We Are Not Good People (Ustari Cycle)

We Are Not Good People (Ustari Cycle) by Jeff Somers Read Free Book Online

Book: We Are Not Good People (Ustari Cycle) by Jeff Somers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeff Somers
on to it while I slammed it against the door.
    Hiram answered immediately, as if he’d seen us coming and had been waiting behind the door for our arrival, which he might have been, I supposed. The door snapped inward and there he was, an old man who resembled Santa Claus: short, round, white hair and beard. He was wearing a nice suit without the jacket, just the trousers and waistcoat, and looked down his bulbous red nose at me even though I was a foot taller.
    “Master Vonnegan,” he said in his rolling actor’s lilt. “Always a disappointment. Mr. Mageshkumar, a pleasure.” He looked back at me. “What brings my erstwhile apprentice back home?”
    “I hadn’t been called an idiot in a few days,” I said hoarsely. “Thought I’d get a refresher course.”
    He stared at me for a moment. “Ever since you rejected my teaching methods—quite ungracefully—I see you only when you are drunk and belligerent, making demands of me, or desperate and in need of favors from someone I imagine now exists as your sole friend.” He glanced at Mags. “No offense, Mr. Mageshkumar, as I know you have an unreasoning affection for our Mr. Vonnegan.”
    Mags smiled at him and shook his head a little, not understandingany of it. Hiram looked back at me. “So which is it this time, Mr. Vonnegan?”
    I sighed. I wanted to get off the street as quickly as possible. I was willing to eat all the shit Hiram had in store for me. Which, if memory served, was quite a lot.
    “I’ve got a body and a . . . a girl in the trunk of that car.”
    Hiram ticked his head to look over my shoulder, his sharp grifter’s eyes taking in the car. He looked back at me. “Which is stolen,” he said.
    “Which is stolen.” I took a deep breath, the oxygen feeling good as it burned into my thinned blood. I didn’t want to tell Hiram the next part, but I owed him at least a warning. “This involves . . . someone out of my league.”
    Hiram snorted, moving out onto the steps with us. “You have great ability, Mr. Vonnegan, and always have. You limit yourself.”
    I nodded. I was a purist. Hiram was not, though he usually insisted on volunteers for his bleeds. Most of the ustari, the mages of average ability, lacked even those scruples.
    “This is far out of my league, Hiram.”
    My gasam glanced at me again, then nodded. “Bring them in. Try not to make any noise. That means you, Mr. Mageshkumar. You make noise just standing there, did you know that?”
    THE GIRL KICKED AND struggled and was smeared in the Skinny Fuck’s blood, which made her as easy as a greased pig to carry. Since Hiram was in no mood to do anything more for us, Mags managed a respectable Glamour that made anyone who looked out the window or passed by simply ignore us cutting a ragged-looking slice on his forearm for the gas. Hiram watched in what looked like increasing horror as first the bloody, kicking girl and then the cold, pale corpse were dragged into the house.
    “Put the dead one in the study,” Hiram instructed coolly, gesturing with one arm as if I hadn’t spent years in this house. “Bring the girl to the washroom. Neither of you speak for a while, yes?”
    I realized Hiram was furious. I’d been on the receiving end of his anger plenty of times when actively apprenticed to him and was in no rush to revisit my adolescence.
    We slipped the girl into the bathtub, which I immediately regretted, seeing her as the other girl, the very, very dead girl in the old apartment. They looked a lot alike, which couldn’t be a coincidence.
    I didn’t say anything, though. The girl had stopped trying to scream and kick; just flashed her eyes at us, jumping from face to face.
    Hiram studied her for a moment, then sighed, unbuttoning one sleeve and starting to roll it up. “We’re not going to get far with her in this state; we need to calm her,” he said, reaching into his pocket and producing the pearl-handled straight razor he liked to use. Although Hiram’s face

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