Black Trump

Black Trump

Black Trump 59


  "Sorry," Hastet said. She crooned at the creature, soothing its bloodred feathers.

  Finn was fascinated. "What is it?" he asked.

  "A wanei," Jay said. "You like it? I'll bet Tacky can get you one of your own. You and Tachyon were really close, weren't you?"

  "Not really. I admired him as a doctor. He taught me a lot. I can't say we ever socialized very much." Finn wrinkled up his face. "What's all this about Tachyon?"

  "A little wrinkle on the case that I forgot to mention," Jay said. "You know, doc, you strike me as the kind of guy who's always wanted to travel."

  "I'm sick of traveling," Finn said. "I've been to Burma, Red China, Hong Kong, Australia, and jail. Right now, I just want to give Clara a kiss and get back to work at the Clinic."

  "You're not making this easy," Jay complained.

  Finn stared at Jay as if he thought he was deranged. "Are you all right? Head injuries can be funny things. Maybe you should let me take some more X rays."

  "You don't have the time," Jay assured him. "Hastet, sweet, eighty-six that lunch order, will you? Dr. Finn won't be eating."

  "I won't?"

  "Course not," Jay said, shaping his right hand into a gun. "It's not even lunch time on Takis."

  Finn's eyes grew huge. "Wait!" he began, popping.

  Jerry was looking at him accusingly. "You really did it."

  "I had to," Jay said. "The shamus code. I gave my word. There's honor among dicks, too."

  "There is?"

  "It's in all the movies," Jay assured him. "Don't look at me that way. It's not like they don't have spaceships. I sent him to Tachyon's bedroom, he'll be back before you can say ... well, he'll be back, anyway."

  Hastet looked very annoyed. "Jay, I cannot believe you did that. You sent him to Takis! And without consulting me. You know how many spices I need." She stalked away angrily.

  Jerry was chuckling. Jay glared at him. "What's so funny?"

  "All those free meals," Jerry reminded him. "Finn stuck you with the check."

  ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠

  "Hannah? You're crying - did I forget something? I don't remember...."

  Hannah straightened and sniffed. "Quasi," she said. "No, you didn't forget anything."

  "Are you sure?" the hunchback asked desperately. "There was so much ... Chemicals ..."

  "No," Hannah repeated. "No, darling. You did everything. Everything that could be done."

  "You're crying for him, aren't you?" Quasiman said.

  Hannah didn't answer. Her eyes filled again with tears and she wiped them away with her sleeve.

  She sat on a hillside looking across to Jerusalem and Temple Mount. The dawn splashed light across the white buildings of the city. The Dome of the Rock gave back a glittering, mocking answer, as if in defiance of the dark rubble set in the midst of the quarters sprawled below the Mount. Jerusalem's New Temple: that's what some were already calling it - a monument to stupidity and hatred, a memorial to the several thousand who had died to the Black Trump before the Overtrump could be delivered to them.

  "You loved him?"

  Hannah nodded silently. "I think ..." she said, and had to stop. "I don't know," she admitted after a moment. "I really don't know."

  "It's my fault," Quasiman said. "If I could have remembered ..." The hunchback stood with fisted hands tapping an uneven rhythm on his thighs.

  Hannah took the hunchback's hands in her own, holding him. She stared into the Joker's anguished eyes. "Stop it, she said. "You are not to blame. You did all you could do, and that was more than any of the rest of us could manage, except for Gregg ..." She took him in her arms, pulling him to her and hugging him fiercely. She was crying again, helplessly, her tears falling on the hunchback's head as she stroked his hair, as she held onto him desperately. Slowly, his arms came around her, his embrace strangely gentle and tentative.

  "Damn it!" she said, sobbing into his muscular shoulder. "Goddamn it!" Through the tears, through her grief, she could feel the joker go still and silent. Sniffing, she pulled back. When Hannah glanced at Quasiman, she saw that he'd slipped into a fugue. She put her arms around him again, watching as the sun rose over Jerusalem, as the last call to morning prayer echoed from the towers of the city's mosques, as the city awakened from night.

  She wished she could wake herself. She should have left the city days ago. She wanted to. But something held her, made her stop each time she'd started to make the arrangements.

  The sun slid over the shoulder of Temple Mount, casting fingered shadows of Jerusalem's churches and temples that cupped the dark wound in the ancient city's heart. The emptiness there mocked her. "I wanted to love you," she whispered into its accusing silence. "It was my failure, not yours. All the rhetoric, all the talk and denial, but I couldn't love you the way I did, once. I couldn't even say it."

  "Who?" Quasiman stirred. "Hannah? Have I forgotten again?"

  "Just someone I knew once," she answered, still watching the city, watching the slow light touch the lip of the crater.

  "If you loved him, then he was a good person," Quasiman said. His hand touched her cheek. "And at least ..."

  "At least?" she asked.

  "At least you can always remember," Quasiman told her. "If you can do that, you can always keep him alive." He tapped his temple with a forefinger. "Up here."

  Hannah took his hand, cradled it against her face and kissed the palm without answering. In the city, the ruined, tumbled stones were in full daylight now, and Hannah turned away from the reminder. She sighed holding Quasiman's hand.

  "Let's go home," she said.



  Gregg HartMann Stephen Leigh

  Jay (Popinjay) Ackroyd George R.R. Martin

  Mark (Cap'n Trips) Meadows Victor Milan

  Billy (Carnifex) Ray John J. Miller

  Zoe Harris Sage Walker


  Quasiman Arthur Byron Cover

  Jerry (Mr. Nobody) Strauss Walton Simons

  Dr. Bradley Finn Melinda M. Snodgrass

  Hannah Davis Stephen Leigh

  April Harvest John J. Miller

  Croyd (the Sleeper) Crenson Roger Zelazny

  J. Robert (the Mechanic) Belew Victor Milan

  Needles, Jan, and Owl Sage Walker


  Pan Rudo Roger Zelazny

  General MacArthur Johnson Bob Wayne

  O. K. Casaday Victor Milan

  Peter Pann George R.R. Martin

  Sascha Starfin John J. Miller

  Melissa (Topper) Blackwood George R. R. Martin

  Brigadier Sir Kenneth Foxworthy,

  aka Captain Flint Kevin Andrew Murphy

  The Black Dog George R.R. Martin

  Bobby Joe (Crypt Kicker) Puckett Royce Wideman

  John (the Highwayman) Bruckner George R.R. Martin

  Brandon van Renssaeler Laura J. Mixon

  Dr. Carter Jarnavon Victor Milan

  Balthazar Delacourt Sage Walker


  Ditmar and Layton Victor Milan

  The Reflector (Snotman) Walter Jon Williams

  Charles Dutton Walton Simons

  Nur al-Allah Stephen Leigh

  President Leo Barnett Arthur Byron Cover

  Gary Bushorn Stephen Leigh

  Mick and Rick John J. Miller

  The Oddity Stephen Leigh

  Nephi (Straight Arrow) Callendar Walter Jon Williams

  Charon Stephen Leigh

  Lord Tung George R.R. Martin

  Eric Fleming Laura J. Mixon

  Lou (Osprey) Inmon Victor Milan



  George R. R. Martin, Black Trump

  (Series: Wild Cards # 15)




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