Joe looked into Agnes’ deep green eyes. They reminded him of the colour of the wildfire on the Game of Thrones TV series. Her red hair was like fire and as wild as the night. She looked like a witch, except, she was covered in tattoos like one of his mom’s mates who worked at the local tattoo parlour.
Her name was Shandi, ‘with an “I” not a “y”‘ and she was a self-confessed strident feminist. She was always telling his mom to leave his shitdad. That was the only thing that Joe like about her, because, in that she was right; his mom would be better off without his shitdad.
Joe prayed for the day that his mom left him, except, unlike Shandi, he knew deep down that his mom wouldn’t change and that she’d still be a useless mother with or without his shitdad. He loved his mom, but she really wasn’t cut-out to be a mother.
Besides, he’d seen Shandi and his shitdad snogging, and that had made Joe realise that Shandi wasn’t really looking out for his mother. Her concern was more like self-interest. Whilst he hated his shitdad, he didn’t want his mom to be hurt, not like that. His shitdad on the other hand…
‘I’m Joe,’ he said. He grabbed her hand and shook it. Her hand was warm, her hold firm. He didn’t know why but he knew he already liked her.
‘I know,’ she said, ‘I saw you coming, Joe.’
‘In my crystal ball. It said a handsome stranger would come.’
Joe’s face glowed red.
‘So, I prepared you some stew.’
His face turned a deeper shade of crimson. ‘Thanks.’
‘That’s okay,’ she said, punching him playfully on the arm. ‘Want some tea?’
‘Yes, yes please.’
She bounced off the bed. ‘Come on then!’ She gestured for him to follow.
He sat up. There were now three chairs arranged around Hades who was still curled up in front of the fire. Hel sat down on one of the chairs and Agnes sat next to her. Joe yawned as he climbed off the bed and went over to the third chair.
‘So, Joe, what brings you to my neck of the woods?’ she asked as he sat down. ‘Hel tells me you’ve got yourself into a spot of bother?’
A spot of bother? Well, that was one way of putting it.
‘You could say that,’ he said, taking the chipped mug of tea that appeared out of thin air in front of him. ‘Thanks for the tea.’
‘And thanks for the stew,’ he added quickly.
‘You’re welcome. So, why are you here?’