Siobhan is an Irish name that is pronounced Shivahn. The character is often called Shiv by friends and family and Daisy by her husband, niece and nephew.
A Death in Montauk
Orlando Kimber wiped his feet on the doormat three times before using his key to enter his home. Closing the door behind him, he opened it a few inches, closed it again and repeated the process. As always, the house had a slight antiseptic smell.
“Hey babies, Daddy’s home!” tossing his keys and wallet on the black teak table, he looked about the hallway, not hearing the clattering of nails on the hardwood flooring and called out again. “Babies?” Something was off and the hackles on the back of his neck stood on end.
Orlando hugged the wall as he made his way to the end of the hallway. It was five paces, always five paces. Today it took seven as he exercised caution. Peeking into the room, he saw no one and reached into the desk for the .38 taped to the underside of the drawer.
He heard the female voice from behind him as he felt the pinch of the needle in his shoulder. “Yeah, I took the gun.”
Confusion. Pain. Darkness. Sounds returning.
“ ... alk to me about your babies.”
Orlando heard a voice and struggled to open his eyes. He didn’t want to struggle, he wanted to rest.
“C’mon, Daddy. Wake up. Let’s talk about the dogs.”
Slowly, slowly his eyes opened, shut and opened again. Orlando’s mouth was dry, and his tongue felt swollen. Trying to wipe the drool from his chin, he realized his arms wouldn’t obey him. Blinking, he looked down to see that he was Ziptied to a chair.
“Whad duh fug?”
A tall woman with dirty blonde hair sat across from him in one of his kitchen chairs. His captor was attractive but from its tilts and angles, she had broken her nose at least twice. The woman was holding his gun in one hand while the other slowly and methodically ran back and forth on her thigh. He would have thought it a nervous tic if she had appeared even slightly apprehensive. She didn’t. “Answer some questions for me and I’ll get you some water. The rotties, professionally trained?”
“Yeth.” He coughed and got some saliva into his mouth. “Yes. Who are you? I have money in the safe, I can get you more, just...”
“Have they killed before?”
Orlando closed his eyes, trying to sweep away the mental cobwebs. “What? No. I don’t know, not since I’ve had them.”
“That’s good, Orlando. That’s very good. If they had to be put down because of you, this discussion would be a lot more uncomfortable. I like dogs a helluva lot more than pornographers.” She paused before continuing. “You should thank me and I’m going to explain why...”
“Where are they? Where are...”
“They’re sleeping in the other room. They should be out for another 90 minutes or so. The door’s closed, so we have plenty of time to talk. Let me explain why today is your lucky day. My husband is in Brazil. When he gets home he is going to immediately start looking for you. That’s why I’m here. I can’t let him go down that path. I’ve been here before, it’s not such a big deal to me, the damage is already done. What’re a few more bodies?”
Siobhan stood and started pacing. It was too erratic for Orlando’s tastes. Four steps in one direction, five in another, three back.
“You ever have a cousin that was like a sibling? My husband had that. She was 12 years younger, but she idolized him. All his cousins did. It was sort of a family secret, but he was the best at what they do. If he enjoyed winning or hurting people more than experimenting, he’d be unbeatable. Anyway, they spoke every day, more often than he spoke to his actual siblings. She was a beautiful girl, just turned 18. She was the youngest bridesmaid at my wedding. We were going to pay for her college. St John’s, in Queens. She wanted to be a vet. Marisol would’ve loved your Rottweilers.”
She stopped pacing and stood behind the chair, gun tucked into her waist, hands grasping the metal of the seat back.
“It turns out that five women from St. John’s went missing. She was one of them. We had a tip line. Someone called and had us check out a web site. Tommy’s cousin was, was on there. Some piece of filth was using her ... Making her do things...” Eyes closed, she shook her head. “She had lost at least 20 pounds. They cut her hair short and when experts pointed it out, we could see the needle marks.”
Siobhan sat back down. “Can you imagine what it was like seeing that with him? Yeah, so he’s with family in Brazil and I told him I was too sick to go. They’re burying her, and he’ll be back in 48 hours. It’s been a week since they found her. She killed herself three days ago. When he gets home, he’s going to hunt you down and kill all of you. I can’t let that happen. If you’d met him, you’d know what I mean. He’s the friendliest, best man I know. There’s a light in him. I can’t let that be extinguished. But any light in me? Already half gone.”
She leaned forward and lightly tapped Orlando on the cheek.
“So, you get to deal with me. I have 48 hours to put this to bed. I need the names of everyone you work with and for.”
It was job, like all the others. A question of lighting, audio and making the actors look as attractive as possible. And now he sat, head still swimming, soaking in his own sweat as a woman who looked comfortable enough with death to have tea with the Grim Reaper sat across from him. “Look, lady, I’m just the editor. They get me the raw footage and I make it presentable, I upload it and I get a check. That’s it.”
She leaned back and put a hand to her chest, an overly exaggerated gesture of shock. “Oh, did I make a mistake? I am so sorry. For some strange reason the two incredibly aggressive trained Rottweilers, the .38 in the desk, the coke in your bedroom and the arsenal in your shed made me think otherwise. I guess if you have no information for me I could just put a bullet in your ear and head on home.”
Within 20 minutes she had three pages of notes with names, positions, and addresses.
“Are you familiar with the law of threes, Orlando? I’m going to leave a note on your door that says you went to Cabo for a week to be with your ailing father. I’m going to stop your mail delivery. Is that going to look weird? Yeah, a bit. If someone comes by, will they read the note and leave, or will they try to come in and see you sitting here? I don’t know, I’d say it’s 50/50.”
She got up, grabbed a roll of duct tape and stood behind him while wrapping it around his mouth and jaw.
“So, here’s that threes thing. You can last three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food. Or is that months? Hunger strikes go on for months, right? Whatever. So, if no one finds you within a few days, the question becomes will the thirst get to you before the dogs stop thinking of you as Master and start thinking of you as Alpo.
“I have some more fun for you. While you were sleeping I called a friend of mine. Brilliant woman, a physician, actually. We were speaking in hypotheticals and I asked her about some possible applications for your coke.”
Siobhan pulled on some clean nitrile gloves, unzipped his pants and pulled his dick out. Reaching over, she lifted a needle from the desk.
“I hope you don’t mind that it’s not clean. It’s the same one I used on your shoulder. So, cocaine and a urethra is a really bad combination. Your next few days should be interesting.”
On one of her trips to the car, she stopped in the living room and looked up at the corner. She stared at where she knew the camera was, turned and spat on Orlando. All of his computers, his iPad, his Kindle and his cell phone fit in the cramped backseat of the Quadrifoglio. As she approached the bridge on her way back to Long Island, Siobhan called her brother.
“Finn, I’m going to send you an address. I need you to send some people to get two aggressive, trained Rottweilers from a house in White Plains. They need to be scooped up tonight and taken to a rehab place pretty far away. Maybe Georgia or Florida. Have them leave the guy in the living room. He can sit there and pray.”
Navigating through the dense crowds surrounding Madison Square Park, Clarence “Crimson” Wu spotted a teenager with a sandwich. “Hey, that pulled pork? Give you twenty bucks for it.” Deal consummated, he found a bench with an opening and sat down to eat and check his phone.
Seven people should have been enough to cover the crowd. It got so busy he had come down from his last drop on Seminary Row with his backpack filled with product. It was an excellent sandwich, topped with a vinegar-based slaw, but he didn’t care about the food at the Big Apple BBQ, just the crowds. Tens of thousands of people were in and out of the park for this festival.
Licking the fingers of his left hand, he scanned texts with his right. Forwarding messages and instructions to his people, Crimson kept looking up and around, watching the crowd for cops and trying to find a vendor selling water. A woman was checking him out, could’ve been a cop. Black jeans, brown tee shirt, a blue zippered hoodie in this crazy heat. Trying not to be obvious, he kept an eye on her.
He needed to ditch the backpack. If he got swept up while wearing it, he’d be done. Getting up, he made his way through the crowds, past the huge line for the Shake Shack in the middle of the park and towards the Starbucks on 26th. Texting his employees as he walked, he had them meet him in the bathroom at the baristas. Crimson divvied up the supplies, stuffed the backpack in the bottom of the garbage can, purchased three waters and headed back towards the festival.
There she was. Something was off. She didn’t walk like a cop. Sliding in and out of groups effortlessly, she seemed to have no problem tracking him. She was a hunter and he didn’t like being prey. Spying what he wanted, he slipped through the throng moving up to the line of tables and smokers that ringed the park.
Approaching the man from Uncle Bubba’s Down Home BBQ that was rendering the whole hog into chopped BBQ, he gestured over the man’s shoulder. “That a grease fire?” As the pitmaster hustled over to his rig, Crimson snagged one of the cleavers and melded into the crowd.
As always at an event like this, he had one of his people close up one of the bathrooms, put an ‘Out of Service’ sign on the door and an orange cone in front. As long as they were careful, it was the perfect place for drops. Keeping an eye on the woman following him and the cops in uniform that were interacting with the crowd, he made his way towards the awaiting lavatory.
Crimson cursed the heat as he stepped into the unventilated, tiled concrete bathroom. There were four stalls, six urinals, and four sinks. As the door swung shut, the endless ambient noise from the crowd and the faint country western music from the band faded into near silence. Standing with his back to the wall next to the door, he waited, cleaver in hand.
A minute went by, then another. Soon five had passed. Sweat poured from his brow and he quickly drank one of his waters, starting at every sound. After ten minutes he tried to wedge the mirror from the wall over the sink. He had to eventually break the glass, but he was able to hold it up near the closed window and look about.
There she was, leaning against a tree ten feet from the door. She looked bored. Crimson waited, watching for another few minutes until she walked towards the door. He resumed his position, cleaver in his left hand, back to the wall next to the door. The door swung open and ... nothing.
Wishing he could switch hands and wipe the sweat from his palm, he waited and waited some more. Finally, the orange cone hurtled into the bathroom, striking him a glancing blow on the shoulder. She rolled past him and lept to her feet. As the door swung closed again, he feinted with the cleaver.
Stepping to the side, Siobhan’s foot slipped on some water. Crimson’s heel crashed into her side and she felt something snap. He kicked again, this time at the knee whose foot was in water. She skidded into what was almost a split, slamming her head near her ear into the porcelain of a sink. Quickly scrambling up and back, she stood.
Breathing shallowly, she watched as he moved his hands back and forth, cleaver in one, fist in the other. He feinted in and back with kicks, waiting and assessing.
Siobhan smiled. “Wing Chun? Get that weak shit out of here. I’m going to shove that hatchet up your ass and beat you to death with the cone.”
Dipping her left shoulder, she started an overhand right. Crimson stepped back to use the distance his legs gave him and began a shadow kick designed for her knee. Her boot crashed into his shin, stopping his progress, and her right fist slammed into Crimson’s jaw. Siobhan winced as she felt bone shifting in her ribs and pain lance out across her side.
She needed to end this quickly.
To buy himself space and time, he swung the cleaver in an arc as he backed up. Siobhan stepped back and then quickly forward as the blade passed her by. Closing the gap between them, she ensured that Crimson couldn’t use the cleaver on the return, and he had to resort to an elbow. Blocking it with her shoulder, she kneed him in the groin and stomped on the back of his lead knee. As he sprawled on the ground, Siobhan kicked him in the head.
Crimson woke to find himself shirtless and handcuffed to a pipe under a sink. The woman squatted down next to him. He thought of her as The Bitch but immediately corrected himself. She was good, better than he was, and that deserved respect. He still had no idea what this was about.
“All right, Clarence, you’re going to answer a few questions for me. You supply a procurer. Someone who gets pretty young girls. Maybe he’s a kidnapper, maybe he’s a pimp, I have no idea. But you do, and you’re going to give me the name and address of who I’m looking for.”
“No, I’m not. Do what you’ve got to do, lady. Toss me a beating, leave me for the cops, whatever. If I rat out my customers at best I’m done in the business. At worst I’ll be buried in the marshes outside JFK.”
Picking up his shirt, she used the cleaver to cut a slice in the fabric, the dull blade taking its sweet time to saw through the hem. She ripped it from top to bottom and then repeated the process, winding up with a series of long strips. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to use your hatchet to remove one finger at a time and then I’ll tie off your hand as each finger comes off. You start talking whenever you want, and I’ll stop and listen.”
Grabbing his free hand, she pulled it towards her, extending his arm and placing her foot under his armpit.
Crimson looked at her face, to her hand holding his wrist, to the other hand holding the cleaver and back to her face. “What? No, that’s fucked up, you’re not going to ... Agggghhhhh!”
Blood started spraying from the two missing fingers and Siobhan angled his wrist away from her to avoid stains. She had balled up one of the strips and shoved it in his mouth.
“Shit, sorry, Clarence. That one got away from me. I took two instead of one. Sloppy. Let me explain what’s going on while I tie-off your stumps. This isn’t some anglicized Tong shit. There’s no honor or teaching of lessons here. When you run out of fingers I’m just going to slice open your throat and let you bleed out.
“I’m going to tell you a story. You like stories, Clarence? Sure you do. Everyone likes stories. There was a little girl who was bright and happy and pure. Her family didn’t have much money, but they had a lot of love. My family had money, so when she got older we found things for her to do to earn a few bucks. She babysat my nephew and taught him Spanish. He loved her as much as my husband did, and that’s saying something. It was one of those childhood crushes. She would sit my niece on her lap and sing to her. She was my husband’s cousin. His favorite cousin. Like a beloved sister.
“Anyway, she just started at St. John’s. A beautiful, smart girl. Someone decided that they could use beautiful young girls. Like a commodity. You know what I’m talking about, Crimson. You’re a business man. So they took her. Like a product on a shelf, they took her and used her. They made films of her. Alone and with men. She was compliant if not willing. You know why? Your drugs.”
The foot that had been at his armpit pulled back and slammed into his ribs. “Your. Drugs.”
Siobhan finished tying off where his fingers used to be. “Yeah, so now I’m looking for the guy that took her. Gotta be a guy, right? No woman is going to do that. Still think I’m bluffing? She killed herself this week. My husband’s attending her services. I want this wrapped up before he gets back, so I need the name and address. Time for another finger or two.”
Yelling something inarticulately, he began shaking his head and desperately tugging at his arm.
“Did you have something you wanted to tell me, Clarence?”
When he was done telling her everything he could, she reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a bunch of small plastic bags. “Didn’t notice that you were down to four employees, did you, Clarence?”
Carefully opening each bag and pouring its contents out on the floor, she pulled the cloth from his bleeding stubs and rubbed them into the mixture. She had no idea what was in there. Cocaine, heroin, X, powdered meth and GHB were the assumptions. Siobhan slammed his head into the sink he was handcuffed to and knocked him out.
Using two pieces of paper, she scooped up the mixture. Siobhan tilted Crimson’s head back, opened his mouth and poured it in. Washing her hands, she stood in front of the mirror, breathing shallowly, leaning to the side trying to take some pressure from her ribs and stared at herself. When it grew too uncomfortable to witness what she was turning into, she turned the water off, stepped outside, replaced the cone and made sure the sign was affixed firmly to the door.
Siobhan stood in full view of the camera that provided the online live view of the line for Shake Shack. Eating a Shack Stack burger with her right hand, she stayed in place, staring at the camera while her left hand was in the pocket of her hoodie, fingers rubbing the tuft of blonde hair held together with the blue ribbon. Little by little, her heart rate slowed.
It had been collected from William’s first haircut and lent her strength and stability. Her love for her nephew grounded her and refused to let her descend into the hot, rage filled hatred that would cause her to make the same type of mistakes that she had indulged in when hunting the assassin that hurt her family.
Finishing the burger, she gave a small wave at the camera and walked off.
Dr. Khalil had met her at the Smiley Animal Clinic that Finn and Jen funded in Queens. It was after hours, but they were happy to allow access to the sister of their benefactor. The public had to bring proof of being on public assistance, but the treatment for their animals was free. Finn had always had a thing for pets, especially dogs, but after Dink had helped save his child, his philanthropy in that arena had exploded.
Siobhan and Dr. Khalil were alone, and the doctor had a stethoscope at Siobhan’s ribs. “Breath as deeply as you comfortably can.”
She complied, and Dr. Khalil’s eyes narrowed as her lips turned downward. “Mrs. Oliveira, you have at least one broken rib and I don’t like how you’re walking. The blow to the side of your head seems to have impacted your equilibrium. I’d like to get you back to the clinic where we can be a bit more ... professional.”
“I don’t have time, Stacey. Just tape me up, give me something for the pain and maybe something to keep me alert and I’ll get it taken care of in a day or two.”
“I can’t do that. I don’t know the extent of your injuries and I have no idea how what I would give you would interact with whatever damage you’ve sustained. I’m not comfortable with the what I’m hearing. You may have liquid accumulating in your lungs and your balance is likely due to inner ear damage, but could also be a sign of a concussion. Let’s get you back to Montauk. I’ll drive, you can leave your car here.”
Siobhan shivered and looked at the floor, now allowing the doctor to see her suppressed rage. “Stacey, just do what I’m asking. You have my full informed consent.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Oliveira, I simply can’t do that.”
Her patient pushed paperwork, trays, metal bowls and a box of gloves off the shelf she sat next to. “Did I stutter? Do you like your clinic, Stacey? You like that private jet you have access to? The latitude you’re given and your cushy salary? Tape me the fuck up, give me something for the pain, something to keep me alert and go back home.”
Dr. Khalil looked at the woman she had known for almost twenty years and slowly pulled her phone from her pocket. She dialed a memorized number and held the phone to her ear. “Mr. Corrigan, this is Dr. Stacey Khalil. I’m resigning my position immediately. I’ll call Dr. Browne and let him know. He’s an excellent physician and manager. You’ll be in good hands. I’ll send you an email tomorrow with my official letter of resignation. I have to go.” Dr. Khalil maintained eye contact with Siobhan throughout the conversation, something that was difficult for her. She hung up and addressed the woman. “I don’t express myself well. Not like other people. I know that. But I don’t know how you came to believe that I’m a whore. I won’t sell my ethics, regardless of what it costs me.
Siobhan stood up, shaking and turned from the doctor. She leaned against the wall with her right hand while her left found the tuft of William’s hair in her pocket. Taking two deep, ragged breaths she tried to speak.
“Stacey, you ... you didn’t deserve that. Don’t ... I just have to get this done. Tommy’ll be back and, I don’t know, I can’t let him get involved. You were there for Jennifer, you were there for William, hell, you were there for me when I busted my finger in that match when I was a kid. Please, be there for me one more time. Whether you help me or not, I’m going back.”
Siobhan had Pete drive in her Jag and they switched cars. She had the top down and was leaning against the hood outside Ray’s Pizza on Ditmars Blvd. One slice in hand and the other on the hood, she enjoyed the night air after Stacey’s ministrations. The stereo from the pizzeria dominated the surrounding noise coming from the strip mall with the popular bodega.
Apparently, the Yankees were winning. Shiv frowned and wrinkled her nose. Didn’t these people know they were in Queens? If you like pinstripes, go to the Bronx. Here it was blue and orange.
A shiny, apple red Camaro slowly passed, speakers blasting old school rap. The driver slowed to a crawl as he called out to her. “Oye bebé, baja esa pizza y ven con nosotros. Clubbing, bebé.”
Siobhan couldn’t help but smile. He had balls. The kid couldn’t be more than twenty. “What is that, two years of High School Spanish? And your accent sucks. Keep driving, kid.”
He did, and she slowly continued to eat. A few minutes later, they drove by again. “Vamos, mamá caliente. Te mostraremos un buen momento. ¿Te gusta bailar?” Other cars started honking when they slowed.
She smiled again. “You’d be better off with English. No one that speaks Spanish is going to fall for that shit and no one who doesn’t speak Spanish will understand you. I appreciate it, though. I was feeling old and tired. You’re good for my ego. You guys have a good night.”
The car circled a third time. This time it stopped parallel to the Jaguar. “C’mon, a couple of dances, a few drinks. It’s on me.”
“Really, guys. I appreciate it. I’m gonna finish my other slice and then hit the road. You’re cute guys. The girls will love you. Have a great night.”
“Don’t be a bitch. Two drinks. C’mon.”
“Did you just call me a bitch?”
“No, I said don’t be a bitch. What, you’re too good to ride with us?”
“Have you already started drinking? You expect me to get in a car with three guys and let you drive off? Let me guess, okay? From your horrible Spanish, your sparkly Camaro and your whitebread looks, I’m guessing you’re from the Five Towns or around there. You probably go to Hofstra or Nassau Community and think that this is the hood and you’re slumming. You go home and tell your friends you were at some dangerous club in the city and play it up until next weekend. Am I close? Go home, enjoy your trust funds and be grateful I didn’t get pissed off.”
“Bitch, you fronting me? I come strapped.”
“You come ... Did you really just say that? You need to watch better movies.” Siobhan winged her pizza crust through his window. “You’re strapped, huh? Okay. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”
She lifted the hem of her hoodie and let them see her holstered Jericho 941. She started laughing as they nearly hit a car while pulling away as fast as they could. Siobhan enjoyed the moment, smiling as she ate her second slice and drank her coke.
It had been a dark, sad few weeks. She was grateful to the idiots for making her laugh.
Siobhan parked in front of the dive and affectionately patted the steering wheel of the old XJS. It was a High School graduation gift from Aunt Cythia and her feelings were as deep as they could be for an inanimate object. After Cynthia, her Uncle William was the first person to get a ride. He insisted on the top being put down and his mane of red and grey hair streamed behind him as they drove to the beach and then to her parent’s home.
She didn’t want to take the Quadrifoglio to this neighborhood, but a Jaguar wasn’t much better. Setting the alarm, Siobhan walked into the dark, dingy bar. Everything seemed small. The tables were undersized and too close to each other. The bar-top was short and even the shelves were narrow. Ignoring the omnipresent aroma of smoke and the three beautiful women standing near the tall, thin man with the dead, black eyes, she approached the bartender. Those women were odd. Their presence in this shithole was incongruous.
Everything was shifting shadows and the mixed stench of stale beer and urine.
“You the owner?” He nodded in the affirmative. “You familiar with the Amex Centurion card?” He shrugged and shook his head. “Not much of a talker, huh? Amex Black. No limit. Have you heard of that?”
“Black and Centurion, same thing.” She slipped the card on the bar-top. “I’m interested in renting out your place. Three hours, $15,000.”
“Now. Ring it up. You’ll have the card on file in case of any damages. Then get out.”
“Lady, I’ve got more than fifteen grand in liquor in here.”
“No, you don’t. It’s all watered down, bottom-shelf crap. Doesn’t matter. You have the card on record. You can charge any damage or theft to the card. Go to your office and call Amex. See what they have to say.”
Twenty minutes later he was escorting people out. Siobhan interrupted when the owner got to Mr. Dead Eyes. “It’s okay. He can stay.”
The bartender shrugged, and Dead Eyes waved dismissively at the women. Siobhan watched them as they followed the bartender out. There was no life in their faces and their eyes were dead in a way that was different than the pimps. His were dark and without emotion. Their darkness brimmed with hopelessness and despair.
“That I am, but I’m not hiring. To be honest, you look a little used up.” He looked at her like a trainer would evaluate a horse. “Someone put a beating on you. More than once. How many times that nose been broken?”
“At least twice, but you know what they say. ‘You should see the other guy.’” She walked over to his table.
He smiled, but it didn’t extend past his mouth. “Well, Sarah Connor, why don’t you go home, get a nice dress, blue. Blue is good for you. Come back and let me see you. I like what I see, I’ll try you out. Personally. You any good, I’ll slip you in with my other girls at a party and we’ll see how it goes. Can’t be more generous than that, but there are rules. I’ll lay them out when you get back, but number one is that I own you and everything you do.”
Thomas was calm. Too calm for this bar that she had just emptied. Siobhan started wondering where the others were. She pulled a photo out of her pocket and put it down on the table.
“You explain your rules to her?”
Pulling the photo towards himself, he stared at it. “Nah, she didn’t need the rules. Sold her right off. Friend of yours?”
“Who’d you sell her to?”
“I can’t remember. Bitches come and go.”
“You don’t remember much longer and I’m going to be painting the wall behind you gray and red with the remnants of your skull, you piece of walking...”
As she heard the door to the storage room creak open, she pulled out the Jericho, pivoted and fired three times. The large man fell back against the door jamb and slipped to the floor, a look of confusion on his face and a Glock in his hand.
Thomas unfurled his long, wiry body and stood. His hand snaked out, slicing her arm with the knife he held. Hearing someone behind her, Siobhan dove to the filthy floor, rolled and started firing. A second man slipped to the ground as the pimp started kicking her in the back. She continued to roll and was about to fire on the pimp regardless of the information he had when she spied two more men come through the front entrance.
Thomas punctuated his speech with stomps of his heel into her back and shoulders. “You think I’d be here alone? You think I don’t have people watching my back? You. Stupid. Bitch!”
The newcomers both drew on her as Thomas kept kicking and stomping. A loud booming almost cut one of them in half. As the other turned, a second report sounded, and he joined his colleague on the floor.
A deep voice called out. “Get on the ground! Get the fuck on the ground or I will blow a hole through you!” Thomas raised his hands and knelt. The voice continued. “Shiv, it’s Jim. Jim DeCossa. Don’t shoot me.”
She rolled over and punched Thomas in the face as hard as she could. Slowly climbing to her feet, she looked over at her brother’s security chief, who cradled the Mossberg 590 shotgun. Bent over, hands on knees, she took in a few deep breaths before speaking. “Hey, Jim. Think they have an ice machine? My back and hand are killing me.”
Fifteen minutes after Jim arrived, they knew who was in charge of the videos and where he could be found. Sixteen minutes after Jim arrived, Thomas was dead. Seventeen minutes after Jim arrived, they were out of the building with Jim on the phone arranging for some people to come clean up the mess.
“You calling The Wolf, Jim?”
Pulling the phone from his ear, he turned to look at her, eyes narrowed with a look of disgust. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Siobhan? This isn’t Pulp Fiction and quoting movies after I just killed two men isn’t funny. You think I like this? You think a piece of my soul didn’t die in there? Yeah, they were going to kill you or worse, but they were people and I fucking had to kill them. Get your head on straight.”
Staring at the large man, Siobhan started to shake. “I ... I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s just ... it’s easier for me if I make it into a joke. I don’t have to think about it. I’m so sorry. Thank you. I didn’t even...”
“No, it’s fine. I get it. I’ve just got all that adrenaline running through me, but Shiv, it shouldn’t be easier. Ever.” He sighed, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Let’s get out of here. Follow me. I know a better class of bar nearby.”
“How’d you know where I was? Why’d you show up?”
“You have to ask me that? Finn. Your brother has a tracker on your cars and your phone. After the call about the dogs and the conversation with Khalil, he wanted me here. Follow me, the place isn’t far.”
They sat in a working-class bar, Jim drinking beer, Siobhan drinking coke. She didn’t want any alcohol to interact with what Dr. Khalil had given her. Jim was eating some pretzels and Siobhan was waiting on her patty-melt, chicken fingers and large fries.
She was looking around the bar when he threw a pretzel at her. “Hey, we’ve gotta talk. Not for Finn’s sake, but for yours and Tommy’s. Okay, maybe Finn’s a little. But mostly, we need to talk about George.”
Leaning back into her seat, she listened but didn’t like how the conversation was starting.
“Yeah, I can see it in your eyes. You don’t like it when people talk about George, especially in relation to you. He’s your private property, right? Sacred memories of your mentor and all that bullshit? Well, fuck that. If George saw you today or when you went after that assassin, he’d chew your ass out after losing his lunch.”
She was clenching her jaw shut and was leaning forward again.
“Look at you. You just can’t control yourself. Shiv, you need to get some help. We both know I’m right. George would be insanely proud of you for the most part, but not for this idiocy...”
“Why don’t you shut your damn mouth about George and what he would think?”
Jim smiled, and it infuriated her. “Am I wrong? Tell me that I’m not speaking the truth. You ever speak to his kids? Oh, I know about Yom Kippur when you think you’re fulfilling a responsibility, but any other time? Nope. Did you know his grandson was in the hospital for six weeks last year? This man you put on a pedestal? You’re so wrapped up in your own bullshit you can’t see reality. You see this caricature, not the real man. Not the man who had a wife and then loved your aunt. Not the man who would have hoped you’d keep an eye on his kids.”
Her voice was low and dangerous. “You tapping my phones, Jim?”
“Don’t need to, Shiv. I speak to his kids all the time. You think I’m talking out of my ass when I’m discussing George? Let me ask you a question. Why do you think that Finn hired me? How did I pop up on his radar? I knew George for more than 15 years. As much of a mentor as he was to you, he was the same to me. Yeah, I know what the fuck I’m talking about and this was never, never what he wanted for you.”
The waitress arrived with Siobhan’s food and put the four plates on the table. “Another coke, honey? No charge.”
Siobhan tried to smile at her. “Thanks. That’d be great.”
Jim spoke before she left. “Miss? Those cops?” He gestured towards a nearby table where two policemen in uniform ate some burgers and wings. “Can you add their bill to ours? Thanks.”
“You sure, handsome?”
“Absolutely. And put down a generous tip for their waitress.” He pointed at Siobhan. “She’s paying, so go crazy.”
Siobhan looked at him as she picked up half her patty-melt, her late grandfather’s favorite meal. “Thanks, big spender. Miss? Can I get some onion rings, too?”
The waitress looked at the food already piled in front of Siobhan. “Really?”
Jim laughed. “Yeah, it’s a glandular issue or something. Runs in the family.”
Shiv looked surprised by the laughter, hoping it would break the tension between them and spoke to the waitress. “Please. Thanks.” As the woman left, Siobhan pulled out her billfold, peeled off three fifties, left them on the table and looked accusatorily at Jim.
He refused to look abashed. “Yeah, as if you ever let a cop pick up a tab when you’re around. Too much blue runs through your veins.” Jim sighed. “Look, you’ve got this ridiculous lone wolf idea in your head and you’re not a stupid woman.”
He paused and put both palms on the table as he slouched back into the seat. “I think, seriously, I think that part of you wants to die. I think that part of you wants to go out in a blaze of glory and be just as much of a cliché as that phrase is. You want to be immortalized as the great hero, the way that George was in your head. What you’re not remembering is that George was an old man when he died. Yeah, he went out as a hero taking down those cultists, but he lived a long life, taking care of his kids and family. He wasn’t looking for grenades to jump on so everyone would remember him.”
He snagged one of her French fries before continuing.
“I’m not exaggerating, Shiv. I think you need help. You need to speak to someone. This shit that you’re pulling? It’s not brave, it’s stupid. You effectively have an elite paramilitary outfit at your disposal and you’re in here taking on low-end mooks on your own.
“You know who’s brave? Braver than me or you? Pete. Outside of your family, who does Pete have? No one. Not a soul. He doesn’t date. He grew up as an orphan. He doesn’t have any kids or other relatives. He thinks he brings nothing to the table, and someone convinced him that he wasn’t intelligent. In spite of that, he gets up every morning, puts a smile on his face and takes on the day. A Girl Scout could beat the crap out of that man and yet after William was attacked Pete slept on their porch until you got out of the hospital. He kept a bat ready in case the professional legendary assassin came back for your nephew. That’s who the fuck that man is. I wish I had his balls.
“You? Your husband thinks you walk on air. I’ve never seen siblings as close as you and Finn. Your parents love you to death. William thinks you’re a mixture of Mary Poppins and a Valkyrie and you’re Cynthia’s idol. You’re surrounded by love and you’ve got what, 50 million in the bank? More? Get your head straight. These people need you to live, not be a martyr. Stop trying to be this fake unreal George that lives only in your head and start trying to be like Pete.
“You and I are going to work this thing together. You’re not alone, Shiv. Who’s next on your list?”
The drink selection was poor, the bartender was surly, and advertising was eschewed. The public rarely frequented the bar, which suited the owners just fine. As always, most of the tables were full that afternoon and men milled about, waiting for a table to open.