Author’s notes: This follows directly after Part Twenty-One and won’t make sense without the previous parts. In general, Manhattan had the same highways and streets in 1978 as we have currently. I understand that due to maintenance and re-building, the identification of these highways is more complicated than I will present below, but feel it will be better to stick to the current names for ease of identification. Forgive me for any inaccuracies.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Twenty-Two

Walter Carlton looked out the window at the still-guarded open manhole on West Fourth. He could not abide listening any further to Trevor Broom speak about creatures following his son the night of the Halloween party. Feeling guilt over sending his daughter to tend bar instead of working the party himself that night, he began to consider that the blame was not all his own.

It had not escaped Carlton’s attention that Broom had never once referred to this son of his by name. He had already been wondering about Broom’s adopted son; now, after having met the obviously non-human Abe Sapien, he wondered even more about the true nature of this mysterious, unnamed son.

From what Mindy had described to him after the Halloween party was over, she had assumed this son’s odd appearance was due to an excellently designed costume. The fact that some attending the party referred to him as ‘Hellboy’, or affectionate variations of this name, was attributed to his friends addressing him as the character this costume portrayed.

Anger began to fill him; the very existence of this so-called ‘son’ was what was really responsible for Mindy’s predicament. It was because of him those horrid rats dragged his only child down that manhole to some god-forsaken location below the streets of New York City.

Almost as if Broom was reading Carlton’s very thoughts, he walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder; “That Halloween party was completely my own idea. Please don’t blame my son for any of this. I take full responsibility for this fiasco.”

To his own surprise, Carlton’s anger faded and he smiled as he turned toward Broom, who had joined him in looking out the window.

“It’s obvious that you care for your son as much as I care for Mindy. I can’t blame you for wanting to show him a good time. Let’s get the hell out of here and figure out what you guys can do for Mindy and Professor Corrigan.”

Broom smiled back at Carlton, “I am much relieved that you are not going to automatically hold my son or myself responsible for this. Yet, I cannot but feel somewhat irresponsible in not anticipating…”

“No, Father,” interrupted a deep voice, “If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine. You never would’ve gave me that party if I hadn’t always been pestering you to let me have a night out.”

Both men turned toward the rear of the restaurant, where there was now a large figure almost completely covered in a black, hooded cloak. Carlton could see a gloved left hand, but if this huge figure had a right arm it was completely hidden inside the cloak. Abe seemed to be the only one not surprised by this person’s sudden appearance.

Somewhat annoyed with Hellboy, Broom still found it hard not to smile. “I asked you to stay in the truck, Son. There really is not much for you to do here and I am concerned about the media.”

A grunted laugh came from deep inside the hood, “Don’t worry about pictures, Pop. You really think they could see much of me in this getup? If you guys are finished, why don’t you and Abe go back to the truck? I’d like to talk to Mr. Carlton and I’m sure he has plenty of questions for me.”

Carlton found it hard not to just stand and stare at the newcomer who was now removing his cloak. Everything about this man, from the red face with it’s sawed-off horns down to that huge right hand, was exactly the way Mindy had described the costume he had worn at the party. Broom had claimed that some of his agents were unique; it was now clear to Carlton this was his son’s usual appearance. No wonder Broom had arranged that party as a Halloween costume party.

Broom looked over at Abe, who was starting to put back on his disguise, and then turned again to Hellboy. “Son, I have a question of my own. How did you know what we were discussing?”

Broom’s ‘son’ smiled at Abe. “Let’s just say a little blue bird whispered something in my ear.”

Smiling back at Hellboy, Abe prepared to reattach his false beard. “I promised Red to keep him apprised of what was going on, Professor.”

Carlton frowned slightly, “When did you find the time to communicate this information, Abe? You’ve never left the restaurant since you walked in.”

“I can speak directly to the mind of another,” Abe replied as he finished reattaching his beard and donning the rest of his disguise, “Especially a mind I know as well as I know Red’s.”

Sighing, Broom pulled back on the coat that he had removed when he first entered the restaurant. “Son, I understand why you wished to speak with Mr. Carlton, but you know the FBI would rather you came in contact with as few people as necessary. Don’t be too long.”

Walking over to Carlton, Broom shook his hand. “I’m sorry we could not become better acquainted under more pleasant circumstances. I would bring you with us. However, I know the FBI would never condone me permitting a civilian to accompany us unless we required the help or expertise of such. You have an idea of our destination; I beg you not to try and follow us. If we are to succeed, it would be better not to have the possibility of inadvertent interference on your part.”

Finding himself unable to speak, Carlton squeezed Broom’s hand and nodded. Broom squeezed back and then, followed by Abe, walked out to the waiting vehicles parked at the rear of the restaurant.

After their departure, Hellboy looked over the wooden chairs at the tables and determined these chairs were probably sturdy enough to hold his weight. He sat down and indicated for Carlton to join him. Carlton hesitated slightly, somewhat nervous, “Can I bring you anything, sir?”

Hellboy shook his head; “I know I should be hungry; never got a chance to eat supper. But I’m just too upset. I could use a large cup of strong black coffee, though. Maybe it would clear my head a bit. By the way, Carlton, I’m just plain ‘Hellboy’; maybe not the prettiest name in the world, but it’s mine. Or you can call me ‘Red’ or ‘H.B.’ like some of my friends do.”

Carlton walked over to where there was an urn full of hot coffee that had been made hours before. Filling a mug, he brought it to the table and sat down opposite Hellboy.

“If you like your coffee strong, Red, this should be plenty strong by now.”

Even Hellboy’s left hand dwarfed the mug as he picked it up and gulped down the bitter coffee. Hellboy smiled, “Thanks, Carlton, that really hit the spot.”

Carlton was somewhat surprised at how attractive this large, red creature looked when he smiled.

Hellboy leaned forward, “Look, Carlton, I’m sure you’re wondering what in the hell creature I’m supposed to be. Guess what? So am I and, believe me, I hate not knowing.”

“Yes, Red, I admit I am curious. Your father can’t tell you something? Doesn’t he know?”

Hellboy shrugged, “Father doesn’t really know that much. In 1944 he stopped the Nazis from using black magic to win the war; the only result of that interrupted experiment was my own little baby self. Trevor Broom rescued me and has always treated me as his son. Never cared one damn bit he wasn’t exactly sure where I came from; said it didn’t make a difference. He’s raised me up to work with him and as far as I’m concerned he is my father; the only father I care to know.”

Hellboy was silent for a while; when he continued, Carlton was surprised to notice tears in his eyes. “I’ll probably never even have the chance to know what it’s like to lose a child. I’m hoping you’ll never know what it’s like to have your very existence be a danger to the people you care about.”

Hellboy pushed the coffee mug toward Carlton for a refill. After Carlton returned with more of that almost medicinally strong coffee, Hellboy took a long drink from it before he continued speaking.

“I’ve known Kate Corrigan for almost twenty years; I can’t even bear to think what these bastard rats may be doing to her. And I feel ten times worse about Mindy. I got pretty drunk that night and just didn’t think enough about what I was doing. I should’ve realized Pop set up that party so the waiters and waitresses would stay as far away from me as possible. That party was the best time I’d ever had in my life; I just felt I had to personally thank everyone when it was over.”

Hellboy took another long drink from his coffee. “Mindy’s probably in trouble now because I kissed her cheek when she said she thought my costume was sexy. I’ll never forgive myself if something happens to her because these goddamn rats are after me. At least Katie has an idea about creatures like this and how to handle them. But Mindy…”

Grabbing the hand that was still holding the mug of coffee, Carlton interrupted Hellboy from saying anything further. “Even up until a few minutes ago I was more than ready to place all the blame on you that you are obviously placing on yourself. I find I can no longer blame either your father or you for this situation. Please stop blaming yourself; no man should have to live with such guilt.”

Pulling his hand away, Hellboy placed the mug back down on the table. “But, you see, I’m not a man; never was, never will be. Everyone would be a hell of a lot safer if I stopped trying to act like one. Trevor Broom protected me when others wanted to destroy me; there’s not one thing he could ask I wouldn’t do. Because of him and the work he has taught me, I’ve had the chance to know a few other humans; people I consider almost like my family. I keep complaining about feeling like I’m stuck in some glorified prison because I have to keep hidden; but if by just staying put and doing my job I can keep everyone safe, I should be happy with that and stop asking for more.”

While Hellboy had been speaking, neither he nor Carlton noticed that Trevor Broom had walked back into the restaurant. “Son, the FBI has obtained the maps and schematics Abe requested; we need to leave now. We will be taking the West Side Highway and ongoing repairs to that highway will slow us down—especially because of the size of your truck. However, that will still be faster into Harlem than traversing local streets. Abe is already beginning to get a clearer picture after perusing some of the maps he just obtained and is eager to depart.”

Standing up from the table, Hellboy took one last drink from his now cold coffee. Grabbing a paper and pencil out of a pocket, Carlton scribbled something on it; he handed the paper to Broom.

“This is my daughter’s address on Carmine Street; I will be waiting there for any news. Frankly, I will be waiting there hoping to see her walk through her front door again. I wish you all good luck.”

“Forget about wishing us luck,” Hellboy growled, “Pray for us instead.” He walked out before Carlton could answer him.

Carlton turned toward Trevor Broom who had not yet followed Hellboy, “Your son is certainly an intriguing character. I can see why my daughter found him interesting, even if she didn’t realize that ‘costume’ was real.”

Broom sighed, “Yes, I have always found him interesting, even as a child; but even more now that he is starting to grow up. He is not a man, but not for the reasons he thinks. Someday he will become a man, but I am afraid he will suffer much before that happens. Please do pray for us, but wish us luck as well. I believe in both; after all it was sheer luck that brought him to me.” Broom walked out before Carlton could say anything more.

More to come…

Author’s temporary farewell: I’m afraid I’ll have to leave things hanging for just a while. My husband and I are attending the Berkshire Choral Festival (as singers) in the beginning of July. I’ve got to learn the Poulenc Gloria and Vaughn Williams Dona Nobis Pacem before we leave for that beautiful spot in the Berkshire Mountains. I have the scores and the specially prepared practice CDs. Now I’ve just got to make the time.

For those of you who have been following this chapter, it was the Berkshire School, the Sheffield, Mass. location of the festival, where Hellboy was possessed and shot Abe.

See you when I get back…

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