Docks on the TV were quiet at night, and dark. Reality was usually different in The Killer’s experience, but Port 39 was much like the stereotype, dark and spider-webbed.
“Probably a holdings company,” he said as he peered around the corner of a warehouse.
“What?” Jane asked, and he glanced back.
Jane seemed to be leaning, tilting on her axis, like gravity held a different sway over her. It was either the gunshot-wounds she was still recovering from, or her week-long stint as a heroin addict. One had led to the other, and both were his fault.
“Port 39,” he said. “Probly somebody owns it and they’re waiting for the market to shift.”
“The market in used ports?” she asked. She didn’t look like she was joking, and he didn’t want to laugh in case she was serious.
It had been two days since he’d come home. He’d picked Jane up from where she’d been staying and taken her back to their trailer. It had then occurred to him she might not have wanted to go home.
She might have stayed at Abernathy’s house because she was finished with him, and he’d just picked her up in his arms and carried her home without asking.
“You’re moving too slow,” Jane said, limping ahead of him as she wound between huge steel crates.
He caught up to her with a few quick steps and put his hand on her shoulder. He spun her around without meaning to; she was naturally light, probably skinnier than was healthy, and it seemed at that moment she was one push from toppling.
“What?” she said, forcing her lips into a sneer.
He’d been meaning to talk to her, and should have right when he’d gotten back, but she’d already been sideways by the time they’d gotten home, and now he didn’t know where to start.
He’d made her poached eggs that morning; he remembered as he stared at her lips. She’d stopped vomiting the previous night, and the withdrawal shivers had mostly left her before dawn. She’d looked hungry, even if she hadn’t said anything, and poached eggs were the only thing he made reliably.
She’d taken the plate and looked up at him. He hadn’t known what to say, and she’d started eating without saying anything herself.
When she knew he was watching she ate more politely, like how that morning she’d tried cutting up the egg and toast with her fork until he’d returned the kitchen. The little divider wall had been enough separation, and she’d lifted the toast to her mouth while he’d watched her reflection in the toaster.
She’d taken a careful bite, just crust and egg white, and swallowed without chewing. She then barely pierced the yolk with her teeth and drained its contents.
It wasn’t a sex thing, probably, but watching her in that unguarded state had made him feel warm inside, like a cup of cocoa had when he was a kid. But the cocoa had probably felt that way because his mom had handed it to him.
“You’re staring at my face,” Jane said, which he had been.
“Where’d you go?” she asked.
“Paris,” he said, and she just stared back at him.
“You gotta girl there?” She seemed to be joking now, but he wasn’t laughing.
“No,” he said. His trip had been about a girl, kind of, but she’d never been a lover, and was dead.
“Is that all you’re gonna say?” she asked.
“I killed some people-”
“Who’d you kill?”
“…Normal kinda people-”
“You went to Paris to kill normal people?”
“…You remember the guy who killed your sister?” he asked. It was an idiotic question, and he regretted asking it. She didn’t answer, so she must have agreed. “I told you, you have to be empty, and revenge ruins things.”
“I remember,” she said.
“I’m a hypocrite…. I’m sorry-”
“I’m sorry too.”
“…The heroin, I guess,” Jane said. “I didn’t mean to vomit on your pants…. I just, wasn’t seeing straight.”
He’d brushed off the vomit and forgotten about it. “Everybody gets like that sometimes,” he said. “…Why are we here?”
“What?” she asked, like she thought he’d meant existentially, which was his fault as that was how he spoke to her most often.
“At Port 39-”
“Oh. Maggy called me- We’ve gotta hand her a fiver next time we see her. You remember that priest?”
“The one you got with the hatchet?” he asked, and chuckled.
“Yeah… Father Michaelson. He didn’t die.”
“I shot him in the back. And your hatchet was in his brain,” The Killer said. That was enough to kill about anybody.
“Just the same,” Jane said. “Maggy saw him here at dusk. She figured he was bedding down for the night.”
“Maggy… Tom’s friend Maggy, right?”
“Yeah, but her info’s usually reliable.”
“…You sure we shouldn’t do this tomorrow?” he asked. She seemed to be getting angry, but it might have been nausea.
“You can go home if you want,” she said.
“I meant we can get him later, when you’re healed up-”
She turned away, holding her fists at her sides as she hobbled forward.
“Wait,” he said, and she stopped, but didn’t turn back. He dropped the duffel from his shoulder to the ground and started rummaging.
“…What is that?” she asked, turning to stare at the weapon in his hand.
“After you lost my MP5-”
“I’m sorry about that, Okay?!”
“I shouldn’t have brought it up. I went to Jimmy Xi’s.”
“…Creepy Jimmy Xi?”
“No, Jimmy Xi the weapons dealer,” he said, but, in hindsight, that might have been who she meant. “Anyway… it’s an M79, a grenade launcher.”
She held out her hand like she was saying gimme, and the angry look on her face convinced him. She took it from him like it was something she was owed and held it up, reading the instructions label in the moonlight.
“It’s brake-action, like a shotgun,” he said, tossing her a heavy forty-millimeter round. He wasn’t sure she’d be able to manage the kick on a good day, but he’d be there to catch her.
They walked very slowly through the stacked packing containers and between the dark warehouses. If he hadn’t been distracted looking after her, it would have seemed like a huge waste of their evening, instead he was worried she might drop at any moment; he’d heard stories about blood clots jamming up your brain like a bullet arriving a week late.
“He’s not here,” Jane said.
He only noticed the water then, black and shimmery, reflecting the glowing city skyline and smelling like a skid-row public restroom.
“We can get Vietnamese on the way back- the place we went last time. You liked it, right?” There’d been lots of vegetables; it was probably healthier than the rations they had waiting for them back home.
She really had liked it, he was sure. It had been their six-month anniversary, they’d had a few bottles of Tsingtao, she’d fed him goi cuon, and they’d held hands. But now, it seemed bringing it up had been the wrong choice; she looked sad, crushed beyond speech. He was sure he’d done something.
Jane raised the M79, aiming its fat barrel at him. Maybe she was pissed rather than upset. “Found him,” she said.
The Killer turned on his heels and stepped to the side. They had indeed stumbled onto their target. Standing fifty yards away at the edge of the concrete dock, was a very average looking middle-aged man in a priest costume, Father Michaelson.
Jane raised her aim a fraction of an inch. He knew she’d never fired a grenade launcher before, but she seemed to have an instinct for these things. She pulled the trigger.
There was a satisfying thump, and the round left the barrel, flying in a gentle arch. The Killer thought for a moment Michaelson would die, blown to fiery bits without knowing what hit him, but things were more complicated.
A fraction of a second after Jane fired there was a second thump, and as her perfect shot traveled through the space Michaelson had just occupied, Michaelson was thrown to the side as if yanked by a lasso around his waist.
Jane’s grenade flew by and exploded impressively against the side of a warehouse.
“You got another round?” Jane asked.
While Michaelson still lay on the ground, a new player walked toward them, a small black woman in shiny face-paint. “What the fuck was that!?” Abernathy screamed. “Are we in Vietnam now!?”
“Hey, Abi,” Jane said.
“You get that from Jimmy Xi?” The Killer asked. Abernathy was holding an identical M79.
“…Olena got it for me.”
“I thought you don’t use guns,” Jane said. “But grenade launchers are okay?”
“I used a sponge-round, because I’m not insane,” said the vigilante in Gothic camo.
“Is that like a rubber bullet?” Jane asked.
“He’s getting up,” The Killer said, but then noticed something yet more complicated.
As Michaelson stood up, there was a young man crouching down behind him on all-fours, playing horse, and Jane drew a .45 from her belt.
Michaelson must have seen her pistol and stepped back. He tripped over the young man, and tumbled down, falling fifteen feet into the fetid black water.
The young man stood up then, brushing off his pants. “That wasn’t as funny as I’d though it’d be,” he called to them and walked off.
“…What was that?” Abi asked.
“Declan’s son, I think,” The Killer said.
“Declan…. One eyed Declan?” Abi asked. It seemed she’d never met him, which was probably healthier.
“I thought he had a daughter,” Jane said, staring down at the still black water; Michaelson might have drowned, but probably not.
“And why’d he do that?” Abi asked.
“He’s a weird kid.”
“Don’t use that again,” Abi said, glancing from the M79 in Jane’s hands to The Killer’s face.
“I’ll think about it,” he said. He’d bought the hardware preparing for imagined battles against helicopters or tanks, but now, watching the warehouse collapse into flaming chunks of steel, he was considering the potential for collateral damage.
Abernathy walked away, nodding her farewell, and Jane responded with a wave of her M79.
“…We’ll get him next time,” he said, as Jane stared into the water.
“…You said you love me, right?”
That shouldn’t have been a difficult question, since it was a matter of fact, and was practically rhetorical, but he still found it hard to answer; he hadn’t actually said it anyway, he’d written it in a letter.
“…I did,” he said, hoping it hadn’t been a trick question.
“Did you mean it?” she asked, glaring up at him. She was holding the M79 like it was a threat, but she hadn’t reloaded.
She hadn’t told him how she felt, so the interrogation seemed a little unfair. “You know… how you love your parents, but it isn’t the same as loving a woman?” he asked. It seemed that wasn’t the right approach, and she started shaking.
“I mean… what’s the difference?”
“I never wanted to fuck my dad,” she said.
“…It feels kinda like we’re family-”
“That’s why you’ve been sleeping on the couch?”
“What? No…. That’s because you got shot up. I didn’t want to hurt you-”
“But I’m like your sister?”
“That’s not what I meant!” he yelled. He’d never yelled at her before, and rather than yelling back, or hitting him, she took a step away and crouched down with her chin on her knees.
“…Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said. “Why’d you write that if you didn’t mean it.”
“…I was leaving- We hadn’t slept for a couple days, and I didn’t want to wake you…. I was thinking about Paris, and I’ve never liked the place, but I was thinking about whether I should take you, but I couldn’t…. I thought about leaving you there- It was like my liver went missing, or something.”
She stood up, dropping the M79 on the ground. He really thought she might hit him then, but instead she wrapped her arms around him. “Do you love me or not?” she asked, her voice muffled by his coat.
“…I do,” he said.
“I love you too.”
He kissed the stiff black hair on the top of her head, heard sirens coming, and was reminded of the warehouse fire that seemed to be spreading.
“We should get going,” he said. “…You wanna get Vietnamese?”
“I’d like to go home, if that’s okay…. I’m not feeling so great.”
“Alright.” He grabbed the M79 and picked her up in his arms.
“You make me eggs again?” she asked.
“Yeah,” The Killer said.