Victory Square, part of Old Colonial Town, the heritage district. The centuries-old buildings are still put to good use, mostly as museums and whistle-stops, but the grounds of Romero Cemetery stay busy with the toils of gravediggers. Abbott didn’t know what he was supposed to be waiting for, but he made sure to park as far away from the cemetery as possible. He opened the glove compartment, and shoed aside loose batteries, a few CDs, and a neat stack of napkins. He stared at the dull black of his standard issue Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol. Truth was, he hated to even look at the thing. He’d never had to fire it, and brought it out only sparingly on certain high-risk field assignments. This was one of those assignments.
The Heights. You want to know the truth about humanity, you go to the Heights. See true human nature, boiled down to its purest jungle essence. The cops hate this place, so they don’t come around too often. The perfect landing spot for the armies of hell.
But for tonight, it’s a good thing this place is stuffed with brick buildings. I got off the bus at Zero Ave, five blocks north of Kildare, on Chilton. Walked back down from there, saw a lot of suspicious looking people, but it’d be downright rude of me to classify any of them as demons. Vagrants mostly, down-and-outers, petty criminals, the all-stars of desperation. And I’m desperate, too, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I live in a burnt-out old church on the outskirts of town.
I hide underneath some garbage bags beside the front stoop of a decrepit tenement. Oh God, I think somebody took a shit in this corner! Alright you bastards, this had better be worth it.
Abbott lit a smoke and couldn’t stop flicking it. He’d pace from one end of the block to the other, then find a dry spot to sit for about thirty seconds, then continue his circuit. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on. Couples stumbled by, laughing, arm-in-arm; cars rolled by real slow with music blasting to make a point, looking for a crowd of people to impress. Every now and then he noticed a street kid wandering into the cemetery, but that couldn’t be worth noting. The streets were covered with those damn kids.
Something about those little urchins across the street catches my interest. There‘s nothing interesting about them, really, but still. Call it a hunch. What are they gathered there, in the shadows, for? Nobody’s around, it’s time I blow my filthy cover and find out for myself.
They start when they see me pop out of the trash like Oscar the grouch. One goes off, running, the rest of them stay put. They see me coming, there’s a weird kinship at play, here. They think I’m homeless like them. Well…
“Hey,” I manage to blurt out, just as I sense the blue cloudy odor of supernatural energy scampering up behind me. I turn just in time to be bowled over by a raging midget. No, it’s not a midget, it’s a boy, and the little ankle biter is trying to claw my eyes out.
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago