Shaking her dark hair from her eyes, she looks up at me. “No, I don’t have to be. I want to be.”
Not entirely sure what to make of that statement, I look down to Paul’s headstone. It’s simple and unadorned. His life condensed down to two dates. Right beside his, I see Thomas’s. Brothers in life, and now in eternity, if there is one.
Will I be next to them? I used to think when I finally died in prison, my body would be burnt in some crematorium.
Then my ashes would be thrown in a dumpster.
Heaven or hell… I don’t really believe all that bullshit. I won’t be repenting for the shit I’ve done. I’m not sorry for any of it. But what happens after I die has started to itch in the back of my head. What happens to Meghan? I’d do that whole corny I’d come back from hell to keep her safe thing, but what’s that really mean?
James stands to my left. He points to an area past a strand of trees and a small hill. “Peter’s on the other side of the hill with his grandmother. It wasn’t in his will, but she left a spot for him beside her if he wanted it.”
“How’d Paul and Thomas get these spots?” I ask, motioning around us.
It’s nice, I guess, in this part of the cemetery. Trees with shade and somewhat close to a small lake. Although there seems to be a lot of unused land around these two plots.
“Lucifer bought out this section,” he says with a small shrug and looks around us. “Any plot that doesn’t have a stone is ours. He’s keeping us together, I guess. Family and all that shit.”
Even in death, we’ll be his hellhounds and soldiers.
“That’s comforting…” Meghan says with a hint of sarcasm.
“Where did Bart end up?” I ask James.
“Andrew dealt with him and he didn’t offer any answers,” James says as we both turn toward the sound of a vehicle driving up the road.
Hand slowly sliding to the gun on my hip, I move just enough to put myself in-between Meghan and the blacked-out Cadillac that slows as it gets closer to us.
“Expecting friends?” I ask James quickly.
“No, but I know who it is.” James grumbles quietly to me.
Meghan goes to step up beside me, but I shuffle in her path. “Hold on there, little bit. Need to see first what we’re dealing with.”
“Seriously?” she whispers at my back.
“Y’all relax, this one isn’t dangerous in the shoot-us sense.” James chuckles as he looks to us both.
“Who is it?” I ask.
James doesn’t answer though, he just starts walking toward our vehicles where the black Cadillac has come to a stop at. As the back door opens, a loud sigh comes out of me like a huge gust of fuckery.
Stepping out of the car, an old man slowly straightens up with the aid of a wooden cane. His gnarled hands are time-worn and he has a thick bearded face.
Ten years ago, before I went into prison, I remember seeing the old man looking at me much like he does now. Sad and regretful. His thick black beard has grown whiter and grayer, though. The wrinkles around his eyes have transitioned from laugh lines to old man lines. He’s hunched more now, where he used to stand tall and proud. Time seems to have worn on him. His black coat, black pants, and black shirt all neatly pressed, and the white of his priestly collar looks out of place on him.
“Is that a priest?” Meghan asks with confusion.
“Yeah, Father Coss,” James says.
“He looks like a bear that got really old,” she says, “or… something… He’s really a priest?”
“Yeah, just like all the other ones. Corrupt as the day is long and full of fire,” I say.
He doesn’t leave the concrete of the drive, just stands there waiting for us to make our way over to him. He does that fucking majestic wait shit, as if us peasants shall march up to him like he’s the fucking Pope.
When we get close enough for my tastes, I stop Meghan, and say to the man, “Coss.”
“Gabriel. James.” He nods to us all, then he smiles at Meghan. “Miss?”
“Meghan, sir.” Meghan says quietly and for some fucking reason she’s being almost shy about it.
“Ah, Meghan…” Father Coss looks at us all. “It’s good to see you. I’m glad you came to pay your respects to Paul and Thomas, Gabriel. Have you had a chance to stop by Peter’s?”
“Some other time,” I say.
James moves to my side as he nods his head toward Father Coss. “I’ll be heading out. I’ve got places to be and sins to atone for.”
Father Coss gives James a frown. “When’s the last time you thought about coming to confessional, James?”
“Same time the priest asked to see my no-no spot.”