He was totally lost. “Vortexville,” he repeated to the zombie looking bartender named Reginald (Reggie).
“Hmm,” Reggie exclaimed. “Lots of places named something like that around here. Vortex, Chaos, Waste this and that. Junk this or another. Toxic, Destitute, Unsavory Lane… Black Hole Village down yonder in the Big Canyon. You’ll have to elaborate more. Who’s in this place? What are some of the residents’ names?”
“I was hired by a Grannie of some kind,” replies the about equally confused builder named Jackson. Jackson Bloch, but no kin to our Baker Bloch. “Or Grannis. Maybe it was Grannis. Or Grannie.”
“*Whose* Granny, then? Don’t know anyone by the name of Granny. Don’t know Vortextra…”
“Vortexville,” Jackson corrected. His left earring glinted. It always did when he felt he was brighter than the person being spoken to at the moment. A character giveaway.
“Maybe Mary will know. Mary’s been around longer than about anyone around these here parts. Lives over in Hambone. I’ll give her a ring. If the telephones are back up.” Reggie retreats behind the bar. Jackson Bloch can hear him speaking to someone. They talk for about 15 minutes. Reggie returns.
“Sorry about that.” We haven’t caught up in a while. Have to be nice to the vampires, you know. They’ll eat you in the middle of the night if not. Mary’s okay, though. And she knows everything.” He pauses, looks at the ceiling.
“Well?” Jackson implored after a minute. “Does she know, er, Grannis? Grannie?” he revolved around again, then held firm with the second. “Grannie… pretty sure.”
“Yeah. I think she does.” Again the pause. Jackson caught on. He visualized how many linden dollars he brought with him on the trip. Just enough to get by. Ruin construction doesn’t bring in the big bucks it use to. He reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet, and slipped Reggie a fiver, hoping that would be enough. It was. Reggie knew about the downturn of the ruin construction business as well.
“Yeah, it’s Jethro and Bauer’s place down on the southwest corner of The Fracture. But it’s a fur piece from here. Did you bring any weapons? A lot of people around here frown on outside weapons. They’ll shoot you good and dead just for that. Best to buy from the local traders. You might as well just give me any weapons you brought with you, then. I’ll make sure they get put in the right hands… er, destroyed. Destroyed I meant there.”
His boss didn’t supply him with any weapons. Budget cuts again. But he didn’t want to expose this weakness. Reggie seemed decent enough for a zombie, but this was a tough place with obviously a lot of back stabbing going on. “Just my red belt in karate, ha ha.” He faked a judo stance on the bartender, who didn’t know the difference. “Oh,” he said. “I see. Oh… I hear the phone again. Better go see who it is.”
Jackson Bloch didn’t hear anything. No ringing. Maybe it was all the bling in his ears. The left one blinged for vanity, the right for gluttony. Right now he was getting hungry. His ear told him. No food here, though, unless you like human flesh. And he wasn’t ready to go there yet. Not quite yet. Stay in The Waste long enough and its something you have to contemplate hard and long about. Most succumb. It’s an acquired taste.
Reggie returned to the counter once more. “I had Mary call off her attack on you. Have to be honest and up front with you. No one knows judo or karate around here, or can tell them apart.”
Obviously, thought Jackson. His left ear glinted again.
“You wouldn’t be worth the trouble.” He leaned forward, his putrid breath against Jackson’s neck. “Here’s the deal.”