She had a beagle's nose for conspiracy but in this instance, couldn't figure out what species of threat he represented. He looked to have stepped straight out of a vat of creamed deceit and was dripping it all over the floor. He looked all mothership and nice-day-for-an-exorcism to her.

"I don't know what the flavor of the day is, bucko, and I'm not particularly keen on doing the taste test," she said, listening to what he was murmuring, not so much the words but the cadence, like Revolution Number Nine played backwards at 78 speed. Watching him soundlessly smack his lips, she kept one hand on the derringer strapped to her garter belt, the other on her chin, trying to appear intelligent.