Mr. Lore: Papa Bones
I am standing in front of my living room window drinking a energy drink surrounded by moving boxes. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what I read last night. Jed was right. He had a keen criminal mind with the rage and will to use it. His mother died giving birth to him and leaving Jed to be raised my his petty criminal, abusive father. It wasn't long before Jed had is own reputation. Assault, trafficking, lead the greatest hits parade. To his credit, few things stuck and he never did any real time. His longest stretch was a month. Jed seemed to have the idea what the police thought he did and proving what he did was very two different things. Turns out he was right. Jed's biggest scheme was the theft of over two million dollars of drug money from a criminal enterprise that ran a oxy express that ran from Florida to Detroit. After the heist he disappeared for a year. Only to return to kill his friends/ partners in crime.
Why did he do that?
Because they killed him first.
After his rampage. The authorities found Jed's remains in a shallow grave. Since then there have been reports of Jed popping up and distributing some sort of criminal justice. No official groups believe the reports but I know better.
I will admit. I was slightly attracted to Jed.
Just my luck. The man I wanted to bad touch my bathing suit areas is a vengeful ghost.
I rub one of my temples to keep a stress headache at bay.
It doesn't help that I just spoke to Caleb. We didn’t interact much before so it was odd having a conversation with him. I'm not going to lie, it was good seeing him down and humbled. I didn't pry into his past with Mr. Lore. That will come in time. If I push the issue now before I earn his trust he will just lie and keep the truth from me. So right now I just need him to take care of my bachelorette pad grounds. In the end I'm treating my new home and groundskeeper the same.
Keep your friends close and possible traps and spies closer.
My phone vibrates. I pull it out of my pocket and see Betty has sent me a text. Seems something has come up.
No rest for the almost ghost fucking soulless.
It's not long before I pull up to Mr. Lore's. Inside I find Betty in the middle of furious activity.
"There you are!'
Ever since I opened the box containing her essence stone, Betty is no longer constrained and now is a tornado of sunshine. Seems Mr. Lore only cracked open the box. Betty is at her full powers so to speak. Add the fact Betty doesn't need to sleep. Well, she is getting a lot of things done.
Gumdrop walks into the office. I left him with Betty just in case Mr. Lore came back and tried to do something to Betty.
"There is my handsome guard." Betty says as she grabs his face and rubs both sides as Gumdrop's tail wags like crazy.
well. Seems a friendship has been born.
"So whats so important?"
"Ah. Yes. I've been doing some research. We may have a new resource. Seems a couple months ago, a small store opened up here in town.
"You are just now hearing about this? What kind or store?"
"First, it took all I had not to fade away after the box was shut. That one call almost took what was left. By the way, how did that go? We never got around to talking bout it."
"Not well. I’ll tell you later. What kind of store?"
"Thats right. The store. It seems it is occult in nature. Supplies, books. That sort of thing. It is called Papa Bones. Here is the address."
I take the slip of paper.
"Mr. Bones, huh? I'll look into it now. Dude is probably fake as hell but if not we could really use someone that is a expert in these things we look into."
"My thoughts exactly. Go out there and make a new friend." Betty says as she winks.
"I may need a new one since you are trying to steal my dog."
"I can't help if everyone loves me. It s my burden, always has been."
I turn and look at the paper as I walk out. The store isn't too far away. Come to think of it, it shouldn't be hard to find. i think it's the only store on that block. Possibly the first one in years. I hope this dude isn't a wacko. I will find out soon enough. I think as I tear off down the street. Lily rumbling as we head into the essentially abandoned downtown.
Lily slowly rolls to a stop in front of the new store front. Unlike everything around it. The store has fresh paint and non broken windows. The wooden sign hangs above the new awning and simply says. "Papa Bones. Occult and magical supplies."
Well, lets get this over with. Sooner I can suss out if he is fake or not, the sooner I can hunt for a burrito. I haven't had one in forever and long desperately for one.
I stand in front of the windows and look in but the store is dark and dark tapestries hang in front of them. I open the door and a small bell rings. Inside is filled with cabinets with glass doors. All of them stuffed to the gills with flowers, skulls and paraphernalia. Several bookcases sit filled with books. The air is filled with incense, not too heavy but not too light. The perfect amount. In the middle of the store is a circular table with lace laying on top. On the other side of the table is French doors shut. Hiding what is deeper in the building.
I gently say as I walk around.
This time my greeting is answered by a cat's meow. I'm more of a dog type of gal but I don't necessary hate cats.
"Hey buddy." I say followed by some clicking sounds.
I hunker down and hold my hand out.
From somewhere else in the room I hear the cat hiss menacingly and let out a low meow.
"Well. The hell with you. Where is your owner?"
The cat hisses and leaps out of the shadows. It lands on my face scratching and biting. I rip it off of my face and throw it across the room. As soon as its feet hit the ground it jumps again at me. This time I am able to stand up. In hindsight it was a bad move. Now instead of my face it wraps around my thigh and its claws dig in deep. I punch it several times and manage to pry it off of my leg and throw it again. It is too dark in here. I dash a few feet and throw open the tapestries. Light fills the room and it's suddenness stuns the cat. I can finally get a good look at the cat and see it is black. Well… most of it was anyway. It is missing several patches of fur and the exposed skin looks dark gray and rotten. The cat looks at me with empty eye sockets, it opens its toothless mouth and hisses again. I sway back and forth and it's eye sockets follow my every move. The cat unleashes a feral howl and rushes me again. I roll out of the way but with its actual cat like reflexes it adjusts and jumps on me in mid roll. On my back specifically. I stand and reach back with one hand as I try to protect the back of my neck with the other.
In light of recent events, I've changed my mind. I fucking hate cats and will endeavor to wipe them out.
I am barely able to throw the cat again. Each time it has jumped on me, it's claws dig deeper. The back of my neck is starting to bleed. The cat disappears into the shadows and circles. I move around so I'm in between the cat and the table. This son of a bitch is going to jump me again but this time I will snatch it out of the air and slam it down on the table as hard as I can.
That was the plan anyway.
From behind, I am grabbed and slammed backwards onto the table. Before I can move, a dagger is placed on my throat. This is the second time this has happened and I like it as much as much as the first time.
Above me is an black man approaching his late thirties looking down on me. His eyes look into mine deeply and intensely. His voice is soft but stern, dripping in a French creole accent.
"Why have you darkened my door, abomination?"
When he finishes speaking the cat jumps on my chest. Its empty eye sockets stare right at me. It opens its toothless mouth and lets out a long hiss. At this distance, I can see it doesn't have a tongue either.
"I came here to get some help for my friends."
" A loathsome thing like you will get no help from me."
" This is bad customer service if you ask me."
The man leans closer to me.
"Harsh words from a soulless creature. What is your true form?"
"This is my true form. I'm human."
"Lies." The dagger is pressed harder on my throat.
"My soul was taken."
"That question is way above my pay grade."
This dude is for real. Good. He can help me. Sometimes you have to slow down to know someone. Unfortunately I have little time for chit chat. My left hand is on my chest, right underneath the cat. I fling my hand up and grab the cat and throw it at my new friends face. The distraction works and I grab the mans knife holding wrist. I use it as a anchor to spin around and kick the man in the chest. I pull him back and kick him again. This time I let go and he flies backwards and falls to the ground as the cat jumps at me again.
This time I am ready.
I grab the cat and raise it over my head as I spin around. Considering my position, I'm going to slam it on the ground.
I stop. The cat is howling now.
"You came to talk. Then lets talk. Do not hurt him."
"Just for the record, I didn't come here to hurt anything. I'm looking for help."
"I don't know how to restore your soul."
"I got more pressing issues. Far more important than my lack of soul."
"I will help you. Release my thrall."
I gently lower the cat to the floor and let it go. It turns and hisses at me.
"No, Shadow. Go back." The man says as he points to the back.
Shadow starts to walk away, never taking its empty eyes off of me. It lets out one last feral howl and hiss before it walks thru the french doors.
We stand in silence for a moment. Now I can look more clearly at the man. He has a shaved head and was wearing a old time three piece suit. He slowly reaches over and grabs a bowler hat off of a shelf and puts it on.
"Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. Shadow is compelled to protect and watch over me. He sensed your lack of a soul."
"Your zombie cat tried to eat my brains."
The man snorts.
"The things you see on tv and movies are so far removed from my religion they might as well be completely different species. True zombies are thralls to their masters and do not eat brains."
"I’m still not convinced. I am Faust. Nice to meet you Papa Bones. From your accent, I take it you aren't from around here?"
"Papa Bones is my official title. Julian is my real name, and yes. I come from the city that care forgot, New Orleans."
We shake hands. Julian never takes his eyes off of me as we do.
“Enchante. How may I help you Madame Faust?"
"I’ll be right back."
I walk out and take out something wrapped in burlap. I bring it back in and drop it on the table and pull the cover off. Reveling a old tome.
"I need this deciphered."
Julian leans down and looks at the book closer. "Is that Nephilim writing?"
"Thats what I was told."
"Where did you get this?"
"A woman named Moira. She…she has a bit of a problem. Her life is in danger."
"If she had possession of this book. That’s a very real possibility."
Julian continues looking at the book.
"This is a tad out of my wheel house. I have heard of these tomes. So very few people have laid eyes on one of these."
Julian opens the book. Inside was filled with writing I had never seen before. There were diagrams placed in random places on the pages. Jillian runs a finger down one of the pages.
"This will take some time."
"I realize that but if you could hurry. I don't know how much time Moria has left…wait. Whats that smell?"
Julian lets out a string of cajun words. Mostly swear words from the sound of it. The edges of the book start to burn. Much like paper when you light it to start a bonfire. A thin red glowing line leaving behind charred blackness. Julian runs out of the room and comes back with a wooden framed glass box. He looks at me.
"The box is only big enough for half of the book. Your book, your choice."
My mind races.
"The right side!"
Julian slams the case down on the table. The fire on the left side burns until it reaches the box then it goes out.
"What the hell was that!?"
Jillian looks at me.
"In short. A mystical security system. My case has protection runes carved in the wood. I didn't know it would work but I'm glad it did. This was never meant for human eyes it seems. Why did you pick the right side?"
"Well. In books and comics, thats the side with all the cliffhangers and important information."
"Thats actually clever."
"I have to figure out a way to examine this without setting off the security system. I have some ideas but it will take some time."
"Shit. This isn't good."
"It could be far worse. Lucky for us it was designed to self destruct. No telling what nasty surprises could have been sprung on us otherwise."
I lean my head back and sigh. This is not a good time for a complication.
"Ok. Do what you can but please hurry and thank you."
"You are very welcome. i shall try to hurry but I can promise nothing. If this is one of your problems what is the other? I am almost afraid to ask."
"Oh yeah. What do you know about ghost crystals in boxes?"
Ten minutes later I walk out of Papa Bones. Julian seemed very interested in Betty's situation and promised to look into it tomorrow. Today he is going to try to stabilize the book so he can move it to a safer more private area for study.
Moria needs a update.
She turns to me for help and I destroy half go her book and possibly just made her life worse. I really don't want to do this but I have to. I pull out my phone and dial. After a few rings she picks up.
“ We got a problem…"