And another teaser ...
“How old are you, kid?”
The naked demon–he called himself Larry–was, at eight feet, six inches taller than Roy, and had a dong that would scare a female rhino. FNG–a fucking new guy, and Roy was tasked with showing him the ropes.
Not that there were that many ropes to learn around here. You watched the gate. You let some in, you let some out. Not exactly designing and building thermonuclear bombs, was it?
“Almost half a million,” Larry said.
Roy shook his head. A baby. But even so, why he’d been sent to work the South Gate wasn’t right, he knew that. The kid looked too sharp–not that you were necessarily stupid if you got gate duty. Roy himself was no Einstein, but he knew which way the nova flared, thank-you-very-fucking-much. Better than stirring boiling yak turds, for damn sure. Way fucking better than doing A&R in Music.
He still shuddered at that memory, save for that one tiny bright spot, about which he could never speak, and he’d worked to get this job. Not as good as driving the street-sweeper on the Chief’s private road or anything, but still, it was easy duty.
Roy was four million, give or take a couple thousand years, and easy duty was something worth scheming to get.
“So ... who’d you piss off?”
“You play poker?”
“Well, we’ll fix that. We love FNGs. What I’m saying here is, you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who would be shipped to work the gate kiosk, you hear what I’m sayin’?”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
Roy nodded a little, leaned back in his chair. The chair creaked under his three hundred and fifty pounds. Okay, he could play it that way.
“You don’t look like a red-collar guy.”
“Why do you say that?”
Roy grinned. “I didn’t just fall off the fire truck yesterday, son. Your horns are expensive, understated diamond-clads. Your fangs? Diamond caps to match the horns. That watch on your wrist? That’s a Vacheron Costantin Tour de l’Ile, or the best copy I’ve ever seen. You didn’t get those talons on your toes from Lee’s Press-on Nails, somebody spent a lot of time and wore out some nice files shaping those. Everything about you screams ‘Money’ and ‘High Class.’ Guys like you work so far away that if a bomb went off there right now it would take a month for the sound to get here.”
There was a pause, eight or nine seconds, and finally the kid smiled and nodded. “You’re smarter than you look.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot.”
Finally, Larry said, “Let’s just say, I zigged when I should have zagged, and somebody higher up the chain of command decided I need to learn a little humility.”
“And they figured nobody is more humble than ole Roy, hey?”
“Not exactly.” He shrugged. “I’m guessing it’s not the first time you’ve dealt with this kind of thing.”
Roy grinned. “Right about that. Somebody is always pissing off somebody here. And even the mighty do fall low. I mean, the Chief surely knows that story.”
“Forget it,” Roy said. “It’s history. You show up, do the job, we’ll get along fine. No totally clean slates in Hell, are there?”
“I appreciate that, Roy.”
“No problem. Well, there is one you need to know about. The old lady who lives next door? Mrs. Bentley? You might have occasion to deal with her, and there’s some stuff about her ...
“First, get a kilt. She shows up, put it on. She doesn’t like naked dongs, and if she sees yours, you’ll be sorry–she’s tough, and she’s got a tongue like a razor.”
“A little old human lady?”
“Yeah–who grabbed one of the Chief’s favorite hellhounds when it got out and chased her cat. She collected like it was a puppy and locked it in her fucking basement.”
“You heard that story?”
“I’ve seen the hound around. He used to be a hellacious monster, couldn’t get within a block of him without him trying to chew your leg off. Something happened to him, he got really quiet.”
Roy filed that one away. Kid had seen The Chief’s hound?
“Yeah. Well, a couple other things about her ...”