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Check out the first chapter from Vincent Alcara's No Rest for the Wicked

Below is the first chapter from Vincent Alcara's debut novel, No Rest for the Wicked. The book will be released this fall on October 4th in ebook and paperback.

THE SUN WAS high over Ogdensburg Correctional Facility when the chain-link gate slid open. Nicolas “Nico” Cain Docrenzov, a large man standing easily over six feet tall with a wide frame and muscular physique, strolled through it slowly. He ignored the guards’ looks and slight jeers at his release and made a beeline for the cab waiting for him. He let out a sigh of relief at being freed once inside the safe confines of the cab.

“Where to, man?” The cabby asked.

“St. Regis Nursing Home,” Nico responded.

“Got it,” the cabby replied, pulling away from the curb.

The odd man continued to gab Nico’s ear off as they drove to the nursing home. It’s not that Nico wanted to be mean, he just honestly couldn’t handle the useless conversation right now. Especially one that was so clearly and utterly sincere. It was a stark contrast to how things usually were in Ogdensburg Cor­rectional. A place where every positive word had a dominating insinuation and the negatives held a neutral one at best.

He did his best to tune the man out in the most polite way possible while his senses crept out across the cab, taking in everything now new and strange to him. What caught his attention most was the air streaming in the cracked win­dow. It smelled fresh and damp, heavily laden with the scent of wet leaves and mud. A scent that used to tell him autumn was in full swing. But now it seemed foreign, as if he landed on an alien planet.

The small amount of time he had in the yard was always occupied with the same sweaty and angry inmates that lived in his cell block. It’s as if the waves of body odor permeated the world, giving everything the scent of stress and vio­lence. It could easily overpower any smell, let alone one as subtle as autumn.

Before long, the cab pulled into St. Regis’ parking lot. A deep, ominous weight came over Nico while looking up at the building. For a moment he weighed not going in, to just let this chapter of his life die, and go start another one. As he was about to tell the cabby to take him to the airport he realized he couldn’t. If he truly wanted to close this chapter, then he didn’t have a choice.

“Keep it running,” he told the cabby as he gritted his teeth and got out of the taxi.

He trudged through the parking lot like he was walking to the electric chair, but once he finally crossed the threshold he saw a cheery-looking woman in her early forties working the desk.

“Hello, welcome to St. Regis,” she greeted.

“How are you doing today?” Nico asked rhetorically. “I’m looking for Kurtis Benson.”

“Oh how lovely, Mr. Benson never gets any visitors! Are you his brother?”

“No, just a friend from high school, I’m back in town and wanted to visit,” Nico lied through his teeth.

“Well, that’s great! He’s asleep now, but you’re more than welcome to sit with him until he wakes up. He’s in room six-thirteen, just follow the signs.”

Nico nodded while he signed himself in and thanked her. With fake cheer, he grabbed the visitor’s badge before walking toward the elevator.

When he arrived at the sixth floor the hallways bustled with activity. Patients milled about, some acknowledging him, some remaining silent, and an even smaller few were making odd and pained noises. Nurses and orderlies scurried around as well, each doing their jobs. It didn’t take long before he reached room 613. The door was closed, but a small window allowed him to peer in. All he could see were bed-sheet-covered legs.

Nico opened the door as quietly as he could, entering the room and shutting it even more quietly behind him. When he turned to look at the man in the bed, Nico’s stomach tightened. Kurt Benson’s face was horribly disfigured. It was clear that he may have been decent looking once, but now everything seemed to be misaligned.

His face was marred with scar tissue. Facial features were twisted as if the bones had regrown and healed in the wrong position. He didn’t seem to have a left eye, as the orbit was clearly caved in and healed over with a fleshy patch of skin. His lips were vile, covered in scar tissue; they looked more like flaps of flesh to cover his teeth than true lips.

“Oh my God …” Nico muttered softly, too shocked to realize he’d said it aloud.

For years, the only memory he’d held onto of him was his fairly handsome face with the arrogant, condescending smirk he often wore when he was tor­menting someone. If he didn’t know him during their high school years he never would have even began to suspect this was the same person.

Slamming his eyes shut, Nico tried to block out what he saw, and the mem­ories it evoked. Images of Benson’s sunken in and battered face, fresh with blood and broken bones, surged into his mind. The squeals came back too, a haunting overture that only worked to turn his stomach even more.

Nico opened his eyes and stared at Benson, trying to muster the courage to approach him and say something. Eventually he moved toward him, and leaned in toward his mangled ear and began to whisper.

“Kurt? Kurt, it’s me, Nico. Nick the Dick. I … I just want to say that I was sorry.” Nico patted the man’s forearm. “That if I could take back that night, I would.”

Nico pulled back, looking into Benson’s face and trying to look for any kind of reaction. A facial tick, a murmur, anything to show that he responded. He started to grow impatient; he didn’t want to waste too much time or his ride might leave. Sighing he reached out and patted one of his legs and made for the door. Just as he reached for the handle, he heard rustling.

Swinging around, he watched as Kurt Benson regained consciousness. He brought his hands up to wipe the sleep from his face. He sat up and yawned, his mangled teeth only adding to his horrifying visage. Suddenly Benson sensed a presence and he scanned the room with his one good eye, until it fell upon Nico. There was a slight confusion, and he turned a little more to get a better look. His eye froze and narrowed on Nico.

The recognition didn’t come instantly. First came heavy scrutiny as he looked Nico up and down. Nico stood very still, hoping Kurt wouldn’t make the con­nection. That he could just get out of there. But the man’s only good eye went wide as a horrifyingly shrill scream broke from his lungs. Scrambling to get away, Benson fell out of the bed. Nico rushed to help him back up, but his large form and panic made Benson nothing but dead weight.

“No … no … not real … not real … go way … go way!”

Benson began babbling to himself in pure terror as he curled into a ball sob­bing and heaving to and fro. Nico finally understood what had happened. There was surprise, terror, guilt, and anguish mixed into one as he looked at the man he came to apologize to, to seek answers from. All this time he’d been in anguish over what had occurred, though he never truly grasped the full weight of it until now. He had gone to jail and it had changed his life forever, but it was merely a speed bump in his life. Benson was trapped inside a useless body with the mind of nothing more than a terrified animal. It would have been kinder if he had died all those years ago.

As Nico stood there staring, a wave of emotion flooded his body. Disgust and terror were at the forefront, but as they melted away a dark feeling hit him. It could almost be described as a dark longing. Almost as if the terrible sound awakened something inside him, something that, now awake, had made him want to hear that sound forever.

While Nico was in his daze, Benson’s terrified wails must have traveled to the nurse’s station, because a large, tough-looking nurse came barreling into the room.

“Get out of the way!” She yelled, rushing over to Benson.

Finally having been snapped out of his trance, Nico turned and ran out of the room, ignoring the people calling after him. When he finally reached the cab he leaned against it and began to hyperventilate. His chest heaved up and down, pulling in deep breath after deep breath to quell the guilt and horror. He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, but the cabby finally broke the silence.

“Uh, buddy, you okay?”

“Yeah,” Nico choked out, getting back into the cab. “Ogdensburg Interna­tional.” He closed his eyes and tried to purge the image from his mind, but again, the cabby tried to engage him.

“Where you going?”

Nico narrowed his eyes, a harsh comeback on the tip of his tongue that he bit back. He was in the real world now. A world that had much different rules and regulations than the ones he’d lived by for the better part of the decade.

“Very fucking far from here,” he snapped.

The cabby shrugged with an offended look on his face, but he took the hint and stopped pestering his fare.

UNFORTUNATELY FOR NICO, his flight to Los Angeles wasn’t much bet­ter than his ride to the airport. While his ride had been filled with terrible mem­ories and an annoying cabby, the two flights and layover between them meant seats too small for his large frame and a continuous slew of crying kids. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement, but he was thankful for the lack of reminders at every twist and turn.

Despite his painful journey, his arrival in the City of Angels made everything worth it. The fences of Ogdensburg were replaced by wide blue skies, and the evergreen trees were replaced by swaying palms. He found in Los Angeles the thing he’d been craving the most: anonymity. Something one doesn’t find inside a state prison, or in the small town he grew up in, either. The only road­block left was finding a job.

Nico knew it would be difficult being an ex-con, but what he didn’t realize was how much of a challenge it was. From burger joints to manual labor, no one was willing to give him a chance. To make matters worse, the motel he was staying in was charging him by the night.

In the face of it all, Nico soldiered through, determined to start anew in this beautiful town. And one fateful day, after weeks of nothing, he found his solu­tion. Birds of a feather flock together, and men like Nico have always found dens of iniquity to be like home. Passing the main drag, he trudged on, somehow feeling that if he just kept walking he would find what he needed.

As Nico rounded the next corner his eyes locked onto the sign for Venezia’s Unique Cabaret as if he already knew it was there. Haste growing with every step, he approached the door with hope filling his body. A feeling of success filled him as he grabbed the handle, but when he pulled, it was locked.

“Hello! Is anyone there? Is there a manager here?” Nico pounded the door like a madman. “Fuck!”

His desperate rage would have been amusing had there been anyone there to witness it. Nico kicked the door one last time before storming away. Anger and disappointment filled him with every step.

“Excuse me! Did you just knock on my door?”

Whipping around, he was relieved to see a ravishingly beautiful woman. She was tall, standing close to five-foot-ten in her high heels. Nico couldn’t help but stare as his eyes traveled over her well-toned legs, thin waist, and ample breasts. What really struck him was her face. It was simply beautiful, with only a hint of makeup. She was the image of natural beauty.

He extended a hand, rushing toward her. “Nicolas Docrenzov. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You as well. I’m Isabella Rossi. Are you all right? Is there anything wrong?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your pounding, it sounded quite urgent. I thought maybe you were in­jured.”

He took notice of her voice; quiet, elegant, and lightly accented – Italian, he pegged immediately. Quite sexy, one of his favorite languages.

“I must have sounded like a complete lunatic. I’m sorry, just looking for a job. I’m almost out of money and today has been frustrating.”

“Oh no. It’s okay. I understand.” Isabella chuckled. “Believe me.” Her eyes glazed over for a moment, allowing an awkward silence to fall over the pair.

“Is there one—a job, I mean?” Nico asked.

“Oh, a job? Yes, actually. One just opened up. Are you comfortable working as a bouncer?”

“More than I would care to explain. Would you mind if we stepped inside to talk? This heat is killing me.”

Isabella truly looked at him for the first time, noticing his lack of tan. He held the characteristic tourist sunburn on his forearms, neck, and face. “Let me guess, you’re from somewhere where it actually snows?”

“That obvious, huh?”

The tension broke as they shared a small smile.

“Absolutely,” Isabella said. “How about a drink on the house?”

“Even better,” Nico said. Disbelief filled him. “Seems like I’m actually get­ting lucky for once.”

Isabella opened the door and ushered Nico in, his eyes taking in the club. Venezia was furnished with dark leather couches and chairs. The stage and floors were immaculate hardwood, and in the stark, electric lights all the metal and chrome in the building shone.

Across from the stage was a large horseshoe bar with three drink wells, one in the center and on each leg. Behind the bar was a large mirror with LED lights glowing blue, showing off all the high-end liquor for sale. He recognized a few. Belvedere, Patron, and Glenlivet were the ones that caught his eye, while the rest were foreign to him.

Right of the stage he saw a hallway with red lights and a small podium just before the entryway. Due to the lack of velvet ropes or any other separated seat­ing, he guessed it was the champagne room, where the strippers really made their money.

The walls were adorned with erotic yet tasteful photographs of the female form. At first Nico found it odd that he didn’t see the faces of any of the models, but then he realized it was to create a fantastical atmosphere. After all, the clients could imagine that those bodies belonged to the girl that came on stage next and have their money ready to be spent.

“Well,” Isabella said, “this is my club, Venezia. What do you think?”

“This is—wow, amazing—really.”

“Oh now you’re just flattering me. I’m sorry, it won’t work. I think I’ve heard every complement in the book.”

“Hey, I know sharp when I see it.”

“Well if that’s how you truly feel, then thank you.” Isabella crossed the floor quickly and swung around the bar. “Would you like a beer?”

“No thank you, actually. Water would be perfect.”

The surprise was clear on Isabella’s face before she spun around and opened a cooler. Nico could hear the crunch of her hand plunging into ice as she re­trieved the water. She turned fluidly and grabbed a coaster, dropped it on the bar, and set the bottle on top of it.

“Water it is, then.”

Nico took a seat and opened the water and drank it greedily. He continued to glance around the bar, and noticed large flat-screen televisions suspended on the wall. They went unnoticed at first due to their black lifeless screens matching the black walls. Glancing at the logos on the front he could see they were high end.

“How long were you out there?” Isabella asked.

“Too long,” he managed between gulps of water.

Isabella pulled up a stool of her own and sat across from him. “So, you want to work as my security personnel?”

Picking up on her teasing tone, he responded in kind. “I would. Do you think I qualify?”

On and on they went. Their conversation didn’t focus on business for very long. It was odd, the uncanny rapport they built so quickly. It was as if they had known each other their entire lives. Nico decided it was time to go, and stood up from the bar. He didn’t want to wear out his welcome, not when he finally landed a job.

“Do you have any other questions?” Isabella asked.

“Actually, yes, you know of any affordable apartments around here? I need to find a place fast.”

Isabella smiled and gave Nico a knowing look. It took a moment but the answer finally clicked in Nico’s head. “Let me guess, there’s an apartment above the bar?”

“Yeah, this space used to be a beauty salon and the owners lived upstairs. I just had it renovated and was planning on renting it out.”

“Well, boss lady—you don’t mind if I call you boss lady, do you?”

Isabella smiled and shook her head at his antics.

Taking her smile as permission, Nico continued. “Boss lady, would you mind if I also rented your apartment?”

“Hmmm …” she cheekily pursed her lips together in mock concentration as she considered the idea. When she opened her mouth though, it was to say something he didn’t expect. “My cleaning service charges a fortune.”

“Excuse me?” Nico looked at her dumbfounded.

Laughing at his confusion she held up a hand, pleading with him to let her finish. “How about I give you free room and board if you manage the upkeep on this place, and whatever hours you put in on the floor are what I pay you for?”

“So you want me to clean the club?”

“That and some bar-backing, just a few things to make my life easier.”

Nico didn’t need to think. He knew this was a fantastic offer, but one thing stopped him from accepting it. He had been taught that there was always a catch. Though for some reason he couldn’t find one in this situation.

“Why are you doing this for me?” He asked. “You don’t know me.”

“No, I don’t. But I like you, Nicolas, and to be honest,” Isabella paused, choosing her words carefully, “I’ve been where you are right now. Maybe if someone showed me a little kindness when I needed it things would have been better for me.”

Nico scrutinized her, his bright blue eyes examining every inch of her face.

“Well? That’s my offer,” she said. “Take it or leave it.”

Another moment of hesitation passed, but Nico extended his hand. “I’ll take it, and call me Nico.”

Isabella accepted it eagerly. “Excellent to have you aboard, Nico.”

THE FIRST RULE of Venezia’s Unique Cabaret was the girls were to be kept safe at all times. If there was any sign at all that someone was making the girls uncomfortable, then they were to be bounced; no questions asked. Considering Nico was a man who hated when men mistreated women, he gained a reputation of being quite protective of the girls.

The second rule of Venezia was no prostitution, another rule Nico could easily understand. Due the current status of it being illegal and the types of girls that tended to be prostitutes, it was a practice not welcome at the club. With the exception of those two rules, though, there really weren’t any. All the employees were expected to have common sense, be careful with the product and the money, know when to cut people off, and, most importantly, treat each other with respect.

It truly was a wonderful approach, and he fit in seamlessly during his first few weeks on the job. Before Nico knew it he found himself in a family again, some­thing he hadn’t had in a long time and yet craved desperately.

After another smooth evening, Nico and Isabella were joined by Darren, the bartender, and a pair of dancers for a drink to finish the night.

“Nico, did you see that guy’s face when you came over to the table? He looked like he was going to cry!” Sherry said, her strange laughter filling the club.

“Hey, we tell them there’s no grabbing the girls. Not my fault they don’t listen.”

Another cacophony of laughter broke out and Chantal raised her glass. “To Nico, the best bouncer Venezia’s ever had.”

They all raised their glasses to Nico, thoroughly embarrassing him. Nico put up his hands, trying to refuse their praise.

“I’m just doing my job, ladies, no need to thank me.”

“Chantal’s right. Why do you think I had to fire the last guy?” Isabella chimed in, looking Nico right in the eye, not letting him escape.

“Too stupid to read the IDs?” Nico quipped.

There was a small chuckle at the table, but Isabella shook her head. “No, he was useless. He didn’t pay any attention and I usually had to send Darren to go take care of it.”

“Well, I’m glad I do the job to your satisfaction, boss lady.” This time Nico raised his glass and gave her a small wink, ending their battle of wits.

“All right, fine. Don’t take the compliment. But you know we’re right.”

Nico smirked and shrugged noncommittally.

“I’m sorry to rain on the parade, everyone, but I’m starving,” Sherry said. “Chantal, are you coming with?”

“Sure,” Chantal said.

“Leaving so soon, Sherry?” Darren asked.

“Yeah, I need to eat something and then go to bed. I’ve had a long week.”

“All right then. Darren, shall we finish up for the night?” Nico slapped the older man on the arm lightly.

“You got it, just let me go get my things.”

Isabella and Nico fell into a seamless rhythm as they cleaned while waiting for Darren and the girls, who had disappeared into the back of the club to get their things together. When the trio reappeared Nico joined them to help Darren escort the ladies to their cars.

Darren and Sherry drifted to one side of the parking lot while Nico and Chantal floated toward the other. Chantal leaned against her car and lit a cig­a­rette, making no attempt to leave.

“You want a ride, Nico?”

“I appreciate the offer, but I live just upstairs,” he replied.

She took a drag on her cigarette. “Always so clever.” She exhaled, blowing cigarette smoke into his face, and bit her lip softly. “Think about it, my door’s always open.”

She slid into the car fluidly and sent one last wink to Nico as he shut the door. Nico backed away shaking his head. “Goodnight, Chantal.”

He reentered the club and found it empty. Wondering where Isabella had gone, he looked to her office and found light coming from under the door. Paper­work, probably. She was quite the workaholic, Nico had noticed. He went into the maintenance closet for his cleaning supplies and began his nightly chores.

It wasn’t very long after that when Nico’s body jerked as a faint pulse went through him like an electric shock. Confused, Nico tried to decipher the feeling. It was too faint to recognize, but just enough to feel familiar. Suddenly every fiber in his being told him to turn around.

As Nico turned he saw a man of average build opening the front door to Venezia. A door he thought he’d locked. He had brown hair combed to the side, was wearing an expensive suit, and was totally enraptured with his Blackberry. Nico watched the man, studied him in his moment of ignorance, and the initial dislike he felt for him was toxic.

“Can I help you?”

The source of the toxic feeling that oozed through Nico stopped in shock and looked up. He clearly wasn’t expecting to hear a male voice as he entered the bar. Nico could see a dangerous glint cross the man’s eyes as they appraised each other.

“Where’s Isabella?” Immediately the man tried to intimidate Nico, and sadly it was extremely underwhelming.

“In her office. Do you two know each other?” Nico asked.

“I’m her boyfriend. I have a key,” he said, motioning to the door.

Nico crossed his arms, not willing to let him enter any farther. “Oh really? I’ve been here almost a month and I didn’t hear anything about a boyfriend.”

Just as the pathetic man was about to provide a rebuke the office door opened and Isabella called out to him excitedly. “Stan, you’re back!”

“Izzy, I missed you.”

Nico’s dislike for Stan only grew as he used the horrible pet name. He watched as Isabella practically pranced over to Nico’s new source of disgust. She hugged him tightly and Nico almost gagged as he watched Stan kiss her. What made him truly angry, though, was the satisfied smirk Stan gave him over Isa­bella’s shoulder.

A brief and utterly baffling impulse filled Nico. He wanted to beat this man to death more than he wanted air. It only lasted a moment, but it was enough to rattle and confuse him.

Isabella’s voice snapped him out of his violent introspection. “Oh, Nico, I’m sorry, I’m being rude. This is my boyfriend, Stan Sharpton.”

She looked so happy to introduce the two that Nico almost felt bad for re­act­ing the way he did. But Nico kept his arms crossed and gave Stan a cold look.

“We’ve met.”

Stan smirked. “Yes, we did. Maybe when I have some time we could get to know each other.”

“Wait, you’re going? You just came back!” Isabella said.

Stan reassured her, causing Nico to grind his teeth. “I’m sorry, honey, I just have to wrap a few things up at the office tonight and tomorrow, then we can be alone. Tomorrow night sound good?”

“Of course, but …” Isabella looked over at Nico. “You don’t mind running things while I’m gone, do you?”

“Of course not, enjoy.”

Nico tried to smile but his voice was cold and the smile was strained. She gave him an odd look, not used to this version of her new friend.

“Well, in that case, I must go. Nick, it was nice to meet you.” Stan’s tone was haughty and condescending as he extended his hand.

“You too, Stan.” Nico took the hand, trying to break it in his grasp.

Nico took satisfaction in the slight cringe he picked up in the man’s face before releasing his grip. With that he turned and resumed cleaning, not really interested in the rest of the lies flowing out of Stan’s mouth. Their voices tickled the edge of his hearing for a few moments more before the door opened and shut, signaling Stan had left.

Nico could hear Isabella approaching him from behind. It didn’t take her long to interrupt his cleaning.

“Nico, are you okay?”

“Yeah, boss lady, I’m fine,” he answered without breaking stride.

“If you don’t want to run the bar yourself tomorrow night, I can always re­schedule.”

“No, really, it’s okay.”

Isabella could see he was scrubbing the table angrily, despite the lack of hos­til­ity in his voice.

“If something is bothering you, you can talk to me about it.” The heavy con­fusion in Isabella’s voice was driving Nico insane.

“Thanks, but I have cleaning to finish, maybe later.”

“Okay, well, I’m off then. Goodnight, Nico.”

“Goodnight, Isabella,” Nico said in an off-handed manner, not looking up.

Isabella gave him one last pondering look before she threw her purse over her shoulder and walked out of the club, locking the door behind her.

The moment Nico heard the lock click he felt that odd sensation fade away. Grip­ping the table, he leaned against it and enjoyed the feeling of control re­placing that wild pulse he’d felt only moments before. After taking a few calming breaths he grabbed his rag and got back to work, determined to forget it even happened.

DESPITE BEING CALLED the City of Angels, Los Angeles was home to the most diverse and brutal criminal element you’d find anywhere in the lower forty-eight. From the Bloods and Crips in South Central L.A. to the Mexican gangs connected to the Cartels dispersed across the city, and all the small-time op­er­a­tions in between, L.A. was anything but a home for Angels. If you were to walk along the streets and avenues, you’d see hookers, drug dealers, vagrants, and worse wandering the streets looking for their next victims. It’s no surprise that a man in an Armani suit would stand out, whether he had silver hair and match­ing eyes or not.

Strolling down the street confidently, he parted the criminal element like Moses did the Red Sea. If you asked any of them, none would be able to describe how they knew to stay away from this man. All they would be able to tell you was something within them said to stay as far away as possible. When he turned down a particularly dark and disgusting alley they were all too glad to see him go. All except one hooker.

She approached him almost at a jog, her heels clacking loud on the concrete. The man turned confidently and looked at the blonde. It wasn’t hard for him to recognize a woman hooking to feed her crack habit.

“You want to get outta here, baby?” Despite her words being a usual prop­osition, something was off about her. She was slightly out of breath, and small beads of sweat covered her forehead.

“Get—” he began to blow her off but a loud voice came down the alleyway.

“D! You know you can’t hide from me!” A deep, masculine voice with the slightest Spanish accent echoed down the alley.

“Come on, Mister. Please,” she all but begged him.

He narrowed his eyes in scrutiny, almost as if he was examining her soul before he smiled widely. Oh yes, she would do perfectly.

“Is he giving you problems?” The man asked, cocking his head in the di­rec­tion of the angry voice, his own laced with saccharine kindness.

She followed his motion, desperately looking toward the mouth of the alley­way where heavy boot steps could be heard pounding toward them. “Please, I just need to get out of here.”

“Don’t worry, he won’t be a problem.”

A small yet very fierce and powerfully built Latino man came around the corner. “You bitch! How many times I have to tell you!” He yelled, totally ig­noring her newfound friend.

The hooker, or D, as she was apparently named, began to panic. “I’m s-sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

She cowered against the wall as the Latino approached them.

The well-dressed man was already bored with the situation. He put himself between the fool and his target and held up a hand.

“You don’t want to do that,” he said.

“Really? Who the fuck are you?” The pimp snapped. Finally realizing there was someone else there, he got up into the man’s face.

An intense look filled the man’s silver eyes as he locked gazes with the pimp, whose own enraged brown eyes filled with fear.

“You’re going to forget all about this, all about her, and get out of here, now. Before I stop being so polite,” the man in the suit commanded.

The pimp, as if in a trance, nodded numbly and turned, running out of the alleyway in terror, over the curb and into the street where he was hit by a speed­ing black Escalade. The front bumper of the high vehicle hit him square in the ribs and the man went flying. They watched from a distance as his broken body flew through the air at an unnatural angle before hitting the pavement hard. He was dead on impact.

D stared in shock as her greatest tormentor laid dead on the pavement. She didn’t dare move. “Oh my God,” she muttered, “Hector … he’s—”

The man laughed. “God had nothing to do with this, sweetheart.”

Turning to look at her new friend, D’s eyes lit up. “Thank you so much, h-he was going to kill me. Please, take me with you. Get me out of here.”

Gently he hushed her, calming her down with a simple touch to the shoulder. He locked eyes with her and entranced her in a similar way as Hector, but this time his prey was filled with calm instead of terror.

“Go home and wait for me. I’ll come and take you away from all of this,” he said, gesturing to the decrepit alleyway.

She nodded numbly.

“Good girl, now go.” He patted her on the ass gently as she walked mechan­ically away.

He watched her with a satisfied smirk on his face before he closed his eyes and raised his nose to the wind and inhaled slightly, sniffing out his prey like a wolf on the prowl. He needed to get back to his real purpose for being out that evening. After a few moments he opened his eyes and smiled victoriously.

“Oh, Albert,” he called in a thick, oily voice, “why do you insist on hiding from me?”

A small whimper along with rustling was heard from the dumpster about ten feet away down the alley. Smirking and shaking his head, he quickly reached the dumpster and threw open the lid with a Cheshire grin on his face.

At first glance all you could see were a pair of eyes frozen in terror. The sight only made the mysterious man laugh.

“Don’t you know you can’t hide from me, Albert?”

He pulled Albert from the dumpster by his neck. The filthy and grizzled streetwalker started to thrash, kicking and screaming to free himself, but the man only laughed harder.

“Damn fool,” he said, dropping the man to the ground, “what did I tell you?”

“No, please no,” Albert begged. “I don’t want to anymore. Please don’t make me, please.”

The mysterious man’s evil grin turned into a sneer as a hot rage flashed through his eyes. “What did I tell you, Albert? Word for word now, just like we rehearsed it.”

Albert cowered to the ground, trying to press himself into the wall. “Th-there’s n-n-no rest for the w-wicked,” he managed to stutter despite his terror.

The evil man smiled and crouched down next to the cowering vagrant and placed his hand on his arm.

“Good man, now we can begin.”

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