Demons have been coming for John Constantine for a long time. He always managed to either bargain his way out or send them back to Hell. Recently something had changed – something was scaring them off. He sat alone in a booth staring at the last shot of whisky in the bottle, taking the last drag of a cigarette, and playing with a pile of salt.
An old woman approached. “That’s not good for you, you know.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m a dead man anyway.” Constantine crushed the last of the cigarette in the glass ashtray. “What’s it to you, love?”
She smiled and sat down across from him. “You died years ago, or should have. But here you are. Still smoking, still drinking, and still sending demons back to hell.”
“What’s your point, love?” John began to draw the salt into a circle. He poured out the last shot of whiskey and placed the glass in the circle. The old woman smiled.
She reached across the table and picked up the glass. John watched as she downed the whiskey and then grimaced. “Ugh. I forgot how bad that stuff tasted.”
“You think that’s bad?” John looked at the bottle, raised it to his lips and tipped it back. Setting it back down with a clink, he stared briefly at the label. “You’re right. It’s the cheap stuff.”
“Do you always wallow when you have time off?”
“To be honest, love, I wallow all the time. I just wallow more when I have time off.” He grabbed the salt shaker and fondled it between his fingertips. “You wouldn’t happen to know what’s going on? Why it is that I have, as you put it, time off?”
“Lucifer is looking for you. And no one wants to get in Lucifer’s way.”
“Is that all?” John unscrewed the cap to the salt shaker and poured some in his hand. He was about to toss it at an approaching apparition, when the old woman held out her hand. A bright light shot out of her palm and the apparition vanished.
“Now, where were we?” She smiled as she rested her hands on the table.
“That’s a mighty handy talent you have there.” Constantine spread the salt out on the table. “Who are you, love?”
“I’m the reason you have time off. Think of me as your guardian angel. If you’re ever seriously in a bind, just drop my name.”
“And what would that name be, love?”
“My friends call me Lucy.”