The phone is ringing again. I’m limping across the roof, careful to keep my profile below the parapets. My feet, wracked with pain, are wrapped in blood-soaked bandages and leaving weird footprints wherever I go; like some hideous slug. The Boy keeps finger-painting in the offal.
I snatch up the receiver: “WHAT?!” I bark. “Do you have a Job for me? One that will make the PAIN go away? All this blood and sex and greed is rotting a hole in my heart, just like the one put there in Cambodia. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make car payments to you when you keep harassing me? Me!? A Man of the Cloth!? Do you have any idea how hard I’ve hard to work to avoid picking up any transferable skills in the last 32 years?”
But it wasn’t a creditor, or the repo men. It was our dear friend, Doctor Israel Hands.
“ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-hi!” he slurred. I could hear some horrible moist sucking sounds. Presumably he was eating.
“Doc, thank God it’s you. These chancres are driving me insane, I think I might have a VD.”
“Mmmmmmm-no.” Slurped the half-zombie. “You need to-BRAINS- have sex in order to get the VD. Rrrrrruuuuuuuuu. So I’ve-nnnnnnnnnn- graduated from medical school. My handsssssssssss they can heal,” it sounded like he was gumming a cat. A really wet cat.
“Thats wonderful news!” I boomed. “We must celebrate!” and so we did. At the saloon.
“So where is BabyJ?” I asked the good doctor, wiping the froth of a hearty beer off my mustache. “Er…” he began, picking a piece of meat from his back teeth. “Back in Tornado Alley, visiting grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrra people.” I looked at him suspiciously. “Did you eat your girlfriend?”
“No! Not like that!”
The bartender glared at us, but I casually pulled back my snakeskin jacket to reveal the butt of the Glock 21 in the Kydex holster at my belt. He moved on, and I turned my glace back to my physician.
“I swear, if you killed her and chewed on her brains…” I began heatedly.
“No-gggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrbraaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiii-no! It wasn’t, I didn’t. No. She’s fine. Here, call her!” he handed me his cell phone. It rang a few times and BabyJ picked up.
“Do you have any idea what time it is in Kansas?” she asked.
“Ask the bushwhackers and border scum, girly. Are you alive?” I snapped. She sighed. “Hey, Rev. Yep. Fine. Why?”
I hung up. “Okay, well, I guess I owe you an apology,” I said, huffily, to my friend. “You just… you have to stop eating all the goddamned time. It makes me nervous. And it’s goddamn disgusting, you’re always drooling meat-juices down the front of your shirt. So stop eating all the goddamn time… or stop wearing white shirts. Seriously. You look like you fucked a butcher.”
“What the hell is wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaghhhhhh-is wrong with your feet?” asked my pseudo-undead physician, incredulously. I glanced down at the bloodsoaked bandages. “Well, you can’t have them. Cannibal,” I sniffed. “Even if they are getting smelly and gangrenous. I won’t let you eat ’em.”
Dr. Israel Hands looked vaguely hurt. Emotionally, not physically. “I am shocked. I’m a fucking doctor. It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being, sssshlllurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp,” he blinked and grinned at me. “At least one that is under my care.”
I clapped him on the back and leaned over the bar to pour two scotches and a refill for our respective beer and wine glasses. “And me, and my entire family is under your constant care, right, Doc?” he nodded happily, throwing back both shots of scotch.
“One for each rrrraarrrrr cheek, baby,” he gasped as the whiskey hit his half-undead throat. “Now: your feet, give.”
I shrugged. “Some really old friends of The Wife have just moved up into the Hills. Great people. Laird McQ and his whole brood. Lady McQ and the kids; Sir Eamonn, and Dame Eden… great folk. Even if Sir Eamonn has a tendency to say things like ‘avaunt’ and ‘varlet’ and ‘enchafed by a fiend!’ and then to brast me about the pate with the flat of his sword until I swoon… but other than that, great people,” I killed the beer and looked around for the bartender.
The only problem with scaring off barkeeps is service. I leaned over to the tap again and refilled my glass.
“So they are Scottish landowners with old fashioned language, what happened to the frrrrggBRAINS!!!! feet?” asked Dr. Hands, quickly gulping wine to cover up his slip.
I shrugged. “I went swimming…”
It’s a beautiful pool that the McQ Castle has up in the hills. Beautiful… but dangerous. “Ach, laddie!” yelled Laird as I dragged myself out of the pool, feet gouged and slashed. “Ye dinnae ken?”
I spat water and grabbed a towel to staunch the bleeding. “Know what, McQ? That you had stuck broken glass to the floor and walls of your swimming pool? No! I didn’t know! How the hell would I have guessed that!”
Lovely Lady McQ traipsed gaily out onto the veranda, trailing a long gauze shawl and handing me a martini. “You have to forgive him, Syn,” she drawled. “The Laird’s grandfather used to glass the top of his orchard walls to keep ragamufins and mudlarks from poaching fruit. Laird was worried about the neighbor children -or Robert Downey Jr. if he’s still carrying on so- splashing around in it. It is his pool, after all,”
I sipped the martini and glanced around at the tall and forbidding walls. Sir Eamonn stood on the highest battlement with a cauldron of bubbling pitch at the ready, no doubt to repell invaders. “Sure. That makes sense,” I said.
Back in the bar:
“But… gggggggggrrrrrrBRAINS it doesn’t,” said Dr. Hands. “They’re really, really dear friends. Just a little eccentric” I told him. “HmnnnnGRHHHHHAAAA!” he replied, shuddering.
A cutie-pie with Bettie Page bangs and a blank tank top had replaced the first barkeep and was glaring at Dr. Hands. “He has Tourette’s” I told her. She made a cutie-pie sad face and replenished our drinks.
“A blank tank-top! That bartender has no band affiliation!” shouted The Wife, entering the saloon with The Boy in arms. “You, tragically hip girl: I’ll have seven refreshing beverages, please…”
“I have a craving for……” began my companion. I shook my head, sipped my beer.
“-chicken wings.” he finished. I nodded. Of course he did.