The pounding was incessant.
He wondered how on earth she was able to keep up that level of knocking on apartment door.
He rolled over and bumped into a girl. He hadn't remembered there being a girl there, hadn't remembered bringing her home; but he had done a lot of magic the previous night.
When he bumped her she groaned and slid out her side of the bed. The sound of it was like the toll booth warning strips to his hung-over ears.
"I think someone's at the door. I gotta pee." She stood and walked naked to the bathroom. She was far too skinny for her own good and far too young for his.
"Mr. Green?" The voice was plaintive, and he realized the pounding was mostly in his own head. He took a deep breath, grit his teeth and got himself up. His world spun for a moment. He waited for it to stop before he put a robe over his boxers and went to answer the door.
In the front room of his Chicago two flat he found another girl, or rather he found a woman, healthier and older than his bedmate. She was under blankets on the couch but he would have guessed she too was naked. He had done a lot of magic the night before.
The knocking and calling had stopped. He picked up his pace and answered the door as quickly as he could while fighting back vomit.
Beyond the door was no one, the hallway empty.
"May I help you?" He called, cursing his esoteric oath under his breath.
"Um, Mr. Green?" A woman called from outside his field of view.
"Doctor, actually; may I help you?"
A head appeared just above the floor from the stairway below. It was not the head of a woman unless she was the kind of woman with a full beard and male patterned baldness. His very high pitched voice matched his body like fingernails match a chalkboard (go ask your grandfather what a chalkboard is).
He walked back up the stairs, getting taller and taller until Troy expected him to have to duck or hit his head on the ceiling. The ring of hair starting above his ears was long and braided. He wore a soiled, wrinkled and skewed tuxedo.
He smiled hopefully at Troy and stuck out a boat oar of a hand. "I'm D'Artagnan Pneuman. The "P" is silent."
"Of course it is."
"I'm so glad you're home. I'm a very desperate man."
"Why don't you come inside and sit down before I fall down. What did you say your name was?"
"D'Artagnan Pneuman, P-N-E-U-M-A-N, like pneumonia. My friends call me, 'Dart' for short."
"I refuse to believe there is anything short about you."
Dart laughed and a girl slipped out the door while the men were trying to go in.
"I think you just lost a friend," Dart said.
"He has plenty," a deep womanly voice said from the kitchen. Troy expected the older one would be difficult to dislodge. It was the skinny one that had scampered out, wearing some clothes and clutching the rest.
"Can I get you two gentlemen some coffee?" Her voice was deep and rich like Kathleen Turner eating dark chocolate covered strawberries. She was at least ten years older than Troy, curvy but fit, she wore the blanket seductively off her shoulders and one ashen lock fell over an eye. It made Troy stammer.
"In my office, please," Troy pointed in the direction of the office and then forced his feet to follow his finger. He just had to remember her name, or at lease who she was.
He led Dart into a book, artifact and musical instrument filled room. Dart had to duck under each doorway.
"Have a seat, Mr. Pneuman and tell me why you're desperate."
"A curse has been put on my house and family. My daughter has been put under a magical spell and I think she is going to be kidnapped today."
"What makes you think that?"
"I got this note," he handed Troy a small scrap of velum. In a brown ink it said, "We're coming to get Barbara tomorrow."
"Can you help us, Dr. Green?"
"You got this at the wedding, no?"
"What? How did you know we were at a wedding?"
"It was Susan's wedding, Barbara's sister. We were all having a lovely time. Everyone was dancing and then the music got louder and faster, and faster. It was too fast but nobody could stop dancing. Suddenly it stopped and a woman appeared on the stage with the band. The room was also surrounded by dark, ominous figures in robes, or hooded sweatshirts.
"The woman raised a stick and waived it around. Then she sang some chant I couldn't understand. The hoodie guys sang too. They started swaying until suddenly Barbara collapsed in the middle of the floor."
"She had a staff, not a stick. Go on."
"Barbara fell to the floor. The band tried to grab the old woman, but she snatched up the accordion, squeezed it and with a G minor chord she vanished. One of the hoodie fellas gave me the note."
"A G minor chord, hmm."
"Can you help us?" Dart asked, but his voice seemed to be deeper on certain words.
"Say that again."
"Help, can you help us?"
That time it was clear that the words, "Help" were far deeper and coming from the other room.
Doctor Troy Green sprang from his chair and snatching a didgeridoo from beside the office door he rushed into the front room.
The older woman, Abby, Abby Bancroft, mother of the groom, what a relief that was to Troy. Abby was standing naked in the front room with the blanket she had been wearing fallen around her.
Also around her, around the room in fact were a dozen or so stocky short figures in hoods. One of which was holding the younger woman, Maggie Pipp, boy it was all coming back to him now.
"Give us what we want, Green or the girls get it," the leader said menacingly.
Troy Green Associate Professor of Ethnology and Comparative Religions brandished his oddly painted and carved Australian Aboriginally inspired musical instrument and said, "Kiss off!"