"Stay low and quiet," Wolfe said. "And do not shoot anything unless I instruct you to."
"Okay," Maddock said. "So if something takes you down before you belch out an order, I should stand and watch. Got it."Wolfe glowered at him before leading the way. The two of them walked around to the side of the house, crouching down and using the bushes for cover. Wolfe pointed at an open window.
"How convenient," Maddock said. "Too convenient, don’t you think?"
Wolfe shrugged. "They shouldn’t be expecting us."
"Yeah?" Maddock said. "Well, if you’re wrong and I get killed, I’m going to come back and haunt you."
"Not likely," Wolfe said as he pressed ahead. "It’s forbidden. Haunts must have plausible deniability."
"Huh?" Maddock said.
Black squinted her eyes at him, then got into a fighting position, fists in the air. "You think he's ready, huh?" she said.
"Director, please don't injure him," Wolfe said. "I need him in top form for the mission."
Maddock laughed. "You guys screwy or what?"
"Mr. Maddock," she said, lowering her hands. "Somewhere in that barbaric upbringing of yours, we might one day find an honorable Census agent. But it's probably going to take a significant beating or two to peel away those many layers of misogynism that hide it. Consider this our first peeling..."
"All right, on three conditions," Maddock said. "First, I don’t want to hear any more history lessons— I learn better on the job, so just throw me into the fray. I’ll learn as I go. Two… I need some java and a ciggy. I haven’t had either in hours and it makes me real mean without them. And three—"
"That was three already," Wolfe jumped in. "'Java and a ciggy'—that’s two things."
"I guess he can’t count," Black said. “Go on, Mr. Maddock. Spill it so we can get this over with."
Maddock walked up to Wolfe, who tried to get away, but this time his back was against a wall that didn’t bulge. Holding him by the collar, Maddock brought him up close. Face-to-face, he smiled as Wolfe twitched.
"And three…" Maddock said. "I gotta have me one of these here spiffy suits..."
"Alright," he said, beginning to unbutton his shirt.
"What-What are you doing?" Black said.
"Need to try the suit out,"he said.
"There is a private room we can take you to—" Black began, but then Maddock dropped his pants. Despite her exaggerated display of disgust, she did not look away.
"Don't blow your wig, doll," Maddock said. "I need to know how it looks before I start any kind of training. It has to look good on me. Oh, and you …” He snapped his fingers at Wolfe. "Bring me a mirror."
"Never figured you for vanity, Mr. Maddock..."
"What's that up there?" he said.
Wolfe tried to follow his gaze. "What?"
Maddock snapped his fingers and pointed. "There, four-eyes—the Roman numerals."Wolfe shot him a scowl. "You haven't heard a damn thing I've been telling you, have you?"
"Pipe down, Wolfey," Maddock said. "And yeah, I've seen your lips bumping and some sound come out. It's just that I think much better after I’ve had my cup of joe and ciggy—and so far you've come up short on both, pal..."
Lenaverse snorted—spraying a rainbow of glitter from its nostrils.
Wolfe looked entranced as he petted the mythical beast.
“Swelllll,” Maddock said, raising an eyebrow. “We don’t have to walk. We can ride horses now.”
Maddock smacked Wolfe on the back, making him stumble. His friend turned to him with a grimace.
“If you want a pet, I’ll get you a kitten,” Maddock said.
After surviving the horrors of World War I, Willem Maddock thinks he will return to a better life. Instead, the streets of New York greet him with only the promise of poverty.
Penniless and without purpose, his life seems to be headed nowhere until he meets a mysterious man in a dark alley who wants to recruit him to be an agent of Census—a secret organization charged with controlling the reincarnation process of all souls.
Guaranteed some coffee, a meal, and a job description that includes dealing with haunted houses, battling demons, and occasionally cracking some heads—it sounds a lot better than what the slums of New York have to offer him.
As he embarks on a mission to round up “lost souls,” a conspiracy unfolds involving soulmates, forces from the Spirit Realm, and a Nazi agenda poised to take over the world.
Maddock will have to let go of what truths he clings to and throw himself into a war waging on Earth, heaven, and even hell itself.