Chapter 3: The Haunted Shotgun pts 4-6

~4~

I rolled out of Maggie’s bed and headed for the bathroom. She sat up in bed, fixed the strap to her slip, covering her breasts. She folded her arms around her legs, watched for me to come out. She had a sullen look on her face.

“Don’t you ever get tired of this spooky shit?” She said. I detected a hint of sarcasm in her words.

“Just say you don’t want me to leave right now.” I put on my pants and fixed the tie around my neck.

“I don’t care what you do,” She threw the covers off her and sprung out of bed. She stomped past me. I grabbed by the arm. She smacked me hard across the cheek. Was it a reaction or planned? “Don’t grab me! You don’t own me.”

I didn’t let go. Instead, I pulled her to me, crushed her lips with mine. She bit my lower lip, pulled away, and licked the blood from my lip from her teeth. I touched my bottom lip with a finger. I was smiling. I couldn’t help it. It just pissed her off even more.

She rushed to the bathroom and shut it. I heard the lock click. I finished dressing, went to the door. “I love you,” I said.

In a muffled voice, I heard her say, ”Fuck you.”

All I could do was laugh. Valentine’s Day must be different for normal people. We are definitely not normal.

~5~

The street was busy. A hot dog vendor took the corner where little jimmy usually stood hocking newspapers. I walked up to the guy and bought a dog from him with all the trimmings plus a drink. I sank my teeth in and saw Maggie on the opposite side of the street near a cigar shop, talking to Jimmy. I took three more bites and threw it down on the sidewalk. The Hot dog vendor screamed at me he had a trash can. I said nuts to him, tossed him my unopened soda.

I marched over to Maggie and Jimmy, steaming mad. I grabbed her wrists. “Why are you here?”

She wrangled away from me. “Hey, what gives?” she rubbed her wrist with her other hand. “Can’t I have a conversation with a friend?”

“C’mon, now. Break this shit up,” Jimmy got between us. “I know–” Before I knew it G’nal had appeared and finished little Jimmy’s sentence. “Why you are here, Chambers…I know nothing about the shotgun. Except it kills without someone pulling the trigger.”

“What about the Symbol I keep seeing? A circle with a slash through it.”

“I know nothing of this Symbol…”

“I know about it,” Maggie said.

“You’re not getting involved–”

“I’m already involved with YOU. You want to know about the Symbol or what?”

I nodded. Against my wishes, she’s involved. I had made a pact with myself to protect Maggie. I don’t have the guts to rid myself of her, which would be the only way to protect her.

“The Symbol is to recognize a group of men who overlook the ongoings of the people of this city,” Maggie said.

“This group has a name?”

“Afraid I don’t know that, Pete.” She touched my arm. I stood a little closer to her.

“How do you know about the Symbol, Maggie?”

She smiled. “I’m married to the man who is president of this esteemed club.”

I sighed. “I see,” I turned to face a strange tapping on the sidewalk. Before I could respond a creature had pounced on me. Its ugly faceless head was pointed, but its jagged little teeth had bit into my jacket and torn a piece of fabric. Its claws held me down on the sidewalk, piercing my hands with its ten tiny needles. It spat the fabric out of its mouth and growled in my face.

Suddenly, as if an imaginary hand had lifted the creature into the air and tossed it aside. As it hit the paved street, it exploded just as a bread truck drove through. Parts of the creature added new artwork to the picture of the little girl eating a sandwich that boldly covered the truck.

I heard G’nal laugh.

“Whoever you say is responsible for this weapon obviously knows nothing of demonology. That was a Grendel. The lowest of the lows…I use them to gather seeds for dead trees in the lower depths of Hell…it’s all they are trusted with for their lack of intelligence.”

“Thanks, G’nal,” I muttered. I took out a cigarette, noticed Little Jimmy was back. He lit my cig, laughed as he shook his head.

“What now?” Maggie helped me to my feet.

I poked a finger through the hole in my jacket, cursed. “We need to find out how Munroe got the shotgun and why he wanted it. Then we steal the shotgun from the cops.”

“I already know how he got it. It was kept at the Grimoire club.” Maggie walked along with me, headed toward the police station.

“Why did he want it?”

Maggie laughed. “Munroe was a collector of those objects…”

“Just like your husband,” I looked down and she was holding my hand. “You sure know a lot about what’s going on.”

She looked away. “Yeah,” She bit her lower lip. “I know too much.”

The shotgun had me in its sights. I was standing in the middle of the evidence room with Maggie. She was yelling at me, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. The shotgun moved when I moved. I saw Hemlock and Ragdale push their way through the door with a couple of blue uniforms.

Then I heard the voice, as much as I could make out, it was the voice of Jack Danforth. It was a cold, monotone voice.

“Answer the riddle and you escape death, answer correctly and quickly,” The voice said, my thoughts locked into whatever was said. “It is greater than God and more evil than the devil. The poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it you’ll die. What is it?”

I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t struggle. The answer came to me in a flash. It felt like something had guided me. “Nothing,” I said. “Nothing is greater than God, nothing is more evil than the devil, the poor have nothing, the rich need nothing and if you eat nothing you’ll die.”

The shotgun fell to the floor, lifeless.

I staggered backward, Maggie caught me. She threw her arms around my neck, kissed me.

Hemlock ran toward me, Ragdale followed. “Why didn’t it shoot you?” Hemlock asked.

I wiped the sweat from my brow, tried to keep my hands from shaking. “I had to answer a riddle. From this voice.”

“Did you get it right?” Ragdale asked, smiling as if he just cracked a joke. We all stared at him until he stopped smiling.

~6~

Later, I was at Maggie’s house, she was on the couch getting dressed. I put on my pants and went to her bedroom to use the bathroom. That’s when I saw the Thorn Bridge spell caster open on her dresser. The page showed a pen and ink drawing of a Grendel, the demon that attacked me on the streets earlier.

I walked back into the living room. She was at the bar pouring drinks. “I got a whiskey sour for you, baby.”

I tossed the spell caster on the counter. She looked down at it, bit her lower lip.

I turned from her, put my jacket on. “Wait, don’t you want to know why I did it?”

I heard her begging me to come back as I shut the front door of her house. A Bentley pulled in the driveway. Her husband was back. The window to the backseat lowered via a power button.

I walked by and said: “She’s all yours, bud. I’m done.” I kept going down the street and didn’t look back.

Next Tuesday: Hellspeak Chapter 4: Hellspeak pt 1

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