In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 2, 1993
The next morning John awoke fifteen minutes after sunrise feeling uncharacteristically well-rested. Lucifer was curled at his side, dozing peacefully. As he lay there stroking the cat's fur he went over the plans he'd made a few more times. There was so much to do and so little time. For all he knew Angie might be dead already, knifed by some creep who wasn't in the mood to pay for his entertainment.
He'd prayed to Blessed Phelan last night, really prayed. In the past he'd simply said the litanies because he believed it was something a Vlodek would do, and because it was something he believed his ancestors would have wanted from him, but he never really prayed. Oh, he'd asked Blessed Phelan to deliver him from his torment but deep in his heart of hearts he'd never really believed he was worthy of salvation. “Too much a human to be a Vlodek, too much a Vlodek to be a human. I don't envy you your predicament,” his master-father had said once.
Too much a human or not, he'd prayed last night, he'd begged to be heard.
With a groan he clambered out of bed and made his way to the shower. A few minutes under the icy spray was all it took to wake him up. After toweling off John spent nearly half an hour searching for the napkin with Magwier's phone number on it and then another half-hour searching for the place he'd hidden the keys for his safety deposit boxes. The keys were in the basement, in his steamer trunk of mementos, he pocketed them and on a mad impulse also pocketed the velvet bag.
The last thing he did before heading out was retrieve his cane from the closet. He found the sun fighting a loosing battle against a legion of murky clouds and the air heavy with pollen. Reviewing the mental shopping list he'd drawn up once more he made a note to also pick up a telephone.
From the second floor window, Lucifer watched him go, his eyes burning with curiosity.