I use the railing of the fire escape to pull myself to my feet. I wipe the puke off my chin and go inside to change pants.
Lizzie’s waiting in a chair when I come out of the bedroom. She looks nervous, chewing on her hair and jiggling her legs up and down. I’m thinking about shooting her.
I look around for my gun and find a bottle instead. It helps, but not as much as I want it to. I look for my gun some more and find my cigarettes. One of those helps too, but not as much as it needs to. “You still here?”, I finally ask.
I’ll say this for little Lizzie Grouper, she actually manages to look concerned when she asks if I’m okay.
I take another pull from the bottle, sit down, and glare at her for a bit. She stares back, her lower lip trembling and her big dark eyes filling up with tears.
I take another pull and keep glaring.
“I’m sorry,” she says, “you said you wanted to see. And now you understand right? You know why you gotta help me...”
“Look you sawed off little runt, I don’t know exactly what I saw out there, but I’ll tell you what I do know. I know that since I met you I’ve been muscled around by a fellow named Mortimer who likes catching bullets with his chest, and I know that you almost knifed me, and I know that I just ruined a perfectly good pair of suit pants because of whatever voodoo you pulled outside. Now let me tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that you and your demon buddies are probably a pile of shit I should stop rolling around in.”
The waterworks have started flowing now. Big cartoon style tears rolling down her cheeks. She’s making little ‘huck’ing noises and blowing snot bubbles. “But, you said you’d take my case, and your name, you’re supposed to be a saint...”
“Kid, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but when this saint looks in the mirror it’s not just the image that’s reversed. Now, I either hear those big boots of yours clomping down the stairs and out the front door or I’ll kick you down those stairs and listen to you bounce all the way to the bottom.”
“But, I don’t have any place else to go and you said you’d help...”
“Sorry toots, looks like I lied. Not the first time either. Ask my ex-wife. Now get the fuck out.” I walk over, grab her by the arm, and jerk her to her feet. She smacks me a left hook in the chin and I grab her other arm. “Now, now. No tickling.”
“You act all tough guy detective, but you’re just scared.” This time she spits on me. I spit back at her and start dragging her to the door. “Death don’t scare me toots, but I’m not going to end up like those saps you showed me.”
“Chicken shit!” She spits on me again and tries to stomp on my foot with her big boots.
I don’t bother spitting back this time. I know she’s right. I am scared, but what of it? Sometimes fear is just good sense kicking us in the ass. Father Timothy was right. I’m in over my head. Hell, even the Pope would need a new robe after seeing what little Lizzie lives with every day. I just need to get her out of my apartment before any of Mortimer’s buddies show up and turn me into another amusement in the hell she showed me outside my fire escape. Death ain’t nothing.
I get her to the door and have trouble figuring out how to get one hand free for the knob without sweet little Lizzie clawing my eyes out. Doesn’t seem possible so I start considering whether it’s worth losing an eye or whether I should chuck her off the fire escape.
I start cursing and hauling her back across the apartment. I’m almost to the fire escape when somebody starts pounding on my door.
Lizzie and I both freeze.
A voice comes from the other side of the door, high pitched and giggling, “Hellloooo... anybody hooooooome....” It sounds almost human, but something about the voice has the hair on the back of my neck standing up.
I look at Lizzie. She looks back. We mouth “Oh fuck” at each other. I lean close and ask her if she knows where my gun is.
“I noooooo she’s in theeeeeerrrre. *giggling*”
She nods. I let her go and she tiptoes to the chair she’d been sitting in and pulls my gun out from underneath the cushion. Clever girl that Lizzie.
The banging at the door is steady now. Not fast. Not slow. Just a pounding like the striking of a clock.
Lizzie hands me my gun.
“Saaaaint. I have a caaaaase for you...”
I pull the slide on my .45 back slow and it slips forward quietly jacking a round into the chamber.
“I’mmmm going to count to threeee. Then I’m going to have to cooooome inside.” More giggling.
The door is outlined in a red glow. It’s pulsing in time with the knocks.
I whisper to Lizzie, “Who the fuck is that?”
She whispers back, “how should I know?”
“Well,” I whisper, “why doesn’t it just come in?”
“It’s hard for them to get in uninvited. He’s probably working a spell.”
I look at Lizzie. I look at the door. I unload the entire clip through the wood. The smoke alarm starts going off.
From the other side of the door there’s moaning and the sound of something wet slapping on the linoleum..
I pull another clip from my shoulder holster and slam it home. The slide pops forward jacking another bullet into the chamber and I start creeping towards the door.
The hollow points from the first clip have knocked a dozen holes the size of silver dollars in my front door. The landlord will be pissed. I’m already two months behind on rent.
I try to peer through the holes without getting too close to the door. I can just barely see something dark on the floor. I lean in closer to get a better look when something dark and large slams into the door.
I stumble backwards pulling the trigger. I put one through the ceiling (sorry Mrs. Murphy), one through my bathroom wall, and the third one punches another hole in the door and slaps into something wet. I fall on my ass.
“SAINT! YOU’VE FUCKED UP NOW!”
There’s a rhythmic chanting and something slams into the door again. It splits halfway down the middle. I’m crabbing backwards towards the fire escape. I pause to put another one through the door. There’s a howl from the other side.
“YOU’RE MINE FOR THE NEXT 10000 YEARS SAINT!”
Lizzie pulls me up. I put a last one through the door and we are on the fire escape heading for the ladder.
I hear the sound of wood splintering.