OUT OF ESSEX – Chapter 33
The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?
As he had run across the park to fetch his leathers and helmet, his first thought was murder, a heart for a heart. Emerging from Southend, Satan gunned the Ducatti Diavel down the Arterial Road, as the A127 was known, for 30 seconds. Then he eased back the throttle, remembering about speed limits. He lacked a driving license, and his emotions were all over the place.
By Basildon he was calmer. When he reached Romford’s outskirts, at the Gallows Corner roundabout, gusts of fresh rain smoothed his thinking. The fact remained. He had failed. In protecting the park residents from the darkness.
Sal drove through a last stretch of Essex greenery before the Moby Dick pub began London’s conurbation. Dave was dead. None had been so loved at the park. How to handle this?
Several weeks ago, Buddha’s team had supplied the London address, using remote viewing techniques, combined with all the pictorial options on Google maps to locate their target. It had not been easy, but Sid had tutored his team past a block of virtual trap doors and blind alleyways inserted into the ether.
The motorbike transited the Gants Hill and Wanstead roundabouts, then the massive underpass at Leytonstone. Sal wondered if Micky Gaze could step up. The rain increased along the M11 link road, maintaining its force until the Bow Road roundabout. In the Mile End Road, heading west, he halted by a group of teenagers crossing at a red light opposite the Blind Beggar, the Whitechapel pub where Ronnie Kray shot one of the Richardson gang, in 1966.
Sal thought about that year. The Church of Satan had been formed in San Francisco, and the first foundations of the World Trade Centre were laid. His thoughts were broken when the tallest youth walked up to him, shoved his shoulder and demanded money. Satan pulled up his visor and looked at him. He held the lad’s gaze while the lights went green, and hooters erupted from behind. When the kids moved away, Sal knew no plan was the best plan.
As Satan penetrated the City of Corruption, a plane took off from Southend airport, flying in the opposite direction. Ravenous-Glutton asked his Arabic-looking stewardess if in-flight pornography was available on the 1,427-mile flight to Marrakesh. His tensions required easing.
Satan’s nostrils worked keenly. Above the exhaust of the road, familiar smells emerged, dominated by Jesuit and Knights of Malta. Rank, debased smells.
Now, in the moment, Sal remembered himself, the utter glory of what he had been, and his fall and punishment. Stripped of his wings. Then the choice offered by God, to be part and parcel of all-pervading Goodness, God-guaranteed for time and eternity but able to operate on his own terms. No looking back, no more self-recriminating.
Grateful for his enduring vitality, strength, and intellect, he pulled the bike into a side lane off Gresham Street, slowing into a dark back alley. He locked the Diavel by an overflowing wheelie bin. Removing his gloves, he rapped on what looked like a stable door.
Hoskyns had set his master’s table for 47 years. Eric had intimated, tongue-in-cheek, that Satan himself would dine with them one evening, so a spare place must always be laid. Eyes twinkling, he stressed Satan would be very beautiful and instantly recognisable by his hooves. When the Devil appeared, Hoskyns was immediately to place on ice a Montrachet Grand Cru 2008, Domaine des Comtes Lafon, the Master specified.
The knock at the back door surprised Hoskyns. The extraordinarily tall stranger at the threshold certainly had a handsome face. He gestured to be allowed in. Glancing at the hands, Hoskyns knew this was ordained, but insisted he remove his boots. After body-scanning the gentleman, he fetched the white burgundy.