No Hellhounds in Sight
No Hellhounds in Sight
Father Richard Michaelson had started his work back in Pittsburgh, but he’d come to town a few years before, according to Declan’s intel, and killed about one a week since. No one noticed until he’d killed Danny James.
Danny had been an embarrassment to his family, clinging to his grandmother’s religion and abandoning the old gods of his father, Mar-mar of the Juju Brothers.
Before he’d been found gutted in an alley, the word had been Danny was gay and studying poli-sci at the community college, but his father had still loved him.
The idea of playing it Greek and seeking confession sounded to Declan like juggling broken bottles, the kind of thing his kid would tell as a joke. He wouldn’t usually have gotten it, but, riding his black Norton down 110th in the cool evening air, he chuckled, the noise coming from his throat like gravel in a tin can, drowned out by his eight-cylinder engine.
Declan’s last job had ended poorly. He’d been hired special by Nerio Caiazzo and was supposed to have killed the mayor. Nerio had told him it was over some labor dispute, but word said it was about a slight the mayor had paid him at a benefit.
Declan had been in the mayor’s office, or in the doorway at least, but he’d been interrupted, and shot up like a paper target. The contract had been canceled before he’d recovered, before he could save face.
It had taken months of work tracking down Danny’s killer, none of which had been Declan’s; he was just responding to an open contract.
Richard Michaelson was the kind of job usually left for street kids, but Declan felt the need for easy work, something to remind him how blood tasted.
He pulled to a stop next to the north-west emergency exit of the medical center on 112th, hopped off his bike and checked his gear, a war hammer forged by a buddy of his in Appalachia and a four foot long pike, both strapped to the back of his black bike jacket.
The front entrance was a half block south, but he walked quickly, putting his fingers through his hair and beard to get out the road-tangles as he stepped through sliding glass doors.
“Can I help you?” a man asked, an orderly, Declan thought at first, but then decided on male nurse.
“No,” he said, and kept walking, continuing past folded wheel chairs, the reception counter, and toward the stairs.
“If you’re injured, or sick, you have to sign in, and this isn’t the emergency ward,” the nurse said, following him.
“Visitor,” Declan said.
“You still have to sign in, and it isn’t visiting hours…. Is that a pike?”
Declan entered the stairwell while the nurse stayed in the hall, as if the stairwell was bound with some kind of magic, but he’d probably just run back to call security; Declan would finish before they’d catch up to him.
Four floors up, and down two more white halls was Michaelson’s room. He was still in the hospital after taking a hatchet to the skull and a bullet to the back in what seemed to be an assault completely unrelated to his serial killing.
Declan stood in the center of the hall with Room 417 only a dozen yards ahead. He’d stopped, noticing a pair of blue uniformed police guarding the door. The cops might have figured out Richard Michaelson was more than the priest his collar implied, or they might have heard about the contract on his head. It didn’t matter.
“Hello there,” Declan said. Maybe his beard was too long, the cops could have had preconceived notions about one-percenters, though he wasn’t wearing a patch, or they might have recognized the pike on his back for what it was, but they reached for their pistols, and Declan ran forward drawing his hammer.
The cop to the left, the younger of the two, pulled at his gun, finding it snapped into its holster. The other, graying and paunchy, went straight to fiddling with the snap, but Declan was already on them, landing a blow to the younger one’s shoulder and toppling him to the ground.
The first cop fainted, and Declan looked to the other, expecting to roll away from sloppy gunfire, or knock the gun from his hand, but he hadn’t yet readied his pistol, and, looking in Declan’s one eye, he backed away, almost falling as he turned to run.
The plan, such as it was, had been corrected. Declan kicked at the door in front of him, and it fell in as if someone had just leaned it there.
Richard Michaelson stood next to the bed, not looking much like a priest in an avocado hospital gown. He looked like a middle aged man, gray at the temples, bitter maybe, around the eyes, but not like a man who’d taken an axe to the head and a bullet to the back. Declan assumed his info was wrong.
“Who are you?” Michaelson asked.
“Declan,” he said, drawing his pike as Michaelson backed up toward a broad window.
“You are… an evil man.”
Declan stared at him, thinking at first that hatchet might have scrambled his brains, but the judgmental hatred in his eyes wasn’t from some kind of gentle simpleton.
“You will burn,” Michaelson said, but Declan already had.
“I can hear the angels,” Declan said. He did, all sweet voiced, harps, and bugles. “They’re singin’ for you, but I’ll kill those bitches likewise.”
Michaelson smiled, sickly, the way Declan looked whenever he tried smiling. Michaelson spread his arms wide, like INRI should’ve been hanging over his head, and Declan threw his pike.
It wasn’t a miss exactly. The pike plunged into Michaelson’s chest, but it missed his heart. Something about the priest’s smile had set Declan sideways.
Michaelson flew back, carried by the force behind the pike. He struck the window, bursting through, and seemed to hang in the air for a moment, the smile still sliced into his face.
It had been fury that caused Declan to strike without forethought. He wasn’t sure what had pissed him off, but he needed Michaelson’s head.
There were footsteps coming as he walked back through the halls, cops by the steady rhythm. He took a different stairwell down, the north-west.
The emergency exit opened to his bike, and he should have been leaving then, but he wouldn’t get paid without the head, so he started back toward the main entrance.
There was a red splat on the sidewalk. Four stories wasn’t enough to turn a man to paste, and there wasn’t enough blood. He found his pike in the gutter, but no bloody footsteps or drag marks.
There were sirens coming; it sounded like lots of them, and he could hear the angels laughing.
No one knew he’d taken this easy job, so at least the loss wouldn’t hurt his rep.