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A Mouse in the Wall

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A Mouse in the Wall, Part 3

Detective Meyer was waiting in the usual spot when El got there. “Got somethin’?”

“Not what you want, no – I keep tellin’ you Jasp is clean, Dick, and you keep not listenin’ to me. Heard somethin’ else, though.”

The detective raised an annoyed eyebrow. “The suspense is killing me.”

“Missin’ kids.” That got him to stop being annoyed in a hurry, and El smirked. “Yeah, thought you’d be interested. Word was goin’ around that a couple of little kids turned up down on Grand, a boy and a girl. The girl was goin’ through withdrawal real bad, and some dumbass thought he’d fix her up with some happy juice.”

In spite of himself, Meyer winced. The drugs half the kids in the projects were being kept on by DCS were some nasty shit that didn’t play well with other drugs. They’d already had three deaths this year thanks to well-meaning parents giving their Pink Pilled children cold medicine. “They were at the Toybox?” His informant nodded. “Shit. Anyone say how they got down there?”

El shrugged. “An H lease, what else?”

Meyer winced again. He knew what two kids those had probably been, then – they’d had a missing kid case come out of the projects the week before, a weird one where a dead prostitute’s kid they’d originally thought might have been taken in by someone else in the building turned out to have been hiding in the utility access space behind the wall in her apartment. The kid had been gone by the time they’d figured that out, though, and then a neighbor had reported her daughter missing and everyone had just assumed the kids had run away from home – the neighbor’s badly-concealed needle habit hadn’t been thought to figure into it. God-damned heroin-addicted bitch had probably traded off the dead woman’s kid first and then someone down at the Toybox had offered her a sweet lease deal for her own. “So the girl is dead, what about the other one?”

El shrugged again. “Ain’t heard nothin’ – not the circles I run in. Thought you’d want the lead I had, though.”

“Yeah, thanks for that.” The detective handed over a few bills, which his informant pocketed without comment. “If you hear anything else about that, let me know – day or night if it’s about kids, I don’t care if you interrupt my dinner or not. I want to burn the Toybox down more than I want to shut down your boss.”

“Man, we all want the Toybox burned down,” El told him. “That shit ain’t right.”

He faded back off, quickly disappearing into the flow of foot traffic on the sidewalk, and Meyer walked off in the other direction. He was thinking hard. It might be enough, that rumor, it might be just enough to get a warrant for the Toybox, whether it was true or not. It certainly sounded plausible, and a judge would probably think so too. He stuck his hand in his pocket, fingering the little recorder he had stashed there. It ought to be enough.

 

El wandered around for a little while, just enjoying the weather while he made sure he wasn’t being followed, and then headed back to the warehouse. “Dinner’s on me tonight!” he announced as he made his way in. He leaned in the office door, pulling the pencil that was actually a recorder out from behind his ear and handing it to Jasp. “He didn’t say much, but I could see the wheels turnin’ in his head. The pedos down on Grand are in for a bad week.”

“Nobody I know’s gonna cry for ‘em.” Jasp plugged in the recorder and downloaded the file, then played it back. “Yeah, I can hear his gears grinding. Mary’s mama’s gonna be in for it too.”

“I ain’t cryin’ for her either,” El told him. “You find anything else I need to check for the auction?”

“Yeah, that one vase with the pink crystals on it,” Jasp told him. “Mary said they looked like ‘sparkly eyes looking out from the dark’.” El sucked in a shocked breath. “Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction. Little Bit couldn’t see it, he just said they were pink shinies.”

“Oh crap.” El dropped into the folding chair by the door, running his hands over his face. “Crap. She didn’t touch it, did she?” Jasp shook his head, and El sighed. “I’ll check, but it’s probably possessed or somethin’. Was she scared?”

“A little, not too much. But the damn drugs are still holding her back, too.”

“Point. We’ll wait until it’s all out of her system, then I’ll check to see what she’s got so far.” El ran his hands over his face again. “Dammit. You think that’s why the bitch wanted her drugged up?”

“Which one?” was Jasp’s response. He shook his head at the shocked look. “Mama just wanted her to stop gettin’ into things and makin’ noise, probably didn’t care how it was happening…but that social work bitch, her I don’t know about. I know they don’t like magic over there, just like the cops don’t. Might be a reason nobody’s thought of behind them pushin’ the pink pills on all those kids, you know?”

El shuddered. “Would explain why they’re still pushin’ them, even after all the O.D.s they’ve had. I know for a fact the emergency room on Tenth is under orders to misreport as many as they can.” He shook his head. “Jasp, if they’re targeting people that have magic…”

“You know I’ve got your back,” Jasp told him. “Don’t go meetin’ up with Dick the Dick unless it’s in a real public place, though, not anymore. Maybe even not at all for a while, until we’re sure what he’s up to. Pass it off as you needin’ to lay low because of the tip you just gave him. Which probably ain’t a bad idea anyway, because he’ll be sure to spill it down at the Toybox that he got a tip – hell, he’ll probably tell ‘em it came from me.”

That made El roll his eyes. “Dog’s got the hots for you so bad I’m startin’ to wonder if I should tell his wife. We may still have to hide the warehouse, Jasp.”

“I know. Not until we absolutely have to, though.” Which might be sooner, not later, now that the kids were here. Especially Mary, now that they knew what they knew. A thought came to him. “Wait a minute, do you think that’s how the window upstairs got open, El? Could Mary have done that?”

“No.” El was sure, and it showed. “There’s no way – not as drugged-up as she was. I ain’t seen Harry in a while, though…”

He leaned over to put his hand on the worn wood of the doorframe, muttering something under his breath, and a few seconds later a wavering man-shape stuck its head out of the wall. It yawned. “What is it? I’m tired.”

“Yeah, I just bet you are,” El commiserated. “You opened up that window for the kids, Harry?”

“Yeah. Poor scared little things. What’s this city comin’ to, anyway?” The ghost came out a little further, yawning again. He’d been a hefty older man with deep jowls and white hair, and his uniform shirt was rumpled. “That little boy, he knew not to flush the pot to give away that they were here.”

“His mama was a prostitute, she probably taught him to keep it quiet when she had clients in,” Jasp explained. “Thanks for that, though, Harry. I know it does you in to move stuff around.”

Harry waved that off. “They were kids, someone had to help ‘em.” He raised a bushy white eyebrow at El. “The little girl’s one of your kind, I think. What the hell did they do to her? No kid that little gets a habit on their own.”

“Social work down at the projects has ‘em all on doc drugs,” El told him. “Dangerous, nasty shit – Jasp and I were just talkin’ about it. And her mama was givin’ her four times as much as she was supposed to so she could chase her dragon without bein’ interrupted.”

The ghost scowled. “Damn needle addicts.” He yawned again. “If you don’t need anything else,” that was sarcasm, “I’m goin’ back to sleep.”

“Look like you need it,” Jasp said. “Thanks again, Harry.”

Harry waved it off again. “I knew they’d be safe with you boys. City’s goin’ to shit, I tell ya. I even saw some deviant walkin’ around in a dress last week, right out in the open, wearin’ makeup and everything.”

He disappeared back into the wall, and the two young men rolled their eyes. Harry had been a security guard in the old building years and years before Jasp had moved in with his operation, and although he was more on-the-ball than some ghosts when it came to current events – he liked to read the newspaper – some of his opinions about things were still stuck in the much more black-and-white era he’d lived and died in. He hadn’t been a bad man, though, and his presence in the building was an extra layer of security that couldn’t be affected by rolling blackouts. It normally wasn’t considered a good idea to rely on a ghost that way unless you were family somehow, but Jasp was actually paying Harry to do the work. In fresh newspapers, which he stopped to buy at a newsstand on his way to the warehouse every morning. And once Harry was done with them they came in handy for wrapping and packing, so it all worked out.

El was giving his boss a thoughtful look. “You knew those kids needed to stay here, didn’t you?”

Jasp just shrugged. It was his usual response to questions like that, especially when the office door was open. “I was gonna tell you to make a hidey-hole for the kids to stay in during the auction,” he said instead. “But now I think you’d better say in there with ‘em, just in case someone comes lookin’ for you while they think the rest of us will be distracted with business. In fact, I think you should all duck in the night before, spend the night there—and make sure Little Bit has his stuffie with him.”

Reality shifted a little in response to that last part, and El stopped himself from imagining all the ways that ratty-ass stuffed dog being left behind somewhere could have come back to bite them. “I’ll get on it after lunch, Jasp,” was his response. “Right after I check out that vase. Don’t want to forget and get someone cursed.”

“Anyone who’d want that thing must already be cursed—with bad taste.” Jasp snorted. “I almost feel sorry for whatever’s trapped in there, you know?”


This is the end of A Mouse in the Wall, a very small glimpse into a currently in-progress urban fantasy that absolutely doesn’t include pointy hats and wands.

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2 Comments

  • BookWyrm
    BookWyrm

    “It normally wasn’t considered a good idea to rely on a ghost that way unless you were family somehow, but Jasp was actually paying Harry to do the work. In fresh newspapers, which he stopped to buy at a newsstand on his way to the warehouse every morning. And once Harry was done with them they came in handy for wrapping and packing, so it all worked out.”
    !!! Cool:)

    I like all the little – hints? Descriptions? — about the things the characters can do and what the world is like(well, I like it and also the implication bad guys are well written so I don’t like them)

    Thanks for sharing this glimpse! I really enjoyed reading it ^_^

    30 April 2020 at 11:38 pm Reply
    • Goth Kitty Lady
      Goth Kitty Lady

      (My webhost ATE your original comment, I had to copy it from the notification email to put it back where it belonged. Sorry!)

      Thanks! Yes, lots of little hints to the larger universe this fits in. 😉

      30 April 2020 at 11:44 pm Reply

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