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mars' bar

                                                                                                                    Chapter 1




            “Closed for remodeling?!” I stood there on the sidewalk, not believing what I was seeing. Tiny never, underlined, boldface font, never shut down The Sung, my oasis away from home, the palace of succulent steaks and beer that made the ambrosia of the gods jealous, was there whenever I needed it. But, against all logic, not this time. No, there was a sheet of plywood nailed over what used to be my entrance to Eden. I was… miffed, and I felt I had every right to be.

            Being of the investigative type, I’m Tony Mandolin, Private Investigator. All right, yes, I’m that Tony Mandolin, PI to the weird and horrifying and the bane of vamps and ghouls everywhere. My last case did involve the burning down… can a ball of flame with a Norse fire elemental rising into the air be considered burning… down? Regardless, the Bay Area’s organized crime syndicates lost about a billion dollars’ worth of booze and drugs in that case, and yes I managed to get out of it with my hide mostly intact. Back to my miff.

            So I decided to check out the backside of the bar. That meant ambling along the sidewalk and into the alley as if I had every right to be there, which was mostly right. I paid taxes, way too many taxes, so, in essence, I paid for the sidewalk and the alley. In my miff, I forget that almost every nasty surprise I ever received was delivered in an alley.

            As I turned off the sidewalk and into the access to The Snug’s back door something struck me, it was clean. Not just free of trash and dead leaf clean, but that’s the way mom taught me to clean my room clean. If there was remodeling going on, you would expect to see bits and pieces of the stuff used in that job, drywall, lumber, sawdust, maybe a bent nail or two. This alley had none of that. It made a hospital ward floor look a bit slovenly. Then something else struck me.

                                                                                                           ♦          ♦          ♦

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