And here is the deleted scene from MADHOUSE. If one is old enough or geeky enough to tell, it is an homage of sorts to a scene from my favorite 80s movie. For those who kicked Amazon ass, you’re amazing. I can’t thank you enough. Now…moving along to the chicken of doom (not a zombie chicken as previously hypothesized.) Enjoy.
As much as I hated kidnapping cases, I wasn’t a whole lot fonder of the extermination ones. But as much as I disliked it, the next day that’s what we were doing.
“What’s it called again?” I asked, idly switching the radio over from Niko’s songs-long-before-we-were-born station to something a little more current.
“An Aitvaras and turn that back before I break a finger or two.”
I glanced over to gauge the seriousness of the threat, gave an aggrieved groan, and switched it back. I still had a lingering headache from opening the gate at the museum anyway. I wasn’t going to appreciate any kind of music right then. “And what the hell is an Aitvaras?”
Niko tapped fingers on the steering wheel and mused, “I wonder if I slammed a book of mythology against your head if the knowledge would soak in through sheer osmosis. Nothing else seems to work.” He took the Verrazano bridge and continued, “An Aitvaras is a creature that is a mixture of rooster and serpent. The legend states it’s a rooster indoors and a serpent outdoors, but we know how accurate legends are.” That would be not very. “An Aitvaras will find a house and inhabit it…for good. They won’t leave and are supposedly very wily.”
“You mean the cartoon coyote?” I said innocently.
“Yes, that’s exactly who I meant. And if I’m lucky a falling anvil will hit you on the head and knock you into blissful silence,” he said with exasperation. “If you can’t say anything intelligent….” The words trailed off as I grinned at him. “Never mind,” he sighed. “It would be too difficult to explain your newfound muteness.”
“Actually a lot of people might be pretty happy about that.” My boss at the bar for one. He hadn’t appreciated the long lunch I was taking today—the very long lunch. Turning my head I looked out the window at the choppy gray water below and wondered what tentacled thing lurked in it. When you live in a world of monsters you tend to think things like that. If you were a typical oblivious human, you probably thought, ‘what crappy weather.’ Lucky clueless humans.
“Maybe we should swing by Rafferty and Catcher’s place.” We hadn’t been able to reach Rafferty for a month now and Catcher was incapable of answering the phone. I didn’t want to say I was worried, it wasn’t as if Rafferty was more than an acquaintance…even if he had saved my life and even if he was an okay kind of guy. But it wasn’t like he was…oh hell, I was worried. Why not admit it to myself? I didn’t have to admit it to anyone else.
“That’s a good idea. We will.” It was said so casually that I knew Nik had already planned to and that I wasn’t fooling him in the slightest.
Sliding down a little in the seat, I beat a tempo on my legs. “So…a gargoyle.”
“Yes. We’ve never seen one of those. It should be educational. I asked Promise about both him and the Aitvaras. She’s not ever seen one of the latter, but says gargoyles have thick skin, like elephant hide but much more difficult to penetrate. They’re nearly indestructible. However, while they’re swift in flight, they’re slow and lumbering on the ground, which may be why he called us. He can’t catch his pest. I doubt there’s much flying room in a house.”
We’d received the call that morning from a Mr. Grxxl. At least I thought that’s how you’d spell it. As for duplicating the pronunciation, forget about it. We didn’t have money for an office, to say the least, and really, what was the point? Our customers weren’t the kind to stand on ceremony. If they wanted to hire us, they’d couldn’t care less if we lived in a cave, roosted in a tree, or set up shop in a junkyard—a good deal of them already did. We never met them at the apartment anyway. Our number was unlisted, you had to get it via the grapevine, and we liked our privacy. We usually met them at Central Park and got half the money up front. Mr. G. was going to be an except as he apparently didn’t leave the house much. But he was paying us up front before we stepped into Aitvaras territory. Commerce on a porch…worked for me.
Turned out he lived in a tidy Staten Island neighborhood. Tidy being moderate sized yards, moderate sized French looking houses, and the not so moderate prices of over a million and a half. “How much do you think we can soak this guy for?” I asked as we pulled up into the driveway that curved along the front of the house.
“You have got to start limiting your time with Goodfellow. It’s hazardous to your morality.”
Only Nik would worry about my morality. I opened the car door, the comforting weight of the Glock resting against my ribcage. “Do you think we need a waiver for damages? I mean, I brought the silencer, but quietly shooting up his walls probably won’t make him any happier.”
“If you cannot take out one rooster without destroying Mr. Grxxl’s house,” of course Niko had no trouble pronouncing the name, “then I wash my hands of you.” He walked to the porch and rang the bell. It was nice if you were into that sort of thing. I wasn’t. Sounded like monks yodeling. Several seconds later Mr. G. opened the door. I did my best not to react. Okay, I could see why he didn’t leave the house much.
He could pass for human, if that human had a horribly disfiguring skin disease and really bad taste in hats. He had a broad hooked nose, tiny eyes buried in folds of flesh and a heavy shelf of browbone, jowls that nearly covered a jutting chin, no lips to speak of, and a wide array of large warts sprinkling his face. And the entire thing was covered with pancake make up to give him a flesh colored tone that, as evidenced by the gray hand holding gloves, he didn’t have. The hat was broad rimmed, made of straw and a good two feet across.