Chapter Two to an as yet untitled Urban Fantasy piece. This piece has not been revised.
|The Lounge was far from a reputable establishment. To be honest, the place was a fucking dive. I stepped in, followed by Eddie and nearly instantly was hit with the sounds of drunken laughter and Johnny Cash from the old juke box in the corner. Pool tables lined the back of the room, manned by the Boston working class. Tables were spattered here and there in no particular order, their chairs holding more of the blue collar army.
Cyrus, dressed in his typical all black button up shirt and slacks leaned on the bar, doing a newspaper crossword. His thin white hair was pulled back from a nearly skeletal gaunt face and held in place by a rubber band. Wire rimmed glasses sat perched on the bridge of a hawklike nose.
“You owe me ninety seven dollars and thirty six cents Draughn.” He said his voice a dull monotone, not looking up from his puzzle. “Whiskey doesn't pay for itself you know.”
“Nice to see you too Cyrus.” I replied, a slight blush creeping into my cheeks.
Eddie offered a nod to Cyrus, dreadlocks falling over his face.
“Evening Eddie.” Cyrus said blandly.
Cyrus turned behind the bar, and a moment later set a glass and a bottle of beer on the counter. Eddie grabbed the bottle, tipping the neck towards Cyrus in thanks and took his seat. The glass was mine, whiskey and water on the rocks. I set a few bills on the counter and joined Eddie at the table, sitting so we could both keep our eyes on the door.
We drank in silence for the better part of fifteen minutes before Eddie turned, settling blue gray eyes on me.
“Still having the dreams?”
“Yeah, still having em.” I responded with a sigh. One of the problems with being a descendant of a mostly forgotten God, was you had the pleasure of seeing the memories of their heyday. Sure, I could run faster, hit harder, and get hit harder than most humans, that was any of us. I was able to do other things, nasty things that I tried to not even think about, let alone employ unless it was absolutely necessary for me to keep breathing.
Eddie shook his head slowly.
“It's not as bad as it seems, just...odd.” I said calmly.
“Still, that's some shit brother.”
I smirked. Some shit indeed.
Eddie looked towards the door. He tilted his beer, pointing with the opening.
I turned, following his gaze. Standing just inside the door was a girl, maybe sixteen, seventeen at the absolute most. She stood with a certain wariness, her muscles tensed. She reminded me of a deer that had heard something disagreeable, but not quite bad enough to kick in the instinct to run. She was thin, bordering on gaunt and dressed in the latest in dumpster chic. Stains marred the sweatpants and flannel that covered her frame. Tufts of blonde hair hanging to her chin from beneath a worn out Red Sox stocking cap pulled down over her ears. Duct tape held her mismatched shoes together, causing a wierd rasping sound as her feet shuffled nervously against the wooden floor. Her face was thin, almost regal, with high cheeks, a slight upturn to her eyes, and a thin, almost button nose. The right side of her face and neck were marred with a massive, purple bruise, swollen almost grotesquely. Must've taken one hell of a hit.
Eddie waved, catching her attention and motioned her towards the table. Allready he had the pad and pencil out. I'll give Eddie one thing, he may be a total wise ass and more often than not drink the majority of my beer, but when it came to business, he was spot on.
“I um, uh....” She let her eyes dart here and there, as she came to stand by the table. “Hi.” She finally settled on saying, bringing a grimy nail to her mouth and began chewing.
I motioned to the chair across from us and she sat, looking between the two of us.
“Ally, this is Jack Draughn.” Eddie said calmly, motioning towards me. I said nothing, letting my eyes wander over the girl appraisingly. She was far from impressive, not really pretty in the least. Cute maybe, but that was a stretch. On the whole, she looks surprisingly...plain beneath the massive bruise.
“Uh hi.” She offered, with a weak smile.
I nodded slowly.
“Evening.” I said.
I rolled my eyes, already impatient.
“So um. Why were you looking for me?”
“Well, I asked around, after the police I mean. You know people on the street and stuff, in case maybe this was something they heard about because the cops don't really pay em much attention, and they said when it's wierd in Boston, you were usually involved.”
I quirked a brow, impatience no doubt starting to show on my face.
“Miss?” I said, leaving the statement open ended.
“Ally, call me Ally.” She said calmly, casting her eyes towards the floor.
“Right. Ally. Would you mind getting the fuck on with it?”
Eddie cut me a narrow glare, this one not filled with good humor.
“I...” A single tear slid down her cheek.
I let my head fall back and stared at the ceiling, letting out a slow sigh.
“Just tell him what happened Ally. I promise, he's only an asshole ninety eight percent of the time.” He said, smiling lightly to comfort her.
“Right well...it's like I told you last time, when we talked. Me, my sister Emma, John Boy, Matty, and four others. They were kids I didn't know, we were gonna crash out in this warehouse right? So we break the window, and start piling in. John Boy first, then me. Next thing I know...”
She turned, looking towards the ceiling, pain painting itself across her features, pulling them tight. Another tear slid down her bruised cheek, her lip quivering just a bit while she fought back tears.
I settled my eyes on her, and watched.
“Next thing you know?” I said flatly.
“I...I woke up, next to John Boy. He was...d...d...dead. They all were, John Boy, Matty. One of the kids I didn't know. The others were just gone...Emma too.”
The tears came now, and she buried her face in her hands sobbing. A few glances turned our way, and then went back about their business. That's the beauty of The Lounge. Most of it's patrons were content to simply...ignore things. Eddie looked between me and the girl, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
“What happened next?” I asked.
She fought to contain her tears and looked at me.
“I ran.” She said, her voice raw and choked. “I tried going to the cops, but when I showed them where it happened they couldn't find anything. Not anything.” She sniffed, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. Disgusted, I tossed a napkin towards her.
I pushed the half empty whiskey to the center of the table and leaned forward, resting my elbows on its scarred top. According to the scribes who had marred it's surface, “Beckee L gives great head” and in response from another literary great, so does the author's mother. Nothing like bathroom humor to uplift the soul.
"Ally," I said forcing as much patience into my voice as I could. "Do you have a picture of your sister?"
She nodded, wiping her hand across her nose again before reaching into her coat. She set a small photograph, a wallet size, on the table. I took the picture, giving it a quick once over. A girl stared back at me, nearly identical in every way to Ally, save for several shocks of near blindingly bright blue hair. I slid the photo into my pocket and nodded once.
"Think you can tell me how to get back to this warehouse?"
"Yeah." She said quietly, looking the bar over once more.
I reached out, snatching the pad and pencil from Eddie and threw them unceremoniously in front of her.
"Get to it then."
I stood, leaving the girl to scribble furiously and walked towards the bar. I offered Cyrus a nod and slid into the stool in front of where he was still working on the crossword.
"Seven letter word, clue is bitter criticism." Cyrus said, not bothering to look up.
I tilted my head for a moment, thinking before saying.
He nodded, filling in the puzzle's boxes and finally turned his gaze towards me. I shuddered a little, as I tend to do, any time Cyrus turns his gaze towards me. His eyes are a dead give away to his faerie nature. Solid white, with no pupils and no color, set in sockets framed in the bluish tint of a corpse. He noticed the movement and smirked.
"What do you want Jack, and more importantly how much will it cost me?" He asked, his voice devoid of any accent what so ever, every word perfectly pronounced.
I nodded my head towards Ally, who was talking quietly with Eddie.
"Think you can let her crash in the backroom tonight?"
Cyrus raised a brow, then turned his colorless gaze towards the girl, then back towards me.
I nodded slowly, reaching into my pocket. I withdrew my wallet, settling two hundred dollars bills on the counter. Cyrus said nothing, swiping the bills from the counter top.
"Why you care where she sleeps?"
"I don't, but I don't want her dead either."
"Not her time." Cyrus said matter of fact, "Not for a while." He would know, it was what he did. He could read the aura of a person and know how close they were to their death. Not a job I'd wanna take on.
"Be that as it may, I'd rather her be here then on the street. Dunno if she's full of shit or not, but if she went through the trouble of finding me, then I should at least go and check out what she said. More than that, I don't want her following me and getting in the way"
"Spose so." He responded with all the care of a bartender who made it a living to listen to reasons he could care less about.
I turned, heading back towards the table. As I approached, both turned to look at me. Eddie quirked a brow, Ally meanwhile, just stared.
I pointed at her.
"You're sleeping here tonight. Cyrus has a cot in a back room he uses to keep his empty kegs. He'll feed you."
"I - " She began, before I cut her off.
"Are gonna do as you're told, if you want my help."
She lowered her eyes and nodded. I turned towards Eddie.
"You ready to go?"
"You have really got to work on your people skills." He said calmly, getting to his feet.
He nodded. I gave him the finger.
"Let's go to work." I said, heading towards the door.