An Afternoon Walk.
By James McGill
It was about 6:30pm in April and spring had just begun. This was the first day Jonas was able to get out and enjoy the weather without a heavy jacket and he had decided to go take a walk around the park near his apartment. As he walked down the street, he took in the scene around him. People were enjoying the weather the same as him. Kids were playing as were some adults. As he looked towards the street, the traffic appeared to have lessened as the days got warmer. People choosing to walk or use public transportation in order to enjoy the weather more. He caught glimpses of Fire elementals coming home to streetlamps for the night. The city of Chicago had always been a city of crossroads and it was always most apparent at dusk. He smiled as a pair of elementals zoomed around his head as he accidentally walked into their flight path. They stopped and squeaked at him.
“Watch where you’re walking! We’re flying here”
“Carl, this is Chicago, Not New York.”
“Ah Shove it up your ass.”
“Better. I hope you and Lori have a good evening.” Jonas said with a smile.
Carl was an acquaintance of Jonas’. They were on good terms in the way that Carl would insult him instead of giving him a hot foot like he did everyone else who got in his way. Jonas did this by the simplest of means, he spoke to Carl like everyone else. He didn’t speak down to him or in any way that would convey that Carl was a lesser being. People tended to take elementals for granted. Many people did not pay them any mind because they didn’t care enough. The only reason why this didn’t cause any issues is because the elementals thought the same about humans. Humans stayed in their lane and elementals did the same. Jonas was looking forward to the day where this status quo wouldn’t work anymore. It was a business opportunity he knew how to take advantage of.
Jonas walked on and headed towards Buckingham Fountain. If he was lucky, the local chapter of the Great Lakes Mermaids would be having their first meeting today. Whenever it warms up past 60, for the first time in the spring, they always have a meeting at Buckingham Fountain. Of course, they could have changed this year’s date during their last meeting. They don’t want their meetings to become predictable.
Over a decade they tried it on the same day every year. By the end of the decade though, thousands of people were crowding the park to get a look at them. There were two problems with that. First, they were unable to get any business done. Their first meeting of the year was so that the leaders of individual Great Lakes, who usually are the hottest of their species, could share information and decided on what they needed to do in order to keep their territories in good shape. Second, humans are very susceptible to the magic of merfolk. The merfolk placed a barrier around the fountain to keep humans at a safe distance on the last year. The Barrier unfortunately did not keep their magic from escaping. There was a glitch in the spell. People were drawn to them and were unable to reach them. Since they could not run their ships off onto the rocks, their rocks were gotten off. A huge orgy ended up taking place in Grant park and the merfolk did not realize until the end of the meeting.
The city and the Mer Council swore nothing like that would happen again. A subtle misinformation campaign was conducted that was so successful that made it pretty much impossible to think about merfolk without getting a metaphorical headache.
Jonas found a park bench facing the fountain and he took a seat. He leaned his head back and enjoyed the spring breeze coming off the lake.
“They aren’t here today.”
Jonas turned his head and found a Patrol Officer talking to him.
“I’m sorry, who aren’t here today Officer Carlisle?”
“The Merfolk Committee of the Great Lakes. Whenever they have their spring meeting, they give the Mayor and Police Chief a heads up. No heads up were given today. Sorry Jonas.” She replied.
“Oh, it’s not a problem.” He replied to Patrolman Carlisle. Patrolman Carlisle is an acquaintance that Jonas respects. She is almost someone he would call a friend if it wasn’t for his rule that he doesn’t make friends with professional associates. Standing at 5’10” with an athletic figure, she gave the presence of an attractive woman yet at the same time an opposing authority figure. He once overheard one of her co-workers say that if she hadn’t been so imposing, he would be hitting on her every day.
“I didn’t come out here for them Carlisle, I came out for the weather. Chicago winters take a while to wear off. It’s too bad Lake Michigan doesn’t have enough water to be more of a warming presence like the Atlantic or Pacific. Have a seat and take a load off.”
Patrolman Carlisle sat down at the opposite end of the bench and took off her cap letting her Blonde hair fall to her shoulders.
“Well you don’t have to live here. If you miss the oceans so much, there are cities on each coastline, and they get spring much sooner than we do. Oh, damn it, my bun came undone again. Long hair can be such a pain in the ass sometimes.” She took a hair pin that had fallen onto the bench and started putting her hair back up in a braid.
“It can also be something a perpetrator can grab a hold of in a fight. Maybe you should have it cut?” Jonas replied.
“Well that use to be true, but thanks to department regulations, no one can remove a Patrol Officer’s cap except the Patrol Officer. Thanks to that regulation, my cap keeps my hair safe from that happening. Gotta love Judicial Dictums. ” She finished putting the hair into a braid and commenced putting it into a bun. The bun stayed put and Officer Carlisle started fanning herself with her cap. Jonas felt a prickling at the back of his neck and he turned to see a bright shock of red hair hiding behind a tree that did not hide anything. “Afternoon Friday.” Jonas yelled. The Woman with the red hair waved back meekly. “I see Friday is still following you around.”
“Yeah, being haunted sucks sometimes. She’s nice enough but being one of the few people who can see ghosts, sucks. She is very lonely, and everyone needs recognition in some way. So I’ll help how I can. She leaves me alone on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Oh speaking of Friday, did you find out anything more on the information I asked for?”
“Nope. Just what I gave you. No one from any of the underworlds have any death memories for sale. I gather you’ve had no luck finding out who killed her and took her’s?” Jonas asked
“None. I guess it was a god or underling from some pantheon, they’re the only ones who could take it at the moment of death. But I have no idea why they would want a death memory. They’re only used for crossing over and gods have no need for it. I feel for her but I wish she would go socialize with other ghosts. You’d think as an actress she would have no problem socializing.”
“You know how it is. When people die their spirit is who they are deep down. Its very possible she was a shy person in life but figured out how to hide it and had the strength, in life, to go out and be sociable. Now she’s back to square one. She’ll get there.” Jonas replied.
“Well, I have to get back to work. You should have the payment by tomorrow. If you don’t, then go see Jerry. I gave it to him to give to you. I hope you have a good night Jonas.” Officer Carlisle said and she got up and put her cap back on over her bun.
“Have a good night Carlisle…Wait!” Officer Carlisle quickly turned around. “What is it?” She asked.
“I forgot to ask, when did you put purple highlights in your hair?”
Officer Carlisle face went white and her eyes went big. She quickly took her cap off her head and undid her bun to look at her hair.
“OH! My mistake, it was just a trick of the light.” Jonas said with a grin. “Only the patrolman can take the cap off. Good to know.”
“Fuck off, Jonas.” She said as she walked away redoing her hair for a second time.
Jonas got up off the bench, laughing to himself, and started walking towards Lake Shore Drive.
An hour and a half later, Jonas found himself on State street in front of Macy’s underneath the big green clock that used to be Marshal Fields. Just as he is about to hail a cab he heard a scream. He looked around but no one else on the busy street appeared to react to it. Upon hearing it again, he quickly listened and proceeded in the direction it had come from.
Five minutes later, he turned a corner to find a large Minotaur demon looking around with a woman draped over his shoulder. She appeared to be pleading with him. She was saying that he was too early and she still had 12 hours. The demon rocked his head back and knocked the woman out with one of his horns. “Finally, now I can think and remember where the entrance is.” said the demon.
Jonas walked up behind him and smiled. “Percival, as I live and Breathe!” Jonas yelled.
The demon spun around to face Jonas. His eyes went round, and steam huffed out his nostrils. “SHIT! Where the hell did you come from Jonas?”
Percival was 10’ tall and wider than two Chicago bear line backers…but not by much. Jonas looked up at him because he had to as he was only a little over half as tall as Percival. He just smiled, and then snapped his fingers. An aura formed around Percival the Minotaur Demon, immobilizing him.
“Percival, you are late on your contract with me. I paid you in advance. We had a deal. But I still have not received the Ichor I need from the fourth level of Lucifer’s hell. Why is that?”
“Let me go Jonas or you will regret it.” Percival sneered.
Jonas got right up in front of the demon and smiled. “Really, I’ll regret it huh? Let’s find out.” Jonas raised his hand and snapped his fingers. The silhouette shattered and formed a cloud over Jonas’ head. “Okay Percy, you get one shot. After that, If I’m still standing, you’re going to be so much worse off than the late fee you owe me.”
The rage Percival was feeling cracked for just a second where his brain laid out the possibility of what might happen if he didn’t manage to take down Jonas. Three seconds later, the rage shattered behind his eyes and was replaced with trepidation and a little bit of fear. His eyes darted from left to right and he noticed a sign saying, ‘Subway Entrance –>’. He took a quick glance at Jonas and took off running. One minute later he arrived at the Subway entrance that was currently glowing red. “I made it. Now I just need to get this lady down there and…” It was at this moment, Percival realized that his bounty was no longer on his shoulder.
“Did you forget something good sir?” A voice came from behind him.
Percival turned around and saw Jonas standing there carrying the unconscious woman in his arms.
“Now Percy,” Jonas began.
“DON’T CALL ME THAT!”
“PERCY, you owe me one liter of Ichor from the fourth level of Lucifer’s hell where I am unable to visit… at the moment. You signed a contract, you took payment, you have been ghosting me for three weeks, and now I find you abducting people down to hell. So, what are we going to do about this?” Jonas put the woman down on the ground, leaning her up against a brick wall. He got up and faced Percival again. Percival looked at Jonas and then at the woman. Then he smiled.
“Jonas, this is all a big misunderstanding I promise you. I don’t have it because the past three weeks if I had taken anything out of there, my boss would get suspicious.”
“Suspicious? Why? The reason I made this deal with you is because you are supposed to have the rights to take anything from the Fourth Circle and Ichor is nothing special in the fourth circle. So what aren’t you telling me?” Jonas asked with annoyance coming through loud and clear.
Percival sighed and motioned toward the woman. “I got a little behind on a quota my boss just instituted. That is what she is for. I’m not allowed to go home until I fulfill this damn quota. That is why I took her. I take her and I get back into the fourth circle. I get back in the fourth circle, you get your Ichor.”
“You’re 12 hours early aren’t you?” Jonas asked.
“Yes he is.” the woman said waking up. “I was supposed to have until 8 am tomorrow morning.”.
“Is that true Percy?” Jonas asked.
“Yes. I need to fill the quota before midnight.” Percy Responded.
Jonas looked at the woman then back at Percival.
“So you would say this woman is valuable to you?” Jonas asked.
“No! NO! NO! Don’t, please?”
“Wow, a demon saying please, you don’t hear that everyday, do you miss?”
Percy was looking scared and Jonas could read him loud and clear. “From what I am reading off of you Percy, she is. So, I am initiating Section B, Subsection 12. She is mine until you can provide what I paid you for plus interest. Once you have provided that, then her soul is all yours. Got it?”
Then out of frustration, Percival hits Jonas in the face. Jonas goes flying back across the street in a cloud of dust. Percival attempts to grab the woman but she won’t move, and he can’t pick her up. The Silhouette that had held Percival was now holding the woman in place. All of sudden, Jonas appeared from above and dropped down on to Percival’s head. His head crashed through six inches of sidewalk, leaving Percival dazed. Jonas grabs him by the collar and with very little effort drags him over to the subway entrance. “Next time don’t break the contract. If you want the soul back, get me what I need and maybe you can have it.” Jonas then pushes Percival down the stairs where after a large thud, the subway entrance stops glowing.
Jonas walked back to Percival’s bounty and removed the energy field surrounding the woman. She moved to thank him but before she could, he held a stone up and an electrical field flew out and encompassed her. She looked at Jonas with a look of a betrayal.
“Nothing personal Miss, its just business. Besides, you made a deal with Percival. No one, who deals with him, is a good person. He finds its safer to deal with people who look for the easy way to do things instead of the right things and no morals. There is usually less of a chance anyone would want to save them if all the people they know don’t really care if they disappear.”
Then a large amount of energy is pulled from the Woman’s body and flows into the gem. The body collapses and the gem glows. He sticks the gem into a side pocket and then walks down the street and hails a cab.