Even in fast times like these, Magnus could not instantly reopen his bar. He had to keep up some pretense of normalcy. A few days, maybe a week. Maybe he would even clean it up the mundie way, by hiring people to come with buckets and wood and nails. Maybe he would even do it himself. It would probably do him good.
So Magnus rolled up his sleeves and set to work, collecting broken glass, throwing broken chairs and tables into a pile. He got a mop and pushed along puddles of mixed booze and dirt and splinters. After a few hours of this, he grew tired and bored and snapped his fingers, setting the whole place to rights.
Aldous's words still preyed on his mind. Something should be done. Someone should be told. Someone more responsible and interested than him should take over this concern. Which, of course, meant only one group of people.
Shadowhunters would not come to speakeasies. They respected the mundane law against alcohol (always so tedious with their "The law is hard but it is the law"). This meant that Magnus had to take a trip to the Upper East Side, to the Institute.
The grandeur of the Institute never failed to impress him - the way it towered high and mighty above everything else, timeless and unmoving in its Gothic disapproval of all that was modern and changeable. Downworlders could not normally enter the Institute through the main door - the Sanctuary was their entrance. But Magnus was no ordinary Downworlder, and his connection to the Shadowhunters was long and well-known.
This didn't mean that he got a warm reception. The housekeeper, Edith, said nothing as she admitted him except, "Wait here." He was left in the foyer, where he eyed the fusty decorations with a critical eye. The Shadowhunters did love their burgundy wallpaper and their rose-shaped lamps and their heavy furnishings. Time would never move quickly here.
"Come on," Edith said, returning.
Magnus followed her down the hall to a reception room, where Edgar Greymark, the head of the Institute, stood in front of a bookstand.
"Edgar," Magnus said, nodding. "I see you've bowed to the pressure and installed a telephone."
Magnus pointed to a telephone sitting on a small table in a dark corner, as if it was being punished for existing.
"It's a dammed nuisance. Have you heard the noise it makes? But you can speak to the other Institutes easily and get ice delivered, so . . ."
He let the book he was reading close heavily.
"What brings you to see us, Magnus?" he said. "I understand you've been running a drinking establishment. Is that correct?"
"Quite correct," Magnus said with a smile. "Though it currently might be more useful as a pile of kindling."
Edgar didn't ask for an explanation of that remark, and Magnus didn't offer one.
"You are aware that the sale of liquor is currently against the law," Edgar went on, "but I suppose that's why you enjoy it."
"Everyone should have a hobby or two," Magnus said. "Mine just happen to include illegal trade, drinking, and carousing. I've heard of worse."
"We tend not to have time for hobbies."
Shadowhunters. Always better than you.
"I'm here because I've heard things in this drinking establishment of mine, things about the Downworld that you might want to know about."
Magnus recounted everything he could think of - everything Aldous had said, including his odd demeanor. Edgar listened, his expression never changing.
"You're basing this on the ramblings of Aldous Nix?" he said, when Magnus had finished. "Everyone knows Aldous isn't himself these days."
"I've lived longer than you," Magnus said. "My experience is wide, and I've learned to trust my instincts."
"We do not act on instinct," Edgar said. "Either you have information, or you do not."
"Considering our long history, Edgar, I think that perhaps you should act on what I am saying."
"What would you have us do?"
Magnus resented having to spell everything out. He had come to the Shadowhunters with information. It wasn't up to him to explain precisely how they should interpret it.
"Speak to him, perhaps?" Magnus said. "Do what you do best - keep an eye out."
"We are always watchful, Magnus." There was a slight edge of sarcasm to Edgar's tone that Magnus really did not appreciate. "We will bear all of this in mind. Thank you for coming to see us. Edith will show you out."
He rang a bell, and the sour-faced Edith appeared in an instant to take the Downworlder out of her house.
Before going to the Institute, Magnus had been resolved to do nothing. Just pass on the information and get on with his endless life. But Edgar's dismissal of his concerns motivated him. Aldous said the Hotel Dumont was on 116th Street, which wasn't far at all. That was just up in Italian Harlem, perhaps a twenty-minute walk away. Magnus set his course northward. New York was a place that changed very abruptly from neighborhood to neighborhood. The Upper East Side was moneyed and dignified to the point of pain. But as he went up, the houses got smaller, the driving more aggressive, and the horse carts more frequent. Above 100th Street, the children got more boisterous, playing stickball in the street and chasing one another as mothers shouted through windows.
The feeling on these streets was altogether more pleasant. There was more of a family atmosphere, with good smells coming from the windows. And it was nice to see a neighborhood where not everyone had white skin. Harlem was the center of black culture and the best music in the entire world. It was the hottest, most cutting-edge place to be.
Which, he supposed, was why someone had plopped down this grand monstrosity of a hotel. The Dumont didn't quite fit in with the brownstones and the shops and restaurants, but the Dumont didn't look like the kind of place that cared if its neighbors liked it or not. It sat back a bit, on a small side street that may very well have been custom-made for it. It had a great colonnaded front with dozens of sash windows, all with drawn curtains. A pair of heavy metal doors were firmly closed.
Magnus sat in the soda fountain across the street and decided to watch and wait. What he was waiting for, he wasn't sure. Something. Anything. He wasn't really sure that anything would happen at all, but he was now set on his course. The first hour or so was deadly dull. He read a newspaper to kill time. He ate a sardine sandwich and had some coffee. He used his power to retrieve a lost ball for some kids across the street, who had no idea he was doing so. He was almost ready to give up when a parade of extremely expensive automobiles began to roll up to the front of the hotel. It was like seeing a showing of the grandest cars in the world - a Rolls-Royce, a Packard, a few Pierce-Arrows, an Isotta Fraschini, three Mercedes-Benzes, and a Duesenberg - all polished to such a high degree that Magnus could hardly see them in the dazzling glow of the sunset. He blinked his watering eyes and observed driver after driver opening doors and releasing the cars' passengers.
These were most certainly wealthy people. The rich bought wonderful clothes you recognized. The richest had their people go to Paris and buy the entire new collection that no one outside of the fashion house had seen. These people belonged to the latter group. They were all, Magnus noted, between forty and sixty years of age. The men were all bearded and hatted, the women not quite young or free enough for the petal-pink Chanels and the ethereal chiffon Vionnets they had acquired. They all walked quickly into the hotel, without conversing or stopping to admire the sunset. They looked sufficiently self-important and grim to suggest that they could probably have come together to try to raise a demon. (People who tried to raise demons always looked like that.) But what troubled Magnus the most was that they were clearly seeking Aldous's help in this. Aldous had powers and knowledge that Magnus couldn't even begin to guess at.
And so Magnus waited. About an hour passed. The chauffeurs brought the cars around in a row, and one by one, the group got into them and rolled back into the New York night. There were no demons. Nothing. Magnus left his stool and began walking back down to the Plaza, trying to make sense of it all.
Maybe it had all been nothing. Aldous took a dim view of mundanes. Perhaps he was simply playing with this group of supposedly important people. There were worse amusements than toying with a bunch of deluded and stupid millionaires, taking their money and telling them you were going to do magic for them. You could make a fortune in no time at all and make your way to the French Riviera and not lift a finger again for ten years. Maybe twenty.
But Aldous was not the kind of warlock who played those games, and ten or twenty years - those weren't even measures of time he counted.
Maybe Aldous had simply gotten weird. It happened. Magnus wondered if, hundreds of years from now, the same thing would happen to him. Maybe he would also hole himself up in a hotel and spend time with some rich people, doing who knew what. Was that really so different from what he was doing now? Hadn't he spent the morning clearing garbage from his mundane bar?
It was time to go home.
Magnus had lost interest in his bar somewhat. His planned closure of a few days stretched into a week, then two, then three. With Mr. Dry's temporarily closed, a few of Magnus's regulars found themselves with nowhere to go. So, of course, they simply came to Magnus's hotel room every night. First it was just one or two, but within a week there was a constant stream of people. This included the hotel management, who politely suggested that Mr. Bane "might like to take his friends and associates elsewhere." Magnus replied, equally politely, that these were not friends or associates. Usually they were strangers. This did not make the management very happy.