Roland returned home to B-1 after departing from the boardwalk. He had a lot to think about. Kidnappings, the Red Witch, The Spring Queen and her lies and Roland had just joined a court. He felt like he was walking through a haze of madness. Not to long a ago he was another bum on the street trying to keep his head above water and find another meal. Now, he found himself wondering through a missing persons case that had multiple victims. His head was racing with the possibilities. In the back of his mind, Roland believed the girls were dead all ready. Roland had seen this before when he was a cop. The victims being in the last place he had thought to check..
The door to B-1 creaked open, the apartment was empty and dark. Roland turned on a light headed toward the bed. On the bed folded up was the black trench coat with the matching fedora on top. There was also a card:
“You’ve earned it”
Roland cracked a smile. He opened up the filing cabinet closest to him and placed his gun in there. He hung the coat and hat up on Dan’s coat rack. He sat at Dan’s computer and thought about trying to find his family. Roland tried to find out where they moved after the fire. He searched his last name but nothing useful came up.
..Did she divorce my fetch…?…Maybe she knew it wasn’t me …
Roland tried his name looking through any public divorce files. He hit a block here, Dans computer didn’t have access to any of these files. He would have to go down to city hall for those. He let out a sigh and slumped down in his chair. It was already eleven o’clock and Roland didn’t feel like breaking into a city building. He looked toward the filing cabinet where Dan kept his booze.
..I wonder if he’d mind…
Roland open up the cabinet be all he found were empties
Roland had realized he hadn’t had a drink since the pirates had offered him one back in the hedge. He was antsy, couldn’t sleep and haunted by his memories. He needed a drink. Roland remembered passing a bar on his way home from the Basin a few weeks back. He grabbed his things and decided to take a walk.
The night air was cold and sharp. The smell of wet gravel filled the air and the occasional passing car kick up dust as it drove by. Roland made his down the street for about twenty minutes, Until he found himself at his destination. A dive bar named: Randy’s Western World. It had a neon sign with a cartoon cowboy on it.
Roland walked into the bar. The whole place looked like a old western bar it had wooden bar stools that seemed to be falling apart. There was dust all over the bar there were a few patrons in the back drinking silently in the dark Roland could barely make out there faces but it didn’t matter he wasn’t here for that. He sat down at the bar. The dust shifted as sat down some got into his eyes. He rubbed them to clear his vision and when he re-opened them he saw a man in front him who seemed to be gathering the bottles behind the bar and putting them in a plastic container. Roland was about to open his mouth to order but the man spoke first.
“New in town, stranger?” The man staying fixed on his task not turning around at all. His accent sounded like it was from the 1930s
“Yeah, you could say that. Blew into town a few months ago” Roland shifted in his seat trying to get comfortable.
“Oh, Thats right I’ve seen you around with Daniel. You’re his new partner is that right?” Bottles clinking around as he gathered them up.
“Yeah, it actually just became official..tonight.” Roland looked down and his new coat.
The man behind the bar stood up. Roland felt a strange but familiar energy surround this man.
“Congratulations sir, I do believe libations are in order!”
Roland finally ready to make his order as the man turned around to take it “I’ll have a Gin an-!”
Roland had to stop he was taken by surprise the man who he had be talking to all this time was a fellow lost. He wore a green striped vest hair combed with a part down the middle but his flesh was dead like Eddies.
“Ah..ha..New to town indeed. Allow me to introduced myself. My name is Harvey White and this is my Saloon. It has been a safe place for our kind to be ourselves without scrutiny of prying eyes that might draw unwanted attention.”
Roland took a quick look around the only two people in there were the men in the back and himself.
“Pretty sparse in here. Harv…”Roland nodded to the men in the back. One of the men raised his glass to Roland. When he did, Roland could see his hand was covered in fur in the light.
“It would appear that way, but your current surroundings deceive you as I’m sure your aware. On the outside, its just Randy’s Western Saloon. A dive bar and tourist attraction. Come. To the basement Mr..?”
Roland thought for a moment “Uh…Hansen, Arin Hansen..”
Hutus smiled at him “Come now sir, We are all lost here. Arin Hansen is the man on your drivers license…but who is the man before me?”
Roland felt a bit ashamed. He should have known. “..Roland DeMarco..” Harvey clasped his hands very loudly and was jubilant.
“Thats the spirt, my boy!”. Roland followed Harvey to the basement. It looked abandoned it had ton of memorabilia for the Saloon. All the merchandise had the same cartoon cowboy on it Roland assumed that was Randy. In the back was a broom closet, that Harvey was holding open.
“After you Mr. Demarco..”
Roland stepped inside the closet, only it wasn’t a closet anymore Roland found himself at the beginning of a long hallway and the end was green door and the words “Darklight Lounge” written in cursive. Roland looked behind him he saw Harvey grinning raising his eyebrows.
“Its very exciting..” Harvey gestured to the door “No need to knock just walk right in..”
The hallway was silent, the only sounds were Harvey and Rolands footsteps. Roland pressed on to the door and opened it. Once the door was opened, live music could be heard and the murmuring of large groups. There was a bar area and a main stage with tables set up. The place was very clean and the the waitstaff wore green vests and bow ties. There was a man at the door with the head of a Lion he saw Harvey and straightened up.
“Oh, Mr. White. welcome back”
“Thank you Leonard, Might I introduce to our new friend Roland. He just came into town. He’s a Private eye.”
Roland outstretched his hand to Leonard “Its a pleasure Leonard.”. Roland hand was engulfed by Leonard’s. “Pleasures all mine, I expect I’ll see be seeing you quite a bit in the future”
Roland nodded unsure of the beast man meant.
Roland continued with Harvey to the bar area. Harvey stepped behind the bar set the plastic container of bottles down and looked at Roland
“So..Gin and Tonic was it?”
Before Roland could respond the drink was made and it slid to him from across the bar. “I hope it’s to your liking” Roland sipped it, and it was in fact the best Gin and Tonic he had ever tasted. As he took another sip he began to really take in his surroundings. This place was alive with music. There was a dance floor near the main stage where all sorts of lost were dancing to tune Roland had never heard before. Some of the patrons just sat with their eyes fixed on the band, others seemed to pay them no mind.
There were green carpet walk ways with track lighting so people could see were they were going but other than that the lighting was very low otherwise. The bar that Roland was sitting at had a neon lights..so people could find another drink if they couldn’t find anything else.
“So..Mr. Demarco can I ask how you like the Darklight Lounge?”
Roland took another swig from his Gin and Tonic “You run a fine Bar Harv, And if I can get Gin and Tonics like this you’ll be seeing this bag of bones more often.”
God, I sound like Octavious….
“Glad to hear it, truth be told we could use someone like you around”
Always a catch…
“Well, I dont do sercurity Harv..”
Harvey was quick to explain “Not at all Mr. Demarco, Leonard is quite capable. However there have been…some other matters that someone of your expertise could assist with.”
Roland had heard this pitch before Harv seemed to be greasing the wheels to ask for a favor. But he didn’t sense any malicious intent. Maybe it was the drink, or maybe for the first time in a while Roland felt relaxed. Whatever the reason he decided to hear Harvey out on this.
“Ok Harv, I’m all ears” Once Roland spoke the crowd in front of the main stage began to cheer and clap.
Harvey looked up at the stage “Ah, your in for a treat Mr. Demarco.. A crowd favorite. If you’ll excuse me”
Roland looked to the stage to see Harvey standing on it with a microphone in hand.
“Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. I trust we are enjoying ourselves.” The crowd let out an approving roar. “Splendid! Well, as you know we have a local celebrity here tonight. Who will get you hot under the collar” the crowd roared and wooed. “She’s has been known to steal hearts and return them to cinder. Look out fellas, She’ll set fire to marriage..and your checkbook.” The crowd got louder. “So lets give a warm welcome to our favorite performer Ivana Heat!”
She was absolutely devastating. Wearing a Red dress that seemed to be engulfed in flames. The top of her head was fire that flowed naturally to appear like real hair. In fact, her whole body seemed to be made of fire. Now Roland understood all those puns in Harveys speech. The band started up and Ivana began to sway with the music. She had an incredible voice, and as she sang she moved through the crowd gently touching the faces of the patrons. Occasionally, she would sit on someones lap and play with their shirt or tie.
“Lovely, isn’t she?” Roland spun around to see Harvey back behind the bar.
Roland had to be honest “She is. If I wasn’t married..” Harvey placed his hand on Rolands shoulder “Ah, yes the old ball and chain..Careful Mr. Demarco something wicked this way comes”
“Don’t worry friend, you’ll get your belongings back in due time” Ivana finished her song and the curtains closed.
After the song was over, Harvey had invited Roland to his office where they might be able to talk in private. Once there Harvey went into detail about why he would like to see Roland a bit more. Roland took a seat in a upholstered chair while Harvey opened his mini bar.
“You see, Roland. I am the Proprietor, Head Mixologist and Master of Ceremonies here at Darklight and as such I hear about certain personal matters of the patrons of my establishment. These are matters that would best handled by someone of our own Ilk if you catch my meaning.” Roland sat up in his chair. He had a feeling his world was about to get a lot bigger. Harvey handed him a freshly made Gin and Tonic “There are certain atrocities that have transpired in the city, and for some of us we cant exactly go to the authorities for help” Roland let out a sigh “Sorry Harv, I’m not a cop anymore and not gonna chase down purse snatchers and burglers”
“Quite the contrary Roland, We have the means to protect ourselves from the occasional riff raff. But the deal-breakers and deceitful and the murderers who cover their tracks behind a clever face. Who will help the exploited or abandoned? The Summer court can’t be bothered with these matters but someone who has your skill set who could investigate these matters and bring the accused to justice or clear the name of an innocent.” Roland could see what Harvey was after. The lost needed a private eye like just like the waking world and just like the waking world, Roland was about see a very ugly side of this new life he had been thrust into. The thought of bringing justice to those who hid from it did excite Roland. However, he wasn’t doing this for thrills and free drinks
“If I do this, What will I get in return?”
Harvey gave him with a very serious look and seemed to look past the man and into Rolands soul
" I can help you find Samantha and Grace."
This was by far the fastest Roland had ever moved in his life. One moment he was sitting in a upholstered chair sipping a Gin and Tonic. The next he had Harvey against the wall holding him by his vest. Roland could swear he heard the drink hit floor after he grabbed Harvey.
“You wanna run that by me again, Harv?’
Harvey was completely still, He didn’t try to break free at all. He was calm when he spoke "I knew you may react this way such is your nature. Like, I said being here I hear many things and see many things I have eyes and ears all over this place but as I said before I am unable to act. I mean you and your family no harm. In fact, I plan on reuniting you. But you must help us and i assure you i will do whatever i can to help you. " Roland put Harvey down he knew that he was telling the truth. “Thank you, Roland…It’s alright Leonard”
Roland looked around the room and saw Leonard standing in the doorway. He pointed at his eyes, then at Roland and left.
“See, Leonard is quite capable of security. He could have torn you to pieces had i given the word.”
Roland didn’t doubt it.
“If you can make good on that promise Harvey, I’ll help you out”
“OUTSTANDING!! I’m sure this will be the beginning of a beautiful partnership. Shall we shake on it?”
Roland remember what this meant from his dealings with Eddie. He knew that once he shook Harvey’s hand the deal was struck and there was no turning back. But Roland would do anything to see his family again.
Roland offered his hand and Harvey took it firmly with a huge grin while raising his eyebrows
“it is done then. Well I shant keep you any longer you have quite a busy day tomorrow. and you’ll want to be well rested I assure you. And you’ll hear from your first client sooner than you may expect.”
Roland made his way out of the Lounge. He followed the track lighting to the door where he saw Leonard holding the door for him
“No hard feelings, huh big guy?” Roland said playfully
“Don’t be a thorn in my paw, Mr. Demarco.” With that Leonard shoved Rolands hat into his chest and showed him the door. Roland walked down the long hallway back up to the saloon. When he got outside he went to put his hat back on it smelled like ash, but he noticed a folded up piece of paper inside.
906-868-6240 Don’t be a stranger…Call me
There was a lipstick mark by the number