\ 18:18 "A way with the ladies" | unlimitedi.net
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Carmine felt like throwing up but he didn't have anything to throw up in his stomach.  He had not eaten anything for about two days.  He wanted to tell Mr. B about Tony and how Tony had tried to kill him, but he wasn't sure what he'd say.  "I'm sorry I killed Tony, Mr. B.," didn't seem to be sufficient.

This wasn't like the time he'd beaten up that Henry Collins in 8th grade for calling him stupid. The teacher made him stand in the corner all day and then Momma had to come and get him from school and talk to the teacher.  That had been bad.  Henry had to wear braces for a long time after that.

Carmine had spent all his money on bus fare to get back to Manhattan.  He was standing outside Hellfire.  He looked at the sign with the fire and the dancing devil-girls all lighted up and how they smiled like they was having a good time.  Carmine knew Hell wasn't nuthin' like that.  Hell was dark.

He went inside to see if Mr. B was in there.  He'd have to tell him what happened, somehow.

"Hey Butterball, where's your Mommie?"

Carmine turned to see a waitress named Lina leaning against the bar.  She had on one of the trademark "devil girl" suits in black that looked so tight it seemed to be painted on. Carmine thought she looked pretty but she wasn't ever nice to him.  She said he was a Momma's boy and that real girls didn't need a guy like him.

"Hi, Lina, is Mr. B. in?"

"He's Mr, R, Butterball.  Ro-Man-O.  Balthazar is his first name.  And he is, but he's busy"

"He lets me call him, Mr. B." Carmine muttered.

"I'm sorry, Butterball, I didn't catch that because of your jowls flapping.  In fact, I don't want to.  If you want to wait in the kitchen, I'll tell him you are here and he can send for you if he can stand to look at you."

Cathie, another one of the waitresses, came over, "Carmine, don't let her make you mad.  I'll get you a sandwich and a Coke or something.  You look like you need something to eat."

Carmine was hungry and Cathie was nice even if she did have to wear that silly devil-girl costume with the sparkly horns.  In the kitchen, Connie got him a grilled cheese and she cut it in triangles like Momma did.  He drank his Coke and ate his sandwich quietly while he waited.

Lina walked into the kitchen and immediately frowned.  "Aw, shit," she said loudly, "Who let the retard into the food?  Are you going to pay for that sandwich, retard?"

"Cathie said..." he started.

"Cathie ain't shit to me, retard," Lina screamed at him, "Persephone said you don't get jack shit in this place without somebody paying for it, so give me your four bucks and get the hell out of here."

"I ain't a retard," Carmine muttered, "And I don't have four dollars."

"Don't mumble, retard. Its bad enough I have to wait four hours for you to finish a sentence, you got to mumble too?"

"I said, I'm NOT A RETARD!" Carmine slammed Lina into the stainless steel counter so hard she gasped.  He held one hand on her throat and the other he made into a meaty fist.

"Fucking retard!" she gasped, reaching for anything to use against him.

Carmine began to pound on her.  He outweighed her 115 lbs. nearly three times.  She stopped struggling after the first few hits, but in his rage he continued to pound her face and body until she was limp as a rag.  He dropped her lifeless body on the tile floor, swigged the last of his Coke and ran out of the kitchen. 

He had to go home, his Momma would know what to do.  She would hold him and tell him what to do now.

Tony straightened the tie he'd gotten from the security room lockers in Balthazar's building.  It had taken him a lot longer to get out of the Lincoln's trunk than he'd have though it possible but he hadn't expected to wake up there in the first place.  He called Mr Romano to tell him that he was back, and that Carmine Bocelli was a bigger danger than they had anticipated.

Mr. Romano wasn't happy, but he said he'd take care of it.  He wanted Tony to find a Verbati demon named Rob.  Tony frowned.  Verbati were hard to find when they didn't want to be.  All shape-changers were, but Tony had an idea where he might be.

Tony headed to the subway and took the 3 up to 137th street and walked over to City College.  He knew Rob was a bookworm.  If he was hiding there was only one place he would go to ground.  He entered the library and casually walked to top of the balcony to the wide landing at the top.  There, he looked around at the statues arrayed by the various shelves.  Muses. Practice, Memory, Song, and a fourth, unnamed muse standing on a stone plinth next to the ladies room.

Tony walked over and leaned on it.  It exhaled. "Hi Rob, perving the ladies room I see."

The statue melted and reformed into something resembling a college student. "Hi Tony, I'm sorry that Mr. Romano wasn't all that happy with what I got, but that was all they had.  You know how it is, sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you don't."

"I know, Rob, and I got some bad news for you.  Today you don't."

Tony dragged Rob into the men's room across the hall.  He glared at the only other occupant until he left and pushed the heavy metal trash-can against the door. "Anything to say, Rob?"

Rob paused momentarily but then his arms sprouted foot-long claws which he raked down the front of Tony's chest.  Blood fountained out and made the floor slick, but Tony just stood there.  "Are we done, now, Rob?" he asked, "Because not only do I have other things to do, but the cleanup is going to delay those even further."

Rob started to lunge again, but Tony just pumped seven or eight rounds from his silenced pistol into him.  When Rob stopped moving, Tony used a knife to skin him and cut out several vital organs which he placed in the sinks to drain.

It used all of the toilet paper and paper towels in the restroom to clean up all of the blood an viscera and the plastic bag in the trash-can was strained to its limit when he had finished.  Rob took the damp but serviceable hoodie and sweat-pants that Rob had been wearing to replace his shredded suit and left quickly so he could report back to Mr. Romano.

He'd made his kill for the day, he'd be good until tomorrow, and certainly Mr Romano would have plenty of work for him to keep busy with.

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