"Well, these mundies mean business."

"They always mean business, Dolly," Magnus said. "It always ends messily. I've seen enough mundanes splattered on walls to last me - "

Suddenly a bell on the wall started ringing feverishly. This was followed by a loud, deep call from the main room.


This was followed by a lot of screaming.

"Excuse me a moment," Magnus said. He set the bottle of cheap champagne on the bar and indicated that Dolly should help herself, as he was sure she would even without permission. He went back through into the main bar, where an atmosphere of general madness had taken over. The band didn't pack up, but they had stopped playing. Some people were gulping back drinks, others running for the door, still others crying and panicking.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" he called. "Please simply set your drinks on the tables. All will be well. Remain seated."

Magnus had enough regulars now that there was somewhat of an established routine. These people were sitting down and cheerfully lighting cigarettes, barely turning to look at the axes that were already picking their way through the door.

"Lights!" Magnus called dramatically.

At once, the bar staff turned off all the lights and the speakeasy was thrown into darkness, save for the glowing orange tips of cigarettes.

"Now, please, everyone," Magnus said, over the yells of police and the banging of the axe and the splintering of the wood. "If we could all count to three together. One!"

They joined in nervously for "two" and "three." There was a flash of blue, then a final crack as the door came down and the police tumbled inside. Then all at once, the lights came up again. But the speakeasy was gone. All the patrons found in front of them were porcelain teapots and cups of tea. The jazz band had been replaced by a string quartet, who immediately began playing soothing music. The bottles behind the bar were gone, replaced by a well-stocked bookshelf. Even the decor had changed - the walls were lined with bookshelves and velvet draperies, all concealing the bar and the stock of alcohol.

"Gentlemen!" Magnus threw open his arms. "Welcome to our tea and book circle. We were just about to discuss tonight's book, Jude the Obscure. You're just in time! I may have to ask you to pay for the door, but I understand the impulse. One simply mustn't be late to the discussion!"

The crowd began to fall about laughing. They waggled their teacups at the police and waved copies of the books.

Magnus tried to vary this routine every time. Once, when the lights came back up, he had transformed the bar into an apiary, with buzzing beehives all around the room. Another time it became a prayer circle, with many of the guests wearing the garb of nuns and ministers.

Usually, this confused the police so much that the raids were brief and relatively nonviolent. But each time, he sensed their frustration growing. Tonight the group was led by McMantry, as crooked a cop as Magnus had ever met. Magnus had refused to pay him off on principle, and now he was coming down on Mr. Dry's Bar. They had come prepared this time. Every officer had a tool - at least a dozen axes, just as many sledgehammers, crowbars, and even a shovel or two.

"Take them all," McMantry said. "Everyone goes in the wagon. And then take this joint apart."

Magnus waggled his fingers behind his back to conceal the blue light that webbed between them. At once, four panels fell away from the walls, revealing hallways and escape routes. His customers ran for them. They would come out in four different locations, some blocks away. Just a bit of gentle, protective magic. No one deserved to go to jail for having a cocktail. A few officers tried to follow, only to find the passages were suddenly blind.

Magnus let the heavy glamour drop, and the speakeasy regained its normal appearance. This stunned the police long enough to allow him to slip behind a nearby curtain and glamour himself invisible. He walked right out of the bar, past the officers. He paused only for a moment to watch them pull back the curtain and study the wall behind, looking for the way to access the escape hatch they assumed had to be there.

Back out on the street, it was a thick September night. New York often stayed hot this time of year, and New York humidity had its own special quality. The air was viscous, full of the murk of the East River and the Hudson and the sea and the swamp, full of smoke and ash, full of the smell of every kind of cooking food, and the raw smell of gas.

He walked down to one of the exit points, where an excited cluster of customers stood laughing and talking about what had just happened. This group was made up of some of his favorite regulars, including the handsome Alfie.

"Come on!" Magnus said. "I think we should continue this at my place, don't you?"

A dozen people agreed that this was an excellent idea. Magnus hailed a taxi, and some of the others did the same. Soon there was a merry little chain of taxis ready to go. Just as one more person was squeezing into the backseat with Magnus, Dolly leaned in the window and spoke into his ear.

"Hey, Magnus!" she said. "Don't forget. Watch the money!"

Magnus gave her a polite, yes, whatever nod, and she giggled and tripped off. She was such a tiny thing. Very pretty indeed. And very drunk. She would probably go off to the Bowery now and eat her fill on the city's less fortunate.

Then the train of taxis began to move, and the entire party (which, from a glance out the back window, looked to have expanded by another dozen) made its way uptown to the Plaza Hotel.


When Magnus woke the next morning, the first thing he noticed was the fact that it was much, much, much too bright. Someone really needed to get rid of the sun.

Magnus quickly worked out that the excessive brightness was due to the fact that all the curtains seemed to be missing from the bedroom of his suite. He then noted the four fully dressed (sigh) people sleeping around him on the bed, all oblivious to the sunlight and dead to the world.

The third thing he noticed, perhaps the most puzzling, was the pile of car tires at the foot of the bed.

It took Magnus a few moments and a number of strange contortions to get over the sleepers and out of his bed. There were easily twenty more sleeping and passed-out people all over the living room. The curtains were also missing from the windows of this room, but he could see where they'd all gone. People were using them as blankets and improvised tenting. Alfie alone was awake, sitting on the sofa and looking out at the sunny day miserably.

"Magnus," he groaned. "Kill me, won't you?"

"Why, that's illegal!" Magnus replied. "And you know how I feel about breaking the law. And who are all these people? There weren't this many when I fell asleep."

Alfie shrugged, indicating that the universe was mysterious and nothing would ever be fully understood.

"I mean it," Alfie said. "If you don't want to use that voodoo whatever, just hit me on the head with something. You gotta kill me."

"I'll get you a bracer," Magnus said. "Iced tomato juice and Tabasco, sliced grapefruits, and a plate of scrambled eggs, that's what we need. I'll have room service send up two dozen of each."

He stumbled over a few people to the phone, only to find that he had actually reached for a large, decorative cigarette dispenser. It was possible he was not quite at his best either.

"And coffee," he added, setting this down and picking up the telephone receiver with tremendous dignity. "I will order some of that as well."

Magnus placed the order with room service, who had by now stopped questioning Mr. Bane's unusual needs for things like twenty-four plates of scrambled eggs and "enough coffee to fill one of your larger bathtubs." He joined Alfie on the sofa and watched a few of his new guests turn and groan in their slumber.

"I gotta stop this," Alfie said. "I can't go on like this."

Alfie was clearly one of those people who turned maudlin after a good night out. Somehow, this only made him more attractive.

"It's just a hangover, Alfie."

"It's more than that. See, there's this girl. . . ."

"Ah," Magnus said, nodding. "You know, the quickest way to mend a broken heart is to get right back on the wagon. . . ."

"Not for me," Alfie said. "She was the only one. I make good money. I got everything I want. But I lost her. See . . ."

Oh no. A story. This was perhaps too maudlin and too much for the early hour, but handsome and heartbroken young men could occasionally be indulged. Magnus tried to look attentive. It was hard to do so over the glare of the sun and his desire to go back to sleep, but he tried. Alfie recounted a story about a girl named Louisa, something about a party, and some confusion over a letter, and there was something about a dog and possibly a speedboat. It was either a speedboat or a mountain cabin. Those things are hard to mix up, but it really was much too early for this. Anyway, there was definitely a dog and a letter, and it all ended in disaster and Alfie coming to Magnus's bar every night to drink away his sorrows. As the story lurched to its conclusion, Magnus saw the first of the sleepers on his floor start to show signs of life. Alfie did too, and he leaned in to speak to Magnus more privately.

"Listen, Magnus," Alfie said. "I know you can . . . do things."

This sounded promising.

"I mean . . ." Alfie struggled for a moment. "You can do things that aren't natural. . . ."

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