The three fugitives walked silently ahead of Mendocino Jones into the darkened entryway of the row house. Their shadows flitted across the secret garden of the peeling, flocked wallpaper like a trio of dancing spiders, followed by the looming, mantis- like bulk of Jones. A warm amber glow burned at the end of the corridor and the group emerged into a large room, reminiscent of a Victorian parlor or salon. Like the hallway, the room appeared to be suspended in a time warp from the era of the rowhouse’s original construction in the late 1890s, with the possible exception of the giant sixty five inch plasma TV, a rather buxom woman chained to the old steam radiator and covered head to toe in a black rubber suit, and a small white and black lap dog wearing a pink shirt bearing the name Goliath. An overpowering scent of lilacs filled the air like a heavy, purple blanket emanating from the dozens of candles scattered about the room.
From somewhere in the deepest bowels of the earth, a voice oozed from the mouth of Mendocino Jones. “Please, my young cavaliers, do be seated.” With a wave of his simian arm he indicated a plush antique chesterfield adjacent to the chained woman. The dog quivered and emitted a nearly inaudible growl.
“As you can see, a lucubrator such as myself is unaccustomed to visitors, especially at this late hour, and I fear I am unprepared to entertain. But, I insist, please remain at your ease and I will prepare a refreshment.” His voice trailing after him like bubbling tar, Mendocino Jones retreated through a beaded archway. The sounds of jostling glassware and pouring liquid, or perhaps it was the note of blade against bone and the gushing of blood from vein added its vague voice to the muffled breath of the latex woman in the corner and the wheezing of the disagreeable little dog. Finn, Barlow and Daryll cast six eyes in the direction of the vinyl clad woman bound to the rattling iron heater, her mouth an enigmatic red gash floating in a sea of inky rubber.
“Striplings, I’m afraid I have no coffee or tea to offer you from my humble larder, but perhaps a glass of sillabub would set you straight.” Jones surged forward into the room like an ebony wave upon a quickly eroding shore, carrying a silver filigree tray upon which tottered four emerald green glasses filled with a milky yellow liquid, its froth threatening to cascade over the gold rimmed flagons.
“Down, bitch! Down!” commanded the formidable black man, his voice displaying the firm but tolerant tone of a disappointed headmaster. The three young men looked toward the diminutive dog, seated on the cracked leather wing chair, but it was the woman who leaped from her spot against the radiator and settled on all fours upon the worn Afshar carpet in front of the men, creating a human coffee table at their feet. “It has taken an immeasurable investment of time and a cul-de-sac of pain to suitably train this one”, snarled Mendocino Jones, as he placed the tray upon the back of the immobile woman. “ Good staff is so difficult to retain and I fear my needs are rather, ah discriminating. Please, do not stand on ceremony, gentlemen, feel free to imbibe!”


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