Reapers: The Apprenticeship of David Mancia – Part 4

Part 4: Gavin Whitley

It was cold in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Rasool ensured I had a place to lay my head, at the Constitution Inn.  It was a far cry from the luxurious abode I had grown accustomed to in Seattle, but it reminded me of the temporary nature of my assignment.  Charlestown was small and rather clean.  I didn’t see homeless camps along the freeways or city streets; a view that became more and more common in Seattle over the years.  What was Charlestown doing differently?  The Emerald City might learn a thing or two from the New England town.  But, I wasn’t here for civic admiration.  I was here to reap.

For a preternatural, Gavin Whitley was fairly young.  Not much was known about him prior to his forced conversion to Lycanthropy in 1771.  By forced, I mean he was nearly mauled to death by the old Lycan, James, the Gray.  Though most thought him dead, and even had him buried, he had merely transitioned.  A man by day, and a wolf by night.  I was hard pressed to find any other historical information on Gavin save a record of his death in 1771, and a periodical clipping that recorded the event.  Man Mauled by Giant Wolf.  Wolves don’t stray too far from their territory, so I surmised that he was still in the area.  It was time for me to set-up shop, or, as my Master would say, blend.

After a few days of begging the owner, I got a job as a barback in a small Irish pub, O’Sully’s Place, in Charlestown.  I wasn’t allowed to work the night shift, that was reserved for the barbacks with more seniority; the tip share was better.  The thought of seeing Gavin at the pub was a gamble, to be sure, but I wanted to place myself in earshot of the town’s gossip.

The first few days were the worst.  Most of the men squinted their eyes and tilted their heads like curious cats.  I could hardly blame them.  An Afro-Latino barback in one of the oldest Irish pubs in the area had to be an odd site.  Yet, very few people were rude, save Mr. Lancaster.  He seemed to be disgusted by my very presence, as evidenced by his constant scowling gaze.  Lancaster aside, after a few weeks most folks started to call me Davey-Boy, and I was a usual site.

The women, well, their looks were altogether different.  There were days when I was sure Mrs. Riley was a vampire and I was fresh meat.  For a short time, I went through the random butt slaps as I passed a few of the female regulars’ tables.  But, Mr. Sullivan soon put an end to all that.  Thank goodness. 

The patrons were always chatty.  There was talk of Bobby Sullivan robbing the local bank, little Johnny taking a baseball bat to some neighborhood’s mailboxes, but nothing about a giant wolf.  A month had passed and there was no news of Gavin.  What the heck am I doing?  He’s not stupid enough to be that obvious.  I need to change…

“That poor girl,” said Mrs. McCarthy.  Her and Mrs. Riley sat in a booth a few paces away from the bar.  “Working girl or not, no one deserves that.”

“She’s the third one in as many weeks and not a peep on the news.  It’s like the homeless thing all over again,” Mrs. Riley said shaking her head.  “God, be with her.”

I threw my cleaning rag over my shoulder and walked closer to the two women.  “Don’t mean to eavesdrop ladies, but I couldn’t help but overhear what you were saying.  What happened to the working girl, and what homeless thing?  I haven’t seen a single homeless person since I moved here.”

“That’s right, you haven’t been here long enough to know,” Mrs. McCarthy said.  “Some years back there was someone ripping the homeless people apart.  I mean, literally ripping them apart.  At first, it was one here, and one there, then it became rampant.  It got so bad, what was left of the homeless migrated to Boston.  It’s nice not having anyone begging for your money when you walk into a place, but I don’t wish that kind of death on anyone.”

Mrs. Riley nodded and added, “Now, we’re seeing the same thing happening to all the prostitutes in the area.  There was a girl found just yesterday, her body mangled and ripped apart.  The police are none the wiser.”

“Poor girl,” I said.  The two women nodded in agreement.  Gavin, I’m sure of it.

Mrs. McCarthy’s solemn face changed almost instantly to a devilish grin.  “But you dear, you don’t have to worry.  A big strong man like you…”

“…Well, thanks lady’s.  It was nice chatting with you.”  I quickly made my way behind the bar and placed my rag on the edge of the sink.  “I’m going on break Teddy.”

Teddy, the bartender, raised his hand in acknowledgment still talking to a man at the bar.

I walked through the pub’s kitchen and out the back door.  It was a few hours until my shift ended.  In my head, a plan was already taking shape.  The homeless thing.  I walked back in to the sound of Teddy shouting for me to clean a few tables and the familiar scowl of Mr. Lancaster.

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The plan was simple, but a long shot.  I rushed to the thrift store to buy some shabby clothes.  I’d ripped them up and smeared as much dirt as possible on them and placed them into a bag.  I returned to the Constitution Inn and changed.  I placed a long hood over my head, it obscured my view a bit, but it hid my most of my brown features.  I wore tattered gloves that covered the majority of my hands but had holes in the fingertips.  I attached the chain of La Mano de los Segundos on a band that I’d tied around my upper forearm so that the pocketwatch rested, hidden, in the palm of my hand.  Rasool taught me never to underestimate the speed of a Lycan.  I needed my affinity to be available at a moment’s notice.  I looked in the long wardrobe mirror attached to the door of my closet.  You look like…like ca-ca.  I laughed a bit before heading out my room door, down the stairs, out the back entrance of the Inn to walk the streets.

I was confident that the sight of a homeless person would spark Gavin’s interest.  Several hours passed, and the common site of car headlights faded, giving way to long periods of quiet and streetlights.  Damn.  He didn’t take the bait.  Maybe tomorrow night.

I started my trek back to the Inn across the movable walkways of the Charles River Dam when I noticed a dark figure moving in the darkness beneath the small trees that lined the edge of Paul Revere Park which was a hundred paces ahead.  I curved the tip of my thumb to touch the button atop La Mano de los Segundos which lay hidden in the palm of my left hand.  This is it.  As I walked closer, the true form of the wolf’s silhouette became more prominent.  A low growl vibrated the air.  As I took the final steps to the edge of the park I saw it clearly: a massive wolf, lips quivering, drool falling, and fangs on full display.

“That disguise is ridiculous.  You can’t fool me, boy.  I can smell the Egyptian all over you.  I know what you are,”  a familiar voice assaulted my mind.

“Of course, I should’ve known.  Mr. Lancaster.  Or, should I call you, Gavin Whitley.”