Lucifer: Chapter 10
Kat was listening as Damien told her his story about the fruitless search for records of Derrick's past and of what had transpired between the two of them in the park. The back of his head hurt where he'd hit it; right now as he sat on the couch Kat was applying medicine to it with a cotton swab. He flinched and hissed softly; he was no wimp, but he was only human. At least he hoped he was. And that medicine stung. However, it wasn't he but Kat who had spoken, and he carefully nodded, replying.
"You're telling me," he sighed, rubbing his forehead. He could feel a headache coming on. "He just slammed right into me for no reason at all. Wham! Just like that."
"Stand still, will you? You want me to get this in your eyes? And maybe he did have a reason. As he said, you were walking on pretty thin ice, talking about his mother like that."
"Ice may be thin but in July it melts." The statement came out without him even sure what it was supposed to mean.
"True." She backed away as if inspecting a masterpiece. "There you go. All nice and clean. I'm done playing nurse for today."
He gave her a crooked smile. "Are you so sure?"
She looked down at him with mock reproach, placing her hands on her hips. "Damien, you have been nasty lately."
He sighed and rubbed his forehead again. "Maybe the medicine's going to my head."
"Maybe." She left the room to put the medicine away and he got up, shaking his head.
Maybe I'd better take some aspirin. Or wash out my mouth with soap and hot water.
He paused and his hand froze in the air. At that moment another piece of the puzzle presented itself, as if he'd been working on a jigsaw, and had found it'd rolled under the couch, but was still unsure exactly where it fit in.
That fainting spell Derrick had had at Dairy Queen when Father Damien had spilled his water. What did that mean?
"Leaving so soon?" Kat asked as she came out of the bathroom and saw him exiting the den, headed for the porch. "And here I was, ready to run a bath for two." She smiled wickedly and held up a back scrubber.
Maybe it's infectious. "As much as I like the idea that'll have to wait." He quickly kissed her on the cheek before heading out toward the front porch. "I think my uncle and I were planning to work on a puzzle today." And before she could say anything else he was gone.
Kat just stood in the hallway, the scrubber still in her hand, baffled. Her brow furrowed. Puzzle?
"I just thought of something else, Uncle," Damien announced as he entered Father Damien's house, passing through the porch and laundry room. He didn't bother ringing the doorbell as the front door was unlocked.
"Really?" came a voice from somewhere further in the house.
"Yeah." Damien walked into the den and started wandering around, waiting for his uncle to finish whatever he was doing. He assumed it must be cleaning again. The kids must still be leaving their messes. There were several fans going in the house and they were all turned up high against the heat. "That fainting spell Derrick had at the DQ. I don't think that was any normal heat exhaustion. I mean, the air conditioning was going full blast, wasn't it? And the way he acted when I mentioned his mother--now there was some weird behavior. I still have to tell you all about that." As he spoke he started picking things up and putting them back down, as he had at the police station. It was something to ward off the boredom. What was taking his uncle so long? "Hey, Uncle, you all right?"
Damien plopped down on the couch and wondered why Harvey and Ez weren't screaming upstairs like usual. That was funny. "How's the kids, Uncle?" He didn't wait for a reply. "They sure are being quiet today. I'd never be able to get them to do that." He laughed to himself. "I believe you would make a real good family man, y'know what I mean?"
He stiffened automatically as he felt something cold and hard touch the back of his neck. He instinctively knew what that was. It was most definitely a gun.
"And you would make a real good dead man, don't you think?" the voice said, only now he could tell what had been wrong with their earlier exchange. Only two words had been said, shouted over the noise of the fans going in the house; thinking back he realized he wouldn't have been able to tell if that were his uncle at all. And he also suddenly knew why Ez and Harvey weren't screaming. The truth was, they couldn't.
He made a move to get up.
"Don't even try," the voice grated, the barrel of the gun nudging his neck.
His muscles relaxed, except those in his shoulders. "Just thought you might want to search me," he said mildly. The truth was, he was steaming inside.
"There's no need for that. I trust you." The irony. "Let's just say your uncle and the brats are fine, and they will continue to be so if you drop your investigation right now."
Investigation? What inves--
"And if I don't?" He knew he was pressing it, asking that question, but it was more of a reflex motion, like a jumping knee.
The person obliged him by answering. "Well, if you don't, let's just say you'll still be picking up the pieces of their bodies ten years from now."
Damien gritted his teeth with fury. All he wanted to do at that moment was whirl around and grab the gun from the man's hands, and maybe ram it down his throat for good measure, but he knew he wouldn't be quick enough. No matter how used he was to fighting back. It was better to let this guy go and then look for his uncle and the kids than die himself and have no one the wiser.
At least, he hoped it was.
"We know everything about your family," the voice continued. He felt the gun nudge him again, now just under the jaw, and the person pulled on his arm, making him stand. He was steered out to the laundry room again. "All their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, everything. For example, you don't like this too much, do you?" He heard a scrape and then smelled sulfur as a match was held just about a centimeter from his face. He felt himself break out in a cold sweat and tried to pull away slightly, squinting his eyes and flinching.
The match was shaken out and he found himself being steered up to one of the large closets to the left. A hand reached out before him and pulled open the door; he noticed, as it did, that the long sleeve pulled up slightly and he could see something on the man's arm. It looked like a tattoo.
A tattoo of--?
Then he felt himself being pushed in, the door slamming shut before he could spin around and look his captor in the face. He heard the door being locked; he grabbed the handle and tugged on it desperately, realizing as he did that it was fruitless; the door could only be unlocked from the outside. He tried hitting it with his shoulder but in the cramped space couldn't work up enough momentum to do any damage, and after a moment quit. Father Damien probably wouldn't like his door being broken down, even in a situation like this.
God, what a stupid thought! You're worrying about the door?--
One of the wooden slats in the door was suddenly pushed open, and a pair of eyes looked in at him.
"Got enough air in there? Good. Wouldn't want you to suffocate or anything." There was a chuckle as the slat was pushed back into place. Damien began clawing at the slats, hoping to dislodge one enough to see who had placed him in there; they wouldn't open from the inside either.
Damn the person who designed this closet!!
And outside his makeshift prison he heard another door slam and found himself all alone in the dark.
He awoke with a start as soon as he heard something clawing at the door outside. It took him a second to remember where he was and what had happened. That's right. He was locked in. How had he dozed off?
Am I really losing that much sleep at night?
He stood up automatically and banged his head on the hanging bar, sitting back down on one of the storage boxes with a pained grunt. He was really going to have a headache now. There was a tiny shriek from outside, and he knew immediately that his liberators must be Harvey and Esmeralda.
Thank God they're okay. He'd been having thoughts they were tied up upstairs.
"Harvey? Ez?" he called, looking up as if to see them and rubbing his throbbing head. "It's me, Damien."
He heard a scuffling sound now and several slats opened to reveal two little pairs of eyes staring in at him.
"Damien?" Ez's voice asked.
A giggle from Harvey. "What're you doin' in there?"
Damien smiled wryly. God, am I making a good impression. "Hanging out," was his reply.
There was a small burst of mirthful laughter from outside the door and he heard it being unlocked. He got up and carefully pushed it open a crack, making sure both the kids were out of the way before he swung it open completely and stepped out. Once freed he stretched his cramped arms and legs, rubbing a crick out of his neck and breathing in the fresh air while the two little kids gawked at him.
Harvey got a smile on his face which definitely showed he thought the singer must be at least half nuts. "I know some better places than that to hang out," he offered.
"No thanks," Damien replied, rubbing his head again. "Where's Father Damien?"
"Right here." Damien's uncle appeared in the doorway, staring at him, a couple of plastic grocery bags hanging from his hands. He frowned. "What in the world are you doing in my closet, Damien?"
"It's a long story," Damien said. "Do you two mind if we talked alone for a while?"
Two lower lips stuck out for a moment, but Father Damien presented the kids with the plastic bags and they ran off.
"Where were you?" Damien asked, keeping his voice low.
"Shopping." As if he were expected to know. "What were you doing in the closet?"
"I was locked in."
Father Damien raised his eyebrows. Uh-huh. "And how did you do that?"
"I didn't." They stepped out on the porch and outside into the sunlight, the only sounds those of birds chirping, cars passing, and the endless high-heat droning of cicadas. "Somebody put a gun to my head and forced me in."
An uncertain smile. "Ha ha, Dami. Good joke."
"It's not a joke." Damien looked at his uncle, and Father Damien could tell he wasn't lying. "I came to your house 'cause I figured somethin' out; I thought you were here but then some guy put a gun to my head and locked me in the closet. I couldn't see who it was."
"Was it Derrick?"
Damien frowned, then shook his head. "I don't think so. It didn't sound like him. Why?"
Father Damien leaned back against a tree, staring off into the woods behind his house. "I don't trust him."
Damien was about to ask what his reasons were when his uncle spoke up first. "Did this fellow say anything?"
"Yeah. At first I thought he was you because he only said a couple words. Then he put the gun to my head and said if I didn't stop the investigation, I'd be picking up you and the kids' body parts ten years from now."
Father Damien's voice was anxious and strained. "Investigation?"
He shrugged. "That's just what I was wondering. He must've meant Derrick." He sighed and leaned against another tree. "He also said he knew everything about us. He held a match to my face."
The priest looked at Damien, his eyes widening. Damien waved a hand and smiled at him, not feeling it in the least.
"No, not like he burned me. He just wanted to show me he was telling the truth. About knowing everything." He didn't say anything about how the tiny flame had made him feel; he decided his uncle could figure that one out on his own. "Then he locked me in the closet and said he hoped I could breathe, and left."
"Sounds like a caring sort."
"Yeah, my thoughts exactly."
"But is that all that happened? He just threatened you and locked you in the closet?" A nod. "And you didn't see him at all."
Damien shook his head. "He looked in at me through the slats in the closet, but I couldn't see him too well. I couldn't even tell the color of his--hey, wait a minute," he interrupted himself, suddenly realizing he had overlooked something. He pushed himself away from the tree. "Come to think of it, I did see something--he had some sort of tattoo on his arm. His left arm. I couldn't see it too well. But I think it was black and red or something."
He noticed that, as he spoke, Father Damien appeared to be shrinking, slumping back against the tree even more and covering his eyes. Damien paused, seeing this reaction. What did he say that was so bad?--
"Don't tell me it looked like an insect," his uncle murmured. "Or an arachnid."
Damien really didn't know, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew it had. "Why," he said, rather than asked, afraid to hear the answer.
Father Damien shook his head and uncovered his eyes, looking up at his nephew. "It was a scorpion," he replied softly, "and I saw the exact same thing on Derrick's arm."