Chapter 2 "Snakes" 19

In the deepening evening, Kyri stands behind the counter of the Copper Pot and surveys the tables. There is only one customer, a large man who sits, dwarfing the little table in the corner, his faded shirt pulled tight across his shoulders. Amused by the bias of her observations, Kyri corrects her first thought, he only seems big because I’m so small. She continues observing the man as she makes his coffee, looking puzzled by his aluminium hat. Try as she might, Kyri cannot get any sense of the man and where he fits in the dramatis personae. The goddess is disturbed by this – it is the first time Kyri’s inner casting director has failed her and she cannot tell if the man is a hero or a villain, a dramatic lead or the comic relief.  

As Kyri finishes making the coffee, two little bluebirds pick up the mug and saucer, slowly flying it across the cafe. Suddenly, she is startled out of her reverie, as the two bluebirds vanish with a pop, leaving the mug to come crashing to the ground, splashing her customer with hot coffee and causing him to spring from his chair, swearing loudly.

“Oh dear! I’m so very sorry – I don’t know happened then! I’ve never seen the birds just disappear like that!” Kyri exclaims apologetically as she rushes to the little table, clutching a cloth to clean up the spilt coffee. As she gets closer to the table, Kyri starts to feel strange, and the pimple she had been using her powers to prevent appears, red and irritated, on the end of her nose. Perfect! the goddess thinks to herself, vanishing bluebirds, spilt coffee, unreadable strangers in my shop, and now a pimple?!

“Your ‘god-tricks’ won’t work on me” says the man, pointing at her accusatorily.

“Looks like they won’t even work near you,” replies Kyri, mopping up coffee. “Though I’m not sure I like the way you refer to them as ‘god-tricks.’”

“If you’re gonna make me that coffee, you’ll need to do it like a real person. And no trying to read my thoughts either!” he says, pointing to his foil hat.

“Since you don’t like mind readers, I’d better ask your name then,” comments Kyri, smiling as she pours another cup of coffee. “Most people call me Kyri,” she adds, ducking behind the counter to heal her pimple.

“I don’t have to tell you anything!”

“No, you don’t, but if you’re going to come here often, it sure would be nice to know your name. I promise I won’t use it against you,” responds Kyri coquettishly, thinking to herself, I don’t need to use “god-tricks” to make you like me.

“They call me Atheist Jack.”

“Well Jack, here’s your coffee. No tricks, but since you wore the first mug, this one’s on the house.”

As Kyri walks back to the counter the bell over the door jingles and Zeffretti enters the cafe.  He’s dressed in snug jeans and a wide-collared shirt, open far further than is tasteful.

“Constable, this is a surprise visit,” says Kyri by way of greeting.

“Not a constable no more, Kyri. The ‘spector kicked me out.” snarls Zeffretti, his lip curling into a sneer at the word inspector.

“Oh Rocco, I am sorry, but you were never happy in the Guardia, and I’m sure that there are so many other things you could turn your hand to.”

Rocco snorts derisively as he flings himself onto a chair.

Reaching under the counter, Kyri produces a large plate of tiramisu and places it in front of the dejected young man. Returning to the counter, she opens a cupboard and grabs a large bottle of clear liquid and three glasses. The goddess then walks back to Rocco’s table and sits down.


“Don’t ask,” responds Kyri as she pours two glasses, “Hey Jack, you want some?” she asks, gesturing with the bottle.

“Why not, but only one. And don’t think this means that I trust you so-called ‘gods,’” answers Jack, dragging his chair over.

After draining his glass, Rocco turns to Kyri and asks “Hey, what’s happened to the music? I don’t hear them violins no more.”

“I’ve discovered I can’t use any ‘god-tricks’ around our atheist friend here,” she answers, raising her glass to Jack.

“You’re a pretty useful guy,” comments Rocco. “But seriously, she’s ok. Doesn’t want worshipping, makes good dolcĂ©...”

“She still pretends to be a god. Makes good moonshine though,” replies Jack, downing his glass and standing to leave. “You just be careful,” he says, slipping out the door, his eyes darting furtively over the street outside.

Kyri pours another round of drinks, which she and the one-time constable quickly drink, repeating this routine a third, fourth and fifth time.  Eventually, she stares intently at Rocco. “Cop or not, you owe me some answers. So, tell me about Eater of Frogs...”

Zeffretti looks around as if someone else he just hasn’t noticed yet might be hiding in the cafĂ©. Then he leans forward conspiratorially. “Funny you should bring him up. Guess who I just saw over at the Singin’ Cockroach? He just walked inta the place and started bossin’ the owner around. Sounded like he was plannin’ to settle in for a long night, too, and he didn’t care who knew it. Me, I got outta there fast.”

“Oh my goodness, Rocco...perhaps you should tell the Inspector!”

“Me? No way...people see me goin’ to the station, they’re gonna finger me for a stool pigeon, and then they’ll be fittin’ me for concrete waders! But you, Kyri...”

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