2008, Seaview Nursing Home, San Francisco ...
Mrs. Althea McCallister, a nurse of 30 years standing at Seaview, is showing the latest addition to staff, Miss Gina Teng, LPN, around the place, introducing her to to staff and residents alike.
Althea, being a large, warm and friendly woman, is somewhat given to gossip, so when Gina asks a question, her answers do tend to ramble.
"Who's that sitting over there, in the wheelchair, by the window?"
"Oh that's Mrs. Pierce. Mrs. Sarah Pierce. She is the saddest thing, poor darlin'. She sits there, day after day. She seems to be looking for something .. someone .. I don't know .. sometimes you walk by her and you can hear her talkin' to herself, almost under her breath ... it sounds to me like she's saying 'Sorry, Kid', and once I think I heard her say 'Goodbye, Kid' and then sometimes ... sometimes I just don't know."
"Does she get visitors? Does anybody come to see her?"
"Oh, sure. Her son, he's that big time Hollywood director, Jerry Pierce. He comes with his kids, sometimes, and they bring their kids. She's 86, you know. Up until a year or so ago she was sharp as a tack. She fell a few years back and broke her hip. That's how she wound up in here. Then the Doctors said she couldn't live alone - her bones had gotten too thin, too much likelyhood of more breaks, more falls, so she had to stay here. They were selling her house, there wasn't no point in keepin' it no more - and lemme tell you, she was dead set against THAT - and when they were going through the house gettin' her stuff out and such, they found an old stiletto and a sniper rifle in a bag under her bed. Let's go over here and sit down. Get us a cup of coffee. 'Cause I gotta tell ya sister, that gun was loaded!!"
"No. I'm not! As soon as she found out that they had found those things it was like the life went right out of her. She sat there for days with tears in her eyes. She kept crying "I got 'em all, Kid, I got 'em all.' And then, then the DA sent men in here to question her, but by the time they got around to talking to her she was gone to wherever it is she is right now. Talking to herself and nobody else. Then I heard that they linked that rifle to a whole bunch of murders in Las Vegas. 'The Vigilante Murders', they called 'em. Them murders went on for a long time. They never did find out who did them. But for 20 years somebody had them crooks in Vegas bobbin' and weavin' I'll tell you. I used to work out there back then. I remember."
"Like it was yesterday, sister! Like it was yesterday."
"Well, go on, tell me. Tell me!!"
"The first murder was in 1953. Some guy named Sullivan. Worked the protection rackets, they said. And there was about one a year after that until .. oh .. 1964 or 65, I guess, and then they stopped - until the last one, in 1972. I remember that one, cuz that was the first year I worked as an aide in Schobert's Home out there in the desert and girl, the newspapers was all full of it. This guy was in his office, up in some big old buildin' in Downtown Vegas, standin' in his picture window and somebody put a bullet through that window and right through his head. Papers said the shot came from 500 yards away. Can you believe it? 500 yards."
"Is that far?"
"Far!?! Honey, that's like hittin' a monkey's ass with a BB gun from two blocks away. Whoever did that was a stone, cold killer. And I think I know who it was. An' she's sittin' right over there."
"Would I lie to you?"
"What makes you think it was her?"
"Well, first, they found that rifle under her bed. But the other is this. There was an 8 year gap between the last two murders. That's why the papers got all het up about it. As soon as the police figured out it was the same gun as all those old murders, the papers started sayin' there was some mysterious vigilante out there after the, how did they call 'em .. the 'unsavory element', yeah, that's it, the unsavory element in town - 'cause they can't call 'em crooks anymore, that ain't politically correct. Anyway, the first set of investigations brought down half the damn police department, so they weren't too happy to see this start up again. And the papers were havin' a good ole time. They went over the WHOLE history - but then there weren't anymore murders and the whole thing just kinda died away and everybody just went on about their business. But what the cops don't know is that in early 1972 Sarah Pierce's mama showed up here, right here, as a patient. She came in with Severe Alzheimer's. I figure Sarah Pierce had spent that 8 years at home, with her Mama, takin' care of her. And when her Mama got so bad she couldn't care for her no more, she brought her here. And that left her with the time to go back to Vegas for one last trip. To do one last man. And do you know what? She did Vegas a favor. She really did. I remember what it used to be like out there."
And Sarah Pierce remembered ....
She stayed in the shadows, hidden from view, as Sully slowly walked out of the alley and disappeared around the corner.
She had followed Sully here. His was the only face she knew that might lead her to The Kid. His was the face that sent The Kid after her, almost got her killed. When she saw him, she followed, hoping he would lead her to him. He did. She had seen, and heard, the whole thing.
As soon as he was out of sight, she burst from her hiding place and ran over to where he lay. He was so still. She saw a rat nibbling on his ear, she picked up a stone and threw it at the rat. It scurried away, only to pause and look back over its shoulder and stare at its attacker, wiggling its whiskers. She picked up another rock, but the rat hurried away, his defiance noted.
She knelt down, next to him. She picked up his head and cradled it in her lap, as the last vestiges of life left his body. She felt him shudder and then go completely limp.
She sat down on the concrete, put her arms around him, and held him close against her, rocking him slowly back and forth. She paid no mind to the blood, to the dirt, to the stink and smell of the dark back alley he lay in. She wept for him, her tears running down her cheeks and dripping down onto his forehead.
"I'm sorry, Kid", she whispered. "You saved my life. But they've killed you."
She sat there the longest time, his body clutched tightly against her, her mind a blur of visions of her son, and her Mom, and herself, and The Kid. But for him, she would be dead. But for him, her Mom and Jerry likely would be dead. But for him, and a stolen moment of sweet passion in the back end of an old airplane, they would all be dead. But for him.
She laid him gently down. She got up and walked over to the pay phone next to the employee entrance to the warehouse, picked it up and called the police.
"Hello? Police? There's a body in the alley behind the Cheese Warehouse. What? Yeah. Simon's. Send someone right away, please? Yes, he's dead."
She hung up the phone. She walked over to where he lay and picked up his gun. She patted his pockets until she felt the knife and got that, as well.
"Mom and Jerry are on their way to Frisco, thanks to you. I'll catch up to them later. I was going to stay with you for a while, if you would have had me, even though you scare the shit out of me. But I have something else to do now. I'm going to get even, Kid. I'm going to find out who they are and get even with every one of those bastards. They were going to kill me. And God only knows what would have happened to Jerry and Mom. But they killed you, instead. I don't know how, yet, but I promise you Kid, I swear on my life, I will get even.
She stood there a long time, looking down at his face, at features now softened by death. She wondered ... but the sound of sirens cut into her reverie.
"Time to go, Kid. Can't let the cops find me here. I don't think that rat'll be back before they get here."
She crouched down, next to him, kissed her fingertips, and gently laid her fingers across his lips.
She hurried from the alley and down the darkened street.