Down to Business

“Sit down.”

The badge on his shoulder armor said POLICE, but he was on the wrong side of the law—the way it’s written, anyway. The smoky black visor of his helmet had a spiderweb crack on one side and fresh beads of splatter on the other.

He spun his pistol in quick circles on the red streaked laminate table top; it looked like an absent motion, but surely it was an act, calculated to subtly emphasize the power he wielded at this moment. The early morning light coming in through the open blinds highlighted the graffiti on the dingy tiled wall behind the booth; it said LOST ANGELES. The wooden bench creaked as he leaned forward and brought the pistol’s lazy spinning to a halt, the business end staring hungrily at my stomach.

“Sit. Down. Now.” He nodded acutely to the other side of the booth.

I lifted my hands above my shoulders, palms out, and stepped over the big guy on the floor—his foot was still spasming, but there wasn’t anyone behind the wheel—and took a seat next to the small black duffel bag that sat against the wall. The pistol followed me the whole way. I placed my palms down on the tabletop, careful to avoid the fresh puddles on top of old grime, and as I did so he leaned back and properly gripped the handgun, formalizing the power imbalance.

We sat like that for a bit, neither of us speaking, and I kind of got bored of waiting to get my aorta blown out through my back. My eyes wandered right, then left, then right again, and I realized I was drumming my fingers again. For such a dumb habit it was sure ingrained deep.

“So uh…”

“Shut up.” He pointed with the pistol’s tip. “Open the bag.”

I looked down at it, then back at the guy in the tactical gear. “This bag here? You want me to—”

Someone hit me in the ear with a church bell.

No, not a bell—I shook my head to try to clear the dizziness—this asshole just punched me with a gun. There are worse firearm related injuries, but shit, that didn’t make it feel good. Was there a fire alarm going off? I could swear something was ringing.

“I said open it.”

I worked my jaw. “Got it, boss. You don’t have to tell me twice.”

I reached over and unzipped the main pouch.

Holy fuck—

“Now close it.”

“That’s a fucking—”

“Yes. Close it.” —Ziiiiiip— “Now, let’s get down to business.”

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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