I got amazingly drunk yesterday. Felicia invited me over to a gallery opening at Dogmeals. It was full of abstract landscapes, if that’s not an oxymoron. Great bold things in bright colours. Welsh mountains in blue and red. Artistic licence, they call it, usually five minutes before they add three points and have it revoked.
It was quite full to begin with – students and people waiting for the 7:30 to Crickhollow mostly – but by ten the crowd had dwindled to just the artist himself, his bored wife, other artists (smug about the lack of a rival’s sales or sycophantic about a More Popular rival’s contacts), Felicia and me. Everyone was drunk, of course, happy to deck the free booze he’d splashed out on personally. Felicia and I were in her office reviewing figures (hers the galleries, mine the 2011 calendar of a dodgy car company) and she got out the single malt. I had to be sociable, didn’t I, but to make it more interesting I added Guava Nectar and lime juice. Result: Hot Pink Shorts.
I was as a newt for seventeen seconds.
And she still didn’t take advantage of me.
Senoy looked shifty at the mention of brimstone. “I haven’t touched it for years,” he said. “It’s a disgusting habit.”
“So’s filling in your tax forms,” I said. I couldn’t help laughing. I’ve never seen an angel – even one in mortal form – look quite that shifty before. “You haven’t, have you?” I said. “You’ve taken the shop off the records to avoid doing it. No wonder you’re still in business. How do you get your electricity?”
“I don’t need to,” said Senoy. I really ought to call him Mr. Duke while he’s in mortal form. “Everything just works.”
I just grunted at that. With nine ranks of angels from Seraph to Grigori everyone forget the Powers. Me, I have to splice the cable from three doors down (next door would be too obvious.)
“How many years have you been off the brimstone?” I said, more to get the snug smile off his face than anything.
“Sodem,” he said.
“What? The electricity companies?”
“No. Sodom and Gomorrah,” said Duke. “That’s the last time I touched brimstone. Twelve hundred imperial tons of the stuff, and two hundred cases of fire. I couldn’t get the stains off my hands for weeks.”
Damn. I had to believe him. Angels might be shifty and untrustworthy but they can’t tell an outright lie. “What about your brother?” I asked.
“Semangalof? You killed him,” said Duke. I didn’t actually. Azrael packed him off to Abaddon but I was instrumental in the affair. “I meant Mr. Patch.”
“I haven’t seen him in donkeys,” said Mr. Duke. “Sansenoy and I went our own separate ways.”
There. That was a lie and I knew it. He knew that I knew it, too. He’s not the first angel to hide behind a euphemism. When was the last time you saw a donkey in a watch shop?
Until the morrow. X