Gluttony Bay is the penultimate Sin du Jour affair, Matt Wallace's funny foodie series about the New York firm that caters to the paranormal, which began with Envy of Angels.
Welcome to Gluttony Bay High Security Supernatural Prison. We value your patronage. For your entertainment this evening, we are delighted to welcome the world's most renowned paranormal culinary experts.
And on the menu: You.
Sin du Jour
Book 1: Envy of Angels
Book 2: Lustlocked
Book 3: Pride's Spell
Book 4: Idle Ingredients
Book 5: Greedy Pigs
Book 6: Gluttony Bay
Book 7: Taste of Wrath
About the Author
Matt Wallace is the Hugo Award-winning author of the Sin du Jour series, Rencor: Life in Grudge City, and co-host of the Ditch Diggers podcast with Mur Lafferty. He's penned over one hundred short stories, several of them award winners, as well as writing for film and television. Before retiring to write full-time, Matt traveled the world as a professional wrestler, hand-to-hand combat and self-defense instructor. He now lives and works in Los Angeles alongside his wife, Nikki.
Read an Excerpt
The courtyard outside may be covered in snow, but Jett Hollinshead has transformed Sin du Jour's lobby into a tropical paradise. Living palm trees potted in decorative stands mask most of the white walls, and a wave machine fills the space with the seagull-song and wind-and-wave chorus of the ocean. A rear projector has transformed the ceiling veneer into deep blue sky welcoming a brilliant morning sun through perfectly formed clouds. The rest of the space has been filled with wicker lounge furniture upholstered in nautical colors.
The chefs of Sin du Jour, including Bronko, have all donned Hawaiian floral resort shirts for the occasion. The members of Stocking & Receiving abstained, although Ryland, their resident alchemist, already half-unconscious in a cabana lounge chair, agreed to sloppily adorn a pineapple-encumbered Tommy Bahama creation. The chefs have also taken machetes to several dozen coconuts in aid of the colorful drinks being passed around in their shells.
Jett has finished off the theme by arming Moon's new roommate: a monstrous incarnation of Cupid recently defected from Hell, who has now traded in its harp for a ukulele.
The cherubic demon expat is surprisingly adept at playing soothing island chords.
Almost the entire Sin du Jour family has gathered to welcome back Pacific and Mr. Mirabel, their intrepid veteran servers and busboys, both of whom were released from government custody the night before. They were scheduled to arrive in New York the following morning, and should be crossing into Long Island City any moment.
Jett was released a week ago from a women's holding facility in West Virginia. All she's said of her post-inauguration experience is that her cell desperately needed a coat of mint-green paint.
Of Darren there's been not a single report. Not even Bronko knows where he is or what's been done to him since the night he attempted to assassinate Enzo Consoné, now President of the Sceadu.
Darren isn't the only one from whom there's been no word, even if he's the one who the crew is most concerned about. Ritter has been on sabbatical since that same night, and though his sudden exit seems to have Bronko's unspoken approval, not even his own team has heard from him in weeks. The subject is never raised in mixed company, however — especially around Lena. The very mention of Ritter's name is still enough to send her steaming from the room on juggernaut autopilot.
White Horse and Little Dove have also been out of touch for longer than Bronko cares to think about. As far as he knows, they're still somewhere in the Southwest, on whatever personal family business took them away in the first place. He was never clear on the reason but knew enough not to pry.
Bronko has spent all morning frying and mashing up plantains along with fresh garlic, sea salt, and oil in an authentic pilón he brought back from a trip to Puerto Rico. He tasked Lena with turning the finest pork belly into perfectly fried chicharrón, while James, though still operating with only one functioning arm, crews a pot of rich, house-made chicken broth. Both ingredients will finish the perfectly formed spheres Bronko has fashioned from his plantain mixture. Together, they've all made enough mofongo (Mr. Mirabel's favorite native dish) to cater a legal cockfight on Saturday night in San Juan.
Dorsky and the rest of the line are responsible for preparing Pacific's favorite dishes. Tenryu, the kitchen's often underutilized (particularly if you believe his constant inaudible grumbling) master sushi chef, has filled taco shells with luscious hamachi, diced jalapeño, and micro-cilantro, and topped each with three equal, symmetrical dollops of crème fraîche.
Dorsky, in his very important role as sous chef and Bronko's right hand, and Rollo, in his equally important capacity as Dorsky's loyal toady, drove to the corner store to purchase Funyuns and Oatmeal Cream Pies in bulk.
To Dorsky's credit, he hasn't once complained.
In the main kitchen, Lena is cleaning her knives and watching Bronko plate his thirtieth ball of mashed, fried plantains. He places the plate on a prep station lined with the others, where they'll await finishing with the chicken broth.
"What's on your mind, Tarr?" he asks without a break in his plating or concentration. "Or what isn't on your mind, as I imagine it's a shorter list?"
Lena glances over his shoulder at James, alternately tending to his broth and cleaning up his station, as much the worker with one arm as most of the line is with two.
"Is this really the time for a party, Chef?" she asks Bronko quietly.
"It may well be the last reason we have to celebrate something for a long time," he calmly replies. "In my experience, you take such opportunities as they lay."
"Not all of us are in a celebrating mood, Chef."
"All the more reason, then."
Bronko looks up from his current plating, the hard stare of his dark, weathered eyes silencing her.
"Tarr, we got no reason to assume Vargas is any worse off than Jett or Pacific and Mo, and they're all fine. We'll get him back. I promise you. In the meantime, drivin' yerself and me crazy is what I'd call counterproductive. Savvy?"
Lena takes a deep breath, holds it, and attempts to expel every alternative reply when she exhales.
The clacking of stiletto heels announces Jett's presence before she rounds the archway into the kitchen, shouting, "They're here! They're here! The taxi just pulled up! Quick, everyone to the lobby!"
Jett punctuates her statement by clapping her hands twice, thunderously, and even Lena jumps at the sound.
"Yes, ma'am!" Bronko calls out obediently, throwing a wink at Tarr.
Lena wants to smile, but she just can't.
Instead, she calls out to James. "The broth will keep, James. Let's go."
He nods, in the same silent malaise that's possessed him since he awoke after being stabbed through the shoulder by the love of his life.
Lena frowns. She's tried talking to him several times, and all it has elicited are a brief, haunted smile and an empty reassurance he's all right.
In the lobby, everyone save Ryland, who no longer has the ability, stands at the ready. Bronko, Lena, and James join them. Hara, towering two heads above even Bronko and Dorsky, holds aloft a gleaming welcome home banner Jett had professionally printed. Moon sits beside Cupid, his iPhone playing island accompaniment to the former demon assassin's ukulele chords.
As they join the crowd, Lena locks eyes with Cindy for a brief moment. Lena again tries to smile, but even if she could make it happen, Cindy's stiff single nod in reply would eradicate the expression. Things have been tense between them since Lena confronted Ritter and quite literally beat him up over his role in Darren's corruption by Allensworth. Cindy's loyalty to Ritter is an absolute, and even if she does acknowledge his fault, it does nothing to warm her toward Lena for driving him away from Sin du Jour and his team.
Pacific enters the lobby like a gentle breeze, as is his way. He's swimming in an oversized parka, his mop of blond hair tied back into a ponytail, which is unusual for him. He's even acquired an uncustomary amount of barely visible beard scruff on his cheeks and jaw. It must be a side effect of weeks of prison grooming.
Pacific has not, however, lost a millimeter of that perpetual easy smile.
"'Sup, brahs?" he says.
Any individual words are swallowed in the cacophony of greetings that follows. Bronko is the first to swallow Pacific in a bear hug, while the rest crowd around the duo to welcome the kid back affectionately.
"You look good, boy," Bronko says after he's released Pacific and the voices around them have died down.
Lena is the first one to really absorb the fact Pacific appears to have arrived all alone.
"Where's Mr. Mirabel?" she asks Pacific.
It's such a stark deviation from his usual self that the briefest of flickers in Pacific's smile might as well be agonized sobbing.
"Mo. Yeah. Mo, he ... he's gone on to that big-ass eternal rave in the sky."
They all fall silent, with their faces flat and wiped clean of their previous joy.
"Wait, what?" Lena presses.
"He died," Pacific says, reaching into the pockets of his parka and removing a joint and a Bic lighter. "A few nights ago, in the cell we were sharing. I was with him. No worries, brah."
Pacific sparks the joint and takes a few probing tokes.
"Oh, no," Nikki says, clutching her chest. "Not Mr. Mirabel."
"What did they do?" Lena demands, her words far more accusation than question.
Pacific shakes his head emphatically. "It wasn't like that, soldier. I swear. They didn't do anything to us. They fed us on the reg, brought us water whenever we asked. I even smoked out with a couple of the night guards. They were crunchy dudes, mostly."
"Then what happened, Pac?" Bronko asks, far more gently.
Pacific draws a long bomb off his joint and exhales gratefully towards the sky-camouflaged ceiling. It's the first and only time Bronko hasn't stopped him from toking in the office on sight.
"He woke up one night hacking worse than usual," Pacific recalls. "Just coughin' and coughin'. He couldn't get any air. We cranked his oxy tank all the way up. Didn't help. I guess ol' Mo's lungs just swelled shut on him, finally. He always said it would happen."
No one seems to know what to say to that, not even Bronko.
Somewhere in the back of the crowd, Dorsky disappears down the main hall off the lobby.
Pacific reaches inside his parka, digging around for several moments as if the interior were an entire junk closet. His hand finally emerges, holding several sheets of rolling papers upon which words and numbers have been scrawled in pencil by an obviously shaky hand.
Pacific offers them to Bronko.
"Mo wanted his back pay to go to his kids, along with his savings. He wrote down all the pertinents and whatnot and asked me to give them to you, boss. He knew you'd handle that business."
Bronko accepts the makeshift will and testament gladly, nodding. "O' course I will. Whatever he wanted."
"Mr. Mirabel had children?" Nikki asks.
Pacific shrugs. "I guess. He never said much about 'em, or about the past, really. I don't guess they talked much. I don't guess Mo was much of a dad back in the day. I think he felt bad about that, 's why he never talked about it."
"He was a good dad to you," Nikki insists.
Pacific tries to laugh, but it comes out all wrong and he quickly abandons the gesture.
"Nah," he says. "Mo was my buddy. He was —"
The next word is lost under a wave of convulsions as Pacific, the untouchable Zen soul they've witnessed walk through carnage and chaos unscathed time and again, breaks down before them all. The tears roll over his cheeks, impossibly thick streams running down his small face as his head half-disappears into the collar of his parka.
Nikki, the breaking of her heart drawn on her face, rushes forward and practically engulfs Pacific in her embrace. He clings to her and cries into her neck for several moments.
Somewhere in the background, a lone ukulele continues to strum along. Several distressed heads turn in its direction, and Moon quickly slaps at Cupid's hands to still their playing.
"Sorry," he says to the party at large, adding quickly, "This is a bummer."
"He was a cool old man," Cindy agrees.
Pacific, more composed, tilts his face up from the crook of her neck to regard Bronko.
"Mo told me to tell you thanks, boss," he says. "He said workin' here was the best time of his whole life."
"How could he say that?" Lena asks in genuine disbelief, near tears herself. "After everything that's happened to us —"
"He was just a li'l old Puerto Rican man from Bed-Stuy," Pacific reminds her in his unruffled way. "He didn't have any friends or family. He worked in a cigar store till he couldn't breathe the air no more. He would've died alone in a rat-hole apartment without us, years ago prolly. But here? Here, he got to ... brah, he blew up the Presidential meat puppet in front of a million people!"
"There weren't a million people at that inauguration," Cindy chimes in. "Not even close."
"Still!" Pacific insists. "Mo got to be in a battle between demon clans from hell. He got to go to Hollywood and party with celebs and he was almost burned alive except three tons of vanilla frosting fell from the ceiling. A fucked-up merman puked all over him in front of dragons made of fire and a bunch of Japanese dudes made of gnomes. He met an angel. He got to meet an actual, real angel. He got to know there was more out there than anyone else ever knows."
Pacific looks directly into Lena's eyes, and she feels herself humbled in a way she can't recall.
"Lena, brah, all the bad stuff that happens here happens out there in the normal world all the time. And worse. Way worse. Mo saw all of that too. He saw enough to know we're lucky because we get to see the other side, the magic and the shiny stuff, and it's real."
"Wonders," Nikki offers in a quiet voice.
Pacific nods even more emphatically. "Maybe they didn't make Mo's life worth it, but they made his goin' out worth it, and he needed that. More than anything, I think. And he was grateful for it."
Dorsky returns to the lobby with a bottle of whiskey and a tray filled with enough shot glasses for everyone in the lobby. He sets it down on the reception desk and begins pouring a finger into each glass.
No one says anything, not even Lena. They all silently and instinctively rise and gather around reception. Cindy drags Ryland to his feet and forces him along with her. Lena looks up at Bronko uncertainly, and he nods, motioning her to join the others.
Dorsky hands out shot glasses until everyone is holding his or her own, him included.
Bronko is the first to raise his glass.
"Mauricio Mirabel," he begins. "Mo to his friends. He was kitchen staff. In my day, we were taught that means family, however fucked-up and dysfunctional that family may be."
Most of the line laughs, even if it's fleeting.
"I ain't gonna pretend I knew Mo like you did, Pac," Bronko continues, "but I know one thing about the man for sure. He had no fear left. I saw that every gig we worked. Mo lived with death every day. It was part of him. And he knew it. And knowing that meant he was free to live life. I mean really live it. In the end, to my mind, that's the only real freedom there is. And I see a grace in that. There was grace in Mo."
Bronko looks to Pacific, nodding slightly.
Pacific raises his shot glass. "To Mo! Party eternal, brah!"
The rest of them toast Mr. Mirabel heartily, knocking back their fiery drinks.
In the aftermath, letting the whiskey sting their throats, everyone seems to turn inward, reflecting on mortality through their own lens.
Bronko is the first to break the silence. "Well, now, I guess what we have on our hands here is a wake. Anybody else for eatin' and drinkin' their feelings?"
There are no dissenters, and the smell of mofongo wafting from the main kitchen is still undeniably intoxicating.
"Tarr, you up for service?" Bronko asks Lena.
She nods, slamming her glass down on the reception desk.
"Take the opportunities as they lay, right?"
"You bet, Chef," Bronko assures her.
And despite the black news, despite the specter of death hanging over the affair, it will be one of the last truly good times for the Sin du Jour crew as the makeshift family they are, feasting and laughing and crying and talking together.
It will also be the last time they all see each other alive.
FAR FROM HOME
Anywhere else in the country, a man with the lower body of a goat performing the Brazilian martial art of capoeira would undoubtedly draw the wrong kind of attention to the hidden world of the supernatural.
That's why such fights are held in New Jersey. Everything is legal in New Jersey.
A boxing ring has been erected on the dance floor of the Schuetzen Park Ballroom in North Bergen. It's a dimly lit, private affair (although the only invitation required is that you know the event is happening). The crowd is an even mix of humans and nonhumans. Being not far from the dry green expanse of the Pine Barrens, a lot of the audience is wee folk, mostly Scottish and Irish imports from the days of buckle hats and leaky sailboats.
Dozens of Alven water fairies encased in bubbles float above the crowd, enjoying a bird's-eye view of the action. There's a group of Chinese businessmen who are actually composed of several hundred Gnomi interlinked together and wearing pieces of each visitor's veneer. They all come to bet on the fights, some with hard currency, some betting magic in exchange for hard currency, or vice versa.
The Sceadu frown on such events but generally ignore them as long as the right people (or non-people) receive the appropriate consideration.
It's past eleven p.m. when the referee steps to the middle of the ring to begin the next battle. He's a goblin who was a big television star in the 1970s, until he ran afoul of the Goblin King. His punishment was the most severe in the goblin world; he was cursed to age like a normal human. Forty years later, you can scarcely see the devastatingly beautiful creature that once existed beneath several layers of wrinkles and fat and grey.
Excerpted from "Gluttony Bay"
Copyright © 2017 Matt Wallace.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
FAR FROM HOME,
THE NEXUS OF SPIDERS AND SPIRITS,
BRING HITHER THE FATTED CALF, AND . . .,
ONE WILL NOT COME BACK,
THE FUTURE IN THIRTY MINUTES OR LESS,
FLOCK OF SEAGULLS,
SINS OF THE MORNING,
EPILOGUE: DESERT RIDER,
About the Author,
Also by Matt Wallace,