Omar Jimenez — Hustle | Part Three

*

Shit shit shit’

There seemed to be only one human alive who could get under Slauson’s skin and he was walking straight towards them with a casualness she found utterly terrifying. The man grabbed an adjacent chair. She glanced at James, he was at just as much of a loss as she was.

The man put the chair down and joined them on the small table.

*

‘Can we help you?’ James figured he’d try to play it as aloof as possible so that maybe, if he’d manage to fool himself into thinking he wasn't about to throw up, this guy might only pick up on a marginal amount of the mortal fear he was experiencing.

*

The kids had clearly gotten themselves into trouble before. Outwardly at least they handled themselves pretty well. They were both scared shitless. He could see it in their eyes.

The girl put up a good front but couldn't get a word out. The boy may have been more scared but had that stupid kind of courage. Enough to speak anyway.

Arnagan was interested in how they’d managed to find out about his meeting Slauson. It was probably Slauson’s fault, fucking moron, he was losing his edge.

*

The man didn’t answer James. He sat back in the chair throwing an elbow over the back of it and crossing one leg over the over. He took a breath, smiled, and just looked at them.

Dani felt naked. She was happy James had said something, she had lost the ability to speak. She'd decided at that moment she’d have to sleep with James if they got out of this alive. Then got angry at herself for always having random thoughts in awkward situations.

‘Tell me’ her blood ran cold hearing him speak. ‘How did you know Winston Slauson was going to be here?’

She’d had no idea his name was Winston. She had actually never even been sure as to whether Slauson was his actual name or not.

‘Who?’ James said. Fucking james. Who knew he had it in him?

‘You know, he’s a dangerous guy to be following around. And now you have his first name, which means at your earliest convenience you can see what a mistake it is to be

James forced a casual laugh. ‘We honestly don’t know what youre talking about’

As casual as james managed to look, this man was as calm as Hannibal Lecter in a mortuary

‘Yes you do. What you do not know is what you’re getting yourself into.

*

‘Who are you?’

‘What's your name kid?’

‘Mike’

‘Too fast Mike. Any sane person who be hesitant about giving me their real name in this situation. You’re not insane are you mike?’

‘I might be’

‘I’m sorry to tell you this Mike, but you're not insane. What you are is stupid. What you are is going to get yourself killed. Get some sense Mike. Whatever the reason is you were interested in our conversation, anybody as big as Slauson isn’t a story so much as a whole lot more trouble than you might have bargained for. Which brings us to you’

Arnagan stared at Dani.

‘You’re not used to having the spotlight on you. Or if you were you've forgotten what it was like. Either way that fact might usually keep you out of trouble. But Slauson saw you both. I made sure of that.’

‘We-’

‘Shut up’ Arnagan stood up. ‘There is a bar around the corner. Get a drink together, go back to one of your apartments, and fuck or do whatever the hell it is you want to do. But forget about Slauson and get the hell out of this town or I’ll kill you myself.’

*

Police sirens wailed outside the window of her apartment.

She bolted awake but was slow to rise, her head was pounding. She stepped over the clothes and the empty wine bottles and made it to the window.

Down the street there was a crowd, the police were setting up a barrier. She decided to see what was going on but when she turned away from the window to find something to wear her head spun.

Water. Bathroom and water.

She put her face under the faucet and drank then turned around and threw up in the toilet.

Dani looked at herself in the mirror. She wanted very much to shower and crawl back into bed.

Focus. There was a story going on outside.

After grabbing a couple of aspirin from the cabinet she began digging for some clothing from one of the piles scattered around the room and made it to the door of her apartment.

She paused at the door and turned back towards her bed. James was passed out. Clueless. She wondered how he’d even survived this long, he was  horrible reporter. No sense for it. He was lucky he was such a good writer and kind of cute. That was the only reason he wasn't homeless.

She closed the door softly behind her and made her way towards the crowded street.

*

Click.

A gun is a funny thing.

Two dull thuds. Some pain. Your brain rattling in your skull.

It does funny things. Makes funny sounds. It even feels funny.

“Get up.”

Please don’t be a gun.

“Get. Up.”

He opened his left eye, there was a dull throb above his temple. He looked up. Yup. It was a gun.

Another dull thud. Some stars. Pain. His temple wanted to collapse. Wincing, cringing, he sat up.

James looked at his would be executioner. The man was emotionless, looking at him as one might look at horrible wallpaper. Something in a faded pink with tacky flowers sprawled across it.

“Up.”

 

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