Petals of the Rose
Dim's Sidetrip Part 3
Dim pulls up at the Pub at the End of the Universe. It’s a quiet little bar. There’s not enough exterior lighting, and just beyond it, the city literally turns into wilderness as the road stretches off into rural country. It seems like a very lonely place. He heads in. There’s an air of desperation inside, and the emotions of the people inhabiting the bar seem to leech happiness right out of the room.
Dim goes to the bartender and asks where he can find a guy called Bart. The bartender tells him that Bart’s downstairs but that someone like him probably doesn’t want to meet someone like Bart. Ignoring the man, Dim goes down a narrow set of stairs into the basement.
The basement is laid out with darts on one side and pool tables on the other. A haze of smoke fills the room, and the smell says that this place has stunk of cheap cigars and cheap women for a decade or more. People mill about the tables, some playing, some watching. At the back of the room, Dim spots the man who must be Bloody Bart. He’s obviously an ogre, from the stretched appearance of his skin and the aura of menace he gives off even at this distance. His name seems to be more literal than Dim thought, because he has a divot in his head that continuously drizzles thick red blood down the side of his face. He is playing pool.
Two other changelings, a wizened that looks like a Chihuahua on crack, and a horned Beast of intererminate kith are leaning against the wall behind Bart. They must be some sort of posse of his.
Dim goes straight up to Bart, determined to get his business on the table right away. “You’re Bloody Bart, right?”
“Yeah.” He leans his pool cue on his shoulder. “You must be that guy Dim that signed up to be a toady for the courts.”
“What if I am?”
“I can’t believe you’d be willing to bow and scrape for anyone, let alone those pissants. No one but Summer has any idea how to keep us all safe. Hiding and pretending nothing’s wrong. Fucking sickening.”
“Maybe I just don’t feel like the other courts are necessarily bad guys.”
Bart humphs. “So are you here to question me about that guy Demetrius’ death?”
“I didn’t kill him. Now I’m gonna get back to my game.”
Dim settles back and watches Bart take his shots for a minute. He looks at the other two changelings. “So what’s his problem?”
The bug-eyed wizened twitches in Dim’s direction and says “What’s your problem? You shouldn’t mess with Bart like that.” The beast looms behind him silently. Dim nods to them and says nothing else.
When the game ends, Bart turns around and looks slightly surprised to find Dim still there. “So what’s your beef? I told you, I didn’t kill the guy.”
“But you’ve got a thing for Lucinda, don’t you?”
“So what if I do?”
“Well if you hate the other courts so much, I’d think you’d be a little less hot on a girl who hides and pretends nothing’s wrong. Doesn’t that sicken you?”
Bart jabs Dim in the chest with a finger. “Don’t you dare say anything against her. Now get out of my bar.”
Feeling outmatched, Dim retreats and goes home for the night