Guyton chose a table along the wall, one that was well-situated for doing business. Andrea got a server's attention—she was better at it than Guyton—and ordered a round. "Okay," she said, after the server departed. "What's the angle you just came up with?"
"Info. I know how to identify you guys, and track you down once I get the scent. But I got no clue what's in it for you. It's not like you get to work your way out of Hell by sending more souls there, right?"
"You have no idea." Andrea looked haunted. "Anyone will give just about anything to get outta there. It's not forever, yeah, but whatever time we get here is time not there."
"Yeah, I think I get it." Not much different from me, he thought, when it comes right down to it. "Okay, number one. I work the clubs downtown a lot. Sometimes, there's three or four of you guys in there. They kinda contend for territory. How do you recognize each other, and how do those territorial disputes work?"
"We can recognize each other if we want to be recognized. I've always stayed under the radar, myself. As far as disputes go, it's all show and intimidation. If neither side backs down, I guess they fight it out. Maybe you know if we stab each other, it hurts, but we heal up."
"Tell me about it. I got gut-shot the first night I started this job."
"Ouch," Andrea winced. "So you said 'number one.' That implies a Number Two."
"Yeah. I got assigned to take down Marcus Della Verne. I figure I'm gonna get all sorts of flak from my handlers when they find out I let you go. If I can get you to help me, that might rain on their tirade."
"Dee Vee? Damn, you think big. He's a legend."
"Yeah, he's a tough one," Guyton admitted. "But you could be a pretty convincing trophy wife, and if you let him know you're like him, he wouldn't suspect me."
"Trophy wife. Yeah, that's right up my alley. But you'd have to look the part, too."
Guyton looked around, then did what he liked to call, 'putting on the Ritz.' He held the old-money look for a few seconds, then let it drop. "I've been working on that."
"Impressive. I didn't know you guys could do that. Yeah, this might work." Andrea took out her phone. "What's your number?"
She punched the number into her phone, and Guyton's chirped. "Now you have mine. I guess if I'm going down, I'm going down in a blaze of glory. Let's do this. What's the plan?"
"I'm still working on it. But the gist is, I go in as old money, with a trophy wife on my arm. When I get a minute alone with him, pfft."
"Do I have to be there for that part?"
"I'll try to leave you out of it, beyond you helping me with my disguise. But if I get an opportunity, I'm gonna take it. Sorry."
"Better him than me, I guess." Andrea shrugged. "Maybe you can put a word in with your people for me. I wasn't a bad person, really. I just got on the wrong road, and couldn't figure how to turn around."
"I can relate. Mostly. What's your story?"
"If you grew up poor, you'd know the tune. Crappy schools, no chance at college, no opportunities for decent jobs. Booze, vikes, and meth are the only way out, and they drop you right back in even worse. You do whatever it takes to get more, including renting yourself out. If you're good looking, or know how to fix your face, you can sometimes get ahead. Or just get used and tossed aside."
Guyton winced. "I knew some people like that. Mostly, I put 'em in jail."
"Figures you were a cop."
"I ain't gonna try to defend some of the stuff I did, but I was a decent investigator. That's how I ended up getting tagged to go after Della Verne."
Andrea gave him a sharp look. "Is that how you ended up in this line of work in general?"
"Nah. Let's just say I had a few issues of my own to deal with, and leave it at that."
"I'm gonna get your story out of you, you know."
"Yeah, maybe later." Guyton leaned back and ran his hands through his hair. "Right now, we've got some more plotting to do."
YOU ARE READING
There's a special place in Hell for those who abuse their authority, and Ronald Guyton abused his with gusto. But on his way to his final reward, he finds himself diverted. Damned souls return to the world of the living, looking to pull a few more o...