His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 17

The myste was as roiled as I’d ever seen him, as roiled as he was when Cahors attacked me in my home.

“Does all of that mean something to you, Namid?”

“I do not know,” he said. “Perhaps. There are old powers in the world, nearly as old as my kind. Scrying their purpose can be difficult.”

“You mean someone might actually be doing these things to him? He’s not just delusional?”

“The moontimes were not kind to him. You know this. All that he said to you may well be the product of his moon sickness. But it is also possible that there is a kernel of truth beneath the layers of delusion. I must go, Ohanko.”

“I’m not going to keep away from him,” I said before the runemyste could leave. “Even if it’s all true, and these bastards who are hurting him might come after me, too.”

“I would expect no less. Tread like the fox.”

I nodded and watched him fade from view.

I stretched again, crossed to my desk, and fired up the computer. It was so old it might as well have been steam-powered, but it still worked, and within a few minutes I was wading through the junk in my email inbox, looking for the message from Kona with the passenger manifest attachment. I opened the file and printed it, preferring to work with a paper copy. It was two pages long, and several of the names had only a first initial. But I had no trouble finding Mando Vargas and James Howell. Howell was a party of one, but Mando had five travel companions — aides, no doubt. If Howell had managed to blow up the plane and kill all of them, it would have been front page news across the country, which was probably what he and his fellow skinheads were counting on.

He was going to be front page news all right, but not the way he and his buddies expected.

I read through the list a second time, and stumbled on a familiar name. At least it might have been familiar. “P. Hesslan-Fine.”

Pausing over it, I felt my stomach tightening with long-buried emotions. Rage, humiliation, and ultimately, deepest grief. Something cold crept through me, chilling me to the marrow, making my breath catch in my chest. I remembered this feeling; I would have been glad to go the rest of my life without experiencing it again. But here it was, as raw as ever. It might as well have been days instead of years.

I was all of thirteen when my mother died in a scandal that, for the worst fifteen minutes any fame-seeker could imagine, consumed all of Phoenix and splashed the Fearsson family name across the headlines of every newspaper in the state. She was found dead beside the body of her lover, a man named Elliott Hesslan. Some claimed it was a double murder and tried to pin the blame on my father. Others called it a double suicide, and still others were certain that it was a murder-suicide, though they couldn’t decide which of the pair had killed the other.

All I knew was that my Dad went on a bender that lasted months, and I had to go to school each day and try to ignore the stares and whispers of classmates and teachers alike. The people who could have understood what I was going through were the very ones I wanted no part of. Elliott’s widow, Mary, and their children, Michael and Patricia. Michael, I knew, killed himself a few years later — that made it into the papers, too. I had long since lost track of Patricia.

There weren’t that many Hesslans in Phoenix, and with the name hyphenated, I assumed that this passenger was a woman. Could that have been Patty Hesslan?

I forced myself to read on, but I saw no other names that rang a bell, and I kept going back to that single line. “P. Hesslan-Fine, party of one.”

There wasn’t always a lot of overlap between the attributes I associated with being a cop and those that were rooted in my being a weremyste. But one big one was a healthy scepticism about coincidence. My father was suffering, Namid was worried, a guy who tried to blow up a plane was killed by magic, and the daughter of my mother’s boyfriend was on the plane in question. That was a lot to dismiss as happenstance.

I sat down at the computer again and punched “Patricia Hesslan” into a search engine. I didn’t get a lot of relevant hits: a few old news stories that related back to the deaths of her father and my mother, a site that listed her as a licensed real estate agent for Sonoran Winds Realty, and a wedding announcement with the headline, “Hesslan weds Fine.”

The accompanying photo was grainy, but I recognized her as soon as I saw it. We’d met one time — an unfortunate chance meeting at the funeral home mere days after the bodies were found — but hers wasn’t a face I was likely to forget. She and Gerald Fine were married several years ago. He was a partner at a law firm here in town. A search of his name didn’t dredge up much else. It seemed they both kept low profiles.

I typed in “Dara Fearsson,” to see what a search of my mother’s name would produce, but wisely deleted it rather than hit ‘enter.’ The sense of dread that had returned when I read Patty’s name hadn’t left me; if anything it had gotten worse the deeper I’d delved into her life. But for months after my mother’s death, I had been both repulsed and fascinated by every new newspaper article about her and Elliott. I couldn’t get enough of them, and yet each time I read one I wound up nauseous and in tears. Twenty years later, I wasn’t as overwrought–not by a long shot. But that perverse fascination remained.

I forced myself to switch off the computer. Then I left the office, intending to go back to my house, change out of my sweaty clothes, and track down a few of my weremyste friends to find out what they knew about new sorcerers in the Phoenix area.

My office wasn’t far from my home, and I was able to take back streets, thus avoiding the worst of the late afternoon traffic. As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed a strange car parked across the street from my house. Strange as in unfamiliar, but also strange as in out of place in my quiet neighborhood. It was a black vintage Chevy Impala lowrider, probably from around the mid-1960s. It was in great shape: a gleaming new paint job, white-wall tires, polished chrome. There was something familiar about it, but I couldn’t place it right away.

I retrieved the mail, walked to my door, and let myself in, my attention on the bills I’d pulled from the mailbox. Which was why I about jumped out of my skin when a voice said, “Fearsson.”

I dropped the envelopes, reached for my shoulder holster.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the same voice warned.

I froze.