January 29, 2010

Artwork by United States Lines (1951)

Courtesy of Cruising The Past

You clean up good kid," Anna flashed a smile at David. "Well done Mr. Malcolm."

"Happy to be of service to you Miss Dimon."

"There's been a slight change of plans," she announced to David as soon as they were alone on the elevator. "I have a few more loose ends that need to be taken care of before we can leave. But I should have everything taken care of by tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest."

Perhaps if she hadn't been so preoccupied with revenge; perhaps if she hadn't been in such a rush to hurry off and finish off the heartless bastards who had conspired against her; perhaps she might have sensed the presence of an immortal before he stepped up behind her and took a tight hold on her arm.

"Hello Anna." He whispered. The chill in his voice sent icy shivers down her spine.

He didn't ask which room was hers; he simply led them there. Anna unlocked the door and he bustled them inside. He kicked the door shut with his foot and gave them both a good shove into the room. David stumbled, nearly falling, but Anna's reflexes were quick enough to steady him with just a step.

"Are you all right?" she asked David softly.

David nodded. "Is he...a vamp- uhm... an immortal?"

Jonas sighed, impatient.

"Yes, David. Now keep your eyes on the floor and don't speak." Anna said softly then turned, stepping away from and in front of David and set her eyes on the nineteen fifties version of Jonas Dimon. He looked just as he did the last time she'd seen him, nearly twenty years earlier. His long hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and he wore a long overcoat and a fedora. She'd never feared him before, the man she considered to be her father, but she had never seen him be so harsh either.

He stared at her for a long moment. "Do you know why I'm here?" his tone was gruff.

"Yes," she said.

Jonas fiddled with the blue sapphire ring etched with peacock feathers he wore on his right ring finger. "Then you must also know who sent me."

She shuddered as she thought his name. "Yes."

"You disappoint me, Anna," he said.

"I disappoint myself."

"Who is he?" Jonas glanced at David.

"He's... my responsibility."

Jonas turned away from her, bringing his hand to his face. His eyes were pained and red with emotion as he turned back. He held his emotion tightly in his jaw and chest and his voice quavered as he spoke. "Have you no respect for the laws by which we are bound? No consideration for the consequences of your actions? Or have you forgotten who you are entirely?"

Anna hung her head. "Father please-."

"Don't." Jonas pointed at her. "Do. Not. Call. Me. That!" he yelled. "If you have any respect left for me at all you will not dishonor me further, nor make my task here any more difficult than it already is." His voice trembled and his hands shook.

"I know that I have made mistakes." Anna said, "I am trying to make them right."

"Mistakes?" Jonas crossed to her, angry. "Mistakes? It's been near two hundred years since a monstrosity like the one you created last night has walked this earth, Anna. Mistake? You had the knowledge of how to do it... from me... I told you how it was done. To call it a mistake is a gross understatement Anna. Do you know what this looks like?" he waved his arm motioning to David, who slunk a few feet further away.

"I know," she said. "But I promise you, I haven't gone rogue. It was an accident... and I needed David, and-."

Jonas waved his hand and laughed mockingly then sighed and rubbed his brow, perturbed. "An accident. Yes of course," he stepped away from her, further into the room, his head in his hand. David skirted around the bed and out of his way. "Because I've never heard that one before." He growled.

Jonas took off his hat and overcoat - revealing the rather large blade strapped to his back - and tossed them on a chair.

Anna swallowed hard and took a deep breath. "You don't want an explanation," she removed her gloves and hat and tossed them on the bed. "You want justification for your kill order."

"How dare you?" Jonas's eyes flashed reflective.

"Please, allow me to catch you up on some things, Jonas. Two weeks after you left us, Emily walked into the bathroom to find our mother, drowned in a tub full of water and blood. She'd slit her wrists."

"What?" Jonas looked horrified.

Anna, impassive, moved to the couch and sat lightly on its edge. "It was her third suicide attempt, but until then we'd been able to keep it hidden from Emily. I have no idea if Mother survived or if there were more attempts after that one all I really remember is Emily screaming and crying and the nightmares.

"Meline pulled Mother out of the tub while I packed our things. I wanted to light the whole damned place on fire, but Meline wouldn't let me and then we left. We lived on the streets for a short while, until we got news that the house had burnt down. All I could do was hope that mother was inside when it happened."

David shuddered.

"We took a chance and paid a visit to Iona. She showed Meli and I the suicide note that mother had sent to her. I knew the three of us would be too big a burden for Iona, but I asked her to take Emily. She agreed. Eventually Meli and I found work for an elderly woman, Mrs. Benderwold. We cooked and cleaned and took care of the yard, giving her the continued illusion of having servants and in return we were given a ready supply of aprons, a mattress in a back room of the house to sleep on, and a bit of food. She died in her sleep six months later. Her son fired us the very next day, gave us an hour to finish up our chores and be gone before he called the police and had us removed.

"Meline and I found our way to Philadelphia and eventually I was able to find work in a kitchen, and Meline became quite a skilled pickpocket. That's how she met Tommy Wright and how we ended up in Atlantic City."

"Tommy Wright the Gangster?" Jonas asked.

"Mmm," Anna gave a half nod. "He liked 'em young, and she was only sixteen. Oh, and she had a twin sister." Anna flashed a brief smile. "He hired us to dance at one of his clubs. Well, dance and swipe whatever we could from out-of-towners. It wasn't a bad gig. Our take was twenty percent of whatever we lifted plus we had a warm place to sleep - either on the floor or in his bed. I didn't much care for the work except that I learned real quick how to spot a weapon, how to take a punch - and of course how to give one, but Meline liked it, she was good at it.

"Then one night I overheard Tommy talking to some of the guys about an outstanding hit they had on a guy named Reggie Boothe. Two days later I delivered on the hit. I was barely seventeen. I've changed employers a time or two since then, but I've been doing it ever since."

"And Meline?"

"She stopped talking to me after I took the contract on Tommy." Anna scoffed. "But Meline is very resourceful, I'm sure she landed off her feet again in no time."

"You did that? You did Tommy Wright? Shot him six times in the..." Jonas glanced at David then waved his hand over his zipper. "And once in the head."

"Did I mention he liked young girls?" Anna said. "He was with a fourteen year old when I found him. The sick fuck thought I was Meline at first. Trust me, he deserved worse than he got."

"So you're Unlucky Seven?"

"You seem rather well versed in the who's who of the seedy underbelly of human existence Jonas."

"Jersey is under my jurisdiction."

"Hmm. Did you know there was a contract out on my life?"

"Is that how you're planning to justify your actions?" Jonas said gruffly.

"Danny Leon. He was an easy target. Probably a set up. I gave him all seven rounds center mass... and then I took one in the back, and another here." Anna took the locket from her pocket and set it on the table. She stood then, walking away from it while Jonas walked toward it and picked it up.

"Like I said, I made some mistakes. I fell unconscious, dead maybe, I don't know, on top of Mr. Leon. When I recovered a few hours later I destroyed him. He'd already turned. Woke up on fire," Anna shuddered at the memory. "It's not right the sound they make. The screeching. It's a terrible fate," she shrugged it off with a breath. "A horrible way to go."

"So you were weak. Is that when you took him?" Jonas motioned toward David.

"Tell him, David."

"What?" David croaked, glancing up at her.

"Eyes off the floor," Anna instructed. "Tell him what happened. "He'll know if you lie, so don't."

David met her eyes, panic stricken.

"I promised to protect you 'til the end David, and I will. Even from him."

David shifted nervously, glancing up at Jonas periodically. "I was with my friends. We stay at an old abandoned factory, down by the docks. She came in covered in blood and pointing a gun at us. She said that if I went with her, she'd let my friends live. I was pretty sure she was crazy, but what choice did I have?"

"Why you?" Jonas asked.

David shrugged. "She said it was because I was the bravest, the smartest."

"Continue." Jonas said.

"She was hurt real bad, I could tell. I kept telling her she needed to see a Doctor and then she tells me that I'm her doctor. Then we took this car and drove here. When we got here, she told me she'd been shot, and had bullet fragments under the skin in her back. But there weren't any bullet holes, just bruises, really bad bruises. I'd seen her eyes turn all... glassy in the car, and then her teeth," David showed his teeth, and pulled on this eyeteeth. "So I was pretty sure she was a vampire - err," David shifted uncomfortably. "I meant to say that I was pretty sure she wasn't human."

"It's alright." Jonas said. "Go on."

"Well, I didn't know what she might do if I didn't help her so I did what she told me to do I cut the metal out of her back. Besides, I was the one with the knife and she was pretty weak. I figured that gave me at least some chance."

"She never drank from you?" Jonas asked.

"No." David shuddered. "She said she didn't drink blood. But she did eat three whole steaks and a lot of eggs last night."

"And the blood on you now?" Jonas turned to Anna.

David's eyes returned directly to the floor.

"Loose ends." Anna said. "The hit on me was an inside job, guys who know me, who know what I look like which means even if I were dead Meline wouldn't be safe."

Jonas silently paced the room, thinking. "I'm taking you out of the equation," he said after a long moment. "I'm putting you both on the next boat to England. Tell me what I need to know and I'll clean things up here. "

"I can clean up my own messes." she said, terse.

He crossed to her. "And I abandoned you and your sisters when you needed me most," he said. "My orders from Argus were to fix the problem, and that is exactly what I intend to do."

Anna couldn't help but shudder at the sound of his name being said aloud, and said so casually by Jonas only reminded her of his calling as one of his Elite. He was the law, and in their world that made him a messenger of death.

Jonas ran his hand lightly over her cheek, a gesture she would have expected from her father then he leaned down to gently kiss her on the forehead. "I will make things right for you and your sister, I promise you. This life you've had is over, Anna. Do you understand?"

"I understand," she said.

"Tell me what I need to know."

"There are three left," Anna sighed "There's Thomas Willoby, he's good at what he does, keeps his head in the game. He's not easily distracted or persuaded by feminine charms if you catch my drift. An obstacle for me, an advantage for you."

She had expected more of a reaction from him, but Jonas simply nodded.

"Then there's "Mad Dog" Matthis, he's the reason people fear dark alleyways. He's a complete psychopath, likes to scratch and bite his victims. He likes... pieces... and he'd kill his own mother for a 'how do you do?' Frank keeps him on a pretty short leash and for good reason. Where you find one, you'll find the other. I'm sure you must be familiar with Frank Harper."

"I am." Jonas said, "He's been... helpful to us in the past. It could make things tricky."

"Helpful? Are you trying to tell me he's a familiar?"

"Not exactly. Is that all of them?" he asked.

"That's all that's left," she said.

Jonas nodded. "I'll be back in two hours. Be ready." Then he threw on his overcoat and hat and left.

Anna stood motionless in the center of the room for a very long time, before emotion overtook her and she collapsed to the floor in a fit of tears.

David came and sat down on the floor next to her. "Come on," he said after a while and put his hand on her shoulder. "It's over now. You need to get changed and ready to go."

She subdued her tears. And took his hand in hers. "Thank you David."

David nodded and helped her to her feet.

 

Chapter 5 - One To Be Reckoned With

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart