“Um, sure, thank you,” Evangeline stammered. Any thoughts of false politeness were trumped by her body’s new demands. She’d learned the hard way over the last few months that Khel’s new “perks” came with a price-namely her jacked up metabolism. She required food every couple of hours and it had taken her just under an hour to fly here from home.
Mr. Dowd motioned her inside and disappeared into the kitchen, talking non-stop the whole time. The apartment was miniscule and decorated in what she suspected was typical Eddie style-haphazard. The floor was covered in clothing, newspapers and empty Coca-Cola bottles, and the walls in posters (none of them tacked evenly) of scandalously-clad, large-breasted women. Vincent’s friend was loud, unrefined, a terrible cook if the smoke coming from the kitchen was any indicator, clearly a slob-and she liked him instantly, she thought, her eyes coming to rest on the picture by the door. Hanging away from all of the posters and next to a cheap plastic cross, the picture showed an older, female version of Eddie, her arms wrapped around him in his starched Army uniform, love and pride shining in her matronly face.
She checked on Vincent but he appeared to be sleeping soundly, if not peacefully. His bandages would need to be changed before his appointment in the morning but for now it was more important that he sleep. She hummed softly to him as she tried to cover him with the granny square afghan stuffed in the corner of the stained sofa. She had no idea if it helped soothe him or not but it made her feel better to try anyway.
“So like I was tellin’ Sarge,” Eddie continued, coming out of the kitchen with two plates of his “famous” fish and fries – both burnt – “I heard some crazy stuff about this doc down at the clinic. I told him to be careful. You’re gonna be with him, right? I gotta work or I’d go, too, make sure they do right by him, you know?” Between mouthfuls of food, chewed with typical Eddie gusto, he answered her questions about the clinic and this doctor to which Vincent had been referred in an effort to solve the mystery of his ever-bleeding eyes. She assured Eddie that she would watch over him to the best of her ability. What she didn’t tell him was that her “ability” was greater than he knew, or that it was the sole reason that Vincent had asked her to accompany him to this appointment. Ever-fearful of the Reaper making an unwanted appearance, she was his protection policy – not for himself but for the people Reaper might hurt.
She politely refused as Eddie kept trying to fill her plate with yet more fish, explaining that they had an early morning tomorrow and she needed to find somewhere to sleep. No way was she going to try to explain to her mother that she spent the night in an apartment with two men. True to form, Eddie eagerly assured her that she was more than welcome to crash here at his place, an offer she also politely, but firmly, refused, glancing again at the half-naked women adorning his walls. “Nah, don’t pay no attention to none o’ that stuff,” Eddie stammered, blushing. “It just, you know, it covers the holes in the walls, that’s all. Safe as houses, plus, you know, any friend of Sarge’s…right?” She laughed and thanked him again for his generous offer and he finally told her of a nearby hotel that accepted “coloreds.” She thought it very kind when he objected to her walking alone in this part of town at night but it was her turn to assure him that she would be just fine.