Busted

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I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the Body Rentals universe here on the blog and a few other places. Here’s an 1100-word short for you all:

* * *

James “Jimmy-Jones” Johnson has been a criminal for most of his life. He isn’t any thing special per se, just an average punk showing the wear of the many years trying to make it big. Drugs, armed robbery, cons, he had tried them all. He always ended up where he started –  broke and barely out of jail. For years the police had been keeping an eye on him. He had the ambition, but not the brains for the big time.

“I remember a few months back you got picked up for dealin’.” Malcolm “Mal” Farscone was the big time. Unlike Jimmy- Jones, Mal Farscone had the brains. He definitely had the ambition. “Look at you now; you sure have cleaned up since then.” The double pat on the face was as cliché as you could get, but that was the way Mal was. He is a big enough fish in this ‘burg, but didn’t have the bankroll to get any bigger. His influence spread over three counties, enough to infuriate local law enforcement, but not enough to be noticed by the feds.

“Well if I hadn’t met up with that dude from up north, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”   The crooked grin on Jimmy-Jones face didn’t tell the half of it. After an overnight in the local jail, he went straight to Mal with what he had learned. Mal responded to that grin and couldn’t help but look at Jimmy-Jones teeth. They were about the ugliest teeth any man could have, and Jimmy-Jones couldn’t help but smile crookedly. “Tonight’s the big payout. You an’  me Jimmy, we gonna be set for life.”

“Shit yeah! Once we move these drugs, we can afford to buy some respect around here.” Jimmy-Jones wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt. Mal was appalled he had to associate with the likes of Jimmy-Jones, but this deal couldn’t happen without him. They were waiting in the parking lot of a local strip mall.

More than half of the stores were closed for the night, and the rest had been closed due to the economy. They were to meet a dealer in front of a local restaurant whose only claim to fame was their pancakes were bigger than the plates they were served on. A box truck was parked a row away, Mal and Jimmy-Jones had packed it full of marijuana. It had taken them three months to shake down every local two-bit dealer in all the neighboring counties to get enough for this deal. The plan was simple, hand over the keys to the box truck in exchange for a suitcase. The suitcase of course had all the money Mal would need for the big time and what Jimmy would need for that respect he always wanted.

The SUV that rolled into the parking lot was nothing special, a guy jumped out of the passenger seat and approached Mal and Jimmy. “If you want to count it, this is gonna take awhile.” The man was not known locally, but both Mal and Jimmy knew any sort of double-cross would end up with bullet holes where they don’t belong. “Yeah, well it took forever to get all the stuff, but it’s all here.” Mal opened the back of the truck for the guy to look. “Holy shit! Drug-sniffing dogs in the next county are alerting to this! You guys coulda invested in an air freshener or something.” The guy obviously liked what he saw, because he unzipped the suitcase to reveal bundles on one hundred dollar bills. Mal threw him the keys, and grabbed the suitcase to zip it up. It was more money than Mal had seen in his  lifetime,  but  he  wasn’t  going  to  give  this  guy  the satisfaction of any kind of show of wonder. With the deal obviously done, everyone started making their way, Mal and Jimmy across the parking lot to a car they had parked earlier, and the guy toward his new truck.

“Freeze  shitheads!”  The  booming  voice  came  from  the direction of the restaurant and was accompanied by no less than twelve S.W.A.T. members with M-16’s. Mal and Jimmy were armed each with a Beretta, but they knew that any move at all would have them revisiting those bullet holes they were thinking about earlier. They guy tried running toward the SUV, but as soon as S.W.A.T. showed, the SUV peeled out. The pursuing flashing reds and blue meant it would be a getaway attempt instead of an actual getaway.

Mal didn’t think there were this many cops in town, let alone in the entire county. As Mal and Jimmy were escorted to newly arrived squad cars, Mal could only think about how he and Jimmy already had two prior drug offenses. He uttered the only thing that fit the situation: “Shit!”

* * *

Jimmy  found  himself  being  perp  walked  at  the  police station, but he wasn’t going to processing. He found himself in an interrogation room, with the police chief sitting at the table.

The chief looked up at him as the door closed, “Hey Mark. Three months is a long time.”

Jimmy blinked, an obvious delay, “Chief, I’m just looking forward to getting back into my own body.”

Police Chief Frank Castle walked around the table and uncuffed James Johnson, “By tomorrow you get to be Mark Stein again. I know you will be glad to not see that ugly-ass face in the mirror any more.”

Mark looked into the two-way mirror, gave the face in the mirror a once over, “This body-switching thing is  still  just  too  weird.”

Castle  showed  a  pained expression, “Well, what better way to go undercover than to switch bodies with a known perp.”

Mark shook Jimmy’s head, “I just can’t believe those CIA and NSA goons have been doing this for  over  a  decade. I don’t ever want to do this again, especially with the side effects.”

Castle hid a wry smile, “Speaking of, you have any problems? Obviously no identity crisis, you know who you are, and we have plenty of time to spare before the change is permanent.”

Mark sat down and sighed, “Chief, I know those federal dicks are law enforcement, but they aren’t cops. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t tell us the whole truth.”

Castle motioned toward the mirror, “Well you did it, I’d never do any crazy shit like this. The ambulance should be here by now to take you to the fed’s facility to get your body back. You get into the history books, and James Johnson gets a clean slate.”

Mark smiled, “Hell of a thing, Chief, ain’t it? Bustin’ bad guys is one thing, but I wonder where this technology will lead us…”

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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