Landon Connors: Leap of Faith, Part 6
Fire sprang to life at the end of a matchstick as Brooks Autry struck it against the stair rail of the Gulfstream G450 he’d just parked on the tiny airstrip in the middle of God Damn, Nowhere. Sullen as ever, the Kentucky native put the flame to good use, drawing fire into the gnarled cigar he held clamped between gritted teeth. The cold of the South Dakota plain was biting and he was submerged as deeply as he could be within the warmth of his wool lined coat, a battered cowboy hat tilted low to shield his face from the illicit wind. Beside him sat Connors’ leather ‘ghost bag’.
“Christ, Doc, you need me to carry you off this bird,” Autry barked.
Connors’ appeared in the Gulfstream’s doorway, pale and aborted, leaning heavily on his cane. The detective limped down the stair, eyes bloodshot, pupils dilated. He staggered a bit, not quite readjusted to being eathbound once more.
“Jesus, you’re a fucking wreck, hoss,” Autry said, picking up the detective’s bag and shouldering it. “You need to lay off the psillies for a bit. Them boomers got your head in a twist and I reckon you’re gonna need your wits about ya on this one, capisce?”
“Brooks, need I remind you that you were not hired to be my mother?” Connors coughed.
“You need some fucking motherin’ and if I don’t do it, who will? Thea? You’ve got that chica scared shitless of you.” Autry slid an arm under the detective and helped him toward the pick-up truck that was waiting at the end of the tarmac.
“Why is that, Brooks? She’s been timid of late and she’ll not confide in me?” Connors leaned against the bed of the truck and snatched Autry’s cigar from his mouth, using it to kickstart a cigarette of his own before returning the gnarled smoke to its rightful owner.
“Well for starters, dumbass, you’re fucking killing yourself. You’re drinking too god damn much and staying blasted out of your gourd more often than not. And with the spooky critters you play around with, that’s bad business, slick.”
“You said for starters,” Landon replied, taking his bag from the lumbering Kentuckian and tossing it in the back of the truck.
“Yeah, well,” Autry began, “the rest’s not for me to say. Besides, you need to get to the motel.” He took an envelope from his inside pocket and shoved it into the detective’s coat. “You’re lodged at the Branding Iron Inn.”
“Excellent then,” Connors replied.
“Doc, you sure you don’t need me with ya, watching your back.” Autry spat onto the pavement.
“They didn’t name the town Faith for nothing, Brooks,” Connors said as he climbed into the truck. He fired up the engine and he rumbled with a deep, throaty sound. “Have some in me, my friend.”
“Yeah, well, Hawkes put you up to this, so I don’t see much good coming from it.”
“I’m inclined to agree,” Connors said with a wink and a smile, “but in this case, there’s more at stake than meets the eye.” He leaned on the steering wheel and took a deep breath. “This concerns the Black Spire and my father… you know the ramifications of this.”
Autry put his hand on the window frame.
“Yeah, I get it, doc, but christ-on-a-stick, you nipping at daddy’s carrot is not the brightest of moves. You’re playing into that fucker’s hand.”
“I know. And he knows I know, but I’ve a card up my sleeve he’s not counted on.” Connors revved the engine then put the truck into drive.
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“I have faith in Elizabeth,” the detective said as he pulled away, driving toward Highway 212. He pulled onto the rode, headed west.
Somewhere, out there in the bleak South Dakota landscape, Ashton Connors and the Order of the Black Spire were conspiring to sacrifice a woman he’d once held near and dear. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
As he parked in the vacant lot of the Branding Iron, he wondered if Brooks’ concerns were valid. This was all an obvious trap, a magical game of cat and mouse between he and the man who had both sired and betrayed him.
As he climbed out of the truck, limping toward the motel with his shoulder bag, he knew he had no choice but to face his father.
Connors looked up toward the familiar sky overhead and wished upon a star.
to be continued