Knock Knock: Episode 42: Fear of Heights

“You watch him!” screamed Courtney Owen. “You watch him and you watch him good, William.” 

Her husband, Billy Owen, had his son thrown towards him.  

“Are you fucking kidding me woman?” he complained. “You know I gotta work. What are you trying to do to me?”  

“I’m trying to fix it so that your son knows who you are,” she screamed. She had lipstick on her teeth. Billy couldn’t help but notice that.  

Billy had been longer in Coldford than anticipated. He had told his wife a few weeks initially. Months were now beginning to be ticked off the calendar.  

“Hi dad,” said his ten-year-old son, Richard ‘Ricky’ Owen, stepping by his side, also looking like he had just received a dressing down from the highly strung mother.  

Billy tousled his hair. “Hey, boy.”  

“You boys enjoy,” Courtney barked. “I have a hair appointment.” 

Father and son looked to each other. This was going to be interesting.  

But Billy had work to do. Article 22 was in effect and he had to find ways of skipping around it to achieve his own objectives and cover his tracks. The fierce judge was pulling no punches and to cap it all off, Billy was helping to fight against his own father’s advances to grab power on the Owen Inc board, cleaning his cousin Buddy’s mess, and not to mention the issue of disposing of the body of nineteen year old Cameron Doyle – the judge’s son.  

“You look like shit, dad,” Ricky commented.  

“Yeah, thanks boy,” replied Billy. “You would too if you had been through half the shit I have since I got here.” He looked to the boy. “Don’t get comfortable. We got a little errand to run.”  

And so, they found themselves driving towards Swantin in Billy’s White Cooper SUV named Pearl. He looked into the back. His son was staring from the window, bored already without his video game doo das.  

“So, how’s school going?” he asked with genuine fatherly concern.  

“It’s alright,” said Ricky. “Got an A on my biology test.”  

“Yeah?” Billy grinned proudly. “Maybe you’ll be like a scientist someday. Cure the world and shit.”  

Ricky was still watching the world race by from the window.  

“Maybe,” he replied.  

They rode on in silence for a few minutes when Ricky spoke up. “Mom’s pissed,” he said.  

Billy prepared to take the exit onto the south bypass.  

“Yeah, I got that impression,” Billy remarked. “A’body knows women are all bat shit crazy, son. You’ll learn that with your science. It’s like in their DNA or something.” When he looked into the rear-view mirror, he could see a disgruntled expression on Ricky’s face. His arms were folded tightly across his chest. Courtney had taken him to some faggy ass hair dresser again. The style she had allowed her son to cross the pond with looked like some douche bag boy band singer. No wonder the kid was mad. She might as well have tied his hair in pigtails. Christ Almighty! Ricky noticed his dad watching him in the mirror. It then occurred to Billy that he might not be the one that Courtney was mad at.  

“What did you do?” asked the father.  

Ricky pouted. “My friends and I broke into the Willis yard. We drank his wine and we put overalls on all his pigs.” 

Billy frowned. “Why?”  

“It was funny looking. The pigs got out and just about destroyed the orchard.” 

“What did Willis do?” Billy enquired.  

“He was real mad. He fired his gun, just a warning like, but we scattered. Thought he was gonna beat on us.” 

“If that hillbilly huckster thinks he can lay a hand on my boy I’ll beat on him,” the father assured. “We’re living in a world where boys can’t be boys anymore. Everything is going to shit. That Willis has been a cranky mother fucker ever since I was your age. He must be old as shit!” 

Ricky laughed a little. “Ancient,” he said. “Dirty old fossil.”  

Billy grinned. “You betcha’.” 

Ricky turned back to the window again.  

“It didn’t help that Bri maxed out another credit card. Mom was so mad…”  

Brianna ‘Bri’ Owen was Billy’s other child. Sixteen-year-old Bri was already creating a reputation for being troublesome. She had her mother’s fondness for shiny things but her father’s spirit and ability to make rules more agreeable to her.  

“She took her friends to Luen for the summer. She’s been paying for everything. I put some pants on pigs and I get sent over here.” 

“Well at least you get to have some time with your old man, right? See me in action?” 

“Yeah,” Ricky replied. “Great.”  

Bri’s blatant disregard for her parents worried Billy. It worried him a lot because in a short year or two she would be heading a Kappa Si sorority house somewhere. It was all fun and games with the frat bros but imagining his little girl being among them made his toes icy cold.  

“Double standards, dad,” is what Bri would say.  

Billy knew it was, but still…  

Then there was Ricky. He was a good kid. Better than he and Courtney could ever hope for. He worked hard at school when every distraction, privilege and opportunity gave him reason not to. He had an easy way out but he never chose to use his family name to benefit himself.  

Billy Owen had messes to clean, a job to do, then he could start looking closer to home. With that in mind they arrived at a storage unit at Chamberlain Docks.  

“You wait in the car,” the father instructed the son.  

Beep. Beep. Beep. Slam.  

Billy had alighted the vehicle. Ricky unbuckled his seatbelt and turned to look out the back window. He saw his father approach a man wearing a white shirt and a black waistcoat. On the waistcoat was a diamond symbol. They seemed to be arguing a little. Ricky grew disinterested. He pulled the back screen down to try and find himself something to keep him occupied.  

WELCOME TO PEARL. CHOOSE YOUR MEDIA. 

All that was available was March of our Times, a terrible soap opera where all the women dressed like his mom and the acting skills rivalled his sister’s. 

*** 

“A carrier the size of a coffin?” asked Isaac Bergman. “When you called, I thought you were taking the piss!”  

“I wouldn’t have asked it if weren’t important, brah,” said Billy.  

The Bergman and Owen families weren’t exactly close. Howard Bergman, the Diamond Parade patriarch, was not best pleased when Isaac revealed he had pledged Kappa So.  

“You’re a grown man, Isaac,” Howard had said to him. “You’re smart, focused and capable. I am, and always will be, very proud of you. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”  

“I’ll be fine, Uncle Howie,” said Isaac in response. The reputation of Kappa So was no secret. How the Owens felt about the Bergmans was no secret either. Isaac’s cousin, Seth, had been at loggerheads with Buddy ever since they were young. They were very different boys. Seth was a buttoned-down, charming, head boy of Kingsgate School and Buddy was, well, Buddy was a bro.  

Still, when the time came to pledge, Isaac had his reasons. The Kappa So pledge is not one to make lightly because when you were a brother, you were a brother for life. Isaac had met some decent bros through the years but that Owen influence was always strong in the Chapter House. He was a little surprised when he got a call from Billy to help. He hadn’t seen fully what he was getting into until he arrived on scene.  

“I need a freighter,” had been the request.  

“Fine,” Isaac agreed, “but I need the freighter back by five.” 

With diamond mines as far as Subala, the Bergmans were a wealthy sect. Isaac’s share of the family fortune didn’t come from diamonds though. Instead, he was given charge of the Diamond Lounge Casino in City Main. The Jew boy’s family ties to the mining were suiting Billy in his plans.  

“Let’s get this over with,” Isaac groaned as he followed Billy inside.   

“Hey Isaac!” Irvine Stoker cheered. “How’s it going, mucker?”  

“What the fuck are they doing here?!” Isaac cried.  

The Bergman and the Stoker Circus families had a history between them that stretched back generations. The details of this are not important at this point, dear readers. Suffice to say, if Isaac had known they would be there he never would have agreed. Before Isaac could object, he felt a gun at his back.  

“Just take it easy,” warned the police commissioner. “Ya’ll come out of this just fine if you do as I say.”  

Irvine himself skulked around a table with long, tree-like limbs. His twig fingers danced by his side as he watched his son, Freddy, clean the body of a nineteen-year-old boy. They were both wearing hazmat suits. The Stokers were efficient and discrete so Billy wasn’t even mad freaky Freddy had come along for the ride. The Stokers had their way of being so low key that they were often forgotten about, despite being part of Kappa So since the days of its founding by Henry ‘Hen’ Owen. It had been Harger Stoker who had witnessed the opening of Hen’s Chapter House in Coldford. Freddy pulled the hat off his suit revealing overgrown brown hair and the same bug like eyes as his father.  

“Our boy all cleaned up?” asked the police commissioner. 

“As clean as a whistle, Mr Owen,” Freddy replied. He had a soft-spoken voice that sounded quite chilling given the circumstances. “The transport has been fitted with a plastic sheet. When you’re done, burn the sheet into a well-used oil drum. Oily surfaces are virtually impossible to grab prints from. If it’s one that hundreds of people have access to, then that’s even better. Then you’re going to want to gather all of the meltdown and discard it into the sea, as far out as you can. We’re adding to the pollution problem but if they happen to find those fragments way down, they sure as hell aren’t going to get anything from them.”  

Billy clapped Freddy on the shoulder. “I forgot what a weird little man you are,” he remarked in jest.  

“Is that Cameron Doyle?” Isaac cried. “What did you do?”    

“We’re just wanting to use a freighter,” Billy said impatiently. “Stop being such a fucking Jew.”  

Freddy Stoker held up gloves. “Gloves please,” he said. “We’ve just finished cleaning and we don’t want prints all over the body.”  

Between the father and son Stokers, Cameron’s body was wrapped in a plastic sheet and hoisted into a secure transporter generally used for precious diamonds.  

“He was just a kid,” Isaac cried. “What the fuck did you do to him?” 

Billy pressed the gun into Isaac’s back. “It’s none of your business. You’re a brother for life so you’re helping your brother out. You don’t ask questions.”  

“He’s going to get cold feet,” Irvine warned, referring to Isaac.  

“Fuck you!” Isaac spat at him.  

“We’re going to use the freighter. You are going to keep your mouth shut. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself under arrest for the murder of Cameron Doyle.”  

“No one would believe that,” Isaac protested.  

Billy grinned. “Maybe not, but that’s what all the evidence would say. Just keep your mouth shut,” he warned again.  

*** 

Meanwhile, in the car, Ricky’s viewing was interrupted by a call from Owen Estate. Ricky answered and was faced with Charles ‘Chick’ Owen.  

“Hello young man,” said the Owen Inc CEO.  “I wasn’t expecting this pleasure.”  

Ricky grinned. “Hi, sir. I’m with my dad right now.”  

Meanwhile, the Stokers and Billy bore the weight of Cameron Doyle, both physically and legally. They pulled the diamond container towards the docks.  

“I’ll put the container through the shredder once we’re done,” offered Irvine.  

The shredder was a huge industrial machine used to chew up car wrecks and the rubble of arson investigations. The Stokers affectionately called her Guzzle. It was a stage named used by one of their old freak show performers. Her act had been that she could chew through anything. She claimed to have teeth of steel made in the Orient. For the industrial Guzzle that was very much true.  

“I need that container back,” Isaac was protesting. “My uncle can’t have anything to do with this.”  

Back in the car Ricky was retelling the story of the pigs to Chick. Chick was laughing but he warned him.  

“You mind your manners now with Mr Willis. He’s an old timer and he can’t take much messing with these days.”  

“I will,” Ricky agreed with his head lowered. “I got an A in biology,” he announced proudly.  

“Well look at that!” The Cappy sighed. “You’re already on the fast track to doing the family proud. You stick in there. One day you will be a great man like your daddy.”  

“This mother fucker weighs a tonne!” complained Billy outside.  

Irvine Stoker was forced to stop for a breath. He wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.  

“You say Ira’s on the boat? You tell him to get his God damned lazy ass down here and help us,” Billy ordered.  

As a small crew gathered at the freighter to help carry the body of Cameron Doyle to its next destination, Ricky was continuing to talk to The Cappy.  

“I hear you’re in trouble,” the boy put to the CEO. “Grandpaw says you ain’t got long.” 

The Cappy smiled despite the rumours of incompetency that his cousin, Jackson, had been spreading around the Owen Inc board.  

“I’ve been having a bit of a time trying to keep things in order but it’s nothing for you to worry about.” 

“Buddy fucking up again?” Ricky asked. It was no secret to the family that Chick’s son was a bit of a train wreck.  

“For the most part, but with people like your daddy to help me I’m managing just fine.”  

“What have you got in there? A fucking elephant? You shooting elephants again Bill?” asked Ira Stoker.  

Ira was another bug eyed, curly haired Stoker cousin. He worked outside his circus season as a crime scene photographer, so he was especially good at detecting anything that had been missed.  

“Mind your business,” Billy urged. “The less you know, the happier you’ll be.”  

They didn’t’ have much time, so together they carried the remains to the grey freighter with the diamond logo on the side.  

“Is Article 22 worrying you?” Ricky asked of the Cappy. 

“You’re a good boy and a mature one. You talk more sense than most of your cousins so I won’t lie to you or glitter the truth. There will come a point when I will have to sit on the naughty step for a little while. Yes, I am worried but whilst I sit in the position that I am, you can rest assured that I won’t go down without a fight. We are Owens and that means something.”  

Ricky smiled. “It’s because our name is ancient like Mr Willis.”  

The Cappy chuckled. “That’s right. Sometimes that means offering respect. Sometimes it means dressing hogs but no matter what we got each other. You tell your daddy to call me and you come visit me real soon.” 

“There is a shit storm coming your way, Billy,” said Isaac as they stood on the docks watching the freighter head to an abandoned Hathfield Bay mine.  

“Shut your mouth,” Billy said. “You say nothing of this and you’ll be fine.”   

Freddy Stoker pulled his gloves off.  

“Clothes you’re wearing need to be washed at 90 degrees. That includes underwear just to be safe. Shower in as hot a temperature as you can stand then bleach the tub and drain as thoroughly as you can.”  

The wrinkles in Billy’s forehead deepened as he looked to Freddy, shorter than the rest, his personality a little off.  

“Get a hold of your boy, Stoker,” he said. “He’s giving me the willies.”  

Irvine laughed. Freddy did too.  

“I’ve got to go,” Isaac said, now feeling a little sick. 

“Remember, you keep your mouth shut and we’ll all live happy lives,” were Billy’s parting words to him.  

“He’s not going to stay quiet. He is going to Jew us out,” Irvine had warned him.  

“Then shut him up,” said Billy. 

“I’ve already planted evidence,” said Freddy. “If he tries to tell someone, we pull the plug.”  

As Isaac drove back to his home in Kingsgate, he had to pull off the road. His hands had been shaking so bad he could barely control his car. He knew Cameron well. Karyn Doyle was a friend of his uncle’s. His own mother was a high-ranking Law Maker who was in Doyle’s confidence.  

“What the fuck am I going to do?” Isaac pondered to himself. He couldn’t just sit by the side of the road forever.  

The freighter made its way to a small island inlet just off the coast of Hathfield Bay. There were no inhabitants there and the Bergman mine was out of commission.  

Cameron’s body was out of sight and out of the city for now. Until such times as it was safe for proper disposal the body, of the son of the most ferocious judge in Coldford history would lie in an abandoned diamond mine. It wasn’t a definite solution but it offered Billy the chance to move on to his next task.  

*** 

The Faulds Park building welcomed home one of its princes. Since the death of Reginald, it had been a somber place. The staff did all that they could to comfort the widow but it still pained them that the family they served would be subjected to such grief. So, when they learned that Reginald Penn Junior was being returned to them, they rejoiced. The rejoice was short lived because when the man they saw as their prince was brought to the steps of the Faulds Building, they found that it wasn’t a prince at all. It was a beaten boy, with sunken eyes, matted hair and a gait in his walk he hadn’t had when he left them.  

“Poor Reggie,” Mrs Gardner, the cook, cried onto Mr Bolton’s shoulder.  

Mr Bolton, Reginald’s driver and boyhood confidante patted Mrs Gardner’s back with a comforting hand.  

“He’s a strong boy. Just like his father,” he said, almost weeping himself. “He’ll be okay.”  

Rita hugged her baby as tightly as she could without hurting him. She didn’t like how he limped. She didn’t like how he grimaced whenever he tried to sit. He paced the room a lot, the way an animal in captivity would. And even back in the comfort of home, safe from the Kappa So brothers who had tortured him, he still wouldn’t speak.  

I had gone myself to speak to the Penn triplet. After everything he had gone through, he had a unique perspective on just how far people in the Shady City would go to protect their own gains.  

“Can you tell me anything about what happened to you?” I asked.  

Reggie was seated on a sofa in the main apartment of the Faulds Park Building. He was looking at me, he seemed receptive enough but his expression didn’t change.  

“I really appreciate you trying to get through to him, Sam,” said Rita. “But I think he should just rest.” She was holding a bowl of Queen Corn cereal. She said it was her son’s favourite. It was the only thing he would eat and even at that he would have to have it fed to him.  

“If you do want to speak Reggie, just know I’m a reporter,” I explained to him. “I’m on no one’s side. I make no judgement. I am just telling the story.”  

Reggie’s eyeballs moved up to me. It did look as though he had something to say, but before he could utter any words he spied the Queen Corn cereal and fell vacant again.  

“Here you are, baby,” said Rita.  

It was no use. The one man who had a tale to tell had retreated to the top of his tower, become tight-lipped and would rather be spoon fed cereal from his mother than speak to a reporter.  

I admit I felt a little disgruntled as I left Faulds Tower that afternoon. I had hoped that when the third triplet, the youngest, the baby, was given back to his natural habitat he would have much to say. However, it seemed there was someone that hoped he would stay quiet. The Faulds Building was immense but if someone was so determined to reach him, they would. Gun fire would crack and dear readers as I have said before, an Owen never misses a target.  

*** 

Rita Penn had spent the afternoon watching the serial show MARCH OF OUR TIMES. It was her guilty pleasure but her sons claimed to have hated it.  

“It’s a heap of shit,” Simon had protested.  

“It’s trashy plots with lousy acting,” had been Marcus’ sentiment.  

Reggie watched it with her though. He said he was just wanting to keep his mother company, but Rita suspected the subpar acting and the rushed story lines were just what Reggie enjoyed. He could protest that he never really paid that much attention but he had shed a tear when Mercedes finally left Hank. She had been through so much.  

“Chance is trying to start a new business,” Rita was catching her son up. Actor, Laurence Du Bois, had presented his character as the perfect villain to counteract Chance’s plans and in true soap opera fashion dead puppies, an explosion at a warehouse and a secret marriage intervened.  

Reggie failed to react. She just wished that something would stir him. She couldn’t blame him given everything he had faced. She stroked his curls, clean and tended now, and kissed his head.  

“You rest, baby,” she said. “You’ve been through so much.”  

She stood and wandered towards the window.  

“It’s a beautiful day outside,” commented the mother. “Maybe we can take a walk in the park.”  

WHACK. WHACK. WHACK.  

“I have told the news helicopters to back off,” Rita stated, disgruntled. She had informed the press through her own sources that Reggie would be not giving any statement at this time and, given the circus that the city was beginning to become, she requested that he be left alone to recover.  

What Rita didn’t seem to realise, perhaps a little naïvely, was that if she asked the press to step back, they would.  

WHACK. WHACK. WHACK.  

The helicopter drew closer, dancing around the height of the Faulds Building like a mating ritual.  

“Reggie?” Rita put to her son. “There’s a man hanging out of that helicopter.”  

Reggie looked up. “Mother!” he protested.  

BANG.  

The blast sent Rita falling to the floor. Like her husband, a bullet had taken her between her eyes.  

Clutching onto the helicopter door Billy Owen dropped his gun by his side.  

“A’body knows when you use cheap window cleaner, you’re gonna get streaks. Clean your Goddamn windows, bitch,” he chuckled. He banged his fist against the metal of the chopper to alert his old special ops cohort. They pulled away. Two Penns down, three to go.  

*** 

*** 

By the time I arrived at the Faulds Building with Lydia, Reggie was gone. He had disappeared, but not before he had pulled a sheet over the body of his mother. The elusive triplet wasn’t seen leaving on the CCTV footage but he did boast a whole host of hidey holes that would allow him to come and go with ease.  

Billy Owen had seen some tough campaigns. He had been to northern Subala. He had been to Levinkrantz during the bomb blitz. He had gutted men and hung women and children. He had a lot to answer for but until such times as there was proof, he, like the rest of his family, would walk free adding Rita Penn to his body count.  

*** 

Reggie Penn was on the loose again. Billy groaned to himself. He really was like a fucking rat. Those bastards were tough to kill. He was confident enough that he would catch up with him eventually. In the meantime, he had taken out all the ones picked up at the compound who might have had something to say. The rat had scurried into a hole somewhere, probably eating his own shit. He wasn’t Billy’s problem for now. The minute he peeked his nose out again and those little whiskers started to twitch. Blam! He would be sorry he had ever tried to run.  

Problems, problems, problems. When The Cappy called him from the Great States for service to the family he had warned him there was a river of piss to wade through. A lot of it belonged to that dumbass, Buddy. Much of it was fallout from the cherry popper, Jerry. Now that Billy was cleaning up all them messes, more were starting crop up. It was no wonder the place was all going to the dogs. It seemed everywhere you turned some bitch’s son was looking to stir shit up.  

Notice to Police Commissioner. Representatives of the Church of St Wigan have lodged complaints that their rights to free speech are being infringed by officers of CPD. Please advise. From the Office of Law Makers.  

Billy read the notice again, running his finger along the words and mouthing each syllable carefully. Then he grinned.  

He and his officers had been chasing and beating some of those monks now for weeks but it seemed they weren’t getting the damn message. They kept coming back. Now, not only did he have the rat, he had those fucking religious nuts ringing their damn bells all over the city. When were they going to get the message that they weren’t welcome?  

The body of Cameron was hidden. The stage was set for when the Jew boy went squealing to his mama. The rat boy had hidden away. Billy had eyes everywhere waiting for him to surface again. Buddy was staying out of trouble for now. It was all taken care of. Now what? 

Billy read the notice again.  

If those Wigan preachers weren’t getting his message, he was going to have to step it up. Trying to convince e’body to find religion. That shit should be illegal.  

Rights to free speech? Commissioner Billy Owen would see about that. He was pissed off and fixin’ to take it out on someone. He was sick and tired of them yelling at him as he walked City Main.  

“You can’t be saved!” What did that even mean? Shit! 

They shouldn’t go around preaching like that. It was confusing the young’ins. It was dangerous. That shit had to be stopped and Billy Owen was the man to do it. But first… 

Billy answered his phone on the third ring.  

“Yeah, Bud?”  

“Errrr…Bill?” Buddy asked nervously.  

“You better be staying out of trouble, boy,” Billy said.  

“I am. I am,” Buddy stated. “I was just wondering, if I were to have like just a little gram of powda’, you know to take the edge off…”  

“Buddy,” Billy barked. “No powda’. If I come down there and I find you boys are high on anything more than sugar I’m going to beat all y’all’s asses. Am I clear?”  

“I was just wondering. I just wanted to know what the lines where. I mean what the rules were. I’m feeling a little sick today, brah.”  

“You’ll feel better soon,” said Billy. “A’body knows that powda’ shit makes your dick limp. You wanna be limp dicked?”  

Buddy must have thought about it. “Chad!” he cried. “Put the turkey baster back!” 

At that Buddy rang off. Billy shook his head. “Jack ass,” he muttered to himself.  

His lil bro wasn’t so bad really. He just needed straightened out.  

Complaints lodged. Free speech. It was time to go divine on someone’s ass.  

*** 

Ding ding. Ding ding. 

“You cannot be saved!”  

Cries were ringing out across the city.  

“But repent and you’ll be in His embrace.”  

They were the children of St Wigan and they’d had a varied following over the years. They were a religious sect based on Hathfield Bay Island and they have featured in many of my observations over the years. Some notable members of the church include Delores McInney – grandmother of the Boss Lady, Nan Harvester – mother of Julia Harvester and Gerald ‘Jerry’ Owen who was one of their priests. Each of these people, for their own reasons, were united under one saint. They called Noah Wigan the Patron Saint of Sinners for it was said that he had walked the fires of Hell to welcome the damned into his embrace. Olivia Hickes had also been a member of the church, but had since taken a step back when she saw how intent they had become in their mission to cleanse the city. Coldford was filthy so it was going to take Hellfire to burn through the dirt. At least that was what Wigan had said.  

I will not detract with the details of the stress the Church of St Wigan had placed on the city. It will suffice to say that their numbers were booming, their reach from the bay was spreading further in the mainland, and now wherever you walked in the streets of Coldford, someone was crying out.  

“You cannot be saved!”  

The sound of the bell ringing was starting to get on Billy Owen’s last nerve.  

“I am sick and tired of hearing those preachers,” he groaned. “A’body knows there’s no such thing as God or any of that shit. We’re born, we bone and we die. That’s it.”  

*** 

“Did you know you can’t be saved?” Wigan monk, Issiah, was asking those who passed him as he stood outside the gates of Pettiwick School in Filton.  

It was the meeting of the PTA that night so the snobbish parents of the little Filton darlings were arriving in their droves. When your little bundle of joy was going to grow up to rule the world you had to take an interest in the institute that was going to show them how.  

“You cannot be saved!” Issiah cried as they passed him.  

He rang his bell as though he was predicting the end of the world.  

Ding ding. Ding ding.  

Most of the snobbish parents just snorted down their well-powdered noses at him but there were some who stopped to listen to what he had to say.  

“There is still hope,” he told them with joy. “If you repent, St Wigan will rescue you. He embraces all sinners and guides them to the light of salvation.”  

He had managed to fill his sheets with the numbers and details of some folks who wanted to hear more from the church.  

“You sound like you’re predicting the end of the world,” one of the women had stated as she and her fellow Pettiwick parent approached him.  

“It sounds ominous,” said Issiah, “but I have the pleasure to bring ye the truth. The truth is if you accept the most holy of saints, Wigan, into yer life you may reach paradise. St Wigan loves the sinners. He wants to bring them back from the brink. It’s not too late. Listen to Him and his disciples. Let Bartholemew carry ye forward. Fear Michael should you stray from the path.”  

The women were quite impressed. They signed up eventually. They were each given a Wigan book so that they could learn more about what their salvation would entail.  

Issiah could hear the words of praise from his church leader as he saw his good work. 

“I’m proud of ye, Issiah,” His Eminence would say. “It’s not an easy truth for folks to hear but it’s our job to make them listen.”  

Issiah had sheets of signups. He spent time chatting with the Pettiwick parents. Most of them were quite accepting. Some of them had been combative. That was expected when you were telling someone a truth they really didn’t want to hear.  

It had been quite a glorious day, praise Wigan. No-one could be saved and it seemed the posh part of the city were starting to learn that. Salinger, Weir and Fullerton were just some of the Filton notable names that he had on his sheet.  

It was a good day but it wasn’t over. He had to show his dedication. He pulled his robes tighter around him. Sat on the ground outside the school and prepared for the long night chill.  

When it reached the early hours, Issiah was stirred by a flood light like a beam from the Almighty. It was accompanied by the whack of helicopter blades.  

“Good mornin’,” someone called over a megaphone. “You wanna ride home?”  

*** 

*** 

CPD under Billy Owen’s commissionership weren’t exactly friends of the church.  

“It’s all bullshit,” Billy maintained as he and Irvine Stoker sat on the helicopter. Whipper’s blades whacked heavily through the quiet night air as Coldford eased its way through the early hours.  

“It’s bullshit. Ain’t that right?” Billy put to the Wigan monk who sat, shaking between Billy and Irvine.  

Isaiah had had quite a crowd gather around him to listen to what he had to say. If he hadn’t drawn so much interest Billy may have just left him alone, but he had generated quite a gathering to listen to his BS so Billy decided to intervene.  

“Disturbing the peace,” Billy had said. “Book ‘im.”  

Now, Issiah was praying harder than ever. He had never been on a helicopter before and he wasn’t much enjoying the height. Knowing this, Billy pushed him against the window.  

“Look at that drop!” he teased as they passed over the sea.  

Irvine laughed as the monk fell back into his arms. 

“Easy, mucker,” said the circus man.  

The shore of Hathfield Bay approached. The island was in slumber. There wasn’t a single light on in any of the houses darted along the dunes. The Wigan commune began to emerge from the sands. 

Billy leaned out and took a look.  

“Circle round to the church,” Billy ordered the pilot. “I’m gonna drop this guy off.”  

Whipper pivoted her body and made her way to the ancient structure of the church. Irvine managed to keep his balance as the helicopter turned. Billy gripped a bar. They both chuckled as the monk stumbled forward.  

“Almost home, boy,” Billy said as Whipper fell to a steady hover, miles above the church on the hill. “One last chance. Admit it’s all bullshit.”  

“I have faith,” Issiah maintained.  

“I got faith,” Billy replied, removing his gun and pointing it at the monk. “I got faith that I can put a bullet in your head and your saint ain’t gonna do jack shit about it.”  

Issiah whimpered but he said nothing.  

“Admit there’s no God and I’ll drop you home all nice like.”  

Issiah shook his head.  

Billy cocked his gun. “Say it!” he teased. “Admit there’s no God and Wigan sucks cock.”  

“Just let me go,” Issiah said as Irvine pushed him towards the door.  

“Not until you admit it,” Billy grinned.  

“There’s no God,” Issiah cried. “Just let me go.”  

“And Wigan?”  

“Wigan is a cock sucker,” Issiah sobbed. “Please, just let me go.”  

Billy shook his head. “Jeeeez,” Billy sighed. “I know y’all are faggots but to abandon your beliefs like that? That’s real sad. I can’t even look at ya. Stoker, see him out, would ya.”  

Irvine Stoker encased the monk in his long limbs like the forelegs of a preying mantis. The door was opened.  

“Let’s see if Wigan will catch ya,” Billy laughed.  

“Bye, mucker,” said Irvine.  

Issiah was thrown from Whipper’s hold. Both Billy and Irvine leaned out to watch him fall. It took ten seconds of shrill shrieking for the monk to finally hit the dune.  

“Wooooh,” Billy cheered. “Preach in my city again faggots I’m just going to have to keep bringing y’all back.”  

He laughed. The helicopter turned and made its way back to the city.  

When the body was discovered the following day, there was a CPD booking notice for disturbing the peace in his pocket. Billy Owen was taking care of business.  

Reggie Penn has always been a wanderer. His father is hailed as the King of City Main so when he slips off to the island to live with the cultish Curch of St Wigan he might not want daddy to come looking for him.

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