Rule #9: Remember that there’s no such thing as a smart criminal. If they were smart, they wouldn’t be a criminal.

I open my eyes with a groan. My head hurts. Not just from hitting the ground. That old familiar presence at the back of my mind is back, but after living without it for a few hours it felt… too big, like it was squishing the rest of my brain against my skull. I can feel it devouring the knowledge of what happened that night, learning how I performed in its absence. I smile. I did pretty well, if I do say so myself.

I get up off the ground and get a drink of water from the kitchen. On a whim, I turn on the TV. The news is on. A body has been found at a hotel. It’s my hotel. I realize that I can write off everything that was in my suitcase. I look through Harold’s closet until I find a suitable replacement. I fill the duffle bag with knifes from his kitchen. I pad the corners with towels so the knifes don’t just cut though the bag. I take inventory of what’s in my pockets. My wallet, Harold’s wallet, the dagger from the green-eyed woman’s house, and a pen. The pen appears to be from a dentist’s office. I can’t remember the last time I saw a dentist.

I find myself walking down the street, whistling a jaunty tune. I have a newspaper in my hands. I’m holding it in front of my face, but I’m not reading it. Suddenly, the paper is knocked from my hand. A skinny man is standing in front of me, a sneer on his face and a gun in his hand. He demands my wallet. I give him something else. I lash out at the gun with one arm, knocking it away as my other arm transfers my fist to his face. He staggers back. He’s no longer sneering. I’m grinning, the edges of my mouth trying valiantly to reach my ears. The wannabe mugger’s eyes grow wide. He realizes, too late, that he made a mistake.

He turns and runs into an alley. I drop the duffel bag and follow. I let him get far enough into the alley that he can’t be seen from the street. I plunge the dagger into his back. I yank it out as he falls to his knees. Then I stab him again, and again. And again. I leave the dagger on the ground next to him. I leave the alley. I pick up my duffle bag and head for the bus station. I’m heading for my hometown. More specifically, the cemetery. It was time to go see my brother.

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