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32. Nearly Silent Screams

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There’s questions that need answering, naturally. Just a few simple questions along the way. First off – Sylum.

Officer Sylum Bishop had a history with Doyle. There were close and watched each other’s backs for ages. They owed each other in ways we could only imagine and they had a bond beyond words. Whatever happened between them was between them, that’s all. And with Doyle dead, and Sylum’s lips sealed, we were left to speculate. So why was he still on board? Think about it. Requiem went to…interesting lengths to renew his loyalty. Which is kind of

funny considering that Doyle and him already had a tight bond, unbeknownst to us. He sent her to him just to see if she’d do it. Do him. For the family. And she did. Sylum was always on our team.

And what about the history with Serkis? Being with the law, don’t you think him and her had a run in or two from time to time?

Requiem returns – Sylum knew she wasn’t really dead. He never had a body to get rid of. So he always knew. And was he going to screw her over? He knew what she was capable of. He knew her limits from afar. And he wasn’t going to be named traitor. So he swore allegiance to Serkis. Why? Because she was truly loyal. Despite the cost. It was safer with Serkis than it was with Requiem. The lesser of the two evils. Though both were ruthless, there was a defining factor that separated Requiem – she was clinically fucking insane. Case and point.

I worked a few nights, as usual, getting back into the routine. Returning to my roots. I didn’t see the others for a while. They had to know. But they had no idea of what I’d seen. I wrote it down when I got home from work that night. I wrote it down. I drew pictures. I did everything I artistically could to get it out. And nothing was good enough. I couldn’t put to terms what I knew, what I remembered. What I’d never forget. I tried like hell but everything fell short. I worked harder, moved faster, but the result was still the same. I would simply have to live with this. I’d deal. As expected.

I was on my way back from the bar when I came home to find Serkis standing around. She was alone. She had a sheet of paper in her hand; she dropped it back on the table absentmindedly. It was one of a series of vent sheets. One of the several scattered pages that had the truth scrawled all over them. She turned to face me.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. The sound of her voice echoed in the apartment, even though the initial statement was low enough that I was sure if I didn’t know she’s spoken, I would’ve missed it. I stood there for a moment, subconsciously dropping my keys on the table next to me, emptying my pockets. I took a few steps toward her.

“Why?”

She shrugged. “This isn’t your fight. This is…”

“Family business, right?” I finished her thought. She looked down to try and catch the momentum I’d tripped up.

“You should get out of town for awhile. You know, until this settles out.”

“You want me to run?” I was edging closer to her; she held her ground. “You want me to turn my back on all I’ve got left and take off? Just like that? And go where? Huh?”

“We know people. We’ll find you a place. You’ll never be without a safe haven.”

“Are you so certain?”

She looked me dead in the eye, her own eyes moist. She closed her lips hard, forcing the tears back, holding them down until it hurt. “She’s pregnant, Harley. Requiem is pregnant. I’m going to be an aunt. And she’s going to tear what’s left apart. If we don’t get to her first. We have work to do. And I don’t want you caught in the crossfire anymore.”

“Oh, it was okay before, but now it’s a problem? Sorry to be a pain in the ass.”

Her whole body shook as she held everything back. The scream got caught in her throat and she held it down. She dug in her pocket and produced a bus ticket. She held it out to me. I refused to touch it or her.

“Take it.”

“No.”

She heaved a heavy sigh. “Take the ticket. Get out of here.”

“What are you going to do?”

And Serkis smiled a wry grin at me. “Containment.”

I looked away to collect my thoughts. She wouldn’t quit and I knew it. It wasn’t in her nature to walk away. When she set her mind to something, nothing would pull her back. Nothing. I stood there, considering my options.

“Who first?”

She coughed. “Excuse me?”

“Who are you going after first? Vagrant? Or Requiem?”

Serkis took a step back, deciding to sit when standing became too difficult. She rested her elbows on her knees and cradled her head. I took a few steps toward her, dropping to my knee to get down to her level. I put a hand on her arm, anything to get a response. She was cold. Distant. Like I wasn’t here. Or she wasn’t.

“Serkis, answer me.” I wouldn’t let this one slide. She looked up, locking eyes with me.

“Do you honestly expect me to kill my own true blood family? And my nephew?”

“Nephew…?”

She smiled. “It’s a boy.” You could feel the pain in the smile, the choked sobs suppressed into silence in her throat. “Revere,” she muttered.

“How do you know all this?”

“She might hate me, but she still needs me. Who else is she going to tell? Vagrant likes power, but his ideals on children are…uncertain. Requiem’s insane. But she still wants an audience from time to time. And a safety net is always nice.”

“And you’d save her? After all this?”

Serkis looked away from me, to gather the strength to sound credible. “Family…it’s only loyal to itself. I’m sorry.”

“So what’s going to happen now?”

“We’ll wait. Vagrant is slated for removal while he’s still new in office, soft…vulnerable. And Requiem…if she doesn’t grow out of this…steps will be taken later on.”

“After the wheel turns again?”

She nodded.

“Let me guess – her and Pandora are due at the same time?”

She nodded again.

“Cute.”

“Don’t you see? The two great families live on. The match made in Hell is in the works as we speak. Don’t you see? Our worst nightmare is coming into play.”

“How do you know for certain?”

“Revere Ransom. And Maven Merrick. A boy. And a girl.” She laughed. “Like I said, a match made in Hell.”

“And you expect me to skip town, now?”

“Yeah. I do.”

I got up and paced around. “So who gets to take down the boss this time?”

She didn’t answer me. Just like I knew she wouldn’t. But I had to try. I had to be sure. Her silence was my answer. I knew what Layne meant earlier in the conversation. I smiled as I paced, holding the laughter in. She got up to face me, to be on the same level. She stepped forward and grabbed me abruptly. She shoved the ticket in my pocket and held me close.

“Things are going to Hell, and fast. Take this. Get on the bus. Go. Trust me, okay? I’ll go and collect you. Just do me this favor, please? It’s all I ask of you. Go there, a guy will meet you at the station. His name is Saint. Okay? Please. Do this for me?”

I pulled away from her, shaking my head. She had desperation in her tone. I hated to refuse her but I couldn’t go. This would make her better – this would take a weight off her mind. I wanted to hug her and tell her I’d do anything she asked of me. But I couldn’t lie to her.

“And what about you?”

“That’s not your problem.”

“Since when? Family, remember?”

She looked away and back at me. “Do it or don’t. I’m warning you now – the wheels are turning. And I can’t protect you for this round. I’m sorry.” And she was gone.

She walked out the door and let it slam behind her. I couldn’t be mad or upset. I couldn’t scream and yell at her. She did what she had to. I turned the ticket over in my hand. Departure time? Three hours. Place? New Paltz. Don’t you just love New York?

I looked around. I had a show tonight. I had a job here. She was sending me where I had picked up Vagrant. The irony of everything was beginning to bother me. But I’d go there. I’d do

as she asked. Because she asked me to. She didn’t order me to. She didn’t demand. Serkis Draft had kindly asked me to do something that was in my power to do.

I packed some clothes, slung the guitar over my back and walked out of the apartment. The irony of it got to me. This was how Requiem had come to us. Ain’t that something?

And I set out, on foot. I would catch a bus from here to there. And I’d wait. And we’d see what kind of a Saint I’d find up there. This should be fun. I guess I could be grateful – I get a vacation. A temporary escape from my familiar madness to a place of distant and incomprehensible madness. God, I love the cyclical nature of this.

To Hell and Heaven. Whatever comes first.

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