Chapter Thirty-One

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Today

 “Dad!” Scott yelled.

“Hi Son,” Lionel replied, nodding his head. “Duck!”  He raised the gun a little bit higher as Scott instinctively followed his father’s advice and dipped his head down between his shoulder blades while bending his knees.

His father stepped forward, out of the elevator and produced, seemingly from nowhere, a thin plastic novelty clown mask that he slipped onto his face, while leveling gun in front of him with his left hand.

Scott stepped forward and to the side, turning to watch what his father was doing.

Lionel Desmond pulled the trigger and, instead of a gunshot, Scott heard a static-sounding electrical hiss and saw something shoot out of the front of the gun like Spider-Man’s webbing shooting from his palm, or, perhaps more accurately, some sort of wired hook from a gun on Batman’s utility belt.

The mechanism shot out and struck the hippy full in the chest and an additional electrical buzz shot through the air.  The hippy dropped to the floor, immediately unconscious. The wire shot back to the gun. Lionel quickly pocketed the gun with his left hand and switched hands that were holding the mask to his face while his right hand simultaneously pulled something out of his breast pocket that looked like a lipstick tube.

He aimed the lipstick tube at the bylaw officer, pressed a button, and a blue flash of light shot out from it, striking her in the chest. She reacted in the same way as the hippy, and, twitching on the spot for a second, dropped to the corridor floor.

Lionel Desmond then pocketed the lipstick tube and stepped forward, intercepting the middle aged woman who was running closer. She reached out for him. “Surrender Desmond to us!” she said, in that deep robotic voice Scott had started to recognize and hate.

Scott’s father moved forward as if to take her in the warm impassioned embrace that two long-lost friends might display when seeing one another in an airport terminal.  But, as she moved in, he twisted around, held her in a half-nelson move by thrusting his arm up and through hers, forcing her neck down. Then he twisted and her head fell forward and she crumbled to the floor.

“Did you break her neck?” Scott asked, watching her fall.

“No,” Lionel said. “Sleeper move. She’s alive. Just out cold.  Let’s go.”

Lionel shoved his son all the way into the elevator and stepped inside to join him.

He immediately thumbed the DOOR CLOSE button, poked the button for the top floor, the eighteenth and turned to face his son as the doors whooshed close.

“I knew you were still alive,” Scott said quietly.

“I saw the conviction in your eyes that day, Scott. I was afraid that you’d keep pushing, that you’d dig and uncover what was going on.”

“What is going on, Dad? How is it that you’re alive?”

“Long story,” Lionel said. “Let me see your bag for a second.”

Scott handed his father the backpack. Lionel took a small flat black plastic object about half of the size of a smart-phone from his jacket pocket and ran it over the bag. The object beeped quietly in three short tones and a green led light on the top of it flashed.

“Okay,” he said. “It’s clean. There are no tracer bugs in it.”  He looked at Scott again. “How about your phone?”

“It’s dead.”

“We still need to toss it. Even when non-operational, some of the GPS functionality can still be there.”

“Okay,” Scott pulled the mobile phone out of his pocket and held it up to his father.

Lionel took the phone, looked up at the ceiling of the elevator and then pointed up.  “Give me a boost, would you?”

Scott locked his fingers together and Lionel placed a foot into his son’s make-shift step, pulling himself up with his right hand on the wall.  Once he got up about a foot, he popped the drop ceiling tile to the elevator open and slipped the cell phone in. The tile settled back down and he said. “Okay, let me down.”

Scott did so.

Lionel then hit the button for the fourteenth floor. The elevator stopped at that floor.  “C’mon,” he said, stepping out of the elevator.

They stepped out and the elevator resumed its ascent empty.

“Stairs,” Lionel said, heading down the hall and beckoning for his son to follow. “Let’s go.”

They were moving too quickly, even with his father’s debilitating lurch, to really speak. They were both enough out of breath that it made conversation difficult.  And every time Scott did try to say something – he had a thousand questions after all – his father held up a single finger to his lips.

“Let’s get away, make sure we’re safe, and I’ll answer all your questions. Okay?”

“Okay.”

The proceeded down the stairwell for six full flights and came out into the hallway on the eighth floor. Lionel led his son to the left down the corridor, over to a spot that contained a walk-way connecting two of the buildings at an upper level.  They then ran down another couple of flights before getting to the sixth floor of the second building where they went back into the hallway and this time caught an elevator on its way down to the lobby on the ground floor.

They cut through the lobby then crossed the street, went in through the main doors of a hotel lobby, then cut out the side door, crossed the side street, went East until they were on Yonge Street and they took a cab six blocks north, where they got out, Lionel Desmond paying cash with a ten for a six dollar fare, but not bothering to ask for any change or a receipt.

They crossed the street, went through another hotel lobby, slipped in to the hotel restaurant, then, at the end of the hallway that led to the restrooms, they slipped out the emergency exit, raced down the alley and jumped onto a streetcar on King Street heading West. Whenever Scott tried to say something, his father repeated the gesture of placing a finger in front of his lips.

They got off the streetcar just a few blocks later, at the corner of King and Peter, and walked back to the hotel there, went in the side door of the lobby and stepped inside the elevator where Lionel hit the button for the tenth floor.

When Scott opened his mouth and attempted to say something his father merely said. “This is our last stop, son. Once we get to our room I’ll tell you everything. I promise.”

They got off on the tenth floor and took a left down the hallway to a room. Lionel produced a card, unlocked the door and they went inside.  It was a large room with two double beds and a roomy sitting area with a small sofa and an armchair.

Once the door was closed, Lionel guided them over to the sitting area, waited for Scott to sit down and said: “You’ve got a million questions. Which one can I answer first?”

Scott sat there, stunned.  He did have a million questions. So many things to ask. But, ever the pragmatist, he figured he’d start with the first.

“How are you still alive?”

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