“God damn it, Algiers is back.” Andy shouted the message as he rushed across the empty dance floor toward the bar. He ran bonelike fingers through unwashed hair, casting a look over his shoulders. “What the hell are we gonna do?”
“Shit.” The barkeep was Wally, a fat cowardly asshole with enough complexes to make a basket case cat lady look like a nubile prom queen. The nervous habits he fostered were nothing short of comedy depending on how much I had to deal with them. “I don’t know, but we gotta get rid of him. My balls were in a sling after the last time he rolled in. God damn incubus.”
“Yeah.” Andy grimaced as he mounted a stool. One might think these two idiots were lovers the way they carried on, or at least brothers. Point of fact they barely knew each other. They were friends in that ‘talk about anything that’s not personal’ way and as a result, could probably count on each other about as much as a guy might count on a rubber ducky to take him safely across the Atlantic. “That was a really bad experience.”
“Was it?” I stepped into the room and held the door with my foot, pausing for dramatic effect. It’s really too bad that I can hear so well. I might not have been so ready to give them shit had I walked in unawares. Sadly, for them, they’re just too much fun to tease. “And here I thought we had something memorable…something pleasant. Ah well, there’s always next time.”
“Go to hell, Stanton,” Wally shot back at me with just enough bravado to convince Andy he wasn’t afraid. “That tip was good. I know it. I heard that you took down that blood sacrifice racket no problem. Don’t come in here and toss out threats. We don’t deserve that shit.”
“Relax, relax.” My motions were liquid grace; a cat peering at two unsuspecting mice that nibbled their cheese with a special kind of casual ignorance. They really had no idea just how scary I could be. “I’m not here to play, but I am here to see what you guys can tell me about that slaughterhouse the cops turned over downtown.”
“Why the hell would we know anything about that?” Andy turned and looked at me with those piss yellow eyes of his, silently pleading for me to go. That hidden message elicited my most predatory of smiles as I took the seat just to his right. The rest of his reply was stammered. “We…we just…hang out h-h-here all day, man. N-n-nothin’ really ta tell.”
“He’s right, Algiers.” Wally shrugged his beefy shoulders as he nervously polished a glass. “Ain’t heard ‘bout no slaughterhouse…why? You guys let one of your loonies out on the street? Should I close early tonight?”
“Wally, look around this place.” I gestured. “If the health board came in here, they’d put your ass up for crimes against humanity. Close early? I’m not even sure you should open at all…but commentary on cleanliness aside, I know you guys have heard something, and as you said before you really should give me what I want. The alternative might be a little worse than a sling and a couple of boo-boos.”
“Jesus, man!” Wally put the glass down. He cast a wary gaze about the room as if someone were there to listen to him. Somehow I refrained from rolling my eyes. “Alright…you know Melvin?”
“Not the mouse.” I prayed that he didn’t mean that Melvin, but really, how many mothers hated their kids enough to name them that? “Please not him.”
“Yeah, him.” Wally nodded, maintaining that grim expression. “He came in here talkin’ all kinds of shit about some shifter that went nuts downtown. Tore up a couple of people and dragged ‘em off. Maybe he knows somethin’. It’d be a start.”
“Great.” I brushed a hand through my hair – not long, not short; that happy medium that lends to whatever style I wanted to try. “You guys hear anything else, call me. I need concrete info. Not second-hand shit.”
“Whatever, Stanton,” Wally scoffed and leaned on the bar. “What the hell do we get out of this ‘relationship’ we have with you anyway?”
“Interesting way to phrase that, Wally.” My brows lifted curiously. “I mean, I thought you guys were just a couple of informants that I could rely on, but if we’re going to start calling this a relationship then maybe we can get something more out of this. Want to step in the back room?”
“Whoa there, man.” Wally’s hands lifted defensively and Andy moved off his seat, slinking away. “Just…we’ll call, alright? Don’t…you know, don’t turn it on.”
“You mean I shouldn’t turn you on, right?” I couldn’t resist. Playing with them was too easy; too much fun.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean.” Wally was flush as a spring sow, but much as I loved his discomfort, I didn’t have the time to appreciate it.
“See you guys around.” I got up from the bar and tossed a fifty down. “Another fifty if you get me a solid lead.”
I heard a meaty hand grab the cash before I was five steps away. They were nothing if not predictable. Loyalty in my business had become a commodity that one could buy. The currency depended mostly on the subject. Some people wanted money, but the ones that I found to be the most interesting were those willing to accept rapture in return for some offered service.
The commodity of sexual pleasure has been around since someone first got the idea that touching their private parts felt good. When that got old, they looked around for something else to push it against. I don’t want to make it too base or simplistic-sounding because it really isn’t, but the bottom line is that most people, most creatures don’t get past the point of bliss. They forget what a mutual thing the physical act of sex can be.
At the risk of tooting my own horn as they say, the things I can do to a person (man or woman) are breathtaking. Anywhere from a delightful little shiver in a candlelit room to six weeks in a sling (repression can be dangerous), the incubus is a carnal virtuoso. It makes my job a hell of a lot easier, that’s for damn sure.