Her sketch of the building wasn't coming out as well as she'd hoped, it was a little lopsided and swelled garishly in the middle. Not her best work. It seemed a mild sunburn was all she was going to get out of the afternoon.
The conversation she'd come to listen in on was about as bland as the chocolate croissant she'd bought on the way over to help soak up some of the absinthe still sloshing around inside her stomach from the night before.
Slauson's employers had been making a big deal about this meeting but so far all he’d had managed to do was make himself look like an idiot. The look of the man facing him though was discomforting. She couldn’t seem to make out what it was about him, it was like trying to read rock formations for lottery numbers.
What bothered her most was how calm the man was considering who he was sitting across from. From the way the two interacted they didn’t appear to be strangers so it couldn’t have been ignorance. Everything about the man seemed to fit into place except for the fact that he was calling the shots in a meeting with someone like Slauson.
She shifted her legs and continued her sketch, trying to look inconspicuous.
* * *
Dani. She'd heard about this meeting too apparently. Whoever this other guy was he clearly made a splash in the underworld by coming into town. James pulled a chair from an empty table and put it down across from her. She was taken aback for an instant, clearly pulled from the deeper recesses of thought, then collected herself and shot James a gaze that actually scared him a little.
'Always late to the party'
'I got held up'
'With what? You don't actually work'
* * *
Slauson and Arnagan noticed the boy.
They threw each other a glance. Slauson’s was of a registered curiosity. Arnagans was a resolute steadfastness bordering on slight contempt for Slauson.
‘We’re done Walter’. Slauson was taken aback, he had no idea how Arnagan would know that name.
‘We've barely started’. Slausons tone was stern. He was tired. He hadn't had anyone get under his skin in a decade, and, apparently, under the outer layer of tough sonovabitch was a layer of mild insecurity about not being in control of a situation. Under all that of course, which was showing now, was just another layer of tough sonovabitch. Only a slightly less patient version.
‘You leave this table without giving us what we want and I’ll follow you home and kill you in your sleep.’
‘I don’t sleep’
‘You keep your ass in that fucking chair’
Arnagan's eyes bore into Slauson. it was that look, ancient, like he was about to bury you in ashes. Slauson closed his mouth. ‘Another threat I’ll saw off your limbs with this butter knife and drown your torso in that fountain.’ He got up, slid his chair in, and threw some money onto the table. ‘I’m going to pay a visit to our young friends.’
‘You'll hear from us.’
‘I hear everything’
* * *
James had admitted to himself the first time time he met Dani that he was incredibly attracted to her moments before drunkenly admitting it to everyone else within an earshot. She had a confidence that he respected and a knack for being in the right place at the right time that he envied.
They’d met a few years back in the apartment of a mutual friend, shortly after which they’d found themselves being considered for the same job. She’d gotten it. He wasn't too surprised to see her in the same city two weeks ago, the company they'd been interviewing for had been rather secretive during the interview process but rumor was it operated as an independent information brokerage.
They must have been paying well, she looked good. Since they met he’d sort of drifted along, writing random pieces for various publications, sometimes coming into money, most times living in anticipation of another check to come in from an article he'd scarcely remembered writing.
James was about to ask how the morning had gone when Dani’s eyes went wide and motioned towards the meeting. The tones of the two men had shifted. The man he’d never seen before got up, threw some money on the table, and started to walk in their direction.
All James could say was ‘Oh, fuck.’