D Is For Damien: Chapter 5
"CR-CRIMINAL--RECORD?" KATRINA stuttered, her eyes very nearly burning red.
"Whoo boy, is Dami lookin' for it now," Harvey, sitting on the porch, said with a sigh.
"Take it easy, Kat, that's all behind him now," Choby said, trying to calm Katrina down. She and Damien hadn't been on the best of terms lately, plus he had to take into account that she had a very witchy temper. He figured Harvey's statement wouldn't be too far from the truth. "He hasn't done anything for a long time."
Kat had been stewing since he'd mentioned the record, and through his description of the counts. Now, though, she exploded. "So what!" she screamed, flailing her arms. "For all I know he's probably beating up everybody he meets just because they look at him crosseyed! Either that or he's out robbing everybody he doesn't beat up! Wait'll I get my hands on--"
"I don't think anyone has to wait," Damon said from the porch, cowering behind the screen door. "Here he comes now."
Damien's Lamborghini pulled in; he'd dropped Father Damien off and was just returning. Choby, Amy, and Harvey retreated to the porch themselves to watch the confrontation, since they knew there'd be one. Damon even covered his ears, and Amy smacked him. As soon as Damien got out, Kat stormed over to "greet" him.
"So! What's this about a CRIMINAL RECORD!!" she screamed.
Damien backed away. "What?" he asked, startled.
"Don't you play innocent with me!" Kat went on, still stalking towards him. "What's this about assault and battery? And armed robbery!"
"What are you talking about?" Damien yelped, nearly falling over in the flowerbed.
Kat shook her head and flung up her hands as if he'd insulted her. "Oh, I'm not going to take this anymore. I'm leaving!" So saying, she spun around and marched off. The four on the porch moved aside quickly to make room for her, and flinched as the door slammed shut, rattling on its hinges. Then they looked back out the screen windows.
Damien was still standing below, looking absolutely confused. "What's eatin' he--" he started, but then cut himself off. His eyes narrowed and he slowly turned to look at Chernobyl.
"I think I should go inside now," Harvey excused himself quickly. He knew that look. In a flash he was gone.
Choby shrank back from the window. "Heh heh," he laughed weakly, wringing his hands. "Little problem."
"I'll say," Damien growled, his eyes mere slits now. He came closer to the window, and everybody on the porch squeezed away from him. "Since when do you think you've got the right to go snooping around in other people's business?"
"Listen, Dami, I wasn't snoo--"
"That's Damien to you, Mr. Private Eye. I can't believe this. I really can't! You can just take our friendship and shove it down your trachea!" He stormed back to his car, got in, slammed the door, and started the engine. The tires squealed shrilly as he pulled out.
"But, Damien!" Choby shouted. Amy and Damon waved the dust away, coughing, as Choby jumped from the porch and ran a couple steps after the departing car. "Damien!"
No reply. The Lamborghini squealed out into the highway and sped off. Choby stared after it for a moment, then went back to the house and sat down on the porch steps, putting his head in his hands.
"He'll get over it, believe me," Damon said, sitting down next to him. "He's always been temperamental, you know that."
"Yeah!" Amy added, sitting on his other side and even patting his shoulder. "It's not like it's anything personal, y'know."
"Yeah, but he's right," Choby sighed. "I wish I woulda kept my mouth shut just the same."
"Well, it's out in the open now," Damon replied. "Somebody would have found out eventually. C'mon, let's go downtown and cool off. You look like you need it."
"I guess you're right, too," Choby agreed, and they left.
That evening found Choby out at Gordon Turner Park, along with Shirana, one of Damien's housemates, looking out over the water from the observation tower. It was a wooden structure, two levels high, sticking up out of the waters of Lake Huron with a long slanting dock leading to it. The area below was swamped with soggy reeds and shallow water; the old, worn wood creaked as Choby walked back and forth, sorting out his thoughts. Shirana, sitting nearby and apparently trying to meditate, looked at him with some annoyance.
"I wish you'd stop pacing," she finally said. "You're upsetting to my inner psyche."
"Shut up!" Choby snapped. "I swear, you witches are all alike. 'Psyche' and 'karma' and 'abracadabra' and all that junk. Jeez. Why anybody'd want to become a witch and learn all those dumb terms is a wonder to me."
"It isn't witch," Shirana corrected him, "it's Wiccan. And your own nose is a wonder to you. Speaking of nose," she said, raising her head and looking down over the walkway, "here comes someone you snooped around too much."
Choby looked. Sure enough, he could see Damien below, headed up the walk. He looked up at them once, waved, and continued.
"Is he sayin', 'Hi,' or is he sayin', 'Don't move, I'm comin' up to kill you right here and now and get it all over with so no one'll ever know and it won't go on my criminal record'?" Choby asked himself. Shirana looked at him funny. He ignored her. It was a minute or two before Damien reached them atop the tower. He came up the steps and walked over to them.
"Hey, Dami--er, Damien," Choby greeted, going to meet him halfway. "I'm real sorry 'bout what happened earlier. I know, I shoulda kept my mouth shut."
Damien waved his hand at the air--or maybe at a passing mosquito. He looked a little tired. "That's okay. I was acting like a boob. Somebody would've found out eventually anyway." He sighed and looked out at the water. "I guess it's because I'm so stressed out lately, what with all this Scorpio stuff goin' on."
Though neither Chernobyl nor Amy had been around last year when Damien had had his first run-in with the cult, they knew about it from what Damien and his uncle had told them. That didn't mean Chernobyl knew what was going on now. "Speaking of Scorpio," he said tentatively, scuffing the wood as he had the dust at the warehouse, "what the heck are they after this time?"
"Three D's," Damien answered him promptly enough. "They're after three D's."
"D's?" Choby cried, incredulous. "They're after the fourth letter of the alphabet? They must really be nuts!"
"Not all of them," Shirana put in. "They've been after those D's for years."
The Shriner looked at her, frowning. "How would you know?"
"I should," Shirana replied. "I used to be with them."
Choby's jaw dropped. Damien merely waved again and nodded.
"It's true," he said. "Her and Jonathan, that weird guy who also hangs out at my place. Converts, you might call them. And what they were after once are D's."
"D's," a voice behind them suddenly said. "I thought something was up here."
They whirled around. At the top of the steps stood a short man with a hat, staring at them. Choby recognized the detective from the B&C, and instantly felt very irritated. What was he doing here?
Damien must have been thinking the same thing, for he stepped toward the intruder and spoke up, his voice grating. "What're you doin' here, Morris?"
"Checking up," Detective Morris replied casually, lighting a cigarette and putting it in his mouth. Damien wrinkled his nose at the acrid smell of smoke. "And it turns out that there do seem to be a few loose teeth here and there."
The singer's fists clenched unconsciously. "If you don't get lost I can give you some more loose teeth to deal with."
Morris shook his head. "No reason. I'm on your side. And I want to know about this Scorpio." He looked at them all, from one to another in turn. "I've checked up on several cases dealing with them before. They're a huge cult. That's what I've heard. I've heard it's this Satanic cult that kills animals--and maybe people, too. Did you know that?" he said, turning to Damien. "They kill people sometimes, too. Sacrifice them and cut their hearts out. Terrible thing to see. Just terrible." His eyes drilled into Damien's.
The singer said nothing. His own heart was thudding painfully now as he remembered his first look at his sister's body, under that sheet, the police and ambulance all around, sirens wailing, screaming...until he realized that it had been himself screaming.
Thankfully the memory faded out. Morris still stared at him, his eyes both crafty and ruthless. It seemed he would do anything to try to get to the bottom of this.
Choby, in an effort to change the subject, cleared his throat and asked, "Uh, Dami, what's the story behind these D's? I mean, Scorpio wouldn't want them for nothing."
"Yeah," Detective Morris pressed, "tell us about them."
Damien stared at him a moment, then turned out to face the water again. It was a minute or two before he spoke.
"One D," he started, "is made of silver."
"Another of gold," Shirana added.
"And the last and most important of diamonds," finished Damien. He turned back to face them. "It's said that when the D's are interlocked in a triangle, they have this amazing power--the power to cure anything."
"Weirdsville," Choby whispered.
"The D's were meant to be used only for good purposes, or not at all," Damien said.
"But if they fall into the wrong hands, there's no telling what can happen," Shirana added.
Morris only puffed on his cigarette for a few seconds. No one was sure if he believed the story or not, or if they even believed it. "Who has these D's now?" he finally asked.
"The diamond D has been lost for years," Damien replied. "No one's sure where it is. The golden D was in my uncle's possession but Scorpio has it now."
"Who...who has the silver D?" Choby asked, almost afraid to know.
Damien reached down and gently tugged on a chain around his neck. Choby had never really taken any notice of it before, having seen only his cross; the other necklace had always remained hidden under his shirt. Now Damien pulled it out and held it up and there, dangling from the chain and glinting softly in the evening light, was the silver D.
"You have it," Choby whispered.
Damien nodded. "You probably already know that they kidnapped my uncle Damien for the gold D and then Amy found him before Scorpio could do anything else," he said to Detective Morris. He sighed and shrugged. "Well, now they're after me."
"I knew something was up," Morris said, almost smugly.
Choby glared at him, then looked at Damien, growing worried. "What would they do if they did get you?"
Shirana was the one to answer now. "Being a former member of Scorpio myself, I have a vague idea. Tie him up, slit his throat, cut off his left hand, drink his blood--"
"Okay already!" Damien snapped. "I don't need that clear a prediction."
"They have one D, and they're goin' after yours now," Choby said. "But what about this diamond D? How'll they get that if it's lost?"
"Scorpio has their ways," Damien said in reply. "If they want it bad enough, then they can find it. I'll give them that much."
"I've been involved in this whole Satanic cult thing," Morris said, "and it ain't a pretty picture. Some people say that when they were just little kids they were forced to handle snakes and eat raw flesh--some of it from people like them, maybe even from their own family."
Choby shuddered and shook his head. "Glad Amy ain't here. She'd be leanin' over the railing puking her guts out by now. And that's just Amy. You should see what Damon might do."
"It gets much worse," Detective Morris said, but thankfully added no more.
Damien suddenly stood up straight from leaning on the wooden railing and stretched his arms, shaking off his somber attitude. "Well," he said, "what say we drop by the police station and pay ol' Officer Jones a visit?"
"From what I've heard you two hate each other," Choby said.
"So what? I ain't afraid of cops."
"With all the times you've been in jail, I should think you would be," Morris commented.
"Nah," Damien replied, grinning wickedly, "I'm just used to 'em."
The other three shrugged and they all left the deck for their cars.
Choby started off ahead of Damien but stopped as soon as he felt someone take his arm. He turned and looked at Damien, who watched the others walk over the sand and get in their cars. Only after they were in did he let go.
"Listen," he said in a low voice. "I know you and Damon and Amy are already tied into this, with Amy finding FD and all."
Choby flushed. "Hey, nothing to it. Anybody would've--"
"No, that's not it. I think it'd be better if the three of you got out." When Choby gave him a surprised look he tried to explain. "Look, this has happened before. Last year. If you get too involved, they're gonna be coming after you next. I don't want that to happen."
Choby opened his mouth to retort but Damien held up a hand. "No arguments. Just tell Amy and Damon, next time you see them, that the three of you can back off. I don't need your help. Help has a tendency of getting in trouble around me."
He turned away before Choby could think of anything to say. Choby understood where he was coming from--he'd heard a few of the details about Damien's last scrape with Scorpio, back in 1989, when an old friend of his had disappeared, presumably kidnapped by the cultists; he knew Damien just didn't want that to happen again. But as for help getting in trouble--that sounded like an insult if he'd ever heard one. What, did he think, now that they'd made themselves useful, they wouldn't be able to keep it up? The nerve.
He decided to do as Damien said as soon as they left the station. Tell Amy.
It wasn't much later when they arrived at the police station, getting out of their cars and heading towards the building. Chernobyl peered at Morris out of the corner of his eye. "I suppose you know everything that's goin' on here just like you know the back of your hand, being a cop and all, huh?" he prodded, looking for any information he could get.
Morris didn't even look at him. "You kiddin' me? I ain't a cop. I work on my own. Cops drive me nuts."
Ahead of them, Damien jumped the steps and pushed the door open, nearly hitting a black policeman in the nose as he was trying to exit.
"Sorry 'bout that," he apologized, shaking the cop's hand. He turned to the counter. "Hiya, Jones! How's life?"
Officer Jones didn't try to hide his annoyance this time. "What're you doing here again?" he snapped, looking up from some papers he'd been shuffling. As always.
"Oh, just checking up. Anything new?"
"Like what? You were here just a few hours ago!"
Damien opened his mouth to say something insulting, but he was interrupted when a policewoman entered the room with a folder in her hands. She strode purposefully for the door, but Damien intercepted. She moved to one side, and he moved with her; she did so again and so did he. She gave up and looked him in the face.
"Haven't had the pleasure," Damien said, abruptly shaking her hand, as he had the other's.
The policewoman seemed puzzled but covered it up nicely, simply cocking one eyebrow. "Neither have I."
"Officer Slatinsky, this is Damien," Officer Jones introduced, adding, "The singer."
A half-smile crept up the cop's face. "I remember you now. Assault and battery, B and E, armed robbery. And something else..."
"Yeah, sure, a great memory," Damien cut her off. He turned back to Officer Jones, who was by now starting to grin himself at the policewoman's near revelation. "Say, Jonesy, you ever hear of a certain Mr. Luther Broderick?"
The cop's grin immediately vanished and his eyes narrowed. "Maybe I have. Why do you want to know?"
Damien shrugged innocently. "I was just wondering if he's been keeping himself out of trouble lately."
Jones burst into laughter. "Out of trouble," he gasped. "Now there's a good one, Dami. You have got to be kidding me here."
Damien looked at Choby, Shirana, and the detective. Morris was lighting a cigarette, obviously not listening. Shirana was looking blank. Choby was just looking confused. He turned back to Officer Jones and asked, in all seriousness, "What're you talkin' about, Jones?"
Officer Jones leaned over the counter until he was just a few inches from Damien's face. The two stared at each other, blue eyes to gold. "Even I know you'd never hang around the likes of Luther," Officer Jones said in a low voice. "Even with your record. 'Cause there ain't nobody in Cheboygan with a record like Luther's."
Damien was taken aback though he tried not to show it. "Record? What kind of record?"
Officer Jones leaned back in his chair, smiling just slightly. "A record a mile long, Dami," he answered. "A record to put yours to shame. The truth is, that guy's clever as a coyote, slippery as an eel, and crazy as a fox."
"From your description, he sounds pretty weird," Choby smirked, ribbing Shirana, who didn't reply.
"More than weird," Jones replied, putting his arms behind his head. He seemed to be enjoying his superior knowledge in this case. "Downright lethal. Lethal Luther. Or Loony Luther, as most of us call him. But definitely lethal."
"Just what's on his record?" Damien asked. He wasn't smiling at all anymore.
In response the cop wheeled his chair over to the cabinet, pulled out a file under B, and held it open in front of Damien. "Read it and weep."
Damien was silent as he read. The others in the room--Chernobyl, Shirana, Detective Morris, Officer Slatinsky, and the black officer--all waited, perfectly still. After several moments, Damien quit reading and leaned on the counter, putting his head in his hands and sighing. "Oh, God."
Choby went up and took the file from the cop's hands, scanning over it. His eyes flew to the charges.
"Broderick, Luther--" He skipped the details. "Charged with three counts of murder in the first degree, two counts of arson with intent to harm, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of rape."
Choby swallowed and handed the file back. He looked at Damien again. Damien still shaded his eyes, his face hidden.
"Dami," he whispered, lightly shaking his shoulder. "Hey, Dami, are you all right?"
Damien nodded, just the slightest movement.
"You look terrible. Is somethin' wrong? Right when you read that file you went white as a sheet."
"Something--" Damien said, his voice cracking, "--something that happened--several years ago. You wouldn't know about it."
"If it's bothering you that much, maybe you should talk about it."
Damien sighed, still not looking up. When he finally did they all saw that his eyes were red rimmed. He was crying. "I had a sister once, her name was Lilu," he said falteringly. "This was before I was reunited with the others in my family. We always hung around together, since I was a known troublemaker, and she'd try to keep me on the right side of the tracks." He covered his eyes with his hands again. They heard the straining in his voice as he spoke.
"She was killed--a few years back," he said. "We used to sleep down by the old railroad bridge, since we had no real home--and one night I left to go get food for us. I came back early in the morning--and there were cops all around. Swarming around the place. The road all blocked off. None of them could hold me back. I had to see what happened. And there--there was Lilu, on a stretcher.... She was dead--her heart was cut out...and they said there was evidence that she'd been raped first."
Choby cast his eyes downward. Morris looked to the side of the room to avoid anyone's eyes. The other officers stood some distance away, remaining quiet. Shirana no longer looked quite so blank.
"I--I'm sorry, Dami," Choby finally said. "I never knew you had another sister."
Damien shook his head, uncovering his eyes and looking straight at him. Choby was surprised to see that he didn't actually look sad; angry might have been a better word. "Don't say that. You have nothing to be sorry for, and I don't want your sympathy. All I want is for whoever did it to get what he deserves--so Lilu and I can finally rest in peace."
Another moment of silence passed. Morris shook out a match and looked up at the wall clock. "Gettin' late," he said. "Good to know you haven't lost your edge, Dami. You're still right on top where you belong. Now if you don't mind," stretching his arms, "I'd like to take your number so we can keep in touch."
Damien glared at the detective. "What kind of touch do you mean? I'm just fine by myself."
"Sure. But you know, something might come up in the middle of the night, and whatever would we do if we couldn't find each other," Detective Morris said, half snidely. Damien snorted and glanced around for a piece of paper and pen; Morris wrote down his own number and handed it over, along with the items in question. Damien scribbled something down and handed it back to Morris. Morris took it, looked at it closely, then said, "Hey, this some kind of joke? This is the number of the Catholic church downtown."
"Sure," Damien echoed the detective. "You find anything, you call there. Ask for FD. It's about time you made a confession." He pulled away from the counter and pulled open the door, going out. It swung slowly shut behind him.
Detective Morris muttered something under his breath and put the paper in his pocket. Officer Jones merely grinned, obviously enjoying himself. Morris noticed this and glared at him.
"What you grinnin' at?" he snapped.
"Nothing in particular," Officer Jones replied, still smiling.
Choby sighed and also looked at the clock. "C'mon, Shirana, or Dami's gonna leave without us. Nice to meet you guys, Officers Jones and Slatinsky and--"
"Brown," the black officer filled in.
"--Brown, and Det Morris." He tipped his fez and exited with Shirana.
"Snotwad," Morris muttered. Officer Jones leaned back in his chair again with a self-satisfied smirk.
Outside Choby and Shirana managed to catch up with Damien just as he was getting into his car. "Hey, Dami!" Choby called. "Where ya goin'?"
"Somewhere," Damien said. "I don't know where yet but I need as much information as I can get, and this place don't got any to offer anymore." The door slammed shut and the car started, pulling out into the street and speeding off. There was a brief pause as the others watched it disappear.
"I have the feelin' somethin's gonna happen," Choby said after a moment.
"I know," Shirana replied, "that something's going to happen."
Amy was livid. Choby had met with her and Damon at the B&C, told them what Damien had told him, and watched the sparks fly. It was mostly Amy's sparks flying; Damon sat shrinking in the booth, barely able to keep a hold of his drink as Amy proceeded to rant.
"How dare he! After I practically saved his uncle! The nerve!"
"That's just what I was thinking," Choby agreed. "But he was pretty set on it, y'know. I think he thinks we'll end up dead or crucified or something."
"Crucified?" Damon squawked.
"Well, whatever it is that culties do."
"But we helped him!" Amy flailed her arms as if to make her point, though Choby wasn't sure what it would accomplish other than stir the air. "How can he just tell us to back off?"
"Maybe because he's right?" Damon tried to cut in. "Cults can be dangerous, you know; I think it would be best if we didn't butt in. At least it would keep Dami from getting too mad at us. You know how he gets when he's mad!"
"No. I'm not going to just back off." Amy shook her head, adamant. "He can't tell us to do that. Not after we've already done so much."
"What is there for us to contribute, anyway?" Choby sighed. "Dami can handle himself. The only thing we could do is sit around and make dramatic comments on his actions. Like critics or something." He snorted. "I think I've been watching too much TV, to come up with that one."
But Amy's face had gone blank. After a moment of staring off into space her eyes began to light up. "Sayyyy! That's not a bad idea!"
"What?" Damon and Choby asked.
"Sit around and watch him. Yeah! That'd be neat!"
"But we already do."
"Yeah, but when have we ever done anything creative with what we know?" Amy went on, growing excited. "I bet we have enough stuff on Dami to write a whole book!"
"Yeah, you're right!" Damon frowned when Choby got the exact same note in his voice as Amy. "We could write a book about him--an action book! Or a screenplay, even!"
"A screenplay?" Amy shook her head. "Nuh-uh. It's better to write the book."
"'Cause then you can have it made into a movie!"
Damon hid his face. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You guys, you're actually thinking of turning one of your best friend's private lives into a novel?"
"We never said anything about his private life," Amy said, glaring at him. "Though we could pretty much make that up."
"What do you think he dreams about at night?" Choby asked.
"I dunno. Women?"
Damon groaned and hid his face again.
"But how would we start it?" Choby pressed. "Every book's gotta have a beginning, y'know."
"Yeah. And we'd need a spy to keep an eye on him, tell us what happens."
"We can always ask Kat or FD or the kids. They see a lot of what's going on, and if we don't let 'em know it's for a book, then they won't ask."
Damon had to cut in again: "You guys could get sued for this, I hope you know."
"Shut up," they both said, and shut him out. "Where do we start?" Amy asked.
"Maybe a flashback would be good. I hear flashbacks are a good place to start, if a bunch of nothing is what's going on right now."
"Okay. Flashback to what?"
"I'm not sure. We'd have to ask."
"Okay. We got the right stuff to do it with?"
"I think I got an old typewriter somewhere or something, I don't know how to type very well, but it's not like Stephen King's gonna be leaning over my shoulder."
"Okay! I can help you with the dialogue, I know how to talk."
"You sure do."
"Shut up. What should we call it?"
They both fell silent, still ignoring Damon, who sat with his head bent over his glass. "I dunno," Choby murmured.
"What did he say he's looking for? Some D's?"
"Yeah, but, Jeez, that'd never work in a title."
There was another long silence before Amy snapped her fingers and said, "I got it! How about Damien: A Man And His Mission--The Novel!"
Damon nearly choked on his drink as he had the first time they'd met there. He'd never recalled hearing a tackier title. But Choby agreed enthusiastically, and the two of them started plotting their latest "blockbuster."