Cordelia and Gonzo
Cordelia Chase shook her head, glaring at the building in front of her. "I'm supposed to talk to someone who lives here? My first apartment was in better shape than this!"
The paper in her hand still had the same address, the one that unfortunately matched this miserable, stinky building in front of her. There were boarded over windows on all three stories, and a few that still had panes of dirty glass. The brickwork had been patched multiple times in multiple colors, and had a thick layer of graffiti covering the first story. Gutters rattled against the walls, and there were little white feathers drifting along the building.
"Why feathers?" Cordelia muttered, taking the stairs one careful step at a time. Considering her experiences in Sunnydale and working with Angel, she decided that she might not want an answer to that question. They were too big for pigeon feathers, and she didn't know of any demons with palm length white feathers, so she might be safe.
Of course the apartment that she needed was all the way on the third floor. The stairs creaked and groaned, and she was certain that some of the boards moved. Bare light bulbs dangled from the ceiling at irregular intervals.
The weirdest part had to be the chickens. There were white chickens perched everywhere. They sat along the walls, with little nests made of feathers, dust and old papers. Several perched on the banisters. And they were watching her. In a creepy, Hellmouthy sort of way, Cordelia found herself regretting the grilled chicken salad that she'd eaten for lunch.
The edges of the door had smoke stains.
"Wesley is so getting maimed for this. First a pond beside a shack, inhabited by a talking giant frog, and now this place, filled with chickens," Cordelia hissed before she knocked.
Inside, there was a loud 'cluck!' followed by a more normal voice calling "Just a moment!"
Near her stomach, Cordelia felt as if something inside had just became something outside of her body, possibly sitting beside one of her designer shoes. A quick glance at the floor told her two things - first, none of her internal parts had turned external, and two, the floor was filthy. This was going to be another one of those days, she just knew it.
The door rattled as several locks were unfastened, lower than Cordelia would have placed hers. Those sounds only intensified that dropped organ feeling in her gut. It almost wasn't a surprise when the door opened, revealing a blue creature that wasn't even remotely human.
It was a bit taller than Kermit, and it - he was dressed in a ruffled shirt and tight pants, with a helmet tucked under one arm with a shooting star in fiery sparkles over the side. The long pale blue nose curled under at the end, and there were two protruding eyes under wild feathery eyebrows.
"You're Gonzo, formerly part of the Muppet Theater?" Cordelia stated, not a shred of doubt in her mind. Not about this being the Gonzo Kermit knew, at least. She had no idea at all what he was. She wasn’t certain that she wanted to know.
“Yeah,” the blue creature put the helmet on a small table, next to a photograph of him, waving from the mouth of a cannon. The background read ‘Gonzo the Great.’ He touched the frame, smiling. “But I have no idea who you are, or why you’re here. You aren’t from the Health Department, are you? And we had those structural repairs finished last week!”
It was almost like she had a miniature vision, seeing a bare room with that cannon, half a dozen chickens, broken plaster walls, and a haze of smoke, Gonzo shouting ‘light me!’ before the cannon roared and sent him into a wall. Unlike the visions sent for Angel, there was no pain involved, no sense of the future. This was either something that had already happened, or her own imagination.
Forcing the images aside, Cordelia replied, “My name is Cordelia Chase, and I’m part of Angel Investigations. We’re a private detective agency, and we’re currently investigating the death of Kent Lanomer. He was the acting agent of…”
“I know who he is,” Gonzo interrupted. “He wouldn’t sign Camilla and the girls, and he called me a no-talent blue weirdo freak with a cannon fetish!”
The question slipped out before Cordelia could stop it, “Camilla and the girls?”
One blue hand waved to the side, indicating a chicken, “Camilla. The girls are here and there, keeping an eye on the building. You can’t always trust the neighbors. Or the tenants.”
“Tenants?” For a moment, Cordelia wondered where that had come from.
“I own the building. It was really the only way to be allowed to have the cannon inside, and if I left it outside, it would get stolen.” Gonzo shrugged.
Cordelia could only nod as she tried to process the idea that this strange blue weirdo was the owner of this run down building, and apparently had tenants. He knew who Kent Lanomer had been, and his chickens had wanted an acting agent. Chicken actresses. Her mind boggled.
“If you have tenants, why dos this place look so… so…” Cordelia struggled for the right words.
“Half of them don’t care, and the other half would rather not be found by certain types. I don’t rent out to people who are really nasty, and most of them are pretty decent once you get to know them. Besides, you wouldn’t believe the trouble I have getting people in to do repairs around here. We’re lucky that Sweetums knows a bit about masonry.” Gonzo picked up a bag of croutons, and ate one of them.
Cordelia blinked, half of her wondering who or what ‘Sweetums’ was, and the other half certain that she didn’t want to know. “That makes sense.”
“So, how’d Lanomer die? Did Piggy finally karate chop him through a wall after he made one too many remarks about her figure? He kept trying to tell her she might want to diet,” Gonzo shook his head. “Personally, I think she looks fantastic, and even I know that you don’t nag someone with two black belts about her weight.”
“I haven’t met… Piggy, did you say?” Cordelia shook her head. If he wasn’t going to talk about someone’s weight, then why on earth would he use a nick-name like that for her? “But someone… someone cut him into lots of little pieces and individually boxed them. It made the papers.”
Gonzo’s jaw dropped. “Little pieces? Individually boxed. Please, please tell me he didn’t turn the Count down for acting? I remember hearing a few things about that guy. I still don’t see how Kermit can get along so well with him.”
“Individually boxed and topped with a wax seal,” Cordelia shivered. “It was messy.”
“Oh no… the Count’s off his meds again. The Count’s off his medication and wants to be an actor. The world’s gone mad. Mad, I tell you!” Gonzo ran out of the room with a flurry of footsteps. Poking his head back into the doorway, he called, “It was nice meeting you, Ms Chase. But I’ve got to set up some defenses against a crazy vampire with a thing for numbers. Camilla can show you out.”
“A crazy vampire with a thing for numbers?” Cordelia shook her head, rising from the faded blue chair. “I knew there was something very wrong about that giant demon frog and his shack by the pond. Angel gets that one. I refuse to go talking to any more vampires.”
She navigated the creaky stairways, ignoring the dangling light bulbs. “Chickens and cannons. Demon frogs who are friends with demented vampires. Blue weirdos. I hate this case.”
She took a final glance at the building and shook her head. “This place is crazy.”
She decided right then that she didn’t want to talk to anyone else that tied in to that Muppet Theater. It would be too dangerous to either her health or her sanity. Maybe both.
End Muppet Contracts 5: Cordelia & Gonzo.