Chapter 16

Just before we crossed over the river, Cashman took the exit for the warehouse district.

Keeping the shotgun leveled on him, I glanced out my window. I’d driven past this section of the city thousands of times, but that had been with my parents in their car as they cruised by on the expressway. Never had I actually come here. Nobody in their right mind would.

Many of the warehouses were abandoned, something I remembered my dad mentioning had to do with city legislation and red tape. Trash littered the streets. Graffiti marked almost every building. Boards covered almost every other window.

Cashman pulled up in front of a white stone building, placed the truck in park, and cut the engine.

“What is this place?”

“A speakeasy,” he said, already opening his door and stepping out. He turned, squinted back at me. “You coming or what?”

“It’s not even noontime. I didn’t think bars were open this early.”

“First, this isn’t a bar. Second, you’re a kid. What the hell do you know about bars anyway?”

I glanced back out my window. The street was deserted. I got out of the truck, keeping the shotgun aimed at Cashman.

He gave me a bored look, then started walking. We went around to the back of the building, to a narrow alleyway. He knocked on a door, waited, knocked again.

Eventually a voice said, “What’s the password?”

“Open up, I need to take a piss.”

There came the sound of the deadbolt clicking over, then the door opened. An older woman peered out of us.

She said, “That’s not the goddamn password and you know it.”

Cashman pushed his way past her. “Don’t mind the kid with the shotgun. He’s with me.”

She frowned at me, didn’t even glance at the weapon in my hands. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“It’s Saturday,” I said, stepping into the building. It was dark and cool and smelled like a kitchen. Which I guess made sense, because it was a kitchen.

Cashman opened the refrigerator, pulled out a beer. “Want one?” he asked me.

I shook my head.

The woman closed the door, turned the deadbolt, then said, “Can you please explain to me what’s going on here?”

“Haven’t you noticed?” Cashman took a gulp of the beer, wiped his mouth, and pointed the bottle at me. “He’s wearing the ring.”

The woman gasped. Her hands to her face, she said, “Oh my God, you really do have it on you, don’t you.”

I stood there silent, the shotgun now lowered toward the floor. “Okay, now that we’re here, tell me what’s going on.”

Cashman took another gulp of beer, watching me. He shook his head. “Not until you put that thing down. You’re making me nervous.”

“No.”

“Kid, do we really have to go through this? I’m not going to hurt you. Besides, wasn’t it me who saved your ass back there? And anyway, like I said, with that ring on your finger you’re practically invincible.”

The woman was standing very close to me now, her eyes wide as she tried to get a good look at the silver ring.

I gave it a moment, then said, “Fine. But I want you to tell me everything.”

Cashman shrugged, nodded, and held out his hand for the weapon.

I took the shotgun and racked it once, ejecting a round, then kept racking it until no more rounds came out. Four of them lay at my feet. I handed him the shotgun.

“Invincible, yes,” Cashman said, taking the shotgun with a smile. “Smart, no.”

And with the butt of the shotgun he knocked me on the side of the head.

Cue darkness.

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