The First Sixteen: A Vigilante Series crime thriller novella - The Prequel (8 page)

BOOK: The First Sixteen: A Vigilante Series crime thriller novella - The Prequel
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I
looked back at him and smiled in return. “You know what,
Ghislain
?
For some crazy reason, I was hoping you’d say that.”

#11
- Philippe
Robitaille
- Friday, May 17, 1996
 

Ghislain
Blouin’s
battered body had been found by the police on
Wednesday morning, thanks to an anonymous call made at eight-seventeen in the
morning from a pay phone at the
Berri
-UQAM Metro,
likely Montreal’s busiest subway station. I confess, my prints would have been
on that quarter if I hadn’t wiped it down and handled it with a bit of tissue
paper; and thanks to the standard
Bic
pen, not only
did it ‘Write first time, every time,’ it also worked wonderfully when I had
used it to punch in the number on the dial pad.

This
was the first time I had ever reported one of my events, deeds, therapy
sessions… call them what you will, but there was a reason for my doing so.
Before moving on to, uh, wherever I had sent the sick bastard,
Ghislain
Blouin
, out of the
goodness of his heart, and with my coaxing, had left a hand-written note with
rather precise details of where he had disposed of the bodies of the milk
carton children. I had felt this information warranted speedy discovery and
acted accordingly. Thankfully, though sadly, the animal had provided accurate
information… Closure for the bereaved… Moving along…

Philippe
Robitaille
was a firefighter, even a hero, or he had
been. Over a period of three to four years,
Robitaille’s
name had frequently appeared in the pages of the city’s favourite daily
tabloid,
Le Journal de Montréal
, where
his life-saving efforts were exalted on numerous occasions thanks to his
selfless efforts.

Men,
women, children, even pets had been whisked to safety, away from the terrifying
grips of destructive infernos, thanks to the devotion
Robitaille
had for his chosen profession. A few had not been as lucky and had succumbed to
smoke or flames but, after all,
Robitaille
and his
colleagues were not superheroes, they were only men and women doing the best
they could to protect the public from one of the earth’s powerful elements.

However,
following a number of investigations over time, people within the firefighting organization,
and without, had begun to question
Robitaille
and his
appearances at the fires, all deemed criminal and most, rather spectacular. The
majority of these blazes had been determined to be the work of the same
arsonist and investigators had zeroed in on
Robitaille
as a prime candidate.

Unfortunately,
loose lips within the fire department and police force, combined with
journalists looking for the next big story, had led a couple of over-zealous
investigators to search for and seize evidence without the proper warrants. As
it had turned out, it had been precisely the evidence which would have
convicted
Robitaille
and put him behind bars for
years. The case had fallen apart for the prosecution and a murderous arsonist,
likely the worst in the city’s history, had gone free.

In
the aftermath, several people with the fire department and police force had
been terminated or demoted due to the outcome of the botched investigation.
Ironically as it may seem,
Robitaille
, after
receiving a union negotiated severance package, had gone on to find himself a
senior management position with a rapidly growing firm specializing in fire
security systems for large commercial and residential buildings. Go figure…

Issues
in his relationship had come about during the turmoil surrounding his
professional versus criminal activities and, as a result,
Robitaille
and his girlfriend had split up. She had kept the house, which had been hers to
begin with, and he had found an apartment in a well-to-do high-rise in downtown
Montreal within walking distance of his new job.

The
building in question offered 24/7 security in the lobby which was a great
selling point to potential renters. However, it also had an underground garage
accessible through both drive-in and walk-through entrances where camera
surveillance was non-existent, nor was any actual patrolling, mainly because
only one security guard was present per eight hour shift.

Anyone
who wanted to could easily slip in without being noticed when a car was
entering or leaving. Another alternative was to use one of three walk-in
accesses, two which didn’t always lock properly and all three which dog owning
residents often propped open because using their key card was too much of a
hassle. Obviously, un-propping the door upon their return was also a pain so
many didn’t bother.

To
be frank, I had done a bit of my own surveillance and had noted that the
security desk in the lobby was often deserted. Whoever the guard on duty was,
he regularly went to the bathroom, took a break, went to visit a lonely tenant
in some apartment… whatever, who knows where the heck he went? All I know is,
strolling in through the lobby and accessing the elevators without being
noticed was completely possible, which is what I did.

Robitaille
was still in
his infancy as a corporate executive and was taking the learning curve
seriously, in the office early every morning and rarely out before seven in the
evening, even on Fridays. Back home before seven-thirty, he usually just took
the time to change before going to the gym made available to tenants. His
workouts generally lasted no more than thirty minutes as he rotated muscle
groups from one evening to the next, his goal being to stay in shape, not
become Mister Universe or anything similar.

Most
nights, he stayed in, unless some social event came up, but Friday nights
seemed to be
Robitaille’s
time to let loose and release
the pressure of a demanding week of work. Following his Friday workout, he
rarely was in his apartment for more than twenty minutes, to shower and dress,
before heading out for dinner and fun. Chosen locations were mostly singles’ bars
which also served food, where he might hook up with someone for the evening and
maybe more.

I
had selected that twenty minute window between his workout and departure as the
ideal time to meet
Robitaille
and was at his door ten
minutes after he had returned to his apartment from the gym.


Monsieur
Robitaille
,”
I called as I knocked on his door. “
Antoine,
de la
sécurité
.”

I
had no clue if there was a guard named Antoine but
Robitaille
had just moved in and I doubted he knew any of them on a first name basis.

I
heard movement inside and a muffled enquiry.

Qui est-ce? Il y a un problème
?”

“It
is Antoine from security,” I repeated in French. “There is no problem but I do have
a package for you which requires your signature, sir.”

“A
package?” he replied. “Very well. Give me a minute.”

No
more than a minute passed before the deadbolt slid back and the door opened.

He
stood there, gazing at me expectantly, wearing only a towel around his waist. I
stood there, wearing a dark suit, shirt and tie, holding a shoe-box sized
package against my chest with one hand, my other hand behind my back encased in
a black leather boxing-bag glove, the kind with a steel bar sewn into the palm to
wrap your fingers around for some added oomph.

“You
said I have to sign something?” he asked.

“Yes,”
I replied, holding the package out to him.

As
he took the box and looked at it, I swung my gloved fist up and around,
connecting perfectly, a sold blow just above the nose, right between the eyes.
He toppled backward, going completely limp as he dropped like a felled tree to
the carpeted floor. I glanced quickly down the hallway to ensure nobody had
suddenly appeared to witness my dastardly deed but life was treating me right.
It was just me and
Robitaille
who was currently
taking a nap of sorts.

He
had been good enough to fall sufficiently far that I barely had to push his
feet aside to close the door. After locking it, I wasted no time getting the
box I’d brought open because I needed the roll of duct tape it contained to
deal with
Robitaille
. Who knew when he might come to
and, as I mentioned, he worked out and looked in pretty good shape. Mind you, I
was in pretty good shape as well but, in this line of work, risk minimization
is always the best policy.

I
taped his ankles together then rolled him over and did his wrists behind his
back. Once I had him secured, I picked him up in a fireman’s carry, no pun
intended, and moved him to the bedroom where he would be more comfortable. As
additional benefits, the room was the furthest from the apartment’s entrance and
I could close the door for further sound insulation. I was thankful to
Robitaille
for having selected a corner unit with no
neighbours on the other sides of the walls. His choice of a building with
concrete floors for the tenants’ peace of mind was not to be neglected either.

While
he finished his nap – I had checked and he was still alive with a strong pulse
and steady breathing – I finished my preparations for his awakening with the
remaining contents of the box I had delivered, namely three dozen tea lights
and an aerosol can of WD40. Actually, the flammable lubricant would only be
used later and would be solely for theatrical purposes, meaning to scare the
bastard before the final act.

From
his kitchen, I borrowed a stack of plates which served as impromptu candle
holders. These, I placed here and there about the room, on the dressers,
nightstands and the bed itself, each with two to four of the small, flat
candles which I would light shortly, once I believed my host was on the verge
of rejoining me. I sat and watched him as I waited, not too long, actually, and
when he started stirring and moaning a bit, I lit the tea lights.

My
timing could not have been more perfect and the lighting effect was better than
I had imagined. With the vertical shades closed to block out the diminishing
daylight, the room was cast aglow by the thirty-six tiny flames, a lovely,
golden light which danced slightly as air currents caused the flames to waver.
I had just managed to finish lighting the candles before settling back into the
comfortable armchair in one corner of the room when
Robitaille
regained consciousness.

“What’s
going on?” he mumbled as his eyes flickered open.

Becoming
more alert, he tried to move to get more comfortable because, lying on one’s
back with one’s wrists duct taped behind one isn’t necessarily a comfortable
position, even when on a queen size mattress. Realizing that he was bound, his
movements became more agitated, causing some of the tea lights to dance
precariously on their plates.

“Careful,
buddy,” I warned him. “If one of those tips onto the bedspread, you could turn
yourself into a human barbecue really quick.”

He
stiffened and froze then looked about him, taking in all the glowing flames
before zeroing in on me.

“Who
the hell are you?” he demanded.

It
dawned on me that a lot of these guys I had dealt with lately asked the same
question. Maybe they all lacked imagination or, perhaps, it was a normal
inquiry for someone who finds himself bound and at the mercy of some stranger.
I selected the latter as the likely explanation and moved on to the subject at
hand.

“You
really don’t want to know,” I replied. “It will just freak you out.”

“I’m
pretty freaked out as it is,” he shot back. “Are you one of the cops who
screwed up and got fired?”

I
shook my head. “Nah, anyone of those guys would probably just have nabbed you,
brought you in the woods somewhere and blown your brains out with an untraceable
piece.”

“Then
who the hell are you?” he insisted.

“Okay,
if you must know,” I gave in. “Do you read the papers? Or watch the news?”

“Well,
uh, yeah,” he answered, confused. “What are you talking about?”

“Have
you heard about this guy going around taking care of assholes like you?” I
asked. “Dealing with killers who snuck out of the system because of legalese
bullshit? They’re calling him the
Vigilante
.”

His
eyes grew wide as he stared at me. “You’re telling me you’re him?”

“The
one and only,” I confirmed, “At your service.”

“I-I
don’t believe you,” he stammered. “You’re just a copycat trying to freak me out
to get some attention.”

“Are
you calling me a liar?” I asked as I rose from my seat. “That’s rather
inconsiderate, not to say stupid of you seeing as you’re lying there trussed up
with just a damned towel to protect you.”

“No,
no,” he backpedalled, or tried. “It’s just that this
Vigilante
you mentioned, he’s been going after punks from street
gangs or, or child molesters like that last one he got, not people like me. You
can’t be him. It makes no sense.”

BOOK: The First Sixteen: A Vigilante Series crime thriller novella - The Prequel
9.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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