Tuesday, February 27

Tears of Lead and Fire

Time goes slowly when on stakeout. It's been a long, rainy afternoon. I see a girl walk by in a red coat. I wonder what her name is. She turns a corner out of sight. The Chichester Arms stands in front of me, windows glowing warmly against the cold rain. Just as I begin to wonder what I'm doing there, Thompson himself walks in through the front door.

I check the twins, nestled safely inside my jacket. Seeing Thompson has made me uneasy, so I click off the safety on each. I rise from the car and walk into the pub.

Downstairs is all smoke, locals, and laughter. A smiling barmaid points me to rooms and toilets upstairs. I thank her and head up the staircase, away from the lights and sound.

Thompson stands at the end of the corridor, talking to three goons in leather jackets. His eyes widen as he sees me, and he disappears around a corner. The heavies turn and draw weapons, their blackened barrels gazing sightlessly at me.

Instinct takes over. My mind shuts down and watches as my hands cross my chest to draw the Twins. Rising, they sing their sad song, weeping tears of lead and fire.

In a heartbeat lasting longer than lifetimes, three men were dead. I took a breath and tried to find the silence behind the ringing of my ears. To my surprise, I find it.

Background noise drifts away like smoke as clarity descends. It was a set up. The whole deal: from the vague and nervous meetings with Thomspon, all those months ago; to the carefully placed evidence and gradual disappearence of contacts. Thompson had planned the whole thing. He meant to have me killed.

But something had gone wrong: his eyes told the only truth as he saw me in the corridor. I arrived early. Besides, he hadn't counted on meeting The Twins. As I digest this, I see a crumpled note in the hands of one of the heavies. Prising apart his fat fingers, I read the letters scrawled across it:


It was a clue. The only one I had now. Everything so far had been a lie. The letters meant something: maybe it was a code, a set of instructions to follow after my death.

No time to think of it now, the Twins had sung louder than I would have liked. Voices carry up the stairs. I head down the corridor, creep out of a landing window, and lower myself into the rain. All I can do now is run: I head to the car, turn the ignition, and power up the lights. Rain streaks gold and silver in front of me.

A girl in a red coat walks past my nearside window. Distantly, I wonder what her name is.

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