Chapter 2: The Messenger pt 2
I hobbled over to the door, let her in. She looked good as usual, changing her hair to a redder tinge than the chestnut brown. She filled out that robe nicely.
Maggie stole a cigarette from the top of my Ross MacDonald book on the coffee table. “Are you alright?” She whispered.
I nodded, reached for the lighter on the coffee table, and lit her cigarette. “As well as a guy can be who’d been tossed around by a demon.”
Her eyes widened. “G’nal let this happen?”
I moved a couple of picture frames, sat on the couch. Maggie did the same. She sat real close to me. “Yeah, I was wondering why he let this happen. Might be a rank or something.”
“Your arm…..” Maggie examined it. “What is this…burns?”
“This shadow woke me about a half-hour ago. He grabbed me, we exchanged words, and then….this….burned into my skin. He said to make sure I give this message to Romy Berline.”
“Do you know a Romy Berline?” Maggie’s eyes were cool, icy. Jealousy rearranged a beautiful face.
“It is obvious that I had better get to know her….and fast. First I better find out why this Demon picked me out of a host of people that actually know her. Why my so-called protector didn’t protect me.”
On the corner of fifth and Warren, Little Jimmy, the paperboy met up with me. I handed him some coins and he flipped a morning paper to me. I opened the paper to the sports section, I wanted to see if the Rams were taking it on the chin again, and damn if they didn’t from the Bears. I looked up and the usually busy street had stopped all commotion. The hundred or so that was on that street was sure to suffer some memory loss courtesy of G’nal. He towered over me, his ember eyes glowing in the snowy atmosphere, and those misshaped goat legs looked out of place on the concrete sidewalk.
“What the hell happened this morning?” I screamed in the horned bastard’s slimy green face. “You didn’t protect me like our deal.”
“Already you have given me three souls for the year—you have done well. Four more would solidify the agreement. I have protected you, Master. You are still alive. But you stink of the curse.”
“What curse?” I said nervously.
“You interfered with a Messenger. I believe the smell of this Messenger was on his way to meet another, and you so stupidly got in the way. Any human that receives the message and fails to deliver this message, turns to—”
“A pillar of salt. I heard what it said.”
“Then the directions are clear, your actions pure, no reason you should not achieve satisfactory results, Master.”
“I don’t know who Romy Berline is.”
“Neither do I,” Smoke took G’nal away and little Jimmy appeared along with Detective Calvin Hopps, running an errand for the Police commissioner.
Hopps was a tall slender man who smiled way too much to show a line of broken teeth. “They want you, Chambers.”
“Everybody wants me, Hopps.” I snarled. This morning was turning rotten, and by the smell of that, my day would end up the same. We walked and talked, my pace faster than his left leg hop.
“Well, the funny thing, Chambers, is they got a weird body in the morgue. Need your expertise for this case.”
“I’m not the dick you guys are.”
“I’m not at all offended by the double -entendre. No, we’ve never seen anything like this. I’m telling you. A skinless freak with tattoos everywhere, a language nobody can understand. It keeps changing from that description to a shadowy figure. This thing had been found on 3rd and bottoms, chest split open, and a feather jabbed in it.”