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Death is insuperable. No matter where you go it follows you, watches you, clings to you, like a shadow waiting to reap your soul. There is no use avoiding it. After all, every one dies. But in the foreboding streets of the south side, avoiding death is like avoiding air; it can’t be done. Impossible.
It’s funny how easy it is to find you’re being followed. The way even the smallest and gratuitous noise can reveal your location. Everything must be precise, exact. You can’t even breathe, without falling under suspicion. However, even if you can manage to feign nonexistence, there is still that one unvenal factor that can’t be tainted or changed. Instinct. The feeling of being watched is a human ace in the hole. It is infallible.
I could feel their eyes on me. Their dark, beady eyes glaring down between my shoulder blades, like a heat ray preparing to fire. Anxiety and chagrin flared aggressively within me as I battled to control my emotions. My back hunched over as I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my black zip-up. I hate being watched, let alone being followed. It bit at me, like a dog attacking my ankles. It made me want to do something about it. It made me want to run.
A sigh escaped the dry crevasse of my lips. I did not have time for this, let alone feel like dealing with it. Not today. I exhaled, my fists clenching heavily in my pockets. “Ignore them,” I told myself. Ignorance is bliss.
I can be quite determined when I want to be. All I need is a strong motivation or thought, and I can be most effective. However, I felt too weary to come up with a strong distraction. Every step was weighted, as if invisible hands were pulling me down. When I finally reached my destination, I was practically ready to punch a hole through a god-forsaken wall, and I would have to, but I have more sense than that.
The Blue Silk was a small, secluded bar that looked like it had been delivered from the time of probation. The bar itself was below ground, with a crappy apartment building above it. If you wanted to enter, you had to go to the back alley of the building, where, if you searched a bit, you would find the dank, sunken stairway behind a dumpster. You can understand why The Blue Silk didn’t have many customers.
Being that the area was more open, my pursuers dropped back a bit, which gave me the lovely sense of personal space. I smirked as I entered the bar. It was a Wednesday afternoon so it was no surprise to find that the bar was vacant. Sally was one of the few owners in the city who was actually set on opening at noon.
Sally was a quirky woman in her early forties. She had inherited the bar from her husband who had inherited it from his father. Her husband died a while back. At least I think he did. Sally doesn’t seem like the type that would get a divorce and I have never actually seen the guy. I have no reason to ask. It is none of my business. Even if her husband was alive, Sally was practically married to this bar, always worrying and making noise. That’s why she opens at noon. She can’t take it if she is away from this cruddy place for too long.
Sally is an interesting woman, if you know what I mean. For example, though she is obsessed with running The Blue Silk, she doesn’t drink. Anything. At All. Not even wine. Instead she creates these weird obscure mixtures with energy drinks and juice, and tries to sell them off to her customers. Leave it to Sally to sell juice in a room full of alcoholics.
Sally didn’t smile when I came in. She never does. I could feel her eyes on me as she tried to construe my appearance, noting any sort of scratch or burn. This was usual routine for us, ever since I came here a few years ago with a bullet in my side. Ever since then, she has this paranoia that every time I visit her I was going to be on the verge of death. It was uncomfortable at first, but I have gotten use to it. After her in-depth observations, she gave me a blithe smile, her worries now at ease.
“Hey Sally” My voice felt out of place in this old artifact. I walked to sit on the far right stool of the bar.
“Hey kid.” Her voice was warm and smooth, “ How ya doing? The business doing ya trouble?”
“I’m getting by,” I said as I took off my zip-up and placed it on the stool beside me, revealing a black tank.
Sally’s eyes went big.
“What happened?” Her voice was so high it was practically a shriek. I gave her a confused look.
“Your hair, what the hell happened to your hair? "
I shrugged as I raised a hand to feel my now buzzed head. “Felt like a change”
“Bull” She was glaring at me now, her hands resting at attention on her hips.
“No really, its true. My hair kept getting in the way with my work is all. So I cut it. It’s not that big of a deal”. My eyes gazed sincerely into hers as I tried to raze any sort of doubt she had in my response.
She appeared skeptical, but seemed to accept it. “Could have just pulled it back…” she mumbled.
I shrugged and ordered a drink. While she was poring me my toxin, my stalkers decided to make their appearance. I gave them the once over. There were three of them, all men, ranging in age and height. My eyes narrowed. They looked familiar….
“What a dump,” said the youngest of them. His nose turned up in disgust as he gazed over the place. He looked to be a few years younger then I was. “Why’d it have to be this god forsaken shit whole, why not somewhere...” He stopped as his companions, most likely his senior, leered at him. This man was close to 6 feet tall and had a look of danger about him.
“ I suggest that you stop talkin” his voice was deep and edgy as his hand reached into the pocket of his coat, flashing his long switchblade. “You know what will happen if you don’t”. He flashed his blade some more, alluding to the pain that would damn him if he dare disobey. The boy was no fool; he shut his trap. The last of them was a short bald man who appeared to be in his fifties. An arrogant air that seemed to become him led me to believe his was their boss. He came to sit next to me.
“Bourbon” he croaked. His voice was short and hoarse. Sally nodded as she turned to make him his drink. He was silent for a moment, as he looked downward, his short, stubby, fingers strumming a rhythm on the cool, clean counter top. He turned to me. “So we meet again.” He said nonchalantly.
I rolled my eyes. He was going to act like this was all a coincidence. Was this old man going senile? I took a sip of my drink. “ Drop the act, old man.” My voice was bitter. “I don’t know who you are or what your after, but if you even want to try passing this off as a coincidence, I suggest you learn how to shadow. I caught on to you guys the moment I left my place ”. His two lackeys stiffened
The old man’s face stretched with surprise only to become a sour smirk.
“Should have expected that from you, Cainan Grey” He chuckled softly, as Sally came back with his drink. Her eyes looked suspicious, as she surveyed the situation. She put the glass down, and then walked to go into the back room. She was probably looking for her old rifle, just in case. The man took a short sip of his bourbon, sighing in satisfaction with the taste. “ Well it was quite expedient for you to have been heading to bar, I have been craving a drink for a while now. Then again, nothing is a coincidence with you is it, Cainan Grey. “
I looked him over again, my eyes widening as I realized who he was. I laughed. “Now I remember you, your from that group that I refused to make weapons for a few months ago. What’s your name…. Keltcher...Melcher…?”
“Its Thatcher. Alec Thatcher” his voice was curt, my words had apparently upset him.
“Ah, Thatcher” I nodded at the name, but yet something felt amiss. “Wait, wasn’t your first name John?”
He sighed taken another sip of his drink. “John no longer leads this group”.
This confused me. “Why? Did he abdicate himself as leader?”
“He is dead”
“Oh” I said. There was an awkward pause as we both took a sip of our drinks. The seconds were myriad. I tried to count them but I stopped some where around 100. “I’m Sorry” my voice was plaintive and rich with sympathy. “It must have been a painful loss.”
“Bull,” he murmured dangerously under his breath. “This was all part of your plan wasn’t it?”
I put my drink down. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me,” he hissed. “The way you refused to make us guns when you knew we were at war. How the enemy just so happened to have your weapons!”
I was lost now. “What are you blabbering about? ”
“Stop lying!” he bolted up from his seat. His hand hit hard against the granite of the bar. “This was all a part of your ruse wasn’t it? You were playing us with those godforsaken idiots. You killed John!”
I was at a loss for words. Over time I had made it a personal rule of mine not to deal under the table. Had I broken my word? I couldn’t remember. “What kind of weapons?” I asked, my voice steady.
“What does that matter?” Rage filled his voice like venom. His men stood at attention waiting for an excuse to attack.
“Just tell me!”
“Guns” His voice was rich with loathing. “Loads and loads of guns”
I sighed as I then reached for my drink; my word had not been broken. “You got the wrong metal smith.” I intoned, my voice grave. “ I suggest that you leave”
His face turned bright red, as he hit the drink out of my hands and grabbed me by my tank. “I’ll kill you!” He snarled as he pulled out his knife.
A large bang emitted throughout the bar as Sally came out with her shotgun, aimed and ready to fire. She had been listening in. “Get out” she hissed. Her voice was dark and still. “Get out of my bar, or I’ll blow your brains out!”
Thatcher glared silently at her for a moment, but then dropped me. Signaling his men, he turned to leave the bar. However, not before giving me he last regards. He turned to me. “Murderous Cuss”, he bit out as he spat at me. Then without another word, he turned and exited the bar.
I stared after him, my eyes stuck on where he once stood. The door shrieked from his dynamic exit, the harsh sound filling the small place.
Death is everywhere. It watches you, stalks you, and hunts you down until it kills you. Though it wasn’t me who pulled the trigger this time, what about all the other times. I could feel the blood on my hands.