Goblins, Demons and a Dash of Grass Pt. II.

 By Johnny Apocalypse
Return to Part I

***

            Night had snuck up on the world fast.  I was lying on the couch, watching "Dementia 13".  Chris had passed out during the open credits, dropping a lit joint onto his lap.  I thought about leaving the half-smoked marijuana on his pants and letting it wake him up, but I decided against it in the end.  It takes a hell of a friend to grab something off of your crotch.

            Once the movie finished I headed upstairs to microwave another frozen burrito.  My family had taken all the beef and bean burritos, so I had to stick with shredded chicken.  Of course, it all tastes pretty much the same when they come out of plastic wrappers.

            As I pulled a piping hot chunk of tortilla, chicken and cheese from the microwave, I glanced at the clock.  It was twenty minutes until midnight.  If I left now, I could pull a stakeout in front of building three right around the time the gateway opened last night.

            I wrapped my dinner in a paper towel and hopped in my car.  On my days off, I try to avoid work like the plague, but this could be a matter of world-wide security.  Besides, if the demons of hell escaped and destroyed the whole campus, I might not have a job anymore.

            The campus was nearly empty except for building one, which had a wing housing the twenty-four hour technical support crew.  I drove past several parked cars before I hit the empty lot of building three.  Pulling into a space well away from the building, I began my long, lonely watch.

            My watch had just hit midnight when one of the security trucks cruised past my car.  I could see the regular night guard, a young, stocky blonde girl named Beth, looking out her window and trying to see inside my car.  She must have spotted something that made her suspicious, because she pulled into a parking spot ten yards away from me.

            We got out of our cars at the same time and met each other halfway.  As usual, Beth was grinning like a school-girl.  Ray thinks she has a thing for me, but she smiles the same way to everyone.  I just played it casual, hoping for some inspiration from Humphrey Bogart's movie last night.

            "Justin, you're off today," she said.  "What gives?"

            I was planning my lie on the way over to the campus, just for the possibility of security intervention.  Mustering up my best Sam Spade, I tried my story out.  "I had a few too many martinis at the bar, kid.  This joint was closer then home, so I parked it in here to sober up."

            Beth giggled, "You don't look drunk."

            "Well, on the outside, I can hold my liquor, sweetheart.  It's how I feel inside that counts."

            Her grin grew with each word I said.  I was starting to think that Ray was right.

            "Well, you're talking awfully funny tonight, so I guess you must be drunk."

            Well, at least my act got me through the confrontation one way or the other.  I thought that I was in the clear when Beth reminded me that I wasn't supposed to be on the campus when I'm not working.

            "I know I'm not, but I really don't want to crash into something ,or someone.  If you won't tell anyone I was bending the rule, I won't tell anyone you bent a rule by letting me stay."

            Beth raised an eyebrow, "What's it worth to you?"

            I had to keep myself from rolling my eyes.  Just like every security guard I knew, Beth thought she was underpaid and overworked.

            "I spent all my cash at the gin mill, kid," I explained.  "But if you name your price, I'll bring it tomorrow."

            This earned me another giggle.  "I'm not talking about money, silly.  I want something else."

            Cringing inwardly, I asked "What could that be?"  I already knew what was coming.

            "Tell you what," she stepped closer to me.  "I'll let you stay here tonight and sleep off the booze.  But we're both off on Friday this week.  Why don't you come to my house, and you can pay me then?"

            I wanted to say no deal, and take off.  I really did.  But I knew that I had to watch building three for demons.  Plus, I hadn't gotten laid in quite some time.

            "Sounds like a hell of a deal to me.  Just promise me no whips and chains, and I'll be there."

            "Don't worry," she said.  "I play nice."

            She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and hopped back into the truck.  Just as quickly as I had signed my decency away to a night with her, she had driven away to the next parking lot.

            I was about to drop back into the seat of my own car when I looked at the building.  I scanned the windows of each floor carefully, hoping to avoid the sight of swarming goblins.

            My luck ran out and my heart stopped.  Through a first floor window I saw a tall demon with green skin and a hideous sneer rooting through an office.  If it stole anything, the nightshift would have hell to pay.

            I sprinted over to the lot of building one, trying to flag down my new girlfriend.  She was doing a slow circuit of the cars, making sure that no vandals or radio thieves had visited us in the night.  Finally, she stopped her car and popped out, happy as ever.

            "What's going on now, lover?"

            My new nickname made me wince.  Thanks a lot, Mr. Bogart.

            "Hey Beth," I said, "I think that a cup of coffee would really help me sober up.  Mind if I pop into building three and grab some?"

            "Why not building one?  We're right outside it."

            I thought quickly.  "Well, I don't want to bother the tech support crew.  They're cranky at this hour, and they get pretty territorial over their break areas."

            It was the truth.  I once had to run for life and limb when I bought a bag of Skittles from one of their vending machines.

            Luckily, she fell for it.  "Okay, no problem.  I'll even drive you over there, if you want."

            I climbed into the passenger seat, and before I could protest, Beth had grabbed onto my hand.  She started driving, taking her time.  I prayed that there weren't too many hell-beings to deal with.

            "So, what are your plans for Friday?" she asked.

            I was in a state of panic a little too high to worry about sex now, but I managed to come up with an answer.

            "Well, I'm going to take you to dinner first," I said.

            "Oh, a gentleman!" she squealed.  I feared that she might have an orgasm here and now.

            "Well, I'm paying you back with dinner for letting me stay here.  Sex is just an extra bonus for the both of us."

            We reached building three and I hopped out of the car once she was parked.

            "Okay, kid," I said.  "I don't have my access card with me.  I'll take you around the world twice on Friday if you let me in."

            "Someone thinks pretty highly of themselves," she grinned with excitement.  "I'll call in that I'm checking building three.  You can come along with me, a walk might help you work off some of the alcohol."

            Beth dropped a few words into her radio, and I heard Ray acknowledge her.  She snared my hand again as we entered the building.

            We had just passed the lobby when we both heard a rattle down the eastern wing.  Beth put a death grip on my hand.  As the blood retreated up my arm, I led her down the hallway, towards the office I had seen the ghoul looting.

            As we slowly stepped past a break room, I got an idea.  I wrestled my hand out of Beth's grasp and started filling a cup with hot coffee.

            "Justin!" she whispered loudly, "We don't have time for coffee now!  There's a burglar around here somewhere!"

            I put my fingers to my lips, trying to shush my security companion.  We started walking down the hall again, slowly, towards the continuing rattle.  We were nearly to the office when the demon stepped out and hissed at us.

            Beth screamed like a seven-year-old, and I flung my piping hot coffee into the fiend's eyes.  The demon stumbled backwards covering its burning face with its hands.  I took two running steps forward, grabbed a scaly, clammy arm and heaved the beast over my shoulder.  Steven Segal would have been proud.

            The demon crashed on it's back in front of Beth.  She stopped screaming and backed away, her eyes as wide as headlights, full of terror.  The monstrous troll was climbing to its feet when I booted it in the side of the head.

            The demon's eyes rolled back in it's head but it kept breathing.  I had knocked it out cold.

            "Justin," Beth whimpered.  "What's that?"

            I stepped next to the fiend and rolled it onto its back.  "This, my girl, is an evil demon from hell."

            Somewhere along the way, my Humphrey Bogart had turned into Doctor Who.

            "I tried to warn everyone last night about the problem, but they wouldn't listen.  They all thought that I had lost my marbles."

            Beth's legs were shaking like two pillars of jello.  "What are you going to do?" she asked.

            "Well, my dear, I'm going to throw him back where he came from."  Placing an arm around the demon's neck and another around its waist, I lifted the creature from the ground.  "Follow me, will you?"

            Beth walked well away from me as I hauled the beast back to the communication room.  It was tall, but quite thin, making it easy to carry.  Thank god an overweight demon hadn't broken into the building.

            As we rounded the final corner, I spotted the door.  Lights were pulsing under it again, lighting the carpet like a Christmas tree.

            "Open that door, please," I said.

            Beth was hesitant, but finally stepped forward and pulled the door open.  When she saw what lay inside, she shrieked again.

            I strode forward and heaved the demon back into hell.

            "And stay out!" I yelled, watching the creature tumble down the hill.  Several of his goblin friends looked up at me.  "The bar's closed!  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!"

            I slammed the door shut and turned towards my companion.  She was shaking terribly, holding her hands up to her mouth, squeezing her eyes shut.  Stepping close, I wrapped my arms around her, pulling Beth tight to my chest.

            "My god," she whispered.  "What just happened?"

            "A gateway to hell has opened in building three.  But I'm going to take care of it, don't you worry."

            Beth looked deeply into my eyes.  "Do I have to write a report about this?"

            "No," I said.  "I already tried that, kid."

***

            I stayed with Beth until she calmed down.  Before I left, she gave me the number to her cell phone, then I cruised back home to grab some sleep.

            I came downstairs to find Chris watching Fu Manchu do his thing.  He greeted me with a droopy smile.  I gave him a half-hearted salute, and crashed onto the couch, already in dreamland.

            I woke up to see Jamie Lee Curtis screaming on TV.  I stood up and walked past Chris, heading upstairs to make some coffee.

            "What are you watching?" I asked.

            "Not sure, bro.  Either 'Halloween', 'The Fog', or 'Prom Night'.  I think that they're pretty much the same movie."

            I yawned as I opened the freezer for another frozen wad of Mexican food.  Coffee and burritos are the perfect breakfast after a night of beating down demons.

            I rejoined Chris in front of the TV and started devouring breakfast.

            "Did you sleep at all last night?" I asked my friend.

            "Yeah, once that Fu Manchu movie was over.  I don't sleep much, I've been up for an hour already."

            While devouring my breakfast, I told Chris about the events at building three.  I wasn't sure if he caught all of it, the whole time I was talking he was staring at Jamie Lee.

            "That's some cool stuff, man.  Smacking a demon around and saving the girl, you're like James Bond."

            "Bond never fought any demons," I said.

            "No way, dude.  That Doctor No guy was totally a demon."

            "No, he was just funny looking."

***

            The day passed as quickly as the one before, watching TV and drinking coffee.  When four thirty rolled around, Chris stood up.

            "Time for Reverend Flashback's mass, bro," he said, arching his back.

            I stood up and stretched my legs before we retreated to my car.  It was a short drive, just a few blocks over to a Christian church next to a shopping center.

            "This is his church?" I asked,

            "Well, sort of.  They let him share the basement with Alcoholics Anonymous.  There's always cookies and coffee, it's a pretty sweet setup."

            We entered the church and Chris led me down a flight of stairs into the basement.  We entered a room full of teens and young adults.  Everyone was wearing Led Zeppelin T-shirts and blue jeans.

            Chris and I took a seat near the back of the room.  A young girl with stringy hair and bloodshot eyes brought us both coffee and cookies, holding out a small donation basket.

            "For the AA guys' coffee and cookies," she explained.  "It's only to right to give when you receive, man."

            My friend and I both coughed up a few bucks for the refreshments.  I was just finishing an oatmeal raisin cookie when a tall, scrawny man entered the room, dressed entirely in black.  He carried a large, leather bound book with him that I assumed was his copy of the bible.  Everyone rose as he took his position at the front of the room.

            "Please be seated," he said, his voice deep and booming.

            As the mass proceeded, I followed the proper cues with the rest of the crowd,  kneeling, standing and sitting with everyone else.  Half an hour had passed when the Reverend opened his book.

            "I shall now read to you from the new, fifth book of the gospel.  The Book of Flashback!" he proclaimed.

            I gave Chris a questioning look.

            "He's writing what he hopes to be the next piece of the gospel," he explained.  "He won't let anyone look in it, because he thinks there might be government agents in the crowd."

            I felt another withdrawal headache coming on, and stood up to get more coffee as the Reverend began his sermon.

            "This chapter comes from my time as a missionary in South America," he said.  "I had just arrived, and the small town was doing well with what my predecessors had taught them; growing their own crops of corn and cabbage.  Fixing their houses with bricks made of clay.

            "But, my family, I brought them new knowledge.  I felt that their meager meals of corn and cabbage were not enough.  I knew that clay bricks alone could not build a house.  But before I gave my personal gift to them, I wanted to help expand their village, in as many ways as I could.

            "First, I increased their food supply, helping them plant orchards of apples, teaching them to slaughter the local wildlife for meat.  Next, I showed them to use mud to hold their bricks together, and which plants could be dried, ground and mixed with water to create paint for their homes.

            "Finally, I felt they were ready for the next step into civilization.  They were living like a family, like a community, but I showed them how to live like kings.  I brought them the gift of marijuana!"

            The crowd erupted into applause and hallelujahs.  The Reverend extended his arms in the air, both to accept the praise and to quiet the house.

            "Yes, my family," he continued.  "I taught them to grow marijuana in between the rows of corn.  I showed them that their orchard could cultivate more then apples.  I demonstrated how to turn hemp into ropes and clothing.  Once their new crops were ripe, I showed them the benefits of combining marijuana and fire.  As I stand before you, I swear that these people have been forever changed by my presence!"

            I couldn't believe my ears.  The good Reverend had turned an entire village into a bunch of pot-smoking hippies.

            "But, my friends, let me tell you about my final challenge in South America.  During my last weeks of missionary work, a young lady, twenty years old and as beautiful as any of God's creations came to me.  She said that she wanted to experience sex with her boyfriend, but didn't want to upset God.  She knew that sex without marriage was a sin in the Lord's eyes.  I said that I would be happy to marry them, but she said that was not the problem.

            "No, the problem was pregnancy.  She wasn't ready to raise a family, and understood that church believes that birth control was wrong.  She wanted to ask my permission to use prophylactics, but I said that I could not give her the permission from God, even though she had the purest of reasons.

            "I showed her a new way, though!  Not only did I tell her, but to make sure that she understood, I left my personal beliefs and sacred vows behind to do the Lord's work!  I showed and demonstrated upon her the Greek method!"

            Again, the group erupted in cheers, but this time it was mostly the men in the crowd.  I gave Chris another look and he leaned over to explain what the Reverend had just said.

            "Greek method is anal sex, bro."

            Reverend Flashback's sermon was giving me a headache.  This man had used his position with the church to get more people to smoke weed, and to butt fuck a girl half his age.  I guess that Mr. Flashback hadn't heard about the destruction of Sodom.

            "Now, friends," the Reverend began to conclude, "Let us end our ceremony with the blessing of nature's finest creation."

            Everyone in the room raised sandwich bags full of grass.  Chris held several in the air while Reverend Flashback gave a generic blessing.

            Once the mass was over, Chris and I sat back while various members of the congregation shook the Reverend's hand on their way out.  Soon, the room was empty.  I was trying to decide if everything I had just heard was blasphemy or just plain funny as Chris led me up to the Reverend.

            "Chris!" Flashback greeted him, "So good to see you again!  And you've brought a friend, I see."

            I shook the Reverend's hand as Chris introduced me.

            "This is my friend, Justin.  He's not a smoker, but he needs some spiritual help."

            "Anyone is welcome to my church," Flashback greeted me.  "How can I help you, Justin?"

            I gave Reverend Flashback the shortest version I could, explaining a gateway to hell in the most logical, straightforward manner possible.

            He was quiet for a moment before saying.  "I see."  He turned to Chris, "Are you sure he's not a smoker?"

            "Very sure, Reverend.  But I think he may have a bit of a coffee problem."

            "Well, if Chris believes you, then so do I.  When would you like to attempt this exorcism?"

            "Is tonight possible?" I asked.

            He thought for a moment before answering.  "Yes, I have plans, but this is of the utmost importance.  I will meet you outside building three at ten to midnight."

            Chris and I thanked the Reverend, and left for the parking lot.

            Back in the car, Chris said "So I guess the only thing left to do is wait to meet the Reverend."

            "Not quite," I answered.  "I want to swing by a hardware store and pick a few things up.  The Reverend's sermon gave me an idea."

            Chris was confused.  "What's in a hardware store that's going to help you with anal sex, dude?"

            "God dammit, not that!  Something else he said."

***

            On the way to the hardware store, I borrowed Chris' cell to call Beth, letting her know that me and some friends were stopping by to seal up the gate to hell.

            "Justin, you know that bringing friends over late at night is even further against the rules then sleeping on campus.  I could get fired for this."

            "Okay, babe, tell you what," Humphrey Bogart made his triumphant return, "If you let us in, we'll start dating regularly."

            "I already thought we were."

            "Oh, we are, it just wasn't part of the deal," It wasn't part of my plan, but it was for a good cause.  My Humphrey Bogart act seemed to get me into trouble.  "This way it's official."

            "Okay, sweetie," she agreed.  "I'll meet you here."

            I handed Chris back his cell phone as we pulled into the parking lot.

            "I'm telling you, bro," he said.  "You're James Bond, through and through."

            "For the last time, Doctor No wasn't a demon."

            "Okay, but what about that Mayday chick?"

            I thought for a minute.  "Close call."

            We hopped out of the car and sauntered into the hardware store.  I headed to an isle with drywall and started looking over the various sizes.

            "Just remember the Greek method," Chris said.  "If you run out of condoms."

            "I'm not nailing a girl in the ass, Chris."

            I selected a chunk of drywall and grabbed a can of white paint as well.  Chris was going on about the erotic sensations of playing the back field while he followed me over to the cashier's station.

            "Will that be all?" the cashier, a tall lanky guy with a flattop, asked while he was scanning everything.

            "No," I answered.  "I'm going to need some bricks and cement as well."

            The cashier placed a call to another section of the store, ordering my supplies.  He rang those up as well.

            "You can pick those up in the back of the store, they'll be ready to go."

            "Thanks."

            We left the store and pulled around back.  While several employees lifted bricks into my trunk, I started organizing my plans for tonight.

***

            We pulled into the parking lot at eleven forty-five.  Chris and I sat back, waiting for the Reverend and Beth.  I had the radio tuned to a classic rock station.  Jethro Tull was busting out some awesome guitar and flute solos when a beat up Volkswagon van pulled up next to us.

            "That's Reverend Flashback," Chris told me.

            We climbed out of the car into the brisk night air.  The wind greeted us with a fitful, light breeze.

            "Dude," Flashback greeted us, "You work here?"

            "Yeah," I answered.

            "You must be awesome with computers!" he exclaimed.

            "I'm just a security guard.  My knowledge of computers is pretty well limited to video games."

            "That's too bad, I wanted you to hack into the FBI and see what their file on me says."

            Chris chatted with the Reverend while I watched for Beth.  Her truck arrived at eight minutes to midnight.

            "Sorry I'm a little late," she said, joining the group.  "The dispatcher had me check on a server room."

            "No problem," I said, talking like myself for the time being.  "Just let us in and we'll take care of the rest."

            "Okay," she said, leading us towards the building.  She trapped my hand again, but her grip wasn't nearly as firm as before.

            We arrived at the lobby door, and Beth swiped her access card to unlock it.

            "Good luck," she said, leaning in for a kiss.

            As our lips me, I tasted a fire that I had never experience before.  Surprising myself, I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her closer to me, tighter, leaning into the kiss.

            And just as quickly as she had arrived, she was gone in the night.

            "Whoa, dude!" The Reverend exclaimed.  "That kiss reminded me of 'Fatal Attraction'".

            "That's funny," I said, still tasting Beth on my lips.

            We walked into the building, holding our heads high like a gang of toughs, ready for a night of rumbling.  Beth's kiss had left me breathless, but I couldn't find an ounce of fear in my soul.  I was ready to exorcise some goblin ass.

            I checked my watch once we reached the comm room.  Three minutes, plenty of time.  Around the corner, a large fire hose rested in a cabinet, guarded by a red metal door.  I opened the cabinet and hefted the hose over my shoulder.

            "Hey, Reverend," I said, bringing the hose over.  "Are you for real, or is Reverend just something you call yourself?"

            "I'm one hundred percent for real, Justin.  I could marry you and that girl and it would be legal."

            "Thanks, but I'm not ready for marriage yet."  But I was looking forward to my date with Beth.

            "What's the hose for, bro?" Chris asked.

            "I think that we're going to need some holy water for this exorcism.  The more we use, the better off we might be.

            "Reverend, do your stuff."

            Flashback stepped forward and bowed his head.  "Lord, may this hose carry your love and help us seal this entrance to hell.  Let all the water that pour from it be blessed with your knowledge, peace and caring for mankind."

            "Amen," I said.

            The Reverend made the sign of the cross on the nozzle of the hose with his thumb.  I checked my watch.  One minute to go.

            "Now what?" Chris asked.

            "We wait for the lights to appear."

            We hadn't been waiting for very long when it started.  At first it was just a pinpoint of light coming under the door, but soon the light widened and began to change colors.  The door shook a bit, just a light rattle.  I could almost hear the wailing of tortured souls.

            "Reverend," I said, "Open the door, please."

            He stepped forward and gripped the knob.  Pausing for only a moment, he twisted the handle and yanked the door open.

            "Holy shit!" Reverend Flashback cried.

            The demonic hordes were already beginning their ascent of the mountain we stood upon.  Dozens were already climbing the craggy surface, with another hundred lying in wait.  If our exorcism didn't work, the world was finished.

            Chris stepped behind me and grabbed my shoulders for support.  I yanked back on the nozzle of the hose and let the water loose.

            I was nearly knocked on my ass once the water began to stream from the hose.  Chris caught me and pushed me forward, helping me bear the force of the gushing water.

            The effects were immediate.  A blast of holy water knocked the nearest goblin back down the hill.  Any beast that got a drop of water on it's skin began to howl in pain.  The building was filled with the sound of a hundred screaming ghouls.

            Reverend Flashback began to chant the 'Our Father' prayer while I sprayed everything in sight.  Demons were scrambling up the mountain faster now.  I kept knocking them down.

            "Look!" Chris screamed, pointing at a river of lava.

            The holy water had arced into the river.  Flames as blue as the ocean sprang up.  The lava began to cool, hardening into smooth obsidian.

            "In the name of the Lord," Flashback screamed, "I cast this gateway out of this building!"

            The mountain was covered with screaming goblins, holding their blistering wounds.  For each demon I cast down the hill, two took it's place.  I prayed that the holy water would hold them off until the gateway closed.

            Flashback was in his third chant of the Lord's prayer, holding his hands above his head like Moses parting the Red Sea.  Chris was holding me forward, helping me guide the hose towards each advancing ghoul.  I was screaming at the top of my lungs.

            The walls began to return.  The gateway was slowly starting to seal.  I let the nozzle close a bit, slowing the spray but still covering every demon that came across the sweeping shower of water.

            Within minutes, I was blasting water through a small hole in the wall.  The demons were still screaming, but seemingly more from defeat then from anger.  I cut the water off just before the gateway closed.

            Chris collapsed onto his back, and I crashed next to him.  My breath had run ragged, my head was pounding like a drum.  I needed a cup of coffee.

            Reverend Flashback stepped forward and dipped his fingers into the pool of water that had collected at my feet.

            "I bless this communications room, in the hopes and prayers that the gate to hell never opens again," he said, sweeping his hand across the doorway in the sign of the cross.

            Chris had finally caught his breath and was sitting up next to me.  "That was some hairy shit, bro."

            "Yeah.  But we're not done yet," I said, climbing to my feet.  "Let's go get the bricks."

***

            Chris, the Reverend and myself worked through the night, laying a new wall down in front of the door.  The Reverend blessed each brick that Chris and I set down in the wall.  I took frequent breaks to fill my coffee cup.  Chris and Flashback smoked a lot of weed.

            Once the bricks were up and the cement drying, I fitted a piece of drywall over them, adjacent to the wall.  I puttied it in as evenly as I could, then began to paint over it.

            "Dude," Chris said.  "When people come to work in the morning, they're going to smell all this paint and marijuana."

            "Not my problem," I answered, putting the last touch of paint on the wall.  "I just saved their lives from a demonic invasion, they can deal with a funny smelling office for a day or two."

            Once the last coat of paint had been applied, the Reverend gave one final blessing and we left for our cars.  I shook Flashback's hand once we reached the parking lot, thanking him for his help.  In return, the Reverend asked for some spare change to help boost the supply of his holy stash.  I gave him ten bucks.

***

            The sun was just coming up once Chris and I got back home.  He sat in the recliner as usual, while I crashed on the couch.

            I must have fallen asleep immediately.  I awoke to a ringing phone and a snoring friend.  The digital clock on the microwave read eleven o'clock.

            "Hello," I answered the call.

            "Hey honey, it's Beth."

            Her voice had never sounded so sweet before.  I was starting to think that she might just make a good girlfriend after all.

            "Hey babe," I said, shaking the sleep from my head.  "What's hanging?"

            "Not much, I just wanted to see how everything went last night."

            "Oh, it went fine.  I blasted some demons with holy water, got the room blessed by a pot smoking Reverend and we bricked the whole damn room up.  Let's just hope that maintenance doesn't have to fix anything in there, they won't find the doorway anytime soon."

            Beth laughed.  "Well, I'm glad that everything is taken care of.  Just tell me something, and be honest."

            "What's that?"

            "Well, do you really want to go out with me, or did you just agree to save your ass?"

            I had to smile.  "Listen, Beth.  There are only two things in life that I don't want to do, but do them anyway.  That's work, and fight supernatural creatures.  Anything else, if I don't want to do it, then I'm not doing it.  And I'm more then happy to be straightforward when I don't want to do something."

            "So you do want to date me?"

            "Damn straight," I said.  "In fact, I have to work in a few hours, but I know you're off tonight.  When I get out of there at eleven, what do you say we grab a late dessert at an all-night diner?"

            "Sounds good.  You want to pick me up at my place?"

            I said that I did, and wrote down her address.  We said our goodbyes and hung up.

            Sometime during the conversation, Chris had woken up.  He was looking at me with the smile that only potheads seem to have.

            "I'm telling you, man.  Pure James Bond."

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