Chapter 2: The Second Storey

Further Tales of the Plumber #1

by Vince D’Amato

Kodek was the plumber. He had no idea that The Crew had dubbed him as such because of the time they’d caught the crack of dawn rising over the horizon of his waistband that one afternoon when he was trying to dig a roll of Seran wrap from under the sink at one of the houses of one of their hits, but he figured it must’ve been because of that (other) time when he’d whacked Vicky the Vig by smacking her across the cheek with a ten-pound crescent wrench, which he figured was the type of tool any plumber might use. At any rate, that was all years back (he could still picture the crimson splatter in her blonde hair, head whipping to the side – her grinning face, lost teeth, spitting blood – it had only taken a few minutes for her to reach the Big D) and since those days he hadn’t worked with The Crew at all. It had been a long time back now. Hadn’t really needed to work with them, either, and he liked to think it was his meticulous nature that helped personify his Lone Wolf status among The Corporation. Really, it was just that Derrikson kept relaying orders to him that were more in the vein of The Game than any real purposeful “contracts”. Put another way, Kodek was hired to kill more for the CEO’s amusement than for anything else, though his hits were usually beneficial to The Corporation on some skewed business level. It all worked out in the end, and Kodek got payed and played well for his job

(game).

The Revenge Factory broke down like this: Nobody who worked for The Revenge Factory called it The Revenge Factory. They called it The Corporation, or at its lengthiest extent, The Morimoto Corporation, or Morimoto Corp. for short. Kodek (aka “The Plumber”) worked for The Corporation during the time Mr. Morimoto was the CEO and Derrikson had been his lawyer (but in some bad b-movie world might’ve been seen more like Morimoto’s right-hand henchman). Of course, that was all back before Derrikson got his head separated from the rest of his body, but that’s some other tale. In the case(s) of The Plumber, Derrikson was to relay to him the whims of Morimoto, who liked to set up The Plumber’s hits as if they were games. He (Morimoto) had been a long-time fan of “The Game”, and Kodek had even had the opportunity to overhear Morimoto explaining the film to Derrikson one sunny day in his his 29th-floor window-walled corporate office, as “a nineties film starring Michael Douglass that was directed by David Fincher, and it this film had been unjustly yet consistently overshadowed over the years by David Fincher’s other, more famous works, such as Fight Club, Benjamin Button, Social Network, and even they abysmal Alien 3!” Kodek surmised that “The Game” had spoken to Morimoto on some fundamental level. Not, mind you, the morality lessons of the film (Kodek had seen the film decades ago), but rather the complex game strategies of The Game’s plot set-ups and intricacies, something that he felt Morimoto was trying to replicate through his Corporation. But what it really came down to this: Morimoto was a twisted, half-retired, mega-rich elitist. He’d hunt humans for sport if such a thing had been intellectually challenging enough for him.

But back to The Plumber. On some level of his own, Kodek understood The Game, and that thanks to Morimoto, The Game was happening to him. At the end of the day he didn’t think it was his place in the food chain to ponder such things to any significant degree, yet at the same time, the knowledge of all this enabled him to retain some air on nonchalance when stepping into his vehicle and finding an envelope containing $248 in cash on the passenger’s seat and a single set of handcuffs in the glove compartment. No gun. Derrikson had formally asked Kodek to relinquish his gun to the Morimoto Corp (it was their property, actually, as he [the lawyer] had put it) and assured Kodek that would be supplied with every tool he’d need to successfully complete whichever mission/hit he’d been hired for.

Kodek knew enough not top mention to Derrikson that he could simply kill a man with a discarded brick if the notion took him (Game be damned!), because he knew that his job description had somehow morphed over the least few years (and Morimoto’s increasing eccentricity) to include “Game player”. Pawn, perhaps? Kodek wasn’t sure yet, the answer to that parallel view would take a little more meditation on his part. It was certainly possible that all these Games were only a small part of some bigger, possibly colossal, mad-genius Web of Games.

Kodek kept the food chain in mind and cleared his thoughts.

He started the engine, his car roared to life, and he saw his target leaving the rundown brick structure in his own white Oldsmobile. Kodek had a firm idea of where Skyboy (his target) was heading, and he duly followed, hanging back enough to be inconspicuous but not far back enough to lose Skyboy and his while Oldsmobile should he get stuck between a bad-luck string of traffic lights. Not that it mattered, Kodek reminded himself, it was unlikely this Saturday morning was going to be any different than any other Saturday morning in the last two months.

Kodek flicked his right-turn signal on and eased around the curb, politely letting the three pedestrians cross in front of his car first (even though their orange stop-hand signal was already blinking at them), and the fact that he was passing the Catholic Church on his left did not entire elude him.

Two-hundred and forty-eight bucks plus a pair of handcuffs. No gun. Should be interesting. The next time Kodek took a right turn he noticed the cupholder between the seats, just out of his peripheral vision – change.

Had those coins been there before?

Not sure – gotta start meditating again. Can’t lose my edge

(meticulous)

Half an hour later Kodek pulls his black sedan into the lot of Harry’s Skydiving tours.

Skyboy.

Another Saturday, morning, and here they were. Skyboy (Harry, maybe? Kodek wondered, unsure) was outside the front door of the blue office, which looked to Kodek more like a (dilapidated) converted paint-peeling barn. He could see the raw, rotting wood of the structure underneath the chipped-up paint that had fallen like dandruff around the edge of the barn (office). Not really something that inspired confidence in one who might be interested in taking a sky dive, he thought. But then, what the hell did he know? He’d never been skydiving before. He opened the driver’s door of his black Sedan and swung his legs out, he had already gathered all the tools he’d need – or thought he had, before remembering the change in the cupholder. (Was that mine?) So he twisted back and scooped it out with his right hand. Slamming the car door shut, he walked up to the chipped blue barn and looked in the palm of his hand – four dimes, two nickels, and two pennies.

Leftover from Starbucks, maybe?

Skyboy made eye contact with Kodek as Kodek approached the front door, a six-and-a-half foot piece of glass framed in metal that swung out by the hinges screwed into the left side. The door swung outward so there was no quaint sound of an overhead bell ringing when a customer entered. “You Harry?” Kodek asked as he stepped inside the office.

Ayuh,” Skyboy said, tossing the smoke onto the pavement and following Kodek inside. Once in the office, Skyboy went around to the business side of the front counter an slid a clipboard over to Kodek. Attached to the clipboard was a Bic pen on a string and a few copies of the same sheet of paper – legal release forms.

So you want to take a dive today?”

Yup.” Kodek said, signing the bottom of the legal release form without reading it and wondering where (and when) the plastic cap of the tape-wrapped Bic pen had ever gone.

Cool,” Skyboy said, turning the clipboard around to him so he could scrutinize the signature for whatever reason. “Alright, after taxes, that’ll be two-hundred and forty-eight dollars and fifty-two cents. No tip required.”

Huh,” Kodek said, thinking that he should’ve known.

They were up in the sky, the plane engines roaring and the pilot was busy looking out the front windows (as he should be, Kodek noted) while Skyboy Harry was yelling out instructions to Kodek.

But don’t worry! If you panic and forget to pull the ripcord, your safety line is attached to the plane. When you’re far enough down it will pull taught…” (Harry yanked a jump cord to show him) “…and yank the emergency rip for you, and your main shute will open. It’s no problem!”

Kodek nodded, “OKAY!” and wondered just what the hell this farmboy Skyboy had ever done to the Morimoto Corp to get The Plumber standing here in front of him – on his own plane, no less – possibly mere seconds away from the end of his life. Money? Prostitutes? Gambling problem? Drug problem? New plane? New barn? (no, fuck that). Hell, maybe he’d accidentally fucked Morimoto’s daughter for all The Plumber knew about it. Whatever it was, the outcome would be the same – always – unless The Plumber failed. Which he didn’t.

Follow me!!!” Skyboy yelled, and he was out the plane door, arms and legs spread out and his body bulleting towards the Earth far, far below – and Kodek was out the plane door right after him, right on his ass – literally right on his ass! Skyboy twisted in the sky, air whipping up around his body, his bright jumpsuit flapping in the velocity, and even through Skyboy’s protective goggles Kodek could see the questioning surprise in Skyboy’s eyes. “Don’t freak out, man!” Skyboy was yelling at him. “Let go!!”

Kodek didn’t let go. Well, not with the left hand, anyway. His left hand was gripped tightly around Skyboy’s left wrist, pulling it behind Skyboy’s back – “LET GO, MAN!!!” but Kodek’s right hand had let go – let go long enough to yank the pair of handcuffs he’d stashed in the side of his shoe under the ankle of his yellow skydiving pants. Cuffs out, and now one side of them locked around Skyboy’s right wrist.

SHIT!!!”

Despite the expletive, Kodek thought Skyboy was still on about Kodek being stuck on his back, not realizing there was now a pair of handcuffs dangling form his right wrist. Kodek yanked the left arm back and

CLICK!

As the first-time jumper, Kodek was tethered to the plane (as Skyboy had explained to him) with the jumpcord attached to his RIP-

Suddenly, the chute shot open, Kodek was pulled back through the air and began to glide back down to Earth.

As the experienced instructor, Skyboy’s ripcord was not attached to the plane in any fashion. Kodek could hear him screaming for a long time when Skyboy finally realized what had happened to the mobility of his hands.

Would’ve been easier with a gun, Kodek mused, both slightly elated by (or amused by) and cursing The Revenge Factory.

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