For August, the first of a series of custom-commissioned short stories offered as incentives for contributors to the “Skin Horse” volume four Kickstarter drive.
* * *
The fat man on the other side of the white Ikea desk gave Remy Sage-Marron a little leer.
“So,” said the fat man. “What exactly is the state of the funeral industry nowadays, Mister Maroon?”
“‘Marron,’ actually,” said Remy. “‘Sage-Marron,’ to be exact.” He waved a hand. “Don’t get too hung up. I know I’m me, and so I’ll go by anything.”
“All righty, then. So, how is business, then?”
“Business is dead,” said Remy, sitting back in his white Ikea chair, smiling a little in the hope that the fat man might think he was trying to be clever.
“A ha ha ha,” said the fat man, whose name was probably “Carl.” He leveled a sausage-like finger at Remy. “I see what you did there!”
“I’m quite glad that you did,” replied Remy.
“But seriously,” said Probably-Carl. “You likely think that I’m bullshitting you here, but God’s truth, I’m not. I’ve got eight thousand dollars saying that you’re going to give me one of them special bottles.”
Remy fidgeted nervously. “If it’s arts and crafts you’re looking for, I’m quite certain you’d find any number of tables set up along Bourbon Street that could accommodate you, and for far less than that.”
Probably-Carl pshawed. “Come now, Remy,” he said, causing Remy to immediately regret having effectively given the man first-name privileges. “You and I both know that there’s a world of difference between some drawling yokel hot-gluing some beads and feathers onto an old brandy decanter and the real thing. Sheila and I aren’t that kind of people, are we, muffin?”
“We aren’t,” agreed Sheila, a slight and surgically-youthened woman whose blonde hair owed more of its dubious quality to hydrogen peroxide than to genetics. Her brief role in the conversation concluded, she went back to her job of poking at various objects on Remy’s shelves and occasionally making them fall over.
“Sheila and I can’t visit a city without bringing a piece of it back with us,” said Probably-Carl. “A real piece. Something genuine. Not the tourist crap. We go to Damascus? We bring back some actual Damascus steel. We go to Cairo? We bring back some actual mummy dust. And we go to New Orleans, well, we bring back an actual Voodoo charm. Now, a friend of a friend of a friend swore to us that your Doctor Goodness was the real thing, an actual high honcho in the First Church of Voodoo. So we come here only to find that she’s kicked the bucket. Word on the street is that you were her number one student in the witchy arts, and that means we’re coming to you.”
“Sir,” said Remy, stretching the honorific to approximately the same degree as the buttonholes on Probably-Carl’s overstuffed flower-print shirt, “a spirit-bottle isn’t something that one can just sell. Do you understand for what, exactly, you’re asking?”
Remy saw nothing but blankness in Probably-Carl’s jowly face, so he pressed on. “When one of the faithful passes on, their life-force separates from their physical body and descends to the dark waters. There they wait, resting up from the hardships of life. One year and one day later, a holy man or woman performs the retire mo nan dlo to call their gros bon ange back from the waters, and from that day forward, they live with us again in their soul bottle, advising us from beyond death. A ‘genuine’ soul bottle, before it is used, is nothing more than a bottle. A ‘genuine’ soul bottle, after it is used, is quite literally the home of one of our respected dead.”
There was a pause.
“So?” said Probably-Carl, after a time.
“So,” said Remy, blinking rapidly, “it is not a thing that is for sale! The dead can be a bit… touchy, sir. Even a little bit of delay in performing the retire mo nan dlo, for example, can make a spirit wonder why you have forgotten them, and they begin to cause mischief. If one were to actually sell off an occupied spirit-bottle, there’s no telling what troubles might occur!”
“It’s so cute how seriously he takes his superstitions,” said Sheila. “Just offer him more money, Carl.”
Probably-Carl, who was apparently legitimately Carl, rolled his eyes and gave Remy an “oh, women!” look. “All right,” he said, brandishing a leather-bound checkbook at him. “Ten thousand dollars. You can’t say that isn’t a little tempting, right? Business is ‘dead,’ right? People not exactly beating a path to your door? I have to say, I’m not detecting the telltale odor of comfortable prosperity about this place.”
Remy paused, considering. He had set up his funerary business in a nice old building in a nice old neighborhood far from Orleans Parish proper, out on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Sure, the place was a little run-down and, honestly, hovering on the low end of fire code compliance (Remy had even found an old glass-fronted emergency cabinet with a safety hatchet inside on his initial sweep, and he couldn’t even fathom how many years had passed since that sort of equipment had been standard.) But it was his. Well, the bank’s, if you wanted to get super technical about it, but it was his name on the paperwork. Never mind that Dr. Goodness had technically willed the entire downtown building formerly containing her office to him, secret altars and all. There was just too much of the past there. Remy had really been hoping for a clean break after Dr. Goodness passed, to draw a firm line between his career as a licensed embalmer and his religious affiliation, as the two vocations had started to get a little muddied up in his estimation. He was confident it had been the right step, even though he was not looking forward to the upbraiding he would receive from Dr. Goodness when the time came for him to call her back. She would get over it. Eventually.
So, yes. He had purchased the little old office building and hung his shingle. Remy spent his days preserving and prettifying mortal husks that departed spirits had left behind; and he spent his nights tending to the collection of spirit-bottles that Dr. Goodness had entrusted to him, prettifying the current homes of departed sprits, giving them all a good dusting and listening to everyone’s needs. It was a precarious sort of balance which involved, among other things, a long daily trek downtown, but there was a certain symmetry to it, and it was working.
Or rather, it would have been working if the funerary business had been running at a profit. It turned out that most residents of the North Shore already had a pretty set-in-stone list of morticians they planned to entrust with their remains, and the young, bespectacled, curly-haired upstart was not on that list. He currently had one client on the slab in back, a formerly sweet-looking octogenarian widow who had gone by the name of “Nan,” and not many prospects after that.
Remy gazed at the check as Carl waved it in his face. Okay, then. Ten thousand dollars. That would, in fact, make up for a lot of no-business. Of course, actually handing over a genuine spirit-bottle for money would be a heinous act that would echo up and down the cosmos forever. He would certainly be forced to hang up his houngan-hat for good due to the spiritual repercussions, and he was similarly certain that troubles would hound him for the rest of his life. But Carl would not be satisfied with anything but a genuine bottle.
The eventual solution was found in the demonstrable fact that both Carl and Sheila were reprehensible worms, and lies to worms were hardly lies at all.
Remy narrowed his eyes theatrically. “Very well,” he said, snatching the check out of Carl’s pork-like hands and stashing it in the pocket of his overshirt. “But know that this is a devil’s bargain you are striking. It just so happens that I do have a spirit-bottle I would like to have out of my house. It is the earthly vessel of a foul creature who never ought to have been called back from the waters beneath the world. This monster of a man roamed the streets of Saint Charles, preying on tourists just like yourselves.”
Sheila giggled. “Ooh! He’s giving us a cursed one!”
“Yes!” cried Remy, really hamming it up. They were paying ten grand for this performance, and damnit, he was going to give them their money’s worth. “This was a wicked man, sir and madam. He would hang out on street corners, waiting for couples much like yourself to come up to him and ask for directions. That is how he chose his targets, you see. Unbeknownst to them, when they departed his street-corner, they’d have picked up a shadow. For many hours he would trail them through the city as they made their sightseeing rounds, blissfully unaware of the grisly fate that would befall them. Eventually he followed them all the way back to their hotel. Then, when they were sound asleep, he would force the lock on their hotel room door, and… and…”
He glanced back and forth between Carl and Sheila for a moment. What was a good solid modus operandi that still fit the tourist motif? Remy leaned over his desk, adopting his best serious-face. “He would strangle them to death,” he said, “with their own carnival beads.” Cheesy, but fundamentally acceptable. It would do.
“And what was this gentleman’s name?” asked Carl.
Remy paused. He had not progressed that far in the fantasy yet. “Sam!” he eventually stammered out. “Sam… Pavement.” Remy winced, inwardly. The old improvisational theatre skills obviously needed some work.
“That was the name people called him,” Remy said, backpedaling. “It was actually pronounced ‘pav-uh-mahn.’ French, you see.” He shook his head. “The ancient Code of Voodoo prevents me from simply smashing the bottle and being done with it, and I obviously cannot leave it unattended in a recycling bin somewhere. Who knows what kind of trouble it might cause for the unprepared? But to you good people, who know the risks and will doubtlessly take the proper precautions, I would let Mister Pavement’s bottle go.”
“I like this one,” said Sheila. “Give him the money, Carl.”
“He already took it, actually.” Carl fixed Remy with a quizzical look. “Let’s see this bottle of yours.”
“Just a moment,” said Remy, pushing back his chair and tripping lightly through the curtain leading to the back office. Once safely out of sight, he sagged against the wall, letting out a long breath.
“Mother forgive me,” he whispered, “but this is the stupidest thing I have ever done.”
His brief brush with reason and sensibility complete, he delved into the cluttered mess of the back office, some of which predated his occupation of the building. Eventually he emerged with a old and dusty glass Coca-Cola bottle, the deposit-return kind that they didn’t make anymore; it had been propping up one corner of a makeshift shelf. He gave it a quick shine on his shirt, composed himself again, and strode back out into the front office.
“Here,” he said, gingerly setting the ostensible cursed relic on his desk blotter.
Carl blinked, then snorted. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he guffawed.
“This is no joke!” Remy exclaimed, fibbing astronomically. “You think a real spirit bottle is one of those sequin-covered things they sell to the rubes in the Vieux Carré? Real spirits don’t care about things like sequins!” (The fact that he had just that morning accommodated Mama Nightingale in her request for “more sequins on the old bottle, if you please, cher” did not seem like a pertinent one to raise at this point.)
Remy slammed his fist on the table. “Real spirits live wherever they are called!” he cried. “You think that an old cola bottle cannot contain a spirit? I tell you, I doubt there is a single empty vessel in this entire building which wouldn’t welcome a soul! Bottles, boxes, coffee mugs, you name it!”
Carl sighed. “I don’t enjoy being scammed, Remy.”
“I think he sounds sincere,” said Sheila. “Just give him the money.”
“The fact that he already has the money has already been covered,” said Carl, darkening slightly. He snatched the bottle up off the table. “I’m taking this under protest, and only because my wife won’t let me hear the end of it if I don’t.”
“You’re such a grouch, Carl,” said Sheila, in an irritating sing-song fashion, grabbing him by the arm. “C’mon. Let’s put our souvenir in the hotel and get something to eat. I wanna try alligator.”
“By all means,” deadpanned Carl. “Let’s make sure our ten thousand dollar chunk of recycling is nice and safe. I’d say that it’s been a pleasure doing business, Remy, but I’m not sure that it has.”
I don’t give the ass end of a rat whether you’re pleased or not, Remy wanted to say, so long as this check clears. “Good-bye!” he said, instead.
Remy kept waving until the two were well and truly out of the office. Then he fished around in his pocket and withdrew the check, inspecting it for irregularities as though he had any idea what sort of thing he should be looking for. His utter lack of qualifications aside, it appeared to be legitimate. Ten freaking thousand freaking dollars.
That said, Carl had not been a happy camper at how things had boiled down. There was, in Remy’s estimation, about a fifty-fifty chance of a stop-payment order coming his way. Right after closing up shop and seeing to Dr. Goodness’s bottles downtown, Remy vowed to cash the damn thing right away. As soon as humanly possible.
* * *
“And that’s why I think you should wait a week on cashing that thing,” said Mama Nightingale.
Remy let one silent breath out through his nostrils. Why, oh why hadn’t he done his chores in reverse order? There was no one like Mama Nightingale to throw wrenches into the works.
“You want me to wait a week because of a feeling? No other reason you can give me?”
“No other reason I can give you,” said Mama Nightingale.
That was the thing about the dead. They had the luxury of being all about feeling. No groceries to buy, no mortgages to pay, and, well, let’s face it, Remy himself was footing Mama Nightingale’s considerable sequin bills all on his own.
“It’s always pointless to argue with you, isn’t it?” asked Remy, for all intents and purposes to the empty air. An important part of being a houngan was not giving a crap what you looked like to the eyes of normal, living people.
“You know it is, cher,” said Mama Nightingale. “When you get a little older, you’ll realize that I’m always right and you won’t even think to ask silly questions like these. But for now, I need you to trust me. Cool your heels a bit, child.”
Remy sighed, surveying the ranks of shining bottles that comprised Dr. Goodness’s collection, each and every one polished to an enamel sheen (all except old Mister de Croix, who did not like to be touched so much.) Each and every one was decorated with feathers and beads and the special tokens of lives well-lived, but none was more sparkly or more encrusted with stuff than Mama Nightingale’s. She had been a singer in her youth, and her predilection for shine and glamour had never faded with her age. Her bottle was everything she had been, writ small and in glass. She was loud and demanding and Remy would occasionally bemoan the fact, in her full hearing, that she had been related to Dr. Goodness at all.
But, one did not become a houngan to ignore the dead. It would be like a plumber trying to ignore pipe. And while he had always politely declined Mama Nightingale’s offers to live again in him and show him a night on the town (he couldn’t even fathom how bad the subsequent hangover would undoubtedly be) there was a difference between polite refusal and outright disrespect.
Ah, well. Easy come, easy go. “Carl seemed like an impulsive guy,” said Remy. “I bet that if he had really wanted to cancel that check, he’d already be on it and I’d be too late anyway. Waiting a week won’t probably make a difference.”
“You rationalize it however you like, cher.”
“All right, fine. A week it is. But if it turns out there was no point to this at all other than you yanking my chain, you’re going to owe me an apology.”
“Only if you agree to owe me an apology when it turns out that I was right.”
“Deal,” said Remy.
“Done,” replied Mama Nightingale. “Now, about this latest crop of sequins…”
* * *
Three days later, Remy happened to glance at the two-day-old newspaper.
He wasn’t really a newspaper kind of guy. Remy had his fill of current events just keeping track of the ins and outs of the spirit world and could not generally be bothered with the earthly trivia of city council meetings and U.S. foreign policy blunders. The only reason he actually owned the newspaper at all was because he had finally made the decision to make a once-and-for-all clean break from Dr. Goodness’s office downtown. Ten thousand dollars wasn’t a huge sum, but it was enough of a windfall to convince Remy that it was time to ditch his safety net. He would sell the old place off to a money-hungry developer and shift his entire operation to the North Shore. That would of course mean transporting all the bottles to his new office, and he could only imagine what kind of hell he would catch if one of them got so much as a hairline crack. He had been packing as many as possible with piles of concert flyers and complimentary real estate magazines, but when he had well and truly scoured all the free kiosks in a five-block radius, he eventually decided to break down and purchase some newspaper exclusively for its cushioning properties, solemnly swearing to himself that he would find a damn UPS store and purchase some real packing peanuts already some day soon.
He was in the process of preparing crabby old Maître Columbine for travel when he saw Carl and Sheila staring back at him from the front page, below the fold.
Huh, thought Remy. They’re famous for something.
Then he looked at the article’s headline.
* * *
“You’re calling in one of Dr. Goodness’s favors?” said the incredulous voice on the other end of the line. “Over this?”
Remy fidgeted. “Yes,” he said. “Look, it’s important. I can’t explain why. Are you going to help me or not?”
“Hey, don’t confuse this for recalcitrance,” said the voice. “I’m happy to be getting off so easily, truth be told. I just want to make sure that this ‘counts,’ if you know what I mean. Leaking unimportant tidbits from an ongoing investigation is nothing compared with what the Doctor did for my mom, God rest her.” The voice went low and muffled as though its issuer were speaking with his hand cupped over the receiver. “You aren’t… involved with this, are you?”
“Nothing I could ever be prosecuted for,” said Remy.
“Not sure I like the sound of that.”
“Look, it’s just that I knew them, is all.” Technically true.
“And all you want to know is how it was done?”
The person on the other end of the line cleared his throat. “The papers know most of what we know, anyway,” he said. “We aren’t ruling out really bizarre foul play, but forensics confirms that the wife was the one doing the strangling, then she offs herself with her own prescription meds. Jilted, I guess, or the world’s most unpleasant murder-suicide pact.”
“I don’t need details,” said Remy. “I just need to know what the weapon was.”
“Nothing special. Weapon of opportunity. Just some cheap Carnival crap she found lying around the room, probably.”
“I see,” said Remy.
“No, that will do.”
There was an uncomfortable pause. “If you know anything, Remy, you have to come forward.”
“If I remember anything that your people would possibly care about, you’ll know.”
“Right,” said the voice. The line disconnected.
Remy stared for a while at the receiver.
* * *
It was an unseasonably hot early-spring night in the Big Easy, and Remy Sage-Marron was waist-deep in a Dumpster full of recycling garbage in the loading dock of a luxury downtown hotel, rooting through the piles like a dog on a mission. If the bottle had been in the room at the time, it would doubtless have been collected by the police and stored as evidence. That’s what they did, wasn’t it? Remy was almost certain that the police would do something like that, based on his experience with primetime television. He was hoping that wasn’t the case. “Stealing From the Evidence Room” would likely require cashing in all his remaining favors, and they were handy things to hold on to. Not that there’d be any question, if it came to that. You make messes, you clean them up. It was just as true in Vodoun as it was in his mama’s kitchen.
Remy shoved aside another armload of sticky Sprite bottles, unearthing a stratum of glass decanters, each with a dram or two of cheap wine still sloshing about in the bottom. Carl had identified the bottle as “recycling” when he picked it up, and he was a white guy. White guys were very particular about their recyclable waste. Remy would have eaten his own hat if Carl had stooped to throwing it in the garbage.
And that was just it, wasn’t it? It didn’t have to be a malevolent spirit. Carl and Sheila were reprehensible people, who more than likely had a lot of pent-up issues. He could have tossed their ten thousand dollar soda bottle in the bins, thus sparking an argument. There was a weapon of opportunity—hell, it might have been around the fat man’s throat already—and a struggle ensued. The beads might have gotten tangled, and then, distraught at what she’d done…
…she’d have called the ambulance. Made up a bullshit story. It would all have come out in court. She wouldn’t have just done herself in, unless her mind had hit a wall, experienced a horror it couldn’t bounce back from.
It had to be the bottle. It just had to.
Remy tossed aside another armload of garbage, a big sheet of ostensibly-recyclable building foam, and there it was, glinting in the dirty-peach light of a sodium-vapor streetlamp. A tiny green Coke bottle. The kind they didn’t make anymore. Absolutely unique in this entire container of refuse.
Remy set his jaw in a grim line.
“Hello,” he said. “Hello, Sam Pavement.”
* * *
In his office on the North Shore, Remy was having a staring-contest with a cola bottle. He strongly suspected he was losing.
This is ridiculous, he thought to himself. It wasn’t really that easy to call back the dead, was it? The retire mo nan dlo required a significant sacrifice. An ox, at the least. You couldn’t just say the name, could you?
And it had been a made-up name! A stupid one, at that! He had pulled the words out of thin air. It was absolutely inconceivable that he would have just randomly stumbled across the moniker of some deranged serial killer and summoned him back, just like that.
But… if he had gotten the details of the story right, did the name matter?
Remy imagined the Waters. Thousands and thousands of gros bons anges, each awaiting their turn to be called back. They got testy, Remy knew. Anxious. Impatient.
Perhaps if one of them were motivated enough…
Don’t get too hung up. I know I’m me, and so I’ll go by anything.
Remy shivered, and twitched. Was it possible? Had his little act of impromptu theater actually invited back a spirit that no one had wanted back, and for good reason? It was impossible, wasn’t it?
It was at that moment that Remy’s ears began to ring.
All at once his vision got smoky, as though he was viewing the little green bottle through a heat-haze. A susurration rose in his hearing beneath the tinnitus, the noise of a voice whispering ancient words too faint to make out. In one spasmodic gesture, Remy leapt from his chair and snatched up the bottle. He sprinted out the back door of the old office building, the scent of the night-damp lawn filling his nostrils with a contemplative odor utterly unsuitable for the situation, and hefted the accursed object in his hand.
“You are not welcome here!” shouted Remy, as he hurled the bottle against a sturdy corner of brick.
It did not break. It clattered, musically, against the concrete sidewalk, spun three times, and stopped, its mouth pointing at him as if in accusation.
Remy’s palms began to sweat as the ringing in his ears intensified. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. Hardly seeming to traverse the space in between, he leapt to the bottle, picked it up, and hurled it at the corner once again, to the same lack of effect. A third and a fourth time followed.
Finally, with hot despair lancing his heart, Remy tried a fifth throw, and this time, the bottle shattered into glass fragments. The ringing subsided.
Remy breathed a sigh of relief, sagging against the wall of the building. Working more methodically now, he retrieved the hatchet from the emergency cabinet inside and began breaking each broken piece of the bottle into smaller and smaller fragments, until it was virtually dust and not a fit home for anything or anyone. He then swept the glittering dust into a bag, said some appropriate prayers over it, weighted it down with a rock and drowned the whole mess in the lake. Trudging heavily now, he returned to his office building and went to return the emergency hatchet to its cabinet.
…which itself was, when you thought about it, a container. An empty vessel.
To Remy’s horror, the ringing in his ears began again.
By his own words, there was not a single empty vessel in the entire building which wouldn’t welcome a soul. And there were thousands souls waiting there in the Waters. Just waiting. Years overdue, many of them. All hungry.
Some of them had not been called back for a reason.
Remy froze. The cabinet hadn’t been empty, of course. It had contained the hatchet, a long-expired first aid kit, an old bottle of chemical fire extinguisher. It wasn’t full, but it had certainly contained things. You couldn’t possibly call that “empty,” could you?
Visibly shaking, Remy pulled the safety cabinet from the wall, removed all its contents, and then hammered its wooden sides until they gave way and the whole thing was lying flat on the ground, unable to contain anything any more. The ringing subsided. There. Done.
His eyes wandered to the bottle of chemical fire extinguisher. Well, there was that, too. No matter how full it was, there was still bound to be some empty space there, space enough to contain a soul. He shook out the old, caked-up white powder onto the floor and then flattened the bottle with the butt end of the hatchet.
And then there was the first aid kit, of course. With the sense of a foot just beginning to slip on an icy hill, Remy opened the kit, revealing some old packaged bandages and an iodine bottle. He crushed the iodine bottle under one heel and was about to discard the bandages when he realized that their little paper sleeves, while indeed containing bandages, also contained some amount of empty air. He tore each one of them open, scattering their contents and then mashing the old tin of the first aid kit by stomping on it several times.
It occurred to Remy at that moment just how many vessels his office technically contained.
He glanced down at his hatchet.
And then, Remy set to work. Cupboards were pulled down from the walls and knocked to pieces. Bottles of embalming fluid were emptied and destroyed. Drawers were pulled out, upended, crushed. Glasses were shattered, mugs smashed, wastebaskets torn apart. What started as a methodical room-by-room dismantling rapidly degenerated into an all-out whirlwind of destruction as Remy’s crazed eye fell upon object after object that contained even a modicum of empty space. Electrical cupboards. Hollow table-legs! His shoes! These were the same shoes he had been wearing three days ago, when Mr. Pavement had been called back! Off they went, hacked to shreds. He would just have to step carefully around the shards of glass that covered the floor. It wouldn’t be too hard, right? Far better than the alternative!
Four hours later, in the deep and dead quiet of the night, Remy stood in his ruined embalming-room, breathing heavily and bleeding from his feet, wondering if the space between the shell of the building and the drywall could technically be considered a “vessel” and as he did so, he let the hatchet fall from his grip, fell into a fetal crouch, and let loose a quick, gasping sob. It was impossible.
No! Not impossible! Just a little more diligence! He had to be close, now! Remy rose to his feet and gave the room another look, and his eyes fell upon the grandmotherly old form of Nan, his one and only client, lying peacefully on her slab.
He gave a placid little blink, thinking back to all the gross anatomy courses he had taken in college. Cut a person open, they were full, just absolutely full, of little bags of stuff. Bladders and sacs and membranous pouches. And it didn’t stop with the gut. The mouth. The brain-case. The tiny air-filled cavity of the middle ear, with its tiny little bones. Each and every one a vessel. Ten thousand tiny little bottles.
His ears began to ring.
Remy removed the ten thousand dollar check from his coat pocket. With nerveless fingers, he tore it up, the pieces fluttering down and sticking in the pools of highly flammable embalming fluid at his feet.
There was so much used in the funeral industry that could catch fire. It would be a shame, this historic building in a nice North Shore neighborhood. He would probably be cited for improper storage. But with Carl’s check uncashed, there really would be nothing that the police could do to connect these two senseless tragedies, right? He wouldn’t be making a claim on the building’s insurance. There would be no earthly reason, the investigators would decide, that he would want to burn his own business down.
They might not even think of “destroying evidence.”
The days ahead would be busy ones for the young houngan. There would be bottles to unpack and replace on the very same shelves he had just taken them from, apologies to deliver, a business to re-home in the little building downtown he had shared with Dr. Goodness for so many years. All of that could come later. Right now, Remy Sage-Marron had a single task ahead of him.
You make messes, you clean them up.
He stared for a moment at sweet little old Nan. Then he picked up his hatchet.