After dropping Hersh off at his small yet nice looking house in the suburbs Alex headed to his favorite watering hole, The Golden Apple. It was a bar and grill, a dive for grizzled ancients that Hersh and Alex frequented back when they were private eyes, hunting for information and a quick brew. Quietly gliding through the establishment’s huge wooden doors Alex came to rest upon a flat wooden stool perched squarley in front of the solid oak bar.

“One pint of your best ale, Fred,” he requested as the large behemoth of a barkeep appeared before him. Fred smiled then handed him the chilled refreshing glass of beer. Drinking slowly so as to only get a slight buzz, Alex’s mind pondered if he should just forget the whole thing and run. They, whoever they were, probably wouldn’t come after Hersh or anyone else. Yet Alex knew that wasn’t right. Couldn’t be right. Whoever was behind this lengthy plan would never quit-they had waited long enough. And he knew that if it involved Henry then Kyle was as much a target as he was.

As hours passed and Alex consumed a few more beers the place began to fill with more people. “Time to go Fred. Here’s what I owe plus something extra.” Fred smiled again and replied “Till next time? And bring Hersh will yah? If his wife allows it, of course.”

Both laughed, and Alex ventured outside to his car. Calmly opening the trunk, he pulled out his .44 and also a silver plated Rutger .22 semi-automatic that he took to the range every Sunday afternoon. Holstering the .44 and sliding the .22 into his khaki pants he began the long steady walk towards the park. It was a chrisp, warm clear night devoid of clouds, with a sickly pale moon floating above the earth. These types of evenings felt sadly familiar to Alex, as most of them had ended in pain and misery.

Upon arriving near a dimly lit park bench, Alex noticed a tall thin man leaning against the glistening silver light post. Its silver ball sparkled and illuminated the man, and as Alex grew closer he could view the man’s weathered features. Clad in a tweed jacket and black leather pants this fellow was flashy and yet appeared dignified, smoking a cigarette and calmly waiting for Alex to speak.

In a gruff fashion Alex said “Lovely night for an ambush, eh?” The man smiled yet said nothing, thus acknowledging the truth in Alex’s statement. Flicking away his cigarette, the man turned to Alex and replied “Finally you arrive. Your late. I see you wisely came alone.”

“Of course. I obey the rules. Without rules man is just a dumb animal.” Alex’s left eye peered past the man while his right kept close attention. How would they hit him, and how many were hiding? Alex hated guessing yet it was information he lacked.

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