We were sitting in a café, the four of us, avoiding the wind and the persistent drizzle. My eyes were drawn outside, to the wet, travel-worn roads and the lights glistening on the pavement. A bag blew past, and lightening flashed distantly. There was something that always seemed… real at night, especially when it was rainy, like when you’re driving and you look to your side to see a mother, or a grandfather, or a cousin in the driver’s seat, laughing or singing with the music on the radio. It’s as if you realize these people have lives, and they’re not just traffic you have to get through to get home at last. Something always makes me want to snuggle by a fireplace with a hot cup of coco and sigh contentedly on nights like these.
“…And since I couldn’t find the legendary blue moose, I ran straight here… or there… where we were… you know.”
I was drawn back to the conversation at hand, wondering how a ‘blue moose’ was involved in anything. Jericho was looking at Kallista strangely and Israel had face-palmed.
“So…, Israel,” I said, “What did you say when this unknown ‘weird guy with a suit’ called you- if it even was him at all. It could have been someone else, you know.”
“I don’t think so.” He dropped his hand to his lap and shook his head. “It matches up, and I don’t believe in coincidences. They always end up being some evil mastermind genius- speaking of which, why do I always get the evil geniuses? It would be nice to save the world from an evil moron once in a while…”
I laughed, “No kidding. I guess the evil morons don’t have a chance of doing anything… especially evil before they’re captured.”
“Well,” Kallista interjected, “we don’t necessarily know he’s evil. There’s always the unlikely possibility the guy was just a local guy taking a stroll… at night… through eel-infested waters…”
I laughed, and realized I was the only one doing so. Israel and Jericho were giving her a look that indicated they thought she might have lost it.
“You know…,” she said, “The Princess Bride? Vizzini? Inigo Montoya? The man in black? Nothing?” She gave up. “My genius is beyond men.”
I patted her shoulder and promised we’d force them to watch The Princess Bride as soon as this was over.
Israel coughed, "I don't think I'll have time for this... lovely sounding movie... with princesses... and love stories... Shame." He shook his head in mock disappointment.
Kallista narrowed her eyes, "We'll see about that."
“Um, anyway," Jericho brought the subject back to its origin. "This man sounds to me like the same one who came to my island.”
“But who is he?” I asked. “What is he after?”
“He called himself Mr. Raines, but besides that, I really don’t know.”
“Excuse me,” I looked up at the waitress- Debra- who had brought our coffee and hot chocolate. She was friendly, and someone I’d taken an immediate like to. Her eyes were gray and dazed, looking in the air at nothing, and there was a scrap of paper she was fiddling with in her hands. She placed it down slowly and said, “A man asked me to deliver this to your table.”
Israel sat up, demanding, “Who is he? Where is he sitting?”
The waitress shook her head, “He isn’t anywhere. He’s everywhere.” She turned, but I stood and put a hand on her shoulder, turning her back to me.
“Debra?” She looked at me and blinked, her eyes changing from the dazed gray to a puzzled green.
“Umm… Did someone just give you a note?” Her expression became even more confused.
“No ma’am. Why do you ask?”
I laughed, “No reason. I just thought I saw something.” I shook my head, “Never mind.” Debra gave me an odd expression, murmured, “no problem,” and walked away.
"What I'm worried about," Raven murmured, "Is what happened to Debra. What was that?"
I shook my head, having theories, but not wanting to voice them.
Jericho took the note from me, flipped it over, then back again, feeling the paper between his fingers and sniffing it. "It smells like aftershave."
Raven raised her eyebrows from across the table, "I have to ask, but as politely as I can...Is that knowledge in any way useful?"
"At least," Kallista muttered, "we know he's clean shaven. We don't have to look for someone all scruffy and worn... like Israel."
She laughed and shrugged.
"Well, I have to get my bow before we go." Raven interrupted.
I looked at her, "I'm not sure we should." Drumming my fingers on the table as I did sometimes when I'm thinking, I leaned foward. "At least not all of us. Maybe Jericho and I will check this out, but I don't know if the two of you should come. These people-whoever they are- are dangerous. You can stay in Elysium Asylum for the ni-"
"Uh, let me stop you there. I'm going, trust me. This is far more interesting than popcorn and soap operas, as entertaining as that can be- from time to time."
"Absolutely, and who's going to watch your back, Hellboy, if I'm not there?" Kallista asked with a cocky grin. "Of course, it would be nice to have my sword with me... Quick stop home then?"
"Well..." I muttered. The resolve I'd been building up was quickly crumbling, but I wanted a second opinion. I glanced at Jericho out of the corner of my eye. His face was impassive, but the corner of his mouth curled up. Blue eyes flickered to mine, and he nodded. That was it, "Fine." I sighed, "And I'll pick up some extra ammunition while we're there; then we can take my van."
Jericho shook his head, standing up, "Actually, while the lot of your are busy, I'll be hitching new sails."
I blinked, "You mean the Albatross? But that would take too long, surely!" I was hoping it wouldn't and doing my best to appear unconcerned.
"Actually, I work quickly."
"Ah... alright then. We'll just take your ship then." I shrugged, "We'll show up on an invisible flying boat. Should be interesting."
"... To your last question, yes, and the neighbors- they'll think they've known me for years," said the jovial voice on the phone.
"They'll be signed, sealed, and delivered. Trust me. Your brains, my steel...." I rolled my eyes as the reference trailed off, lacking a "Fezzik" of strength. "Well, anyway..., you get the picture."
I sighed peppermint-scented breath, "Yes... sounds as if you have everything under control." Sarcasm. I only allowed myself to use the lowest form of wit on rare occasions when I listened to an idiot and replied, as unlikely as either of those possibilities were. This man had seemed promising at first. At least he was neat, but the more I used him the more... familiar he became with me, and that would have to stop very soon. Very soon, indeed.
I smiled, thinking of the moments when I could be done with him. Permanently. I picked up the revolver from the chestnut desktop- as the man on the other end of the bluetooth prattled on unabated- and fondled it, remembering affectionately the first time I'd killed a man with it. This revolver was my newest gun, and I was beginning to think of it as a "she." Personally, I called her Vera.
"And then I'll have them in my clutches!" The fool laughed his best evil laugh, and I rolled my eyes once again, hanging up on him at last, gleefully drinking in the remembrance of the gunpowder dusting my hand as the disrespectful servant covered my floors in red. I remembered Angel's apron looking like a surgeon's by morning, and the smell and taste of something metallic in the air.
I sighed, replacing Vera and sitting straight-backed in the black leather chair behind the desk. A moment later, I dragged myself from the reverie and called in Angel, the servant girl, and told her I would be having steak tonight. Very red. I felt like tasting blood.