I dragged a chair to the window and sat in it. The tough Chicago wind blew in to buffet and freeze my face, but I paid it no mind. I was waiting to see if he came, the last one. It was the only lead I had, the best I could do. A thought of where Sam was wandered into my mind, what lead he was following, and I thrust it away.
I was there an hour before someone actually knocked at the door. I didn’t respond, only leveled my freshly-loaded Ruger at it. The lights in the room were off and only the bleary daylight lit the room.
Another knock, and then the door opened, slowly and timidly. Light from the hall fell in around a figure bundled against the cold, their body a bulky silhouette.
“Hello?” they whispered, not even loud enough to reach the other rooms in the apartment.
“Who’s there?” I demanded. I was still crouching in the chair, a part of it, ready to strike.
The figure jumped at my voice. “I…I’m…”
“Tell me who you are.” I leapt from the chair and advanced.
“I’m…Corrie. Faye, is that you?”
She tugged her scarf down from her face. It was just Corrie after all.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, lowering the gun.
Corrie smiled, an honest smile that lit up her face. “You got rid of him didn’t you?”
“How did you know?”
“Look.” She came closer to me and pushed up her sleeve, baring her arm. There were still wounds there, but were they healing? Or going away entirely? “And my eye. I won’t show you but…it’s coming back! Like growing. I don’t know how to explain it. But it must mean…”
I was able to smile back. “Yes, we got him.” I realized I had said “we” and my smile faltered.
Her eyes darted to the corners of the room. “Where is Sam?”
I shrugged as nonchalantly as I could. “We parted ways. Did everything we could, brought this guy down. Now Sam’s gone off on his own. He was kind of crowding me anyways.”
“Oh.” Her face fell. “I just wanted to thank him too. I mean, I know you bounty hunters are tough guys and all so I don’t know if you get how much this means to me.”
“I’m not… You know, don’t worry about it.”
“Well if you ever see him again, tell him thank you.”
I looked away from her, uncertain of what might be showing on my face. “Sure.”
“Let me buy you lunch.” She actually hopped a little.
“Oh you don’t have to…”
“Please, it’s the least I can do.”
We ended up going to the same diner we drank coffee at days ago, listening to Corrie’s story of the marks and losing an eye. It was such a change to see her here now, bubbly and hopeful, no blood leaking through the bandages that still remained.
“I’m going to apply to UIC,” she told me as I tucked into my steak and eggs. “To be a nurse. That’s probably cliché but I want to do it. Help somebody. It’s tough competition with everyone moving here and fighting to get in but I’ll try.”
“You’ll get in,” I told her. “Everyone’s got to find their own way to help.”
“Well I’m certainly not cut out for hunting monsters,” she laughed.
“You’ll be okay, Corrie.” I couldn’t help but smile at her, at this new her.
There was a Chinese song playing on the radio behind the counter, a woman singing in a clear crystalline voice. I imagined she was singing about life turning out to be not so bad in all the ways that matter. But then I realized that it was probably just a love song, and it suddenly sounded old and tired.
“Do you think Milo really meant anything by it all?”
“Hm?” I was shaken out of my musing.
“I mean, do you think deep down he really wanted to hurt me, or did that thing have some power over him?”
“You’re not asking whether you two should get back together, are you?”
“No! No, it’s not like that. I just wonder… Was he really that awful?”
I wondered how to phrase what I was thinking. “Now I’ve hunted several of these monsters, and they do seem to pull from a person’s heart. But it could be that they place that ugliness in that heart, pull it from themselves and share it.” Again, Sam leapt to my mind. I turned my head to look out the window at the people passing by, on their way back to work or class or just going shopping. Regular people with regular hearts, any one of which might could be turned against their neighbor. “But who knows how these monsters work.”
She hugged me before she left, and any other time I would think nothing of such an act but this time it hit me, hurt me, and I couldn’t place why. She told me again to thank Sam for her should I see him and I thought Sure, keep rubbing that in why don’t you?
I returned to Amnon’s room and an hour later Milo walked in, covered in blood.