The street was one-way. Adam had to circle around the cemetery. Traffic was light as he drove past the three-hundred-year-old graveyard. Made for the wealthy who demanded their final resting place be kept separate from the unworthy class of citizens. Perhaps that was the reason they built a spiked cast-iron fence with jagged bars which circled the grounds, a guard house, and grounds keeper.
Adam made his turn towards home as he passed the west side of the gate, thrilled that he would soon enjoy his clean and furnished apartment. That is until movement in a tree caught his eye, haloed by a streetlight, shone on two people fighting on a branch dangling over the gate from the graveyard.
Adam slowed his approach and watched as the branch broke, and one of them fell landing on the grass lawn. As for the other one; Adam watched as a masked figure who wore black attire and a Harlequin mask, jumped and stood over the fallen male. Adam then noticed the knife in his gloved hand.
He opened his glove compartment and grabbed his gun. He jumped out of his jeep and aimed his weapon, taking off the safety.
“Hold it right there! Get away from him!” He shouted. When the figure caught sight of Adam, he glanced at the male on the ground before taking off running. Adam approached and knelt by the male who was groaning and appeared dazed. Patrick shifted his head and his fingers clenched the grass and dirt. Adam didn’t want to lose sight of the masked figure. “Okay, stay put; I’ll be right back,” he said, hoping he heard him as he took off after the masked person.
The Harlequin was athletic. But Adam didn’t gain his strength from growing up on a farm. He served four years in the military, and four years on the Vice Squad to be outrun by an asshole in a mask. Their run was brisk but strange. If the masked attacker continued running straight, he could have blended in with the crowd of people in the college district. Instead, he circled the graveyard.
‘What the fuck? Where was he going?’ thought Adam. He was closing in on him until the Harlequin leaped for the thorny bars, ignoring injury and propelling his body over the gate and back into the graveyard. The Harlequin landed on his feet and ran into the darkness. Adam took aim and pulled the trigger, but the gun clicked with no shot fired. He checked the envelope, finding it empty. Pissed that he forgot he had unloaded it during the move.
Adam’s breath clouded in the chilled air as he studied the medieval fence. Built back in the seventeen hundred, it kept the poor citizens out and stopped grave explorers from profiting off the resting wealthy citizens. Many wanted the gate replaced with a modern fence, but the historical society fought and won to let it stay intact.
Yes, living on the farm had taught him hard labor, even though he spent most of his time hiding from it, playing the youngest boy card. Whenever his father tried to discipline him, his mother intervened. The military was an awakening for him, filled with discipline and his responsibilities as a soldier, teaching him how to fight and use a gun and climb walls. But the class on scaling cast iron gates of possible death, he had to admit he missed that lesson.
Defeated, he returned to where he left the victim now on his feet walking in a daze towards the street. Traffic had picked up as he stumbled off the curb. Adam headed towards him, grabbing him in time to pull him out of harm’s way.
Patrick tried to pull away from Adam, but he held him tighter.
“You’re safe; the perp’s gone.” Adam’s words calmed Patrick’s struggling as Adam turned him around and leaned him against the jeep. Adam’s eyes widen when he recognized him; the one who Adam admired and waved to him from his bathroom window across the alley.
Patrick looked back at Adam with a lost expression. His cheeks dusted with dirt and he bore a few scratches on his chin, one cheek, and forehead.
“You should go to the hospital. Can I call for an ambulance?” Patrick’s soft eyes rose to his and, he gazed at him, wondering if he too remembered him.
“No hospital,” Patrick said.
“But you fell out of a tree; you’re in shock. Trust me, the pain will come.”
“Please, I don’t want to go,” he said as tears welled in his eyes. Adam didn’t mean to upset him.
“Okay—okay, no hospital. Can you at least tell me your name?”
Patrick was about to answer Adam when his thought became clear.
“Wow, okay Gavin. No need to shout.”
“No, Gavin—he’s still in there,” he said, trying to move towards the gate. Adam prevented him by grabbing his arm.
“Wait, who’s Gavin?”
“He’s my friend—that animal tried to…” his words caught in his throat as he remembered Gavin’s present state. The male grasped Adam’s arm. “He’s—dead. Someone in a mask stabbed him in the back then broke his neck.” His voice cracked remembering the sight of Gavin’s head laying at an odd angle. “He chased me and I had to climb that tree.”
“Okay, first—I’m not letting you back in there. It’s too dangerous. I want you to get into my jeep while I call the police.”
“Because someone murdered your friend.”
“No. Why get into your jeep?”
“Oh—for your safety, just until the police show.”
“I don’t know you.”
A knot formed in Adam’s gut when he realized Patrick didn’t recognize him. He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and produced his badge, introducing himself.
“Adam Potter. I’m a private investigator. Now your name?”
“Patrick…” He hesitated. He didn’t want to share his last name. Adam didn’t want to push, so he left it at that.
“Okay Patrick, can you please get into my jeep?” Patrick climbed into the passenger side of Adam’s vehicle. Adam shut his door and turned back to the cemetery. The Harlequin was nowhere in sight. He only saw occupied graves.
He climbed into the jeep. The events of the evening and meeting Patrick weren’t what Adam had planned. He glanced at Patrick, who sat staring out the side window with tears trailing down his cheeks. Adam dialed the three-digit number and gave his information to the dispatch who told him to wait for a police car to arrive.