Paradigms Lost – Chapter 07

Chapter 7: Unwrapped Wrap-Up

“So what are the police going to do about this?” asked Sylvie.

It was the next evening. I was lying on my bed with my left ankle’s cast propped on a pillow. “I was lucky. It was Renee Reisman who got there first. Between us and the ME we faked up a story that should hold.”

“So what’s the official line?”

“Klein was running a sideline of drugs and protection and was going to set Domingo up to take the fall. The victims like Lewis were connections who knew too much. When I was called in, I got suspicious. Klein decided I had to be removed too, came after me. In the fight, we ended up in the salon, where he swung his gun into one of the lights and electrocuted the crap out of himself.”

Sylvie looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you nuts? No one will swallow that yarn for a second! One look at that body and any layman would know there was something fishy… once he stopped tossing his cookies.”

“First, no one is going to see that body. Second, most of that department are hard-nosed realists. They don’t want to believe in vampires and are not going to reopen the case if that is the direction the investigation will take them.”

“Is that all?”

“Nope, there is one more thing.” I nodded my head in the direction of the door.

Verne Domingo stepped into the room.

Sylvie’s eyes widened.

“Greetings, Ms. Stake. Thank you for inviting me into your home, Jason.”

I shrugged. “I figured I should return your favor.”

“I am the final reason the ruse will work, Ms. Stake… or can I call you Sylvia?”

“Uh… Call me Sylvie; you can understand why.” She looked at me. “Jason, are you sure this is safe?”

“Syl, if Mr. Domingo wants my ass, he doesn’t have to do it himself.”

“Exactly, Mr. Wood.”

“So just exactly what are you doing to make this silly story work?”

“Beings such as myself have many talents, Sylvie. One of them is a degree of mental control. I have exerted this ability so as to make the involved people believe the story as presented.”

“You hypnotized them?”

“Something a bit less crude and far more reliable, Sylvie. It is obviously in my interest to make this story work, as you put it.” He bowed to me. “An excellent bit of work last night, Mr. Wood. Congratulations.” With that, he simply… faded… away.

It was several seconds before we stopped staring. “Wow,” Sylvie said finally.

“Yeah.” I agreed. I blushed a little. “Uh, Syl… I didn’t say thanks. You saved my life twice last night. First with that crazy stunt with the ankh, then with the hammer charm.” I pulled it out and looked at it. “These things are only supposed to work with faith. I don’t have much of that. Yours must have been enough for us both.”

She flushed to the roots of her hair. “Don’t sell yourself short, Jason. It was made for you; any strength it showed came equally from your own spirit.”

“Okay. But still, I didn’t make it, and you were the one who insisted I wear it.”

She smiled. “All right, Jason. I’ll take the credit. And you’re very, very welcome. I just wanted you to come back in one piece.”

“Which I pretty much did, if a little cracked,” I agreed, looking at my cast. Syl laughed.

I looked at the thin air into which Verne Domingo had vanished. “So tell me something, Syl…”

“What, Jason?”

“Do you think… it’s over?”

She smiled… and then her face suddenly went serious, her eyes got that strange distant look as though they were looking through everything around her. “No,” she said after a long moment, and the tone in her voice sent a faint chill down my spine. “No, Jason, it’s not over.

“This isn’t the end; it’s the beginning.”