“Well, get it, Ms. Lane. Don’t just stand there.”
I blinked. “Me?”
“You’re standing right next to it.”
“But it makes me feel sick,” I protested.
“Now’s the perfect time to start working on that little problem of yours. Get it.”
Stomach heaving all the while, I lifted the thing from the wall. The metal brackets suspending it popped up with an audible click when I removed its weight. “Now what?” I said.
Barrons laughed and the sound echoed hollowly off the stone. “Now, Ms. Lane, we run like hell, because you just set off a dozen alarms.”
I jerked. “What are you talking about? I don’t hear anything.”
“Silent. Straight to every house he owns. Depending on where he is at the moment, we have little, or even less, time.”
Barrons wasn’t turning out to be a good influence on me at all. In a single night he’d gotten me to dress like a floozy, burgle like a common thief, and now he had me cussing like a sailor as I seconded his opinion. “Fuck,” I exclaimed.
It occurred to me as I raced through the predawn streets of Dublin, with a spear longer than I was tall tucked beneath my arm, that I didn’t expect to live much longer.
“Lose the pessimism, Ms. Lane,” Barrons said when I informed him of my thoughts. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“Huh?” I said, gasping for breath. I tried to fling myself into the car, but succeeded only in getting wedged in the open door by the spear.
“Slide it over the top of the seat and into the back,” he barked.
I managed to unjam myself and did just that. I had to roll the window down so part of the shaft could protrude. Barrons slid behind the wheel at the same moment I dropped into the passenger seat and we both slammed our doors.
“Expect to die,” he said, “and you will. The power of thought is far greater than most people ever realize.” He started the car and pulled away from the curb. “Fuck,” he said again. It seemed to be the word of the night.
A Gardai car was passing us, moving very slowly. Fortunately it was on Barrons’ side, not mine, and the cop couldn’t see the butt of the spear sticking out.
“We’re not doing anything wrong,” I said instantly. “Well, I mean, not that he knows, right? Surely the alarm hasn’t been reported to the police yet, has it?”
“Whether or not it has, he just got a good look at us, Ms. Lane. We’re on O’Bannion turf. Who do you think pays to have his streets patrolled at these hours?”
Understanding dawned slowly. “You’re saying that even if the cop doesn’t know now, once he finds out O’Bannion was robbed . . .” I trailed off.
“He’ll pass on our descriptions,” Barrons finished for me.
“We’re dead,” I said matter-of-factly.
“There’s that pessimism again,” said Barrons.
“Realism. I’m talking about reality here, Barrons. Pull your head out. What do you think O’Bannion’s going to do to us when he finds out? Give us a little slap on the wrist?”
“Attitude shapes reality, Ms. Lane, and yours, to coin a grossly overused American phrase, sucks.”
I didn’t get what he was trying to tell me that night, but later, when it counted, I would remember and understand. The single greatest advantage anyone can take into any battle is hope. A sidhe-seer without hope, without an unshakable determination to survive, is a dead sidhe-seer. A sidhe-seer who believes herself outgunned, outmanned, may as well point that doubt straight at her temple, pull the trigger, and blow out her own brains. There are really only two positions one can take toward anything in life: hope or fear. Hope strengthens, fear kills.
But I understood little of such things that night and so I rode in white-knuckled silence as we sped through deserted Dublin streets until at last we pulled in to the brightly lit alley between Barrons’ garage and residence. “What the heck did we just steal, anyway, Barrons?” I said.
He smiled faintly as the garage door rose. Our headlamps illuminated the gleaming grilles of his auto collection. We drove inside and parked the old sedan in the rear. “It has been called many things, but you might know it as the Spear of Longinus,” he said.
“Never heard of it,” I said.
“How about the Spear of Destiny?” he asked. “Or the Holy Lance?”
I shook my head.
“Do you subscribe to any religion, Ms. Lane?”