“James Alexander Po—” Father Coss exclaims before being cut off.
“You finish that sentence, Father, and I’ll nail your bits to the alter like I did the last priest,” James says with a laugh as he walks past the priest and heads to his car.
“What do you want, Coss?” I ask as I watch James make the lucky getaway.
“I came to speak with you now that you’re out of that damnable prison. Simon kindly told me where to find you, since I highly doubted I’d be able to get you into the church just yet,” he says almost fucking magnanimously, as if I seek his fucking forgiveness.
“I’ll make sure to shoot Simon in the leg,” I say as I reach down to grab Meghan’s hand.
“Gabriel, what happened ten years ago… We need to talk about that day… Perhaps we could have Miss Meghan give us a moment to talk,” he suggests, and I can see he desperately wants to do this alone.
He wants to do this in private, where his fucking past sins don’t have to be brought out into the light of day.
“Nah, she stays by my side, Coss. I met her in a church, if that helps any, but as James said… Sins to commit and nothing to atone for.”
Pulling Meghan with me, I start to pass Coss before he reaches out and grabs at my arm.
“I was there that day too, dammit!” he growls.
“Yeah, you got sent to the fucking priesthood. I got ten years in a supermax. You committed the sins just as much as I did. Don’t fucking think for a moment I owe you a thing,” I snarl before ripping my arm away from him. “Just because you wear the costume doesn’t mean you’re forgivable.”
Yanking Meghan along beside me, I pull us quickly to the truck. Helping her get in, I shut her door before heading back to the priest who stares at me with something akin to fear in his eyes.
Standing before me, the old man is a shell of his former glory, but he sure thinks he’s bigger than me now.
“You pulled the trigger on how many of your brothers that day?” I ask before going on. “I’ve killed a lot of men in the name of Lucifer, and I don’t for one fucking moment forget that. You should remember all your past fucking sins sometime, Father.”
“I’ve come to terms with what I’ve done, Gabriel,” he says as he pushes a finger into my chest. “And I’ve tried to bring each one of you back into the light. It’s been too damn long for you men to go on this way.”
“Yeah, well, we’ve got a way to go,” I say, smacking his hand away from me. “And if I remember correctly, Dad, you took the cloth as soon as it was offered. The bodies hadn’t even cooled before you went straight into the priesthood.”
“I did this as a way to show penance for my misdeeds—” he tries to tell me before I burst out laughing in his face.
“You took the cloth because it was that or death. You didn’t give two shits about your past misdeeds,” I say.
“You damnable cuss. I’m not too old to put you in your place,” he growls as he straightens to his full height.
“Just like you did to Simon and me after Miriam died? I’ve still got the scars from the coat hangers. Simon’s got them all over his back from laying on top of me, trying to shield me from your righteous anger. Our drunk mother even took a couple of those blows in the early days… Before she drank herself to death and put a bullet in her brains to end her suffering,” I say with a growl.
Scars are all over our backs because of this shithead’s rage. Because he couldn’t fucking deal with being a parent anymore. Because he wanted us to grow up as hard me.
“I…” he stutters.
“Get fucked, Father Coss,” I say to him, using the name he chose to start his life over with.
* * *
Pushing the call button on my phone, I wait for Simon to pick up.
“What is it, Gabriel?”
“Fuck you. Next time you set me up for seeing, Coss, I’ll break your fucking spine.”
“Tsk, Tsk. Keeping talking to me like that and I’ll—” Simon tries to respond.
“Fuck off. Is that Russian restaurant over in Bethlehem still a front for their laundering services?” I ask.
“To an extent. It’s fallen to mostly old men regaling each other with stories from their former glory days,” he says.
“They do any business there?” I ask.
“Yes, it still launders about a million every three months,” he says, and I can hear the tapping of a keyboard.
“Good. Do me a favor and turn off all the traffic and surrounding cameras around the restaurant. I’ll probably need a change of license plates this afternoon,” I say.