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Dick Winchester in… The Cliffhanger, The Finale

A Finally Complete Dick Winchester Adventure

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 15 min read
Dick Winchester in… The Cliffhanger, The Finale
Photo by Sreenivas on Unsplash

Book 1, Chapter 11

The story you are about to read is based on a real missing pet poster and a real building. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and/or protect the author from a defamation suit.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Narrator: Last week’s episode revealed how our indomitable deliveryman Dick Winchester found himself dangling off the balcony of the Leedos building. Now we return to the action as Dick’s new-found feathered friend Jordan is engaging one of two goons from Leedos upper-middle management. However, Dick is still hanging on with the second corporate stiff leering over him with a bat, ready to send the deliveryman on a one-way flight. Destination: the pavement.

Thankfully, the most-wanted small-business owner in all of Arlington, Virginia is never without his trusty .38 Special. But will he risk the cost of ammunition, saving himself only to live a life of crushing debt? Or will he finally accept gravity’s tempting call?

All will be revealed now in the thrilling conclusion of “The Cliffhanger,” brought to you by Texxon! Yes, when you need to fuel up, there’s nowhere better than your local Texxon. Find yourself nostalgic for a simpler time? We are proud to re-release our classic leaded gasoline, now with 50% more lead for adding that classic flavor to your exhaust you know and love. Texxon Leaded Gasoline: for those who know better than the fearmongers at the EPA, HHS—

►► symbol appears on screen. Picture distorts as tape whirs. ► symbol appears on screen. Video resumes normal play.

As I hung from the side of the balcony, left hand and shoulder only showing the slightest hint of fatigue after so many Pilates sessions, I tried to compute how the cost of each .38 round would affect my current DShK ammunition acquisition. If the alternative was falling to my death, it might be worth the expense, but if that expense came at the price of leaving Winchester Delivery Services world headquarters defenseless, then all I gained was a reprieve from my sentence.

Into this vacuum of silence—excluding the continued screams of Deviated Septum and war cries of Jordan—Knuckles showed the sort of high-level thinking and ability to take initiative that I’m sure they applauded in Leedos upper-middle management as he raised the bat over his head.

“Guess things have a way of working out after all,” he said, chuckling for a moment before swinging with all the might his cantaloupe-shaped shoulder muscles were worth.

I closed my eyes, grimacing as I waited for the blinding pain and the air rushing past my ears once my mangled fingers gave way.

Instead, there was a great crack. I opened my eyes, watching as half the bat took my place as sacrifice to the void. A moment later, it hit the sidewalk with a clatter that echoed up and down the street.

I looked back up, meeting Knuckles’ equally confused eyes. “Was that made of balsa wood?”

Knuckles stared at the lower half of his bat, reading a label he apparently had never noticed before. “For display purposes and show of force only. Do not swing.”

“Boy, they really set you up for success at Leedos, huh?”

“They said it was military-grade! We make these in house.”

Gee, I wouldn’t want to be a soldier if this is the company building my weapons. Imagine throwing a grenade only for it to never explode because it was only meant to trick the enemy into thinking you had a grenade.

As Knuckles swore, including diatribes about “made by the lowest bidder” and “too much focus on intimidation without the actual force to back it up in the military of today,” I heard my phone ding. I’d know that noise anywhere: a Venmo notification that turned this whole situation on its head.

Every few weeks or so, I liked to take Norm out for a night of heavy drinking. Not only did this keep him loyal to his boss, but it helped me keep my alcohol tolerance at sufficiently high levels to have the upper hand in any negotiations and/or drink-offs with the jackals running Uber Eats and DoorDash.

There was, of course, a “minor” financial benefit to these outings as well. The next morning, rising bright and early after the half bottle of whiskey Norm and I split, I would send a request through Venmo for the night prior. On the other end, hung over out of his mind and barely able to read the screen, Norm would hit the big blue Pay button without a second thought—likely because his brain wasn’t capable of more than base motor functions at that time.

The exact amounts I requested varied on how obliterated I figured my friend was, but the baseline would sit around $500. But last night I had pushed him to the outer limit of coherence—a fact supported by him only just waking up this late in the day—so that notification meant I had a nice stack of 2,000 USD to fall back on now.

Friendship maintained, money he’d otherwise spend on DoorDash secured, and my tolerance increased: not bad for a night’s work. For the life of me, I could never figure out what his girlfriend Sarah’s problem with me was. You’d think she’d love to get Norm out of the house.

Oh, well. That all could wait. What mattered in this moment is that I now had enough cash in the bank to cover what I was about to do next.

I raised my Smith & Wesson and fired at Knuckles.

The recoil swung me like a pendulum, ruining my aim for any follow-up shots. Not that they appeared to be necessary as Knuckles clutched his right ear and yowled in pain. I had meant to hit him in the head, which I guess I had still kind of done.

Close enough for defense contractor work.

I returned my revolver to its home in my leather jacket’s left-front pocket before scrambling back over the railing I had vaulted to what I had assumed was freedom only minutes prior. Feet back on solid ground, I reached for my gun, only to pause when I found both threats on the ground in differing states of agony.

Satisfied with the mauling she had wrought upon Deviated Septum, whose face now had far more flaws than a misaligned nose, Jordan flew to my shoulder, leaving tiny little bloodstains where her talons rested. Adorable.

My attention was wrested from the green-feathered queen as the Leedos Insider Threat Protection officer from the front desk burst through the door, gun drawn on me.

“Hey,” I protested to Knuckles, “I thought you said all the employees with guns got laid off.”

Still cradling his mangled ear, Knuckles shook his head. “Only the salaried employees.”

“That’s just great,” I muttered as I raised my hands. Beside me, Jordan spread and raised her wings, which, despite our latest dire strait, still forced one corner of my mouth up.

Man and parakeet pacified, Jalil turned to survey the carnage at our feet. “Holy shit.”

“We don’t have to file an incident report… do we?” Deviated Septum groaned through blood-soaked lips. “We could keep this… informal.”

Jalil shook his head. “Forget it. Too much blood out here. This mess ain’t worth the bribe the janitorial staff are going to demand to keep their own mouths shut. Sorry, Dhruv, I have to call this in. We’re just lucky the police haven’t been called—”

A second gun-toting individual kicked open the door to the balcony, this time with a vest that announced ARLINGTON POLICE in white block letters.

“Arlington PD,” the officer barked. “Nobody move.”

Jalil dropped his gun and stepped to the side, protesting even as he raised his hands. “We didn’t call you. You don’t have jurisdiction in here. Not after all the money our superiors pay your department.”

“Funny thing about that,” she replied with a grim smile. “Part of the most-recent tithe was a donation of batons to equip our riot officers. But wouldn’t you know it, they all broke the first time they were used.”

She kicked the broken half of Knuckles’ bat, which included the statement “Proudly made by Leedos” stamped across the handle.

Jalil winced, and the police officer continued, “Besides, I don’t need your permission to enter this premises. Not after multiple calls about a man hanging from the balcony and firing a gun.” She gestured to me with her Glock. “Turn around and show me your hands.”

“What are you doing?” Jalil asked behind me.

Cuffs clicked into place on each wrist. “Taking this man in on charges of disturbing the peace and reckless discharge of a firearm.”

“Wait,” Knuckles spoke up from where he had slumped against the wall. “The bird. We need the bird.”

“Sorry.” Jordan disappeared from my shoulder. “The bird is evidence.”

I heard a plastic bag opening and turned as the officer placed Jordan inside. She started to close it before I cleared my throat. Catching my indignant gaze, the officer stopped short of sealing the bag with an embarrassed grin. To her credit, the red-beaked queen seemed to be taking this latest development in stride.

Knuckles and Deviated Septum groaned as the officer led me and their prized parakeet away.

“Hold up,” Jalil called after us as we approached the elevator. “What about those two?”

The officer and I turned to face him, following his thumb back to the blood-spattered balcony. The officer shrugged at his question. “What about them?”

“Shouldn’t you be adding assault charges to the list?” Jalil pressed.

My captor appeared to mull that one over. “I could, sure.” She took a step closer to Jalil, and I caught the unmistakable sight of a twenty-dollar note slipping into his pocket. “But a little workman’s comp and they’ll be right as rain. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Jalil’s demeanor brightened in an instant. “Of course. These white-collar workers. Always getting themselves hurt on the job.”

Police officer and security guard shared a knowing laugh before the elevator dinged behind us.

Sixty seconds to the dot, we were out on the street as the officer marched us to her cruiser. She checked that we were out of view of the balcony and office windows, then unlocked the cuffs and unsealed the bag. Jordan flew back to my shoulder.

I smiled broadly. “Does that mean I’m free to go, Officer?”

Teresa gave me a small grin of her own. “Not quite.” She nodded to the green-feathered fiend. “You have something that doesn’t belong to you. Time to put her back where she belongs.”

“Oh,” I replied, feeling my shoulders droop. “Right.”

“You want that $1,000, don’t you?”

“I guess,” I mumbled as I climbed into the SUV with Arlington PD lettered across the hood. Somehow, I knew there would always be an emptiness where this parakeet had perched.

“Besides,” Teresa said as she started the engine, “mama wants a little part of that for sticking her neck out for you tonight.”

I straightened up. “No fair! I found Jordan. It’s my money, fair and square.”

“If not for me intervening, you’d be in the custody of Leedos, enduring God knows what kind of punishment.”

“Fine,” I sighed. “Just take me back to my car so we can finish this, please.”

In short order, we reclaimed my car, located Jordan’s house, and returned her to her grateful owner. I was at least mollified to see clear signs that Jordan was loved and cared for.

Probably a better life for her than perching on my shoulder and dodging bullets, I told myself.

The only hiccup came when I asked if I could visit Jordan sometime.

“Uh… what?” the woman responded.

“Never mind,” Teresa cut in before I could say anything else, shouldering me toward the door with surprising force. “We’re just happy we could reunite you with Jordan.”

“Thank you both,” the homeowner called after us. “I had no idea I’d get the attention of Arlington’s finest when I put up that poster. You’re a true lifesaver.”

My heavy heart lightened a bit at the compliment until I realized she was referring to Teresa, who happily counted her $200 split on the sidewalk outside the house. Figures, she steals my money and my credit.

“You know,” Teresa spoke after stowing her ill-gotten gains. “That was a good thing you did tonight, Dick.”

“What can I say? The price tag caught my eye.”

“No, there was more to it than that,” Teresa said. “You really cared about that bird. Maybe not at first, but by the end.” She looked deeper into my eyes. “You were actually willing to die for Jordan, weren’t you?”

I returned her gaze for a moment, then blinked. I tried to deflect. “We have similar taste in music.”

Teresa shrugged. “If you say so.” Then she leaned her head to one side. “You still have that card I gave you, right?”


“So why haven’t you called me?”

“I, uh, well…”

“If you didn’t like the kiss, then just say so. Better to find out we don’t have chemistry now and save us both some time. Especially considering you’re likely borrowing time after tonight’s ‘Cacophony on the Balcony.’”

There was no easy way out, so I sighed and went right to the heart of the matter. “I don’t know any good places. My only experience with restaurants is delivering from them, and the joints that partner with Winchester Delivery Services aren’t the kind of places I want to take a lady like...”

Now I’d done it. Teresa smiled, flashing teeth whiter than my NRA chapter. “Compliment received. Let me help you out with that.”

She pulled a card and pen from her uniform pocket and jotted something down before handing it over. It was an address, date, and time.

“Don’t be late,” she said, drawing in close and kissing me lightly on the lips.

I stood there for a moment, wondering how fate had netted me so fine a woman as she walked off with a parting smirk.

Then the haze of good feeling cracked as she drove past in her cruiser, waving my $200 out the window and shouting, “But don’t think this means you’re not paying for my dinner!”

Yep, I thought as I took one last moment to gaze at Jordan’s house, searching the windows for her green and red profile before sighing and turning back to my RAV4, think of how quickly this city might fall apart if not for Arlington’s finest holding the line.

Narrator: “The Cliffhanger” may have concluded (finally), but the adventures of Dick Winchester are far from over. As Dick’s unconventional business practices continue to run afoul of corporations and institutions across the city, forces are gathering to check the growing power of Winchester Delivery Services.

Will Dick Winchester and his intrepid crew of underground food delivery drivers survive the coming storm? Will Dick make it to his date with Officer Teresa? Will Norm ever be able to hold his liquor?

Find out in The Counterattack: Volume 2 of the War for the Arlington, Virginia Online Food Delivery Business, coming March 2025.

But first, a final word from this episode’s sponsor, Texxon, the Gas with Lead—

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Author's Note

With the conclusion of "The Cliffhanger," you may have realized that this also concludes the content for Book 1 given that this chapter ends with a plug for Book 2. That said, there is more to the book than what is presented here, a tradition established with progenitor character Martin Williams and his book A Bloody Business. Will offering 80% of the book for free really compel someone to buy the rest? I haven't seen the data to disprove that theory yet.

Because A Bloody Business isn't out yet.

Anyhow, there will be at least 1-2 more entries for Book 2 in the coming weeks. From there, we'll try out an entirely new strategy where I leave the second half of the chapters for the book, which I believe is a bit stronger of an incentive to buy the whole thing.

Book 2 is currently slated for March 2025, and I have 40% drafted, which I very much appreciate because there is nothing harder than rushing humor. From there, Book 3 would release in another six months (September 2025), and then... I think I take a breather from full-length content for a bit.

Or at least from self-publishing. There's a few ideas I've had that I'd love to turn into novels/novellas which I would then try my hand at traditional publishing. One historical fiction, one sci-fi, two horror. None humor, but if these really take off, I might finally break ties with the Horror Writers Association and become the funny guy I was always meant to be.

I've got 1.5 years to find out. Maybe I just focus on that for now, haha.

For Book 3, I might release a few of the opening chapters with massive disclaimers telling you to buy Book 2 if you don't want to be confused or have major plot twists spoiled. We'll see: this is all uncharted territory for me. I should probably have the content written before worrying about that.

In the meantime, thank you to all those who have stuck with me along the way. Plenty more to come, even if it doesn't all make it to Vocal. Your support, encouragement, and shared laughter has driven me forward more than I can ever put into words.

More Dick Winchester in...

The Opening Salvo (Book 1)

  1. The Box with No Name
  2. The Last Word
  3. The Hat Trick
  4. Dick Winchester Episode 1: Gratuity Not Included
  5. The Terminus — print exclusive*
  6. The Fairy Tale
  7. The Cop Out — print exclusive*
  8. The Enlistment
  9. The Cliffhanger
  10. The Cliffhanger, The Prequel
  11. The Cliffhanger, The Finale — you are here

*When the book is released in September 2024

The Counterattack (Book 2)


About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Writing the adventures of Dick Winchester, a modern gangland comedy set just across the river from Washington, D.C.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛

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Comments (3)

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  • Mackenzie Davisabout a month ago

    Yay, Teresa and Dick are moving forward!! I adore how you're writing their relationship; she's quite great, isn't she? After reading this little side quest of Dick's I'm realizing how much scope you really have for his adventures; not just limited to the food delivery gang war. I'm so excited by your plans! You've really drawn me into Dick's world, even though I don't read much humor. Your style is so enticing and I'm thrilled to see you have 3 books planned. And thank you for being so generous with so many of these free samples!!

  • Another absolute delight to conclude book one. Looking forward to what comes next.

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Exciting! Great story!

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