Monday, November 18, 2013

Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Allison was not someone who used swore a lot. She very carefully distributed her vulgarity across her near 65 years (in June) on this planet, averaging maybe two a year, three when she was married to her fifth husband. Once, when gardening in sandals against the advice of her sister she cut off the tip of her pinky toe and still only managed a “Gosh, darn it!” on the way to the ER, despite the fact that no one was their to  drive her and she had to push down on the gas pedal with the foot of her injured toe. Calling an ambulance would be too much of a bother and Allison was anything of a bother.

So when she would later tell her sister that she just saw the “Fucking Damnedest thing ever” it piqued just about anyone who knew her, including the man that would become her seventh husband for three weeks, longer than the time they knew each other.

It all started when she was working her shift at The Dnier, which had been around forever. The Dnier owed itself to a spelling mistake on the forms to fill out the original sign, but then some hip New Yorkers passing through Alabama on their way to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Allison, only 22 at the time didn’t have the heart to tell them it was May, and Mardi Gras wouldn’t start for another 10 months) thought it was a hip foreign food establishment, so they stopped in. They were right that they had never eaten food like this before, but it was 100% American. They were particularly enamoured with the “Chili-Cheez Fryes” which they swore had to be some sort of Parisian Delicacy, but in fact, was created because the owner could pour chili over fried potatoes better than he could spell, but only marginally so. 

While Allison was working her usual midnight shift, two men with a white cat entered. There didn’t seem to be anything special about them, but she would later learn their names were “David Mars and David Kaplan” according to that nice Mr. Whelan would would stop by and ask if she’d seen them. They seemed to be arguing about directions.

“I’m telling you, we should have gotten off at the last exit!” the man later identified as Kaplan said.

“And I’m telling you, we need to stick to the back roads or they’re going to find us.”

“The don’t know where to look for us. This is not a spy movie. They do not have a super-secret tracker on the back of that car. And why couldn’t James Franco have given us a better car! That one is barely held together. I swear there is a piece of duct tape over the check engine light!” 

The two men took a booth towards the back of the restaurant, and Allison could see the car was a pretty ugly one. It wasn’t as ugly as the color of rust but also wasn’t as pretty as the color of day old blood, it was probably made sometime in the late 1980’s and the odometer had reset to zero at least twice. She wondered how they even made it this far in that thing. This far being across the parking lot.

They set the cat on the table. Most places you couldn’t do something like that, but the Dnier’s sanitary rules were more lax than some.

“Hi, a bowl of milk for my friend here, and I’ll have a Coke,” Mars said. The cat sat up fully, staring at her with his blue and yellow eyes. He knew that something horrible was about to go down, but wasn’t prepared to do anything about it.

“I’ll have a Coke, too,” Kaplan replied.

Allison wandered off to get the coke-like substance they sold from a red fountain with white writing on it. No one seemed to question what type of soda came out of the machine if they didn’t wash it.

“Look, we still have some time before the ritual,” Mars said, “I just think it’s safer to take our time to get there.”

“And I’m just saying that at any moment that car is going to fly apart as it’s being held together by duct tape and my constant prayers to a God that I wasn’t sure existed before two Angels told us to go on a mystic quest,” Kaplan replied.

Allison returned with the Coke-like sodas and the bowl of milk. All three men at the table started drinking their various liquids, and Allison decided she’d come back in a minute for their orders, despite the fact that there was no one else in the restaurant. 

The two men continued their arguing, Kaplan throwing in mentions of various cartoon characters and someone named “Mordor” while Mars tried to justify taking the longest route to get to Louisiana. At one point they mentioned someone named Evie that Mars seemed to be very fond of, but at that moment it sounded like she was going to be mad. 

The two men were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t notice a young disheveled woman later identified as Elizabeth enter the diner. Allison never understood the phrase “looked like hell” until this woman came in limping, clothes dirty and hair askew. Hamlet did, and tried for a minute to get their attention, but it was futile. Despite all his cat-like instincts, he figured this was something he was going to have to get involved in. Later. After the milk that he decided to start lapping up loudly. 

Elizabeth, who at this point had stolen four different cars and walked a good twenty miles to keep the police off her back, was disheveled, angry, and flat out tired of trying to figure out where to go next. Nicolas Cage was surely going to be upset that she had failed. Mars and Kaplan would probably be out for revenge. And she didn’t want to think what would happen when Jacob Whelan found her. He did not tolerate failure very well. Plus, he was uber nice about it until he killed you, which was more terrifying that torture.

She sat at the counter and ordered a cup of coffee, mentally calculating which credit card probably wasn’t flagged for being stolen just yet.

Mars and Kaplan now had a map out and were trying to find the best route, angrily pointing at the map.

Hamlet, enjoyed his milk.

Allison continued to pretend to wipe down the counter so she wouldn’t have to talk to anyone just yet. 

It was then that a third set of headlights briefly shined into the Dnier, this time three people got out: Two men and a woman. One of the men was identified later as taking the name “Kyle” while the other man was not identified until much, much later and not by the nice Mr. Whelan, but by the police. The young woman was named Poe, and all three wore strange robes like they were trying to be wizards or something. The men immediately took a booth on the opposite side of the diner from Mars and Kaplan, while the woman ran into the bathroom. Later, Allison would say that she swore she heard Poe talking on a cell phone.

It was an interesting tableau. Before the other people entered the Dnier but after Kaplan yelled, “WE HAVE TO KEEP A LOW PROFILE!” the two men hunched down in their booth and lowered their voices. Elizabeth, not wanting anyone to see her, was sitting as far as possible from anyone else, stolen hat pulled down over her eyes. And Kyle was trying to find out if he could get a burger with an egg on it while the other man, the one wearing a darker hood, tried to convince everyone to get an entire pie to share with the table. It was when Poe re-joined the group that everything happened.

Poe, clearly turning off a cell phone, piqued the interest of the Man in the Dark Hood. “Who were you calling?”

“No one,” Poe responded.

Elizabeth turned around, “Poe?”

Then, several things happened at once:

-Mars and Kaplan, having heard Elizabeth’s voice, briefly stuck their heads up from the map they were looking at.

-Hamlet, knowing their was danger, leapt over the booth and onto Elizabeth, knocking over the Coke-like soda in the process.

-Kyle and the Man in the Dark Hood stood up and pulled out tasers from the folds of their long robes.

-Allison, knowing that something was about to go down, kneeled behind the counter.

-Carl, the cook (and Allison’s second husband), hadn’t gotten an order in over three hours and was fast asleep with his feet propped up on a box of canned potatoes. 

Hamlet unleashed his four paws of fury on Elizabeth, knocking her over onto a nearby table sending cutlery everywhere. She tried to fight him off, but he was a tough little cat, and he had spent too much time riding around in a car not able to get his balance and was cranky. It was midnight. It was time for his post-dinner/pre-midnight snack nap.

It was Kaplan who got up first and grabbed a loose chair from a nearby table. “I’ll grab the weapons!” he yelled at the top of his lungs and threw the chair at the window, unaware that it was plexiglass. The chair bounced back, just in enough time for Kyle to stick his arm out with the taser. The impact of the airborne chair spun him around, shoving the taser deep into the ribs of the Man in the Dark Hood, causing him to fall. 

Robes were very comfortable. It wasn’t until he donned his first Cult Robe that the Man in the Dark Hood fully understood the uselessness of pants. He reveled every day that his legs were no longer shackled by the conformity of binding cloth, but it still covered up enough that he didn’t have to be ashamed of his bulky body. However, because most of the people he had been up against were either easily swayed or not very good at what they did, he hadn’t had to move in Cult Robes like this before. Which is why, when he was accidentally tasered by Kyle, his first instinct was to try to correct his body before it hit the ground. However, the combination of the now Coke-like Soda that was on the ground, the thick robes that wrapped around his foot, and the loss of muscle control meant that his brain had exactly zero control over his body. He tumbled to the ground, taser swinging wildly, zapping Kyle in the foot.

They both fell in a crumpled heap of arms, legs, tasers, and robes. The chair that had struck Kyle a few seconds ago now ricochet off the counter, and smashed Kyle in the head as the final insult. Both men groaned as Mars and Kaplan stared at the mess at their feet. 

“I meant to do that,” Kaplan responded.

“You know what, I’m not going to argue this one,” Mars responded.

It was then that they saw a white streak dart past them, and under the table. Hamlet was sitting there, soaking wet. They looked up to see Elizabeth, covered in fresh Hamlet-provided scratches brandishing a knife, standing next to Mars and Kaplan holding a taser in one hand, and an empty pitcher in the other. Kaplan kneeled to face the cat.

“Water? Really?”

Hamlet would have shrugged if he could. He was a cat. 

“There are two ways we go about this,” Elizabeth said, “You get in the car and come with us to New Orleans, or we kill you here and now and save your corpses for the next pair of idiots those angels send after us.”

“Wait, you’re going to take us TO your evil lair, where the ritual is happening, alive? Isn’t that kind of a dumb idea? Have you guys even ever watched a Bond movie?” Kaplan said.

Mars smacked him in the head.

“He’s right, we kill them now and that’s the end of it,” Poe replied.

“No, The Cage was very clear: We bring them in alive,” Elizabeth replied, blood oozing from her scratches, “He wants a chat with them.”

Poe shrugged. She wasn’t one to argue with The Cage.

“What should we do about your friends?” Elizabeth pointed at the heap of Kyle and Man in the Dark Hood that was still collected on the floor. Kyle let out a small groan.

“Let the police deal with them. That one,” she pointed a sharp finger at what she assumed was the Man in the Dark Hood’s left leg but was actually Kyle’s right arm, “has already been fired for going behind his back.”

The Man in the Dark Hood would have been extremely disappointed had he regained consciousness. He would be disappointed later as Jacob Whelan gave him the news from his jail cell, and he had been stripped of his comfortable, comfortable robes.

        It wasn't until they had been gone for twenty minutes that Allison finally stuck her head up from the counter, and called her sister to describe what had just happened.

        Carl, not getting to this point in his life without adapting the ability to sleep anywhere, didn't learn of this entire event until the next morning when he got off his shift.

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