“You’ve lost some weight.” Underby said, lighting a match and touching it to the end of his cigar. He stood on the back porch of the Strife House looming over the still mostly chubby boy.
“Tepic’s been workin me.” he huffed, then added: “Still calls me Tubby, though, he does.”
Underby smirked. “Well, tell then. I’m not out here for the fresh air.”
The boy smiled. “It were the most craziest thing I ever saw!”
Underby twirled his hand impatiently, urging the boy to continue.
“There were a lady walking on the street, and a guy came from the shadows, and he looked mean, and he had a knife, it were a big knife, and he grabbed the lady, and the lady screamed, and he said shut up you miserable bag, and pulled at her and pulled her toward the alley, and I was real scared Mistah Underp- bee… real scared, and she looked at me and she screamed again and said help help and I just stood there like I didn’t know what to do, and then… and then…”
The boy smiled again.
“And then… what?” Underby asked. He touched the knife, thinking that Bianca was nowhere nearby. Who would know?
“And then he swooped down to the street.”
“Don’t right know his name, sir… he sort flew down. Had on all black, and I think maybe he even had wings.”
“He threw a small ax at the man’s arm which held the knife and the ax hit the guy’s coat and pinned it to the wall.”
“An ax?” Underby asked.
“Sort of an ax. Like an ax that a cooking guy would use.”
“Thanks sir, I just thought that idea about the cooking guy up now, it was rather clever. I’ll remember that sir.”
“So this gentleman with black bat wings, he did what then?”
“He jumped over the lady, and pulled her away from the man and told her she shouldn’t walk in dangerous areas without an ascot.”
Underby blinked, but otherwise ignored this comment.
“The funniest part, though, Mistah Under…. bee… is that the chap’s face… the chap’s face…”
“Yes? The chap’s face, what?” Underby was leaning forward.
“It were a skull sir. His face were a skull, but he could speak. He talked sort of funny.”
“Yeah, sort of funny.”
“Well, funny how?”
The boy shrugged. “Don’t know sir, just spoke funny.”
Underby closed his eyes and shook his head. “Then what happened?”
“The lady she ran off, and the skull man tied that guy up in ropes and left him dangling from the street lamp. Before he flew up to the rooftops again he looked at me sir, I swear he did, he looked at me and said “Do be careful now, my portly friend. Is portly mean trustworthy, sir?”
Underby flicked his cigar into the canal. “Something like that.” He tossed a two dollar coin to the lad, then kicked open the trap door and stepped inside, thinking: this is ALL I need.