Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 1 – A Meeting With Enzo

I had been told than Enzo was a man who knew his business, but not that he was a stubby, vicious, ill-tempered sociopath, although I was to find this out soon enough. But perhaps I get ahead of myself.

I met him at the Boston’s new airship station, and my first sight of the short, bearded man was as he berated a bartender over the quality of a gin and tonic in the pre-flight lounge.

I waited nearby until his tirade had trailed off and the shaken bartender had left.

“Enzo?” I asked politely.

He whirled in his barstool, producing a massive knife from under his jacket, and only by dancing back a few steps did I avoid having my throat opened by a vicious cut.

“What are you doing?” I asked, moving to place a small table between us. “Erskin sent me to work with you.”

Enzo was still perched on the stool, perhaps because clambering on and off of it would be a trial for him, and for a long moment he eyed me, massive blade held low. Then he replaced it in a sheath under his jacket. “You should have said so,” he said. “A man like me has a lot of enemies. I can’t have people sneaking up behind me.”

“I didn’t sneak up on you,” I replied, gingerly easing my way into the wide gap that had suddenly appeared around Enzo. I really felt the need for a stiff drink, but the barkeep was nowhere to be seen.

“Of course you did,” Enzo snapped. “I’m as alert as a cat. I would have noticed you if you hadn’t been moving with as much stealth as you could manage.” He looked me up and down. “So,” he said, “you’re a stealthy bastard. What else do you bring to the job?”

I glanced around, but if anyone in the lounge had noticed the exchange they were carefully ignoring us now.

“I studied arcane mechanics under Elias Black,” I replied, with what I admit was a touch of pride, holding up my tool bag.

“He’s that sheep-buggerer, right?” Enzo asked, grabbing a handful of nuts from a dish on the bar and tossing them in the general direction of his mouth.

“He’s also one of the foremost experts in occult mechanics in the country,” I replied.

“Well, I hope he taught you more than just how to bugger sheep,” Enzo replied, and released an irritating cackle

“And what about you?” I asked coldly. “Why does Erskin think you’ll be useful to this team?”

“I am a man of many talents,” Enzo said. He looked up as the bartender reappeared with a new gin and tonic. He took a deep swig and looked up with a frown, but the bartender was already gone, without having given me a chance to order anything.

“Do any of those skills include knowing where the Countess might be hiding now?” I asked.

“Indeed, indeed,” Enzo replied, taking another sip of his gin and tonic. He smacked his lips. “She is visiting with friends in Saskatoon.” He nodded to himself. “Saskatoon,” he repeated, in the manner of a person who is enjoying the word he is speaking.

“Are you drunk?” I asked.

“No, I’m not drunk,” he snapped. “I haven’t had more the four or five of these.” He waved his glass for emphasis, splashing me. “I’m simply telling you, the woman is in Saskatoon.” He glowered for a moment. “Saskatoon,” he said, and took another drink. “Dougal MacWitter tracked her all the way from Belgium to Hallifax before disappearing under mysterious circumstances, but he’d gotten word to me before that, and I’d set Justine Halley on her. Justy knows Saskatchewan like the back of her hand.” He too another sip. ” Saskatchewan.”

“Oh, don’t start repeating that, too,” I snapped.

“You sound irritable,” Enzo said. “You should have a drink.” He drained what was in his glass and snapped his fingers for the bartender.

There was no response to his summons, and in fact the bartender seemed to have fled entirely.

“Perhaps we’d best just board our dirigible,” I said. “I assume you’ve arranged for passage to Saskatoon?”

“Won’t leave for half an hour yet,” he said with a distracted air. “Where is that lazy bastard?”

He hopped off the bar stool, evidently intending to hunt the man down, which was all that saved him. That and the fact that he was shorter standing up than sitting down, for the wicked length of a steam-powered harpoon whipped over his head and slammed into the wall behind the bar.


Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on October 8, 2011.