Monica finished setting the table as the doorbell chimed. Ashley and Connor raced each other to the door, arguing over who would open it. Their mother cleared her throat meaningfully and the kids managed a bit of decorum as they silently agreed to open the door together.
“Hi, Uncle Maz!”, they chimed, each giving the man a hug.
Monica sighed as her husband’s ex-partner produced gifts for the kids, then had to step out of the way before she was trampled by the excited stampede back to their rooms. She could only hope they were more age-appropriate than the last gifts that Mazula had brought…
The young woman smiled awkwardly at her dead husband’s friend, still unsure what to say to him.
Well, that’s why you suggested he drop by and say hi to the kids…
“Hi Maz. Could you… Would you like to… Look. I just made dinner. I thought maybe you could eat with us. Then stay for a while and talk….?”
“Mazula can stay for dinner. He promised he would keep you posted on all the things that might affect the safety of you and your family.”
Monica slumped on to the sofa and picked up her glass of wine. Putting the kids to bed was tiring enough, but when they had new presents and a visitor, it was downright exhausting. But at least she’d have time to ask the question that had been burning through dinner.
“So Maz, what is it that affects our safety?”
Mazula downed the last of his scotch and looked at the floor. “Let me start from the beginning. I’m not a good man, I’ve done horrible things and I’ve made lots of mistakes.”
“First, my real name is Mitchell Yiska. I was ‘volunteered’ for a corporate military unit at age 17…”
“…More recently, I was hired with team of men to steal a technology prototype. Things went bad and I killed two security guards. At least one of these men had a family and his wife has been trying to track me down to kill me.”
“A few weeks ago, one of the members of my team was blackmailed into taking part in the assassination of a UCAS presidential candidate. The shooter purposefully missed, and the blackmailer almost killed a member of my team and a young girl as retaliation.”
“I blew up the building in which Dwayne was killed, after Doc-Wagon picked him up. This ended up causing a gang war between Louie, the Mob lieutenant who had caught Dwayne, and his right hand, Terry. I don’t know which one of the two was responsible for killing Dwayne. I planned the assassination of Louie. He died. I’m still after Terry.”
“Unfortunately there have been a few important things that have come up. We discovered the source of the tempo problem that Dwayne was investigating when he died. We destroyed the magically active moss that was the base ingredient for tempo. Eventually, the supply of the drug will dry up completely. In the course of that investigation, we saved the life of a young girl who was kidnapped from her family.”
Monica sat on the couch, a blank expression on her face and the half-full glass of wine forgotten in her hand. She’d had no idea what asking the question was going to reveal, and she’d never heard this man say more than a handful of words at once. Now he’d sat there for twenty minutes, pouring out a life story and recent history that sounded like a crazy plot from UCAS’ Most Wanted.
She gulped down the rest of the wine to cover the silence, and stared into the bottom of the glass. Mazula put the empty tumbler on the coffee table and stood up.
“It’s getting late, Mazula should go.”
Relief and regret battled in the woman’s stomach as he put on his overcoat. She followed him to the condo door, unsure what else to say. The sight of the revolver hidden in the coat lining triggered a memory.
“Carlito told me that Knight Errant has been hiring some of the more experienced officers back. He said he’d put your name in for the job too. Are you going back into the service?”
Mazula shrugged, “Mazula hasn’t decided yet.”
Monica nodded, opening the door for him. She placed a hand on his arm as he stepped into the hallway.
“Maybe…you’d like to go for coffee some time? Talk some more?”
Mazula gave her an inscrutable look and nodded, heading for the elevator without another word. Monica closed the door and leaned against it.
Holy crap, Mon. What the hell are you doing?