I pull hard on the lever.
Coulda been the simple flick of a switch or the tic-tic of a mouse, but when you're gouging the truth out of a bastard, you need to deploy the Full Contraption.
The twin woks riveted to Evil's ears erect his muttonchops into a thousand volt frizzscape of submission.
'I'm yours,' he drawls, his involuntary slump uncoupling his pince-nez.
I snicker, and do that mortuary thing with his face: a smile, a frown, tongue out. And when he falls off his seat, I pump his limp body full of Antihokum Serum.
‘So tell me, what’s your biggest secret? Is it true you’re just some fat guy from a backstreet liquor store? Some loser hiding behind the anonymity of the internet pretending to be something he ain’t?’
Evil’s eyes roll in their sockets like strangely sentient oysters. ‘Actually,’ he slurs, ‘I’m Satan.’
I freeze. Sure, the guys I drug come round sometimes, but they never say weird stuff like that. I tip the rest of the bottle down his throat.
‘Satan’, he repeats again, ‘I’m satin’ my thirst with a Bud when this guy marches into my office demanding I look at his manuscript...’
Suddenly I’m all ears (though not literally, of course). ‘Go on.’
‘He looks cute, kinda debonair, and I can’t resist him. And his words, so poignant, so perfect. We agree a deal there and then. For books, for movies, and those classy cook-in sauces Paul Newman had.’
‘So who’s the guy?’
Evil stares goggle-eyed at the empty serum bottle. For a second, I think maybe he’ll spill the beans but his face goes floppy as a bloodhound’s ears and he passes out on me.
So I pound the streets wondering.
Gaiman? Pynchon? Asimov? King?
I tellya, it grips like a...