Revenge, Inc. Part 22: A Short Story
Hello everyone and welcome back. For almost two months now, I've been adding new installments a day later than what I had first anticipated. I tried my best to complete this before Saturday (here in the US) but couldn't quite close the deal. However, this is a bit earlier than my latest ones. I hope that you do enjoy this one as all of my other ones. At one time, I told you, Dear Reader, to be patient with me and to trust me in how I tell this story. As we get closer and closer to the ending, I assure you that you will understand why things happened the way they did. The pieces of this jigsaw puzzle is indeed coming together just as I had hoped so many months ago. It's my wish that you like what you "see." Thanks as always. I'm so glad that you've returned to read this. I'd also like to personally thank Cris A for creating another image for Revenge, Inc. as he worked very hard constructing it, so thanks, Cris.
If you haven't yet, please start reading this story from its beginning as it's how I originally intended. Sure, this story did start with as a stand-alone short story, but that was in fact 21 installments ago! Please click on the corresponding link(s) below. Thank you.
Valhalla At Night
I can hear Master Akira still to this day. His voice is as strong as it once was
thousands of miles away during his time of living, perhaps stronger. It’s amazing—the profound power of
memory. I recall his teachings and his
words because they were and still are the essence of my actions. They are the product of my training, my salvation.
What do you see, Marak?
I close my eyes and the image that was once before me comes alive. The imminent night becomes day as I can now control the light. Valhalla and its city landscape come into focus and all around are details, my details. I am the painter and this is my canvas. I can control the wind and the rain and the movements of things that are not stationary, such as the vehicles on the intersecting streets and the people walking around from place to place aimlessly. I can stop the crime that is about to be committed, I can keep the walls from crumbling down, and maybe if I try hard enough, I can drown out the cries...
But I can’t.
Try as I might, I can’t. It’s impossible to ignore and it’s just too goddamn difficult. Master Akira repeats himself:
What do you see, Marak?
I close my eyes again and listen as my thoughts respond: I see a child in the distance and inside that building (I point). He stole something from a store and his mom is now hitting him as a result of it…Across from them and down the hallway, a prostitute is making her fare…In the building adjacent to that one a baby has been crying for some time. I better go and check…
From the roof of the building and rappel myself down wait patiently just outside the half-open kitchen window. There are no sounds other than the ones coming from the baby who continues to cry and no one tends to it. I take in a deep breath and turn myself to face the window. And just as I place my hand on the window to climb inside, I hear the unmistakable squeaking sound of a bed as weight from it has been lifted. I hear the sounds of slow shuffling slippers as they make their way towards the sounds of the baby whose bout of crying continues to invade my ears. Its cries grow louder as it’s being carried towards where I am frozen still. I don’t make a sound. I pull my hand from the window and wait. The kitchen light comes alive and a refrigerator door opens. With one hand, a woman, probably the baby's mother, prepares some formula and while she's waiting for it to warm up, she does her best to calm the baby down to no avail. A few seconds later, a microwave signals that the bottle is ready and soon after wards, the baby’s sounds are reduced to the hungry sucking sounds of long-awaited nourishment. The light goes off and I let out a breath.
But were there any Haley MacLaren's out tonight? Whose cries were too quiet to hear or whose crimes against them were unbeknownst to anyone aside from the victim and the assailant? Sometimes, the most dire cases were never heard by those who are capable of helping. Sometimes death takes those who are unsuspecting. I used to fear death in one way, in the way most others fear death, but no longer. My only fear is not finding the person who stole from me my only daughter, my only offspring, before death finally takes me away from this world. For now, my fight is with an unknown and invisible enemy. But until that day does come, I will do what I should have done to prevent such acts from ever occurring again. For that, I owe, and so will always be in debt.
A Return to Cody and Peter
It was dark by the time I arrived. Through sheer memory, I probably could've arrived blind--perhaps everyone could, if only they walked west on County Route 31. But getting passed the security check point, the black iron gates and the dobermans was another story. You'd think the President of the United States was at the end of that long ass driveway, but it was only my friend Peter from high school. I knew he'd be there. I knew him well enough to know. I went undetected and scaled the eastern wing and slipped in through the balcony. I felt as if I was breaking into my own house.
“You got some fucking nerve leaving me there on that island, you know that?” Peter quickly turned and saw me again for the first time in two years. He smiles and walks over to me.
“Shit, man. I almost didn’t recognize you. What did Master Akira feed you over there?”
“Rice and wisdom, my friend. Rice and wisdom. You know he’s dead, right?”
“Yes, so I heard...And don't give me that look. Remember, I'm connected." And he was. "You know that I own that island, right?” I nodded my head.
“Christ. What don’t you own?”
“Hey, a deal’s a deal.
I know it’s shitty, but I’m only abiding by what my father decreed
before his Gulfstream took a nosedive.
With all due respect, you shouldn’t be complaining. Your sabbatical on Jirai was exactly what you
needed.” I recalled the Oda Clan’s ruthless attack on Jirai Island.
“Pete, I almost died there…”
“You would’ve killed yourself here had you stayed! And you wanted to disappear, remember?” Yes, of course I did. It was the right thing to do at the time, because of Haley. After a moment of reflection, I found a seat in the Billingsley Archives and sat down. I said her name out loud:
“Haley…Did Felix and his guys ever find anything?” Peter had a solemn look on his face.
“Cody, I wish I could tell you that they did find him—that they cuffed the pedophile, booked him, tried him, and that it was an open and shut case and that the bastard was going to spend the rest of his natural life in maximum security…But then I’d be lying.”
“So he’s still out there?” Peter nodded his head. A part of me was, should I say it? Glad that he wasn’t yet found. It meant that I still had a chance to find him on my own. I dreamed of such an opportunity. And opposed to before when first I found out that Haley was indeed gone, I now had the means to find him and I believed that no one and nothing could stop me. In the eyes of the law, I’m a dead man—I don’t exist. My gravestone at Valhalla Cemetery confirms this. Cody William MacLaren was dead. I could feel the surge of pure vengeance coursing through my veins like life itself. A part of me knew this and knew that I would somehow be the one to find him all along. That was why the urgency of finding him was not felt by me during my entire time while at Jirai. I just knew that this was how it would happen. And no, it wasn’t fate. Fate didn’t exist according to me, only free will.
“CODY!” I turned and looked at Peter. His face was beet red.
“I’ve been talking to you and calling to you this entire time. What the hell were you thinking about? It’s like you drifted away and your body stayed behind.”
“I got a lot on my mind.”
“What? Are you actually thinking about finding this guy? The cops gave up looking a couple of months ago. They had no leads and got absolutely nowhere. Felix threw in the towel…Believe me, I checked. I mean let’s not kid ourselves, Cody. These guys are trained professionals with dozens of years of experience and have practically no clues. What makes you so damn sure you’ll find her?”
“Maybe if she was your daughter, you’d understand, Peter. Until the day I die, I’m never giving up, okay?”
“Fine. I'm not even going to try to talk any sense to you, because my words will only fall on deaf ears.”
With that said, Peter then walked on over and took a seat across from me, separated by a coffee table just like the old days and after high school. We’d go to Peter's and each have a highball filled with scotch and were soon drunk while talking about girls and the people in school we couldn’t stand. It was all very familiar and brought back some fun memories. Before long, I had a scotch in my hand and so did Peter. It was if nothing had ever changed.
“Now tell me everything that's happened to you,” Peter said.
She Is the Rain
It’s been four years since I made my return to Valhalla. I reunited with my father, with Adrianna, with Haley, and with Peter—the only people that mean anything to me in this world. Sure, two of these people are in fact dead, but not to me. To me, they are always watching me so I don’t want to quit doing what I’m doing. Not for the world do I want to let them down, because to do so is to disrespect their memory. Master Akira taught me a thing or two about honoring our departed. He taught me something about correcting the wrongs in my life and about bringing balance to the world. So I talk to them every night, before I lay down to rest after another night of vigilance and before the sun comes out to chime in a new day and end my prayers with, “I hope your proud of me” and I do. I tell myself that I’m working as fast as I can, that I’m doing my best to make sure that others don’t suffer needlessly, that the drug pushers and driven away and that the make right everything that is wrong.
My only regret is that I have yet to find Haley’s killer. I exhausted every resource I could find and much like Felix and his police force, I’ve not gotten anywhere. But I’m not going to stop trying, believe me. I made a promise to Haley and I don’t plan to break it anytime soon. My life would have to be taken first before that ever happens.
Word is getting around about a masked man, a nameless vigilante who is the “silent voice” of the people. And so among those who happened to be helped by such a slippery man who called himself “Marak.” Everyone needs a name, don’t they? Master Akira gave me mine before he passed on. So be it. I’d like to believe that I am in fact making a difference here and that I’m working to make this a better place. Whenever it was that I needed a bit of food or a place to stay, I knew that I could make a visit to St. Augustine’s where my father was helping all, including his only son and child.
After a night of not having found much activity, I thought to return a little earlier than normal and so was surprised to find that my father was still awake when I saw him. He was sitting at the front pew.
“You’re up late,” I remarked while walking up the very same aisle Adrianna and I walked up over seventeen years before. He rose up and turned around to greet me.
“Yes, well I couldn’t sleep and besides, I wanted to speak to you.” I gave him a curious look.
“Why? Couldn’t it
wait until morning? Is it urgent?” Out of the shadows and up the aisle walked a young
woman I didn’t believe I’d ever met before. She was beautiful in every which way
possible. She had long brown
hair and her eyes were amber brown. It was her eyes that
told me that yes, I did know her from somewhere from a long, long time
ago. Even with age, a person's eyes never change. I just couldn’t make the connection of where I knew her from. When she approached me she was very shy.
“Hi, Marak,” she said smiling.
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