Nighthawks – Chapter Nine: The Revivification of Edward J. Parker

He felt the damp, rough repetitive thing on his face and the very cold, wet feeling on his legs simultaneously.  He opened his eyes and blinked several times.  He found his face was being licked by a filthy, somewhat scrawny German shepherd.  He managed to push the feral beast away, and it backed away, out of his view.  He looked down and discovered the cold and wet sensation on his legs was the water of the meandering river.  He mysteriously found himself on the bank, partially in the frigid water.  He pulled himself up and took his bearings.  He believed he was in Riverside Park, but couldn’t be completely sure.

The trees were devoid of leaves and he could see his breath on the night air.  The dog tilted its head and looked at him quixotically.  Eddie wiped the slobber from his face and tried to walk away, but the dog growled its disapproval.  Eddie froze, then walked toward the dog.  The dog scurried a few feet away, before stopping to make sure Eddie was following behind.  Eddie shook his head and obediently followed.

The dog led him to a park bench, a short distance away.  It nosed at a haphazardly folded newspaper lying on the bench.  Eddie retrieved the newspaper as the dog waited patiently.  It was the Daily Star, dated October 12th, 1935.  Eddie dropped the paper in shock…twenty years had elapsed.  He had gone into that river in 1915.  After the realization sank in, Eddie smiled.  It’s time to get started.  He checked his pockets, a few coins and two fist sized rocks.  He dropped the rocks, only to have the dog snarl at him.  He put the rocks back in his pockets; the dog tilted its head and licked its chops.  He started to walk away from the park.

He struck up a pace out of the park that showed a dedication.  He had a lot to do.  The dog trailed behind, content to follow the seemingly resurrected man.  As he exited the park, he was lost in thought.  He knew his clothes were outdated and he would need some new rags, if he was going to blend in to the city’s busy streets.  He knew what he had to do, he just needed to find someone his height and weight.  The night streets were desolate.  He was cold and quickened his pace to try to keep warm.

He rounded a corner and almost immediately ran into a huge gorilla of a man, also walking quickly.  Eddie would be no match for this oversized man, so he put his head down and quickly walked away.  The other man also seemed to be up to something and didn’t slow down to take notice of the oddly dressed man.

Eddie spent the night walking the streets, looking.  The stray dog, obediently followed him all night.  It would occasionally disappear for a several minutes, only to return just when Eddie thought he may have lost it for good.  Eddie was not an animal person and would’ve been quite content to carry on alone.  It was hours before he finally found what he was seeking.  Just before sunrise, he passed a man on the street with the same approximate build as Eddie.  The street was otherwise empty and he knew what he was going to do.  He followed the man and retrieved one of the rocks in his pocket.  He quickly, without a second’s hesitation, struck the man in the back of the head with the rock.  The man went down and Eddie was on him in an instant.  He dragged the woozy man down an alley, and deftly strangled the poor man.

Eddie, quickly changed into the man’s suit, which was a near perfect fit. He took what he wanted from the man’s wallet and pockets, ditching the rest.   He returned to the street and checked his hair in the reflection in a shop window.  This won’t do at all.  He had noticed everyone he came across had been clean-shaven and he had a handlebar moustache and thick sideburns that made him stick out.  He couldn’t have that.

 

*

 

The dream came again.  It was always the same.  The dream gave Bernice a warm, safe feeling, but also unsettled her.  She tried to will herself awake, but it was no use.  She would have to let the dream play out…again.

She was a small child, four or five.  Sometimes, she was in the dream as an adult, but most of the time she was a child.  She always had the same white summer dress, whether as a child or an adult.  It was frilly and elaborate; she never recalled ever wearing a dress like that in her real life.  She always clung to her favorite childhood dolly, in the dream.  It was the same dolly she grew up with and still kept, although she was twenty-years old.

She silently opened a large door and entered a beautiful library.  She could smell the old books…and there were hundreds.  She could hear the muted crackling of a fire in the fireplace.  It gave the room a warm and inviting feel.  She felt comfortable in this place.  There was a large, exquisitely decorated globe in one corner.  The globe always caught her attention.  She marveled at its beauty and dreamed of far off lands depicted on its surface.  Out the windows, she could see a large, wooded park across the street.  She fantasized the park was alive with fairies, hidden in the darkest parts of the park.

At the far end of the library was an enormous desk.  She liked to hide under this desk, but she instinctively knew it was not out of fear, but something else.  She couldn’t explain it.  She knew she had never been to this place and it unsettled her that she dreamed of it almost nightly.

In a comfortable looking chair, near the crackling fire sat a man.  In her dream, she only ever saw his legs and fingers.  He was always obscured by a newspaper or magazine he was reading.  Just when he would notice her presence, he would begin to take his paper down from his face, but she always woke at the crucial moment.  She felt great love for the man, but he wasn’t her father.  Her father was a pig farmer, not the well-dressed, cultured man from her dreams.

The pattern continued that night.  Just as the mysterious man was about to reveal his face, Bernice woke up.  She glanced next to her at Jake who was sleeping comfortably.  It wasn’t the shocking waking of a nightmare, but a gentle waking that allowed her to rest in a warm glow.  She heard the slow, even breaths of Jake, next to her, and she nestled up against his warm body and fell back asleep.

 

*

 

It was an early start in the morning.  Detective Travis managed to get a description of a woman leaving his building shortly after he had arrived, from the doorman before he went off duty for the morning.  It wasn’t hard for the pimply-faced kid to remember her, either.  A real looker, according to the kid.  Five feet six or seven, well-built, slender, black-hair, legs as far as the eye could see, wearing a red dress.  Travis was not pleased with the description of the woman.  It didn’t jive with the descriptions of the mystery woman seen frequenting Burris’ place.  He now had two mysterious women to deal with; one of whom had knocked him silly.

The stationhouse was a flurry of activity when he arrived.  In all his years as a detective and a beat copper before, he had never seen the place like it was that morning.  No one was still; everyone was amped up and too busy to notice him standing like a fool in the door to the Homicide Bureau.

Finally, he grabbed a uniformed officer hurrying by him, “What’s all this jazz, then?”

The officer seemed genuinely shocked by the question, “Ain’t you heard?  The mayor’s dead.  They’re sayin’ suicide, but the D.A. has been on the phone with the chief wantin’ to make sure whatever the outcome; suicide or homicide, that there ain’t no hiccups.”

“Christ,” muttered Travis as he let go of the officer’s arm, who scurried about his errand.  He ran his hand through his hair as he thought about his next play.

He quickly and quietly made his exit and hurried out of the stationhouse before he was recognized.  He believed the death would be glossed over and go down cleanly; one way or the other, but it had the potential to turn into a busted hornet’s nest.  He didn’t want any part of it.  He knew if things went sideways, his bosses wouldn’t hesitate to feed him to the wolves, if he were around.  He’d stick to his case, let some other sucker have the glory or take the fall.

His next step was to try to track down where the schmeck that killed his victim came from.  Since Burris was somewhat well-off, he decided to start with pharmacists.  Apart from bungled robberies, most victims were killed by someone of the same social standing.  These people did not appear to be the type to frequent an opium den or shooting gallery in Chinatown.

 

*

 

Eddie rubbed his freshly shaved face and examined himself in the mirror.  He used a few of the coins from his pocket to pay the barber for a job well-done.

The barber was thankful for the work and made his appreciation known, “Thank you, sir.  It is a shame such a beautiful mustache had to go, but times do change, I guess.”

Eddie nodded and departed.  He now completely fit in with the rest of the pedestrians hustling along the now busy thoroughfare.  He knew exactly where he was heading next.  It was time for his revenge.  It had been twenty years, but it seemed like mere minutes to him.  He headed toward the Irish part of the city – the Baile, as it was called.  It was time for Simon Graves to plead for his life, as Eddie had done twenty years earlier.

It didn’t take Eddie long to get to Graves’ large house, bordering Riverside Park.  Eddie immediately knew something was amiss.  He watched the house from the safety of the tree-line across the street.  The windows were opaque with a thin layer of grim and dust.  The bushes in front of the house were overgrown and unkempt.  The house looked abandoned.  Could Graves have moved?  Anything was possible in twenty years.

Once he was sure it was safe, Eddie crossed the street and walked up the four steps to the door.  He tried to peer in one of the windows, but could make little out.  He had to use his shirt sleeve to wipe away some of the grime obstructing his view.  Finally, he could see inside the house.  The room into which he was looking appeared to be the man’s library, but it was devoid of all belongings.  The large built-in shelves housed only cobwebs and dust.  Graves had gone and it had been some time, judging by the condition of the house.  Eddie cursed under his breath and retreated across the street to the shelter of the trees to collect his thoughts.

Once out of view of the street, Eddie happened upon the German shepherd again.  He scratched behind the dog’s ear as he contemplated his next move.  He had a new lease on life and only one desire, which could not be fulfilled at this present moment.

The dog whined and walked away from the man.  After a few steps, it turned and barked one sharp bark.  Damn thing wants me to follow it again.  He laughed to himself, shook his head and followed the feral animal.  It was leading Eddie away from the park and deeper into the Baile.

The Baile was a twelve-square block section of the city bordering Riverside Park to the north and the river to the east.  It was first settled by Irish immigrants and was still predominately Irish in its make-up.  The Irish first arrived to work on the river, but had taken over much of the law, fire and governing of the city.  The huge number of Irish descendants almost ensured an Irishman would win any election…any fair election.  Fair elections in the city had become a nearly unheard of event.  The new mayor was of Swedish descent…a fact that had not escaped the eyes of the metropolitan police chief.  He had been sure Martin Riley would defeat that lowlife, Gustavus Drakestail.  Eddie didn’t see much benefit in keeping up with the political tides of the city.  He had heard of the election results whilst in the barbershop.  He stayed non-committal throughout the conversation.

He followed the dog on a long trip through the city.  He followed it past the main train station, past the silent boxing arena and into a poorer neighborhood of the city.  He tried to stay out of the way of a fierce stickball game on one block.  The boys playing grew rather heated as Eddie inadvertently interfered with the game by getting hit with the rubber ball.  He passed fruit carts, making their rounds.  He was amazed by the number of automobiles in the city streets.  It was overwhelming for him, and a large departure from the streets twenty-years before.  Through all the commotion and hubbub, the dog led on.  It would occasionally look back to make sure he was following.  Eddie wasn’t sure why he was following this dog, but something pushed him on.  His revenge against Simon Graves and his desire to find the man began to slip from his consciousness.  Soon, he only thought of following the dog.  He somehow knew the dog was taking him somewhere important – somewhere he needed to be.  He even named the wretched beast – Coisi. 

Coisi continued the expedition further and further away from the river.  Soon, the buildings became smaller.  Gone were the five and six story apartment buildings; gone were the small shops – butcher, baker, fix-it, laundry.  The buildings began to become more spaced out.  The roads shifted from asphalt to gravel.  There were no automobiles here.  A few cart horses could be seen tethered so railings and fences.  The terrain became somewhat hilly as the odd duo walked on.  Eddie was becoming hungry.  He jokingly thought of eating Coisi and smiled.  As if it sensed Eddie’s poor sense of humor, Coisi finally halted at the base of a steep hill and looked to the small building at the top of the hill.  Eddie was surprised a hill this size existed in the city, but there it was in front of him.  Coisi let out a long, loud howl.

It appeared as if the dog wanted Eddie to trudge up the steep hill to the sole building at the top.  He squinted into the sun, trying to make out what it was.  It seemed like a small shack with a huge tower protruding from the top of it.  Eddie was at a loss, but he had followed the dog this far.  He sighed deeply and began the arduous walk to the top of the hill.

 

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