Reiniger #1 – The Bus

I see my target even though I’m nearly sitting in the back of the bus. Luckily, the seats are more or less half full this time of day. Don’t get your hopes up, I’m not an optimist by nature, but I do appreciate it when serendipity decides to make an appearance. You see, I’m going to kill someone on this bus today. Not just today, but within the hour, perhaps sooner.

I’m not married, I used to be, so this isn’t about a love affair gone wrong or anything as dramatic as that, at least not for me. Also, nobody killed my wife, so this isn’t about revenge. The simple truth is, I kill people, and someone pays me. Hell, I’ve even taken contracts directly from my victims, more than a few times. Life insurance doesn’t pay out for suicides, you see.

People might expect to see a cue ball headed, dead-eyed drone wearing a two thousand dollar suit and a brightly colored tie when they think of a contract killer but that’s about as realistic as a house made out of cookies. Most folks want to believe that guys like me do not exist at all, except at the box office. If you put a tub of butter and salt and a half gallon of sticky, brown liquid in their hands, most plebs will swallow whatever myths you give them to swallow. At a time like this, it’s tempting to be clever and say something witty such as “They can’t see the forest for the trees,” perhaps, which is apropos when dealing with the public. Maybe that’s not being fair, but fair has no place in my world. There’s no goal line, out of bounds, timeouts, fouls, and there are damn sure not any free throws. In life, there is only success and failure, and the gods granted us the power to define them both for ourselves.

In preparation for this job, I’ve been riding this bus every day for the last week. After this next stop, the only passengers left will be the cute Hispanic lady with her two young kiddos. Typically, she’ll have a smile on her face and a sack full of groceries, the brown, paper kind rather than the plastic. She always speaks Spanish to the driver, even though he looks like the usual white guy, kudos to him for learning a second language. Of course, I’ll need to be careful since there are sometimes sporadic passengers that remain after she gets off. Each day, I  spend some time wondering what her name might be which is shockingly human of me. Don’t get excited. It’s merely a symptom of an inquisitive mind, one that has served me well in my efforts to date.

The time was drawing nigh. As the bus lumbered from stop to stop, the heads of the passengers in front of me appeared to bobble in unison as if the goodly, mechanical dinosaur held sway over the lot of them. The bus veered to the right as it prepared to make yet another stop. Almost all of the people stood up in anticipation. I paid close attention to the woman and her children, one of whom seemed to be doing a variation of the pee dance. Once the bus stopped with the typical squealing of the brakes, she joined the herd of others as they slowly filed through the doors. Soon, I noticed that I was going to be the last person on this bus, which did not bode well for my plans for my prey.

Many calculations ran through my head. I did not want to be the only person to exit the bus as my victim exited this realm, though I don’t forsee it as a major issue given my chosen method of execution. Also, this bus stop is about two miles from my planned exit, which would not be much of a problem either but I detest adlibbing unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Suddenly, my indecisiveness brought me to the point of irritation so much so that I stood up without a second thought and closed in on the back of the herd. The lovely lady with the children and sack of groceries stood ahead of me. One of the kids held her mother’s hand and stared directly at me. I smiled at her, genuinely, but she only stared at me, lacking any warmth or wonder in her eyes. In truth, I could describe my eyes just the same. It could be that I was reading too much into it, but that was the nature of the beast that I set out to slay each time I sign on the dotted line, so to speak.

We were just about to reach the front of the bus when my mysterious lady stopped to chat with the driver, nearly clockwork these two. I had a white bag from the pharmacy with a prescription for John Stone, my current identity. Luckily, John has diabetes and easy access to syringes. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a syringe, carefully slipping it behind my back. Suddenly, I fell forward as if I had tripped, making sure to knock the kid down as I did. Once I bumped into the driver, I injected him just behind the armpit.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay? Is she all right?” I asked as I swiveled my focus from the concerned mother to the annoyed driver. Being a big city, thankfully, neither of them did more that gift me a foul glance while they both focused on the now crying toddler. I saw this as the perfect time to make my exit, perfect timing being just about my favorite thing in the whole world.

As I stepped off of the bus, I took note of the street signs and headed south. Even though I got off at an earlier stop, serendipity, along with my smartphone, informed me that I was actually closer to my final destination than I would’ve been had I followed the original plan. This contract was all but over.

After only minutes of walking and crossing a busy street or two, I had arrived. Now, you might be thinking that the bus driver fell dead instantly, something you might have seen while downing the aforementioned syrupy beverage in a dimly lit theater, but this is no movie, nor ill-conceived television plot hastily smashed between the commercials for hemorrhoid cream and a mid-life crisis mobile. The injection that I gave him was high end, and he’ll simply never wake up in the morning, stroke or heart attack being the cause. Even if I somehow draw the only genius level medical examiner in this state, they’ll never chase more than their tails in this case.

For some time, I had been standing in line amongst the forgotten of this city, addicts, and a few thrifty consumers brave enough to rub shoulders with these ruffians. A cheerful volunteer called for the next person in line, me, and I smiled as I stepped forward. I handed the needle to a nurse dressed in scrubs riddled with emojis. She secured my needle among many other anonymous contributions, and I even received a fresh one in exchange.

This might seem like the part of the story when I sent a one-word text message or made a five-second phone call spouting only a phrase meant to inform my temporary employer that the deed was indeed done but that’s not how this will go down. I’ll probably wait a few days before I make that call and then I’ll dump the phone in a recycle bin at the nearest big box electronics store. Then, I’ll buy some music, jazz most likely, and a package of candy while I wait in the checkout line. We all need something to do while we wait to check out, I call it living. If you’re unlucky, you just might meet a prick like me on your last day.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

To Err: Being Human Amidst a World of Intolerance

This sort of post isn’t typically my style, but I’ve been having this conversation with myself lately, which quickly became intriguing. With that in mind, I did some quick and dirty research on the topic of religion. Now, I don’t consider this a religious post, and if you read the entire article, I think that you will mostly agree with that statement. Hey, that’s the best I can do. After all, I’m not perfect and would not dare pretend otherwise.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world. Of those, there are over 2.2 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, and another 500 million of what is known as folk religions which consist of people from Africa, China, America, and Australia. Sadly, there are less than 20 million Jews in the world. All of these figures are estimates and are likely inaccurate as soon as compiled. For this article, they’ll suffice since they need only portray the world’s religious affiliation as a sketch, which they do nicely.

Now that we’ve laid a foundation, we can come to the question that I asked myself which prompted me to write this post. If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron? This question reminds me of a saying that I use that goes like this: “No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.”

To be clear, I don’t believe that people think that God is a moron. It was simply the question I asked myself that became the steam behind this train of thought. The next part might be where this whole idea can get tricky so I will do my best to lay it out in an understandable manner.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world.

The majority of people that believe in a God are Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, a total of roughly 5 billion of the world’s population. I can leave the Buddhists out of this part because it is my understanding that they do not believe in a creator. Besides, I’m confident that they won’t mind. Getting back to the point, most religious people believe in a creator so they must believe that God also created the people of other faiths as well. For example, if you are a Christian, wouldn’t you think that God created the Muslims, Hindus, and Jews? Hold that thought.

The point that I am getting at is this: an all-powerful, omniscient entity knows what it is doing. People all over the world speak different languages, dance their dances, sing their songs, and make vastly different meals. Of course, that is merely the tip of the iceberg, but you can see where I am going with this. The world is full of people of varying cultures, and we are often more than happy to take the parts of other’s culture that we like and make it a part of our own. When that happens, it is quite beautiful and flattering; one would hope.

If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron?

With so many cultures and languages in the world, it’s easy to understand that we may not often figure out why one group feels this way, another feels that way, and “we” believe the correct way, for instance. “We” being the holder of the point of view in any given situation. Even within Christianity, half of which are Catholic, people differ in the proper manner to practice the faith which is why Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists exist. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so, and I will even take it a step further, perhaps two.

A Christian, Muslim, and Hindu walk into a bar. Who precisely knows what to say to each of them to make them believe in something bigger than themselves? Survey says—an all-powerful, omniscient being. Some of us speak English, Russian, Chinese, or Spanish, and even with a translator, the meaning of words, phrases, and sayings are not always adequately conveyed. Hence the phrase “lost in translation.” A supreme entity can take one group of like minded people and reach them through Christianity, another group through Islam, another with Hinduism, and yet another through Buddhism, perhaps. Cultural and linguistic differences are powerful enough to cause confusion among people of differing societies. Not only that but once you factor in schools of thought and traditions, it gets increasingly difficult to communicate effectively especially on matters as dearly held as religion or spirituality.

When it comes to religion or spirituality, perhaps the only question that can be asked of anyone is: Are you happy? If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us. Obviously, there are extremes at play in regards to almost anything, religion and spirituality are no different. Are you saying that it’s okay to worship Satan as long as the worshipper is happy? That is an example of an extreme, in case that is somehow not obvious, and does not apply to most people. What I am saying is, it’s probably none of my business, and I am in no place to judge, though most of us do anyway.

If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to do or when to do it, or how. If you do believe in a great big sky daddy in one form or another, maybe you should give this entity of extreme power the benefit of the doubt. Some folks love dogs, some cats, and some hate pets altogether. There are even some weirdos that like any and all pets. That could be an oversimplification, but, as a parent, even I know that I have to handle my kids’ moods by employing different methods. So, when approached by several groups of people that live in completely different places and in different ways, is it so far-fetched to believe that a being of such power would know that a different approach just might be the way to reach them? In conclusion, I’m just going to repeat that saying that has come to be a favorite of mine.

No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Detective Darby #14 – The Awakening

Upon waking up, the first thing that I noticed was, once again, the blinding brightness of the light. I cannot seem to escape its assault on my senses, sight specifically. Secondly, the realization that I was on a couch hit me, but it was not the couch in my office. As a matter of fact, this place had all the tells of a woman’s touch. No offense to Linda, but it was on a whole new level and even smelled of candles, baked goods, and potpourri, I assume. My expertise lends itself more to liquids and wisecracks than decorating although I do often precede my name with the word detective for a reason. And I don’t mind reminding people of that fact, even myself.

I leaned up placing my elbows on my knees so that I could bury my head towards the floor. As I stared at the thoughtfully chosen rug, my thoughts dug their way into the cold, dusty earth, approximately six feet down. Despite the fact that someone, at least one person, cared enough to scrape me from the sidewalk outside of Cavanaugh’s should have been uplifting in some way. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how misery operates. Better that I’d have fallen through the concrete and reeked my last bit of havoc clawing helplessly towards an escape that was not to come. I fail to think of a more fitting end since that is precisely the manner in which I have lived life since I crossed the Atlantic.

There was a coffee table just in front of me and, before I knew it, someone slid a cup on the table right in front of me.

“Thanks,” I replied without looking. I grabbed the mug and held it close to my nose. The aroma of the beans reminded me of the relief that typically followed such a scent and seemed to have triggered an endogenous reaction. I can safely accuse myself of overthinking things, perhaps that’s why I’m a halfway decent detective, but, whatever the cause, the smell of that coffee cheered me up even if it is just enough for me to notice. That’s twice now that I’ve patted myself on the back for my sleuthing skills despite the fact that I had no idea whose couch in which I was cutting a groove. It’s funny how the mind functions, malfunctions in my case.

“You’re welcome,” replied a woman’s voice, which made the hairs on my arms seem as if they were intent on running away. As my heart began thumping, I wondered for a second how I haven’t died from a heart attack, considering my addiction and the war especially. “It’s two sugars, just as you like it,” she added.

I knew that voice quite well. I’d like to think that it sounds exactly as I remembered it from my dreams, night or day, and as I had imagined it many times. It was Alice Grace. Now seems like an excellent opportunity to skip mentioning how good of a detective that I am.

“I think he likes it better with a bit more Irish in his cup,” Stan sarcastically announced. I’m not surprised that Sarge is here, he’s her uncle after all. There was undoubtedly a lecture to follow, but I can’t say that I appreciated being embarrassed on so many levels so early in the day if at all. If only I possessed a skill set germane to avoiding surprises.

“I don’t think that’s helping,” Alice remarked, kindness lining her words. Maybe I just hear what I want to when it comes to her. Truthfully, as cruel as it might sound, her voice was the last one that I wanted to hear today.

“Do you suppose he’s helping himself?” Stan asked, raising his voice. “He’s certainly helping himself to a bar stool,” he wittily added. As I finally lifted my head, I was greeted by the angry face of Sarge, complete with hands on his hips.

“I don’t know, but yelling at him isn’t helping. When you told me that you saw him the other day, wasn’t it you that mentioned how long it had been?” Alice asked, laying down the law. No pun intended. The anger drained from Stan’s face, and shame began to fill that void. I appreciated her defending me, but this isn’t something that I wanted to see. My problems being laid at the feet of another, one that I cared for no less. “Didn’t you tell me that he still uses your old office? I can’t imagine it’s all that hard to find,” she continued, multiplying the shame further. When I saw Stan begin to put his head down, I felt that I was sharing his humiliation at this point, rightly so. I had seen and heard quite enough.

“Hold on,” I announced as I began to stand. An intense pressure rushed to my head as I rose to my feet, and I can only imagine the funny face that I made in an attempt to fight it off. It certainly undermined the credibility of what I was about to say, not that my credibility accounts for much these days. “Listen, guys, I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say,” I said, not the eloquence that I was hoping for. I saw a flash of anger return to Sarge’s face, and he pointed towards me as he opened his mouth to speak. However, he stopped at the last second and said nothing.

“What happened to your partner?” Stan calmly asked. At this point, he seemed content to jump on Alice’s bandwagon by finding some more excuses on my behalf. I am indeed coming up on rock bottom.

“Well, he left about the time things got heavy. I spotted the girl, but I lost her,” I explained if only a little.

“That’s unfortunate. What now?” Stan asked. Before I could even begin to think of an answer, Alice slammed her mug on the coffee table. The spoon clattered against the cup as the act got our attention, undoubtedly its intention.

“Are you really going to talk shop—now?” Alice angrily asked. She had a point. Any question as to whether the elephant in the room had been addressed was just answered.

“She’s right, you know,” Stan agreed as he walked towards me. “There’s a man that I want you to see. Remember?”

“Now?” I asked, my disdain evident.

“We had a deal,” Stan sternly replied.

“This deal is getting worse all the time,” I muttered aloud. Based on their expressions, I don’t think that Stan and Alice cared for that comment, yet another example of my exceptional skills. “Okay, what did you have in mind?” I asked, conceding the standoff.

They both seemed happy to hear my surrender. However, with me, it was unlikely to be unconditional. Stan finally sat down to relax, and I noticed Alice slowly moving towards me. She seemed as unsure how close that she would get to me as I was. Honestly, my stomach immediately knotted up as I approached petrification. Once she got within a step of arm’s reach, I circled away around the coffee table and sat down in a chair in the corner.

After all this time building up to this moment, I was infinitely confused about my feelings having finally seen and spoke to her. It was not at all how I had imagined. Alice did not collapse tearfully into my arms, slap me in the face, or give me the cold shoulder. Instead, she was willing to help me and lived alone. It doesn’t take a great detective, luckily, to see that Alice Grace might still have a place in her life for a bum of a man such as me.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden