Author Topic: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]  (Read 812 times)

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Offline evilgrin

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[Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« on: Fri, Jun 20, 2008, 02:01 PM »
#3 winner of the VX Inspired Writing Contest 2008

Title: Number One, With A Bullet

Rating: R//death, gore, drug use

Fandom: Painkiller Jane

Pairing: [none] Jane Vasko (Painkiller Jane)

Disclaimer: Painkiller Jane is the creation of Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada. No money is made and no disrespect is intended.

Summary: Painkiller Jane exacts vengeance on a rainy night in Chinatown.

Archive: VX

Feedback: In this thread only, please.




The pale ghost of rain seeped through her clothes, under the pulled down brim of her hat. Seeped through the bandages and against the wound. The blazing sharp burn of a gunshot dulled, a low thrum that didn't so much fade into the background as suit the background perfectly. Dirty, grey, gritty and damp. Pain personified in texture and color, light and shadow.

Jane forgot what she had taken this time to take the edge off; the brand names blurred, like the fractured images of headlights cutting across rain slick night streets. The chemical names she had once studied, known by heart, now a distant memory. The pills were small and blue; that she could say about them with some certainty.

They were also definitely morphine based, which was fitting given her current location, standing in the minimal shelter of an overhang in a seedy Chinatown alley. Everything softened slightly, taking on a velvety texture, visually redolent and six layers deeper than it should have been.

The steady tink of rain as it fell from a broken gutter, whispering over a stone sill and into a deep puddle below dulled her senses. She could easily die here, succumb to the shot in her side, lie against the cold stone wall and listen to that sound until she could hear nothing else.

It was that one thought; dying without finishing what she started, what she had nearly died to finish, that made Jane press the heel of her hand against the wound. The dull flat pain flaring bright and electric, sharpening Chinatown's reds and dirty browns, golds into crystal clear lucidity, until she tasted the copper bite of blood at the back of her mouth.

No longer was she an esteemed member of the police. No longer an elite agent for the DEA, she was less than nothing in the eyes of the law. No longer Agent Jane Vasko. Just Painkiller Jane, a pain in the ass that came out of a hell storm of bullets and death with an intolerable drug habit. A junkie. Hooked on the violence as much as the drugs. A noisome Jiminy Cricket, a clattering conscience, pushing for a deed that should have long been done.

Joey Fonti's Mob was all but scattered to the four winds, hunted down with a ferocity that the city hadn't seen in decades. All but scattered. There was still one last deed; a killing that cried out out to be done. Ginelli wasn't heavily involved in the family's drug dealing, wasn't important in the monetary scheme of things; by all accounts he was simply another low level thug that the big boys at the DEA passed by on their hunt for the bigger sharks in the family.

It was probably how he had managed to stay alive for so long, he slipped under the radar. It made him perfectly suited for what he was. A very specific kind of enforcer, Ginelli didn't bother with the less subtle methods of brass knuckles, bats and 9mm vengeance. Instead, he considered himself an artist, his medium timers and fuses, fire and explosives.

Piss off the Fonti mob and you were lucky if a guy just came around to break the bones in your face; that's what you aimed for, if you could. Because the other option was that your car would blow up, or maybe just your business would go up in flames. Or your family home would be swallowed in flames in the middle of the night, the doors nailed shut, succumbing so quickly that your entire family burned to death before anyone could rouse from sleep.

He had walked easily enough, lawyered up quickly. Said nothing, not a word. Not that anyone on the DEA's case asked; it was enough to know that he wasn't tied in with the drug trade. Dismissed. No one expected anything else and there appeared to be an air of indifference about the whole thing. Apathy had settled so deeply into the pores of law enforcement that it looked strange to do otherwise.

There would be no badge polishing off the arrest of Ginelli; all it would do is tie up resources that the agency, men that she had once served with, didn't see the bother in wasting. There was the hollow show of bail, but it didn't matter if Ginelli could walk outside and breathe free air. Everyone knew that he could vanish if he wanted to, if he felt the need to, and there wasn't a person that would stop him. He just wasn't that important in the scheme of things.

It was the show. The show of justice done that saw Ginelli walk down the courtroom steps in a cloud of laywers. What was worse was the paparrazzi, arrayed on the steps in front as he descended, treating him like some sort of a celebrity. He had looked directly at her as she stood against her car on the other side of the street. The evil fuck had even tipped his hat, winked at her, when no one but her could catch him do it, the eyes of the rabid press turned to the exit as more prominent mobsters left.

That was when she had known, when the plan had begun to solidify for her, even before her car had exploded in a smoky fireball outside her apartment that night in a warning as subtle as brass knuckles to the face. Bleary eyed and unfocused, she had roused from her opiate induced slumber, grabbed up her favorite two handguns and given chase.

Stupid. Ill thought out. As a cop, she would never have done such a thing. Call for backup and secure the scene. Check for injured innocent bystanders. Serve and protect, all the way. It was supposed to be deeply ingrained in her from the academy on out. A lot had changed and that had grown stale quickly as she saw the revolving door her precinct had become, with violent, murderous men that she had arrested not only let free the next day but sometimes the same day. What made it worse was when she saw men that she served with in a cop's bar down the street later on, drinking with those very same men.

Corruption was easy, a sin that hurt no one in a city increasingly bereft of justice, where the criminals were celebrities sought out not only by the piranha press but by the legitimate press as well. Where they talked on talk shows, offering up their favorite recipes. It was surreal.

After her partner assisted a drug dealer get the dealer's heroin back, Jane had finally been sickened enough to get off the force, joining the DEA. She wanted to help clear out first her precinct, spreading outwards across the city; it was what she wanted. At first, it had looked like she would get just that. Corrupt officers at her precinct were taken down, one after the other. Of course, it never went higher than low-level guys. Disposable men thrown into the meat grinder for the sake of good press. The city was seen to be Doing Something.

Corruption was easy. Able to use violence more freely as a DEA agent than she had in the police, Jane became ever more violent. Escalation upon escalation in a child's game of dare; the more she pushed, the more she risked. The more she risked, the more she wanted it. The more she needed it. Getting hurt could put her behind a desk and getting shot could end her career; that it could also end her life was a place she refused to go.

Stretched to extremes, she began to self-medicate; at least that was what she had called it at the beginning. Just enough lifted from this dirty doctor or that thieving paramedic to see her through. Through long nights and longer stake outs. Through busted ribs and concussions, bullet grazes, burns, and beatings.

It was sick; she was sick. Knowing it didn't change what she was becoming. Addicted to the violence was the jump off spot in a vicious cycle. The violence led to pain. The pain led to the drugs, the drugs to addiction. Back to violence as the only way that she could tolerate what she was is if it all meant something, had some purpose beyond the violence alone.

It was that tightly focused purpose that had her give chase, getting shot in the process. There would be no trip to the hospital for her. Stripped of her badge, and of the little protection it conveyed, she would be detained at the hospital. Once her blood tests came back, there would be no getting out again; it would be a one way trip for her, in shackles to the back of the hospital, handed off to the men that she had once served with. She wouldn't live long after that.They'd find her in the river, or a shallow grave. If they found her at all.

There was only one option, the simplest option. Like countless nights before, she limped home holding her clothing tight against her wounds so that anyone out in the rain spattered streets wouldn't see the blood. Drugs taken to cope with the sharp, nauseating pain while she treated her wounds, pulling the bullet fragments from her wounds with sterilized equipment she kept for just that purpose. Bandaging them from a large, industrial sized roll of gauze that she had lifted from the last doctor she had held up. Drugs to take the edge off after; more than enough. Too much for only pain alone. Enough for a junkie.

So that she could finish. It was all that she had left, a chance at redemption before she slipped over the edge completely, spiraling faster as her flame burned brightly. A quiet blaze in the darkness and then she would be gone.

Ahead, lit by a garish red neon glare that spilled like fresh blood across the pavement, was the man she sought. Ginelli. Coarse laughter guttered out, staccato, like sub machine gun bullet fire, as he turned to the man beside him. A cop, someone she had once served with, now slurping up greasy noodles next to a man that murdered people for sport. And yet, she wouldn't kill him, wouldn't kill even a dirty cop. A line she would not cross. This was to be one kill, her last kill.

No one noticed her; even if she didn't blend in with the Asians that made up most of Chinatown, she blended in with the battered, the homeless, the sodden and forlorn, darting under the overhang and disappearing into the niche of a doorway. A tight knot of commuters scuttled by from a bus stop further up the street, crowded together with their heads down against the steadily falling rain.

After they had passed, she pulled her 9mm. She preferred to carry two but one had been lost after she had taken a bullet, skittering across the alley and down into the sewer as her arm flew out, the bullet ripping into her side, stopped by her rib. One left, with a full clip; hot, with one in the chamber against every written regulation that no one ever followed.

Closer now, she could pick out individual voices. The higher whiny sound of the cop, a man she knew by the name of Frazetti, laughing too loudly about something stupid, some hooker joke that she supposed men found funny. Ginelli was louder, more ebullient. His voice was blustering, wet and coarse; all too jolly for a monster, his hands gesticulated, waving here and there, before he slapped them down hard on the red lacquered counter top where the two men sat in the open storefront of a greasy spoon Chinese diner.

From where she stood beneath the gaudy Chinese lanterns, she could see in crystal clarity a puddle of darker soya sauce, like an evil oil slick, where Ginelli had knocked over the vessel.

In her opiated state, everything slowed to a beautiful singular vision. A rivulet of dark raced across red lacquer, towards the edge with a intent impossible to divine. Dripping in that same Zenlike beauty of the alley's drainpipe. She wished that she was close enough that she could hear it but Ginelli's watery jocularity drowned out the beautiful things, the still moments where the world breathed between events. He poisoned everything, even the things he could not conceivably touch, that he had no idea existed.

Turning, he was turning, his soot black beady eyes reflecting no light as he turned, an ageless predator. Silence for a breath as shock registered, not on his face, but on Frazetti's. The anemic sound of a bamboo stool scuttling backwards like a startled crab, falling with a sharp retort against the tile floor. Frazetti with his hands before him in a strange Al Jolson dance, jazz hands moving out of time with each other as he flapped them out in front in a weak attempt to ward her off. He needn't have bothered; she wasn't there for him.

Ginelli continued to turn, his hands like claws on either side of him on the counter. For a brief moment, she realized that one of his hands was in the middle of the pool of soya sauce, like some inner blackness leached out of him, sensing his end and seeking another host before the stroke fell.

His jaw dropping as awareness set in, becoming anger as he tried to push away. Something shouted, some guttural insult, clashing with the melodic somber beauty of Chinese stringed instruments in the company of a woman's high voice. Background music for a murder.

The muzzle a cold black hole, an empty circle from which no life escaped once caught within its terrifying gravity, raised. Hands extended in a classic shooter's pose, she bisected Ginelli's brutish features with the fin that was the muzzle's sight, his black eyes blank and wide on either side before a third eye opened between, its glaring red ring an eclipse, a portent of doom from time immemorial. Doom for him, doom for her. It didn't matter any longer.

In accompaniment to the sonorous woman's voice, Ginelli's hands flew up like startled birds on either side of his head, fingertips settling briefly against the smoking hole. As though he couldn't believe that it had happened, before they were swept back with the force of the gout of blood. Arcing upward, she saw each drop, a gory Pythagorean spiral beginning, drawing Ginelli backwards. His head thrown backward sharply before his neck arched. His chest following, and then the stool shot out in slow motion as he was pulled downward, perfectly graceful in death, almost beautiful.

"Number one, with a bullet."

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Hrefna

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #1 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 01:49 PM »
DAMN!  That was spectacularly written!  The evocation of emotion through use of the beautiful contradicted by the brutal ugliness of murder was almost breathtaking.  MY breathing slowed pace along with Jane’s perception, and I savored every word like an old wine.  

I loved the way you built up the story, first by dumping us in the middle of the action by worrying about her wound, and then by flashing back to the unfolding drama of the law and the mob, bringing us back to the present.  

Quote
Corruption was easy, a sin that hurt no one in a city increasingly bereft of justice, where the criminals were celebrities sought out not only by the piranha press but by the legitimate press as well. Where they talked on talk shows, offering up their favorite recipes. It was surreal.

Love the cynicism displayed in this brief paragraph.  Such a clear picture of Jane’s society in just a few words.

Quote
After they had passed, she pulled her 9mm. She preferred to carry two but… ... One left, with a full clip; hot, with one in the chamber against every written regulation that no one ever followed.

Such a great paragraph!  Some writers may have not even bothered to mention a second gun, but you use it to advantage, punching more cynicism and into the mood of the story.

Quote
laughing too loudly about something stupid, some hooker joke that she supposed men found funny… His voice was blustering, wet and coarse…

Just beautiful use of the language, submerging us into this dark wet scene.

I think my favourite part was the description of the soy sauce, and how you used it to further the scene, the deadly mood.  Gah, I’m just dying!  Fabulous!

Quote
, jazz hands

Oh my god, you just made death funny!

And, finally, your description of the death was probably one of the most amazing death scenes I have ever read.  Even though it was described in total detail, it wasn’t a drawn out scene.  Instead, it was as though I was slowed down along with Jane’s perception, watching it happen in slow motion Technicolor.

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!
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Offline Furyan Goddess

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #2 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 01:50 PM »
Never saw the TV show, Evil, but after reading this, I wanted to.  I thought it was really good.  Dirty, gritty and raw.  She got the fuck, and that's cool.

Thanks to Sil for siggie!

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #3 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 04:17 PM »
Hrefna ...you damned near made me cry, H! I do love me some very dark writing and with what I had at hand? You have me at a loss for what to say save for a very huge thanks. I'm very touched that I can have that kind of an effect, and knowing I did makes writing definitely worthwhile :D PKJ will always be a graphic novel/comic book character for me, but definitely worth a read :)

*smooches*
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Hrefna

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #4 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 05:24 PM »
Don't cry, E! :hugs
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Offline DragonFire

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #5 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 05:35 PM »
First of all, congrats!  :kiss

Second, Awesome story.  I have to agree with Hrefna about the death scene.  The story was very dark, raw and gritty.  I was pretty sure it was yours.  :D

:rock

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #6 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 05:47 PM »
I still might, H :)
so many great entries I want to sit down and reread...just need to get my mail sorted out :)
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Helen Page

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #7 on: Fri, Jul 25, 2008, 08:13 PM »
Not a clue about Painkiller Jane but this story was fantastic!


Offline Cyren

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #8 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 03:14 AM »
E...if i sat down to quote all the good bits in this story...i'll be here all day!

Now you know that I love you're writing. It's raw and gritty but has so much light and shade and texture that you feel like your there with her experiencing these things. Inside her mind thinking them.

You know lately I've been preoccupied with the reason we like the things we read and you're writing makes me wonder about myself, is there this dark edgy side to me that finds it appealing? Yes...and that disturbs me beyond belief :bow

I am...as always in awe.


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Offline Furyan Goddess

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #9 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 05:09 AM »
YES, Texture, that's a good word for this.  It was very layered and textured and that is very hard to do.  It was fabulous.

Thanks to Sil for siggie!

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #10 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 06:47 AM »
:redface thanks, C!
I think we're probably all pretty dark, somewhere, but we're not all dark, ya know?
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Cyren

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #11 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 07:11 AM »
some shade of dark? *grin*

I loved it E and I've never seen the show so you have me hooked...and if i ever see it...i hope the show lives up to your writing!


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Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #12 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 07:33 AM »
I've never seen it either :grin hope the show lives up to the comic, heehee
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Cyren

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #13 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 07:55 AM »
I'm confused...is this a show or a comic or both?!


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Offline Furyan Goddess

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #14 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 08:07 AM »
I think they tried to make it a show but it didn't fly... not sure if it's still in production or not

Thanks to Sil for siggie!

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #15 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 08:19 AM »
PKJ was originally a graphic novel/comic book (and should have stayed that way). There was an attempt to make it into a series on TV but it fell flat. Never seen the series. (Have all the comics though :D )
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Cyren

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #16 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 08:28 AM »
Ah...makes sense.

She's a very interesting character :)


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Offline silver

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #17 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 10:05 AM »
I don't know PKJ at all, except I've heard the name somewhere.
Not being familiar with the genre, I almost passed this by (what a stupid reason, in retrospect).
Floored.  Amazingly well-written, grabbed me by the throat & threw me right down on the street w her.

The vividness of the descriptions along w the way you were able to compress the backstory, the current torment & her bleak future....floored.
And I'll certainly quote one of many gorgeous sections:
Quote
From where she stood beneath the gaudy Chinese lanterns, she could see in crystal clarity a puddle of darker soya sauce, like an evil oil slick, where Ginelli had knocked over the vessel.
In her opiated state, everything slowed to a beautiful singular vision. A rivulet of dark raced across red lacquer, towards the edge with a intent impossible to divine. Dripping in that same Zenlike beauty of the alley's drainpipe. She wished that she was close enough that she could hear it but Ginelli's watery jocularity drowned out the beautiful things, the still moments where the world breathed between events. He poisoned everything, even the things he could not conceivably touch, that he had no idea existed.


Amazing.  A perfect little gem of a vision, dirtied up by the last line.

Fantastic, and big congrats to you!


...insatiable...

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #18 on: Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 12:18 PM »
:)
I didn't expect many reads for this either, because she's kind of an odd character, an unknown. Thanks so much for reading, and enjoying :)
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.

Offline Bitten

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #19 on: Sat, Aug 02, 2008, 06:39 PM »
Quote
The pale ghost of rain seeped through her clothes


Okay, right off the bat, I was sucked in. What a descriptive image!

Quote
a low thrum that didn't so much fade into the background as suit the background perfectly.


I'm not even through the first paragraph yet, and I'm already overwhelmed with the wonderfully evocative language and the harsh images you've created. Am I going to have to quote the whole frickin' story? I better stop with the quotes already.

I felt like I was in an opiate haze as I read this; you pulled me into her pace, and made it feel as if I was there. Her background, and the descriptions of the people and places sucked me right into the action. You can just feel her plight, and her addiction. This story is so dark and cynical -- and I daresay somewhat true to life, but laced with beautiful images too. Observing the death scene in such a detached manner, noting all the details, was a perfect ending touch. As always, a great story!

Offline evilgrin

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Re: [Painkiller Jane]Number One, With A Bullet[R]
« Reply #20 on: Sat, Aug 02, 2008, 06:42 PM »
:)
Elaine:)

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It was a rainy night in the big city. A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the scum off the streets. And I'm stuck in it without an umbrella. What a tool.