by Trevor Hopkins

It was already getting dark by the time Mayfield and I arrived at the little hideout I had selected. This was preceded by a short and nerve-racking trip through the Lower Realms, my every sense at hair-trigger alert for even the slightest sign that we were still being followed. There was none.

Once we got to the surface, the similarly short journey on foot was far less tense, certainly enough to me to stop looking over my shoulder for long enough to tell Mayfield what little I knew about the death of Tibbermore and why I suspected her own life was in danger. She seemed to understand, or at least be frightened enough to accept my judgement, even though I could not articulate exactly why I believed there was some kind of connection between the incidents.

In our conversation, I managed to skip lightly over the contretemps with Tewel and his goons - did not really seem to be interested in the actions of the police, however out of character they might be - and I also managed to avoid the potentially embarrassing subject of also being hired by Tibbermore.

I had worried for a while about concealing ourselves during the topside journey. Fortunately, it was already dark up here. Mayfield had thought to include some garments which might pass for human in the commodious suitcase she had insisted on packing, together with a pair of lift shoes, a pair of oversize sunglasses, and a hat large enough to shade her face and conceal her ears. She probably had more experience in getting about up here than I did. Besides, there had to be something to compensate for having to carry the wretched thing so far; in the presence of humans, I had to disable the glamour which allowed it to float effortlessly and so I had to lug it about by hand.

Our hideout was a magically-concealed back room at Chill's Bar, an Irish-themed public house - all shamrocks and dark stout beer - situated in a quieter part of New York City. For a great many years, my brother Nether had lived here, masquerading as the resident leprechaun. I no longer saw Nether - he had disappeared after the death of our sister Trinity - but the hidey-hole was still there. I didn’t use it much, but I kept it in good condition just in case.

The hidden entrance in the back alley was still and quiet, with no sign that anybody unexpected had intruded. The concealment glamour was still as effective as ever. I scouted around, inside and out, just to be on the safe side. There was nothing unexpected to be seen. I let myself relax a notch or two more.

This place had been carefully designed by my brother to be comfortable for Goblins. I certainly seemed to work for Mayfield. She made herself immediately at home. She hung up the hat and overcoat disguises on a hatstand by the door - ready to be donned to intercept any unexpected visitor, I imagined - and tossed the sunglasses on the dresser next to it. She pottered about, unpacking the suitcase and placing the contents to her liking on shelves and in cupboards in kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.

"I’ll just check for messages," she said, almost to herself.

She produced a modern mobile telephone out of her bag - a small model, one which did not seem entirely clumsy in Goblin hands. The device was turned off, so she wasted several seconds for the thing to make itself ready. Then she pressed a few keys and held it to her ear delicately.

"One message," she announced, "It's from Glen,"

Mayfield listened to the message carefully, then she pressed buttons for a replay and handed it over to me. Shorn of conventional expressions of affection, it said that Glen was in the USA, that he would need to be there for a few days, that he hoped to talk soon and that everything was ok.

"Did you know about this trip?" I asked.

She nodded.

"Sure," she replied casually, "He mentioned it when we talked. Glen goes Stateside quite often. On business. New York and Hollywood, mostly."

"Hollywood?" I echoed, frowning. Even I was aware of the importance, in recent centuries, of that place.

"Yes," she confirmed, "When he called me last night call was from a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard."

"Uh-huh."

There was something niggling at me here. I needed more information. I wondered how I could get it.

Apparently satisfied with the domestic arrangements, Mayfield threw herself into a chair. She kicked off the heavy and uncomfortable shoes and tucked her feet up under a cushion.

"So what happens now?" she asked, twisting slightly to look directly at me.

It was a very good question.

Part 44 Part 46