We arrived at the Wolfmin's hideout without incident, save for Danny accidentally running a red light. There were no cops around, so that was a plus and we only almost hit the school bus, not actually hit it. Almost hitting a school bus is almost the opposite of hitting one. Come to think about it, the opposite of hitting a school bus would be not hitting it. In that case, almost hitting a school bus is a variation on not hitting one. It didn't matter much presently. It was in the past now and we were in the present, nothing could be done about it- not that anything needed to be done about it since nothing happened, it just almost happened, which is the same thing as nothing happening. I reminded myself of that fact as I pushed the button on the walkie-talkie I was holding before saying, "Affirmative, Lone Snake. Return to base."
Jax was an impressive child for sure. He runs a bar and holds a fairly important position of power, or at least influence, in the local tribe of street urchins. He drinks like an adult and smokes like a train, but he is still a tiny little boy. A tiny little boy who was currently armed with a pistol loaded with enchanted bullets, accompanied by a detective/magician and a lunatic with a flamethrower who was on a mission to rescue his boss from a pair of werewolves. That is to say, he was living the fantasy of every young boy, urchin or non. Which is to say there was no way we were going to get this done without using code names and walkie-talkies.
As soon as we arrived at the non-descript werehouse located in one of the less agreeable parts of town but before we got out of the car Jax reached into his pockets and produced three walkie-talkies. He passed them out with the solemn face of a priest administering Extreme Unction to his own mother.
"Com units," he informed us, "so we can stay in touch in the field."
We took our com units, nine-volt powered monstrosities from Radio Shack that Jax must have picked up at the thrift store, and nodded gravely trying not to ruin his big moment.
"I'll do some recon", Lone Snake began explaining, "by going to look around and see what I can find."
"Lone Snake, I already know which building they are in," Danny stated.
"I know. But they may have moved. We have to be sure."
Danny and I looked at each other and were both relieved to find that neither of us had the nerve to break Jax's heart and refuse the use of code names nor our scout a harmless recon mission. We nodded at Jax in agreement.
"Their last known location is in that building right over there," Danny said.
"Good luck Lone Snake," I said.
Danny saluted, "Godspeed, Lone Snake. We're counting on you."
Lone Snake nodded and slipped away, disappearing into the shadows even though it was daytime.
About three-quarters of a cigarette later Jax returned.
"They're still there. You won't believe what I saw."
"What did you see?"
"Nah, you got to see it for yourself," Jax said while turning around and heading towards the building that held the Wolfmans, Sam, and Frank Stien. Danny and I followed about ten feet behind him. When he reached the door, Jax opened it without hesitation or any attempt at sneakiness. He just walked through it, disappearing from our view as he did so. I drew my gun and quickened my pace, Danny ignited his flamethrower and then lit a cigarette off of it before also quickening his pace and catching up with me.
"I thought he'd wait for us," I said to Danny as we closed in on the door.
"Lone Snake waits for no one, you should know that."
"Yeah, we all go through the Lone Snake thing at his age."
Our conversation was interpreted by two pistol shots. A second or so later I passed through the doorway to find a pair of dead werewolves on the floor. Jax was standing in front of them, poking their bodies with his foot, making sure they were dead. Sam and Frank were sitting at a card table drinking beers.
"Nice ya made it, beers over there," Sam said gesturing, unbothered, towards a cooler at the end of the table.
I placed my pistol back in my pocket and grabbed a beer. I opened it and took a sip before asking Sam what happened. All he said was "Come, on. It's just werewolves." That's when Frank decided to step in and explain that Sam and Frank had easily overpowered the Wolfmins and figured Danny wouldn't burn the bar down and they then decided to just enjoy themselves until I showed up.
"Figured pretty good," I replied rightly impressed.
"What's with Jax turning werewolf hunter?"
"Not sure," Sam said," he just came in and shot them.
Killing a monster isn't like killing a person or an animal. It's not a crime, though sometimes it can be a bit impolite. Monsters don't legally exist so no one can reasonably be expected to suffer legal ramifications for harming one, for one. For two, they're monsters. There is no moral issue with ending their existence nor should there be. They aren't here to help out. They're here to be monsters.
Jax finished his investigation of the Wolfmin's bodies and joined us at the beer table. He gave Sam his pistol back, thanking him for the loan. Jax pulled a beer from the cooler and sat down on the table, his feet dangling a foot or so off the ground.
"I have my reasons for what I did and I'm keeping them to myself," Jax pulled from his beer, "before you ask, the cub is being transferred to a street urchin tribe that has a sizable reformed werewolf population. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a call." Jax hopped off the table and walked out the door to place his call while the three of us looked at each other and shrugged. Jax told us all he wanted us to know about what he did and that was good enough for us. He may be just a child, but that didn't mean we had the right to his secrets.
Even though monsters don't legally exist, that doesn't mean the authorities don't know about them. They officially deny the reality of them, of course, but they keep it quiet when say, a pair of dead werewolves are found in a werehouse, so there was nothing to worry about or clean up after.
We finished our beers, then helped ourselves to another round. We followed that up with two more rounds. We talked very little about anything of importance but we spoke of small things in such a way that when we finished Frank, Sam, and myself understood who the new crime boss was, who the guy who owned the bar frequented by street urchins was, and who the monster fighting detective was, and how to exist in such a way that we didn't ruin the delicate balance that must always be maintained.
We left the werehouse and made a brief pit stop at Sam's to celebrate our recent acknowledgment of each other's new found place in the world. We weren't there long but we didn't leave in a hurry either. A little bit later I eventually found my way home, I noticed that my door had been repaired. When you're in my line of work, you learn to find a handyman that doesn't ask too many questions pretty quickly or you learn to live in a drafty room. Rodger was the best. Six busted doors this quarter and not so much as one raised eyebrow. I made a mental note with my mind to tip him handsomely this Christmas while I was busy making a pot of coffee with my body.
I was tired but not go to bed tired. I was something else tired. It wasn't a new kind of tired by any means, just one I never bothered to name. Words aren't always necessary, especially when you're only talking about talking to yourself. This is the kind of tired where I'd have to wake myself up a little bit with some coffee first before I could then get re-tired in such a way as to encourage sleeping.
I pulled a deck of cards from my junk drawer and played a few games of solitaire while I drank a couple of cups of coffee. I wasn't paying attention to the cards so much as I was thinking about what I wanted to do tomorrow. I thought about how it would be my first sober day without an arch enemy, a case, a void in the underworld to fill, or kidnapping to resolve. As a consequence of my mental meandering, I played very poorly but was glad for that for once the only opponent I was up against was myself.