pt. II

The nearest NYPD precinct building was only a few blocks away. Jack and the Reaper hurried towards it, the Reaper walking straight through the oncoming pedestrians, but Jack instinctively kept weaving from side to side, avoiding all the people who clearly couldn't see him.

"F*ck!," he said catching up with the Reaper. "And I thought walking through New York streets was bad normally."

The police station was swarming with people and Jack and the Reaper were able to walk straight in with no trouble at all. From there it was simply a matter of following the signs until they reached the homicide division.

The homicide office was a vast open space crammed full of desks, computers, filing cabinets and people. Although smoking had been banned inside the building years before, the place still stank of stale tobacco. Finding the detective in charge of Jack's murder case was easy once someone shouted "Hey, Marshall! We arrested the Hellblaze suspect!"

Detective Keelie Marshall looked up tiredly from her desk. "Gee, that's great Sam," she said, but didn't sound convinced. She had been working non-stop on this case for the last three days. And if there was one thing she had learnt, it was that the murders of the rich and famous brought out all kinds of wackos out to claim their fifteen minutes of fame.

Jack watched her. "A woman?" he commented, whilst eyeing her up.

Keelie seemed quite young, but looked older than her years, presumably due to the stress of the job. She had frizzy red hair and wasn't wearing any make-up. Unsurprisingly, she didn't seem to be aware of Jack and the Reaper watching her.

Slowly she stood up, shuffled through the pile of papers on her desk until she found a clipboard, then grabbed a coffee from the machine and headed off, followed by Jack and the Reaper.

After weaving her way through the office, she nodded to the man who had shouted at her. "Ok Sam," she said wearily. "Let's get it over with."

The other detective smiled at her. "Hey Keelie, cheer up. It might actually be the right guy, you know?"

As Jack and the Reaper followed Keelie and Sam through the maze-like building, he kept wondering who this suspect was. He glanced over at the Reaper, but his companion seemed to be simply following, uninterested beyond the call of duty. Unsure of what to say, Jack just meekly followed, and so was quite relieved when the detectives stopped in front of some kind of interview room and went in.

They sat down in front of a table, opposite the suspect, who seemed to be a young dark skinned man with shoulder-length hair, wearing a black shirt and jeans.

Jack stared at him, images of his own death flashing through his mind. "That's him!" he said excitedly to the Reaper. "I remember, that's the man who shot me!" But the Reaper just watched impassively.

"Well then, Mr..." Sam glanced down at his notes. "Phoenix Calledro," he continued raising an eyebrow at the name. "I'm sure that's not your real name, but it doesn't really matter for now does it?"

Calledro just stared back.

"Well, Mr Calledro, you have been arrested for the shooting of Jack Lee, perhaps better known as HellBlaze on the night of the 24th April..."


Jack watched as the interrogation progressed. For now this Calledro was denying everything, and Jack couldn't help but feel alarmed at the seeming lack of evidence the detectives had against him. Calledro seemed to know this too, and Jack noticed him smirking.

As the interrogation went on, it became apparent that Calledro was a known professional hitman, carrying out murders for other people. And yet despite being wanted, he had never been convicted of anything.

"You've got to worry about our legal system that allows people like this to go free time after time," muttered Jack. The Reaper just nodded, but did not comment.

And then something Detective Marshall said caught Jack's attention.

She had been quiet during the interview, letting her partner do most of the talking.

"Mr Calledro," she suddenly said. "You have been seen associating with a Mr Marvin Haynes recently haven't you?"

Jack gave a jolt as he remembered something. He knew Marvin. Marvin had supplied him with drugs during his younger wilder years.

"Yeah," said Calledro. "So what of it?"

"Marvin Haynes has been under investigation for the drug-dealing. He's a big-time supplier."

"What's that got to do with me?"

Keelie examined her notes, then looked straight at Calledro. "Marvin Haynes was also found shot at his home, yesterday. That wouldn't be your work would it?"

Jack's eyes widened again. Marvin was dead too? He glanced across at the Reaper quizzically, but the robed figure just stood there motionless, watching the suspect.

Before Calledro had a chance to answer though there was a knock at the door. A uniformed cop, this one a young woman, entered and whispered something to Keelie.

Keelie sighed and stood up. "Continue without me," she said to Sam, then she left the room. Jack glanced at her as she went then back at Calledro, before deciding to follow her. He was curious to know what was happening now, and he dashed out after her.

Silently, the Reaper turned and followed him, robes sweeping against the floor. Jack couldn't help but notice that regardless of the brightness of the light and the direction of the shadows, the Reaper's face was always fully enshrouded in darkness. Idly, Jack pondered pulling the hood down, but decided against it. He wasn't sure what the Reaper would do in response.


Keelie and her followers headed back to the main office and to her desk, where a young blond woman holding an infant child waited nearby.

Jack gave a sigh as more memories flooded back.

"Cassie..." he whispered, gazing at the woman he loved and their son, Matthew.

"Miss West," said Keelie, acknowledging the visitor. "What can I do for you today?"

Cassie's eyes were reddened from crying. "I searched around like you asked," she said. "I found these." She dropped a small plastic tub on the top.

Keelie picked it up and read the label. "Prozac. An anti-depressant."

Cassie nodded. "I knew he was depressed but he had never told me he was on tablets for it."

Jack sighed. Yes, he had been depressed. He remembered now. The failure of the latest record to sell in droves had resulted in the record label threatening to drop the band. And where they had once played stadiums, now they had been struggling to fill the smaller venues.

And there had been arguments. Cassie had threatened to leave, taking Matthew with her. And so he had gone to his doctor, who gave him Prozac.

"Oh Cassie," he said, holding out his hand towards her.

But it was Matthew who responded, waving his little hand in return. "Dad-da."

"Matthew?" said Jack, surprised. He turned to the Reaper. "He can see me?"

The Reaper nodded. "Sometimes the very young can."

Jack smiled for the first time today. "Hey kid," he cooed to the child. "Daddy's here."

"Dad-da, dad-da!" Matthew waved his hand delightedly.

Cassie hugged the child. "No sweetie," she said quietly. "Daddy's not here right now."

Keelie watched sadly, then coughed slightly, trying to get Cassie's attention. "So..." she began. "How are you getting on?"

Cassie sighed. "Badly," she said. "There's been accountants all over the place. There's still no sign of any of the savings. The lawyer thinks Jack probably gambled it all away or something."

"That's not good," sympathised Keelie. "What are you going to do?"

Cassie shrugged. "It seems Jack had taken out life insurance when Matthew was born, so hopefully that will pay up enough to take care of the bills and stuff."

Jack frowned. He didn't remember gambling all the savings away. Oh sure, he had had a few wagers with Marvin. And then there was the on-going drug bill. But surely that hadn't taken all of the savings? Still, Cassie was right. There had been life insurance.

Jack kept watching as Cassie and Keelie finished talking, then Cassie, still carrying Matthew, left the room.

"Now what?" asked the Reaper.

"I dunno," Jack said, sounding frustrated. He was now beginning to tire of this game. "Check out Marvin's place I guess. He seems to be involved in all of this somehow."

The Reaper beckoned towards the door. "As you wish."

Jack glanced back at Detective Marshall who had settled back down into her chair and had started to read some report. At least to him, she seemed to know what she was doing, and Jack felt a moment of relief that perhaps she would indeed solve the case and get his murderer convicted after all. With an unseen nod to her, he turned and walked out the door.

As they entered the foyer and main reception area of the police building, Jack heard a familiar sound. His song, Dead Yesterday, was playing on a radio somewhere nearby. He tugged on the Reaper's sleeve and paused, listening to the music. His legacy. And it was practically all that was left of him now.

A station jingle and the chattering of the DJs interrupted the closing chords of the song. "And that was Faust's Minions, with Dead Yesterday, set to re-enter the charts at the top this week following the murder of guitarist and lead singer, HellBlaze. Guess the only way to revive a flagging career is to get murdered these days, isn't that right Jim?"

"Indeed Dave, but it's a good record anyway, shame Faust's Minions didn't produce more like it..."

Jack turned to leave, remembering the meeting with the record label executives, all shouting at him for the poor sales of the latest album.


~ To Be Continued ~