The Rabbit’s Last Stand SIDEQUEST – The Short Career of Doug McDuff (Part Three)

Please read PART ONE and PART TWO to get an idea of what is going on.

She knew he was coming. She was toying with him. He knew this, yet was still determined to move ahead.

He didn’t think he had ever wanted to kill someone so much. Goddamn sock monkeys, staples, nearly getting shot, tripping down the stairs… his neck was still stiff and he had a huge lump on his head. His back was still stinging.

He had laid out all of his weapons on his bed. A Glock 26, a Baretta Nano, a .44, two knives, and a steel garotte. “Damn,” he thought. “I wish I had a dart gun. Or a harpoon!” He laughed a little to himself, imagining a harpoon sticking out of the side of Darlene’s head. And then of her walking through a revolving door.

He was aware of laughing a little too hard at this.

Some voice in his head wondered if he should really be imagining hurting a woman. This voice was tiny and easy to ignore. He was ready to get out and finish this.

He looked at his hotel phone. The message light was blinking. He picked up the phone and dialed in.

The first message was from the front desk. The clerk said that there was a message waiting for him downstairs and to tell him that his checkout was at noon.

“What the f*ck,” he thought to himself. “I’m good for the rest of the week.”

The next message was from a melodious, beautiful woman’s voice, with just a hint of Texan in it.

“Good morning, Darling. Gonna sleep in all day, or are you coming to get me? This is Darlene, by the way.” She hung up.

“This ends today,” Doug muttered. “She is dead.”

Doug went downstairs to check out the message. It was from an anonymous source, but he knew who it was. It was the same people whose phone calls he had been dodging.

Before he could open the message, the front desk clerk first told Doug that his room reservation had been cancelled. Doug paid for the rest of the stay himself. He was sure it would all pay off once he killed the cripple. This was his debut. No one was going to f**k it up.

Then the clerk handed him the message.

Doug, I suggest you leave right away. The element of surprise is gone. If you remain in town, it is your funeral. If your target wants you alive, you’ll wish it were your funeral. On your head be it. – HR.

Doug crumpled up the note and threw it away. He grunted and headed upstairs to get his gear. It was time to kill her.

Eight Hours After Leaving His Hotel Room

Doug looked at himself in the mirror. It had probably been the hardest day of his life.

His singed hair was still smoking a little. His eyebrows were missing, leaving red flash charred skin where his hair was. He reeked of gun powder. There were abrasions on his cheeks and he could feel his eyes slowly swell. His ears were still ringing and his eyes felt scratchy.

It was never like this on the firing range, the dojo, or any of the live fire exercises he did with his militia group. Not for the first time, he wished he’d signed up for the military. He always thought he’d make a great marine.

Then Doug laughed. “Can’t even kill a cripple,” he muttered to himself.

He washed his face and watched carbon black circle down the drain.

One Hour After Leaving His Hotel Room

He sat on another roof with his binoculars out, looking at the front door of Darlene’s apartment building. Since he had apparently underestimated his target before, he was cautious.

Nothing seemed to be going on at her apartment. The curtains were open wide. He was certain that this was because she wanted him to see in. That was fine with him. He’d decided that the best way to get around a scheming, ambushing asshole like this was to play along and make her feel like she was in charge.

“Just like any other woman,” he muttered and smiled. Then sighed.

Staking out a place was dead boring.

He put his binoculars down and sighed, then looked around. It was a relatively pretty day, although there was too much sun for his liking. The wind whipped over the roof, gusts threatening to blow away his dossier.

He still knew too little about his target. Some kind of retiree, although there was no mention of where from. Has a hobby of creating sock monkeys. “No shit,” he muttered.

The sting in his back reminded him that although it would be a pleasure, it would not be easy. “Well, now I know,” he thought. “She can’t ambush me. I’m ready. This time she dies.”

Seven Hours After Leaving His Hotel Room

Doug was sitting behind a dumpster while sweet, innocent female laughter bounced down the alleyways. He was panting wildly.

“She’s f*cking nuts,” he muttered to himself.

“I’m letting you hide behind the dumpster because I know it makes you feel safe!” Darlene called out.

He looked around in a panic. His pants were already dipped into whatever liquid was seeping out of the dumpster. This was a particularly nasty alleyway. He was certain he was exactly where Darlene wanted him to be.

Doug clenched his Beretta close to him. His .44 was gone. Darlene probably had it. He still had the knife in its ankle holster and a larger hunting knife strapped to his side. They didn’t feel like enough all of a sudden.

“You’re not safe, Doug,” Darlene called out sweetly. “But I’ll let you think you are. I hate to see wild animals suffer.”

He unstrapped his large hunting knife.

“You shouldn’t have bought that particular knife, Doug.” Darlene called out. He gasped.

“It has a serrated edge at the top,” she called out. It was hard to pinpoint where the voice was coming from. “That’s stupid. The serrated edge has a chance to get stuck on a rib while you pull it out. That’s how you lose a knife, Doug. You don’t want to lose your knife, do you?”

He wanted to scream at her to shut up. He wanted to scream in general. “But that’s not what a man does,” he muttered to himself. He started breathing quickly, psyching himself up to do what a man must do to a woman who thinks too highly of herself.

A bullet ricocheted just over the dumpster, a foot over his head. He shrunk back down again.

“Thinking of doing something, Doug?” She yelled out. “Gonna man up? Biscuits finally beginning to drop? I wouldn’t suggest it, darling. Sit this one out. I have eyes on you. Look up.”

He jerked his gun upwards and fired wildly. The bullet ricocheted against the metal fire escape he was under. He ducked down again, then cautiously looked up.

Hanging on the second story of the fire escape railing was a black sock monkey. It was dangling, red mouth open as if in silent laughter. It’s left hand was hanging on the metal railing. Its right was holding a small web camera.

Pinned to its leg was a beautifully calligraphed sign that read “Monkey See.”

Doug growled and shot upwards, hitting the monkey.

“Noooooo!” Darlene yelled out. “What did Mr. Bangles ever do to you? He was just a curious monkey!” Then in a much deeper voice, as if imitating someone, she growled, “this time… it’s PERSONAL. Right, Mrs. Bangles?”

He looked around, gun darting from place to place, looking for another sock monkey.

“Just joking with you,” Darlene called out. “Mrs. Bangles is home with a cold But man, she is going to be pissed! I’d leave town if I were you.”

Silence. Doug was trying to hold back his tears and hysterical laughter.

“Doug, honey, are you there?” Darlene called out.

He kept his silence.

“Well, I can’t hang out here all day long,” Darlene called out. “I have errands to run.”

“I know where you live!” Doug shouted out.

“Of course you do,” Darlene yelled, with an obvious smile coming through her voice. “Drop in any time. Mrs. Bangles will be waiting for you! In the meantime, here’s a token of my love.”

A metallic green canister clanked and rolled under the dumpster and past his legs. Before he could scramble out of the way, it exploded into a huge billow of smoke. He felt the heat singe his face. It was while he was trying to see through the haze that Darlene threw the flashbang grenade.

It was sheer luck that he was able to scramble blindly away before the police arrived.

Two Hours After Leaving His Hotel Room

He was discovered.

Doug was scrambling down the stairwell of the building he was in. She knew he was there. Somehow, she always knew.

Five minutes ago, he was sitting on the roof eating a sandwich. The wind picked up and he watched a stream of papers billowing past him. He looked behind him and caught one of the papers.

It was a printed picture of two sock monkeys sitting next to each other in front of the Taj Mahal.

“F*cking sock monkeys,” he growled and crumpled the page. She had to have been here on the roof with him. He jumped up and ran around the doorway to the stairwell downstairs. He pulled out his Baretta and stood nervously against the wall, preparing himself to shoot.

He darted around the side and saw her. He instinctively fired, blowing a large and noisy hole in the foam core picture of Darlene. It was rooted firmly to the side of the wall. Next to the picture was an envelope taped to the brick. It had his name in delicate calligraphy on the front with a bunch of hot pink crayon hearts around his name.

Doug looked around nervously, feeling eyes on him at all times. He opened the envelope and unfolded the paper inside.

It read:

Hi, Darling! ❤ ❤ ❤

The bullet I, Doug McDuff, just fired with the intention to kill Darlene constitutes a legal signature for this document. This agreement releases Darlene from all liability relating to injuries that may occur to Doug McDuff. By signing this agreement, I agree to hold Darlene entirely free from any liability, including financial responsibility for injuries incurred, regardless of whether injuries are caused by negligence.

I also acknowledge the risks involved in hunting Darlene. These include but are not limited to death, embarrassment, dismemberment, shortened lifespan due to stress, abrasions (both major and minor,) corpse defilement, being cannibalized, or disenfranchisement. I swear that I am participating voluntarily, and that all risks have been made clear to me. Additionally, I do not have any conditions that will increase my likelihood of experiencing injuries while engaging in this activity.

By signing below I forfeit all right to bring a suit against Darlene for any reason. In return, I will receive a salutary lesson, should I survive. I will also make