Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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Makin Bones...

Chapter 10. Makin Bones.

“Keep up” Hisses the voice of Lucifer.

His voice is once of cold harshness. The sound of his voice is unpleasant to human ears, hearing his voice is equivalent to having sandpaper scraping against your ear drum. He increased his speed, Bruce struggled to keep up with Lucifer’s long strides, in Bruce’s defense, they had been walking all over the seventh ward.

As he predicted and he had been warned, their tasks are completed in near silence, apart from the occasional order Lucifer barley acknowledged his presence.

Lucifer operated independently from the rest of the gang, he had two henchmen of his own, but for the most part he worked alone. He is very unsightly and well… frightening. He is so pale that he could have passed for an Albino, if not for his eyes.

Crystal blue, they were a ghoulish pair of eyes. They were made that much more frightening by Lucifer’s narrow and sickly appearance. Under his eyes, bags sag an inch, his shoulders are boney and face thin, all of these feature made him look like he is dying.

It is getting close to two in the afternoon. They had been searching the 7th ward since this morning. They had made many stops searching for these punks and found some luck at the last stop. Although the woman that Lucifer interrogated wet herself at one point.

Lucifer had a dastardly reputation among the locals, having killed hundreds of people during his time in the Quarter on Dellara’s behalf he is the most feared being in a hundred miles. His nickname had sprung up at some point during the 20 years he terrorized the city. He is called The Pale Death; he became essentially the Grim Reaper of the Quarter.

Dellara had this little quote or poem he would send to someone he wanted dead, Dellara liked to play with his victims at time.

“All creatures have natural predators; the Pale Death is that predator for man. He lives to strike fear into the hearts of the sheep, expect the end, for if you see his blue eyes welcoming you to hell, know that you are already dead…”

Dellara quoted that line to anyone who dared to crossed him, not even Carlos Marcello the main power in New Orleans would fuck with Dellara, Bruce knew it is because of the fear Lucifer shook into the bone of anyone who knew or crossed paths with him.

Being the Breeze Street Crew’s number one asset and main button man, Lucifer operated with no oversight and complete autonomy.

He always dressed a certain way, always in a pressed suit. He wore a different kind each day, but they were always a grey color. Holstered under his arm is a stainless steel 1911. Bruce dressed similar. He wore his new hand crafted, blue tailored, single breast suit. Holstered securely under his arm is Bruce’s trusty Browning 1911.

There is something different and far more sinister about his weapon this time. This morning Bruce had cleaned his gun before he met with Lucifer, Bruce had swapped out the barrel of the 1911, for one featuring a threaded barrel.

A threaded barrel allows for the shooter to fix a suppressor to the end of a firearm. A suppressor is used to muffle the sound of a gunshot. Bruce keeps this three-inch cylinder in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. Bruce would need to keep his gun handy; New Orleans had a lot of weird stuff to be wary of, Lucifer was one of these abnormalities, many of the guys on the crew have stories of magic and curses.

Bruce knew all that magic hogwash was just bullshit, that said he wouldn’t hesitate to kill one of these fanatics at the drop of a hat. If someone asked his opinion, crazy people are the safest when they are in the ground.

Their destination is soon before them, it is a three-story shop for a fortune teller, Located on Purdue Street, the shop features a shop on the bottom floor and a residence on the second on third floor. There are two other buildings that tower over the shop on either side. At the back of the building is a walled courtyard.

Starting for the door of the shop Bruce is confused when Lucifer’s forearm presses against his chest lightly.

“Hold up” He hisses.

Bruce stops and waits as Lucifer places his hand in the pocket of his suit jacket. He pulls out a necklace, it looks like junk one would buy at a craft fair. The necklace features a white rope string cord, on the end of the rope, is a wooden tab with several Latin inscriptions.

“Put this on.” Bruce chuckles uncomfortably.

“I am flattered but its only our first date…”

Bruce instantly regrets his words. Lucifer’s eyes bare down on him. Lucifer doesn’t chastise Bruce; in future Bruce would do his best to keep his comments to himself.

“This shop belongs to a Witch. Witches can be tricky and sly; this one is very powerful. If she manages to cast a curse on you, you could have your eyeballs boiled in your sleep.”

Bruce couldn’t help it even with the most terrifying creature in the city warning him the thought of magic is laughable. He bursts out laughing completely forgetting that he is trying to toe the line.

“Come on this shit doesn’t work, quit fucking around and let’s get this over with.”

“Put it on, I will not be around someone with a curse.”

At Lucifer’s urging the necklace ended up around Bruce’s neck, he tucks the wooden tag under his collar and tie. The instructions were ridiculous, but he followed them.

“Why aren’t you wearing one?” Asks Bruce to Lucifer.

“I am wearing one.”

He followed the Pale Death into the shop, the bell attached to the door chimes as the two suited figures step into the room. The scent of jasmine and rosemary fill the room, a light haze is in the air, Bruce glances to a self in the corner of the room and spots incense burning in the corner. A woman walks out of a backroom. She stops in her tracks; she only has eyes for Lucifer.

“What business do you have here?” Demands the women.

Lucifer closes the distance between them, he hisses his demands to the women. She winces at the sound of his voice.

“I am looking for one of your son’s men. He is older than your boy maybe 25 or 28. He is described as a well-dressed man, usually seen in tailored suits. He you’re son’s second in command, the only detail I have of him is that he has expensive tastes in clothes. Where can I find your son’s underboss?”

“I want you to leave!” Orders the woman refusing to answer their questions.

She begins chanting in creole, Bruce doesn’t understand the words, she enunciates a certain phrase over and over, but nothing happens to Lucifer, but strangely the light in the room flickers and the dozens of candles burning in the room had extinguished.

“Save it Witch, you don’t have the skill to get passed my defenses.” He had lifted the women off the ground with one hand. He feet dangle. Lucifer suddenly drops the women as his attention shifts to something on the ceiling.

Lucifer looks at the ceiling and walks to the set of stairs leading to the residence. He heads up the stairs, to which the Witch took something from nearby shelf. Bruce didn’t know what it was, but he ran forward. Lucifer is halfway up the stairs when Bruce’s fist makes contact on the women’s skull!

She looks up from the ground, she stares at him like she had seen Bruce before, he certainly never met her before now. She rubs the back of her head; Bruce lets her get back to her feet. He is shocked he hit her at near full force that hit should have knocked her into next week.

She had been muttering some language at him, no not speaking to him rather, unheard or unseen voices., the language is different than anything he had ever heard. She switches back to English; she no longer speaks to herself like a crazy person.

“You are the one I saw two years ago, Bruce McKean you must know something before the end.”

He is truly freaked out, but nothing further is said as Lucifer carries the limp body of a half black boy down the stairs. The boy has a mop of dreadlocked hair, he is no older than 17 years old. The woman’s trance disappears, only Cindi Dellmore remains looking at her unconscious child.

Lucifer dumps the boy at his mother feet, the boy’s skin shows discoloration from where Lucifer struck him. “You two are demons!” Cries the woman.

She shields the boy with her body holding her arms out protectively.

Bruce had retreated to the door of the shop; he turns the dead bolt locking them in the shop. He felt things were going to get ugly, for good measure he drew the shades.

“You know who I am?” Lucifer words were more of a statement then a question, nonetheless, Cindi Dellmore nods her head and speaks.

“Yes, you are a demon, a Lorrent from hell!”

Lucifer nods his head; the insults hadn’t offended him.

“We all have our rolls to pay… Your son and his men have pulled the wrong dogs tail! I want the name and location of your son’s right-hand man. Think hard and remember my reputation before you lie to me?”

“I saw a vision of this one here…”

She points to Bruce who uncomfortably looks on

“Two years ago, in April, I saw your face. I dreamed of a falling tree, it spilt at the root. Holding the Ax, yes it was your face. The girl called your name, “Bruce McKean”, she had blue eyes, then she walked away from you before you swung the ax…”

There is no denying it Bruce felt fucking freaked out.

A flash of pale darts towards the woman, ripping her to her feet by the thick strands of her hair. Lucifer with sheer strength lifts the woman several feet into the air and holds her as if she were a puppy, being held by the scruff of its neck…

“This is not the time for you to be telling fortunes!” Snarls Lucifer in frustration.

In a fit of anger, Lucifer slams the woman onto the countertop. The force that is used to smash her back first onto the countertop causes blood to escape her mouth. At the same time all the items including the heavy metal cash register are swept off the countertop, the register bursts open spilling cash and coins all over the floor.

Lucifer did manage to snatch a letter opener off the counter as he drove her into the hard surface. The woman continues trying to curse Lucifer. She speaks in Latin or Creole, both languages sounded so similar to Bruce he couldn’t tell anymore what is being said.

The Dellmore Witch’s incantation begins to shake the three-story shop. The women has spread her left arm across the counter. Her right hand is raised and pointed at Lucifer; the tips of her fingers are covered in blood from her son’s nose…

In the corner of the room Bruce sees a bookshelf rise into the air!

She seems to be controlling it, the shelf is propelled forward as if launched by some invisible strongman. In response, Lucifer drives the letter opener in his hand onto the palm of Cindi Dellmore. The woman bellows out shrill and stomach curdling scream!

The iron blade of the dull letter opener is driven through, flash, bone and wood. The building stops shaking, and the shelf falls forward several feet from Lucifer, all the items from the shelf had fallen to the ground.

“I have told you Witch your magic won’t stop me! No more games tell me what I want, or I will be your sons hangman!” Screams Lucifer in a loud and cold hiss.

He leaves the woman pinned to the countertop and walks over to the boy. Lucifer moves the jacket of his grey suit to the side and reveals his stainless steel 1911. He withdraws it from his holster and screws a suppressor to the end of the firearm. Bruce expects Lucifer to give the woman one more chance to give him the information he requires.

He is thereby completely caught by surprise as a round from Lucifer’s gun is discharged into the shoulder of the 17-year-old boy! The air filled with the rancid burning smell of a firing pin hitting a shell casing, upon being shot, immediately the boy wakes in a fit of screams! He rolls around on the ground as blood pours out of his shoulder, he could fill buckets with the blood he lost. His mother desperately tries to pull the blade from her palm.

She couldn’t make it budge; Lucifer had buried the letter opener into the counter up to its hilt. She is helpless, she wants to get to her son. The woman echoes her son’s screams to no avail. Lucifer adds insult to injury; he stuns the boy by kicking him full in the face. The boy lays on his back-spread eagle. The pain only got worse, being much stronger than a human, Lucifer’s attacks hurt far more, this point is proven by the screams escaping the boys lungs as Lucifer again drives his heel directly onto the bleeding wound, the pressure caused by his boot makes the boy wither in agony!

“I will give you what you want, please no more!” Pleads the Witch.

Lucifer removes his heel from her son’s arm and with a voice filled with cold malice he says.

“Yes, yes you will. No tricks or magic” Lucifer cocks his pistol and aims it over the boy’s face. Her son had passed out from the pain of his wound and torture.

“If you lie to me, I will return after I kill you and I will torture every resident that lives and works on this street, leaving your son last, to watch every person he has ever known die.” Threatens Lucifer.

From anyone else that might be considered a vague threat, Bruce knew it wasn’t. Mickey once told Bruce that Lucifer had killed an entire Cul- De-Sac of neighbors in the suburbs outside the city. The targets had a money printing scheme. New Orleans had one rule when it came to the criminal underworld. ‘No feds!’

Printing money would have brought Secret Service and Hoovers boys to the city. Marcello, the cities number one predator had contracted the breeze street crew, Lucifer in particular to handle the situation. He wanted to send a clear message, ‘crime isn’t for the innocent’. Mickey said thirty people from seven houses were killed, the mothers, fathers and grandparents. Not even the children had been spared.

This reputation is why in the present, the woman truly believes Lucifer’s threat. She instantly gives the location.

“He will be at the Casino off Decatur; his name is Gill Rapaport.”

Satisfied Lucifer moves away from the boy and back to the counter. He rips the letter opener out of the Dellmore Witches’ hand. She rolls off the four-foot-high counter, she lands with a thud on her stomach and crawls towards her son.

Bruce hears her whispering another incantation, he still couldn’t tell if she is speaking Creole or Latin. He soon stands astonished. The boy remains unconscious, however the unhealthy pale color his skin had taken on, subsided back to his usual half black, half white color. The blood that had been pouring out of the wound, the blood flow slows to a trickle…

The wound bleeds slightly, then not at all, her prayer looks like it had aged to wound to look several months older. After a moment she holds her son, tears build up in her eyes. Lucifer interrupts the moment by ripping her up to her feet by her hair. He tosses her against the counter.

“McKean she is yours finish her!” Hisses Lucifer.

Bruce steps forward, during the interaction between the Witch and Lucifer, Bruce had fixed his suppressor onto the end of his pistol.

“It is true what they say about those eyes, they are a death sentence the moment you see them.” She then faces Bruce, for a woman about to die she shows no fear, then she begins to convulse, when her eyes roll into the back of her head. Bruce turns to Lucifer in a slightly panicked state.

“What the fuck is she doing?”

“Seeing a fortune or rather someone’s future, careful.” Hisses Lucifer over the noise of the woman’s inaudible incantation.

The woman turns to Bruce, and speaks to him, her voice is deep, unworldly and totally not her own.

“Yes, you were the one who was promised two years ago, the pieces are finally moving. A thief, and a murder is needed to do what others can’t or won’t… Only you have the fortitude to do what is necessary, you will be hardened in the coming months, your old life will end, so that the new one can percolate. Then all too soon, time and fate will place you in the city divided by the East and West. You will be pitted against enemies far exceeding your skills. But take heart a foe will become a friend. Before the wall, the friendship will be tested. When a child and an old man die, their foretold deaths are paramount to place you in the city at the allotted time. That night with no assurances the fate of millions will be at stake. If you fail, your failure will become their failure!”

Cindi Dellmore’s eyes return to normal, Cindi looked like she understood what she said during the trance. Bruce looks at her perplexed he tries to remember everything said to him. He had questions but his voice is caught in his throat, ‘this all bullshit’ he thought. Then again he witnessed magic first hand. What was he too do? What was he to think? His voice is still caught in his throat as Cindi Dellmore waits for him to speak, his mouth moves he manages to mumble out a sentence. His voice sounds fearful and confused...

“I don’t understand what did all that mean?”

“It appears the other side believes you can stem the tide. You won’t know that you have lived the prophecy, your task and the recollection of the fortune won’t be clear until your are standing facing your opponent. Why? Why would fate and god choose someone like you, an evil miscreant to save the world. My son is not perfect, but he fights for the people of this neighborhood. But to choose you, the notion gives this old woman pause, the curiosity almost makes me wish- “

Bang!

Her head takes the round through her left eye, she falls back slamming into the counter, and flops to her right side, the blood from her eye leaks down the bridge of her dark nose, staining the floor.

“You took too long, I don’t trust Witches on their way out, especially a Witch as power as she was.” He said this as if he had just stepped on a pesky spider.

Walking out of the shop the hot air hits Bruce on the face. He isn’t focused on his personal discomfort his mind feels overloaded and short circuited.

“Lucifer what the fuck did I just witness?” Asks Bruce.

“Magic, you witness magic first hand for all its ugliness. That women was a powerful Witch.”

“I, don’t know what to say…I still can’t believe there are Witches in the world?”

“There is far worse than Witches. Most Witches are crusty old crones. In the Quarter there are ten Witches and Warlocks, well now 9. Their magic is mostly elemental, only one member of the family is chosen to pass on the magical gene in the family. She has two sons one of them must have the gene, an enemy with magic is most dangerous. Most of the magic in our world has disappeared, there are a few demons like me left, and a few old women to spin fortunes. As for your fortune, do not take stock in Dellmore’s words. A Witch on her way out, pulls any number of tricks to curse their killer. Although this Witch did have a vision, her words are vague and could be applied to any number of situations.”

“But it felt so real and truthful.” Stresses Bruce.

“It might have been truthful, she had no reason to lie to you, then again all of it could just have been her finally going crazy. Before I once killed a Witch she told me that I would father a child on advice only to discover his ego and not my advice will see him through, there was more to what she said. My point is this, their word are bullshit. I have never slept with a woman before; therefore, I can assure you I have fathered no children.” Finishes Lucifer.

The pair end their conversation just as they jump onto a Streetcar heading towards Decatur. Nothing further is said about the murder committed in the Dellmore shop. As they walk towards the building acting as the Casino. Passersby keep their glares downcast; many turn around spotting Lucifer. Other’s stuck in their own world see him at the last minute and wearily pass like he could explode at any minute. The locals must sense the dark cloud of trouble traveling with the two well-dressed men.

Bruce spies two guards at the front of the Casino, they appeared to be typical Wops, dressed in pinstriped suits with shiny shoes. They wore identical haircuts, thick, black and greasy. The only thing in Bruce’s mind more annoying than their appearance is their disregard for the civilities of society. But they needed the Italians, their network made things easier. Plus, the law is always focused on the wops that they never venture over to Breeze Street, if they did it was just to dip their hand in the till.

The guards look terrified as Lucifer passed them; both avert their eyes. When the pair enter the lobby of the building another set of doors separates them from the main casino. A man in a suit walks towards them he greets Bruce, but Lucifer stood in a shadowy part of the doorway.

“Mr. McKean it has been 5 days, I don’t think you have ever gone so long without a visit.”

“Geno, it is good to see you, it has been a busy time at the office.”

“Would you like for me to show you to the VIP room, several woman arrived at the bar not too long ago.” For those traveling in illicit circles, to be in a crowded underground casino is not usual.

Geno’s friendly smiles vanishes suddenly as he catches sight of Bruce’s companion, the color in the friendly Italian’s naturally tan complexion had turned a greenish pale.

“I am not here for pleasure; I would like to search the pits for a man named Gill Rapaport.” Said Bruce, he wanted to cut to the point.

“Mr. McKean if you and your associated could follow me?” The man nervously leads them away from the lobby.

They had been taken to a staircase, hidden behind a plain door the stairs climbed up three stories. The long narrow hallway had dozens off offices, but they were led to the last door. Inside is a massive office. A conference room table and a dozen chairs is on the left, on Bruce’s right is a sitting area with a set of arm chairs along with a drinks globe. Suddenly he felt thirsty.

Near a large window at the far end of the office is a polished desk centered and in line with the office door. As the approached the office, Bruce could spy the activity of mid-afternoon games. The time of day makes no matter to them or their target. Gill would be spending their money.

Sitting at the desk is a man of middling height and forty years of age. His face his well-groomed and comely. Geno introduces Bruce to the man behind the desk.

“Mr. Lineman these men are from Breeze Street on business. This man on my right is Bruce McKean, you might recognize him as one of our regulars. This man on my left is-“

Lineman interrupts Geno Holland.

“Mr. Holland, I don’t think the Pale Death needs an introduction, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has lived in the Quarter these past twenty years, who can’t spot him on sight. That will be all.”

Gentleman if you would follow me to my sitting area. Lineman shakes hands with them, he shakes Lucifer’s hand first. Bruce can see that despite Lineman’s professionalism he is extremely uncomfortable. He kept his eyes on Bruce as he gestured the men to sit.

From a decanter Lineman pours three glasses of scotch. Bruce takes his and eyes Lucifer suspiciously. He had never seen Lucifer in the taverns and bars. Come to think of it he didn’t know if Lucifer needed food or water. But he seemed to know how to drink liquor, he had taken three sips of his scotch.

“What can I do for you gentleman?” Asks Lineman with a tone that was directed at Bruce.

“We would like to question a man we think is currently play in the pits.” Replies Bruce.

“Why do you need to question him?” Asks Lineman, he still looked to Bruce and winced once the hiss of Lucifer answers him.

“Our reasons are our own. We would like your assistance, but rest assured we will be leaving this casino with him or our answers.” Lucifer reaches into the inside of his jacket.

Bruce sees the outlines of several hulking figures from the shadows quickly approaching. The men are dressed in pinstriped suits like the guards at the front doors. They back off when they see that Lucifer has a stack of cash in his hand.

“We are prepared to pay you to avoid causing a disturbance, this is $1,500.00 for you to toss Mr. Rapaport out the backdoor.”

Lineman wears a scowl.

“Hm, normally I am not in the habit of selling the lives of my patrons. That said I will not refuse the Pale Death. Horus!”

One of the henchman skulking in the corner emerges.

“Yes, sir?”

“I want you to remove Mr. Rapaport from the casino.”

Bruce interrupts.

“Mr. Lineman, we would like any male associates also with Mr. Rapaport, and we need them intact to answer our questions.” Bruce gulps down the rest of his scotch as Lineman nods his head.

“You hear that? Horus make sure those goons of yours keep them in once piece. When you have the scum in your hand, take him the station a few blocks away off Crescent and fifth.”

“Yes sir” Mutters Horus leaving to the room.

Lineman stands up and gestures Bruce and Lucifer to follow him to the observation glass. Staring out into the pits, Bruce sees there are at least hundred people gambling their afternoon away. Lineman raises his hand and points to the target.

“Start from the left and follow the tables, three craps tables in, look at the two woman with evening dresses and the man with the velvet suit.

Rapaport looks like he should be keeping the time on a plantation. Standing next to him looks like one of his men, they drink whiskey and laugh with the woman. Rapaport shakes the dice in his hand, his small entourage jump for glee as the dice roll in his favor.

Eight men in pinstriped suits inch closer, Rapaport has some sort of situational awareness and notices the men circling. He taps his associate to get his attention, the pit boss accompanied by Horus had closed the gap.

Rapaport panics he grabs one of the woman with him, she wore an emerald green dress. She is launched into two of the closest guards. The two men sprint from the table leaving the girls and their winnings behind.

Guards seem to pour out of the woodworks cutting of nearly every path of escape, Rapaport sprints up a set of four stairs and streaks past a row of slot machines. A guard comes barreling out of nowhere and clocks Rapaport’s assistant. He is tackled and slugged once. With his man is down, Rapaport slips past two more guards escaping the fate of his associate. His freedom is short lived as one guard, Bruce recognizes that it is Lineman’s personal henchman, Horus had caught up to Rapaport and shoves on his shoulder blades. He is propelled forward and slams head first into the feed tray of a slot machine! The force of his impact topples the machine over sending coins spilling everywhere..

He rolls over onto his forearms and takes a full kick from Horus in his stomach and doubles over. Immediately he and his pal are carted off the floor and the machine is stood up and it looks like nothing had happened.

“Well that is that, Dustin please take these men to the station. Mr. McKean inside the station you will find all that you need to make things disappear, I would like nothing but melted concrete left.”

Bruce didn’t understand what Lineman meant but he wasn’t about to start asking questions therefore he merely nodded that he understood. Somehow he felt that things were going to be getting out of control soon.

When Bruce and Lucifer entered the shop, they find the henchman Horus, with three other goons. Horus hands the key to the office to Bruce, he and his men avoid eye contact with Lucifer.

“Lock up when you’re finished and toss the key in the sewer, we have plenty. Make sure you clean up any mess left behind.” Without another word Bruce and Lucifer are left alone in the shop. The area they are in is a warehouse district no one would hear screams.

Opening the door to the office he finds two men hooded and bound to chairs. They turn on a bright overhead light. Lucifer stood behind the men; Lucifer pulls the hoods from their heads. They stare at Bruce.

At first the overhead light blinds the two men. Rapaport must think Bruce works for the casino.

“We were getting lucky, so those dice were a little bit heavier?”

“I don’t work for the casino” States Bruce as he pushes the light away to let them see his face without being blinded.

“I know you; you are one of Dellara’s men from Breeze Street.”

Lucifer bent down and with a knife in his hand cuts the two men’s restraints. They still didn’t notice Lucifer; they must think he is just some crony. The two men rub the rope burns on their wrists.

“Why are we here, don’t tell me you misplaced something.” Rapaport had a shit eating grin on his face. He referenced the money, no one in their line of work would get wacked for stealing 1,500.00 that said Bruce could be trying to get info out of them. Both were true, Bruce suspected that this entire job was part of some plan Dellara cooked up.

“You think your pretty clever, two of your men robbed someone under our protection.”

“I didn’t do nothing to you, if you let me go I will forget this incident. You wouldn’t want to start a war with us would you?” Rapaport still looked smug.

“That is exactly what we want!” Hisses Lucifer.

Rapaport turns around in the chair and darts away in fear, he leans against the wall, his associate followed his lead both look for an escape.

“What, What is he doing here?” Rapaport no longer looked smug, he looked like he had lost all hope.

“On our way here, we paid a visit to Purdue Street. Cindi Dellmore gave up your location.”

“What did you do to her?”

“She is no longer a concern for either of us, you will follow her lead if you lie to me… McKean, outside in the shop are several oil drums bring on in here.” Orders Lucifer, he had a murderous glare in his eye, it made Bruce hop to.

Bruce awkwardly shifted the barrel into the room, it took him several minutes but when he returned their two captives were still cowering with fear against the wall. He uses a crowbar to pop the lid off the liquid he realized now what is in the barrel.

Lucifer forces the two men to look into the barrel, in his hand he holds a pencil from a nearby desk, he submerges the pencil into the acid. All the color left Rappaport’s face as he witnesses half the pencil dissolve into the acid. Their legs shake uncontrollably to the point that Bruce expected piss to follow any moment.

“You will answer my questions in their entirety. I assure you that if you waste your opportunity there will only be one of you left in this room.”

After a long pause Lucifer begin his interrogation.

“Two members of your organization robbed a barber under our protection. One is described as fat, pasty and left handed. The other accomplice is lanky with a burn mark on his right cheek and missing a finger. Tell me who they are and where I can find them.

There is a long silence and neither man speaks, liquid begins to soak the pant leg of Rapaport’s accomplice…

Lucifer looks at Rapaport shaking in his velvet suit, he and his associate are within arms reach. In an instant, the associate is ripped from his spot and lifted into the air. Lucifer holds him one handed by his waistband; he grips him as if he weighed no more than several pounds. He holds the mans neck for with his other hand.

Then with complete control Lucifer dunks the man head first into the barrel of acid. The man only screams until his mouth is submerged, than there is nothing but the sound of dissolving skin and bone. There is one other faint noise heard, that is the whimpers of fear from a no longer bold, Gill Rapaport.

Bruce felt lightheaded seeing the legs of the man stick out of the acid barrel, but slowly they sink under the surface of the acid. The weight from the man’s corpse caused acid to spill over the rim of the barrel, melting the concrete floor.

Looking at Rapaport Bruce sees the man had pissed his pants, given the circumstances Bruce couldn’t blame him. Lucifer took notice of the weakness and attempts to exploit it.

“You have one more chance to tell me what I want to know, if I can’t get the answers from you I will get them from your boss. Maybe you don’t know anything? In that case I am tired of looking at that awful suit!”

Lucifer grips Rapaport by the front of his clothing, he whimpers and struggles as he is dragged closer to the barrel.

“Wait! The one with the pasty skin! His name is Sam!” Pleads Rapaport.

Lucifer pays his words no mind as he forces the man to the barrel, despite the man’s struggles Lucifer’s superior strength moves the man with ease. Lucifer grips Rapaport’s arm, his hand struggles to pull free of the Pale Deaths grip, he pauses as the man’s hand is over the acid.

“What is his surname and where can I find him?”

“Stark-Rankins, I don’t know where he lives! He sleeps around…”

Without emotion or warning, Lucifer dips the man’s arm into the acid up to the elbow. The screams from Gill Rapaport were the loudest cries of pain Bruce had ever heard. Rapaport tries to pull his arm out, but he is kept pinned in place forced to endure the pain.

When Lucifer releases his grip, Rapaport falls back gripping a pink shriveled hand. He rocks on his knees gripping his pink hand. With him shaking from the pain Bruce sees the skin wobble then as if in slow motion an entire lop of skin wares away and falls from the arm. Only bone, veins and artery remains where the flesh once was. The flesh and muscle from his arm is at the foot of the barrel in a puddle.

“I can only imagine the pain you are going through; If you hold out again will amputate that arm and make this last hours! Tell me where he lives!” Threatens Lucifer.

“Sam, Stark-Rankins, he lives above the Wellington… I only know that he lives on the fourth floor. I swear I don’t know more.”

“What about the other one, the man with the missing finger?” Demands Lucifer with a hiss.

“He lives with Sam; they usually are drinking downstairs in the Wellington.”

They couldn’t get any more information, Rapport vomits and begins convulsing, he appears to be succumbing to shock. He rolls over as sweat pours down his face. Lucifer steps away from the man and points to the door. Bruce follows the signal and reconvenes outside the office.

“I want you to go in there and finish him. Make it quick with minimal mess, we still have to clean up and get to the Wellington before sunset. While you do that I am going to look for some sawdust and a broom.”

Lucifer walks away to search the shop. Bruce takes a deep breath this was it. His first chance to prove his loyalty to the gang. Suddenly his nerves feel like they could overwhelm him. He exhales his breath and reaches under his jacket and withdraws is 1911 from its holster. Bruce takes out a three-inch piece of metal. He screws it into the threaded barrel of his gun. Being as prepared as he could be Bruce enters the room.

In the next few seconds Bruce would be given the choice to make bones for the gang. Lucifer being chosen as his partner for this task is no coincidence. If someone in the crew chickens out during their first contract killing, it is a grave mistake. If they fail to make their bones, they do not get another chance. The traitor is simply added to the body count as he could no longer be trusted.

Rapaport in the several minutes he spent alone, he had taken a turn for the worse. He no longer made noise, he just grips the bone of his arm, foam had escapes the corners of his mouth. The man had taken no notice of his presence. Standing inside the room, his nerves from earlier for some reason disappeared. He felt similar to the time he saw someone shoot a sick goat. That feeling of uneasiness gave way to sadness, no it was pity, killing Gill Rapaport is almost a mercy.

Using his thumb to cock the hammer of his gun, looking down the crosshairs of his pistol he lines the barrel up behind the man’s temple. From three feet away he fires, the suppressed shot from that distance hardly took any power out of the round. Upon contact with Rapaport’s head, the round flattens the skull, bursting open the hard bone like the skin of a melon.

Brain, skull and blood cover the floor with a five-foot splatter radius. Kicking Rapaport over, Bruce gags as he sees that his shot exited the front of his face, he had no nose left just a disgusting crater. Just then Lucifer walks into the room, he has a burlap sack of sawdust under his arm, in his right hand he holds a push broom.

Lucifer shakes his head at the mess in the room.

“You should have shot him in the chest, there would have been less mess and bone to clean up. Sprinkle this sawdust around the mess. Bruce took the bag after holstering his pistol. He laid the sawdust on thick and then used to push broom to loosen up the clumped-up pieces.

The sound of a splash is heard behind him, Bruce sees that Rapaport had been dumped into the barrel of acid feet first. The weight of another human body causes more acid to spill out of the rim. Smoke from the melting concrete fills the air of the office. They spend another fifteen minutes using the sawdust on the blood. Once everything had been swept onto a dustpan and dumped into the barrel of acid, they used bleach from the other room and a brush to scrape off any blood.

Next they had placed the lid on the barrel and moved the barrel back where they found it. Soon the only signs of their captives left are the ropes that originally bound their hands, and the melted concrete in the shape of a circle the same radius as the oil drum.

As they step onto a streetcar bound for the Wellington, Bruce’s head felt like it would explode he never needed a drink more. He had sucked down four cigarettes from the auto shop to the streetcar. Lucifer hardly spoke to him since the auto shop. But then in that moment Lucifer hisses lowly instructions into Bruce’s ear. He didn’t need to speak quietly, all the passengers sat as far away from Lucifer and Bruce as possible.

“McKean, I want this next hit done quick and dirty like the Dellmore Witch. Once we find their unit, I am going to wait outside and scare them upstairs. Wait in the shadows of their unit, when they burst into their apartment you will put them down, search their home for any hidden cash.”

Lucifer pulls on the cord to the streetcar and it slows down. Bruce hardens himself on will have to be done next...


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