“The men I sent out to the hill have not come back.” Mayor Teresa Blond says, her arms are crossed and her brow is furrowed at Jacob, as if this is his fault. “Do you think this Casanova killed them?”
“We just buried a friend of ours, what do you think?” it is difficult for Jacob to keep the annoyance out of his voice.
“Kal already has very little man power, how are we supposed to protect ourselves from anyone hoping to take the place of the McWrither brothers? If I had known you were all going to be this much trouble-”
“We appreciate everything you have done for us,” Solace says, snubbing out his cigarette in the overflowing ashtray. “What is happening now, no one could have predicted. I have taken measures to help you out.”
“Like?” Teresa asks, more hopeful than she should have let on.
“I called back up.”
“The Destroyers are sending a gift basket of guns and solders who know how to use them.”
“Tony Jones?” Jacob allows himself a moment of relief. “When did he call?”
In answer, the vulture Penn ambles his way into the tent where all three have been talking, happily tearing a large chunk from the rabbit in its talons. “He came in before the Teller’s service.”
“Who, may I ask, is Tony Jones?” Teresa asks. The sight of the rabbit unsettles her, but this is something she can hide.
“Biker gang leader from out of state. I’m sure you have a Destroyers charter somewhere near by.”
“The Destroyers are coming to Kal? It took us nearly a month to get them out.”
“Yeah, well they’re coming back, in droves, with guns no less, to help you out.” Solace says walking up to the bird and stroking its head. “Unless of course you have enough guns here to protect you?”
Teresa drops her arms to her sides and balls her fists. The taunt, not at all subtle, pushes her over the edge. Many a vile words cross her mind, some pointed at the gang but mostly directed at Solace and his band of freeloaders. She bites them back but allows a look of loathing to linger across her face. Solace takes note and nods an apology.
The morning service, of course, was her idea since none of the friends give much stock to rituals of that sort. Andy suggested a few things, having spoken to Teller about her cultures rituals, but none where sure they did it justice. This included gunfire halfway through the service.
“Jones says the people who are coming are willing to help under your order. They understand you don’t want them here. You must understand they want to be here even less.”
“Is this town not grimy enough for them?” Teresa laughs gesturing with her thumb towards the tent opening.
“No it isn’t, and take my advice. Use them as much as you can, we both know they get antsy with to much time on their hands.”
Nancy, who so far has been sitting quietly in the corner nursing a bloody lip, clears her throat before speaking. “Teresa, sweetheart, your army may have been able to handle Cas,” she poorly hides her doubt, “but Gloria Gillory is a totally different kind of disaster. I think the Destroyers are a heaven-sent opportunity. Their styles may differ, but the amount of bodies Gloria and Jones are willing to send out do favor our side.”
“Mayor,” Jacob faces her, “speaking for everyone here, I am sorry that this has fallen on your town. But if having the Destroyers-”
“Save the speech. Obviously I have little say in the matter, they are already on their way and I can not deny we need the help.” She paces back and forth before adding, “will Jones be here himself?”
“The letter didn’t say, but I’m sure he wouldn’t miss a good rumble if given the chance.” Solace says lighting another cigarette.
Patrica walks back to Andy. They are both outside the tent struggling to fasten body armor onto each other. She had been eavesdropping while Andy tried desperately to buckle his vest. Patrica takes over for him still straining to hear the conversation taking place inside.
“You know, they invited us in.” Andy says thickly, his throat is raw and his eyes are swollen with grief. “I don’t see why we have to listen in like this.”
“Well, you know Jacob always gets in a huff when I try to partake in this sort of thing. I mean, I was surprised he didn’t object when I said I would fight along side you all.”
“You make him sound chauvinistic. He just wants you safe. I’m the same way… was the same way with Teller.” He sniffs slightly and wipes away a tear under the pretense of putting on a glove with his teeth.
“Honey, its alright,” Patricia tries to hug him but the body armor makes it much to awkward. Despite themselves, they laugh.
“You know, she would have thought it was stupid to put all this on. She would have been fine in her jeans and t-shirt.” Andy says wiping another tear away. “Fuck Pat, what am I going to do with out her.”
“Don’t talk like that, she wont ever really be gone as long as we love her.”
“She wanted to have a dozen kids you know.”
“Thats a horrifying thought,” Patricia says patting his shoulder.
“Tell me about it.”
“You two would have made wonderful parents.”
“I’ll just add that to the list of reasons I already have to getting Cas back.”
Pausing to wipe away a tear of her own, Patricia nods then shakes her head, “I still cant believe he would do this. He was such a wonderful friend, filthy disgraceful though he may have been, still miraculously redeemable.”
“I know, Edgar and Allan are desperately trying to find a reason that explains why he turned. Theory is Byron has to be blackmailing him, if its true it better be something worth killing for. I don’t know how I would react if I found out he is doing it for the money.”
“What do you mean?”
“A few months back before the house when up in flames, I think we were still trying to look for you, he got a letter from his youngest brother. From what Allan tells me, it pissed him off pretty bad. He left the house for a few hours and came back bruised and scared looking. I don’t know how to feel about that.”
“If Byron did something, what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. Cas did make his choice. He didn’t ask us to help. He decided to work alone.” Andy says, “I don’t think I can forgive him, what ever the case.”
Penn waddles out of the tent and stretches his wings. He eyes the two for a moment before lifting himself into the air and circling above them. He scans around and finally finds a comfortable branch to land in and watch them continue to struggle with the body armor.