The Trap Of All Rats

Previously on Bad Blood Bandits: Jackson and the notoriously wrathful and violent Grant had, out of sheer boredom, set up a still. Meanwhile, the new goody-two-shoes attendant, Josh, revealed to Jackson his suspicions about Charlie’s still. Jackson, however skeptical of the existence of two of the same kinds of alcoholic dispensaries in the same building Jackson found it to be true, albeit not actually IN Charlie’s room. Jackson was then presented with a problem: Josh who was determined to keep his watch clean and his own involvement in the more obvious examples of clandestine distillery and the distinct likelihood that his was to be discovered first.

Betrayal was never an option in Jackson’s mind. Night on canine faithfulness to your comrades was something he tried to instill in his own son and, had he any form of human empathy and gleaned even the slightest from his father, he would have shamed the most faithful of dogs.

It would have been acceptable to simply let it happen, turn a blind eye and let come what may. Anyone would choose not to choose. But that would leave a friend high and dry and he would have done nothing. The last thing Jackson wanted anyone to say about him was that he stood by and watched when someone needed him. No, if he had a choice it was his responsibility to make it.

It would have been easier to rationalize it by telling himself how stupid the two of them were to do it in the first place. “They couldn’t do something normal like pick a fight with Janine or ‘accidentally’ spill something on Luke’s shirt” but then he would have to include himself since he was involved, at least for some time with Grant. Sharing the blame is not a common character trait for Pride.

*            *            *

 

After it was done he thought it only fair to tell Charlie-just to let him know which way the wind was blowing. Unfortunately, whenever you want to talk to someone alone, there are always people around but when you have nothing to say to each other it seems like you are forced to be alone with each other. This is why we normally don’t say anything of value.

Breakfast was out of the question. Josh seemed to monopolize Charlie after the first meal as if he wanted to confirm What Jackson had told him. After lunch, Marilynne decided it was a good time to play her games with him and even Charlie can only take so much of that so he lost her in a monotonous game of bridge which still obstructed Jackson from passing down the information. Of course, just asking to talk to him would draw too much attention considering the reputation those two had so he was stuck stalking his friend until the right time to pounce.

He had given up after sitting at the dinner table for hours after. Lars was particularly lively that evening and Charlie never let an opportunity like that slide So after a full evening of verbal sparring and Lars admitting defeat by being the first of the two belligerents to leave the table- Marilynne had given up trying to get them to calm down long before- Jackson seized his opportunity. After looking around and making sure no one was in earshot he let it slip:

“I told Josh about Grant’s still.”

“It’s bound to happen anyway.” Charlie replied dismissively. Jackson wasn’t sure if he had heard or if he had merely replied without listening. The chance to repeat himself was gone almost as soon as he said it the first time. Donald walked by suspiciously listening, making sure they weren’t planning any trouble or at least making sure to make it difficult for the two to make trouble.

After a moment of silence Charlie added, as if he had processed what had been told to him “you know you’re a dead man right? Grant has not a bone of mercy in his body.”


Scapegoat Wanted

Previously on Bad Blood Bandits: Jackson and Grant, out of sheer boredom, have constructed a makeshift distillery in hopes of passing the time more quickly. Meanwhile Josh, the new attendant let it slip quite easily to Jackson his growing suspicions that Charlie was doing the same thing. Jackson tracked down Charlie and saw no evidence of this.

   “I never even thought about it. I mean, I was working on another honey for these nosey good-for-nothing kids but that didn’t work and I noticed you an’ Grant getting together after dinner so I figured it might be something to look into.”

“How did you find out?”

“Jackson, picking a lock really isn’t that hard. It might do you some good.”

“So you broke into Grant’s room?”

“Yeah, easy enough. Took a few notes on his, your, paraphanelia and got the hell outta there. Ive heard the things he used to do to his kids, I didn’t wanna stick around to see if it was true.”

“Then you started making your own.”

“Anybody ever tell you your life was wasted on being anything but a Seamus?”

“A what?”

“A detective, idiot.”

“I know what a Seamus is.”

“Then keep up.”

“I’m keeping up just fine Charlie, if you started makin’ moonshine, why isn’t it here?”

“Well, after that new kid John, or Jack or whatever-“

“Josh”

“Yeah him; after he came and started talking to everybody like he cares and

gettin’ into everybody’s business I couldn’t have that stuff in my room so I made a deal with the janitor.”

“The drunk?”

“No Jackson, the sober one. Yeah the drunk. Anyway, the deal is: I make the stuff in his closet and share half of it with him. Everybody knows he keeps some sauce in his closet.”

“But making his own? That’s a bit rich”

“It’s not too far of a stretch, if he’s caught, people will just think it was worse than they thought.”

“You mean if you’re caught.”

“If HE’s caught, I wont have anything to do with it. Besides, he has way to much

dirt on this place for them to fire him.”

“But Josh already thinks, hmm, knows you’re into this.”

“Then it’s a good thing I have an exit strategy.” Charlie widened his lips to show that self-satisfied grin he wore usually before he was busted for something and a sick feeling began to creep into Jackson’s stomach. He knew Josh was determined to have a clean watch and he already knew someone was up to no good and as long as he found someone he would be satisfied.


What You Don’t Know

Previously On Bad Blood Bandits: Jackson and Grant had struck up an unlikely partnership over the distilling of spirits in Grants room. However, the newest addition to the staff at the Home was a hopeless tool and somehow got it into his head that Charlie, in one of his bouts of seclusion, had taken up the same hobby as the other two.

Every possibility of why Josh would want to tell him exactly what his game was with Charlie ran through his head a hundred times. Josh knew full well the history of the two of them at the home and their status as partners in crime. He was a smart kid: he had to know full well that Jackson would tell him absolutely nothing about what was going on with Charlie even if he knew and whatever tidbits he did tell him would be misinformation. The only way to get Josh off his back would be to give him some truth to keep him distracted from Charlie and there was only one thing he could give up that would be good enough to distract the bloodhound detective on Charlie’s trail.

First, he had to do some sleuthing of his own which, fortunately forJackson, meant much less trouble for him than for Josh. As soon as the nosey attendant had left his sight, The old man made straight for Charlie’s cell (room) making sure to not cross into Josh’s sights again. He checked over his shoulder without directly looking behind him as he made his way down the hall and gave the door as quiet a knock as he could while still demanding the attention of the occupant.

Jackson heard nothing: no hurried sounds of cleaning and concealment, no “can’t an old man go to the toilet in peace!” nothing. He announced himself again with the same result. The third time he felt like he heard someone on the other side but nothing specific. It wasn’t someone trying to walk around without being heard, it was much softer than that. It wasn’t someone trying to breath inconspicuously, it was much more fleeting than that.

“I know you’re in there Charlie.” He heard something, it was barely anything.

“And I know you’re not asleep.” A slight and carefull rustling was heard on the other side. The fear that maybe, no matter how unlikely it was that the both of them were independently involved in the same clandestine activity, Josh might have been right.

“Fine! Who is it!”

“I don’t have to answer that”

Charlie opened the door guardedly and it occurred to Jackson for a moment that maybe, after all this time, Charlie still didn’t trust him completely. The thought sprouted when Charlie let him in to see that there was nothing to see inside. No makeshift still, no spare bottles, nothing.

“Where the hell have you been?”


Pride Will Always Refuse Love

Previously on Bad Blood Bandits: After snooping around Grant’s room due to boredom induced by an absentee Charlie, Jackson had found a still. Grant caught the snoop and the two struck up an uneasy partnership.

Grant had come from a long line of moonshiners so there was a perfectly good reason for him to remember the name of Eliot Ness. During Prohibition, his family kept mostly to themselves (Their mistrust of the Irish went back as far back as the Old Country) and so avoided the unwanted attention of the FBI.

It was Josh, the new attendant, whom Grant and his newfound partner had to avoid now. Avoiding attention was much easier when the guards genuinely didn’t care any more than they had to in order to avoid getting in trouble with The Warden but this one needed skill at avoiding authority. Jackson, having spent years around Charlie, was well-versed in the art.

The pair had only one insight about Josh: that he cared- or at least pretended to care for some sick reason- about all residents, or “raisins” as they were called by the other guards (attendants). He would spend his breaks listening to their stories or passing out what little mail the residents received. They usually only had mailers or credit card offers but even so, it had become an unspoken competition between them to see who had the most mail because somewhere in their decaying minds the idea that mail equals love or at least a demand for attention and, even if it was a credit card company, someone in the world wanted them for something.

The problem for Jackson and Grant was that, with all the attention Josh was giving the “raisins”,he would even sit down at each of the tables and talk with them and if he didn’t have a chance to talk with everybody, he would walk them to their room (something Grant found out the hard way when he tried to avoid him the whole meal and ended up with Josh almost in his room) so it had become harder to sneak fruit back to the room without him noticing, much less using it as the subject of a poor attempt at conversation. He could tell that these two wanted nothing to do with conversation and he had heard so much about Jackson and Charlie. With Charlie gone hermit, Jackson was his only victim of curious and awkward conversation.

What made Josh even more desperate was their constant evasion of him. They were like the one sheep worth leaving the other flock. Nothing makes someone more desperate to give love than someone who will not receive it.

This, the two bootleggers discovered, could be used to their advantage. It was agreed that one of them would distract Josh with some bogus story about their past. They were careful to keep playing hard to get with him to keep him interested so the other could sneak out to the still with what ever fruit or sugar they needed for their science project.

It worked well until one day, Josh confided in Jackson. “I think your friend Charlie might be making alcohol in his room.”
Tune in next week for some good old-fashioned backstabbing…
…or maybe even just regular stabbing!


The Untouchables

Previously on Bad Blood Bandits: Jackson, out of incessant curiosity and a certain amount of banditry, broke into Grant’s room to find out what he had been up to and found a homemade still.                  

              After standing there and trying to make sense of what he had seen, Jackson quickly made sure he hadn’t touched anything and made his exit. He was still a little confused about what he had seen although unsure about his own expectations.

As he closed the door from the outside he noticed Grant coming down the hall towards him. He couldn’t be certain if he was discovered so he did his best to act natural. Unfortunately for Jackson, after spending as much time as he had with Charlie, normal looked very suspicious.

“What are you doing?” Grant queried with an obvious reservoir of rage.

“I was walking until you asked me,”Jackson stoically held the opinion that stupid questions deserved stupid answers. This was perfectly normal.

“Okay smart guy,what were you doing?” There were cracks forming in the reservoir.

Every instinct within Jacksonpushed him to come clean and not continue the charade.

“I was just making sure it was locked.” Years of habit pushed harder. “Obvious! Ridiculous! You stupid old man!” He thought as he nervously assessed the widening cracks in Grant’s reservoir. It was common knowledge that Grant brutally beat his children in rage on a regular basis. With great discomfortJackson noted the swelling in Grant’s deteriorated but still potent arms.

“Fine! I was snooping around in your room! Ya happy?” However forwardly confident he may have said it, his pride was still in sad shape after having to admit defeat. Grant let down his guard. Being lied to was a much greater sin than being spied on.

“Tell anyone and you’ll be leaving this place for good.”

“Nobody would care enough around here if I did tell.”Jackson’s nerves had returned.

“You know that new attendant?”

“The kid?”

“Yeah.”

“What about ‘im.”

“He’s a regular Eliot Ness. Won’t let anything go on here ‘less it’s in accord with the rules an’ even throws some a his own in there.”

“What about the others, how do they feel about ‘im?”

“They’re alright with him. Think he’s a little strange since he pretends to care or somthin’.”

“Well you don’t tell on Charlie and I don’t tell on you? How’s that sound?”

“Everybody knows about Charlie.”

Jackson paused for a moment. Charlie’s activity was common knowledge but there really wasn’t anything they could do about it. Stopping Charlie was like hunting gophers; you plug the hole on one side and they just come out another.

“What about if I help you? To rat on you would be to rat on me.”

“What like partners?”

“Sure.”

“You’ve never been the drinking type.”

“Types change when you’re bored as hell.”

Thus was born an uneasy partnership.


Detective Jackson Taylor

Previously on Bad Blood Bandits: Jackson, having been deprived of his usual bitterness detox (Charlie was thoroughly occupied in his room for some reason) noticed peculiar activity from Grant and went to investigate.

Jackson’s naturally curious nature had gotten him in trouble more than many people much younger than he could count but some people (meaning Jackson) have to learn things the hard way unless, like Jackson, they are to stubborn to learn them at all.

It was really none of Jackson’s business what Grant was up to and anyone with even a small sense of other people’s privacy would have backed off but between being around Charlie-who had absolutely no sense of privacy- and being bored almost to death (boredom was a close second to dementia for leading cause of death in the Home) Jackson would by no means let this go.

He tried to follow Grant to his room but couldn’t get a peek without the rugged old man noticing. He even tried questioning Chesley once or twice but the southerner genuinely did not care about Grant any more than he had to. It would seem that for Chesley, apathy was the sincerest form of hate.

After about a week and a half of patiently obsessing over Grant’s newfound activity, shadowing him in every room he visited, asking as tactfully as he could about any clues Jackson finally had an opportunity. It was during lunch and there had been an outbreak from someone other than Janine. Most likely it was some poor raisin with dementia who actually needed attention but that didn’t matter to Jackson. What mattered to him was finding the room keys on the floor after the scuffle. He snatched them up as quickly as he could and slipped them in his pocket like he was returning a pocket watch.

As usual, before the meal was over, Grant left to his room. Jackson scoured the Home for a magazine or a book and found an old Better Homes and Gardens. It wasn’t his type of magazine but since anyone read anything to pass the time in there it would be hardly out of character to read a publication of any kind whether it was The National Enquirer or Teen for that matter.

After finding his prop, Jackson stationed himself in with a view of Grant’s room or at least as close to the hall so he could note his passing. He had resorted to actually reading about a third of the articles before his mark had begun to move. It was almost dinner time. As soon as the mark was far enough not to notice Jackson was down the hall and turning the key to get in to Grant’s room.

What he found was severely disappointing. He had been left to his imagination for so long that anything short of a secret rocket ship would be disappointing but as it was, he would have to content himself with finding a copper wire spiraling out of a crock pot and the smell of yeast.
Tune in next week for bootleggers, thieves and overall banditry!


Feuds and Flues

Part 1 of The Child

            An appearance by his son was rare but when it occurred, Jackson was usually intoxicated with spite for weeks. Charlie was more than a little annoyed by this but, unfortunately for the home (with the exception of Charlie’s patience) there was a small series of colds making the rounds and so most everyone avoided contact with each other.

Janine of course was the exception; taking this, of all times, to be plaguing everyone with her desperate cries for attention. It was probably her fault that these colds were so well spread and no one flinched at the opportunity to blame the Banshee.

By the time their forced hibernation had come to a close, Jackson’s sharp bitterness had run its course-the way your body recovers from poison- and he was ready to spend time with people again without being too much of a prick.

Charlie usually, by the simple nature of his day-to-day mischief, dragged Jackson out of his snappy gloom but this time he was preoccupied with something and stayed in his room.Jackson knew better than to bother him; if he wanted to be left alone he was to be left alone and no one was going to argue with someone who will spike your drink with a vengeance.

It was another trickster that broke the monotony.

Grant was never much of a people person. He kept to himself and, except for moments of wrath directed at Chesley (the two of them had an incurable feud since Grant was every bit of a Yank as Chesley was a Southern gentleman), was usually quiet. Since those moments were the most anyone ever saw of Grant doing or saying anything out of the ordinary no one really had the desire to approach him. Even if they did, their expectations would be well rewarded.

Because Chesley was so easily annoyed by Grant, the latter usually stayed as long as he could after his breakfast was done for the sole purpose of getting under the southerners skin.

It was this and the presence of a new guard that caught Jackson’s attention. Not once as long as Jackson had been there had he witnessed the arrival of a new attendant so it goes without saying that this was of particular interest to him if he had not given up his duty to attempt escape.

What demanded his curiosity further was Grant’s odd activity after meals. Jackson noticed it when the flue had died down and everyone had resumed dining together again. At first he just thought it was a little strange seeing Chesley sitting alone at the table towards the end but when he’d managed to get glimpses of Grant sneaking away from the table not long after everyone else had been awarded what the cook called food.

Normally this wouldn’t raise any red flags since Grant was a loner but it was well-known that one of the few people he liked being around, as strange as it might sound, was Chesley.

When someone is a glutton for spite and bitterness, whether they will admit it or not, the people they love to be around the most are the ones that feed their appetite.

This distraction needed immediate attention and it didn’t much matter whether it was to cure his inflamed curiosity or his sedentary boredom, he absolutely had to know what Grant was up to that could possibly make him surrender his favorite pastime.

Join us next week for the usual mischief, mayhem and mythological archetypes!