Chapter 13 is here. If you need to start at the beginning, go here.
We're headed west.
Sammy sits at the very back of the limo, listening to his cellphone. Yesenia is next to him, with Sammy's arm draped over her shoulder. From his hand, Sammy makes dollar coins appear, holding them with his thumb and forefinger and then dropping them into Yesenia's lap.
I sit on the side-couch across from the door. At the other end of the cabin are two women, one black and one white, in matching silver cocktail dresses. They're huddled together and giggling.
Yesenia stares at me. Tears run down her face. But she's not sobbing. Her hands are fists in her lap, her arms wrapped around a pile of coins.
Sammy closes and pockets his cellphone without saying anything. Between the noises the women are making and the music blasting from the limo's speakers, I couldn't overhear what he was told.
"It's alright, little one," Sammy says to her, stroking her hair. "Your friends' suffering is over."
Another coin appears, then falls onto the pile with dull clink.
To me, he says, "Those RV's are notoriously unsafe. Luckily, the Fire Department has been able to contain the blaze to a single vehicle. I think we're all grateful this disaster has been contained, are we not?"
Sammy waves at the women.
"Girls, don't be rude," he says. "Introduce yourselves to Henry."
The black woman slides over on the seat, while the white one comes up the floor of the limo on her knees to kneel in front of me.
"Henry, I'm Tonya," the black woman breathes into my ear.
"And I'm Sandra," says the other one, putting her hands on my knees and lifting herself up and pushing her face up to mine.
They're young and attractive, but they smell wrong. They smell tainted.
"It's okay, Henry," Sammy says. "You must be getting thirsty. Indulge yourself."
He looks at Yesenia as he says this, but her eyes stay on me, with that same mix of terror and bravery.
I brush Sandra aside and strike at Yesenia, but Sammy knocks me back with a sweep of his arm.
I land on Tonya and push off of her, trying to reach Yesenia and ready to block another blow from Sammy. But I'm way too slow. Sammy knocks me back again, as casually as brushing something off his sleeve.
Now Yesenia starts moving. She's coming towards me as fast as she can, the coins spilling onto the floor. But it's slow-motion to Sammy and me.
Sammy, however, lets her go. He doesn't hold her back.
I crouch and gather her in my arms.
I strike, getting her just below the corner of her jaw. Yesenia collapses against me. With one hand, I hold her to me. With the other, I turn and slash at Tonya and Sandra, catching them each in the neck, crushing vertebrae and killing them. Blood spurts from Sandra's nose as she collapses.
I face Sammy, still drinking from Yesenia. He settles back into his seat.
He watches me drain Yesenia. I lay her out on the side-couch when I'm finished.
She looks peaceful, her eyes closed.
"Are you done?" Sammy asks. He hits a button and the window to the driver's seat rolls down. Briefly, I think about reaching through, killing the driver, sending the limo into a wreck. But I'd never make it.
"Walt," Sammy says. "We need to stop at the yard."
"Yes, sir," the driver replies. The window goes back up.
"I'm curious," Sammy says to me, nodding at Yesenia's body. "Was that because you really cared for her? Or was it just to deny me a taste?"
I don't answer him. He laughs and shakes his head.
"What's done is done," he says. "Is it not?"
He pats the seat next to him, where Yesenia had been.
"Have a seat, Henry," he tells me.
With the crumpled bodies of Tonya and Sandra up front, and with Yesenia stretched out, it's the only seat available.
I stay where I am, on the floor of the limousine, facing Sammy.
Sammy laughs again.
"Have it your way," he says. Then he takes out his cellphone and begins typing with his thumbs. After a minute, the phone buzzes and he holds it to his ear.
"No," he says. "Just be ready for me at the yard."
He snaps the phone shut and slides it into his jacket.
"You know," he says to me. "When a company is looking to fill a position, there are two schools of thought. One is to bring in talent from the outside, enriching the company with fresh blood. The other school of thought is that it's best to promote from within, because those are the people with the most loyalty and the most relevant experience."
He wags his finger at me.
"You're making the case for that second school of thought," he tells me.
Now he points behind me, towards the bodies of Tonya and Sandra.
"Do you have any idea how much you've just cost me?" he asks.
I don't answer.
"That's alright," Sammy says. That broad, bright smile is back. "I consider all this part of your training."
Faster than I can react, he moves forward and has my chin in one hand, his face right up to mine. Eye to eye. With his other hand, he pulls a dollar coin out of my right ear. He slides the coin into the pocket of my shirt.
"You work for me now," he says. "So start behaving, will you?"
Comments? Questions? Criticism?