"So let me get this straight," said David, pacing around the room. "You, Romeo, were taken over by a Fate after committing yourself to kidnap Darla Montagne."
"Yes," Romeo said, glancing over at me with a look like a trapped animal.
"Then, several days later, Romeo's Fate-infested body comes in and reports to you, Al, that Darla and her daughter Amy have been kidnapped."
"Right," I said. "I mean, I guess so. It was him for sure, though he didn't tell me his name. He pretended to be Amy's father."
"No, it was not him. You've got to accept that, Al. It was not Romeo, it was a Fate."
"That's right," Romeo said pleadingly. "It wasn't me."
David eyed Romeo with disgust, "My friends and I hold men who surrender to Fates responsible for the actions of those Fates, Romeo. You should know that."
Romeo looked down at his feet in despair, shaking his head. "I didn't mean..."
"Shut up," David growled. "Meanwhile," he continued, "Simon shows up here with Amy, Darla's daughter."
"What?" I asked.
"Simon, Simon Sayer," David replied, "he's my son. He was led to Amy and he took her from her home before Romeo and his buddy could get her."
"So Simon, your son, has the daughter?"
"Yes," he said, rubbing the rough stubble on his chin, "or she was with him not long ago. They were at my place when the Sheriff showed up to tell me that you were here."
I tried to process what was being said. "Wait," I said, "he was here? But, is he dead? Is she dead?"
"No, but we don't have time to explain that," David said. Romeo was looking at him curiously. "So, Simon comes here to figure out what's up with Amy, and you start investigating. You find Simon's car and tow it."
"Yeah," I said. "Sorry."
"No big deal. He'll figure something out. He always does." He continued, "So, Al, how did you come to be shot by Romeo here."
Romeo looked up with defiance, but didn't say anything.
"Well, I got Simon's address from his license. I had already figured out that Romeo wasn't who he claimed to be, but I had this terrible feeling from the time I met him. I couldn't let it go. It was evening, after hours, and I decided to go by Simon's to see what I could find. When I go there, I saw Romeo in the parking lot."
"What?" David snapped. "How did he know where to look?"
"Well," Al said, "while he was with me I looked up the license plate and found Simon's name. I thought he was the concerned father at the time, so I told him Simon's name and asked if he knew him."
"Shit," David said, covering his eyes with his hand. "Simon's in trouble."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't know."
"So, you followed him back to the bakery and he shot you, is that it?"
"Basically," I said, shuddering at the memories that were so vivid now. "I was stupid to go in without backup. I just couldn't shake this feeling, you know?"
"So you had this feeling, this sick feeling from the time you saw the Romeo-Fate," David said. "It was like a fear or a dread?"
"Right," I said. "I wasn't thinking clearly. I was talking to Romeo, the Romeo-Fate, and all of a sudden he ran into the back room. I drew my gun and ordered him to come out. Then there was this other guy, an African. He coaxed me forward. I don't know why I listened to him." Thinking back at it now, it made no sense. Something wasn't right about it.
"That was Emanyara," Romeo said. "He's the African."
"He's African?" David asked. "What is his name?"
"He was called Emanyara," Romeo said. "It was his tribal name, I think."
"Did he have another name?" David asked, walking threateningly toward Romeo where he sat on the couch.
Romeo cowered and slid away from David as he approached. "Joseph," he said. "His name was Joseph."
"Joseph Mollel?" David bellowed, grabbing the front of Romeo's shirt and pulling him to his feet.
"Yes!" Romeo screamed. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
David exploded with rage. With one arm he threw Romeo into the chair beside the couch. It toppled backwards and sent Romeo tumbling across the floor. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, David was swinging a huge sword in his right hand. "You putrid little maggot!" he roared, striding over to where Romeo lay whimpering. He pressed the sword's tip to Romeo's throat, drawing a trickle of blood. "You're going to come with me and pay for what you've done, you understand me?"
Romeo gurgled, his eyes wide with terror, but he said nothing.
"What the hell is going on?" I yelled. I was beginning to have some doubts about my new friend David.
"I don't know," David said, and he pounded his left fist on the counter beside him, rattling everything on it, "but we're all going to figure this out." He glared over at me.
"Look," I said, taking a step backwards, "why don't I just go back to the Welcome place and wait for you there. I don't know if I'm ready to get involved in all of this."
"You're already involved," David growled. "You're more involved than you know. This involves your father as well."
"What?" I asked. I was becoming overwhelmed with too many disconnected details. "Look, what the hell is this?" I asked finally.
"It's too many coincidences," he said. "Too many coincidences means no coincidences at all. Something is up here, and I don't like it." He looked over at me, calming down a little. "Al, I need you to trust me."
I stared back at him, bewildered. His sword was still firmly against Romeo's bloodied throat. "I don't know," I said. "I just don't know what's going on."
"Trust me," David said, smiling wildly, "I'm one of the good guys."