French new wave pop music hummed from the speaker in the corner and everyone in the cafe was high. Henry walked to the counter and ordered an espresso.
The little place was hidden down a labyrinthine street in Greenwich Village. One of those particular cafes that were particularly hidden from the eyes of normals, casuals, even dabblers. Just a brick wall and an old beat-up metal door at the end of an alley to most. A pretty glass picture window with gold foil letters reading “Caffe Altare,” and a door for those with the right eyes.
Henry had the right eyes. He took his drink to a table and straightened his tie. He was in gray houndstooth tweed. Three-piece suit. Lavender shirt, purple paisley tie. Tortoiseshell glasses and short gray hair, parted perfectly.
It had been a long time since he’d been on a blind date. It was odd to be nervous about such a thing when he regularly battled supernatural forces.
She came in cool as could be. All curves and stripes. Big tits in a tight black and white blouse, a little black skirt, black and white striped stockings.
It was a little jarring. The stripes on her right and left leg were different sizes. The stripes on her blouse were at a slight angle. The wings of her eyeliner were off in some unnatural but somehow alluring way. She wore a little chaos like a subtle perfume.
She lowered her big movie star sunglasses and scanned the little place, then seeing Henry, walked over and sat next to him, ignoring the more predictable seat across from him.
“Astrid. Lovely to finally meet you in the flesh,” he said. She held out her hand. A silver ring with a ruby gleamed on her middle finger. He took her hand and gave it a quick kiss. “Yes, it’s a meeting that has been long coming.”
She looked around again. “Do you come here often?” She asked skeptically.
Henry let out a single laugh. “No. This was one of the few places in the area I knew we could get some privacy. No tourists and everyone here is always high.”
The barista raised an eyebrow at that. “Can I get you something to drink? The espresso is very adequate.” Henry offered. “Tea,” she said sweetly.
Henry went to the counter and eyed the tattooed and heavy-eyed server. “Tea, please. Something not,” he looked around, “mind-altering.”
The barista rolled her eyes. “We don’t serve that kind of tea. There’s a Dunkin’ down the block.”
Henry smiled. It was something he could understand and even respect. “Just hot water then,” he said, putting down a twenty.
She shrugged and set a mug in front of him. He fished around the pockets inside of his jacket and frowned. His hand went deeper into his jacket, seemingly deeper than it would be possible to reach. The barista’s eyebrow raised. He came out with a small triangle of cheesecloth on a string.
“Lady Grey. Don’t leave home without it,” he said with a wink. The barista shook her head.
He brought the tea over and Astrid watched him with a curious expression.
“Are you trying to slip me a non-drugged beverage you got out of your magic jacket?” She said, closing her eyes to smell the tea.
“You got me,” he said, raising his hands in mock apology.
“Oh to be young and hooked on mystical opium derivatives,” she said with a grin.
“I think it’s some kind of ayahuasca run through a spirit vice, but that’s neither here nor there. You said you might be looking for a dalliance of some sort. I often find myself in New York with tension I want to release. What sort of thing are you looking for?”
She sipped her tea and looked him in the eye. “I want to break into heaven and fuck on God’s throne.”
Henry finished his espresso and narrowed his eyes on her. She smiled. “You are as unflappable as they say.”
He folded his hands on the table and looked at her expectantly.
“You don’t seem like someone interested in heaven.”
She mimicked his earlier pose, hands up. “You got me. Yes, I’ve been looking for a dalliance of sorts. A specific arraignment, actually. You see, there’s this demon,” she started.
He nodded. “Always an intriguing game start to a fantasy.”
She shrugged. “He needs a body, for a while. A pretty girl would be my preference. I’d like to fuck him while he possesses a pretty girl. From what I hear you would be a capable facilitator of that sort of endeavor. And you have a cock, which could come in useful.” She smiled a bit more pointedly, taking another sip of her tea and licking her red lips.
“I might know a girl. She lives in Brooklyn, of course. She enjoys being a surrogate. I find her quite fetching,” Henry offered. Astrid looked very interested.
“And would your demon friend get jealous if I had my way with you as well? Is that something on the table?”
Astrid raised an eyebrow. “I think in an imbroglio such as the one we are describing, very little would be off the table. So you are interested in having your way with me?”
Henry’s unflappable façade slipped for a moment as he looked her up and down.
“Undoubtedly. In fact, it might be a prerequisite. After all, facilitating a possession is tricky work. I may need some assurances it will be worth my while.”
She smiled at that, her finger tracing the collar of her blouse as she bit her lip.
“A taste test could be arraigned,” she said simply.
Henry smiled. “Well, I might need another espresso in that case,” he said loud enough for the barista to hear.
Behind the counter, the machine whirred to life and the barista showed Henry a blue vial that glowed softly. Henry considered it and nodded.
“Will you magic us up a taxi?” She asked.
“Uber is just as good as magic these days.”