As we slipped down the stairs, I could barely hear the three behind me; Max and his big friends. When we got to street level it was black. Out front it was gently lit, but back here there were no lights but the stars.
In five minutes we’d be at the church, and I’d either be goading some thug into calling Dubin, or involved in something much, much worse. Siobhan could pretend it was all business; I couldn’t.
I stepped up beside her and took her arm. As if she were just waiting for me to make the first move, she spun and threw her arms around me. Nope; no passionate kiss; just a great big hug with her head on my shoulder.
“Here now, don’t muss my handiwork. You two can get a room later; the wire’s got a job to do.” Max was not my best friend at that instant, but we all knew he was right.
Siobhan turned away without a word and led the way toward St. Nicholas’ on Church Lane. We walked almost entirely in shadows as far as we could, but once the church was in sight, Max nudged me out into the light.
I crossed to the front gate, rather than the little side gate Dubin had taken me in earlier. It swung freely, and I crossed the paved yard to the church door. It, too, swung inward. Churches aren’t this trusting in the States; well, I’ve heard they aren’t. Can’t honestly say I’ve frequented them.
The only light inside was candles, candles everywhere, it seemed, after the darkness outside.
Someone stood up from a pew next to the door of Dubin’s little private room.
“I wasn’t expecting you ’til later. I don’t like changes.”
Siobhan had been right to push things; he was clearly expecting company tonight. We’d barely beat them, if we beat them at all.
“Oh, you’ll learn to accept changes, my friend” I said as I stepped into the light.
“Hey, no one said it would be you picking it up. If it was supposed to be you, they’d have said.”
“Well, they forgot. Why else would I be here?”
“I don’t like it.” By now I was close enough to see the concern on his face.
“I’m not interested in what you like. I’m here to pick it up, and you’ll not cross me if you don’t want unpleasantness, sonny.”
The goading ‘sonny’ worked like a charm. He had a gun in his hand so fast I didn’t even see him reach for it. “You sit right down there, Pop, and we’ll see about unpleasantness right enough.”
He stepped back toward the wall, away from me. I sat back and relaxed as he pulled out a cell phone and dialed, without ever taking his eyes off me. Even in the quiet of the church, I only caught bits of his conversation, but it seemed he was talking to Feany (or the Feany-of-the-day) and not Dubin personally.
I could only hope Dubin would take the threat of my being there seriously enough to want to handle it personally. And while I was hoping, I thought I’d hope we didn’t have long to wait. I had the feeling we were going to be doing a lot of nothing until whoever was going to arrive, arrived.
“Right. No, we won’t move.”
See? Sometimes I get it right.
He flipped his phone shut. “Boss really doesn’t want you going anywhere. Says you’re not to move. Not at all. He was most emphatic about it. Funny, though; he didn’t fuss none about whether you should be in good shape when he arrived, so if you need persuading to sit like a good lad, I’ll persuade.”
“No, no persuading needed. You’ve got the gun; that’s persuasion enough.”
I sat stock still pretending to be scared out of my wits.