To read the first installment in the Johnny Gauge series, “Johnny Gauge: Fraternity Private Eye,” click here.
They called him “The Weapon.”
Johnny inspected the massive frame of the man sitting across the table from him. 6’6″ and easily 260 lbs, Troy Dergan shifted in his chair under Johnny’s gaze, the wood of the seat creaking as he readjusted his weight. A former star high school quarterback whom inexplicably gave up an opportunity to play for a small Division I college in exchange for pursuing an education at the university his family had attended for generations, Troy was the fraternity’s intramural hero. Under his direction, the football team had carried an undefeated record into the intramural playoffs and was one victory away from being named champion of the Greek League. The man was chapter royalty.
“So, what exactly am I looking for?” Johnny asked as he reached into the cooler he kept under his desk and removed two beers, one of which he placed in front of Troy.
“It’s not a what, but a who.” Troy replied, the statement punctuated by the sound of the seal of his beer popping open.
“After practice two days ago, a bunch of us from the team hit the bars to knock a few back and celebrate the run we’ve had. Well, shit got a little crazy, and I blacked out after funneling a four-pack of Steel Reserves at the Chevron Station across from the bar.” Johnny raised his eyebrows slightly as he lifted the beer to his mouth and took a sip.
“Some of the guys ended up carrying my ass back to the house, and I crashed in Piss Hammer’s room. Threw up all over the fat fucker’s floor.” Troy chuckled. “Anyway, my girlfriend had come out to the bars with us, but when I called her the next morning to check up on her, she didn’t answer her phone.”
Troy set his beer down on the table and looked Johnny in the eyes before he continued.
“I went over to her apartment, but she wasn’t there. I hung out to see if she would come home, but she never showed up. When I finally came back to the house and asked the guys if they knew what happened to her, Baker told me he remembered her leaving with somebody, but was too drunk to recall who it was.”
Troy picked his beer back up and took a long drink.
“She finally called me back that night. Told me she cheated on me. And worse, it was with someone from the team. She wouldn’t tell me who.”
Troy stopped to stress the weight of what he’d just uttered.
“One of my teammates — and worse, one of my fraternity brothers — slept with my girlfriend, and I want you to find out who it was. I won’t play in the championship unless I know who betrayed me. If I can’t trust these assholes, I won’t take the field with them.”
Johnny, hands clasped in his lap, sat stone-faced in his chair. He didn’t normally take cases involving people. In fact, he had only done this one other time, and the case had been easy: some asshole jacking late plates from the fraternity house fridge before their rightful owners could claim them. Nevertheless, this was a special situation. Johnny knew how badly the fraternity needed to win the game tomorrow night, as the hottest sorority on campus had promised their homecoming pairing to the victor. Troy had to play in that game.
“Alright,” Johnny said as he stood and extended his hand, “I’ll take the case.”
Troy rose from his seat, the chair letting out an audible groan of relief, and took Johnny’s outstretched hand.
Troy turned to leave.
“But I warn you, Troy, nothing I find will make this any better.”
Troy paused and looked over his shoulder at Johnny before nodding and proceeding out the door.
Johnny sat at his desk, troubled by where to begin. This was more complicated than finding some object; this was a person he was hunting. This would require a more delicate approach.
Johnny settled on starting by interviewing the man who was the last to see Troy after the bars. Rotund and repulsive, Piss Hammer was indicative of all that was wrong with the world. An arrogant shitbag with a penchant for pissing people off, Johnny had heard bathroom farts with more substance than Piss Hammer. However, he was also the team’s center, and was known in the chapter for his huge coke habit. No way he would have blacked out at the bar with all that fresh snow inside of him. Talking to him was a logical starting place.
Johnny made his way to Piss Hammer’s room in the east wing of the house. After he arrived, he opened Hammer’s door to find him folding his laundry.
“Hey Gauge,” Piss Hammer said as he flashed a smile in Johnny’s direction. “What’s up, asshole?”
“Hey, Ham,” Johnny replied. “Heard some shit went down with Troy and the team out at the bars a couple days ago.”
Piss Hammer stopped folding his clothing and stood stock still.
“I was wondering if you remember anything that happened while you were out?“
Hammer slowly turned his head toward Johnny.
“Nah man, nothing specific,” he answered.
“Really? Because I heard that –“
“Back off of this one, Gauge,” Piss Hammer growled as he dropped the shirt he had in his hands and drew within a couple inches of Johnny. “We don’t need nosy pieces of shit like you digging around and making what happened that night any worse.”
Piss Hammer pointed at the half folded basket of clothes sitting on his bed. “Now as you can see, I’m pretty damn busy. So, why don’t you get the fuck out of here and go back to finding whichever pledge stole your vibrator, you fucking weirdo.”
Johnny cocked his head to the left as he stared into Hammer’s eyes, a sly smile slowly spreading across his face.
“You threatening me there, Ham?”
“Maybe, you Dora the Explorer-themed ball gargler.”
Johnny took a step backward to put some distance between himself and Piss Hammer as his smile grew wider.
“You have any type of heart condition, PH?” Johnny asked.
The look on Piss Hammer’s face changed from menacing to confused.
“No, not that I know of… Why?”
Johnny’s right hand swiftly disappeared behind his back. Suddenly, the air came alive with the crackle of electricity. Quick as a whip, Johnny removed the stun gun from his pocket and drove the charged teeth directly into Piss Hammer’s right shoulder. Piss Hammer let out a surprised, pain-filled yelp as he toppled to the ground.
“BOOM, BITCH!” Johnny roared as he danced around Piss Hammer’s prone, twitching form while waving the still sparking taser around like a sparkler.
“Don’t you ever fucking talk to me like that again, you raised-by-genetically-engineered-walruses-looking motherfucker. If, from this point forward, you ever so much as glance in my direction, you best be carrying a bottle of fucking sun block, because I’m going to send you to hell. Now, …”
Johnny knelt down next to the still incapacitated Piss Hammer and lowered his voice to a whisper.
“Why don’t you tell me what really happened the night you all went out or I’ll pump you so full of electricity you’ll shit your diaphragm out through your dick.”
Piss Hammer, still slightly convulsing from the voltage that had just entered his body, looked up at Johnny.
“Baker… Go talk to fucking Baker,” he stammered.
Johnny rose to his feet and smiled down at Piss Hammer.
“That’s all you had to say the entire time, numb nuts. Maybe next time, you could answer my questions first and waste my time with other, more entertaining bullshit.”
Johnny opened the door to leave Hammer’s room before turning to address him again.
“Oh, and you’re going to want to do laundry again pretty soon. I don’t know if you can feel it, but you pissed yourself when the stun gun hit you. Fits you, though.”
Baker was the intramural squad’s wide receiver and leading scorer. He was also Troy’s little. He was the one who originally told Troy his girlfriend had gone home with someone else, and now Piss Hammer had all but confirmed his guilt. It all lead back to Baker.
Johnny found Baker sitting in the dining room finishing up his dinner.
“How are you doing, Baker?” Johnny inquired as he took the seat opposite Baker at the table.
“Hey, Johnny,” Baker replied as he lifted his fork to his mouth for another bite.
Johnny sat across from Baker in silence for a minute, the only sound between the two men the crunch of Baker chewing through his dinner. Finally, Johnny broke the quiet.
“So, I know you plowed Troy’s girl a couple nights ago at the bar. My only question is whether it was worth it or not.”
“Baker spat his food all over the table as he shot Johnny a look of horror.”
“How the hell do you know that?” Baker demanded.
“I talked to Piss Hammer.” Johnny grinned.
“Fuck that asshole,” Baker muttered. “He said he’d only give that information up if somebody electrocuted him. I didn’t mean to have sex with her. I was smashed and wanted to get her home safely after I saw Troy break into the Chevron and lift that four pack of Steels. My dick just kind of fell into it, like I tripped and happened to end up inside her. I begged her not to tell him.”
Baker looked up at Johnny.
“You can’t tell Troy it was me. I’m his little; that’ll destroy our relationship. There’s got to be another way.”
Johnny’s brow furrowed as he contemplated a solution to the conundrum that faced him. A moment later, he sat back in his chair and laced his fingers together behind his head.
“You leave that to me.”
Johnny reached into the cooler he kept beneath his desk and removed two beers, one of which he placed in front of the large figure fidgeting in the chair across from him. Troy made no reach for the silver cylinder, instead staring intently at Johnny like a dog looks at a brown paper bag that might have something edible in it.
“Well? Did you find out who slept with my girlfriend?”
Johnny put his beer down on the desk and met Troy’s wild gaze as a small smile spread across his own face.
“Sure did. It was Piss Hammer.”.