The Guy Before the Guy


Look, I’m not going to sugar coat things. These overhead lights, Danny, this basement, it’s the last place you’re ever going to see. And everything that’s planned, it’s going to happen right over there and you are going to feel every last bit of it before we dump you in that hole. Call it a threat, call it a promise, call it me predicting the goddamn future, I really don’t give a shit. What you did, Danny, what you got away with, in my opinion, it deserves all this and more.

It’s not my opinion that matters, though—I’m just the guy before the guy.

What, you thought this was a two-player game? 



Seeing as we still have some time to burn, I’ll start at the beginning then.

Your name, Danny, it was part of a list—a list extracted from men much like yourself. Not in appearance, no, but in level of dirtbag. The one guy, a dirty cop, you don’t know, but McDonough, yeah, you and he had history. Not anymore, of course. 

Man went up in flames, Dan. Yessir. It ended with an explosion too, but it’s really your name and others on that list that brings us to you gagged and tied to that chair. And I’m not going to lie—it was difficult tracking you down. Side quest after side quest after goddamn fucking side quest if I’m honest.

Don’t look at me like that, Dan. We found you in a stained wife-beater asleep on a couch in front of a PS3 for Christ’s sake. I know you know what a side quest is.

But all right, you look at me like you are a moron, I’m going to treat you like one.

These pit stops, the ones on our way to you–they involve a very particular man. A man who I’ve been helping for a little while now. It goes back to that list and the other names upon it, the ones above yours, and how it created certain opportunities by attacking them in the order in which they were written down. This man’s name, Danny? Rider. Sound familiar? 

Yeah, I thought it might. 

Anyway, we get to about halfway down this list your name is on, on to a man named Terrance, and this Terrance, he points us in the direction of a man named Toomey. 

Lot of names to keep track of, I know.

Lemme try and make it easier for you.

Don’t gimme that face, Dan. Seriously. You have no sway here, no play. You drugged and raped your wife and monetized that shit. That you only served six years for what you did is what irks us the most I suppose. Can you spell travesty, Dan? I sure as fuck can. But timeline wise, it did coincide with McDonough giving you up so maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth as unkindly as I am.

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh yes. Rider. If I’m honest again, he’s rage and anger and a man who clearly has issues. His mother and sister were murdered, Dan, the sister being raped by six men in masks before she succumbs. Like you, however, certain men made available for public consumption the tape which depicted April Rider’s demise.

The picture beginning to get a little clearer now, Dan?

Anyway, the list, those opportunities, one of them being Toomey and how Rider takes this man out with a rocket launcher, it’s how this, a much more intimate setting, has come to pass. It means a man like Rider and what he’s attempting to do, it can only be done out in the open for so long without attracting unwanted attention.

It’s why you and he and the tools upon those workbenches over there are about to get as comfortable as you got with your unconscious wife. Consent, violation, and how one is meant to conduct themselves upon this planet is going to be explored in other words. This little refresher—

Well, would you look at that. Man’s as silent as he is big, ain’t he? Not as big as Batista, but still. Anyway, that’s my cue, Dan. I’d like to say it’s been fun, but no, you deserve everything this man is about to take from you. Everything he’s about to remove.

If you’re lucky, Dan, he may even let you scream.

~ fin ~


Beau Johnson is the author of the Bishop Rider Books.  A Better Kind Of Hate, The Big Machine Eats, All Of Them To Burn, Brand New Dark, and coming this October from Down and Out Books, Old Man Rider, Beau’s last published book.  He lives in Canada with his wife and three boys and wants you to know it’s been an honor as much as it’s been a blast.  Long live crime fiction.  Long live the dark stuff.