Harlan is getting sick of sitting in the SUV. It’s the twentieth stop of the evening, and all he wants is a cold brew and some sleep. He glances in the rearview. The meat wagon is still there.
The driver leans against the pickup, a smoke hanging limply from his lips as he tries to pick something from under a fingernail. He looks bored. Harlan feels a little sorry for the miserable bastard. This probably isn’t what he thought being a Son meant.
Still, somebody’s gotta do the grunt work. You can’t disappear people with wishful thinking. There are bodies to haul away, bury, or burn where no one will look. You can’t bring them to the official reclamation center either.
The Corporate machine adores paperwork. A name on a page isn’t disappeared. Not that anyone came looking anymore. Everyone knew better now.
He taps on the dashboard, impatient. What the hell is taking those guys so long? It’s a straightforward in and out thing. At this rate, they’ll never finish tonight. Midnight already and they have nine more to go. It’s his ass on the line if they don’t finish. Which doubly sucks because he doesn’t even want to do any of it. There wasn’t any sense to it.
Yeah, there’d have to be an inquiry into the substation, but a target this small didn’t sound like John Doe. He’d go after the big nuclear station further North. so why all the bodies. This was small potatoes, doubtless some local wannabe.
A pounding on the hood brings Harlan from his thoughts. It’s the baboon, and he’s got his usual shit-eating grin on his face. The hyenas carry a limp form to the meat wagon. Harlan motions Mikey to get in the car.
“What took so long? Two in the head and we’re done,” Harlan says when Mikey opens the door.
“Sorry. I’ve hated that mother for a long time, just thought I’d enjoy it,” Mikey says. He doesn’t sound sorry at all.
“If you keep enjoying yourself, we’re all gonna be in some shit. We’ve hardly done twenty-one, and we still got more to do. Let’s just get it done.”
Mikey laughs. “We? You’ve been sitting in the car all night. Is the big Block Watch Commander afraid of a little blood?”
“Mikey. Shut it or you’re gonna be number twenty-two.”
“I’m just saying,” Mikey began.
Harlan’s had enough. He reaches inside his jacket, pulls out his gun, pushes the barrel against Mikey’s head.
“Keep talking. I want to document your last words. Or just go get your lovers, let’s get this over with. No more fun, no more games. Just a quick clean operation. Nod if you understand, but not too fast. This thing has a pretty sensitive trigger,” he says.
Mikey’s nod is almost imperceptible.
Hours later Harlan slams his front door and finally makes his way in the dark towards the refrigerator. He yanks it open, pulls out a beer, twists the top off, downs half the bottle in one breath. He glances at the clock. Three thirty-four. A little over six hours. That’s all it takes to end thirty lives. Poor stupid bastards. They should’ve become Sons or something. Then it would’ve been someone else crying and sniveling on their knees in the dark, bitter night.
He drains the bottle, grabs another, stands in the black room listening to the droning voices on the T.V. decrying the vicious attack in tones that vary from outraged to sympathetic. They make sure they hit the right notes of fear.
Usually, he doesn’t hear a word they say, but today he does.
He stops a moment, wrestling with something that churns deep within. Something he can’t recognize, and certainly doesn’t want to acknowledge.
Harlan turns with a shout and heaves the half full bottle at the T.V. Both bottle and screen shatter in a shower of sparks.
There’s something wet on his cheeks.
He’s certain it must be beer.
Harlan Grundy doesn’t cry, and even if he is, it’s just because he’s tired.
Without closing the refrigerator door, Harlan turns, stalks to his bedroom.
He just needs sleep.