My cell phone rang the moment I arrived home from the Annual Retired Police Detective Dinner.

“Pete DeSalvo,” I said.

“I know your other last name,” said a voice with an Irish accent. “The secret one the Irish government gave you.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” I slammed the phone down.

The phone rang again.

“Cut the crap!” I yelled. “Otherwise, I’ll find you and bust your ass.”

“O’Salvo. Please listen,” the voice said.

That stopped me cold. How did he know the highest levels of the Irish Government called me by that name in their most sensitive reports?

Who the hell is this?”

“Zack Dooley.”

“Never heard of you. How come you know the Irish version of my last name?”

“I’m a professional researcher. I was checking government archives in Ireland for a client. Saw your name on a hush-hush report. The one involving you and leprechauns.

“Dammit! That report was supposed to be sealed for seventy-five years,” I said. “How come they let you see it?”

“Political connections. I read how you got rid of all the leprechauns in Ireland, ten years ago. And how the Irish government renamed you O’Salvo to save face, just in case word leaked out. If their citizens ever found out a Sicilian-American, Los Angeles police detective cleaned up Ireland instead of an Irishman, there’d be insurrection.”

“Dirty, rotten politicians!” I hollered.

“You got shafted. When St. Patrick got rid of Ireland’s snakes—which were nothing compared to leprechauns—they made him a saint. Now they drink green beer in his honor every St. Patrick’s Day. Have they made you a saint? Have they named a day after you? What do they drink in your honor?”

“Nothing!” I kicked a chair.

“If you saved Ireland, why not save your own country? At least Americans treat their heroes like royalty. They’ll put your name on cereal boxes, tennis shoes, freeways.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“A monster’s loose in Los Angeles,” Dooley said. “You gotta find it and kill it.”

“I haven’t heard about any monsters in town.”

“My neighbor saw it on Hollywood Boulevard last night. He said it looks just like the Frankenstein monster from the movies.”

“He’s nuts. Frankenstein’s a fictional character. He never existed.”

“Frankenstein used to be a fictional character.”

“Whadda ya mean?”

“Somebody patched together a bunch of body parts and created a monster that looks just like the movie Frankenstein. They even brought it to life. Remember that big power outage that affected the entire country last year?”

“You mean the one they blamed on UFOs?”

“Yeah. It had nothing to do with UFOs,” Dooley said. “The nation’s entire electrical output was used to create a gigantic burst of energy—to bring Frankenstein to life. They succeeded. And now he’s prowling Los Angeles. It’s only a matter of time before he starts invading schools, churches, golf courses, crack houses, and kills everybody in sight. Nobody’ll be safe.”

“Nonsense. Universal is probably making a monster movie. Maybe the guy playing Frankenstein didn’t have time to remove all his makeup. Hey, I’m busy. Tell the cops. Don’t call me again!”

Making a sandwich, I recalled how I saved an ungrateful Ireland from the scourge of leprechauns. The little creeps were responsible for committing countless petty crimes. When I discovered they were planning to expand to Los Angeles, I went to Ireland and wasted the bastards in a preemptive strike. Wiped out over a million of them. Irish radicals screamed, “Genocide.” Then they posted a million dollar reward for the killer’s head. I’d hoped those loons would never find out I was the culprit.

That afternoon, I watched a double-header on TV. Between innings, the camera scanned fans sitting in the stands. It paused on the face of a pretty woman for a few seconds, then moved to the guy sitting next to her. He had the kind of face that haunted people’s dreams.

Sonovabitch! He looks a lot like Frankenstein!

I made a mental note of the section number.

I figured he was Frankenstein about as much as I was the Wolfman. My gut told me he was a freakin’ leprechaun in disguise. Only a leprechaun would be nutty enough to run around imitating a movie monster. But, how the hell did he escape my dragnet in Ireland? Why is he in Los Angeles? Is everyone too zonked to notice?

I decided to kill him the same way I wiped out his brothers—with a compact flamethrower that fit inside a student back pack.

As I packed the flamethrower, I added two Molotov cocktails. They came in handy in Ireland when I found leprechauns at the ends of rainbows. I’d toss a Molotov cocktail into the woods, which would create a roaring forest fire. That’s how I smoked out all those little green freaks hiding in bushes. When they tried to escape, I blasted them with my flamethrower.

I was on the freeway and heading for the ballpark to assassinate the phony Frankenstein, when Dooley called again.

“Please don’t hang up,” he said. “I have new information about Frankenstein. He was spotted at the ballgame.”

“I know. I was watching the game on TV. He’s sitting next to a good-looking woman.”

“Thank goodness you finally believe me. I hear noise in the background. Where are you?”

“On my way to kill the bastard.”

“Fantastic!” Dooley said. “I wanna be there when you do it. Let’s meet at the snack bar closest to his seat.”

“No. I’m gonna rush in, zap him, and get the hell outta there before anybody has a chance to react.”

“But if I’m there when it happens, I can record everything on my camcorder. I should be able to sell the images to CNN for big bucks. I’ll split the take with you, fifty-fifty.”

“Sounds like a good plan,” I said. “Meet me there. What are you wearing?”

“Green shirt, white shorts.”

Arriving at the ballpark, I headed for the snack area. Halfway there, my gut nagged me. I wondered why Dooley was so hot on getting Frankenstein wiped out, and why he avoided telling the cops. Plus, he didn’t ask what I was wearing, which meant he probably knew what I looked like. Maybe he had me under surveillance.

I called a friend who had a computer.

“Hey, Harry. It’s DeSalvo. Do me a favor. Google on the name, Zack Dooley, and the word researcher.

I heard fingers tapping on keys.

“He’s a member of LAGL,” Harry said.

“What’s that?”

“Leprechaun Anti-Genocide League. A political fringe group. Says here they’re offering a million bucks for the head of whoever killed Ireland’s leprechauns."

Sounded like a setup. Dooley was a radical nut trying to snag me for killing Ireland’s leprechauns. He was trying to smoke me out into the open. He probably sent his leprechaun buddy posing as Frankenstein to the ball game, and slipped a TV cameraman some bucks to get Frankenstein’s face on TV. He must’ve done it to force a confrontation between me, him, and Frankenstein. Then Dooley would shoot me on the spot with a pistol disguised as a camcorder. He’d chop my head off and take it to Ireland to collect the million-dollar reward from his radical pals.

No way was I gonna meet Dooley at the snack bar. I headed directly to the stands.

When I found the section and walked toward Frankenstein, he stood and cheered. The bastard was half the size of a Frankenstein movie monster. Plus, his skin had a slight, greenish tint found only in leprechauns.

I put on dark glasses, and my baseball cap down to shield my face. Walking past him, I hollered something in Gaelic that no Irishman or leprechaun could possibly resist: “Free beer at the snack bar!”

In a flash, Frankenstein jumped from his seat and raced toward the snack bar. I followed.

He approached somebody in a green shirt and white shorts standing by the snack bar. I figured it was Dooley. Both yelled at the guys behind the counter, “Where’s the free beer?”

I got both of them with a single Molotov cocktail. To make sure, I blasted them with my flamethrower.

I managed to get out of the parking lot before cops erected barricades. Then I took back streets all the way home.

Opening a beer, I pondered the day’s events. That’s when the phone rang.

A man with an Irish accent yelled, “Dracula’s alive! He was spotted last night at Malibu!”


# # #

A Preemptive Strike by Michael Kechula
originally published March 31, 2008



Michael A. Kechula's short fiction has been published in numerous venues and subsequently collected in A Full Deck of Zombies - 61 Speculative Fiction Tales.

Big Pulp credits:
A Preemptive Strike


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