Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Mark of Cain
A passage from Heaven and Hell, introducing one of my characters:
A phone rang in the darkness, and a man grunted, coming out of sleep, reaching over to the nightside table. Picking up the receiver, he answered. “Yes?”
“Good morning, Charlie,” came the familiar voice, thick with a northern Irish accent, keeping to tradecraft. His name wasn’t Charlie, and he would not address his caller by his real name either.
“Easy for you to say, Jimmy,” the man answered in the same accent, his head clearing from the slight hangover. Well, what’s this about, lad? He glanced at the bedside clock. Beyond the curtains, there was light outside, the first hint of the dawn.
“Sorry to be wakin’ you, but I thought you ought to know. Pat’s coming by in awhile, and wanted to catch up.” By which he was referring to a source in what could be considered the competition, and the source had information.
“Good, it’s been awhile. I’ll be around in awhile, Jimmy.” He hung up the phone, his sleep at an end, and remained there in bed, staring up at the ceiling, his eyes adjusting to the darkness. The woman in his arms slept undisturbed, her head resting against his chest, her thick brown hair spilling over her shoulders and onto him. He could feel her naked body against his own, one leg draped over his legs, her breasts against his side, and he carefully pulled away from beneath her, leaving the bed, rising to his feet.
He was a handsome and muscular man, thirty four years old, six feet tall, with short cropped red hair and restless blue eyes. There were a handful of scars on his body, from years of the wrong kind of living, and a war that seemed to be in a holding pattern. For everyone but him and his people, anyway. Picking up a dark robe, he pulled it on, walking to the window, opening the curtain slightly. Outside, he could see the Irish Sea beyond the seaside property he called home, the dawn light illuminating the waters far below. The old farmhouse had long stood up well, against the occasional furious storms the sea would send its way. It continued to do so now, though the days of farming were long since past for the land. After all, he had no interest in farming. His work, or his calling, was far more pressing.
All these years, and his enemies hadn’t found him. There were benefits to having a smaller organization. He could trust his people far more readily. At least more so then some of the competition. If they knew where to find me, I’d be dead already. He softly sighed. He’d been at war for fifteen years now, a war fought in the shadows, against more then one enemy. The IRA on the one hand, and the Brits on the other. At least until the peace process. Peace? He sneered derisively. As if that’s stopped people like Conlon from holding onto their arms. Or people like me. About the only thing Kevin and I have in common. We’re both waitin’ for the war to start up again. No, there’s never going to be peace. He looked out onto the water, his mind wondering what kind of information the source might have for him.
Turning back to the bed, he saw her lying there, still asleep, on her stomach now. She had no idea what he really did; as far as she was concerned, he was a consultant, frequently called away on business. He had been seeing her for a few months, and he knew it would have to end sooner or later. After all, he could not afford to get too close to an outsider. Still, she was fun company, and a real handful in bed. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, he thought with a smile. Who’d have thought that a librarian would be so... frisky? He moved closer, studying her slender bare back in the early light, the way her hair fell about over the shoulders. She really is beautiful. Too bad I’ll have to break it off soon. He moved towards the bed, letting the robe fall away as he walked, and settled beside her, leaning over, kissing the small of her back.
She stirred, a soft sigh escaping her lips, and turned over. “Good morning, Charles,” she said with a smile. Another thing she doesn’t know, he thought with some regret. My real name. Had she known he was Cain Reilly, terrorist, and not Charles O’Shea, consultant, she would have no doubt been horrified. Still, she would never know. It was better that way.
“Good morning, Mary,” Cain said, leaning closer, greeting her with a kiss, feeling her arms coming around him. He let his hands wander over her body. “Jimmy” could wait awhile. A morning frolic between the sheets with Mary had much more appeal.