One thing about Grace is that she never lets anyone drive her anywhere if she can help it. The key is to stay mobile. If someone drives you somewhere then you’re at their mercy unless you steal their keys, which can be difficult to do quickly if you need to flee. It’s not good for the environment to always take your own car but Grace figures old Mother Nature can take one more for the team at this point.
As she follows Huddie reflects on the fact that this may be the first time had a better car than anyone in this situation. Huddie’s 2005 Ford Freestyle looks like if he parks it anywhere for too long the department of sanitation will haul it away. It looks like it was in a junkyard Huddie bought it after it was crushed in the car-crusher and then he did his level best to straighted it out with one of this little hammers with a pink handle in tool kits for ladies. She assumes that he must also use magic to keep his POS running. She figures there’s no way that thing can run on its own.
The apartment building they drive to is nicer than his car, but it’s still the kind the kind of place that you expect to see cars like it parked. When you see an old apartment building that has maybe a dozen units in it and you see more than 12 people hanging around outside, even when it’s not nice out, that’s when you know that it’s not a great place to live. Because that indicates that being outside loitering is better than being in your apartment. As they both approach the entrance Grace looks up at the speckled façade that was probably nice in the 1960s.
“Is this where they store victims or does one of them live here?”
Huddie frowns “This is where I live.”
Grace raises her voice enough to startled an edgy pack of smokers nearby “Why the fuck are you taking me to your apartment?”
Huddie gestures tiredly “Just come on will you?”
“There’s a solid argument.”
Despite this she follows him into the little foyer anyway. Its home to a corkboard covered with take-out menus and flyers for rest homes. She follows him up the soggy wood stairs that have ragged 70’s carpet in a skunk-stripe down the middle leaving the sides nude, and through a hallway on the third floor that reminds her startlingly of the place that might be another dimension where the stand-up comedian was banishing his victims, to an apartment that somehow manages to be stark and bare yet messy at the same time.
Huddie flops down in a worn La-Z-Boy and picks up the remnants of a warm beer “Whatever you’re doing Grace, give up, that’s my advice.”
Grace isn’t much of an eye roller or a sigher but she does look at him the way a dog owner looks at their pup when they find them digging in the trash with a Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna box on their head.
“Could you please take the world weary act down twenty percent for me? I am tired of every magic man I meet being a sour patch kid. All the women seem to be fine, well not fine, they’re messed up in other ways, but they don’t act like being miraculously gifted the ability to able to reshape reality has made them clinically depressed.”
Huddie, being a champion sigher sighs a mighty sigh “You see that toilet paper tube on the table? I cast a spell that so you can look through it and see a long way away. It took me twenty years to learn how to cast that spell. You know what takes five minutes? Going to the dollar store and buying a little toy telescope. Works better too. Magic is unnecessary in the modern world Grace, happened sometime in the fifties sometime I think. Not only that magic is also unseemly. Which is bad enough, but it also makes people want to murder you, so yeah, my advice is to give up.”
Grace examines the cardboard tube gingerly “So what you’re saying is that you don’t want to be my mentor and teach me all you know?”
Huddie manages the ghost of a smile “I’ve had apprentices before, once or twice, long time ago, it was fine except the girls always ended up falling in love with me. That gets very messy.”
Grace smiled back every slightly more brightly “No chance of that here I guarantee.”
Huddie sighs again “That’s what they said too.”
Grace drops the magic tube and shrugs “Oh well, I guess I’ll have to keep muddling through my magical journey on my own. So are you going to tell me where the Havana people are or did you just want to show me your enchanted garbage?”
“That’s cardboard Grace, it’s not garbage, it goes in the recycling. I feel like we may just go around in circles here. Tell me why you want to know about them first and then maybe I’ll tell you where they are now.”
Grace gestures in a faux conciliatory manner “It’s like you said, I’m looking for someone they kidnapped. A friend of mine.”
“What’s her name? What does she look like? I can probably help you with that.” Grace pauses for just a second, but long enough for Huddie to jump in “You’re a terrible liar Grace.”
“You didn’t even give me a chance to lie.”
“I know a thing or two about liars. You live as long as I have and . . .”
Grace holds her hand up “I don’t need your sad life story with loves lost and mistakes made, I get it, you’ve been around the block. I just need some information. If you’re not going to give it to me quit wasting my time.” For a moment no one spoke “This is the part where you give a world weary sigh and then tell me where they are and then say how I’m making a mistake whatever I’m doing.”
Huddie looks at the beer bottle for a moment and then drops it carelessly on the floor “You’re kind of a bitch you know that?”
“So they tell me on Twitter every day.”