Once again, the Punisher looked pissed that I was having a conversation that he couldn’t hear both sides of. I didn’t care. “Cook took your grandson,” I asked, not really believing. “With you and Amanda both dead, your grandson gives him no leverage over anyone. Why would he do that?”
“I’m a ghost, not a mind reader, you jackass,” McKenzie retorted. “How the hell should I know?”
“He has two sons around that age,” the Punisher interjected with a shrug. “Maybe one of them is the father. Or, maybe it’s Cook himself, if she had a thing for older men.”
“They had better not be,” Robert fumed. “She told me it was some boy from school. I swear if any of those three even thought about touching my daughter, I’ll kill all of them.”
“Focus, people,” I hollered. “Let’s get back to what matters. We have a deal, McKenzie. If you tell me where you hid those files, we’ll go get your grandson.”
“It’s behind an air vent in Dallos’ billiards room.”
“You hid your files in Dallos’ house?”
“If I was trying to hide something from you, would you look in your own house for it?”
“Good point. Wouldn’t he notice that the air flow is being disrupted, though? There’s no way those files are letting air go by them.”
“They’re on a flash drive.”
“Amanda said you kept all your files on paper because you didn’t trust computers.”
“Do you know how many people in this city are in the business? I’d need a warehouse to keep files on all of them on paper. I was forced to make an exception.”
“It’s really annoying when you talk to people who aren’t there and don’t tell me what they say,” the Punisher grumbled.
“It’s not important,” I countered. “Let’s just go get his grandson.”
“I don’t think so. I’m going to Dallos’ house to get the files.” The look on my face must’ve shown my confusion because he clarified, “I still heard your side of the conversation, genius.”
I thought back. Had I said where the files were out loud? Damn it! I had.
By the time I turned to try to convince the Punisher to change his mind, he was already halfway out the door. “Let him go,” McKenzie said. “We don’t need him. You’re immortal, right?”
“More or less.”
“Then you’ve got nothing to fear from a bunch of guys with guns.”
I stood up and got my gear together. Once I had both of my shoulder holsters on, and full, I put a couple of extra clips of ammo in my pocket. An old rickety jacket was thrown over my shoulders to cover the guns up as I walked out of my office.
When I was around halfway to Cook’s house, I ditched the old jacket in an alley and put on my tan trenchcoat, that I had been carrying underneath the other jacket. I put on the other garment that I had under my jacket, my brimmed hat, and pulled up the collars. My face needed to be as obscured as possible. Once I had it hidden as best I could, I pulled off the magic ring. Immediately, I returned to my actual appearance.
“What did you do that for,” McKenzie griped disgustedly.
“As far as the world knows,” I replied, ignoring the ghost’s tone of voice, “Jonathan Martin is just a regular private investigator. If a surveillance camera catches him entering, or even near, a place right before a gun fight breaks out, his life becomes far more difficult. For tonight, I’m Ghoul.”
“If you say so, pal,” I thought I heard Robert mutter, but I ignored the dead bastard.
The remainder of the walk was fairly uneventful. Most people ignored my horrid appearance. I told the few who didn’t that I was on my way to a zombie walk, which they applauded. That’s one of the great things about living in New York City. Nothing is considered weird here.
Unlike Dallos, who had a house out in the suburbs, Cook resided in a fairly swanky building in the city. Swanky enough to have a doorman, anyway. I had a way around him, though. All I had to do was walk up to him and show him my face. Naturally, he freaked and tried to run away, but I grabbed him by the collar of the ridiculous looking jacket they made him wear and made him open the door first. Once he did, I released him and he ran away screaming.
After I got inside, McKenzie, who had been here many times before, directed me on where to go. I got on the elevator and hit the floor number he indicated. While I was going up, I pulled my guns out of their holsters, expecting trouble as soon as the doors opened. There was none.
The doors opened up directly into the living area, an entertainment room by the looks of it. Cook sat on the couch watching TV, with the infant in his hands. Obviously, he heard me approach because without turning around he said, “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. Amanda wasn’t supposed to die. But, Dallos moved too quickly. I couldn’t stop him.”
“Where are your bodyguards?”
“I don’t have any. I’m a secret mobster, remember?”
He turned to face me for the first time. To his credit, he didn’t react to my visage. “I thought you were the Punisher,” he admitted.
“No,” I responded, “I’m much more charming than he is. I can, however, kill you just as dead as he can if you keep lying to me. Now, where are your bodyguards?”
“I’m not lying. Not tonight, at least. There’s nobody here but us. Everyone else is at Dallos’ house.”
Uh oh. “What are they doing there?”
“Dallos killed Amanda because he didn’t believe her when she said she couldn’t get the file for us. He thought she was working with someone else to hide it from us. After he killed her, he said we wouldn’t need to look for her partner because they’d come after him for revenge. So, now he’s got all of our guys, plus some extra muscle he hired on, waiting for whoever shows up.”
Damn, I thought. The Punisher is about to walk into an ambush and I have no way of warning him.