You're Always Welcome at Home
Evie, Con and Migelle went out into the hall.
“I’ll be right out. Just give me a sec, okay?” Ireane said, looking over at her father.
Evie nodded and shut the door. Ireane walked over to her father and picked the wine bottle up from its current residence beside him. She swirled the last of the contents inside it and sighed.
She poured the wine out into the open and waiting mouth of her father. “Guess you get it all, again...”
With that, Ireane picked up her stuff, what little she had, and went to join the others.
“I’m sorry about your father.” Evie said; Migelle nodded his condolences.
“I’m sorry about yours. Now come on, let’s go.”
Ireane stepped into the elevator and motioned for the others to join her. Migelle took Evie’s hand and walked over.
"Did she save any of that wine?"
“I doubt it.”
"Could you ask?"
“It was poisoned!”
"I’m already dead!"
Evie just shook her head and Con stepped half-heartedly into the elevator.
They rode down in silence, probably thinking about what they just witnessed. Sure, Evie and Migelle had fought before but Ireane had killed people, and she had done it right in front of them. It was a big step for both of them, but that was what they needed at the moment: someone who wasn’t afraid to get things done.
“Did it feel good?” Migelle asked as Evie talked to Con.
“Did what feel good?”
“When you...hurt your father?”
“Oh,” Ireane looked up and smiled. “Yeah, it did.”
Migelle nodded solemnly, looking over at Evie.
When the elevator stopped they got out together. The doorman looked up again from his newspaper.
“Short party...” He muttered before going back to his reading.
Ireane rolled her eyes and held the door for Evie and Migelle. They walked out into the street and took a breath.
“So where are your guards?” Ireane asked, looking over at Evie.
“Probably at the station. The other guards called them.”
“Other guards?” Ireane looked over at Migelle.
“Ah. So they were called to the station to pick you up, right?”
“Okay. Then I guess that’s as good a place as any to start looking.”
Ireane took Evie to a bar by apartments.
“You and uh...the beer guy are gunna wait here, okay?”
“Slight problem. Why do we have to stay here? I don’t like bars...”
“No one likes bars.”
“Listen, it’ll be safer for you in there. We don’t want them catching you without me being there, right?”
“I guess so...”
“Good. Oh, and Padré, you’re coming with me.”
“Can you please stop calling me ’Padré’? It’s...kind of offensive.”
“That was the point, but fine. Migelle.”
Migelle rolled his eyes. “We’ll be back, so don’t worry.”
Evie nodded and took Con’s hand. “I’ll be okay.”
"Don’t worry Vodka; I won’t let you get hurt this time."
“I won’t either.”
Ireane and Migelle left Evie and started walking towards the police station. Ireane got a toothpick out of her pocket to chew on and looked up at the sky as they walked.
“So why’re you with the kid?” She asked, still looking up.
“She saved my life. Twice really.”
“So you owe her too?”
“I feel like I do, but she doesn’t. She just...wanted to know who I was.”
Ireane was silent for a moment. “Was she really haunted?”
“You don’t want to know how bad it got. I saw it; I saw it way too many times.”
There was another moment of silence.
“So...where’s your family?”
“My family is...back at the bar.”
When Migelle and Ireane made it to the station, there was no doubt that people from the lab were there too. An armored van was parked outside; it made Ireane shudder.
“Okay, Migelle, I need you to go inside.”
“Me? But you’re the one who can do...things!”
Ireane rolled her eyes. “I need to know how many there are! I can only ‘do’ one at a time. Now go!”
She pushed him and he stumbled forward, grumbling a bit as he walked inside. The same pudgy woman from before was still at the desk, and she was arguing with a man in a lab coat.
“You said you had her!”
“We were mistaken! It happens, you know!”
“How can you mistake a twelve-year-old blind girl!? How many could there possibly be!?”
“Many people are blind, sir. It’s not all that uncommon...”
“Shut up! You said you had her and I expect results!”
Migelle walked back out slowly as not to be noticed.
“There was only one in there, but he’s really pissed.”
Ireane smirked and cracked her knuckles. “I can deal with that.”
Back at the bar Evie was taking a breath.
"You don’t need ta push yourself to go in just yet."
“No, if I don’t go in I’ll never be able to go in.”
"Well that ain’t all that bad of a thing! Bars ain’t the best places anyway. You don’t need to go in ’em."
“I thought that before, and now here I am, in front of one.”
"Well yeah but-"
“No, it’s okay, Mister. I can do this.”
Evie took another breath and took Con’s hand before stepping inside. It smelled more of musk than beer, which she took as a good sign. It was quiet, considering the time of day, but not empty. There was a man passed out in the corner, a woman sipping a drink at the counter looking at the bartender, and someone in the bathroom.
"Did you need to USE the bathroom?"
“Not here.” She whispered, remembering her last trip to a bar bathroom.
Evie walked up to a table and sat down. The bartender looked up at her and walked over.
“Hey little lady...” He said, his voice kind and slow.
The man sat down at the table with her. He was tall and large, especially at the shoulders. He was around fifty years old, and smiled kindly. His skin was darker than Evie’s and his hair was shorter and grey.
“How old are you, sweet-heart?”
“You know, minors aren’t allowed to be in bars.”
“I don’t work in a mine.” She said, looking in his general direction.
The man smiled. “Kids under eighteen aren’t allowed in bars, is what I mean. Are you waiting for someone?”
“Okay. Well how about you wait behind the counter with me? You seem a little young to be by yourself in a place like this.”
Evie smiled and stood up, taking the man’s hand.
The man led her behind the bar counter and sat her down. “What’s your name, sweetie?”
“That’s a very nice name, Evie. My name’s not so pretty. It’s George.”
Evie smiled. “I like your name, George.”
The man smiled back. “Why thank you.”
Evie smiled and swung her legs gently on her stool. She had been feeling nervous before about being in a bar, but this man was making her feel safer. She smiled and heard something from the bathroom. Con looked for her as a man walked out; a man in a lab coat.
Ireane walked into the police station and smirked. Migelle walked in behind her and looked over at the man who was still yelling at the police-woman behind the counter.
“Hey! Jack-Ass! Didn’t your mama ever tell you it’s not nice to yell at people who’re working?”
The man turned to Ireane and Migelle, who was now holding onto Ireane like she was crazy.
“You...” He mumbled, taking a step towards her.
“Me.” She replied, her eyes glowing red.
The man looked at Ireane and stood up a bit straighter.
“I think you should apologize to the lady.”
He turned. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I was quite rude before. I’m a douche.”
The woman’s eyes widened in confusion. “Um...that’s...okay...”
He nodded and turned back to Ireane.
“Now come on, Jack. We got places to go.”
The man nodded again and started walking to his van. Migelle turned to the woman behind the counter and shrugged as he followed him and Ireane.
“Where to?” The man asked, getting into the van.
“The bar by the mill. And hurry, will ya?”
Evie gasped as Con told her about the man in the lab coat and jumped to the ground; crouching behind the counter. George looked down and whispered to her.
“What’s wrong, Miss Evie?”
“That man...who came out of the bathroom.”
George looked over at him. “Uh-huh?”
“He’s a bad man.”
“How do you know? You can’t s-”
“Please...” Evie hugged her knees to her chest; a man from the lab showing up in a bar was just too much for her at the moment, and she was scared. “Hide me.”
The man wiped his hands on his coat and walked up to the bar, sitting down on a stool and groaning.
“Scotch. No ice.”
George nodded and started to pour it slowly; Evie held her breath.
“Thanks,” He muttered as George handed him his drink. “I need this.”
“Oh?” George asked, trying to sound normal and calm. “Why’s that? Bad day?”
“Bad fuckin’ week, man. Place I work at went to shit...” He ran his fingers through his hair and took a long, slow drink of his scotch. “Damn kids...”
“Kids, huh? You a pediatrician or something?”
The man scoffed. “I wish. I’m a lab tech. Though they treat me like a fucking bounty hunter.”
George started polishing a glass, looking the man over. He seemed like an “Average Joe”, but if Evie said he was bad, then maybe he was.
The man finished off his scotch and stood; paying his tab, as small as it was, and heading for the door. Evie started to breathe again, when Ireane and her lab-man walked in.
“Hey! Freddie! Give me some good news; you find her yet?”
He was silent. Ireane coughed at him and he faced the other man.
“No, not yet. I think that you should look at the park by the police station. I would have, but I wanted to pick your drunk-ass up first.”
“I’m not drunk! I just had a scotch.”
“Just go to the park.”
The man walked past Freddie to the door, but stopped and turned. “Hey, you feeling okay by the way? You sound a little stale.”
“Only bread is stale. Ha. Ha.”
Ireane slapped her forehead; she hadn’t meant for him to sound so robotic.
“Right... And who’s that?” He pointed to Ireane.
“I picked her up at the station. Now go to the park.”
“OH! I see...” The man smirked. “Mind sharing the wealth?”
“Get your own.”
The man rolled his eyes and walked out of the bar. Freddie smacked himself on the face, on Ireane’s command.
“Could you be any more lame!?” She yelled.
“Yes. I am a nerd.”
“Good. I’m glad we sorted that out.”
Evie peeked her head out from behind the bar.
“Hey! There’s still a man here...” George whispered, turning to Evie.
“Evie!” Ireane sang, walking up with her arms stretched. “Baby, you made it!”
Evie stood up, and George raised an eyebrow.
“Come on, sweet-thing, we got a lab to go to.”
Ireane led Evie and Con to the back of the van and got in. There was a screen in the wall of the van so that the driver could listen to the people in the back, and Ireane steered Freddie from there.
“It’s a long ride back to the lab, kids. Why don’t you all get some sleep. Dick-Driver over here won’t stop.”
Evie nodded and laid down in Con’s arms. Migelle leaned against the van wall and closed his eyes.
"You won’t be bothered no more, so just sleep. Peace be around and all that good shit."
Evie smiled; she would have rolled her eyes, had she any. She snuggled up and bit and let herself drift off. Her sleep was warm and milky; there were no ghosts to harm her here.
"Evangeline, what are you doing?"
“I’m going home, mother.”
"But to do harm?"
“Yes mother...to do harm.”
"But you know that it’s wrong. If you harm them, you may not be able to come here with me."
“I know. But they deserve it. It needs to be done.”
"Does it? Do you really need to risk yourself over vengeance? You had no desire to burn bridges before, so why desire it now?"
“I didn’t desire it before because I thought that they would leave me alone; let me live the life they took from me. I thought that they were just mistaken in their anger towards me, but now I know better. I cannot be passive anymore, mother! I just can’t be...”
"But is it worth damming yourself again? Going through pain continuously?"
“...I think it is. I’ve suffered my entire life by their hands. If I go to Hell for making them suffer from mine, then so be it. My sisters will welcome me there, and it will be worth the damnation.”
"If that is your choice, Evangeline, I won’t stop you."
“Really? You’ll let me do this?”
The warmth smiled at her. ”I am not one to interrupt free will."
“Thank you, mother.”
"You are welcome, child."
“Evie. Evie, wake up.”
Evie woke slowly from her milky dream and sat up. “M-hmm?”
“We’ve stopped for a refill. Do you want some pancakes?”
Evie nodded and took Migelle’s hand as he led her out of the van. “Where are we?”
“BurnTown. You’ve been asleep for a few hours, you know.”
Evie felt the familiar cold air on her skin and hugged onto Migelle’s arm. “Is it night?”
Migelle nodded. “Dark too. That’s good for sneaking.”
“Dark... I like the dark.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because everyone looks the same in the dark.” Evie smiled and they walked into the diner.
“Get me an omelet!” Ireane yelled out as she went into the front of the van to look over Freddie. “Sleep.”
Freddie’s eyes closed and he slept on his chair. Ireane sat down and rested her head on his shoulder.
“Looks like we got a little ways left to go. Then we’ll part ways.” She sighed and put her hand on her head dramatically. “I fear I shall ne’er see you again, old boy. We won’t never get married or live in the hills. Instead...we’ll die in red fire.”
Ireane smirked and laughed, then closed her eyes and put her feet up on the dash. “Glorious red fire...”
“Well welcome back, honey! Would you be fixin’ for some pancakes?”
“Yes please.” Evie smiled at the lady who was once again taking her order. The woman wrote up and ticket and took Migelle’s order quickly.
“Did you find your friend?”
“Uh-huh. I found lots.”
“Well good! So where y’all headed now then?”
“Home. We’re headed home.”
When Evie and Migelle came out they tapped on the van window, waking Ireane; much to her own dismay. Migelle handed her a packaged omelet and she crawled into the back.
“Wake up, Jack-Ass. We gotta go.” She mumbled, knocking on the grate-window and biting into her omelet.
Freddie woke and started the van, heading out of the BurnTown truck-stop.
"Onwards to gory!"
“It’s ‘glory’, Mister.”
"Oh yeah. I knew that."
The van drove off into the night and soon reached the entrance to the lab. Freddie drove around to the back and was stopped by a parking guard.
The man eyed Freddie. “Badge please.”
Freddie offered his badge and the gate to the lot was opened. Freddie parked the van and promptly fell asleep.
“Good boy, Dickface.” Ireane said, patting him on the back as she stole his badge and coat, putting them on Migelle.
“What’s all this for?”
“You’re the only one besides the dead guy who hasn’t been here before. They might think you’re one of them.”
“I don’t wanna be one of them!”
“Oh shut up and stop complaining. Do you want to be shot down within the first ten seconds?”
“Then keep the damn coat on and come on.”
Ireane led Migelle to the first door inside and turned to where Evie was supposed to be. She wasn’t there, though. She was still standing by the van.
“Evie? Come on, Evie.”
There was no answer.
"Why are you here? Why did you come?"
“I came because I had to.”
"Evie... Is it time?"
Evie nodded slowly and walked over to Ireane and Migelle.
"Then welcome home."