read / discuss / question

Links / Related: Bibliophil / Cool: Greg Egan

Login:    Password:      Don't have a username? Register!

Discussion > Feedback > Feedback (that's the title)

Feedback (that's the title)

kromekoran (June 3rd, 2003, 1:43 pm)

this one's a little long for forum reading, coming in at just over 11 pages in Word and nearly 4000 words. Written back in 2001. And as always, more of my shorts can be found at if you like my stuff. Enjoy.


"It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?"

Itís the last line spoken in my favorite movie. It was one of those sci-fi movies from the last century, where cars flew, and people were scared shitless when the robots attacked. I loved this movie though, because it was among the first to paint a stark picture of man's creations.

They had stopped making new copies of the film years ago. It had been bequeathed to me, along with a few hundred more, when my grandfather died. The film was on a large reflective disc that fit into the palm of my hand, I had to play it in an old rectangular machine that read the disc using light. Found the machine at an antique shop a few blocks away, paid twenty creds for it.

That old movie line was the first thing that came into mind when I saw my grandmother's head with a bullet through it

I had walked into the apartment- a two-bedroom loft off of Temple Street in Long Beach- and was assailed with the strange odor of death. I had walked into the back room in which my grandmother stayed, bedridden. It was the middle of the night and the whole apartment was dark, except for her room. The TVnet monitor glowed a silent blue, caught in some feedback loop showing the same scene over and over again. It had probably overheated, the monitors usually acted weird when that happened.

Grandmother was a throwback. She was only eighty years old, but she had been dying for the past five. Some new kind of neurological disorder had swooped in and started attacking her mind. The doctors didn't know what it was or how to treat it. It wouldn't have happened if she had received the Therapy, but she was a throwback. Wasn't like she didn't have the money, just didn't think it was right to interrupt God's plan (her words, not mine). Could have lived another hundred years, possibly more, no one knew how long the effects of the Therapy would last back then.

I switched on the overhead halogen lamp. My grandmother's body lay there, lifeless, lit in the harsh glare of the bulb. Her white sheets had run red from the blood loss and become hard to the touch. She must've been dead a few days by then, I hadn't been home in a week.

I had stood there, staring into her empty blue eyes for what seemed like hours, before I ran to the toilet and puked.

* * * * *

Eight days earlier I was sitting at my desk at work.

I was a sitemaster for an escort service based in San Pedro. Easy work, and my pay reflected it. The company was called Good Times, run out of an old crumbling bakery with a sign in the window that read "Fresh Buns".

There were usually only two people at the old bakery, a guy called Big Voodoo who owned the operation, and myself. The girls that worked for Good Times hardly ever came in; they had their virtual representations on the site that I kept up. When there was a request for one of the girls, the server would call their phone and relay the information.

But that day hadn't been normal, and it all started when Honey walked through the door.

Honey was the alpha girl, the most requested. She had been selling her various orifices since she was fourteen, but you couldn't tell it from looking at her, unlike so many of the other girls. Honey was twenty-five then, all legs and tits, long golden blond hair and the most gorgeous face I had ever seen.

She had walked in that day wearing a faux mink coat over her little red dress, fishnets that came up mid-thigh, and red stilettos. The shades gave it away though, large and square, covering nearly half her face, old school with a rose tint.

"Is he here?" Honey asked me between quick breaths.

I noticed her cheeks marred with black tears from the mascara.

"In the back." I said softly.

Honey followed the direction of my pointed thumb, heels clicking loudly on the stained concrete floor. I heard her knock on the closed door to Voodoo's office, then the squeak of the turning knob. She had shut the door behind her, but I could still hear some muffled crying, followed by the booming voice of Voodoo.

That lasted a few minutes, me trying to decipher their conversation through the thick walls. Then the door slammed open and Big Voodoo stormed out, Honey pulled along by his large dark hand.

Big Voodoo was big, really big. Seven feet tall and built like a brick house. His skin was dark, features thick, and his bald head shined in the halogen glare. He was dressed that day in a black turtleneck sweater, pleated gray slacks, and combat boots that shone like his head.

"Look what that motherfucker did to her!" Voodoo pulled Honey in front of me.

She had discarded the fur and the shades. Both of her eyes were ringed in purple and black, and it wasn't from the mascara. Honey's arms were also bruised, in the pattern of a very tight grip. Voodoo turned her around and lifted up her dress. Her ass was bright red with welts; some of the whip's lashes had even broken skin.

I stood up.

"Who?" Was all I could think of to say.

"The last fucking john, that's who," said Voodoo.

Honey started to cry some more.

Voodoo pulled her close and held her softly, brushing the hair away from her face.

I gave him a pleading look, hands open. "What're you gonna do?"

"Take his balls, that's what."

I dropped my hands to my sides, looked up at the ceiling, was blinded by the bulbs, and looked back to him. "Where's he at?"

"At the old Hilton by LAX, room 227." Honey answered.

I sat back down in my chair, lowered my face into my hands, and closed my eyes. I could feel Voodoo's stare invading my skull, but he didn't say anything. I knew the john was still in that hotel room because Honey would come here first.

Voodoo's eyes were fixed on me when I looked back up. It was a hard glare, not that he was pissed at me, bit he was pissed. I glided on the chair's wheels down to the far end of my desk, spun around, and opened the bottom drawer.

The gun lay there alone. From the old school, all chrome metal; even the bullets in the clip were metal. I picked it up, made sure the safety was on, and pulled out the clip to check how many bullets I had. Fifteen, clip was full. I shoved the clip back into the grip hard, hearing it click, and stood up.

Voodoo had explained to me when I took this job, that if any shit was to go down, I was expected to back him up. So that's what I did.

Honey stared at my gun.

Voodoo nodded. "Call Violet and tell her to get down here. She can look after Honey for the time being." He told me.

I nodded back.

* * * * *

Big Voodoo rolled heavy, always did. I was sitting shotgun in his classic Lincoln, with a .45 tucked under my shirt. So that day we both rolled heavy.

"You my friend, Jefferson?" Voodoo asked, using my last name.

I was gazing out the window at the sprawling mass of the Metro as it sped by. We were doing ninety down the empty old 710 freeway in the middle of rush hour. Mass commuter trains on either side of us couldn't keep up with the Lincoln.

"Yeah. At least I would like to think so." I said.

"Never knew anyone like you back in Louisiana. You Geek to bone, white boy, but you pretty down for yo' shit. We had plenty a Geeks back home, but I never knew 'em. You guys kinda stick to yo' self."

"Nature of the beast." I replied.

"If computers had pussies, you guys would fuck 'em." He laughed.

"Wouldn't be surprising." I grinned back.

"If you my friend though, white boy, you don't give me up if we get rolled by the pigs, right?"

"Right." I said.

"Good, 'cause I know fools in the pen that would slit yo' throat if I asked 'em to."

"I'm sure you do, but unlike most Geeks, I don't give up my friends."

"We cool then."

"Yeah, we're cool."

That was all the talking we did on the ride to the hotel.

I picked up the thick rubber band from the floorboard beneath my feet. Unstretched, the band was the size of a dollar coin, and would squeeze the john's nuts blue when it was wrapped around them. I looked back down at the floorboard; saw the long needle attached to the syringe that was filled with a greenish liquid. I hoped the john didn't struggle too much when I tried to stick him, I didn't want to get pricked.

Big Voodoo transferred to the 105 freeway. The 105 was down to one lane then, the others had all been laid with light rail for the trains. We sped along it though, not another car in sight. We finally exited the freeway on Century Boulevard, and continued north towards the old Hilton that loomed up ahead.

Big Voodoo parked the Lincoln in the back of the hotel's lot, which was littered with trash and empty dumpsters. He gave me a final nod, and then we climbed out of the car. I could see the bulge of his gun through his sweater as he walked ahead of me. His was more tech than mine, which I thought a bit odd. Not one piece of metal in his gun, not even the bullets.

I followed Voodoo through a pair of swinging glass doors, down the musty carpeted hallway, and into an elevator that he barely fit into. He pushed the button for the second floor and the doors slid shut noisily. We didn't even look at each other on the ride up. It was a short ride, and that was good, I didnít trust old elevators.

When we came to room 227, each of us stood on either side of the door against the wall. Voodoo knocked loudly, three short hits.

"Yeah?" A voice yelled from inside.

"Housekeeping." Voodoo yelled back.

I heard the john approach the door. The guy must have been looking out the peephole, but Voodoo had his huge hand over it. I then heard the chain slipping into place, locks disengaging, and the turning of the knob that was in bad need of oiling.

The door opened a few inches and the john saw me through the crack. I gave a quick glance to Voodoo who then threw his shoulder into the door and the john. We were both in the room before I had realized what happened.

"What the fuck?" The john screamed.

Voodoo had the guy on the floor, face down, and was on top of him, the barrel of his gun jammed into the back of the john's skull. I quickly shut the door behind me and locked it. I then pulled the syringe out of my pocket, removed the cap, and looked at Voodoo.

"Do it!" He yelled.

I bent down on my knees, lifted the syringe high above my head, and then brought it down hard. The needle shot through the guy's pants and into his ass. I pressed down hard on the plunger and watched the greenish liquid disappear.

The john shook violently for a second or two, and then went limp.

Big Voodoo stood up and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. "Damn." He said.

"Shit works quick." I remarked.

"Help me roll this motherfucker over."

We rolled the john onto his back. The guy was fairly young, maybe in his mid thirties, weighed a bit more than me, though he was around my height. The john looked like he was half Mexican, half white, or he just had a good tan. I wasn't sure, but I didn't really care. He had a strong jaw, brown hair, and strong upper body, probably from lifting free weights.

Voodoo bent back down and started to pull off the john's pants. I turned around at that point. I really didn't care to see what Voodoo was going to do to the guy.

"Where's that rubber band?" He asked me.

I pulled it out of my pocket and threw it to him without turning around. I then heard the snap of latex gloves as Voodoo pulled on a pair.

"Fucker's nut's are cold, man." He said a few seconds later.

I then heard another snap, this time it was the rubber band wrapped tightly around the john's balls. Then came the sound of Voodoo folding out his blade, then of the knife cutting through flesh. I felt sick at that point.

"Fuck!" Said Voodoo.

I turned around. He was on his knees, blade slick with blood held up in his right hand, staring at the floor with a blank expression as blood flowed out from between the john's legs.

Then I was sick. I puked right there, on the already stained carpet.

Voodoo pulled out a Zippo from his pocket.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I asked when I heard the click of the Zippo's cover folding back.

"Cauterizing the wound, ta stop all the fuckin' blood."

"Just let him bleed to death." I said.

"Fuck no. I want this bastard to live."

"Oh shit."

Voodoo lit the Zippo and held the flame to the guy's wound. I was cringing. The fucker was lucky he was unconscious. "You sure that shit's gonna work?" I asked.

"Fuck if I know."

He stood there burning the john's crotch for what seemed like way too long. I didn't have anything left in my stomach to throw up, which I guess was a good thing, because I couldn't look away. Voodoo finally cut the flame and returned the Zippo to his pocket. He bit his lip and looked down at the john's pants that were around his ankles. Voodoo felt around in the guys pants, and came up empty handed.

"You see a wallet around here?" He asked.

I quickly scanned the room, and located the wallet. It was sitting on the nightstand, next to an old computer deck and visor set. I walked over and sat down on the bed, picked up and opened the wallet. I nearly shit my pants right then.

"Uh, Voodoo?" I said, holding up the wallet.

He looked up at the badge and his face dropped.

"Shit, shit! Motherfucker's a cop! Goddamn motherfucking pig, man! No wonder he beat the shit out of Honey. Fuck!" Voodoo screamed, jumping up from the floor.

"We need to get the fuck out of here, fast." I said, standing up.

* * * * *

Voodoo came to a screeching halt in front of the old bakery, and parked the Lincoln there. We both climbed out of the car and went inside, I locked the door behind us.

Honey and Violet were on the couch in the front room. Honey was laying on her side, her head in Violet's lap. They both looked up at us.

"Did you know this guy was a cop?" Voodoo asked Honey, at the top of his booming voice.

"He was a cop?" Honey said.

"He was a cop?" Violet followed.

"Sergeant Danny Rodriguez, LAPD." I said

"Fuck," both the girls said in stereo.

"Yeah, fuck." Voodoo said.

I went to my desk and opened the top drawer. I kept a fifth of whiskey there, and it was still three quarters full. I unscrewed the cap and took a deep gulp from the bottle. I wiped my mouth on my sleeve and held up the bottle for Voodoo. He shook his head. I took another gulp.

"What did you guys do?" Violet asked with that cute raspy voice of hers. She was a real looker, little Mexican girl with a great ass. Not like Honey, but still pretty. Plus, the girl gave great head.

"I took his fucking balls that's what!" Voodoo yelled. He was pacing the dirty concrete like a madman.

"Should've killed the fucker." Honey said quietly.

"What, and have a huge manhunt out for me and the Geek?"

"You don't think they're going to look for us now?" I said.

"I don't know! Probably should've killed him. Shit!" He replied.

"David, could you bring me that bottle?" Honey asked me.

I stood up and walked over to the couch. Honey curled her feet up to make room for me.

"No, you're the one that's hurt. I'll sit on the floor." I said, handing her the bottle.

"Thanks." She said.

I sat down on the floor, my back against the middle section of the couch. My face was inches from Honey's. I watched as she took a long pull on the bottle of whiskey. Violet took the bottle next, but only a sip, and then she handed it back to me.

That had been the start of my longest drinking binge. It lasted a week, and ended the night I found my grandmother's dead body.

* * * * *

The old bakery looked empty and abandoned for good. I knew it wasn't. Voodoo and I had bought some black sheetplastic and nailed them over the windows a few days ago. We weren't sure whether or not the cops would be able to trace us back to the bakery, so we took some precautions. I hadn't taken any precautions for my grandmother though, and she had ended up dead. I was still in shock then, after walking the empty streets back to the bakery in the dead of night. I knew it had been my fault she died like that. I had been expecting her death for years then, but not like that, not because of me.

I went around to the rear entrance of the bakery. There was a new security computer installed, and I typed in my passcode on the keypad next to the door, twelve digits, numbers and letters, generated completely at random a few days before. It took a few seconds, but the computer accepted my passcode and opened the door for me.

I stepped through the doorway and was confronted with the business end of a shotgun. Voodoo lowered it as soon as I stepped into the light.

"Shut the fucking door." He commanded. "Why you back so soon?"

"He killed my grandmother." I said.

"Who, the pig?"

"I would assume. There's no one else who would do it."

"How?" He asked, walking into the front room.

I followed. "Bullet to the head."


"Yeah." I said, sitting down on my desk, feet dangling.

"Now we know the fucker's on to us." Voodoo took a seat on the couch, laying down the shotgun within reach. "How you think he found yo' apartment?"

"DNA trace. Probably left some hairs. You're too old, but my DNA sequence was entered into the federal system when I was born. The system is constantly updated with information like address, tax files, commuter passes, driver's license all that shit. Takes a few days to process the information request, then you can have all the data on any citizen in the system. If you had a real job, they'd have your data too."

"Thank the Lord fo pimpin'." He said with a shake of his head.

"Or he could have just run a fingerprint match. Quicker, same system, and open to all law enforcement personnel. I know I left prints at the scene, you too."

"I'm not in the system though." Voodoo said.

"Ever been arrested?"


"Lucky you." I smirked.

"He knows who you are now, Geek."


"Why didn't you ever hack the system and delete all yo' data?"

"'Cause I'm not a hacker."

"Shit, I know you got some skills Geek boy."

"I may be a Geek, but hacking the Federal Citizen Registry is way the fuck out of my league. I know enough to keep your virtual construct from crashing, but that's about it."

"Too bad." Voodoo said.


We sat there, Voodoo and I, for a long time. We didn't talk much more. I didn't even look over at him. Couldn't get the image of my grandmother's dead body out of my head. So quiet, so still. I didn't believe in Heaven or anything like that, but for her I tried to.

Then came a loud bang against the front door, then the back. I heard the thumping of rotor blades above.


"Shit!" Voodoo said.

He picked up the shotgun and cocked it. I jumped down off my desk and huddled underneath it.

The back door broke in first, followed quickly by the front. The old bakery was flooded with cops in heavy armor carrying serious guns. Voodoo let out a deep cry and fired. The cop nearest him buckled from the blast and fell to the floor. Every other cop in range fired at Voodoo. The big black man from the Bayou was hit from both sides with numerous rounds. My desk was sprayed with his blood.

Big Voodoo fell to the ground, already dead. The second lifeless body I had seen in a few hours.

The cops were yelling code words back and forth, I wasn't paying any attention, just staring at Voodoo's body as it spilled forth pint upon pint of thick red blood. At some point the cops saw me there under my desk, dragged me out and cuffed my wrists with plastic bands.

* * * * *

So here I am now, writing this tragic tale from my cell in the maximum-security penitentiary at San Quentin, fifteen years later. I was found guilty of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. The officer who they say I tried to kill is two cellblocks to the north, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of my grandmother.

I see Honey from time to time. She comes and visits me here every few months, still looks great. She quit selling her body after the cop beat her, and is now married to another ex-callgirl. They have two children from an anonymous sperm donor, ages seven and seven, (they both went through pregnancy at the same time).

I realize that I once told Voodoo that I wouldn't rat him out, and that this confessional story is effectively doing just that. I look at it like this though, the man is dead, has been for fifteen years, and I'm up for parole in six months. I also never used his real name, or anyone else's in this story except for my own.

I hope this story might clear some things up for all those involved with what happened. I was locked up for the crimes of another man. I admit to those things that really did happen, but I was an effective scapegoat to the cops that wanted vengeance for what happened to their brother in blue.

This might not help at my parole hearing, but the only thing I regret is that my grandmother had to die because of my actions. In my view, Sergeant Danny Rodriguez got what he deserved when Voodoo cut off his balls. No one, I mean no one, is ever in the right when treating a lady the way that cop treated Honey, prostitute or not.

David Jefferson,

May 19, 2052,

San Quentin.

I'm Awe strucked!

cyn004 (June 3rd, 2003, 4:37 pm)

I dig it.

Krome, my sweet dreams are made of these...actually, I admire your style and metaphoric quality of work...

I even have a favorite line

"The TVnet monitor glowed a silent blue.."

I have a question for the author:

Did the name Voodoo have something to do with Voodooenglish(WGB)?

I'm Awe strucked!

kromekoran (June 3rd, 2003, 11:33 pm)

Thanks. I got the name Big Voodoo from the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and made him from the Bayou to make it work. :)


cruise (June 5th, 2003, 10:17 am)

Nice work...very nice work. Real polish and professional feel to this...I like.


Semirrahge (June 5th, 2003, 12:15 pm)

Yup. I knew it, I could tell the moment I read a few of your sentences; You b'long here boy. A nice rounding-out of our talent show. :)

Aside from that and more to the point, I was hooked from line one; "It's too bad she..." :) You couldn't have picked a better catchphrase for me.

Anyhow, I love your style, and the prose is very polished and effective. Not quite sure I agree with whatever "morality" your story contains - but that's fine.

Give us more - and BTW: you can now post with all the other users in the "Submissions" area.


kromekoran (June 5th, 2003, 11:38 pm)

thanks guys

yeah, this is good

Ben (June 9th, 2003, 9:13 pm)

Hooks you in -- it's nicely in the voice of the narrator (a bit like what Ben Bova does), and it's got tons of great little details; really well-imagined ("I dropped my hands to my sides, looked up at the ceiling, was blinded by the bulbs, and looked back to him.")

Discussion > Feedback > Feedback (that's the title)

Register to post.