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Crime Mystery Suspense

This story contains sensitive content

Warning: Light violence and profanity.


‘Mr. Big’ is a covert investigation procedure used by undercover police to elicit confessions from suspects in cold cases (usually murder).

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People think the worst of me, but I’ve got my reasons. And sure, the girl got me back to the world, but she should’a known you don’t go after a con. 


Once upon a time, in a land long ago, a tiger was caught in a cage. He paced and paced and thought long and hard on how he could get out. One day, a Brahmin woman, who was a rare beauty and high caste, discovered him in the cage. What is a beautiful animal doing trapped in a cage, she thought. Could she let him out? And if she did, would the tiger eat her? She hesitated, and wrung her hands in worry, but the tiger had the saddest eyes and promised the woman he would not harm her, no matter what. He simply wanted to return to the jungle. He begged and pleaded to be released.


Some of these woman are prison hounds; they like the bad boys, you understand. And she was one of them. The system made me though; you should know that, before you start blaming who I am. I’ve been in one institution or other since I beat my dad to death back when I was sixteen. He deserved it, and I don’t wanna go into it. 


The woman trusted her Brahmin nature. The tiger paced like a wild animal, and she was excited just to watch him move. She was also a kind person, and felt by letting the tiger loose, it was the right thing to do. Though scared, with hands trembling, she reached for the lever, and released the iron gate of the cage. The tiger pushed the door open with his whiskered muzzle, padded carefully forward, then leaped out. The woman was caught off guard and the tiger crouched in front of her and declared that he would eat the woman, who was a fool for letting him out. His jaws opened; sharp pincered teeth flashed. The woman was in terror; the tiger had lied.


Now the girl. Let me tell you, she was all wide eyed and ‘can I save you’, and like that. So I went with it. They had me dead to rights on 'Breaking and Entering', worse, my third rap, so I was going down hard, hard time. I needed an alibi. So wouldn’t you know, I pressed the girl and she let the cops know I was at her place that night. She thinking I was going to be her old man I guess, take care of her, all that shit.


The woman begged for her life. The tiger decided he would give the woman a chance. He told her to find three things in the world, and ask each of the things what was fair. If just one of the three things agreed it was unfair for the tiger to eat the woman, as was his nature’s way, he would let her go. The woman could go back to her Brahmin ways, unharmed.


So now I’m out and at her place playin’ house, and it comes to me lyin’ there one night next to her breathin’. Hey man, she’s got the goods on you. What if she takes back the alibi? She’s got the power to mess you up. If she did, I’d be right back at County, then Five Points Correctional, and like I said, hard time, so now I gotta eat outta her hand just for that? No way. She’s gotta go. 


I can tell she’s waking up to the situation though, puttin’ two and two together, so she comes to me ‘nice nice’ and says she’d never rat me out on the B & E and all. But her eyes say ‘as long as you do what I say’; and that was just NOT happening. I got my pride to think about.


The woman first asked a pitan tree if the tiger was unfair. The tree was a disgruntled, unsatisfied, living thing, and told the woman she should stop complaining. After all, the tree said, if people cut branches from the tree without asking, why shouldn’t the woman be treated just as bad?


I suppose, her not being too bright, and back when before life got in the way like it does, her like a nun or something, the first place she went was her priest. I guess she was thinkin’ the priest would go on me and get me to give it up, confess my sins, he was the tree of life, or whatever. I laughed in her face when she told me the priest wouldn’t go with her on any of it; he telling her not to complain. Told her she’d gotten herself into this to begin with, get yourself out. Typical, I thought, she went her whole life to this priest and the first time she’s in real trouble he craps her out. So your priest can’t come up with a solution, I said. You’ve two chances left, or this may go down real bad for you, me playin’ that game.


The Brahmin woman did not give up. She saw a buffalo in a field turning a well-wheel, and asked the buffalo if the tiger was treating her unfairly. The buffalo had once been young and strong but now was old and of little use; but wasn’t the world a place where you gave milk one day, eating cotton-seed and oil-cake, and once the milk was dry, shouldn’t eating hay be the fairest thing? No, the buffalo said, you should stop complaining. This is the way of the world.


Then she comes back to me with her cousin to help me out, but there’s no chance of that. I know her cousin, and yea, he was something once, but now he’s just some workin’ slob down at Sutters pushing brooms. He ain’t gonna do nothing, and so he also told her to give it up, stop complaining bitch.


The Brahmin woman, getting more and more discouraged after talking with the tree and the buffalo, asked the very road she was walking on to tell the tiger he was unfair. But as before, the road told her she had it no worse than the road, which people walked on day and night. She should not complain. She was just a Brahmin woman after all.


Her third, and I might add last chance, was her coming to me wanting to leave town, just us two. We could take her broken down Ford van and drive to California. Hit the road she said. I thought that was the worst idea yet because the road is a rough place to be when you have no money or means. Not only that, I was on probation to stay in state. The road was a dead end; she should just keep her mouth shut, I told her. So she gave that one up.


I know how you see me. You don’t see me at all, just tats, and a face that says hard case, and a ‘I don’t care and I’ll take you down’ look. They say on the yard the years end up on your face and it’s true. That’s why they call me ‘Tiger’, which is a crack up with the golfer and all that. I ain’t Tiger Woods. I’m the tiger that will rip your eyeballs out. I mean, did you look at those guys when you were coming in here? I’m an angel compared to some of them, but I had to learn survival skills, and now I don't get bothered no more. Anyway, to look at me, this neck scar redder than hell, you wouldn’t know I have some heart. You think I'm some animal, cause how I had to take care of myself, but I gave her a break didn't I? I give her a chance and she was lucky to get it. But hey, all three things bailed on her, and that's my fault? It was time to take her off line; I had no choice, you know?


So after talking with the tree, the buffalo, and the road, the Brahmin woman was desperate. But a jackal approached her on the road and asked her what was wrong beautiful Brahmin lady? She told the jackal all of the three things had told her not to complain, and the tiger was going to eat her. The jackal thought about that for a while, sat in the road, then said he wanted to see this tiger. Maybe he could get him back in the cage.


That’s when she brought me The Jackal, lucky for her, last minute. Now she had something. Keep in mind, a con like me typically don’t get to actu’ly meet a guy like The Jackal. The Jackal is a careful man. Only the top lieutenants know who he is behind his street name. And believe me, I’m no top guy. What she brought me though put me helping running numbers down on Morgan and Person; they would bring me on slow they said. That was good with me. I worked the street, collected the due, and paid out when the number hit. Small time, but paid; though I couldn’t tell the P.O. anything about it. Next thing you know, this guy Albert, known as Big Al, comes to me with a one up, he sayin' I'll be breaking fingers, shit like that. So I started working with another guy, ain’t important who, on collections off the gig.


The jackal needed to be cunning in deceiving the tiger, but how to get him back in his cage? This was going to be difficult.


Now I’m starting to meet some of the made guys and friends of theirs, you get my drift? This one sharp dresser, tall dude, comes to me and says Jackal wants to have a meet. I say 'where, when', and he says not so fast man. You gotta know if you meet Jackal you gonna’ be giving it up. I say what that mean, and he tell me Jackal and his crew need to know your worst thing, like if you offed some dude, like that.


There’s a reason for this, as it’s a code. I can see you don’t get it, lookin’ at you, so here’s how it is. If you got something on me that puts me away AND I have something on you, we’re safe man. You take me down, I’ll take you down, so we got what we call Mutual Assured Destruction, see? That make us safe to each other. So if you’re going up the line, maybe someday be a made man, you gotta give it up. If you don’t have nothing to give up, you ain’t been that bad, then you gotta do something. Maybe do a drive-by, take out a citizen, random is ok, just go do it. Thing is, I can’t have nukes and you only have missiles. Now, here’s where it gets tricky like we say in lock-down. Turns out, I DID have something when I offed my roommate back in o-eight. I caught that Joey asshole stealing outta my room, lost control, I’m sorry now to say; but anyway, popped him twice in the chest. Pop, pop, like that. I buried him up-river, but I digress.


The jackal thought and thought on how he could confuse the tiger.


The important thing is, here I am wanting to make the grade and Big Al tells me the Jackal wants to meet that night at The Holiday Inn on Forest. Understand, you get asked by a guy known as 'The Jackal', you gotta go. So I went.


Now I’m picked up by Big Al and takin’ on up to this Holiday Inn. He sends me up to room 305, and says he’ll wait. I knock and some piece of meat opens the door dressed to the nines and about two-fifty easy. So I go in and what-a-ya-know this square suit is sitting there like some politician. I take a seat and the guy behind me, breathing on me, smells like sweat and gun oil under that. 


So this Jackal suit says he likes my style, or some shit, and he’s got plans for me, you know? So I said I’m in all the way, got nothin’ else, comes right down to it, and what’s he got in mind? Jackal looks like he’s thinkin’ and then says ok, let’s put me on the fast track. That means I could be made in no time if I played it smart. Sounds good, let’s do it, I said. Then he says he knows Big Al told me I needed to give it up like we talked about.


I say ok, and told him about the roommate. Then he says he needs to SEE the roommate. Tonight? I said. You got it Tiger, let’s go.


So we went upstate. Big Al drove and I was in the passenger seat. Sweat and gun oil sat behind me and Jackal behind Big Al. Big Al pulled off where I told him at the Johnson Pond cutoff and we went slow down the dirt two-wheel jeep trail, the tree branches scraping on the side of the Caddie, Big Al bitchin’ about the scratches like his ride was something, which it wasn't. The moon was up, so we could see with no lights, thinkin’ that was smart, and pulled over near the same river bank I’d buried that Joey kid. The trees opened up down there, and we walked to the hole I’d put him in, sweat and gun oil breathing on me tight from behind. I had no trouble finding the spot as the dirt was still piled up; I hadn’t dug down that deep, you know? So next thing, I’m diggin’ with a shovel Big Al gave me, and uncovered enough of Joey to see the body, with the dirt and wet leaves across his face.


The jackal came up with a plan to confuse and frustrate the tiger into jumping into his own cage. Once the tiger jumped into the cage, the jackal locked the door.


That’s when Jackal looked at me and said I was under arrest, please turn around, spread 'em, then the handcuffs. You know the rest, and here I am back at County, but it ain’t B & E any more. Now its murder one.



March 13, 2023 21:54

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15 comments

Bryce Kirkham
15:35 Mar 24, 2023

I absolutely loved this story! Really great narrative voice here and the dual perspectives were great. It was also just a blast to read from start to finish. Excellent work!

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Jack Kimball
16:48 Mar 24, 2023

Thank you Bryce! I really appreciate you both reading the story, and entering a comment. To have you enjoy it, makes my day. The story still needs ‘a row of sharp, pointy fangs going for somebody’s throat’, however. Now THAT would be an improvement. ;-)

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Bryce Kirkham
18:24 Mar 24, 2023

Haha! I appreciate you reading and commenting on my story as well, it's always nice to get feedback! I can't wait to read more of your work in the near future :)

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Viga Boland
22:24 Mar 18, 2023

Right, so as Lily pointed out, judgement day is here, and all I can say is judges like me…yes I am one of those critters…needs to put down the gavel when it comes to writers like you. You are so darn good and this story is so clever, that I bow to your excellence. Fantastic writing. So, that said, your story is the last one I will be reading as a judge. I’ve decided I need, and want to spend more time writing and reading others’ stories for the pleasure of supporting their efforts. So much talent here at Reedsy…and you are one of the greate...

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Jack Kimball
02:15 Mar 19, 2023

Thank you Viga! I love the part about how YOU will ‘spend more time writing’. I look forward to reading your submissions!

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Viga Boland
03:11 Mar 19, 2023

I’ll do my best…provided prompts prompt me 😂

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Laurel Hanson
11:53 Mar 15, 2023

Very clever reinterpretation of the original. It translates the characters into really logical contemporary equivalents and your tiger's narrative voice is great. Well done. Since we're still in the editable stage of this, though it might be intentional, the following line: "And she was one of them did." is missing a word?

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Jack Kimball
13:34 Mar 15, 2023

I like that... 'contemporary equivalents' ...referencing a 'psychopathic murderer'. I meant the 'did', but took it out, as it might draw unwanted attention to the narrative and take the reader out of the story. Thank you for commenting on it.

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Laurel Hanson
14:42 Mar 15, 2023

Aghh! Apologies. I am always quite insecure about pointing anything out, as many choices are stylistic. At the same time, I love it when people find the glaring errors in my work before reedsy locks it in place, so I took a chance. I had actually interpreted that you meant to write "she was one of them that did" ("that" missing). Not sure where I am going with this... other than to hope that such notes are OK by you.

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Jack Kimball
16:52 Mar 15, 2023

No apology needed! ‘Fire away’ is what I vote for. We can always ignore a comment, but I don’t think I’ve ever had advice, corrections, or criticism on Reedsy that didn’t help me as a writer. Bring it on a lot more I say! I went with ‘She was one of them’ because I hate the ‘that’ word if nothing else, so your comment helped me. Thank you!

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Mary Bendickson
04:56 Mar 15, 2023

Oh, it will walk, no probably run!

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Jack Kimball
18:48 Mar 15, 2023

Thank you Mary. I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Run, walk, or just lies down, I enjoyed writing it, learned some things, and it's great to get feedback.

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Lily Finch
23:00 Mar 13, 2023

Jack, this story has it all. Crime, murder and suspense. Two thumbs up. LF6.

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Jack Kimball
00:21 Mar 14, 2023

Thank you Lily! It's in DRAFT till Friday so I'm hoping it has legs.

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Lily Finch
02:22 Mar 14, 2023

It should be up there Friday - the judgement day! LF6.

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