Like all employees, I had to go see my boss for a review. Bill Barker lives deep in the Mississippi backcountry and that's where I had to go. Both he and I are given a lot of power in this world for the special work we do. Misusing that power leads to dark places, very dark places. Bill Barker and I work for someone else you may have heard of, Satan. Yes, that one, the Prince of Darkness himself. He also works for God as much as he does not care to admit it. We do more than just stir shit up. Our real role is justice. Offend God enough and he calls Satan, who calls Bill, who then calls me. Yes, there are those in the underworld who like to do evil shit just for fun, including Satan himself. But they can only go so far. My job is taking care of errands for Bill. I like my job too much to fuck it up. So reviews are never a problem for me. One nice thing about the Deep South is it's warm even in winter. I decided to take my bike, a 2016 Hayabusa with a custom turbo set up.
A review for a job like mine can take several days. It had been a few millennia since I had seen Bill in person (we operate on different timescales), so I decided to show up a day early to catch up with my mentor and old friend. When we started working together, the Pyramids in Egypt were just an idea. In more recent times Bill had taken over an old plantation after the previous owner was killed in a freak farming accident. Be careful with those machines boys and girls. I zipped down the windy back roads through lush pine forests unconcerned about cops. They could not see me but a few felt a cold chill as I passed. I had worked this area before a few generations back. They were dark days my friends. A barking dog pulled me back to the present. There was still evil here, now a little more hidden. This was not my area. Somebody else would deal with it sooner or later. Bill had other ideas. I made my way up Bill's long driveway shortly after sunset.
“You're early," Bill said as I got off the bike and took off my helmet.
“Yes, but I brought Crown Royal," I answered.
"I knew I could count on you to do the right thing, Sam. Come have a seat."
Bill's human form was a large black man. On the plantation, his workers were all white. "A little throwback to dark times past," he called it. Few, if any, of his employees had any idea of the irony. History degrees were not their thing. Although Bill worked directly for the Prince of Darkness, he had a good heart. All of his workers had long criminal histories and could not get jobs anywhere else. Bill saw to it they learned several skilled trades and in time would send them on their way back into the world unlike this place's original owners. Other locals knew not to mess with Bill or his employees. Grim things could happen, very grim things. He had no worries from those who did not appreciate his special kind of irony. He beckoned me to a chair across from him. I sat down and cracked open the Crown.
"Molly, bring two glasses of ice please."
A moment later a small woman dressed in a white uniform with neck tattoos appeared and put the glasses down before us. Was it the greenish porch light or did she really have purple and pink hair? I wasn't sure.
"Thank you," Bill said. She nodded and left. "A new project, she was one of the biggest coke dealers in the entire south east. Knows more about business than most MBA types. She can have a real future one day."
"And speaking of the future what's mine look like?"
"Gone to the dogs," he answered getting up.
I watched Bill slowly go into the house. He returned in a moment with another tall glass of lemon aide. “Molly does not like cops.”
I heard a car coming down the long driveway. Sure enough, it was a sheriff’s car.
“Expecting another guest?”
“You might say that. Sheriff Walton. I think he may have a little work for us.”
The Sheriff looked the part, tall, clean, spotless uniform, and very white. He strode over and onto the porch. Something few people who knew Bill would do.
“Have a seat, Sheriff. I’ve been expecting you.” Bill slid a chair back with his foot.
“New hand, Bill?” He said looking my way. He may have looked uptight but he gave off good vibes.
“Old hand, actually, very old.” Bill answered. “This is Sam. Sam, this is Sheriff Walton.” He had an honest, firm handshake.
The Sheriff sat down and took a long drink of lemon aide. He was not the Crown Royal type.
“Gonna be a big show tonight. The Reverend Kyle Sheppard is putting on a dog-fighting tournament in the God Damn auxiliary building of his own church. Starts at 11PM. Seeing how he bought Judge Finley, I cannot go near it.”
Bill filled me in. “Good ole Reverend Sheppard, real dapper guy. Owns a string of nudie bars from here to Atlanta, runs a meth distribution network all across the south and sponsors a Christian little league for orphans. Orphans he sometimes sells that is. And he likes dog fighting.”
“You know where I’m talkin about, where his church is?”
“I do. I do indeed,” Bill answered.
Bill nodded politely. The Sheriff drained his glass and left without another word.
“Sounds like fun,” I said as the sheriff pulled out of the driveway.
“He and I have an understanding. I ”fix” things he cannot. I was thinking you would join me on this one. I also had a feeling you would make it in time.”
“I got an idea…” I said. Yup, there was only one way to handle this.
The church was not far. So a little after 10:30pm we piled into Bill’s car, a blacked out 1976 Cadillac Limousine. We had no need of weapons as you all know them, a nice perk of being a demon. I was wondering how the good reverend’s flock felt about the use of the community building for such an event? Turn’s out he had several auxiliary buildings. The show, if you will, was taking place in one way in back of the church property, supposedly abandon. I had never seen so many redneck vehicles in all my life; rebel flags, gun racks, mud flaps and many all beat to shit. There would be a lot of KKK in the house tonight, which put a smile on Bill’s face. We parked pretty far away among some trees. Bill saw a guy guarding the parking area and approached him.
“Who the hell are you?” The guy asked.
“Special Agent Barker,” Bill answered flashing a FBI badge. “We have no time or patience for little fish. Might want to let your buddies know there is gonna be a raid in about two minutes.”
The guy’s eyes got huge and he darted in. Inside, there were just your run of the mill rednecks, some bikers and a few gamblers. None of whom had any desire for interaction with Federal types. We stood off to the side in the shadow of the building well away from the yellow light above the door. In a moment or two, people came running out making a beeline for their cars, trucks and bikes. But they were not moving fast enough for Bill. He made a small circling motion with his index finger and the woods around the place came alive with sirens and blue lights. This scattered most of the brave few who had remained behind in the building. All but the good Reverend Sheppard and a few of his closest associates. I followed Bill inside. One took a shot at us. I looked at him and he dropped the gun and started to run. With my mind, I froze him in place. Bill was focused on the Reverend. Reverend Sheppard stood in the now empty fighting ring with a few men eyeing Bill and myself unconcerned. He, after all, was a good and great man who operated above the law. FBI types were nothing new to him and certainly not anything to be afraid of.
“Gentleman, you have ruined a perfectly good evening with your intrusion. You better have a warrant because I have lost my good humor.”
“Mr. Fallen, proceed,” Bill said.
I stepped forward and Bill sat down in a near by chair.
“Who do you think you are dealing with?” The Reverend asked.
“You. And we are not the FBI. I work for that guy there," I said nodding toward Bill. "He works for God. Indirectly. Think of us as God’s cleaners.”
“You men can go. We are here for the Reverend. Of course you are welcome to stay and share his fate.”
His guards got the point, darting out the back door. Sheriff Walton could get them later on any number of pending warrants, charges or whatever. They certainly took the easy way out. Reverend Sheppard had stopped believing in anything other than himself a very long time ago. He laughed nervously as the last of his men fled out the back door.
“What is this?” He asked.
Bill found himself with thirty new dogs to care for on the plantation. No worry, it was good for employee morale. After awhile, the news moved on from the disappeared crime-boss / Reverend from Mississippi. I passed my review and Bill and I agreed to not wait three thousand more years before working together again.