Sparrow Page 3

“Not just for the money, Troy. I wanted Cillian out of this neighborhood, out of Boston. This place had suffered enough under the realm of your father. Our people deserve some peace.”

“Our people are not your fucking subjects.” I dragged the knife along his neck until I found his throbbing carotid artery and slashed deep, immediately shoving his body backward into the booth so that the spray of blood wouldn’t touch my newly tailored suit. “You should have minded your own business.”

He gagged and jerked on the confession floor like a fish out of water, losing buckets of blood. The scent—sour, tinny and thrilling—fogged the air and I knew it would linger in my nose for days to come.

When his spasms died down, I got down on one knee, staring back at his brown irises, still open, still filled with horror and regret. I pulled out his tongue and cut it from his mouth.

This was gang-member code for a snitch. Let the police try and figure out what the fuck Father McGregor did to deserve it and which of the hundred Boston gangs killed him. There were too many of them to count and hell knew they were intertwined with one another more often than not. Gangs had taken over the streets, filling the void left when my father was dethroned from his seat as the Boss of Boston when I was still a kid.

Ironically, in trying to give them peace, Father McGregor had sentenced his parishioners to lives of panic and fear.

The streets were still chaotic—some would say more than ever—with the crime rate picking up at an alarming speed. Keeping an eye on the Irish Mob, I assumed, was far simpler than trying to tame dozens of gangs running the streets.

I knew the police would never get anywhere near me with this murder case.

And I’d also known where I’d bury father McGregor’s tongue. In his own backyard.

I casually wiped my knife clean on his pants leg and pulled off the leather gloves I was wearing, shoving them in my pocket. I took out a toothpick and put it in my mouth. Then I rolled down my sleeves and retrieved my suit coat. When I got out the door, I glanced around for potential witnesses, just in case.

The neighborhood was deader than the man I had just dealt with. Going for a stroll wasn’t really our thing in South Boston, especially not around noon. You either worked hard, took care of the little ones at home or nursed a fucking hangover. The only witness to my visit to the church was a bird, sitting on an ugly power line up above, eyeing me suspiciously from the corner of its eye. It was a bland looking sparrow.

I crossed the road and got into my car, slamming the door behind me. Taking out a Sharpie from the glove compartment, I crossed another name off my list.

1 – Billy Crupti

2 – Father McGregor

3 – The asshole who hired Billy?

I sighed as I looked at number three, shoving the crumpled yellow paper back into my pocket.

I’ll find out who you are, motherfucker.

I looked out the window. The sparrow didn’t move, not even when a gust of wind sent the power line dancing and the bird lost its balance. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Fucking sparrow, of all birds.

I fought the urge to throw something at it, revved up the engine and spat the toothpick in my mouth into the ashtray after it was thoroughly chewed.

I thought I saw the stupid bird still following my car with its tiny eyes as I stopped at a red light and looked out my side mirror. Averting my gaze down, I checked for blood traces. There weren’t any.

McGregor was dead, but the void in my stomach didn’t shrink an inch.

It was alarming, because in order to keep my promise to my dad, I had another name to handle that wasn’t even on my list.

But this wasn’t a person I was supposed to kill. This was a person I was supposed to resurrect.

I, of all people, needed to be her savior.

Other people—normal people, I guess—would have never agreed to sacrifice this part of their lives for their father. But other people didn’t live under Cillian Brennan’s shadow, didn’t feel the urge to constantly step up their game to be equal to their late legendary sire. No, I’d follow his wishes. And I’d even make it work.

All I knew when I drove away from my childhood church were two things:

My father had sinned.

But I was to be punished.

The sparrow is associated with freedom. At one time, sailors got a tattoo of a sparrow for every five thousand nautical miles they traveled. Sparrows were believed to bring good luck. Sometimes the sailor got his sparrow tattoo even before leaving the docks, hoping it would act as a talisman and help bring him safely home again.

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