Fool Moon (Hay) Fever Pt. II
"That's got to be the most adorable thing I've ever seen," I managed to say in between several of the sneezes that were part of the sneezing fit I was currently mired in.
"It's a baby werewolf," Jerry had a way of stating the obvious that was very matter of fact.
"I can see that," I said before sneezing again. I searched my pockets for my bottle of allergy pills but I wasn't having any luck locating it. That struck me as odd because I knew I was going to be tracking down werewolves today. I also knew that I was allergic to them and I also knew that I had a bottle of medication to counteract the effects of my allergy but I didn't know why I didn't put them in my pocket before leaving the house. I did have a sizable wad of tissues though, so I had that in my favor. As I blew my nose for the fourth time, I took a step into the doorway to get some fresh air.
I had developed an allergy to werewolves years ago with the reasoning that if I were allergic to them, they wouldn't be able to sneak up on me. Except for the occasional sneezing fit and itchy red eyes, it works like a charm.
Jerry had explained on the ride over to what turned out to be a street urchin safe house, which was a glorified tree house in a terrible part of town, how they ended up kidnapping Patricia Jr., the Wolfmin's baby.
A baby werewolf looks like a big teddy bear crossed with a puppy and they are overwhelmingly adorable. They look like cute, cartoonish caricatures of the monsters they'll eventually become. Not every werewolf baby looks like this, some look more like regular babies. I'm not sure how it all works and I'm not sure I want to. I have other interests I'd rather pursue. How werewolf genetics worked was, I'm sure, a fine and valid field of study. I'm also sure it wasn't for me.
The street urchins located where the Wolfmins were staying and acquired the cub somehow or another. Jerry was cagey on the details and two kids who were driving the car hadn't said a word to anyone all day. Once my sneezing fit started I stopped caring about how this all happened and started thinking about what I needed to do about it.
Jerry had mentioned that they left a note for the Wolfmins explaining that their baby had been kidnapped and the babysitter should recover in a few days. They left the number to Sam's bar and signed the note "Kid Napper". After mulling it over for a few sneezes, I decided the best thing to do would be to take the kid back to Sam's joint and wait for the Wolfmins to notice a missing baby and call us at the bar. Then it would be a simple matter of arranging a hostage exchange, which is usually easier than it looks.
We didn't have a car seat or a proper cage for the cub, which was a bit of a safety hazard. A cat carrier would have worked fine but we didn't have one of those either. What we did have was an empty cardboard box, so we just poked a few holes in it, popped the cub right in, and then we were on our way. After a quick pit stop at a pharmacy, so I could get a new bottle of Werelegra, we were back on our way to Sam's and there before I knew it.
Adults pretty much stopped coming into Sam's joint because it was always filled with street urchins. Danny would stop by a few times a week to break his new stool in, but it was a process and until it was complete I didn't count on seeing too much of him around. There's no reason a bar that catered almost exclusively to homeless children should be almost invisible to local law enforcement and municipal regulatory commissions and committees, but that's exactly what seemed to be happening.
I knew better than to go poking around Sam's business. It's important that friends allow each other the courtesy of secrets. Knowing which parts of someone else are off limits, or more casually none of your business, is a useful skill to cultivate, should one find themselves with the time and inclination to do so. I'm not a life coach or an advice columnist or a life coach with an advice column, but I picked up a thing or two here and there and don't mind trying to save others sometime now and again.
Jax and the rest of the urchins at the bar already knew about the werewolf cub and were ready with a makeshift nursery in the basement also, a cage procurement committee was in the process of convening. Jax casually mentioned that none of this was included in the base price I pay the street urchins and that I would be billed separately for today's special services. My plan only included information gathering, not operations support. I couldn't really argue, mostly because I had no real idea about how any of this worked. Plus, I did just fine money wise and didn't mind occasionally supporting a community of useful street urchins. I told him that that sounded more than fair and I would happily pay the invoice when I received it and I added that I appreciated their help in this matter and followed that up with a compliment on the efficiency and effectiveness of their methods. After which Jax formally mentioned that the Passing The Parrot ritual had been successful. I was happy he remembered to fill me in and thanked him for doing so. After all that, I ordered a juice and settled into my seat to wait for the phone to ring.
I didn't want to take one of my allergy pills just yet since there was still a possibility of being the participant in a werewolf ambush but I made sure I knew which pocket they were in this time in order to minimize confusion in the future. I had realized earlier that I had been working against my own best interest for the past few days and that this was a chance for me to turn the tide in some small way. I'm a firm believer in being on your own team, but nobody's perfect and we all need occasional booster shots to awareness.
I double checked both Sam and my's pistols to make double sure that they were loaded special, which they were. Confirmation is always welcome, especially when it comes to ammunition. I wouldn't say my trigger finger was itchy by any means, but I just resolved a long-standing mummy problem and I wasn't about to replace it with a chronic werewolf issue. There's more to this life than dealing with monsters, or so I hear, and I'd like to eventually know whether or not there's any truth to that statement.
The first glass of juice went by without so much as a single ringing phone happening. Jax refilled me and I lit a smoke, neither calmly nor anxiously. I guess it could be described as patiently.
I tried to think of all the ways this could pan out while allowing for the fact that I couldn't concievalbily cover every angle and there would always be an element of uncertainty, which required some mental gymnastics. I find it's always best to start with the best case scenario and work backwards, one disaster at a time, to the worst case scenario. In this case, the best case scenario would be for the Wolfmin's to call and then we exchange hostages like civil kidnapping adults and get on with our respective days. They also agree to leave town and I don't have to shoot anyone. A variant exists where everything goes fine and I shoot them anyway, for what could be a variety of reasons.
In second place, the hostage exchange would go south, and I would end up having to shoot the Wolfmin's. Third best, we start shooting at each other and either Sam, myself, Frank or one of the urchins is hit.
There was also an alternative. Instead of calling to set up an exchange, the Wolfmin's could just show up here unannounced after reverse looking up the phone number on the internet. I didn't have enough information to make a true guess and by the time I did, it would be too late so I had to console myself with being prepared instead. I was trying to logically think through all the possible outcomes of today in order to prevent myself from just dwelling on the worst that could happen. It's just good old human nature to be predisposed to worry in times such as this. The curse of awareness is that it doesn't always lend itself to seeing solutions to the problem, just awareness of the potential for disaster. It's not that that's not a useful perspective, it's just that it's never the only perspective, which is the gift of awareness.
Before I could finish mentally working through all the possible permutations of likely events, the phone rang. It had to be the Wolfmins, none of the street urchins had phones and no one else had the phone number to the bar. Jax answered it and said, "Sam's Bar. Yeah, Desmond, he's right here. One sec," before handing me the phone.