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“Murderer’s Row”

“A time so haunting moonlight in the mist

Lay me down beside you oh as long as it lasts
From the river comes a figure drifting slowly by
Trailing long the water, leaving softer than a sigh
Softer than a sigh
All the feelings they remain like a still life
A dying swan song forever lost your cries of glory
The rain is falling down like silence in a shroud
When all that really matters left to lose
I'm all alone
I'm all alone
All the feelings they remain like a still life
A dying swan song forever lost your cries of glory
Walking from the shadows, a fear of sadness grows
Your heart is in your hand your knowing looks
Our time is gone
My time is gone
Swan's dying song...”

-Sung by Sarah Mclachlan

(“Sad Clown”)

When we rose the next morning we all looked like crap. Spending the night in the middle of a war zone will do that to you. Emotional and physical damage comes along with trying to help people who have been attacked.

That was something that had to be rectified at once.

You don’t go into a meeting with a powerful mogul with your death on his mind looking like you might die on your own without their assistance.

It might bring them a happy smirk, but it would certainly not help the plan we had to put into motion.

So off we went to get haircuts, manicures and a bit of hot towels. These are things guaranteed to give you at least a slight lift.

Next, to the mall. As much as I hate them and the whole concept of them, they do have the variety of stores we would need. We got new clothes, right off the racks. I have never been opposed to the rack, but tailor made takes far too long.

For that “Spit and Polish” finish we needed to look like we were there for business, we even got new shoes. All of this is stuff I abhor. Getting me shod, under usual circumstances, is much like getting me to volunteer for crucifixion. But this time it was needed. By the way, I will never understand the female thing about shoes, but I grew up in circumstances where barefoot was not only acceptable but encouraged.

The mall also had the “Big and Tall Men” shop that both Max and I would need. They saw to our needs right away.

Now the four of us were ready to board the limo and head off to Coggen Towers.

We didn’t stop to eat, as I wanted a fire in the belly of each man. Hunger is part of the attitude I wanted to sell. We had to make them sure we were sold enough in our plan to walk into the belly of the beast with nothing but desire. If it was desire for ham and eggs, that would look close enough.

I was aware of every foot of the trip. This was the end of a long, tortuous road. Lots of people had died on this odyssey, and I wanted it to end right here, with no other blood shed needlessly.

I watched my comrades.

Max was clenching his fists over and over. He was preparing for a physical fight. His face was without emotion, refusing any kind of tell, just as though he was about to get into the ring.

Chester was looking at the others in the car. He was furtive in his scanning of our faces. He was scared, but damned if he was going to show it. This was not what he had set for his life path. He was a pilot. He was a damned good flier, but this life and death stuff wasn’t where he had ever planned to be. I reached over and put my hand on his knee and smiled at him. That seemed to relax him momentarily.

Harry was reading, of course. He was going through “Caesar’s Gallic Wars” again. In the original Latin. This guy really scared me some times.

Then we pulled into the ramp to the entrance of Coggen Towers.

There were a double dozen men forming a corridor to the elevator doors. As they walked past them, these large men showed no acknowledgment of their existence. Every man wore immaculate suits, all the same colors all the same cut. They could have come out of a Xerox machine. But, then, so could the men. They were all built the same, their facial expressions were identical. The only difference was their hair color. They might have had differing eye color, but their dark glasses held that information back.

The last two men in line joined them in the lift and pushed the button that would take them to the penthouse suite.

When they reached the highest floor, the doors opened, and it was a mirror image of the lobby. Two lines reaching down the hall. The two that had joined them in the elevator lead them down this silent gauntlet.

There was a space between the last of the guards and the doors to Coggen’s office, as though they weren’t to come in contact with the boss’s area.

The two men who had accompanied them down the hall each took a door and opened it, then stood at attention.

It was time to enter the Lion’s Den.

© C. Wayne Owens

Back to the Beginning

Continue on to Chapter 29


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seymoure

July 2017

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