Thursday, June 6, 2019

Headhunter – Diego, Post #85

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I’m trying something a little different this time. A serialized story, each episode with its own subheading. And while it’s playing, I’ll suspend my regular timeline and post a new episode at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday morning. After “Headhunter” ends, I’ll return to the first and third Thursday.

Hope you enjoy



A spasm, an involuntary muscular contraction shook the bed. In an explosion of brain synapses, he fought his way out of the void, out of the clutches of a dream. A nightmare. A reality. Whatever.
He opened an encrusted eye and blearily examined his surroundings. A box. A beige box. Cheap prints on the wall. Stale, frigid air. Ah…a motel room. He lifted the covers with a shaky hand. Naked. Alone and bare-assed on a bed in some motel room. What the hell did that mean?
A name edged into his consciousness. Diego. He was Diego. And with the name, came fleeting flashes of vivid greens and muddy browns. Verdant jungles, mud flats beside a broad, brown river. Laughing, happy mud children. A magnificent cat—a jaguar. And a dark old woman with wrinkled flesh and tribal tattoos.
He blew air through his nostrils and shook his aching head. He needed to concentrate on the here and now…and the who. They came slowly. He was Diego Bárbaro Collins. He worked at Albuquerque Fast Ink, a print shop on Central NE across the street from the University of New Mexico where he took some classes. Twenty-five-years-old. Yeah, that felt right.
Ok, that’s the who and the where. Now to the what. The last thing he remembered was early Friday night. He and Chuck decided to go out. Chuck? Oh, yeah. The blond guy from work. They’d started bumming around together lately. Chuck’s doing; not his. He was a loner. They’d gone to a Mex place for enchilada plates. Then what? His fuzzy mind groped for an answer.
The Stomp! That C&W place out on East Central. Met some of Chuck’s friends there. Then what? Women at a nearby table. But that was as far as his conscious mind took him. From there, the unconscious—the nightmare—took over. The horrid dream he couldn’t quite wrap his memory around.
Diego shifted on the bed, generating several sensations—a terrible taste in his mouth, scratchy sore throat, dry cough, and a bruised body. Had he fallen on his ass? Had a fight? What the hell happened last night?
Battling big-time lethargy, Diego dragged himself from bed and staggered naked around the room looking for something. What? Anything. Blood. A body. A blonde. All he found were his clothes tied into knots. Who in the hell would do that?
He lurched into the bathroom to take an urgent piss before shuffling to the basin and staring at the stranger in the mirror. For a panicked second, he thought some jungle headhunter was glaring at him. Instantly, two fleeting images flashed before his eyes: the brown, tattooed old woman and that great yellow-eyed, spotted cat. He shook his head to clear his mind and examined his own dusky image. Crap, it was like meeting himself for the first time.
Ink on his brown arms…like the old woman’s tattoos. Yellow eyes with black, bottomless irises…like the cat’s. Thick, black, hair with odd patches of yellow like the spots on a leopard. He ran a hand through his hair, but the bits of color didn’t come out. His wiry body was almost totally hairless except for an expanse of fur—there was no other word for it—between his nipples. Silky black and spotted with yellow rosettes. Again, like a leopard. Gooseflesh puckered his back. No, not a leopard…a jaguar!
Seized by the feeling he was dirty… contaminated, Diego stumbled into the shower and soaped himself repeatedly until his skin squeaked. Toweling off, he felt clean but not cleansed, whatever the hell that meant. At least the shower had leached away the muscle soreness. Discovering a brush and tube of toothpaste—apparently complements of the motel—he worked vigorously to erase the foul taste in his mouth. A pocket comb from his knotted pants forced his unruly black and yellow hair into some semblance of order.
In a sudden rush to be out of the place, Diego untied his knotted clothing and dressed in the wrinkled duds. Now he no longer looked like a headhunter; he resembled a bum from the downtown area. As he left the room, he recognized his car parked right outside. He’d given the 2005 Mustang a custom yellow paint job last year. He got in and kicked over the motor. The throaty roar of the engine brought to mind the jaguar again. Still feeling shaky, he drove straight back to his apartment on Roma NE, a ground unit within walking distance of both the U and his work. How had he known where he lived?
During the entire trip, he puzzled over what had happened on the night lost to him… the previous twelve hours or so.


Well, well, well. It looks as though something has happened to Diego. How does he find out what? Can his curandera grandmother or the Jaguar god help? Let’s see how Diego’s handles things next week.

Amazon permits you to read a short passage of my novels, Cut Hand and Johnny Two-Guns. I also believe the STARbooks-published River Otter, Echoes of the Flute, and Medicine Hair are still up. I sure would like to get the final book in the Cut Hand Series, Wastelakapi… Beloved, published, but it’ll take some help from readers to get Dreamspinner interested.

My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:
Website and blog:
Twitter: @markwildyr

The following are buy links for CUT HAND:

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

Until next time.


New posts at 6:00 a.m. on each Thursday for the life of this serial; thereafter, the first and third Thursdays of the month.

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