The King of Fear

The King of Fear by Drew Chapman Read Free Book Online

Book: The King of Fear by Drew Chapman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Drew Chapman
connected to the tire shop’s Wi-Fi—Mitty said her uncle paid for high speeds to watch Venezuelan porn when business was slow. Garrett logged on to his virtual private network to search the Web for information on the shooting. His VPN let him go online without being tracked. He let the digital data wash over him and felt intense relief. He was back in the global information flow, where he belonged, moving from website to website, news feed to opinion piece. He checked the markets and interest rates, going from graph to chart to an endless scroll of numbers. The Dow had sunk on news of Steinkamp’s death, and the VIX—the Volatility Index—had skyrocketed. He ran videos and read interviews and blog posts. A veil of anxiety had descended on Wall Street. The smart money was on edge. Everyone was on edge.
    All the while, Mitty kept up a running stream of commentary at his ear, complaining about Alexis Truffant, bitching about the Dominican whore heruncle brought to the bedroom, and spending a good twenty minutes on her new diet. “Just Coke Zero and cottage cheese. It’s a cleanse.”
    â€œThat’s not a cleanse. A cleanse is—forget it.” Garrett found a news item from Agence France-Presse. “There’s been a bank run in Malta.” Garrett scanned the news update. “Started just after the Italian stock drop. It lines up perfectly.”
    â€œWhat’s Malta? A coffee drink?”
    Garrett ignored her. He pushed back from the laptop and massaged his temples.
    Mitty watched him, concern softening her face. “Head hurting again?”
    Garrett nodded imperceptibly. Yes.
    â€œYou got meds?”
    He shrugged. Yes, but he needed to stay off them for a while—not that Mitty needed to know that.
    She watched him for a moment. “I’ll run to the corner, get us some beers. Maybe some snacks. That’ll help, right?”
    â€œSure,” Garrett managed to mutter. “But be careful.”
    She returned fifteen minutes later with a six-pack of Schlitz, a bag of potato chips, and a plastic bottle of Motrin.
    Garrett drank a beer and swallowed six pills. “See anyone out there? Watching you?”
    â€œChill. I got it covered. I’m the Puerto Rican James Bond.” She rubbed his neck and shoulders silently for a few minutes, and the pain in his head lessened. He was grateful for Mitty. She was excitable, opinionated, and bitchy, but she was also smart and intensely loyal. She would walk through fire for him.
    â€œYou should get some sleep,” she said. “Make sense of this in the morning.”
    He nodded, but kept working, broadening his search. He researched the bank run in Malta. No one was saying exactly how the run had started; no one seemed to know. News clips showed angry depositors throwing stones in the streets. Mitty drank a second beer, then a third, then passed out on the bed, a laptop open on her stomach. Garrett must have drifted off as well because he woke with a start at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of a window breaking. He sat bolt upright in his chair. Mitty was snoring peacefully on the bed.
    Garrett went to the bedroom door, cracking it open to listen. There was movement below, in the tire-repair shop: someone, or something, padding around amid the equipment. Garrett slid into the hallway, then stepped slowly down the cramped stairway that led to the machine shop. The smell of rubber and grease was overwhelming. A bank of windows on the far side allowed a streak of orange halogen light to wash across the piles of tires and the empty car bays.
    Garrett stepped into the room and listened. There was only silence. He tried to slow his heart rate—the blood was pumping in his ears. A flash of a thought occurred to him: he had quit Ascendant to get away from the exact things that were happening to him at this moment. And yet his past had caught up with him. With a vengeance. He wanted to scream, but stifled the impulse.

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