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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #15

By Mark W. Meier

Part 15

Act II

Prophet of Death


Chapter Six


You spent an hour after returning home straightening up the mess the Marshal Service had left. Most of the day Saturday you paced while a snowstorm engulfed the area. A gerbil at least has a wheel to run on, but you were trapped indoors. With your computer seized by Woods you couldn’t even work. The bag of pretzels you’d been saving vanished before noon, and all you had after that was a bag of carrots so dried out they’d cracked.

POP!

Your teeth clenched. You’d thrown out your toaster, and you couldn’t track down what made that noise. It seemed to come from a different place every time.

After digging through your dirty dishes you pulled out the bowl you’d used to finish off the last of your corn flakes the day before. You washed it and set the desiccated carrots soaking. When you searched your coat pocket you found a cough drop and sucked on that until it was gone. Unwilling to wait longer you ate the stale carrots.

POP!

Fists tightened.

You watched the walls, then using real cards played solitaire of various types. You paced again.

POP!

You grumbled.

I smiled.

Eventually time passed.

A tentative knock late that afternoon made your heartbeat increase. It had to be Amy. Nothing I could do about her, but I tipped over a pot in your dish drainer to distract you.

You ignored it.

POP!

That turned your expression grim, but you rallied as you opened the door.

“Hi!” Amy’s boisterous greeting ruined my hope of keeping you grumpy. “How did it go with the marshal last night?”

You invited her inside, but she only shook her head and said she couldn’t be alone with you.

“Well.” You stepped into the hall and closed the door. Something in the hallway popped and you flinched. “Not good. He claimed there’s proof I took a flight out of town and returned a couple of days later. Witnesses at the destination say I rented a motel for two nights. I advised a man to avoid going to movies for December, and he died in a multiplex that burned to the ground.”

Amy looked puzzled. “You’d never do that. Besides, you were in your apartment every day for weeks and weeks.”

“How do you know that?”

She gave you a sheepish smile. “I kinda keep track. Not in a psycho-stalker way. I was a bit happy the television incident happened. It gave me an excuse to talk to you. And my car is insured.” Her shy smile warmed your heart and infuriated me.

POP!

You gave her a hesitant grin, which wavered as the popping noise sounded every few seconds. No doubt Amy didn’t notice the disturbance, but you’d become sensitized. “They also found plane tickets when they searched my apartment. Seems pretty airtight from their point of view.”

“I’ll testify. I’m sure I could convince that agent you were here.”

You smiled for a moment. “He prefers the title ‘marshal.’ Claims he’s not an agent.” You flinched at another POP! from the far end of the grungy hallway. “He finished your french fries last night, by the way. Your lemonade, too.”

“Yuck!” She took a deeper breath, perhaps fighting for confidence, and said, “I really stopped in to ask if you still wanted a ride to church in the morning.”

“Uh, well, I haven’t been to church since I was confirmed as a teenager. Is that okay?”

“Sure! What church did you go to?”

“Some Lutheran church where I grew up in Indiana. I don’t remember the name.”

“This will be a bit of a surprise, then.” Amy grew excited. “I go to Corinthian Missionary Baptist about a mile from here. Their services are very different from Lutheran services.”

You shrugged. “Church is a scam anyway. Astrology tells me more of what’s going to happen than any church.”

POP!

Amy didn’t seem put off by your comment, which frustrated me. I added another POP for good measure.

“Perhaps you’ve never really heard what the Bible has to offer.”

You were intrigued. “I’ll give it a shot. What time should I be ready?”

“Meet me at the front door at 8:30.” She smiled. “Josh and Sarah are usually there at twenty-five to nine.”

“I’ll see you then.”

Again she gave you a shy smile. “Can I have your phone number? I could call and talk about . . . things.” She glanced toward the snow outside the window at the end of the hall. “Unless you want to have a snowball fight.”

The incessant popping, designed to annoy like water drip torture, suddenly stopped bothering you. “Sure,” you said. “I’ll get my coat and gloves.”


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