Human bodies need nourishment, even (or especially) when inhabited by souls seeking salvation. Thus, Andrea and Guyton reluctantly put clothes on and sought a more substantial breakfast than what was in his refrigerator.
Andrea spotted a place just two blocks away. "There," she said, pointing at the Chuck's Chuckwagon sign.
"Funny how I never noticed this joint before," said Guyton, pulling in.
Chuck's was a diner, decorated—as one might expect—in a Western motif. It was mid-morning, so the early crowd had cleared out and left them plenty of room. They took a table, and a waitress brought cups and coffee a minute later. "Late night?" she asked, giving them a wink.
"You could say that," Andrea gave her a lopsided smile.
"Well, I'm Gwen, and I get to nourish y'all. You'll need your protein, and the Hungry Cowboy's on special today. Two eggs, three flapjacks, four strips of bacon, and your choice of toast or hashbrowns."
"Yeah, that sounds good," said Guyton. "Eggs over medium, and put 'em right on the hashbrowns."
"Same way for me," Andrea added.
"I'll have it right out." Gwen departed with a final wink for Andrea.
"She's a soulburn," Guyton whispered.
"You don't say," Andrea drawled, but quietly. "She revealed herself to me. I revealed back, so I think she'll take extra-special care of us. Don't forget to tip her well."
"I thought I smelled you all of a sudden. Maybe I could give her a tip she'd never forget." Guyton caught himself before touching his weapon—no need to spook Andrea.
"If I go powder my nose, she might give you her number."
"I've always had a thing for women wearing chaps and a checkered blouse."
Andrea snorted. "That wasn't very convincing."
"It wasn't meant to be."
"I wouldn't mind. Take her up on the offer, and zap her. As long as there isn't any hanky-panky first."
"Right now," said Guyton, "you're the only one I want to panky my hanky."
"Sounds like fun. Maybe we'll figure out what that means before we have our afternoon nap."
"As much as I'd like to think of—and do—nothing else for the rest of our lives, we have a big day tomorrow. In the morning, unfortunately. So we're gonna need to get some rest some time between now and then."
Andrea grabbed two half-and-half pots and stirred them into her coffee. "I'm gonna have to be there for the... the main event, I guess."
"I don't see any way around it." Guyton paused for a moment. "I'm only gonna ask this one time, and whatever you say, I'll believe it. Are you really helping me, or are you trying to pull me down?"
"Jeez. Like I'd admit it, even if I was trying to pull you down. But I'm not. I feel better about myself, trying to help keep people out of... there."
"Two Hungry Cowboys," said Gwen, bringing platters heaped with food. "Let me grab you some more coffee."
"Like I was saying," Andrea continued, grabbing the butter dish and slathering her pancakes, "I'd rather go back to Hell than push someone else down there to take my place."
"Okay? Did your handlers get to you?"
"They paid a visit this morning, while you were asleep," Guyton admitted. "We've got the go-ahead to deal with Della Verne. I just wish I knew what happens afterwards."
"Hey, you said it yourself. You go back to your life. Or afterlife. I just hope I get to be a part of it, somehow."
"Me, too. You know, that's the first time I've ever said that."
Andrea reached across the table, and Guyton took her hand. "You said you'd believe my answer," she said, "so I'll believe what you just said. We've got to be the weirdest couple in history."
"There was a poem called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I think it was a poem, anyway. Maybe that's what we are."
"Are you proposing?"
"Seriously? Right now, I can't think of anyone else I'd want to spend a... whatever the fuck this is. I'd just as soon spend it with you than anyone else. Especially my handlers."
Andrea choked on her coffee, recovering after a coughing fit. "I accept. For better or worse. Let's nail Dee Vee, and then we'll find out what happens afterwards."
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...