This was an odd day for Mayor Charles P. Twarld. Yesterday (and each day for two months prior), he had been enjoying his daily routine of listening to old cassette tapes of a radio program called “The Shadow” and eating delicious caviar while working on his epic painting of some legendary maiden from history from before the beginning of the hack induced apocalypse. Her name was Margaret Thatcher, but Twarld liked to call her “Marge” as an attempt at intimacy. He knew very little about her but had read about her in books. He thought her absolutely stunning. He knew she had been a leader of a place overseas, although he couldn’t remember the name of the place, and had grown quite fond of the idea of her. He painted her with stars in his eyes and a light smirk. He’d taken some liberties too and given her cleavage. What was it to anybody else? This picture was of his woman, for him.
Each day it was at the back of his mind that Lelo Vega would return with a hired group of assassins in black who would intently listen to him and call him “sir” and beg for his beck and call. He was disappointed today to see how wrong he was.

And not only did Lelo return, but he returned on the worst possible day as well. A certain man, a very important man, had clandestinely been transported to Hellwaukee’s city hall for protection and because it was not the place he’d be expected to reside. Even as a “trusted” mayor of the Crawley faction, none of the Waltzers would dare let him in on as to who the man was or why he was there. He was just, as they said, an important Crawley. Twarld had only been allowed to meet him once, but when he did, he saw such familiarity in the eyes. The man was easily past 90 and his brain was apparently mush. The contours in his face exceeded that of what even a 90+ year old man should have. He was a man who had lived through unimaginable stress and authority and a person could tell in every step. He hobbled with a distant pride and menace, and Twarld just wanted to pretend he wasn’t there, assuming if he didn’t think about it that it would go away. But he knew until the man left, this was no longer his house. He was now, again, a subservient figure and it drove him nuts and boiled his blood with a fear and jealousy. He was shocked then to see on this day not only the old man but also Lelo Vega and the so-called “assassins” he had brought…at the same time, together, outside of his door.

He opened the door and his eyes wide as saucers betrayed what he tried to convey as composure. He graciously shook the old man’s hand and kissed it in respect and gently thanked him and told him he could return to his work in his new make-shift office. The old man, now riddled with senility, just blankly shook his head and vacantly walked away. Twarld ushered Lelo and the ragtag group of three he had brought inside the door and closed it quietly.

It was such a stark contrast and not at all what Twarld had expected. There stood Lelo in his tattered suit and stylish vest before him with three types of people who had probably never occupied the same office. There was a man with a thousand meter glare with puffy eyes in a bizarre monk’s robe that was more tattered than Lelo’s suit. Next stood a man as big as the giants he had read about in fairy tale books from what remained of the local library. He was so large and imposing and angry looking that Twarld knew he could kill a man in one hit and probably had. Lastly there was a scrawny, ornery, belligerent seeming man Lelo must have just picked up from the docks of the Sullivan’s Fleet as an afterthought. And after two whole months scouring the shores of Hellwaukee, this was the best Lelo could do?

Twarld feigned sincerity in saying he was happy to see Lelo and the assassins he had found but was acutely aware of the risk that maybe Lelo had turned against him in his travels and had brought these people to assassinate him unexpectedly. With the life Twarld lived, he always assumed this was an option in any scenario.

“Do you know who that was?” he asked doggedly.

They all shook their heads, almost as if they were annoyed, and the belligerence of the sailor boy already began to manifest. This was going to be fantastic.

“I don’t know who that was, so tell us,” said the sailor.

Twarld ignored it and looked to Lelo.

“These are the people you brought to do the job?”

“Yes they are, sir.”

Lelo was always very composed and even slightly meek, although this was misleading. Twarld detected spite in his voice.

“Alright fellas, nice to meet you. I don’t need to introduce myself since you all probably know me already, but you should tell me your names.

The sailor spat out “Marcus” and shrugged defiantly. Then the odd man in the monk’s robe neglected to respond. He had just stood there like a ghost or a figure of black magic. He was likely Lelo’s strangest find.

“And you?”

Brother Patrick. I am here to do God’s work.”

He looked like one of the guys from the Brothers of the Good Shepherd who were centered nearby, Twarld thought.

“…are you with a faction?” Twarld hazarded.

Patrick shook his head. “I am not. I am just a servant of God.”

That certainly wasn’t convincing. He very well could have been an assassin, against him, too. But he found solace in the fact that if these men tried anything funny they wouldn’t even leave the building alive.

Finally came the last man – the juggernaut –and he spoke lightly.

“I’m Klaus Hilgendorf,” he said. Then he looked at the ground. “I’m a handyman.”

Now this was more like it, and Twarld took a liking to him already. He knew in this world that “handyman” didn’t mean “handyman.” It was a handyman who had eliminated one of Twarld’s former political rivals. He also knew handymen worked for a buck and had no allegiances. If he was the one offering the most money, he’d be his best friend.

At this, Twarld sat on his comfortable couch suddenly feeling so small in his argyle vest and pressed chinos and he leaned back and tried to look open and relaxed.

“Nice to meet you,” he said, sheepishly smiling. “We just became best friends.”