Authors: F. Paul Wilson
Tags: #Fiction, #Detective, #General
Jack had driven down to Trenton with Gia for the wake, but kept going when he reached the funeral home. Not because he dreaded the scene inside, the pain in his father's eyes, the baffled shock and hurt of the niece and nephew he'd never known, but because of the guy with the telefoto camera in the car across the street.
Jack had had an eye out for just such a car.
He'd guessed that even a volunteer fire marshal would realize that no propane tank explosion could demolish a house like that, even if it was only a plywood bungalow. A bomb squad would be called in. Traces of C-4 would be found. Addresses of the victims would be established, and lo and behold, one of them lived on the same New York City block where a C-4 car bomb had killed two men just a few days before. And a second victim had been staying at the same address. An interstate conspiracy? Call BATF.
After that it was no stretch to suspect that BATF would want to catalog all the mourners at the Jeanette Vega and Kate Iverson funerals. A photo of Jack could be identified by residents of The Arsley and by the Dover cop at the blast scene, and then the bulletins would be out and the hunt would be on.
This morning he'd seen the car and the camera parked outside the church and again right here in the cemetery.
"Good blood runs in your family."
Jack jumped at the sound of her voice but knew from the accent who he'd see when he turned. The Russian lady and her big white dog stood behind him. He didn't know how they'd come up on him without his hearing them, but at the moment he didn't much care.
"What would you know about it?" he said.
"A brave, brave woman. She saved the world untold misery."
"And she went through untold misery at the end. How the hell did this happen?"
"Is war." She looked around at the sky, the grass, the surrounding pines. "War to destroy all this."
"And I'm a soldier, right?"
"More than soldier. Are weapon. And like weapon, must be tempered, honed, tested, positioned."
Jack glared at her. "I want none of this!"
"Choice is not yours."
"Then why me?"
"Who is to say?"
This was getting nowhere. But Jack needed very badly to know something, and maybe this woman could tell him.
"Is any of what happened to Kate my fault?"
"No. Fault not yours."
That was a relief, but not much.
"Then whose? Because this whole situation reeks. A woman my sister happens to love just happens to develop a brain tumor and during her course of treatment she just happens to become infected with a virus planted by one side in this cosmic war I'm supposedly involved in. Just coincidence? No way I buy that."
"Should not buy. Is not coincidence. No more coincidences for you."
The words jolted Jack.
No more coincidences
… the implications were disturbing enough, but the utter certainty in her voice squeezed the breath from him. He stared at this strange woman, unsure what to make of her.
"Who are you, lady?"
"Stop that! You're not!"
"Is true." She pointed to the coffin. "And am her mother as well. I am proud of this one. All of world owes her great debt."
Jack turned back to the coffin. "You got that right."
Me most of all. He shut his eyes as they welled up.
He felt the woman's hand rest gently on his shoulder. Her tone was consoling.
"A tragedy. But war is fashioned of tragedies. More are to come. A spear has no branches."
Took a moment for Jack to realize he'd heard that before, but by the time he turned to ask her what the hell she was talking about, he was alone.
He shot to his feet and turned in a slow circle. She couldn't have made it to the trees in those few seconds, and none of the gravestones was big enough to hide her and her malamute.
Jack stood alone by his sister's open grave, haunted by the woman's parting words.
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