The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)
Here Comes The Sun
Al Bruno III
It was on the morning of that insane day, the day of Dr. Flesh and the serendipity spirit, the day of monsters and masseuses that the most infamous member of the Lunt family awoke in his office with a hangover and blood under his nails...
Jack Diamond snored himself awake, stretched and then threw up in one of his wastebaskets. It wasn’t until he was finished that he realized he’d used the wicker one. He had a good chuckle about it as he rose unsteadily to his feet and made his way into the bathroom.
It was here at the top floor of the Mangiafuco building that he did the work of the Kuen-Yuin and the Greater Eastern Council of Mystagogues. He had a mansion on the outskirts of Attacotti Street but most nights he slept here, there was always so much to do.
He took a quick shower, put on his best seersucker suit and slicked his hair back with a fist full of pomade.
Ready to face the day he headed back to his office and threw the curtains open wide. The sky was pink with the approaching dawn. He lit a cigar and watched it for a time, suddenly whispering to himself “Here comes the sun.”
Jack Diamond frowned, wondering why he had said such a thing. Shaking his head he called for his secretary.
Edith was always right outside the door, always ready with his daily itinerary. She read off the list of people that had to be contacted, the spirits that needed to be summoned and crimes that had to be overseen. As he finished his cigar Jack mused that the poor girl was losing her looks. She was twenty-nine years old but looked almost twice that.
Not that she hadn’t been warned. The rewards of being his secretary were considerable but she had to keep the same hours he did, participate in the vilest of rituals and master the art of making a damn good cup of coffee.
“Just a damn minute here,” he said, “how did your nose get broken?”
“You did it last night,” she winced, “you took an eyedropper full of mescaline and thought I was a moose.”
The first few hours of the day sped by, partially because Jack loved his work and partialy because of the meth he had taken with his coffee.
Just as he had finished ordering the family of a young and overeager constable to be ground up and delivered to his home in a cardboard box, there was a knock at the door. Jack Diamond let his hand come to rest on the sawed off shotgun he kept bolted to the underside of his desk.
“Come in,” he said.
The man that stepped through the door was tall, Chinese and dressed in robes the color of smoke. His name was Wu-Han but he liked to call himself the Gray Mandarin. He and Jack had been doing business for years. “Good afternoon,” his voice was a lisping purr, “I hope you don't mind I took the liberty of coming to see you in person.”
“I'm always glad to see you,” Jack said, his hand momentarily and longingly tightening around the trigger of the sawed off shotgun.
“Do you know about your cousins?”
“Yeah they're all assholes.”
A pained expression crossed Wu-han's face, he held out a sheaf of official looking papers, “Seven of them have died today.”
“Something must be up,” Jack flipped through the pages, some faces and names were familiar, some were not.
“Now by way of payment I need you to call up a demon of if.”
“Why can't you do it?” Jack asked.
“I have my reasons and you forget your place.”
Sighing with resignation Jack started pulling the necessary components from his filing cabinets. Wu-Han was a Preceptor of the Third Circle of the Greater Eastern Council of Mystagogues, he could do something like this in his sleep. That meant this was one of his petty tests of loyalty.
Once he had the hundred year old candle, child's tooth and raven's feather laid out on the desk Jack asked, “What do you want me to put it in?”
Wu-Han tossed him a phial of red tinted glass, “How long will this take?”
“Just a few minutes,” Jack arranged the components in the proper order, “Wait outside with Edith would you?”
“Thats' Edith out there?” Wu-han boggled “What happened to her?”
“I thought she was a moose.”
Once he was alone jack opened one of his wrists with a flick of his overlong pinky nail and dripped blood along the spaces between the components. The layers of reality twisted, tore and spat out a mewling shape that was half-ghost half-flesh. Jack used a q-tip to jam it into the glass phial. He wasn't gentle.
He sealed the phial with a layer of wax and called out that he was finished but there was no reply. Jack frowned knowing that it meant Wu-Han was buggering Edith again. Jack ground his teeth and vowed that someday Wu-Han was going to have to do his own dirty work- and get his own damn secretary.
Returning to his desk Jack started flipping through the sheaf of papers, he noticed for the first time that all the deaths had occurred on the same street, Route d'abbaye, the longest street in the whole damn city. That was more than a little odd.
Lighting up his fifth cigar of the day Jack Diamond decided this was something he had to personally investigate, especially since there was a whorehouse down there he hadn’t visited in months. It was run by an old pimp named Mustard and catered to rubber fetishists in need of therapeutic massage.
“Yeah,” Jack Diamond smiled to himself, “Route d'abbaye here I come."