Thistle had been tasked with following Valdez, but the man walked at such a brisk pace he was having trouble keeping up. He really needed to dry his wings but there was no chance of that just yet. Hopefully wherever Valdez was going would be inside, preferably somewhere warm.
They had left the park and were headed down the main drag, the streets were crowded but Valdez just kept on moving, never slowing down once. It seemed people naturally sensed to move out of his way. More than once Thistle almost lost track of him, especially after he dumped the hat he’d been wearing into a rubbish bin. Had he realised he was being followed? Was someone else following him? Thistle flew a foot or two higher and looked down at the humans below him not really knowing what to look for. No one looked out of place. There weren’t any of those police officers about. Maybe Valdez was just being cautious. As satisfied as he could be that there wasn’t anyone else, Thistle turned and set off after his quarry.
It wasn’t business as such that Valdez was engaging in so much as the resolution of a personal matter or as personal as things ever got with Valdez. Over the past few months he had been a semi regular visitor to a massage parlour that offered it’s patrons all kinds of services if they were willing to pay enough. Valdez had no problem with paying, it was business as far as he was concerned and one particular lady who called herself Rosa had always made sure he’d got a very good deal. A week ago he’d gone to see her only to be told she was unavailable. When he’d pressed the young woman on the front desk as to why, the owner of the establishment had come out to see him personally. They’d had an informal chat in the office about how a client had asked for some very particular services, how Rosa had been asked for by name and how this client had paid a lot of money. Apparently things had got out of hand and Rosa had been left in a very bad way. Valdez asked again to see her. When he saw what had been done to her, he demanded the name of the client and promised the owner that nothing like this would ever happen again.
Valdez had done some unpleasant things to people in the past but that was business. Rosa had been abused for someone’s enjoyment. A sick mind like that could not be left to wander the streets. He had made a careful note of all Rosa’s injuries. He intended to give this client a taste of his own medicine.
The address Valdez had been given was in a very dark part of town, full of unpleasant people and rather short of street lights. The lack of light meant Thistle didn’t have many places he could hide. I hope these humans don’t mind fireflies he thought.
Valdez took the steps up to the building two at a time. He took a look around before knocking on the door. It took a minute or so before the occupant answered. Valdez politely asked if the person whose name he’d been given was home. The man said that was him. Valdez hit him so hard he fell backwards, hitting the floor, knocked out cold. Valdez stepped inside and shut the door behind him.
Thistle flew in via a slightly open window. He watched as Valdez dragged the man into the kitchen, dumped him on a chair, then bound and gagged him. He watched as Valdez threw water at the man’s face and slapped him to bring him round.
After fifteen minutes Thistle flew back out of the window as fast as his wings would carry him, pale faced and feeling sick. He did not stop until he reached the park. He collapsed, shaking onto a tree branch.
A drunk sat passed out on the bench below, a bottle of cheap whiskey knocked on it’s side and the contents spilling out of it. Thistle jumped down from the branch and drank the liquor until he too passed out.
Bramble and Chamomile found him some time later, picked him up and carried him off. It was a long time before he could bring himself to tell them what he’d seen.