“Really?” Harold looked at the demon through narrowed eyes. “You never said.”
“That's because it's not true.” Jasfoup sighed. “You never got the hang of irony, did you?”
“Oh.” Harold gave him a tight-lipped nod. “Fair enough. I'll knock, then.” He reached forward, his knuckles tensed.
“No, it's fine.” Jasfoup reached past him, closing his fingers into a tight cone to utilise his tails in as small a point as possible. Rap tap-a-rap tap.
Harold grimaced. “You did that on purpose, didn't you?”
“Did what?” Jasfoup whistled silently, pretending to examine the flowers at the side of the door.
“Shave-and-a-haircut. You know it upsets me not to have it completed.”
“Careful, old bean. Your OCD is showing.” He gave Harold a nudge with one wing. “Go on. You know you want to.”
Harold, still grimacing, reached forward. Tap tap.
“Much, thank you.”
“Let's hope he's in.”
“Yes.” Harold looked up and down the road. “It's a quiet morning.”
“Is it?” Jasfoup paused to allow a bus to rattle past, diesel fumes trailing in its wake, filling the air with the choking fumes of a hot summer day despite the April cool. “And you decided that how?”
“There's no-one on the street.” He pursed his lips. “Do you remember when I was a kid?”
“Vividly and in technicolour detail. No, wait. That was your late teens. What about your childhood?”
“There were always people about, going door to door. We used to have a milkman, a man who sold bread an biscuits from a big wicker basket. The brush man who sold cleaning products. The vegetable man with his basket of fresh fruit and veg.”
“The Styx lady.”
“Styx?” Harold felt the confusion clouding his memory. “I remember the Avon lady.”
“Ah. Not for your mum. She used have the one selling mud from the River Styx.” He coughed. “And other products, of course.”
“What sort of other products?”
“Oh, all sorts. Dracul face powder. Bathory bath salts, that sort of thing. Nothing keeps a complexion clear like a poultice made from ghoul fat and virgin's blood.”