New York City
Once he landed, Michael pulled out his cellphone and called the number on the paper.
“Hello,” a female voice said.
“Uhm, hi. I, uhm, my father left me this number.”
“I know who you are. I’ve been waiting for your call.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know about your gift.”
“Where are you?” the woman asked.
“What do you mean you know about my gift?”
“Please tell me where you are. I will explain.”
“Can you meet me tomorrow at nine a.m. at the library on Fifth Avenue? We have a lot to talk about.”
“Yes, we do. I’ll be there.”
“Please ask for Amanda when you get there.” She hung up.
Confused about this conversation, Michael needed a distraction to clear his mind. Too many thoughts were racing through his head. Being alone now in his house was the last thing he would be able to bear. Michael knew just where to go.
* * *
Michael had been sipping a beer at Mickey’s, his local bar, for more than an hour now. The conversation with the mysterious woman had still not left his mind.
“I need to get going, Mickey. What do I owe you?” Michael said.
“Please, Michael, that beer’s on me. But you might want to hang around for a little longer, it’s lashing rain outside,” said Mickey, who knew all of his patrons by name.
Michael looked out the window and saw the heavy rain hitting the window hard.
“You win, then give me another one, please.”
Michael stayed for a couple more beers, waiting for the rain to stop. Amanda again occupied his mind.
How does she know?
The longer he waited, the stronger the rain seemed to be getting. It was past eleven at night now.
“Thanks, Mickey. Catch you later,” Michael said, getting ready to leave.
“Sure thing. Grab an umbrella at the front. I don’t want ya catching pneumonia.”
From a black van parked on the opposite side of the street, Baal watched Michael leaving the bar.
Michael rushed down the block, trying to escape the rain. The motor of the van howled up and stopped right next to him.
Baal jumped out of the van and grabbed him.
Baal kicked him furiously. Michael was taken by surprise. Using the umbrella, he tried to jab Baal in his stomach. The tall man’s strong abdominal muscles withstood the rapid stabs. He got hold of Michael’s ankle and pulled him to the ground. He pinned Michael to the ground with his muscular body.
“Your gift. I want it,” Baal’s deep voice shouted at Michael.
Michael looked up at him. He got a glimpse of Baal’s blond hair and piercing eyes. But he was shocked by the sight of multiple deep scars spread across his face.
The sound of a gunshot hissed through the air. Baal looked behind him and saw Mickey in the distance, aiming a pistol in his direction. Baal looked back down at Michael and said one final sentence before he left, “I will get it.”
He quickly jumped off of Michael and rushed back into the van. Michael grabbed Baal’s wrist, trying to stop him from fleeing. He kicked Michael’s arm. In pain, he let go but was able get a glimpse of a tattoo on Baal’s underarm — two parallel vertical lines in a triangle.
“Are you alright?” Mickey screamed, running toward Michael. Michael looked to the street, only getting a glimpse of the van leaving with squeaking wheels.
“I’m fine,” he said, sitting up and holding his head.
Who the heck was that?
Back in his apartment, Michael remembered Amanda’s words—I know about your gift.
“I know about your gift? The guy yelled the same,” he muttered.