HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: The Wolves of Saint August is one of my very favorites of the original Mignola Hellboy comics. Father Edward Kelly, the priest who is killed by the werewolf in this comic and is obviously a close friend to Hellboy, had made an appearance in Part Three of my story A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights as the young, newly-ordained priest who baptized Hellboy when he was five years old. A younger version of the character of Kate Corrigan from this comic was also to have made an appearance in this same story, but the structure of Part Three became too complicated and Kate’s chapter was dropped. In fact it was never written, just thought about.

However, the idea of Kate first meeting Hellboy in 1959 was always a part of the subtext of A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights and I am using this opportunity to work out the details of this meeting. Even though Kate Corrigan will be a very important character in this chapter, the relationship between Hellboy and Trevor Broom will be prominent because of the connection to this earlier story. The basic idea of this will be the same as originally planned, but the structure of this will be quite different; since it will be more of an independent story it will be much longer than the originally planned chapter.

Mignola never gives you much of an idea of how old Kate is in the original comics. In order for my little idea to work you must picture Kate as being in her early forties in The Wolves of Saint August. Many apologies if this age is too old for her character. Frankly, I always find it interesting to insert my favorite comicverse characters or ideas into a movieverse story. (Warning: Beware of some SPOILERS in this if you haven’t seen the movie.)

Chapter Four: Katie Corrigan, The Little Sister: Learning to Pray

Pittsburgh International Airport, Early November 2004

Kate Corrigan had fully intended to attend Trevor Broom’s funeral. She had been in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania researching reports of some abandoned coalmines that appeared to be infested with goblins when she received the news of his murder. However, the same storm that was inundating Newark, New Jersey with rain on the day of his funeral was hitting Pittsburgh even harder.

Flight after flight was delayed for an unspecified period of time. Many flights were eventually cancelled. By the time the Newark flight was finally announced Kate had been stranded so long at the airport that she would certainly miss the funeral.

This was devastating to her. Trevor Broom had not only been a wonderful mentor in her early studies in folklore, not only the adoptive father of her closest friend, he had also been someone who had known her father, Richard Corrigan, before he died during surgery for a heart condition in 1959 when she had been only eight years old.

Her father had been a consultant in folklore for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in the 1950s in much the same way that Kate had been since 1984. She had also been an on-again, off-again team member with the BPRD, working mainly with Hellboy, the demon that Broom had raised as his own son.

Kate decided to take the flight to Newark anyway despite missing the funeral. She hadn’t seen Hellboy in a while; she had been away doing her own research for some time.

But her research in Pittsburgh could wait. She wanted to see Hellboy again, to grieve with him, to comfort him in the loss of his father as he had once comforted her after the death of her own father.

No one knew better than she did just how close Hellboy had been to his adoptive father; just how much he had loved him, even though she never recalled hearing him put this into words. For some reason Kate and Hellboy had never needed words between them to know just what the other was thinking and feeling. Their friendship was very special.

Kate had gone to the restroom before the plane was to board and did not at all like what she saw in the mirror. When she had first arrived at the airport very early that morning, dressed in a black suit that she had picked up in Pittsburgh the day before, she had looked quite nice. Unfortunately, the frustrating hours of waiting for the weather to clear sufficiently for take-off took its toll on her appearance.

Crying had almost completely ruined her makeup and her tendency to run her hands through her hair when upset had made her dark blonde hair stand up on end. Hours of sitting around had rumpled up the suit and a quick snack at a McDonald’s that was located near her departure gate had left a smear of catsup on her blazer. While in the restroom she had managed to remove the stain from the blazer. But an attempt to reapply the makeup and run a brush through her hair seemed, at least in her own eyes, to make her look even worse. She wanted to cry in frustration, but felt she had no tears left.

When she returned to the departure gate, the chaos there had become even worse. The US Airways flight that she was supposed to be boarding was now over-booked because of cancelled flights and the airline was encouraging people to voluntarily wait for another flight. Kate had been at the airport since five in the morning and did not want to spend one more minute there than she had to. She was not about to give up her seat.

A young woman in her twenties grabbed Kate’s arm begging her to give up her seat. She was crying about missing an important business meeting. Something suddenly snapped inside of Kate. She shoved the woman away from her shouting, “A business meeting? A business meeting! I’ve only just recently heard of the murder of a man who was almost like a father to me. I’m missing his funeral and you’re standing here and talking about a business meeting!”

Kate was more than embarrassed about exploding in public like that. She apologized to the young woman she had just shouted at. The woman smiled weakly and said, “No, I really should be the one to apologize. I had no right grabbing you like that. I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. It must be terrible to have someone that you know be murdered.” She unexpectedly leaned forward and hugged Kate who reminded her of her mother. Kate was surprised, but pleased with the gesture.

“You know, I really should give up my seat,” Kate said after returning the hug, “I still want to get to Newark, but now really have no reason to be there by a particular time since I’ll never make the funeral.”

Kate smiled at the young woman and then walked over to the desk by the gate to relinquish her boarding pass in exchange for another for the next flight.

She also received a complimentary pass for round trip tickets that could be used for a future trip on US Airways. Kate was the last person to do this.

She was informed that the next flight would probably be taking off some time around noon and was scheduled to depart from that same gate. The area around the gate was very crowded, but as they announced the imminent boarding of the flight to Newark a lot of people got up from their seats and surged forward toward the gate.

Kate threw herself into the first seat that became available. She had had a seat in the past, but had relinquished it hours before to a young woman with a child. She was now grateful to be able to sit down again. She checked her watch and noticed that she had a little over an hour before the next flight was to board. She wasn’t too hopeful, assuming that a flight that was to take off at noon would probably depart at least an hour later.

Kate actually felt a lot calmer now that she knew for sure that she was missing the funeral. She started to think about her past relationship with Trevor Broom. She had first met him when she had been eight years old, but he had been so ill that it had hardly registered with him. She had met him again in 1970 when, at age nineteen, she had entered New York University to study folklore.

This had been the beginning of a significant relationship that had eventually led to her employment by Broom’s Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense as a consultant. But it had not been Broom himself who had finally convinced Kate to do more with folklore than write books and articles and teach her own classes at NYU. It had been his adopted son, Hellboy; the same one who, when little Katie Corrigan had been eight years old and Hellboy fourteen and they both had very ill fathers, had taught her how to pray.

This particular memory made Kate smile even in the midst of her grief; how many people do you meet who were taught to pray by a demon? Kate closed her eyes and drifted off.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Boston, Massachusetts, August to December 1959

Hellboy had been raised Catholic by his adoptive father, Trevor Broom, the director of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Baptized at age five, first communion and confirmation at age ten, Hellboy was now almost fifteen years old and personally found anything of a religious nature about as interesting as eating spinach.

At seven foot tall, with bright red skin, shaved off horns, and a right hand big enough to belong to someone at least twice his stature, Hellboy certainly did not look like what most people would think of as your average Catholic adolescent.

Trevor Broom had installed a small chapel in the main building of the BPRD headquarters, right inside of the Medical Wing and Hellboy, who cared deeply for the man he called Father, would at times indulge him by attending Mass, especially around Christmas, which was right after Hellboy’s birthday.

Father Mike Elliott, the priest who came to the BPRD headquarters in Boston to celebrate Sunday Mass, was one of the few local priests to know of the existence of the BPRD and its fourteen-year-old monster hunter and paranormal investigator.

One particular Sunday morning in August he was surprised to see Hellboy slip in right after the Mass had started. However, he knew that Trevor Broom had been located in the Medical Wing since the beginning of June for treatment for cancer and suspected how worried Hellboy really was about the state of his father’s health.

Hellboy was dressed in his usual black t-shirt and leather pants and sat cross-legged on the floor at the back of the chapel; the small chairs in the chapel not being designed for someone his size and weight. He closed his eyes after he sat down and very gently, using the enormous index finger of his stone-like right hand, fidgeted with the rosary that he had wrapped around his more normal left wrist.

Hellboy had given his father this beautiful olivewood and ivory rosary as a Father’s Day gift three years before and he was taking care of it while he was in the hospital. Hellboy often wore the rosary around his wrist just like his father usually did.

Hellboy went up to receive communion after everyone else was done. After he had received he surprised Father Mike by touching his shoulder with his normal-sized left hand and stooping down to whisper in the ear of the much shorter priest. “I want to talk to you after this is over, Father Mike. I’ll just wait until you’re finished.”

Hellboy went to the back of the chapel and stood off to the side as the Mass came to its completion. He nodded at the few people who greeted him as they went out; some still ignored him—even though these people all worked for the BPRD and were supposedly conversant with unique creatures, Hellboy’s mere existence still made them nervous.

Frank Dixon, one of the senior agents who Hellboy had served under in the mid-Fifties fighting against the Nazis in Argentina, walked up to him. “Hey, Hellboy, I’ve not seen you since you came back from Ireland. How’d that trip go?”

Hellboy reached out with his left hand and shook hands with the older agent, “It wasn’t such a bad trip; pretty easy, really. It was one of those fairy changeling things. I just had to do a favor for these weird little men to get the little girl back from them. Even kind of enjoyed myself once it was all over. Ireland’s a pretty place. I just didn’t like being away for so long with Pop being sick.”

“How is Professor Broom doing, H.B.?” inquired Dixon, “I’ve not been around in a while. I hope his condition is improving.”

“I’m not really sure, Dix,” Hellboy fidgeted again with the rosary on his wrist, “They tell me everything is working out okay with this experimental chemotherapy crap they’ve been giving him, but if he’s getting better you wouldn’t know it by me. He looks just awful, he’s lost a lot of his hair, and he can hardly keep any food down.”

Dixon knew that Hellboy was still only fourteen years old, regardless of his size, and didn’t like seeing him so upset. “Look, Big Red, I hear he’s got some of the best doctors in the country looking after him. If I were you, I wouldn’t worry quite so much. I’m sure they know what they’re doing.”

“That’s what everybody keeps telling me, but I still can’t help being worried. If he’s really getting better, I just wish he would look like he’s getting better.” Hellboy turned to face Father Mike who had just walked up to him.

“I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation, Hellboy,” said the priest, “And I hope I’m not intruding my opinion where it is not wanted, but a lot of what your father is going through right now is mainly the unfortunate side effects of the chemotherapy. I’m afraid that it may be a long, hard road until he is healed, but if the treatment ends up being effective these troublesome effects will have been worth it.”

Hellboy just nodded, continuing to fidget with the rosary. He then turned to Dixon. “Sorry, Dix, I’d like to talk to Father Mike alone, if you don’t mind. I’ll tell Pop that you asked for him when I visit later today. Who knows, maybe I’ll have some good news the next time I see you.”

“Well, Hellboy,” said the priest after Frank Dixon left the chapel, “What was it that you wanted to see me about? I’m assuming that it has something to do with your father.”

“Yeah, it has something to do with my father, kind of,” said Hellboy as he looked down at the rosary that he had still been fidgeting with, “You see, I’ve been sort of wanting to pray with this rosary, but I don’t really remember how it goes. I used to have this little kid’s book Pop gave me years back that had some title like Flowers of the Rosary or Garlands of the Rosary, but I must have lost it. Pop has some books in his office, but they’re a bit confusing. I was wondering if you had anything I could borrow from you.”

“I do believe I have something in my satchel you could use,” said the priest. He went up toward the small altar in the chapel and returned in a few moments with a small booklet with a gray cover with red print that had the title Rosary Novenas to Our Lady.

Hellboy thumbed through the booklet he had been handed.

“This is a little different from what I used to have. It has a lot more prayers in here. I was kind of hoping for something a little shorter.”

The priest smiled, “This booklet really has two different ways to pray the rosary in it. If you go to the back you’ll find an explanation of how to pray the rosary that will be more like the child’s book you used to have.”

Hellboy stuck the booklet into the pocket of pants. “Thanks, Father Mike. I’ll see how it works out.” He turned, left the chapel and walked slowly down the main corridor of the Medical Wing to the private hospital room where his father was located.

Trevor Broom was asleep, so Hellboy did something that had become a regular activity for the past several months. He sat in a very large chair that he had been given just to accommodate his size and weight and watched his father sleep.

After a while Hellboy looked more closely at the booklet Father Mike had given him. It had illustrations that went along with the various sections, some of which were typical ‘Virgin and Child’ illustrations.

Hellboy never had a mother, at least not one that he knew anything about. Trevor Broom had always been somewhat vague about his origins. Ever since his infancy his life with Trevor Broom was the only life he had ever known.

But Hellboy understood enough to know that Broom had always been as good as both father and mother to him. And he felt it would be worth suffering through any number of silly-sounding prayers if his father would just get better.

Hellboy got up from his chair, walked over to the bed and quietly looked down on his father who seemed to his eyes to be hooked to a million tubes and wires. Trevor Broom was sweating profusely in his sleep, probably some new side effect of the chemotherapy.

Hellboy reached down with his left hand and gently brushed his father’s damp hair back from his forehead. At least it did seem like he was starting to lose less of it. It was nice to be able to notice any kind of improvement.

At that point Martha Wilson, the head nurse, walked in. “Hello, H.B., I thought I’d find you here. Actually, he’s doing a lot better. He was even able to eat a little food earlier today. And some little bird, in the form of one of the nurses, told him she saw you at Mass and I think that made him happy.”

Hellboy thought for a moment, “Right, I thought one of the women who waved at me looked familiar. So, you really think he’s getting better, Marty?”

“Yes,” the nurse smiled as she spoke, “There has been a distinct improvement in the side effects since yesterday and the tumor has been shrinking at an accelerated rate. Doctor Patterson and the other experts have been very pleased. It’s still going to be a long time, but it does look like he’s turned a kind of corner in the treatment.”

As she was speaking, Trevor Broom woke up. “Son, how long have you been here? I wish you would wake me when you come to visit. I hate it when I find that you’ve been here and left without me even knowing.”

Hellboy smiled and took his father’s hand, “Yes, but Pop, you know that Marty here would shoot me with a gun even bigger than my Samaritan if I woke you up.”

Hellboy knelt down to see his father better. “Marty tells me you’ve been feeling a little better. I’m glad to hear that. I saw Frank Dixon earlier today and he asked after you. Is there anything you would like that I can bring you?”

“What I would really like is a decent cup of tea,” complained Broom, “I haven’t been able to keep even that much down for days. And when I could actually drink some tea today, what the Medical Wing kitchen sent me was barely passable.”

Hellboy looked up, “Can I bring him some of the tea and scones that I brought back from Ireland, Marty? He might enjoy that.”

“I don’t see why not,” said Martha, “Just don’t make the tea too strong and don’t put more than a very little butter on the scone. Also, no milk in the tea.”

“I’ll have the main kitchen make up a tray then and bring it back.” Hellboy gave his father’s hand a little squeeze, got up, and walked out.

About twenty minutes later when Hellboy returned with the tray he almost tripped over a young girl in the main corridor of the Medical Wing. “Hey, sorry, kid; I wasn’t looking where I was going.” He looked down at the girl dressed in a skirt and blouse. She had dark blonde hair done up in pigtails. “I’ve not seen you before. You new around here?”

The girl stared up at him almost speechless. “You must be Hellboy,” she finally managed to gasp. “My father told me something about you.” She suddenly stopped staring and looked at the ground. “Sorry, I guess I’m being rude. I’m Katie Corrigan; my father’s Richard Corrigan, who sometimes works for you guys. But right now he’s in the hospital here. Some problem with his heart.”

Hellboy nodded. “Nice to meet you, Katie. Guess we have something in common; my father’s in the hospital here, too. He’s feeling a little better, so I was just bringing him some tea. I hope your father gets to feeling better. Well, I better go before this tea gets cold. Maybe I’ll see you around.” He continued walking toward his father’s room.

Managing to balance the tray on his huge right hand, Hellboy turned the door handle with his left hand and pushed the door open with his foot as he walked in. He noticed that Martha Wilson, before she left the room, had wheeled the room table closer to the bed and had assisted Trevor Broom to sit up.

Martha Wilson was right, his father really did look just a little better; even with this new phenomenon of sweating, he seemed to have a little more color and looked a lot less tired than he had recently.

“Son, that tea smells wonderful. You were away in Ireland for such a brief period of time that I can’t believe you even had time to pick me up anything.”

“Actually, this all was a gift from the woman whose little girl I got back from those weird little men,” Hellboy said as he poured a little tea into the ceramic mug that he was gently holding in his stone-like right hand.

“She put this all together for me when I told her how much you liked good Irish tea and scones. She also baked me some soda bread. I wanted to bring you some of it when I arrived back here on Friday, but you just weren’t up to it. Maybe I could bring you some of the soda bread tomorrow for breakfast.”

Hellboy blew on the tea to make it cooler and handed it to his father when he thought it was sufficiently cool to drink. “I hope it’s not too strong. I know that you like milk in your tea, but Marty said milk wouldn’t be good for your stomach.” He unwrapped a single toasted scone that was still warm and proceeded to put just a little butter on it.

As his father was taking his first sip of the tea, Hellboy asked him about the girl he had almost tripped over in the hallway. “I didn’t know that Richard Corrigan was so ill. He wasn’t in the hospital when I left for Ireland and I thought things must be pretty bad if the BPRD had brought his family here to be with him.”

“Things are bad, Son, very bad,” said Broom, “That’s one of the reasons I had him admitted here. They want to try a brand-new experimental type of heart surgery. It may be his only chance.”

“I hope everything works out, Pop,” Hellboy said as finished buttering the scone, “His little girl, Katie I think she said her name was, seemed really nice.”

“I have yet to meet Richard’s family. I wish I were strong enough to do so,” Broom said as he took another sip of his tea, “Son, this tea is very good. Thank you for bringing it.”

“Sure, Pop; anytime you want anything, just let me know. If we don’t have it I’ll make sure to get it some way. You want to try some of this scone? Or would that be a little too much for you? I ate a couple already, they’re pretty good for scones.”

“I would like to try it. I love homemade scones.” Hellboy broke off a section of the scone he had just buttered and handed it to his father who slowly nibbled at it. “This is really very good,” Broom said, “Although, I knew it had to be good because you liked it. You usually don’t like scones all that much. I think I could eat the rest of this one, but I won’t have another; I don’t want to overdo it. I will have to write to this woman and tell her just how much I’m enjoying what she gave you.”

Broom, as he ate the rest of the scone and drank what was left of his tea, looked more closely at Hellboy, “I’m glad the trip to Ireland was a good one for you, Son. I know that you’ve been doing way too much worrying about me recently. It was a pleasant surprise, though, to find out you’ve been attending Mass; you will find that prayer does help.”

He yawned, “I think I could go back to sleep now.”

Hellboy didn’t say anything as he started to collect up the remains of the tea onto the tray. “Would you like any more tea before I take this away?” he asked when he was finished.

“No, I don’t think so,” Broom yawned again, “But you could send me some tomorrow for breakfast along with that soda bread you mentioned. And I would like tea and scones in the afternoon as well, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Of course it’s not too much trouble,” Hellboy sat on the floor next to the bed and took Broom’s hand, “I really need to get up early tomorrow, anyway, to finish writing my report on what happened in Ireland. I’m too tired to do it tonight. So, I think I will come and eat breakfast with you tomorrow morning, if that’s okay.”

He looked up into his father’s face, which looked so much better than it had on Friday, and then down at the hand he was holding.

“I just can’t help worrying about you,” he said after a long silence. “You looked so bad on Friday when I got back from Ireland that I thought Dr. Patterson was going to tell me you had taken a turn for the worse.”

He again fell silent and then suddenly blurted out, “Father, I’ve been so scared and I’ve been having such terrible nightmares recently. I’m just not ready to let you go.”

Broom leaned down toward Hellboy and grabbed him into a surprisingly strong embrace. “Let me warn you of something, Son; something that I discovered when my grandfather died in my young adulthood: You will never be ready to let me go. Even if I live another fifty years, when the time comes it will still be too soon.”

Hellboy rose up onto his knees and tightly returned the embrace with only his left arm, just as he had been taught as a young child. Broom whispered in his ear, “Remember what I promised you on your fifth birthday; I will always love you: Even if you lose me, you will never lose my love.” Hellboy closed his eyes as he hugged his father and thought of so many things; things he was never able to say.

After a few moments Trevor Broom let go, “Son, I’m thirsty and would like some fresh water. When you go out have one of the nurses bring me some. Don’t bother doing it yourself; I want you to go and get some sleep, you look exhausted.”

Hellboy stood up, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Father.” He gathered up the tray, turned and walked out. He went up to the nurses’ station and told one of the nurses that his father would like some water.

As he was standing there Martha Wilson came up. “How did your father like his tea and was he able to eat a scone?”

“Yeah,” said Hellboy, “He really enjoyed everything, including the scone. I’m going to bring him some more tea for breakfast tomorrow and some of the soda bread I brought back from Ireland as well. Pop said he was going to send that lady in Ireland a letter to thank her, but I think I should write her as well. I really appreciated her sending all this stuff for Father. She’s really a nice lady and her little baby girl I rescued was really cute. By the way, Marty, can you tell me how Richard Corrigan is doing? I practically knocked over his little girl in the corridor today and Pop tells me his condition is pretty bad. Katie seems like a good kid and I would hate for her to be hurt.”

Martha shook her head. “I’m afraid it doesn’t look at all good, H.B. He was to have entered into surgery today for his heart problem, but then his condition became too unstable. The surgery has been put off until later in the week, if he even lasts that long.”

Hellboy sighed, “This all must be hard on Katie.”

“Of course it is and she’s only eight years old,” said Martha as she put a hand on his shoulder, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been worried to the point of panic about your father since you came back from Ireland on Friday. I hope you now realize that you have less reason to be worried than poor Katie. You’re always looking so glum when I see you.”

Hellboy smiled slightly, “Sure, Marty, I am a lot less worried than I was before. But I’ll never really be happy until he gets up out of that bed for good and finally walks out of the Medical Wing. That’s when I’ll stop worrying about him.”

He set down the tray he had been holding and gave Martha a quick hug, “Thanks for taking care of him so good,” he whispered in her ear.

He then picked up the tray again and walked out of the Medical Wing and went to his own quarters to try to sleep like his father had asked him to. He hoped sleep would come easier than it had the night before.

Hellboy decided that he would get out the rosary novena booklet that Father Mike had given him as soon as he was ready to go to bed. Recalling his attempts to pray the rosary with his father when he was age seven, he thought that lying down on his bed and doing this would fulfill two goals; he would pray for his father, as he had wanted to do, and praying the rosary would probably put him to sleep eventually.

When Hellboy entered his room, he set down the tray with the remains of the tea on a large table and ate the still warm chili and BLTs that had been left there for his supper.

He was really starved since he had eaten nothing all day except two scones before he went to Mass in the morning. He often lost his appetite when he was upset or worried.

After he had finished eating he put all the food trays, bowls, and utensils on to a kind of cart that was in his room and wheeled it out into the hallway and left it by his door. Maintenance would eventually come and clear this away.

He then sat down at his desk and got out his old, clunky typewriter. Using only the index finger of his left hand, he very carefully typed out the shorter version of the rosary prayers from the back of the little booklet onto a single sheet of paper. With his sledgehammer-sized right hand being less than functional, this was only way he could read the prayers and deal with the rosary beads at the same time.

After he was finished, even though it was still early, he turned out all of the lights except the one near the bed and proceeded to lie down and recite the prayers that he had copied out. Hellboy had certainly been right about one thing; attempting to recite the rosary was guaranteed to put him to sleep faster than a sleeping pill.

He had been about three-quarters of the way through the section called the ‘Joyful Mysteries’ when he fell fast asleep, still holding onto his father’s rosary in his left hand. He slept all the way through the early evening and night, but about three o’clock in the morning he was awakened by one of those nightmares he had been having recently.

Hellboy could never recall any details of these nightmares once he was awake, but he could almost never fall asleep again after he had one. He decided that since he was awake again he would make another attempt at praying the rosary, but rather than staying in his room he would return to the chapel and pray in there. It was never closed so that it could always be available, especially to the patients in the Medical Wing. But at this time of night it was usually empty and for some reason the idea of being alone in the chapel with just his hopes and fears appealed to Hellboy.

Little did the fourteen-year-old Hellboy realize that by going to the chapel at that time on that particular night he would be doing something that would result in the beginning of one of the most significant friendships of his life.

Hellboy left his quarters, walked to the Medical Wing and entered the now darkened chapel. There was always a low level of light coming from some candles, including the larger red-globed candle that dangled from the ceiling near the altar in the front, and from rather dim electric light fixtures that lit a number of small statues of saints. There was also a slight scent of the rather pungent Byzantine incense that Father Mike preferred when he celebrated more important holidays and feast days.

Hellboy had been just over seven years old when the chapel had been newly built and had often liked sneaking into it in the middle of the night. It had all seemed so spooky and mysterious—even the slight hiss of the ventilation system in the darkened chapel seemed to contribute to the mystery. He never wanted to switch on the chapel’s main lights.

At the time he had also been somewhat intrigued by the religious instruction his father had been giving him. But even at that young age he had noticed that some stared at him when he went to Mass with his father at the new chapel, wondering why someone who looked as he did would even want to go to church.

So Hellboy preferred being in the chapel alone and Trevor Broom pretended to ignore his occasional midnight excursions to the chapel. By the time he was nine the mystery had basically worn off and he had gone through first communion and confirmation the next year mostly to please his father. But he had pretty much stopped going to the chapel except for special occasions and other times his father especially wished it.

Now here he was again going to the chapel late at night.

When he entered, Hellboy thought that he was the only person in the chapel. For some reason the sense of mystery and expectancy that he used to feel when he was seven years old was there again. He walked up to the small rack of votive candles in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary that was to the left of the altar and lit one for his father.

He then thought of Katie’s father and lit another candle for him; Martha Wilson had made it sound so likely that Richard Corrigan wouldn’t live out the week that Hellboy suddenly felt more keenly the probable loss that Katie would suffer than any of the possibly more unwarranted fears that he had been experiencing about his own father.

He stood in silence for a long time staring at the candles he had lit; first sending up a wordless prayer that, against everyone’s expectations, Katie’s father would survive his surgery and be cured of his heart condition.

His thoughts then turned back to his own father and he wished that he was five years old again, back before he suddenly became taller than his adoptive father; back when, in Hellboy’s eyes, Trevor Broom had seemed almost god-like in his ability to defeat their problems with the sheer force of his will alone.

The fourteen-year-old Hellboy usually dealt with problems in a direct, frontal-attack, no-holds-barred kind of way. But his father’s cancer was not some monster or demon that he could smash into oblivion with his huge right hand or shoot, if he actually managed to hit something, with his cannon-sized handgun, the Good Samaritan.

Hellboy felt so helpless, so powerless and this adolescent monster hunter was not used to feeling powerless.

However, Hellboy had watched his father over the past several months deal with fear and pain with a strength and power that he knew he did not possess himself no matter how physically powerful he was. He began to realize, in a way that he never had when he was younger, that much of his father’s strength derived from his Catholic faith; this same faith he had been trying to instill in this unique being he was raising as his adopted son.

Hellboy, as he was thinking these thoughts, gently touched the rosary that he had been holding in his left hand. He then decided to move around the altar to be able to sit near one of the statues behind it and use the light there to recite the rosary prayers that he had typed out. It was then he discovered that he was not alone in the chapel.

It was a little bit darker directly behind the small altar and as Hellboy walked around behind it he almost stepped on a child lying asleep on the floor. He stopped short in surprise and stooped down to see more clearly who it was. He then recognized Katie Corrigan, who was no longer in skirt and blouse, but in some type of white cotton nightgown with little flowers on it; her blonde was hair loose on her shoulders.

He knelt down on the floor beside her and touched her on the shoulder, “Hey, Katie, what are you doing here this time of night? It must be past four in the morning by now.”

Katie sat up with a little cry and looked around her as if she did not know where she was.

She then looked at Hellboy kneeling beside her with his left hand on her shoulder, the rosary now fallen forgotten on the floor. Hellboy could now see that her face was streaked with the partially dried tracks of tears that must have been shed before she fell asleep on the floor of the chapel.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said in a very small voice. “I came in here because I couldn’t sleep and I’m so worried about my father. He almost died tonight. I wish there was something I could do.” She started to cry again.

Hellboy, totally uncertain as to what to do with Katie, wrapped his left arm around her thin shoulders and held on to her making shushing noises, but he could find no words to speak to her; Hellboy almost never could find words when he really needed them.

She stopped crying after a short while and stood up. Hellboy bent over and picked up the rosary he had dropped, stuck it in his pants pocket for safekeeping, and stood back up as well. Katie looked up at the red-skinned giant looming over her in the dim light and asked the first question that came to her mind, “Are you a Catholic? I’m sorry, but that seems a little funny to me.”

“It seems funny to a lot of people,” Hellboy replied, “But my adoptive father is Catholic and he wanted me to be one too. So, yeah, I’ve been baptized, had first communion, and confirmation. And since you’re Irish, I’m assuming you’re Catholic too.”

Katie shook her head and looked at the floor, “Not really. Sure, my father’s Irish, but he doesn’t go to church and my mother’s not Catholic. I was baptized when I was a baby. That’s it. I’m not sure why I came in here tonight, except I was looking for someplace to cry where Mother wouldn’t hear me. She’s having enough problems right now without worrying about me and we don’t always get along that good anyway.”

She stopped and looked around the chapel and then back up at Hellboy, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think that anyone would come in here this late at night. I don’t really want to bother you with all this stuff.”

Hellboy knelt back down to be more on Katie’s level; he disliked towering over children who really weren’t that much younger than he was.

“Don’t worry about it, Katie,” he said, “I think I’m practically the only one who comes here this late at night and I haven’t done this in years. But, you know, the chapel’s here for people to come to when things are bothering them so they can pray about it; especially people from the Medical Wing.”

Katie looked into Hellboy’s face, which was now more on a level with her own. This odd red face, with its sawed-off horns, didn’t look half so scary as it had the first time she had seen Hellboy in the hallway when he was carrying the tray with tea for his father.

“Hellboy,” she said after a short silence, “You said something before about your father being sick. Is that the reason you came here? To pray for him?”

“Yeah,” Hellboy pulled the rosary beads out of his pocket, “I’m still worried about my father even though everyone tells me that he’s really getting better. There’s just nothing else I can do and since my father puts such stock in this stuff, I thought I would try it out.”

“I wish I knew how to pray,” sighed Katie, “If I did I would pray for my father to get better. I miss him; he doesn’t even know me anymore. He’s the one who calls me ‘Katie’; my mother calls me ‘Katherine’, which I don’t like.”

“I don’t really know how to pray all that good,” said Hellboy, “I used to have this little book about the rosary, but I lost it. So I asked Father Mike who comes here for Sunday Mass to give me something about the rosary.”

Hellboy reached into his pants pocket and brought out the paper with the prayers, “He gave me this little book and I copied the prayers out to make it easier for me to hold it. If you want I could show you how to do it while I’m doing it myself. Maybe we could both pray for our fathers together.”

“I would like that,” Katie took the rosary from Hellboy’s hand to look at it, “I wish I could have something like this to pray with. It’s so pretty; what’s it made out of?”

“The big beads are olivewood and the small ones ivory,” replied Hellboy, “I gave it to Pop about three years ago as a Father’s Day gift. He almost always wears it around his wrist, but the nurses were afraid of it getting messed up in the hospital, so I’m taking care of it for him. I usually wear it around my own wrist and that’s what got me to thinking about praying with it like he does when he’s upset about something. But if you really want to pray with me I have another rosary that I could lend you.”

Hellboy stood back up, “Why don’t you wait here, Katie, while I go and get it. I can show you something that you can do while I’m gone.” He led Katie over to the little rack of candles in front of the statue of Mary and showed her how to light a candle.

“You see,” he said, “you light one of these when you’re thinking about someone and it’s kind of like praying. See, I’ve already lit two candles; one for my father and one for yours.”

Katie looked at the two candles Hellboy pointed out. “You lit a candle for my father? That was nice.” She smiled up at Hellboy.

“Just do me a favor,” he said, “Don’t set yourself on fire while I’m away.” With that he walked out to get the other rosary.

Katie lit a candle after Hellboy left and, weeping quietly for several minutes, thought of her father. She then smiled slightly, lit another candle and stood pondering the two candles she had lit. She looked up as Hellboy returned, this time also wearing his tan-colored leather trench coat.

“See,” she said pointing out the second candle she had lit, “I lit one for your father, too.”

“Hey,” he touched her shoulder, “I appreciate that.”

Hellboy took Katie’s right hand in his left, “Let’s go around the altar to that statue of St. Francis over there. We can use the light there to see the rosary prayers to recite them.”

They went hand-in-hand over to the statue and sat on the floor next to the base where there was a small pool of light shed from the fixture that lit the statue. Hellboy reached into one of the pockets of his coat and brought out a rosary that was about the same size as the one he had showed her before, but this one had all wooden beads.

“This rosary,” he said, “is a very special one; it was the one my father had with him when he found me. Take good care of it. I usually keep it in my room hanging off the frame of this picture.”

He brought out a black-and-white photograph showing a small group of soldiers, some dressed up in circus costumes, posing with a younger Professor Broom holding a quite small Hellboy in his arms; this was enclosed in a rather fancy silver frame that was somewhat too large for the photograph.

“They weren’t really supposed to be taking pictures of me, so this is the only picture I have of me with Father when I was little. This was my fourth birthday in 1948. Look at me smiling; this was before I hated having my picture taken, before I understood that I was so different, before I got so big.”

Hellboy sighed as he looked at the picture. “You know, Katie, by the next year, on my fifth birthday, my father was just barely able to pick me up and by the time I was six years old I was already six feet tall and at least an inch taller than he was. When I was little he looked like such a giant to me; now I’m not even fifteen years old yet and I tower over him by at least a foot. I hate this; especially now that he’s so sick.”

Katie took the picture from his hand and looked at it more closely. Hellboy wasn’t anything like she had expected he would be like when she first saw him. He may look like some sort of monster, but he really was just a kid who was just as much worried about his father as she was about her own.

She stood up from the floor and threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

Hellboy smiled at her from his seated position. “What was that for?” he asked.

“Because I think you’re real nice,” whispered Katie. “Just wait here for a second and I’ll be right back.”

With that Katie turned and walked quickly out of the chapel. She went back to the room she was supposed to be sleeping in and, sneaking in so as not to wake her mother, retrieved something and returned to the chapel. Just as she was re-entering the chapel she was seen by one of the early-shift nurses who wondered what she was doing, but did not have the time to check on her.

Katie sat back down on the floor next to Hellboy and showed him the picture of herself with her father that she had retrieved. “I was three years old in this picture. I have a lot of pictures, but this one is my favorite so I brought it with me when we came to the hospital. Now we both have pictures of us with our fathers.”

Hellboy looked at the picture without saying anything. He then handed Katie the rosary he had brought for her. He decided that the best way for them both to be able to see the prayers that he had typed out was for Katie to sit in his lap; he leaned against the wall.

He covered her over with his coat in order to keep her warm and explained how to recite the rosary. They then started with the ‘Joyful Mysteries’ and managed to get all the way through this portion before getting too sleepy to go on with the other two ‘Mysteries’. They recited the ending prayers and then sat together in silence for a long time, both pondering how they felt about their fathers and how much they wanted them to get better.

Around 5:30 in the morning the nurse who had seen Katie enter the chapel over a half hour before wondered what she was doing. So she decided to enter the chapel, but did not see anything at first.

However, as she walked toward the front of the chapel she saw Katie sitting in Hellboy’s lap, both of them holding rosaries, and both fast asleep. She walked up closer and saw the photographs that they had on the floor in front of them.

She knelt down and looked at the framed photograph of the young Hellboy in the arms of Professor Broom. She recalled another nurse telling her the day before about seeing Hellboy at Mass and how worried he had been about his adoptive father’s condition.

She herself had laughed out loud at the idea of someone who looked like a demon from Hell going to Mass, receiving communion, or being worried about an adoptive father’s state of health.

As this nurse knelt on the floor of the chapel she came to understand why her colleague had found this laughter so offensive; why she had been told that she didn’t understand Hellboy at all if that was all she could see in him.

She suddenly realized that what she was really seeing was nothing more than two frightened children, both with very ill fathers, attempting to comfort each other.

She leaned toward Hellboy and lightly shook his shoulder. As he opened his eyes she whispered, “I think it’s time that I put Katie to bed. It’s going to be six in the morning soon.” She squeezed Hellboy’s shoulder gently, got up, and managed to lift Katie from Hellboy’s lap without waking her.

She then carried her out to the room where she was sleeping with her mother and, thankfully, managed to get her back in bed before her mother ever noticed anything.

Hellboy got up from the floor and picked up the rosary that Katie had dropped. He also retrieved both photographs and stowed everything in the pockets of his coat except for the rosary that he had given his father as a gift; this he again wrapped around his left wrist as he had promised his father he would do when taking care of it for him.

He went over to the nurses’ station and found that his father usually ate breakfast around 8:30am. He returned to his room and managed to get a few more hours of sleep before bringing him the tea and soda bread that he had promised to bring him for breakfast. He was more than glad to see that his father’s condition was further improved.

Hellboy spoke with Katie’s mother later in the day and got her approval for Katie to meet with him in the chapel every evening before they went to bed. She wasn’t exactly keen on all this Catholic stuff, or her daughter spending so much time with such an odd creature, but she could see that it was helping Katie so she decided not to interfere.

Hellboy and Katie prayed together every evening in much the same way that they had done that first evening; they recited a different ‘Mystery’ of the rosary each night.

By Friday Richard Corrigan was stable enough for his heart to be operated on. He actually did quite well for a while; Katie was able to visit with him the following Sunday and he was aware enough to recognize her.

Two days later he was well enough to sit up, eat some food, and to have a significant conversation with Katie about faith and prayer. She came to realize that even though her father no longer cared to attend formal services his own personal faith was very intense and deeply felt.

Katie told him that she would like to be able to receive communion like other Catholic children her age. Her father agreed to this.

The next day Father Mike Elliott came to talk with Richard and it was decided that Katie was to be immediately instructed to be able to receive communion. The following Sunday Katie received her first communion at her father’s bedside; Hellboy was in attendance, but her rather disapproving mother declined to attend.

After the ritual was over and everyone had hugged and kissed Katie, Richard asked Hellboy about his father and was glad to hear about the improvement in his condition. He also thanked Hellboy for befriending Katie when she had needed someone.

Hellboy smiled and took Katie’s hand, “I think we needed each other, Sir.”

Over the next month, despite some setbacks, Trevor Broom’s condition continued to improve. Unfortunately, Richard Corrigan’s condition never completely stabilized and, toward the end of September, he had to be rushed in for emergency surgery and died of cardiac arrest on the operating table.

Katie was devastated and, at first, had blamed Hellboy for giving her the false hope that if she prayed hard enough her father would become well again. She refused to talk to him when he attempted to express his sympathy.

Hellboy was wounded by this rejection, but understood why Katie was angry with him; he realized that he might have unintentionally given her pain by inadvertently encouraging this disappointed hope.

A few days later Hellboy was given other things to worry about when he was informed in the middle of the night that his father was gravely ill.

Trevor Broom had been suffering increasing pain in his right leg due to arthritis from an old wound exacerbated by his recent enforced bed rest. They had administered a new arthritis medication, which caused an allergic reaction that affected his heart.

Broom had gone into cardiac arrest before they managed to track the cause of his problem. He had been successfully resuscitated, but was still unconscious.

If Hellboy had thought that he had been worried before, it was nothing compared to what he felt entering his father’s room and seeing him lying in the bed as if dead. The only thing that was the least reassuring was the continuing beep of the heart monitor.

There was a nurse who was stationed in the room to monitor Broom’s continuing progress. She had been told to let Hellboy stay with his father for as long as he wished as long as he remained quiet.

She smiled reassuringly as Hellboy entered, but he practically paid no attention to her. He knelt by the side of the bed and remained for a long time as immobile as a statue; he never touched Broom nor tried to speak to him.

After this time of complete silence, Hellboy bent his head down closer and whispered something very low into his father’s ear; he continued whispering for a long time, but whatever it was that Hellboy had said to Trevor Broom he never repeated to anyone.

After Hellboy had done this, he continued kneeling in a profound silence for many hours, eventually collapsing in exhaustion to sit on the floor next to the bed resting his head on the side of the bed. After several minutes he raised his head again and, looking closely at Broom’s face, reached up with his left hand to gently grasp his father’s hand in his own.

Hellboy laid his head back down on the side of the bed, still clasping his father’s hand, and fell asleep in this position. When a new nurse arrived to relieve the first nurse she woke him up and tried to convince him to go to bed. He just shook his head. The nurses coming into attend to Broom didn't have the heart to make him move, even though this was somewhat awkward for them.

In the early morning Martha Wilson came in and encouraged Hellboy to get up from the floor next to the bed and sit in his usual large chair. She let him move this chair a little closer to the bed than usual.

Katie Corrigan was still within the confines of the BPRD Medical Wing when this had happened. Her mother was away making arrangements for the removal of her husband’s body. When Martha Wilson first informed Katie what had happened to Trevor Broom, Katie had said that she hoped that Hellboy’s father would die like her father did.

But Katie knew that she really didn’t mean this and was already starting to feel sorry for the way she had treated Hellboy after her father died; he had only been trying to help her. The more Katie tried to continue feeling angry with Hellboy, the more miserable she felt.

Katie had never yet met Trevor Broom. Hellboy had kept intending to bring her to visit his father, but different events kept preventing this. However, she now knew which room he was in.

The next night after Broom had fallen ill Katie was alone and having trouble sleeping. She was desperate to see Hellboy again and knew that he was probably still in his father's room. She dressed herself in a skirt and blouse and went out into the corridor.

Katie went to the room, slowly opened the door and looked in. She saw Hellboy sitting slumped down in his chair, asleep, and Trevor Broom still unconscious in his bed.

The nurse stationed there saw Katie. She went to the door and told her that now would not be a good time to come to visit.

Hellboy lifted his head at the sound of her voice, saw Katie and held his arms out to her.

Katie pushed past the nurse and running to him threw her arms around him and began to cry. Neither of them ever said a word; Hellboy drew Katie up into his lap holding her in his arms until she cried herself to sleep.

As soon as Katie had fallen asleep one of the nurses wanted to take her away, but Hellboy said, “Go on and let her stay. Her mother’s still away and I don’t like the idea of her being all alone tonight.” He let Katie sleep in his lap until she awoke the next morning.

A nurse brought Katie and Hellboy some breakfast along with a small chair for Katie; Hellboy had not been eating well since his father had become so ill, but because Katie was there he ate a little. Katie curled back up in Hellboy's lap again after they had eaten. They both fell back asleep.

Several hours later Hellboy was awakened by a weak voice, “Son? What has happened to me? Have I been unwell?” Trevor Broom struggled to sit up, but was unable.

The nurse who was attendant approached the bed, looked at him, and then said, “I will go get Dr. Patterson; he will inform you of what has happened.” She walked out.

Katie climbed down from Hellboy’s lap as he moved from the chair. He threw himself onto his knees by the bed and grabbed his father’s hand, his heart filled with gratitude.

Everything Hellboy felt for his father just made him even more aware of how devastating Katie’s loss must be to her. He couldn’t understand why he was being allowed to keep his father while this eight-year-old girl he had come to care for so much had to lose hers.

Hellboy struggled to speak, but no words would come. Finally, for the first time since his arrival to the room two nights before, he just buried his face in the bedclothes and wept.

Broom was more than touched by this evidence of his son’s affection; he also realized that he must have been very sick, even though he had little memory of this. He reached over with his right hand, the one that Hellboy was not clutching, and weakly attempted to embrace his son.

Katie, who had still been in the room, ran over to Hellboy, “Please don’t! Please don’t cry anymore. He’s going to be fine. Please.”

Hellboy took a deep, shuddering breath and raised his head, “Well, Pop, you certainly like doing things to get a guy’s attention, don’t you? I don’t mind, really, just next time give a guy a little warning and don’t do it in the middle of the night.”

Broom, who was already starting to feel a little stronger, embraced Hellboy when he leaned forward and kissed his father’s forehead.

Broom then turned toward Katie and reached out his hand, “You must be Katie. I cannot tell you how devastated I am by your loss. Your father was both a good colleague and a good friend. He will be sorely missed. I wish we could have met under better circumstances.” He squeezed her hand weakly and then released it.

Just then Dr. Robert Patterson entered the room to examine Broom and to explain what had made him so ill. Hellboy stood up and decided it was time to get out of the room, his presence never made Dr. Patterson very comfortable. He started to walk out, but stopped and touched the doctor’s shoulder; “Take good care of him for me.”

Hellboy then continued out into the hallway taking Katie with him. He asked permission to take her out into the main building and they went to his quarters where he arranged to have food sent for lunch.

Katie looked around at the comfortable mess that made up a large percentage of Hellboy’s room and admired his three different television sets. She noted that the framed photograph of Hellboy and his father was back hanging on the wall.

Hellboy went over to a paper-strewn desk and retrieved the photograph of Katie with her father; she had left it in the chapel earlier that week. He handed it back to her.

By this time the food for lunch had arrived: chili, corn chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, french-fries, and Coca-Cola. Even though Katie found the chili a little too spicy, she enjoyed the rest of the food. Once Katie had become full, Hellboy ate up everything that was left; now that he wasn’t so worried about his father his appetite had returned.

Katie tried to apologize for the way she had been treating Hellboy recently, but he stopped her. “Look, you were upset after your father died. I can’t blame you for that. Let’s just forget about the rest of it; I know that you didn’t mean most of what you said.”

After lunch they sat together on his couch and watched television until George Baldwin, his father’s current assistant, arrived to his room to inform Katie that her mother had arrived back and was ready for Katie to depart with her. Hellboy, as he led Katie back to the Medical Wing, suddenly realized how much he was going to miss her.

Mrs. Corrigan was already waiting with all of their belongings packed up. She was impatient to go, but Katie, who was only just now coming to realize what this departure would mean, was unwilling to go without a final visit to the chapel with Hellboy.

They walked in and went over to the statue of Mary. There were so many things that Hellboy wanted to say to Katie.

After a long moment of silence he said, “You can still light a candle for your father. You know, if you’re Catholic you can still pray for people even after they’ve died.” He could have kicked himself; that was not at all what he had wanted to say to her.

Katie smiled up at him as if he had just said the most brilliant thing in the world and proceeded to light every candle that was in the rack.

Hellboy knelt down next to where Katie was standing and put his left arm around her, “When I lived in New Mexico there were some other families that were on the secret base where I stayed with Father. Some of the kids there had brothers and sisters. When I was about three and a half years old I asked Pop if he couldn’t get me a little brother or sister; he got me a puppy.”

Hellboy pulled Katie closer, hugged her tightly, and kissed her cheek, “Now, I feel like I really do have a little sister. I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I like the idea of having a big brother,” Katie whispered, “You know, those candles I lit weren’t all just for my father. Some were for your father, but all of the rest of them were for you. I figured that you were so big I would need to light more than one candle.”

Katie reached into the pocket of her skirt and brought out the photograph of herself with her father. She handed it to Hellboy, “I want you to keep this. You knew my father and now you know me. You can hang this picture on your wall next to the picture of you with your father and when you look at it you can think of us.”

Hellboy looked at the photograph he now had in his hand, “But, Katie, this is your favorite picture of you with your father. I don’t want you give that up.”

Katie shook her head, “I have a lot of other pictures of me with my father. It’s because this one is so special that I want you to have it.”

“Oh, I almost forgot something,” Katie reached in the pocket of her skirt and brought out the wooden rosary that Hellboy had lent her, “I should give this back to you.”

Hellboy took the rosary from her and went to stick it in his pocket; he hesitated and then handed it back to her, “Nah, I want you to keep this. I can’t be giving you pictures of me, even if I would want to, and maybe you’ll pray with this once in a while and then maybe you’ll think of me and my father.”

He reached in a pocket; “Here’s that little book of rosary novenas that Father Mike gave me. I don’t really need it now; once I’ve memorized something I almost never forget it. Maybe if we’re both praying for my father he’ll get better even faster.”

Katie tucked the rosary and booklet into her pocket, looked down at the floor and started to cry, “We won’t ever see each other again, will we?”

Hellboy stood up and took her hand to lead her out of the chapel, “Probably not, I’m afraid; at least not anytime soon. I’m not really supposed to exist, you know. However, my father does know where you guys live. Don’t be surprised if you get a letter from a Frank Redford of Brooklyn or his son Frank Redford, Jr.”

He smiled down at her, “And it’s okay if you answer these letters. Whatever you write to one of them I’ll eventually get to hear about. Just make sure you never mention me or the BPRD and we should be able to keep in touch occasionally.” Hellboy returned to the chapel after Katie was gone and prayed all the way through all fifteen decades of the rosary, completely from memory.

He continued doing this almost every evening for weeks. One evening in early December his father’s assistant, George Baldwin, came to the chapel and said that his father was asking for him. Hellboy walked out and went toward his father’s hospital room.

George stopped him with a smile, “He’s not there; you’ll find him in his office.”

Hellboy turned to him, “Please, go tell him I’ll be there in just a minute, George.” He walked back into the chapel and fell to his knees in front of the statue of Mary.

“Thank you,” he whispered; these two words were his most heart-felt prayer of all.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Newark, New Jersey, Early November 2004

It was seven o’clock in the evening by the time Kate Corrigan finally landed at Newark International Airport. It had taken her much longer than even expected to finally take off from the Pittsburgh airport. She took a taxi from the Newark airport, giving the driver directions to the main headquarters of Squeaky Clean Waste Management Services.

She was practically asleep by the time the taxi approached the entrance drive of what was really the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, but the only signs posted referred to the waste management company the organization purported to be. The driver was a little surprised at the elegance of a ‘waste management’ company that even had a perpetual flame beyond the gated entrance to the property.

“Hey, lady,” he shouted from the front seat, “This is a pretty fancy place for garbage collectors, isn’t it? And what’s with that statue on the roof?”

Kate suddenly became more alert. “Statue? What statue?” She put down her window, despite the rain, and craned her head out looking toward the main building. Yes, it did appear like there was some sort of statue on the entranceway roof.

For most people the dark and the rain would obscure the details, but to Kate’s familiar eyes it was obviously Hellboy standing motionless in the wind and rain; his immense pain and sorrow radiated to her even from that distance.

She pulled her now wet head back into the cab and knocked on the partition between her and the cab driver. “Stop the car here; I’ll walk the rest of the way. You wouldn’t be able to drive past the gate, anyway. These aren’t ‘garbage collectors’, you know; this is a federal waste management facility. There’s a big difference.”

Kate paid off the driver, leaving him with a hefty tip. She opened her umbrella and, carrying her small satchel, walked the rest of the distance to the gate at the main entrance.

She could see why the cab driver had mistaken Hellboy for a statue. The whole time she was walking, the figure on the roof never moved a muscle. She wondered how long he had been up there; he must be absolutely soaked.

Arriving at the gate, Kate pushed one of the many buttons that were there and, when a voice asked for her name, spoke into the grillwork microphone. Usually, the voice on the other end would make some joke about the retinal scanner that dropped down, but this time it said, “Welcome back, Dr. Corrigan. In spite of the sad occasion, it’s good to see you again.”

“It’s good to be back,” she replied as she leaned in toward the scanner. Mere seconds later information as to her status with the BPRD flashed up on the scanner’s screen and the gate swung open.

As she walked toward the entranceway she looked up at Hellboy, who appeared to be staring into the far distance and not to have noticed her approach.

She finally entered into the huge main lobby; it was a veritable palace of dark wood and marble with a single desk and a single guard at the end of this empty, museum-like room.

Kate dropped her satchel down next to the huge sword-in-fist logo of the BPRD that was in the middle of the floor and went up to the desk.

“It’s good to see you again, Pete,” she said as she embraced the guard.

“Same here, Kate,” he said, returning the embrace and kissing her cheek. “How long has it been? Four years, five?”

“Something like that,” she replied, “Maybe too long; I never imagined we would lose Trevor in this way. I wish I had returned more often. It seems like it was just yesterday that I had signed up for a class with a Dr. ‘Bruttenholm’ at NYU when I was nineteen, only to find out that he was the same Professor ‘Broom’ my father had worked with and I had met when I was eight; I never knew the name was not spelled as it was pronounced.”

Kate was avoiding what was really upper-most in her mind. But after a short pause she finally asked, “Tell me, why is Hellboy stuck up on the roof like that and how long has he been up there?”

Pete shook his head, “All day, Kate; he’s been up there all day since early this morning. No one can get him to come down. We’re all so furious with Tom Manning and his blessed FBI that it’s a wonder we haven’t all quit. Everyone knew that the FBI had no intention of letting him go to Professor Broom’s funeral; that would be a very public affair. But the professor was like a father to him and what went on here at the Bureau this morning was completely private, attended only by people with clearance.”

He began to pace, “These FBI stuffed-shirts absolutely refused to let him see anyone or be seen by anyone; they wouldn’t even let him see his father’s body once they finally dragged him away from it on the night of the murder. On top of all of that, they let some greenhorn agent, who only came to work here the day before the murder, take what should have been his place carrying the coffin out to the hearse. Well, as you can see, he took things into his own hands and made a very dramatic appearance where everyone could see him for miles around. And he just stood up there in the pouring rain and watched while they carried his father’s coffin out and drove away with it.”

Kate turned away, burying her face in her hands, not wanting to hear any more.

Pete came over and hugged her. After a few moments Kate separated from the embrace and walked back to where her satchel was on the floor.

“Well, I better go and see if there isn’t something I can do.” She picked up the satchel and stood directly in the middle of the BPRD logo. Pete pushed a button and a hidden platform elevator sunk into the floor conveying Kate down into the underground facilities that made up the main headquarters of the Bureau.

Kate knew which fire escapes led up to that portion of the building that would have access to the roof over the entranceway. How many times, since she had come to work for the BPRD in the eighties, did she climb up there with Hellboy to talk about things, to reminisce over shared memories, or just to look at the stars on a clear night?

Neither of them had grown up to be particularly conventional Catholics, but they still had a tendency to pray together at times of trouble. This was something that she had missed during her recent hiatus from the Bureau.

These newer facilities in Newark had an even larger chapel than the one in Boston that Kate remembered with such fond memories; even so, when the weather had allowed, the roof had become the location of choice for them to meet; especially after sunset when everything around was covered in a kind of golden glow.

There was no golden glow or bright stars as she climbed out on the roof this November evening. There was just dark, and wind, and a driving rain—and Hellboy standing, unmoving, with the rain cascading down, and soaking through, his leather coat.

She could now see that in his left hand he was holding the ivory and olivewood rosary that he had once given as a gift to the one he had called Father for almost sixty years.

Kate carried no umbrella, despite the fact that it was now raining even harder than ever. She couldn’t abide the idea of remaining dry while the one she loved as a brother was being soaked through. She stood for a time in silence unable to think of anything to say.

“Katie?” Hellboy’s voice cut through the silence. She was surprised; he had his back to her and, as far as she could tell, had never noticed her since she had arrived.

“Katie, go back in and leave me alone,” he continued, “I don’t want to see anyone, not even you.” Kate went and stood next to Hellboy; they both stood unmoving in the pouring rain, not looking at each other.

After a long silence Hellboy finally spoke again, “They killed my father, Katie; they murdered him. Father tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen to him; he tried to tell me that this time things were different, but I ignored him. I was too wrapped up in my own selfish concerns to be here to protect him; now he’s dead and it’s all my fault.”

He heaved a huge sigh, “Katie, I used to think that I was the lucky one; my father lived. But now I think that maybe you were the lucky one; your father never lived long enough for you to start taking him for granted. Now, go on in and dry yourself off.” These were the last words that Hellboy spoke to anyone for days.

Kate eventually did go back into the building leaving him still standing on the roof. At some point in time, many hours later, he must have come back into the building. The next morning they had found that he had collected up weeks worth of cat food for his cats and figured some way to bolt his room door from the inside; he refused to see anyone or eat.

At some point in time everyone, including Kate, had pounded on his solid-metal door without receiving any reply. Tom Manning, the FBI liaison, was especially frustrated. The FBI wanted the BPRD to investigate Broom’s murder from their end; and Hellboy, who was considered the BPRD’s chief field investigator, refused to come out of his room.

Manning eventually sent some agents with special surveillance equipment; he wanted to know what Hellboy was doing in there all this time. Outside of the background noise from all of his television sets, the only thing that they could hear was Hellboy praying.

After almost four days of this, an exhausted Hellboy unexpectedly came stumbling out of his room; he said to Kate that his father had told him to go get something to eat.

Several days later, Agent John Myers was looking for Hellboy in order to depart for Moscow to catch those who had murdered Trevor Broom; he finally located him in the chapel.

He was seated on the floor with Dr. Kate Corrigan, a woman now in her early fifties, curled up in his lap like a little girl. Both were fast asleep and both held rosaries in their left hands. Kate also held a very tattered, gray-covered booklet of rosary novenas.

On the floor in front of them were two old photographs in tarnished-silver frames—Hellboy in the arms of a very young Professor Broom and little Katie in her father’s arms.

Next: Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry

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