I was beginning to think Hecate was out of her mind or that she really just hated us with the fiery intensity of a million Foreman grills. Three job solo in a single day was an absolute case of reaper abuse. After coffee, a robbery and a godly-kidnapping, The ladies soon went their own way, Beatrice had single reap; something about an accident at the Zoo which sounded like a fifty-fifty chance of being either zanny or gory, while Cole shared the same level of overburdening as I did. Hecate I suspected was going to kill time kicking puppies, sneering at people with an air of superiority or whatever people like her did to be such gigantic balls of sunshine.
First was a woman choking to death on a crouton she'd swallowed whole in an italian restaurant, easy-peasy; volunteer for first aid and give her CPR instead of Heimlich's maneuver. The EMT though I was just a clueless moron.
Second was a little more tricky; stray bullet for a man who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was messy, hitting the belly rather than any of the quick-death area, forcing me to hold figuratively hold hand through the process until he was dead enough. I had to clean up three times before I felt clean again.
Third was a heart attack. This one was a real pain...
Shades are a mixed bags, some are quickly whisked away to wherever shades go, others hang around insisting that you fix their mess for them. He was the latter.
It all started at the local atm. The little reaper-handbook can be finicky in how much details it give you. Sometimes just a name and a date so you have to find and stalk them, sometimes it gives you just a location and a date (So you need to prowl the place looking for signs) and sometimes you win the jackpot; like when it told me to reap a woman in a red mercedes on the corner of 85th street and Roosevelt avenue. This was a type two situation. The atm of a grocery store around 5PM.
There are few things more suspicious than an 19ish years old guy hanging around an ATM for an hour, quite a few really uncomfortable people used it and a cop definitely spent a minute staring at me weighting the pros and cons of arresting me before walking off to answer his radio. Finally it happened, a slightly obese man that was sweeting prefusedly despite the cool of the evening, he started getting his money, and throwing accusing looks toward me, when he grabbed his torso, with a choke complaint. He stumbled and I grabbed his arm, and his hand feeling the reaper mojo at work. He went limp and was dead very quickly.
People around started to notice and I screamed for them to call an ambulance. I walked away from the body in a kind of panic sitting down by the corner. The EMT came and took the body, briefly questioning me, thankfully they weren't the same from earlier, that would have been very shady. Eventually the shade appeared in front me. (Another thing I hate; Shades who take their sweet-ass time to form)
"Where am I? What happened?"
"I hate to break it to you, but you're dead. Had you been quicker you'd have seen the EMT carry you off."
"I can't be dead, not now, not like this."
"Trust me, it has a tendency to sneak up on you. Right now the best thing is just to move on, you don't want to stick around, trust me on that."
"Please, I need to see my daughter, I need to apologize to her."
"You can't. Nobody can see you."
"But you can."
"I'm the exception."
"I saw you before this... You have to apologize for me."
"What am I supposed to say? Oh hello, sorry to break it to you, your dad is dead, his ghost says hi and that he's very sorry."
"I have to do something, She works at the university, you can get to her... I can't just end it like this."
"What did you even do?" I asked. He seemed embarrassed, as much as shades can be said to emote.
"I find out she was dating another woman and didn't react well..."
"Oh gods save us... Okay, I'll try something, when it's done you'll have to leave. What's her favorite type of sweets?"
"Strawberrry Cheese cake, I believe."
"Okay, just follow me." I walked inside the grocery, going strait for the cake section, I got one and got it wrapped in a cardboard box. I paid with my last twenty and we left, stopping at a stack of dirt bags left outside on the curb for some reason.
"What should I write?" I asked.
"Pumpkin, I'm so sorry, please come home with Lisa."
"It's how her mother called her."
I shrugged and wrote it down on the box, then heading to the university which wasn't far but I'd already walked just about everywhere today, my bus pass was out of date and I had gotten a bad streak of reaps I could steal from.
Once there, he informed me that she worked the nightshift in the library, but first I headed to the locker room, going to Locker number 27. Lockers were a great place to stash stuff; Spare clothes, illegal goods, stolen stuff, fake ids. Surveillance was often minimal and rates were cheap. I changed from my clothes into a dark-blue jumpsuit, sticking a delivery company logo on the chest. I then made my way to the Library. She was easy to find, with a thick red mane of hair and a rather revealing only partially buttoned jacket. The 'sexy librarian' looks suited her.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for Simone Carter, reception told me she'd be here."
"Yes, that'd be me."
"I was asked to deliver this to you." I said, placing the box on her desk.
"Oh thank you." She said, opening her purse and handing me a fiver. "For your trouble."
"Thank you M'am." I said, lifting my hat in salutation.
I walked further away and hid behind the glass entrance door. The spirit stayed there for a moment before joining me.
"Do you have family?" He asked out of the blue.
"Not really, it's part of being like I am."
"That sounds very sad."
"Well, I did what you asked, will you leave now?"
In answer; The spirit vanished before me, walking into the proverbial sunset I couldn't see. Before he did, I could see the echo of spectral tears wetting his cheeks. On the other side of the room, his daughter's gaze moved away from her computer screen looks around the room as if she'd heard someone calling her name, before looking back as if nothing had happened.
I made my way out, and for a while I stumbled around town; aimlessly, thinking, remembering, brooding until I stopped at a gas station. An old phone booth standing in the narrow alley between it and a closed down taco joint. I walked in, stumbling around my pockets for change to put in. It rang many times, making me fear nobody would answer, I began putting it back when a woman answered.
"Hello?" She asked, her voice sounding tired and weak.
"Hi..." I muttered more than anything.
"Who is this?"
"Who are you?"
"It's Me!" I said, knowing not to push too hard.
"Ooh." She said with a hint of understanding, the vestigial connection in her minds activating. "It's been a while, how have you been?"
"Not very good. Works been killing me..." I said with a dry, tired chuckle.
"Maybe you should take some time off? I know it's not the best time, but have you visited your father yet?"
"I know you didn't part on good terms, but you know he loved you..."
As she spoke, I saw a figure in a dark suit approach the cabin, knocking against the plexiglass with two knuckles. In his other hand he had a baseball cap stuck between his fingers.
"Listen, I have to go, I love you..." I said before hanging up. I placed my back against the cabin wall and pathetically slide down until I reached a near fetal position, half-heartedly lighting a cigarette. The man opened the door and gave me that best 'Fatherly-guilt ray shooting stare.'
"Go fuck yourself, Hades... I don't care anymore... I'm just tired... Tired of this, of pretending to be tough, of pretending there's any kind of reward waiting for me... I just want to be alone or maybe I don't want to be alone anymore, fuck, I don't know anymore."
"Companionship." Was all he answered.
"It's what you want."
"And how am I supposed to get that? From the people I can never share anything but lies with? With a mother who can't remember me ninety-nine percent of the time? With those loons I'm supposed to call a team who'll be gone in a few months?"
"Start here; Go see your father."
"And what, guilty trip myself over a headstone about how I killed him? If he hadn't found out how I paid for it, he would'nt've refused treatment..." I could feel my eyes getting wet.
"Do it and I won't tell anything to Hecate." He said handing me the handerchief that adorned his suit before starting to move away.
"Hey Hades..." He stopped. "You're really cool... The myths don't do you justice..." He smiled fromthe corner of his mouth before putting the hat that didn't match his suit on, fading out of view.
I got up and started walking. Lake View wasn't exactly close, but it was doable and I needed time...