A cab took me from the airport directly to a friend's house. I explained the problem I was having --in very general terms-- and my friend gave me a little love in the form of a 22-caliber Gatling gun that he had built himself. It was a sweet piece of hardware; hand-cranked, but it would pop out .22 LR bullets at over a thousand rounds per minute. And of course there was the highly illegal spring-loaded cranker which I kept in a separate pocket in case something happened and I got picked up by the cops. The last thing I needed right now was to be stuck unarmed in a jail cell.
The gun was big enough that I needed to wear my trench coat to conceal it, but as luck would have it, I look awesome in a trench coat.
Another cab dropped me off right in front of the tattoo parlor, wearing my coolest black trench coat with Gatling gun strapped underneath. The tattoo guy was sitting out front but he gave no sign that he remembered me.
"Hey, thanks for sic'ing that hoodoo on me." I said.
"You're welcome." he answered without looking up.
"That thing wouldn't have attacked me if you hadn't given me the tattoo." I continued.
"I know." he shrugged.
"You know?! You know?! Then why did you give me the tattoo?"
"Thought you'd want to know about the hoodoo."
"Well ... OK, I did."
"Come inside and give me a look at her. See how she doin'."
The old man walked inside and I followed. He motioned at me impatiently and I opened the shirt for him to take a look at the tattoo."
He grinned. "I see she been out to play already. How do you like her?"
"We didn't have a chance to get acquainted," I answered shortly, buttoning my shirt back up. "We were both kind of busy."
"I figure." the old man barked out a harsh laugh. "How does a thousand dollars sound?"
I stared at the old man for a moment and then without a word I took out my checkbook and starting writing him a check. As I was writing I told him, "I ran into that hoodoo twice."
"You run into it? I don't think so."
I looked up in surprise, "Why do you think the cat came out? The hoodoo was big, about the size of a small couch. Black. With tentacles that it could shoot out."
"Humph." the old man gave me a derisive snort. "Solid black like the cat? Hard to see?"
"That weren't no hoodoo, it were a sending, jes like the cat."
"The hoodoo is in Hell, it couldn't come its own self so it inflicted the sending on you."
"Yes, Hell, boy. Don't you believe in Hell?"
"Well, what if I don't? If the hoodoo is in Hell, how is it following me?"
"Hell is all around us, boy. There's demons walking the same streets we walk but we can't see 'em or touch 'em. And they can't touch us either."
"It's like another world, sharing the same space as ours?"
"No! This is the World. That other place is Hell."
I bent back to the check for a moment, finished it and carefully tore it out. "So they can't touch us but they can send these ... sendings."
"OK." I wondered if the old man really did know something about the other world that my father had discovered, or if this was just some sort of magical mumbo jumbo. "I killed that sending with a nail gun," I told the old man.
He laughed at me. "Sendings ain't so easy to kill, boy, you just squeezed it out of the World and sent it back to Limbo."
"Limbo? You mean Hell?"
"No! If I meant Hell I would have said Hell!" Sendings come from Limbo. Limbo is like Hell, surrounding us, but there's no demons there." The old man held out his arm which was covered in tattoos. A beautiful black and green serpent tattoo wound about his forearm. As I watched, the serpent began to writhe and expand, its colors darkening, until it was a black-mercury rope circling the old man's arm.
The thing crawled snake-like down to his hand and then dropped on the floor where the old man put a foot on it. His foot only covered about half of the serpent, so I was able to see as he put pressure on it how the snake suddenly vanished, just like the monster had done.
I looked up in amazement. "Do all of your tattoos do that?" I asked.
"No, different tattoos, different magics," the man said. "But did you see how when I stepped down it kind of squirted away?"
"No. It just vanished."
"Well, it vanished because there weren't room in the World for it any more. If you had the Sight, you could see how it never really was in the world. It was kind of just poking into the world from Limbo like when you poke your finger into a balloon. I stepped on it and sort of pushed it out of the balloon."
I dropped down on an old folding chair. It creaked ominously under my weight but I was too distracted to notice. "I killed my sending with a nail gun. I put forty nails into it. That's not like stepping on something."
"Sure it is." he assured me. "You just got to put enough world stuff into the space where the specter is that it can't be there any more. You can do it pushing hard on a big space or by pushing a pointed thing deep into it. Or, I guess, pushing lots of little pointy things into it."
"So the hoodoo that's after me, he can see me from Hell when he's nearby in space?"
"Ayup," the old man said. Then he gestured at a place to my left, "Bugger's right over thar."
With an effort I resisted looking over my shoulder. "He's watching me right now?"
Now I looked over my shoulder. Of course I saw nothing. I was beginning to wish that I had never come to talk to the old man.