Fractions, p.2
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       Fractions, p.2

           Ray Daley
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  I looked at him. "You already said that. Sold as seen then? Call it fifty bucks off 'cause she might not fire?"

  He couldn't shake my hand or take my money fast enough.

  I knew there was an identical Needler in the evidence cage, and that did fire. It was child's play to exchange the two firing pins, I then had a working, completely untraceable Needler. Which I promptly set about modifying, to the very edge of its functionality. I filed the firing pin right down, and stretched the springs too. I also worked on the safety catch. Until it almost didn't.


  When the kid had grabbed it so hard, the hair trigger went off.

  Leaving a fist-sized hole right through his torso. Even at the short range he'd taken it, the modified Needler had at least four times the kinetic energy of a regular one. More than enough power to pass through an adult man and still kill another within its maximum range. And this one had only had to pass through a scrawny street kid.

  King Mo took the full force of a regular Needler. If you're not a gun expert let me tell you, this is always one hundred percent terminal.

  He dropped his gun, hitting the sidewalk about half a second after it did. I found out later why it didn't sound all that heavy. It'd been nothing more than a light alloy replica, aged up to look like the real thing. They'd even stuck a metal washer inside the mag to give it a realistic sounding rattle of being loaded. It even allowed them to cock it, to provide the illusion of it looking loaded.

  Then the cops came racing in, appearing as if from nowhere. "Everyone down on the ground! Hands where we can see 'em! Nobody move!"

  No-one would say who'd pulled the Needler. Ruiz later told me he'd said to them it just went off in the kids hand. No-one had pulled the trigger. And my prints weren't on it. I'd had them etched off at the same place that did my face. My fake ID more than held up to questioning too.

  With the only two witnesses to my drawing the Needler dead, the police had nothing on me.


  Gentleman Jim took me home from the police station. The guy from the print shop had seen the cops taking us all away and tweeted it. Jim had rushed downtown, expecting to have to post our bail. I made him wait until they released Ruiz as well. A free ride was the least I owed him.

  The remaining kids were placed into a secure halfway house, operated by the State.

  With King Mo dead, revenge had been satisfied. Or so I thought.

  I was free to have my face changed back, my prints regrown. I could go back to being a cop again. Only I realised I no longer wanted to. I'd found that I rather liked being Shorty La Short.

  So what to do?

  After Jim had dropped me off at the hotel, I took the three bus ride across to the other side of the city, back to my real apartment. I've never had much, by the way of possessions, so it was easy to throw all my clothes in one bag.

  All that left was the place itself. I seemed to recall a local realtor giving me her card a couple of months ago, eager to buy into this building in a major way. I found it easily enough, still sitting in an empty fruit bowl on the kitchen counter where I'd last dropped it.

  "You still interested in buying into my building?" I asked her.

  She was.

  We made the deal over the phone, with me giving her an account number to pay the money into. I could close that online from anywhere.

  When I left that place for good, it was just as I bought it, slightly dusty with furnishings included.


  Back on the strip, three more buses later, I found myself asking one of the street artists if he knew of anywhere cheap to live. The place was clean enough, and big too.

  "The last tenants left after some trouble with the law," the owner said, then she quoted me the monthly rent.

  As I looked around, I recognised the tags on the walls. This had been where Mo and his crew were living. I bet myself the old lady had never seen any rent for this place as long as they'd been here. "So," I said, "how much to buy it outright?"

  I think I made her one happy old lady.

  I got the street artists to paint the place. Cost me nothing. It's a nice enough place. All I really do is sleep there. And shower.

  I quit the force by mail. Goodbye Officer Friendly. I won't miss your life one bit!


  I called up Gentleman Jim after that. Some Private Secretary answered. Turns out he really is rich. Or the son of someone who is. He's a pretty savvy business guy though. When I ran my latest idea by him, he was right on board straight away. As I told him, the way I see things, people want an experience. They don't care about truth or facts. They just want to be entertained.

  I figure that people can franchise my idea, run their own Worlds Shortest Tour. All they really need is a good location. I provide the rest.

  They pay me to cover the license for the name, then send me a vid of the area they want to tour. I send them back a shtick I work up from the vid, along with a handy transcript to make it easier for them to learn.

  If they want merchandise, they license that through me too. Whatever profit they make after that is theirs to keep. After all, they earned it!

  I've sold a hundred so far. Enough to retire really. Jim runs my old route most days now. I still do the occasional tour though. Look out online! Come and check me out! Corner of Forty-fourth and Meeker. Every day 'til ten pm.

  Shorty La Short, that's me. And Gentlemen Jim takes his cut too. Only we call them fractions now.

  And it sure as hell beats being a cop! Why not drop by?


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