Chapter 2: Main Circulation Desk
The Main Circulation Desk of the Elysion Library, on the planet Elysion, in he Camulodunum System.
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. –Deuteronomy 15:11, K.J.V.
And it came to pass that an Avatar and a Hellspawn delivered the oracle unto the Angel.
Since this tale has a great deal to do with Scions, we should pause for a moment to sort out what Scions actually are.
According to the Prognosticated Peerage, a Scion is “…literally the begotten; one of the brood, the heir or heiress, the issue of a union- usually a royal one, and most importantly, the Successor.”
The Prognosticated Peerage goes on at some length about the technical aspects of what a Scion is, and is not, and how one can be born of a goddess, but not be a Scion. For example, the Native American goddesses were for awhile really going in for surrogate motherhood in a big way. But we think that most of the technical details of Scionship are rather droll, so let’s think metaphorically. In this more literary sense, the Scions are the products of a union between a Human mortal and a god, a god-child if you will.
Think about Hercules and Perseus who were begotten in the non-Immaculate macula sort of way. Conception does not always have to involve deception, at least not the shape changing sorts like Zeus or the old man deceptions of Óðinn. Most Humans crawl into bed with a god of their own free will. It’s because they know damn good and well they’re about to have a rip roaring good time. Whereas the Immaculate should’ve gotten her arse stoned had anyone really known about it at the time.
A moment should be given to consider the Son.
Okay. But we should still clarify.
The Son is, arguably the most famous Scion. But He is generally not claimed by any of the Scions, except Basil Berry, and even then, only when drunk. The Son, for His part, claims everyone indiscriminately, even the great First of the Fallen called Stan, as His brothers and sisters. Stan of course points out that he had no mother, and has no children- never had any- never will have any- ever, and therefore in the most fundamental sense has no kith or kin of any sort. To wit the Son always says “Tough luck buddy,” and gives Stan a big old hug, while all the other Demons inspect either their boot laces or the stars.
So, that’s your hyperbolic course on Scions. Tricky lot the bunch of them. They’re the only folk worse than Faeries, so steer clear.
You’ve been warned.
Basil Berry came around the corner of Current Periodicals to see Yūko White sitting with her white knee-length stockinged feet spread up on the main circulation desk, plaid skirt up around her knees, reading a back-issue copy of Pacific Vogue. Loud chomping could be heard interspersed with the occasional pop.
Basil Berry felt an urge to look for other white cotton things.
“It says here,” rang out the clear strong female voice of Yūko White, “that Moriyama had a secret love-child with the Emperor of Japan.”
“Well, did she?” boomed a voice deeper both in pitch, and altitude.
“She most assuredly did not,” Yūko White declared. “I can vouch for that girl’s honour, even if I can’t vouch for the Emperor.”
“Which Emperor was it?”
“Didn’t Moriyama do those girly ninja movies?” bombed the sub-counter voice.
“Yip,” chirped the voice behind the wiggling white stocking feet and magazine.
Basil Berry really wanted to look. Just a little peep, he thought, one little glance of those precious little things.
“I always liked her work,” the deeper voice said in a mild reflective tone. “Moriyama was a good one – never kicked anyone or anything anymore than she had too. That’s real nice to find in a lady. Most time, they go on kicking you no matter what you do.”
“Well, I never-”
But the world was never destined to know what Yūko White never did as she sat bolt upright, twisted the magazine, and began beating something beneath her desk.
“That tickles- you idiot,” she yelled.
Unfortunately, for Basil Berry, it was also at this moment that he stepped up to the counter to sneak his peep.
“Sorry mistress,” said the deeper voice, which had contrived to get even closer to the floor. “It’s just this feather duster that they gives me. I tells them, can tentacle arms use this here straight handle like the monkeys can use? No, I says. But they go on and give it to me no matter what. Dust this they say. Buff that they say. But what about the muff? I ask. And they say–”
Bless the Beast, Basil Berry thought.
Tentacles flashed around both sides of Yūko White’s legs, while a pink and purple neon nylon duster ran up and down her inner thighs.
Basil Berry, his view obstructed, sighed, and intentionally knocked over a rack of The Adventures of Jinkies the Serial Monster by Johnny Bravo.
The tentacles and duster disappeared under the counter.
Yūko White sat bolt upright, straightening her black Hwa Chong Institution jacket, skirt, and red tie. She just managed to smile as Basil Berry replaced the last book back on the rack.
“Good evening, Department Manager Berry,” Yūko White said. “How can we- I mean, I, assist you?”
“I need you to deliver this,” Basil Berry said swapping Continuous Creation, by Kin Arad for the back-issue copy of Pacific Vogue. “Hey look here, it says they are going to come out with a new edition of Super Mario Siblings soon.”
“Oh yes,” Yūko White said. “The Demon Shax has taken the game to new levels. I understand that he is going to incorporate your honourable Scions into the newest edition.”
“Well, I’m sure Mario will win,” Basil Berry said with a sigh. “He always does.”
“With honourable contradiction,” Yūko White said. “It is our, I mean, my understanding that the Demon Shax intends to make this edition adversarial, so that the monsters, no, say adversaries of the Sūpā Mario Siblings, or one also can play Mario, Luigi, and Giolla against one another in combat.”
“Neat,” Basil Berry said.
“To whom does this book belong?” Yūko White asked picking up the copy of Continuous Creation, by Kin Arad that Basil Berry had placed on the counter. “I don’t know this title.”
“Old Mad Hatter,” Basil Berry said.
“Is this personal book or Elysion book?” Yūko White asked. “I am not familiar with this book at all. There is no aura code.”
For those that are not familiar with the filing and claims procedures of the Elysion Library, an aura code is like a bar code, but does not require a sticker or an ink stamp, which preserves the original integrity of the book. The down side though is that they also make the books impossible to misplace, photocopy, steal, or even return late. There are never late returns because E.L.P., the Elysion Library Police, show-up wherever the book is ten minutes before the expiration date expires and start playing show tunes from the beginning. Since there are few things more irritating than being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, or worse yet, away from a coquette that is about to actually give it up, people tend to return books well before time.
Basil Berry looked up at the ceiling for a moment. The overhead lights, some thirteen meters above him, showed a slight smear of dust on their casings.
I’ll have to get someone up there to clean that, Basil Berry thought.
“You know, I don’t know,” he finally said. “I’m not entirely sure who wrote it.”
“Then this Kin Arad is a pseudonym?” Yūko White asked.
“Yes, I think you can safely say that.”
“So, not a real person then.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that, no, not that,” Basil Berry said flipping through the magazine again. “I’m sure she existed somewhere, once upon a time ago. I think the galaxy was called Salisbury.”
Yūko White shrugged and wrapped the book in a black and red silk cloth in the basic Furoshiki style carry wrap called Bin Tsutsumi.
Basil Berry watched her small hands as they spread out the silk on the counter. Yūko White than placed the book in the center of the silk turned at a 45-degree angle. She than folded the silk diagonally across the middle of the square wrap, making a straight line across the spine of the book. Yūko White then rolled the remainder of the silk length ways until the book was wrapped up, resembling a long red silk sausage. Yūko White brought the ends of the silk together and tied two ends into a daft square knot.
Basil Berry picked the book up by the silk handle and turned it one way and then the other examining the wrapping.
“I love it,” Basil Berry said. “I think I’ll have you do my apartment like this.”
“To whom do I deliver?” Yūko White asked, taking the wrapped book back from Basil Berry.
“Come on up here Phu,” Basil Berry said banging on the counter top. “This job’s for you too.”
“Ain’t nobody down here but us mice,” boomed the Phu-denying voice below the counter.
“Come on,” Basil Berry said. “Wherever Avatar Yūko White is, sure there is Hellspawn Phu too.”
“Oh, all right,” Phu said.
Several long black slick tentacles slithered in and out from under the circulation table. Two pink and white candy stripped rubbers were tentacled up, which Yūko White took.
Basil Berry watched in frank unabashed admiration as she first stood on one foot to slip on a rubber and then repeated the procedure for the other.
A white knitted hat, with pink drawstrings, and what Basil Berry took to be kitty ears was tentacled up next, followed by a pink and white umbrella with the 子猫セックス emblazoned in dark sable characters across its vertical. The umbrella was trimmed with bleached white lace.
“You do look rather smashing,” Basil Berry said leaning on the counter. “You should come over for dinner sometime,” he added with a grin.
Black tentacle arms, far longer than Basil Berry thought entirely necessary, wrapped around his wrists and ankles.
Yūko White frowned and lightly tapped one of the tentacles. The tentacle relaxed its grip on Basil Berry, but did not withdraw.
“With respect, Department Manager Berry,” Yūko White said with what Basil Berry thought a sterner note than necessary. “I would not be caught dead alone with you,” she finished off as neatly as if she were ordering a tidy Scotch.
“Oh come on pet,” Basil Berry said. “Andy will have his little joke.”
The black tentacles tightened again.
Basil Berry glanced down at the tentacles with mild concern. He was immortal, but only as long as nobody killed him. It was a point that Basil Berry was a bit sour about actually. He had the sense of humour of a trickster god, the sense of self of a thunder god, and about as much natural armour as a Filarial worm. It just wasn’t fair.
“Now, to whom do we deliver?”
“The Angel called Mick,” Basil Berry said, wondering when Phu intended to release him. “Do you know the twerp?”
“Yeah, I know him” Phu said from below the counter. “He blew past here about a minute ago. I waved, and called out to him, using his proper name, and he didn’t even look up at me. A real jerk that guy.”
“Well Phu dog, you have my personal permission to be as mean to him as you like,” Basil Berry said.
“Oh, well, that’s something else, ain’t it?” Phu said releasing and withdrawing all his tentacles below and behind the counter. “Can I eat his soul?”
“Shouldn’t think he’s got one,” Basil Berry said. “I served with him in the Crimean. Trust me; he hasn’t got one. Least ways, not one that you’d notice.”
“Too bad,” Phu complained, “too bad.”
Basil Berry followed Yūko White and Phu outside the library onto the covered entranceway.
“Any idea where the Angel Mick has gone?” Yūko White asked.
The Scion Basil Berry paused for a moment, looking around the front of the library for anyone to divert the conversation. The last thing he wanted was further conversation about the Angel Mick. Angels had a small hint of His ability to hear their own name, and Basil Berry certainly didn’t want Mick’s attention, not yet.
Disappointed by the lack of handy random people about when he wanted one, Basil Berry took up a mock attitude of consideration.
“The Angel’s an espresso whore,” Basil Berry said with a sigh, frustrated that for the first time he could remember there wasn’t anyone standing on the library steps smoking and joking. “Try the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe first. He’s very likely to go there before leaving the system.”
Yūko White made a slight, but formal, bow to Basil Berry.
Phu slammed a bundle of tentacles against Basil Berry’s shoulder, sending the Scion stumbling.
“See ya later alligator,” Phu said following Yūko White down the hover-chair accessible ramp.
After a while fucker, Basil Berry thought while rubbing blood back into his shoulder.
Once Basil Berry could no longer see or hear his couriers, he turned in the opposite direction toward the Deoradháin Café.
If I know anything about Mick, Basil Berry thought, it’s that he’s even lazier than he is arrogant.
Outside the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe sat several examples of the remnants of the sentients in the universe after the end of the Human species. Two Angels sat playing Texas Hold ‘Em with two Gorillas; Skooby Deel King of the Imps, and the Lesser Prince Petit Albert of the Mandragoras. The Hopkinsville Goblin sat dealing hands from behind silver mirrored sunglasses.
When the Angel Mick stepped into the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe he felt, for a brief second, that he had come home. Just why the Angel felt so, or just where his home might have been, he couldn’t say. But nonetheless, for one fleeting second, Mick felt that he had come home.
It is a rare thing in this universe, or in any other universe, for someone, or some thing, to be truly homeless. It is far more often the case that the subject does not like its home, or perhaps, has gotten its memories so cluttered that it does not remember its home. Most animals for instance have a certain temperate or other environmental condition that they require, which limits them from living much of anywhere else in the universe. But, everything, most sentient creatures anyway, know just where their home is, and astonishingly, often like the place. For most sentients, and most creatures, home is not just the place they live, or were maybe born. Home is the place that they are the most socially adjusted to, the place they are most psychologically attuned too. In short, home is the place their souls would drift back to if their bodily homes weren’t available for lurking in anymore.
The Immortal band Guts and Rodents played their cosmic favourite “Take Me Down to the Pair-o-dice Café” as the Angel Mick looked into the universe’s largest aquarium that formed 90% of the interior walls of the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe, even though the coffee shoppe did not appear to be so large on the outside.
This spatial deception is due to the Demon James being one of only seven still living creatures in this universe that is absolutely certain that other universes exist.
And the Demon is the only one of three still living creatures that is certain that the other universes are accessible from this one
And the Demon James is the only living creature in the universe that has gone through the trouble of actually accessing those other universes on purpose. Patton’s United Terran Space Navy team by contrast found thousands of other universes during their five-year mission to explore strange new spaceships, seek out new life and new weapons, and to boldly run back home as fast as possible.
But rather than sharing his demonic knowledge with the masses, or even with his fellow Demons, who almost all categorically despised the Demon James, he used the knowledge to sell larger-on-the-inside-than-the-outside condos in the Los Angeles, Chicago, New Your City, London, Frankfurt, Deli, Peking, and Tokyo housing markets. He was eventually caught by a joint American and Europe-African-Asian Union auditors taskforce, due to his owing several respective governments billions of pounds sterling in back sales tax due to his tendency to calculate the properties square meters by the exterior of the building, rather than the interior of the building. But that’s another story for another tome.
And the Demon James also built aquariums- extremely large transuniversal aquariums. Transuniversal is like transdimensional, but with universes instead of deminations. Neither of which should be confused with parallel universes, which is just a silly nonsense sense made-up by a stoned physics graduate student that flunked out and made millions as an alternative history writer.
These points aren’t particularly important now, but they will be, eventually. Like in the Zita Chronicles. They are frightfully important the Zita Chronicles.
What had always puzzled Mick about the thing was not its size of the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe aquarium, weighing in at a mere 101 million gallons – although why it had to be 101 anythings was a mystery to the Angel. What perplexed the Angel was that the aquarium was entirely devoted to fish from the Lakes of Africa and South America.
It was also well known that owner of all those fish, said previously mentioned Demon James of no rank, no title, no notable achievements, or particular character, had put a hex-spell on his fishy friends in order to prevent inter-species warfare. Small baby Red Empress fish swam next to large 30 pounds Red Oscar fish without the slightest sign of trouble. The Demon James also claimed to have secured all 4,313 species of the Cichlid family, and also to have scientifically bred another 242 new species since the end of the Human race.
The real miracle though was that the café didn’t smell of fish, and not that nice freshly deep fried fish smell, but that nasty poopy not quite alive fish smell of when the tide has gone out and left the fish just flopping around on the sand.
And the place didn’t reek of tobacco smoke or beer or piss either, which was another minor miracle.
Far out in the aquarium, the Angel Mick could just make out two Demons; the Demon James and the Demon Rían, along with the Angel Ashleigh. They looked to be building a castle out of pre-fabricated moulded plastic pieces which the Cichlids were than swimming in and out of, some defending their castle, some invading other castles, and one with a brief-case and a flyer offering to sell his neighbour’s castle.
Our dear readers will, or at any rate should, greatly appreciate the fact that the Demon James does not figure largely in this story no matter what the last page or two might suggest. His role in the mega multi-dimensional Cosmos is saved for later chronicles, like the Zita Chronicles that have already been plugged, or The Murder of Basil Berry being Book II of The Complete Revelation of Mick and Keith.
But there are two essential things to know about the Demon James. First, he is the father of Hat, and the second is that he is completely bat-fuck insane. The Demon was, by training; a compulsive liar, a complete narcissist, utterly devoid of any emotional depth, and extremely fond of war games, rather like billionaire politicians. Ironically, the Demon had also spent his time on Terra founding schools, supporting the arts, and annoying Ministers and political “science” Professors alike by the simple expedience of breathing right in front of them.
Now, the Demon Rían on the other hand is widely believed to be the only Human born mortal turned Demon in the universe. Not only is this daft, but it is inaccurate as well in that there are no less than thirteen Demons that were born of purely mortal Human parents. The rumour that Demon Rían was a Watcher like Shax is also. Rían chose the vocation of Demon, he wasn’t saddled with it like Shax was. It is widely believed that the Demon Rían taught humanity the Art of Metallurgy. This is also inaccurate. The Demon Rían taught humanity Hunting, Gambling, and the Art of Fiction, more or less in that order. Celestial historians debate the value added impact of the Demon Rían’s efforts to “improve” the Human condition, but one thing is certain, he was completely responsible for the mythology of “If you would be famous, go west young man.” Considering he was standing in the dining hall of the Inuyama Castle at the time, one wonders why the saying stuck.
And what then of the Angel Ashleigh? Nobody has ever figured out why the Angel Ashleigh hangs out with the Demon Rían, much less the Demon James. Certainly she gave up trying to save either of them a long time ago. The Angel Ashleigh came to minor fame mainly on account of her involvement in that well remembered Nevada Motel Massacre incident along with the Demons Rían and James. Her only public statement on the incident given to the Sun Times was, “I went along to try and figure out why those two knuckleheads were so interested in the case. What I figured out was that neither one of them had the slightest clue why they did anything. It was totally fascinating.”
Later, in the next universe, the three had a falling out, mainly because of Rían’s refusal to ever show-up for anything, and the Demon James’ lack of ability to sustain interest in anything outside of his own field of vision.
After watching the Demons and the other Angel for a while, Mick shrugged and wandered over to the shoppe’s counter.
“Mr. Meak?” the Angel said reading the name tag pinned onto the green polo shirt of the short balding man-like creature standing behind the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe counter.
The man behind the counter nodded.
“Guess you inherited the Terra?” Mick said, laughing at his own joke.
The man nodded a second time.
“And what did you do with it when you got it?” the Angel asked with a snicker.
“I let it go fallow.”
The Angel frowned.
“Well, I guess some people just can’t take a joke?” Mick said with a shrug.
“An original joke, I’ll gladly take,” Mr. Meak said blandly. “But every Angel that’s been here in the last million years has made that joke. It was tired the second time.”
“I’ll have a double espresso and a fish sandwich,” Mick ordered.
“Poor choice daddy-o,” Mr. Meak said. “Fish are friends, not food.”
“Right, that’ll be one vegan El Cheapo Burrito,” Mr. Meak corrected.
“What the Hell is that?” the Angel asked.
“Black beans, organic diced tomatoes, olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic, diced red onion, diced bell peppers, smoked paprika, cumin, cooked brown rice, chopped cilantro, with lettuce, tomato, non-dairy sour cream, and guacamole, served on fajita sized whole wheat tortillas.”
“Oh,” Mick said. “Hold the green shit.”
“Right, have a seat and R.R. will bring it right over to you,” Mr. Meak said handing the Angel a stick with a pink triangle stuck on the end. “Put this in the vase on your table.”
“R.R.?” the Angel asked.
“Our waiter, Rizzo the Rat,” Mr. Meak said.
“Oh, right,” Mick said and turned away from the counter.
The Angel walked past Grendel and Mōðor, who were having an argument about whether or not the Dragon had cleaned his scales out of the bathtub after his last shower. Then, the Angel took an empty table between two haggard figures slumped over their table, and a table full of members of the L.D.R.B. who were playing Cripple Mr. Worblehat.
As most Immortals and almost no mortals ever knew, L.D.R.B. stands for Library Disaster Rescue Battalion, a voluntary organization of immortals that have pledged a significant portion of their existence to the preservation of knowledge. Interestingly enough, nobody now remembers, or at least won’t admit to, knowing who or whom founded their once secret organization. Like many secret organizations, the L.D.R.B. has prided itself on not keeping records of its own doings, lest they be caught and asked extremely embarrassing questions like “Why haven’t you been paying your income tax on all these so-called charitable donations you’ve been forcibly collecting from the non-philanthropically inclined bits of humanity over the last couple of centuries?”
But tax dodging aside, the L.D.R.B. has found it convenient to show up during most library disasters and evacuate the book stacks, leaving behind cheap cardboard copies of the originals simply for the look of the ash. Demons have been particularly fond of this sort of work owing to their natural inclination towards psychological warfare against humanity. There’s nothing like a good old contradictory and contentious holy book showing up several centuries after the facts for really mucking-up a religion. “Just look at all the fun that came out of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” the Demons say, “and Judas wasn’t even in those.”
And it came to pass that the efforts of Nebuchadnezzar, Herostratus, Theodosius I, and many others were ultimately frustrated, even if the whole of humanity never knew about it.
Mick looked at the book that Hat had given him. It didn’t look very good at all to the Angel, so he dropped it on the table with a resounding thud.
One of the two slumped figures next to Mick stirred at the sound.
The Angel watched as a young woman in tight jeans and a blue, white, and red halter-top t-shirt opened one glaring red eye.
Mick only caught a glimpse of the eye, as, at the same moment, a mass of brown ginger dreadlocks fell over the woman’s face.
Mick averted his face in disgust, only to watch a three foot tall rat run up to his table carrying his food.
“Here ya go daddy-o,” the rat said putting down a plate of food and a large steaming espresso. The froth genteelly swayed back and forth, covered in cinnamon and brown sugar.
“What the Hell are you?” the Angel asked in a tone that he meant to convey included an implied threat of species extermination. The tone the Angel actually achieved suggested that far from species war, the Angel just liked to whine.
“Folk hero,” the rat said.
The Angel looked blank.
“You know, a fictional character that makes an impression on the popular consciousness,” the rat said tapping his nametag.
“Oh, right, you’re that Ratso Rizzo guy,” Mick said. “Folk hero?”
“Ain’t it flaming marvelous,” the rat said. “Ralph Rizzo, the Rat, actually.”
“Sorry pardon,” the Angle said without enthusiasm.
“Granted, I’m sure,” said Ralph Rizzo. “And yes, a folk hero, like Babe the Blue Ox.”
The Angel continued to look blank. He had taken Blankness as a double proficiency at Angel College, and was extremely adapt at it.
“For the love of the Son,” the rat said. “You guys really are that thick aren’t you?”
“Didn’t you play in those moppet movies?” Mick asked.
“Ah, yeah,” the rat said noncommittally. “That’s me, a small million year old kid with 17 movies, and seven different television series. I’m bloody famous I am.”
“Was,” the Angel corrected.
“Once famous, always famous,” the rat insisted, “just ask Ringo.”
“Who’s Anthony Eden?”
“He was famous once,” the Angel said.
“Who cares?” The Rizzo asked.
“What’s that,” Mick said pointing at a semi-spherical lump of chocolate on the plate.
“Dark chocolate truffle with fruit inside,” Rizzo said.
“Chocolate is sinful,” the Angel said primly.
Rizzo shrugged and popped the chocolate truffle into his mouth. “Your fucking loss mate,” the rat said through dark chocolate lips. “Oh and raspberry too.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t want it,” the Angel complained.
“You want it back?” Rizzo asked sticking a dark sludgy tongue out at the Angel.
“No, that’s alright.”
“You complain a lot, you know that?” Rizzo said, “a whole lot. You’ve the whole fucking universe at your feet and all you do is complain.” The rat turned and walked off back to the kitchen.
Mick looked around.
Jim Kerr, Robbie Grey, and Robert Smith refereed HeroScape games. Deep Blue took strategy notes from a game between Viswanathan Anand and Wilhelm Steinitz. Half a dozen goddesses dressed in simple purple muslin gowns with a white sash across their chests sat around a table talking just slightly too loud about their Scions, ex-husbands, and mutual friends. And over in one corner sat Peter Lorre, smoking a cigarette, and rehearsing lines.
“Hey man, you going to eat that man?” asked a low-pitched dull voice coming from the table beside Mick’s.
Mick looked over to see a pale unhealthily skinny man in torn jeans and a dirty red New York Jets t-shirt sitting next to the slumped mass of ginger dreadlocks.
“I’m really hungry man and could really use some help man, it’d be like a major karma boost for you too man,” the man said.
Mick looked down at his El Cheapo Burrito, sighed, and pushed his lunch away from him towards the stranger.
“All right, total score man,” the man said, rising quickly from his chair and moving over to Mick’s table. After shoving several bites into his mouth, the man stuck out his hand to the Angel and said, “I’m Saki, who are you?”
The Angel looked politely at the man’s hand and then took another sip of his espresso.
Saki shrugged and went back to shovelling his face.
“Save some for me,” the mass of ginger dreadlocks said.
“Better hurry-up babe,” Saki said.
The mass of ginger dreadlocks extended its scared arms and bruised legs, stood, steadied itself on the table, yawned, and shuffled over to sit down next to Saki.
“This here’s Blossom,” Saki informed the Angel, pushing a little less than half of the El Cheapo Burrito over to his companion.
Mick smiled and continued sipping his espresso.
“Dude,” Saki said. “Do you like talk or what man?”
“I won’t bother,” Blossom said. “Don’t you know an Angel when you’re looking at one?”
“Oh,” Saki said. “Well, thanks anyway, Miss-tar.”
The Angel stoically continued sipping his one obvious vice until it was gone. He then stood, shoved his book under his arm, nodded to the two at his table, and left the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe.
“What a jerk,” Blossom said while scratching at one of the blisters on her left arm.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Saki said. “He did give us breakfast. Man like that can’t be all bad.”
Saki looked around the café, stood, and ambled over to another table. “Hey man, can I bum a smoke?”
When Mick stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the Shoppe, he had only two things on his mind: junkies and a ride to the London Station.
And breakfast, the Angel thought.
“Excuse me,” the Angel said to a scrawny pale kid with long dirty blond hair pulled back in underneath a black skullcap, standing next to a stocky man with a beard, shoulder length brown hair, and a backward baseball cap. “Do you know if the Deoradháin Café happens to be around here today?”
“Yeah, I know,” the kid said spinning around and knocking the book out of the Angel’s hand.
The Angel and the stocky man almost collided going down for the book.
The skinny kid pushed the Angel before he got his book, and said; “What’s it to ya, ya punk?”
“I would like for you,” the Angel said forcing his tone level and calm, “to tell me, where the Deoradháin Café is.”
The stocky man handed the book back to the Angel.
“Okay man, like will you hold my duster first?” the pale skinny kid asked, pulling off his duster.
“Ah, sure, why?” asked the Angel as he took the heavy trench coat.
“So it’ll turn into Angel Dust,” the pale skinny kid said, laughing and punching his friend’s shoulder.
The stocky man with a beard smiled and tapped the Angel’s shoulder.
“Yes?” ask the Angel turning around.
The stocky man with a beard smiled began to sign a complicated sentence.
“Why does the fish ride a bicycle?” the Angel asked.
The stocky man with a beard nodded.
“No clue,” the Angel said.
The stocky man with a beard signed some more.
“Because it opened up the refrigerator and said apple butter?” the Angel interpreted. “I don’t get it.”
The stocky man with a beard signed, shrugged, and lit a cigarette.
“Oh, never mind,” the pale kid said with a frown. “Give me my duster.”
The Angel gave the pale kid his duster.
“Look, it’s over that way,” the pale kid said indicating one smooth stone paths that led away from the Elysion Library Coffee Shoppe back towards the main entrance of the Elysion Library. “Follow the sidewalk until you see the statue of Beverly Cleary and turn right there. Then go up to the statue of Mao Zedong and make a left. A little while after you pass the statue of Jessamyn West, you’ll see the Deoradháin Café. At least, that’s where I saw it last.”
“Mao Zedong,” the Angel said, metaphorical ice crystals forming around the words, “As in Chairman Mao Zedong?”
“Yep, that’s him,” the pale scrawny kid said. “Him and Beverly Cleary and Jessamyn West and all the really important librarians have statues around here. Shit, there’s even a statue of Laura Bush somewhere. The Angels keep hiding poor Laura under a bush for some reason though. So yeah, all of ‘em except Nancy Pearl. Hat said she wasn’t holding with that sort of thing, not now, not ever, she said.”
The Angel grunted, turned around, and walked into the thick chest of the Hellspawn Phu.
“The Mistress of the House of Books presents her compliments,” Yūko White said stepping around the massive bulk of the Hellspawn. The pink tassels of her white knitted kitten hat bobbed around her smooth slim jaw line.
Mildly stunned, Mick reached out and took the bundle from Yūko White’s hands.
“Yeah,” growled Phu. “And we came all the way out here to give it to you so shut your fucking mouth and say Thank-you.”
Mick stared at quivering tentacles. He forced himself to relax, rather than to go for the Holy Swords concealed by his coat.
“I said-” Phu started, but stopped as Yūko White held up the palm of her exquisite little hand.
“How can one, how you said ‘shut your fucking mouth,’ and say ‘thank you’ at same time?” Yūko White asked Phu.
The Hellspawn thought for a moment.
“I don’t know,” he confessed.
“Let us go for a milkshake and consider this,” Yūko White said, turned, and walked into the Shoppe.
“Well, all right, Sir,” Mick said with overt sarcasm.
“That’s Ph’thrghn’msru,” the Hellspawn lately calling itself Ph’thrghn’msru said.
“Phursragh?” Mick asked.
“Na, Ph’thrghn’msru,” the Hellspawn said.
“I can’t say that,” the Angel said.
“And neither can anybody else,” Ph’thrghn’msru said with a grin. “That’s pretty much the point.”
Ph’thrghn’msru, like many creatures, things, denizens, or whatever, of the Celestial planes believe that to name a thing is to one, get its attention, and two, maybe even control it. This is based on the prudent observation that that is what the Creator does, which is true. However, very few others have the power to get a creation’s attention and you can just forget about control it. Still, it gives license to the lowercase-c creators of monsters like Hellspawns to make-up such interesting names as Ph’thrghn’msru. Don’t you think monsters should have such interesting names?
“Come on, Ph’thrghn’msru,” Yūko White said, pronouncing tones that only the Celestial immortals could hear. “I’m hungry. I’m thinking garden pizza.”
“Yeah, what she said,” Ph’thrghn’msru said jabbing his finger in the Angel’s chest. Phu then turned, folded several tentacles over each other, and left trailing his own personal Mistress of the Universe.
The Angel unwrapped the bundle and stared down at the book for a long time.
It was a very, very, very, long time.
Entire new clichés evolved and crawled into the rubbish bin of linguistical history before the Angel spoke thus:
“And about damn time too,” Mick finally muttered. “I thought I was going to have to leave without it. Freaking Scions.”