Jim Decker stepped out onto the apartment’s tiny porch, his bright blond hair cascaging in curly rivulets from underneath a rawhide cowboy hat. He was wearing a clear hazmat slicker and gloves, with mirrored shades and a disposable mask making it difficult to see anything but the laugh lines on his face. “Come to see how a real professional does things, Robinson?”

Alan pulled off his cap, swept back his hair–being curly as the dickens, it immediately bounced back–and then replaced it, a calculated gesture of casual contempt. “I dunno,” he said. “You still suspended from doing supernatural, paranormal, and cryptid cleanup in the great state of Mississippi and all adjoining territories?”

Decker’s mask twitched, indicating an ugly snarl. “That auditor had it in for me, and you know it.”

“Whatever you say, friend,” Alan replied. “Taking paranormal carcasses and dumping them in the back forty instead of burning them seems pretty legit to an ordinary joe like me.”

Decker stomped up to Alan, his bulky cowboy boots clomping, and he whipped off his mirrored shades, revealing a pair of incredibly blue eyes to go with his Nordic locks. “About as legit as being banned from the handling or disposal of human remains in those selfsame territories like you are, Robinson?”

“Well, now, I’d say that’s a matter of perspective,” Alan said. “If you never take the test, did you really fail it?”

“Once my suspension’s over, I guess we’ll see,” Decker said. “Maybe I’ll hire you as an intern, seeing as you’ll be unable to compete with my prices and overall competence.”

“Sorry, Jim, I got an intern of my own,” Alan said, gesturing at Jen. “You know interns can’t have interns; fundamental law of the universe right there. I don’t make the rules; hands’re tied.”

Decker squinted at Jen, replacing his mirrored glasses. “That you, Dink?” he said. “I thought you were at university or something.”

“Yeah, funny thing about being at college is you don’t stay there forever,” Jen said.

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