Hustler Sinbad: Book Two: Karl

Lt. Detective Lawrence J. Hanft


By Jason Jarman

Travis wore the belt to school today. I asked him not to wear it outside the house, but he didn't tuck his shirt in. He snuck it out that way. Little stinker.

He wore the belt all weekend, and anytime he passed by a mirror, or any reflective surface, he caught a look at himself. I embarrassed him a couple of times by catching him in the act of self-admiration. Travis was a handsome kid--a hell of a lot more-so than me. He'd gotten enough of his mother's good looks to balance out my Slavic genes.

The belt was a reminder to me that I had some unfinished business. I had to find the real magic belt, and the boys who wore it. If necessary, I had to destroy them both. The world I lived in didn't have room for them.

It had been quiet since the Global Trans-Com Building hit Hamilton Park Lake. Right now, there were cranes and derricks trying their hardest to move that monster. It looked like a demolition crew would have to take the place apart. It would create a huge mess and take months to dispose of the entire structure. It still boggled my mind that one boy could be so fucking strong to lift that building up into the sky. It scared me, the more I thought about it.

Every cop in the city was on the lookout for muscular young men with blond hair wearing wide black leather belts with golden diamond-shaped buckles. Such a guy would be easy to spot. He couldn't stay hidden forever. And when he showed, we had a couple of new tricks to try on him. Helicopters with canisters of nerve gas circled the city.

They also had nets soaked with this new polymer-saturated adhesive that would slow a fucking jet plane down. If we could catch one of them for even 30 seconds, and if the gas worked on him, we'd have him--and the belt. And this time, I'd personally be in charge of smashing that belt into a million pieces of metal and leather. No one would ever wield that much power again.

Until that happened, everyone on the force was on hold. We sat at our desks, drank bitter cafeteria coffee, fussed with routine paperwork--all in stone silence. No one cracked jokes, bitched about details, or made small talk. You could almost hear some clock ticking, counting down every second that this terrorist was on the loose. Something had to happen. The only questions were: what and when? What would his next move been and when would he make it?

The local press soft-pedaled the story. We asked them to. If people panicked, we'd have a mass evacuation on our hands. And any punk kid with a chip on his shoulder would take advantage of the situation to smash, loot and fuck things up.

I was deep in some interdepartmental memos when the call arrived. A report came in about some mysterious vibrations and tremors on the west side of town, by the docks. The caller said it felt like a small earthquake, and that some buildings were shaking, but some weren't. They mentioned that the ground was perfectly still just two blocks away from the vibrations. They were the strongest near the central power plant. It supplied all the electricity for the county. If anything happened to that, the lights--all of them--would go out. We'd be in shit-black darkness.

I called Reilly. "Get the gas. Be ready in five." I hung up, my heart in my throat. It might be just a routine mechanical problem. I half-hoped it would be just that. But we had to be ready for anything. I just hoped that fucking gas would work. •

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