“Who sent you? Was it my ex-wife? I thought I told you Pescatorre boys to never come back here! I don’t have your goddamn money, and I never will! So scram! Get the hell out!”
Well this was a shitty situation. Not because of the shotgun, because that posed absolutely no threat whatsoever. I had a vampire, and he had a gun. The odds weren’t so much stacked against him as they were piled in a titanic polished gold monument dedicated to his impending and absolute failure. No, this situation sucked because we knew right from the start he was going to make this difficult for us, whether we decided to follow through with the Madam’s wishes and whack him or not.
Still though, my mind was racing. The Pescatorres? What kind of business did this sorry sonuvabitch have with the largest crime family in New York? Besides getting dead, that is. Gears turned and pieces started clicking into place. The biggest pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together from the corners on out, the Madam, the ex, the poltergeist, and now the Pescatorres. I could see a picture forming in my head, something I really didn’t want to see, but it was missing something. Each corner was trying to connect, but they were missing something in the middle. Something to fill in the gaps, and I couldn’t be sure of anything until I had that something.
I turned around slowly, signaling to Sostene. “Sostene, stand down. Don’t shoot him. Listen pal, this isn’t what you think it is. I think we can help each other out.”
“Oh yeah? That’s what the last ones told me. Then they shot my dog, kicked me in the balls, took all my silverware, kicked me in the balls, stripped me down to my underwear and then kicked me in the balls. In that order.”
I winced. Ouch.
“So what do you want? I’m not gonna ask twice.” He poked me in the stomach with the barrel.
I decided I should be straight-forward. “It’s about your ex-wife-”
“I knew it. I goddamn knew it. That bitch was the one who told you to come bust my balls, wasn’t she? Ever since I told her I wanted out, I’ve been getting so many visits from you Pescatorre fucks it feels like I signed up for the Jelly of the Month Club. Well guess what? I ain’t having it no more!”
There it was again, the Pescatorres and the Madam. Twice in less than five minutes he’s mentioned both of them in the same breath. What was the connection?
Hoping to probe a bit deeper, I ask, “You mean ever since you told her you wanted out of the marriage?”
He looked surprised when I said that. Then he got angry again. “Don’t be coy with me, you know damn well what I mean. But this isn’t about me, this is about you and what the hell I’m supposed to do with you know that you’re trespassing in my apartment.”
“Technically the apartment belongs to the manager…”
He growled at us and raised the shotgun to his shoulder.
“Get out before I ship you out in a body bag.”
“Mr. Walsh, if I maybe frank. The Pescatorres wronged you. Your wife wronged you. We get that. But we are neither of those things, so if we could please just settle this in a calm and civilized-”
Catching him off-guard, I aimed a solid kick straight up at the shotgun that knocked it barrel up into the air, harmlessly pointed at the ceiling. Taking advantage of his momentary confusion, I closed the distance and landed a punch right in the centre of his gut, before wrenching his arm in just the right way to make him drop the gun, disarming him.
I shoulder-checked him. That made him stumble back a bit away from the gun, which I thought would give him second ideas about attacking us now that he didn’t have any way to fight back. Turns out I forgot to take into account some unknown variables. Like the backup gun he had stashed in his pocket.
“You fucking pricks! Die!” His aim was sloppy, but at this range it was good enough. If he pulled the trigger, he wouldn’t miss his target.
Neither would Sostene.
There was a click, then a shot, then a wet, meaty thud. Sostene flickered into existence in front of me.
The damage was minimal. It barely penetrated half an inch into Sostene’s arm as he caught it, doing far less damage than the glass explosion at the Castaway had. He grunted, and the bullet started sliding out of his wound, as Mr. Walsh looked at him with horrified eyes.
I can’t help but chuckle. “You see, this is why you don’t bring a gun to a vampire fight. You’re always gonna-”
I heard a thick crunch come from Mr. Walsh’s gun arm as Sostene broke it in the middle like a pretzel. Walsh screamed, of course, obviously freaked out by the knowledge that the man he had just tried to shoot was a vampire. And by the fact that his humerus, radius and ulna were now sticking out of the crook of his elbow. Me, I was more alarmed by our dwindling chances of getting any useful information out of all this.
“Jesus, Sostene, you can’t just break his arm like that!”
“You told me I couldn’t shoot him.”
“I meant ‘don’t kill him’! He’s still useful!”
“He shot me.”
“Like that woulda killed ya, you freak,” Gresham spat before Sostene cracked another one of his bones like twigs.
“Fair point,” I ceded, although I’m not sure to who, “but if he dies before we can get any answers out of him, then what was the point of all this? If he is guilty, we might need him to undo the binding spell, right?”
Sostene grunted. “Alright, slow then.”
True to his word, he applied torsion very slowly and carefully this time, prolonging the break.
“Thank you. That’s much better.” Walsh just squealed like a little girl. “Alright, Mr. Walsh, I think I’m going to have you tell us a bit more about how your problems with the Pescatorres started…”
He told us everything. Sold out and owned up to every dirty secret he’d been told, ordered not to tell under threat of death. Suddenly everything made sense. Madeline’s death, the untouched safe, the ex’s Pescatorre problems. They all fit together around the Madam like a harness. Which could only mean the Madam was-
“Lying to us. Lying to the family. She was stealing from the family. You know what that means, right?”
I did know. It meant this had to end bloody. Every family had their own way of dealing with these little “internal disputes”, but they generally involved finding the guilty party floating in a barrel or sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor. I can’t remember a time were double-crossin’ one of the families ended with anything less than prolonged and gruesome torture (or as most like to call it “discipline”) followed by the crippling of every remaining party still alive, or something equally permanent and nasty.
Point is, don’t fuck with the five families. They will fuck you back.
Sostene sighed. “Shit. Now we’re gonna hafta get rid of a body. This day just keeps getting better and better…”
“It keeps getting shorter too,” I said, watching the setting sun. “Move your ass, Sostene. We don’t know how much time we have until the Madam catches on that we know. That, or…”
Sostene made a sour-looking face. “Yeah. That.”
Madeline had been involved in the Madam’s illicit activities. Madeline had been killed as a direct consequence of said involvement. Madeline had unfinished business. Madeline’s body hadn’t been burned yet.