Father Stone stared down at his sister Molly’s red hair, so beautiful in death that it seemed to protest, to defy being attached to so white and cold a corpse when he identified her at the morgue. Like raindrops, the cops followed the path of least resistance downhill; it was a random robbery gone wrong, case closed. But Stone knew better and paid old man Lapinski a visit.
“How long has Daniel been out?”
“He promised me he’d learned his lesson.”
Curses poured out of Stone’s mouth and wrestled mid-air.
The half-forgotten language of silence fell between them.
Lapinski gulped vodka.
“He’s in an apartment on Lawrence and Broadway but you know the rules, he’s my son.”
Then Stone left, not bothering to shut the door.
Stone climbed through the bedroom window and tossed Daniel’s pad until he discovered the tooled leather wallet he’d given Molly for her birthday in a cubby hole in the closet. He fingered the stitches and caught the faint hint of French perfume before he sank against the wall and faced the door. He fought the urge to get comfortable and conjured his sister, mouth-gaping like a gutted walleye on the coroner’s stainless steel slab.
Daniel stumbled in and fumbled for the light switch.
Florescence illuminated the altar of Stone’s discontent.
Recognition lit Daniel’s face.
“I’m sorry about your loss.”
“You don’t want to do that,” said Stone. The gun was heavier than he remembered.
“Pretend. There’s no jury to twist with your honey soaked lies. And I’ve got all the evidence I need right here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a reformed man.”
Stone tossed the wallet down on the floor between them.
“And I suppose that just drifted into your room on a shower of snowflakes?”
“Stone, now wait a minute. You’re going to call the cops and they’re going to take me in and I’ll go back to jail.”
“You’re a cancer and I’m gonna cut you out.”
“You’re a vicious weed choking pretty flowers in the garden and I’m gonna do what your daddy should of done years go and tear you up by the roots.”
Daniel’s Adam’s apple danced in his throat.
“It’s against your code, man.”
“We’re all just sinners in the hands of an angry god,” said Stone, firing the gun and disintegrating Daniel’s left kneecap.
Then Stone walked over to the writhing form on the floor and stuck the gun in Daniel’s mouth, “Now, if I’m to get you on the righteous path, I need to hear your confession. It’s the only way I can give you last rites.”
Daniel began to babble.
But Stone didn’t wait for the bullshit to paint his ears; he pulled the trigger until the barrel glowed and the hammer fell on dead cartridges. Then he walked out the front door, wiped and dropped the gun in a dumpster five blocks down, then groped through the darkness for his car like an expelled angel and collapsed behind the wheel.
Stone sat there shaking, coughing up bile. It took him some minutes to notice the presence behind him in the back seat, then the reek of Turkish cigarettes hit his nostrils followed by the cold press of the .38 against the back of his skull. They sat there bathed in defeat neither wanting to move forward, each knowing the next move ended in check mate.
Finally, Stone said, “Now finish it you Polish fuck.”
And that broke the dam of inaction and he heard Lapinski growl, “And so the father will join the son,” then Lapinski turned the gun from Stone and placed the barrel into his own mouth and pulled the trigger.
Adrenaline pumping, Stone turned away as a nearby church bell sounded the faithful to prayer. He caught a glimpse of his sister, her long hair trailing behind her but when Stone looked again it was just the old Pollock’s blood running down the back window, collecting in a dirty red pool as dawn’s first rays struck and split across the dash.