London Town…bollocks. London's no fine lady She's a right ol' roundheeled tart who'll lift skirt for any Tom Winkum with a fiver and a Guinness. She'll roll over and sticky wicket and when the pommel's all flaccid-like, she'll give the go-ahead for another one before the wet spot dries. Me name's John Constantine, and for me, Home is where the Hell is.
On a night where I should be thinking about prezzies and pudding, I'm loping about here with my mate Chas in the filth and decay, looking for a toad's bum as enjoys strangling kids for giggles. Why am I here? What makes a man a fool the fastest? Why, a bit o' trim, naturally.
This flashback in muddy gray tones, please…
"Oh, God! Oh, John! Oh, God!"
"Make up your mind, love, who's to be in yer tonight? Me or him?"
"Bastard! Don't talk like that whilst shaggin'! It's disrespectful!"
"Cassie, respect ain't me byword. Oh. I've done."
Cassie disengaged herself…since me last fifteen girlfriends have ended up karked, I'm extra nice with this one.
"So you have! A new record, Hercules. So, you'll do it? You'll find my niece's killer?"
"Cassie, I'm not a copper. Magic isn't like that. I can't just snap me fingers and give some guy the klompet."
"Eh? What's a 'klompet', John?"
"I'm saying, love, that I can't just snark the patty,
"No. What are you sayin'? 'Snark the patty?' What's
that MEAN, John?"
"Never mind…I'll find your wee strangler. Now get us a napkin, be fair."
"All right, but take a shower, John. I've never done it with a man as rank as you before. You simply REEK. And USE SOAP."
I called Chas, who gave his usual shite about wife and home, but showed up anyway with cab and tire iron, just in case. Gave us a lift to a block of flats, nice neighborhood, like a caramel with pus inside. As I got out, Chas sprayed nearly a half-can of air freshener where'd me arse had been moments before.
"Took you long enough to get here, Chas, you great diptwaddle."
"I had to get away from the wife, and by the way, what in Hell is a 'diptwaddle'?"
"It's YOU, wanker! Now bring the iron in case there's a do-in. This strangler geezer might need a good ker-splunketing."
"Now, dammit, John…sure that's not real slang. Are you certain you're from London?"
"Sod it, 'course I am! 'Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner' and all that! Now quit taking the piss and let's track muddies over to the bloke's doorway, all right, Sherlock?"
"'Track muddies?' Jesus, John…are you trying to sound tough? It's quite comical."
I lit up a fag and waved it at him
"Chas, you're hopeless. Ever toff in London talks this way. It's very authentic."
"No, they don't, John. You're making these phrases up. I don't know why I didn't see this before..."
"Quit snoggin yer arse, mate!"
"See, now there all you did is put together a couple different words that you probably heard the Spice Girls say on telly."
I wiped the sweat from my brow with my overcoat sleeve…Cassie was right, I really DID smell bad, like a thousand Silk Cut dipped in B.O…
"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't watch no bleeding Spice Girls."
"Really? Which one is your favorite, Sporty Spice or
"There's no Spice Girl named Jug… I mean…what I mean is…"
"Oh, PISS OFF!"
So, nearly two O'clock in the morning with no one but rent boys and other fornicators still awake, we crept towards the hedges outside the the flats til we could nearly see into the windows….
"All right, Chas…you don't need to know how, but I've narrowed it down to the killer being in one of these two flats. We're looking for a big man, with large hands…Cassie says her niece's throat was nearly crushed. So, I'll look 'round back in the windows here at this flat, and you check that one over there, quick as a stoat, Bob's your uncle."
"Why can't you talk normally, John? It's hard to make out what you're SAYING."
"Look! It's easy as elbows, mate. Go over yonder house, take a quick varmy in the window, get back here and report. Tog me, poofta?"
"Heh. Say that 'tog me' part again!"
"Hahaha! 'Tog me!' John Constantine, fear of the bloody underworld from here to China…'Tog me! Tog me! Tog me!' Hahahahahaha!"
"You're making me angry, mate. That's dangerous play."
"ooooooh! SPOOOOOKY!!! What are you gonna do, John? Tog me to death? Hahhahahaha!"
"This isn't funny, Chas."
"Ha! 'Easy as elbows!' You sound like Dick Van Sodding Dyke in Mary Poppins! 'Everythin' all roight, squire? It's easy as elbows 'round 'ere, tog me?' Hahahaha! Stinky John, Master of London Slang! Oh, What a jolly 'oliday!"
"Heh. All right, John, all right. Heh."
"This is the way London street toughs REALLY talk!!!!"
"Oh, SURE it is, John…heh. SURE it is!"
"This scares the CRAP out of some people, mate!"
"Oh, I'll just BET it does, lad! Bloody TERRIFYING that elbow thing is…hahahahaha!"
"All right, all right. I made all that stuff up. Happy now?"
"Heh. What a great stinky fool you look, John! Ha! I've nearly pissed myself!"
"Listen, Chas…I'm warning you. I may not know how scary people actually talk, but I've SEEN things. I've DONE things. I know that the Queen Mum ate her first born child in a shallot crme sauce because it was born human. I know that there's a river of blood flowing through a pipe under the Thames as a peace offering to prevent a war between England and the Old Ones. I know that since the 1700's, Gypsys have been used for target practice at Buckingham Palace. I know that Dame Edna wears underwear made of razor wire and eyelids. And I know cause I've SEEN it and LIVED. So, you can giggle all you like, mate, but I'm telling you…You do NOT. WANT. TO. SCREW. WITH. JOHN. CONSTANTINE."
"Get me, Chas? Am I making sense NOW?"
"Say that 'elbows' thing again, oh High Exalted Magician of Stink! Hahahaha! Crowley'd be SO proud!"
So, once Chas stopped laughing, I sent him over to kip a toddle at the windows on the right, while I crept about to the left. Peekin' in and peering through the darkness, I could see naught but a grandmotherly type, frail as houses, stoned asleep in her bed. Soon, Chas came back over, still smirking.
"There's nothing over there, John…Only guy living there can't be the strangler, as he's one arm short."
"He's MISSING an ARM, John. Face it…your magic's failed you, mate."
"But…somethin's not right here…the sigil…the arrow made of virgin piss…it all pointed here!"
Suddenly, a voice in the darkness…
"Lost my arm in a work accident, didn't I? Yes, lost it at the factory."
We turned and were confronted by a hulking man in his boxers, mud on his unshod feet and blood in his eyes…
"That's him, John! The one in the flat!"
"I can SEE that, you pratt! He's got one arm shy, hasn't he??!!"
The man continued, "They call them phantom limbs…man loses an arm or leg and wakes up swearin' he felt it, still there…itchin'. Only, mine really DOES come back,sometimes, see? And too bloody right it itches. "
We could see it…in the moonlight. His arm, growing back, red as blood with a murderous hand at the end of it.
"And now you two lads are here…and me and my arm's got work to do…"
He started to reach his grasping hands at me. I stood my ground, and put the old scary edge in my voice, just to show the old yobbo what's what and right quick.
"Listen, you silly bitch. I'm JOHN CONSTANTINE. I know the names of demons that even Satan has forgotten. I've taken the wings off of an angel with a chainsaw. I've stared into the soul of evil and…*gack ack choke ack*!"
He was choking me. I didn't even get to the scary stuff.
"Get off me! Stop it! Owie! Hey! *Sputter!* You're CHOKING ME!! Quit it! OUCH!!! Hak…uhukk! Ouch! Goddammit! I'm JOHN CONSTAN...ow! Ack! Choke! Hey…that HURTS, you bastard! You can't DO this to me! hrruuuk!!"
Then Chas hit him with the tire iron.
A BUNCH of times.
Another case closed for the great English magician.
Holding my throat and trying to keep from chucking up in Chas's cab, I said, "Thanks, mate…I thought I buggered a badger that time."
"I nearly split a fudgie. I'd gone totally snakes and ladders!"
"I almost kiped me dangle-down! Christ, I really splashed a trouser shower...let's take a lorry to the lift in the loo, mate, as I need a good sausage-washing before I go all Shameful William!"
"You're not really from England, are you? And for God's sake, crack that back window! "