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“Can I smoke in here?” he asked. This was more of a rhetorical question since the cigarette was already lit. The bartender nodded and went back to watching the telescreen above the bar. There was nothing particularly interesting about the news program, but talking to the smoker was uncomfortable and the more he pretended to watch, the less he’d have to endure. A while later he noticed the smoker was finished with his beer, and in the interest of making money he offered to refill the glass. The smoker nodded, and lit another cigarette.
She never liked the smoking. Of course she had understood the way they eased his nerves, and because of that she never openly criticized his habit. But every time he lit one in front of her, he felt her quiet disapproval.
Then again, she hadn’t wanted him to leave, either. But just as with the smoking, she understood that his sense of duty was stronger than his love for her. It was his sense of duty that had made him so attractive in the first place. She had confessed this to him the day he left.
She had never wanted him to leave, but she knew she couldn’t stop him. She also knew she could never come with. He had kissed her, whispered a goodbye in her ear, and she turned and left. He had watched that chocolate brown hair bob up and down for the last time, and then boarded the shuttle.
Chocolate, now that was a rarity. And so was she.
The bartender broke his thoughts with the newly refilled beer. He brushed the ashes from the end of the cigarette into the ash tray and looked squarely at the man.
“I’m looking for a man named Wallace Kent. Ever heard of him?” he asked. This time his question was not rhetorical. The bartender’s face didn’t change, but his heart started beating faster. That name was all too familiar.
“Know a few guys named Wallace. None of ‘em named Kent.”
“Yep. Doesn’t ring a bell,” he was getting very uncomfortable. Nobody should know that Wallace Kent was here.
“Alright, thanks anyway,” the smoker replied cooly. He downed the beer in one go, and held the glass up for a refill. The bartender took the glass and turned towards the tap. That’s when he heard the autopistol’s action being pulled back. His heart was beating even faster, but he kept his cool.
“How’d you get that past the metal detector?” he asked the smoker.
“It’s my job to get things past security. Name’s Jack. Jack Randall.” So, the smoker had a name.
“Jack Randall. What do you do for a living Jack? Assassinations?”
“Assassin, Inquisitor, bounty hunter, soldier. The job varies, Kent. But you know that, don’t you?”
“How did you find me? I left no trace.” He was still facing the tap.
“No, you didn’t. I’ll give you that. But you did let your big mouth run a few times too many. Not many bartenders have seen a Firewarrior up close. Fewer still have lived to brag about it. I was just lucky enough to overhear talk about one who worked here. It was easy to recognize you. We all have your picture, you know.”
“So what happens now?”
“Well you know the official drill. Authorities outside. You end up dying for desertion, treason, or anything else they can stick you with. But,” he trailed off.
“But I’m not an official kind of guy. What you did was bad, real bad. You probably do deserve to die for it. But I’m into second chances. So I have a deal. I need your help with something big. You help me, I help you.”
“By not killing me?” Wallace asked, and there was a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Even better,” Jack smiled, but Wallace wasn’t able to see it. “You help me, and I close the investigation. I report I found your body, which is true enough, and they stop looking for you. You can serve beer here anonymously until you die happy, or sad, that part is up to Fate.” He lit another cigarette, even though his nerves were calmer now. “I’ll give you a day to think about it. Run away if you want, but then the deal’s off, and when I find you again,” he paused, got up, and walked towards the door. “No more Wallace Kent.”
“And if I don’t run off, but still refuse?”
“Not an option,” replied Jack as he left.
A motorbike fired up outside and Jack sped away from the bar down the dusty road. He flicked his cigarette away and his thoughts returned to her.
Last edited by Sister Bluebird; June 19th, 2011 at 03:00.
"When Space Wolves call upon Russ or the Emperor in battle, it is to witness the deeds of Men and to judge The Fallen."
- Meditations upon the Fang
A pretty decent if somewhat short piece. The guy (Jack, I guess I should call him) seems a bit odd to me, though. More of an Inquisitor's acolyte than an actual Inquisitor, if that makes any sense. Maybe that's just my interpretation of Inquisitors colouring my judgement, though.
I do find myself wondering what all the other people in the bar are doing. I presume it's empty, that the bartender and the Inquisitor are the only ones in there. Maybe you could work that in, use it to heighten the sense of unease the barkeep feels because of this one guy who won't go away?
Thanks for sharing this - is there likely to be any more?