“Did you do it? Did ye curse Peter and send him to get the Devil’s bite?”
Congregate, Luke, was gasping. With Dominick’s hands around his neck his trachea was crushed. He was finding it difficult to breathe.
“Kill him, Uncle Dom,” Charlotte pressed from nearby.
Dominick squeezed Luke’s neck tighter.
“Did ye do it? Did ye curse us?”
The man was trying to plead but he was choking on his own words.
“Kill him,” Charlotte insisted.
“I’m trying, Charlotte. I’m trying.”
But Dominick didn’t have the will for any more at this point. Twenty congregates had already been brought before him to be put to the question. He kicked the man aside. He lay gasping in the sand.
Dominick took the iron cross from Bart.
“Your Eminence, please,” cried Barbara Tulloch.
The church leader was catching his breath.
“You!” he roared, pointing the cross at her. “Ya heathenous, syphillis riddled cunt. It was you! You came onto this island and you brought this on us.”
Barbara shook her head. Tears streamed down her face and her mouth parted but it was silent wails.
Dominick knocked her to the ground.
He hit her with the iron cross again. Her skull cracked.
“Look what you did to them! Peter was a good man!”
He hit again on the back of her head.
“Yer curse caused the death of an innocent little wean too! Slut!”
He hit her again and again until blood began to throw from the cross’s impact. He couldn’t stop hitting her until he fell back exhausted.
The broken pieces of her body spilled out onto the sand. He spat on her.
To Bart he called, “bring in the next one.”
It was confirmed. What Peter Millicent had said about Sergeant Major Doyle purchasing from Nan Harvester was true. Five young girls had stepped forward to give evidence and the monk, Jonah, had told all he knew. He had also discussed some young boys being groomed for something. It was like the Sergeant Major was recruiting them.
“This is going to crush Karyn,” Sophie had said to Golem.
Karyn Doyle did look up to her father. I guess it is difficult to know someone truly.
They climbed into the car. Golem held the door for his mistress. They intended to bring what they knew to the judge at her home. Sophie was busy thinking of how she was going to break it to her. She would want to pour through the testimony together. The sergeant major himself hadn’t been informed yet. As far as he was concerned over in Subala all was well. Karyn would want to make maneuvers personally. Her son lost and now her father all but gone too.
Sophie watched the headlights of the car flood the parking bay beneath the High Court. There were so few cars there that night. Most people had gone home already. She felt the rumble of the car as the ignition started. She felt Golem pat her hand. He knew she didn’t relish the task she had been given but the law was the law and Karyn would understand that. Sophie turned to her interpreter and smiled. Golem turned back to the view in front. The car rumbled forward a little but then it stopped suddenly. Golem seemed disrupted by something. Sophie tried to ask him what the delay was but he kept his focus on front. What Sophie hadn’t heard was the clanging footsteps. It wasn’t until the form of a man stepped into the light was she given any indication of the danger.
“Wait here,” said Golem.
The engine stopped. Golem climbed out of the car. Sophie raised her hand to her eyes to see if she could get a better look at what was going on. Golem’s own notable frame blocked most of the view.
The car shook as Golem fell against it. He was on his feet again and charged forward. Through the blaze of the headlights Sophie caught sight of a blade being swung.
She saw Golem’s face hit the windscreen. The head had been detached from the body.
Sophie hurriedly tried to climb into the driver’s seat. She fumbled with the ignition but her fingers were made shaky by the urgency of the situation.
Before she could set off, her door was hauled open. She tried to crawl away. The shrieks, the pleas, it was all so very silent as a hand clasped her foot and pulled her from the car. She tried to kick but her foot hit steel. It did no good. A commotion elsewhere must have distracted them because she felt the grip loosen. Before steel was wielded down on her she crawled out of the way, climbed onto her feet and dashed towards the exit.
“Eight … Nine … Ten …”
Reggie gasped as he made his tenth leg raise.
“Keep pushing,” Simon urged who was helping him through the therapy on his healing femur bone. “You can do it, a few more reps.”
“You can. Come on. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen.”
“It’s really fucking painful,” Reggie grunted.
“You’re getting strength back. I can see it. The work is paying off,” assured his brother. “Another couple. Fourteen… Fifteen…”
Reggie rested his leg down and stretched himself out on the mat on the floor of the Faulds penthouse lounge. Marcus joined them, just closing a call.
“The commissioner is on his way up. He says there’s someone he would like for us to meet.”
Reggie sat up. Simon reached his hand out and helped him to his feet. He hopped a little but he shook it off.
“Who?” Simon enquired.
Simon found the very name aggravating. They all did.
“Owen! What the fuck is he bringing an Owen here for!?”
Marcus hid his frustration the best of the three.
“He’s been working with Franklin’s team. If he trusts him then we will hear what he has to say.”
“Owen?” Reggie protested. “Another fucking Owen?”
They didn’t have much time to debate over which type of Owen Theodore was likely to be. A creep like Jerry? A dickhead like The Cappy? A moron like Buddy or a helpful albeit morally absent one like Ronnie? Before the triplets could place bets the elevator sounded. They were met with Franklin first.
“I know a lot has gone down,” he said to them. “But we all want to improve things. I want you to meet Teddy because I believe he could be a great help in doing just that.”
“Very well, commissioner,” Marcus beckoned.
With that Franklin was joined by a tall man, with a warm expression. He was clutching a cattleman hat to his chest and looking about himself with some awe at the Faulds penthouse. What Marcus noticed first was the gun on his belt.
“Your weapon,” the king acknowledged.
Teddy took in the three triplets who were watching him with an identical mixed expression of bewilderment and frustration.
“I have this by my side but I’d much rather shake a man’s hand than draw arms.”
Simon scowled. “Yeah, well … hang on … Wait. What?”
He looked to his brothers to see if he had heard right. He must have because they were just as confused.
“Theodore,” Marcus greeted. “I trust your time in Coldford has been agreeable so far.”
“You can call me Teddy,” he offered in a cordial way that the triplets hadn’t seen in any of the Owens. “It’s a fine city.”
“Seriously? What the …?” Marcus could hear Simon grumble beside him.
Teddy went on.
“Franklin told me that the people here call you a king. That is a heavy responsibility. He also assures me that you take that responsibility very seriously. I can appreciate that, sir.”
“No fucking way,” Simon was still grumbling in shock. It was starting to amuse him.
Reggie decided to press a little.
“Where you from?”
“What did you do there?”
“I had a ranch.”
“How did you get here?”
“I took a flight.”
Marcus glared at Reggie. The name Owen was still ringing in his ears but the need to accommodate a cordial guest was throwing everything into disarray.
“How are you related to Buddy?” Reggie asked.
“He’s my cousin.”
“How are you related to Billy?” Simon wanted to know.
“He’s my brother.”
The two couldn’t contain their amusement at how ridiculous that sounded. Marcus gripped their shoulders.
“Excuse us. Commissioner? Agent Owen? Do make yourselves comfortable.”
When he led his brothers into the kitchens, Simon and Reggie were in peals of laughter.
“Will you two show some decorum!” Marcus barked at them.
“Come on,” Simon chortled. “This is a piss take. Right? It has to be. There’s no way that guy is an Owen.”
“I might have bought it but … Billy the bawbag’s brother!?” Reggie put in.
This caused the two to start laughing heartily again.
Simon stuck out his chin and showed his teeth. “Billy,” he said. Then he pointed towards Teddy. “Brother to that guy?”
Marcus looked between them with a disapproving expression.
“They’ve sent an actor down. That guys an actor,” Simon went on.
Marcus would argue the idea that Owen Inc would hire an actor to act as a front for the family was ludicrous but it wasn’t so far-fetched. There was time when the Kappa So and the Loyalists were working on a community project together. The triplets had been preparing themselves all morning for some kind of altercation. Reginald had warned them to behave like gentlemen no matter how low the frat bros stooped. It was all moot. When the Kappa So arrived, Buddy wasn’t among them. There was a boy who was claiming to be Buddy though. He later went on to win prime time awards for his role in the March of our Times soap opera.
“Either that guy’s an actor or the Cappy dying has sent that lot right off their fucking nuts,” Simon suggested.
“Get yourselves together,” Marcus warned.
The three returned to their guests. Franklin was shaking his head with an exasperated smile at them.
Teddy addressed Reggie.
“I’m glad to see you’re faring well,” he said. “I was with the team that extracted you.”
“Yeah?” Reggie returned testily. “So was Billy.”
“He was there,” Franklin said. “I can confirm that.”
“In that case,” he said, “I owe you a great debt of gratitude on behalf of the people here and on behalf of our family. On a personal note, thank you for bringing our brother home. You are most welcome here in Main.”
He reached his hand out. Teddy shook it warmly.
“Marcus Penn,” he introduced himself properly. “These are my brothers, Simon and Reginald Junior.”
Teddy shared a handshake with the other two triplets.
“You can call me Reggie.”
“You want a beer?” Simon offered.
“I appreciate your hospitality,” Teddy replied warmly. “But I would like to take in some of the sights here whilst I have the time. There’s a lot of interesting history.”
“If you like the history head on up to the main thoroughfare. Albans has lots of old monuments,” Simon suggested.
“You can get cool photos there,” said Reggie.
“If you would like someone to help show you around, I can provide an escort,” was the king’s offer.
Teddy replied, “that would be appreciated, sir, but I have taken up enough of your time. I do have a map now so I should find my way about just fine.”
“You have to stop by Walden’s. Our friend there, Molly, she’ll make you welcome. I’m sure she’d love to meet you,” Simon told him.
Teddy did feel the need to address one issue.
“You’ll forgive my manners if I seemed out of sorts. I was a little confused.”
“You were confused?” the triplets asked in synchrony.
“When I was hearing about you from Buddy at first I was under the impression you gentlemen were conjoined.”
The triplets shared a look.
“At the genitals.”
Teddy and Franklin departed. The elevator was waiting in the hall. Franklin turned back and smiled at the triplets.
“The looks on your faces!” he jested.
The three had to agree. They were still perplexed. An agreeable Owen? Who knew?
“I don’t know what the fuck is going on anymore,” was Simon’s comment.
“A’body knows when you break your thigh bone your dick don’t work right after it,” William ‘Billy’ Owen was telling his cousin.
He had come to visit the three bros in recovery at Harbour House. He was not providing much comfort.
“My dick still works, brah!” Chad insisted.
“How do you know? You’re pissing in a bag.”
“Bud? My dick is gonna work right after this, isn’t it?”
Buddy was still trying to concentrate really hard on his own bodily functions. Billy had him convinced that if the catheter had been done wrong it would push the piss back and they would have to amputate.
“When they cut your dick off they use the skin to cover moles and shit,” said Billy as he flicked the chart. His expression changed. His brow wrinkled as he read the doctor’s notes. “Oh!” he gasped. “I’m real sorry fellas. I didn’t realize.”
Buddy and the bros gasped in synchrony.
“What? What is it Bill?” Buddy demanded.
Billy shook his head. “Brah! It’s real bad.”
“Billy, what have they said? Is it cancer? We caught the cancer brah!” Buddy shrieked.
“No, it says here ya’lls cocks are so tiny it’s considered a fucking disability!” he threw the chart onto the bed and roared with laughter.
“Yeah Bill, real funny,” said Buddy. “Thanks for coming, by the way.”
Billy gave a satisfied sigh.
The truth was Billy was just trying to distract himself from the recent events. Buddy knew it was his way. Even in the toughest times he would always be an asshole.
The other elders arrived. Kathleen, Ozzy and Marshall looked stressed. Ronnie looked like he hadn’t slept the entire night.
“I know we’d all like to mourn Chick,” said the lawyer brother. “But there’s a lot to be getting on with and he’d hate for us to lose time. Buddy? It’s up to you to step up.”
“Can’t do much stepping right now, bro,” replied Buddy in reference to the beating he had received from Kim Adams. “But I got this shit. The Cappy would want me to. I’m King Cock now.”
Marshall scoffed at this term. It caused Ozzy to chuckle.
“The Cappy had given his word to the Stokers that Isaac Bergman would be returned home,” said Ronnie, waiting to see how Buddy would proceed.
“We don’t need no pussy ass Jew boy,” was Buddy’s wisdom.
“He also made it his wish that the Auction House be returned to the Penns. They are the ones with the connections that place requires. The Hen Owen compass was his real target anyway.”
“You can’t just give it back,” Marshall interjected. “It’s a prime spot in Main. We hold onto that we got them by the balls.”
“And the Auction House connections have already started to be difficult. They refuse to deal with it without a Penn at the podium. Buddy is going to be taking over for Chick. We won’t have time for a fight just to hold a goddamn empty hall. We got Marcus Penn out of prison because Chick had an agreement with the Knock Knock girl. If you don’t follow through with that she will kick up a mighty fuss too and we’re going to have real choppy waters in the coming weeks. I say it again until it all starts making sense to me. Buddy will be taking Chick’s place,” Ronnie reminded him. “Teddy has been in to see them as part of the Hickes agency too. It would be better for us to work together.”
Marshall was shaking his head as the others looked to Buddy for insight.
‘I can’t believe we’re listening to this dip shit,’ Marshall groaned inwardly.
“An auction house sounds boring as shit,” was Buddy’s assumption. “I don’t want to have to deal with a weird, dusty place full of old dudes where the triplets hide behind paintings, jump out scaring each other,” he said.
“You can’t be serious!” Marshall exclaimed. “You’ll give it back?”
All Buddy had really heard was it had been what The Cappy had wanted. Although, he did figure the running of an Auction House would be boring and the idea of the triplets leaping out from behind the paintings did weird him out.
“Without Chick people are going to see us as week. They are going to smell blood,” said Ronnie. “It would be much easier having people like the Penns on our side. Charles always used to say that you had to be tactical.”
“King cock got your back, bro,” Buddy said.
“It’s gonna be real tough.”
The Auction House hadn’t fallen into disrepair, Jean Luc was pleased to see. It almost seemed like nothing had been touched since the last time Reginald Penn had been there. His footsteps tapped across the Auction House floor. He stirred with a cough behind him. Jean Luc turned to meet Marshall Cooper emerging from the main storage room. Marshall coughed heavily again with the dust.
He reached his hand out to shake that of the Penn associate but he coughed again.
“That dust here can really stick in your throat,” said Jean Luc. He observed Marshall’s beaten face.
“The Cappy wanted to return this place to its rightful owners. The boy, Buddy sent me to see it through,” said Marshall.
“I’m glad to hear that,” Jean Luc replied. “What is he looking for in return?”
Marshall shrugged. “A little fucking vacation. I don’t know,” he said testily.
“Then name your price for the Auction House,” Jean Luc pushed.
“The return of this Auction House is a sign of good faith from… King Cock,” Marshall groaned at Buddy’s title insistence, ‘muttering God fucking damnit’ under his breath. “Buddy doesn’t want to hold onto because that just builds up paperwork and shit. Are we good?”
“I think that seems more than fair,” Jean Luc agreed.
Paperwork was confirmed and the finer details of the agreement were made. As they were leaving Jean Luc stopped.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Yeah? What?” Marshall responded.
“What happened to your face? It seems you found yourself in quite the fight?”
Marshall’s lips tightened. “Welcome to fucking Coldford.”
“I’m on the steps of the High Court where Judge Karyn Doyle has given a statement on the use of Article 22. It is confirmed that the article will remain in place as the Office of Law Makers continue to quash crime in Coldford. I’m Sandra Wake of Coldford Daily news.”
“Never have I been so certain of its necessity,” Doyle had told the press. She was unrelenting. Even with a close personal friend almost succumbing to its barbarity she refused to remove it.
“How long do you expect the people of Coldford to live in this kind of fear?” I asked her.
“As long as it takes,” the Judge returned without pause.
There was a commotion at the back.
“Your Honour! Cried a Hathfield voice. “Your honour!”
I watched Dominick push through. Law Makers stepped in his way but Doyle urged them to halt.
Dominick dropped to his knees. He held his hands out.
“I come to hand myself over to ye,” he called.
I could see Sandra push her camera man to get a shot of him.
“By your laws I’m considered a murderer. I have prayed for guidance and that guidance has brought me here to suffer the consequences. Take me into your custody and punish me as your earthly laws see fit. I cannot be saved so here I am.”
Dominick was taken into Law Maker custody.
“Praise Wigan!” I heard voices call as he was taken away. It was difficult to determine where they were coming from.
The leader of the Church of St Wigan was taken into Law Maker holding. Trial would be swift if he was found wanting. Article 22, after all, was still in effect.
With a kind word from Howard Bergman, who spoke of my commitment to the truth, I was granted access to Dominick Cole. The church leader wasn’t quite as grand as he had seemed before. He had been stripped of his robes and now wore standard issue grey. His hair was messy with grease and the melanin streak through it looked like a crack across his skull. He appeared to be a little physically beaten too.
He watched me take a seat silently. He himself remained sat upon the floor. I didn’t urge any questions, Agent Reynolds, who, as a cult deprogrammer, had had a lot of dealings with the church in the past, advised me against it.
“I remember you,” he said finally. “Sam, isn’t it? Did ye find some faith or are you still Hell bound?”
“This is where faith gets you?” I put to him.
Dominick laughed a little but it was not in good spirits.
“I have no fear,” he stated.
“Why did you give yourself to custody?” I asked now that the dialogue had been opened.
“I was urged. Wigan asked me to make a sacrifice.”
“I think you snapped,” I said to him. “Everyone has their limits, even the so called faithful.”
He stretched his legs out and leaned against the wall, seated just below the window.
“Something had to be done,” he said.
“And this was it?” I asked.
Dominick smiled but in a frosty way in which he bore his teeth.
“What does it truly matter? I’m sure to you City Dwellers one more Wigan dead is one less to worry about.”
I stopped him. “If that’s how you believe we all think then you’re wrong. There are people over here who embraced your faith. Listen to them. You can hear them calling for you just outside this building. There were people who found comfort in your faith. You should know that. I might not be the follower of the same but if people can draw positive from faith then I would encourage it.”
“There was a time in my life when I thought like you. I don’t mean I was an atheist, I was never that, I mean I saw the joy that faith can bring. I saw it comfort the dying. I saw it heal the sick. I saw it hold whole communities of people together. When folks walk into a church they are overwhelmed. It’s more than a building. It’s a sanctuary. It’s a home and it’s worth fighting for to yer last breath.”
“Then why has it come to this?” I asked.
“Because ye fear for the people who don’t see the one true path. Ye try and show them and they return with brutality. They refuse to listen. You can’t allow that to happen because you are so worried for them. I begged them to realise their misdeeds and repent for them.”
“None of this needs to happen,” I said to him.
“That’s where you and I are different. I believe this is exactly what needs to happen.”
He climbed to his feet. I did likewise and took a step back from the table.
“It’s too late to repent now!” he yelled.
He grabbed my shoulders and held me so close I could see the spittle on his lower lip. I pushed him away from me.
“Take my life!” he cried. “Take it!”
Law Makers intervened and escorted him from the room. I departed the High Court in what I admit was a bit of a hurry. Dominick’s voice was still ringing in my ear.
Outside, Wigan followers had set up a vigil. They were singing. Their joyous tones chilled as they filled the night air.
Dominick, who could hear them from the window sat back down on the floor.
I didn’t make the habit of attending the executions brought about by Article 22. It was morbid, unnecessary and only stirred fear and concern further. But as a chilled evening fell the killing fields of City Face was the only place to be. As he was brought out I found the detestable presence of Sandra Wake squeeze in beside me. Her camera man was taking way more room than he needed to. She glared at me but I didn’t have the time for her nonsense. Dominick Cole, head of the Church of St Wigan was to be put to death that day.
“Do you have anything you wish to say before sentence is carried out?”
Here Dominick looked up. He looked a great deal thinner without his robes.
“It doesn’t matter what you do with me,” he said finally.
Sandra had indicated to her camera man to start recording.
“Let him through,” Franklin’s CPD could be heard calling. Agent John Reynolds approached.
“Agent Reynolds,” said Dominick with a smile. “Come to say goodbye?”
Reynolds shook his head.
“I’ve seen people lost over the years. I’ve been lost myself often. I’ve seen the worst of the worst, some real sick cats, turn to religion and better themselves. You’re going to die one way or another but what you do now can make a difference. Tell your followers to ease off. Give them some peace.”
Dominick pursed his lips as though he was going to say something but it was cut short.
“Dominick!” a woman screamed.
Sandra was patting her camera man’s arm. I too found myself aiming my phone in the same direction.
A woman had climbed out onto the clock of City Face as the time reached 6:15
“I love you Dominick!” she cried into the night.
She had completely stolen focus from the execution that was to take place.
“Tell her to stop,” Reynolds warned Dominick. “Get her down from there.”
“This is for you!” the woman cried.
There was a rope around her neck. No one could have stopped her. She leapt from the clock hands. She hadn’t tied the noose properly so when the rope yanked, the pressure of the fall decapitated her and her body fell onto the yard below.
“Move back!” CPD crowd control had set in.
Reynolds looked out to the crowd. He was familiar with the Church and how it functioned so when he observed the crowd and couldn’t see Bartholemew he asked, “where is Bart?”
It seemed unlikely he would be anywhere else but the execution of his church leader.
“Where is Bart?” he asked again. Dominick gave no answer.
As City Main descended into chaos with the execution of Dominick Cole a little further up the road another incident was transpiring. Reynolds had been correct in asking where Bartholemew was. The only way he wouldn’t be there to the end with his long time friend, his spiritual leader, would be if there was a greater task at hand. That great task weighed heavy in his arms. He carried the sword of the Templar to the gates. He laid it below a sign that read:
DALWAY LANE GALLERY.
He could see hundreds of serpents slither around the main yard. They flowed like the waves of the bay and they would carry him forward.
His mushroom trip seemed to have lasted ever since Leona’s body had been buried.
He unclipped the case. The blade inside flowed into his hands. It wasn’t heavy anymore. It was collected from him and the gate was opened.
“Move back!” we were ordered.
Sandra was pushed out of the way. Her camera man, who had been trying to get a shot of the dead girls body parts below City Face, was knocked back too.
Dominick was standing calmly among the chaos. Then I heard a child shriek. A woman was pouring water over a little girl. When I realised it wasn’t water she was pouring it was too later.
“Praise Wigan!” she cried pushing the girl forward, lighting a match and dripping it on top of her. The child erupted in flames. Screaming she instinctively charged forward taking the inferno with her. There were more screams as the flames spread.
Make shift explosives detonated.
“Move back!” CPD were calling.
One of the children ran at the horses. He was trampled. Before the horses hooves stomped an explosion ripped into its leg, throwing its rider.
A man grabbed me. I looked into his terrified eyes. When I noticed he bore a Wigan pin I pushed him away from me. I heard Sandra scream. A blast had caught her leg. I reached out and pulled her to her feet as we tried to get away.
Still Dominick said nothing.
Sandra’s camera man captured the footage of a CPD officer having to gun down two little girls who were skipping towards him lest they be strapped with explosives. They were dazed, drugged and didn’t heed his warning.
“Make this stop!” Reynolds was demanding of the church leader.
With CPD scattered, trying to bring order, a Wigan seized the opportunity and ran at Reynolds. He wrapped his arms around him.
The explosion tore into Reynolds side but luckily he managed to fend the man off in time.
The entrance to City Hall had been breached.
Reynolds made a call. “Are you nearby?” he asked. “We need all the help we can get here.”
“Move back!” Franklin was coordinating his officers.
Distance was put between Reynolds and Dominick.
Sandra and I were almost trampled by the crowd. We had come so close to being trampled by the horses. That was when we heard the distinctive noise of Kitty charging through.
Sandra’s camera man had been hit to the ground. She picked up the camera and shakily held it out to catch footage of the CPD reacting in aggression.
“Move back!” the crowd were warned once again. This time it was Agent Lowe who had given the request.
Reynolds made his way back through to Dominick. When he did push through the church leader was gone.
“You’re going to love him,” David Finn was telling Tabitha. “He says Duh, that’s him trying to say David.”
Tabitha giggled at the thought of the child which David had acted as surrogate for coming to the Knock Knock Club for protection. David chuckled too. Tabtiha’s gap toothed grin made her seem so much more innocent than she was.
“He says no to everything,” David went on proudly. “He’s a great little kid. He’s my little besto.”
“He’ll get plenty attention around here,” Tawny assured. “The girls always love when a wee baba comes around.”
David looked at the clock. 6:15.
“I thought they would be out of Main by now. That church lunatic is done for.”
Given the attention his controversial Wigan painting had garnered David had watched some footage someone had taken of Dominick over on the bay. There were hundreds of them all sat on the beach listening to him as he spoke passionately of Hellfire, gesturing enthusiastically. His congregates were whooping and cheering as though welcoming the deaths of all City Dwellers. David could still hear the Hathfield voice as he tried to sleep.
“Repent!” he could hear him scream.
He had asked Tawny several times of her experiences with him. All she could tell was what she knew of him as a boy. The Wigan faith was a difficult subject to approach given what had happened to Vincent, Agnes and to herself. He was glad Harper and Gabby had agreed to send Elliot to the club. They would join them too after they had wrapped up everything they had to at the Auction House.
There was shouting from Clifton Alley. Tabitha stirred first to check on it.
“What the fuck is going on?”
The commotion cleared as quickly as it had arisen.
“Boxes,” David could hear someone call.
“What’s going on?” he asked again.
“Wigan bless you.”
“What the fuck?” David asked.
He was on his feet.
“Davey, wait!” Tawny tried to pull him back, hoping to stop him rushing outside.
He managed to pull away from her.
Out in Clifton Alley two boxes had been delivered.
Some had chased off the Wigan messengers but it was no use. They were gone before they could catch up. David Finn’s interests were on the boxes. They had, after all, his name on them.
“They’re mine,” David cried. “They’re for me.”
“David, come back inside,” Tabitha called from the entrance.
David shook her off and opened the first box. Inside was the head of Gabrielle Dalway. The sweet, patient Gabrielle who had stood by him throughout his addiction. The pleasant natured girl who had cried the night David agreed to be surrogate so she and her partner could have the child they always wanted. She who had lovingly carried Elliot to term.
“Davey,” Tawny was now calling. “Come inside.”
He had to open the second one. In there was the loving but stern Harper. She had been the first person to tell him he had a problem with drugs. She had been the one to carry him into the hospital the night it looked as though he had been overdosing. She had told him he was stupid. She had banned him from her gallery but she had still sat by his bedside that whole night. She loved him and she was damn near the first person who ever did. David always regretted he could never repay her for kicking him into line but he could give her a baby to raise.
“Great mothers,” David despaired. “They were the best mothers. Elliot was so lucky to have so much love around him. Where’s Elliot!?”
Elliot was David’s son. The artist was all the little boy had in the world
“Where’s Elliot!?” David cried.
By now he was being pulled away from the grisly scene in the alley.
“This way, Your Eminence!”
Dominick had led through the labyrinth of Coldford City, through the Chamberlain section of North Coldridge and down to Swantin. By the time they reached the docks where Ravensedge was waiting he felt sick.
He clasped the face of the Wigan girl who had led him. He pressed his forehead against hers.
“Wigan bless ye,” he said
On board Charlotte came him. She wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m alright,” he assured.
The ship departed for the bay promptly with CPD in pursuit to close it off.
“Dom!” Bart found them as shore was ripped away from behind them.
“Are ye hurt?” he asked.
The reply didn’t come from Dominick. It came from the little boy who was rushing towards him.
“No!” he said with a laugh.
“No?” Dominick grinned, lifting little Elliot into his arms.
“You’re a handsome little fella,” he commented. “My name’s Dominick. Can ye say Dom?”
“Duh!” Elliot replied.
“Close enough,” Dominick decided, not realising the child was asking for David.
“Are ye looking forward to a day on the beach?”
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