Bib kicked Rufus the drunk out into the street just as the sooty skies began to turn a lurid greenish color as the sun began to peek over the horizon. The drunk expelled most of what he had paid for that evening onto the cobbles. “Hoy-hay, and wotcher fink dis be deh waytah treetin yer pure finey c’stmersen, eh? Eh?” he growled at the ground, ropy strings of spittle dangling from his grizzly reddish beard.
Bib, who spoke drunk fluently, said: “It’s jes fer a few hours, ta clean up some… takes me longer’n it took Mizz Dizelle. Does that meet with yer goddam approval?” He finished this sentence with a hefty boot to the backside of Rufus. The drunk sprawled onto the street, and responded with more of the evenings refreshments making an encore.
Bib closed the door of the Bucket, and locked it. Closed for but two hours of the day, and that ridiculous drunk couldn’t wait. Turning, he jumped slightly as the monkey sitting on the stool closest to the door screeched loudly at him, hands reaching out. Asking for another cigarette. Bib shivered, as he collected bottles and glasses from the nearby tables… he hated monkeys. Too many bad experiences in his carnival days. Why did Kilgore Meanie the sailor have to leave it here for Mr U to keep?
And, what kind of name for a monkey was Bottom anyway?
Bib made a wide arc around the monkey, who was now picking up peanuts from the floor, and made his way upstairs. A faint light flickered in the space beneath the door. Knocking lightly, he said “Boss? You still up?”
Underby grunted from within.
Bib opened the door, revealing Underby sitting at his desk, his collar undone and cravat hanging loose, writing methodically. The boss had been spending most of his time at City Hall recently, and he was unsure whether Maggie had been keeping him abreast of news.
“Thought y’should know… I threatened t’throw Kuroe through a wall t’night…”
Without looking up, Underby replied, “He seems to have that charming effect on people. Frankly, I’m rather surprised you were able to show that much restraint.”
Bib smirked. “An’ Murg says that Mr Mornington was jokin about Pussy and the monkey t’ the Duchess an’ Mizz Bianca. After ya left the other night…”
Assuming this would stoke Underby’s ire, Bib paused. After a few moments Underby asked, “Do you have any important news?”
“Well, he alsa said that th’Church paid a visit ta Mrs U.”
“Yes, I am aware. Thank you Bib.”
“An’ that they’d be comin fer a visit here, too.”
For the first time Underby put down his pen and looked at Bib. “He said that.”
Bib nodded. “Murg said so.”
Underby stared at him. “My other sources said no such thing. Most likely it’s more of Mornington’s wish fulfillment. He has seen me as a rival since I came to Babbage. However, it is never wise to assume anything. In our favour is the fact that Moonwall is still rather foaming at the mouth over Pip. She would have been wiser just starting from scratch.”
“Pip always looked odd. I should have kept him closer to home, though now I am rather pleased I did not. Mags looks like a normal woman, only small. They can prove nothing.”
Bib nodded again. Underby looked at him. “Thank you Bib, if you don’t mind, I have some paperwork here…”
Bib nodded again, and left, closing the door. Underby gazed at the door for a few more moments, wondering… then, turned back to the sheet in front of him, dipped his pen in the inkwell and returned to writing the same signature over and over again: