Big Thanks to Jeff Tucker for taking the Photo for this chapter
Two months, two months she had been gone. Five weeks had passed since he had his last sober day. Six weeks gone from the last time he had hope. Harold could not tell what day it was. Life without employment creates a loss of grounding and knowledge of days. Jess was not coming back. The kids did not want to talk when he was drunk, so the kids were gone.
The arrest ended his employment. It was going to end anyways. The drunk driving just expedited the process. Savings were dwindling, the bottle was claiming any money Harold could find.
“This is all your fault.” The glass bottle did not have a counter argument. Another empty bottle was launched against the wall. The house that was never quiet before, now taunted him with the reminder he was alone. He needed a drink.
Empty cabinets awaited him. Not a single drop left.
Antonio would surely like to go get some alcohol with him. Their drinking spot never changed after their loss of employment. Across the street from the dying factory they would sit and drown the loss.
One phone call and Antonio was there. Limited words needed to be spoken, the destination was already known.
The factory was still operating while the business transitioned to overseas. It taunted the two men who had collected their last paycheck. The taunting led to more alcohol needed. More alcohol meant looser lips. The lips would then spend a bunch of time disparaging the factory and how their union failed them.
“It isn’t right.”
“I know I gave that place my life for how long? In the end it took more than it gave. I regret I gave it so much.”
“What do you mean? Come on Harold you loved that place.”
“Not sure I did. Jess, the kids, they are the ones I loved.” A glance down to the glass. “I also have a growing fondness to this.” He smiled and downed the last drop of brown liquor.
“On my first day I could see you enjoyed your work.”
“I enjoyed knowing I was taking care of my family. But you know what?” pausing to refill his glass. “it wasn’t good enough to take my effort and sweat. They had to take my family too. They had to take my hope and dreams.”
“Well they paid the ultimate price for it, didn’t they?”
“Only if all three are burning in hell right now.”
“You don’t mean that. You are a good man.”
“Where did that get me?” More Alcohol, more fury.
“There isn’t anything you can do. There are gone. Dead. Granted the board is still around, and several executives. The brand is not going anywhere, just the people who wronged us.”
“Maybe they should suffer like we did?”
Being attentive to his clients helped the bartender know how to keep the place quiet and off the local police radar. He leaned down when Harold was not looking and took the bottle away. Replacing it with an empty one.
The empty bottle meant it was time to go. Antonio still had his license so he would drive. Harold took lead out the door. The parking lot looked more full then the inside of the bar. An overflow from the other businesses perhaps.
Harold stumbled as he took another step. Falling to the ground in front of a car. As he pushed himself up from the mud, the sidewall of the tire caught his attention. ‘Stanley Tire and Rubber’ stamped proudly. He probably made this tire. This tire probably tripped him!
Pulling his pocket knife, he jabbed it into the tire. Air escaped the puncture and he sliced deep and long in the hole he had made. Soon the tire collapsed.
“This is only the start.” Finally, a way to make them all pay came to mind.
“What are you going to do slash all the tires from our old company?” Antonio mocked him.
“No, it needs to be something bigger than that”
“Well you can’t just burn the whole thing down to the ground.”
The words were the muse that Harold needed. “That is exactly what we need to do. Burn them all down.”
“Mother, why are we stopping?”
The lake had been the place many came for walks. The peaceful ripples caused from the gentle breeze helped clear one’s mind. The symmetrical shape added a sense of organized beauty. Two swans had claimed the water’s surface as their own. Their movements did not allow any other aquatic bird passing by a chance to consider resting there. This was the city’s center, and the basis of most of the memories of its citizens.
“Zachary, promise me one thing.” The smile of the woman had been permanently erased. She had witnessed too many things, and doubts of her husband’s purity were gone. The myth she had married a good man was shattered. The frustration escaped in each word.
“Mom, why are you so sad?”
“Promise me one thing and I will be happy. Even if my face does not show it I will be happy, ok?”
“I want you to be happy mom.”
“Promise me you will be a good man.”
“That is easy mommy, I am a good boy. Good boys grow up to be good men.”
A weak smile managed to fight through her clouds. Everything Yancey was, he was still a good father to this amazing little boy.
“I promise mommy if that will make you smile again.”
“I will do my best, but you gave me hope.”
Running at full speed was part of the job. No matter how old Clemmons got, there was still a need to run. Criminals did not exactly slow down as he aged. He was an athlete in his youth, but the way these younger suspects ran, he swore they were Olympic sprinters.
Muggings were way too common during his shift. There was always someone to shake down a heavily inebriated person for money. Tonight they just happened to attempt it in front of the police cruiser. Perhaps they were drunk as well.
The duo had split down one of the alleys that intersected the two rows of businesses. Back up had been called but still was not around. Clemmons in haste made a decision. He went for the slower of the two.
The chase took him behind the movie theater and several antique shops, it was obvious by the little amount of trash in the dumpsters, the businesses were suffering from the economic loss. Crime was up, employment was down, yet there were still people who stayed. Staying meant there was hope in the city being able to recover. Hope in jobs returning, and finally hope that whatever evils currently plagued the night were going to be squashed.
Clemmons grew up in the outer area of Snydertown, he knew firsthand how hard times brought the community together. His family, despite any personal hardship were there for their neighbors. It was part of the greater sense of community the city would need. When someone fell they would band together to lift that person up. Everyone does their part. When this chase would end, he would have done his duty to bring more hope to the city.
So many puddles. Clemmons splashed in pursuit. There was going to be an end to this one way or another, but it was not going to be with letting both escape. He chose one, allowing the other freedom. Now he was closing the distance. I could just shoot him; I have a clean shot. No, you got this man. Take him down the way you know how.
Clemmons was surprised how well the treadmill had kept him in shape. It shot down his idea that only real road running was applicable in his job. He was closing the distance as the energy level of the failed mugger was waning.
Into the wall went the muggers face as the burly Sergeant dove into him. It did not take long for the blood to trickle down his face. Clemmons put his entire weight pinning the criminal kneeling against the wall.
“Why did you just not stop man? You know we would have caught you one way or another.”
Words were muttered as Clemmons forearm pressed the head against the wall. “I had a chance.”
“No you messed up in front of the wrong cop.”
“Nah you got lucky this time old man. But I will get out soon, don’t worry.”
“I doubt that.”
“I already bet my soul I would be free.”
The police sergeant had turned the opposite way. He most likely lost his partner, but it was all acceptable. There was a bigger picture. Too many people he would need to lead down paths of opportunity.
The alleyway opened to a side street. Even at night the light reflecting off the lake beckoned. He could stop running. Freedom had been won for another day. Smiling as he caught his breath, the community building at the lake would provide a perfect place to hide.
They had struck out on gaining any funds tonight. But money was not his real motivation. He and his kind existed purely to subvert. All demons had a purpose. His purpose was to kill a soul through damning acts. Not all crimes would lead down the path of no return so it was up to him to be the guide to the ‘proper’ ones.
Free will was a funny thing. It allowed one to choose their own destiny but could easily be swayed. Desperation, greed, lust, all were motivators that he and his kindred used. Some of their cousins were blessed with the ability to purchase souls for damnation, while others were there to torment until self-murder. His purpose was purely to corrupt.
The body these dark spirits would inhabit were mortal shells whose soul had left long before. Corruptors helped provide the mortal shells. Bodies who were conscious but without their soul, could easily be taken over. Corruptors also set up the Purveyors to be able to purchase a soul, when killing one would take too long.
Locks should be more difficult he thought as he pushed the locking bar back allowing the door to open. Inside was dark, but he did not need light. Eyes turned to flames as he was finally free to be himself. Two floating orbs illuminated his face catching the forked tongue snapping at the air.
Something was wrong with the room. He was not alone. For the first time in a bit he felt fear, an ancient fear.
The sharpened metal pierced with precision through his chest. As the blade withdrew from the body tendrils of dark spirit seized the broken flesh. They pulled it back into place.
The head was then separated from the body in one quick swing. The slice was clean, no jagged tears. Force and craftsmanship dropped the body of the creature. The tendrils reached from the neck trying to locate the head.
Grasping the dark tendrils, Yancey pulled the dark spirit from the shell. It squirmed and wrapped itself around his hand then his arm. It chased up his neck trying to save its own existence.
The killer would not allow it. Using his hands, he ripped the dark spirit asunder. The corruptor was ended.
The Bible was placed, bookmarked to Matthew. A highlighter was used to bring attention to whoever would find it.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.