Memento Mori: Nine – Fight the Power

Alone With the Dead:
Memento Mori
by Andrea Speed

Nine – Fight the Power

Gryphon noticed something that Ruby hadn’t, or at least that she hadn’t commented on.

When the two way mirror fell away, the cops monitoring in the other room jumped up, some reaching instinctively for their weapons, but there were two people standing at the back of the room, looking on in mute horror: Kevin and Rachel.

The cops in the now exposed room pulled their service weapons, and Romano barked, “Sit down, now, and stop … whatever the hell you’re doing.”

12.jpgThat was when the funniest thing happened: Rachel stood up for him. “You can’t talk to him like. He hasn’t done anything.”

Everybody, even Ruby, looked at her in general disbelief. Romano’s blocky shoulders slumped, as if someone just strapped a two ton weight to his back. “No offense, Davies, but what the fuck..?”

“What has he done?” she shot back sharply, not at all cowed. In fact, she seemed even more defiant than before. “He came here of his own accord, to answer your questions. As far as I’ve seen, you’ve been badgering him like a hostile witness. And now you’re pulling guns on him, and all he did was stand up.”

Consternation was contagious. Everyone was looking at each other with varying levels of confusion, except for Kevin , who achieved perfect Keanu vacancy in his expression, and Rachel, whose hazel eyes burned with righteousness. Gryphon heard Hugh laugh, and say, You can pack it in, Ruby. Our boy has lawyered up without even knowing it. Best weapon in the universe.

Romano scoffed. “Haven’t you noticed the mirror is gone?”

“Yes – but why do you assume he’s responsible for it? Did he hit it? Did he smash the tape recorder, the camera? From what I saw, he was just sitting there. How do you think he broke the mirror if he was just standing there?”

It was logic, and now it had backed them into a corner. Either they had to admit it was done in some supernatural fashion, – which he just assumed they’d never want to do – or they had to admit he didn’t do anything. A lose-lose situation, and from the triumph in her expression, she knew it. It was lawyer heaven.

Romano, who had holstered his gun, made vague hand gestures that could have indicated he was swatting an invisible fly. “But … you saw … somethin’ weird happened!”

“There’s no legal definition of weird. He’s made no hostile gestures. If he wants to leave, he can leave, unless you arrest him.” Rachel paused, but in a way suggesting she was simply cocking her weapon before firing. Certainly the look on her face suggested that Romano was about to get it with both barrels. “But if you do arrest him, Officer, make it good. A trumped up charge, one I can get blown out of court in two seconds, could be grounds for a harassment charge.”

Hugh continued chuckling, deeply amused by all of this. This is why most cops hate lawyers.

I don’t get it, Ray admitted. Why is she helpin’ us alla the sudden?

Because she’s a lawyer, and she saw a grand opportunity to fuck off the cops, Hugh replied.

Because she thinks he’s not guilty, Mr. Aronofsky said. Even the police can figure out the timeline doesn’t make sense, they just wanted to squeeze a bit more information out of him. She must believe he doesn‘t have any more. Or she wanted to defuse the situation, and if that‘s true, we should probably give her a medal.

Although Hugh’s explanation might account for some of it, Mr. Aronofsky’s theory probably was the correct one. Even Ruby was strangely passive, waiting to see how this resolved.

It resolved pretty much as Gryphon hoped it would – the cops caved. They didn’t have grounds to arrest him, or at least not good ones, and he had a feeling Rachel was one of those barracuda lawyers who tore apart anything weak that happened into their sight. The final argument was the potential that he – ostensibly a material witness – might flee, as he was living in a motel, and admitted to basically being homeless. That led Rachel to ask, “You going to flee, Gryphon?”

In his stead, Ruby replied, “No. Why the hell would I?”

And that was pretty much that. The cops could pursue it if they wanted, and they might, but for now it was done. He was basically released into Rachel’s custody, even though Shane and Clay were out front. Ruby still wouldn’t let him take over again, not until they were out of the cop shop, but at least she attempted to adopt his voice.

Everyone was staring at them as they emerged, as it was a small precinct house, and everyone must have heard the glass go. But it was hard not to laugh when the senior cop on the floor asked the detective what had happened, and he responded, morosely and bitterly, “Nothing.” Romano’s posture was tight, and he seemed to have these weird twitches, like not handcuffing him and beating him with a nightstick was causing him actual physical pain. The urge to laugh – as cruel as it was – was almost unbearable.

The five of them – Shane, Clay, Kevin, Rachel, and him/herself – left, and Ruby finally ceded control to him once more, and he sagged against the outside wall, feeling as weak and dizzy as he usually did after such a thing. “Don’t ever do that again,” he muttered under his breath. “Not unless I’m actually in trouble.”

You were, dickhead. And I got you out of it, didn’t I?

“Huh?” Clay asked.

“Talking to Ruby,” he told him, which got him a quizzical glance. What, hadn’t he introduced them?

The four of them went to a local coffee shop, as Rachel suggested they should “talk”, which was bad enough coming from a woman, and yet worse when she happened to be a lawyer. Especially a lawyer who could make a bunch of angry cops suddenly impotent by simply throwing a couple of sentences at them.

They got a quiet corner table and overpriced coffee drinks before Rachel got down to business. She gave him a deadly serious look, almost faking her concern with true conviction, and asked him, “Gryphon, have you ever been diagnosed with MPD?”

MSG? Ray repeated, obviously confused.

Sylvio sighed. No, moron, MPD: multiple personality disorder.

That made Gryphon laugh, a sharp, harsh thing that startled people at the nearest table. “No, I don’t have multiple personality disorder, although I did wonder a bit when it first started. They’re real people; most of them have had much richer and interesting lives than I’ve had.”

“What happened in there?” Clay asked, looking between him and the lawyers with an almost palpable neediness.

Kevin shrugged, stirring his grande double espresso for no reason beyond giving him something to do with his hands. “I have no idea. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen – and I‘m from San Francisco.”

“Ruby gets nervous around cops,” he told Shane and Clay, as he was sure the lawyers probably just thought he was nuts. “She emerged, and got angry. She broke some things.”

I trashed that shit hole!

“Yes, you mentioned that name,” Rachel said neutrally, like she was trying to subtly lead a witness. “What was her last name again?”

He sighed, letting her know with an angry look that he was aware of what she was trying. “Her name is – was – Ruby Eileen Cavanaugh, she was born in Saginaw, Michigan but spent most of her childhood in Monroe. She has a half sister, Rosie, that’s she’s been estranged with since almost the very beginning, and her father died in prison, serving a twenty two year sentence for killing her mother’s boyfriend, who was Rosie‘s father. As you can imagine, she had a fun family. Not big on reunions, unless someone brings the Kevlar. She also really has a thing against serial killers …”

And that’s when the penny dropped. Holy shit, it almost all made sense now.

“Serial killers?” Clay repeated. “She was killed by one, right?”

“Yeah.” He stood up, and realized he had to have a talk with his people, but couldn’t while the legal beagles were giving him the third degree. “Uh, I have to hit the bathroom. Can you guys fill ‘em in?” He gestured at Shane and Clay, who basically nodded, although Clay looked slightly preoccupied.

The after dinner crowd had thinned out, so he appeared to have the white tiled men’s room to himself, but he found a relatively clean stall and ducked inside. If they couldn’t see him, they could just assume he was on a cell phone. “You’ve been steering me, haven’t you?” he demanded, staring at an unbelievably gross toilet, but speaking to Ruby. The room had a really odd smell, the combination of lemon fresh urinal cakes and piss, along with a roasting coffee scent wafting in front the vents. It was not a good mix.

Steering you? What are you, a car?

“You know damn well what I mean. This isn’t coincidence. The dead have been warning me about “him”, and we just happen to find Laurel, who knows who he is? I’ve been manipulated all along.”

And of course you blame the whore, Ruby snapped.

“No, I blame the one who is good enough to do this without me even noticing, and Ruby honey, that’s always been you. You have a gift for subtlety the others can’t match.” He sighed, and Ruby at least had the good graces to not deny it further. “Okay, so why are the dead scared of this guy? He’s just another killer.”

There’s a serious implication that he’s not, Ruby said. He might be like you.

“Like me?” That was startling as much as it was reassuring that this hadn’t just happened to him.

Yeah, but … different.

He remembered what Laurel had said, about him :He didn’t know what he was doing, but he knows now. So had he figured out how to make this work for him? Could he teach him?

What the hell was he thinking? The guy killed his entire family. What he could teach him he didn’t want to know.

“Is he really coming for me?”

The length of her pause was disconcerting. I think so. I doubt he’s coming back for his family.

He took a deep breath, nodding even as a dread chill seemed to grip his bowels. Crazed serial killer “agent” coming for him – maybe he was a religious nut too; maybe he’d hit the bugfuck nuts version of a royal flush. Then Gryph recalled his nightmare, and realized he may have had the wrong end of the stick. “Do the dead want him dead?”

Like you can’t possibly believe.

Okay then. He knew what he had to do.

When he returned to the table, they stopped talking en masse and looked at him, the lawyers expressions scrubbed to a frustrating neutrality, while Shane looked like he always did – so relaxed he was verging on a coma – while the light of zealotry seemed to burn in Clay’s eyes. “If you want to have me involuntarily committed, run in for some tests, fine,” he told the lawyers. “I could use the vacation. Just give me until the weekend. And once the coroners finish exhuming the remains from your property, feel free to move in. Laurel only wanted someone to see, someone to get her message – now that it’s been delivered, she and her family are gone. Your house is no longer haunted.”

Some surprise registered in Kevin’s movie star blue eyes. “You know that without going back?”

“She wasn’t really a poltergeist, or she’d have joined my crew. She was just a ghost with a chip on her shoulder. Ghosts have a tendency to move on once they’ve made contact with someone, or at least settle down.” He looked at Clay, as he had a feeling he could use his zealotry, make it work for him. “Clay, I need you to do me a favor.”


“I need you to find me the most haunted place in the general Portland vicinity. And I mean violently haunted. A place where doors always slam, a place where things always break, where it’s freezing cold in the dead of August. Maybe even a place where people have felt threatened or been assaulted. I need a poltergeist pit, and I need it now.”

What the hell are you doing? Mr. Aronofsky asked, and the fact that he cursed was a good indication of how worried he was. And from the expression on Clay’s and Shane’s faces, they were completely in agreement with him.

He couldn’t say now, but what he was doing was preparing for war. He had no idea what Louis Stanhope wanted with him, but it was a good bet that he wanted him dead because he was a psycho loony. But the dead wanted him dead, and he felt it was only fair that he give them a fighting chance to get their revenge.

Did he mean so much to the dead that they would keep him alive no matter what? He was going to put that supposition to the test.

And may the best ghoul win.

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