The barman looked up as the man with the coat entered and his eyes opened wide. He had seen ragged people come in from the alleys before, but this man looked like he had been raised from the dead.
His face was ashen, dark shadows were under his eyes and he moved erratically. Without thinking the barman got the bottle of grinnitch and poured the man a drink.
‘On the house,’ he said.
The man smiled gratefully and took a careful sip as he hoisted himself onto one of the stools by the bar. He sighed and closed his eyes as the strong liquor went down his throat. He felt better immediately. The will to fight returned to him and he knew he had to fight, with or without the help of the priest.
The door to the establishment opened and a policeman came in, looking around in disdain before walking over to the bar.
‘How can I help you?’ the barman asked.
‘We are looking for a killer,’ the policeman said. ‘A young, rich, woman has been murdered up town and all traces point to this area.’
The man with the coat frowned. He had not been away from the alleys. Had one of the well to do also taken a piece of clothing from the container?
‘Then you can arrest almost all of the people here,’ the barman laughed softly.
The policeman didn’t laugh, but looked quite seriously. ‘This was no normal murder,’ he growled. ‘The woman’s body has been torn apart, we found pieces of her all over the apartment. It was one bloody mess.’
Te barman and the man with the coat grimaced as they imagined the scene.
‘Why come here?’ the man with the coat asked. ‘Nobody here leaves the alleys. I think you should look in the rich man’s world.’
The policeman looked at the man and at his coat in particular. ‘That’s a fine piece of clothing you’ve got there.’
‘Yeah and I wish I had never touched it,’ the man said, taking another swig of his grinitch.
‘How come?’ the policeman asked. ‘I thought you people liked good clothes.’
‘We do, to stay dry and warm, but this piece is bewitched,’ the man said.
The policeman smiled, looking at the glass in the man’s hand. ‘Bewitched, you say?’