So remember last week when Cara cryptically told us to call Beverly?
Well Beverly finally called us back Saturday morning.
“Hey,” she said, without so much as acknowledging that she hadn’t picked up our phone calls. “I might have a case for you, what are you doing?”
“Hi Bev,” Julian said. “Everything okay?”
“God, sorry,” she said. She sounded like she’d been running. “Everything is just a little bit chaotic right now, that’s all. I saw I missed a call from you two last week, is everything alright?”
“Cara told us to call you,” Julian replied. “She said there was some stuff we needed to know.”
Beverly made a tired raspberry sound. “I don’t even know where to start,” she said. “It’s just chaos. So many cases. So many civilians wanting to join the life. I’ve just been trying to coordinate things, but it’s hard to keep up.”
“Is there something we can do to help?” Julian asked.
“Yeah,” Beverly replied. “You can go check out this case for me.”
Julian smiled. “Alright, what you got?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “It might be nothing, all our information is hearsay, and totally inconclusive. But apparently people are going to GAMBLING TOWN IN THE DESERT I WON’T MENTION BY NAME in like… record numbers. Droves. Hotels are full. Crime rates are way, way up, the police are overwhelmed, people are dying. It might just be, you know, classic local hedonism, but I had a couple in here yesterday. A friend of theirs died there last week, and they’re sure there’s something abnormal going on out there. They don’t have anything concrete, so I wasn’t going to bother you with it, but then I saw the numbers.”
There was a ruckus of people in the background, and Beverly must have covered the receiver with her hand because her voice was muffled when she shouted at them. “Fuck,” she said a moment later. “I have to go.” And then, after a moment, “hey, listen, I’ve been hearing all sorts of rumors. About you two.”
Neal made a face.
“What kind of rumors?”
“You know what kind,” Bev said. “I mean they’re still — you know, hunters — so they’re not quite willing to call it a chosen-one spell. But there’s definitely rumblings.” She paused a long time. “You okay?”
“We’re fine,” Julian said. “We steer clear of that crowd most times anyways.”
“I know,” she said, and then had to shout at someone else again. “Listen, I have to go. But we’ll talk soon, okay?”
When they hung up and we’d done some navigation to get us pointed towards GAMBLE DESERT TOWN, I asked, “…so… how bad is it that hunters are finding out about the dog saint thing?”
“Bad,” Neal said at the exact same time that Julian said, “Very bad,” which technically but ineffectively answered my question, so I clarified.
“I mean I know it’s like… weird that you have powers. And I know there are some people who think your powers make you like… I dunno, natural leaders or whatever.” I was thinking of the psychics, Mercy and Zinia, and all those witches at the summit. “But like… it’s not really any of these hunter dudes’ business is it? It’s not like you’re out there laying down the law or whatever. It’s not like you have any power over them.”
“It’s complicated,” Neal said.
Which like… no shit, Neal. “Try me.”
“Most hunters don’t particularly like magic,” Julian said, somewhat haltingly. “Not even don’t like it. More like, they just don’t take it seriously. They prefer to think of magic as other peoples business.”
“Worse than that,” Neal said. “They pretend magic doesn’t exist unless they absolutely must. And then they behave as though it is an evil force that exists to exclusively to hurt people.”
“So if hunters find out you’re dog saints…?”
“Well they wouldn’t crown us their leaders, which I appreciate,” Julian said.
“Yeah, but they’d also likely boil us in tar, so, you know,” Neal said. “The good with the bad.”
Slowly but surely, this whole situation is starting to take real shape in my head. Like, yeah, it makes sense that they’d want to avoid the awe and expectations of those people who believe that their powers makes them into some kind of fated leader. On the other, they want to avoid the suspicion and/or open hostility of those people that believe magic is an evil force. So they’re sorta caught between a rock and a hard place, and I for one totally understand why they’ve been keeping it a secret.
And also, potentially, why that girl Eden would run away from us last week.
But who knows what the deal with that is, and who has the time, you know? Instead of worrying about that, we started doing some research.
Apparently — hilariously — this whole phenomenon is like… a total thing. There’s a hashtag and everything. #[DESERT GAMBLING TOWN]renaissance. It’s booming out there. Which is actually sort of good news for us, because like so many internet phenomenons, someone else has already done the research we were looking for.
According to one of those Buzzfeed knock-off sites, the hashtag — and the resulting chaos — was originally a marketing push from a restaurant called Kennedy’s that opened three months ago on the… main street of the town. Look, if you haven’t figured out where I’m talking about at this point, idk what to tell you hahaha.
So now the meme is you go to Kennedy’s and post yourself eating there, and then you have an insane night. And apparently it really is an insane night — twitters full of these accounts of people being like, going to Kennedy’s I’ll live tweet the rest of my night! And then it’s like… a picture of their meal, a few blurry pictures of strippers, and then nothing for sixteen hours until they log back in to say haha! Glad what happens in [TOWN] stays in [TOWN]. You pretty much get the impression that everyone is living out their The Hangover fantasies.
Seems harmless enough to be honest, until you look at the crime rates. Literally a 3000% increase in crime in the last few months. So, anyways, we’re going to check it out. I’m hoping this is nothing and I spend the next week lounging by the pool, but obviously I’ll keep you posted.