BY JEREMY RIDDLE
About the author
Tommy Lazare told him what the fat man had said over at Mike’s tonight, and he had seen it all, in a flash. He had wandered around through the night trying to sort it out, and now right before dawn here he was, where he knew he would be, waiting for someone, like he knew he would be.
He knew the footsteps would come from behind before they did. He knew who it was. Well, he knew what it looked like. He didn’t really know what it was yet.
He turned and it was the big creepy guy he had seen, standing there looking at him. Seemed to be anyway. Hard to say for sure because he didn’t seem to have any eyes.
Fortune squinted, turned his head to the side, but he couldn’t quite get the figure before him to completely focus. It was a strange effect, like the guy was there and not there at the same time. Real and a dream. What do you make of something that looks not like an inhabitant of the earth and yet is on it? Shakespeare never really said, but his witches weren’t very nice and Fortune, vision or no, didn’t like the look of this guy. He tightened his grip on the knife he had in his pocket and hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
Anyway, might as well get this started.
“The only thing I can’t figure”--Fortune’s voice was smooth and controlled--“is how you’re able to move around so fast.”
The Reaper just stood there and didn’t say a word.
“You are the guy that whacked Tony Zip tonight, aren’t you?”
Damn, Fortune was thinking. Now what? He was getting nervous. What is this all about? Fortune noticed that the bottom of the dark figure’s long coat blew slightly in the light breeze. At least that’s real, he thought.
A long coat in August?
“I knew you would be here…”
Fortune’s words were cut short as the Reaper spoke up. One word, in a voice of pure ice, which Fortune heard all around him at once: “Yes.”
“Was that you?” Fortune asked.
“Your name is David King.” It was a statement.
David treated it as a question. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m David King, but everybody calls me Fortune. When they aren’t calling me something nasty, that is.” Wise-ass.
“You are seventeen years old. Since you were fourteen years old, you have had the ability to see events before they occur.”
“Yeah, I’m a regular fortune-teller. That’s…”
“I have need of one with such a talent.”
Fortune was turning this over. This couldn’t be what this is about, he was thinking. Dude wants me to tell him his future? So does everyone else. That can’t be why he’s here, though. It was more important than that. Had to be.
“Look,” Fortune started. “It doesn’t work the way you think. I can’t really control…my ‘talent,’ as you call it. It comes to me sometimes and others it doesn’t. I never know…”
“You are learning to control it and will continue to do so. I will teach you.”
THIS was something, indeed. “You can see things, too?” Fortune had never met anyone who could do what he did.
“I…” and the Reaper faltered for a moment. Then he continued. “I could. Not now. That’s why I need you.”
“Why would I go with you?” It was a flip question, tossed out tough-guy fashion. Fortune didn’t really care what the answer would be; he only asked it to see what the guy would say. But then, he didn’t expect it to be as impressive as it was.
“Six months ago, your father, Harold King, was murdered.”
All the wind went out of Fortune’s sails. He was in shock. He didn’t nod or say anything, just stood there and waited for the punchline.
“The killer was never apprehended.”
“Johnny fuckin’ Fabrizzi did it.” Low and controlled. It was a sore spot, but there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. “Everybody knew it. He killed him, and nobody would do shit on account of he was such a big shot. Big gangster. Big gangster daddy, too, and he got away with it. Untouchable.” He hadn’t accepted it as well as he thought he had, and he found himself near to tears.
“Tonight, I visited Jonathon Fabrizzi.” The Reaper reached in his pocket and pulled out Fabrizzi’s hand, which he had removed less than 30 minutes earlier. He threw it on the ground in front of Fortune.
Fortune picked up the hand, looked it over. The pinky had a fancy diamond ring, the one Johnny Fabrizzi always wore. He looked up at the Reaper. “You killed him?”
“No. I took his hand, and vowed to take the rest. I have given him six months.”
“Six months! What…?”
“He will have six months, during which time he will be made to suffer at my hands. On the first day of the sixth month, the first anniversary of your father’s murder, he will die.”
Fortune could see it, and he nodded. Justice he never thought he would have. There weren’t really words for something like this.
“There is another reason you will go with me.”
Fortune looked up quizzically. There was one more reason to go. Maybe the best reason. The Reaper told him, and Fortune went.
Death Deals is copyright Jeremy Riddle. It may not be copied or used
for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews.
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