All Night Diner Part II
So this represents the last of the stories from the book which came out nearly a year and a half ago. I plan on discussing the method of writing this book in the next post, so I wont go on at length here. Anyway, enjoy!
Daniel tackled the fat thief with voracity. He felt the fat man grunt and immediately collapse and he knew immediately he would win the fight. What he didn’t know was that the gay college guy would see the gun he’d hidden in his belt.
When the two men hit the ground Daniel ground his knees into the fat mans ass and pushed his face against the ground, while Daniel grabbed the hand that held the gun and ripped it out of the fat mans hands. He was about to stand and look at Mary to see how she was doing, but before he could he felt a hand rip the gun out of his belt line and shortly after the cold embrace of steel against the back of his head.
“You drop that gun now mister!” The gay boy’s voice cracked and Daniel thought it endearing how hard he was trying to hide his lisp.
Daniel thought back on his night and then took a quick peek at Mary. He saw the fire in her eyes and knew that she was a fighter just as much as he knew that the gun the gay boy was holding was near empty from the night’s escapades. He managed a quick glance at the waitress and saw that she was standing in the archway to the kitchen watching the action. That’s good, he thought at least she hasn’t called the cops yet.
“I mean it mister!” The crack in his voice was gone and there was a distinct click of the hammer being drawn back on Daniel’s Colt Python. I guess I underestimated him. This kid has balls.
Thoughts of Mary’s life floated around his mind as he weighed his options. The gay boy was holding a gun which had killed six people. Daniel had killed without remorse and without regret and now that gun was turned on him. Maybe it was karma, maybe it was cosmic Darwinism.
“pull the trigger you fucking fairy.” He said it slowly, clearly and low. Almost growling it.
“What?” The weight of the gun against his head abated a bit as the gay boy hesitated in shock.
“I said pull it. You think it matters at this point?” He looked pointedly at Mary, who stared back at him with desire; an emotion he mistook for love.
Ten years ago Petunia Higgins had sent him a note saying she had been pregnant and had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Of course at this point, Mary Higgins had already turned eight and had a number of surrogate fathers.
It surprised Daniel to hear that he had a daughter and made a decision in that moment to be the best father he could be. The very next day after he got the letter from Petunia, he packed a bag and traveled back from his job inNew Yorkto his home state ofWyoming. This would be his penance; this would be his retribution.
His whole life he’d had a terrible temper. He turned to sports as a child to facilitate release for his pent up emotions, but it only worked for a time. He joined the football team when he entered high school and joined the in crowd of jocks and cheerleaders. Drugs, Steroids and the untouchable quality of the football greats galvanized his young emotions and he began to get into fights and had trouble with the authority of the school.
It wasn’t until the “event” happened during his senior year, that he decided it was time for a change. He was with the center of the offensive line and one of the defensive backs hiding out by the boat house at the side of the lake giving each other steroid boosters and cocaine bumps, when they came across a car in the woods with a freshman from the school and his little girlfriend.
Deciding that a freshman shouldn’t be getting any more action than they were, they opened the door to the car. The scrawny kid was immediately offended and turned in his seat.
“What the fuck man! Get outta here!” He seemed to have a Texan drawl.
Daniel stood behind Frank (The Center) and Carlos (The defensive back) and they stood hulking over the open door peering in on the couple, not saying a thing. The cocaine made them jittery and excited and the Steroids made them quick tempered.
“I said get the fuck outta here!” The young freshman yelled again trying to grab for the door. The kid was joined soon after by his little girl friend: “Yeah, you fat fucks!”
When looking back on the incident Daniel rationalized that the girl mouthing off had caused it, but in actuality the outcome probably would have been the same whether she said anything or not. The football players never noticed the bumper sticker with the Vagabond biker gang logo on it.
Without saying a word Frank grabbed the girl by her hair and tore her out of the car, clear of the freshman’s arms while Carlos reared back and gave the boy a devastating right hook.
“You shouldn’t be with a little prick like that. You should be with a big prick like this.” Frank unzipped his fly and pushed his penis in the girls face.
She squirmed and squeaked while Carlos blocked the freshman’s view and continued to pummel him. Daniel stood in the back vaguely exhilarated and waited his turn. When Frank was finished, her nose was broken her dress was torn and she was no longer a virgin. Then Daniel had his way. Carlos continued to beat the freshman, who’s squirming began to slow.
When it came to Carlos’ turn he grabbed the girl’s throat and squeezed until the girl turned blue. It wasn’t until they had put their pants back on that they realized what they had done. Daniel looked in on the destroyed face of the freshman while Frank checked the pulse on the girl.
Those were the first two deaths Daniel had experienced. They dumped the bodies in the river, made promises that they would never talk about the incident again and parted ways. In the thirty years since he had been questioned once about the incident, but the bodies were never found.
Coming back toWyomingbrought the memories back to him, as well as the one time he had sex with Petunia. It was short and angry and he never talked to her again. The only correspondence he had with her was the letter he got telling him he was a father of an eight year old girl.
Daniel showed up at her school and watched her play on the playground. He felt old anger well up at Petunia for holding this little girl a secret for so long.
She was a beautiful little girl. She was everything he could have hoped for, a small, lithe, spindly little girl with a kind smile. She roamed the playground dancing around the other children with that broad kind smile on her face. She laughed and played with both the boys and girls alike and he felt immense pride well up inside him as tears began to spill from his eyes.
This beautiful young girl was his. He was her father.
He waited until some of the other little ones started to leave and he waved for her to come over to him. She noticed immediately and waved, giving him that award winning smile.
His heart warmed with every step she took toward him. His little girl and she was so beautiful and innocent. He felt himself smiling uncontrollably.
“Hi mister, my names Mary.” He wanted to pinch her cute little chubby cheeks, but kept his hands in his jacket pockets.
“Hi Mary. D’you know who I am?” He leaned down to her and managed to hold his hand out for her to shake.
“Nooo.” She drew out the o coyly. “but my step daddy says that if a man comes up to me I should play with his peppy and he’ll give me money for our rent. Is that true?” She continued smiling at him and Daniel went pale and immediately felt sick.
“No. Never talk to any man who may come up to you. Don’t listen to anything your step daddy says.” He wanted to be kind and helpful, but he couldn’t help the anger boil up in his stomach. He had images in his head of strangling the man who misled her so badly.
“K!” She gave him one last smile and turned to continue to play, oblivious to his anger and of the implications of her statement.
That night Daniel waited outside Petunia and Mary’s house and waited for them to sleep. He watched the drunken slob who was married to Petunia drink and watch TV and eventually pass out on the couch, so Daniel slowly slipped into the doorway of the trailer. He saw the fat face of the man and the stains on his wife beater and immediately knew he had to die. He could see in the sleeping slob’s face that what Mary told him was the truth.
He took a blanket from the floor next to the couch and gently squeezed the fat man’s nose while covering his mouth. Daniel stood rigid in position for nearly five minutes making sure the fat man didn’t stir then stole his way into Mary’s room. She slept on beer and cum stained blankets so Daniel covered her in the blanket that he used to murder her step father. He was careful not to touch her, as if the stain of murder would rub off from his hands and taint her innocent soul.
The rest of the night he spent burying the fat man out next toLakeMeneloua, exactly fifty paces from the boathouse.
He promised himself he wouldn’t re-visit the grave and for years he stayed true to his intentions. Petunia would occasionally have a difficult new “Step-Father,” but Daniel would have a talk with the man and they always went away. Then Mary turned sixteen and suddenly adopted the moniker “Candy” and when she was supposed to be out with her friends she was actually prostituting herself out by the biker bars.
Daniel kept his distance and tried not to interfere, but as she got older she got in to more and more precarious situations. The more danger she got in the more he felt he had to be there to protect her. It got to the point where his ventures out to protect his daughter started to interfere with his work, but he couldn’t bear to be apart from her. He was always standing in the background, a guardian angel hidden from the fray. Whenever someone got rough with her, he would step in and make sure that man could never hurt her again.
It was only when he was burying his sixth body that he felt as though he was venturing into dangerous territory. He was standing deep in his mass grave, 50 paces from the boathouse, and looked around at the bodies in varying states of decomposition. This cant be considered heroic anymore, he would think. It had never dawned on him that murder, even to protect a family member was still murder.
Mary was approached by the police twice. The first time was to arrest her for the murders of some of her known johns who ended up dead. They let her go for a bail of 6,000 dollars for prostitution, but she was acquitted from the murder charges. Daniel anonymously paid of course. The second time she was arrested, it was in a bar called Stephanie’s which was being raided by the ATF and the local police grabbed her up again on prostitution charges. The ATF let her go because it was obvious to them that she was oblivious of the Vagabonds influence in the bar and of their illegal trafficking.
Two bodies and two years later “Candy” got a call from an introverted disaster of a man. Daniel listened in on the tapped phone conversation in a room he rented in an IN-Law up the street. He tracked the call (with the machinery he got from the bank account he called “The Good Daddy fund”) and went to the johnny’s house and surveyed who would be taking out his daughter.
What he saw horrified him.
Behind the closed doors that constituted the façade of an office was a room dedicated to murder. There were pictures on the wall of dead women and posted next to their destroyed bodies were newspaper clippings of their young faces declaring them missing. Nazi paraphernalia littered the walls in between the dead women and two German pistols were carelessly thrown on the desk, but what held the room together was a big tapestry with the sign of the biker gang, the Vagabonds. Daniel stayed in this room for only a moment then he pulled out an electronic devise and began to study it. A few months earlier he had momentarily borrowed Mary’s purse while she was with one of her Johnny’s and sewed in a tracking bug, purchased of course, from the Goody Daddy Fund.
He followed the signal for hours until it finally stopped atLakeMeneloua. Daniel smiled when he noticed where the little beacon stopped. It was like divine providence. His prey was going to his burial ground.
When approached theLakehe parked his car on the side of the road and walked to the boathouse. He knew the area, he understood the land and he knew where they were going to go. He was destined to be a hero. Perhaps this was how he was going to introduce himself to his daughter. He was a hero who would catch a mass murderer. He was so lost in his thoughts that by the time he reached the scene, the Johnny had already knocked her against the window and was starting to tear her clothes off.
Daniel, forgetting his desire to be a hero, let his terrifying anger take over. His eyes glazed over with anger and he pulled out his Colt Python and pulled the open the car door. The Johnny was salivating and his eyes were dilated and when he looked up Daniel pistol whipped him as hard as he could. The Johnny screamed and covered his spurting nose, but Daniel didn’t hesitate. He grabbed the John by his collar and yanked him out of the car slamming the John’s head into the car door on the way out. The John screamed again, this time in frustration, but he was cut short by the echo of the Python in the open air which surroundedLakeMeneloua. Five shots in quick succession followed then the waters were still again.
Daniel took time to put on gloves then took care to replace as many of Mary’s clothes as he could. He was careful not to touch her, just knowing that the act would wipe off onto her innocent form. He put Mary back in his car and drove her back to the interstate. He left her money and left her unmolested, then went back to work on the Johnny. He wanted to keep her away from the knowledge that he was helping her. He was just her guardian angel in the shadows. He wanted her to know her father, not the creature of the night he had become.
He dragged the body behind the boat house and began digging. Delusions of grandeur raced through his head. How heroic it was. How good of a father he was. Pride welled in his chest and he felt good about his actions, slowly moving aside the bones which were so carefully laid in his mass grave.
What he didn’t notice was the policeman who had spotted his parked Rover and was slowly approaching him.
He later rationalized his actions by telling himself he did what he had to do. He needed to be a good father. He had to protect his Mary.
When the policemen approached him and asked what he was doing (after delicately putting the fresh body into the hole) he didn’t hesitate. Daniel knew the policeman genuinely didn’t know what he was doing, but his natural instincts took over and he fired two shots from his powerful Python. The officer dropped immediately.
What do I do now? He thought. They’ll know he was out here. They’ll know he saw my car. Mary is still lying on the road out there. What if they take her in again? I have to get to Mary!
Daniel went back to his car and took up the tracker. The blip was moving. She had found another ride. He raced back to his car ignoring the dull pain in his muscles from burying the two bodies. This was going to be an adventurous night it seemed and he only had three more bullets in his gun. Then the blip stopped moving.
Two things happened when he got to Raven’s. The first was the Raven who sat on the warm neon sign cawing at him and the second thing was the coat of arms which hung above the bar. It was the symbol for the Vagabonds.
He made eye contact with the man who was sitting with Mary in a booth. He was a dirty man with long hair. The man smiled and winked ever so slightly. Storm clouds echoed over from above the diner and the cawing of the crow not only warned him he was entering the end of his days, but also of how many bullets remained in his Python; three distinct caws. He gazed out into the stormy night and saw a distinct separation of the edge of the world and the entrance of the heavens. He hoped Mary’s luck kept. He hoped he’d have enough bullets. He looked at the painting over the bar and took a deep breath. Then looked down at the man witting with his daughter. A man he knew brought her here for a purpose. A man who knew Daniel had killed one of his fraternal brothers tonight. Don’t worry Mary, He thought. Your father is here.
The power of the gun shocked him. Frank had seen many movies and in every one the guy with the gun shot smoothly and without remorse. When Frank did it his arm shook and brains splattered his face. It shocked and surprised him long enough for him to reconsider whether this was a good idea or not. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as he thought it would be and then he was lying on the ground with a businessman playing hero and a young college guy trying to be the bigger hero.
Frank cursed his luck, something that he was very good at, and whimpered at the feel of the gun being pressed against the back of his head.
“Please don’t shoot me!” He cried and both the businessman and the jock turned to look at him, but Frank he was looking at the other jock. The one with the accent. “Please, I’m sorry I don’t want the money any more! I didn’t mean to kill him I swear! You can keep the money!”
A week earlier Frank had received a phone call; and it was a fortuitous one at that. He was out on his luck again, living in a cockroach infested shack, overdue on his rent and without any prospects of a job. He had beer cans and empty pizza boxes splayed throughout his apartment which created ragged landscapes of waste. The dust was layered into a thick film, giving the flat a slightly eggshell hue.
“Franklin Peter Delamotte?” The voice on the other end of the phone had a slight southern accent, but it was rough around the edges as if the person speaking were trying to be suspicious.
“I have a proposition for you.” Frank said nothing, but he did lean forward in his seat. This was something important. No one called him by his full name. Not even his mother.
“I’m taking your silence as consent to continue. Today is your lucky dayFranklin. I plan on giving you ten thousand dollars.”
Frank continued his silence, more out of shock than contemplation. Ten thousand dollars was a lot of money and he hadn’t paid rent for the last two months. He was surprised he hadn’t heard from his landlord yet.
“In return, Mr. Delamotte, I ask a favor from you.” His drawl changed it to faaava. Again Frank kept his mouth shut. He missed that the voice had switched into professional diction by using his surname. “At this time, I would in fact, need ya to agree. It’s important.”
Frank rubbed his face vigorously while trying to decide what to do, but the man on the other end didn’t have the patience for it.
“Mista Delamotte. I need you to agree or you will lose this opportunity. Now, do you agree?”
Frank quickly eyed his studio and assessed the filth, the size and the smell before he answered.
“Ok, what is it?” His slight alcoholic drawl taunted the southern one on the other end.
“Good. Now Franklinyou will receive your money when you have succeeded in this favor. You will go to the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming. To a place called Raven’s diner. There will be a group of people in the diner. Specifically a man and a woman sitting together. The man may have a ring. You will go on March 15th 2005. There will be a gun strapped behind the broken neon sign. Shoot the man who may or may not have the ring. Then shoot the prostitute. Once this is done, drop the gun and walk out of the diner. Then, when you get back to your studio your back rent will be paid and there will be ten thousand dollars waiting for you in a sack just inside ya door” It came out dowa.
“Right.” It was a question more than a statement, drawn out like a groan; riiiight, but the man must have picked up on his incredulity so he continued.
“Mista Delamotte, two shots and walk. Easy money and your back rent. Now you have entered into a binding agreement, you cannot back out.”
Frank rubbed his chin and quickly looked out the window, feeling eyes on the back of his head.
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“Hardly. Ten thousand dollars plus a pass out of debt. Now before I end this conversation I need to hear some confidence.”
“How do I know?” He was talking to bide his time, but he was too drunk to think of any plan.
“Mista Delamotte, you disappoint me. If you must have verification please drive to breakneck bend onMustang Avenue. We will give you half the money now and we are sure that the money will make all doubt will vanish.”
Frank tried to say something back, but the dial tone began, cold and empty in his ear.
He looked about his apartment. The carpet was buried underneath the aggregate filth of years and what he could see was bug infested.
Ten Thousand Dollars.
Frank resolved to find out what was in the dark, forest covered bend on the emptyMustang Ave.
Mustang Avenue was a dark mysterious expanse of road, which had one particular dreary and dangerous sharp curve shrouded in shade from the overhanging maples. There was a wall on the edge of the three foot shoulder, but no reflectors adorn this dark wooden railing. Head lights are the law in this dark stretch of road, but few ever adhere.
Frank saw the curve up ahead and frowned trying to mask his fear. He clicked off the radio, distracted by the Boss’ rendition of “Nothing Man” and peered out over his dusty dash board. Seeing nothing he flicked on his headlights, not out of duty to the law, but out of a sick curiosity for what he might find out there in the darkness.
A few hundred feet from the curve he saw a man walking a dog. The man was dressed in black and the dog was as well. This must be it. He thought and parked his car off the shoulder just before the curve. The man paid no attention to him until Frank was near enough to touch him. Then the man spoke.
“There is a man who will be driving through here shortly. He is the one you are to shoot in the diner. The prostitute will be obvious. For now you are to take this dog to the dumpster at the rear of Raven’s Diner and replace it with the duffel bag which will hold the money.”
The man never turned to look at him, just kept his attention on the English Bulldog while it did its business.
“What is this? Why did you call me?” The man turned to Frank with his piercing green eyed stare.
“You’re a poor slob. You need the money. You have nothing to lose. You are the perfect choice. Now do you understand the instructions I have given you?”
Frank, incredulous at the man’s statements, merely nodded.
“Good, the car is a mile down the road. You better get moving.” The man produced a gun from his jacket and shot the dog in one fluid motion. Frank took a step back in horror as the man quickly hid the gun and walked straight into the forest.
“What the fuck!” Frank said under his breath and turned to look after the man, but the shadows were thick and the man had already disappeared into the night.
Frank’s heart pounded, brining bile up to the back of his throat. He looked down and saw that his pants were covered in the blood of the dog and he frantically wiped, trying to disavow the knowledge of what just happened. The dog’s corpse was laying at the edge of the road and from Frank’s point of view it looked serene.
“Could it have been staged?” He said out loud, his jowls shaking. It looked like the dog was just lying down on the ground sleeping. Could it be that they had trained the dog to play dead at the sound of the gun? Frank wondered how they got the blood to splatter on his pants. There was no blood he could see on the dog.
Frank boldly walked over to the creature, angry that these people might think him stupid enough that he might fall for a cheap parlor trick, but when he got within reach he recoiled and retched on the side of the road.
The side of the dog’s head had been blown away and Frank didn’t notice the small black hole just above the collar.
Desperately Frank grasped at its hind legs, trying to stay clean, but then looking back at his car. He cursed himself for parking so far away and then began to drag the dog back to his car. He nearly got there too.
He was passing the rear drivers side door when he saw the headlights of another car moving around the curve.
Shit! He thought. The person driving is going to see me dragging a dog with half a head! He did the first thing that came to him.
He dropped the dog and quickly started walking towards the headlights. With any luck they’ll just drive right past me. He took a few steps forward praying for the best, but when the car got near it began to slow. Keep going, keep going. But the car continued to slow until it seemed to be just crawling towards him. Fucking Good Samaritan. But then he remembered something the informant said. The man he was supposed to shoot was going to be in a car that will drive by.
He squinted and covered his eyes with a hand, cursing the man for not leaving the gun he shot the dog with. This could be all over now. Ten Thousand Dollars!
He stood tall and tried as best he could to hide the dog behind him as the car slowly rolled up to him.
“Howdy! Having some car trouble?” The man said. Frank could tell the man was white, but the car was veiled in shadows. Frank didn’t answer him, just continued to sneer, trying to get more specifics about the man.
“You hear me man?” Frank heard the concern in the man’s voice and relished it. He knew he should say something to the man, to make him feel more at ease, hell, maybe he could kill him here and now and everything would be resolved without any shooting later in the diner. The only thing that held him back was something the southern man on the phone told him. Shoot the man who may or may not have the ring. Then shoot the prostitute.
The car neared enough for Frank to get a decent glimpse of the man before, presumably, the man saw the dog lying behind him and possibly the blood spatter on his trousers. Frank took a step towards him arms outstretched, still with no exact expression on his face and still without saying anything. The man’s eyes bulged and the car suddenly jumped forward and zoomed down the road.
Frank chuckled as the exhaust swirled around him. There was a stack of papers in the passenger seat. On top of the stack of papers was what looked like a title page. It said “DOWN ON LUCK” by Robert Tanner.
Frank took his time loading the dog into the car, but he was long gone before the police arrived on the scene, chuckling the whole way to Raven’s Diner, thinking about the Ten Thousand dollars and how he would spend it.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Daniel said with a new emotion creeping across his face…fear.
“I’m sorry I know I was supposed to shoot her too, but I didn’t mean to kill him and it kinda shocked me. It was like the dog. There’s so much blood.” Dark stains began to spread across the taut fabric at his arm pits and a sour odor emanated from his perspiring body. “Please, I just want to go!”
His voice was nearly drowned out by Tanya’s screaming. She didn’t take notice of the others in the room. She slipped out of the seat and cradled Robert’s head in her arms. Blood covered her mixed with the surprisingly white bone fragments from his skull. She tried to fix the wound, pushing the bone back against his head, until she realized how futile the effort was. She felt as if something weren’t right in the world. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He wasn’t supposed to die that easily. He took care of Chopper single-handedly. How could this happen? It can’t be true!
She combed his hair back from his face and kissed his forehead while periodically shaking his head.
“What’s he talking about?” The business man said to the jock still sitting in the booth, ignoring the gun at the back of his head.
Charles sat silent by the table. All he could think about was the note. Someone here knew they killed the girl; however none of them looked like the man in white suit. He knew the business man was yelling at him, but he couldn’t process the situation. Was the robber just happenstance? Would there be someone else coming in through the door to deal with him? Or was it the slob?
“Why did you want him to shoot Mary?” Daniel roared at Charles. Daniel forgot all about the slob bawling on the ground and turned his attention to Charles. The boy was looking down at Daniel and his eyes were full of fear. Something more was going on here than meets the eye. The kid holding the gun came here with the kid the shooter is talking to.
“What is he talking about?” Daniel asked Abe indicating Charles with the gun. Frank now a crying mess of the ground.
Abe was astonished. He still held the gun to Daniel; however Daniel was acting as if nothing were wrong. Then Abe remembered what Charles told him. About the man with the letter and he thought about what they did and why they were here. He looked into the fire of Daniel’s eyes and felt all the courage in his body evaporate. This was a man who had no qualms killing. He had this way of looking at you, as if he were looking through you. Abe shivered and shook his head. He wanted to say something, but was worried how it was going to come out.
Daniel thanked God that Tanya stopped screaming, he might have a chance to think. He knew he couldn’t stay here. Having an unregistered gun which killed eight people isn’t the greatest thing to have on you during an interrogation. He tried to piece together the puzzle forming in his head. This slob comes in and shoots a man, then later says he didn’t mean to kill him. He insinuates that a college kid puts him up to it, paying him an, as of yet, undisclosed sum of money and for some reason that same person wants to shoot Mary.
Daniel slaps the gun in Abe’s hand to the side and a smile touches his lips when the boy pulls the trigger and the bullet flies wide. He raises his gun and presses the barrel into Abe’s head, then turns to look at Charles.
“What the fuck is he talking about boy?”
“Please.” Abe whimpers crossing his eyes to look at the barrel. Charles doesn’t answer.
“It was you right? The accent?” Frank mutters on the ground, desperately trying to get an answer from Charles. Charles stares at Abe.
“I don’t have time for this.” Daniel’s famous anger was noticeable in his voice. “One more time, boy, what’s going on?” Abe lets out a moan and Frank loudly farts.
Charles still says nothing, staring wide eyed at the gun in Daniel’s hand.
Tanya, meanwhile, has let go of her vice grip on Robert’s head and in doing so, loses her grip on reality. Her vision turns red and black spots invade her peripheral vision. She quietly stands and grabs a steak knife from the table while the men are arguing. She takes a look over at Mary who is crouched in a booth hiding her face and feels the anger renew, white flashes spotting her already diminished vision. He should have shot you first bitch.
There is a loud resounding bang as Daniel pulls the trigger and Abe falls back to the ground, lifeless. Then Daniel turns his gun to Charles.
“What, exactly did he tell you and how do you know it’s him?” Daniel asks Frank, but looks at Charles. Frank is confused and terrified. He stares at Abe’s corpse and holds his breath. He doesn’t answer and he doesn’t hear Tanya approaching from behind him.
“You, slob. I’m talking to you.” Daniel tears his gaze away from Charles and looks down at Frank.
“Stop!” Daniel yells surprised that Tanya has gotten as close to Frank as she has. She was holding the blade overhand above her head. Daniel swung his gun around to stop her, but he’s too late.
There is a sickening crunch as the blade hits the top of Frank’s head, then a loud grinding noise as the blade slides down the front of his face and buries itself into his windpipe.
Daniel pulls the trigger on the Frank’s Glock and Tanya’s head pops backward before she slumps to the ground. Cursing himself for forgetting the grieving woman, but thankful for her making the shot easy. He knows he would have to kill her anyway. If he’s going to get away, there can be no witnesses to tonight.
He begins to turn back to Charles when he hears Mary cry out. He whirls around and sees Charles holding Mary by her beautiful hair, holding Frank’s Python to her head.
“Y-you d-drop that thing now mista!” Charles stutters though his southern accent is still prevalent. Mary looks Daniel in the eye and he can see the little girl in her.
“kkkelp.” Frank’s voice comes out bubbly and grating, as if he were choking.
Daniel ignores Frank and looks at Charles. Inwardly he curses himself again. He should not have walked into this environment. Simply too many variables. Now he has to protect Mary and get her out of here and make sure no one else does. Shit, there’s still the waitress, he thinks, but does not divert his attention. Some things were of a higher priority.
“Things may have gotten a little out of hand boy. Death can do that. Now just tell me. What is this slob talking about? Why is he apologizing to you?” He adjusts his grip on the pistol and flexes his arm. He has to move fast and he has to be accurate. One shot to the head hiding behind his beloved daughter.
“I dunna what’s going on! You just let me go ya hear?” There is a rustle from the kitchen, but Daniel decides he needs to take this shot and then deal with whatever’s going on out there. The police are probably almost here and he needs to move fast if he wants to get away. He’ll have to forgo the information he’s seeking.
“Don’t lie to me.” Daniel says as calmly as he can muster.
“I ain’t lying! I…” While Charles mutters Daniel turns his head towards the kitchen gasping, as if someone were barging into the room, all the while keeping Charles in his periphery.
When Charles turns Daniel takes his shot, quickly raising the gun and taking short aim. Charles falls limply away from Mary and Daniel lithely moves forward cradling Mary in his arms. He kisses her on the forehead and he feels tear well up in his eyes…this is the first time he’s ever touched her.
“I was hoping it was going to be you.” The voice comes from the kitchen and echoes in the small bloody room. Daniel turns to see who is speaking, but before he can he feels electricity enter his body and the ledge of reality he has been struggling to hold onto crumbles slowly away…and everything is dark.
Mary’s screams of agony awoke him. Daniel ached all over, but when he tried to move he found his arms and legs bound. He slowly opened his eyes and little by little the darkness receded.
He was in the kitchen of the diner, or at least he assumed it was the diner. Mary was being held over the stove by a tall, burley man, her face was a collage of burned skin and each tear drop sizzled on the burner as if wiping away her right to feel.
“Stop!” Daniel yelled through coarse vocal cords and the big man turned to look at him. He had a devilish, angular smile. He let go of Mary and she fell to the ground whimpering. Then a voice spoke from behind him.
“Welcome back to the world Daniel.” The voice was distinctly feminine and the determination in the voice scared him.
“We’s just so happy to see ya.” The big man said in a fake southern drawl. Then he giggled, it was high pitched and sounded like a weasel.
“Leave her alone. She didn’t do anything.” Daniel attempted. He tried to take a deep breath, but felt something constricting his chest.
“You’re telling me that a disease infested whore didn’t do anything?” It was a new voice, one that Daniel recognized, but he couldn’t quite tell where it came from.
“You’ve brought this on yourself Daniel. You have sinned. You have murdered and now it’s time for your come-uppance.” The woman walked into his view and he immediately recognized her from the outfit she was wearing.
“Do you repent Daniel?” The waitress’ nametag said Stephanie.
“Quite honestly I don’t give a shit if you repent or not, but you killed one to many Vagabonds.” Now Daniel knew where he knew this man; it was the man who brought Mary here earlier in the evening. “You see, you did a lot of dirty work for us Daniel. We were gonna kill all those people out there. Then Stephanie here came up with the plan. We lured you all in and you did the work for us. It was brilliant. Now with the infector over there gone and her benefactor, meaning you Daniel, out of the way. We bikers take a breath of fresh air. How many of us did you kill?”
Daniel tried to answer but he was too short of breath. He looked down and saw a rope tied around his chest. As he watched it he saw it visibly tighten.
“Robert and Tanya only killed Chopper. Charles and Abe killed Kick Stand’s little girl. Frank was the easy fall man and then there are you two,” The rope tightened as the man spoke and Daniel felt his lungs burning and felt the crack of two of his ribs as the rope cinched tighter. “The pariah and the avenger.”
“Your time of destruction is over, Daniel. We will now live in peace.” Stephanie smiled down at him and gently caressed his cheek. “Goodbye Daniel.”
The rope tightened again and the light slowly drained from his vision. I’ll be with you soon my darling. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you in this world, but nothing will touch you in the next.
“And you darling. I’m gonna be happy that I will never have to see your face in my bar or my diner, ever again.” A ghost of a smile played about Stephanie’s lips.