The Reapers: A Charlie Parker Thriller | Chapter 31 of 42

Author: John Connolly | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 6976 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

BLISS SAT IN THE dining room of Arthur Leehagen’s house, the table at his back and an empty Hardigg Storm case at his feet. He wore a raincoat, and he held a soft waterproof hat in his hands. In front of him was a window, but until a short time before he had been able to see nothing through the glass and had, instead, focused entirely on his own reflection. He was not weary. He had come so far, and the moment for which he had long wished was almost upon him.

He recalled those first hours, when he was convinced that all of the skin had been seared from his body, the agony as he had stumbled into the night, his mind clouded entirely by pain. It had taken a great effort of will to compartmentalize his suffering, to clear a tiny corner of his consciousness so that reason could take over from instinct. He had made it to a phone, and that had been enough. He had money, and with money you could buy anything, if you had enough of it: a hiding place, transport, treatment for one’s wounds, a new face, a new identity.

A chance to live.

But such pain. It had never gone away, not truly. It was said that one forgot the intensity of one’s former agonies as time went on, but that was not true for Bliss. The memory of the pain that he endured had been seared both in and on him, in his spirit and on his body, and even though the physical reality of it had faded, the memory of it remained sharp and clear. Its ghost was enough to evoke all that had once been, and he had used that capacity to relive it in order to bring him to this place.

He heard footsteps behind him. Michael Leehagen spoke, but Bliss did not turn around to acknowledge his presence.

“There’s been contact,” Leehagen said.

“Where?”

“The inner ring, close by the southern intersection.”

“Did your father’s men do as they were told?”

There was a pause before Michael answered. Bliss knew that the reminder of his father’s authority would rankle. It served no purpose other than to amuse Bliss. It was a reminder that Michael had overstepped his authority in ordering the attack on Gabriel. Bliss had not forgotten it. There would be a reckoning once the job was done. Benton, the man who had pulled the trigger, would be the sacrificial lamb on the altar of Bliss’s atonement for the shooting. It was for Bliss, and no other, to decide if Gabriel lived or died. Bliss understood that Gabriel could not have let his treachery go unpunished, and he bore him no animosity for the long hunt that had ensued. It was Louis that Bliss wanted. Louis had burned him. Louis had made it personal.

“They forced them back. They didn’t aim to kill.”

Bliss blew air through his nose, like an amused bull. “Even if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t have hit anything, unless it was in error.”

“They’re good men.”

“No, they’re not. They’re local thugs. They’re farmboys and squirrel eaters.”

Michael didn’t dispute the accuracy of the description.

“There’s something else. We lost contact with two of our people, Willis and Harding, on the outer ring. A stranger came on their radio.”

“Then I suggest you deal with the problem.”

“We’re doing that now. I just thought you should know.”

Bliss stood, turning now for the first time but still ignoring the man who stood at the door. On the table behind him, resting on its Harris bipod, was a Chandler XM-3 sniper rifle with a titanium picatinny rail and recoil lug, and a Nightforce NXS day optic sight. The Hardigg case also contained a universal night sight, which Bliss had not fitted in the hope that there would be enough light for him to track his prey. He stared through the window at the spreading dawn, masked somewhat by the rain that had begun to fall. Day was coming in earnest.

Beside the Chandler was a second rifle, a Surgeon XL. Bliss had been torn between the two, although “torn” was an exaggeration of the relative equanimity with which he now made his choice. Unusually for a man in his particular line of work, Bliss had no excessive fondness for guns. He had encountered those for whom the tools of their trade exerted an almost sexual attraction, but he felt no kinship with them. On the contrary: he considered their sensual regard for their weapons as a form of weakness, a symptom of a deeper malaise. In Bliss’s experience, they were the kind of men who gave amusing names to their sexual organs, and who sought a release from killing similar to that which they found in the act of congress. Such beliefs were, for Bliss, the height of foolishness.

The XL was a .338 Lapua Magnum, with a Schmidt & Bender 5-25 x 56 scope mounted on its rail and a multiport jet muzzle brake to tame the recoil. The stock was Fiberglas, and altogether the gun weighed just slightly more than twenty pounds. He lifted the rifle, put his left arm through the sling, and let his left shoulder take the weight. He had always preferred his right, but since that day in Amsterdam he had learned to adapt in this matter as in so much else.

“You’re going now?”

“Yes.”

“How will you find them?”

“I’ll smell them.”

Leehagen’s son wondered if the strange, scarred man was joking, and decided he was not. He said nothing more as he watched Bliss leave the house and walk across the lawn in search of his prey.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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