February 5, 2010

Artwork by Brian Byers

Happy to be of service," Galen said before he hung up the phone. One hundred percent sure that he had been tasked with this assignment as some form of punishment. He hated politics. Always had. But the idea of befriending known low-life scum, because they were more accommodating than more legitimate sources, had never sat right with him.

This latest bottom dweller was Jimmy Walker, A.K.A., Little Jimmy, Downtown Jimmy, and Jimmy Two Shoes. All these ridiculous nicknames that had become so popular with this latest generation of thugs was another thing that bothered Galen. Jimmy Two Shoes... What the hell did that even mean?

Galen could hear the crying and yelling from the penthouse while the elevator was still two floors away. Maybe that was the reason he'd been sent instead of Jonas. Jonas had no tolerance for men who were violent toward women, and Galen had known him to deprive more than one household of it's patriarch over the years, for disciplining with a heavy hand. Galen on the other hand knew when to mind his own business.

"I'm here to see your boss." Galen informed the stocky man outside the door to the penthouse suite.

"He's busy." The man sneered.

"Not anymore." Galen punched him hard in the stomach with his left fist then planted his right palm fast and hard against the front of the stocky mans face. His head hit the wall behind him. Galen snapped his neck as he fell to the floor, guiding his body away from the doorway."

"What's going on out there?" A voice called from the other side of the door. "Mort?"

Galen rapped lightly on the door. There was a brief scuffle and then-

"Who's there?"

"My name is Galen Vollenti, Jimmy, and I'm not the kind of man you leave waiting long outside your door."

"Out of my sight." Galen heard Jimmy say. He presumed it was to the woman he was knocking about, who was now whimpering on the other side of the door. "I'll be right there." Jimmy called.

Half a minute later the door swung open. Behind it stood a disheveled and slightly out of breath Jimmy 'Two Shoes' Walker, holding a gun in one hand and a glass of bourbon in the other.

"What can I do for you?" Jimmy asked quickly sizing up the situation.

"I represent the Cerulean Group." Galen said. "Perhaps you've heard of them."

"Course I have." Jimmy sneered. "I ain't as new to this game as I look. What do they want from me?"

Galen sighed. He hated this next part of his job more than any other. "Perhaps if you could invite me in, we could talk about it."

Jimmy glanced down at the pair of shoes, just visible in the doorway. "You okay out there Mort?"

Galen took a quick glance at Mort. "Mort's fine." He said. "He's gone on to a better place. Or so I've been told."

Jimmy sneered and cocked his gun.

"You don't want to do that, Jimmy." Galen said calmly.

"Don't I?"

"I'm not a patient man Jimmy. Mort made a bad decision. You don't want to make a bad decision now, do you Jimmy?"

Jimmy sneered.

"So I suggest that you invite me in so that we can talk, like civilized men."

Jimmy swallowed hard. "Sure. Come on in," he said. He kept his eyes and gun on Galen as he crossed to the bar. Galen eyed the place, coming to stand between the bar and the couch, giving Jimmy the most advantageous angle. Or at least helping to make it appear that way from Jimmy's perspective.

Jimmy downed his drink, set his gun on the bar and poured himself another shot of bourbon before offering one to Galen who declined.

"It would seem the fates have been kind to you." Galen said. "Half of your competition drops likes flies, you get to take the credit and suddenly you own half of midtown."

"Lucky break." Jimmy eyed his drink. "Course, your visit makes that official right? You folks only do business with the top dog, from what I hear."

Galen smirked. "In a manner of speaking. My people have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Frank Harper, and with Tommy Wright and Sid Calloway before that. We'd like to continue that mutually beneficial relationship with you."

"Absolutely." Jimmy laughed, tossed back his drink in one gulp and poured himself another.

Galen moved closer to the couch intending to lean on it's back when something caught his senses and stopped him dead in his tracks. It was the unmistakable smell of blood - it was rich and sweet, the kind of sweet that was only found in immortal blood. "I haven't caught you at a bad time have I?" Galen eyed him.

"Course not." Jimmy said.

Galen took a deep breath through his nose, as he turned and stepped around the couch. He loosed his vision between blinks, taking in the environment with am immortal advantage. "I prefer to discuss the terms of our arrangements privately," he said. "It sounded as if you... had company when I arrived," he said as he strolled to the edge of the coffee table.

"No one who can't keep their mouth shut." Jimmy assured.

Galen bent and ran his hand along the edge and corner of the coffee table, fresh blood smearing on his fingers. He eyed the blood carefully before lifting his hand to his nose. He took a brief whiff then licked the blood from his finger.

Fear, pain, kept, abandoned, lost. All this he got from little more than a drop. This was followed by an aftertaste of sweetness, youth, and innocence. Horrifying by any right, but the simple fact that it was blood of an immortal, drove him mad.

Jimmy smirked.

Galen gave a chuckle as he strolled, casually controlled, to the bar, trying not to take in too much of Jimmy's stink. Jimmy took two steps back but stood his ground.

"It's funny how things change," Galen said. "There was a time when my people were thought of as gods among mortals." Galen poured himself a shot to take the taste out of his mouth then refilled Jimmy's bourbon.

"Change is the only constant." Jimmy smirked, before turning and heading off toward the center of the room.

"Mmm." Galen eyed Jimmy, the taste of young tortured blood still lingered on his tongue. "You know I'm new to this area. Well, not new," he corrected. "But it's been ages. So much has changed since my last assignment here."

"Assignment?" Jimmy eyed him, sizing him up then set his bourbon down on the coffee table. "So you're just the messenger? Why didn't your boss come to see me?" Jimmy smirked.

"My king doesn't pay visits."

"King huh?" Jimmy smirked. "Looks like I'm really coming up in the world, don't it?"

"So where did you get her?" Galen asked pouring himself another shot of bourbon. Her blood lingered, and the scent of it became strong in his nose, but the distraction of drinking might at least help him mask his anger.

Jimmy eyed him for a long moment then set his glass down on the edge of the coffee table. "Frye Langston. He runs a couple houses on Bay Street. Anything you want, he'll set it up. Including girls who aren't squeamish at the sight of a little blood. Particularly their own if that's what you're into. I can give him a call right now if you'd like."

Galen shook his head. "I like to let fate decide those kinds of things. Are you a blood connoisseur yourself?"

Jimmy glanced to a door at the far end of the room. "She likes it rough." He shrugged.

"Hmmph." Galen gave a half nod then laughed. "I imagine it must be pretty nice being the boss," he said.

"It does have its perks," Jimmy smiled.

"I have a feeling that mine is going to be particularly upset with me after today." Galen stared into the bottom of his empty glass.

"Oh yeah, what's that?" Jimmy asked.

"The thing is... I'm pretty sure the reason that my king sent me rather than my predecessor was because he thought that I wouldn't kill you. He was wrong."

Galen's vision and image changed in a blink and Jimmy's eyes went wide at the sight - there was no time for him to react before Galen tossed the glass at him. Jimmy screamed as it hit his left cheek and shattered, its impact causing a number of superficial scratches on his face and two deep gashes across his cheek. Galen kicked off the bar and leaped toward Jimmy at full speed. He grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him at the coffee table. His head hit the top edge and his neck snapped, bending backwards at an unnatural angle as he continued his fall to the floor.

"Forgive me Argus." Galen said to the ether. "I hope you'll understand. I had no choice."


Chapter 6 - Easy Decisions

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart