Episode 1: “Bienvenidos”
It was the big day that Damon Hellsinger had been waiting for. He had everything packed up and ready to go. He looked at his room and started at the clean spots on the walls where his various posters of the Backstreet Boys,*Nsync, and the I Want To Believe poster had covered. He decided that he would leave his bed behind for the next poor schlub who moved in after him. He had one large duffel bag with just about everything he owned stuffed in it: books, cds, notebooks where he wrote his best poetry, laptop, and clothes. It was with a heavy heart that he turned around and walked out of his bedroom.
The apartment had already come furnished so Damon didn't have to worry about moving the furniture. With the exception of the stains on the carpet, the apartment looked as clean as it did when he moved in. He had lived here for what seemed like centuries, three at least. The years flew by so fast. It was hard leaving all of the memories behind. Damon felt a lump form in his throat. He promised himself that he wasn't going to cry.
“Come on, hurry up,” said Damon's friend Nathaniel. He was standing outside of the apartment near the open door. He kept his eyes on the street, watching everyone who walked by.
“Alright, alright!” Damon picked up the duffel bag and made his way to the door. Once he was passed the threshold, he dropped the bag and reached into his pocket for the keys. He closed the door and locked the door. “This is the last time I'll see this place.” Damon placed his hand on the front door and sighed. “Goodbye little apartment. You served me well.”
“You hated this place,” Nate said. “You constantly complained about the mold growing in the closet. The rent was too damn high, you said.”
“The rent was too damn high, but it wasn't without its charm.” Damon picked up his duffel bag and turned to Nate. “Are you ready?” Nate nodded his head.
The two of them walked across the well manicured lawn to the blue Ford pick up truck parked on the side of the street. Damon threw his bag in the back of the truck and climbed inside of the cab. Nate got in the driver's seat and started it. Nate waited for Damon to get inside, but Damon was too busy staring at the small green apartment building.
“Get in the fucking truck, Damon!” Nate shouted.
Damon snapped out of his reverie and opened the truck door and climbed inside. As he shut the door, the truck revved into gear and sped down the once quiet neighborhood street. “I'll miss that place. It had such great bones.”
“What does that even mean?” Nate asked, instantly regretting it. Luckily, Damon didn't have a response.
“You know where the site is, don't you?” Damon asked.
“Yes, I know where it is.” Nate sounded annoyed. He wasn't usually like this, but he tended to tense up when he was about to participate in something shady. It sent goosebumps up and down his back and along his tail. “We've been over this a million times.”
“I just want to make sure,” Damon said.
Damon knew that Nate was nervous. He supposed that it was justified. What Damon was doing wasn't strictly legal. Damon wasn't just moving across town, he was moving across realms of reality. Damon planned to live in the Human Realm, which was forbidden by law.
Damon had lived in the Demon Underworld for his entire life. Being a demon, that was where he was expected to be. He grew up in the town of Lower San Dimas where a majority of demonic activity was originated and organized from. It was just like any other demon town with regular demon families that worked hard to put meals on the table. He was expected to get a job serving the great Demon Empire whose main goal was to manage the souls of humans who migrated to the Underworld. Damon made sure that he got the least demanding job. He and Nate worked in a call center that called humans to make them deals in exchange for their immortal soul and collect on their investment. It was literally a soul sucking job. Damon did it knowing that he was saving up for his ultimate goal of escaping. Today was that day.
Nate drove through the neighborhoods just outside of the center of town where the Ministry of Demonic Activity was located. He was careful not to draw undue attention to them by security. They didn't need to look suspicious and have the police follow them to the secret destination.
Nate and Damon traveled to the outskirts of Lower San Dimas where there wasn't a lot of security. The desert bordered the town. Not many people had business out there for it was a very unpleasant place to be. The constant sandstorms made for pretty near inhabitable. Anyone who willingly went out there had to be crazy and therefore was not hassled. This was the perfect place for Damon to make his escape.
Damon had heard of a faction of demons that believed that true freedom could be found in the Human Realm. The idea of living among humans thrilled him. He tried to study all things human. The internet in the Demon Realm was choice and he used it to listen to most of the music from all over the globe, but mainly enjoyed the 90's grunge era and the alternative rock of the early 2000s. He made a list of TV shows and movies he would watch on DVD. He made lists of places to see, things to eat, and things to do. He was ready and he only had a limited amount of time to experience it all.
Nate and Damon arrived at the outskirts near the desert. There was nothing out there other than a few buildings that housed a few stores and a really kicking bar. They parked the truck at the bar and got out. They looked out into the desert and observed the desert whirlwinds.
“Where's the portal?” Nate asked.
“I put it out there.” Damon pointed to the desert. “It was the only way to ensure that no one else would find it.”
Nate looked at Damon and folded his arms. “I'm not going out there.”
“That's okay, you're totally not invited.” Damon pulled his duffel bag from the back of the truck and set it down on the ground. He held his arms out and hugged Nate. “This is goodbye, I guess.”
“Please don't do this,” Nate said. “Why don't you just stay here? Why do you have to do this now?”
“Because, this is the only chance I'll get to see the human world before my Uncle Lucy gets to it.” Damon patted Nate on the back and tried to make himself smile. He didn't want to leave Nate behind, but Nate made it clear before that he was not leaving with him. “You should come visit me!”
“We'll see,” Nate said, hugging Damon back.
They separated and looked at each other as if trying to burn the image into their minds. After a minute of doing this, they both felt a little awkward and looked away from each other. Damon felt that the only thing left to do was to pick up his bag and make the trek out into the desert. As he did, he turned around to see Nate waving goodbye. This caused Damon to tear up a little. He wiped his eye and pretended that some sand flew in it. Damon turned around and carried his bag into the sandstorm.
He couldn't see where the portal was, but he could sense it. He closed his eyes and wandered toward the power source. He could feel its pulsating waves of energy spilling out of the tear in the fabric of space/time. He hoped that he was heading in the right direction. He also hoped that the spot where the portal led wasn't right in front of a busy highway or a train tunnel.
Every inch of him was being blasted with sand. He was sure that he would be finding sand in uncomfortable places for weeks to come. He wanted to open his eyes to confirm the location of the portal, but he knew that that would be folly. He just had to feel it out.
He felt the energy tug at his skin. He was close. He adjusted his course and headed to where the energy was pulling him. He soon felt it wash over him and then in a gush of cold wind, the sand blasting was done. The air around him was calm and cool.
He opened his eyes and saw that he was in a small white room. In the corner was a balding man wearing a salmon pink cardigan sitting down with his pants around his ankles. The man's owl like eyes were staring at him in a surprised manner though thick rimmed glasses. Damon looked at the little man and saw how he was covering himself and realized that they were in a bathroom.
“Sorry!” Damon said immediately. “I'll get out of your way.”
Damon was about to leave when he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His skin was reddish brown with two large black horns protruding from his forehead, black eyes, long black hair, and sharp teeth. “This won't do.” Damon concentrated and watched as his skin turned a light brown, his eyes turned brown, his tail shrunk into his back and his hair shortened. “Not bad. I clean up nice.” He turned to the man and smiled. “Have a nice day!” Damon unlocked the door and opened it. “You might want to work out a way to lock this after me.” He stepped outside and shut the door. There was a man waiting to go in, but Damon stopped him and said, “He's still in there. You might want to give him a minute,” then walked away, leaving the man quite confused.
Damon found that he had emerged in a Starbucks, which was perfect, because he had always wanted to go to one. He fished around his pockets for the cash he exchanged before he left the Demon Realm. Having done his research, he knew the currency used in this region of the Human Realm. He pulled out a wad of dollars and fished out $5. He stood in line and pondered what treat he would be indulging in. It was then that he saw the pumpkin spice latte. That would be perfect! When he reached the counter, he proudly proclaimed that he wanted a small pumpkin spice latte.
“We don't have small,” the cashier named Frederick said. He pointed to the menu and said. “We have 'tall', 'grande', 'venti', and 'trenta'.”
Damon looked at the menu and thought that had to be the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. Frederick was kind enough to hold up the various cup sizes for him. “How is a small cup a tall cup? And isn't grande Spanish?” Frederick rolled his eyes because he knew where this was going. “And venti and trenta sound like numbers. The logic in this place confounds me.”
“Look, I didn't make up the names,” Frederick said. “Are you are going to order something?”
“I guess I'll have a grande pumpkin spice latte.” Damon handed Frederick the $5 bill. The cashier took it and rang up the latte and handed him the change. “This grande better be good!”
“Oh, it is,” Frederick said. “And the name?”
Frederick took out his Sharpie and scribbled something that looked like Damon on the red paper cup. “I'll have this ready for you over there.” Frederick pointed to the other end of the counter. There were two women working on other people's drinks down there. Damon took this as his cue to get out of line.
Damon couldn't wait to sample this magic elixir and hoped that it lived up to the hype. When his name was called, Damon anxiously walked over to the counter and picked up his hot cup. He didn't wait for it to cool down before he ripped the lid off and downed the contents. The latte dribbled down his throat and onto his shirt. People watched this in bewilderment and partial disgust.
“That was awesome!” Damon exclaimed. “I'll have another!”
Damon paid for his second latte and then sat down at an available table. He reached into his duffel bag and searched for his laptop. It was time to get down to business. If he wasn't mistaken, he was right in the heart of Tucson, Arizona. This was where it was going to begin. He needed to find a place to live. He had been looking at Craigslist for any possible openings. There were a few places that looked good, but he was looking for something small and not too expensive, not that money was an object. Demon currency carried much weight in the Human Realm.
Damon found his laptop and logged onto the internet. He brought up Craigslist and began to search for his future home. It took him about thirty minutes before he found a listing for a quaint looking yellow guest house just down the street from his current location. He looked at the pictures of the inside and thought there were absolutely perfect. The person who made the listing left his number coded at the bottom. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone that worked both in the Demon Realm and in the Human Realm. He dialed the number and waited anxiously for the person to pick up.
“Hello, this is Matthew,” said a young man on the other end.
Damon's excitement skyrocketed. “Yes, Matthew! My name is Damon and I want to look at your guest house! Is it still available? Please say 'yes'. I need to hear these words.”
“Fantastic! I'll meet you there in fifteen minutes?”
“Well, I'm kinda of at work right now,” Matthew replied. “But maybe later this afternoon?”
“Fifteen minutes it is!” Damon said, his own excitement was starting to affect his hearing. “I can't wait! I'll see you then!” Damon hung up the phone and started to pack up his belongings. It was really happening and so much quicker than he expected.
Damon picked up his second pumpkin spice latte, which had cooled considerably, and drank it down in one gulp. He crumpled the cup and sighed happily. He saw himself going bankrupt on those things fairly son if he wasn't careful.
He stood up and wished everyone a good day. He picked up his duffel bag and awkward maneuvered through the tables and people until he reached the front door. He stepped out into the cool Arizona air. The sound of traffic whooshing by on Speedway surprised him. It reminded him of the traffic down in Lower San Dimas. There weren't as many cars in the Demon Realm and they were all Fords. He walked over to the street corner and watched the myriad of cars fly past him. Damon giggled excitedly as he thought about sticking his thumb out.
Damon saw that he was on the corner of Country Club and Speedway. He was not too far from where the guest house was. He carried his duffel bag and walked north down Country Club. From what the Craigslist ad said, the house was on Waverly. His GPS on his cell phone wouldn't let him down.
Damon whistled to himself as he walked. This seemed to pass the time quite well. Before he knew it, he was at Waverly. Right on the southwest corner of Country Club and Waverly was a cute yellow house complete with a cobble stone driveway. Damon envisioned that he was going to enjoy living here. He decided that it would be good to look around.
Damon walked over to the house and peered into the windows of the main house. The living room looked like any other living room. There was a sofa and a love seat for guests. There was a big screen television in the corner which sat atop of a wooden entertainment center. There was a coffee table with magazines of strapping muscle men on the covers. Maybe this guy was a body builder, Damon thought.
A silver car pulled into the driveway and turned off. Damon turned to look and saw a young man climb out of the car. He looked to be about 28 years old, 5'9”, short brown hair, blue eyes, skin almost white as snow. He didn't look like he worked out much. He had a few extra pounds, but nothing terribly unhealthy. He was wearing all black with white apron. Damon instantly knew that this man worked at a coffeehouse. He sensed more pumpkin spice lattes in his future.
The man walked over to Damon and shook his hand. “Hello, I'm Matthew. You must be Damon.”
“Yes, this is true.”
“I wasn't expecting you to be so tall.” Matthew looked up at the 6'3” Damon and grinned. “Oh well, we can't all be perfect. Let's show you the guest house. It's around back. Follow me.”
Matthew led Damon around the main house to the side where there was a gate. He unlocked the gate and walked into the back yard. The smaller yellow house looked just like it did in the ad, much to Damon's delight.
“As you see, we would share the back yard, but that's not usually a problem. We don't walk around naked back here or anything,” Matthew said.
“You live in the big house?” Damon asked.
“I do.” Matthew fished in his pockets for his keys. When he found them, he pulled them out and stuck the one for the guest house into the door lock. He opened the door and let Damon enter first.
Damon was instantly impressed. There was only one common space, but it was spacious. He could put in a loft bed, have a work slash study area underneath the bed, a little couch for guests to sit on, then the kitchen was right by the front door. Then there was the closet that was a walk in. Damon walked past Matthew to look at the bathroom. Black and white tile floor, porcelain sink and toilet , there wasn't a bath, but he didn't mind taking showers. The place was perfect. He wanted it right now.
“I'll take it,” Damon said. “It's absolutely perfect.”
Matthew was a little surprised. He wasn't expecting an immediate response. “Are you sure? I know it's not great...”
“It's amazing!” Damon spun around and grinned from ear to ear. “I knew that this is the place for me.”
“Well, I'm still hoping to get other people to take a look at it,” Matthew said. Damon was the first person to view the guest house. He had put the ad up on Craigslist a day ago. He was hoping that he could pick who lived in his backyard.
“There won't be any others,” Damon said flatly. Suddenly, his demeanor went from happy to very serious. The smile that had once adorned his face went away, replaced by very thin lips.
“What do you mean?” Matthew asked.
“No one else will look at this apartment because the ad is no longer on Craigslist,” Damon admitted. “I took it down.”
“What?” Matthew asked incredulously. “You can't do that.”
“Oh, but I can.” Damon steepled his fingers and gave Damon a demonic grin. In an instant, the scary face was gone. The vibrant smile returned. “I've got three months rent right here! I trust that you will find everything in order.” Damon reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of dollar bills. He counted out $1500 and handed it to Matthew, who was surprised by it all.
“But... but...” Matthew sputtered. He looked through the $100 bills and they seemed to be legitimate. He felt uncomfortable handling that much money outside in the open, even though they were in the back yard. Matthew knew that he wanted to take the money, but there was something about Damon that was off. The money was telling him to just take it and everything would work itself out. He looked up at Damon and saw that he was still smiling. Matthew couldn't help but smile himself. “Okay, it's yours.”
“YES!” Damon danced around the yard, flailing his arms excitedly. He ran over to Matthew and shook his hand exuberantly. ”You have just made this man very happy! I'll go get my stuff!” Damon ran to the front of the house and grabbed his heavy duffel bag. He carried it to the back yard and walked into his new house. He, then, peeked his head outside and said, “Thank you,” and then shut the door.
Matthew was left standing there holding a wad of cash, looking very confused. He supposed that things would be okay. He pocketed the money and shouted. “If you need anything, I'm just in the main house. Let me know.”
“Thank you!” Damon shouted from inside his house.
Matthew's work here was done. He needed to get back to work. He walked out of the back yard, leaving Damon to settle in.
Episode 2: “Take Your Demon to Work Day”
On Wednesday morning, Sir Arthur Wigglebottom sauntered into Matthew's bedroom and leapt on the bed. He saw that Matthew was sleeping comfortably, eyes shut, mouth open, loud sounds coming from said open mouth. How could sleep at a time like this? It was morning and Arthur's stomach demanded sustenance. Not only that, but there was something strange in the kitchen and it wasn't feeding him either. Everything was going wrong and Matthew needed to do something about it now. Arthur would have done it himself, but seeing as he was a cat and had no thumbs, he couldn't operate the can opener.
Arthur began kneading on Matthew's chest. This only garnered a quiet moan from the human. This was no time to be pussyfooting around. Arthur decided to use his claws this time. Matthew raised his right arm and swatted Arthur off the bed. Arthur was miffed now. He jumped back onto the bed, well far away from Matthew's arms and started to sing the song of his people.
MMMMEEEERRRROOOWW! MEEEERRRROOOOWW! Arthur yowled. If this didn't get Matthew up, nothing would... well, Arthur's last resort would be to pee on his pillow. It'd mean he would go in the crate, but at least he could eat in the crate.
Matthew reluctantly opened his eyes and glared at his dear, beloved cat. “What the hell, cat! I fed you yesterday, go away!” He picked up the other pillow on his bed and threw it at Arthur. This sent Arthur flying off the bed and onto the floor. Matthew instantly regretted this move. If he wasn't quick, Arthur would pee on it out of spite. He quickly got out of bed to retrieve his pillow and maybe strangle the cat. He reached the pillow and threw it back on his bed. He bent down and picked up the black cat, cradling it in his arms. “What is it that you needed so badly that you had to wake me up?”
It was then that they heard the sound of ceramic plates clinking together. Matthew instantly dropped Arthur and quietly tiptoed into the hallway. The sound of a cabinet closing came from the kitchen. Someone was in his house. Could it have been his boyfriend, Ben? No, Ben didn't stay over last night. Who in the world could be rustling through his dishes?
Matthew made it down to the closet in the hallway. He carefully opened it and grabbed a titanium baseball bat. He had a passing dream of creating a baseball team with his coworkers at the cafe, but no one really seemed interested. Unfortunately, Matthew had already bought the bat. Now it sat in the closet with no real purpose, until today.
With Arthur providing back up, Matthew turned the corner and saw that there was a man bent over looking at the contents of his fridge. Matthew took a deep breath and prepared to swing at the intruder. As he raised the bat and swung, the intruder stood up, spun around, and grabbed the bat. Matthew watched as Damon crumpled the bat singlehandedly and tossed it aside. It fell to the floor with a metallic clang.
The look on Damon's face was intense, almost sinister. This sent a wave of terror through Matthew for a minute. What had he done letting this guy move in behind him? Now the guy was breaking into his house stealing his food.
Just as sudden as it appeared, the sinister look was replaced by a joyous smile. “Good morning, Matthew!” he said. He reached out to pat Matthew on the head, but Matthew took a step back. This saddened Damon a little bit, but he maintained his smile and continued to look into the refrigerator.
“What... what are you doing in here?” Matthew asked.
“You said to come over if I needed anything,” Damon said to the plate of thin sliced roast beef. “I need food. I thought that maybe I could make us some breakfast.” Damon found some eggs and pulled them out of the fridge. He set them on the kitchen counter next to the carton of milk. “By the way, I think this yogurt has gone bad. I'm going to throw it out. When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge?”
”I cleaned it out a week ago,” Matthew lied.
“That's not what this roast beef is telling me,” Damon said. “Whatever, I'm not here to bust your balls.” Damon turned around to see what Matthew was wearing. Matthew was only wearing an orange pair of boxers. “Speaking of balls, why don't you go get dressed and we'll have ourselves some breakfast.”
“Then we're going to talk about setting some boundaries if this whole living in my back yard is going to work.” Matthew left the kitchen and walked back into his room. He had planned on showering, but he didn't want to leave the strange man alone with his belongings too long. He put on his work uniform and walked back into the kitchen.
Matthew saw that Damon had found the bacon and was cooking it. Matthew was planning on cooking it later when Ben was over, but this was a special occasion.
-”So, tell me, Matt...”
“Matthew, what do you do?” Damon pulled a few more strips of bacon and set them in the pan. The sizzle was instant. It was beginning to smell really good. “I know you work in a coffeehouse, but what do you do for fun?”
Matthew wasn't expecting to be interviewed. “Umm, I'm a writer, kind of.” He had just started writing because Ben had encouraged him to be one. He didn't really know how to string two sentences together, but he was going to give it his best. “My boyfriend is really the writer in the relationship, but I think I can do it, too.”
“What kind of stuff do you write?” Damon asked.
“I don't know... I'm writing about some pirates right now,” Matthew admitted, feeling a little childish.
“Cool beans,” Damon replied.
“What do you do?” Matthew asked, hoping to shift some of the focus off of him, and also to learn a little more about his house guest in the guest house.
“I worked at a soulless call center,” Damon said. -”I don't work there anymore because I just moved. I am so glad that I did. So far, so good.”
“What were you selling?”
“I selling people promises of grandeur for their souls. Once they received what they wanted, we demanded payment.” Damon shrugged as he spoke. “It sucked. My uncle got me the job. It was something to do, but it wasn't anything I wanted to do long term.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a drag,” Matthew said. “I wouldn't last very long in a call center. I'd want to shoot myself after a few hours.”
“Yeah, it's a bit draining,” Damon admitted. “Well, I'm all done with that business!”
Matthew watched as Damon flipped over the bacon. It looked like he liked his bacon soft and not crispy, the same way Matthew preferred his. This was working out just fine.
When Damon was done cooking the bacon, he drained the grease and rinsed the pan out. He then grabbed the eggs and cracked six of them. Damon loved making eggs. He preferred them with cheese, but Matthew didn't appear to have any cheese that hadn't molded. Damon scrambled the eggs and added a little milk to the mix. When the eggs were done, Damon put them on a plate. He, then, added the bacon. He handed a plate to Matthew before making himself a plate.
“This is good,” Matthew admitted. “You're a good cook.”
“It's hard to mess up bacon and eggs,” Damon said, chuckling.
“So, for future reference, I'd like it if you'd knock before letting yourself in.” Matthew bit into one of the pieces of bacon. “It really freaked out Arthur.” The cat gave a meow of approval.
“He's just mad because I didn't feed him anything,” Damon said. He broke off a piece of bacon and bent down to Arthur's level. The cat cautiously approached Damon and ate the bacon from his hand before running away. “There's a nice cat.”
Matthew, Damon, and Arthur happily ate their breakfast. Matthew still thought that there was something off about Damon, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He seemed nice enough, but what was it that was staring him right in the face that was eluding him? Arthur knew the answer, but he was too eating his wet food to think about it.
After all food had been consumed, Matthew put his plate into the sink. Damon licked his plate clean against his better judgment. When he was done, he handed the plate to Matthew, who held it with as few fingers as he could without dropping it. After he placed the plate in the sink, he ran the water to rinse everything off. He planned to wash everything later. He turned the water off and turned to Damon.
“Well, thank you for breakfast,” Matthew said. “It was great. Now I have to get ready for work.”
“Oh yeah, at the coffee house?” Damon asked.
“Yes, at the coffee house.” Matthew escorted Damon to the sliding glass door that led to the back yard. “I will see you later. Remember, if you need me, just knock.”
Damon walked over to the door as Matthew opened it and he pouted. Before he stepped through the door, he said, “I was wondering if I could ask you a favor.”
Matthew resisted the urge to just push Damon out the door and slam it shut behind him. He was kind and waited for Damon to speak. “What is it?”
“Could I come with you?”
“Come with me to the coffee house?” Matthew was confused.
“I don't know Tucson that well right now and I would like to be somewhere with someone I know,” Damon pleaded. He made an adorable face featuring his deep brown eyes blinking innocently. “I promise that I won't be a bother and I'll buy things. I'll just sit on my laptop and surf the internet. You do have wi-fi, don't you?”
“Yes, we have wi-fi,” Matthew confirmed. “I just don't see why you'd want to sit in a cafe all day.”
“It'll be like I'll be in Seattle only without the rain and the hipsters.” Damon placed his hands together and begged. “Please?”
Matthew wanted nothing more than for this moment to be over. He nodded his head and thus agreed to let Damon come with him. Damon cheered and jumped, almost falling out of the house into the back yard.
“This is going to be just perfect!” Damon said. “Stay right there! I'm going to go pack my laptop and stuff! I'll be right back!” He ran over to his house and threw open the door. He dove inside and sounds of things being tossed around spilled out into the yard. Matthew stood in the doorway and wondered if he might have made a mistake.
Matthew and Damon arrived at Comma Coffee on the famous 4th Avenue, a great place to go for pizza, homemade crafts, queer friendly bookstores, fun bars, sandwiches, and homeless hippies with their dogs. Damon feel in love with it instantly. There was nothing like this in Lower San Dimas. Matthew parked by a church on the corner of University and 4th Avenue because it was the only place where he was guaranteed parking. He didn't mind the walk to down to the cafe because it gave him his exercise for the day.
They walked into the cafe and saw that there were already a few people there. Matthew checked his cell phone and saw that it was merely 9:30. There usually weren't many people here at this time. Matthew wondered if there was some kind of sale going on that he wasn't aware of.
“Matt! Hurry up and clock in,” said a woman behind the counter, putting her apron on. “We're a little understaffed right now. Kailey called in again and Gabe is running late.” The woman looked at Damon and smiled. “And who is that? That's not Ben.”
“Now, that's my new tenant, Damon.” Matthew walked behind the counter and into the office where their manager stored their aprons. He looked for his, but couldn't find it. It was then that he realized that he took it home when he left to meet Damon at his house. He had forgotten it there. He grabbed Kailey's apron and put it on; she wasn't going to need it.
“Hello, there, Damon. I'm Felix.” Damon and Felix shook hands over the counter. “Hey Matt, when did you start hanging out with beautiful creatures such as this?”
“Stop hitting on my tenant,” Matthew said. He walked up the front counter and looked at the ten people who were enjoying their coffee and scones. “Where did all these people come from? It's never been this busy so early?”
“Well, the point of having a coffee house is to have people come to it and drink coffee,” Felix replied. “I don't ask where they come from. I don't care. Just as long as they come and buy things, I'm happy.” She patted Matthew on the back and smiled.
“Speaking of buying things, do you have pumpkin spice lattes?” Damon asked. He was ready to drop some major cash.
“Of course we do. What size?”
“I'll take a medium? You do have mediums, right?”
“Yes, we have real sizes.”
“Shut up and take my money!” Damon handed Felix a $10 bill.
Felix pushed Matthew out from in front of the cash register and took the $10. “That will be $3.37. Matt, go make this man a medium pumpkin spice latte.” She gave Damon his change and thanked him.
Matthew hastened to get the ingredients ready. He worked his magic and within two minutes, Damon had his medium pumpkin spice latte. “Enjoy.”
Damon took his cup and took a sip. It was one of the most delicious things he had ever tasted. It was far superior of that of Starbucks. “This is fabulous! If I didn't know that Matthew had made this, I would have assumed an angel had made it.”
“Who said I'm not an angel?” Matthew asked, pretending to be offended.
Damon laughed. “I'll leave you two to work.” He waved to Felix and Matthew as he turned around to find a place to sit. He found a table near the door and sat down. He pulled out his laptop from his messenger bag and started to boot it up.
Felix watched Damon from the register with intense curiosity. “Where did you meet this guy? Were you out trolling the bars again, you horny devil?”
“Eww, no!” Matthew splashed Felix with some of the water he was using to wash some cups. “He called me out of the blue yesterday. He's the reason why I had to leave so suddenly.”
“Ooh, a little hook up happenin' on the side?” Felix liked to joke about Matthew's sex life because she knew it embarrassed him. As usual, Matthew's face was beet red. “Did you give it to him?”
“If you mean the guest house, then, yes, yes I did.” Matthew tried to change the subject, but he knew that this would prove to be fruitless. “He gave me the first three months rent in giant wad of cash.”
“Wads, huh?” Felix giggled.
“I probably should have used another word for that,” Matthew moaned.
“There's certainly something about him, though.” Felix continued to look at Damon as he sipped on his pumpkin spice latte.
“I know!” Matthew stopped washing and looked up at Damon. “I can't put my finger on it, but there's something off about him. He snuck into my house this morning just to make me breakfast.”
“Does Ben break into your house to make you breakfast?”
Matthew shook his head. “He doesn't have to.”
Felix and Matthew continued to laugh and talk dirty for a few minutes before finally getting to work.
Damon sat at his table sipping his latte and surfing the internet. He was thinking about the next step in his immigration to the Human Realm. He had achieved finding a place to live. Now the next part of the experience would be to find a job. He had a lot of money saved up, but he wasn't sure if it was going to last the whole three months. He was sure he could make it if he budgeted wisely, but he wasn't one for budgeting. Damon wanted the whole human experience. He wanted to live like one of the humans, do that they do, eat what they eat, work where they work.
He surfed through many job listings, but most of what he found were call center jobs. He wasn't sure if he could do that again. He had been doing phone monkey work for so many years that he felt that he could do it in his sleep. His tolerance to mind numbing phone work was whittling down to nothing. There had to be more to human life than this. He didn't come from the Demon Realm to work in another fucking phone job. He made up his mind that he wasn't going to do it anymore.
Damon continued to scour the internet for any available jobs. There were jobs for bank tellers, hair stylists, and administrative assistants. None of those jobs sounded like they were much fun. He heard laughter coming from Matthew and Felix and another coworker. He looked up at them and saw how much fun they were having. If only he could get something as fun as that.
Damon looked at the window next to him and saw that there was a help wanted sign there. An idea struck him. He could work here! It would be perfect. He could hitch a ride with Matthew and they could all work in a fun place together. It was decided.
Damon stood up and walked over to the counter where Felix and Matthew were talking excitedly about Lolcats. They stopped talking and looked at him. He waved them.
“Hey, I noticed that there's a help wanted sign on the window over there,” Damon said.
“What about it?” Matthew asked.
“What would you say if I wanted to work here?” Damon waited for Matthew's response. He wasn't sure what Matthew would say.
“Erm, I don't know,” was all Matthew was able to say. He didn't want to discourage Damon, but Matthew felt this this was too much Damon too soon.
“I think that is a perfect idea,” Felix said. “How perfect would it be? I mean, he lives in your back yard! You two could carpool here and work side by side. Then we could afford to fire Kailey! Pluses all around! I'm going to go get Stephanie! Be right back.” She left to go find the manager.
Matthew approached the counter and leaned in close to Damon. “What are you doing?”
“I'm making a job inquiry,” Damon simply replied. “This looks like a cool place to work. I'm a little envious that you're having so much fun.”
“Are you trying to stalk me?” Matthew asked.
Damon pretended to be offended. “Stalk you? No! I just want what you have. I don't see why you're so upset about this.”
“I'm not upset,” Matthew lied. “I'm just thinking that this is really weird and happening really fast. I mean, I haven't even known you for twenty four hours and you're already in my house making me breakfast and trying to work where I work.”
“There's nothing wrong with that, is there?” Damon flashed his puppy dog eyes at Matthew. This appeared to fluster Matthew even more. “Look, this could totally not work out. Would you be happy then?” Matthew wanted to say yes because it would make him feel better. He didn't say anything. His answer was implied. Damon nodded his head and slowly walked back to his table.
“Dammit,” Matthew said. “Damon, wait...” Damon did not return to the counter. Matthew felt like a heel and wished that he could take everything back. What made him react that way? It happened so suddenly, almost a knee jerk reaction. He felt uneasy about the idea of Damon working here, but once again, the reason escaped him.
Felix came back to the counter and looked for Damon. “What happened?” she asked. Matthew only shrugged, embarrassed by himself. She walked over to Damon and sat down at his table. “What's up?”
“Nothing much,” Damon said sadly. “Matthew doesn't want me to work here.”
“Well, he's just being a jerk,” Felix said. “My manager, Stephanie, said that she would come out here and interview you in about ten minutes. The interview is yours if you want it.”
Damon's face lit up. “I'll take it!”
“That a boy!” Felix said, giving Damon's face a nudge with her fist. “Has anyone ever told you that you're cute?”
“Do you always flirt with the prospective employees?” Damon smiled at Felix.
“Only when on days that end with Y.” Felix stood up and walked back to the front counter. She looked back and gave him a wink. She, then, went on about her business.
Matthew greeted Felix as she came back to the front counter. “How is he doing?”
“I just got him pumped for the job interview,” Felix said. “Now quit being a jerk and go clean something.”
Matthew watched as Damon and his manager talked with each other. He hoped that things were going well. He guilted himself into wanting things to go well for him. Of course Damon would want to work where Matthew worked. Damon didn't know anyone and it would be better if he worked where he knew someone. Why didn't Matthew see if before? Why did he feel so threatened? Felix was right, he had been acting like a jerk. He needed to adjust his attitude.
Laughter came from Damon's table. The two of them were really hitting it off. This made Matthew feel a little better. Stephanie didn't always laugh with the potentials. She tried to put up a wall and be objective with the candidates, but it looked like she was generally having a good time. Matthew hoped that this had a happy ending.
Suddenly, the laughing stopped. Damon was holding up a finger and waving it in front of Stephanie's face. She was watching the finger as it passed her eyes. Damon started to mumble something that Matthew couldn't hear. Matthew was confused by what was happening. Was Damon hypnotizing her? Damon continued to mutter words until he clapped his hands, startling everyone in the coffee house. Stephanie started to laugh again. The two of them stood up and shook hands. They both walked over to the counter with smiles on their faces.
“So, what's the verdict?” Felix asked.
“He starts this weekend,” Stephanie said happily. “Congratulations, Damon. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be in my office firing Kailey.”
Felix hugged Damon. “You did it! Did you think you'd end up with a job when you woke up this morning?”
“No, I'm just as surprised as you!” Damon said. “Isn't this great, Matthew?”
Matthew had only stared at Damon since he had arrived at the counter. What did Damon do to Stephanie? Had he hypnotized her into hiring him? This was too weird. When he realized that Damon and Felix were looking at him, he snapped out of his vacant stare and started clapping. This brought a smile to their faces. It was the best he could do to keep his enthusiasm for the rest of the day. It was going to be a long day.
Episode 3: “Thieves Get Caught”
At the end of the long day at the coffee house, Matthew and Damon drove home. Matthew didn't know whether he should bring up the hypnotism he witnessed earlier today. Maybe it was a better idea to leave it alone. He decided that this was the best course of action. Maybe it wasn't what it looked like. Maybe it was just something funny Damon was doing to impress Stephanie. Whatever he did, it worked and now he had a job. Good for him.
Matthew pulled the car up to the house and quickly got out. He didn't even wait to lock the car. Damon climbed out of the car and watched Matthew speed walk towards his front door.
“Thanks for everything today,” Damon called out.
Matthew stopped and turned around slowly. “What? I didn't really do much of anything. You're the one who worked the magic.” Matthew gasped quietly at his Freudian slip. “I'm not saying that you used magic to get the job or anything. I meant the magic of your personality did the job.”
Damon raised an eyebrow. “Are you okay? You're acting weird.”
“Me? Acting weird? I'm not acting weird.” Matthew backed towards the front door with keys in hand. “It's been such an incredibly busy day. Did you see how many people were in the cafe today? Now that's weird. Well, I'm going to go home now.” Matthew found the key to the front door and reached out for the door. “You have a good night!”
“Yeah, you, too!” Damon waved to Matthew and continued on to the back yard.
Matthew opened his front door and closed it quickly. He locked the door and rushed into the dining room where the sliding glass door was. He watched Damon unlock his door and go inside. The door closed and the lights went on. Matthew continued to watch the house. He was convinced that there was something wrong with Damon. Matthew was determined to catch Damon doing something weird. He continued to sit and watch the house. Nothing was happening, but Matthew refused to give up.
“Why are you staring at the back yard?” said a male voice behind Matthew.
Matthew jumped and spun around to see Ben standing there. Ben was six foot one, slim build, had short black hair, blue eyes, and of Hispanic descent.
“I... I... when did you get here?” Matthew stammered.
“I've been here for about fifteen minutes,” Ben said. “I said hello and everything, but you didn't respond. I went to the bathroom and showered. I come back out and you're still facing the back yard. What is so fascinating about the back yard?”
“Oh, nothing,” Matthew lied.
Ben raised an eyebrow at him. “You're awfully jumpy.” He looked outside and saw that there were lights on in the guest house. “Hey, there's someone in the guest house! Did you know that?”
“Yeah, that's the new tenant.” Matthew returned his attention to the guest house. “His name is Damon Hellsinger. He lives there now. He also now works at the coffee house.”
“How is that possible?” Ben asked. “Is that a coincidence?”
“No,” Matthew replied. “It's all part of his master plan.” That had to be the answer, right? “He appeared out of nowhere yesterday and now he's moved in. He gave me three months rent in one giant wad of cash and moved in.”
“Wad... hee hee hee.”
“Oh grow up,” Matthew said, slapping Ben on the arm. “There's something off about him and I don't know what it is.”
“So you're stalking him from the comfort of your home?” Ben asked.
“I knew that you wouldn't understand,” Matthew said.
“I don't understand. Why don't you just leave the poor guy alone and be happy for him?” Ben reached around Matthew and hugged him. “You're so intense right now. I don't really know how to handle this.” Ben started rubbing Matthew's shoulders. Matthew's tenseness began to melt away. “Yeah, relax. Just relax.”
“I don't know what I would do without you,” Matthew said.
“You'd turn into a puddle of neuroses,” Ben said.
“You know, you're right. I should just cut the guy a break.” Matthew turned around and hugged Ben back. “He's moved here from someplace he didn't say. He doesn't know anyone here. He's incredibly brave for striking out on his own like this.”
“And it's good that you're going to be here for him,” Ben said. “Now maybe you can relax and we can go do something a little more fun... if you know what I mean.”
-“Yeah, I think I do!” Matthew said. He and Ben leaned in for a kiss. Just then there was a whooshing sound. The house shook as a gust of wind hit it. Then everything was bathed in red light. Matthew turned around and saw that the red light was coming from Damon's guest house.
“I knew it!” Matthew shouted. “There's something going on in there!”
“I can't explain that,” Ben said. “But I'm sure that there's a perfectly good reason for what just happened.” Ben really wished that Matthew wasn't so obsessed about his new tenant. It was a side of Matthew he hadn't seen before. “Let's just leave him alone to deal with whatever that is. I'm sure he's just got a red light on or something. Let's go watch TV.”
The red light slowly faded away and darkness reigned supreme within the windows of the guest house. Suddenly, the door to the guest house flew open and Damon ran outside. Matthew saw this as his chance to find out what was going on.
“I'm going to see what the fuck is going on in there,” Matthew said.
“You're not thinking of breaking into his house are you?” Ben asked. He was growing more uncomfortable with where this evening was going.
“I'm not breaking in, the door is wide open.” Matthew opened the screen door and ran outside. He looked for Damon, but couldn't see him anywhere. “Come on!” Ben shook his head. “Oh, come on! This is our chance!”
“No, but I'll be look out!” Ben decided to draw the line there.
Matthew gave Ben a thumbs up and then ran into Damon's house. The house looked like Damon had lived there for a long time. There were shelves full of books on 80's and 90's pop culture. There were CDs of boy and girl bands and Phil Collins. There were a few boxes on the floor that Matthew didn't remember Damon bringing with him. There was probably nothing weird about that, but thought he would make note of it anyway.
There was a large altar set up in the living room where normally a television would be. -There were black candles that were lit. On one side of the altar was a statue of what looked like a goat's head being impaled with a spike. On the other side of the altar there was a statue of a devil's head.
“What the fuck is all this?” Matthew asked under his breath. “Is Damon in a cult or something?”
On top of the altar was a silver goblet. It had skulls with horns all on the outside of it. Matthew picked it up and found that there was something in it. He looked in it and saw a thick black liquid. He stuck his finger in it and pulled it out. It dripped off his finger slowly. “Is this blood? What the fuck?” Matthew looked for something to wipe his finger off with. There didn't appear to be any paper towels or anything. He wiped the fluid off on his pants. He placed the goblet back on the altar and backed away from it. He wished that he hadn't come in here. Maybe this had been better off not seen.
“Why hello there,” Matthew heard Ben say. “You must be Damon. I'm Ben.”
Matthew whispered, “Fuck!” He wasn't expecting Damon to be back so quickly. He didn't want to be seen snooping around in Damon's house. Maybe he could justify being there by saying that it was payback for Damon breaking into his house this morning. It was a confrontation that he didn't want to have. He looked around for someplace to hide. It was then that the closet door opened.
Outside, Ben was trying his best to stall Damon in the hopes that Matthew would sneak his way out of the house. “So, Matthew said that you just moved to Tucson.”
“Yes, I got into town yesterday,” Damon said, trying to walk past Ben, who was between him and the door.
“How are you liking it so far?” Ben grabbed Damon and spun him around so that Damon's back was to the guest house. “I bet it's a bit different from where you came from. Where is that by the way?”
“Lower San Dimas,” Damon replied, getting a little annoyed. Why was Ben being so chatty? Didn't Ben realize that he was holding Damon up? “It's was really nice meeting you, but I have to get going.” Damon turned around and started heading back to his house.
Ben didn't know what else to do, so he followed Damon to the house. “I'm curious to see how you've set everything up in here,” he reasoned. “The last tenant was a minimalist and use milk crates for everything.”
“That's very interesting,” Damon said dismissively. He hastened his step and made it to the front door. He turned around and Ben bumped into him. “This is your stop. Like I said, it was lovely meeting you. Tell Matthew that I appreciate him letting me tag along with him today.” Damon started to close the door, but Ben stuck his foot in the door.
“I'm sorry, I don't know what else to do,” Ben said, grimacing at the pain in his foot. “The truth is that Matthew ducked into your house right after you left. I tried to stop him, but he was just obsessed.”
Damon looked into the house and didn't see anyone. “He's not here.”
“He's what?” Ben pushed by Damon and entered the house. He walked into the middle of the room and spun around. Damon was right, Matthew wasn't here. Could he have slipped out when Ben's back was turned? That wouldn't have given Matthew much time to get out. “Where is he?”
“Don't look at me!” Damon said, shrugging. He entered the house and looked around. It was then that he found that the closet door was suspiciously ajar. He cocked his head slightly as he examined this. He didn't remember leaving the closet door open. He opened it and saw that there was nothing there, this worried him because there should have been a portal there. The portal was now gone.
“Oh, this is badness,” was all Damon was able to say.