Doctor Breedlove’s Valentine

by Gary Phillips

  Crime Takes No Holiday

The fragmentation grenade exploded, sending the head of the snarling dragon pin-wheeling through the air in the prop warehouse on the edges of the 9th ward. Shrapnel embedded itself in the floors and wall, and tore across the upper part of a leaping American Black’s arm. Fortunately his reflexes kept him from worse harm. He came up in a crouch behind part of what he surmised was the set for a western—a saloon it was. Appropriate given the shootout he was in, inside the disguised factory of salacious sensualism.

There were three well-armed guards on the attack. Four other sentinels were either dead or injured outside the facility due to Perry Decaine, also known as American Black. He figured two would circle one way at him and the third one the other way, the idea being to drill him in a crossfire. Inwardly going quiet while projecting out his nanotech enhanced hearing, he detected the singular rubber soled scuff of the lone henchman, coming to his left. Decaine went in motion and dove past the corner of the set just as the guard swung the barrel of his M4 level and sent out a spray at his target.

But American Black had been quicker and his throwing star sunk into the other man’s forehead, causing his dying body to rear backward, the high velocity rounds from his assault rifle going wild into the ceiling of the warehouse-lab. His corpse hadn’t even hit the floor before American Black had grabbed the M4 from the man’s still clutching fingers, and plucked a frag grenade from where it was secured on his shirt. Gunfire blasted apart the scenery around him as he ran. Like a slugger stealing third base, he went into a slide on his flank across the floor, his leg extended. He gained temporary safety again, this time under a tricked out pickup truck up high on large wheels. He came in under the heavy duty differential as the two remaining gunmen let loose again, their bullets decimating the side of the vehicle and bursting the windows.

Flopping over on his side, Decaine returned fire and scooted out from under the truck on the opposite side and got behind that massive rear tire and rim. His new position afforded him better protection but they could hunker down, he couldn’t. The clock was against him and they knew it. Worse, there was the possibility that they’d already called in backup. He had to go on the offense. Doctor Ernestine Breedlove was down below readying her love gas for its airborne distribution here in New Orleans, her hometown and proving ground.

His only plan sketched out in his head, American Black used his holographic projecting device, housed in a gold-plated Zippo lighter that contained other gadgets, to project an image of himself firing an assault rifle. The projector housed various scenes of American Black that he could call up from its digital memory. This particular one, which included sound, was of him shooting a different type of assault rifle than the one he possessed now, but it would take several seconds for the gunners to note that and why was it their bullets had no effect.

Sure enough in the few moments it took the two to adjust from the distraction, the actual American Black had thumbed its pin off and rolled his stolen grenade under the monster truck. He’d checked and it only had a regular gas tank, and wasn’t also outfitted with nitrous oxide canisters—because if he ignited that kind of volatile mixture, he might kill himself too. As it was, the explosion lifted part of the vehicle upward, tilting it on its side when it came down. Good-sized shards of its metal hull like giant shrapnel flying everywhere. One of those bolts of metal sheared a guard in two.

The force of the blast sent Decaine into a mobile generator used on film and TV sets. This was a large, rectangle-shaped machinery on wheels. The impact knocked the breath out of him and he fell to the floor, dazed and doing his best to get up. The last guard was bleeding from a head wound but he came for American Black through the flames erupting in the large space. The expression on the dragon’s face almost seemed ironic as the head was consumed in the fire.

“I got your ass now, you rabbit bastard,” the guard blared. His vision briefly obscured by the flames and smoke, he looked about for American Black, sweeping the area with rounds from his weapon. Sensor activated nozzles sprang from the ceiling, dousing the flames in fire retardant chemicals.

“Not today,” Decaine said, having managed to stealthily get behind the man and grasping his enemy’s head in both of his hands, twisted, snapping the man’s neck.

“Oh, is it wrong to say you turn me on with your rough manliness?” Dr. Breedlove said from a hidden speaker.

On point, rotating his line of sight while aiming the assault rifle, American Black stepped through the foam and muck, toward the entrance to her sunken lab.

“Come my darling,” she cooed, “there’s no traps … well, only that of love.” She laughed throatily.

Her voice now seemed to not be external but internal, in his head. He put his hand to his face, trying to gather himself. He then shook his head and descended the stairs, the wall they were hidden behind having been opened silently on hydraulic hinges. The lab was well-lit, a bluish-white tinge to everything. The doctor, a microbiologist by training, stood at an angle to large capsule-shaped vats from which chrome piping led.

  black heart

“Welcome, you gorgeous hunk you.”

“Don’t flinch, Doctor.”

“The only thing I want to flinch is tighten the muscles of my vagina around that magnificent member of yours.” Breedlove was a plain Jane woman, with barely pubescent-sized breasts and straight lifeless hair. She wore stylish eyeglasses and was in a white lab coat over a mid-length skirt and sensible shoes.

Wary, the adventurer advanced. “You know there’s only one ‘to do’ item I’m interested in today, Doctor.”

“Is that so?” She put her hand on her hips and like Barbara Eden as Jeannie in that old TV show conjuring a magic spell, closed her eyes and nodded quickly.

American Black suddenly sank to his knees, his arms lose at his sides. “What … what have you done to me?” He tried lifting his weapon but his arms didn’t seem to cooperate.

Stepping up to him, she took the M4 and placed it aside on the floor. He gazed up at her like a puppy stupid happy with its new owner. She touched his face. “I’m going to have my wonton ways with you American Black. I have all sorts of sex toys I’ve invented to try out on you, handsome.”

She waved a hand at the vats. “Know too as we have a wild, abandoned fuck, my Breath of Cupid gas will be pumped through various grates through the city. People will be induced as you have been with the sample I released to enthrall you. Though I am immune from its effects, no one else is. As we climax, so shall thousand of others all across this city. Shuddering and shouting in unison as they fornicate and commit sodomy on tables, in the middle of the street and atop the hoods of cars. What a glorious valentine I’ll bestow on New Orleans”

She was caressing herself, enraptured by what was to come. She stopped and said to Decaine, “Stand up and let us go and pleasure one another.”

“Yes,” he said, his voice coming from far away.

Hand-in-hand, the two headed to her inner chambers where American Black glimpsed an inner bedroom with crushed blue velvet wallpaper and a heart shaped bed. They had to pass a bank of machinery and suddenly he took her in his muscular arms.

“Can’t wait my bronze champion?” she breathed. “Neither can I.” She put her arms around his neck and kissed him. But she was surprised when suddenly she found herself airborne. Her butt landed on part of the control panel, only causing minor damage.

“You must have put in nose filters when you had your hand to your face,” she seethed. She had a hunting knife strapped to her thigh and got that loose. The blade shot out of the handle but American Black, in kung fu mode, was able to snatch the blade out of mid-air as it zoomed toward his heart. He tossed it away.

Standing before him she bellowed, “What was so wrong with me giving happiness to all those forlorn and stuck-up people too constricted by the outdated, hypocritical mores expressed by the likes of pissants like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney? I am freeing their inner animal beings, our true nature.”

“You might have an argument there, Dr. Breedlove, only not unlike Caligula, sex and death have become the same inseparable sick orgasmic high for you. Your gas would cause their frenzy to continue, transform them from their public lovemaking and consume them in a red hot lust that would drive them mad. Making them harmful to themselves and others. ”

“It’s not my fault. When I was a child I was forbidden from watching TV or listening to gangsta rap music. “Come on, baby, back that ass up,” she extolled. “I’ve been so damn deprived.”

On the way to taking her to jail, she give him a hell of handjob. After all, she was going away for some time. It was the least he could do.

Gary Phillips' latest is Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers, a collection of his short stories.

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