Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pickup in the Joint

“She’s a local.”

That one sentence in itself would have been enough to make any man in The Joint think twice about crossing the floor and talking to the woman. Actually, it would make any sensible man think more like a dozen times before taking that first step. There was something about women from the downtown area of Low Bluff that kept men away.

Gary ignored the advice of his friend and kept staring at her. There was something more to her, something… far-from-local. Buried deep underneath that all-too-purposefully plain appearance. A depth behind those unremarkable brown eyes, something alluring in the brain beneath that limp brunette hair, some meaning behind the unpainted fingernail she flicked at him, beckoning. So she’d noticed him looking.

Without hesitation, Gary stood.

“Did you not hear me,” Anthony said. “I said she’s local, Gary. Local!”

“Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” Gary replied, waving a dismissive hand at his friend. It took him less time to cross the floor to her table than it had to shut Anthony up.

She looked up at him, those nondescript brown eyes almost blank. “I’m Failadre.”” She almost purred her name. He was right! There was something besides those boring looks! Her voice! He wanted to drool.

“I’m interested,” he replied before he could think, sitting clumsily in the chair that wasn’t right next to her but wasn’t across from her either.

And he stared.

Failadre smiled at him occasionally, but otherwise ignored him. All the time in the world could have passed, and Gary wouldn’t have noticed a moment of it. He was lost in those ordinary features. Lost and with no hope of return, and he didn’t have a clue.

But Anthony saw. Saw the woman’s hand moving surreptitiously beneath the tabletop, saw her slowly inch her chair closer to his so she would be within arm’s reach of him, saw her bite her lip eagerly thinking about what she was about to do. Something glinted in her hand; her mouth turned from shy-looking lip-biting to a smile of surprising beauty in that unexciting face. The shiny object ever-so-slowly came closer to Gary.

There was a flick. The razor-sharp blade disappeared from sight as soon as it had done its work. A moment later, the woman was gone, out the door with her prize in tow, and Gary was on his back on the floor, bleeding and screaming, but with a faraway, entranced look still in his eyes. That look would fade, as would the bleeding eventually. The screaming… some men went years before they stopped feeling the loss.

But his tail would never come back. Anthony felt sorry for Gary, but it would have been stupid to try and interfere. She would have gotten his, too. The poachers on Low Bluff were good at what they did.

This story was written as an entry in the First Line Fiction contests some time ago. It was the first story that I did for this line, but it wasn't the story that was entered in the contest. It's a bit confusing and abrupt, I know, but I really doubt it's an idea I would pursue further, so this is it in its entirety.

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