Liam sat expecting the worst.
Today should have been the day when he had taken care of old business. It should have been easy with the city in so much disorder. But, things had not turned out that way. The Andrews boy was not the pushover that he had been led to believe; he had power.
Liam had walked home in the rain. He had not cared to cover himself against the elements, but had stripped to the waist. The cold night rain had lashed against his bare skin and had given him some relief. His anger was boiling over and he needed an outlet. For him, nothing arrived. He would have to wait.
When he got back to his flat, he was wearing the maniacal grin of a man returned from battle. Along the way, he had stopped to break a bottle, intending it for use on others yet had turned it on himself. His forearms bled and the rain diluted his life blood and added to its own flow.
He was terrible to behold.
The Leatherman was waiting in his favourite armchair. The replacement television was playing and the lights from it cast animated shadows across the darkened room. Liam was more than a little confused.
“Close the door on the way in. I do hate the cold.”
He recognised the undercurrent of the voice.
“Come in boy. Come in.”
Liam moved slowly into the room. He did not go for the but walked in the semi-darkness of the illumination of the flickering screen.
“This sack of bones spent a long time watching this. Four years of non-stop television and only one channel. It must have seemed like an eternity. He had the commercial side switched on.”
The voice snaked around him.
“So, you have tasted defeat, my boy. And what does that taste like I wonder?”
The leather torso turned around to look at him and he saw the space where the eyes ought to have been. Far from there being nothing there, he thought that he saw objects, like black diamonds glinting towards him.
“Ha, I see that it did not appeal to your palate.”
The corpse was directing itself towards the blood that was still freely pouring from Flowers’ penitent wounds.
“A form of stigmata,” the thing giggled again. “It will take more than that to atone for this miscalculation. I don’t wish for the blood of my chosen one, but for that of another. Have you any suggestions?”
Liam had a suggestion, but dared not utter it. He did not want to open the door to his thoughts.
“We could make an offering of anyone on a night such as this. If you want blood, then we could find it. The streets are ours and you know it.”
An explosion of frustration shattered the night.
“Have I taught you so little, you fool? Have I invested my kingdom to come in such a crass idiot? You do not understand the gravity of this night or you would not suggest such a thing. The family are not ours. We have nothing. Your incompetence is outstanding. Your underlings have left us stranded on the sands of fortune and you offer empty vessels for escape? I want your man, Liam, I want Podrall.”
Flowers was stunned.
He had never expected this.
Podrall had been with him from the start and there was something about him that was family. Now, he was being told that Podrall should die for the underestimations that had taken place. Was not he to blame as well?
“What about the middle brother? I think we could make an example of him. I remember what you told me about how you put fear into populations. We haven’t got all of the family, but if we showed what would happen to one of their prized members, then maybe we could tempt them out into the open. That would be a better use of resources.”
A snort of acceptance greeted this.
“You learn well boy. You learn well.”