that had led to this situation.”  
 
“I could repress that regret, though, and I did, with my knowledge that this was all for vengeance, the purest and basest motive of man and beast – or in this case, of woman.  My vengeance was dedicated to David, the person who mattered most to me in the world.  Our shared Agency career had become my bedrock, my purpose in life, and now it was all lost.”  
 
“Suddenly, I realized, acutely, deeply, how much I missed David in real time, in the here and now.  It hit hard.  I hadn’t imagined, until this instant, the impossible alternate reality, that if I were in this same mess, but David with me, both of us gone rogue together for some outrageous transgression like this, it would be the most wonderful adventure of my life, pure fulfillment.  Instead, David was gone, my Agency career was gone, and I was all alone, on a sh*tslide straight to hell.”  
 
“I cried out, a clipped yelp of despair, quickly silenced, like I had suppressed under the blanket the first night at the new office, after David’s murder.  In rage and frustration, I banged the back of my head against the bus tire, and – realizing how much that hurt, but still needing to do something, something physical, to mitigate this violent emotional pain – I leapt to my feet, feeling a crazy impulse to run somewhere, somehow, away from it.”  
 
“But I knew that I couldn’t run in any direction, any physical direction, to flee this pain, this grief, this loss. The overwhelming shock of that terrible, terrible moment, kneeling in the grass next to David, came back to me – the hard reality of irreversibility, finality, the realization that the universe could never be the same.”  
 
“I found more tears, standing there in the shadow.  My throat was still raw and tight from all the crying I had already poured out, for the past three days.  I had to decide which way to go now, bashing my fists against the side of the bus, primal screaming, to no avail, ending with me breathless and exhausted, flopped down on the pavement in a fetal position, convulsed with grief – or instead ... to get myself together.”  
 
“I decided I had to keep it together.  I had to.  I wasn’t actually alone – Max was helping me – the only thing I had going for me now.  I didn’t want to screw this up, or to let him down.  I furiously paced up and back the length of the bus twice, trying to dissipate the urge to run, while blinking out the tears, returning my focus to reality.”  
 
“I stopped near the front of the bus, where I had started, still in the dark.  As I was numbly standing there, unsettled, trying to decide what to do next, Max returned, silhouetted by the lights of the station, as he came around into shadow, walking up to me.  It looked like he had papers in his hand.”  
 
“I was glad it was dark in the shadow, so Max couldn’t see that I had been crying.  I’d been a scared-sh*tless, hysterical, bawling wreck, from the moment I met him; it was just getting embarrassing now.”  
 
“He was about to speak, when another bus turned into the station, from the Sergipe side.  I realized they we were going to be right in its headlights.  It felt like the spotlight was on me, the last thing I needed when I was feeling that every moment was a threat to my freedom and my life.”  
 
“Max apparently saw my sudden shift in body language, my eyes darting around, as I considered whether I could run around to the other side of the bus, away from the bus’s lights.  He said, ‘Don’t worry,’ and still facing me, he moved to stand between the bus lights and me, so I was in his shadow.”  
 
“In the same movement, he moved close, to hug me lightly, so it looked like we were just a tourist couple having some private time, out here in the dim light.  I buried my face in his shirt, yet again, facing away, to hide from the view of the driver and passengers, as the bus inched past us, to park nearer the station.”  
 
“But Max had seen my red cheeks, sad eyes, and newly tear-stained face, for just a moment, in the brightening lights when the bus first turned in.  Still holding me, watching the bus drive past, not looking down at me, he said flatly and quietly, ‘You crying again?’”  
 
“My throat was still tight.  I nodded my head silently, my cheek pressed flat against his chest.  Max replied, ‘You’re going to have to tell me about it, sometime.’  I nodded again, and sniffled back a quiet sob.”  
 
“After a minute, Max let go of me, and I was okay for now, wiping my eyes and nose on my sleeve.  I looked down at the papers in his hand.  He flipped them around so I could see them, in the dark, such as it was.  ‘Tickets to Aracaju,’ he said.  ‘We’re set.’”  
 
“Max said there were no security cameras in the station, but a sign inside indicated that foreigners were going to have to show passports to get on the bus going on into Sergipe.  He said, ‘This might be a problem.  You have a passport?’”  
 
“I was about to answer, but Max continued, “When that cop asked, I didn’t know if you had one, so I played it tight.  He played along, and got a nice paycheck.  But it’s a little harder to do a blatant bribe like that, standing in a boarding line, and riskier than just flashing the passport, if you have it.  The drivers hardly look at it, anyway.  Bus company just wants to cover their ass.”  
 
“He went on, ‘You know, it’s like cops – asking for your papers is their opening line, to see if you seem to have anything to hide; or if you fit one of their profiles, like a suspiciously-acting local, out of place, thinking of causing some trouble.’”  
 
“He paused, and added, ‘... or maybe if you strike them as some kind of violent, desperate, fugitive killer gringo.  They’d be all over that.’  I could tell that Max just couldn’t help making a cynical observation, especially one that was so clearly true.  It should have reminded me again of how worried I should be, but his humor took the edge off.”  
 
“I replied that I had my passport in my pocket, and I told Max I had been worried about the lie about my name, that he told to the cop at the rodoviária.” 
 
“’What’s your passport say your name is?’ Max asked.  “So I can save a hundred bucks, next time,’ he added with a smile, to show he meant it as a joke.”  
 
“’Karen Daniels, I replied.”  
 
“’Oh, yeah, that’s right, Daniels, Karen, IAA covert op, motocross madwoman.  Almost forgot,’ he said. ‘That was a couple of near-death experiences ago.’”  
 
“’Ha,’ I laughed, weakly.  ‘Near-death.’  For me, anyway, it felt too true.”  
 
“I asked Max if he had ever seen any officials or ticket agents on the bus lines actually enter the passport info into a computer database; he said no, not on all the buses he had ridden so far, in the past week or so – they just glance.  That made me feel a lot less scared about it.”  
 
“Max then added, “For future reference, if you hang back and watch, and if you see them recording the passport info, or even bothering to look at it more closely, you could fold in a couple of $20 US bills on the inside cover.  When they open it up, maybe they’ll understand the game you want to play, and take the bribe.  That’s what I did at a checkpoint a few days ago, just because I didn’t feel like answering any questions.’” 
 
“I told Max that if I did that, I’d be worried that they might decide to arrest me for offering a bribe.”  
 
“Max replied, ‘In that case, just put on your sweet, innocent face, and look all manga-eyed and shocked, say ‘Who, moi?  Little naïve tourist girl?  Why I never even thought of such a possibility, senhor honorable police-man, sir.  I was just storing those bills in there for my bus fare.  ...and bat your eyelids.’” 
 
“Max made a comical smirk, as he imitated an innocent-sounding American southern belle.  It made me laugh.  Dropping the cute act, Max added, ‘And then they’ll pocket the money, and send you on your way.’”  
 
“He got more serious, and said, ‘The worse way it could go, is that you might come up on an honest, straight-arrow civil servant or cop, they refuse the bribe, get suspicious, and hold you there while they actually make an extra effort to check your passport against the open APBs.’  Even in the near-darkness, in the faint glow of light from the station, at the mention of the APB, Max could see my sudden look of concern.”  
 
“To reassure me, Max went on, ‘But this is Brazil.  The chances of meeting an honest, un-bribe-able cop down here are just about zero.’  He paused, and then added, ‘Looking back, I think I met the only one in the country, a couple of weeks ago.’”  
 
“He went on, ‘What usually happens is that as soon as they see the cash – which is like an instant gift of two days’ pay or so – they completely forget about the passport.  Their mind is already focused on what they’ll do with that money, and whether they can discreetly shake you down for any more.  Don’t worry about it.’”  
 
“Max’s advice jived with our Agency orientation before we came to Bahia – bribes are the way anything gets done quickly here, legal or illegal, and American money was much more valuable for this.  But I told Max I only had Brazilian Real notes.”  
 
“In response, he partially unzipped his duffel bag, reached deep down inside, and pulled out a thick black nylon pouch, on a black nylon tether.  He flipped it over and ripped open the Velcro, reached in, and handed me a thick wad of $20 US bills, at least 100 of them.”  
 
“’Max,' I exclaimed, ‘this is too much!’” 
 
“Max replied, ‘Don’t worry.  On the job I just did down here, this isn’t even pocket lint.  In this country, except for the pious people busting their asses doing honest work for a pittance, you’re either a dirt-poor street thief, or a rich, corrupt corporate thief.’”  
 
“With his familiar cynical inflection, Max continued, ’I was cleaning up a mess, for some of the rich ones.’”  
 
“‘Well, OK, I can understand that,’ I said.  ‘I won’t put up a false show, pretending I don’t need it.  I put myself in a hell of a jam down here, without thinking past my blind drive for revenge.  Right now, I just want to escape from some really bad actors, who would gleefully cut me into little pieces.  That’s why I wanted to get you and the old man out of there, so those f*cking bastards wouldn’t go to work on you, to try to get to me.’”  
 
“As Max stuffed the pouch back in his duffel bag, he replied, ‘It’s a few hours till the bus to Aracaju leaves. Maybe it’s a good time to tell me what the hell you got yourself into ... just so I know whether to help you out of it,’ he paused, purposely, ‘... or flag down the polícia and turn you in,’ he continued, finishing the sentence with his wry tone of voice, that I was getting used to.  I knew by now, that was not a literal statement, but his sincere form of humor.”  
 
“It was his world view; it seemed like Max’s way of coping – to look at the f*cked up world with cynical, biting, ironic, dry, downbeat wit.  I could see how that might work pretty well, if you’ve seen too much evil, and too little good.  It’s like a shield against all the sh*t.”  
 
“Maybe you’ve seen a little bit of that in me, O. P., a coping mechanism,” Karen mused, glancing sideways at me, briefly, in the dim evening skyglow of Los Santos, gently illuminating the breakers and the coastline around the pier.  “Except, I’m just cynical and angry, rather than witty and ironic.”  
 
I knew it was true, that Karen is almost always angry and unrelentingly hardass, but seeing her make eye contact with me, even for a second, in the midst of this long sad saga she was telling, almost made me swoon with love and awe.  I was living the story with Karen, and I was empathizing with all of her fears.  
 
I again had the impulse to reach out and hug her, hold her, as tightly as I possibly could.  My eyes started to tear up, as I turned to her.  I wanted to say something, anything, to comfort her.  My voice cracked, as I started to whisper, hoarsely, “Karen, I ...”
 
But she quickly raised her hand to silence me and wave me off, subtly but firmly.  Karen had already shifted her gaze away, to look back out over the dark ocean, and then she said, meaningfully, ”Save it for later, O. P.; this story isn’t over yet.”  
 

                                                                            ---

 

 

Stay tuned for CHAPTER 23:  Pain from the Past (Part 13):  Brazilian Getaway Special / The Night is Long

  • Prasdana21 likes this

Prasdana21
  • Prasdana21

    Snitch

  • Members
  • Joined: 24 Sep 2016
  • Indonesia

#45

Posted 24 January 2017 - 01:28 PM

So sorry I forgot to read the Writter's discussion forum. I just want to let you know, I'm still following your story as I'm a BIG fan. I don't know if I could give you a feedback or not since English isn't my first languange, but I'll let you know that I keep reading your story by clicking the likes button everytime you post a new chapter.
 
But of course, if you want a feedback, I'll do my best.
  • saintsrow likes this

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#46

Posted 24 January 2017 - 07:43 PM Edited by saintsrow, 4 weeks ago.

 

So sorry I forgot to read the Writter's discussion forum. I just want to let you know, I'm still following your story as I'm a BIG fan. I don't know if I could give you a feedback or not since English isn't my first languange, but I'll let you know that I keep reading your story by clicking the likes button everytime you post a new chapter.
 
But of course, if you want a feedback, I'll do my best.

 

Thank you!  An author values readers more than anything else.   :)  Your likes, and your time to read it, are much appreciated.

 

I'm just using the Writer's Discussion forum here as a nice place to contain my serial fanfic about our dear Karen, all in one place, so it's more coherent than the scattered bits of it in the Unofficial I Love Karen Daniels thread.  Therefore, I'm not putting it here expecting a lot of feedback, since there are other long and well-written stories here that are published with an invitation to review.  

 

But, if you have any reader's thoughts about the characters, plot, pacing, boring parts, breaks in the logical flow at both granular level and high level, or ambiguities that you noticed, or anything else that strikes you as not quite as it should be, please feel free to mention it here, at your leisure.  

 

Thanks again!  

 

 

EDIT:  Experimenting with font size here.  I'm planning to edit my story posts into a larger, more readable font, like albanyave uses.  It really helps the readability.  

 

Arial Font Size 12

 

Arial Font Size 14

 

Arial Font Size 18

 

Tahoma Font Size 12

 

Tahoma Font Size 14

 

Tahoma Font Size 18

 

Times New Roman Font Size 12

 

Times New Roman Font Size 14

 

Times New Roman Font Size 18

 

Verdana Font Size 12

 

Verdana Font Size 14

 

Verdana Font Size 18

 

Georgia Font Size 12

 

Georgia Font Size 14

 

Georgia Font Size 18

 
 
 
 

albanyave's font:  “Alright. Bye.”

“Alright. Bye.”

“Alright. Bye.” Verdana 14

“Alright. Bye.”  Tahoma 14
“Alright. Bye.”  Tahoma 18
“Alright. Bye.”  Arial 14
“Alright. Bye.”  Arial 18

“Alright. Bye.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright. Bye.”


Prasdana21
  • Prasdana21

    Snitch

  • Members
  • Joined: 24 Sep 2016
  • Indonesia

#47

Posted 24 January 2017 - 11:31 PM

 

 

So sorry I forgot to read the Writter's discussion forum. I just want to let you know, I'm still following your story as I'm a BIG fan. I don't know if I could give you a feedback or not since English isn't my first languange, but I'll let you know that I keep reading your story by clicking the likes button everytime you post a new chapter.
 
But of course, if you want a feedback, I'll do my best.

 

Thank you!  An author values readers more than anything else.   :)  Your likes, and your time to read it, are much appreciated.

 

I'm just using the Writer's Discussion forum here as a nice place to contain my serial fanfic about our dear Karen, all in one place, so it's more coherent than the scattered bits of it in the Unofficial I Love Karen Daniels thread.  Therefore, I'm not putting it here expecting a lot of feedback, since there are other long and well-written stories here that are published with an invitation to review.  

 

But, if you have any reader's thoughts about the characters, plot, pacing, boring parts, breaks in the logical flow at both granular level and high level, or ambiguities that you noticed, or anything else that strikes you as not quite as it should be, please feel free to mention it here, at your leisure.  

 

Thanks again!  

 

 

Your welcome and to be honest, I never have anything to complain about your story. I really love great stories like this one, Mokrie Dela's City of Lies series, and Albanyave's Liberty City Limits. You 3 are great and I'm going to write a story of my own :)


saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#48

Posted 02 May 2017 - 05:06 AM Edited by saintsrow, 4 hours ago.

 
All right, loyal fans of Karen!  Finally, here’s another chapter of Karen’s Bahia adventures, so many months overdue!  
 
The delay is not my fault; I blame Twitter, the worst productivity destroyer since … all the other social media.  
 
In any case, on to the story.  It’s been a rough day for our dear Karen, but now she has downtime to talk with Max.  
 
Apologies that this chapter is all talk, talk, talk.  Maybe things will get more exciting, soon.  I bet they will.  
 
 
 
This chapter follows CHAPTER 22
 
 
                                   ---
 
CHAPTER 23:  Pain from the Past (Part 13):  Brazilian Getaway Special / The Night is Long
 
 
Payback has its price.  Karen’s story had her holding at the border of the Brazilian state of Sergipe, waiting for the pre-dawn bus that she hoped would further her escape from Bahia, from escalating counter-retribution by the degenerate gang scum who had killed her soulmate, David.  
 
But there were hours to go, in this darkness, before she could be on her way.  Max had asked her how she had gotten into her deadly situation.  
 
Without further delay, Karen continued, “I suggested to Max that we get back on the now-empty bus we had arrived in, while we talked, so I didn’t have to worry about getting caught in any more headlights.  Max nodded agreement, and we stepped back up through the open bus door, and took seats in the front, sitting on the opposite sides of the aisle, in the still, quiet darkness.”  
 
“With a deep sigh, I started telling Max a streamlined version of the story I’ve been telling you, O. P., beginning with a quick – and depressing – intro, of what I’d gone through before the Agency rescued me – just the summary version of how I had f*cked up my perfectly ordinary, straight-arrow life, leading to how terribly low I felt when it all caved in, when I was looking at years, maybe even decades, of federal prison time.”  
 
“I could tell that Max understood that part plenty well – what I had to experience to get through it, including the terrible coercion and miserable, shameful undercover work for the Agency, in exchange for getting my life back.  I didn’t dwell on that any further, and it wasn’t germane to the situation at hand, anyway.  But I needed to set the stage.”  
 
“Max understood the dark side of life.  Responding to the story of my sad detour from a civilized life, he briefly told me he that used to be a cop, and a detective, which explained a lot to me, just in that one statement.  It made sense.  Max said he had seen plenty of lives go wrong.”  
 
“Most of those people’s downward spirals, he noted, had already started out with something off center, in their backgrounds, something intrinsic to their character, or bad upbringing, just plain persistent bad luck, being born into bad circumstances and bad culture, bad peers, bad life decisions, even childhood lead poisoning, whatever – sometimes, even when they were trying to do the right thing, those problems finally caught up with them.”  
 
“In any society, so many people get dealt a bad hand, and they never have a chance.  Of course, human nature being what it is, Max said, when things go bad for somebody, they often turn bad themselves, and the cycle continues.  He’d dealt with a lot of it.  He added, ‘I’d feel sorry for them, except they’d all turned into assholes by the time I met them.’”  
 
“Max said that he had only rarely seen a truly innocent, ‘advantaged’ citizen, like me, f*ck up as badly as I had succeeded in doing, to land a long stretch in the federal pen her first time out, after the plea bargains.  I don’t know if that made me feel better, or worse.  Worse, I think.”  
 
“Then I told Max how I subsequently was talked into joining the Agency, how it made me stronger, gave me purpose, training, a rich culture to develop my latent talents, a true feeling of belonging and fitting in, and a noble purpose.  It was almost like a new life, seemingly destined for me.”  
 
“Hearing that, Max mused that, yeah, he’d tried to make a fresh start a few times, but he added, prefaced by a brief, unintended sigh, as he was trying, unsuccessfully, to sound cynical, ‘... it ... didn’t work out so well ...,’ an undertone of sadness coming through in his voice, that he couldn’t conceal under his self-depreciating hardman demeanor.”  
 
“It was the first hint I had that Max had his own internal vulnerabilities, his own past hurt, still alive inside.  Forgetting my own story, I reflexively asked Max, ‘Why didn’t it work out?  What went wrong?’”  
 
“Max replied, ‘Not now.  It was a slip; I shouldn’t have said anything.’  He sounded exasperated at himself, for saying something personal.  Then he went on, ‘We’re talking what kind of mess *you’re* in, so we can be prepared.  Let’s stay focused.’”  
 
Karen continued, “Max was right, and I could tell that he was in no mood to talk about his past, anyway.  I decided that I’d try again, later.  I continued to explain to him my function in the Agency, and David’s relationship to me, in that context, so he would know I was justified in what I had done today, that this was not just the latest insane act of the unstable, crazy, emotionally broken woman that he had met only hours ago.”  
 
“It wasn’t hard for me to recount those early couple of years after I joined the Agency, reliving my ‘resurrection,’ excelling at Agency training, learning from amazing mentors, forging a new life from the mutual support that David and I gave to each other.  My life at that time had been so fun and fulfilling, it made me happy, just to retell it.”  
 
“After I had described to Max the dynamics of David’s and my relationship, as we grew together in the Agency, the way that we felt so mutually conspiratorial, adventurous, and overconfident – thinking that we were so talented and so ‘cool,’ totally in the zone, hyperaware, seemingly functioning above the tedious lives of most of our classmates and peers, let alone the clueless regular citizenry – Max started to see that I also had that intrinsic flaw, which inevitably, subtly, caused me to veer off the rails of a boring, quiet life.”  
 
“Max said, “I get you now.  You fit the pattern.  You were special, but you didn’t know it.  It would have come out, eventually – it’s inevitable, with people like you.  You’re a born rule-breaker and situational risk-taker; you needed to be unique and self-motivated, way above the path of an ordinary life.  Maybe why you took to spy work, so well.’”  
 
He continued, ‘I bet, even back when you were still a teenager – probably reading young adult adventure novels and identifying with the protags – you had that predilection for the adrenaline rush, not at the physical level, but for the intellectual, emotional lure of danger and intrigue, doing something meaningful, aspirational, rogue, cutting through the conventions that constrain ordinary life.”  
 
“I replied, ‘I guess you worked it out, Max.  I hadn’t thought about it quite like that before, but it’s true; I was always thrilled by the secret adventures of the female heroines in those novels.  I daydreamed adventures that I made up, where I was clever, clandestine, cool, capable, and a little bit naughty, operating outside the box, to thwart the evil scumbag villains, and bring them down, hard.’”  
 
“Those fantasies always ended with me riding off to the horizon in some high performance car or helicopter, or a jetpack, or on a thoroughbred, for new adventures, silently but deeply appreciated by all the people I had rescued, as they wondered, ‘Who was that amazing girl?’”  
 
“Sometimes, my adventures included a lovestruck boy who temporarily became my sidekick, and we’d flirt, but somewhere along the way, I’d have to leave, and break his heart.  Max chuckled at that.”  
 
“But they were all just fun flights of fancy.  I never envisioned actually having a life like that.  Like most of the other kids, I realistically expected to grow up, get a boring degree in some boring subject, get a boring job, get married and have a boring family, then see my kids do the same thing, while I grow old.  The cycle of life.  I thought that’s what it’s all about.  Most people do.  They know their dreams are nothing but wishful fluff.”  
 
“But less than a decade later, my wild daydream fantasies turned real, when I got involved with those criminals in college, with that toxic boyfriend – at the time, it felt like I had discovered a whole new life, a more exciting life on a new plane, running with the grown-ups, losing my innocence in what I thought was a good way.”  
 
“I had an important role to play in their big caper; it was dangerous and cool.  I knew I could do my part well, and I did.  But what a f*ckup it turned out to be.  When I first got into it, I never imagined how evil it was going to turn, but it all went very bad, very wrong, after my part was done.”  
 
“I realized then that I had been deceived and used, making me regretful, bitter, cynical, angry – all those adolescent girl dreams turned inside out, blown up in my face.  It became my real life hell, versus my daydream heaven.”  
 
“’Then there was the federal takedown, the recriminations, the sleazy, squirrely accusations all around, all the slimy bastards involved trying to blame everything on all the others, including me.  Calling them ‘rats’ would be a supreme insult to rats.’”  
 
“And then it was all over, and I was alone, shamed, forgotten, looking at years in an orange jumpsuit, behind concrete and steel, walking a tightrope of fear, every day a bringing a new, unexpected threat.”  
 
“I truly didn’t think I would survive for long, and I didn’t want to, in that federal prison.  I was suicidal.  I figured that the first line of my obituary, in some tiny corner of some city newspaper, would be, ‘She died in prison, in disgrace; a wasted life.’”  
 
“Max commented, ’Too bad it went so wrong for you, so young.  But then, most people go bad when they’re still young.  Damn shame.’  I agreed with Max about that, for sure.  Even though I hadn’t ‘gone bad’ myself, at least not in my own mind, the results were the same, either way.”  
 
“Enough about that; too much, really.  I changed the subject, going on with a somewhat extended description of the kinds of skills and missions that were part of my Agency training, kind of like reciting my professional resumé.”  
 
“Without needing to expose any secret info, I dropped a lot of Agency buzzwords and buzzconcepts, scenarios and situations, intended to verify to Max that I really was deep into this business, not just a poser or a dilettante who got her spy-tech vocabulary from reading cheap spy thrillers on the airplane; not some criminal conwoman constructing a fantasy life, after skating out of the federal lockup.”  
 
“Max completely got this; I could tell he understood a lot of the concepts, the methods, and the real and implied restraints we worked under.  Then he told me that had been DEA for a few years, so he knew how federal agencies work – and don’t work.  So Max wasn’t just a cop, but federal.  That was surprising, and interesting – I realized then that Max’s life might have more in common with mine, than I had first thought.”  
 
“Maybe that would help explain why he was hanging at a lonely, forgotten cantina, on a forlorn bay in Brazil, ready and able to cap a carful of thugs as an instant reflex, like it was just another lazy beach bum afternoon for him.  What was he doing there?  I really wanted to hear Max’s story, if I could pry it out of him.”  
 
“Finally, I got to our Agency assignment here in Bahia, my first big mission, with the beautiful satisfaction of working shoulder to shoulder with David, on a real Agency op, here in an exotic tropical locale, a promising start to a worthwhile and unique career.  I was feeling on top of the world.”  
 
“ ... up until David’s death, three days ago.  I described that night to Max – the horror of seeing David die in helpless, paralyzed agony, knowing the instant destruction of everything that my life was built on, and the future it had been leading to.  Complete loss of everything that David and I were, at that moment, and everything we would have ever have become, in an eyeblink.”  
 
“As soon as I told Max this, I felt the rage and grief come, welling up from within, forcefully and reflexively, just by recalling that cursed night at the blockhouse, only a few long, surreal days ago.  I choked up; I had to turn away, grimacing, growling with frustration through clenched teeth, trying futilely to hold my emotions in.”  
 
“More tears fell from my eyes, squeezed tight shut.  I was hyperventilating.  This was the worst wave yet.  My throat went tight as piano wire.  Every muscle in my body was fighting, trying to tear my bones apart.  I could feel my heart slamming against the inside of my rib cage.  I wanted to scream, but I was able to repress it to a low, agonized keening.”  
 
“Without the laser focus I had when I was planning my revenge, there was nothing holding me together.  I was lost, and I felt myself falling again, helpless, like I had earlier today, when I first grabbed Max.  I knew now, what a breakdown feels like.“  
 
“Again, I wanted to give up, just give up, on life.  I clutched the back of the seat, with white knuckles, and then banged my forehead against the back of my hands, sobbing with unrequitable loss, fighting down the hopelessness, while feeling so embarrassed, on top of my grief.”  
 
“I finally got it under control.  Muscles gradually loosened.  Then I sat there, recovering, rapidly gasping, wasted, head down and eyes still shut, suddenly aware of the scent of the day’s gunpower, drifting off my hands.  The roaring in my ears and my head had slowly subsided, replaced with the close, quiet ambience of the empty bus.”  
 
“What a pathetic display.  Max would just have to imagine the hotshot, super-confident ass-kicking spy-woman that I had been describing to him, because all he had seen, since he met me, was the emotional wreck sitting across the aisle, breaking down yet again, here in the dark.”  
 
“After a few minutes, I regained my breath and resurfaced, back to reality, as Max waited, silently, knowing that it would have been pointless for him to offer any attempt at comforting platitudes, in the middle of my little personal crisis.  I appreciated that.  Then I just looked blankly at him, having forgotten what I was saying, before the thoughts of David’s horror had nearly strangled me again.”  
 
“’For what it’s worth,’ Max said softly, ‘I’ve been there.  But I’m not going to talk about it.  Your move, when you want to continue.’”  
 
“I slowly recovered the train of thought of my story, and I finally did continue.  David’s loss and terror were devastating to me, but my career with the Agency, and my skills, were still my burning core.”  
 
“That’s how I knew, intrinsically, that I could undertake my mission of revenge, without even questioning my ability to do so.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to doubt my abilities, as my plans came together, seemingly intuitively.”  
 
“Of course, actually executing those plans inevitably scrapped the career that had enabled their success.  I could never go back to the Agency, now.  I actually hadn’t thought about what the f*ck I was going to do, after this.”  
 
“I didn’t see a future for myself.  If I had gone rogue like this in the US, I might have been able to live a fugitive life, eventually settling naturally into some new, obscure identity, like I had done for my undercover work.  But it was worse, being stuck in Brazil.  I couldn’t fit in, here.”  
 
“Finally getting to the point, I explained the basic background of our Agency op here in Bahia, so it would be clear to Max what kind of situation we had on the ground, and the scope and kind of enemies we had made – that being the core of his question, about how I had gotten into this mess.”  
 
“I wasn’t naïve when I got into this business and this mission; I made sure that Max understood that.  I already knew that we were in an adversarial position relative to the insurgents – that was the entire essence of our mission, and the core of most Agency ops, to impede the bad guys – but it never occurred to me how it could really play out, that it would hit so close to home, so soon.”  
 
“Our work was hidden, benign.  The long term result of our op, shutting down the insurgents’ operations, months in the future, was an abstraction to me, even though I knew full well that it would be implicitly violent, and plenty of bad actors would get hurt.  I certainly had no problem with that, in the abstract.  I just felt that our surveillance ops were the “clean hands” side of the business.”  
 
“Even the psyops / humint part of our mission, the part that David and his mentor conducted, was soft, clean, and cooperative, just grooming sources, mostly to their possible future benefit – not threatening, hurting, extorting, coercing, betraying or blackmailing anyone.  Our mission seemed noble, even genteel, far removed from the brute work that would come later.”  
 
“I imagined that, a year down the line, comfortably back in one of the Agency’s US field offices, I’d simply read about our counterinsurgency op in a nice, polished report, that would show up one day in my email.”  
 
“The report would start with the humint-based discovery of the original chemical weapons threat, the confirmation via overhead surveillance, and the government justification for active measures, then segue into a nice description and results of our surveillance and humint-psyops work, which I expected to enjoy and take pride in reading, together with David.”  
 
“After a section describing the insurgents’ plans and operations, and the decision to neutralize them, the report would get into the results of some sort of Agency-managed Merriweather type of direct-action counter-op – facilities and operations shut down, the hierarchy of insurgent bosses eliminated, statistics regarding seized money, documents, facilities, weapons, and drugs, takedown dates and places, body counts, and a self-congratulatory summary of the geopolitical benefits.”  
 
“As a result, a year after all the action was over, we’d all get recognition on our performance reviews, for our contribution to a successful intervention against a destabilizing threat in our southern hemisphere.  The world would be safe once again, oblivious to the danger it was in, thanks to the highly skilled, super-secret action of the Agency, with its crack teams of professionals.”  
 
“I didn’t really connect that potential future violence to our more civilized and sterile intel / surveillance work.  But the problem was, the insurgents had hired that gang of dickhead thugs to conduct their local operations, such as enforcing the coercion at the chem lab.  Those dimwit gangsters chose to play a different game with us, as soon as our op was exposed, after that preening twit of a mission chief brought it all down.”  
 
“Max said he understood, too well, how oblivious bosses, and incompetent underlings, can really f*ck things up for everybody – they do it so predictably and thoroughly, it’s a talent that should be on their résumé, he joked.”  
 
“Talk about idiot middle management f*cking things up.  Those gangster fools should have gone to their insurgent employers for guidance, to get a greenlight, for doing a hit.  The insurgents wouldn’t want a high-profile incident.  Their power is in their stealth.”  
 
“The insurgents would surely have told those dumbass thugs to hold off, so that they could figure out who we were, reel us in, watch us to find out our methods, see how much we knew, then ramp down and move out their activities, feeding us disinformation, making our op less useful to us, and more useful to themselves.  We might not have known we were compromised, until our intelligence had become almost useless.”  
 
“Instead, these ignorant local thugs decided to take initiative on their own – an unnecessary and uninformed overreaction on their part, which, in retrospect, had plenty of negative consequences for them, as well as for the insurgents’ chemical weapons operation.  Yet another lesson learned – for the insurgents – about hiring the right help.”  
 
“This was all subsequent knowledge, however, becoming obvious later.  What I really wanted to emphasize to Max, was how integrated my life was, simultaneously with David, and with the Agency, so he could see everything that I had lost, and to justify what I did.  I felt that it was bigger than me.”  
 
“The turning point, the context, wasn’t only my selfish grief; it was the innate, overwhelming feeling of violation, the blatant wrongness, of the attack on our blockhouse.  I didn’t realize how much of my motivation that was, until I had to put it into words for Max.”  
 
“In the aftermath of the attack, I was hit by the deep pain of this massive injustice, that someone so young and so talented, like David, with so much good to contribute to the world, could be wiped out in an instant, as simple, misguided collateral damage, by these worthless, *f*cking worthless* local gangsters, just because their goddamned boss wanted to play spy versus spy, way above his thug-ass pay grade.”  
 
“It makes you mad, makes you outraged, on a higher level than simple human empathy and grief.  I just felt like punishment had to be meted out to these bastards.  I couldn’t let them benefit from their violence.  I wanted them to suffer for it!”  
 
“The long term endpoint of our mission, the smackdown of the insurgents, wasn’t enough for me.  It wasn’t going to be directed at the right targets – the local gangsters – in retaliation for their attack on us, and for David’s death.  They’d get away with it.”  
 
“I felt that this transgression, this inequity, couldn’t wait until the trail went cold, and I wanted to hit the actual scum who did it.  I was compelled to.  But when I tried to tell Max the story, even I began to wonder why I had been so irrational, to give up everything.  It seemed like a good idea, at the time, but the right words were hard to find, now.”  
 
Hearing that, Max made a rueful snort, ‘Hmmmf,’ and mused, ‘I know how that is ... throwing away everything for revenge … I joined that club, too, a long time ago … it’s not like you even have a choice, in the heat of the moment.’  He paused, and added, meaningfully, “ ... or in the years after.’  That wry admission was another big clue for me, about Max’s damaged backstory, an undercurrent of regret.  But I continued with mine.”
 
“I acknowledged that, logically, I should have coordinated my revenge in co-op with the Agency, as a covert sidebar op, surgically targeted, planned to enhance our mission, not destroy it.  Then the roles would be reversed – I’d be on the powerful, winning side, and those gangsters would be the ones running for the shadows, like scared rats.”  
 
“But I wanted this revenge to be mine – mine alone, not some kind of coldly calculated cost-versus-benefit decision made across a conference table with a gaggle of analysts and graybeards reviewing a deck of PowerPoint slides, back at HQ.”  
 
“Plus, it just couldn’t wait.  There wasn’t time to plead my case to the bosses, trying to line up resources.  It probably would have taken weeks, at best, if they would have even given me a go-ahead, at all.  The moment would have been gone.  My need for revenge was primal, visceral.”  
 
“Like Max noted, it’s not like you even have a choice, at the time.  There *is* no choice, only all-consuming vengeance.  A commitment gets made, burned into your future, with failure not an option; nothing short of death can take it away from you.  For me, in that frame of mind, rationality was not in the plan.”  
 
“This might sound like bullsh*t, but it seemed then, unquestionably, that these perps had to suffer and die, as soon as possible, just to make the universe right again – a noble purpose, I thought, not a simple act of emotional lashing out, from a girl devastated by her lover’s death.”  
 
“Of course, my grief and loss, and my screaming empathy with David’s suffering in his last seconds of life, were a whole separate motivator for me to waste these stinking, unthinking scum.  David’s fear and pain, that last second of eye contact between us, as he left this universe, played into to it, too; it put me way over the top.  Nothing could have stopped me.  That was the extra hurt that I wanted to put on those bastards.  And I did.”  
 
“My only purpose in life, then, became revenge, and overarching justice.  I was blind to everything else, to everything rational.  After my revenge planning and preparation, in the moment I decided to act, I felt like a wrathful god intent on destruction, not even feeling like I was subject to physical laws.”  
 
“But as soon as I found myself on the wrong side of the tactical game, when I saw those six thugs poking around the Mesa, obliterating my original half-baked means for escape, everything got really real, really fast.  No more godlike perspective, just a girl scared sh*tless, outnumbered and outgunned, with no plan.”  
 
“Max made the usual trite comment about revenge being a dish best served cold, but then he added, ‘I didn’t follow that advice, either.’  In any case, it was too late now, for me, and I still felt like I did the right, necessary and satisfying, thing.  I was just regretting the immediate consequences, and my lack of an airtight escape plan.”  
 
“I realized that I was so lucky today, that I was able to kill half of the six goons in a successful ambush, and triply lucky that Max had taken care of the other half of them at the end of that frantic chase.  If any of that had gone wrong, I’d be dead right now, or worse; much worse, if I were in the hands of those scum.  I shuddered, involuntarily, at the thought of it.”  
 
“Max saw me pause and turn inward again, maybe expecting to sit through another breakdown, as I thought about those possible consequences, but it wasn’t my fear that could shut me down like that – only my grief.”  
 
“After a short silence, he said, ‘Well, that’s quite a story, and I understand the big picture a lot better, now.  But you kind of missed the last part, where you tell me what you did to these guys, that made them so mad this afternoon.’”  
 
“I didn’t hear him at first, but it registered after a few seconds.  I replied, ‘Oh … yeah… I guess I forgot about that.’  I proceeded to tell Max about my actions after the attack, beginning with my intense investigation and enhancement of the infrared videos, to derive the license plates and unmistakable appearances of the kids who threw the bomb, and of the thugs who visited the chem research lab to question employees and arrange for the bomb to be made.” 
 
“I told Max I made two clandestine contacts with a friend at HQ, to get the addresses of the vehicle owners, and how that had been surprisingly successful, enabling my revenge.  If everything hadn’t gone relatively well in getting that data and confirming it, I couldn’t have proceeded – at least, not without the risk of causing the same kind of collateral damage as David had been the victim of.  That was my only contact with the Agency, and I worried that it might be discovered before I could act.  But it wasn’t a problem.”  
 
“I mentioned the source of my impromptu disguise, built from things I found at the secondhand store.  He laughed and remarked, ‘Ha, that outfit *was* a little over the top.  With that getup and those big shades, I thought you were a kid cosplaying some comic book, hoodie ninja ant-man.  But I’m not much of a fashion critic.  Maybe that’s how they dress, in your hood.’”  
 
“I smiled weakly, and then I thought to ask, ‘You thought I was a local from the hood?  What did you think, then, a few seconds later, when you saw me shoot that last goon, the same time as you did?’”
 
“Max gave it a second of thought, and then answered, ‘Pretty quick realization that you probably weren’t some poor kid stealing a loaf of bread.  Then I considered that maybe those three assholes were undercover cops, and I had shot up the wrong team – though they *were* a little rough-looking, even for the police down here.  That’s why I asked you if they were the good guys.”  
 
“I acknowledged Max’s answer, and then finally, I got to the action, where I told Max about my attack on the thugs’ condo, and the satisfying violence and revenge I wrought, on four or five of those bastards, with my combination bombs-and-bullets attack.  I imagined and hoped that their condo would be a smoldering pile of dying embers, by now, and that the scum who planned this had bled out on their lawn and driveway.”  
 
“Max replied, ‘OK, I can kind of see now, why they might have been upset with you.’  He went on, ’Now that you’ve told me your story about David, I see where you were coming from.  For what it’s worth, I would have done the same thing, but probably with less planning.’  He went silent for a second, then added, ‘I probably would have played it Bogart and just kicked in their front door … dumb move …  But, keep telling your story; it sounds like this is the good part.’”  
 
“I said that my revenge op had been going to plan, until I realized that I didn’t really *have* a good plan for dealing with the kids who threw the bomb.  After I told Max how I had expected to confront them on the narrow street in front of their house, he asked, ‘You weren’t really intending to kill those kids, were you?  Shoot them point blank?  Then kill the witnesses, or something?  Holy sh*t.  Doesn’t sound like a plan, to me.’”  
 
“With no good answer, I looked down, knowing that killing them had been my original plan, in my state of barely-controlled rage, my vow of utter and total revenge.”  
 
“I was trying to think back, to whether I had had any doubt in my mind, even the tiniest thought, of how else I might deal with those kids, before I decided, in the last possible instant, that I wasn’t quite so cold-blooded.  If they had given me bad attitude, or a fight, before I had them under control, yes, I might have actually done it.”  
 
“But I did tell Max how badly I beat them up and terrified their sister, with deadly threats and potentially deadly force.  As I was saying it, it sounded as monstrous as it probably was.  But still, I justified it by reminding myself that those kids put themselves in that situation, when they committed murder, themselves.”  
 
“But I realized, in telling this to Max, that possibly, even probably, the kids hadn’t intended murder; they just thought they were simply going to fire-bomb a building, out in the styx.  Just another day as teenage gangster go-fers.  They couldn’t know that someone might be outside, in front of the building, in the dark.  They probably didn’t even see David, before the threw the bomb.  They were ‘just following orders,’ as the old cop-out saying goes.”  
 
“In any case, the kids involved themselves, and the consequences after that were inevitable.  Those inevitable consequences included my raging revenge.  I told Max that I then had to steal their Sanchez, to get out of that closed-in setting, before I got trapped there.”  
 
“Finally, I described the real f*ckup of my half-assed revenge escapade, when I was blasting back to my car on the Sanchez, and saw that those bastards had already found the Mesa and were picking through it.  That put a new spin on things.  Panic time; cue the chase music.”  
 
“To round out the story, I listed the rest of the body count.  I told Max about my grenade ambush at the cabin in the woods, that I managed to pull off, where I capped three more of the gang, in the midst of the deadly chase.  That went pretty well, for improvisational tactics, I thought, looking back.’  
 
“Max agreed.  ‘What a badass!’ he said with a smile.’”  
 
“But the final rout to the beach had just been pure chaos, pure panic, with me at a complete tactical disadvantage, clearly.  Had Max not come into the picture, I would have gotten what I deserved.  Max knew the rest of my story, from that point on.”  
 
“He told me that, seeing all the guns suddenly appearing, he already was getting out his cannon when he saw me pull the grenade, so part of his decision to shoot was indeed motivated by self-preservation.  He left unspoken, that it might have been an easier decision for him to shoot me, rather than the thugs.”  
 
“After more than three hours, I had pretty much told Max my whole tale of Agency happiness turned self-made tragedy, how I had quickly made mortal enemies of a murderous local gang.  Now I was in deep sh*t.”  
 
“Unfortunately, telling him the story just brought back to me, that I was still right in the middle of this; it was real, not just a dream, and I had to keep running, no rest, until I was much further away.”  
 
“The deep sleep I had gotten on the bus had temporarily given me some mental distance from the panicked reality of my afternoon’s rampage, but by reliving it all in telling Max, and thinking again about what could still happen to me, it had all come back into my consciousness.”  
 
“The realization hit me, like a cold slap in the face, that I had just been sitting here at the Bahia border for hours, wasting valuable escape time, only about 100 kilometers from the scenes of my crimes, and I began to imagine that the police cars could be pulling into the station at any moment.”  
 
“The state’s justice, or more likely, the inhuman justice of gangster retaliation, for my murderous rampage, wouldn’t wait until the light of day, I suddenly thought.  My rational mind was surprised that neither the police, nor carloads of thugs, weren’t here already.”  
 
“The fear came back.  Even in the darkness, Max saw it in my face, and heard it in my voice.  I told him I was feeling restless, almost panicked, and I felt like I could only feel safe if I were running as fast as I can.”  
 
“He said, ‘Hey, I get it, don’t worry.  I’ve got a clear picture now.  I’m glad you got me up to speed.  We’ll get you out of this.’”  
 
“I smiled weakly, but it reassured me, deeply.  I sighed.  He said ‘we.’  I needed that now, his implied commitment to help me.  I was too emotional, now – I knew that, on my own I’d soon make some stupid mistake, and it would be game over.”  
 
“He continued, ‘I’ve been in situations with a lot worse odds.  Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime, when we’re further away, ... that is, when you feel like you’re a safe distance from all the messes you’ve made.’  He smiled.  His smile was cynical, sarcastic, as was his tone, even when he was trying to be comforting.  That was Max’s way.”  
 
“Then Max shifted the conversation, capping off my long sad story, and bringing it back to present concerns.  He said, ‘Hey, you got through the night so far, you’re still walking free, and only *slightly* worse for wear.’  He punctuated that observation with wry intonation, knowing what I had gone through, today.”  
 
“I smiled a bit, shook my head, and looked up at Max for a minute, trying to show a brave face, to silently acknowledge my debt to him.  Then, embarrassed, I quickly looked down at the floor of the bus aisle yet again, just to avert my eyes.  I had nothing else to say, and Max didn’t, either.”  
 
“I sensed that he was looking over at the bus station, but I just kept my gaze downward, blank, not seeing anything, just trying to breathe evenly and calm down.  We just sat there in silence and darkness for a while.  After telling my story, I felt exhausted again, and I was getting more achy.”  
 
“After a while, Max said, ‘It’s getting close to time to get on the bus into Sergipe.  We’ll wait until the end of the line, behind the crowd, to board.  Just be ready to flash your passport, quickly.  It’s not going to be a problem.  But you’ve got to stop acting so worried.”  
 
“I sighed again, and nodded.  I knew Max was right.”  
 
“At that moment, some headlights swung an arc, briefly shining through the windows of the bus, as a vehicle pulled into the parking lot, near the entrance to the bus station.  Both Max and I automatically looked up to see what it was, just casual interest, thinking it might be the bus to Aracaju, coming in.”  
 
“Instead, it was a car, which had swerved in rapidly, and made a fast stop near the entrance to the station, bringing along a cloud of dust, now rolling past it, illuminated by the beams of its headlights.  I took a particular interest in this, due the apparent urgency of the stop.  I was instantly worried.”  
 
“Based on the direction of the headlights when the car pulled in, it looked like it had come from the Sergipe direction, not from Bahia.  At least it wasn’t a police car – that was a relief.  It could be undercover cops, I thought, but it seemed less likely that they would be arriving from that direction.”  
 
“Then four guys got out of the four doors, and I immediately recognized their manner, dress, and attitude.  The realization hit me like an electric shock, that these were surely more street thugs recruited by the gang, and they had tracked me here!”  
 
“’OH, sh*t!!!!’ I gasped, and I sensed Max alertly moving at the same time, starting to react to my anguished surprise, and apparently thinking of the same possibility that I was.”  
 
“Raspy, dry panic in my voice; I was frozen with fear.  ‘That’s them!!’ is all I could get out, though my mind was thinking a hundred terrified thoughts at once.  The weight came down on me, the certainty, that I would *never* get away from this, ever.  My intuition had been right.  ‘I’m f*cked!’ I blurted out.”  
 
                                                                                 ---
 
 
Whoa, sh*t!  Karen’s fears have been realized!  Gangster justice is suddenly just steps away!  How did they know she was here??  What can she do??
 
Tune in for the next exciting chapter, CHAPTER 24:  Pain from the Past (Part 14):  Brazilian Getaway Special / Just a Piss Away

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#49

Posted 4 weeks ago Edited by saintsrow, 4 hours ago.

 
 
Continued immediately from CHAPTER 23:  Pain from the Past (Part 13):  Brazilian Getaway Special / The Night is Long
 
 
 
Like a rabbit escaped from a pack of wolves, now hiding in her burrow, and hoping that her scent has been lost, Karen crouches in a dark, deserted bus, thinking that that she had broken the trail of hot pursuit by her vicious, deadly gangster adversaries.  But now, that’s all been blown to pieces, as the wolves are back, sniffing at the ground just a few feet away …
 
 
 
                                                                 ---
 
CHAPTER 24:  Pain from the Past (Part 14):  Brazilian Getaway Special / Just a Piss Away
 
 
“’Calm down,’ Max whispered at me.  ‘Just hold on, and observe.  First, we’ll make sure they’re really the bad guys, and not some salesmen coming home from a late-night drunken romp in the city.  They came in from the north, not from Bahia, where you were making your fine first impressions today, with your gangster pals.’  
 
“As he turned away from me, back to looking at the thugs’ activity, he went on, ‘Besides, they don’t know you’re in here.  See?  They’re walking into the station.  Just stay on the far side of the aisle, over there, so your panicked ghost-white face isn’t pressed against the glass, shining like a beacon in the night.’  
 
“I agreed, silently, yes, that’s probably a good idea.  I regained a tiny bit of my composure and leaned back in my seat, finally taking in a deeper breath, trying to avoid descending into panic, as I continued to observe the scene with total concentration, in the darkness of the bus interior, hidden behind tinted windows.  
 
“The four goons had indeed gone into the station, quickly and purposefully, and as far as I could tell in those few seconds, they didn’t seem to have looked over here toward us, at all.  I kept watching the dim pool of light near the front entrance of the station, without even blinking, completely focused, waiting to see if, and when, they would come out, scrambling in our direction, guns drawn.  
 
“Full of paranoia, I said to Max, ‘They must have realized that I took the bus up here, and they’re probably talking to the driver now!  He’s going to tell them yes, an American woman was on the bus.  They’ll know it’s me!  I’m f*cking burnt toast!’  
 
“Max replied, ‘Jesus, Karen, calm down and don’t worry.  Let’s just see how it goes.’  As he said it, though, I heard him pull the DE .50 out of his bag, while keeping his eyes fixed on the station.  
 
“Dimly, I could see Max reach down, to stuff the huge gun into the pocket of his cargo shorts.  After a few seconds trying, he saw that it wouldn’t fit; he couldn’t get the flap closed to cover it.  Instead, he laid the gun back in his bag, out of sight, but leaving the bag unzipped.  
 
“Then he had a suggestion I didn’t expect.  He stood up in the aisle, slung the duffel bag up on his shoulder, and said, ‘I’ll go over there and see what they want.’  
 
“I was shocked, almost speechless!  Why would he reveal himself to them?  ‘Max!!  Are you nuts??’ I urgently whispered, while looking up at him with what must have been a ridiculous expression of incredulity on my face.  
 
“Max replied, ‘They don’t know me.  They’re not looking for me.  Best way to find out what they’re doing, is to go in there and observe, or maybe even ask them what they’re up to, if I have to.  I told you, Karen, I’m a dumb move kind of guy.’  He paused a second, then added, ‘I used to do this for a living.  I was a cop, remember?’  
 
“It made some sense to me, then.  I had been so centered on not being seen, myself, that I hadn’t imagined that any other moves were possible.  The mini-revelation hit me, that this might be a way to find out my real exposure, my true risk situation.  It was the uncertainty that was killing me, now.  
 
“But I hoped that Max wouldn’t inadvertently reveal my possible presence here by association, just by standing out, as an American, in a bus station full of locals.  Down here, Americans are like cockroaches, where you see one, there’s sure to be more around.  I was still worried.  
 
“Possibly thinking the same thing, Max made one more statement, to try to help me see the logic, and calm me down.  He said, ‘I’ve got no association to you.  I would have arrived here at this station tonight, on this bus, or the one before it, anyway.  I’d already be in there, snoring away on a bench, using my bag for a pillow.  This is where I was headed, before you came on the scene with your fatuous fan club in tow, at the beach.’  
 
“Now Max started laying it on thick, for his own amusement.  Pretending to sound like a dumb American, he continued, ‘Hell, if they ask me about you, in there, I could say, ‘Oh, yeah, now you mention it, I was waitin’ at the bus stop down there in Bahia this afternoon, and some crazy woman wearin’ a hoodie comes blastin’ by, in a blood-spattered sedan, headin’ south toward Salvador.  She was drivin’ like a bat outta hell.’  
 
“Max was on a roll, continuing, ‘I expected the cops would be a few seconds behind her, drivin’ all crazy like that, you know?  But they never came by; that was that.  Then the bus showed up, and here I am.  That’s all I know, amigo.’  He paused, for effect, I guess, then just to rub it in, he added, ‘She looked like she was plumb nuts.  You guys friends of hers?  You really oughtta see she gets some kind of treatment.’  
 
“To reinforce his only salient point in all that, Max added, ‘That’d send them south to Salvador, in the wrong direction.’  Meanwhile, I absorbed the implications of his cruel joke, or whatever it was meant to be, at the end.  He was obviously referring, cynically, to ‘some kind of treatment’ that I’d surely get from the thugs, the thing that scared me the most.  I wasn’t amused.  
 
“In any case, Max had already made up his mind, and he walked to the bus door and stepped out.  I watched, in the dark and staying away from the windows, as he went around the front of the bus and walked quickly to the entrance to the station.  
 
“I could barely see the front door, from this angle, but when the thugs had walked inside, I had seen their shadows, cast from the light inside and above the entrance, and a glint off the glass door, as it opened.  
 
“Max walked past the entrance carefully, staying away from the dim overhead entrance light, peering in through the closed door.  He paused for 15 seconds, or more, before he decided to enter.  Then I saw the door glint, and his shadow disappear.  
 
“A minute went by.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the front of the station.  I could imagine what might happen next.  I feared the possibility of a gunfight, any second, expecting to hear Max’s DE .50 booming inside, muffled by the station walls, and multiple muzzle flashes illuminating the entrance, as terrified bus customers bolted out the door, screaming.  
 
“Assuming that Max beat the odds, four-to-one, without getting himself shot up, we’d both be on the run after that, with Max clearly identified as a crazed mass killer by the all the people in the station, awakened from their fitful waiting-room sleep, when the shooting started.  It would be even worse than my present situation.  We’d both really be screwed, then.  I wished even more now, that he hadn’t gone in there.”  
 
“How would we escape?  Hijack a bus?  Would we search the bloody thugs for their car keys?  How many minutes, or seconds, would we have?  There would soon be police coming from both directions.  Where could we go?  What if Max were wounded, incapacitated?  I saw no way out of this!  
 
“More minutes went by, and nothing happened.  Finally, I thought I saw a darkening of the light shining through the door from inside.  It was confirmed when I saw the brief flash of the door swinging open again.  One of the goons emerged, followed closely by the other three.  One of them was using his cell phone.  I was sure that he was reporting that they had learned that I was here, and that this was the end!  
 
“They hadn’t looked in my direction yet, but in my state of fear, I expected them all to pull out guns and march straight for me, as I cowered in the bus.  Where was Max?  What had happened?  Suddenly, I was feeling all alone, again.  
 
“I had a vivid, terrible premonition, of all four thugs rushing in through the bus door, seeing me crouching between the seats, paralyzed like a deer in the headlights, trapped and unarmed, then all four of them firing, emptying their clips into me through the seat back, which would offer zero ballistic protection.  
 
“Then I imagined them continuing to fire, advancing toward me as I turned and stumbled pathetically to the rear of the bus, dying heartbeat by final heartbeat, in an endless fusillade of their bullets ripping through me from behind, continuing their firing even after I was clearly dead, and unable to appreciate any further harm they could do to me.  
 
“After the shooting stopped, in the ringing silence, the entire bus interior thick and heavy with the haze and smell of gunsmoke, I could imagine them standing there, satisfied, victorious, looking down at the lifeless, twisted, tattered sack of meat, bleeding out in the narrow aisle.  
 
“’Got you, f*cken cadela,’ one of them would say, as a couple of the others spit on my corpse. Meanwhile, the last one would pull out his phone to call their boss, with the good news, ‘We got her.’  He’d probably snap a flash picture with the phone, for proof, hitting “send” while muttering, “f*cking bitch; that was for Paco!”  
 
“Not a pleasant train of thought.  Worst of all, I was unarmed!!!  Unarmed, goddammit!!  The thought of being so helpless, with no hope of fighting back, made me feel even worse than the fear of death itself.  I regretted like crazy, at this moment, that I had left my combat pistol and ammo in the getaway car.  I would have already been shooting these bastards, by now!  Why did Max take his cannon with him?  I could be using it to save my life!  Dammit to hell!!  
 
“My guts were screwed tight with mortal fear, hopelessness, and frustration!  In a flash of despair, I thought, ‘This is how I knew it would end.’  
 
“But then:  NO!!!  I decided that I wouldn’t accept death this easily!  I remembered a deep, philosophical conversation I had with one of the graybeards at the Agency, about last stands.  You don’t give up.  You’re the most free, you have absolutely no constraints, when you’ve got nothing left to lose.  He had a name for it.  If there’s time, O. P., I’ll tell you more about it.  
 
“I always thought that I would go down shooting, fighting, resisting with every fiber of my will, taking as many of them with me as I could, when it came to the final moments.  I had no gun, but I still had options, even if they were all bad.  I wasn’t ready to go, yet.  
 
“I slid off the seat and crouched at the front of the aisle, intending to lunge out of the bus, before they came around to the door.  I was going to run like hell.  They’d probably hear me, or see some movement in the dark, but I’d have an open escape route, and maybe a head start of a few steps, toward the deeper darkness.  
 
“The plan formed instantly in my mind.  Once I was moving, I’d evaluate my best options.  I might still take a bullet, and I might even still end up bleeding to death in the dusty parking lot, but it was better than being gunned down helplessly, in a dead-end bus aisle of certain death, like a poor, trapped animal.  
 
“Before I went into my headlong panic, I rose just enough to take one more low, quick look out of the bus window, hoping that the thugs wouldn’t see me, to tactically assess how close they were, and how many weapons were out, and if they were smart enough to split up and approach from both ends of the bus; the old pincer movement.  
 
“If they were coming from both sides, I thought, I’d scramble under the bus, and crawl with every bit of willpower and speed and strength I could find, no matter how badly I got scraped up.  Maybe I could run to the station, then.  I just had to hope I could get out from under the other side of the bus, before the bastards bent down and started shooting me, while I was still on the ground.  Like I said, all bad options.  
 
“What I saw, was different.  They weren’t coming toward me, yet, not even looking this way.  Rather, the four had continued straight to their car, and it looked like they were getting in.  What the hell?  Staying away from the bus window, I watched, intently, still frozen.  They were probably getting their guns from the car!  All I knew is, maybe I had a couple more seconds to run.  
 
“I gave it one more second, just to make sure I would know the situation and could decide which way to go.  But instead of seeing the bastards re-emerging with their firepower, I saw all the car’s doors slammed shut.  The driver, wasting no time, cranked the starter and quickly backed up, raising another cloud of dust in the headlights.  
 
“As I kept watching, they blasted out of the bus station parking lot, and onto the road, heading south toward Bahia, going at the same kind of speed, fast, as when they had swung into the parking lot a few minutes before.  And then they were gone, taillights fading out of sight.  
 
“I didn’t know what had happened, but for the moment, it was a hell of a lot better than being chased down and killed by these stinking scum.  I thanked my intuition that I had waited another second and carefully observed the situation, rather than blindly running out of the bus like a scared rabbit, revealing myself.  
 
“Then I remembered Max, remembered that he was still in the station.  Had they jumped him, overpowered him, without shots fired?  That seemed unlikely.  What was he doing?  Had he said something to them?  Threatened them?  Sent them south, away from us, like he had suggested?  Were they going to come back, with more thugs, and more weapons?  
 
“I wondered what had made Max hold off, instead of taking them out, when he had the advantage?  I turned my gaze back to the front door of the station.  
 
“I waited, still crouching and looking out low through the window, for any more sign of movement.  Nothing for another two minutes; no unusual activity, no one else coming out of the station.  After a while, when I realized that I was still crouching, I slid back onto the bus seat and untensed a bit, continuing to watch.  
 
“I started wondering if I should go into the station, and see if anything had happened to Max.  But after another minute, I saw the glint of the door again, and the shadow of a large figure outlined in the entrance light.  
 
"I could tell immediately that it was Max.  He took a few steps outside and stopped, looking all around, and listening.  After he seemed satisfied that things were quiet and safe, he headed back to me, toward the bus.  
 
“My eyes were locked on Max as he approached, at an unhurried pace.  It was driving me nuts; I almost couldn’t wait to find out what he had seen.  I felt like my life depended on the answer.  
 
“Were the goons coming back soon, with more goons, more guns, night vision goggles?  Was I going to have to make my last stand here, against ten-to-one odds, or worse?  Would they bring the police?  How many minutes did I have?  I had to know!  Every worst case scenario was in my mind at once.  
 
“My fears about being stuck here, while waiting for a freaking bus ride, with no other means to get away, were even stronger now than when we were waiting at the bus stop several hours ago.  Now I *knew* how close on my tail they were.  And Max was just leisurely walking over, taking his time.  
 
“I couldn’t stand it.  Wanting to hear, so badly, what he was going to say, I jumped out the door, and I almost ran out from behind the bus, into the light and line of sight of the station.  But then I reminded myself to maintain opsec, such as we had practiced it so far, so I skidded to a stop, staying out of sight, in shadow on the far side of the bus.  
 
“Finally, Max came back behind the bus, to where I was standing.  I couldn’t wait.  My eyes were intently studying his face and body language for a clue about his level of alarm.  I breathlessly asked him, ‘Do they know I’m here?  What were they doing??  What are we going to do???’  
 
“This was important to me, obviously, since I only could see three ways my future could go:  One, I get away, for now, and make it to Aracaju, where I can maybe blend in, get lost in the city, the linear trail going cold.  With the thugs right here on my tail, mere minutes ago, barely 50 feet away from where I had been pitifully cowering, I was afraid I could already write off that possibility.  
 
“Second possibility, Max and I both die in a midnight gunfight.  Still pretty likely, I thought, and I was amazed it hadn’t just happened.  Or third, the worst, I get caught alive – doesn’t matter if by the police or the gangsters – and soon enough, I’d be tortured to death, cartel style.  It made me sick to think about it.  I *had* to know my risks, now.  
 
“Max just answered, calmly.  He said, ‘They didn’t ask about you...’  
 
“I was so happy to hear that, I immediately interjected, ‘Oh, thank goodness!!  But why did they stop here?  Where did they come from??’  
 
“Max continued, like he hadn’t expected to be interrupted, ‘*…at first...*’  
 
“They didn’t ask about me, ’at first!’  Oh god, I was instantly crushed.  All the hopelessness came flooding back.  I opened my mouth to ask for the details, as I was so worried, but then I realized how hard I was pushing.  ‘Just let Max talk,’ I thought.  ‘Just shut up and f*cking listen.’  I hoped that I had said it to myself before Max had to say it for me.  
 
“Max replied, ‘Hey, I’m giving you the report, Karen.  You want to hear it, or you just want to have another panic attack?’  
 
“I slumped back against the side of the bus, and tried again to let my tension go.  I consciously took a breath and sighed it out.  Now I was ready to hear the news, bad or worse, and deal with it.  
 
“Nodding, I replied, ‘I’m listening, Max.  Sorry.  Please, go on.’  I tried to sound rational and patient.  But since a state of near-permanent panic attack was now the new normal for me, today, I doubt if it were working.  
 
“Max smiled a bit, as he continued, ‘So I walked past the front door before I went in there – as you probably saw – and the group was just leaving the ticket window, after talking to the clerk.  I wondered what they said to him, but then I saw them head for the restroom, after they presumably asked where it was.  You got worked up for nothing, Karen.  Those dickheads just stopped here to take a piss.’  
 
“It was so anticlimactic, I almost laughed.  Interrupting Max again, I asked, ‘That’s all??’  But then, I remembered what he had said.  ‘But, you said, they asked about me!!’  
 
“Max made a look at me, with one raised eyebrow and a slight smirk, silently noting that I was pushing him again.  He continued, ‘As I was about to say ... they didn’t ask about you, at first.  They didn’t talk to the bus driver; never even thought about it.  He was probably in the back, asleep on a cot, so they never saw him.  And it wasn’t even on their mind to ask any of the customers, lolling asleep on the benches.  These guys were undoubtedly stuck on the idea that you were still driving their dead pals’ car.’  
 
“I almost interrupted again, but I kept listening.  If that were true, it would be a big relief.  But, still, what were they really doing up here?  And, he implied that they asked about me.  
 
“Max went on, ‘After I saw them go in the restroom, I walked over and slouched on one of the benches away from the front door, against the far wall, partly hidden behind a sleeping family on the facing bench.  The thugs hadn’t seen me, and the clerk had turned away after talking to them, so he hadn’t seen me come in, either – though if he had, he’d still remember me as the dumb gringo who bought two tickets to Aracaju, a couple of hours ago.’  
 
“’I didn’t want your new friends to see me, yet, so I grabbed a local newspaper laying there on the bench, and held it up like I was reading it – like one of those old cornball detective movies.  It actually works.  I could hear, and I could peek around and get a quick look, pretty easily.’  
 
“Continuing his detective story, Max said, ‘After they came out of the pisser, it finally occurred to them to walk back over to the clerk, and ask if an American woman had come through here.  While they were in there shaking off their dicks over the urinals, they probably thought, hey, maybe she pulled in here to take a piss, too, or a sh*t.  I don’t know the language, but I could get the gist of it.  Clever SOBs to think of that, but you fooled them; you sh*t in the woods.’  
 
“I made a face back at him.  
 
“With a smile turning into a smirk, Max continued, ’First, they told the clerk the make of car you would have driven in here – the one from the beach, and then they described the perp they were looking for – a hoodie-wearing, crazy gringo cadela, big Vinewood shades, bad attitude, lots of cussing – basically, she’s an insane killing machine, packing heat and shooting up everything, grenades bulging in her pockets.’  
 
“Max was smiling at his own hyperbolic reporting.  He went on, ‘One of them added, she’s like an overplayed, psychotic character out of some cheap-ass, loser video game.  You’d remember her if you saw her.  Real bad news, they said.’  
 
“Now I knew Max was teasing me.  I was sure that he didn’t hear a description of me like that, and he wouldn’t have been able to translate, even if they *had* said something about me.  I asked, ‘Oh, come on, this is serious!  What did you *really* hear?’  
 
“With a smile, Max answered, ‘Hey, most of it was like that.  No sh*t.  I told you, I got the gist of it, and their hand gestures helped.  They made you sound like a pretty scary piece of work, by the way.’  
 
“He went on, ‘The key thing that I observed, is that the clerk shrugged; he hadn’t seen anybody like that; no American lady, serial killer or otherwise, had come into the station since he’d been on shift, the past seis horas [six hours].  They didn’t ask more generally about any other recent Americans stopping in the station, only the lone crazy woman, so the clerk wasn’t triggered to remember or mention me.’  
 
“He continued, ‘So, that exchange convinced them that you hadn’t stopped here, by car, and they still hadn’t considered that you might have come, by bus.  No luck for them.  Good thing you stayed over here in the shadows.’  
 
“Max continued, ‘These bozos were in kind of a hurry, probably under pressure to produce results.  I’d guess this was the first bathroom break they had, since being ordered to track down the crazy hoodie-woman Terminator, and they probably were going to have to report the bad news that they didn’t already have you, beaten bloody and tied up in their trunk, ready for their dark justice.’  
 
“Max’s cynical, graphic reference to my likely terrible fate made me feel, again, that weird mixed sense of both humor and worry.  He just couldn’t help being like that; it was almost like he had a film noir narration of reality, playing in his head, and then he would voice it, like hard-boiled dialog from some Bogart movie.  What the hell was up with this guy?  Is he always like this?  
 
“Still, Max’s humor helped me, more than the truth of it hurt me.  Ironically, it indicated that he really understood my situation and concerns.  
 
“Max went on without pausing, ‘Then I watched them make a quick exit out the front door of the station, and I followed discreetly, to make sure they weren’t coming over here toward the bus.  When I saw them get back in their car and take off, I assessed that we had dodged this bullet.  Or,’ he added with a chuckle, as he patted his duffel bag containing the DE .50, ‘maybe *they* dodged a few bullets.  In any case, it looked like they headed south, toward Bahia.’  
 
“I confirmed to Max that I had seen the thugs’ car head in the direction of Bahia, and overall, it made some sense.  I supposed that, whenever and however the gang found out about my trail of dead goons today, their pissed-off bossman must have sent out a posse, probably in both directions on the coast road, to look for me, presumably looking for their missing car, as they described to the clerk.  
 
“After seeing the mess at the beach, these guys probably drove up this way fast, luckily missing the ditched car under the bridge, under Max’s camouflage job, in the dark.  They would never have seen it anyway, traveling north on the road; the bridge would have hidden it.  
 
“Most likely they never even thought about the car being abandoned, concentrating instead on running up behind any taillights they saw, hoping it would be me.  I guessed that they must have continued into Sergipe at a mad pace, still looking for their car, maybe getting halfway to Aracaju, before giving up and turning around to head back, empty-handed.  That’s when Max and I saw them turn in here.  
 
“I could hope that the thugs might also miss the ditched car on the way back, as well, but I had a concern in the back of my mind that, in their headlights, or the dawn light, on the southbound side of the coast road, they might easily see the newly ripped up foliage, and tire tracks in the dust, where I had driven the car off the shoulder and around the guard rail.  
 
“I felt good about the decision to ditch the car, presuming that by now, there would be an APB out for it, so ditching it had certainly been the right thing to do, else the cops might have already stopped us, possibly at that checkpoint earlier, where I almost lost my sh*t ... had I had any left to lose, after my messy incident in the roadside brush.  
 
“But at the same time, I was unconsciously calculating the worst case timeline (worst case for me, anyway), that might bring the thugs back this way, if they *did* find the car under the bridge tonight, on their way back into Bahia.  They’d probably figure out, then, that I might have taken the bus, and they’d connect the dots, leading back here to me.  
 
“At their present speed, it would take them less than two hours to reach the bridge.  Then, driving back here after finding the car, they’d really be leaning on the gas pedal.  So, three hours, maybe, and they could be back here at the station, looking for me, with renewed purpose.  
 
“I mentioned my concern to Max, as I was thinking out loud about the timeline, and the possibilities.  If they realize that I had come to this station by bus from Bahia, they’d ask if an American woman was on one of the outgoing busses, and then they’d know for sure that I was going on to Aracaju.  
 
“So it could still be a hot pursuit, a linear pursuit; very bad for me.  If the thugs floored it the whole way, I wondered if they could catch the Aracaju bus before we got off, before we could disappear into the city.  
 
“I felt like I was doing one of those old high school algebra problems:  ‘If Karen is escaping by bus, at an average speed of 60 kilometers per hour, with a 110 kilometer head start, and her evil gangster sh*tbag pursuers start chasing her at a constant speed of 130 kilometers per hour, how far will she travel before she is caught, beaten, stripped naked, hogtied with her hands and feet pulled tight behind her, raped with a flashlight and tire iron, beaten again, and tossed in the trunk, for a proper torture session tomorrow?’  
 
“If the answer to that little homework problem was ‘before the bus gets to Aracaju, 120 km away,’ then it could only go badly, very badly, for me.  That was reason for me to worry, plenty.  
 
“Without doing the actual algebra, I guessed at the velocity and distances, doing a half-assed estimate in my head, and it came out close, way too close.  If our bus had too many stops, or it didn’t leave *really* soon, or if the thugs drove even faster than I assumed, then yes, they could catch up with the bus before Aracaju, which I guessed was about 120 kilometers away.”  Now I was coming back to immediate reality, and I was almost counting the minutes until I got out of here, back on the road.  
 
“I told Max I still had concerns about this scenario.  He said, ‘Don’t be worried about it, really.  Why do you think those losers had to stop here, in a such a hurry to piss?  They probably started their little rat run with a few six-packs of cervejas and a couple of buckets of coxinhas and salsa, and it caught up with them by the time they turned around, up in Sergipe, without finding you and the car.  On the way back, they saw the bus station lights here, the only open business on the road at three in the morning, where they could unload all that used beer.’”  
 
“With a chuckle, Max continued, ‘Now, as they head back into Bahia, burping and farting all the way, it’ll be a bit before dawn by the time they get to the bridge, and they’ll be too dopey and sleepy to notice our tracks veering off the road, especially when they’re blasting by the bridge at 40 over the speed limit.’  
 
“He added, ‘You shouldn’t worry.  I’m pretty sure they won’t be coming back this way tonight.  Your trail will be long cold by the time somebody finds that car in another couple of days, or longer.’  
 
“I nodded cautious agreement, but then I remembered the fear I had felt, when I had assumed that the gangsters were going to come over to the bus and shoot me all to sh*t, while Max was nowhere to be seen.  I asked Max, ‘What the hell were you doing in there, after you saw those bastards come out?’  
 
“He didn’t expect that question, out of the blue.  But I pressed on, saying, ‘I know you said you saw them leave, but at the same time, I was cowering under the seats over here, thinking that they were going to all rush over and kill me.  I was unarmed; you had your gun.  I didn’t know the situation, and I was out of my mind with worry, again.’  
 
“Max just replied, without acknowledging the weight of my fears, ‘Hey, I had to take a piss, too, as long as I was in there.’  
 
“I looked at him with a surprised face, instantly upset that he had trivialized the mortal panic I had just felt.  After a pause, while Max watched me carefully as I decided whether to be mad or not, I let go of my accusatory expression, shook my head in a ‘I can’t believe you just said that’ way, and we both laughed a little.  Now that I knew the whole story, I was already starting to feel better.’  
 
“Then Max added, ‘Realistically, Karen, try to chill out.  You’re keeping a low profile, and we’ll be moving out, soon.  I’m ...,’ he paused, strangely, then continued, ‘not going to let anything happen to you.’  
 
“I wondered about Max’s strange hesitation, wondered if it were really a subconscious indication of a lack of commitment, if things got tough.  But, sh*t, I thought, why should I deserve any commitment?  It’s not my place to question him.  Max already saved my ass at least twice in the past eight hours.  
 
“Max had shown his commitment, in deed, if not in word.  That’s what mattered.  Besides, I did want to chill now, like he said.  I let it go.  Again, we both fell silent, standing there in the shadow.  I felt the exhaustion return, as I closed my eyes and continued to slump against the side of the bus for support.  I was also starting to feel precursors of the aches and stiffness that I expected would hit me hard, in the next 12 hours or so.  
 
“Slowly decompressing, breathing evenly now, I cleared my mind, to calm myself down.  It was starting to work.”  
 
                                                                                  ---
 
Stay tuned for CHAPTER 25 !  

saintsrow
  • saintsrow

    Dime store angel of death

  • Members
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2006
  • None
  • Best Work Writer's Discussion 2016 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]
    Best Story/Poem 2015 [The "I Love Karen Daniels" fanfic]

#50

Posted A week ago Edited by saintsrow, 4 hours ago.

 
With this chapter, I’m changing to a more readable font and size, for these long chapter posts.  For what it’s worth, I’ll probably go back and edit the previous chapters’ fonts to match.  I saw the advantage of this bigger, better font approach in albanyave’s writing in his Writers' Discussion story, Liberty City Limits: A GTA Fan Fiction.  Props to albanyave.  
 
I'm using font Georgia 18 for the text below.  

 

 

 
 
And now, the story continues … 
 
After her close call with a gangster search party, at the state border bus station, it’s just a couple of hours until the dawn of another day, and Karen is still alive and free!  Are things looking up for her?  
 
 
This chapter follows immediately from CHAPTER 24
 
 
CHAPTER 25:  Pain from the Past (Part 15):  Brazilian Getaway Special / Karen’s New Hat
 
 
The hour was late on Pleasure Pier, and sounds of the tourists behind us had faded away, as Karen told me her story.  I was riveted.  Was she out of danger yet?  
 
She continued, “After a short while, we heard a bus start up, over by the station.  It was the same bus that had arrived from Sergipe and shined its headlights on me a few hours ago.  The bus sat there idling, diesel fumes drifting over the parking lot, for about 10 minutes, and then the driver moved it over to the entrance to the station.  
 
“Still idling, the bus was parked in the illuminated area in front of the building, where they had turned on extra outdoor lights.  Activity picked up, as the passengers shuffled outside with their luggage.  Max and I wandered over indirectly, trying to generally stay behind the field of view of the crowd of 15 or so locals getting on.  A girl from the station had come out to check tickets for the people boarding.  
 
“Max and I waited and stood back in shadow, near the corner of the station.  We heard the first and second announcements that the bus to Aracaju was boarding, spoken in both Portuguese and in simple, accented English, from the outside speakers high on the front corners of the building.  It was about two hours until dawn.  
 
“‘I’m ready,’ I said.  ‘Let’s go.’  But then, before we started to move out into the light, an idea popped into my head – I asked Max if I could borrow his baseball cap, to keep my face in shadow, as I got on the bus.  
 
“He chuckled a little, then replied, ‘Why not?’ and took off his hat, to give to me.  He noticed me do a double take, when I saw, even in the shadow where we were, that he was completely shaved bald, maybe just a week or two of new fuzz on top.  It just didn’t seem like the right look for him; not what I’d imagined.  I quickly recovered, but not soon enough.  
 
“Max smiled and said, ‘You like my new ‘do?  It’s all the fashion rage these days, I hear, for over-the-hill, post midlife-crisis, washed-up old gringos.  The Jack Howitzer, circling-the-drain, badge of has-been.’  He made a cynical snort.  
 
“I hadn’t expected his mini-rant of self-pity, suddenly pouring out like that, but as soon as Max said it, I realized that it fit with the other clues I had, that he was carrying a burden of self-loathing, regret and sadness, deeply entangled with his life, past and future.  I suspected that it had been with him for so long that he naturally, subconsciously covered it, with a cynical projection of hard, quiet, self-disparaging macho.  Max’s hurt was palpable.  
 
“I looked and felt embarrassed, but I quickly recovered, with my reflex to somehow apologize.  ‘Max, don’t say that!’ I replied, with a bit of overacted pleading in my voice.  ‘It’s not true!’ I added, though I could tell that Max felt it was quite true.  I felt bad, and again, I wanted to somehow understand Max, and do something to reduce his inner sadness, if and when I could.  
 
“In any event, that was the end of the awkward moment, and I accepted his ball cap and put it on.  It was a bit big for me, so I decided to take advantage of that, to gather and hide all my hair, up inside the hat.  I had longer hair, back then.  Then the cap fit better, and almost none of my hair was showing; it all worked.  
 
“As we got in line behind the small crowd, I could see that some of the passengers, maybe from other states in Brazil, showed an ID along with their ticket, but most did not.  The girl took each ticket and scanned it into a handheld device that beeped when the ticket was read, then handed it back to the passenger.  She didn’t even look at the IDs, being more focused on getting the ticket to scan.  
 
‘I was immediately behind Max, and he held out his passport, open, with the ticket covering the ID page.  He thumbed the ticket toward her, she scanned it and pushed it back to him, in a continuous motion.  
 
“Then it was my turn.  The girl scanned my ticket, and simply noted that I waved something ID-like at her, just as Max predicted.  I flashed my passport so fast that she couldn’t have read my name on it, even in good light.  Meanwhile, I was looking down at my feet the whole time, trying to keep my face shadowed using Max’s cap, hopefully without looking overly suspicious.  
 
“I probably would not have even needed to open the passport - it could just as well have been a bingo card in a blue cardboard cover, for all it mattered.  Furtively watching sideways, I could see that the girl was intent on rotating the ticket scanner to the right orientation to get a beep; she didn’t even look up at my face.  I felt an instant rush of relief, as soon as I got past that point.  I got on the bus, and had no trouble.  
 
“As we got to the back of the bus, in the dim lighting, Max stopped and turned, leaned close, and said to me, quietly, and cynically, of course, ’If we come up to another police checkpoint, let’s try not make a total horrorshow of it, this time.  OK?’  Then he thought to add, ‘If we need to panic, let me do it this time.  Last time, you had all the fun.’  He was obviously in his joking mode again, trying to tell me something cautionary, but using his usual cynical humor to avoid upsetting me.  
 
“Since I had now gotten past the passport check, and I was anticipating the bus ride to Aracaju, potentially a big enough city for me to hide in, I was already feeling just a tiny bit more cheery and cheek, sensing that my odds were on the verge of improving.  I softly and cynically laughed at Max’s joke and said, equally quietly, close to his ear, ‘Just give me your gun.  I’ll shoot first; problem solved.’  
 
“Max just replied, ‘Damn, you’d probably do it, too.  No wonder you’re in so much trouble.’  Max then said he was going to try to get a few hours of sleep on the trip, and he added, ‘Wake me up, before you try to kill anybody.’  
 
“Max didn’t give me his gun.  I had nowhere to hide it, even if I had been serious.  We settled into seats almost all the way back.  He sat in the window seat on the driver’s side, in the aisle across from me, so he could lean his head against the window, his duffel bag under his legs.  I sat opposite him, in the window seat on the right side of the bus, so I could also lean back, if I felt like I needed more sleep.  
 
“The bus was idling, sitting there in the parking lot, for what seemed like forever, after the passengers had gotten their luggage loaded and boarded.  Meanwhile the driver and the girl from the station stood outside the door of the bus, talking, as she sporadically wrote some numbers on a clipboard, doing whatever bureaucratic paperwork it is that businesses always seem to do, before actually getting around to the work they’re being paid for.  
 
“I just kept waiting for the driver to get in, close the door, and get us on the road.  I was starting to get impatient, looking out the bus windows for any more cars stopping at the station, but I saw none.  
 
“I felt a welcome wave of relief, when the bus driver stepped in and clapped the door shut, did a couple of quick checks of his dashboard, and then, finally, slammed the gearshift lever into first and clutched, lurching the bus forward, as he whirled the wheel around to steer out of the station.  
 
“He drove the bus out onto the highway, taking us on our way.  Finally!!  We were on the road again!  
 
“After passing some scattered, unlit buildings or houses, barely visible in the sideglow from the headlights, I could start to make out, through my window, a large illuminated sign, about a hundred feet up ahead, beside the road.  I read it as we got closer.  At the top, in big letters, the sign indicated the Bahia-Sergipe border, Divisa de Estados, and showed the distance to Aracaju, 115 kilometers.  
 
“As we got still closer, I could see that under the official statement of the border crossing, was a feel-good message for tourists or travelers driving by.  It read ‘Buena Suerte y Vuelve Pronto.’  
 
“I knew that its actual translation was something like, ‘Good luck and come back soon,’ but there wasn’t much room on the sign, so the English version, in small letters underneath, just read, ‘Good Trip Back Often,’ like some really bad EyeFind machine translation you’d see on a LifeInvader page.  
 
“Made me chuckle just a bit.  And I wryly noted, mentally, if I ever get out of this, I’ll *never* come back here.  
 
“Behind the big sign, as we were getting a couple hundred feet further into Sergipe, was a second, smaller sign, which read, in English, ‘Let Sergipe Surprise You.’  I thought, dammit, I sure as hell don’t need any more surprises; I got the worst possible surprise of my life in Bahia, which I was glad to be leaving behind.  
 
“The feel-good words on the signs reminded me of a couple of bad fortune cookies.  Only thing missing were the lucky lottery numbers.  
 
“Then we were past the signs, up to highway speed, and I felt my mental burden ease a bit more.  As the faint, forgotten lights trailed away behind us, the ambient glow from the headlights, sweeping along the weedy, forested roadside, created a barely-visible, monochromatic blur, through the tinted windows of the bus.  The world passing by outside seemed like a dim, unreal, unreachable dream world.  
 
“Feeling my emotions uncoil, I could almost forget, momentarily, where I was.  In the past few days, as I was consumed with plans of revenge, I had lived a life like I had never known, even when I was working undercover.  
 
“Life now seemed like a lucid dream; I was at the center of it, seemingly propelled by some kind of external momentum, simultaneously trying to act on the world, while the world was throwing curves back at me.  Was it even real?  Hardly distinguishing wakefulness from sleep now, I had to remind myself of what I was doing, where I was going, and why.”  
 
“I looked across the aisle, and could make out, even in the dark, that Max had already leaned back and closed his eyes.  I decided to try for some real sleep also, since I couldn’t see anything else outside, in the dark.  I was on the move.  That was all that mattered, now.”  
 
                                                                             ---
 
“My sleep was good, but became restless after a while.  I woke when the bus came to a stop, wondering if it were another checkpoint, but it was just a roadside bus stop, to pick up a group of predawn workers riding into Aracaju.  We must have been on the road for much more than an hour by this time, I guessed, since I thought I could start to see the hint of skylight in the east.  
 
“In the next half-hour, there were a couple more stops to pick up workers, as we got closer to the city, but there were no checkpoints.  I tried to get some sleep in between, but I was only partially successful, still waking up each time we stopped.  
 
“The bus was getting full now, and the dawn light was getting brighter, through the tinted windows, though the sun had not yet popped up over the trees.  At another stop, a middle-aged local woman in a work uniform of some kind came back the aisle, and sat next to me.  
 
“I probably should have had some concern that she could get a good look at me, even casually, sufficient for her to notice that I was American.  That clue could be enough for me to be tracked.  But I was feeling a little more confident, probably not justified, and I was too groggy to think about countermeasures, like moving over to Max’s seat so I could hide my face against his shirt, as I had done too many times already.  Too late now, anyway.  
 
“Besides, it didn’t seem likely that random passengers, deep into Sergipe, would be hunted down and questioned about me.  She barely noticed me, except for a quick, polite smile as she sat down.  I smiled lazily back at her, and pretended to continue sleeping, avoiding any further interaction, head down, pretending I was using Max’s cap to keep the light out of my eyes, while still stealing sideways looks out through the bus window.  
 
“As the dawn had become lighter, I could see that the landscape consisted mainly of farmland and orchards.  Then I started seeing more isolated buildings and small industrial facilities along the route, and more small roads turning off, as Aracaju’s peripheral urban density began to increase.  It seemed to continue like this, for several miles, without becoming fully urban.  
 
“Between half-sleeping and half-pretending to sleep, I was beginning to get a rough sense of the sprawl and density of the city, thinking about if and how I could obscure my trail here.  With these miles of relatively unpopulated industrial landscape, it didn’t look so promising, yet.”  
 
                                                                              ---
 
“Finally, we were getting into urban density in Aracaju.  The stops for intersections were frequent, so my fitful sleep turned to drowsy wakefulness.  I looked over at Max.  He had apparently been deep asleep, the whole ride.  Due to the stops for workers, plus the intersections and traffic, the bus was making slow progress.  By now, it was probably after 6:30 AM.  The sun was getting warm on my face now, through the bus window.  
 
 
“After picking up workers on the way in, the bus was now stopping at points, to let off some of the locals.  I got the impression that these weren’t official bus stops, but just courtesy for the regular riders who took the line every day, who needed to disembark near their jobs.  The woman who had been sitting next to me had gotten off at the last one.  
 
“As we got closer to the urban center, I looked around, to assess how easily I might get around on the streets, stealthily.  The city was bigger and more spread out than I expected.  It looked promising, but the bigger intersections had traffic cameras.  
 
“I was wondering whether I could avoid those cameras, probably overly concerned about their resolution being sufficient to identify pedestrians.  But this was still no time for wishful or lax thinking.  I knew I’d really have to be aware of staying away from the security cameras when we reached the central bus station – they would be a real risk.  Then I had another idea.  
 
“I slid over in my seat, and hopped across the aisle to sit beside Max.  No one had sat beside him, as the bus filled up, probably because they didn’t want to wake up the big, scary, skinhead American.  He woke as he felt the jolt, and my nearness, when I sat down and moved close to him.  
 
“Max was only slightly surprised at being awakened.  He instantly recognized that it was me, not a threat.  I leaned close and whispered to him, ‘Max, they’re letting people off along the way.  I want to get off at the next stop.  Before we get to the bus station, so there aren’t any cameras.’  He quickly got the idea, and agreed.  
 
“After a few more blocks, past a two-story mini-mall at the corner of a large intersection, the bus pulled over to stop again.  It was mid-block, away from the traffic cameras, on a street with a variety of storefronts and multistory business buildings, packed wall to wall, like typical downtown layouts.  Three or four locals were getting up from their seats.  “I whispered to Max, ‘This is it, let’s get off here!’  
 
“It was a lucky break for me, that the bus line apparently allowed the driver to do these informal drop-offs, so we could get off the bus before arriving at the station.  It added randomness to my location – if the police or gangsters could figure out that I had come to Aracaju on this bus, they’d surely start checking for clues, reviewing the security video, at the bus station.  I didn’t know how far we were from the station, but this was surely an improvement, to throw them off the scent.  
 
“We were near the urban center of Aracaju in any case.  The district was commercial, with larger, franchised stores on the main street we came in on, and little one-off shops, down the side alleys.  
 
As I stepped off the bus, and sensed the scale and movement, and heard the sounds, of the city all around us, I started to feel a bit safer – though not nearly as dense and noisy as Liberty City, Aracaju was big enough, relatively, to serve as a good place to be obscure, and hidden, in case the bad guys were able to track me here via the bus line.  
 
“Max was behind me.  We had followed the local workers off the bus, and I don’t think the bus driver paid much attention to me.  I was still wearing Max’s hat, and generally looking downward – not that it mattered, since I was the only American woman on the bus, and the hat probably wasn’t hiding that very well, anyway.  
 
“Holding my hand over the lower half of my face to obscure it, as casually I could, I glanced up and around for video cameras on the posts and verandas near us.  I didn’t see any, luckily.  
 
“The only other problem is that, just like on the bus, we were the only Americans in sight, a bit out of place among the locals on the street.  However, in the larger cosmopolitan blend of Aracaju, the mix of people’s appearances was greater, both in terms of clothes and skin color, so I fit in better and didn’t feel so much like there was a big flashing icon over my head, screaming, ‘American Woman Here!’  
 
“On the other hand, big Max stood out a little bit, so I wanted to get to the tourist areas, were we could be among a wider, more international mix of people, being different in plain sight.  More importantly, I felt that once we got a few blocks into the city, in any random direction, I’d no longer be on a straight line from the scenes of the crimes I was escaping.  
 
“I was eager to just walk, and fast, away from the bus route, to increase and obscure the search space for me.  I unconsciously noted that, even though Max was a bit conspicuous, I was glad he was with me, just because, based on the eyewitnesses to my crimes, they were only looking for a lone crazy American woman serial killer strutting down the street, not a happy tourist couple.   
 
“I told Max, “Let’s walk, take a few turns, let’s just get away from here, right now, to some little obscure tourist hangout, or something, by the beach.  Some place with no video cameras.”  
 
“I told him what I was feeling, my instinctive urge to get a bit lost, off the trail.  If we went straight on to the bus station, even if I stayed out of camera view while Max bought tickets again, taking another bus immediately would keep my trail linear, rather than random.  
 
“Max agreed that waiting might be better than immediately going further up the coast.  Maybe good to keep a low profile here, and wait until nightfall, recoup and recover before going on, and keep doing the red-eye express thing, for now, rather than traveling during the day.  
 
Max had a Bahia tour guide book, given to him by a tourist who was leaving Salvador.  He said that the book showed plenty of little tourist hostels and pousadas down by the beaches, everywhere that he had been in Bahia, and it would probably be true of Sergipe as well.  
 
“A lot of them are small places, he said, not hotel franchises, and typically no security cameras – a nice place to lay low, and have a nice afternoon beach vacation as a side benefit.  
 
“The thought of the ‘nice beach vacation’ instantly shot a bolt of grief through me, as I had expected to spend those kind of lazy, wonderful days, with David, after we had our surveillance op stabilized.  I missed David so much, in so many ways, along with the powerful life we had together.  In an instant, the grief came down on me, like the sky had fallen.  
 
“Max saw the sudden anguish cross my face, and my eyes started to tear, but I shook it away in a few seconds.  This wasn’t the time for reflection and remorse – I wanted to move out, to get lost on the partially crowded streets along the way, to walk down the alleys, and get to the beach, where there would probably be other Americans, so I could feel that I was blending in, projecting a lower profile, harder to sort out from the other tourists.”  
 
“I said, ‘Let’s go,’ and I just started walking down the street, in an east-ish, sunward direction, toward where I supposed the beach would be, intending to head down a small side alley lined with a jumble of little shops.  I just wanted to move.  
 
‘Max said, ‘Hey, wait a minute; we can’t just go off walking.  We’ve got to get a map for this town, like the ones in this Bahia tour guide.  These Brazilian towns aren’t just laid out in nice grids, you know; they’re been built up over a few centuries from separate, disconnected villages, and new private developments.  We don’t even know just where we are, or where we’re going.  You’ll just walk into a web of streets with no exit, separated from the next neighborhood by a private ranch, or a swamp, or a forest full of snakes.’  
 
“Max added, ‘Plus, it’s as bad as the big US cities – you blindly bumble a block or two into the wrong part of town, realize where you are, and you’ll be probably have to fight your way out.  I did my share of that, in São Paulo, let alone in my old neighborhoods, when I was a city cop.  Not again.  I’m trying to work smarter now.’  
 
“Max said that in any case, he thought it might be too far of a walking distance to the beach resort areas, from our present location.  Maybe there were closer tourist areas, he suggested, but still could be a mile or two of walking.  
 
I replied that walking was fine with me – taking a taxi would just result in one more potential witness who might remember me.  Until I got far away from this bus route, every time someone got enough of a good look at me to identify me, from a picture or a description, it would be a potentially deadly threat, if the cops were doing a full court press trying to track me down.  I had to be as anonymous here, as possible.  
 
“Max said, okay, we can walk – as if there were anything else we *could* do, right now, but we should be looking for a store or a gas station that might have a Sergipe map or guidebook, so we should stay on the commercial streets, as opposed to getting lost on the back alleys, which would be exclusively local shops, where we’d also probably stand out more.  
 
“I agreed, and we looked both ways on the street, to try to decide which direction might have a better chance of leading to a store with guidebooks, as he suggested.  We both sensed the same direction, and started walking, joining the flow of locals walking on the sidewalk.  
 
“We walked, at a healthy pace, toward the next intersection – this cross street was small enough that I could see there were no cameras, so no problem.  In the next block, we were passing a small women’s fashion shop, nestled between two medium-sized franchised department stores.  It reminded me of a small, extra-snooty Ponsonby’s.  
 
“I just happened to look in the shop window as we passed – just a natural reflex, for a female, you know – and I saw a mannequin, wearing a sun hat with a floppy brim that curved low, all around.  
 
“I was thinking clearly enough to immediately realize that if I had a broad-brimmed hat like that, I could make a point of using the hat to keep my face hidden, reducing my potential exposure, if and when we came to a camera intersection, or a business with security cameras.  I could give back Max’s ball cap, which only provided partial obscuration of my appearance, anyway.  
 
“Without even thinking about how girly I sounded, as we were still walking past the store, I grabbed Max’s sleeve, pointed back at the mannequin, and excitedly said, ‘Max, you’ve got to go in there and get me a hat like that!’  
 
“He was surprised for a second, but realized, as I was saying it, that I could use the hat to hide from the overheard cameras.  I could tell he was glad to do this, since it would help our situation.  But nothing’s that easy, with Max – you have to get past the requisite dollop of cynicism, first.  
 
‘Now I’m doing the shopping, too?’ he asked, jokingly, then added, ‘Good idea.  But you should go in and pick out the right hat.  I’m not known for my fashion sense.’  As he said ‘fashion sense,’ he flicked his eyes and eyebrows upward momentarily, to reference his bald head.  I laughed.  
 
“I replied that the trail was still way too warm, so it would be better if I stayed outside and wasn’t remembered as a customer, so soon after I had gotten off the bus.  
 
“Max agreed, yes, since we were still just one bus ride and two blocks away from my yesterday’s massacres, for now, he could be the more visible player in any interaction we would need to have in Aracaju with store clerks, ticket counters, hostel owners, bartenders.  He was just an innocent tourist, not the identifiable fugitive murderer, at the moment, that I was.  The less people who remembered me, the better – just using best practices, for a lawbreaker on the lam.  
 
“He said, ’So, yes, you hang back.  If somebody asks, “Who’s she?” I’ll just tell them, “It’s OK, she’s just shy.  Or slow.”’  He smiled.  I rolled my eyes, and gave him a sarcastic ‘ha ha’ kind of laugh. 
 
“Max reached deep in his duffel bag and pulled out the black nylon wallet again, starting to fish out some more $20 US notes, to buy the hat.  I suggested, as a sudden thought, maybe it’s better to use Brazilian reals for this kind of purchase, and Max agreed.  American dollars would draw a bit more attention.  
 
“He was about to flip over the wallet to get some Brazilian cash out of the other side, but I moved fast and got out my own wallet from my jeans, and gave him a thin stack of reals, probably equivalent to about $80 US.  I had no idea how much the hat would cost, but this store, on the main commercial street, looked more than a tad upscale.  
 
“Stuffing his wallet back in his bag, Max accepted the cash from me saying, ‘Right now, I’ve got a lot fewer reals than dollars, so this works.’  He replaced the wallet, then lifted his duffel bag off his shoulder and handed it to me, saying, ‘Here, take this.  I don’t want to knock over a rack of thousand dollar monkeyskin purses in there, with this thing.’  
 
“I hadn’t expected Max to hand his bag to me.  It was heavy, but I lugged it up on my shoulder, feeling the aches in my neck and shoulder blades, from the bike wreck on the beach.  He added, ‘Do I need to take all the bullets with me?  You’re not going to kill anybody while I’m in there, right?’  
 
“’Ha, ha,’ I answered.  ‘Only in self-defense, or if someone looks at me funny.’  I concluded, ‘Probably not.’  
 
“Max shook his head, with a smile, then turned and walked back to the store entrance, and went in.  I moved over near the storefront past the fashion store, blankly looking in the window, not even paying attention to the window’s contents, but rather, concentrating on looking downward, close to the glass, and trying not to look like a loitering fugitive.  
 
“It probably wasn’t working, but no one bothered me.  I kept standing there, thinking that I was probably increasingly suspicious by the minute, hoping that no policeman on the beat would just happen to walk or drive by, and ask what I was doing, or even worse, ask me what’s in the bag.  
 
“Max was taking a while.  Keeping my head down, every few seconds, I glanced up at the reflection in the window, of the sunlit morning street behind me, just to see if anyone were approaching me.  
 
“After a few more minutes, Max finally walked up to me, swinging a fancy looking, branded shopping bag, like he was a professional shopper strolling down Rockford Hills’ Little Portola walkway in Los Santos.  
 
“‘Whew, you’ve sure got an eye for fashion,’ he chuckled, adding, ‘They saw me coming, all right.  Probably figured, here’s some guy who needs to buy a birthday present, or a make-up present, for his wife; let’s stick it to him.  If it’s not expensive enough, he knows she’ll give him a ration of sh*t.’  
 
“He continued, ‘One of the saleswomen spoke fair English, so she ambushed the dumb American who just walked in.  I told her, “I need a hat like the one in the window,” and I pointed to the mannequin.  She reflexively looked up at my bald head.  “Not for me,” I joked.  Either she didn’t get it, or didn’t let me know she got it, anyway; no smile.  She just asked me, “What color?” with a slight tone of exasperation, like she’d rather not have to pretend to be civil, to a lunkhead like me.’  
 
“Max continued, ’I said, “I don’t know, a good color.  What’s in, these days?”  Then she went over to the shelf and picked this one, with all these rainbow colors.  She said, “It goes with everything.”’  
 
“Max handed me the shopping bag, while reaching out with his other hand, to take back his duffel bag.  I gladly hefted it back to him, taking off the weight that had been cutting into my shoulder.  What a relief!  
 
“I took the hat out of the shopping bag.  It had every primary color in it, repeating in circles from the center of the hat, to the edge of the brim.  It’s not the color pattern that I would have chosen, but it didn’t matter at all.  The colors looked like they’d blend in with the typical attire worn by the locals.  That’s what mattered.  I pulled the tag off the brim.  
 
“Max added, ‘I wouldn’t know if she were conning me about the colors, or not.  Anyway, back over at the cash register, I forked over the handful of reals you gave me.  She fanned it out and counted it, then looked back up at me, with an obvious “Where’s the rest?” glance.  I knew she was going to do that.  I was thinking, if this is the price of a damn hat in this country, I can understand why these rich bastards need to scam so much money.’  
 
“Max said, ‘I told her, ”That’s all I’ve got, senhorita,” as he made a shrugging gesture and turned up both palms empty, mimicking, for me, his action in the store.   
 
“He continued, ‘She gave me that subtle look of scorn, reserved for peasants, as she said, “Well.  I’m sure your wife is beautiful,” like she obviously didn’t think so, and wanted me to know it, and then she added, with an extra layer of icy condescension, “We’ll call it a special sale, just for her.”  I’m sure she was really glad just to move one of these overrated designer fakes today, at any price, but of course, she wasn’t going to let me know that.  
 
“Max went on, ‘Then, she pulled this shopping bag from under the counter and shook it open roughly, stuffing the hat into it.  I sensed that she did this with a lot less decorum and feigned care than she puts on for the full-paying suckers.  Then she shoved the bag at me, with a final glare of disdain, and a viciously sarcastic, ‘Please, visit us again.’  
 
“He smiled, adding, ‘So, here I am, hat in hand.’  I smiled too, and shook my head.  It was so typical of those kinds of stores.  
 
“I pulled off Max’s baseball cap and handed it back to him.  He took it, rubbing his bare head with his other hand, before slapping the cap back on, saying, with a typical Max smirk, ‘Good, I was getting worried about a sunburn.’  
 
I gathered up my hair again, and fitted the new hat.  It sat low on my head, so it would do an excellent job of covering my face from overhead cameras.  I looked at my reflection in the store window, silhouetted by the bright street behind me, and the hat looked natural enough, like I was legitimately and fashionably trying to protect from the sun, not just trying to hide my face, like your typical fugitive murderer on the street.  
 
“Again, I said ‘Let’s go!’  Then I added, ‘Thanks, Max.  I know you had to go above and beyond, to do this for me!’  
 
“’Wouldn’t be the first time,’ Max replied, referring to our shared adventures so far.  He said it with a surprisingly kind smile, meaning his reply in a supportive, friendly way, not a cynical complaint.  He then looked up, toward the direction we had been headed, and made a quick upward nod, so that I knew he agreed with my suggestion to get moving again.  
 
“Now I could really continue my getaway.  We started walking, through the rest of the shopping district.  I was walking too fast, subconsciously still ‘escaping,’ and I felt myself speeding ahead of Max, as well as passing the other shoppers on the sidewalk.  
 
“Max advised me to slow down and cool my jets, be casual, hang back with the crowd, so I wouldn’t stand out.  I did so, and my stress level started to decrease, as I became part of the stream of strolling pedestrians.  He was right.  I was feeling more anonymous.  What a difference a point of view can make.  
 
“After a few more blocks, at our casual pace, we arrived at a big intersection, crossed by a wide boulevard.  This intersection had the traffic cams, but I wasn’t so worried now; I could tell the hat was going to work, obscuring my face from the cameras.  
 
We came up to a crowd of people, waiting for the light to change.  In this metropolitan, urban context, no one was paying attention to us.  Blending with the people, feeling like I couldn’t be identified by cameras, and walking with Max so I didn’t feel like a loner on the run, made all the difference.  It was the first relief I felt, since the mad chase began, yesterday.  Maybe there was hope, yet.
 
                                                                                    ---




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users