The large glass fronted building they had entered was something that Lelo had been calling a “train station,” though what that meant was not entirely clear to Patrick. Trains he had heard described as great metal beasts that ran across the landscape at great speed belching smoke. Why such a thing should need a station was not clear, nor why anyone would care to make their home so close to such monstrous things.
Though one look at Eugene Gumble was enough to remove any confusion from the monk's mind.
Gumble was an average looking man, with a receding hairline and a petulant look on his face. If he hadn't started acting like a spastic madman the moment they had entered the room, he wouldn't have given the man a second glance. He sat at a table, one of several that were scattered across the white tiled and walled room. Patrick, with that eye for detail that had been trained into him by his brothers, saw the hammer that Gumble dangled from one hand. The clean white of the room, remarkably clean in fact, was marred only by a series of holes that pocked the wall and floor near Gumble's chair. The man himself twitched constantly, making odd gestures with hands and face that conveyed a series of wildly divergent emotional states in a matter of moments.
Patrick had been raised in a place where people where thought to be basically good, and that the evil in the world was the influence of the Great Enemy. He had seen battle, and killed men, and he knew that more often than not, evil could hide in the unlikeliest of places, and had spent a great deal of time in the last little bit learning to spot that dark touch.
No such skills were needed in the case of Gumble. The man was mad, and moreover he was murderous. This was obvious. Patrick knew that the Fighting Phils, which this man was ostensibly the leader of, were organized with the sole purpose of fighting and destroying the Waltzers. Some Brother's Militant, more experienced than Patrick, had occasionally been sent to work with the Phils on some project of mutual benefit. They had all come back reluctant to talk about the experience. Now Patrick knew why.
“So who the hell are these guys?” Gumble said.
“They wanted to see you, Mr. President,” the guard that had escorted them in responded.
Patrick, in his study of the madman, had forgotten about the guard, and he nearly jumped when the man spoke. That was a mistake, as the guard was heavily armed and had been belligerent when they had asked to see Gumble. His training told him the guard would be the greater threat, but some animal instinct told him that Gumble would be the one to watch should things become violent.
“What the hell do these fucking guys want?” Gumble asked.
Patrick flinched at the profanity. It took some getting used to, and weeks of exposure had not dampened the feeling that it was unnecessary and crude. It seemed to be a frequent part of conversation in life outside the Monastery, however.
Klaus spoke up for the group. “We have a business proposition, Mr. President.”
Gumble eyed the group, then sneered. He pointed with his hammer at each of the four in turn. At Marcus: “You, I like.” At Patrick himself, “You, I like.” At Klaus, his facing turning red, “You, I'm afraid of.” And at Lelo, “You, I don't like, Mr. Fucking Fancy Vest Man.”
The group stopped, and looked at each other, not sure what to make of it.
Klaus tried again, “We think it will be to both of our benefit to work together.”
Gumble nodded. “Ok. I like things that are to my benefit. What kind of deal did you have in mind?”
Patrick spoke, nodding at the guard. “Might we speak more privately?”
Gumble sneered again, waggling his hammer, and twitching madly. Patrick held his eye, staying composed, though his inclination was to reach for his sword and take the man's head off.
Finally Gumble shrugged, a gesture large enough to be spotted through the constant motion of the man's limbs. “You,” he pointed at the guard, “fucking go over there and don't listen, capiche?”
The guard shrugged, smiled, and slouched in the direction of another table, taking a seat and watching the four interlopers through lidded eyes.
“So,” Gumble said. “What is it you assholes want?”
Marcus spoke up this time, which surprised Patrick. He had thought the man was a reluctant passenger on this mad mission. “We want to kill Matthew Crowley. We hear you can help.”
Gumble sat and twitched for a moment, then lashed out of a sudden with the hammer, scoring a hole in the wall behind him. “What makes you fucking think you can do that, huh? We've been trying to kill those Crowley fuckers for years, and you think you can waltz,” Gumble snickered hysterically for a moment, “into my place and tell me you can do it? Fuck you, pal.”
Marcus tried again, “But we have an angle that we think-”
Gumble cut him off by swinging his hammer madly half a dozen times, opening a new hole in the already abused wall with each swing. “Shut the fuck up! You assholes show me some respect! You hear me?”
His voice had raised to a screech, and spittle began flying from his lips. As if moved by a single will, the four men took a step back, away from the madman. The timing was good, as at that moment Gumble lashed out with the hammer at Vega's knee, missing by a mile and losing control of it so it went flying through the air and disappeared in the large space.
Patrick knew something had to be done. He spoke quickly, calmly, holding Gumble's attention with his eyes. “Of course, you know what you're doing, Mr. President. That's why we come to you, to get the benefit of your experience and resources. We've taken a job,” here he gestured at himself and his three companions, “that we have to try to complete. And hey, if we succeed, that's good for you too. If we get killed, no skin off your nose, right?”
Gumble stopped, breathing heavily after his outburst. He straightened, and smiled. That was perhaps the most frightening thing yet to Patrick. He knew they had just made a deal with the Devil.
“Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Alright. Good,” Gumble stuttered and mumbled his way through his agreement.
“But first, what's your names?”
Each introduced themselves, though Lelo gave only his first name. “Lelo what?” Gumble asked.
“Lelo Vega,” the detective replied.
Gumble smiled again, and nodded. “Lelo Vega,” he repeated.
From the walls and the rafters came the sound of a hundred voices repeating the name, “Lelo Vega.”
Patrick's head jerked up and around, realizing now they had been the performers in a play watched by hundreds.
Gumble spoke again, “We'll remember you Lelo Vega.”
He spoke to the group at large, “Here's the deal. Bring me a dead Waltzer, and I'll help. A ride on the train to Madison, weapons, an inside line, the whole deal. But first, I want a corpse.”
He smiled again. Patrick shuddered. He had heard ever deal with the Devil was sealed in blood. Now he knew it to be true.