Path Of The Gods.
This is a sequel, to 'The Devil You Know'. A sequel so direct, it starts right after that previous book finishes. So please, if you care, go read that. Now that you're back, or assumingly have left for good, because who has the time to read two books. Please continue. This is not the cleanest book, not just by language, but just base writing. I put this and 'The Devil You Know' up on Tablo because I'm not sure they'd ever be of a standard to submit to a publisher. But I like them and want some feedback. So please, comment! For those curious this is the fourth draft. There's still plenty of tinkering to be done with it, if I ever wanted to submit it.
'Path of the Gods' goes some places, some ridiculous places. Also one of the reasons I'm not sure I publisher would ever pick it up. But I had fun writing it, so who the fuck cares right. And of course, one day I'll make it a trilogy, because what's the point of preemptively writing a sequel before the first has had any success, without doing it twice. Jon Sanchez will return. I can feel your disappointment already. Anyhow. Here it is.
It contains coarse language, violence. In case you're interested.
June 15th 1948
There was a place, off the main drag, god knows how Mr Lee managed to snag even that location. An immigrant in this city, getting a lease to a place outside China town. Somehow he had. It sold Hot rolls stuffed with glistening baked pieces of pork side. The skin crisped up and crunchy the fat still a little wet to the touch. That's what it disturbingly smelled like, more worrying was how much Jon now wanted one of those hot pork rolls. Mr Lee wouldn't be open for hours yet. This was going to be torture. Shame though, he liked that rug. Like the rest of the junk he was disposing into the smelting bin at Mesa Glass works, it were soon to be vaporised into nothing but an aroma.
Jon Sanchez rubbed his hands together, a little smugly if he were honest. Pleased with how all this had turned out, he didn't even need a wheel barrow. The heat belted out from the smelting bin, the occasional flame licking up from the surface as the air itself caught fire. That was enough quiet gloating. Flicking the remains of the cigarette into the red glowing mess, Jon headed back to Roland's car. How many places in this city needed security guards. Anyone could just walk in and do whatever they wanted.
Jon was certainly an anyone. The cars trunk hung open, the latch, apparently not wanting to stick. Pushing a hand down on it in passing, Jon noticed it pop straight back up.
“Eddie you piece of shit” Once again finding something to pick on his wretched tubby little acquaintance for. Laying a boot to the slightly ajar door the whole thing slung open. Quite the opposite of what Jon wanted to achieve. He'd glue it shut. Take Eddie out to the knackery like the old nags and have him melted down into some super glue. That would teach the little shit to sell him a stolen car that didn't work. But maybe that was Roland's fault. After all it was his car. Jon was about to slam the lid shut, praying that it would stay that way. Something catching his eye. A bundle of white balled up, jammed into the back of the trunk space. Reaching in, letting the cloth unfurl in his hands.
A plain white lab coat. Name tag attached to the top pocket, 'Roland Fleethammer, Staff scientist'. Something far more interesting inhabiting the sleeve. The thick red swath of blood stretching along the softly laundered cloth.
“Roland... what did you do?” Jon mumbled holding it aloft in front of him. Carelessly with his other hand using his own sleeve to wipe the blood from his own nose.
“Hmmm... maybe not dead” Jon considered, looking at the similar pattern to his own sleeve. Sifting a hand over the coat, inspecting the pockets. Maybe there was something else worth taking from Roland he hadn't already. Dropping a hand into the pocket Jon pulled out the leaf of paper, balling the coat back up jamming it into his coat pocket.
“He will return” Jon read from the piece of paper. Dismissing the thought quickly, not really give a shit who was coming if it wasn't him. Folding the paper he slipped it into his pocket. Slamming the trunk closed, waiting eagerly for it to pop back open a moment. Success, at least for now. Jon slipping into the drivers seat, heading home. There was still half a bottle of rum to force down before he passed out. If he was quick he could be unconscious by three, wake up sometime next week.
The city quiet, oddly so given the night that'd taken place. Jon expectations of angry mobs roaming the streets looking for revenge for their skin tone maybe over thinking it. He guessed they were home licking wounds, thinking on how to take back what was lost. Pulling into the lot at the front of his building Jon let the car edge up to curb. Maybe the mayor was a little better prepared than Jon gave him credit for, the slow rolling National Guard jeep edging past out on the road. Jon watching the vehicle putt along, the two occupants as slovenly the armed forces would allow. They must've been rolling patrols around to keep the everyone in check. Jon sure it were only those of the darker persuasion they'd been told to focus on.
His office, still smelled of tart. Thick pungent lingering smells of a sour floral variety pasted into the very walls. Jon watching over the space where his rug used to be.
“Fat bitch” He mumbled stumbling through the open door, pouring himself a mug of alcohol. A few surviving cubes of ice floating about in the ice bucket. Taking a swig of the liquid, considering maybe it were time to replace those bottles, whatever they were. This one may have just been window cleaner. Wandering back to the front office, taking a seat in Lydia's chair, feet kicked up onto the desk. A tidy space, oppressively so, pencils all stacked together over one side of the purposely made pencil holder. It even had a label. There was no dust... not a trace. How could anyone live like this.
“Who are you?” Jon glancing across the surface. Nothing she left that could identify the young lady. Some lipstick, a compact? Some trace there'd been someone there in the first place. The desk just looking as if it'd been empty for years.
Considering his ethics, more importantly their non existence, Jon opened the drawers. Privacy was for people he didn't care about.
That was an odd thought, did Jon care about this young lady. It appeared even if momentarily, she cared enough to shoot some chubby whore in the back for him. Maybe he should give a damn about this one. It was much the same in the drawer, a pristine display of conformity and neatness, not a trace of personality to be seen. Being neat wasn't a personality trait. It was a sign of being an asshole. Nothing, stationary and that was it, not an address book, a take out menu, a scribbled phone number from some oily bo-hunk she'd met on the beach. The bottom drawer the same, empty bar the box of shotgun shells, but they were his... weren't they?
Sliding the drawer back closed, he heard the slight noise of something running along the bottom of it. A piece of paper stuck to the wood. A lone piece of tape holding it there for the moment. Not an accident. At some stage someone, safe to assume the person that used the desk had, hiding this piece of paper away from prying eyes. Flipping it open Jon was surprised to see he recognised it. Reaching a hand into his pocket, retrieving the piece of paper from Roland's trunk, unfolding that as well.
“He will return” Jon read aloud, looking at the two identical pieces. The three letter message impressively ominous for the how simple it was. Why... why did she have this, of course it may have been someone else putting this piece of paper away from sight. But who else had been in Jon's office. Stranger things had happened, but none so strange that meant people wanted to risk seeing Jon.
“Who will return” More than anything it annoyed him. Vagueness, what type of asshole did, that then mass distributed the damn leaflets. Jon only now noticing one leaflet was shorter than the other. Roland's missing a good chunk at the bottom. Leela's seemingly the whole thing, the stamp at the bottom, the mark of the printing company. One Jon didn't recognise. That annoyed him more. He prided himself on being a real nosy shit, sticking his fingers in anyone and everyone's business, but still somethings escaped Jon's eye.
The one major thing escaping him still, who this young lady even was. Jon wasn't known for having a bad memory. At times even the opposite. But this young women, whom apparently worked for him, was nothing. An enigma wrapped in a skirt, prancing about on pointed heels. Where did she come from. Why did she have the leaflet, why did she hide it.
“Huh...” Jon's audible sigh, outside the first exploratory sip, finding he hadn't touched his drink. That meant one thing, something else had grabbed his interest. He hated that, should've been drunk. Instead he was thinking, considering, mulling over. Whichever term he wanted to use, damn it if Jon wasn't halfway to committing to something other than a hangover.
“Ah” Taking a few probing pokes at his various face wounds, Jon thought on what to do with his new found interest. Stow it or give in, let his urge take him wherever it may. Right now he were leaning towards giving in. Something chewing at his insides waiting to get out.
But that might have just been a poo.
The clock on the wall read three. For the first time in a while, maybe Jon could go to sleep instead of pass out, let his body do what it will with his injuries. His own biology against him most of the time. Maybe now it might actually work in his favour. Hauling himself to his feet, Jon stumbled the few yards home to his apartment.
The front door unlocked, Jon walked into what looked like a bomb site. Drawers pulled open, paper, files, even plates, clothes strewn about the floor. On the coffee table, jars in place of glasses stacked in towers.
“Fuck...” His first thought.
“How long was the door unlocked” Jon wondered, seeing home sweet home as he'd left it the last time. Tossing his hat to the coffee table Jon collapsed onto the couch hunkering down to sleep, he had a bedroom, and a bed. But those extra few steps weren't worth the flea bites. He didn't even have a dog, did he. Jon for the moment raising his head from the couch cushion giving a little whistle just to be sure.
Soon enough, the long day and his aching face edging the scruffy looking dic off into a deepish sleep. All the while his brain working away, postulating at everything. His coat draped across in a blanket, Jon disappeared into a deep darkened hovel of ether.
“Jon... JON, follow me Jon”
“Huh... wha? Where's... Hmmm” Jon mumbled looking out over the water. He couldn't remember going to the beach, what was more worrying, that he couldn't remember the rabbit sitting next to him.
“Am I dreaming?” Jon asked, the furry guest nodding in agreement.
“Hmmm... why am I doing that” Jon feeling a little cheated he didn't have a choice in the matter. The bench didn't face the water. Instead it sat facing along the beach. The slow edging waves gently coming closer, lapping over his feet. The rabbit seemed familiar, but Jon couldn't place him, sure even dreaming, he'd recall meeting an animal of that size. The anthropomorphic creature happily checking the watch in its coat pocket. It had a pocket watch... Jon could tell already he didn't like this rabbit.
“Are you going to follow me?” Again the question from the creature as Jon looked away.
“Where?” Jon's only answer a question in itself.
The rabbit pointing down the beach, a building in the distance, dome shaped jutting crookedly from the sand.
“No” After a considered pause.
His rabbit friend appearing as disappointed as a rabbit could. With a playful raise of one of its cheeks, the animal produced a billy club from somewhere on its person.
“I knew there was a reason I didn't like you” Jon assured the animal as the club swung forcefully at his head. The short wooden rod colliding with some force into his skull. Jon knew he shouldn't have been able to hear, the what could only be described as a 'plonk'. But he could, very clearly.
Sitting bolt upright on the couch, Jon had never been as awake as he had in that moment. Eyes spread white and wide taking in everything the world, and his shitty little apartment had to offer.
“And that's why I don't sleep” Jon reminded himself rubbing his forehead. Passing out was a far better way to recuperate, when giant rodents where the result of sleep. The clock on the wall was broken, so the time it read was unlikely to be true. Through the blinds though, the light from the morning dared to shine. At a guess, he would've said early, maybe 'too early' to be awake. But that was as definitive as Jon wanted to get with chronology. The birds twittered in the trees, they should be quiet, no one cared what they said. Ambling to the kitchen sliding open the cupboard. The one thing in them a box of crackers that looked roughly half gone. Who had eaten the first half, him or the mice was at best a guess. But sitting at the kitchen table Jon began taking the overtly dry items from the box jamming them into his mouth.
It was unsurprising this was all the food he had in the apartment. More surprising there was even this much. With the crumbling dry pieces of food slowly soaking up all the saliva in his mouth, Jon was yet to swallow when he realised he couldn't continue. Opening wide letting the gooey lump fall to the table, Jon pushed his chair out. He had money now, he could afford to eat out. But even then, he was still considering where was cheapest. First though, shower. Peel these clothes off his body.
Freshly washed, jammed into a cleaner, though just as cheap suit Jon stepped from the front door. The sun pouring in through the long bay windows running along the corridor, proving almost more than he was prepared for. A few fruitless attempts to swat the light away with his hands going unanswered.
Moving on he stumbled into the office finding it curiously empty. Wednesday morning, at some stage of light. His secretary should've been there, shouldn't she? Jon pulled the door closed, proceeding down the stairs out the front of the building. A diner somewhere had his name plastered all over a plate of bacon and eggs. Coffee too, the bad kind, the type reheated from the previous day, in a decanter that had never been washed. He could sense the regret in his mouth already.
Roland's car... It had all its windows the last time he saw it... didn't it? Curious thing about cars, they didn't wreck themselves, this one overnight had seemed to though. The drivers side window now lay in pieces across the driver's seat. The inside of the car even more of a mess than a day with Jon would normally mean. The trunk levered open with what could only be described as the finesse of a crowbar to peel an orange. Inside the contents of the glove box sprayed across the seats. Whilst huddled deep inside his pockets, Jon's finger pawing at the crumpled up lab coat of Roland Fleethammer.
It wasn't out of the ordinary for someone to wreck Jon's car... On more than a few occasions waking mid afternoon to find his latest vehicle, put through the ringer by the local ruddy faced pigs Briggs and Brock. But then, this time it wasn't really his.
Grabbing a hold of Roland's coat, Jon got the distinct feeling this wasn't about him at all. That he had possession of the car was just coincidence. Roland Fleethammer, staff scientist was of interest to someone. That in turn, being as nosy as he was, made Roland an interest to Jon. Why though, and why were they going through Roland's car. Jon scraped out the glass resting on the drivers seat, ticking the engine over. The eggs and bacon could wait. Something far more satiating begged his appetite to follow, rolling down the road to his fat little friend.
Eddie was no one. Interesting since everyone knew him. A personality about the town, but a complete nobody. A fat, sweaty, balding waste of space that just happened to be one, everyone noticed. It was a shock he even had the acuity to run a used car lot. How he kept fresh stock rolling in a constant mystery, but somehow he did. He'd won the lot in a poker game, in a hand that was strangely easy to take. Eddie with two fours, somehow sweated his way into owning a business he had no other way of getting. Smiling taking no notice of the rest of the players smiling, Eddie took his leave believing he was getting out on top, he still did. But something had never been right about that game to Jon, and he hadn't even been there.
“Eddie” Jon screamed getting from Roland's car.
Eddie emerging from his darkened hovel office, his few customers wandering away from the yelling man. A screaming man with a face beaten black an blue didn't seem worth being near.
“Jon, please stop yelling... wait, weren't you here yesturday... you don't need another new... what did you do to that one” Eddie questioned, laying eyes onto the vehicle behind Jon. His memory giving him so fairly heavy deja vu.
“I didn't do anything” Jon forcing his voice louder, knowing it was getting to Eddie, more importantly his customers.
“I don't sell broken cars Jon” Eddie with a nervous twitching smile, assured his few remaining punters, as they backed away from the moist little creature struggling to hold onto any dignity. It couldn't have even been nine o'clock, and he already had pit stains circling out from his under arms.
Jon didn't give an audible answer, his stern disbelieving look communicating everything he needed, to anyone in earshot.
“What's the problem Jonny?” Eddie sinking into his skin coaxing the dic out of the public view.
“Someone was after something in the car Eddie” Jon letting himself be dragged from sight. Generally best to keep Eddie on edge, ready to talk at a moments notice. For now though, Jon let the pasty little shit hold onto the little comfort.
“So how's that my problem Jonny?” Eddie smiled, wondering how it would be made his problem. With a little twisting Eddie could be convinced anything was his fault. This was, most definitely. But even if it weren't, with the right motion of the knife, Eddie would take it.
“I didn't leave anything in there apart from my alluring aroma Eddie. So it must've been something from the owner of the car” Jon poked at the glistening little piggy in front of him.
“It's your car Jonny, you bought it fair and square” Eddie half heartedly laughed.
“We both I know I own that car even less than you did Eddie” Jon corrected the used car salemans words.
Eddie doing nothing but squirming in his seat a moment or two.
“So what do you want Jonny, a replacement” Eddie taking a rough guess at where this was going.
“You think I'm worried about how stolen the car I'm driving is, so I want another one that is likely just as stolen as that one?” Jon questioned, Eddies contorting face only just enough to keep him quiet.
“Just... tell me where you got it Eddie” Jon cutting off the eventual 'yes' to his previous question, before Eddie embarrassed himself too much.
“I get all my cars legally Jon” Eddie even to himself unconvincingly mumbled.
“You ever been beaten with a chair leg?” Jon left the question to dangle in Eddies face. The chubby little weevil having some trouble denying that'd ever happened to him. In fact the way he rubbed his jaw seemed to indicate that was quite a fresh memory.
“Where did you get the car Eddie” Jon repeated. Finally his host convinced enough to spill.
“One of my boys got it from up on the hill” Eddie mumbled.
“Now would not be the time to skimp with the details Eddie”
“It was in the lot, sat there for a few days up at the city observatory” Eddie grumbled, always at odds with letting his secrets go. With how often he did, he must've had a tumultuous life. If someone wanted something from him, they'd get it. Eddie could get monstered around by a girl scout.
“When was that?” Jon inquired.
“Friday when we stol... acquired it” Eddie stopping his misstep before he choked out the wrong word.
“From the observatory?” Jon repeated just to be sure, it wasn't past Eddie to be lying about that either.
“Yeah, the observatory”
“How'd you find it?” Jon poked, Eddie curling further into a ball behind his desk.
“I got guys...”
“You mean you pay city tow truck drivers to dump the cars they tow in your lot” Jon already knowing it was the case.
“Maybe...” Eddie murmured.
“You're a terrible liar Eddie, and you smell even worse” Jon reminded his podgy little acquaintance, before leaving the cretinous little creature to cry in his hovel of an office. For Jon to consider that place a hovel was saying something too. Normal dark offices where due to the blinds being shut. Eddies was dark because it had no windows. The light in it, thrown off from one barely working bulb on the side wall. But he guessed people would rather sit in the dark than fully know what kind of filth surrounded them. Maybe if it was dark enough they could even forget they were with Eddie.
“The observatory” Jon considered. Why was he considering it, this wasn't a job. This was just curiosity. And curiosity did all kinds of things to the cat, he'd been told many times before. Jon however didn't operate on the assumption, there was such a thing as none of his business. Sliding into the car he'd one more place to check out before heading up the hill. Downtown, not directly. For once Jon felt he might need a newspaper for something other than starting a fire.
Rolling up on the news stand, the dinky little street shop parked in the middle of the footpath. Customers coming and going all the while. The proprietor and his worker doing everything they could do keep the flow going quickly, something the approaching dick was likely to stop. The owner a man, largely unremarkable, stacking papers, taking no notice of Jon as he walked straight past heading to the owners young assistant. Arty Mercer, sometimes called the Flea, was at most thirteen if nature was anything to go by. At some stage, Arty just appeared, from no where, like a woodland nymph but with much more sarcasm.
The kid on a rough track already to becoming a personality in the city. He knew things, things an adult shouldn't even know. But mainly he specialised in the print world. If you wanted to know which issue, of which underground porno, had the pictures of your favourite starlet. Arty knew. Whether the little prick would tell you though was another matter.
“Arty...” Jon leaning against the news stand waiting for whatever terse reply was coming.
“I'm busy Dirty” Arty quickly belted out, knowing better than most not to be seen talking to Jon.
“Finally going to take a swing at puberty are we” Jon seeing an opening, went for the fence. One of the few ways to get what you wanted from the Flea, was to match him. The little prick was a bastard, but he had a certain respect for those that knew how to stir shit.
“Jealous dirty... It must be hard with you going through menopause” Arty picked back.
“Maybe you should of stayed in school learnt a little more biology...” Jon started.
“No, it's because of your vagina” Arty spoke with a directness and fervency that was hard to deny. In some ways the little rat reminded Jon of himself, no matter how much denying he did.
“I heard about last night Jon” Arty after the short silence, still serving customers, his boss letting the youngster carry on whatever conversation he wanted.
“I thought you were busy” Jon informing the kid with one short sentence, the information trade was a two way street. Even if it was likely Arty already knew everything. Flea's had a way of getting around.
“Jimmy the Asshole, that's...” Arty got out before he paused, only to finish with nothing but a smile.
“Yeah... it is” Jon agreed, for the first time noticing the front page of the paper. Every one, a mess with overblown headlines of what a tragedy it was that Donnie had won. Endlessly pining the degradation of a sport, because they were scared what it might mean for the white race as a whole.
“What did you want?” Arty gestured, recognising Jon's part in the ending of the Asshole, maybe this time the little prick could give over something for free.
“What do you make of this... seen it before” From his pocket Jon pulled out the two flyers, handing them over to the kid.
“Yeah... it's paper, pretty common Dirty, they use it for all kinds of things” Arty maybe not going to be helpful after all.
“I hear it burns as well” Jon flicked out the lighter in his pocket, daringly threatening something the kid largely had no connection to, apart from a minimum wage.
“Give it over” Arty motioned reaching for the paper, maybe he did care about the stall, or its owner, as hollow as Jons threat was in the first place. Examining the two leafs of paper Arty looked deep in thought.
“Who's 'he'?” Arty's immediate question.
Jon's shrug enough of an answer to send Arty back to the paper.
“Well it was printed at the Ash Tree works” Arty handing back the pieces of paper, pointing out the insignia at the bottom of one of the pages.
“Ash Tree?” Jon hearing the familiar few words. Their exact nature escaping him.
“You know anything Dirty?” The kid questioning with a healthy roll of the eyes.
“Olaf Pietersons old place” Arty informed.
“He closed that down” Jon spoke. A flood of information returning, with the helpful little reminder from the bitter little pill.
“Well someone either used the equipment or the company insignia” Arty wondering why he, as a thirteen year old more knew more than Jon, a supposedly grown man.
“Hmmm” All Jon could offer.
“You can read can't you Dirty?” Arty seeing his chance took another stab.
“Why don't you ask you're mother” Jon replied. Arty's face none to worried about the very lazy retort. Jon himself slightly disappointed with his effort.
“I was there yesterday, the Ash Tree Works... it was derelict. How many people would it take to do these.” Jon's expertise at printing press activity, far surpassed already.
“Judging by the quality... I'd say this was minimal effort, one maybe two people... Where'd you get it anyway?” Arty went on to ask.
“A friend” Jon mumbled keeping details away from someone with a mouth bigger than their head.
“You don't have friends Jon” Arty reminded him.
“No...” Jon quietly agreed. There was little point starting denying it now. Starting to walk away, already spending too long in the company of the Flea.
“That's it? You're not even gonna buy a paper” Arty questioned seeing Jon begin to wander away.
“Oh... yeah” Jon thinking out loud before turning, shoving the kid into the waiting stack of old issues.
Arty glaring up from his felled position as Jon wandered away, several customers glaring at him. Not bothering to look over his shoulder. The little prick deserved that, strangely it may even have left Jon in better light with the kid, for future encounters. He was a weird little shit. Sliding back into Roland's car, finally headed for the observatory, not sure what he'd find. Just because that's where the car had been, didn't mean that's where Roland was, or had been.
Pulling from the space, Jon slamming on the brakes as the army Jeep putted past, the National Guardsmen still out on patrol. Someone still obviously expecting the great unwashed to rise up and cast off the chains. Both casually uniformed soldiers giving Jon the eye as he let them continue past. Thinking better than angering the men carrying, and barely trained to use machine guns. You never knew what an amateur could achieve with enough luck.
The observatory, out of town, away from most of the lights, hidden behind a hill, in an area where it was too far for vandals or thieves to bother going. Nestled into the hillside appearing almost apart from the city, locked away to keep it safe. Those that worked here unknowing, unworried by the filth and the mire that just a few miles away lurked.
Best not be seen in Roland's car by someone that actually knew the man. Jon stopping some way down the road, leading up to the fortress like structure. The domed building hiding away its telescope by day. Or maybe they had it pointed down out the window through the daylight hours trying to perv on some tail. Jon didn't want to gamble either way on the private lives of these nerds.
Two cars parked outside the building, a third space laying empty, the name on the curb inviting who it was reserved for. Roland Fleethammer. The twinge in Jon's bones, cursing himself for making them walk this far, when there was a space waiting for the car.
Jon sidled up to the door, sneaking could wait for later, when he was already thrown out of the building. Anything run by the city, Jon was pretty comfortable assuming wouldn't have his sorry carcass in for too long.
Knocking waiting for the answer, in the few seconds paused, the itch at the back of his head telling him to just open the door. Nothing more enticing to a dic than an unanswered door, it meant no one was home, a chance to snoop. Just as Jon was about to answer that itch. The lever ripped down. Jon's hand quickly ducking back to fumble casually in his pocket.
“Hello” The man answered, wondering why anyone outside himself or colleagues were here.
“Hi” Jon smiled, still something at this stage in his life he didn't have down. Some life lessons were never learnt. It seemed now amazing the foresight his grade school teachers had. Even then they'd told him not to smile at them.
The man behind the door toying with closing it, before another word was even said between the two.
Jon quickly recognising the apparent want of his counterpart to escape.
“I'm a reporter... with the Observer... I'm hear to ask some questions about the upcoming... Event?” Jon hopefully phrased the question. There was always an event coming up wasn't there, an event in space with all the relevance of somebody farting. Yet was significant in a way to those that mattered that little else could be dreamt about. Holding out his press pass, the one he'd pilfered from Touci Franks. Jon waited with a sense of dread, that now, for the first time in the history of the universe. There was nothing of astronomical interest happening for months, Jon could only imagine that was through sheer spite.
“REALLY?” The mans astoundingly desperate cry reverberating around the expanse of the building behind him as he flung open the door.
Jon almost regretting the lie as he was latched onto like a golden eagle a toddler. Snatched and dragged into the building before the door was slammed shut behind him.
“E...” All Jon could push out before he was inside.
“It's about time someone paid attention to our work” The man boldly thrust forward, obviously, over inflation of ones self, was not missing from the sciences either.
“Barry... BARRY, come quick there's a reporter, he wants to know about Ymir!”
“REALLY! Shit!” Came the cry from Barry deep within the bowels of the observatory. Like someone had just said they were handing out free blow jobs, Barry toppled down the stairs papers and clipboard in hand. Rushing forward meeting this mythical person that wanted to know about, 'Ymir'. Both of them a flurry of excitement, Jon soon expecting their white coats to turn yellow.
“Hello... uh. I'm Conrad Meyers, Town Observer... you two are?” Jon wondered if in the fretting they could even remember. The two looking astoundingly similar, twins if not at least brothers.
“Oh... Owen Bass” The man that had shown Jon in introduced himself.
“Barry Mortis” Barry smiled gleefully holding out his hand, almost as if for the first time in years they'd a visitor.
“You're brothers?” Jon mumbled, unsure if he should be asking, curious why two people that had different last names looked almost exactly the same.
“What... no” Barry hastily corrected the assumption.
Jon backing away from his question and the two men in front of him, soon turning to look around the room. The gantries rounding the circular building, the stair wells curling up the side, all wrapped around the central object. The telescope. Housed in the centre of the room pointing skyward, waiting for the roof to open once again, so it could look out at the deep dark night sky.
“So... Eemr” Jon tangled around the pronunciation of the word.
“Ymir” Barry corrected him.
“Eymr” Jon trying again
“Of course... that one” Jon hurriedly moving past the small point of what the things name was. Feeling it more important he learn what the thing actually was.
“It's incredible” Barry's eyes lit, an excitement Jon could only be frightened by, starting to invade his personal space.
“Okay, but what actually is it?” Jon making sure he pointed out he had no idea what was going on.
“Oh... right... Owen, get the projector!” Barry gasped tensing into a stance most hardened warriors wanted to avoid. Owen spasming too as his body contorted, before leaping away to retrieve the equipment.
“We need the music too” Barry squealed quickly disappearing into a cloud of cartoon like smoke.
Jon regretting his itch to know what was going on. Stepping back a few paces finding himself snooping over some of the papers on the table, a few pieces signed by who he was looking for. Roland Fleethammer. Acquisition forms, new lenses, Jon figured for the telescope. Something else taking his interest lined up on the desk. At the back pinned against the notice board a newspaper clipping. In the lamp light Jon ducked down to read the caption.
'Astronomer Roland Fleethammer and Observatory benefactor Olaf Pieterson.'
“Olaf again” Jon considered quietly. The picture a few years old. Both looking pleased with themselves, maybe even for the same reasons.
From the dark re-emerged the two scientists. One lugging a projector the other dragging a table with a gramophone on it. Two chairs hastily arranged in front of the projector as Barry and Owen fluttered around to get everything in order.
“You're in for a treat, this presentation is amazing” Barry promised, vastly over estimating the interest level of anyone else in the room, apart from his colleague.
Jon forcibly shoved down into the chair. Barry sliding in next to him, fidgeting with excitement awaiting the show. The record crackling to life as the room darkened, followed by a short moment later, light pelting onto the sheet hastily draped over the hooks on the wall. Jon usually at home in the dark, suddenly felt the need to escape.
“From the blackest deepest depths of the universe... BOOM!” Owen screamed. Jon recoiling as little as he could manage, Barry just going with it letting himself be surprised.
“That bit always gets me” Barry leaning over.
“Ymir... emerges” Owen like nothing could halt him. The music swelling as the slides changed. To somewhat of a let down, the near child like drawing of a comet flaming across the sky.
“Ymir is a comet?” Jon asked. The hearty pause giving him some cause for concern.
“Please hold the questions for the end.” Owen advised, sincerely annoyed his flow had been stopped.
“YMIR THE COMET.” Owen belted out. Barry descending into a flurry of clapping hands.
“Last seen some time in the 1500's. Soon it begs its return, passing by our heavens for all to wonder at!” Owen held his hands aloft waiting for the rapture of the audience to envelope him. One set of hands clapping would have to be enough. But even that number seemed to be. Enraptured by his colleagues two hands Owen stood staring into the middle distance like he could see the comet falling from the sky.
“Uh... is there a...” Jon trying to ask a question, quickly ignored as Owen went back to his spiel. The slide changing, fingers pointing to the picture.
“Ice and rock, hurtling past the sun, causing a reaction, giving the body an atmosphere, or a tail as some call it. Like an interstellar dog” Owen described. He could've used anything but he chose a dog. A dragon, a fish, an eel, a sperm even, perhaps the comet carrying some kind of life infecting bacteria to infest whatever planet it crashed into. But Owen chose the least anthropomorphically similar animal to a comet ever, the dog. Merely because both had a tail.
“Ymir, named after the legend of Norse mythology...” Slides flicking again, the record still crackling along with the tinny, scratchy music.
“Whoa... Norse... Viking, right” Jon interrupted. Much to the annoyance of Owen an Barry both.
“Yes... where was I?” Owen scratching his head wondering how he could go on after being cut off.
“Who was Ymir?” Jon getting some idea now, why Olaf Pieterson was interested enough to donate money to a bunch of nerds to go outer space perving.
“He was a giant... We'll get to this later Mr Meyers” Owen beginning to look quite distressed at his continued interruptions.
“And why as this Ymir famous” Jon ignoring the clear distress, moving to what interested him.
“Famous?... He wasn't a movie star” Barry correcting the phrasing Jon used. The dic paying no attention, pressing the matter forward with a look.
“Eugh... The gods killed him and used his body to create the earth and the heavens” Owen sighed.
“Created man and woman from his armpits” Barry pointed out. That sounded about right, if Jon had come from anywhere an armpit seemed appropriate.
“And the comet is called Ymir... he will return” Jon murmured to himself. A giant from Norse mythology sounded as good as any other 'he' that Olaf Pieterson would be excited about. Assuming that's who'd printed those flyers.
“Say, your colleague wouldn't be around would he... Roland Fleethammer” Jon posing the question, waiting to see Owens reaction.
“No... Roland isn't around... he's...” Owen started, lit up by the projector, his face contorting some more.
“...Not here” Barry finished. Unconvincingly.
“Where is he? I see he's friends with your benefactor” Jon unsure he'd get any answers about Roland. The quick turn of emotion telling anyone Owen and Barry were oddly uncomfortable. But Jon dealt in discomfort. Reveled in it.
“He's... busy” Barry assured their guest, wanting to move on to more interesting things.
“What about Mr Pieterson, has he shown any interest in the Ymir Comet” Jon to the immediate guffaws and scoffs of the two around him.
“That's a yes?” Jon again had to ask, unsure about what that reaction from these kind of people would mean.
“Off the record?” Owen leaned in, shiftily looking about the room as if someone else were watching.
“Of course” Jon remembering he were pretending to be a reporter. Pulling out, then putting away the note pad straight away, once 'off the record' had bounced around his skull a good few times.
“Roland is...” Owen spoke before switching off the projector leaving the room in pitch black.
“Roland is out there at Mr Pietersons private home, further investigating the comet” Owen explained before turning the light back on.
“Why is this off the record?” Jon questioned aloud. Owen again switching the lights off before talking.
“We're city employees, we're not meant to be doing things for private organisations” Owen informed, before again turning on the lights.
“Right... how long as Roland been doing this... off the record of course” Jon paused, was that all he had to say to get people to spill their guts. 'Off the record' then bam, it was truth train time.
Owen leaned in about to turn the lights off again before Jon raised his hand stopping the motion shaking his head.
“Ahh... A week or so, he left a note on his desk. They must be busy, we haven't seen him since” Barry added, plastered across his face jealousy of the highest order.
“Do you have the note, I'd like to see it” Jon put forward.
“Yes... but why?” Owen questioned. There was no need if all this was off the record like promised.
“Just to get an idea of who he was. Who you guys are. As scientists... men, heroes” Jon only just short of standing and orating, let the words drop out wondering if anyone was gullible enough to swallow it.
“I'll go get it” Barry gleefully agreed, showing he was. Owen too vibrating in his coat at the prospect of impressing someone this much.
“How did Roland and Mr Pieterson first meet?” Jon inquired.
“City fund raiser, we were all there. Mr Pieterson seemed quite interested in our work. When he brought up Ymir by himself we couldn't believe it” Owen nodded, it must've been both amazing and sad at the same time to be so excitable about someone talking to you. Then to have it happen so little.
“Then he wrote us a cheque and told us to keep researching it, plotting its course, he was adamant we should keep him informed.” Owen rambling on.
“Why, what's so interesting about it to him you think” Jon wondering if a certain fairly public descent into insanity and the formation of a cult would be mentioned.
“Because he appreciates scientific discovery” Owen proudly suggested.
Yeah, sure, why not, Jon kept to himself, let the astronomer live in the stars. There was no harm in that. Maybe not for Roland though.
“And you kept him updated?”
“Yeah, weekly updates, sometimes daily when he wanted them” Owen explained. Quickly they were rejoined by Barry, he slid into the chair at speed, having to calm himself should he accidentally float away in a slight breeze.
Jon grabbing the letter, a cursory glance at the hand writing.
“Do you guys hear that... sounds like some punk kids outside” Jon lifting his head putting an ear to the wind.
“They must be painting dicks on the fire hose cabinet again, quick Owen” Barry yelped jumping to attention, the both of them handily leaving Jon alone to snoop around. Piling out the door the two scientists disappeared, in the distance hollering at the imaginary children and their graffiti. Moving to Roland's desk, Jon went back to the request form, lifting the piece of paper holding it against the note Roland had left. Lining up the signatures.
“Not close enough” Jon tsked as he examined both, Roland's signature a looping flamboyant affair. The one on the letter supposedly also belonging to Roland, was close, roughly the same, but straighter, rushed, someone practised, just not enough.
So Roland was out with Olaf Pieterson, likely not by choice, that much seemed pretty obvious. But why? What could an astronomer do for a crazed cult leader. Jon had his answer in that one word. Crazed, there didn't need to be a reason, let alone a sensible one. Roland could be there to help Olaf wipe his ass. A more interesting question was why Jon cared about any of this. Curiosity would only explain so much before he had to admit something else. Then there was the far better question, how did this relate to his secretary. Were she in the Diamond Flowers. Whoever she was. And why to all hell, couldn't Jon place her?
Now close to two days sober, it didn't appear that her appearance was just due to some sort of blackout. A pretty girl wasn't something he often forgot. He could remember perfectly the night before last stuck in a bar pouring cheap three year old scotch whiskey down his throat...
“Hmmm...” Jon verbalised a disturbing thought. But not the girl. He couldn’t remember the girl.
Crashing back through the door puffing, panting. Both Owen and Barry came excitedly smiling as if they'd finally achieved something.
“We got them” Barry grinned. Jon only for a second feeling a slight twinge of guilt before he realised it was probably teenagers. And they deserved whatever they got.
“So this comet, when will we see it” Jon getting to his feet.
“Tomorrow night, it will flash past in all its glory. Before it leaves, returning again in another 400 years or so” Owen announced, his hands tracing a path along the sky he'd imagined.
“Okay. Well, I have a story to write, I'll let you get back to work” Jon eager to leave these two, before they showed him anything else he didn't care about.
“We look forward to it... you don't need a photo of us?” Barry obviously eager to do some posing.
“We've got one on file” Jon ushering down the excitable men of science. The both of them looking surprised but accepting it as fact.
“Oh wait, here take this. Mr Pieterson left a bunch of them, just some information, fantasy, about the comet and what it means. None of it's science though” Owen making sure everyone knew he wasn't any way affiliated with the pamphlet.
Jon glancing at the first page, one he recognised immediately. The words he'd already looked upon a few times today, reading them aloud.
“He will return”
“Good morning Mr Sanchez” She yapped as Jon pushed the door open, he'd been smart this time. Paid attention to the image behind the frosted glass. The red dress sticking out like a beacon, lighting his way, but even then Jon still jumped at the immediacy of her greeting.
“Hello Imogen” Jon replied.
“Oh Mr Sanchez” She giggled taking it as a joke. Jon wasn't even trying anymore. After how long he'd been getting her name wrong, and she still just laughed it off. It didn't seem right. She knew how to use a shotgun too. Jon should've been more wary about pissing her off. But he wasn't, even deep down he didn't get the feeling he should be worried.
“I'll be in my office” Jon informed the young lady moving straight past her. Having to take a detour around her legs cocked out to the side of the desk. Again a long smooth limb reached its end where dangled a ravenously pointed heel. Sitting behind his desk Jon watched the bundle of toes dance about through the doorway. Her soft humming making the display all the more soothing. Why hadn't she asked about Mrs Mooks. Why was she so nonchalant about loading a wad of buckshot into someone. What was that perfume?
“What... huh...” Jon shook the thought from his head. That was a tempting yet dangerous road to wander down. The 'wrong way turn back' sign post right in front of him.
Jon pulled out the pamphlet he'd been given by the nerds, figuring he'd have a look through it. With his feet up on the table, he felt maybe he was finally ready to read. At least he remembered how to do that. Flipping over the first page he started.
'Ymir, the legend returns... Uhhhh, so boring” Jon groaned two seconds into the very short paragraph. At some stage though he just had to swallow his urge to screw the paper into a ball, launch it across the room. Information did seem like a helpful thing to have.
'...returns after a long journey into the stars. His essence cast off after the destruction of his body, Ymir returns to reclaim his physical presence.'
“Reclaim?” Jon flipping over the page, wondered exactly what that meant. There he was greeted with the image of the land being torn from the earth, seas washing up into the atmosphere.
“Oh...” Jon's only reaction, not that he was worried this was going to happen. But people with the fervency to believe this could be quite a problem. Exactly how far did he plan to stumble down this rabbit hole.
'There are those that wish to stop his return. Those that claim this essence carrying capsule as their own. We not only must, we will stop them'
Quite a promise Jon considered. How exactly were they going to stop, whomever they wanted to. Fanaticism far more dangerous than just the greedy urge for money. At some point greed stopped. Self preservation to enjoy the profits of said greed kicked in. But fanatics had no reason. No compunction to survive, or instinct to.
Jon looking up from his reading, another twenty words down he deserved a break, his eyes starting to glass over. Unexpectedly there she was, that girl, staring at him. More importantly what he was reading. There it was, for the first time not quite everything was smiling. Her mouth was, white glistening teeth. Enticingly red soft lips... Huh? Jon moved past that, quickly, her eyes, not so bright as usual, turned down from the excited twinkling stars, she'd always had before.
“What are you reading?” The direct question. Eyes afire with a glare most tigers could only summon.
“Just a pamphlet... work related” Jon unsure who could act better. Maybe they'd be even, Jon and... Lindsay? Pretending the other wasn't onto the fact something was going on. Before going back to being secretly suspicious.
“I didn't know we had a case” She didn't move from the door frame, that exceedingly tight shirt pulled across her chest, a skirt hugging every cure just right. Jon having some amount of trouble keeping eye contact with the young lady.
“It's not really a case... more a curiosity... did you want something?” Jon wondering why she was in the doorway in the first place.
“Your messages” She held out a long slender arm, gripped at the end of them the few pieces of paper scribbled with helpful words.
“You can leave them there” Jon motioned towards the edge of he desk, waiting for the young lady to place them down.
Edging forward she did, before turning in place slinking from the office.
Jon taking in all he could before she disappeared behind the door frame. Folding the pamphlet Jon pocketed it, retrieving his messages. Who wanted him now? Only one that mattered, the bank, a inquiry about a truant husband, then that last one. His secretary bless her, whoever she was had the habit of dotting her 'i's with love hearts. There was no way that 'i' had the right feelings about this one.
“Maggie” Jon hadn't seen that name in a while, even then forgetting it wouldn't really be something he'd ever do. He'd on purpose tried to block it out, squash it into nothing at the back of his mind. But she was always there. That shitting little love heart over the 'i' mocking Jon's every second. Hat, coat. If she wanted something, Maggie wasn't the kind to keep waiting.
“I'm going out” Jon halfway out the door. The pretend excited farewell following him out down the stairs. Rolands car again waiting to ferry him across town.
January 21st 1929
The paper read like a dog, badly. Jon not for the first time splashed across the front page. Told by the Chief to lay low for a few days, he took that literally. Disappearing even from his partners sight. Getting into that fight with Briggs and Brock after the car crash making the front page, blue on blue violence sadly something Jon had never been a stranger to. Back then, still a man, not just a descriptor, Jon felt maybe he could use some company. Some friendly words of encouragement or relief. Even then, with things still good, great, Maggie was unlikely to give them. Sitting at the table, Jon tried not to concentrate on the half naked women wondering around the kitchen area. If he wanted to look he'd probably have to pay. But the price wasn't cash.
“You still moping?” Maggie picked wandering in.
“I don't mope... It's sulking” Jon corrected.
Maggie in return rolling her eyes. She wasn't one to stand for being corrected.
Calderson's hotel, more often known as 'The Den', sat a short distance off a few main roads down town. Known by its frequenters to be both heaven and hell. Its customers often found themselves marching in, then being marched straight out. A brothel was not usually a place with such moral standards, but drunks and bums had a way of handling things, that wasn't welcome when the thing was a person.
“I wouldn't have invited you here if I know you were this pissy” Maggie informed him. Jon glancing up from his paper giving nothing but a disinterested scowl.
“Go and get drunk Jon” Maggie ordered, about to leave the room when Jon protested.
“Ehhh...” The groan, latching onto her hand as she strolled past.
Maggie slowly relenting, collapsing onto Jon's lap, a hand not so gently gripping his face.
“You still don't know how to shave” Maggie moving Jon's head from side to side.
“Yeah, that's the reason” Jon mumbled.
She let his face go, Jon letting it drop, resting his head on her arm. Maggie leaning down kissing him on the forehead. As much as she would do to comfort him. That, back then was still enough.
June 15th 1948
Calderson's since than had grown, an extra floor, a bar. It was almost as much a nightspot as the Pink Lantern. Not a place a movie star would take his wife, not most at least. And not through the front door. But more than a few came. They'd security now too. Few things more embarrassing than being pulled off mid stroke, then thrown into the streets by a giant black man. Much to Victor Smalls distress, Maggie had chosen a different route for her security. Old Bill always a wily old sod.
Jon got to the front door, not the one he used to come through, even with not caring about his reputation. It was best for a policeman not to be seen in a brothel. For the brothel or the cop was always the question in this city.
“I'm here to see Maggie” Jon stopped at the two large black men guarding the door. Tilting his hat back he waited on the inevitable punch in the face. At least with his hat tipped back he'd have a little padding before his head crashed into the ground. After a few looks up and down, the guard to the right pushed the door open behind him, showing Jon inside.
Hat still tipped back, Jon sashayed past like his head weren't properly attached. Strolling straight into the foyer of the building. Lavish, maybe the most so of any building in the city. The opulent deep burgundy carpet running down the stair case, washed across the floor like a sea of luxury. This early in the morning there were no customers. Even so a few staff pottered around the building, either cleaning or just trying to ignore the scruffy looking man waiting in the lobby.
Wandering forward Jon leaned against the desk, looking around for someone to help him out. Placing a hand on the bell tapping it, waiting a few seconds before doing it again, continuing at intervals, knowing someone would get annoyed. A good minute before finally someone appeared.
“Even if I hadn't known you'd show up, that could only be one person” Maggie announced as she ripped the bell from the counter, straight from under Jon's hand.
“Hello dear” Jon smiled, delighted he could still elicit that response from her.
“Dirty” Maggie for the moment, choosing to go vicious. Jon enjoyed annoying, almost looked forward to that angered reply of 'Dirty'. But of all the people Jon knew, there was only one he wanted to call him by his real name.
“Jon” Maggie corrected, even at a glance seeing the shot of pain course through his expression.
“So you wanted to see me?” Jon's confidence as always, leaking from every pore.
Maggie leaning forward lifting a hand to Jon's still injured, bruising face, clutching down the side before roughly giving it a few slaps.
“Somewhere private” Maggie rolled her eyes, this wasn't really a 'wanted' kind of thing.
Following on Jon traced a line behind Maggie as she wandered into the depths of the building. Down the hall, past where the girls waited for clients, into an office right at the back. The brains of the whole nest crammed deep down inside its guts.
“You haven't changed this at all” Jon looking around the room. She hadn't. It was still as bare and minimal as all those years ago. Nothing but a desk and a filing cabinet. The stark contrast from the rest of the building, really made it apparent just where Maggies true skill lay.
“It's an office” Maggie shrugged, no need to change some things.
“What happened to you Jon?” Maggie taking a seat behind the desk. Still looking good, hair pulled up tight in a bun. Dolled up like she were still working front of house.
“This?” Jon motioned towards his face with his finger. Maggie raising an eyebrow as if there was anything else she'd be referring to.
“This is nothing... work related” Jon waved off the non existent concern.
“Asshole related” Maggie begged to differ. Jon just giving a 'whatever' smile before going back to being silent.
“You don't want to know why I called you?” Maggie knew the answer, he was here wasn't he, no matter how carefree and casual he acted. If Jon had taken the time to put pants on and roll out this far from the office, he cared.
“Eh...” Jon lied, taking his hat from his head, letting it slowly spin on the end of his finger.
“It's one of my girls Jon” Maggie skipping past Jon's faux disinterest.
“What about her?” Jon after a pause, already guessing the young lady was missing.
“She's missing” Maggie confirming his suspicions.
Jon huffed at how predictable it all was.
“And what do you want me to do about it?” The joke from the dic.
Maggie's face telling him she wasn't above ordering a few security guards in here to add some damage to the pile.
“Alright... I'll find her” Jon calmed the women in front of him, waving her down.
“I'll pay you when you're done” Maggie promised hollowly, giving anything to Jon clearly a sour point.
“No... I'll do this one on the house. No matter what the outcome” Jon pushing back the offer. Also putting out the hint that maybe this wouldn't turn out well.
Maggie wasn't one of his clients. To be kept hopeful even in the face of overwhelming defeat, just so he could be sure of a payday. She knew the city, the odds.
“So who is it, do I know her, or a new girl?” Jon wondered. He'd spent more than enough time here all those years ago, to meet and get attached to most of the girls. That'd been some years ago now, those girls would be women... and more than a little hopefully Jon thought not in this line of work anymore.
“She's new, Cassidy Banks.” Maggie tossing over the photo. The bright young thing sprawled out over a bed, a silk sheet arranged so as only to hide what anyone coming here was interested in. Blonde, thin, sad, sad eyes. They all had those though. Jon tried not to express any disapproval at her apparent age. At best she would've been seventeen. Even then it still came out, still eked across his face. Some things from the force still carried over.
“Don't give me that look Jon, you know I'd never make them work” Maggie tightly explained.
“You don't stop them though” Jon sighed.
Maggie choosing too stay quiet. If she retaliated then it'd never end. And she'd have to find a new dic to search for Cassidy. As much as she didn't want to see Jon again, sometimes there was just no substitute for Dirty.
“Annie Divine hey” Jon read the name stretched across the bottom of the photo before pocketing it.
“You don't have one where she's clothed do you” Jon just making sure. He wasn't adverse to wandering the streets with pictures of naked women in his pocket. But sometimes, it was best if they're weren't so bare.
“No...” Maggie answered after a disappointed pause. She too realising maybe that wasn't a great thing. If Jon of all people was passing judgement, accurately as well. Something had gone a little astray.
“Well, tell me what happened” Jon urged Maggie to continue, details hardly ever helpful when kept secret.
“She was shopping. It was her day off. Monday. She never came back” Maggie informed Jon. He'd have to tell her about how to talk properly apparently.
“So she ran away” Jon poked. Much to Maggie's disapproval.
“She wouldn't run away Jon”
“You're sure about that?”
“Yes!” Maggie very bluntly.
“Then tell me what happened” Jon ordered. Something more to this than just a girl disappearing. Maggie breathing deeply, thinking over her options.
“You called me out here Mags... now would not be the time to keep that mouth shut” Jon giving his own advice.
“She had a customer...” Maggie finally started.
“A john...” Maggie didn't take kindly to the interruption, adding a little twist to the word, she always could insult Jon right to his very core, with just his name.
“He started coming a few weeks ago, never slept with her, just sat in the room and talked”
“Why did you let that happen?” Jon asked. Usually Maggie smarter than that. As harmless as it seemed, it was the ones that didn't want sex you had to watch. The ones that just wanted to talk, to hold hands, they were the ones that got obsessed, possessive. Those were the ones those two large men at the front door were for.
“I didn't know, she only told me this previous Friday” Maggie sighed, well aware she should've known earlier.
“I had the boys bounce him, make sure he knew not to come back”
“What did he talk about, with Cassidy?” There was always a clue in the obsession. Men, not even just certain ones had a way of falling off a cliff quickly when it came to a broad. There was always, one, if not just a type that sparked the fire, from a flame to an inferno.
“He left his jacket, we found this in the pocket, apparently he wouldn't shut up about it” Maggie slid the paper across the table.
Jon exhaling deeply looking down at the leaflet.
“What?” Maggie knew that look, seeing it many times before. Hardly ever with any good outcomes.
Jon reaching his hand into his own pocket. Sliding his chosen piece of paper across the desk, both of them the same.
“He will return” Maggie read aloud.
“What is this?”
“The Diamond Flowers” Jon still looking at the leaflet.
“The cult, those viking screw jobs out in the desert... why do you have one of these anyway?” Maggie for a moment showing some panic. Easy to tell she was fretting, even if usually she were as motherly as most male hamsters. Ready and willing to eat whatever young was in front of them. But that didn't mean she didn't care.
“Professional curiosity” Jon much to Maggie's further worry. He didn't often voluntarily involve himself in things that he wasn't getting paid for. And by often, the reality was never. For him to be curious about something usually implied something was very wrong.
“What is this shit about?” Maggie holding up the leaflet wanting more of an explanation.
“There's a comet, Ymir, these... people think its the return of that comets name sake.” Jon explained.
“And what did this Ymir guy do” Maggie wondered.
“He died and had his body disassembled to make the universe” Jon went on, Maggie stopping in her tracks.
“Ymir... you should read this, it's fascinating. He was a Frost Giant. Apparently. The Diamond Flowers think he's returning” Jon taking a good long few breathes between each thought, expressing his own views on the apparent return of the big man.
“What could they want with Cassidy?”
“That's if they even have her” Jon spoke out, warning about making assumptions.
“You think they don't” Maggie asked. Both they're instincts telling them it was unlikely Cassidy vanishing was a singular event not linked to anything.
“Stranger things have happened” Jon looking to Maggie, all she could do was agree. Stranger things had happened. Not often, but if anywhere, this city was the place.
“You don't owe me anything Jon, there's no reason you should do this for free” Maggie waiting for whatever Jon would come back with.
“There's always a debt” Jon finally conceded. He wasn't sure why, but there always was.
“I assume you still keep the book in order” Jon wondering where the item was.
“Of course” Maggie answered.
“You showed some restraint, not tempted to send those two lunks around to do some investigating of you're own.” Jon wondered.
“As much as I hate taking your advice Jon, it's like you always said, sometimes the soft touch is better.” Maggie informing him of her choices.
“That doesn't sound like me” Jon grimaced. The book taken from the bottom drawer of the desk, slammed down by its weight alone on the surface. At some point all the customers ended up in the book, named and tagged with an address and photo. This was security, something important for a bunch of women in this business.
“Do I need to worry about you flicking through this Jon” Maggie pausing before slinging open the cover.
“Who... me?” Jon grinned promising nothing from his exploration of who exactly had been visiting the Den. Maggie staring for a moment before flipping open the book to the marked page. Doing her best to make it quick, impeding Jon from seeing too much of the clientele. It took money to get in, but apart from that, there were none too discerning rules.
“Here... Bernie Puller, write down the address.” Maggie pointed to the name and covertly taken photograph. Normal enough looking fella, that should've been clue enough right there.
“Yes ma'am” Jon mumbled. Maggie never really acted as if he were any good at his job. Clearly unrepresentative of her real feelings since he was here now. The first person she'd called. Jon knew he wasn't just assuming that either. There were very few detectives worth their salt in this city. Jon at least worth that lowly spice at least.
“Shall I check the morgue as well?” Jon questioned. It was always a good signifier if the answer was a yes, that the hope level was low. There was no malice in the inquiry, Maggie knew Jon was just doing his job, but still the question poked a little deep. The threatening look in return suggesting to Jon that he tread on thin ice.
“Just do your job” Maggie finally moving hurriedly to the door, what was once fond company now just scratched were there was no itch.
“One more thing” Jon having one more question.
“Did she listen, was she interested in this, or just playing along?” Jon holding up the leaflet wondering if maybe the disappearance of Annie Divine wasn't just a runaway.
“She wouldn't run away Jon” Maggie assured all those in the room. Jon about to open his mouth and ask again if she was completely sure, before.
“SHE WOULDN'T” Maggie shouted in a burst of frustration. Jon taking the hint.
“Ok... I'll find her” As good as promised. Maybe he shouldn't have been so certain about it, especially when reality had its own way of working out. But Jon was always of the opinion 'fuck reality'.
Wandering back to Roland's car he paused before opening the door. Maybe someone wasn't just paranoid, maybe they were running drills, more national guardsmen in a jeep rolling past. If he'd been suspicious Jon might've thought they were following him. Wait, he was suspicious. But that would be too strange. Jon pushed the idea back down, different things to worry about now. If he didn't do the job, he had an angry madam to deal with. Jon had received enough of Maggie's ire over the years to know it wasn't something to look forward to.
First though, the obvious. Back across town, for the third time in two days Jon found himself at the city morgue. Dropping in on Gosley was never advised, he'd do nothing short of lock the doors and turn on the hose, if he felt the need. So Jon used his skills well, waiting for the few corpse jockeys outside smoking to finish their cigarettes. Like a phantom from the shadows, emerging, leaving a foot just out far enough to keep the heavy steel door open.
“Fuck” Jon gasped as the door closed on his foot crunching it into the frame. Wrenching it back open once the coast was clear. Limping his way along the corridor to the place he knew Gosley would be.
“Why is it always so cold in here?” Jon huffed strolling through the swinging doors into the storage and examination room. Gosley's visible reaction at least something to perk Jon up.
“You can't be that stupid Jon” Gos going back to work, he'd do his best to ignore the lout for as long as possible.
“Here...” Jon cut to the chase, sliding the photo of Cassidy into Gosley's view. The busily working doctors head retreating from the image as his eyes focused in on it.
“She's not really my type Jon” Gosley quickly looking away from the picture after a quick involuntary examination of the girl.
“Good... you haven't seen her though, in your, travels” Jon pointing around the room.
“No...” Gosley's tone not one of certainty, inviting Jon to give him another glance of the photo.
“Yes I'm sure... you don't have a more appropriate photo?” Gos wondered, his best stern fatherly voice showing his disapproval of the young ladies attire.
“It's not my picture Gos... she works at the Den” Jon making sure he pointed out, that whilst he was a pervert, he did have some standards.
“Ah... I see... you noticed how she looks like...?” Gosley questioned, taking a poke, though not intentionally at Jon.
“I noticed.” Jon cut off any more talk of that quickly. Something he wasn't sure he wanted to discuss at all with anyone.
“Whose this?” Jon poking at the rounded figure under the sheet on the table, Gos obviously ready to start an examination.
“I'm not obliged to...” Gosley got out before Jon had pulled the sheet down grabbing a glance at the head of the cold body.
“AAAAHHHHHhahahahahahahaha” Of all the things Jon could choose to be, subtle, was not one. Not now, not at seeing this face. Pointing, laughing, taking in the sight of the ruddy face Irish cockbag that was Briggs. The other just as fat lump on the table over must have then, been Brock. Flicking the sheet back, revealing what a pleasant sight a dead body could be. Jon raised his hands in the air in triumph, nodding solidly with happiness.
“I'd remind you that those were two police officers Jon” Gosley for a few misguided moments spoke.
“I'd remind you they were also cunts Gos. How erh... how did they get did?” Jon smiled, clicking his fingers in as merry a jig he could manage.
“Wait... wait let me guess” Jon gladly stopping Gosley saying anything for the moment.
“A... small, precision wound at the base of the skull” Jon guessing with all the certainty of a psychic with thin walls.
Gosley remaining silent in reply.
Jon still smiling like a goon, picked up Briggs head, taking a glance at the underside. Perfectly placed, dead centre with a precision only one person could manage. Jon so happy at the sight he couldn't help but give the fat annoying corpse a slap on the gut. Raising his hand high before bring it down with force.
“You you quite finished Jon?” Gosley inquired.
“For now, keep them around a few days longer Gos, I might come back for another” Jon's request certainly not one Gosley should listen to.
This the happiest Gosley had seen him Jon a while, a little worrying it was at the sight of two dead men. But a happy Jon could only be good... or bad. Opposites had a funny way of attracting the exact same outcome.
“This is a good day” Jon gleefully assured himself.
“So why are you looking for the girl” Gosley showing his talent for bringing down a mood with record speed.
“A favour, kind of.”
“What's 'kind of a favour'” Gos asked.
“Complicated... that's what it is” Jon sighed, taking his leave from Gosley and his stiff friends. It was something he'd no wish or ability to explain. Curiosity was something you never wanted to show, it made people think you were interested. And if you showed that, they might ask you to help.