Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chocolate Milk and Underdog

I have few memories from my childhood of spending the morning with Dad. He held two jobs and very had few days off, but every year on the 4th Thursday of November he would wake up while my brother, sister, and I were still asleep and sojourn off into the early morning fog and frost to pick up breakfast. I don’t know how he planned it, but when he returned we were always wide awake, sitting huddled before the TV with or flannel superhero pajama’s and woolen blankets wrapped around our shoulders.

He would walk in the front door, wisps of cold air racing around his heels to get inside where the warmth was, carrying two pristine white wax paper bags. He would march them into the dinning room set them on the table and forbid us from opening them ourselves. He would then make a grand show of removing his gloves and placing them in the pockets of his denim jacket. He would then shrug out of the jacket and hang it with extra care in the closet with the scarf my mother had knitted wrapped around the hanger. Then he would sit and with torturous slowness he would undo each of his shoes and place them neatly on the little mat next to the door. And while he did this he ignored our cries of, “Daaaaaadddddd.”

When he was finally ready he would give each of us a job. One of us would go and knock gently on the bedroom door to wake Mom. Another would run to the pantry to get out the paper plates, counting to make sure we had exactly enough. Finally I would be tasked with pouring the milk; this was my job since I was the oldest. Dad would then walk into the dinning room and lift one of the precious wax bags and tear down its seam releasing the sweet sugar coated goodness found inside.

We each would grab our three doughnuts and our tall, cold glasses of milk, usually chocolate, and run back to the living room to sit in front of the TV. Mom would join us later after having showered and dressed, she would get her plate of doughnuts and a cup of tea Dad would make, because we weren’t old enough. She would walk to the TV and at 9:00 A.M. she would turn on NBC and we would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It started the same every year, a marching band, in brightly colored uniforms, with glistening brass instruments would march down the street. Powerful music reached out of the TV and burst into our living rooms. They were led buy proud men and women marching in time to the music, carrying flags and banners proudly announcing what school or city they represented. Occasionally some member of the band was a gymnast or acrobat and would flip and twirl their way down the street. They marched proudly, with out fail, regardless of snow, sleet, rain, winds and fog. As they led the way balloons would drop and crowds would cheer, streamers and confetti would spiral down from the rooftops and float amongst them.

Of course following every band there was a float, a great papier-mâché festival of color. Chicken wire, roses, and Crete paper would meld together to bring fantasy worlds and storybooks to life. Actors in costume became the very things of our imagination. Jack and Jill would sit next to a great well from which the frog prince pushed a ball, while Miss Muffet shrieked at a nearby spider. Behind them would be lovely Alice in her blue dress, drinking tea with the Mad Hatter and March Hare.

Then with a shriek of joy we would greet the clowns, tumbling and fumbling down the street. They were bouncing balls, juggling pins, and throwing candy to the children; they would lead the float from the circus. A great cavalcade of wonderment, covered in beautiful women and powerful men. On either side of the float stood two great poles pushing upward into the sky with a willowy net stretched between them as well as a trapeze or high wire, on which pranced and flipped a daring soul.

Of course there were musicians, singers, and dancers parading along each from their own show on the Broadway stage. They would sing and dance and perform powerful songs from their own programs. Celebrity guest from TV and movies would appear to greet the audience and wish us a happy and safe holiday. Then in the middle of it all was the big show stopping moment my parents had been anticipating.
The grand entrance would always be announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, from Radio City Music Hall. The Rockettes.” Out they would come a dozen ladies in beautiful costumes kicking and singing their way across the screen. My parents loved the music and pageantry, clapping and singing along. My siblings and I were less impressed

We would bemoan the loss of our bright colors and happy sounds; awaiting the moment of their return. And of course they would and usually in the grandest way possible. They would come floating over the city streets like a happy cloud. We would cheer our favorites and marvel at who would be chosen to wish for who was missing. Sometimes they would be led in by music and we would become excited by the mere sound of those familiar tones. “When criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear, and frighten all who see and hear, a cry goes out to far and near to..” Every time it happened, my siblings and I would cry out, “Underdog,” just as his proud black nose would round the corner wearing his great red long johns with the white U pinned to his chest, and a great blue cape valiantly flapping in the breeze behind him.

Of course no balloon, not even Superman, could stand up to the pure awe inspiring might of the last float of the day. It would be announced with an all too familiar cry. Children and adults would cheer and scream. My siblings and I would leap to our feet empty plates spilling to the floor. Then it would come into view, covered in mounds of pristine white powder a great red sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. Sitting in the sleigh and running alongside it were happy elves, merrily waving and tossing candy canes to the crowd. Next to them would be the great man himself, sometimes joined by his smiling wife. They would sit there adorned in brilliant crimson coats and hats, flowing white hair whipping around in the wind.

The sleigh would stop in front of the Macy’s store and he would stand with a great cry of Ho. Ho. Ho. He would leave his sleigh and climb the podium to the microphone, shaking the hands of whoever hosted the parade that year. He would then stand at the microphone and cry out, “Happy Thanksgiving.” He waved to all around, joy filling his every movement. And then the announcement every child in the viewing audience waited to hear. “It is my honor,” he would say, “to announce the official start of the Christmas season.” Children would cheer, parents would applaud, balloons and confetti would blanket the earth.

With a cry of, “happy holidays“, he would wave again and return to his sleigh. Gripping the reigns in each hand he would give them a snap and call out, “On Dasher. On Dancer. On Prancer and Vixen. On Comet. On Cupid. On Donner and Blitzen.” Then they would be off with one final Ho. Ho. Ho.

My parents would gather the plates and glasses while my brother and sister and I would go and get dressed and ready to spend the rest of the day with relatives eating turkey and stuffing. But all day long all we could think of was that Christmas was coming soon.

The next day Dad would go into the attic and get out the long boxes of Christmas lights and decorations and we would spend the weekend hanging shinny things and candy canes all over the house. Christmas Cards were purchased and mailed. A wreath would be purchased from the Boy Scouts and hung on our front door. Christmas, an event we waited all year for with baited breath we watched the calendar hoping for Thanksgiving to come so we could see that special moment again.

We would go shopping that weekend and everything was new and different. Every store had magically become Christmas wonderlands. Shinny multi-colored trees popped up like spring daisies. Festive packages appeared under them with the promises of playful mystery. Bright eclectic strings of lights would move across roof tops like ivy. The radio stations would begin playing beautiful songs, extolling the virtues of white Christmas’s and jingling bells.

I’m older now and my childhood is gone, I still watch the parade almost every year. Sometimes I have family with me; sometimes my only company is the extra doughnut waiting in the bag. I smile at the memories from time to time; I keep them safe deep in my heart.

But I stand here today at the beginning of October, and I look out at an aisle filled with candy and witches, pumpkins and candles, and flashlights and costumes. Next to them, at the end of the aisle, set slightly off to one side are Santa’s and wreaths. I look at them and I wonder, just where exactly did we go wrong?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Paranormal S.W.A.T. #8 pt 3.

Hey All, Well another week has gone by and we're up to the final installment of our little story. Today we get to see the culmination of events at a festive woodland tea party. If you want to read from the beginning head over to part 1 or head here for part 2If you'd like to see the entire team from the beginning head on over to Cul-de-Sac to Hell  for their first adventure.


Paranormal S.W.A.T. 
Supernatural Weapons & Arcane Tactics
Falling
Down the Murder Hole

The velvet explosion of jazz music rolled over them as the they walked in to a large room filled with a Technicolor dinner party. A slender table stretched from in front of the door to other end of the wide oval room. The table was covered with food, drinks, and assorted mismatched center pieces. A set of brass candelabras stood a few feet from a bowl of black wax fruits. A huge bouquet of dead flowers stood with a single vibrant lily rising out of the top.

The chairs that sat around the table were mixes of different eras and styles with no two matching. A once elegant bar stool sat next to a folding lawn chair that was next to a proud Elizabethan armchair with what might have been a wobbly leg. Each was worn and well used, with frayed cushions and faded woods. The only chair of any note was a proud and well-maintained high backed Victorian with crushed velvet upholstery and exquisite hand sewn decorations that sat empty at the head of the table where Sarah and Griffin had entered. At the far end sat an overstuffed easy chair, stained and worn yet more comfortable than anything else in the room; it was also empty.

Around the table sat eclectic clusters of people; eighteen people in all. Every group was a mix of men and women some wearing what Sarah would call typical evening wear, nice suits and expensive dresses. Still some wore things of bizarre nature, style, and color. A large man in pink tartan kilt with a grand violet suede top hat stood arm in arm with a woman who wore a dress that seemed to be made from a rainbow-colored collection of leaves stitched together with thick leather cords.

The room was made to appear a wide forest clearing, the walls set with thick tree trunks to mark the border with an excellently done fresco beyond them to give the illusion of a deeper forest. The light in the room came from a series of multicolored Chinese lanterns strung in a haphazard pattern above the table. To one side sat a trio of men playing instruments with ease and skill; they were in a small area marked off by paving stones to form the border of a stage like area. One of the men noticed Sarah looking at them and nodded a greeting.

Griffin leaned towards her. “Don’t get to close, those are Satyrs and if you cross those paving stones they will lead you into the forest and dance you to death.”

Despite her distance Sarah took a small step away from the band. “So, you’re the guide here, who do you think were looking for?”

Griffin moved his head back and forth for a second then sighed. “I don’t know. Half the people here are human, the rest are various fairies and elves. We should sit and see what we can pick up.”

Sarah started to move to the Victorian before Griffin pulled her gently towards a wooden dinning room chair and a swiveling chair from a computer desk whose wheels were uselessly stuck in the dirt floor. As they sat a young woman seemed to materialize and offer them a tray of drinks. As Griffin turned and began to refuse her offer two glasses were placed before them.

Mr. Goodfellow stood next to her his elegant white tuxedo replaced with a violent orange long coat and an equally ostentatious blue top hat. He turned to the young woman. “Thank you my dear, but they have drinks already.” Looking back at Sarah and Griffin. “These are the drinks you left at the table, when you finish them if you want something else we can deal with it then.” He smiled easily and moved to the Victorian. As he sat down he nodded to Sarah and Griffin.

Sarah turned her attention to the room, everyone was staring at them and Mr. Goodfellow. She made mental notes of each of the people sitting at the table wondering if the fey were the ones in the weird outfits or if they were humans going native. She’d seen some pretty outlandish dresses standing in line for the club outside. As her eyes went from face to face she caught sight of a man sitting at the far end, Tony Abbot.

Tony had been a small time dealer in a larger organization who had been busted on minor drug charges a couple of times over the years. She came in contact with him about a year ago when his supplier was found with his head torn off in Millennium Park under the cloud; they never found the head. Tony was a suspect but was cleared pretty quick when they learned he was in the hospital having his stomach pumped from food poisoning. They never found his suppliers killer or his head and Sarah had never been able to shake the feeling Tony had known more than he was letting on. Looking at him now in a three thousand dollar suit sitting at a fairy table in another world she figured she’d been right.

The music suddenly came to an abrupt halt as a man in dirt brown tuxedo entered the room from what Sarah was certain a part of the fresco, or maybe just a cleverly hidden opening. He was large and blunt with the air of danger and brutality around him. Sarah estimated he was nearly seven foot tall, his wide shoulders and the uneven gait at which he walked made it hard to say for sure. As he lumbered forward Sarah wished she’d called Adam as well.

Several people around the table looked back and forth at him and Mr. Goodfellow then silently excused themselves and left, some through the door and some into the trees; the band exited with out even taking their expensive looking bass.

When the room had mostly cleared it left just Tony and three of his boys plus two young women. All of the men wore suits similar to Tony’s only not quite as nice. One of the women, a lithe brunette with dark eyes, wore a long slinky red evening dress and gently sipped at her drink while keeping only close enough to Tony to let you know she was with him. The other, a model worthy blonde, wore a dress that might have been woven from floral vines and peppered with various colored flowers, leaned up against him to let people know she was with Tony.

Griffin’s shoulders slumped and he turned to Mr. Goodfellow. “Seriously? A tempest raging against the world? You tricked us.”

Mr. Goodfellow smiled. “But I didn‘t lie..” He stood removing his top hat and looking to the new man. “Calabash, it’s nice of you to join us this evening.”

Griffin leaned to Sarah. “I wish you’d called Adam too.”

The newcomer stopped at the table standing next to the large evening chair and smiled. “I was about to say the same to you Robin the Goodfellow. How delightful we are, so formal with our full names, how Puckish. You so rarely join our little parties anymore and after so many years of being the master of the kettle it seems like old times to have you back.” His voice was deep and rumbled like boulders smashing together. He dropped into the easy chair and pulled the stem from a hookah that sat on the table in front of him. He took a deep breath from the end and looked at Sarah. As he spoke the smoke came out in small wisps from the side of his mouth. “And who are your friends?” With a final punctuation he exhaled a cloud of green smoke that formed a into a large question mark that hovered over the table before dissipating and floating away.

“Of course Cal, my manners are atrocious.” Mr. Goodfellow turned his body without ever removing his eyes from Cal. “Allow me to introduce Detective Sarah Parker and her escort the esteemed Doctor Griffin Wells.” He waved his hand in her direction with a showman’s flourish. Then with a bow he sat in his chair once more. “Though, if I’m not mistaken, Detective Parker and Mr. Abbot are already acquainted.”

Tony leaned back in his chair. “We met. What brings you this way detective?”

Sarah looked at the assembled people around the table for a second. She knew she was in the middle of something that was far above her. This was a contest between two mystical beings and she didn’t even know the ground rules. She wished she’d been able to ask Griffin a bit more about what was going on, what she should do, and what could go wrong. She wasn’t sure if she should lie, tell the truth, or avoid the question. As she started to open her mouth she heard a tinny little ding from the door to the hall that had been left open and the sound of the music box floated to her and wove its way into her mind. “I’m here to arrest you for the murder of Danny Jones and the for the production and distribution of Fairy Dust.”

As she said it she blinked realizing that as the words left her lips Tony and his crew had drawn closer. Not because they had moved but because the table had shrunk to fit the new group size. The once massive table was now an intimate setting that they all comfortably fit around. When the sense of movement ended Tony was now seated directly across from her as if the room had arranged itself so that she and Tony were now the focus of everything.

Tony leaned back smiling at her. “You got guts dear. I like that, admire it even, but you can’t touch me. I’m connected.” Tony’s boys, sensing that something was about to happen had already stood and positioned themselves around their boss.

The woman in the flower dress smiled at Sarah and leaned up against Tony. “Why don’t you just let Ripper have them and then we can go back to our party?”

Sarah looked at the young woman. “Excuse me, the adults are talking.”

She focused a hard look at Sarah. “You don’t get to talk to me like that. Nobody talks to me like that.”

“I have more important things to do in my life than worry about a stuck up fairy who wants to experience the wild side of humanity. Go do your slumming somewhere else.”

Both women stood at the same time. The woman in the red dress stepped back from the table and crossed her arms. The girl in the flower dress grabbed her drink off the table and flung it into Sarah’s face.

Griffin jumped to his feet his hand coming out of his pocket the cold steel knuckles fitted over his fingers. The stolen steak knife held easy in his other hand, blade down to protect himself from attack. “The brunette’s an elf, blondes a human.” He kicked off shoving Sarah’s chair sideways.

Red Dress dropped her hands and with a snicker and a snack she easily flipped open two antique walrus-handled straight razors. She moved forward and with a inhuman grace and beauty she somersaulted up onto the table in a single smooth motion. Her razors cut into the air where Sarah had been seated just seconds before. Sarah stood grabbing the tablecloth and yanking it towards her with all she was worth. Red Dress shifted as her feet moved out from underneath her but quickly recovered, rolled over onto her side and then pushed off the table shoving herself up over the hookah as it hurtled past her and crashed onto the floor. As Red Dress twirled into the air she quickly spun herself around and landed facing Griffin with both razors weaving an intricate pattern before her.

Tony’s men began drawing guns and stepping in to protect their boss. Sarah drew the pistol from it’s concealed holster and let off a quick round in their direction. One of the men, a linebacker-looking fellow, cried out and grabbed his shoulder as her shot dug into his flesh. He staggered backwards knocking over his chair and falling to one knee to stop himself from hitting the ground completely.

One of Tony’s other men, wearing sunglasses to make himself look tougher, grabbed Tony and moved towards the door leading back to the club. He was careful to keeping himself in between Tony and Sarah the whole way. Blondie in a panic moved as fast as her inexplicably ridiculous heels would let her.

The third man, a shorter fellow with a flower-patterned tie, aimed a rather serious looking automatic and squeezed off a couple of rounds in Sarah’s direction.

Sarah dove for cover, dropping to the ground behind the table. From her position she grabbed the lip of the table and tried to flip it up to give herself some cover. Try as she would the table stuck fast, refusing to be toppled. She looked down and realized that the legs of the table grew up out of the ground. She heard Flowers stop shooting to reload and briefly considered standing up to take her shot then realized from her vantage point she had a perfect shot.

She put two rounds into his legs dropping him to the ground. She stood to make sure she had finished the job when she noticed Linebacker wobbling to his feet his pistol coming to bear on her. He fired a shot that went wide and destroyed the tea cup held in Mr. Goodfellows hand as he calmly sat at the end of the table. Both he and Cal seemed to be continuing with their drinks as if there was no worry in the world.

Sarah’s attention quickly came back into focus as a bullet whipped by her head. She quickly focused on Linebacker, adjusted her aim, and put two slugs through his chest.

As the man fell backward, his pistol firing two final rounds before silence, Cal moved a small plate of scones a split second before a bullet tore through the table in the exact spot they had been.

Ignoring the oddity of the men she turned to check on Griffin. He was battling against Red Dress moving backwards away from her. His knife sticking out of the ground some distance from where he stood. He was now using the remnants of an old fashioned four legged barstool like a lion tamer to keep her at bay. His coat sleeve had a few cuts in it and Sarah could see blood on his side near a gash in his jacket. Red Dress was moving oddly, she had smoke rising up off her in a couple of places, mostly on her left side, including her cheek.

With a quick jab Red Dress pinned Griffin’s stool with one hand and with the other she knocked it free and tossed it across the clearing. She positioned her leg and stepped forward then spun her body like a ballerinas, her straight razors becoming a flashing swirl of nickel plated flair. Sarah would have marveled at the beauty of the move if not for its intended target. On pure instinct she raised her pistol and fired her last round into Red Dress’ back staggering her and knocking her spin off balance. Griffin took advantage of her momentary lapse and stepped into the fairies movement and with a solid uppercut drove his cold iron knuckles into her jaw flipping the lithe beauty up into the air and slamming her face down onto the ground.

Sarah ran to Griffin. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, go get that bastard.”

Ramming a quickloader into her sidearm Sarah turned and ran to the door and entered the long hall. She started past the statue of Alice taking a moment to step over the decapitated monster head that was now in the middle of the floor. She sprinted into the hall and started up it when she quickly came to Tony and his entourage. Tony was limping badly, his ankle clearly busted, leaning on Blondie and Shades for support. His voice was high pitched and broken. “Stupid statue. This is gonna take forever to heal. Get me to the ER.”

Sarah dropped into a perfect shooters stance. “Freeze Tony!”

Shades let go of his boss and turned raising his pistol to a firing position, Sarah dropped him with one shot straight through his pretty glasses. Then shifted her focus back to Tony.

Tony grabbed Blondie and was now using her as a shield. He’d jerked her in front of him so fast it had dislodged one of her stilettos and left her standing on unsteady feet trying to get out of the way. Tony pulled a switchblade and raised it to Blondie’s throat; once a street punk always a street punk. “Back off or I skewer the bitch.”

Blondie started to protest and Tony shook her hard. He began limping backward sucking breath with each step on his broken ankle.

Sarah matched his movements never letting her aim off of him. “I can’t do that Tony. Let her go; there’s no way out of this for you.”

Tony kept inching up the hall trying to get to the safety of the real world still some fifty feet away. “I’m in charge here. Not you, me. You do what I say or I stick…”

Tony was suddenly cut off as his body leapt backward as if jerked off his feet. He slammed into the tile floor and the with a loud huff the air exited his lungs leaving him grasping on the ground. Sarah quickly moved forward and dropped to the ground next to Tony rolling him over on his stomach. She reached to her side and realized she’d left her purse at the table. Turning to Blondie she reached over grabbed one of the vines from the hem of her dress and yanked it free. Using it as a rope she tied Tony’s hands behind his back.

“Fine arrest me. You aint got nothing. I’ll be free in a couple of hours and then me and the boys’ll come looking for you.”

Blondie having collected herself stomped to Tony and kicked him in the side. “You bastard.” Sarah moved to stop her as she kicked him again. “I’m gonna give them everything. Accounts, dealers, suppliers, all of it.” She kicked him again.

Sarah pulled Blondie off of Tony and backed her away from him. Blondie stood there for a moment her rage boiling over and then as she calmed down slowly the adrenalin faded and she broke down in tears clinging to Sarah.

She looked up the hall to Mr. Goodfellow who stood there sipping at a cup of tea, smiling. “Your friend will be along in a minute.”

After a few minutes Griffin, adjusting his scarf, walked up the hall. Mr. Goodfellow, with a slight raise of his cup as if in salute, turned and walked back to the garden party from where the sound of jazz was beginning to again filter down the hall.

* * *

It took the bouncer a couple of minutes to move Tony and Blondie whose name was Linda to a private boardroom where the bodies of the three guards lay in the positions Sarah had dropped them in. Mr. Goodfellow gave Linda something to drink then very carefully explained the evenings events to her as if retelling the story only this time everything happened in the boardroom and the fey lands weren’t in the story at all.

When the CPD showed up Sarah explained that she had been on a date and Mr. Goodfellow recognizing her as a police officer asked her to intercede in something he thought might have been illegal. He had been right and she discovered Tony and his men discussing their Fairy Dust business.

The story had a few places where bits and pieces didn’t work but everyone seemed to go with the events as they were explained. Sarah wondered how much of it was the coffee the club supplied to the officers. She was worried but Griffin told her it was okay and she trusted him. After a few hours in the club she was allowed to leave and go home to change and get some sleep with orders to report to I.A. in the morning to help work out the details of the case as they related to Danny.

Outside she met Griffin standing off to one side out of the eye line of the local officers. She walked up and hugged him. “Are you okay? I thought I saw you bleeding in there.”

He hugged her back. “I’m fine someone splashed me with raspberry preserves when they flipped the table cloth.” He ran his finger through the mostly dried stain and held it up for her to smell, raspberry preserves.

“Do you think it will change anything.”

Griffin paused for a moment and wiped his finger off against his jacket. “Linda was drinking in the fey lands, I think she’s going to know quite a bit about Tony’s operation that he didn’t realize she knew. I already heard her talking about things that happened out of town, things with Tony’s old boss, and a particularly interesting tale about killing and framing a vice cop less than a week ago.”

She hugged him again and just stood there, letting the early Chicago rain sprinkle the ground around them. She felt him against her and then leaned down and whispered into his ear, “Thank you for everything you did tonight.”

A small cough off to one side caused them to both jerk apart and turn to face the noise. Mr. Goodfellow stepped from the shadows where there wasn’t an opening for someone to hide. “I just wanted to congratulate you on all the good work that was done tonight.” He reached his hand out to shake with Sarah. “A job well done.”

Sarah reached to take his hand when Griffin grabbed her wrist. “We are not done yet. Nor are we even.” He stepped in front of Sarah. “We did quite a bit for you tonight: toppled a rival, saved your club, kept the police from coming back, and improved your position in the Courts. When compared to your offering of clearing her friend I’d say we are far from even.”

Mr. Goodfellow laughed. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. What do you want?”

Griffin took a deep breath. “The music box, let her go.”

“I can’t guarantee her final destination.”

“It won’t be there and that’s enough.”

“Very well, done.” He reached his hand out again.

Griffin stepped aside. “Go ahead.”

Sarah shook his hand and felt a small ripple in the air followed by a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. She stood there for a moment not realizing that Mr. Goodfellow had gone and for no reason at all she started to cry.

Griffin put his hand on her shoulder and moved to look into her eyes. “How do you feel?”

She looked at her reflection in his mirrored sunglasses and met her won eyes. “Happy.”

As the sun cracked over the horizon and warmed their faces he hugged her. “Thank god.”

* * *

Griffin was waiting in Albert’s office sitting in one of the overstuffed office chairs that filled the area. He’d been in the pool when Christine had called him to let him know Albert would be up soon. He threw on his favorite evening robe and grabbed his pipe and a bottle of brandy from the pantry. He’d been waiting all day for Albert to arrive and as he watched the sun set he listened for the door. He was still sore from last night and was happy Doctor Jackson had been able to stop by and  stitch him up a bit.

He heard the door open and listened to the footsteps as Albert crossed the room and sat at his desk. Griffin thought about offering Albert a drink but knew he didn’t drink brandy and decided it would be a wasted nicety.

Albert dropped a pile of folders into a drawer of his desk and looked at Griffin. “What‘s the damage?”

Griffin had dreaded this part, facing off against mad fairies was easy, facing off against Albert, not so much. Griffin took a deep breath and reminded himself not to refer to Goodfellow by name unless he wanted to draw attention to the conversation. He spent the next several minutes going over most of the events of the evening all the events including the arrests afterwards.

Albert sat staring at him listening intently and when he was done whistled quietly. “You sure it was Ripper you fought?”

“The straight razors are unmistakable, it was definitely Jaclyn. She’s down for now, I hit her pretty hard and Sarah put a round in her back, but when she’s up again…”

Albert rubbed his eyes. “It’s worse than that. She’ll hold a grudge forever. It could be years before she comes looking for payback. What’s you final assessment of Him?”

“He knows who we are or at least who Sarah is. She’s important, I’m not sure how, only that there were rune stones involved and apparently every fairy knows about her. The clubs a mess and filled with fey and humans interacting with one another; I don’t know how much the humans know but the fairies are playing pretty fast and loose with the rules.”

Albert leaned back. “They always do that. This isn’t the first time one of these clubs existed and it wont be the last. Was there any good news?”

“I can answer one of the questions from our background check on Sarah, I know what happened to her mother; they had her.”

“Had?”

“She was a music box. Part of the deal freed her.” Albert looked like he was about to say something. “Sarah doesn’t know. She might ask later but she was overwhelmed with joy right after we finished.”

“A good ending. We rarely get those.”

Griffin sat nervously for a second then leaned forward. “Also, and I’m not sure where this falls into good or bad, I can see through their illusions when my eyes are closed.”

“Really?” Albert turned his chair to look out the window. “It’s at least interesting. Do they know?”

“I think He does, or at least he suspected. That’s why he went to such lengths to get us, me there.”

They sat in silence for a while and then the phone rang, Griffin took advantage of the distraction to gather his things and leave.



End.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Paranormal S.W.A.T. #8 pt 2.

Hey all, With another week having passed I'm posting the next part of my latest Paranormal S.W.A.T. story as October and the festive season continue. Tonight, we meet the owner of the Wonderland Club and learn why our heroes have been summoned, what could possibly go wrong. If you want to read from the beginning head over to part 1 If you'd like to see the entire team from the beginning head on over to Cul-de-Sac to Hell  for their first adventure.

Paranormal S.W.A.T. 
Supernatural Weapons & Arcane Tactics
Falling
Down the Murder Hole


“Traditionally, you would ask me.” Sarah wasn’t sure where the man in the immaculate white suit had come from but he now sat in the booth with them. If Griffin hadn’t been holding her hand she’d have gone for her sidearm. “After all, I am the clubs owner.” He sat there calmly twisting a glass of what might have been scotch, he seemed to be waiting for something.

Griffin turned to look at the handsome man sitting in the booth with them and instantly tensed. “Mr. Goodfellow, you’ll excuse us if we pay our bill and leave.” He leaned over to Sarah as he took his wallet out of his coat pocket, “Kick off your shoes, we’re going to need to run.”

Mr Goodfellow laughed. “Doctor Wells, you are so transparent. I mean you and Detective Parker no harm.” Sarah stiffened at the use of her name and title. “Keep your wallet, dinner is on me.”

Griffin stopped moving he sat there for a long moment and then very slowly began to speak as if he was choosing his words as carefully as someone stepping through a minefield. “Mr. Goodfellow, while I appreciate your generous and thoughtful gift, I am unworthy of such a fine and welcome consideration. I humbly decline your offer, and thank you for the thought.”

Mr. Goodfellow laughed again, it was crisp and musical. “Griffin, may I call you Griffin?”

Griffin paused again. “Yes, you may call me Griffin.”

“Thank you, and please call me Robin, both of you. The gift was neither generous nor thoughtful. It’s twenty seven dollars in booze and steak that I would have charged you a hundred and thirty dollars for. Besides it would be rude of me to charge you; seeing as I invited you here tonight. Well, I invited Detective Parker.” He turned to Sarah. “May I call you Sarah?”

“Um…sure.“ Sarah was confused. The way Griffin was clutching her hand was as if he was afraid he’d lose her if he let go. He was clearly afraid of this Mr. Goodfellow. She looked at him trying to decide what made him such a threat. He wasn’t particularly imposing; while it was hard to tell with him sitting down she thought he couldn’t be more than five foot six. He was thin, somewhere between sickly and athletic. He didn’t even look particularly threatening; with his tousled blond hair and Errol Flynn goatee he actually looked quite charming.

He smiled at her. “Thank you, dear Sarah.” He leaned back in the booth and sipped his drink.

“What do you mean you invited us?” asked Sarah. “How?”

“As I said, I invited you, the fact that Griffin joined you is a happy circumstance.” Mr. Goodfellow sipped from his glass. “I will admit I had hoped for more of your friends when I sent you officer Jones’ file. It had to be properly amended to include my club but I knew as soon as you received it you’d gather your compatriots and head this way.”

Sarah tried to raise her hand to the table but Griffin wouldn’t let go so she gave up and looked at Mr. Goodfellow. “You sent me that file? How did you get it?”

Griffin spoke before Mr. Goodfellow had a chance. “We don’t need to know that.”

Mr. Goodfellow laughed. “It’s alright, to get what I need I fear I will have to give this information freely.” He sipped at his drink once more. “Though I see that you are knowledgeable to the means and manners of the courts. To ease your mind; I promise in the name of the old Laws that as long as we all sit in the booth I will give any information I can free of charge or deception. Do these conditions meet with your agreement?”
Griffin nodded and let go a Sarah’s hand. For a brief flash Sarah could swear a slight chill swept through the club and was gone. She took a moment to flex her fingers to get the blood flowing back into her hand then leaned forward to look closer at Mr. Goodfellow. “That seems to have handled everything. Do you want to explain what’s going on here?”

“Not particularly, but I see no other way.“ He finished his glass in a single gulp then placed the glass on the table and flicked the rim with his finger, after a second a perfect chime rang out and the glass filled itself with the same liquid he’d been drinking before. Sarah had seen better working with the guys so paid little attention to the act. “As I said this is my club. I love clubs. I’ve owned taverns, brothels, hovels, inns, and way stations. There is nothing like the American invention of the club. Your Prohibition did a wonderful thing inventing clubs. They are crowded with humans at their most decadent; filled with intrigue, excess, lust, pain, passion, pleasure, and a cavalcade of boisterous play.”

Griffin took a bite of his steak. “That’s fascinating, and exactly what does it have to do with what’s going on here?”

“You should have been born earlier. Langston Hughes would have loved you. However, to the point. I’m not the only one who loves these clubs. Thus the King in order to prevent full on war over these fine establishments has declared some of them neutral ground, mine included. I think he’s still angry at the little joke I played on the Queen.”

Griffin placed his fork down and picked up his glass and took a sip through his straw. While he did Sarah noticed as a quick motion of his other hand let him slip his knife up the sleeve of his coat. “You tricked her into falling in love with a Jack Ass.”

“All in good fun.” Mr. Goodfellow look wistful for a moment and sipped at his drink. “Alas as my club is neutral ground I may not act to directly interfere with the actions of other members of the courts. One of them has decided to start using my club to sell a particularly potent Pixie concoction to mortals with the help of a local criminal group. I honestly don’t care what humans choose to put in their bodies, no matter how lethal, but he’s doing it out of my club. And once again, they meet tonight in my own private party grounds to thus taunt me more.”

Sarah leaned forward. “Why not go to the authorities, human or otherwise?”

“I’ve tried. The King doesn’t want to hear my dissatisfaction, and has doubly forbid me from seeking revenge. Were it up to me I would have removed his agents myself, it’s been so long since I’ve been allowed a good flaying. Alas, I may not touch my adversary for he is of noble blood and his vassals have been given his protection as well.”

Griffin leaned forward. “Noble blood? Do you seriously want us to go up against a member of the High Court?”

Mr. Goodfellow laughed a loud. “No, I would sooner send butterflies to stop a hurricane. No, a minor prince, a foolish elemental of by gone years, a foppish boy whose witch mother gave him a title and an island. A bug of a fairy. A Tempest raging against a world that no longer finds him necessary. noble only in tradition not in position.”

“Is there anything you can do to stop him?” asked Sarah.

Mr. Goodfellow glanced down at his glass a dejected look settling over his face. “Anything I did would most certainly cause a war. In and of itself a war could be fun; we haven’t had a good war in so many decades. Even though that sort play would be magnificent, his majesty moves to protect his own plots and practices. So, I am left to find intermediaries.” He let the word drip from his mouth like a snake oozing venom from its fangs. “I thought I had one in your friend when he arrived the other day. Sadly, he was unversed in our ways and quickly revealed himself as an agent of order. They made quite quick work of him. Then they left him for me to be rid of, a hollow husk, broken and forgotten left to my devices as if I were a servant boy.” Mr. Goodfellow clutched his glass in his hand and even over the music Sarah could hear the glass straining and cracking under his grip.

“When I learned who he was it was easy enough to find who his friends were and let information reach the ears necessary for my cause.” He smiled at Sarah. “I was particularly motivated when I learned you were his friend and former lover. I knew you would be immediately drawn to the case. After all, you’re the great Sarah Parker; we all know who you are.”

Sarah felt her mouth go suddenly dry. “What do you mean you all know who I am?”

“I suppose it would be cheating to tell, but I did say I would speak the truth. The stones my dear, it‘s all in the stones…” A sudden burst of thunder outside shook the club and caused the lights to flicker. A long bolt of lightning struck the roof shaking the skylights and causing the copper frames to spark and glow. The club grew quiet and then everyone cheered as the music started up again. Griffin grasped her hand again. Mr. Goodfellow let out a hearty laugh. “What fun. It seems I may have said too much.”

Mr. Goodfellow slapped his hands on the table. “Enough of this. Shall I introduce you to the horrible man who killed your friend?” With that Mr. Goodfellow quickly stood and stepped out of the booth. Sarah felt the shiver of cold once again.

Griffin swore. “Nicely played.”

Sarah looked at both men for a second unsure of what had just happened. “What are you talking about, what stones, and where are you going?”

Griffin released her hand. “Forget it, he left the booth, the deal is over. He won’t answer any more questions. Plus, from the thunder I’m guessing he’s really not allowed to answer some of them.”

Mr. Goodfellow signaled to a waitress to come to the table. “You‘re reading far too much into the weather my friend.” The waitress he’d signaled arrived at the table bearing a serving tray with manila envelope on it. He smiled at the young woman and indicated Griffin. The woman removed the envelope from the tray and placed it in front of Griffin with a heavy thud before smiling sweetly and walking away. “I took the liberty of having one of my people pick that up for you. Before you refuse, it‘s not a gift. It‘s one of yours.”

Griffin gingerly took the package and slowly opened the flap and peered inside as if expecting a snake would leap out a attach itself to his face. With a slight chuckle Griffin tilted the package and poured a pair of black knuckle dusters into his other hand. “Cold iron knuckles. One of the fey’s greatest weaknesses. My God you are a trusting fellow.”

Goodfellow bowed slightly, “I appreciate the compliment. However, I’d say I was more calculating than trusting. I’ll wager even if you wanted to take a swing at me, your friend wants to know who’s in that back room even more.” With that Goodfellow bowed deeply at the waist with a flourish of his hand before straightening and walking away.

They sat there in silence for a long moment and then Griffin looked at Sarah. “It’s up to you. What do you want to do next?”

“Do you think we can trust him?”

“Absolutely not.” He said it with the certainty that rocks are hard and the sky is up.

Sarah sat in silence for a long moment. “If I can find out what happened to Danny back there, I have to go.”

“I thought as much.” Griffin stood from the booth and slipped the cold iron knuckles into his pocket. He offered her his hand and helped her up from the table. They walked towards the mirrored hallway at the back of the club.

Griffin reached down and grasped her right hand and held it as they walked down the hall. The music faded behind them leaving nothing but the clip clop of their own feet on the checkerboard tiled floor. The mirrors on the ceiling reflected the floor causing Sarah to have a momentary flood of vertigo as they advanced. The mirrors reflected their images in an oddly distorted way the caused them to look as if they were both passing and approaching themselves at the same time. They also had the occasional flash of what could be mistaken for a third or fourth person skipping along in some of the mirrors.

The end of the hall split in two directions a small road sign post stood at the end of the hall. The green post of the sign gave the impression of a long green carpet stretching down the hall in the mirror before them. It had an arrow going off to the right that had a silhouette of a woman and read THIS WAY in a loopy gothic script. The sign pointing in the other direction had a silhouette of a man and stated THAT WAY. A third arrow pointed back towards the club and read HITHER.

Griffin began to squeeze her fingers tighter. “Those clever bastards.”

“What?”

“We are about to enter the most dangerous place we have ever been. Don’t do anything unless I tell you, do not touch any thing or one, and most importantly do not eat or drink anything they offer no matter how tempting. These things have made a centuries-long career out of getting mortals to do the wrong thing; remember that.”

“Okay.” Sarah could feel her legs begin to shake as her adrenalin began to race through her veins.

“Take a deep breath.” Griffin had the tone she’d once heard from a member of the bomb squad as he was disarming a particularly nasty device they’d found in a park.

Sarah inhaled and tightened her grip on his hand. Griffin moved forward without any further word and the two stepped towards the mirror at the end of the tunnel. There was no flash, no whiff of magic, they moved towards their reflection and then their reflections were gone. Before them now stretched a long hallway with a small strip of plush green grass like carpet lying up the middle of the floor. A small arrow was attached to the mirrored wall behind them, it read YON and pointed in the direction they now faced.

Sarah looked around for a second and then released Griffin’s hand. “Wait, how did we walk through the sign post if we were holding hands?”

“There never was a sign post, it was always just grass. We just thought it was a sign post.”

Sarah looked at the three inch strip of greenery and realized that Griffin was right, it was a small patch of very well trimmed grass, like the kind she’d seen on putting greens. The tiles on either side of it had been seemed to disappear into the small bit of soil the grass was planted in.

They began walking up the long hallway, the mirrored walls had been replaced with long shelves of books, toys, and other knick-knacks. A small doll that looked like a lost child, a book titled The Indiscrete Roman, a porcelain tea set for four missing a cup. As they moved up the tunnel she studied the items and wondered what they might all be and where they came from. There were things on the shelves that held crude and almost mishandled craftsmanship like a hand-stitched jacket with a third sleeve and a broken zipper stitched together from deep blue leather with one long red seam down the side. Then there were pieces so meticulously intricate that their beauty caught her breath like a cherry red jewelry box lined with a purple silk inlay that held a small hand stitched pillow. On the pillow rested a gold heart shaped locket sitting open with a picture of a young woman looking longingly into the empty panel on the other side.

As they moved slowly down the tunnel she could hear the tinkling of brass notes and sitting just beyond a well-used teddy bear sat a broken and worn music box. A one-legged ballerina twirled in jerking spirals around a warped stand as a nearly familiar song creaked and tumbled it’s way out of the tinny little machinery inside. She found herself slowing to hear the music and as she watched the little ballerina came to an unsteady halt and the music died. She felt her body jerk as Griffin snapped her away from the shelf her hand reaching out to turn the ornate platinum key that twinkled from the boxes side. Sarah felt her eyes focus on the world away from the music box as she looked at Griffin. “What happened? I didn’t mean to touch it.”

“I know. It wasn’t your fault.”

“What is that thing? What are all of these things?”

Griffin sighted and started leading her up the hall again. “People, souls, memories, any and all of those. Sometimes people get lost in the Fey Lands and make the wrong choice, a bad decision, or foolish deal; this is what becomes of them.” He gestured to the shelves around them. “These all represent someone in some very abstract way. An instrument might have been a musician, a clock could be someone obsessed with getting places on time, a plate may have been a cook. Each of these things are a sort of trophy, the quality represents both the skill and value of the person as well as the challenge in tricking them.”

Sarah looked at each of the items that lined the shelves and started doing a series of terrible calculations in her head. They’d walked maybe fifty feet and passed sets of shelves with clusters of items. “There are hundreds of things here.”

“I know, as I said they’ve been doing this for centuries.”

As they continued to walk Sarah watched in horror as more and more items spilled past them, she barely noticed as the strip grass began to widen until it covered the whole of the floor, she took almost no stock in the sounds of conversation and jazz that flowed up the tunnel to them.

Nearing the end of the tunnel Sarah looked forward to see a large antechamber, a great round room in the center of which stood an immense marble statue of a little girl in a dress who couldn‘t have been more than twelve. The statute towered over them standing nearly twelve feet high resting upon a gold base carved with leaves, vines, mushrooms, and playing cards. On top of the pillar, surrounding the girls feet were several animals, humans, and chess pieces. Two long billowing cloud shaped trails carved of ivory rose up over the top of the small child and ended near her shoulders. Over her right shoulder the cloud ended in the front legs and head of feral and vicious looking cat, it’s face contorted into a wicked grin. The other side ended in the upper body and long empty neck of a brutal and muscular demons body with long sharp talons for fingers. It took Sarah a moment before she realized that the head for the creature lay on the ground tucked up against the side of the statue. It was hideous, with empty eyes and long slavering jowls surrounding a mass of razor sharp teeth.

Sarah felt her breath catch in her throat. “That poor girl.”

Griffin put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her to him. “Don’t worry. This is a good one.”

“How can it possibly be good.”

Griffin rubbed her back between her shoulders for a moment. “The fey love their trophies and tricking humans and winning is one of their favorite things in all the world. The thing is for all the vicious cruelty that they unleash upon people they admire and appreciate skill, luck, and talent when they see it. The most magnificent trophies are of the ones that got away. There names and deeds are the ones that go down in the annuls of fey culture. They become so revered and talked about that the stories spill over into the mortal realm. Their trophies become the gatekeepers of the realms so that people are always given warning of what is to come and what they must do to survive. We are in a truly interesting place.”

“Because of who she is?”

“How do you know her?”

“Like you, I’ve heard the stories.” Griffin stepped to the side and bowed before the statue. “It’s a tradition here, it’s hoped that by paying a slight tribute to her we will be aided in the same way she was helped. If you want, you should curtsy.”

Sarah tried her best to comply drawing from the few older movies she’d seen where people did that sort of thing. “Who is she?”

“Isn’t it obvious? This is Alice.”

Sarah looked up at the statue again and wondered if it was what she was expecting from tonight and wondering if she had gotten in over her head. She looked at Griffin as he stared up at the statue and drew strength from his presence. She was certain whatever was coming the two of them could handle it. “What next?”

“We step through the door.” Griffin indicated an odd shaped blue door on the other side of the clearing, it was wider at the top than the bottom and the right side stood taller than the left. Griffin took her hand again and they walked towards it. As they reached the door Griffin took a moment to look back at the door and smile. “I’m told There is a six-foot Adam made of bronze and chrome in a forest by a cave.” With no other words he opened the door and stepped into madness.

end pt. 2
Go here for pt. 3 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Paranormal S.W.A.T. #8 pt 1.

Hey all, I'm posting a new addition to the Paranormal S.W.A.T. series in honor of the month of October and the festive season ahead. Tonight, a simple request from a friend of the team leads Griffin on a merry adventure. If you'd like to see the team from the beginning head on over to Cul-de-Sac to Hell  for their first adventure.

Paranormal S.W.A.T. 
Supernatural Weapons & Arcane Tactics
Falling
Down the Murder Hole

Lieutenant Sarah Parker of the Chicago PD stood a block from Chicago’s hottest new night club, Wonderland. Cold wind whipped up and blew against her back causing her to push up against the wall. She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her felt coat with white fur collar once again wishing she had paid more attention to the weather report that evening.

She wondered how all the women standing in line were able to tolerate the cold; most of them weren’t wearing very much. In fact it was an impressive number of short skirts and loose tops for a Chicago autumn. She wanted to reach down and rub her own exposed legs under the ankle length black cocktail dress with the embroidered silver swirl at the hem she had worn. Either that or go buy a cup of coffee and pour it down her front.

“Hey Sarah.” Dr. Griffin Wells of the Paranormal SWAT team that had set up shop in Chicago a few months ago approached her waving his hand in a friendly manner. He served as the teams scout and forensics expert, Sarah had done some checking the first time she’d worked with them and discovered precious little about most of the team, but Griffin had been the exception.

He’d worked as a cop, a forensic technician, for nearly eight years out in Miami; which was probably why she got along with him better than the rest of the team. In addition to his service behind the badge he’d published several articles on forensic science, chemistry, and even a couple of papers on biochemistry. He also had a couple of minor marksmanship awards, which would normally have made her a little nervous. Most techs who get certified with firearms are doing it so they can think of themselves as butch adventure TV cops. She’d have thought the same of Griffin if she hadn’t already seen him in action a couple of times and was aware of how capable he was.

She smiled at him while brushing her blond hair out of her face. She moved towards him a little too quickly saying, “You made it,” she hugged him and stood up on her toes to whisper in his ear, “thanks for coming, the bouncer was beginning to watch me a little too closely.” She pulled away and spoke again a little louder this time, “Well I hope we can get inside.” She clung to his arm and began walking towards the club.

Griffin started walking with her and let her guide the way. “Well, I’m certain it won’t be to much a problem.” He pulled his arm out of hers and lowered it down on her shoulders then lowered his head on top of hers. “You ask me for a quick favor and take me to a night club,” he whispered, “is there a reason for this?”

“Once were inside I can tell you more. What’s with the Lamont Cranston? I said dress nice.” She was referring to his outfit, a long tan trench coat that brushed the tops of his feet as he walked matching that with a dark fedora and red scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face and tucked into the front of his coat. The entire outfit was completed with a set of thick mirrored wrap around sunglasses that ended up covering his entire face. Dressed as he was she couldn’t see any piece of his face. She was a little disappointed at that. Ever since she had discovered he’d been scarred in an accident and had a prosthetic hand, she had wondered about the extent of the damage to his person.

“Are you even listening,” Griffin’s voice broke her out of her internal musings.

“Sorry, I was looking for a way in that might get us around standing in line.”

“I asked about bribing the bouncer?”

They were only a few feet from the end of the line and she was beginning to worry they wouldn’t find what they needed tonight. “No, he’s running a pretty tight ship, he’s got a list and had let people on it cut in, but has turned down at least three bribes I’ve seen.”

Griffin let out a long slow sigh, “well that’s interesting.”

“What?”

Griffin started leading them towards the front of the line. “When I closed my eyes just then I could see what the bouncer really is.”

As they approached the bouncer, a rather intimidating wall of muscle nearly seven feet tall in an Armani suit, he stepped in front of the red velvet rope that blocked entrance to the club, clipboard in hand.

“You on the list?” His voice was hard and filled with gravel. Sarah couldn’t help the sudden thought of rotten meat that wafted through her mind and couldn’t figure out why.

Griffin untangled himself from Sarah and stepped in-between her and the bouncer, “I don’t know, let’s find out.”

The bouncer spoke with the cadence of the extremely bored or extremely stupid, “Name?”

“Doctor Griffin Wells,” Griffin stepped close to the ropes and angled his body away from the crowd. In a smooth motion he slid up his glasses and tilted his head back to fix on a place about three feet above the bouncers head. “Tell me Grog, am I on the list?”

The bouncer touched his finger to his ear and spoke quietly for a minute, as he did Griffin fixed his glasses back in place and turned to motion to Sarah to come closer. The bouncer finally having finished his conversation moved to unhook the rope, “welcome back Doctor Wells. Your usual table is set up in the back corner of the restaurant. A hostess will show you the way.”

As he let them in Sarah started to pull some money out of her clutch in order to pay the tip when the bouncer raised a hand to stop her. “No tips ma’am. It’s not allowed.”

They were shown inside and a beautiful woman in a forest green dress led them through the club. The room was done up in a mix of old fashioned tavern and acid trip sixties club. The room was filled with heavy oak tables and tall pillars carved with reliefs of the various characters from the Alice and Wonderland stories. The floor was covered in a black and white checkerboard tile. Bright splashes of vibrant colors covered the walls, paintings were hung in expensive frames on the walls and a neon lit bar filled one entire wall. Long mirrors filled a hallway leading to the back of the club and were hung in a way to make the hall look like it went on forever. As her eyes wandered up she saw the roof was covered in a maze of copper framed skylights revealing a starry sky.

The hostess showed them to a private booth near the back of the club. It had plush black velvet cushions that perfectly matched her dress all the way down to the silver swirl at the bottom. The booth would have easily seated half a dozen people comfortably. An old style oak table sat in the middle carved with leaf and vine patterns around the rim. In the middle a raised platform shaped like an open flower holding a lit violet candle was also carved from the wood. As Sarah examined it, she was hard pressed to see where the table ended and the flower began.

Sarah tuned out the conversation between Griffin and the waitress as she scanned the club checking the crowd for anything suspicious. They seemed like your typical club crowd made of that Chicago mix of too young care and too rich to know any better; all dancing to some bizarre band named the Card Soldiers. She spotted a couple of celebrities, the kind that were famous for being famous, two politicians, and several members from local mob families. The mob were the most interesting to her, it was typical to find a family presence in a hot club, they always found a way to muscle into the profits. What made this situation unusual was the four groups of men from different families. A situation like this only ever happened on neutral ground, and hot clubs were rarely the chosen venue.

After a few moments the waitress thanked Griffin and said she’d be right back with their drinks. As she turned she closed a shear silk curtain and left them alone. Sarah turned to Griffin and said, “What in the sweet hoary hell was that. You never told me you’d been here before.”

“Never have.”

“Really, cause when they welcomed you back, in my line of work that’s a called a clue.”

“They probably thought you were my date and I was trying to impress you. So they threw me a nod as part of the price.”

“What price?”

“They don’t care about money, they only want knowledge because that’s power. When I showed him my face, and gave them my name that was information they didn’t have so they owed me a favor.”

“They didn’t ask for anything you just gave it to them.”

“Not really, he asked if I was on the list. Which I didn’t answer, which meant to keep up appearances he had to ask me my name. Since he had to ask he opened a contract, a small social contract, but a contract none the less. I took advantage of this to show him my face and give him my name. Which put him in my debt as I gave more than was required. At that point they owed me, so they let me into the club. They hate owing people, it’s why they don’t except tips.

“Because then they owe you.” Sarah said. “Okay, but who didn’t want to owe you and why did you know this would work.”

“I’m going to have to explain this and I’m not entirely certain I can. If Albert were here he could give you a better answer, I just don’t know all the technical or mystical reasons for it.

“When I close my eyes, I can see what’s really around us.” Sarah stared at him waiting for more. “This is a fairy club.”

“That’s not the most PC statement ever, plus it’s basically wrong.”

Sarah was pretty sure he was smirking at her through the scarf. “No, that’s not what I meant. This club is run by member of the fae, or fairies. You know, like Tinkerbelle.”

“You mean six inches tall and with wings?”

“Some of them.” Griffin took a deep breath, “I’m going to give you a crash course on fairies. There’s another world next to this one ruled by two courts of fairies, doesn’t matter who. It’s called the fairy realm, It’s populated with all things fairy: pixies, nixies, leprechauns, gnomes, elves, ogres, the list goes on for quite a while. Occasionally they manage to cross the divide between this world, the mortal world, and their own.”

“Why bother?”

The curtain parted and the waitress placed their drinks before them and left one straw on the table for Griffin. Griffin thanked her and she departed. Griffin took the straw and placed it in his glass of amber liquid, that looked to Sarah like a cider of some sort. Her own glass was filled with the same liquid. She tentatively took a drink and found it to hold several spices that reminded her of trick-or-treating as a child and warm fall nights gathered around a fire. It made her feel warm and tingle all over and she looked at the glass for a moment trying to figure out exactly what it was.

Griffin answered her unasked question while sipping his through the straw tucked up under his scarf. “It’s the in-house special for October called Autumn Harvest.”

“Lovely, still doesn’t answer my other question.”

“They come here because we fascinate them. The reason this is the mortal realm is because we can die, easily, and we don’t seem to care.”

“I’m pretty sure most people are afraid to die.”

“True, but not on the same level as a fae is. Most fae have an average life span measured in hundreds of years; a few can get to four digits. They can be killed, not harmed, not injured, not wounded, but killed in three maybe four ways depending on the type. They go out of their way to find those things that can kill them and destroy them.

“Mortals on the other hand, live maybe eighty years, can be killed by thousands of different things, and we actively surround ourselves with them.”

“No we don’t.”

“You’re carrying a gun. We’re in a wood booth with a lit candle and silk curtains. We run electricity into our homes. We regularly play with fireworks and explosives. Cars are deathtraps, and we get pissed if we don’t have one.

“Hell, you can beat a human to death. On your best day with a baseball bat, you can’t kill an elf. Sure, you can ruin his next sixty years, but you won’t kill him.”

Sarah stared at Griffin for a long moment. “I never thought about it like that.”

“Few people do.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes until their Griffin asked, “you okay?”

“Yeah. It’s a lot to take in.”

“I know.” He paused to sip at his drink. “When your ready, could you let me know why were here?”

“I’m not sure anymore.”

“What was the initial idea?”

“Two weeks a go a friend of mine, a narcotics officer named Danny Jones died. They found him in a gutter with traces of a new drug called Fairy Dust in his system.”

“I’m sorry about your friend.”

“Thanks. Anyway, Danny wouldn’t touch drugs. There are a lot of things he would do, including gamble, drink, and anything in a skirt, but he wouldn’t do drugs.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Danny’s dad used to hit the pipe pretty hard. He never said but I’m pretty sure he blamed it for his moms death. His whole childhood was ruined, he’d never use.”

“Fair enough.” Griffin leaned back and picked up his drink and sipped through the straw. “So how is this place connected?”

“Two days ago I got an envelope from Danny; it had all of his notes from his latest case. He was looking into the supplier of Fairy Dust and had followed a few leads to this club. The last entry in his notes was to say that he was coming here to do some looking around. It was dated the day before he died.”

Griffin reached across the table and took Sarah’s hand. “You figure if we came here tonight we might find a reason he died. Maybe even exonerate Danny?”

Sarah reached across the table and gripped his hand. “Yeah.”

Griffin looked around the room. His head slowly pivoting from one side to the other and then back again. After he did this a few times he finally stopped and said, “I don’t know if this will answer your questions but there’s an extra hallway over by the bar down at the end of that mirrored hallway. I can only see it with my eyes closed.”

“How do we get through it?”

“Traditionally, you would ask me.” Sarah wasn’t sure where the man in the immaculate white suit had come from but he now sat in the booth with them. If Griffin hadn’t been holding her hand she’d have gone for her sidearm. “After all, I am the clubs owner.” He sat there calmly twisting a glass of what might have been scotch, he seemed to be waiting for something.

end pt. 1
click here for pt. 2 
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