An obsequious waiter in a cummerbund brought the bill. Harold looked at it and gave a low whistle.
"I think that waiter should double as a mortgage advisor, these prices are crazy – they've even charged for the sugar in my coffee!" he said, aghast, "Good thing Ray gave me some money or I'd be washing dishes for a month!"
"Indeed," agreed Teatime, "And the fruit salad wasn't as fresh as it ought to have been. Still, time we were off, old bean, work to be done and all that. Make sure you don't leave a tip, that'll teach them."
"No tip?" cried Harold in mock horror, "Is there no end to your evil schemes?"
"None whatsoever," replied Teatime without a trace of humour.
The two made their way out of the Nirvana Cafe and into the gathering gloom of the evening city streets.
India felt as awkward and outlandish as a scarecrow on roller skates in her makeup, wig and heels. A picture in this get-up would definitely not be one for the photo album. She glanced at her watch: 20:34. How much longer would they have to wait?
"Target's on Fletcher Street, where that jazz club was," said Mercury, watching the GPS display. "Wonder why it's gone back there? It said it had nothing to do with the fire, yet here it is all the same."
"Well, we used to suspect that Baron Samedi was a demon, didn't we?" said Prada, "Maybe that's why."
"We never managed to get any proof, though," replied Mercury, "and now the Baron's vanished, so I guess we'll never know."
"Bit like the wild goose chase we were on before this." Othello chimed in, "Agent Domino swore there was a demon working in that soup kitchen, ensnaring down-and-outs, but when we got there, nothing."
"Well, I wouldn't be sorry if all the demons just disappeared. Good riddance!" declared Prada.
India was intrigued: when Demons managed to get to earth, they never left voluntarily, so had to be Dismissed. So far as she knew, only OGS agents had the necessary faith to do that. So if Baron Samedi and that other demon hadn't left on their own and hadn't been Dismissed....
Harold and Teatime were in the alley behind the club. It was the logical place to start - the front being far too public. There was a fire exit here with no lock or handle, one of those opened by a push-bar from inside. Harold did a quick survey of the area: there were no handy windows left open or inviting ventilation grilles like in the movies.
"You'll have to open the door yourself, old shoe," whispered Teatime, "You do remember how to do that kind of thing, don't you?"
"Yeah, I remember," sighed Harold, "I just haven't done it lately."
"You really ought to practise these things more," scolded Teatime, "It's like what I said about your shape-shifting. That could have been very useful – and still could be, if only you'd put some effort in."
"Ok, ok", Harold raised his hands in mock surrender, "I'll try harder. Now let me see if I can..."
He placed his hands against the door and concentrated. For a minute, nothing seemed to happen. He was about to give up when a disused circuit in his brain suddenly lit up and, yes, he could sense the push-bar. Now, just a little pull...
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!" he breathed as the lock clunked.
"Well done, old fruit!" applauded Teatime, "I had every faith in you!"
"You're a terrible liar, Teatime," laughed Harold, really pleased with himself for having got something right at last. He pulled the door open. Inside, it was pitch black, but Harold could see perfectly well.
"Breaking and entering now is it?" said a deep melodious voice behind them.
Harold whirled round so quickly at the unexpected sound that Teatime was forced to grab a handful of hair or be summarily thrown off Harold's shoulder. He chittered sharply: sometimes only monkey expletives would do.
The owner of the voice was about 10 feet away, clad in radiantly shining armour, and held a huge flaming sword pointed directly at Harold.