Aa much as I wanted to run out the door to help the Punisher, there was some unfinished business to take care of here first. The fate of an innocent child was far more important to me than the fate of a man who spends his nights on a murder spree. “Why’d you take the boy,” I asked. “Are you, or one of your sons, his father?”
“What,” Cook cried, his face crinkling up in disgust. “God, no. I’ve known her since she was born. She grew up with my kids. She was like a daughter to me and a sister to my boys. It’s just that if I didn’t get him, who knows where they would’ve stuck him. I took him because I thought he should stay with family.”
I let my gaze drift over to Robert, who was studying Cook’s face. Making up his mind, he gave me a slight nod of his head. “Ok, Cook,” I said. “Here’s the deal. From now on, you’re out of the business.”
“Dallos will kill me if I try to back out.”
“After tonight, you’ll never see Dallos again, so don’t worry about it. I’m going to assume that, like McKenzie, you have a number of legitimate enterprises?” Cook nodded, so I continued, “Good. You’re going to focus on those and raising Amanda’s son. You will care for him as much as you do your own. I will have someone watching you at all times, Cook. If you do anything to hurt that boy, I’ll be back and when I get done with you, you’ll look worse than me.”
That last part put a little fear in him. I didn’t have time to stick around and press the issue. Instead, I took the elevator back downstairs and ran outside. A couple was out front about ready to climb into a taxi. Once again, my horrid appearance worked in my favor. Not only did the couple run away upon seeing me, but the driver did too. It was about time something went my way.
I punched the address McKenzie gave me for Dallos into the GPS and gunned the engine, letting the navigation unit catch up as I went. I knew the general area fairly well, from my own time as a taxi driver, but I didn’t know exactly where. Another throwback to my taxi days was knowing the best routes to take to avoid traffic. It still took longer than I liked to get there, though.
The last few blocks were a little odd. Through the city, I moved at a frantic pace. Out here, among the large estates that made up this neighborhood, everything seemed calm and serene. I started wondering if I had come to the wrong place. That’s when the sounds of gunshots began echoing through the night sky.
A gate barred the entrance into Dallos’ estate, so I plowed the cab right through it. Or, I attempted to, at least. The gate was a lot sturdier than it looked. It stopped the car flat. Still, the taxi did enough damage to it that I was able to squeeze through it. I ran the rest of the way to the front door. When I flung it open, I was greeted by one of Dallos’ men.
With one look at me, he dropped the automatic pistol he was carrying. “Oh, hell no,” he said as he raised his hands and started walking out the door behind me. “First, the Punisher and now some dude who looks like he’s right out of Night of the Living Dead? Nope. I’m done. I ain’t getting paid enough for this bullshit.”
I watched him go, not knowing what to do. That was definitely a first for me. Shaking it out of my head, I picked up the gun he dropped and went deeper into the house. Trying to pinpoint where the gunshots were coming from based solely on the sound was impossible for me. Having no ears has its drawbacks, folks. So, basically, all I was doing was blindly walking around.
In the second hallway I walked down, I found the billiards room. Going inside, I quickly located the flash drive behind the vent, grabbed it, and put it in my pocket. Before I had a chance to put the vent back, a shot rang out behind me. The bullet tore through my trenchcoat and out of my chest. I turned to see another henchman standing there with a smoking gun. His hands trembled when he saw that his shot did no damage to me.
“We gonna do this the easy way or the hard way,” I sighed.
He replied by repeatedly pulling the trigger. The only thing he accomplished was putting more holes in my coat. Now, I was angry and he wouldn’t like me when I was angry. One squeeze on the automatic pistol sent a small spurt of lead in his direction. He fell backwards, landing with a groan. I didn’t see any blood coming from his torso, so he must’ve been wearing a vest. There were holes in both his left thigh and the opposite shoulder.
I thought about finishing him off, but just walked out of the room instead. As a general rule, l avoid killing people, especially since they might come back to haunt me. If this guy ends up going, it won’t weigh on my conscience. I gave him the chance to walk away and he chose to shoot me.
I checked my pocket to make sure that the man’s barrage of bullets didn’t hit the flash drive and breathed sigh of relief when I found it intact. I continued on into the next corridor and hoped that the growing decibel level of the gunshots meant that I was getting closer to the action. I was.
As I rounded a corner, I saw that there were five men firing into an open doorway. Three other men lay dead around the room. Obviously, I had found the Punisher. I raised the automatic pistol just as one of the men threw something into the room with Frank. “Punisher,” I yelled to get his attention. “Grenade!”
The men, hearing my cry, turned their guns on me. My weapon started barking out seconds before the grenade exploded. I glanced at the doorway long enough to see nothing but a cloud of dust come out of it.