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Children of Mammon

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CHAPTER FIVE

Bonnie did not consciously count the seconds that Ana was gone, but in spite of his determination not to be a jealous dick, he could not help but note that Foxy left with Ana about a quarter after ten and did not come back with her until half past two in the freaking morning.

“That was a long shower,” Bonnie said as Foxy shrugged the plastic sheets aside and ducked through, carrying Ana, half-naked and sound asleep, in his arms. “What the h-h—HI THERE!—hell are you wearing-ing-ing?”

“Her jeans. Aye, that’s right, I got in her p-p-pants first. Eat yer heart-t-t out,” Foxy growled cheerily, switching on his eyes to scan the room and nodding when Chica waved. “Freddy around-d-d?”

A grunt from the South Hall was his answer and then Freddy switched on his own eyes and came out of the dark, watching as Foxy knelt down beside the table and tucked Ana away. “IS. SHE. SLEEPING.”

“Eh, sleep may b-b-be a light word for it,” said Foxy, leaning up against the wall. “She’s got t-t-three joints and half a bottle o’ rum in her. She’s out-t-t. Wouldn’t wake for it even if the horns o’ judgment were to blow out’n her ass.”

“You are such-ch-ch a charmer,” Bonnie muttered, putting his guitar aside and struggling up onto his feet. He was walking much better these days since Ana had worked on his knees, but getting up and down was still hard. “Did she t-t-talk?”

“Oh aye. Three joints and half a b-b—BOTTLE OF RUM, didn’t I say? After a certain p-p-point, I couldn’t shut her up.”

Before Bonnie could ask what was wrong, his knee gave out and he dropped stiff-legged back onto the stage.

Grumbling, Freddy crossed the room in long, impatient strides to pick him up like a child and thump him on his feet. “WE’RE. NOT. TALKING. HERE,” he said and pointed at the hall. “BONNIE. STAY. AND. WATCH. HER.”

“The hell I will.”

Freddy, already walking away, turned around. “BONNIE. I. HAVE. SPENT. ALL. DAY. CHASING. HER. AROUND. THIS. BUILDING. AND. I. AM. NOT. IN. THE.” He paused, clicking and scowling. “MOO. TO. LISTEN. TO. YOU. TELL. ME. NOTHING. IS. WRONG.”

“Freddy,” Bonnie replied, mimicking his tone with savage accuracy, “I spent at least-t-t three hours off and on holding her while she c-cr-cried. I don’t need-d-d you to tell me something-ing-ing’s wrong. You want her watched-d-d? You watch her. I’m going t-t-to hear this.”

Before Freddy could answer, Foxy quietly said, “I think-k-k we all need to hear this, Fred. Ye don’t want to do it-t-t here, let’s move on, but let’s do it quick-k-k and get on with it.”

Freddy looked back and forth between them for a long minute, then went over to the table and looked beneath it for an even longer minute, but at the end of it, the glaring angle went out of his eyelids. He picked Ana’s limp arm up and tucked it next to her on the mattress, rested his hand briefly on her head, then straightened and let the curtain fall. “ALL RIGHT,” he said. “THE QUIET ROOM. GO.”

They went, Chica toddling on ahead to hold the plastic open for those of them with ears. Before he followed, Foxy picked up Ana’s duffel bag and slung it over his shoulder.

“What are you d-d-doing with that?” Bonnie asked.

“Ye’ll know soon enough, mate.” Foxy attempted to scrape the loose stack of papers Ana had taken off the lobby wall together, then gave up and gestured at it. “Get these for me, would-d-d ye?”

Bonnie obeyed, looking them over in confusion as he did so. Happy kids. Freddy on stage. Chica with a birthday cake. Him with his guitar. Lots of newspaper articles, but only the ones gushing over the various openings and special events. Silly stuff, and all of it ten or twenty or even forty years old. He couldn’t see anything Ana would want to keep, much less Foxy.

“What are these for?” he asked.

“For Freddy,” said Foxy. “Might not-t-t need ‘em, but I likes to be prepared and Freddy b-b-believes more in what he sees than what-t-t he feels.”

“Prepared-d-d for what?”

“Look, mate. I know it ain’t-t-t in yer nature, but I need ye to t-t-trust me. We’re on the—PORT SIDE—same side, remember?”

“Yeah, right.”

“Then let-t-t me do the talking here, eh?” Foxy gave whatever was in the duffel bag a grim sort of pat and started walking. “It’s apt to g-g-get pricklish.”

They went to the quiet room and once they were all squeezed inside amid Ana’s tools and work-benches, Freddy folded his arms and said, “WHAT. DO. YOU. KNOW.”

“Not much,” said Foxy, setting the duffel bag down and tapping the place next to it to show Bonnie where to put the papers. “But that-t-t ain’t what yer after, is it? Ye want to know what I think-k-k, and I think yer right. We’re in trouble.”

“This is what you c-c-call being on her side?” Bonnie snapped, ears flat.

“BONNIE. BE. QUIET. OR. GET. OUT,” Freddy said, and after Bonnie had shuffled back and folded his arms to scowl at the floor, turned his gaze on Foxy. “HOW?”

“Is she ok-k-kay?” Bonnie asked.

Foxy rolled one shoulder in a less-than-comforting answer to both of them, but addressed himself to Bonnie. “She will b-b-be. She had a bad t-t—TIME TO SAIL—time, aye, but she’ll shake it off.”

“What happened?” Bonnie asked at once, fighting the bilious pulse inside him that beat out ‘him and not me she told him and not me’ like a headache.

Foxy took a long time thinking over his answer before he said, “Don’t know, really.”

“You just said-d-d—”

“I know what I said-d-d, but the problem is, once ye loosen her up-p-p enough to talk at all, she’s too loose to t-t-talk sense.”

Freddy grunted disapproval and opened the door to aim his ears at the dining room.

“And she plays it c-cl-close,” Foxy continued, watching him too casually. “Aye, she let a few d-d-drops spill once I got her in her cups, but I never got-t-t the full story and the bits I d-d-did get don’t need to be repeated. The important-t-t thing is—”

“Bits like what?” pressed Bonnie.

“Come on now, mate, I c-c-can’t wind ye up like that. Ye have me word-d-d—”

“Fuck your word. What did she t-t-tell you?”

“Nothing plain,” Foxy said irritably. “If she d-d-did, I’d tell ye, mate. I would. But she didn’t. I got nothing for ye b-b-but guesswork. It can’t help, it might-t-t hurt, and it ain’t the part o’ the story that needs telling here.”

“THAT’S ENOUGH,” said Freddy, and then, to Bonnie’s astonishment, he turned to Foxy and said, “DID. SHE. TELL. YOU. WHAT. HAPPENED. TO. HER. YES. OR. NO.”

Foxy slid him a narrow stare, but Freddy folded his arms and stared back, and after a short, tense silence, Foxy said, “No. She just-t-t told me what she did about it.”

“WHAT. SHE. DID,” said Freddy, pointing at the ground, either to indicate the building in a general way or the basement in particular. “THAT. MADE. HER. COME. BACK. HERE.”

“Hell, man, she’d-d-d have come back anyway. Ye couldn’t-t-t keep her out if ye fired her from a cannon.”

“YES. OR. NO. FOXY.”

Foxy sighed and found a leaning spot on the big tool chest behind him. “Aye.”

“THEN. I. WANT. TO. HEAR. IT.”

“Have a heart-t-t, man. Bad enough I got her drunk and made her t-t-tell me. Now ye want me to spread-d-d it around?”

Freddy gave his own chest a slap, growling, “I. NEED. TO. KNOW. WHAT. IS. HAPPENING. IN. MY. HOUSE. SO. START. TALKING. AND. TELL. THE. TRUTH. THAT’S AN ORDER.”

After a short burst of static and a few spastic starts, Foxy said, “She kept-t-t talking about…bad blood.”

“WHAT. DOES. THAT. MEAN.”

“Not sure. It all b-b-be knotted up in her head somehow with sex, so…best-t-t I can piece it together is, this bloke she met-t-t up with on Friday last, might have—might have,” he emphasized with a glance at Bonnie, “worked her over—BOARD! That ain’t-t-t the part that’s weighing on her heaviest, so…make o’ that what ye will.”

Something touched him. Bonnie looked around dazedly and saw Chica’s hand on his arm. He gave it a pat, unsure whether he were comforting her or she was comforting him. Worked her over. The words had meaning, he just couldn’t quite get them to hold still long enough to get a good grasp on what that meaning was. Not weighing on her, that was what kept coming back on him. Because no matter what ‘worked her over’ meant, it would bother her. It took a lot of ‘working over’ before you just got used to it.

“Ana’s mum weren’t married-d—TO THE SEA!” Foxy was saying. “Or at least, she weren’t-t-t married to Ana’s pap, and I gather her aunt weren’t married when she had-d-d her cousin-chap, so I reckon the whole family’s got a reputation for being a wee bit loose in the knees. I see ye wondering what the hell this has to do with anything,” he added as Bonnie opened his mouth to ask just that. “Trust-t-t me when I say it’s about to become significant.”

Freddy grumbled without words and took his hat off to rub at his head. “GO. ON.”

“Well, she talked-d-d to someone about whatever happened with the bloke…but not a friend-d-d, from what I can glean, which to me own mind limits just who it c-c-could have been. Now, Ana ain’t-t-t said what she told this other lady and she ain’t said what that lady told-d-d her, exactly, beyond that whatever happened were her own fault-t-t on account o’ that bad blood. So Ana went home, got-t-t drunk, and found sommat that belonged-d-d to the fellow what lived there betwixt Ana moving in and her aunt-t-t moving out.”

“SOME. THING. TO. DO. WITH. US.”

“Maybe. More like to d-d-do with Mulholland. No, she d-d-didn’t say so,” Foxy said before Freddy could ask. “That could-d-d just be me own feeling. She never c-c-came right out and said the word, nor any word I’d c-c-consider damning. Even in her cups, Ana’s chary as the Devil himself…but she did let slip-p-p about a collection.”

Bonnie’s fan revved and he wasn’t alone. ‘Collection’ could mean a lot of things, of course. Stamps. Coins. Comic books. But for him and for all them who had been a part of the Purple Man’s game, ‘collection’ meant something very specific: a set of wire shelves in the basement with spare mascot heads in neat rows, arranged oldest on top and freshest on the bottom, so none of them would drip on the others…

“Of what?” Bonnie asked.

“She didn’t say,” said Foxy. “Souvenirs from Mulholland-d-d is me own guess, based on…” He hesitated, looking at Freddy, who tapped a finger on his stomach-casing in a brooding fashion, but who did not volunteer information. “Based on a number of things,” Foxy concluded, pushing himself off the tool-chest and reaching for Ana’s duffel bag. “But mainly this’n. Now, don’t-t-t none of ye blow a gasket, and especially ye, lass.”

“WHO, ME?” Chica chirped, eyebrows raised.

Foxy opened the main flap, dipped a hand in, visibly winced, and pulled out—

“BABYCAKES,” said Chica. She took a step back, bumped the wall and let her arms drop to her sides. Her fan revved and revved and revved, until thin wisps of smoke began to curl up through her joints.

“Calm yer nuggets, luv.” Foxy gave the cupcake a shake so they could all hear it rattle. “It’s broken.”

“SHE’LL. FIX. IT,” said Freddy without hesitation, but just as immediately waved the danger away with a dismissive pass of his hand. “IT. DOESN’T. MATTER. GO. ON. FOXY.”

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Bonnie said, patting Chica’s shivering shoulder. “Even if she fixes B-B-Babycakes, she’s way too b-b-big to set it off and he’s g-g-got to have a monitor to see anything-ing-ing, right?”

“THERE’S. NO. POWER,” Freddy agreed, adding with a careless shrug, “OF. COURSE. SHE. MIGHT. FIX. THAT. TOO. I. WOULDN’T. PUT. IT. PAST. HER. BUT. IF. SHE. DOES. THEN. ALL. THE.—” He tapped one of his eyes, unable to say the word he wanted, even if he had a soundbite for ‘camera’. “—WILL. BE. ON. AND. ANYWAY. HE. HAS. TO. KNOW. SOMEONE. IS. HERE. BY. NOW. SO. IT. STILL. DOESN’T. MATTER. GO. ON. FOXY.”

“And suddenly-ly-ly you’re okay with that?” Bonnie blurted.

Freddy gave him a Look. “THERE’S. ONLY. ONE. WAY. TO. STOP. HER. ARE. YOU. OKAY. WITH. THAT.” As Bonnie lowered his ears, Freddy sighed. “I’M. WORRIED. ABOUT. HER. BONNIE. BUT. RIGHT. NOW. I. HAVE. TO. BE. MORE. WORRIED. ABOUT. WHAT. SHE’S. FOUND. AND. WHAT. SHE’S. STILL. LOOKING. FOR. SO. LET’S. TALK. ABOUT. THAT. AND. THEN. I’LL. DECIDE. WHAT. TO. DO. ABOUT. IT.” Freddy looked at Foxy. “GO. ON.”

“She said-d-d something about a b-b-book. Pictures. A playroom.” Foxy shrugged. “Course, she also said-d-d something about a clock-k-k and a bunny and lord-d-d knows what that means.”

“A bunny?” Bonnie echoed, ears flopping forward in surprise. “Me?”

“Maybe, I don’t know. One o’ yer plushies, b-b—BY THE DOCKS—by the sound of it. She d-d-didn’t like it, whatever it was. Says it keeps c-c-coming back, whatever that means. And she d-d-don’t believe in ghosts. Must have said that half a hundred t-t-t—TIME TO SAIL—times.” Foxy raised the cupcake higher and gave it a little shake in Chica’s direction; Chica flinched. “She’s g-g-going to spring this on ye, lass.”

“WHY?” Chica asked, leaning into Freddy’s side until Freddy put his arm around her.

“How?” Bonnie corrected. “It d-d-doesn’t even work! It’s just a…a stupid cupcake t-t-toy, for all she knows!”

“SHE’LL. FIX. IT,” Freddy said again, rubbing Chica’s back.

“I tell ye, it ain’t-t-t about Baby-bloody-cakes!” Foxy insisted. “She d-d-don’t know what it is. She don’t know what it d-d-does. No, she just-t-t wants to look ye in the eye when ye sees it the first-t-t—MATE—first time, lass. She thinks, and I’m quoting here, ‘If she rec-c-cognizes it, then it’s real.’ End quote. She says it means ye were there, the real ye, right along with Hotpants. This be the egg minder, and…and Nate and all the other eggs it’s k-k-keeping, those are real too.”

“The hell d-d-does that mean?” Bonnie asked. “What eggs? Who’s Hotpants and who the hell is Nate? Is that…Is that-t-t the guy she met on Friday?”

Foxy rolled his eyes in exasperation and banged Babycakes down on the table hard enough to make it let out a distorted giggle. “I don’t know! Ye can glean anything from that-t-t? How many t-t-times has I got to say she were dr-dr—DRUNKEN SAILOR—drunk? I only mention it at-t-t all to point out that’s the chain o’ her flawless reasoning. That if ye rec-c-cognize the bugger, ye were there. Not that it were used-d-d to lay the wee ones out or that ye c-c-carried them off to him, lass. Not one bleeding word did our g-g-girl say about children t-t-taken or killed, and Ana with a missing c-c-cousin of her own, eh? Eh? If ye recognize B-B-Babycakes, ye were at Mulholland. That’s the hook-k-k and the fish she’s hoping to catch. Does that sound-d-d like she knows anything at all about-t-t us? About him?”

Freddy shook his head, but Bonnie didn’t breathe easy—well, he didn’t breathe at all, but whatever he was doing, he wasn’t doing it easily, not yet. Freddy was still thinking.

“WHAT. DO. YOU. THINK. IT. MEANS,” Freddy asked at long last. “WHAT. DO. YOU. THINK. SHE’S. TRYING. TO. DO.”

Foxy put the cupcake back in Ana’s bag and closed it up again. He took his time with it and when he was done, he just stared at the wall, scratching his hook slowly back and forth along one of the shallower grooves on his chest. “I think-k-k she wants to prove we’re from Mulholland. Or rather, I think she really wants to p-pr-prove we ain’t.”

“WHY?”

“And why Mulholland-d-d?” Bonnie asked. “Why not Circle Drive? That’s where she remembers us from.”

“Aye, but-t-t nothing bad happened at Circle Drive.”

Chica stared in open-mouthed disbelief and even Freddy looked skeptical, but Bonnie was the one who could talk, so it was Bonnie who said, “Um, she might-t-t not have known what was happening at night, but what about James Royce motherfucking-ing-ing Reardon? I mean, I know he d-d-didn’t actually do anything, but he’s the one they pinned-d-d it on. Isn’t five dead-d-d kids bad enough?”

“Aye, but it’s the kind-d-d o’ bad she’s looking for, ain’t it? She found-d-d a book, she said,” Foxy reminded them. “With pictures. She didn’t say what was in ‘em, but if it were a bunch o’ dead bodies, she’d b-b-be taking it to the coppers, wouldn’t she? Not bringing us bleeding Babycakes and waving it in Chica’s lovely face. So if it weren’t dead b-b-bodies in them pictures, what did she see? What else was happening at Freddy’s that anyone would want to t-t-take pictures of and keep for his own pleasure?”

“Are you t-t-talking about the party rooms?” Bonnie asked. “If that’s what-t-t she saw in those pictures, why wouldn’t she just-t-t ask you what was going on in them? I mean, you’ve g-g-got to be—”

Chica took her hand off his arm and gave him a swift smack instead.

“—in a few?” Foxy finished calmly. “Aye, I reckon I am. And that’s maybe why she d-d-don’t just ask me. Can’t imagine I looked-d-d too damn happy in any of them pics. Could b-b-be that’s cutting a bit too close to the b-b-bone for her, following what may or may not-t-t have happened to her on Friday. No, there’s safer ways o’ asking. Like this.” He put his good hand on the stack of papers Bonnie had carried in and gave them a push to fan them out. “First-t-t thing she done when she came back here t-t-today was take these down and look at ‘em. Why? What’s in ‘em?”

Freddy put Chica aside with a final pat and moved closer. He picked up a photo, frowned, picked up another. “CHILDREN.”

“No, mate. Not the p-p-people. The places.” Foxy tapped his hook on the picture in Freddy’s hand as Freddy looked at the others with new interest. “Circle Drive…Circle Drive…High Street…Circle Drive…I don’t recognize this’n. Must be Fredbear’s. Fifty-ty-ty years worth o’ pictures here, and not a one of them that so much as p-p-proves Mulholland existed. Maybe that be a g-g-good thing and maybe not, for the bleeding building surely stands. Makes for a better puzzle, eh? A nice d-d-deep, thorny puzzle to lose herself in while she looks for the answer. And that’s trouble, mateys, for she’s looking here, she’s looking at us, and she’ll k-k-keep on looking until she finds it.”

“WHY?” Freddy asked. “IF. SHE. WAS. HURT…HOW. EVER. SHE. WAS. HURT…WHAT. DOES. THAT. HAVE. TO. DO. WITH. US.”

“Not a blessed-d-d thing, mate. And that’s the hook, ain’t it? She g-g-goes out with a bloke on Friday and c-c-comes back on Sunday with bleeding Babycakes, thinking she’s going to use that little d-d-devil to prove our lass Chica here is or ain’t the same as her what walked-d-d the halls at Mulholland. I ask ye, do that-t-t make any damn logical sense at all? What the hell is that-t-t about, eh? Chica, luv,” Foxy said, turning to her intently. “Ye’ve read-d-d all up on that head-shrinking chum. What’s the word I want-t-t?”

Chica shivered noisily, clutching at her beakless mouth as her cameras irised wide and small, wide and small. She said, “P-P-PARATAXIC TRANSFERENCE.”

“Knew there had-d-d to be a word for it,” said Foxy with a satisfied smirk. “And somehow, I just-t-t knew ye’d know it.”

“Well, I don’t,” said Bonnie. “What-t-t does…uh, shit-t-t, sorry,” he interrupted himself, aware that he’d come close to accidentally triggering Chica, but she just nodded and waved at him to continue. He gave himself a quiet moment to make sure he could get it all out in one go, without stuttering, and said, “Chica, what does parataxic transference mean?”

Chica shuddered again and chirped, “WOW, THAT’S A BIG WORD! PARATAXIC TRANSERENCE IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL AVOIDANCE MECHANISM CHARACTERIZED BY AN OBSESSION WITH SOLVING OR—” Chica looked pointedly up at the ceiling. “—REPAIRING SOME OTHER PROBLEM AS A SYMBOLIC MEANS OF OVERCOMING TRAUMA WITHOUT EVER DIRECTLY ACKNOWLEDGING IT.” She clicked a few times, twitching, and said, “VOCABULARY POWER!”

“Sound like anyone we know?” Foxy asked dryly.

Freddy nodded again, now looking thoughtful.

“I don’t get-t-t it,” said Bonnie, since he seemed to be the only one.

“The only thing Ana knows for sure is that bad-d-d things happened at Mulholland,” Foxy told him. “Maybe…similar in nature to what-t-t happened to her. So she figures if she c-c-can prove it didn’t-t-t happen to us, then it didn’t happen to her neither.”

Bonnie looked at Chica, then at Freddy, then back at Foxy. “That’s the stupidest-t-t thing I ever heard.”

“This from the man what-t-t used the word ‘wubby’ with a straight-t-t face.”

“Fuck you. My face isn’t flexible.”

“ENOUGH.”

Foxy conceded at once, hand up and ears back. “What it c-c-comes down to is, we all got our ways o’ coping, mate, and that be hers. It don’t make sense and it don’t-t-t have to. Me p-p-p—POINT O’ ME SWORD—point being, she ain’t looking for him…but she is looking at us. So aye, we g-g-got to be careful, and especially ye,” Foxy added, pointing his hook at Chica. “Ye never were any g-g-good at lying, luv, but if’n she sees so much as a flicker in yer eye when she p-p-presents ye with that little pink son of a—SEA BISCUIT—then she’ll draw that line betwixt us and Mulholland. And then we are in t-t-trouble, aye, bad trouble, because once that line’s drawn, Ana will follow it wherever it leads.”

“AND. IT. WILL. LEAD. STRAIGHT. TO. HIM,” said Freddy.

“One of ‘em, anyhow. Either one’ll lead to t’other. But what’s important-t-t to remember here is, she ain’t looking for bodies. Eh?” Foxy turned narrow eyes on Freddy, who tipped his head back with a broody grunt. “She d-d-don’t know she’s on a blood trail. And as long as we ain’t no older than the b—BILGERAT!—building, she’ll never look beyond-d-d it, mark me words.”

Bonnie watched Freddy think that over, tense but hopeful.

Freddy noticed. He glanced at Bonnie, then sighed and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “I. HOPE. YOU’RE. RIGHT,” he told Foxy. “I’M. WILLING. TO. LET. HER. WORK. THIS. OUT. HER. WAY. BUT. IF. SHE. EVER. TELLS. ANY. OF. YOU. WHAT. REALLY. HAPPENED. ON. FRIDAY. I. NEED. TO. KNOW. AND. THAT’S AN ORDER.” He opened the door, paused, and looked back. “AND. BE. CAREFUL. WHAT. YOU. SAY. TO. HER. WE. ARE. RIGHT. ON. THE. EDGE. OF. WHAT. I. CAN. OVER. LOOK. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

Bonnie nodded, ears low.

“GOOD,” said Freddy and started out on another patrol, rubbing at his temples with both hands as he went. His voice floated back at them, echoing in the empty hall: “I’M. GETTING. A. HEAD. ACHE. HOW. DOES. THAT. EVEN. WORK.”

Chica left next, giving the duffel bag that hid Babycakes a backwards glance and one last shiver before heading for the dining room.

Alone together, Foxy and Bonnie just looked at each other for a while.

“What didn’t-t-t you tell him?” asked Bonnie.

“Insults and calumny, says I,” Foxy drawled, blatantly unsurprised. “I were ordered-d-d to tell the truth, weren’t I?”

“And I’m sure everything-ing-ing you said was true. What didn’t you say?”

“Close the door.”

Bonnie did.

“Nate weren’t the only egg in her minder-r-r—ARR!” Foxy said, shaking off the triggered word and snapping his jaw back into place when it slipped its setting. “She counted ‘em off for me on her fingers. Billy. Lisa. David. Nate. Erik. And all the other little eggs in Mike’s egg minder, she said.”

“Those are all really common names,” Bonnie said after a long, thoughtless span of time.

“Aye, they are. But there are a few faces what-t-t come in clearer than others, ain’t there?”

“Well, David’s probably her c-c-cousin, but who are the rest-t-t of them? You don’t really think Ana knows about…about Billy Blaylock or…” He edged toward the black, came back and said, “or anyone like that, d-d-do you?”

“No,” said Foxy at once, only to pause and amend himself almost immediately with, “I don’t know. Small t-t-town, ain’t it? Lots of kiddies too young to know B-B-Billy come here hoping to find-d-d—BURIED TREASURE—his ghost. But Ana don’t believe in ghosts, as she’s so fond-d-d of saying, and she’s never mentioned Billy before. More importantly, if the Erik-k-k she mentioned is—” Now Foxy’s pupils opened, until Bonnie could see the pinpoint lights shining silver out of their sockets. “—him,” he growled and closed his eyes, shuddering until he was calm. “Then it wouldn’t be Mike’s egg minder, would-d-d it? Who’s Mike? Apart from a couple d-d-dozen kiddies I may have crossed swords with over the—ROLLING SEAS—years, the only ‘Mike’ leaps to me mind is that night-t-t guard chappie from Circle Drive. Smith.”

“Schmidt, I think.”

“Whoever. He were a nosy little blighter-r-r—ARR!—and I’m sure he c-c-could tell some tales, but that had to have b-b-been…hell, twenty years gone, at least. Our Ana would have been knee-high to a sea-horse. How would she even know him?”

“I think there was a Mike who worked-d-d here,” Bonnie said doubtfully. “In the k-k-kitchen. Maybe he t-t-told her something.”

“Ye think so?” Foxy asked pointedly.

“Not really.”

“Me neither. No. No, only thing what makes sense to me is that-t-t this Mike-chappie were the fellow what left the b-b-book for her to find, and all them other names—Billy and Nate and such—were the pictures inside it, pictures of folks who paid-d-d for a party. Mike’s egg-minder and all his little eggs.”

“She said Babycakes was the egg-minder.”

Foxy rolled his eyes. “She said it b-b-both ways. She were drunk and stoned-d-d and half-asleep! And she’s got-t-t a weird egg fixation. Me point is, I won’t have Freddy judging her on anything she said in that c-c-condition.”

Bonnie nodded, then forced his ears up a bit and put out his hand. “Thanks.”

Foxy looked at his hand and snorted, but offered up his hook for a shake. “I didn’t do it for you, mate.”

“Thanks just-t-t the same. I mean…I know Freddy’s only d-d-doing what he thinks is right, but…well, he’s d-d-dealt with a lot of problems by dumping them in the quarry. I’m not sure he’s even looking-ing-ing for other solutions anymore.”

“Like I says, Bon—” Foxy collected Ana’s duffel bag and awkwardly scooped up the stack of papers. “—we all g-g-got our ways o’ coping. Go easy on Fred. When ye t-t-talk about choosing sides, just remember-r-r—ARR! ME HEARTIES! Ye may b-b-be on Ana’s, but he’s on ours…and he’s the only one.”