Part of me is gratified that Dale is so scared of me. Just on sight he almost crapped his pants he’s so scared. There’s another part of me that’s sickened by that reaction. A part that doesn’t want to be a violent asshole that people are afraid of. That’s the dichotomy of being a person huh? Two wolves, all that shit. Every day takes learning all over again how to live.
Dale told me that as far as he knows Huddie is still alive and was shacked up with a dancer working at Hellraisers. I told him that I was sorry if I got him fired. I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me. He was the one that tortured people and now he looks down his nose at me? Chaps my ass. I know that I shouldn’t care. I‘m more sensitive than I want to be.
The club is actually called Hellrisers not Hellraisers and the sign is the devil with a giant erection that he has to hold up with the pitchfork. Is that legal signage? In Florida it is. I pulled into the parking lot and saw Huddie sitting in a ‘09 Caddy CTS with a non-matching color aftermarket hood.
He was just sitting there in the drivers seat, staring at nothing. I knocked on the window. He opened the door so we could talk, apologizing that the window doesn’t roll down anymore.
“You haven’t been returning my messages.”
He leaned back in the seat, keeping one leg extended on the door “I got rid of my phone. There’s no one I want to talk to.”
I gestured just as the door to Hellrisers opened for a second in a blast of loud music and pink light and the stank of balls “What about your lady?”
“If we’re not together I know where she is. Or if I don’t know where she is she don’t want to talk to me anyway.”
I nodded “Cool . . . cool. So, uh, this won’t sound sincere since I’m going to ask you for a favor, but I uh really am sorry . . . uh, about how I left things. You’re in trouble and, uh, didn’t really help you. I, uh, well, I didn’t know what to do. . . uh, you see. But, uh, maybe there is something uh . . . that I can do to help. You know these people, you know how they operate, maybe there’s a way we can, uh, you know cripple their operation or get them locked up. I regret how that all went down, but you wouldn’t come with me and I couldn’t stay here . . . uh . . . yeah. I just didn’t, uh, you know. I’m not a murderer.”
“It’s okay Grace” he said it in a way that was clear it wasn’t “okay” so much as he was just beyond caring.
“I know it’s not okay but thanks for saying that. Over in Saint Augustine there’s a guy who needs some help repairing some old magic wards. He says he’s a knight. Can you believe that? He looks like one of those passport bros who operates a fan boat not a knight. I think Raymond Pine might be involved, do you know that name?”
He let out a long breath “Yeah, I know that name. Involved how?”
“I think this guy is his patsy, the knight shit is something Pine made up to get people to keep doing this thing for him.”
His look turned baleful “I don’t want to help Raymond Pine.”
“I don’t know if we’d be helping him. Adelaide says that there’s a monster in the swamp and these wards keep it asleep. I wouldn’t have believed that before but I saw a thing just like that in California. Monster sleeping in the river. You know a lot more about magic than me, you can check it out and see if there’s something else going on.”
“I’m tired” he said after while “I’ve been alive a long time and I’m tired. I’m scared to die Grace, but I don’t want to live either. I feel like I’ve lost every fight I’ve been in, or I ran away from them because I was too scared. I don’t think I have anything in me left.”
“I’ve only been at this a couple of years but I feel like that sometimes too. You just gotta power through I think. I fail a lot and I get hurt and people die sometimes but I do help people, I think I do anyway. I joke about saving the world, but someone has to stand in the gap and take the hits don’t we? Isn’t that why we have the gift we have? Didn’t some old guy say that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for?”
Huddie almost-laughed “Earnest Hemmingway said that, guy blew his head off with a shotgun.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that part. Fuck that guy then. If nothing else they got good seafood over there.”
He was silent for a while again “Sure, what the hell.”
“That’s the spirit!”