Bib had not gotten a taste for much in life: mostly he could take or leave whatever was handed to him without so much as a faint feeling of regret. But there was one thing that he simply could not resist, one thing that if someone told him it was now impossible to get, he would have mourned more than his own mother and that was bourbon.
So it was customary when he was unpacking the new shipment at The Bucket to open up the new bottle, peeling away the label to mark it as his and sitting on the crate drinking it slowly and with relish.
On the second glass, he would get to work again.
He worked in his usual steady way, pulling the bottles from their bulky crates and stacking them in their niches. The second glass was nearly empty when he lifted it and his hand gave a violent twinge, causing him to drop it. It seemed to him that the lamp he was working by was suddenly twice as bright as it had been. His head spun and he sat down heavily.
“You are a bull, Blackrain, I’ll give you that.” Phaedra’s honey voice swam through the room to him. He lurched to his feet toward her, but his legs jerked violently beneath him and he collapsed heavily.
“No, no, don’t get up.” She stepped toward him, staying just out of reach of his big meaty hand, “It’s best if you keep your, ah, how is it Giles would put it? Best if you keep your heart-rate down? Yes, much better.”
The pupils of his eyes were dilated wide, giving them an even blacker appearance, they rolled toward the case of bourbon. The twitching was becoming more pronounced now.
“Smart lad, I did the whole case. That old trick with the syringe that Yoyo taught me in Istanbul.” She knelt next to him, “But I do want you to know, Bib, that you were my target from the start. How dare you lay a hand on my Giles.” She struck him hard across the cheek.
“Phaedra…” He started but began to seize before he could say anything more, his eyes rolling back, mouth working silently up at the ceiling. She lifted the half empty bottle of bourban from where he had set it and let herself out of the room.
On the back porch of Strifehouse she threw her head back and screamed, dashing the bottle of bourban against the wall and then hurrying away.
Bib had once seen to it that aid was on its way when Mr. Underby had once left her for dead, she hoped she had just given him the same courtesy.
Though, truth be told, if no one found him in time, she would not have been particularly distressed.