I turned to see Parker standing near the mouth of the alleyway. He wore an expression of exhaustion and disgust.
“Do I know you?” I asked, touching a finger to my lips. He snatched me by my collar and yanked me toward him. I always knew he was strong, but I’d never pegged him as capable of manhandling me. “Ah. Yes. I suppose I do recognize you, after all.”
“What. The hell. Was that?” Parker panted. “We are partners and you just bailed on me back there!”
“I’m sorry; was there a question in there? The only one you asked already had an answer following it.”
His face purpled. “I should kill you!” A vein on his temple throbbed. His fingers twitched around his gun. For a moment I wondered if he was truly contemplating a quick and easy murder right there on the spot.
And then Cazael shrieked nearby, and our concerns changed quickly.
“We can deal with the sensibility of killing me later,” I remarked. “For now we have to figure out how to stop this thing before something horrible happens.”
Parker’s eyes narrowed. “We’re going to deal with it.”
“Yes, good. Now: where is Leon?”
Parker sighed. “Last I saw of him, he was running after the thing, guns blazing like some kind of cowboy. I couldn’t keep up. Where did you find this guy?”
“I didn’t. He hired me.” I twitched at a sudden unearthly shriek, only a matter of blocks away. “Leon is the top enforcer for the Handsome. So yeah, he’s a pretty bad dude. If we are gonna do anything to kill that thing, we will need him.”
Gunshots echoed in the same direction. Parker’s eyebrows raised. “Will he need us?”
“Maybe as a distraction. Otherwise probably not. Ergo: Bad Dude.”
Parker blinked. “I’m not sure you used that word right.”
“What? What word?”
“Ergo.” He scratched at his cheek in thought. “Yeah, you used it wrong. It means hence ortherefore. ‘Otherwise, probably not. Therefore:Bad dude.’ See? It makes no sense.”
I thought about it and frowned at him. “Oh, shut up. Bigger fish to fry at the moment.”
“Says the guy who ran away screaming at the first sign of danger.”
“There was no screaming,” I retorted. “That would have attracted attention.”
One of the members of the crowd cleared his throat and raised his hand. Parker and I turned toward him. He was a little old guy that might’ve been on a morning stroll when my trio pissed off an ancient, murderous demon. A sweatband encircled his spotted pate. “Um, pardon me, but: what is going on?”
“A monster from Hell is on the loose,” Parker said, raising his gun in a heroic pose. “We are going to stop it.”
“Ah,” replied the old man, doubtful. He merged back into the crowd. The dark-skinned man raised his hand. It reminded me of third grade.
“Yes?” I asked, impatient.
“While I’m glad you’re going to stop whatever the hell that thing was, what are we supposed to do?”
“Hiding is good,” I replied.
“Will that thing eat us?” demanded another. “I don’t wanna be eaten!”
“Unless you’re wearing butter and maple syrup, you should be fine,” I snapped.
“Why are you dressed like George Washigton?” inquired another.
I sighed. “C’mon Parker, let’s get this thing before I change my mind and decide to use these morons as human shields.”