Black Lens: Part V

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


The call came at the strangest time.

Standing in the door to their bedroom, Romanski’s wife had just given him


………………that allure that he had spent forty years attempting to catch on camera.

He muttered


At his age, the farther reaches of his body slowly creeping toward decrepitude.

Though the mind indeed was willing, Bien Sur mais,

the form,

Quelle dommage.

Jack…………..The days of Chinatown, Jack had always worn toute le monde with such style.

And had also introduced Romanski to his completely whack-o neighbor.

Hunter S.

Who got off most on guns.

A true lunatic in The French meaning of the word,

A buffalo of the legendary endangered species.

Took the way of the warrior, ate his gun.

Romanski shuddered.

Moved as if mesmerized,

Hunter S had that effect

To the concealed drawer beneath the cupboard of family photographs.

An almost sensual feeling as he clicked the code.

And the compartment popped open.


In its black deadly beauty.

Like a sly cobra,

The object of his interest had been waiting patiently.

Hooded and ready.

He took out the sleek Smith and Wesson pump shotgun.

A gun increasingly rare in the US.

Unheard of in France.

The weapon held 18 rounds in the breech.

Rack the slide and out came fucking retribution,

18 times over.

The phone shrilled

An antique model, a memento of Vampire Lovers.

The gun in his trembling right hand.

He lifted the receiver,



The voice in his ear began to speak.

He swallowed

Some part of his mind screaming

Mais no.’

For it was

The Call off The Wolf.

The coming to fruition of

The dark sign the Gypsy soothsayer had foretold

The shotgun barrel

Gripped now in his fist,

Did little to steady him.

He saw like it was yesterday

The vision of Susan, her baby ripped from her body,

the knives…………….

As the voice on the phone continued its strange utterance.

He suddenly realized

The proposition it put forth,






Did not increase the cacophony of his internal clamor.


it was:



A blessing.

For the first time in over thirty years.

He felt completely focused.

Absolutely sure of one single course.

He said simply:

Each word

Like a missile launched from some decaying vestige of

A reignited Cold War era military industrial complex.







Dead air.

He had breathed it every minute since Ransom had sent his minions up the hill to invade his home.

No more.

He spun round,

defying his years,

unleashed the whole clip into the bookcase,

his eyes blind from rage as the bullets shredded

Hunter S…………..priceless first edition

The worn to a thread Bugolosi book



First editions all, ripped and destroyed as if

A young woman,

High on dope and the insane ego of misbegotten rage,

Had plunged blades into the flesh of innocent bystanders.

The ironic beauty being …………….

They didn’t know why.

Her name, Jowalski,

A study of evil in innocence.

Outside in the hall,

His wife banged on the door of his study.

Dragging him back, from his reverie

back from the promise of Omerta

As he said:

Cherie, c’est rien,

Just a Bruce Willis movie.’

Not sure if she was gone

Or had dismissed him

He sank to the floor,

Tears running down his face,

The weapon still burning against his chest,

Whispering softly,

He spoke to the memory of his father,

Lost in the camps of The Nazi’s.

Now only a shade.

He could at last look the old man in the eye.

Make the promise:

“Ransom will die,

au lentement, c’est vria.

Realizing he still spoke aloud

A smile began on the left side of his mouth then,

Tiptoed across his teeth and mutated to a look of utter darkness,

A jewel of blackness

Slowly enveloping him as he saw Ransom

Expire in torturous slow motion agony.

Again and again like the final sequence of explosive destruction in

Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point

The perfect cinematic counterpoint to this

His most ferocious prayer

Answered at last.

Keep Reading

Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Learn more at

Russell Ackerman is Guillermo del Toro’s Development Executive. He is currently working on the film MAMA to be directed by Andy Muschietti, DROOD based on Dan Simmons’ novel of the same name, adapted by Brian Helgeland, and MIDNIGHT DELIVERY written by Neil Cross, all set up at Universal Pictures. He lives in Los Angeles.