Monday, July 30, 2012

Rue: Breakfast

My egg had dribbling of yellow, milky snot leaking from its center. I poked at it absently, feeling my stomach cower in disgust. Hoff was happily stabbing his crusty hunk of toast into the phlegmy eye of his own egg. He munched away cheerily, looking at me from across the table.

“What is it Morgan? The Broken Killings are over. It’ll only be a matter of time before The Revolver Saint’s brought to justice. Pieprzak’s giving you a vacation, even.”

I wiped off my fork with my napkin and started shoveling in my hash browns. They were greasy but good and hot still. That made a huge difference. I waited until I was done with my mouthful before answering Hoff.

“The killings are over because the thing that was killing people is being endlessly tortured under a haunted cemetery. The Revolver Saint didn’t kill anyone this time. Supposedly, they had you do the autopsy on the corpse they claim was Falci’s. You can’t tell me that it was really him and that the timing and everything was right. It couldn’t have been. Falci’s probably been dead for three years or better, wandering around in a body given to him by the guy jack-o-lanterns are named after. My six day vacation is a pretty way of suspending me until E.F. loses interest. They know I had something to do with their Saint going missing and as willing as they are to accept this b.s. that she killed everyone, they still want my head. I’ll be good ol’ Reverend John does too. Thankfully, he’s still scared that I’ve got an ace up my sleeve or I’d probably be dead already.”

Hoff sighed and looked at me from across the table, the loose skin from his frown flopping over his eyes like a geriatric hound dog.

“…and my egg’s cold. And I’m out of ProTabs.”

“That’s it, isn’t it Morgan.”

“My egg? It doesn’t make me excited, I’ll say that.”

“Not that. You’re out of ProTabs. I told you those things were addicting.”

“What am I supposed to do? Look at me Hoff. Look at me. Everyone loves joking about me being built like a gorilla. My metabolism sucks. Half the time, I feel like I barely have the energy to move. I hit hard, move fast, think quick, all because of those damn pills. When I don’t have to move, I don’t. I’m like a friggin’ sloth. And I don’t care whether eggs are nature’s miracle food or not, they’re disgusting. Why can nobody understand that when I say over hard, I mean, I don’t want any gooey anything oozing out of my egg. I want to be able to swallow it whole and forget the experience as quickly as possible.”

I set down my fork and leaned into my hands.

“Morgan… Does Amy know about this? Your metabolism, I mean?”

“Yeah. She cooks healthy all the time. She’s taken almost all the salt out of my favorite recipes so I don’t develop any heart problems.”

“You know, most people have a hard enough time finding a good mate. Yours cooks, cleans, and tries to comfort you when you’re down and she’s dead. That’s got to count for something.”

“It does. What it doesn’t do is fix the problem. My pills do that.”

“I don’t see what you’re always in such a hurry about anyway Morgan. You’re always downing pill after pill, like the world’s going to burn down if you don’t keep moving.”

“Isn’t it?”

He blinked a couple times, like he didn’t understand the question.

“Isn’t it going to burn down Hoff? We’re running around trying to solve the same crimes people like us have solved for hundreds of years. Except now I’ve got mechanized cults, animal people, ghosts, demons, embodiments of sins, and dragons to worry about. I wonder why I’m tense. Come on Hoff. It isn’t like I can just go to Pieprzak and tell him about who really is committing most of these crimes. I can’t file a report saying that I used a greed demon to consume the broken, corrupted souls belonging to a evil church that was torturing women to death.”

“I don’t know what to tell you Morgan. You’re going to self-destruct one of these days. You can’t take care of all this on your own.”

The waitress came and took away my plate with its potato grease and runny, blown nose egg. Her hands made me think of The Saint’s, made me think of how she was collapsed against the bushes on the walk in front of The blasted Church of the bloody Hallowed goddamn Light, made me think of her broken voice, made me think of her blood when it ran down the mock preacher collar on her armor.

“The only reason I’m taking care of it on my own is because people like you are willing to make deals to survive instead of doing their job.”

I pushed away from the table and threw down some money. I hoped it would be more than enough. It was the first time I’d paid for breakfast since the Fiddler incident and I was tired of accepting nasty eggs as payment for not turning Hoff in.

“Where are you going Morgan?”

“Home. Maybe I can find some ProTabs laying around there somewhere. After that, I’ll be going out. See if there aren’t any loose ends I can tie up.”

I finished leaving, even as he was still talking. Hoff was tolerable these days, behaving himself and reporting to me when suspicious things crossed his slab in the morgue. We had been friends before, were still friends now, but I was tired. I was tired of and because of so many things that I had lost count long before ruining what little appetite I had.

As I climbed into my car, I felt eyes on the back of my neck. I started to drive before calling out to the figure crouched behind my seat.

“Hello little beastie. From your smell, you’re faerie of some kind. You’re quiet, patient, and think you aren’t grinding your teeth together right now, but you are. Since I haven’t infuriated any faerie as of late, seeing as I’ve never met one, I’m guessing you’re corporate. East Fredricksburg?”

“Good guess.”

“It wasn’t a guess. It’s why I’m a detective. I’m guessing you’re here concerning The Revolver Saint.”

“We have questions.”

“I’m sure you do, you nasty little bugger. Are you a red cap? I had heard rumors of a red cap hiding itself in the management at E.F. I’m just waiting for the punchline to this little situation.”

He was getting riled. He put his hand on my shoulder and his claws were a good three inches long.

“Please, you’ve impressed me enough. Stop talking unless it’s to answer me. Then, I’ll be going.”

“Whatever you say.”

“Where’s the Saint’s body?”

“No idea. It was out front of The Church of Hallowed Light, right where she left herself.”

“Did you kill her?”

“She bled out after having a kid take a bite out of her helmet.”

“Excuse me?”

“Hallowed Light is a play on words. It’s the church of Jack of the Lantern. He’s turning everyone there into a container for his corrupt flame. Has some sort of world domination goals.”

“Don’t we all. Surprising to hear that he’s here though. That’s unpleasant.”

“You’re telling me.”

“What about the ghosts of the girls who died?”

“All hiding in the Kemmeler Cemetery. The first one, Rei Hamasaki, is guarding them. They’re a bit emboldened now with their killer trapped down there and having been tortured by them. Rei refused to speak with me when I tried to go back after The Saint business.”

“Very good. Now Mr. Chadwick, you’re going to drive home and forget that we had this conversation.”

“What conversation?”

“Good boy. And for your troubles…”

A box of ProTabs landed on the seat next to me. I drove in silence the rest of the way home. It was damp and my bones ached, but the sun was bright. That had to count for something. I pulled into the parking garage and when I got out, clutching my unopened box of ProTabs, I thought I saw something waist high scurry for the shadows. My guest, I figure. I made the long, slow climb up the stairs to my apartment. Every joint resounded with anger as I stomped upwards. I resisted popping open the box as molasses sank into my feet and I moved ever slower.

I was drenched in sweat by the time I made it to my door and slipped inside.

“Morgan! You’re dripping with sweat! Did you take the stairs again?”

I nodded and tossed the box of ProTabs on the cheap teal plastic of the kitchen counter. My jacket slipped off of my shoulders as I walked. I pulled off my tie and dress shirt and tossed them aside. Trousers fell off, taking my shoes with them. I landed on the side of the bed, leaning on my knees.

“What is it? What’s wrong baby? Talk to me Morgan.”

“Nothing’s wrong Amy. Nothing’s wrong. Just need to get some rest.”

She nodded and slipped under the covers, wrapping her cold arms around me.

What’s wrong? I know what’s wrong.

I’m just a human. That’s what’s wrong.

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