The Other Side of the Call
Two Hours Earlier
Professor Johnathan Whateley and his husband Charles sit over disturbingly raw steaks at Abuela Betty’s Chophouse. The wafting of the near raw meat and the black bitter coffee fills The Professor with nostalgia for simpler times. Charles is unfazed by the slightly charred gore before him other than thinking, “Next time, I chose the restaurant”.
“What is it about this place?” Charles asks with a puzzlement bordering on concern. “I mean, it’s a wreck. There is no way it’s sanitary”
“All meat is sanitary if you burn it and nothing grows in bitter coffee,” The Professor responds, scooping up a chunk and getting it in his mouth before it drips.
“Is that Johnny?” a woman from across the restaurant calls. Charles looks up to see a woman coming over.
“What have we here, Johnny?” Charles asks the Professor under his breath.
The Professor looks up from his steak, “What, huh?”
Charles nods his head in the direction of the woman.
“It is you!” she cries and speeds her approach.
Her walk can’t be described as a waddle, but, at the same time, it couldn’t really be described as a walk either, more the rolling and shifting of fat pockets and bones. She is an older woman in an odd, sparkling mumu, wild hair, and a wilder smile. Charles recognizes her from the picture coming in. This is Abeula Betty herself.
She approaches the table. “How are you boys doing? Haven’t seen you in these parts for some time Johnny?” She half asks, “Hope you been missing me as much as I’ve been missing you,” she follows with a wink.
“I always miss your cooking, darling. Best steaks in the greater Arkham area,” The Professor says.
“It’s not those steaks I was hoping you were missn’,” she flirts with a raise of her purple-tinted eyebrows.
“Yes, John, it’s not those steaks she was talking about,” Charles says, looking The Professor right in the eye with a smirk.
“And who’s your friend here?” Betty asks with a smile.
“This pissy queen is Charles, he’s my husband,” The Professor says dropping another chunk of meat in his mouth.
“Well, that explains a lot,” she realizes with a little disappointment.
Charles stands up and puts out his hand in greeting, “Miss Betty.” Charles easily stands a foot taller than her and is twice her width at the shoulders.
“You’re a big one ain’t ya? Can’t compete with you, sweety. You are one glorious piece of man meat.” she cackles.
Charles glances down at the raw steak on his plate. “Well, I do appreciate your expertise.”
“Ooooo and funny! Johnny, you got a good one here. Now listen, your boy’s food is on ol’ Betty tonight, and don’t let yourself be strangers.” She says to The Professor, and then turns to Charles, “And if you’re family with Johnny, you’re family with me, so I hope to see you more often too.”
“I suppose you want to know a back story,” The Professor mumbles out through another bite of meat.
“Oh no. I’d just assume let this one fester and bring it up at the least opportune time.”
“Great,” the professor murmurs, fumbling for the ringing phone in his pocket.
Happy to be out of the fire for the moment, he sees that the call is coming from Angelica and he answers. “Hello, Honey, I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon. Charles and I are getting a steak at our old hidey-haunt, Abuela Betty’s.”
“That’s great, Dad. Um, just a quick question, what do I do again if I run into a demon looking thing?” she quietly asks through the phone.
“Finally, interested in the family business huh? Or just showing off to your music friends? Well, what kinda demon looking thing? Ya know, there are a lot of ‘em out there.” He says to Angelica as he sees Charles roll his eyes at him. The Professor shrugs and waves Charles quiet with his free hand.
“I can’t rightly say, Dad, but it’s looking at me right now and it looks very hungry,” the panic in her voice is now obvious.
“Are you still in Bolton?” he asks with a new seriousness in his voice that perks up Charle’s ears.
“Yes,” she whispers.
“And a demon is staring at you?”
“Yes,” she repeats even more quietly.
“Is your phone charged?” The Professor asks.
There is a short pause and then Angelica answers, “Yes.”
“Keep your phone on you and run,” he orders. At this order into the phone, Charles gets in his pocket and drops several twenties on the table and starts getting up.
“What?” she asks, her voice quivering.
“Keep your phone powered on and keep it on your person so we can find you and then run, as fast and as far as you can.”
“Um, okay,” Angelica says and then hangs up the phone.
“Honey…?” The Professor says into the phone and then realizes that the conversation has ended.
Standing over The Professor, Charles asks, “What is it?”. The Professor just looks forward. “What is it, John?” Charles repeats.
“It must be the goo,” The Professor says flatly.
“And Angel?” Charles demands.
“From what I can tell, it’s not her,” he answers getting up and grabbing his jacket, “but it might be hunting her.”
The two make their way toward the door, ignoring the waving Betty. “Which location?” Charles inquires.
“Good,” Charles states as they pick up the pace through the parking lot of the chophouse to the Lincoln.
Confused, looking at Charles as they move, The Professor asks, “Good? Why good?”
They get to the car as Charles pops open the trunk and hands a bag to The Professor. “While that fissure is ancient and sure to be powerful, it was only opened for a moment. The legend said that it was a single droplet.” Charles grabs a large suitcase from the trunk and throws it in the passenger seat.
The Professor goes to get in the car.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Charles asks authoritatively.
“To get Angelica.”
“No,” Charles grabs the phone, still in The Professor’s hand and taps a red app, and hands it back to him. “Harry is on his way. When he gets here, John, you will direct him to us while I hold it off.”
“No way, Charles! I’m coming!”
“No your not,” Charles says getting in the driver’s seat, closing the door, and firing up the engine.
“She’s my daughter, Charles.”
“She’s our daughter, John, and we’ve discussed this sort of situation. This is the best way. This is what we agreed upon.” Charles doesn’t wait for an answer and drives away leaving The Professor slack-jawed in the parking lot.
“But, we didn’t agree? You just told me this was how it would go and I wouldn’t have a choice,” The Professor says aloud to himself, watching the black Continential pick up speed and rev off into the night.