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Last Killer Standing
Part III:
Proverbs 28:5


"Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing.
Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous.
The shape is drawn. No line can be erased."
-- Cormac McCarthy


Jefferson City, Missouri
1873


Jonah Hex crouched down behind a pew in the church. He opened up the chambers of his big revolvers and dumped still smoking shells on to the sawdust covered floor. Close beside him was Timothy Perkins, outlaw turned preacher who found himself in a delicate position. Hex had come to collect the bounty on him. He would have to hang in Kansas in order for Hex to get his money. The alternative was the big man walking through the church with a shotgun.

Bill DeVery, Perkins' old partner from his outlaw days, had been cutting a path of dead bodies across Kansas and Missouri. One by one Bill killed the other members of their gang until only he and Perkins remained. He was after Perkins' piece of the map Migs Malone had drawn up five years ago when they robbed millions of dollars in paper money from a US Treasury train. By themselves the individual map pieces did not tell much, but all together they showed the location of the money.

Church got a backdoor, Rev?" Hex asked as he loaded his revolvers.

"Afraid not, Mr. Hex. The only entrance is through the vestibule."

"Heard that," DeVery said from across the room. "Only way y'all got in and out is through that door. Lucky for me."

Hex peaked his head up from the pew and took a potshot at the direction of DeVery's voice. He flopped back down as DeVery opened up with his own blast.

"Not a bad shot. Who's your friend, Timmy?"

"I'm a bounty hunter. Come to collect your friend here. Judge out in Lawrence is paying a fair price to see him hang. You, too, DeVery. It's why I'm only shooting to wound."

"That's mighty white of you, mister. All things considered, I think I'm gonna turn down your offer."

Hex looked at Perkins and made a talking motion with his hands. He put a finger to his lips and laid his spare revolver at Perkins' feet. The preacher nodded as Hex started to quietly slink through the pews towards the pulpit. Perkins picked up the gun and held it close.

"You know you don't have to do this, Bill. The money, the map, it's all yours. I can give you my piece and you can go on to get it without any violence. I have no desire for the money and all it entails."

"Obviously," DeVery said with a wry chuckle. "You got a good racket here, Timmy. Pulling the long con here, you'll make more than we ever could by robbing any bank or train. Sure as hell wished I'd have thought of it, but then again you was always the brains of the outfit."

"It's not a con, Bill. It's genuine. I've changed and seen the error of my ways. I got saved."

"Right, and how do you feel about tall, dark, and ugly over there? You're gonna stroll arm in arm with him to the gallows?"

Across the church, Jonah Hex approached Bill DeVery from behind. The big man's back made a clear target. He had his revolver out and raised. He made one step forward to plant his foot and prepare for the shot. The tip of his boot stepped on a loose floorboard and made it squeak.

DeVery whipped around, the shotgun aimed square at Hex's face. The gun went off just as Hex fell to the ground. He felt pellets cut through the top of his hat as he fell. Hex rolled to the left as DeVery used the second shot in his double-barrelled gun to destroy a floorboard where Hex had been. The bounty hunter scampered under a pew for cover as DeVery ditched his empty shotgun and pulled out a five-shot Smith and Wesson from his waistband. The outlaw walked through the pews, watching the floors and trying to avoid getting his ankles shot out by Hex.

"Saw from your hat that you was wearing rebel gray," DeVery said as he stalked the pews. "Take it you served for them traitors during the war."

"I fought on the wrong side that had the wrong ideas," Hex said from somewhere close by. "But I fought for my own ideas. I fought for what I believed in."

"Mighty poetic of you."

"Thanks!"

Hex popped up in front of DeVery with his Bowie knife out. He sunk the sharp blade into the outlaw's shoulder and twisted. DeVery yelled out and tried to shoot with his gun. Hex's free hand, the one that had been holding the knife, slapped DeVery's gun away and tried to get his own gun leveled to take a shot. The two men wrestled on their feet for control of Hex's lone gun while Hex's big Bowie knife stayed stuck in DeVery's shoulder.

KRAK!

DeVery's eyes went wide and he cursed as the fight suddenly left him. Hex looked over DeVery's shoulder and saw Timothy Perkins, holding Hex's spare gun in his hands. DeVery slumped over a pew and weakly tried to pry the knife from his shoulder. Hex saw the big bullet wound in his back, right where the heart was. Years later and Perkins was still a crack shot with the gun.

"Son of a bitch," DeVery mumbled. Blood gushed from his body and started to fill the pew where he was laying. "Son of a..."

"This could be the end of it," Perkins said as he looked down at Hex's gun. "Bill's dying. I could kill you, too. Run away from here, get the money, and then set myself up at another church somewhere else. A new name and a new flock. Another chance."

"You can try, Rev."

Hex held the gun in his hand ready. Perkins was good, but Hex was better. If he tried anything, the preacher would be dead before he realized it. A moment later, Perkins dropped the gun to the floor and looked at Hex.

"You were right, Hex. I am the preacher Timothy Partlow, but deep down I am still the outlaw Tim Perkins. I am a pious man now, but there is still evil and violence in my heart. Nothing will change that, and nothing will make right what I have done. 'Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.' So say the Bible. I understand His justice fully, now, Hex. I have been granted salvation in God's eye, and now I must face man's justice. I will go to Kansas willingly with you."

"My horse is waiting outside, Rev. Let's go."

The two men began to head towards the exit. Hex stopped and walked back towards the pew where DeVery's body lay. Hex looked down at the corpse befoe rooting through his jacket and pulled out his pieces of the map. Scraps of paper that together were telling him something, but it was incomplete without Perkins' part. Sneering, Hex tore up the pieces and tossed them into the air.

"Goddamn map cost me four bounties."

He spat at the dead body's feet and turned back to Perkins, escorting the condemned man out the door and to his impending death.

----

Epilogue
Roadwork


Janesville, Wisconsin
1935


"Mr. Ford, Mr. Ford!"

James Ford looked up from the road plans in his hands. Today was the third day of their roadwork project. Part of the PWA and the New Deal, the road crew Ford was supervising were building a brand new highway from Janesville to the Wisconsin/Illinois state line. Once there, the folks on the Illinois side would take over and build a new highway from the state line to Rockford. All told the project was creating at least a hundred jobs for the folks around Janesville, something a lot of folks were grateful for.

"What is it?" Ford asked the two workers who came up to him in a hurry.

"We were starting back on the grading of that hill, and the ground started to get all crumbly. A few of us went down and found something. You gotta see this, sir."

Ford scowled and lit up a cigarette. He'd been doing road work for nearly thirty years and had seen all kinds of stuff beneath the ground. Junk, a few buried cars, and even one time a body. Nothing much would faze him. He followed the workers a few hundred yards to where the crew had been busy leveling out a hill to prepare it for gravel and eventual paving.

"It's a couple of trunks. Big ones. We got 'em popped open. It's the damnedest thing we ever saw."

Ford puffed on his cigarette and looked down into the small hole the men had dug out. There were three large trunks the size of a regular man on the ground. The tops had been opened and inside was what had once been money. The stuff had the shape and form of dollar bills, but it was so waterlogged and degraded it looked more like mush.

"How much you thank that is, Mr. Ford?"

"Who the hell knows," Ford said with a long exhale of smoke. "It's all worthless now. Whoever buried it must have thought the trunks were waterproof. Looks like that rain runoff has been seeping into those trunks for years. Probably was worthless a few years after it got buried."

Ford shook his head and checked his watch.

"You boys move it out of the site and I'll call someone to come take a look at it. Get a move on, now, we got work to do."

Ford watched the workers move the trunks out of the hole and carry them to a safe spot. He made sure that they all got back to work on grading the hill before he finished his cigarette and went back to his own work.

The End
<Snipped quote by Roman>
Nope. Should be pretty clear who they are by the foreshadowing, tho.


Harold. Got it.
So one thing I'm curious about in the Batman posts is Alfred's last name. Is Pennywise like a codename, or did you guys change it from Pennyworth to Pennywise? Because every time I read it I think of the killer clown from It.


Boston
Now


James McCaleb looked through the two-way mirror at Special Agent Rachel Cole. They put her in the room shortly after she went to Boston SAC McCray with an honest to god break in the Bunker Hill Butcher case, their first one since the whole nightmare started. Using legwork, or so she claimed, Cole had discovered an apartment in the Charlestown neighborhood the killer was using to kill his victims. A crime scene unit discovered DNA evidence matching four of the five victims and DNA from an unidentified person, presumably their killer.

"How you doing, Rachel?" McCaleb said as he came into the interrogation room. "I'm Special Agent in Charge James McCaleb."

"I know who you are," Cole said once McCaleb was sitting at the table across from you. "Head of the BAU, serial killer hunter."

"That's right,' McCaleb said with a nod. "I read your jacket, you know. You applied to come to the BAU but instead got sent packing to Alabama, how'd that make you feel?"

"Angry," Cole shrugged. "But I got over it. Now, why are you interrogating me instead of working the breakthrough?"

McCaleb smiled. She had a point and he tended to agree with her for the most part. He'd been at the Bureau for close to thirty-five years and had been chasing mass murderers and serial killers for most of that time. As part of his profiling training he had learned to read people pretty well. And he could tell that Rachel Cole had nothing to do with the serial killer.

"So, you had a hunch and played it out and it worked out," said McCaleb. "What else do you have for me?"

"Like what?"

"Like a profile," said McCaleb. "If you've been following this case on the sly, then you probably have an idea of a profile on our unsub. What have you got?"

"Well, for starters he's smart. But he probably has a job where he doesn't get a chance to show off his intellect. That job is probably something that lets him be out and about a lot, a chance to stalk his potential victims. He probably has a family, but they have no idea what he likes to do in his spare time."

McCaleb nodded thoughtfully. Those three observations fit with the BAU's profile of their unsub perfectly.

"We're thinking it might be a city employee," said McCaleb."

"That fits," she said with a nod. "Bureaucratic work. Maybe part of the sewage department, or maybe a trash worker.'

"Rachel," McCaleb finally said after a moment's silence. "How would you like to do something more than catch bank robbers?"

Saigon
1973


(Mood Music for this part)

The Carousel Club was the kind of place that gave the bars in Saigon a bad name. GIs downed drinks while Susie Q by CCR pounded from the speakers and half-naked Vietnamese women go-go danced on makeshift stages around the room. Even more scantily clad women walked through the room, flirting with GIs and reminding them that for a small price they were all theirs.

Frank Castle walked through the raucous crowd with a cigarette in his mouth. He wore a field jacket that hid the name CASTLE on the breast pocket of his Marine fatigues. He hoped nobody would see him or remember his face, but it was obvious the second he stepped in he was overthinking it. The men here were more focused on having a good time with the drinks and girls and not looking at yet another soldier.

Frank walked from the bar area into the backroom. It reeked of opium and piss. Soldiers were laid out on cots, some actually smoking opium while plenty more had medical tubes tied around their arms and hypodermic needles by their side. This was the side of the war nobody back home ever knew. The shit here was so bad that plenty of guys went running to opium and heroin to ease the pain. It was a form of escapism that was a lot more intense than the partying going on outside, but it was all the same. Pleasure -- be it sex or drugs or drinking -- took your mind off being in the bush and fighting this horrible war.

"You looking for something?"

A small Vietnamese man was at Frank's elbow. He flashed a row of yellow teeth at Frank.

"I Uncle Ace, and I fuck you up for right price."

Hoang Tich Tran, aka Uncle Ace Tran, was the owner of the Carousel Club. According to the government intelligence apparatus, he was also a Communist sympathizer who used his club to gather blackmail and intel for the North Vietnamese Army.

"I'm here for you," Frank said as he pulled out a pistol with a suppressor on it.

Uncle Ace's eyes got wide as Frank fired two shots into his head. The junkies around him stayed in outer space as Uncle Ace flopped to the floor and twitched as he died. Frank tucked the gun back into his jacket and calmly walked back into the bar and joined the party.

Boston
Now


Frank Castle looked down at Chris O'Keefe as the man begged for his life. He'd snatched O'Keefe off the street after the man left his job. He'd worked for Code Enforcement for the city of Boston and had access to the city's work trucks. He cruised around town all day on jobs, inspecting homes and picking out his next victims. Castle walked up behind O'Keefe, grabbed him by the armpits, and they disappeared from the street without anyone noticing. Now they were at deserted boat ramp near the harbor.

"Please," O'Keefe pleaded. "I've got a family."

Frank's eyes glowed emerald green as he heard music in his head, a song from a long time ago. Two lifetimes ago.

What goes up must come down
Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round


"What about all the women you've killed," Frank said coldly. "They had families too."

He held his hand out and O'Keefe reached for his throat. He gurgled and tried to fight whatever it was that was restricting his windpipe. Frank remembered the song from a seedy dive bar in Saigon. It struck a cord with him because it reminded him of Karma. Back then, he prescribed to what he called the Big Wheel Theory. Karma and justice was a big wheel that kept spinning. Sooner or later, it caught up with you. That's what the Punisher had been, and now what the Spectre was. He was the wheel incarnate, an unstoppable force that you could never stop or slow. In the end, the wheel always catches up and overcomes you.

"This is God's vengeance," Frank said, the Spectre raging inside of him. "And this is divine retribution."

Frank balled his hand into a fist. A loud crack echoed as O'Keefe's neckbones were snapped in two. He fell on to his side in a slump. Frank looked down at him. The Bunker Hill Butcher was dead by his hands. But hopefully he had led the FBI agents on a trail that would lead to his eventual discovery. In the end, the wheel had crushed Chris O'Keefe. Castle turned away from the body and started to walk away. There were others who needed God's vengeance.

The wheel had to keep turning.
I'm not going into a Petty hole with you!
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