Spade is a black-comedy crime-drama written by McConnaughay. Currently, the novel is in its Beta stages, which means any and all direct feedback and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
An ensemble cast, Spade follows multiple interlinking stories and narratives. Jeremy Crider is an aspiring actor in the city of Hardan, with no money or contacts, when the hardships of the trade take their toll, he accepts a job for a man named Robert Spade. However, in doing so, he finds himself diving headfirst into a bubbling criminal-underbelly he never even fully knew existed. Officer Jean Marx relocates to Hardan from Urgway (the city with the highest crime-rate of all Maharris), in hopes of finding a quieter, simpler job as he and his wife hope to start a family. As The Ashland Vulture, a notorious serial-killer, targets children and adults alike for his heinous crime, he finds himself tasked with what type of officer he wants to be.
In Spade's crash-course narrative that blends comedy and harrowing action, readers will find an enigmatic and unforgiving novel.
* * *
True to their word, and to his own surprise, Jeremy lived to see his apartment again, a feat that had never seemed like an accomplishment before. The agreed upon thousand dollars for what was intended to be a small heist had been doubled to two grand. Sometime later the next day, Jeremy reflected on that fact and realized he must have been rewarded with Jacob Holwright’s cut for the heist.
The hot-water from his shower beat down on his head and soothed his aching muscles. Every now and again, he flinched or shivered, brushing off his arms or thighs like a spider was crawling up them. Like he thought some of Jacob Holwright’s brain goo became sentient and was trying to crawl into his ear and take over his body like a cheesy, low-budget horror flick. Jeremy would’ve loved to have been in that movie. It would have had terrible special-effects and ugly fuck actors whose buck teeth looked like they somehow went cross-eyed, but at least he would have been paid. At least he wouldn’t have had to buy a hammer.
He slid into bed and the covers held him in a warm embrace, welcoming him to the soundest sleep he’d ever had. The money earned would be enough to cover a few months of rent, enough to land back on his feet. The lesson hadn’t been easy one to learn, and, in truth, he wasn’t exactly sure what the lesson even was. If you see Robert Spade, duck. But he knew a life of crime wasn’t for him. The hammer would not be bought in vain. With it, he’d build a life for himself. Either that, or he’d start his screenplay.
* * *
Jeremy hadn’t done many crimes in his life. He once stole a stick of gum from his mother’s purse, only to return it before she noticed. Oh, what an adrenaline rush that was. That moment didn’t help him prepare for this one, however.
Some consideration went to searching online about how to dispose of a body, but the paranoia of his search history coming back to haunt him negated that. Bill Meiner was of no assistance, making snide remarks every now and again, but other-wise doing his best impersonation of a mime; useless and irritating.
He thought about dissolving Jacob’s body through use of acid but knew not how to do it. He remembered reading an article about how a serial-killer once buried a dead body six-feet underground, and then, after filling the dirt halfway, buried a dead animal, this way police officers would chalk up their cadaver dog’s findings as a false alarm. But who could find a dog at this time of the night?
It was a bitch dragging Jacob up the flight of stairs that led to the building’s rooftop, but he believed it would be a safer approach than dragging the trash-can out into the parking lot. Jeremy poured lighter fluid into the trash can, starting the flame with a paper ripped from a magazine – “Is your husband cheating on you?” If he is, he could still be doing worse things, Jeremy thought.
The trip to the grocery store for supplies had really taken to Jacob, who was already starting to give off a rancid odor. Although, his trash-bin coffin might also have shared the blame.
“This won’t be enough to dispose of Jacob, not all the way,” Jeremy said, not expecting confirmation or denial from Bill, but, instead, wanting to think out-loud. “Once the bones have burned awhile, they should be brittle enough to pulverize with a hammer.”
“Seems reasonable,” Bill said dryly.
“What exactly is going the fuck on right now, Bill!?” Jeremy asked, the more time he had to become acclimated with the fear, the more he found himself in-touch with other emotions, in-particular his own anger and frustrations. “Does Robert Spade always blow people’s heads off and leave his recruits to clean it?”
“Everyone has their hobbies, Jeremy.”
The fire roared, it had a little more oomph to it than Jeremy had initially anticipated. He doubted anyone would come to investigate a barrel-fire, but he still tried to calm the flame and make it less conspicuous.
“What happens after this?” Jeremy asked, the hot-heat from the fire reminding him of how scared and afraid he had felt the second Robert fired his gun.
“Everything happens a day at a time, kid. You’ll take your share of the money in my back-pocket, … Robert’s even added to your pay, and you’ll head home and sleep this off like a bad dream.”
“When did he give you the money?” Jeremy asked, taking his eyes away from the fire and looking at Bill. At the same time, he reimagined the painful memory of Robert Spade coming into the room, a vision he’d seen repeatedly throughout the night. Not once did Robert Spade have an opportunity to speak to him on such matters.
“Robert trusts me. He paid me in-advance before I even took the job.”
“But how would you know the bonus he was going to give me? How do you know how much that is? Are you generously taking it from your own cut?”
Bill merely stared at Jeremy.
“You guys planned this, even you knew what he was going to do? Did I survive tonight because of some fucking coin-toss!?” Jeremy asked, the smell of burning Jacob filling his nostrils.
“After you dispose of the body, I will pay you your cut, and a bonus on-account of the incident that occurred, a fixed amount Robert Spade has informed me of in such situations. You will go home, and this night will be nothing except for a bad dream, a bad dream you were paid handsomely for.” Bill Meiner spoke like he was reciting lines; a fact Jeremy didn’t know what to make of.
Jeremy sighed, his head ached and his body and mind both felt exhausted. If he was to be arrested and imprisoned the rest of his life, at least it could be done after a full night’s sleep. He didn’t offer Bill a second-look, opening the rooftop door and heading back down the flight of stairs to retrieve the hammer.
Once Jacob’s bones were crushed and reduced to dust, he would be free to dispose of them in their final resting place. His remains could have been spread across the Amisoic Sea. That would have been a thoughtful and sentimental gesture. The chance of a scuba diver swimming by them and identifying them as human-remains was slim, but Jeremy wasn’t willing to risk it. Instead, he would drive out into the first forest he found and scatter them.
When he returned to the rooftop and saw the fire no longer blazed on, Bill Meiner finally doing something useful and extinguishing it. It seemed Jacob wasn’t the only one who wanted to put this night behind them.
“What will you do with what remains?” Bill asked, thrusting his large-gut forward to pop his back.
“I’ll hide them in the woods. No one will ever know,” Jeremy replied, feeling some relief in his own confidence to that fact.
“Sounds like you have it all taken care of. I’ll leave you to it,” Bill said, putting his hand out in-front of Jeremy. “It has been real.”
Bill Meiner had a shit-eating grin on his face and showed he took some amusement in the head that Jeremy had been succumb to. Had this been an initiation? Was Jeremy the one that “made the cut”? Why did he need to get rid of Jacob’s body? Jeremy shook his head at Bill, “You’re lucky I’m too tired to get rid of a second body.”
Bill Meiner chuckled, “You’ll be alright, kid.”
“As a heart-attack,” Steve answered, freeing the mop from his hand and letting it hit the ground. Thereafter, his hand went to his back-pocket.
“You can’t be serious, you can’t be serious,” Jeremy mumbled over and over, circling around the dead body, trying to wrap his head around how to even begin such a task. His eyes found their way back to Steve in time to see him unpeeling a banana.
“You’ve mentioned that already, boy, and again, he was,” Steve retorted, taking an unsanitary bite from the fruit, the night’s events not disturbing his appetite.
“You can’t expect, …,” Jeremy stopped for a second, “someone will have heard the gun-shots. They’ll call it in, we’ll have the cops breaking-down the doors and when they do, they’ll arrest us, is that what you want!?”
“No one will call.”
“You can’t know that.”
“I can,” Steve countered with confidence. “As you’ll come to learn, Robert Spade doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Do you know who owns this building, this beat-up, shanty-town lookin’ hellhole? The same one who owns its neighbors and its neighbors’ neighbors. No one.” Steve laughed at the thought. “This is a ghost-city, Jeremy. The only ones stopping by Ordos Town are drug-dealers and squatters, either ones who can’t afford a phone-call and ones who don’t want the law sticking noses in their turf.”
Jeremy said nothing for a few seconds. This wasn’t how things were meant to happen. He was an actor, a failed actor by all counts, but he wasn’t a criminal. He ruffled with the unkempt hair on his head, feeling the sweat travel down his brow. This was a situation he had fought his whole life to stay out of. He had fought such valiant and proud battles to stay on the happy, thumbs up side of the law, and not the side that had robbed his father of the last ten years of his life. Even failed actors faced hardships, however. Even valiant, proudly proclaimed do-gooders could find themselves on the business end of their landlord’s shaft, struggling to make rent.
Jeremy laughed, and didn’t know why, and for a moment, thought maybe he knew why Robert Spade had smiled after shooting Jacob Halwright. It was hysterics. It was a flicker of madness in a life of pitch-black normality. It wasn’t the same, a thought in Jeremy’s head soon contradicted. Robert Spade smiled because he enjoyed it. And, someone who enjoyed doing something, often did it again.
Jeremy rubbed his hands together, wondering how to even go about such a task. Jacob wasn’t a heavy-man. That was a relief. In-fact, thanks to recent events, he’d became even lighter. Rolling up Jacob’s pant-legs, Jeremy grabbed each of his ankles, hunching over, he looked up at Steve, still eating his banana. Steve looked at him with a look of skepticism.
“Oh, I’m not a lifter. Bad back,” he answered.
“We spent the last five-hours loading a van with boxes!” Jeremy shouted.
Steve shrugged. “That’s how I hurt my back.”
Jeremy beamed at Steve. “If Robert Spade is so fucking brilliant than why would he leave me, a person who has no idea what the hell he’s doing to clean up his handiwork?”
“Well,” Bill said, at last, finishing his banana, throwing it into a nearby garbage bin in the corner of the room, one that was already overflowed with trash. “For starters, he’ll never use that handgun again. He has many friends who will provide him an alibi. And, the only person who has left any handprints on the body so far … is you.”
As the words registered with him, Jeremy leaped back, stumbling on a nearby coffee table, spilling over an ash-tray. “Gloves! I should be given gloves for something like this.”
“Buy them,” Bill said, sounding unconcerned with Jeremy’s concerns.
Jeremy could feel the sweat pouring down his face, hitting the ground like drops of rain. All of that precious DNA evidence connecting him to the murder of Jacob Holwright. His heard pounded. What arm was it that hurt when someone was having a heart attack!? Jeremy looked around his surroundings, in search of what, he wasn’t exactly certain. There wasn’t a “get away with murder” kit anywhere he could see.
On the car-ride back from loading Robert Spade’s trailer with all the loot they’d stolen, Bill explained that Robert Spade liked to meet his new recruits face-to-face. It was a different approach to what Jeremy expected; a noble, business-like tactic. It reminded him of a mafia film, where the head-honcho treated his men as employees, providing them benefits and shit, running it like an actual business. Robert took a hard left.
Jeremy walked into the kitchen. It had certainly seen brighter days, but it did have supplies from squatters and whoever once lived there. Jeremy searched the cabinets under the sink, finding an empty trash-bags and an assortment of bottles with their labels ripped off. That, and of course, enough mouse manure to start a garden. “God fucking dammit,” Jeremy rubbed the back of his neck, he could feel the knots starting to form. He came back to Jacob Holwright without the supplies he would have liked, instead bringing back a broom and a poop scoop.
“And, what the hell do you expect to do with that?” Bill asked, by now having relocated to an old recliner.
“Anyone could walk in here at any moment and see something!” Jeremy exclaimed, now beginning to scoop up Jacob Holwright’s brain-fragments into the poop scoop.
It easy enough scooping the larger parts no longer intact to his body, however, a large puddle of blood remained. An interesting fact about salmon is that everyone expects them to be a pink-color, but, in truth, they’re fucking revolting. Jeremy didn’t know why exactly, but the thought seemed appropriate as he finished scooping up what he could. The entire top half of Jacob’s head was wedged into that scoop, all except for a flap at the back end.
Jeremy walked over to the metal trash-can that was overflowing with garbage and knocked it over, spilling out its contents until it was mostly empty, all except some stragglers; used paper-towels and such, stuck to the bottom.
“If you grab his feet, both of us can shove him in,” Jeremy pleaded.
Bill Meiner looked at him as if his suggestion was the craziest thing anyone had ever said, which it may very well have been. Jeremy sighed, turning the trash-container on his side and grabbing Jacob by his hands. Jeremy pulled him forward. He was thankful that Robert had chose to shoot the slender Jacob and not Bill, as the upper-part of Jacob’s torso went into the bin. After some maneuvering and pushing, Jeremy was able to shove the rest of him in as well. Standing the trash-can up, it created the unpleasant sight of Jacob’s legs still partially dangling out from the container. Some forced bending later, Jacob fit into the trash-can like a regular gymnast.
Jeremy brought the metal trash-can lid up from the ground and stared at his handiwork. He almost put the lid on before he remembered. Once he finished pouring the remainder of Jacob out from the poop scoop, he closed the lid. If nothing else, pretending the body was no longer there brought him some relief.
“Seems distasteful,” Bill commented.
“I don’t see you coming up with any ideas. You do realize if I fuck up that you’ll be written as an accomplice to all this,” Jeremy fired back, walking to the abandoned bedrooms of the apartment, hoping to find some old towels to wipe up the blood.
“Untrue,” Bill said. “If I thought there was any way you’d jeopardize me, I’d kill you and be home before breakfast, because I know exactly how to get rid of a body, whether it be one or two.”
How casually those words escaped Bill’s mouth sent shivers up Jeremy’s spine, how meaningless Jeremy’s own life meant in this predicament. He wasn’t a bad guy or a criminal, this wasn’t who he was. He was a failed actor, hoping he’d be able to take a small risk and that it’d pay handsome. Robert Spade had been the name his father always mentioned, maybe he said his name as a disclaimer, and not as a call to action. When the bullet fired, all Jeremy cared about was his own life, about making it out of the build and living to see another day. All Jeremy thought about was avoiding a bullet of his own, but now, as he soaked the blood with some tattered blankets that he’d found in one of the bedrooms, he succumbed himself to some alternatives. He thought about the very real possibility he might go to prison the rest of his life over this.
By an effort he didn’t have to make, he felt tears stream from his widened eyes and down his cheeks.
Bill seemed to take notice of this, nodding his head knowingly, “I should have brought you a banana too.”
Bill, Jeremy had learned, was an asshole.
May 16th, 2017
The bullet went off like a force of nature. It went off as though it were in accordance to a grander scheme or a master-plan. In short, it was the culmination of what was a lifetime of bad choices for Jeremy Crider. It didn’t even feel real after it happened. As if part of him understood, but the rest of him still couldn’t comprehend it.
Jacob Halwright’s head exploded!
Such a phrase seemed too dramatic, almost, but, there Jacob Halwright’s dead body laid; head exploded. It was crazy the way a handgun could blow off the top of a person’s head like a magician’s trick gone awry. Imagine being a child at a birthday party, everything’s well, til your mother goes to cut off a slice of cake, then, stops, removes her mask, revealing Jacob Halwright, whose head then exploded. That’s about how Jeremy Crider felt. Shock scrambled Jeremy’s mind as he tried to process what happened.
Jacob had been an acquaintance of Jeremy only a few seconds ago. Jacob owed Jeremy fifteen bucks from a bet not even a minute prior, but did the shooter give two squirts about that? Jeremy felt his hands tremble, drenched with sweat. The person with their index-finger on the trigger was Richard Spade.
Jeremy couldn’t pry his eyes away from Robert Spade. It wasn’t a devilish glare or a fiery stare that kept him so enthralled. It was the nothing behind his eyes and how unchanged he seemed. Robert’s eyes could have as easily told of a man reading his morning newspaper, instead of having just murdered a man.
There was no discernible change in his eyes, no way to read him, which meant Jeremy Crider couldn’t predict if that was the only bullet he intended to fire off. Robert Spade’s eyes went off from the pieces that were now Jacob Halwright and to Jeremy, his head didn’t nudge an inch, like the hand of a clock, coming around to let him know it was his time.
This would be Jeremy’s demise, a fact he had no doubt of in this moment. He was now face-to-face with death, and death had a thick-gray handlebar moustache and a big-ass handgun.
Jeremy held the stare with Robert Spade intently, only breaking off in small intervals to keep for certain the barrel stayed facing the pile of Jacob’s that spilled onto the hardwood vinyl floor. A small smirk formed on Robert Spade’s face thereafter. Perhaps it was an attempt at comfort, but it only made Jeremy more uneasy. Robert was a middle-aged man, in his late-forties or early-fifties at the latest, with wiry limbs and a lanky frame, all except for the bump over his stomach. Maybe it was a beer-belly, maybe he was pregnant with the spawn of Satan? Jeremy didn’t know enough about Robert to say for certain, all he knew is that his father had respected and probably feared him a great deal.
Robert Spade lowered the gun, which was the first relief in the pressure trying to burst out that Jeremy felt. Robert wasn’t a strong or stout man, he wasn’t a burly guy who Jeremy would ever bet on in a bar-fight, but even now with his weapon lowered, Jeremy couldn’t imagine a time he wasn’t intimidated by him.
“Jacob Halwright, we will no longer be needing your services,” Robert Spade said in a monotone, deadpan inflection, before crying out in a fit of laughter.
It was a toothy laugh that reminded Jeremy a little of a rabbit. Out of nervous discomfort, Jeremy forced out a hearty chuckle. Beside Jeremy was a man named Steve Meiner, one of the two men Jeremy had spent the last three-hours robbing one of the wealthiest families in Urgway with. He was now the only one of those two men alive and had a look on his face that said this likely wasn’t the first time Robert Spade had killed one of his co-workers in-front of him. Steve looked more inconvenienced than afraid, but he held his tongue.
Robert Spade walked around the room, every sound made as his red-and-black sneakers met the floor felt amplified. “Although, as I am certain you’ve discovered, your first-day wasn’t without any unnecessary excitement, I think things could have gone worse,” Robert continued, his voice softening and feeling more like the man Jeremy had spoken to earlier in the day. Jeremy could see the black-tar in-between the gaps of his teeth from his tobacco chew. “Only one more thing left to do before you can clock out for the day and be given what you have coming to you. I’ll even throw in something extra for your troubles. All you have to do is get rid of the body.” Robert’s voice deepened with his final demand and his face was now only a few inches away from Jeremy, waiting for a response.
What came out of Jeremy Crider’s mouth didn’t have the cogency of actual words, what came out of Jeremy’s mouth was more of a guttural clearing of the throat, resembling what happens when a fork is caught in the garbage disposal. Robert Spade smiled again, patting his hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. Jeremy flinched, instinctively pulling away from him, an act that seemed to only further amuse him. “See to it that he does,” Robert Spade said, his head facing toward Steve.
Like that, Robert Spade turned his back from them, and with every step he made, a sense of finality in his decision sank in. Jeremy tried to find the words to speak but couldn’t find the words to do so. Once Jeremy heard a door shut, it felt like the hands clutching his throat had released him. He now felt aware of how drenched in sweat his body had become and free again to breathe. He also now truly appreciated his own predicament – a dead body of a fallen acquaintance and he’d now been appointed the warehouse’s janitor.
Jeremy Crider looked over to Steve Meiner in search of comfort, instead, the overweight man with the saggy, pug-shaped face offered an ambitious look. Ambitious in the sense that he said more with the curl of his lip than a mortal should’ve been capable of. With his look, he might as well have shrugged his shoulders and said, “Shit happens,” as though he hadn’t spent hours with the same man as Jeremy, the same man whose head now resembled uncooked ground beef.
It was a cold night, and even though Jeremy had anticipated this and knew he’d be exposed to the elements, wore a thin hooded-sweatshirt and no gloves. Bill ignored his pleas to stop at any nearby convenient stores to see if they carried any, and so, Jeremy spent a lot of the night rubbing his hands together to prevent having to chop them off from frostbite later. Also, Jeremy had developed what he chalked off as an ear-infection from the cold. Every now and again, they’d start to ring, and his hypochondria would wonder if this would be the moment everything in his life went silent. If Jacob Holwright’s death accomplished anything, it’s that the shock filled Jeremy with a red-hot warmth in his chest. Unfortunately, his ears were ringing far more now than before.
“What does he mean by ‘get rid of the body’?” Jeremy asked, finding the words to express his terror.
“It’s not a euphemism,” Steve replied swiftly, then turned his back to Jeremy as though that explanation was enough.
He lugged his prodigious body off to the kitchen. A few seconds went by again, comprised of Jeremy occasionally flinching every time he heard a rat or cockroach or whatever other vermin crawling around the rundown trash-heap that Spade conducted business. His mind fluttered with paranoia, thinking the movement came from Jacob Halwright’s remains. “Fuck,” Jeremy said fast, flinching from his own fear more than any such act. Soon, Steve Meiner returned, carrying a filthy mop in one hand and kicking around an empty plastic bucket forward with his boot.
“You can’t be serious!” Jeremy shouted, looking to where Robert Spade had left, like a child afraid of being heard bad-mouthing daddy.