The Ignoble Demise of Cliff Brooks

NaNoWriMo is winding to a close.  Some have finished, some struggle to complete their novels before midnight November 30th.  One fun thing in a NaNo novel is to include the death of Cliff Brooks.  It’s become a long standing challenge and a bit of a tradition.  Therefore, I’ve quoted below the death of Cliff Brooks in each of my NaNo novels.  Each is different – and one even made me cry.

From “Wall of Time” 2007 NaNo Novel

A scrawny man in a dirty black leather thong and studded dog collar answered the door. He had a name tattooed on is skinny chest: Cliff Brooks. Cliff escorted Wil into the lobby and told Eboneé she was wanted below. The whore took her time, making sure she was perfectly attired for her new playmate.
(Wil goes to her room pretending to be a customer & “persuades” her to contact her boyfriend who has accepted a contract on Wil.)

Eboneé reluctantly placed the call to Mozzimo. It wasn’t a clear visual, but he could see Wil holding her prisoner. Wil’s smile was lethal, wicked, cold with anger. He took this all very personally. The fact that the Council actually thought they could kill him offended his sensibilities in ways nothing else could. That they had tried to use his friend first, offended him as well. Now they were sending a cocky, arrogant, pervert after him. They were killing his ego, that was about all they had accomplished.

“I’ll be there soon, Ebby,” he told his prostitute girlfriend. “You just keep him happy til I get there.”

“Moz! He’s trying to kill me here!”

“Don’t be stupid, bitch. If he wanted you dead, you already would be. Play nice.” He cut off the transmission.

“Let’s get comfy, shall we?” Wil dragged her to the bed and cuffed her to it, arms and legs splayed indecorously across the dirty red coverlet.

“They’re gonna come asking for me if you don’t let me go soon.”

“Baby, they won’t ask for you for a week. I gave them so much money, I could keep you here as long as I wanted. No one cares. You’re meat.” He dressed quickly and sat on the only chair in the room, facing the door, waiting.

He knew Mozzimo was close. He was probably already in orbit. Moz was sloppy. He hadn’t paid attention to his screen angle. Wil had seen the navigation instruments behind him on the vid screen. He’d been less than five hectares away from Aolani Figure at least thirty minutes for approach, clearance and docking, he’d be through the door in less than an hour.

Eboneé was beginning to like the position she was in. She liked the man who threatened her, finding that she enjoyed getting the pain as well as giving it. If she could distract him, maybe Moz would have a chance and kill him. She could watch. She could really get off on that.

“Hey,” she put on her most coaxing, sultry voice. To Wil she sounded nasal and annoying.

“What?” He didn’t look at her. He could see her in his peripheral vision.

“Why waste your time and money? Come on over here, I’ll give you something to keep you occupied til Moz gets here.”

“No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. I’m all set up and ready for you. You’re so hot, you’re steaming. Take off your clothes and join me. I’ll make it worth your time.” She writhed on the bed and tried to look sexy. It was hard to look really slinky with her arms and legs spreadeagled, but she tried.

Wil laughed, not keeping the dark amusement from his face. “Save it for someone who gives a shit, Ebby.” He said her name in a mocking tone. “I don’t want what you have to offer. I like my women clean.”

“I’m clean!” She screeched.

“Sure you are.” He chuckled. It was a very spooky sound.

Eboneé was crying softly, waiting for Mozzimo to arrive. Wil sensed him before he heard Mozzimo in the hallway. Making no pretense of his arrival, he was coming in hot and fully loaded.

Yelling obscenities and banging on doors as he clumped down the hall, he was disturbing the entire establishment. Cliff came up behind him to find out what the trouble was. Without thinking, Mozzimo spun around and shot him right between the ‘f’ and the ‘B’. Cliff scrabbled at his chest, coughed once and died.

From “Deserted” 2008 NaNo Novel

In this novel, Cliff is head gaffer for a television show that’s being filmed on a desert island.  The show is kind of like “Survivor” meets “Fantasy Island.”  Three women & one man are “deserted” on the island.  The women are given tasks to perform & the prize is a dream date with the man.

Thumping the door open, Jethro found several of the crew members sitting around having a cold beer, watching the scene at the campsite erupt in yet another argument. This time between Genvieve and Claire.

“Dear God, how did I let Barry talk me into this?” He put his head on the table, banging it gently several times.

A cold beer appeared as if by magic. He looked into the friendly face of Cliff Brooks.

“You look like a man who needs a beer and then needs to get laid.”

Jethro’s laugh sounded rather hysterical. “Oh, that would solve all my problems,” he remarked sarcastically. “Can you imagine how much worse it would get if I took one of them to bed?”

“I’ll take Brittaney off your hands any time,” he winked. “I bet we’d even find someone for Genvieve, then you’d have Claire all to yourself.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Dude, after last night, it is obvious as hell that you love that girl.”

“Guys, you need to see this,” one of the women said, pointing at the screen.

Genvieve had Claire by the hair and was screaming in her face. She had a knife in her hand and was threatening her with it.

“Oh, shit!” Beer forgotten, all the men were out of the trailer, pounding down the beach.

The woman followed in a dune buggy. She picked them up and drove to the campsite. Claire was fighting off Genvieve while Brittaney tried to take the knife from her. Wild eyed and screaming hysterically, Genvieve fought like a wildcat, trying to stab Claire.

“You bitch! You slut! Whore! You stole him from me! He was mine! Mine!”

“Stop it, Genvieve!” Brittaney screamed, making another grab for the knife.

“I’ll kill you and then he’ll be mine!” The knife descended, slowed slightly by Brittaney.

Genvieve still held Claire’s hair, but turned on Brittaney, knife wielded dangerously toward her. “I’ll get you too,” she threatened. “Don’t get in my way!”

She lunged at Brittaney, who jumped out of the way with a scream. Tripping over a piece of driftwood, she sprawled on the ground. Genvieve let go of Claire, turning on Brittaney.

“Genvieve, no!” Claire tried to stop her, but fell over the same branch which was partially buried in the sand.

Cliff dove from the dune buggy before it came to a complete stop. He hit Genvieve with a flying tackle, knocking her several feet from the others. Jethro took them to the safety of the dune buggy as Genvieve grappled with Cliff. For a moment it looked as if he were winning, but his hand slipped as he tried to block her blow. Sunlight flashed on the blade as it fell toward his body, plunging up to the hilt in his lower abdomen.

“No!” Brittaney screamed, tearing herself away from Jethro’s slack hands. She flung herself on the sand, cradling Cliff’s head on her lap, yanking off her T-shirt to staunch the flow of blood around the blade. “No! Cliff! No!”

The woman from the crew whipped out a walkie-talkie, calling desperately for help. Moments later, several of the men from the guard house came roaring up the beach in a Jeep. One carried a sophisticated first aid kit. He stabilized the knife, applying pressure to the wound. He worked feverishly several minutes as they waited for the launch to arrive. The boat raced toward the beach, slewing dangerously against the dock as the captain killed the motor and crewmen jumped off to secure it.

They brought a stretcher and carried him rapidly to the boat. Brittaney followed, strangely calm. She sat next to him, holding his hand as the boat took off. Two more security men took Genvieve into custody. She went calmly, not even protesting when they cuffed her.

Jethro and the others looked on in stunned silence. He couldn’t believe that Genvieve would so something so crazy over him. Or maybe it was the money. Either way, it was completely insane. Horrified, he flopped on the beach, holding head. It took him a couple of minutes to remember that Claire had been the object of the original attack. Standing slowly, he went to her side.

She was staring at the pool of Cliff’s blood on the sand. Pale and shaking, she wasn’t responding to the people around her. The security men were trying to get a statement, but she wouldn’t talk. Silent tears ran down her pale face. Jethro took her in his arms. She turned to him, face buried in his chest as she cried piteously.

“Shh, it’s okay now, it’s over.”

“No, it’s not okay. Cliff could die! And Brittaney, she really likes him. She told me he used to come visit her in the evenings after the rest of us were settled for the night. They were becoming really good friends.”

“Oh, Christ,” Jethro said quietly. “No wonder he said that.”

“Said what?” She was calmer now.

They walked to the gazebo and sat together in the shade. The woman with the dune buggy brought cold drinks for the three of them.

“He offered to take her off my hands so you and I could be together.” He smiled shyly.

“What a nice man,” she smiled.

The walkie-talkie crackled. The woman pulled it off her belt, speaking into it.

“Go ahead. This is Barbara.”

“This is Pablo,” the voice on the other end sounded tense. “We just go word from the captain. Cliff died. They tried to revive him at the hospital, but he’d lost too much blood. The constable is coming now for Miss Genvieve. Can you meet us at the house?”

From “The Ninja Tattoo” NaNo Novel 2009

Teague snuggled up with Vivica, dozing fitfully. He kept waking up, thinking he heard things outside, but determined it was the sounds of the storm.

Eventually, he fell into a deeper sleep, his dreams troubled and chaotic. The war dreams were back full of explosions and gunfire. He couldn’t wake up, even though he knew it was a nightmare. Calling out, he sat up in bed. Vivica sat beside him, hair tangled, face puffy with sleep.

“Cliff! Oh, my God!”

“Teague? Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Where’s Cliff? Did you see him?”

“Teague. There’s no one here but us. Tell me what’s wrong?”

She didn’t know if he was asleep or awake, hardly wanting to touch him for fear she’d set him off. He was obviously having a nightmare, but what it was about, she didn’t know.

“God!” He held his head, shaking all over. “It was so real! I swear, I thought I’d put that behind me.” He flopped down on his back, staring at the ceiling.

“Tell me about it,” she said calmly, quietly. “It helps to talk.”

She cuddled up close, putting her head on his chest. His body vibrated, his heart racing. His hands fluttered against her shoulder and hair, finally coming to rest.

“Start with who Cliff is.”

“Was,” he corrected softly. “My battle buddy and best friend since sixth grade.”

“Was he killed in the war?”

He nodded, biting his lip so he wouldn’t start to cry. Men didn’t cry, right? They were tough, cold, hard …. Despite his efforts, the tears rolled down the sides of his face, trickling into his ears. He didn’t acknowledge them, hardly noticing.

“I keep seeing it over and over in my mind. Every time I close my eyes ….”

“Tell me what happened. I’m a good listener.”

“It was horrible ….”

“Too horrible to share with me? Teague, I saw my brother kill a man with a baseball bat. Anything you tell me, I promise I can handle. I may be the one person you know who you can tell.”

His arms tightened around her and he kissed her forehead. She was right. As damaged as he was, so she was too. They healed one another, filling in the gaps and holes of their tattered souls. Swallowing a huge lump in his throat, he told her about Cliff.

“We were on patrol. Routine, really, we did them every day. Only you can’t let it get routine or people die.”

She nodded, not speaking. She listened to his heart slow, playing with the hair on his chest as he spoke more to himself than to her.

“He was joking, cutting up, talking about this new woman sargent, really hot and sexy, who had just been transferred in. Word was she was supposed to assigned to us as a journalist. He was trying to figure out the best way to ask her out. His girl back home had dumped him and he was hoping to get lucky. It was stupid, a dumb mistake ….”

A shuddering sigh made her head bounce. Vivica turned toward him, gazing at his face in the half-light of the room.

“Whose mistake? Yours?”

He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose to purge the memory, shake the feelings, stop the tears that kept flowing.

“No. Cliff turned his back, just for a second ….”

“What happened?” She leaned up on her folded arms, staring into his face.

“It was just a kid. He couldn’t have been more than 12. Cliff was talking to him earlier, gave him a candy bar. He turned around, laughing and suddenly the boy shot him in the back of the head. His face exploded all over me.”

“Oh, Teague! Baby, how awful! I’m so sorry ….”

“I stayed by Cliff, calling for a medic, but he was already dead. The townspeople flocked around the kid, dragging him away. They took him to the mayor, who shot him on the spot. No trial, no explanation. He killed him, Viv. I found out later that was his boy. He killed his own son! For murdering a stranger.”

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