Replacing Cupid

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Billy is a hit man determined to bring his brand of justice to the person responsible for murdering his wife. But there comes a time when a man has to choose between revenge and love.

The man behind the bar said his goodbyes to the patrons as they filed out of the smoke filled establishment. He has witnessed it time and time again watching as couples go out to celebrate their love for one another. While a lone individual sits quietly, thinking the cure for a broken heart is at the bottom of a bottle. It seems as if every Valentine's day people embrace the joys love can bring, or they are trying to escape the pain and hopelessness it can bestow upon them.



The man turned to retrieve his cigarettes that were lying in front of a row of half empty bottles of spirits. Looking into the mirror, he noticed the lines that ran across his battle-scarred face, causing him to wonder how many were hiding under his long dark beard. Watching the glow brighten at the end of the cancerous stick as he took in a long drag of his toxic vice, he hit the switch that turned off the flickering neon light that hung outside above the entrance.



Grabbing two glasses and a bottle of bourbon he turned back towards the bar releasing the smoke that was choking his lungs. Watching as it escaped his lips to gather with the rest of the haze that drifted under the stained ceiling tiles. Turning his attention back to the bar, he began to pour the amber liquid into one of the glasses. Wondering when it would happen, when fate would stumble through the front door. Then he heard it. A faint click a suppressed puff followed by the thud of a lifeless body falling to the damp rain-soaked street.



Closing his eyes, he envisioned what was happening outside. It was as if he was a spectator witnessing the carnage up close and personal. In his mind, he could see a man dressed in black with his hair neatly slicked back holding a 9mm with an attached silencer. The gunman walked purposefully picking apart the well-planned ambush his adversaries had set for him. It was like a well-choreographed ballet the way he moved gracefully wielding the gun in front of him. His eyes were as dark as his suit, full of rage and determination with no room for fear.



Noticing movement coming from an alleyway the gunman raised his weapon and let off three quick shots. Everything was in slow motion as the bartender witnessed it all in his mind. He could hear the bullets slicing through the air as they traveled towards the intended target. In his vision, he could see the smoke rising from the heated barrel of the handgun. Causing him to draw in a deep breath trying to inhale the smell of freshly fired gunpowder. Then came the sound of impact as two of the bullets hit the man waiting in ambush square in the chest. The third projectile was identified by the skull splitting crack followed by blood being splattered on the brick wall behind the now falling target.



The bartender's mind continued to focus on the intricate dance that was taking place outside. He watched as the gunman eliminated the threat that was planned for him one by one until there was no longer a threat left. The puddles in the street turned red with blood from the nine lifeless victims scattered along the road. He could see the professional hit man standing over the corpses talking on his phone. Informing the person who had sent the unlucky assailants after him that they had failed miserably. His mind's eye watched as the gunman walked towards the entrance of the bar. Telling the man on the other end of the phone where to find him if he wanted to finish the job himself.



The bartender's mind raced back to reality when he heard the front door open. As he looked up, he saw a man standing in the entrance wearing work boots, worn jeans, and a bloody shirt pointing a suppressed 9mm directly at him. The man behind the gun gave the bartender a cold stare before looking around to make sure there was nobody else in the room. The bartender returned the unblinking stare unfazed that a gun was being pointed at him. Reaching down slowly he grabbed the bottle of booze holding it up inviting the visitor for a drink.



The man holding the gun stepped into the bar ensuring that the door closed behind him. Slowly he walked to the corner of the bar never taking the gun off the bartender. Once he reached the end of the bar, he waved the gun ordering the bearded man out from behind the bar. The man did as instructed without showing the slightest hint of fear.



“You might want to head home now old timer.” The man with the bloody shirt said nodding his head towards the door.



“I think I will stick around and finish my drink if you don't mind.” He replied.



“It's your life.” The man with the gun said as he slid behind the bar. Keeping his back to the wall to be able to watch whoever might walk through the front door.


The bartender took a seat in front of the man with the gun who was now pouring a drink for himself. It felt strange to him sitting on this side of the bar and watching someone else doing his job. He watched how the man poured his drink studying him carefully. His thoughts went back to the vision he had of the commotion outside the bar. He thought carefully about how this night was going to play out and what to say to the man who invaded his place of business.



The bartender decided not to beat around the bush and asked. “So are you a hitman or something like that?”



“Something like that.” The stranger mumbled as he brought the drink to his lips.



“Funny you are not what I envisioned a hit man to look like.” The bartender chuckled.



“That is because you watch too many movies.” The man in the bloody shirt said setting his gun on top of the bar keeping it pointed towards the door within hands reach.



“Looks like that might need some attention.” The bartender said focusing on the red spot  slowly spreading on the shirt of the man in front of him.



Looking down the hit man said. “Just a minor setback, I will live. At least long enough to finish what needs to be done.”



The bearded man shrugged. “Are we expecting company?” Asking as he finished his drink.



“I am, there is no we.” The gunman responded looking at the older man in front of him questioningly, wonder why he remained so calm.



The bartender started to reach for the bottle only to stop midway when he noticed the bleeding man's hand reach for the gun. The bearded man nodded towards the bottle and slowly continued to retrieve it.



As he poured another drink for his guest and himself he said. “You know this doesn't have to go the way you think it does. Whatever was done to you, that wrong that does not have to be resolved this way. You do have a choice how this ends.”



“Old man you don't know a fucking thing about me or the situation I am in.” The gunman said starting to get aggravated with all of the chitchat.



“Let me ask you something. Do you like history? Because if so I have a story to tell you.”



“A story, what the FUCK. I don't have time for your fucking stories. I think you should.” The hit man said losing all his patience before he was cut off in mid-sentence.



“BILLY YOU HAVE TIME FOR THIS FUCKIN STORY.” The bartender shot back forcefully.


The shock of hearing those words froze Billy as he tried to figure out how the stranger in front of him knew his name. Unable figure it out on his own he gave a nod of consent to hear what the man had to say hoping he would divulge the secret he held over him.



Calming down the bartender slammed his now empty glass down and grabbed another cigarette. The words began to form in his mind carefully. It shouldn't be this hard for him. In his line of work, he weaves stories for a living. But to get the desired effect that he was looking for he had to tell this one perfectly. A single word out of place or too long of a pause could have catastrophic effects. He watched now as Billy refilled the glasses with the mind-numbing liquid. Taking a long drag on his cigarette then quickly releasing the smoke he watched as the gray cloud slowly drifted upward, causing his eyes to focus in on the picture above the mirror on the back wall. The sight of that schooner sailing on the blue sea freed the words forming in his head, allowing them to escape his lips as he began to tell his tale.



It was the 1700's, and the way to move goods around the world was by way of the sea. And with all that money and commodities being transported by ships another occupation had been created. One that was less reputable and cast the shadow of fear into those that had the misfortune of crossing its path. That ruthless trade was none other than piracy. Of all the pirates that sailed the seas, there was one whose name alone sent chills down people's spine. That pirate was none other than Captain Edward Teach.



Captain Teach earned the respect of his crew due to his fine-tuned skills of navigating the seas in search of unsuspecting victims. And the fact that his reputation proceeded him ensuring the pirates would rarely have to fight for the bounty they captured. Most captains would freely give their cargo to Teach in fear for the life of their crew along with their own. But Captain Teach did deliver not only fear but also disdain. One of those men that wanted to see Teach wiped off the face of the earth was a man from Virginia named Governor Spotwood.



Teach was a thorn in Spotwood's side stealing enough goods and income that sailed into and out of Virginia to be able to fund a small city. The Governor swore he would see the pirate leader's lifeless body swinging from a rope, even if Spotwood had to tie the hangman's knot himself.



Now Teach was a natural seaman whose love of the ocean began when he was a small lad. He would spend more time on England's rocky shores daydreaming than he would in school. The love of the ocean never left him as he aged it only grew stronger and unchallenged. That was until he met Mary Ormond.



Mary was an educated woman that came from a well to do family. You would have never thought that she would even entertain the idea of courting a ruthless pirate. But she enjoyed Edwards company as much as he did hers. Captain Teach found that he was no longer running to the pubs and whore houses after his days at sea. Instead, he hurried to see Mary, looking forward to the walks they shared with one another as he held her soft hands breathing in the lavender scent of her hair. He longed to hear the sound of her voice as he rested his head on her lap listening as she read to him. Watching as her ample bosoms would rise and fall with each new breath.



Over time Edward found his love for the sea was diminishing and what he most desired was to be back on land with Mary. He wanted to ask Mary for her hand in marriage but knew she would not accept as long as he remained a fugitive. So Teach decided to have a talk with Mary's influential father. Explaining to him his intentions of marrying his daughter and if there was any way he could use his connections to get him a full pardon.



Mary's father was not fond of the idea of his daughter marrying this cutthroat, but he knew she truly loved Edward. And if he tried to sabotage it in any way he would lose his daughter forever. So he went to speak with the Governor of North Carolina explaining the situation hoping to be able to persuade him into granting a full pardon.



Governor Charles Eden half listened to his friend's proposal. Hearing that Edward Teach wished to receive a full pardon to live a quiet and peaceful life with Mary, the rest words that were nothing more than babble to the Governor's ears. His mind instantly started plotting how he could use this information for his own political gain. He could already see it, Governor Eden, the man who tamed the most notorious pirate that ever sailed the seas. Cutting his friend's long winded speech short, he agreed to grant the pardon on the day of the wedding with one condition. That was that he the governor would be the one to perform the ceremony for the loving couple in one weeks time on February 14th. Agreed upon Mary's father returned home to share the good news.



News traveled to Virginia about how the infamous Edward Teach was giving up his terror of the seas and receiving a full pardon. Governor Spotwood was furious wondering how someone could be foolish enough to believe that Teach would not return to pirating. Spotwood knew if he was going to receive the satisfaction of seeing the pirate hang he had to act fast. He only had days until Edward would no longer be a wanted man. So he gathered three assassins, and they all headed toward North Carolina to see that justice was carried out. But little did he know that one of the men he had chosen held a secret and was not as he seemed.



The 14th of February had arrived and what more fitting day to be married than Valentine's day. Edward watched as his bride walked down the aisle to join him. His mind looked back to when they first met and what began as an awkward conversation blossomed into a pure, true love. When Mary reached his side, he held her hand and breathed in her heavenly lavender scent. He knew he had made the right choice giving up all the pillaging and whoring to spend the rest of his life with the only woman he truly loved. The wedding went off as planned with Governor Eden presiding the ceremony and granting Teach his full pardon. After a celebratory evening, Edward and Mary left their guest to return home to consummate the beginning of their new life together.



As they entered the house, a strange feel came across Edward one he had not felt since he was a young lad. His hand nervously shook as he began to untie Mary's corset. He had been to more brothels and bedded more whores than he could remember. And now he was standing in front of his naked wife shaking like a scared school boy. He stood admiring Mary's untouched beauty he knew he would have to be different with her. She was not like the wenches he had bedded in the past; no Mary was soft and pure he would gently deflower her. He brought his lips to hers and slowly laid her on the bed and they both made love for the first time in their lives.



Governor Spotwood and his men hid silently outside Teach's house patiently waiting for the dead of night to come hoping that the act of surprise would be on their side. An hour after the sounds of lovemaking had stopped they were ready to initiate their attack. Spotwood knew they had arrived too late and Teach was no longer a wanted man so the public hanging he had dreamed of would never happen. So he planned to take matters into his own hands and deliver justice himself by secretly hanging his sworn enemy and leaving his lifeless body swinging in front of his home. The governor sent in his three assailants while he readied the rope.



Edward awoke by movement from Mary's side of the bed then he felt the familiar sting of cold steel, as a knife cut across his cheek. Instinctively he reached next to the bed where he kept a loaded flintlock pistol. Swinging the gun towards the direction of the man who was now directly over him holding the knife. Without hesitating, he squeezed the trigger sending a lead ball into the heart of the intruder.



Noticing that there was no movement coming from Mary he began to fear the worst. Edward jumped out of bed to light a candle to check on her. Once to his feet, he felt the second intruder grabbed hold of him wrapping his arm around Edward's throat trying to choke the life out of him. Angered Teach threw a hard elbow into the attacker's ribs causing him to release his death grip. Edward spun then in one swift move and grabbed the man by the back of hair then repeatedly smashed his head into the solid oak dresser. Edward released the lifeless body and let it fall like a rag doll to the floor. Sitting there trying to regain his breath he noticed the flicker of a candle coming from the corner of the room.



Happy to see the light indicating that his fear was unwarranted and that Mary was still alive he looked up expecting to see her. Edward was shocked to see a third intruder sitting in a chair next to the soft candlelight. He witnessed the fate of his wife as he turned back toward the bed. The very bed that moments ago was used to express their love to one another was now stained crimson red as Mary's lifeless body laid there with her throat cut. Edward turned his hateful gaze back to the man sitting in the chair. The man that calmly remained seated was the man that carried the secret that Governor Spotwood never knew about.



Edward's eyes turned dark as night, and an all too familiar thirst began to form in his mouth one that only blood could quench. Being consumed with the darkness of revenge, he could feel the heart that Mary had thawed in him start to harden. Then the man in the chair began to speak telling Edward that Spotwood was just outside the door.



Sensing that Edward was about to seek the revenge he hungered for the secretive man said to him. “You know this doesn't have to go the way you think it does, whatever wrong that was done to you does not have to be resolved this way. You do have a choice how this ends.”



Billy interrupted the old man's story. “It sounds like the pussy was trying to save his own ass. And what does any of this have to do with me?”



The bearded man sighed hoping that Billy would buy what he was trying to sell him. “You see Billy you and Edward are a lot alike. You both lost something, something more valuable than gold or any other worldly possession. What was taken from you was something rare, something most people never experience. The very thing that mob boss had taken from you when he had your wife Anna killed trying to get to you. The same way Governor Spotwood stole it from Edward. And the thing they took away from you was true love. Something so pure it comes around once in a lifetime.”



Billy quickly reached over the bar and grabbed the old man by the collar and shook him violently. “I don't have time for your damn fairy tales. Now tell me how do you know about Anna.”



“Billy, please hear me out we don't have much time.” The bartender said with his hands in the air hoping Billy's heart had not been consumed with the need for revenge. “You and Anna can be together again.”



“What the fuck are you talking about, they took Anna from me.” Billy said now holding the gun at the old man's head growing tired of his games.


The old man calmly took in a deep breath letting the sweet fragrance fill his nostrils. Billy noticed movement coming from the dark corner of the bar. Moving his gun as if it was a natural extension of his arm towards the figure that was now coming into view. What he saw next only added to his confusion as he watched a beautiful woman appear out of the shadows. The woman was wearing a long dress with a tight corset whose cleavage overflowed from her large breast. Then he noticed the scent of lavender that the old man was breathing in, as it filled the room pushing out any traces of  thesmoke that stained the walls.



Billy turned back toward the bearded man who was now looking at the woman through the mirror behind the bar. “Let me guess now I am supposed to believe you are Edward Teach.”



“Edward Teach or Thatch but most people know me by another name.”



“And what might that be?” Billy asked.



Looking Billy straight in the eye, the old man answered. “Blackbeard.”



“That's funny you don't look like a pirate.”



“That is because you watch too many movies,” Edward answered smiling. “Now listen, many years ago I was given a chance to chose my destiny, and now I am offering you the same opportunity. And I am going to explain it to you the same way the man in the chair that I was telling you about explained it to me. Because of the pure love that you have experienced with Anna; a true love that had been cut short, you have been chosen. You will have the opportunity to share that love with her again, but first, you must spread that love to others, bringing couples together so they might feel the joys of true love.”



“What like a Cupid thing?” Billy asked.



“Yes exactly like a Cupid thing. As a matter of fact many centuries ago Cupid passed on this curse or the blessing depending on how you look at it so his work would carry on. You must bring people together infecting them with love. But your heart must remain pure; you must purge all hatred and desires for revenge from you. If you can accept this then once a year on Valentine's day you will see Anna for a brief moment. And on that very day if you convince someone who has had their true love ripped from them to turn away from the revenge that consumes their heart and agrees to continue Cupids work Anna and you will be reunited for eternity. If you cannot convince them then, you will spread love around for another year until February 14th when you will have the chance to convince another lost soul.”



“What happens if I do not take this offer?” Billy questioned.



“ You will get the brief satisfaction of revenge that your heart hungers for. But the price will be surrendering any chance that you will ever see Anna again and both of your souls will wander alone filled with sorrow and misery till the end of time. The choice is yours, but you do not have much time.” Edward said as he walked into the shadows to sit with his beloved Marry.



This was becoming too much for Billy to take and began to wonder if he had lost to much blood and slipped into some strange subconscious state of mind. Deciding he needed a drink he reached down to grab his glass of bourbon. He stared at the glass afraid to touch it because it was no longer filled with the amber colored liquid. Instead, it now was full of a thick pink potion that glittered in the light.



The voice of Edward came to him from the corner of the room. “If you choose revenge so be it. But if you agree to carry on Cupid's work and you want to be with Anna again just drink what's in the glass. And let justice run its natural course.”



Billy thought he was going crazy none of this made sense. He brought the glass with the pink concoction to his nose taking in its sweet scent. Just then the front door opened and he found himself looking into the eyes of the man who took everything from him.



“I always pegged you for a whiskey man, but I should have known a pussy like you would prefer a pink girly drink.” The man at the door said as his gun painted a red laser dot on Billy's forehead. “You know it didn't have to be like this. Did you actually think we would just let you walk away from the organization?” The man said shaking his head. “And for what, a piece of ass. What the fuck were you thinking? You do know that she died because of you and if makes you feel any better she cried your name as she took her last breath.”



Billy was glad he had the drink in his hand and not his gun. Because if he had his pistol the man at the door would be dead before he had a chance to return a shot. And that would be too quick, to painless. No this was personal, and Billy wanted to make him fight for his last breath. He wanted to feel the life leaving the man's body as his hands tightly squeezed his neck.



Just then both men noticed movement coming from the shadows. The eyes of the man by the door began to widen as they filled with fear. “Bitch you're dead, we killed you.” He said as he began to shoot his gun at the figure who emerged into the light.



Billy watched as Anna came into full view walking towards him. Never once acknowledging the man who was shooting at her. He watched as the ineffective bullets sailed through her without leaving a single mark. His eyes began to water as the tears washed out all the hatred and anger that moments ago had consumed him. His heart began to thaw from the reminder of the loving warmth they had shared together. Determined not to lose Anna again he knew what he must do. Looking towards the door, Billy noticed that the man with the gun had reloaded and was now pointing it in his direction. As Billy brought the pink liquid towards his lips, he heard the distinctive sound of a gun going off. And just then everything went black.



Opening his eyes, he noticed Edward standing over him. “Am I dead?”



“No Billy you did well. You are in a state of limbo you able to make yourself appear where and when you want as you spread Cupid's magic.” Edward said as he handed him a worn dusty book. “You will find the answers to all your questions in here. I just hope your chapter is a short one.” Edward reached down and helped Billy up then patted him on the back and wished him good luck.



As Edward turned to join Mary, Billy asked him one last question. “Whatever happened to Governor Spotwood?”



“It is in the book along with the stories of all of Cupid's other replacements. But in short, when I fired my pistol it had awoken one of my nearby neighbors. When he came to check on us, he found Governor Spotwood in my house holding a bloody knife with three dead bodies scattered around. When asked what happened all that came out of Spotwood's mouth was some incoherent ramblings about four ghosts. The courts had come to the conclusion that the Governor's thirst for revenge had driven him insane. And instead of hanging him they sentenced him to a mental institution where he spent the rest of his days.”



“So justice did run its natural course.” Billy said.



“Yes it did Billy, yes it did.”



Billy watched as Edward and Mary walked away hand in hand before slowly disappearing. Seeing the two of them together gave him hope of reuniting with his true love. Billy then looked down at the tattered old book that Edward had given him and began reading through it's worn pages to see what was expected of him. Hoping the sooner he got started, the sooner Anna would be in his arms again.



Six months later in the middle of Central Park, a homeless man was sitting alone on a bench enjoying the sunshine as he read someone's discarded newspaper. Smiling as he read the headline MOB BOSS FOUND GUILTY IN NINE MURDERS. The homeless man laughed inside remembering how an old friend once told him that justice would run its natural course. Smiling Billy set the paper down then noticed two strangers who were sharing a bench for lunch. He watched as the young man nervously introduced himself to the attractive woman. And that is when Billy decided it was time for him to work his magic.


*** This book is a work of fiction,Names ,places and events are products of the authors imagination and or used fictitiously. Any historical figuares uses in this work of fiction are not ment to be historicaly accurate.  Copyright by J.R. VenDee. All right reserved, including the rights to reproduce portions thereof in any form are prohibited.***

Submitted: December 24, 2020

© Copyright 2021 J. R. VenDee. All rights reserved.

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Keke Serene

I loved this story, a lot of great twists and turns. And you know, I was thinking the bartender had to have some kind of mythical powers if he could envision the madness going on in the streets. My only critique is that in the beginning there are a lot of sentence fragments. Other than that I really enjoyed this! Well done!

Mon, December 28th, 2020 7:47pm

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