Meilori’s is a magnet for lost souls, predators, and victims waiting for the cobra’s strike.
It is a place where anything might happen and almost everything has.
I sat alone at my rune-carved table, supposedly where 12 knights and a very naïve King
ruled a fantasy kingdom, doomed to end in betrayal and regret.
The Moonlight Sonata was playing softly overhead, but still I heard snatches of conversation at the tables around me.
I flicked both eyes and ears to the nearest.
“A conquistador,” the woman with the trapped look to her eyes said.
“Very good, Sue,” said the man.
“They arrived in the 16th Century and took over. That’s what I’m doing.”
Sue flinched, and he said, “Why do I frighten you, kitten?”
She took long moments to answer,
“When I was a little girl, I used to go with Dad to his plant. There was this giant room with a huge machine that towered to the ceiling. I squeezed his hand tight whenever we walked into it.”
“It had this enormous hammer thing in it at the top and when it rammed down to the ground, you could feel the thud in your feet go up your spine. It seemed relentless, unstoppable … unfeeling.”
She cleared her throat, “I just knew that one day, it would smash me into nothing.”
The man nodded, “Not too flattering, kitten.”
“You don’t care about me as a person. I’m pretty. I clean up well. But it’s my father’s company you want.”
His eyes became dead.
“That’s exactly it. And there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Katrina took your father so there is no hand to hold. Only me.”
Sue said very softly, “I hate you.”
“That’s a strong enough emotion, kitten. It will do.”
I got up and slowly made my way to the table. The man looked up, irritation in his flat eyes.
“This is my table, Cowboy.”
I sat down, shaking my Stetsoned head.
“No, it’s mine. All the tables in Meilori’s are mine. I’m just letting you use this one.”
At the three closest tables, wide-shouldered men started to rise but froze when three of my Grimms, what some call Hell-hounds, sat in front of them.
Usually they cleaned up the messes in my jazz club. But sometimes they made them first.
The man looked scorn at Sue.
“You really believe that garbage about this place? That’s why you suggested me taking you here?”
He sneered at me and withdrew five hundred dollar bills from his wallet.
“Look whoever you really are, here’s 500 bucks. Now, strut back to your table like the hero you pretend to be.”
I nodded. “Let’s shake on that, shall we?”
I ripped the glove from my right cursed hand and took his own. He sucked in a wet gasp.
I stiffened as his life force, along with his memories surged into me.
Faces of his victims.
His own in the mirror as a child, crying at another of his father’s beatings.
The burn of his first taste of whiskey.
The thrill of victory as he forced his will, his body upon another woman.
The now-withered man lay sprawled across the table.
Sue choked out. “Y-You are a monster like they say!”
I got up.
“Reckon so. But now at least one of us has something to be thankful for today.”
As my Grimms approached to make their own Thanksgiving meal of a human turkey,
I thought that for them Black Friday had come a day early.