Art and the philosophy of life

Posts tagged ‘Louise’

Louise…Seventeen Final chapter

There was a knock on the door and Amelia entered.  “I brought food. “she said,” putting down a slew of bags.  “I’m here because I don’t like being out of the loop and I get lonely. Besides there’s a new business that just opened up in our building and there’s a lot of noise, what with the remodeling and the ghosts.”

“Ghosts?” asked Novak.

“Hello,” said Amelia, staring at the two demons, who smiled and nodded at her.  “I have dozens of cookies and three pies.  Plus, I baked bread and it’s uncut so you can just hold the entire loaf and have fun eating it whole.”

The demons held out their hands and Amelia gave them each a loaf.  “They’re so dear, aren’t they? A demon lived with me when I was a child and that’s how she liked to eat her bread.”

“What?” said Louise.

“A demon, just like them” smiled Amelia.  “One lived with me when I was a child.”

Shane started laughing.  “Where did she go?”

“Oh, she’s still here.  We keep in touch and get together a few times a year.”

“What?” said Louise, again.

“Pay attention, will you?” sighed Amelia.  “My parents both worked and Susan used to make breakfast for me before school.  She made my bed and read to me as well.”

“Susan?  Her name was Susan?” asked Louise.

‘No, of course not.  But I was young and couldn’t pronounce her real name which is Ketariou.  I call her K now and she calls me A.  She had a beautiful sister named…”

“Mtteilu?” said Gau.

“Yes,” said Amelia. “Would you like to meet your aunt?”

“We would,” they said in unison.

“Well that’s good because she’s waiting to come in.”

Novak opened the door and K walked in.  Tears were running down her face and onto her black sequined dress.  She held out her arms and embraced her niece and nephew.  Louise swallowed, Shane grinned and Novak wiped at his eyes.

“I thought it would be helpful if they had someplace safe to stay.  There’s a whole community of peaceful demons living not far from here.”

“Amelia,” said Louise, “you’re absolutely amazing.”

“Not really,” she said.  “When you work for crooks and you pay attention, you learn a lot and when you’ve lived with a demon for years, well, you learn a lot from that as well.. Demons have a bad reputation and for most, it’s one they truly deserve, but like everything else, not all of them are nasty.  Some of them are loving and kind.  K took care of me. Raised me actually.  She was gentle and had a lovely singing voice, although she didn’t know many songs.”

K smiled and nodded, holding out her hand, which Amelia lovingly took.

After a hearty meal, filled with laughter and grunts, many thanks and hugs were carefully exchanged.  Promises of get-togethers were made and Amelia then shepherded the demons out the door, to much waving and many calls of goodbye.

“Can I go home now?” asked Novak.  “Can I go back to work?”

“I don’t see why not.  Gat gave us a map showing where the portals were and we plan on shutting them down.  I don’t think any of the demons who are currently here are after you specifically.”

“What if I don’t want to leave?”

“Excuse me?” said Louise.

“Coo,” snickered Graywing.

“It’s NOT like that,” said Louise, staring at the pigeon.


“Hey, Novak.  Why do you want to stay?” asked Shane.

“I’ve been bored.  My work hasn’t been satisfying. I could paint here.  I think Louise is my Muse.”

“Go home Novak,” said Louise.

“Will you let me paint you?”


“Why not?”

“I’m busy…I have bad guys to kill.”

“We really need to revisit Dorken,” whispered Shane.

“And we have clean up, as well,” agreed Louise.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll do it from memory.”

“Don’t care.”

“I like you.  A lot.”

“Coo! laughed the bird.

Novak looked at the pigeon. “I know, I know, you did tell me everyone falls in love with her.”

Louise glared at Graywing, who fluffed out her feathers and tucked her head under her wing.  “Don’t expect a seed tree anytime soon,” she hissed.

“I’ll be in touch,” he said, as he opened the door and immediately fell over the dead body in front of him.

“Oh, goodie,” said Shane.  “A new case.”

“You know this guy?” asked Louise.

“No. You?”

“Nope,” she said.

“His name is Tom.  He’s my art dealer,” said Novak.



Amelia brought the demons to safety.  Tom was killed by his brother, who felt that he had been holding back funds from the sale of work at the gallery.  The fact that his wife had been Tom’s girlfriend first, didn’t help matters.  There was a Yorkie, named Pippin, involved but he wasn’t important to the case.  The guy got life.  His wife is currently running the gallery and she has full custody of Pippin.  She’s giving new artists shows and encouraging budding  street artists.  She’s tough but fair, so the other gallery owners don’t like her.  She doesn’t care and Shane is making a small pistol for her…you know, for her personal safety.

Novak and Louise never got together because Louise kept hitting him whenever he got close to her.  He did paint several pictures of her and they sold for a million each. He offered her half of the money and she hit him again.

Dorken never cast another spell.  He did, however, get a local television show, dedicated to dogs and the people they love.  Roger, his brother, married his long time friend Ronald on a bright sunny day in June.  Novak was invited to the wedding but felt it would be a conflict of interests to attend, so he gratefully declined.  He did send a set of beautiful silver candlesticks, which were greatly appreciated, if the thank you note could be believed.

Shane designed several new guns and stunners.  She also created handcuffs that could be tightened and give electric shocks by remote control.

Remember the woman who wanted Louise and Shane to shoot her husband?  Well, apparently, they took too long so she shot him herself.  He refused to press charges and they are on their second honeymoon, somewhere in Greece.

Graywing, Shane and Louise are happy and extremely busy.

Amelia has reorganized the entire office and made friends with some of the ghosts from down the hall.

For the most part, things are moving forward nicely.

Oh, one more thing.  Novak gave Louise a picture of himself which she set on fire.  She burned it on the roof of his ragtop, vintage black and white ’57 Chevy.  He told her it didn’t matter and he’s working on a picture of the two of them together.  He’s using acrylics and it’s a picture of her punching him.  Louise said she knows just where she’s going to hang it.


Thank you for reading the story.



“How cute are they,” sighed Louise, watching Gau and Gat hug each other.

“Coo?”All Posts

“Of course I would look for you if you were gone,” said Louise, running her hand down the pigeon’s back.  “How could you even ask that question?”


“Yes, I know you would look for me too and sure, you can sleep in my room tonight.”

“What are we going to do with them?” asked Shane, eating an ice cream bar and a donut.

“No idea,” said Louise.  “Gat said she’d show me how she got in and I’ll make sure no one comes in that way again but I can’t ask them to go back there and I don’t know if I can magick them a human look that will last any length of time.  It would drain me to keep it on them and they would still stand out, since they don’t know the fine art of being human.”

“Don’t worry,” said Shane. “We’ll figure something out.”

Novak was getting hugged by the demons, who were so happy to be together again, they couldn’t stop dragging everyone into their circle.  Even Graywing had received a kiss from Gat, after which she preened her wing for twenty minutes.

Louise made everyone something to eat, then she, the pigeon and Gat left for the portal. Novak and Gau were playing cards and Shane was standing guard.  Darkness was falling and the street lights came on.

“Did anyone else come through with you?” asked Louise.  Gat shook her head.  “Do you know if the doorway is used often?”  She shook her head again.

“Always here,” she said.  “War, disease, poverty, government, all demon work.  Close a doorway and another will appear.”

“Why aren’t you like the others?”

Gat, looked at her fingers and inhaled deeply.  Her eyes got glassy and she rubbed her nose.

“You don’t have to tell me.  It’s okay,” said Louise.

“Kindness,” said Gat.  “Mother was kind.”

Louise put her hand on Gat’s arm.  “Thank you.”

Gat nodded.

“I’m sorry for what happened to her.  You and Gau can stay with me, until we find a place where you’ll be safe and have more freedom.”


“Don’t do that,” whispered Louise.  “It’s difficult for me to deal with kindness and things like that, if you know what I mean.  I don’t know what to do with it.”

Gat out her hand on Louise’s leg, well it covered both ot them, but still.

“Have to tough to survive,” she sniffed.  “Soft you’re used and you die.”

Gat nodded.

“So it won’t matter if I close the doorway?”

“No,” said Gat.  Many ways to get here now.  Things are bad in this place and that makes it’s own doorways.  Attracts those in the Pit.”

Louise made a U-turn and drove to a donut shop.  She ordered four dozen donuts throught the drive-thru and then called her favorite pizza joint and ordered four a dozen, extra larges to go.

“Hungry,” said Gat.

“Likewise,” agreed Louise.  “So, any ideas how for stop the demons from coming here?  How to seal the Pit?”


“Yes?” said Louise, surprised.

“Donuts are good,” said Gat, reaching for her third one.

“Tell me how to get rid of the demons.”

“Get rid of the evil people who attract them.”

“Great,” sighed Louise.  “That’s not gonna happen girlfriend.”



“Demons like hate, war and violence.  It’s food.  They kill kindness because it burns them.  People here are violent, hateful.  They like that.  Makes them happy so they come.”

“Thanks Paula,” said Louise, taking the boxes of pizza in through the car window.”

“I don’t do curb service for anyone but you, you know,” said Paula.

“I know and I appreciate it.”

“Hey, you got rid of that thing in the basement, I owe you.  You get curb service for life.” They bumped knuckles and Louise and Gat were on their way home.

“Smells good,” said Gat, closing her eyes.

“Oh, Honey, you have no idea.”




Louise heard the car horn and ran down the hall.  She flung the door open and saw a demon the size of a truck, rocking the car back and forth.  Novak, as white as a ghost, was laying on the horn and yelling.

“Great,” said Louise, pulling her screwdriver out of the back of her skin tight jeans.  She shook it, and pink sparks dribbled to the ground.  “Good enough,” she muttered as she ran at the demon and jumped onto her back.

The demon made a terrible sound and tried to fling Louise to the ground.  She whirled and smashed Louise into the car.  She twisted and threw her hand over her shoulder, in an effort to drag Louise forward.  Then she screamed again…”Gau.”

“Gau?” said Louise.  “Did you say Gau?”

“The demon slowed, “Gau?” whispered.

“I know him,” said Louise, dropping to the ground.

“Where?” asked the demon.

“How do you know him?”


“I’m Louise.  Gau’s at my place.  I can take you to him, if you like.”

“Gat,” said the demon, pointing at herself.  “Take me.”

“We have to wait for my partner.  She should be out in a minute.”

Gat nodded and squatted on the ground to wait.  She started drawing pictures in the dust and hummed softly to herself.

“How did you get to this plane?” asked Louise.



Gat pointed to her right.

“Will you show me later?”

Gat nodded.

“I can send you and Gau back, then seal the portal.”

“No,” said Gat.  “Stay here.”

“You can’t stay here.  People will notice you and that won’t be a good thing, believe me.”


“Hey,” said Shane.  “Where’d ya get the demon?”

“This is Gat,  She’s Gau’s sister. She doesn’t want to go back to the Pit.”

“Can’t blame her,” said Shane.

“Ladies,” said Novak.  “What’s going on?”

Louise made the introductions.  Gat tried to smile and Novak just said, “Hello, nice to meet you.”

“You’re so polite,” said Shane, poking him in the ribs.  “I bet no one has ever said that to a demon before.”

Gat was light blue, a little over seven feet tall, with deep golden eyes and long black hair.  She was wearing something that looked like a bowling shirt and a pink net tutu over bare and very large feet.

“Love your style,” said Shane.  “Really, you look…outstanding.”

Louise put an enlargement spell on the back of the car and they got Gat inside.  She called Graywing, who flew to her shoulder and they all got in and slammed the doors.

“How’s Dorken?” asked Louise, looking at Shane.

“He’ll live to play again.”

Louise smiled, turned up the radio and kicked up the gravel behind her, as she sped away.




“So you cast a spell that would open a portal for pit demons to come through but you aren’t controlling what they do once they get here?”

“Not after they do the job for Daniel.  No.”

“Don’t you care that they could torment, maim and kill people?”

“Not really,” said Dorken.  “It was just a job.  I figured they would find their way back through the painting.  I don’t really deal in demons.  It’s not my kind of magick.  I just did it because the guy was willing to pay a fortune to get rid of the new guys setting up shop in his territory.”

“So no one was set up to send them BACK?”

“Not that I know of,” stammered Dorken.  “I guess I should have thought of that.”

“What kind of magick to you do?”  asked Louise, straddling his lap.

“Just a little of this and that, nothing too big.  Don’t want the Magical Controllers bothering me.”

“Tell me what a little of this and a little of that IS, or you’ll only wish your face felt as good as it does right now.”

“What IS your problem?  You get off on beating people up?”

Louise thought about it, then smiled.  “I have a lot of rage about the state of the world, magical and otherwise, so yeah, I like beating up the bad guys.”

“And you get to decide who’s bad?”

“I do.  How cool is that?”

“Uh,” said Shane.  “How much did you like this guy,” she said, looking at the body on the floor.

“He’s a new hire.”

“So, no relative?”

“No, why?”

“Not sure he’s actually alive right now.”

“Really?” huffed Louise.

“I told you I didn’t have the bugs in this thing worked out.”

“Sorry about that,” said Louise.  “Now tell me about your magick, or I’ll show you some of mine.”

“I’m a low level psychic.  I can tell people about those they have lost, if they haven’t been gone too long.  I can sometimes see into a persons future, if they have a certain kind of energy but I make most of my money by….”  he paused.

“Go on,” said Louise.

“Dogs like me.”


“They tell me when they’re unhappy and why.  I pass that information on to the people they live with and if they listen to me, everyone ends up happy.”

That’s what you do and yet you called pit demons to this plane?”

“I do know a few spells,” he said nervously

“You made a freaking portal to the PIT.”

“I didn’t know if it would even work.”

“Let me zap him,” said Shane.  “I turned down the power a little and he’s almost too stupid to let live.”

“In a minute,” said Louise.  “So here’s what’s going to happen Dorken.  I’m going to chip you. If you play with your usually magick I’ll know and I’ll leave you alone.  If you try to cast, I’ll know that as well and I will rip the magic from you the instance you mutter your second word. I won’t even have to be here to do it and you will never get your magic back. You will be just like every other human walking around asleep.  Do you understand?”

“Can you do that?”

Louise leaned forward and whispered into his ear, “Ask Max Cells, whether or not I can do it.”

“I heard he was sick.”

Louise laughed.  “Is that what he’s been telling people?”

“Yes,” said Dorken, nodding.

“Ask him about his magick. Better yet, ask him to show it to you.”

“Now can I zap him?”

“Hold on,” said Louise.  “What do you say Dorken?”

“Are you going to let her at me?” he asked, looking at Shane.

“Probably,” said Louise, as she shot a chip under the skin of Dorken’s shoulder. “If you try and take this out of your shoulder you’ll be dead in five minutes.  And believe me when I say that those five minutes will be the most painful minutes of your life.”

“That hurt,” he whined, rubbing his shoulder.  “Why are you going to let her zap me?  I’ve told you everything I know.”

“She needs to figure out the ratio, you heard her.”

“She might kill me.”

“You might have killed thousands of people by letting demons out of the pit.”

“That’s different.”


“The demons wouldn’t have killed me.”

“He’s all yours Shane.”


“Nice place,” said Shane, stretching, in the back seat. “A bit prison like for my taste but to each his own.”

“Looks like a bunker,” said Novak, sticking his head out of the window.

“That’s what it probably is,” muttered Louise, waiting for Graywing to return.

“Three men in the living room,” cooed Graywing.  “Two of them bigger than normal and armed.  Lots of guns on the coffee table.”

“Thank you, birdling.”


“Demons?” asked Shane.

“No idea.”

“How do you wanna play it?  Repel?  Front door?  What?”

“Flower girl?” smiled Louise.

“Lovin’ it,” laughed Shane.

Shane and Louise walked toward the building.  Graywing flew to the windowsill and waited.  Novak drummed his fingers on the dashboard and tried to think of other things.

Louise rang the door bell to the remodeled warehouse and started up at the camera.

“Yeah?” asked a deep rough voice.

“Flowers for a Mr. Dorken.”

“Leave ’em by the door.”

“You have to sign for them,” she said sweetly.  “I can’t leave them unless you sign and if I bring them back,” she said, a hitch in her voice, “I’ll get into trouble and I can’t afford to lose my job.”

“Who are they from?”

“I don’t know, sir.  I’m not allowed to open the card.”

“Fine.  Wait there.”

“Like where else would you wait,” whispered Shane.  “Nice glamour with the flowers.  I can almost smell them.”


“Okay, gimme the flowers and show me where to sign.”

“I didn’t expect him to go down that fast,” said Shane. “A big guy like that? Usually takes more than a couple of blows to the head and a stun gun to the chest.”

“You’re just good at what you do,” said Louise.

Shane stopped, then hugged Louise.  “Thank you.”

“Butch,” yelled a man.  “Where the hell are you? How long can it take you to answer the damn door?”

“Actually, he answered it right away,” said Louise, slamming the side of her hand into the first man’s the throat.”  He grabbed his neck with both hands, gurgled and fell backward into the chair he had been sitting in.  Louise turned and saw Shane holding Princess to the temple of the second guy.  His hands were zip cuffed behind his back.

“I can only assume you came to see me,” said the thin, balding man, staring out of the window.  “I don’t know why the government can’t get rid of these disease carrying birds.  Graywing smiled at him through the glass but he didn’t notice.

“Tell me about the portal painting,” said Louise.

“Not much to tell, really.  Man wanted some guys erased, I told him I could do it.  He paid me and I gave him the canvas.”

“You knowingly let demons come to this side of the veil?”

“Business is business. How many came through?”

Louise hit him.  “Y O U  W E R E N’ T   E V E N  C O N T R O L L I N G   T H E M!” she yelled, finally backing off.  “You don’t even know how many came through, where they are,  or what they’re doing?”

“What’d do that for?” he mumbled, wiping at his face.

Louise and Francis both turned when they head the electric buzzing.  Shane was on the back of the guy she floored, stunning him with something.

“New toy?” asked Louise, as she watched the tips of the man’s hair start to smoke.

“I designed it.  It’s a little more powerful than ordinary stunners.  I’m still getting used to the body weight, power ratio.”

“Is he alive?” asked Louise.

Shane put her fingers against the man’s neck.  “Thready, slow, uh, weak, but I think he’ll be okay.”

“Good enough,” said Louise.  “Francis, we need to talk.”





“I don’t think it was right of you to make me leave the room,” huffed Novak.

“Okay,” said Louise.

“Why did you do that?”

“Because I wanted to talk to Mr. Tuche alone and I didn’t know how it would go.”

“I don’t see why I couldn’t have been there,”  he said, sulkily.

“Did you want to watch me tie them up?”

“I think Mr. Tuche actually liked it,” snickered Novak.

“I think he did too,” said Louise, grinning.

“Roger slipped me his card.  The names of his two books, along with his phone number, are written on the back.”

“Seriously,” she asked, turning to look at him.

Novak nodded.  “Do you think someone will find them before they starve to death?”

“They would die of thirst first but the cleaning person comes in tomorrow, so she’ll release them.”

“How long before we get to where we’re going?” asked Shane, yawing.

“Thirty minutes,” answered Louise.

“I’m gonna catch some z’s.”

“Go ahead.  I’ll wake you wen we get there,” said Louise.


“Yes, you can nap as well, sweet thing.”

“How did you get that bird?” asked Novak, staring at the pigeon.

“I didn’t get her, I found her on the sidewalk.  Her wing was damaged and she was hiding behind a trash bin, scared out of her mind.  I picked her up, shoved her inside my jacket and took her home, where she would be safe.  That was over a year ago.  One day, when I was thinking out loud, she answered me and a partnership was born.”

“Do you think other birds can talk?”


“Did she just decide to stay with you?”

“She did,” smiled Louise.

“So where are we going now?”

“We are going to see a man named Francis Dorken.  He’s the guy who cast the spell on the canvas.”

“What are you going to do to him?”

“I guess that will depend on him.”

Novak nodded.  “Got it.”

“You’re going to wait in the car.”

“I am NOT going to wait in the car,” said Novak, frowning and crossing his arms over his chest.

“I can make you stay in the car,” she said softly.

“You wouldn’t…”

“Look.  Dorken plays with magick.  You don’t know anything about magick, so you won’t know what’s going on and you won’t see what’s coming at you.”

“But this is about me!” he snapped. “I should be there.”

“It is about you, but you hired me to protect you and I’m telling you that you’re going to stay in the car.”

“This is my life and if I want to put myself in danger, that’s up to me.”

Louise looked at him and said,  “You’re right.  You can come in.”

“I can?”

“Yes.  It is your life and you can do whatever you like…as long as you understand that by being there, you’ll be putting Shane’s and my life in danger.  If I’m busy trying to take care of you, I won’t be able to do my job.  I won’t be as alert to the things around me and we all might be killed.  But it’s your choice.”

“You’re evil.”

“I know,” she said smiling.  “And I don’t care.”


According to Amelia’s info, Mr. Daniel Tuche lived in a gated community.  So they weren’t surprised to see a guard sitting in a tiny booth in front of a large iron gate.  He stood up and stepped to the car.

“Good evening, Miss, who are you visiting this fine day and what is your name?”

“It’s Ms. Doe and we are here to see Daniel Tuche.”

“Is he expecting you?” asked the guard, looking at his clipboard.

“Yes, of course,” said Louise.

“I’m sorry Ms. Doe, but your name doesn’t seem to be on the list and I can’t open the gate unless…”

Louise waved her hand in front of the man’s face and he said, “…go right in.  I see your name just here,” he said, filling in the blank space with his pen, opening the gate.  The man stepped back and smiled as they drove past.

“Can’t you teach me to do that?” asked Novak, for the tenth time, flapping his hand in the air.

“Shane poked him on the shoulder.  “She said, ‘no.’

“I think that’s his place,” said Louise, heading toward a huge estate.

“Are you going to knock or just break the door down?” asked Novak.  “I mean that’s what you usually do.”

“I never know until I get there.”

“I can shoot the lock out,” offered Shane.

“Graywing,” said Louise.  “Scout.”

The pigeon flew out of the window and circled the building.  It took her three minutes to case the joint, so to speak.  “Coo.”

“Tuche is in his office talking to some guy in an expensive suit and a woman is in her bedroom packing.  She doesn’t look like the woman in your painting.”

“You got all of that from, ‘coo?'” asked Novak, in amazement.

“It’s more like telepathy,” she said, kicking in the door.

“You just love doing that, don’t you,” said Novak.

“I do, actually,” smiled Louise.

“HONEY, WE’RE HOME!” yelled Shane.

“Daniel, come out, come out, wherever you are,” called Louise, heading toward his office.

“Hey,” called the woman at the top of the stairs.  “Are you here to kill him?”  When no one answered she sighed and said, “Please, say yes.”

“Are you his wife?” asked Matthew.

“Not for bloody long,” she said.  “If you kill him I won’t have to go through a divorce, so good luck.  I mean he was nice in the beginning.  I have an MBA, so he let me keep the books, but after a few years we stopped having dinner together, you know how it goes.  We didn’t work hard enough to keep whatever we had alive.  If you want to kill him, and I truly hope that you do, he’ll be on your left.  Second door.”

“Another happy marriage,” chuckled Shane as they moved forward.

“What do you want?” asked Daniel, stepping into the hall, looking at the broken door.  “You could have knocked.”

“Tell the other guy to come out here,” said Shane, pointing Princess at his chest.

“Rog, out here, now.”

Once they were both in the hallway, Louise motioned them into the large living room.  “Sit,” she said.

“What’s this about,” asked Daniel.  “Did my wife hire you to kill me?  It’s something she would do.”

“Does she have a good reason to want you dead?” asked Shane.

“Sure,” he said, putting his arms on the back of the sofa.  “All women have good reason to kill their husbands,” he said seriously.  “I mean think about it.  We never listen and we always do the wrong thing, what’s not to kill? Now tell me why you’re here or get out before I get angry.”

“You hired Matthew to paint a picture of your wife, and I use that term loosely.”


“The pit demons weren’t included.”

“Yeah, about that,” said Daniel, leaning forward, arms on his knees.  “There are people who are, let’s say, trying to infringe upon my territory.  I though if I got a couple of demons to take them down, everything would be over quickly and no one would get hurt except for the guys I wanted dead.”

“Did he just say what I think he said?” asked Novak.

“If you think he said that he brought demons over to this side to knock out his competition then yes, you understood what he said,” answered Louise., turning back to Tuche.   “How did you do it?”

“He gave me the canvas,” said Novak, staring at him.  “He told me that it had to be a certain size and he would provide it.”

“Cute,” said Shane, “Can I disappear him now?”

Louise shook her head.  “In a minute.  The canvas was covered with a walk thru spell, wasn’t it?”

“No idea,” said Tuche.

“You kill him yet,” asked his wife, sticking her head in the room.  “I didn’t hear any shots.”

“I’m still alive cupcake,” laughed Daniel.  “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“There’s coffee in the kitchen,” she said.  “My cab’s here or I would get it for you.”

“Thanks,” said Novak.

“Anytime,” she said.  “Goodby you miserable, never hear anything I say, always late, never there…”

“Love you too babe,” he said, waving.  “She’s crazy about me, she just needs a vacation.”

“About the demons?” said Shane.

“Yeah.  I met this guy and he said he could take care of my problem.  All I had to do was have someone paint a picture on the canvas he would give me and all my problems would be over.  So, I gave him money, he gave me the canvas and Gregory passed it….”

“We know the rest,” said Novak.

“I don’t think it worked though.  I’m still being…bothered.”

“Who’s he?” asked Shane, pointing her gun at the guy next to him.

“Him?  He’s my brother.  A little slow, business wise, but a nice kid, right Roger?”

“I’m not slow and I’m not a kid, I’m not interested in business. I’m a poet,” said Roger, in a way that implied he had said the same thing far too many times before.

“Yeah, the kid’s a poet.  He has books and everything”

“Roger, did you know about any of this?”

“He doesn’t know anything about the business,” said Daniel.  “He writes.  He broods, then he writes some more.”

“Thinking is not brooding,” sighed Roger.  “You should try thinking once in awhile.”

“Roger, did you know anything about this.” asked Louise.

“No,” he said.

“Novak, will you get us some coffee?”

“If you want me to leave just say so,” he said.


“Funny,” he muttered, walking away.




Gregory Mason worked in a beautiful new glass and steel building on the twenty-third floor.  He didn’t have a corner office but it looked as if one was definitely in his future.  His secretary, a tall woman with hair and eyes the color of weak coffee, wore a very tight pencil skirt and a white blouse. A jacket hung over the back of her desk chair but she was far too neat to have it there for any other reason than she needed to put it on quite often.

“Yes? Can I help you?” she asked, looking at them.

“Probably not,” said Louise, walking past her.  Novak following in her wake  “But if I change my mind, I’ll let you know.”

“Hey, you can’t…”

“Hi,” said Shane, to the angry secretary.  “You might want to sit back in your chair and keep your hands where I can see them.”

Louise opened the office door and slammed it into the wall.  “Greg, baby, tell me all about the pit demons and why you used Novak to bring them through?”

“What? Who the…oh, Matthew,’re looking well?”

“No thanks to you,” said Novak, throwing himself into a chair.  “Answer her question.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you like technology, Greg?  Because my partner,” said Louise, “the one having a talk with your secretary, loves it.  She designed a silencer that doesn’t make any noise at all.  How much fun is that?”

“Get out of my office,” said Gregory, standing up.

Louise turned to Novak.  “Is he serious?”

“Seems like it.”

Louise swept everything off  his desk, jumped on top of it and punched him hard in the face, Greg fell backward into his chair, blood spurting through his fingers.”

“You’re really strong,” said Novak, appreciatively.

“I know,” said Louise.  “Now he knows it too.”

“What do you want me to say?” whined Gregory.  “I don’t know anything.  A guy said he wanted a picture of his wife and he wanted Matt to paint it.  That’s it.  He said if I could get Matt to do it he would sign the multi-million dollar contract I wrote up.  If he signed, I’d have it made.”

“So you sold Novak out for job security?”

“I didn’t sell him out.  The guy was paying him.  It was a job.”

“You didn’t know about the portal or the demons?”

“Are you insane?” he shrieked.  “What portal?  What demons?”

Louise hit him again.

“What was that for?” he cried.

“To jog your memory.”

“I’m telling you, I don’t know anything.”

“Okay, here’s what I’m going to do,” she said, waving her hand in front of his face.

Gregory, exhaled.  His hand fell limply to his lap and the blood from his nose dripped onto his crisp, white shirt.  “Gregory Mason?”

“Yes,” he sighed.

“Gregory Mason, do you know anything about Novak’s panting being a portal for demons.”

“He said they wouldn’t hurt him.  Said everything would be okay, they just needed a doorway.  Nothing could go wrong.  If he painted the picture they would make me a partner within the year.  No one would be harmed.  Everything would be okay.”

“Who is the man who wanted the painting?”

“I just met him.  He told me what he wanted and I drew up a contract.  A lot of money is involved, feather in my cap.  But when he came in to sign, he said he would only do it if Matthew painted the picture.”

“Why Matthew?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t ask.”

“Who is his wife, the woman in the painting?”

“I never met her but I don’t think that was his wife.”

“Who is she?”

“Not the wife.  He didn’t talk about her the way a man talks about his wife.”

“Does your secretary know anything about this?”


“You will not call your client and you won’t remember what we talked about, is that crystal clear?”


“Thanks, Greg.” said Louise, snapping her fingers.

“My nose.  I think you broke my nose,” he cried, trying to wipe the blood off his shirt.

“Your nose isn’t broken, ya big baby.  Put ice on it.   You’re a bad friend and a bad person, Gregory.  You agreed to let demons escape from the pit and run free in the world, for personal gain and that’s a no-no.”

“I didn’t,” he insisted.

Novak got up, walked around the desk and punched Gregory in the nose.

“Okay, now your nose is broken,” snickered Louise, over Gregory’s moaning. “Nice shot, Novak.”

“You two need help in there?” called Shane.

“Be done in a sec,” yelled Louise, waving both hands in front of Gregory. “Let’s go, Novak, she said, and they walked out of his office.

“What did you just do to him?” he asked.

“Nothing lethal, he just may end up working in a place where they put french fries in tiny cardboard holders for a bit.  He’ll be confused for about six months.”

“You can do that?”

“I just DID that,” said Louise, staring at Shane.  “Um, Shane?”

“Nice talking to you,” said Shane, smiling at Gregory’s secreatry.

The secretary smiled back.  “You too and I’ll be sure and try that vegan deli you told me about.”

“You won’t be sorry.”

“You make a friend?” asked Louise, once they were on the elevator.

“You know I don’t have time for friends,” said Shane, pressing the button.  “You, Amelia, Billy and Princess are my only friends.”

“Coo?” asked he bird.

“Yes, of course, you too.”

“Who’s Princess?” asked Novak.

“Her gun,” said Louise.

“I’d probably name a gun like that, if I had one,” he said.  “I went to school with Gregory.  I can’t believe he…”

“I’m sorry,” said Louise, touching his hand.  “You wouldn’t believe how often this kind of thing happens.”

“A lot,” said Shane.  “A LOT.”

“Coo,” said Graywing, bobbing up and down.  “Coo.”



“You sure you’re okay sleeping on the couch?” asked Louise, tucking the blankets in around him.  “I have air mattresses and you can always sleep with me.”

Novak stared at her.  “Is that a good idea, sleeping with you I mean?”

“We’ll be asleep, how bad can it be?” said Louise, staring at him.

“Where is Gau sleeping?”

“On the floor next to my bed.  I made a nest for him out of blankets and old sweatshirts, since he’s still stressed and afraid to be alone.”

“I think I’ll stay here.”

“Up to you,” she said.  “If you change your mind, you know where I am.”




“Maybe,” said Louise.  “Shy or afraid…he seems to go back and forth.”

“Coo,” said the bird, in agreement.

“What about his job?” asked Shane, knocking back a bottle of water.  “Any donuts left?”

“He really can’t go to work right now.”  Louise took a box of donuts out of the draw next to her knee and slid them across the counter.

“Thanks!” said Shane, happily.  “My favorites.”

“Every donut is your favorite,” snickered Louise.

“Na uh,” mumbled Shane. waving a chocolate iced donut in the air and then pointing at a French donut still in the box.  “Favs.”

“Are you staying here tonight?”

“I’ll be right next door.”

“Lock the door and spell it when you leave, please.  I’m gonna crash. And yes, you can take the rest of the donunts .  I have more.”

“You’re the beast partner ever, you know that, right?”

“I do, actually.”

Louise fell across the bed and then forced herself to remove some of her clothes and crawl under the covers.  Gau and Billy were snuggled together on the floor and in spite of their loud breathing and snarfing, Louise fell asleep immediately and barely felt Novak get into bed with her early in the morning.

“Softest bed ever,” he whispered.  “Why do you ever get up?”

“Because the bed can’t pay the bills.”

“It could if you rented it out by the hour.”

“What time is it?”

“Seven,” said the bird.

“Time to rise and shine kiddies,” she said ripping the blankets off.”

“I hate you.”

“Wow, no one has ever said that to me before.  I’m crushed.”

“She’s kidding,” said Graywing.  “You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, thank you, I do know that,” replied Novak.

“I’m taking a shower.  We’re going to visit your friend after breakfast.”

“I need clothes,” said Novak.

“Look in the hall closet.  I’m sure something will fit you.  And before you ask, there are clothes for men in the closet because you aren’t the first client who has stayed here.”

“Got it,” he said.

An hour later everyone was in the kitchen.  “Billy, you stay here with Gau.  You know the drill.  Graywing you’re with me.  Shane will take drag.”

“Is my friend going to fall on a bullet?” asked Novak, who was dressed in jeans, a white t-shirt and a navy sport coat.

“That’s up to him,” said Louise, eyeing him up and dow.  “You look…good.”

Novak bowed.  “Thank you.  I do my best.”

“Gau, do everything Billy tells you to do.  He’s done this before.  Eat anything you want, unless it’s alive.”

Billy, nodded and so did Gau.  Shane was in the hall leaning against the wall.  “Took you long enough.  This is my last donut,” she said,wiping her fingers on her torn, skin tight jeans.  “Powder sugar rocks.”


Louise cast a LOOK AWAY spell, which did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It made people look away from them.  They reached the apartment, she took down the wards, and they went inside.  Novak and Graywing were asleep on the chair.  A copy of The Velveteen Rabbit lay open on the floor next to them.  “Go figure,” whispered Louise, watching the pair wake up.

“Coo?” said Grawing, staring at the demon.

“Is that a demon?” asked Novak, yawning, getting to his feet.

“It is,” said Louise.  “As a matter of fact, this is the demon who came through your painting.  He said he’s the only one who did.”

“And you believe…him?” he asked.

“His name is Gau and he’s just a kid, so be nice, or I’ll get Shane to give you a lesson in proper behavior.”

“But he’s a demon,” whispered Novak, staring at her as if she were missing the point.

“You guys hungry? asked Louise, looking at Billy and Gau.  They both nodded, so she went into the kitchen and started to prepare something for them to eat.

“Are you making grilled cheese sandwiches?” asked Novak, hopefully.

“Everyone loves grilled cheese sandwiches.  Would you like one?”

“Sure, I guess.”

“Get the chips out of that drawer, please and pour water into a bowl for Billy and get something for Gau to drink as well,” she said, flipping a sandwich.  Gau made happy noises, as he watched.

Novak did as he was asked and Billy went right to the bowl and started splattering everything within a four foot radius.

“There’s potato salad in the fridge,” she said.

Novak got it and placed the bowl on the counter.  Louise continued to make sandwiches.

“How many are you going to make?”

“He’s a demon, they’re always hungry.”

“Okay, then,” he said grabbing a hot one and plopping it onto a plate.

Louise put six Grilled Cheese sandwiches onto a platter and put the dish down in front of Gau.  He smiled and daintily cut one in half, then picked it up with his claws.  He took a bite, grinned, and nodded at Louise.  She nodded back, then put a platter in front of Billy.

“How are you going to send him back?” asked Novak, with a mouth full of chips.

Gau shook his head at him and frowned.  “He thinks you should know better than to speak with your mouth full.”

Novak choked and reached for his glass.

“He doesn’t want to go back,” said Louise.  “He was kidnapped and the demons who took him, killed his mother.  He is a gentle soul, so I told him he could stay with me until he gets settled.”

“Uh,” stammered Novak.  “Settled how?”

Louise shrugged.  “Too soon to tell.”

Shane burst through the door and said, “I hope there’s something left for me.”

“There’s always food for you,” laughed Louise. “How did the drop go?”

“Same as always,” she said. “Perfect.”

“Did someone else fall on a bullet?” asked Novak, already knowing the answer.

“Not so slow after all, are you Novak.” cooed Graywing.

“His name is Gau,” said Louise.  “Gau this is Shane.  Shane, this is Gau. We had a long talk on the way home.”

“Hey, Gau, nice to meet you,” said Shane, nodding at him.  “It’s cool man, no fear.”

The demon looked at Louise.

“It means she’s happy that you’re here.”

The demon smiled at Shane and offered her one of his sandwiches.”

“Can I go home now?” asked Novak, hopefully.

“Sure.  I mean you can go home…”


“They might try to come after him and you’re place is kind of a hot spot, if you know what I mean.”

“So, I’m staying here?”

“I would, if I were you,” said Louise.

“That means, yes,” said Shane, sneaking another sandwich off of Gau’s platter.  The demon smile and pretend not to notice.  “I like this guy,” she said, putting her arm on a small part of his large shoulder.  “I’m glad we’re keeping him.”

“Keeping him?” asked Novak.  “And how can they come after him if the paintings gone?”

“That wasn’t the only portal.  They have access points here and there around the world, so you and Gau are safest right here, at least for the moment.”

“I’m not even going to ask what that means,” said Novak, putting potato salad on Gau’s plate, then on his own.  Then he put forks in front of everyone.

Graywing flew to Gau’s plate and sat on the edge.  She looked at the demon, cooed once or twice, then proceeded to peck at the potato salad. Gau smiled and ran a claw over her wing. She stopped eating and rubbed her beak against the side of his hand.

“Louise,” said Shane, grinning widely.   “I think we finally have a real family.”

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