Moses had just entered M’s back garden when the kitchen window exploded and a rocket launched grenade whistled gracefully towards his face.
“Fucking cunts” shrieked Moses eloquently summarizing his situation and managed to duck just sufficiently for the grenade’s trajectory to take it not between his eyes but down his centre parting.
Turning as if inebriated, Moses watched the grenade hit a letterbox, which shot up into the stratosphere like a missile until plummeting down again, in to the back of a milk float.
Moses was standing transfixed in a snowstorm of milky glass when Stables and Thorn arrived. Stables looked from the milk float to M’s kitchen window and then back at Moses. “Your hair is on fire sir” proffered Stables. “I know” replied Moses, “I know.”
M managed to block and hold the shank of the shovel before his wife was able to stove his head in with it. There was a brief period of grappling before Daniel’s mother let go of the shovel partly because M was too strong for her and partly because Daniel who was now holding the gun, had placed it against her stomach.
“What are you doing Daniel?” She asked.
“I’m bringing this to an end” replied Daniel walking over to his father and handing the gun back to him.
“I don’t understand” said his mother who was hugging herself and shuffling from the light to the dark kitchen tiles and back again in a one woman waltz.
“You haven’t earned the right to understand mum. Good or bad - at least M has been a father to me - you - you just faded away.”
M was examining the gun as if he had never seen it before. “This changes nothing” he said to no-one in particular raising the gun once again like an automaton.
"Would you mind standing aside while I blow your father to pieces?" Asked Dorsal patiently. He had reloaded the grenade launcher and was keen to try it out again. He was definitely going to use this in the playground - a weapon like this would raise his credibility as a bully to hitherto unimaginable levels.
Daniel stood directly in front of his father.
"Not until I have the answer to some questions" replied Daniel.
"Well if it's answers you want" said M, grabbing Daniel and planting barrel of the gun, diagonally into the top if his head "then ask away before I decorate this room with your central nervous system. But bare in mind that this will be a conversation which ends with the 'b' in bang."
Moses, Thorn and Stables had advanced to the bush at the end of M's garden. Moses had extinguished his hair and Stables and Thorn had trained their rifles on the kitchen.
"I have a kill shot sir" said Thorn, do I have your permission to take it?"
"Is it a clean shot Thorn- is his son clear?" Moses asked.
"I thought the child was the target sir, I distinctly read that in the briefing note that... Not kill the child. Really?"
Moses inhaled so much air that his lungs were on the point of exploding and turned to Stables. There was neither hope nor expectation in his voice when he spoke.
"What about you?"
"I can't get a clean shot of M sir, there are too many people in the way." He paused. "We could just shoot everyone."
Moses sucked a thoughtful tooth grabbed the rife from Stables and ran down the garden towards the kitchen door. If there was going to be carnage here he wanted it to be his kind of carnage.
"So why kill me - kill your surviving son, what will that achieve?" Asked
"This was never about you Daniel. It was about failure - it was about holding your brother's body in my arms and being unable to make him be alive again, no matter how tightly I held him, how hard I begged and begged him to breath. It was about kissing each one of his tiny fingers one last time and knowing that when I let go, someone was going to take him away from me and bury him in the ground. More than anything, it was losing his smile, the smile he gave as a gift to me and only me. It was a smile that lit me up and losing it extinguished a flame that could never, ever be re-ignited.
"And your solution was violence?" Asked Daniel.
"Violence is an elegant language punctuated by fear. It was the way I communicated after they took your brother from me."
Daniel's mother was touching the top of the kettle now, in sets of five, five was important, five made her laugh and cry and scream and vomit but it had to be repeated and repeated. " I drove through a supermarket and killed your son, blame me. If you are going to kill someone then kill me."
"How can I kill you when you died in that accident?" Asked M.
" I can't see you, can't feel you, you don't exist."
Moses could see that the situation in the kitchen was rather tricky, that the wrong decision would result in devastation on a biblical scale. He threw himself against the wall to the side of the kitchen door and lifted his walkie talkie to his mouth.
"Is your attack team in place Crown?"
There was a brief static hiatus.
"All in place sir," whispers Crown. We will smash in the front door, enter the house through the hallway and take out M in the kitchen. Ready to go on your mark."
"All in place outside the front door of number 22" enquired Moses.
More static. Moses could just make out the word "bollocks".
"How is any of this Daniel's fault?" Asked Daniel's mother who was now frenziedly touching the kettle with alternate hands and her forehead. A line of drool leached from the corner of her mouth.
"From the first moment I saw him I knew he wasn't his brother, could never replace his brother." Said M. " I hated him for that, will always hate him for it. His face is not quite his brother's his voice is not quite his brother's voice and when I held his hand for the first time..."
Daniel looked up at his father, turned, wrapped his arms around his father's wretched bloody waist and hugged him. He hugged him and he cried, because he couldn't be brave any more. And as he cried so did Dorsal, for the mother and father that had betrayed him. And as Dorsal cried so Ferris cried for the father he had lost until the end of his days. And as Ferris cried, Chas cried for the brutal loss of his innocence and the child he still remained, finding himself once again, fighting with the dogs for survival.
Just as Moses kicked in the kitchen door and raised his weapon to fire on M, Daniel's mother swung the kettle into M's head with such deadly force, it felled him like a mighty oak that would never rise again.
And before he fell, just for a few seconds, Daniel had felt M hug him back.
“I’m sorry, I really am sorry but I don’t know how to help you” wheezed Renton Bailey as the naked man’s enormous hand closed ever more tightly around his throat. “I’m a mortician, not a surgeon.”
“Just close up the wounds like you would with a corpse but clean them before you do it. Then get me some clothes.”
Renton looked into the man's eyes. He was used to looking into the eyes of dead people every day of his life. These were the same.