Saturday, October 27, 2018
Vengeance is Mine Part 3 by Dellani Oakes
Invited to sit, I take off my hat, setting it on the table between us.
“It's my brother, you see. He owes money to a very unfortunate individual.”
“Do you mean unsavory, or simply unlucky?”
This cast her situation in a different light. She said she needed an item retrieved. Puzzled, I listened.
“The former. Michael, my brother, has overextended himself, living beyond his means. Certain threats have been made against his person and I need you to ferret out those responsible and—take care of them.” This last is a mere mumble.
Sly minx lied to me!
“By that you mean, I should kill them.”
“Yes.” Her chin trembles, coming up almost defiantly. “For my brother's sake.”
“Why should I do this for you? I don't know you or your brother. This isn't something I would have done in life, it isn't something I feel compelled to do in death.”
“But I need you! I went to all this trouble. It is the least that you can do for me, since I have brought you back to life.”
“Do I look alive? Do I breathe, or eat or blink? Come to that, young madam, did I have a choice? Though I did not wish to die so young, with so much left undone, I find that having my death interrupted is—unsettling.”
“Surely it is a simple thing.”
“Taking a life, simple? I never killed when I had breath, yet you ask this of me in death? How do I know that God doesn't curse me for crimes committed even now? Because I am dead, does that negate my guilt? I am able to think and speak. Surely a cognizant human, one capable of reasoning, is still as guilty of a crime if it's committed after death?” My mind was, as it were, boggled. I've never been a philosophical man. Though, were I one, I cannot imagine that this subject ever came up. A priest might speculate, but I dared not approach one.
“You have to help me. My brother's life is in danger.”
I sat back, hands on my knees, considering. How any of this was possible, I didn't know. Honestly, I didn't want to know.
“This is a terrible imposition.”
“I am sorry.”
“I don't even know your name.”
“Who are the men to whom he owes money?”
“The Bartolli Brothers.”
If I'd had breath in my lungs, I would have expelled it. “Luigi and Marco Bartolli?”
“Yes, the very same.”
The bastards who killed me because they wanted to muscle in on my trade. I was the most prosperous purveyor of opium in the city. They murdered me, shot in cold blood, so they could take my enterprise from me. Here this lass gave me the very means to exact my revenge, albeit posthumously, from the very men who ended me. I dearly wanted to say no. I cared little what fate her brother suffered. If he owed money to the Brothers, it's because he was either a distributor or addict—probably both. There were a fair few who sold the product to support a habit of their own.
“It isn't his fault,” she started to explain.
“It is, though. If he is in league with these men, it is because he is no better man than they. I was not a good man, Camille. But I was no killer.” Not directly, though my product had likely taken a good few lives. There was a fine line, to be sure, but I had never taken a life with my own hands.
“I did not come across you entirely by accident, William. Many people die in this city every day. Do you think finding a fresh corpse is difficult? I chose you because I hoped that, given what these men did to you, that you would kill them for me. How often does one have the opportunity to exact vengeance from beyond the grave?”
Her logic gave me pause. The cold, heartless calculation of it all was off-putting, but, dare I say, titillating as well. Though I'd not have thought it possible, a thrill ran down my spine. I found the idea appealing, when put in that framework.
“We have no idea that I will be capable of doing what you ask. What if they shoot me?”
“Again? You are already dead, William.”
“Cut off my head, hang me. Can I die?”
“How could you do so twice?”
“When this is over, will you lay me to rest once more?”
“I can't make that promise.”
“But you brought me back. Surely you can give me some rest in the hereafter!”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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