Which Side?

“I don’t like this place,” Mike grumbled.  The big guy shrugged deeper into his cracked leather jacket.

Rain drummed gently on the skylight overhead.  Water trickled down the cement walls of the room, prickly-cold from the weather.  Jim paced the room like a caged cat, looking into the corners and behind the furniture.

“What’s the matter, no chiles rellenos?” Adrian needled the bass player.  “That’s what we get for not having a rider.”  The truth was, Adrian didn’t much like it either.  He reached into his pocket for his Third Eye—

“We can get chiles rellenos,” the club gopher chirped.  She was young and cute, in a cream-of-the-math-major-gamer-girl-crop sort of way, complete with dark-rimmed square glasses and a ponytail.  She clicked on her tablet and typed in a couple of characters.  “There’s a good Mexican place just down the street.”

“What is that, Yelp?” Adrian asked.  He leaned over her to look at the map of Kansas City that sprang to life under her fingers.  He missed his own smartphone, which had been crushed by a renegade Angel in New Mexico a few days earlier.

“Chingate,” Mike muttered.  “Both of you.”

“Ain’t nothing down the street but water, anyway,” Eddie threw in.  “Every direction.  I looked.”  The guitarist scratched himself under his arm, and Adrian knew he was reassuring himself that his pistol was still there.  “I’d take comfort from the forecast that this is going to be a light rain, if I was able to take comfort from anything.”

In answer, thunder crashed outside the building.  The rain stopped drumming and began to hammer.

“Not literally,” Gopher Girl agreed.  “But we could send a bike.”

They stood in the green room of a club called the Silver Eel.  The building had once been some kind of dockside warehouse, squatting low down on the water’s edge below a steep hill.  The green room and performance space were on the upper floor.  The green room was a rectangular slice taken off one end of the floor, stuffed with ratty armchairs and a card table carrying a basket of candy bars and a huddle of water bottles.  It had a door at each end, one leading onto the stage and the other into a stairwell that climbed down to the lower floors—there was a lounge and restaurant on the floor below them, and below that Adrian didn’t know.  The river, he guessed.

“You could send a boat,” Eddie suggested.  “It’d get there faster.”

“Any port,” Adrian said, “et cetera.”  In a storm.  It wasn’t a storm, though, was it?  Say something useful, he kicked himself.  Say something impressive.

“No mirrors,” Twitch commented, swishing her tail as she turned to look around the room.  “How do you expect a girl to do her makeup?”  She fluttered her long silver eyelashes and then winked.

“You’re a girl?” Gopher asked, then looked flustered.

“Hypothetically,” Twitch said, and Adrian managed not to laugh.  Twitch was girl enough when she wanted to be.  Also, he knew she was happier for the fact that there were no mirrors in the room.

“Grandpa Archuleta fought in the war,” Mike was still gnawing away at the chip on his shoulder.  “World War Two.  He was a gunner in the Navy.”

“Yeah?” Adrian raised his eyebrows.  “Which side was Mexico on?”

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