What One Leaves Behind Excerpt From Chapter 22: ISU Assassin Squad

On July 1st, Bronagh sat alone in the kitchen of the duplex. Conner had gone into the city for some groceries. She planned to cook. Bronagh had become bored eating out, and she missed cooking. She decided she wanted to cook a traditional south Louisiana meal for Conner, but mainly, she wanted to keep herself busy. Gumbo was out of the question since young, tender okra would be near impossible to find in Ireland. She decided on a simple chicken and sausage jambalaya with traditional French bread. Even with the unavailability of andouille sausage, Conner assured Bronagh he could find a decent, highly seasoned smoked sausage in Galway. Not likely. I’m a long way from LaPlace. LaPlace, Louisiana, the andouille capital of the world: an hour’s drive southeast from her home in Livingston Parish, but, she would manage, she decided, with whatever sausage Conner purchased.

She thought of Shaw’s upcoming birthday; he would be fifty on Saturday. She fought back tears and ignored the car in the driveway, assuming it was Conner returning to the duplex. Bronagh jumped, startled by the hammering on the door. She peered out the window at Jimmy pounding on the duplex door. His face was like stone when she answered.

“Where’s Conner?” he asked.

“In the city. What’s wrong, Jimmy? What are you doing here?” Bronagh asked.

“Get Conner on the phone, Bronagh!” Jimmy said, looking around the duplex. “And take off that damned cross!”

Bronagh handed Jimmy the phone.

“Conner, stay in the city,” Jimmy said. “Do not come back to the duplex until Bronagh calls you!” He hung up the phone and looked at Bronagh. “Take off that cross, Bronagh, now!” Jimmy shouted.

Her spine stiffened, and she unlatched the clasp on the silver rope chain. Jimmy grabbed Bronagh’s arm and led her into the bedroom. He snatched her Celtic cross from her hand, lifted the mattress and tossed it on top of the box springs, releasing the mattress to crash down on top of the bed’s foundation.

“What the hell is going on, Jimmy?” Bronagh asked again.

Jimmy pulled a large silver crucifix and a beaded rosary from his pocket and tossed them on the dresser. “Get undressed!”

“What? No!”

Jimmy grabbed Bronagh’s shoulders. “Get undressed and get in bed! I don’t have time to explain!”

She glared at Jimmy with her hand on her hip. “You’d better find time to explain, Jimmy!”

He looked at Bronagh. “I got word in Belfast that one of your neighbors along the lake saw you wearing your cross and attending service at the local Methodist church. They learned I had rented you this duplex. They suspect I’m an informer: passing on information to you!”

“Who, Jimmy? What are you talking about?” Bronagh asked, utterly confused.

“An ISU is coming down from Roscommon,” Jimmy said. “For the love of God, woman, get undressed and in that bed!”

“ISU?”

“Internal Security Unit. The Brotherhood.” Jimmy said, undressing and messing up the sheets on the bed.

“What? Oh, Jesus!” Bronagh began to appreciate Jimmy’s concern when he stood before her, naked, save his underwear. “I told Conner I didn’t need this crap in my life! What in the hell have you and Conner gotten me involved in?” she said.

“I didn’t write the green book, love. I’m sorry. Please get undressed.” Jimmy heard car doors shutting outside on the driveway. “Bronagh, now!” Jimmy crawled underneath the sheets on the bed.

Bronagh stripped away her outer garments and climbed under the sheets near Jimmy.

He put his arm around Bronagh’s shoulders and crossed himself. “Keep your mouth shut. Let me do the talking, love. I don’t want to be a stiff at the hands of my brothers!” Jimmy listened for the number of footsteps he could distinguish. Five men, he thought. Two stay outside, three come in. He looked at Bronagh. “In Belfast, you called me a pig. Now would be a good time to pretend you find me charming!”

When Jimmy heard the front door slam open, he pulled Bronagh close to him and kissed her, just as three masked men kicked open the bedroom door.

“Hello, Jimmy,” said the tall masked man holding the micro Uzi.

“What the hell is this?” Jimmy asked.

“Uprooting an informer!” the tall man said.

“Informer?” Jimmy cackled.

“You think this is funny Jimmy?” he said pointing his Uzi at Jimmy’s head.

“You obviously know me, brother, but I don’t know you! And I doubt the three of you have ever met! So, aye, I know what this raid means. And, aye! I find it funny!” Jimmy said, still laughing. “What do you think you’ve found, here?”

“You are renting to a Protestant Irish-American, touting information,” the tall man said.

“You mean a Catholic Irish-American. That I am. And, I’m, umm, more than just ‘renting’ to her.” Jimmy chuckled, stroking Bronagh’s neck and hair. “The only turning I’ve done is when she rolls me over, if you get my meaning.” Jimmy looked at Bronagh and stroked her sheet-clad hip. “And, the only secret she knows: I’m a fast lover when I get between the sheets with her.”

The gray-masked man spoke. “Where’s the cross?”

“What cross?” Jimmy asked.

The man with the gray mask glared at Bronagh. “Where’s your cross, bitch?”

Bronagh glared back. “On the dresser!”

He turned, picked up the crucifix and the rosary, showing it to the other men. Jimmy studied their reactions carefully. He knew the third man, holding the AK-47 with the standard 30-round magazine resting on his hip, would never speak; he was the assassin. Their eyes revealed questions. Jimmy could see them doubting the reliability of the information they were given.

Bronagh saw their doubt, too. “My wallet is in my purse. I’d appreciate you not stealing my cross!” Bronagh said.

Jimmy squeezed her hand, wanting her silence.

“What?” The tall man asked.

“Take whatever you came for, but leave my cross, please,” Bronagh said, terrified.

The tall man pointed at the crucifix. “This is important to you?”

“Of course!” Bronagh said. “My mother gave me that cross!”

Jimmy’s body was rigid. He didn’t want Bronagh engaging in conversation with these dangerous men.

“How do you know Jimmy?” the tall man asked.

Bronagh looked at Jimmy, smiled and stroked his chest. “Jimmy’s an old friend.”

“Friend, huh?”

“A friend with benefits,” she said, kissing Jimmy’s cheek. Bronagh looked back to the tall man. “He’s my lover when I visit Ireland.”

The gray-masked man holding the crucifix leered at Bronagh. “I don’t trust her!”

Bronagh snapped her head in his direction and glared at him. “You don’t trust me? You barge into my bedroom while I’m making love to my man, masked, wielding weapons, and you don’t trust me?” She turned to Jimmy. “You were right, baby. Not all Irishmen are as charming and endearing as you are!” Bronagh kissed him, hoping her trembling hand wasn’t too obvious.

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” The gray-masked man asked.

Bronagh released the clasp she had on Jimmy’s lips, eased up in bed, pulled the sheet to her shoulders, and leaned on her supposed lover’s chest. She leered at the man. “What do I mean? You bust in here and want to know what I mean?”

Jimmy pulled at Bronagh’s arm and growled at her. “Leave this alone, Bronagh!”

“No, Jimmy!” She looked at the gray-masked man. “It means you’re rude and ill-mannered! You act more like those crude thugs in London than an Irishman!”

Jimmy squeezed Bronagh’s hand hard. We’re dead! We are dead! But at least I get to die like I wanted: lying in bed next to a beautiful woman! Jimmy started laughing when he saw the gray-masked man chamber a round in the 9 mm he pulled from the back of his jeans.

His compatriot waved the pistol down. “What’s so funny, Jimmy?” The tall man asked.

Through fits of laughter, Jimmy said, “You’ve done it now! You insult her by calling her a Protestant and a bitch…,” Jimmy shielded his mouth and whispered, as though Bronagh couldn’t hear him. “She thinks you’re here to rob her: you are still holding her cross, after all!” He resumed his normal tone, “But, what’s worse: you’ve shattered her romantic beliefs that all Irishmen are irresistible.”

Bronagh playfully poked Jimmy. “Indeed! I certainly don’t expect Irishmen to act like this!” She turned and looked at the three masked men, her heart racing and her stomach knotted with fear. “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” She shot a small glance at the man who wouldn’t speak, but only for a second.

The men exchanged glances, then the tall man chuckled. Bronagh’s southern accent and her innocence had almost convinced them she was oblivious to the seriousness of this raid. They were there to rob her. But, they were also certain she didn’t realize it was to rob her of her life.

The gray-masked man glared at Bronagh. “I don’t give a shit about this crucifix and these beads! I don’t reason her a Catholic! And I think Jimmy is lying!”

The tall man stopped laughing and looked at the AK-47 man. Bronagh saw dread enter Jimmy’s eyes. She smiled and stroked the side of his face. Jimmy had no way of knowing how many Catholic Masses she had attended with Shaw.

“Perhaps, he needs us to pray for him, baby,” she said to Jimmy. Bronagh whispered in Jimmy’s ear, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…,” She let her words trail off when she began kissing Jimmy’s neck and ear, still stroking his face.

“Oh! Jesus!” Jimmy said. He grabbed Bronagh’s neck, kissed her wildly, and crushed his erection in the side of her leg, finding her petting, and her ability to pray like a Catholic arousing, given their circumstances.

“Anyone can memorize a Hail Mary from watching enough television!” The gray-masked man shouted.

Jimmy groaned when Bronagh broke her clasp on his lips, turned slowly, and stared at the man. “Sounds like you need the Penitential Rite, you ass! Shall I pray with you?” Bronagh said, peering at him.

The gray-masked man darted toward Bronagh, furious with her for calling him an ass, but the tall man put his hand on his associate’s chest, stopping his advance. He looked hard at Bronagh and nodded, expecting her to deliver her claim.

Bronagh smiled weakly at the tall man, grateful he had stopped his angry accomplice. She became very reverent and held her dark eyes on the tall man when she spoke again. “I confess to almighty God, and to you…,” she paused and looked at all three men standing over her bed, and she continued when she looked back to the tall man. “…my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do—”

“Enough!” The third man broke his silence. He turned and left the bedroom. The other two men turned to follow him.

“Are you really going to steal my cross?” Bronagh asked the gray-masked man, still clutching Jimmy’s crucifix.

He paused and looked at the crucifix and rosary still in his hand. He threw them at Bronagh. She snatched them from the air.

“I didn’t realize there were names for that shit,” he said to Bronagh.

“Maybe you should spend more time in Mass than you do ruining the holidays of tourists visiting your country!” Bronagh reprimanded.

He permitted a slight nod and left the house.

Bronagh shook when she heard the car engine start. Jimmy jumped up and walked to the living room window where he watched the assassin squad back out of the driveway. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey from the kitchen and raced back to the bedroom. Bronagh was gripping a pillow and trembling. Jimmy handed her the bottle. She jerked it from his hand, and he watched her take a long pull, straight from the bottle, like a man might, instead of the glass-drinking lady he knew Bronagh to be. He pulled on his jeans and sat next to her. Jimmy exhaled a hoarse sigh, pulled Bronagh’s shaking body to his, and kissed the top of her head.

WOLB final

 

  1. Michelle Turk says:

    Can’t wait to read this one! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

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