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6:45 am Sam’s Bar
I woke up the same way I fell asleep- almost drunk and sitting on a stool in Sam’s new bar. I inhaled deeply while scratching my stomach around my belly button and made sure to suck in as much air as I could, since you never know when you’re gonna need it. When I was as full of air as I could be, I stopped rubbing my stomach and started on my eyes.
Nothing feels quite as good as the first eye rub of the day. There’s just something about it that keeps me coming back every morning. I usually start by rubbing with my palms, then switch over to the back of my hands. When that’s done I curl them up (my hands, not my eyes) and use the pad between my thumb and forefinger until I’m done. It takes as long as it takes. There’s no rushing it. There’s no reason to. Waking up is delicate and mysterious. Best not to mess with it.
When I finished with the rubbing, I blinked several times. After enough blinks, my vision cleared itself of the morning fog and I took a look around. I didn’t feel like getting off my stool just yet, so I started bending my head side to side while stretching my neck a bit. Still feeling sleepy, I held my hands up so I looked like someone trying to imitate a goal post and made a face like I hadn’t gone to the bathroom for months and twisted side to side from my waist while making weird moaning, yawning, almost zombie-like noises. This induced a pretty decent head rush and I found myself looking at thousands of tiny silver stars. They swarmed in from the sides, converged over my field of vision and began swirling in a circular pattern. After the tiny dots finished their elaborate dance, they faded away revealing to me my surroundings once again.
I waited for the “Wonka whooooo wubbby wub” noise to fade away before firing off one more yawn. When I finished that I shook my head and let my mouth make a flapping sound – just in case.
Waking up after sleeping isn’t easy. Nor is it simple. Hell- it’s not even guaranteed to work. Lots of things can go wrong while a person is walking back from the Land of Nod. It doesn’t stop once consciousness is restored either. Once the eyes are open and the brain hands over breathing control to the mind and your muscles are once again under your authority, you have to lure your soul back into your body. This is usually accomplished through a series of stretches, strange noises, and yawning. Usually.
There’s always the possibility that even after all that rig-a-ma-roll, a person’s soul will still refuse to come home. There’s only one remedy when that happens. Coffee. Coffee, and if one is so inclined, smoking. That does the trick every time.
I was feeling pretty lucky this morning. I felt my soul slide back into my body sometime during the final yawn. It made a slight popping sound as it entered the top of my head. This made coffee optional and smoking more so, but no less appealing. For the first time today I noticed I was alone.
The bar was dark, with sunlight peeking in through the bottom of the front windows. I could see just fine as it was, but some more light would’ve been nice. My empty glass was still in front of me and Jax’s was next to me. I wonder where he went? I knew I was alone but called out anyway just to make sure.
“Hey Sam,” I said to nobody. There was, predictably, no response.
“I wonder when he’ll be in?” I said half out loud and half in my head. I was ready to stand up and feeling pretty good about it. I assumed the bathrooms were in the rear of the bar and headed that way to investigate my assumption. I found my way off my stool with relative ease and hoped the rest of my expedition would be just as uneventful. It was at this time that I noticed that my mouth was a little dry and my upper back was stiff from sleeping on a bar stool. Other than those two things and not having any cigarettes, I was in tip-top shape.
There was a time when sleeping slumped over at a bar or desk was my normal mode of sleeping. I’d go weeks at a time without laying down for any reason other than to sneak under things. When I started sleeping flat in a bed again, it took awhile to get everything in and outside of me used to being horizontal, as opposed to vertical. It was worth it though. Horizontal sleeping has a few major advantages over the vertical style, namely the ease with which blankets can be used. Blankets and sheets add a much-needed touch of civility to bedtime. It’s something you tend to appreciate more after a few years of sleeping upright.
I paused briefly to stretch my back and re-rub my eyes. The bathroom was right where I expected it to be. After you’ve been in as many bars as I have, you can usually just let your sub-conscious auto-generate a mental map for you. It works more often than not. While I was washing my face it occurred to me that Danny might have a hard time fitting all his handlers in here. This new bathroom was considerably smaller than the one in Sam’s old bar. I’m sure he’ll work it out; he’s a resourceful fellow if nothing else.
The water was cool and I enjoyed holding my hands under it, feeling the bolts of what seemed like cold lightning shoot up my wrists into my forearm. Sometimes they’d get all the way to my elbows before fizzing out. After I spent more than enough but not so much that I felt weird about it time enjoying my hand washing, I turned my attention to the toilet.
I flushed the toilet with a sense of total satisfaction, after which I collected my hat and coat and left.
9 am Outside Walking
I took my time on the walk home. I had nothing on or in my schedule today. That was fine by me, everyone needs a day off now and then to re-calibrate the mental machinery and those in my profession are no exception. Somewhere between Sam’s Bar and my office I stopped at a corner store for smokes and coffee. Even though I officially had the day off, I still had things to do. There was the matter of installing a new crime boss that still needed to be taken care of. It wasn’t exactly my responsibility to do so, but I was responsible for removing the old crime boss and figured that if I found a new one, my life would be easier.
I was hoping Frank Stein would want the job. Golems are good at crime. They understand it’s a necessary component to a society and aren’t greedy about it. They draw their strength from fitting into the whole of the framework around them and not from cannibalizing it. For example, the Golem-owned whore houses worked a bit different than the standard ones. They never forced a soul into the work, for one. For two, they made sure all their whores went to the doctor once a month. On top of that, they background screened every client and set aside 10% percent of each worker’s earnings for college tuition or trade school for when their mileage was up. It was a sustainable, environmentally friendly, holistic approach to the crime lifestyle. I heard the Steins are from Vermont, I wonder if that had anything to do with their crime style?
They worked all of their rackets in much the same way and it proved to be extremely profitable, more often than not. Other crime families had a bad opinion of the Golems, but it was mostly professional jealously. The Golem clan was the richest crime syndicate on the East Coast. I didn’t know enough about their international interests to comment on them but assumed they did just as well on the other side of the pond.
I was hoping to speak with Frank Stein and work out a deal before some other gang with a less stellar reputation moved in. So far, aside from a few promising bits of information from my gang of street urchins, I’d heard nothing from or about him. It wasn’t a problem that I needed to deal with today, but I wanted to get the ball rolling before taking on a new case or falling asleep and having another weird dream.
By the time I finished my second smoke, I was outside my office. At this point, I normally take my keys out of my pocket and use the correct one to unlock my door. I didn’t need to do that this time because the door was already open. It was also broken. I pulled my gun from my front pocket and pushed the door just open enough to fit through.
My office was a mess. My filing cabinet was on its side, all my desk drawers were empty and my files everywhere, and they even broke the light bulbs. I took a quick look around and saw my enchanted lie detecting skull was still sitting on the shelf. That was a good indication that the point of the break-in wasn’t to take my stuff, just to scare me. I took a deep breath and noticed for the first time that the smell of shit hung heavy in the air. I wrinkled my nose and took a closer look at my desk, where I found the olfactory offense steaming in a pile on top of it. There was a note next to it:
Stop looking for Frank. We have him and we’re taking this town.
Desmond and Patricia Wolfmin
I hate werewolves almost as much as I hate mummies but not as much as I hate being hungover so I took my lie detecting skull and went home to take a nap. This would have to wait.
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