Gary. It’s a perfectly fine name. Gary Cooper for Christssake. Gary means “king” in Frankish. My ancestor Gary REDACTED came here in 1787, this woman doesn’t even know where she comes from! And yet she says my name like it taste bad to her. And I’ve seen the way this woman eats, nothing much tastes bad to her.
She spits out my name like it’s a curse. What’s worse than the way she speaks to me is the way she looks at me. There’s hatred there, which is fine, she should hate me, I have everything she wants and won’t work to get. That’s not the problem. The problem is there’s also revulsion there. Like I’m some kind of multi-segmented bug on the shower wall of her halfway house waving my antenna at her. I’m her BETTER. There’s no cause for her to look at me like that. I should be looking at HER like that.
Even worse that that though is that there’s pity in her eyes when he looks at me. PITY! Can you beat that? Like this transient piece of trash feels sorry for me somehow? In what upside down bizarro world does that make sense? It’s the same of the look my mom gave me when I put her in the home. Or when I told her about my ex-wife. Like I disappointed her somehow. She’s the disappointment. She doesn’t even have a job!
I laughed “You must not have finished biology class Grace, if I give you my skull that would kill me. You can’t live without a skull. I know you didn’t get much schooling, you might want to write that down.”
She banged her hand on my desk carelessly, that’s real oak! I jumped, but just because of the noise, not because I’m afraid of her. Magically I can handle her no problem. Physically? Sure, she looks like a handful, but she’s still a woman. I can overpower her if it comes to that. Her eyes slitted like she’s part crocodile or maybe a serpent of some kind.
“Gary” she growled like a pregnant walrus “I am not going to fuck around with you this time, give me the skull.”
I smiled and folded my hands on the desk “I don’t know what you’re referring to Grace. Can you explain what you’re talking about? Use your words Grace, help me understand.”
She gave me that look. That hard look I’ve seen so many times. Most people can’t do shit, it’s just a look, a way for them to try and feel strong after you’ve outwitted them. But this woman is different from most. She’s a killer. I know that first hand. But it doesn’t matter. This time I’m ready for her. I’ve been preparing.
I should thank her honestly. Our last interaction helped me to the realization that I was vulnerable to her kind. I was so used to dealing with the subtle dance of manipulation and maneuvering with my peers, with civilized magic users, that I didn’t think about what would happen if some guttermage came alone and tried to strong-arm me. I didn’t think there were any or her kind still around. Why would there be?
The first thing I did when I moved into my new house was call in some favors. My wards are fine, but I have a guy who’s a genius with wards. I never bothered to learn illusion magic so I brought someone in for that, spice things up a bit. Summoning I have covered. My home is a fortress. She tries to take me on there and she’s in for a rude surprise. I have an armored car, I have a bodyguard to drive me to and from, I have everything covered. There’s nothing she can do to me.
She must have realized that because she got up to leave, although strangely she just opened the door and leaned her head out instead of going into the hallway.
“Kistenmeier was it?” she drawled “You better go ahead and call security now.”