Vancouver October 31, 1949
It stood perfectly still, arms at its side. It did not breathe. Its eyes were closed. Muddy water dripped from its finger tips. In the dark, it had disappeared against the decaying red brick walls that lined the back alley behind Hastings Street. The moon was nearly full. Its dim light was silver. Hansel Orav walked down the alley whistling a tune from his Estonian youth. When he came upon the golem, he stopped and tapped the tip of his cane on the cobble stone. Its eyes opened immediately. It drew a deep breath.
“We have come so far, my dear,” Orav whispered. “And tonight, an indulgence. We will redirect our attentions. We will focus on something we could not properly attend to while in Paris: Trudy Parr.”
“Yes,” said the golem.
“She embarrassed us.”
“She came too close,” said Orav. “A woman,” he spit. “We should have eaten her alive. But she was lucky. She had help. And sometimes, the gods favour the insane.”
The golem seemed to smile.
“I am being tracked,” Orav said. “For the last day or so. By an ineffectual little turd named Egon. He’s as stealthy as a buffalo in rut. I have allowed for our whereabouts this evening to be known. He will try to apprehend me. And perhaps, by doing so, awaken our Fräulein Parr. You will make her suffer, golem.”
The golem’s teeth glistened. It took another deep breath. It clenched its muddy fists, and a filthy stream of water splashed on the cobbles.
Trudy Parr snuffed out her Panatela in a big glass ashtray. She’d just finished speaking on the telephone. “Egon says Campbell Avenue docks at 11.00 p.m. That gives us time.” She picked up the .45 on her desk and put it in her purse. Then she walked to the closet and put on her coat.
“What’s happening at Campbell Avenue docks,” said Crispin Dench. “What did Egon say?”
“Says he’s been tracking Orav for a couple of days. He overheard Orav make a telephone call. Something about a meet at the docks. Egon says there’s a German steamer, Schmetterling, came up through Panama a week ago. It docked this afternoon. Apparently there’s some human cargo onboard. Someone Orav wants to get his hands on.”
“I don’t think Orav would let Egon get that close,” said Dench. “Not unless he had something up his sleeve.”
“Well, it’s all we got,” said Trudy Parr. “And I want to get this bastard bad. You wanted to drive me home earlier. Now you can drive me down to the waterfront.”
A few Halloween night partiers walked from bar to bar as a fog set in over the city. Crispin Dench started the Jaguar and let it idle. Sitting next to him, Trudy Parr reached into the glove box and pulled out a snub nosed .41 revolver. She checked to make sure it was loaded, and handed it to Dench.
“I know you hate guns, big boy,” she said. “But showing up to a gunfight with nothing but concern for your fellow man can get you killed.”
Dench grimly pocketed the weapon, put the car in gear and drove. By the time they reached the docks, the fog was thick. Fog horns and bells sounded in the distance. They walked along the wet wooden wharf past the high silhouettes of steamers, each with its own gangplank and dim incandescent light.
“Next one’s Schmetterling,” said Trudy Parr. She kept walking. Dench tightened his grip on the revolver in his trench coat pocket.
In the distance, a deserted pool of light at the bottom of a gangplank came into view.
“10.55,” Dench said, looking at his Omega.
Trudy Parr pulled the .45 out of her bag. “Let’s pull up some shadow,” she said. They stepped into a dark doorway. There was the sound of a police siren on Commissioner Street. It faded and disappeared. The ocean was still.
“Egon probably got it wrong,” said Dench. “Orav’s a no show.”
“Maybe,” said Trudy Parr. “But there’s nowhere else I have to be.”
A few minutes passed.
“Wait,” said Dench. “I hear someone whistling.”
They both heard it. A strange tune accompanied by the sound of steps and a walking stick tapping the wet planking of the wharf. The whistling came closer. Trudy Parr stepped out to face it. Hansel Orav came walking towards her in a fawn-coloured trench coat and fedora.
He stopped beneath a wharf lamp and grinned. The fog was a thin curtain between them.
“Ah,” he said. “The pernicious Miss Trudy Parr. What a wonderful place for us to meet. For the last time.” Dench stepped out. “And Mr Dench, as well. What fun. Tell me, Crispin. Will you forever scurry about in this wicked woman’s shadow?”
“I might,” said Dench, drawing his revolver. “But then, she always winds up in the money.”
“But surely that makes you a man who cannot find his own way, Mr Dench. Chasing after a psychopathic little skirt and cleaning up after her.”
“I’m happy enough in my work.”
“Say what you will, Mr Dench,” said Orav. “I’m currently facing a more pressing matter, aren’t I. You have, oh, what is the phrase? Ah yes. You have the drop on me. My escape may be difficult.”
“Impossible,” said Trudy Parr. “Your escape will be impossible.” She took a pair of handcuffs out of her coat pocket, and tossed them at Orav. They fell at his feet. “Put ‘em on, fat boy.”
“Well now, that’s not likely to happen, Miss Parr,” Orav said. “Besides I’m really not the problem, am I? No, it’s my fiendish friend you want. My creation, my golem. It committed all of the murder and mayhem. Not me.”
“We’ll get round to him,” said Dench.
“Will you?” said Hansel Orav. “And how will you do that? No conventional human weapon will kill it. Not even the Americans with all of their guns and turgid conceit. That was the whole idea. Even the dreary Robert Owens and his heroic band of compadres, with their childish devotion to Eris, god of chaos, couldn’t stop it. It stopped them. I intended to create a whole army of them. Obedient. Indestructible. Impervious to pain and hunger. We would have wiped Europe and the world clean in no time. But your pathetic failed attempt on my life in Paris drew too much attention from on high. Even Herr Hitler was squeamish when he heard. You indirectly sabotaged me and my perfect plan, Miss Parr. But at least one of the creatures exists. And only the appropriate incantation properly delivered will eradicate it. I’m the only one capable of delivering it. Capture me or kill me. Either way, the golem lives on. It is an obscenity, I agree. The excreted filth of Jewish mysticism. A vial bit of magic. But what can I say? I was oddly inspired.”
“What about the Killroy bullshit,” said Dench. “What was that all for?”
“Pure diversion, of course,” said Orav. “American troops were leaving that little bit of graffiti everywhere they’d squat. Why not program my creature to leave it wherever it killed? It confused the hell out the Paris police, even the SS.”
“This isn’t about your monster, Hansel,” said Trudy Parr. “This is personal. I missed you once. Ain’t going to happen again.”
“This isn’t wartime Paris, Miss Parr,” said Orav. “You’re no longer a sanctioned assassin. In Canada you have the rule of law. Will you become a murderess on my account?”
“Not if you put on the cuffs, fat boy.”
The wharf was suddenly illuminated by headlights. Three police cruisers sped toward them and slid to a stop on the slick wooden planking. The first car stopped only inches behind Hansel Orav. Egon opened his car door and stepped out, his ill-fitted suit jacket open and his tie undone. He drew his .38. Three uniforms emerged from the dark behind him, guns drawn.
“Oh swell,” said Trudy Parr.
“We got it from here,” Egon shouted.
“The hell you say,” said Trudy Parr. “This Nazi’s mine.”
“War’s over, Trudy,” said Egon. “Let us take him in.”
“This is turning out to be more fun than I’d hoped,” said Orav.
“Too many guns,” said Crispin Dench. “He’s out numbered. Let’s all holster our weapons. Egon, have one of your men cuff that fat prick.”
“Not this time, mister,” said Trudy Parr. She raised her .45 and drew a bead. “I just changed my mind about taking this fucker alive. Nighty night, Hansel,” she said, and squeezed the trigger. She was prepared for the .45’s kick. Her arm rose only slightly and then levelled out, ready to fire again. Her eyes never left the target.
“What the fuck,” Egon said. The left side of Hansel Orav’s head had gone missing. His remains stood for a heartbeat, then fell heavily to the ground. Egon looked down at his once white shirt, splattered with Hansel Orav’s brains. He tried to wipe the gore away and made a frightened weeping sound.
“Jesus, Trudy,” said Dench.
“Now we can take that fat fuck off the list,” said Trudy Parr. She engaged the safety and put the .45 back in her purse.
“This is bad, Trudy,” said Egon. “You know I can’t let this slide.” He stepped off of the cruiser’s running board, holding out his hand. “You have to give me the gun, Trudy.”
“Back off, Egon,” said Trudy Parr. “This ain’t fun camp. I’ll wax your ass just like his if you give me cause.”
“Step back, Egon,” said Dench. “Just give me a minute with her.”
“Bullshit,” said Egon. He looked back over his shoulder to the patrolmen and nodded. The three of them started moving toward Trudy Parr. “You know we’ve got to do this. As long as I’m on duty, no one gets shot. Not without there being consequences.” He bent into the car to grab the two-way radio microphone. “I’ll call it in boys,” he said.
Trudy Parr and Crispin Dench saw it first. It moved quickly out of the dark dense fog. “Oh shit,” said Dench as the thing grabbed Egon’s head and twisted. There was a loud snapping sound. Egon died with a surprised look on his face. One cop turned around, then the other two. All three pulled their guns and started firing. Gun smoke and fog.
“Just run,” Dench yelled. But nothing could be heard over the gunfire.
Bullets passed through the golem as it advanced on the patrolmen. It slapped the first cop and took off his head. It tore out the belly of the second. Then the golem took the third cop into its arms like a lover, and tore his throat out.
“Let’s go,” said Crispin Dench.
“No,” said Trudy Parr. “I want to see.”
“C’mon. We’re next on the menu. Besides, every cop on the waterfront will be here in three minutes.”
The golem dropped the body of the last patrolman. From ten feet away, it looked at Trudy Parr. Blood mixed with mud. It dripped off its chin. It began to walk toward them. Dench took Trudy Parr’s arm and stepped back, trying to take her with him.
“Let’s go, Trudy.”
“No.” She shook him off.
The golem walked, dragging its poorly formed left foot. Closer to Trudy Parr, it held out its hand. Open, as though ready to receive a gift. Closer, and then an arm’s length away. Its horrid face twisted. Its tongue licking its bloody lips. Suddenly it was tenderly cupping Trudy Parr’s chin in its clawed hand. Trudy Parr looked back warmly. Her face glowed in the dimness.
“Where to go now?” it said.
“Far away,” said Trudy Parr. “Run. Any place, but get away. They’ll be looking for you. They hate you. Hide. Be still. Be silent in the world. A voice will call you. It always calls me. And when it does, that moment will belong to you.”
The golem looked over at Dench. Its eyes clear amber and cat-like. Then it turned and walked away. Seconds later there was a loud splash.
Trudy Parr took a handkerchief from her coat pocket and wiped the mud from her chin.