The third floor of LaSin was almost a caricature of a four star hotel, except the glitz and glitter had begun to wear off and was swept away with the used condoms and needles that Dan imagined were being used behind these closed doors. Dan walked along the hallway and was surprised at how quiet it was. After everything he had heard about this place, he thought it would be more alive. The silence was almost the antithesis of life and pulled at his very essence in a way the subwoofers down below hadn’t. He couldn’t lose the feeling that someone was waiting for him, and that a lot of things hung in balance. Dan tried to shake off the paranoia by putting faith in the steel and oil of his nine millimeter that he pulled out of its holster.
The door Dan was directed to was nothing special to look at, but Dan’s pulse seemed to double. His heart kept repeating Zoey’s prophesy. “You are going to die.” Dan slowly tried the doorknob, but nothing moved. He pulled out the key and eased it into the lock. It made the smallest of clicks as Key pushed the pin tumblers out of the way, but that sound seemed to echo down the hall. “You are going to die.” Dan took his hand off of the door and looked back the way he came. Dan stared at his gun then reached into his duster and pulled out the swatch of robe. He hefted it once before putting it around the grip of his firearm. With the saint of lost causes helping hold his gun, what could go wrong? The key turned and the door opened a crack and Dan pushed it open with his foot, gun at the ready, all doubt left behind.
The room was mostly a disappointment. It had a single bed against the right wall and was lit by a floor lamp positioned to the left and behind a chair that tried to be pretentious but had to settle for just obnoxious. The person sitting in the chair on the other hand was worth the price of admission. He was carved of ebony and extremely angular. This contrasted with his stark white hair that went around his face. The top was cut close to his head, but he allowed himself a bit more length in his beard. His eyes had a richness of worn leather complete with flecks of gold that seemed to sparkle as he smiled. The rest of his build was hidden in a long sleeved casual shirt and khakis. What surprised Dan was when he was taking this all in, he almost missed the machete the man had in his lap.
The old man spoke, his voice a deep rich baritone. “Mr. Cunningham. Please come in and have a seat. I’ve been told you wanted to meet with me.”
Dan was at a loss at how to proceed. He eased himself through the door and it closed slowly behind him on its own. Dan kept his gun pointed at the old man while making sure there was no one else in the room. There was a closed door behind the old man, to what Dan assumed was a bathroom. Dan eased over to stand in front of the bed, his instincts screaming at him that this was all wrong. The voice in his head was practically screaming “You are going to die.”
The old man kept watch of Dan, a smile never leaving his lips, but never really warming his eyes. “Please put away your weapon Mr. Cunningham. There is no need for it here.”
Dan waved the gun at the machete. “Oh yeah? What a big sword you have there grandpa.”
“What do you want me to say? The better to eat you with? Please Mr. Cunningham. Surely you have better wit than that.”
“I kid grandpa, because I care.” Dan slowly sat down on the bed then lowered the gun, but he didn’t put it away.
“Fair enough Mr. Cunningham. Fair enough, but please don’t call me grandpa. Call me Reverend Sean.”
“Sean, you don’t seem to remind me of a man of any cloth to be honest.”
“I represent a higher power Mr. Cunningham, no matter what you think.”
“A higher power Sean, or the higher power? Oh, and call me Dan since we’re on a first name basis.”
Reverend Sean tried to hide the disgust from his face, but wasn’t quite successful. “I would say the higher power, but some people disagree. I am trying to convert as many as I can so they won’t be lost.”
“So why did you decide to convert Jorge? He doesn’t seem too happy about it.”
“People don’t always like being shown the truth. As for the why, that is between he and I. While we are asking questions I have one for you. How did you know I was going to be here tonight?”
“I’m not a guy who kisses and tells Sean. If I did that how would the ladies respect me in the morning?”
“Do you know how to harvest sugarcane, Mr. Cunningham?”
“No, but I have a feeling you’re about to enlighten me about it.”
Reverend Sean ignored the sarcasm and continued. “First you set fire to the fields. It gets rid of the leaves on the cane since you don’t care about them. It also gets rid of the venomous snakes and vermin that hide in the foliage and overgrowth. The cane itself is unharmed by the flames because it is so wet. Then you go into the fields using a machete like this and cut it just above the ground.”
“Sounds like tough work.”
“It is. There are times when the simplicity of it still calls to me.”
“So what stops you from going back?”
True mirth of spread across Reverend Sean’s face. “You don’t know how funny that question is. Going back. No, no going back.”
“If not going then what are you going to do now?”
“That is the crux of our conversation, isn’t it. Consider this the warning to leave my fields. You’ve confirmed I have rats and more on my land. I know how to handle that. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
“No. We’re not done here.”
“But I am Mr. Cunningham. Without me there is no we.” With that Reverend Sean got up.
Dan picked back up his gun. “Sit your ass back down Sean. I have so much more I want to discuss with you.”
Reverend Sean looked straight at Dan. “Mr. Cunningham. Do you know you are staring at a choice that could affect you for the rest of your life? Ponder that before you do, or say, anything else.”
“Sean, if that’s the best sermon you’ve got, then your flock must be pretty damn mangy.”
“Shut the hell up and sit down. I want to know why you’re moving in here.”
Reverend Sean laughed. “Maybe you were right. I think the answer is the better to eat you,” he said. The Reverend took a step towards Dan.
Dan stood quickly and took aim. “Step back. and drop the weapon”
Reverend Sean stopped and smiled. “You’re worried about this?” The Reverend dropped the machete which made a dull thud as it hit the carpet. “Does that make you feel better?”
Dan nodded. “Now sit back down.”
“You sheep all worry about the wrong thing.”
“Sheep? What do…”
With speed that Dan could barely register Reverend Sean reached out and twisted Dan’s gun away from him and threw it across the room. The swatch of Saint Jude’s robe hit Reverend Sean’s hand, causing him to wince in real pain. He flung the cloth away and it fell to the floor. Dan was stunned at how fast he had been disarmed. Flexing his hand Reverend Sean said, “You worry about mere tools, when you need to worry about the hunter.” Dan was finally starting to retaliate when the Reverend lashed out with a quick punch to Dan’s midsection, knocking the air out of Dan. Reverend Sean then round house kicked Dan to the head, sprawling him onto the bed.
“Keep out of my business. This is your only warning. Mess with me and I will own your life.” Reverend Sean turned his back to Dan and bent to pick up his machete.
“You are under arrest for assaulting an officer.”
The Reverend snatched up the machete and turned around to see Dan jump off the bed and throw a vicious kick that Reverend Sean barely blocked, but it cost him the machete as that fell to the ground once more. Dan pressed the attack with a punch towards the Reverend’s throat, but Reverend Sean ducked underneath and barely missed with a counter uppercut.
Both men paused for a second, sizing up what just happened. To Dan’s surprise Reverend Sean didn’t look even a bit out of breath, while Dan was still recovering from the first kick to the head. Dan smiled. “You have the right to remain silent,” Dan said.
The Reverend growled an inhuman cry and began throwing punch after punch, but Dan was able to block every one, but as the flurry increased in tempo and strength more and more of them found their way to Dan’s ribs and head. Dan abandoned defense and lashed out at The Reverend’s knee with a stiff kick. A sickening snap told Dan he struck home as Dan paused, gasping for breath, bleeding and head ringing.
The Reverend fell to the floor holding his ruined knee. “Now you have pissed me off!”
Dan spit some blood from his split lip. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” Dan said. Dan was amazed as he watched Reverend Sean growl and twist his knee back into something that almost looked right. Dan looked around for where his gun had fallen. “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.”
The Reverend slowly stood up. Dan was shocked as he watched the Reverend’s knee heal in front of his own eyes. Reverend Sean smiled as he watched Dan’s realization of what just happened. “I told you to worry about the hunter,” Reverend Sean said.
Dan took a shaky step onto the bed. “Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?” Dan asked.
The Reverend laughed. “Pity you don’t.”
With that Reverend Sean moved faster than he had yet in the fight, leaping at Dan, but Dan was playing possum and had jumped over the leaping Reverend and rolled along the floor. He saw the swatch of fabric and his gun, and decided to go for the gun. He was just about to reach it when the sound of the springs of the mattress creaking announced Reverend Sean. Dan grabbed the gun just as the Reverend drove him into the floor landing on Dan’s back with his knees. Dan somehow managed to keep the gun, but not the air in his lungs. For the second time of the fight he had to fight to breathe.
Dan turned the gun and fired blindly over his left shoulder at the Reverend. The shot deafened him, but what really grabbed his attention was the bite he felt at the back of his right shoulder. Dan felt a bit dizzy, and his body felt a bit lighter, but sweet air poured back into his lings. Dan shifted the gun to shoot over his right shoulder and Reverend Dan recoiled off of Dan and fled towards the door. Dan rolled to his back and braced his gun the best he could, getting off three more shots watching two strike home. A pain exploded throughout Dan and he almost dropped his gun. The bullets didn’t really slow Reverend Sean as he threw open the door and fled. Dan fired twice more, but missed.
Dan didn’t have the energy to get up and chase after him. Instead he winced as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed. “Officer hurt at LaSin, room three twenty four.”