The Innkeeper’s Apprentice – Pt. 7

Read Time: 7 mins | Serial Fiction | Part Seven | Read from the beginning.

I’ve never left anyone unattended, or unsupervised in my home before, and I was not about to begin doing so now. I sat in an adjacent room, watching my apprentice devour the folder I had left him. He read with his fingers, tracing the words as though he wanted to feel them. They lingered on the names of his siblings, and his mother, along with copies of their death certificates. There was a very confused look on his face when he saw that they had died in a car accident. There were newspaper clippings, and crash scene photos. They all reported that it was a catastrophe that could have been avoided.

There was the rapid flick between previous pages as though he had missed something, then he read it again, always coming and pausing at the same entry. Away from prying eyes, his agitation grew as he began to doubt what I had been telling him. His mind was unable to decipher the forest from the trees. In exasperation he set the folder down, and clasped his hands, rocking himself into a placid state.

The girls walked into the room and disrupted his attempt at meditation. Immediately his personality switched. He was affable and playful. The children were at ease and were giggling at something he had said. Only children possess that superpower. The ability to alter your mood with their innocence. Michael was not disarmed, for he was a master of adaptability. How many masks had he learned to wear in his young life?

When they had left him, his mood reverted to the broody, dark, sullen tone, which they had disrupted. This was the face that I had seen for several days. His mind was at work, analyzing, plotting, walking through scenarios and provoking answers to questions that he would ask himself, or must ask me. He finally reopened the folder and settled on the picture of his father. I had purposely left a damaged, grainy photo of the man. He stared at it for several minutes. Then he settled again on the news story about his siblings and mother. On his phone he did a search. The search results confirmed what he had been reading. It was time to wake up from my nap. I sent a message to Reza’s brother, letting him know that the child was safe, and what would be the terms of her release. They had fifteen minutes to comply.

“You lied to me.” He said as I entered the study

“Whatever do you mean?”

“It’s all here in the file. I read the police reports and watched the news clippings. They died in a car accident.”

“Oh, that little detail?” I remarked casually.

“You’ve been lying to me all along.”

“Not at all. There are other pictures which I did not share with you, Michael. Images best left unseen and buried in the past… preferably forgotten.”

“Denzel did not murder my family.”

He was angry. He began tapping his leg, and his breathing was even more erratic. But this time I was prepared. I placed my revolver on the desk and opened the folder he had just read. Turning to the page of the death certificate, and the photos of the body bags retrieved from the fiery car crash.

“Welcome to the world of the Innkeeper.” I spoke softly.

He rested his hand on the photos. “Did you kill them?”

“What was brought to me by the older, wiser, Mr. Mansoor, was beyond saving. The human body could only survive so much trauma. Denzel had been very thorough. Quite good at what he’s paid to do. And he enjoys it.”

“Why not to a hospital? Why bring them to you, a killer?”

“You are aware of the Samaritans?” I asked him.

“The old men we see around Christmas, begging for money? Of course, I am.”

“That’s not all they do, but that’s fine. Do you know the story from which they derived their good name?”

“Slightly.” He lied.

I gave Michael a brief history lesson, ending where the Innkeeper was paid for saving the man’s life.

“So, is that where the fraternity got its name?”

“We predate that story, Michael.”

“Why would Mr. Mansoor find a retired Innkeeper, to bring the bodies?”

“I have known him for a long time. And they were barely alive when he brought them to me. Old friendships in this business are built on extraordinarily strong bonds, the fibers of which are not easily destroyed. I took care of his daughter, the young lady who you correctly deduced was trying to live a normal life.”

“She’s, his daughter?”

“An assassination attempt on the old man, forced his retirement, and allowed his sons to become heads of an immensely powerful crime family. But it also left his only daughter with life threatening injuries. Took her six months to recover at my Inn.”

“Why does the news stories report that my family died in a fiery car crash?” He held up the photos for me.

“It was my job to make it so.”

“And my father lived?”

“Oh, he’s very much alive.”

The revelation, even though he had probably figured it out himself, still landed on Michael like a ton of bricks. He collapsed back into the chair, deflated, heartbroken. A sense of bewilderment and sorrow.

“Why…?” He could not finish what he wanted to ask me; all that he wanted to ask me.

“Why did he not come for you? Why did he allow you to live with Denzel? Why did he abandon his only son?”

Michael nodded. There were tears in his eyes.

I handed him a box of tissues. “Two reasons. Greed and power.”

The look in his eyes said he wasn’t comprehending. This was too much for Michael to process. But full disclosure was necessary.

“Where does he live now?”

“Nearby. You will have some exceedingly difficult choices to make in the coming hours.”

I looked at my watch and turned on the television.

On the TV, a conference was being held in the press room of the police headquarters. A stout man, in a fine business suit, stood next to the head of the Mansoor crime syndicate. They were flanked by several officers on the podium. A female officer was holding up a photo of Annabelle Mendez.

“There’s my papa.” Annabelle squealed with excitement

My granddaughter and her dearest friend had entered the study unannounced. Naomi quickly retrieved them and apologized.

Michael’s eyes never left the screen. He was watching intently as the officer announced to the country that the granddaughter of Senator Mendez had been kidnapped from her private school mere hours ago. The FBI was now in charge of the investigation. The rest of the live broadcast was a blur.

“The people you see in that picture, are responsible for the death of my wife and child. I intend to kill them all.”

I know he had heard me. But he walked toward the television in a zombie-like state with the folder in his hands. Comparing the photo to the man on the screen.

“That is my father?”

I nodded. “And to confirm my highly held opinion regarding your intellect; what would be the more significant deduction?”

“Anabelle…”

“Wonderful. I shall leave you with your thoughts.”

“Where are you going?”

“I have a funeral to attend to.”

“At this hour? Who has a funeral at five in the evening?”

I smiled. Michael would slowly come to terms with what this calling entailed. He, more than anyone I had ever encountered, had exactly what it took to become an Innkeeper.

YOU CAN READ THE PREVIOUS ENTRIES IN THIS SERIES:

PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX



15 responses to “The Innkeeper’s Apprentice – Pt. 7”

  1. Wha—?! Damn. I am enjoying this story so much!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this is so much fun to write. I wanna do other things, but I have some dedicated readers, who wants to ride this “horse” for a while. 🤣 Im happy you’re enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, yes, we do! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol.. I appreciate it though. Keeps me committed to a schedule, and very focused.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This has been such an interesting story to read 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pooja. 🙏💙

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I truly lack the vocabulary to express how much I enjoy this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David. It has been enjoyable writing it. There’s so much more to tell in this story. I am so happy that you are being entertained.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You should get paid for this, Sir!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. From your lips… Into the universe… Let’s see what returns. Thanks my bro. Would be nice to do this FT. 🙏.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Everything in its appropriate time sir. My old lady says “God is always on time.” I guess with age, comes a healthy appreciation for destiny. I’m still too impatient 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. […] PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN […]

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  6. […] ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN | PART […]

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