Tony Mandolin Meets Sam Nero 2 of 2

A Crossover Short Story by Robert Lee Beers and Jane Jago

Tony Mandolin Meets Sam Nero 2 of 2

by Robert Lee Beers and Jane Jago


When two private eyes are lured into the same bar by a supernatural entity, things go sideways fast.

This is a crossover short stories involving characters from the fiction of both Robert Lee Beers and Jane Jago

Contact info for Robert Lee Beers
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Contact info for Jane Jago
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* The Last City –



Sugar has been frowning and she suddenly snaps her illusory fingers. Sam just has time to wonder how dots of light can make any sound before she speaks – in clipped tones completely unlike the breathy little girl voice she ordinarily employs. He sits up and takes notice.

I’ve been thinking.” She holds up a hand in front of Bain’s face. “Don’t. I’m serious, even more serious than the day I died. I have found what you might call a trail in the sand. Sam Nero, private eye to the underworld, Tony Mandolin, private eye to weird things, Landau Bain, wizard. What’s the connection? You all have enemies, but it’s an even bet Sam and Tony don’t have any in common. But Bain here. He’s got folks who don’t like him all across space and time.” She looks at the two private eyes with a touch of mordant humor. “You boys are just cheese…” She murmurs.

Cheese?” Bain growls.

Yeah. Cheese to bait a mousetrap.

As she finishes speaking there is a gigantic sickening lurch as the whole bar moves. It winds up wherever it winds up, slightly off level and the glasses behind the bar shift gently with a soft musical jingle. The tired waitress gets up from where she has been sitting on the floor.

Fraggit,” she says wearily and begins to clear tables even as the room refills with customers and the old guy on the piano begins playing Dixie as if nothing has occurred.

Sugar,” Sam says urgently, “can you have a looksee as to where we are?

Sugar nods and her hologram wavers and stiffens.

Where’s the real Sugar Kane, Nero?” Bain asks. “And what did she mean she died?

Sam looks at him coldly for a moment. “That is the real Sugar Kane. A brain in a bottle powering a holo. The rest of her was murdered about sixty years ago.” Then he shuts his mouth firmly before pouring another very large shot.

Before anybody can think of anything by way of a reply, the hologram beside Sam blinks and reanimates.

Jeez boys,” she says in her sexiest voice, “We might be in deep trouble. The bar has been relocated to nowhere…

Bain looks at the hologram and growls, “So… that’s why you never returned my letters, and also why I couldn’t bring you here. There was no body to bring.

Mandolin, slurring just a bit, says, “Uh, Bain? Focus? She just said we’ve been relocated to nowhere? I’ve been there, it isn’t a nice place.

Relax, Mandolin,” Bain murmurs, “I know what happened. I also kept a tracer spell activated. We can return any time I choose, but as I said, I have a thing about pranksters… remember?

Mandolin glanced at Nero who was looking at him, an eyebrow raised in question.

Mandolin mutters, “Someone is in deep shit. Really deep.

Fine by me. Even my normally easygoing nature is more than a bit pissed about being used as cheese.” Sam turns to face Sugar. “If this is going to get sticky I’d as soon you weren’t here.

She smiles and the naked trust between the two of them makes Bain harrumph uncomfortably,“Cut it out you two. This is not the time for. For. For whatever.

Sam laughs lazily. “It’s always the time to take care of your woman.

Bain shakes his head and asks,“Your…woman?

Yes,” Sugar speaks softly but her tone brooks no argument. “I’m his woman and he’s my man. I’m a hologram animated by a human brain and he’s an android surrounding a human brain. Two misfits who fit together. You got a problem with that?

Bain looks at her and puts out a hand as if to touch her, but withdraws it before it actually reaches the trick of the light that is all that remains of Sugar Kane. He murmurs, “Okay. I get that. I think. Now. Is there a back way out of this place.

I don’t know,” Sam grins, “But I reckon I know a woman who might.

He beckons and the waitress appears. He leans over and whispers in her ear. She frowns but whispers a reply before returning to her duties at the emotied tables.

Sam leans back in his chair and grins.

There’s a door behind the bar. We only have to get past Cecil and his ten-gauge.

Mandolin watches the byplay going on between the threesome and shakes his head. This is decidedly un-Bainlike behaviour coming from the formerly alcoholic wizard. He wonders about the history that would cause that. The Bain he knew was pretty damn closed-mouthed about parts of his past, and this could be one of those parts.

His decision made, he gets up from the table.

Where are you going?” Both Bain and Nero ask the same question and then stare at each other as Sugar giggles.

I’m going to see a man about a door,” Mandolin replies.

Nero opens his mouth and then closes it as he waves, “See ya,” He mutters.

Bain asks, “Is Cecil a troll with hide like an armored rhino?

Nero blinks and says, “No… he’s a man, a very large unsympathetic man, why the question?

Bain glances at Mandolin’s back and says, shrugging, “No reason. I just hope Cecil has his medical insurance paid up.

After the door closes on Mandolin there comes the sound of shouting, a very loud boom and then a softer pop. Then the sound of someone in agony wailing comes out from the doorway as Mandolin stands there, waving toward the table.

Cecil says we can pass. Come on.

Sam laughs, deep and joyous. “I’m beginning to like Mister Mandolin.

Bain looks at the big private eye and grins a feral grin.

I’ve liked the stupid fecker for years. I’m beginning to like you too.

Aw. Shucks. But what’s the plan?

Bain’s grin promised painful retribution for somebody. “I want whoever is fragging about with me to think I’ve left the bar. Somebody needs to go out the back door. But there’s a snag. No air.

Nero grins. “That’s okay. I don’t actually breathe.

So you are willing to go out into noplace wearing my coat and see what happens?

I don’t see why not.

Aren’t you afraid?

Sugar pushes the simulacrum of lush curves that was her hologram between the two of them.

He can’t feel fear. But I can. And I want to know precisely how dangerous this is. And, Bain, if you double cross him I’ll send some people to see you, and they will make you eat your own penis.

Bain holds up his hands and says, with a smile, No double cross, Sugar. My word on it. We’re in this together.

They cross the floor to where Mandolin awaits them.

Tony listens to the plan and shrugs, saying, “I’ve got just one question.

What is it?

In answer to the threesome’s chorus, Mandolin shakes his head, saying, “The question’s for Bain.

Bain growls, “Yeah, what’s the question?

Mandolin points at Nero, “What’re you going to do if he ruins your coat. I mean, look at the thing, it’s easily got seconds of life left in it.

Small thunderheads appear over the wizard’s head and a tiny bolt of lightning arcs down and tasers Mandolin.

From his place on the floor, Mandolin chatters, “Lesson three, don’t piss off the wizard.

Sugar grumps, “He was always doing that. Made getting a table at the better restaurant the second time around absolute hell.

Nero turns his head away from Mandolin and reaches out for the wizard’s coat, “One of these days, Sugar, we’re going to have to have a nice long talk, okay?

Okay. Just you keep healthy now, and I will tell you all.

All?” Bain asks, raising an eyebrow.

Sugar smirks at him, then turns to watch Sam don the disgusting coat. Her face looks naked in its worry and Bain hopes his plan is going to work.

Just go outside, and when you get there take the coat off and hang it on the hook you will find there. Then get a good way away from it. Anything that goes near the coat. Blast it.

Nero nods and steps out of the door.

Mandolin gets back to his feet, muttering, “Okay, I guess I deserved that.

Guess?” Bain arches an eyebrow.

Yeah,’ Mandolin shakes his head, clearing it. Then he asks, “What did you do with the coat to turn it into bait?

Bain smiles, and chuckles rather nastily.

On the other side of the door, there is nothing, really. Nothing at all. No light, no dark. No atmosphere. No sound not even a sense of being. Nero’s internal logic systems are heating up just by making the effort to keep his sense of self at optimum levels.

He thinks, “Mandolin would have died out here after one step.

Turning, he sees the hook and then notices that wizards tend to be literalists in the most literal fashion, there was just a hook and it hung in the emptiness like a bad movie prop.

Shrugging off the coat with a profound sense of relief, Nero places it carefully onto the hook and then pulls his blaster.

Checking to see if the charge is right, he backs away and taking aim, waits with the patience of a cyborg.

The first sign of interest is a spark of light where there should be no light. Sam watches it as it flitters about as if it is afraid to stay, but even more afraid to leave. In the end, it winks out and he hears a faint scream.

Nice,” he thinks.

Then his keen olfactory senses catch a whiff of something strange. There should not, in his estimation, be a scent of sweat and urine in a vacuum. A small figure winks into being and puts out a hand to the coat. With a sigh of regret, Sam blasts it into tiny fragments noting wryly that a blaster works even better without atmosphere to slow it down. A face appears in the doorway behind him. It is Bain.

Get in here, Nero. Things are about to get interesting.” He adds, “Oh, and bring back my coat.

After putting his coat back on, and winking at the moue of disgust Sugar’s hologram makes, Bain says, glancing at Cecil wearing a thick bandage on his foot and an even thicker hurt expression, “What you blasted was a messenger. All those bits have already reassembled and zipped back to the one who sent it. This coat,” He looked down and fingered the lapel, “has a certain significance to it. You see, we have a history.

Sugar says, with a good amount of snark, “What, you stood that one up too?

Bain looks at Sugar and then says to the simmering Nero, “Please, this is not just serious, but critical. Mandolin, you recently had dealings with this fellow.

Mandolin’s face blanches to parchment white, “Oh, God,” He said, “Him? Again?

Both Nero and Sugar’s faces turn to look at Mandolin, their expressions filled with questions.

Nero asks, “Who is him?

Bain nods at Mandolin.

Mandolin replies, “The Devil.

In the shocked silence, Bain says, “Go on ask. It’s a pretty good story. I should know, I was there.

Sugar asks Tony, “Oh come on, honey, you must have been mistaken. Maybe it was just a powerful demon, afrit or something pretending to be the Devil?

No…” Mandolin replies with a sigh, “There was no pretending. We’ve crossed paths a few times and this last time, he said to me, before the crap really hit the multiple fans, Mandolin, you really piss me off.

Nero turns to Bain and says, “The guy’s got a talent for that, does he?

Bain grunts.

Sugar studies her long, red, fingernails and gives another little moue of disgust, asking, “How the frag can a hologram chip her nail polish?

Sam looks at her with naked love in his eyes. “I dunno honey, all I know is you are one special dame. Holo or not.

Oh Sam. I do wish I could hug you.

Me too babe, but it ain’t gonna happen. But I reckon we still got much more than most folks.

A tear runs down her perfect porcelain cheek and she smiles tremulously. “I love you, Sam Nero.

Bain looks disgusted for a moment, but then shakes his head and says, “Okay, boys and girls, this is how we deal with the devil… Mandolin, do you still have any of those special bullets Buddy conjured up for you?

Nero asks, “Buddy?

He’s either an angel or a minor deity who got the favour of the big guy.

Bain adds, “When hit by one, Lucifer gets trapped into an unending time fracture. You can’t kill the Devil or any of the greater demons or angels, but you sure can inconvenience them long enough to get away.

Nero stares at Mandolin and then said, in an unbelieving voice, “You shot the Devil!? And lived?

Mandolin shrugs, “Eh, it’s a living.

Nero puts out his hand for a fist bump, exclaiming, “My man!

Bain glances at Sugar and mouths, “He’s taken.

She sticks out her tongue.

Nero holds up a finger, “Hold on, it just came to me, if we’re dealing with the big D himself, and you’ve used these bullets before… isn’t there a problem here?

Bain nods, “Yes and no. Yes, in the fact that we cannot kill the Devil, and that he does seem to hold a grudge. No, in the fact that if we are successful, the one entity he is afraid of will step in and tell him in no uncertain terms, hands off.

Mandolin adds, “This last time he turned my business partner into a giant teddy bear. He was pretty upset when we got that reversed. I think it was all the frying and sizzling that did it.

Frying and sizzling?” Sugar looks puzzled.

Bain murmurs, “Having a spell reversed caused one hell of a feedback loop.

Mandolin says with a smile, “Devil flambé.

Nero winces murmuring, “Ouch.

The bar door opens with a bang so loud it almost feels cataclysmic. The entity standing in the doorway isn’t anybody’s idea of what Beelzebub looks like. It’s a mountain of a man with a red face, an eye patch, and enormous leathery hands. He is dressed in an overcoat even more disreputable than Bain’s and a huge pair of scratched leather boots.

Bain, you bastard,” he roars. “We meet again. And this time you aren’t walking away.” He turns his good eye to where Sugar stands. “You can go, woman, but the rest face my vengeance.

Then I go nowhere.

The devil laughs sardonically. “Is that supposed to impress me?

Frag you, big man. What you think is unimportant…

For an instant, the illusion of a disreputable time traveller wavers and she catches a glimpse of a Lucifer, the most beautiful of all the angels. It’s as well she is a hologram, because his beauty is such that it hurts even her insubstantial eyes. This instant of distraction is enough for Mandolin, who carefully puts a single bullet into the seeming eyepatch.

The devil screams… and then begins to laugh as he changes.

The form of the giant barbarian shrinks, folds in on itself and the solidifies into what seems to be an attorney, Wall Street tycoon or even a peer of the realm wearing his best business attire.

He murmurs, “You people should really do something about that thing you call an imagination. A barbarian? Me?

He turns his head and looks at Mandolin as he holds up the bullet, “Nice try Tony, but don’t these things have to be activated by shooting them? Thanks for the souvenir, by the way. I’ve been wanting one of these to examine. That Caerus fellow is far too clever by half. Oh, and that annoying gun of yours?” He flicked a hand and Mandolin’s gun flew from its holster and buried itself into the wall of the bar.”

The Devil smiled, “That’s better.

Lucifer…” Bain growls, “You had your chance with the toy gag. It failed, break the rules and there will be consequences.

I’m already destined for the Lake of Fire, Old Boy,” The Devil smirks, “What do I care for consequences?

Sugar’s image starts to flicker in and out of focus. She screams.

Nero roars out an oath and charges Lucifer who holds up a hand, yawning theatrically behind the other.

Nero’s fist blurs through the air and then thuds into something as if hitting solid neutronium. Nero stares at his hand, which is now a mass of blood and wiring.

The Devil looks at him, “Really? Fisticuffs?” He turns his attention to Bain and murmurs, “Where do you find these people, Landau, the work house?

Sugars screams take on the gasping character of total agony and then a portion of Nero’s body flares with a deep reddish orange light and she falls to the floor.

Mandolin says, “I heard that. I heard the impact.

Lucifer sniffs, “Of course you did. Flesh makes a sound when it hits something.

Through streaming eyes, Nero says unbelievingly, “Flesh?

Bain reaches out and pinches Sugar on the back of her upper arm.

Her reaction shocks everyone but the Devil, “Ow!

Then she gasped, “I felt that! It really hurt!

Lucifer smirked, “Of course it hurt, dearie. Do you think I do things half way? You weren’t really dead, not in the soul sense, so it is perfectly legal for me to bring back your body, well… almost perfectly legal.

Chapter 3

Sugar stares at the Devil as Sam stares at her. “You mean…? Why, why would you do that?

Lucifer looked up and tapped a forefinger against his upper lip as he replied, “Yes… why would I do that? Could it be because I’m really misunderstood, deserving of a little sympathy…?

He looked back down and snarled, “Or is it because the sight of a snivelling little back talker will add to the suffering Anthony Mandolin so richly deserves, along with his meddling friend, Landau Bain!

Bain, who had not moved during the entire scene asked, “Are you through expositing now?

The Devil turned to look at the wizard, “Yes, well… for the moment.

Nero reached out for Sugar with his working arm and with a small cry of joy and terror, Sugar threw herself at the android PI.

The Devil murmured, “How nice. Pity it will never work. Who would raise the children?” Then he laughed.

You know,” Mandolin muttered from off to the side of the bar, “People called me a real SOB, but compared to you, I’m a saint.

Yes,” The Devil chuckled, “I know.

Last chance, Lucifer,” Bain growled, “end this charade and go in peace, or suffer the consequences.

Landau, Landau, Landau,” The Devil purred, “For a wizard, you do have remarkable power, but I am still an archangel, regardless of what humanity thinks or writes. What could you possibly do that could affect me?

Bain mimics the Devil’s earlier motions by looking up at the ceiling and tapping his lip as he says, “Well now… that could be a concern, but unlike you, I can and do sometimes work well with others. Say, a certain damaged cyborg, a reanimated hologram and a certain inconvenient Private Eye?

The Devil threw back his head to laugh and stopped when he heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked.

He looked and saw Mandolin with that gun aimed clearly at his midsection.

How…?” He asked.

Mandolin snarled, “Bye,” and fired.

The light flared, instantly far too bright to endure and then it faded nearly as rapidly. There had been no sound and when everyone’s eyes could see, there was no sign of the Devil ever having been there. Through the front door they could see normal traffic and the sounds of the city wafted in with the familiar scent of low tide in the bay.

Nero held up his hand, “Hey! It’s back, and it works! Sugar, do you see this, honey? Sugar?

Her voice came from out of the air and the normal flicker of a hologram phasing in showed in the smoky air, “That’s real nice Sam.

Nero said, a catch in his voice, “S-Sugar?

It’s okay Sam, it really is. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, y’know?

Nero turned toward Bain, his expression demanding an explanation.

Mandolin stepped in. “Hold on there, big fella, I’ve been here before and Bain had nothing to do with Sugar. When that bastard got sent back to where he belongs, everything he did, including your arm and Sugar, and the bar being in nowhere went back to where it belonged as well.

Nero turned back to Bain, “That true?” He asked.

The wizard shrugged, “Well… mostly. Mandolin has simplified it to the point of being… Yes, I suppose it will do. That’s basically what happened.

Nero leaned over and put his restored arm over Bain’s shoulder. “You know, wizard?” He said, chuckling, “I think is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Bain rolled his eyes.

Tony Mandolin Meets Sam Nero is a short story written by Authors Robert Lee Beers and Jane Jago.

Robert Lee Beers is author of The Tony Mandolin Mysteries, the best unknown supernatural mystery series on the planet.

The Tony Mandolin Mysteries take place in and around today’s San Francisco, and in style are a mash-up of Nero Wolf, Harry Dresden and the Vimes novels of the immortal Sir Terry Pratchett.

There are 9 finished novels in the series, all avalable for free download at . In addition, Graphic Audio the Movie in your mind audiobook publishing company has released Tony Mandolin Mystery books 1, 2, 3, and 4 as all cast audiobooks available in CD and download formats!

Writing alongside Robert in this crossover, Enter the mind of the most dangerous Old Age Pensioner in the northern hemisphere – if you dare. Jane Jago is a mad genre hopper who writes for fun and hopes people get as much enjoyment out of reading as she does from writing. She is overweight, overtly naughty and overly cynical.

Jane is also responsible for creating the character of Sam Nero. Sam first saw the light of an alien star in ‘The Last City’ a Dust Publications Anthology of tales from the last city in the universe.

Check the shownotes for a list of links pertaining to both authors!

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