|Just to warn you: This has nothing to do with my work-in-progress
"Text of Light." I'm in writer's limbo for that story, so I decided
to write another in the meantime. Enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: This story contains material that may be offensive to some readers (including, but not limited to, poor grammar and spelling, misuse of foreign languages, cuss words, references to naughty bits, redundancy, etc, etc). All characters you recognize are owned by Marvel. All else are mine. The pattern of dialogue is borrowed from a short story by Roald Dahl (I'll return it as soon as possible).
Remy gave the order,and the waiter promptly returned with two pint glasses and two bottles of chilled Sam Adams. He poured for himself and his companion, allowing the foam to spill over the edge.
"Sante... " he said halfheartedly. His friend did not look up, but nodded in response. They lifted their glasses and drank.
It had been five years since Remy had last seen him, and at that time he'd been a pledgling to the Guild. A thief in training. Remy was four years his senior and remembered him as a vivacious youth, bubbling with adolescent mischief. Remy saw immediately that his friend had changed. He'd grown into a young man who was at once aged beyond his years, but posessing an innocent vulnerability. He kept glancing over his shoulder, and refused to make eye contact with anyone. He had changed in so many ways since Remy had last seen him that it was embarassing for both men, and neither of them spoke for a long time.
Guillaume was Jean-Luc's nephew, the youngest son of his third sister. As a boy he'd been small for his age, and the scapegoatof the other Guild children. Remy, who was viewed as an unwelcome outsider to many, recognized the boy's loneliness and took Guillaume under his brotherly wing. For the next several years the two were inseperable, known throughout the French Quarter for the childish pranks and petty shoplifting. That was, until Remy's mutant powers began to manifest themselves. Remy graduated to a position of respect, leaving Guillaume chewing his dust.
He was shorter than Remy by a good four inches, and his complexion was unusually pale for a man who spent most of his life in the Louisiana sun. His face was open and playful, except for his eyes. They spoke volumes of the mistrust he had for the world; they never focused on anything completely. His hair was dark and shaggy, and he had to keep pushing away a lock of it that fell across his eyes. It made him seem somehow younger than his twenty-two years. For several minutes neither man spoke. They sat opposite each other at a wooden table in the corner of the bar. Guillaume leaned forward and traced patterns in the moisture that collected on the bottle in front of him. He looked like he was intently concentrating on the movements of his finger on the glass.
Remy recognized this gesture as an indication that the younger man wanted to say something, but wasn't sure how. Remy had no intention of pushing him. He grabbed a handful of pretzels from a plastic bowl and munched them noisily. He allowed the obnoxious sound of his chewing to break the uncomfortable silence.
Without raising his eyes, Guillaume let his finger fall from the bottle.
Slowly, he whispered, "Mon dieu, I wish I was somone else right now. The waiter, le putain, somet'ing... anyone..." He let his voice trail off, picked up the glass and finished the beer in three swallows. Remy knew there was something troubling his friend. He would let Guillaume work up enough courage to speak again.
"Let's have another," Remy offered.
"Let's have whisky."
"Mais oui, whisky.
Remy ordered two bourbons and two glasses of coke. he mixed the drinks. Guillaume picked up his glass and took a large swallow. he put it down and touched the dew on the cup. Rather suddenly, he picked it up again and gulped the rest of the liquid, wincing. He leaned back in his chair, exhaled quickly, and began to speak.
"I kept t'inking during de pinch dat it was goin' too well. Even for us... you know de first t'ing papa tell us is to trust only yourself? I spent my whole life living by dat idea, an' den it go and backfire in my face. I was de one who believed Jean when no one else would... So we get to de Musee Conti, jus' Jean et moi, n'one other homme working backup outside. It was parfeit. Perfect...so, anyway, we get de t'ings we need. An' I took a bit of somet'ing for myself, aussi. For souvenir.A little somet'ing from an easy pinch, non?" For the first time, Remy noticed the ring on his friend's right hand. It was an opal set in a cluster of small diamonds, resting prominently on his index finger. He followed the stone with Guillaume's finger trailing across the glass. He could almost see his reflection painted in the myriad of colours, like brush strokes in the dim lighting of the bar.
Guillaume cleared his throat and spoke again, "Jean was bein' real helpful, y'know? He did everyt'ing I ask, no questions. Everyone thought he was retarde, non, remember? But you could tell he knew what he was doin'. He's a stupid kid."
Remy almost smiled. Jean was older than himself and Guillaume put together. He pushed the empty glass away from him. "It was all Jean's fault, really," Guillaume added, as an afterthought.
Remy nodded. "Shall we have another?"
"Mais oui. More of de same."
Remy gave the waiter their order. he checked his watch briefly, and looked around the saloon. The place was slowly filling with drunken businessmen. A steady flow trickled in the door, suits askew from a day's work. Soon there would be no seats left. A few women came in as well, laughing and ordering drinks as quickly as men paid the tab.
"Remy, look at dat one. Dat women, sitting right over dere."
"What about her?"
"She has de most wonderful legs. And breasts... beautiful. Look at her breasts."
The waiter came with the drinks. Remy poured.
"Did I ever tell you about Michelle?"
"I met her a few years ago, at Mardi Gras. She's from Natchitoches, but she was stayin' in N'Orleans for a while wit' work. She was wonderful. Un actrice. You know dose actress types, non, Remy? A bit dramamtic, non? But wonderful. C'est ton le coup de foudre. We would talk all day long. She moved to Texas last Christmas. Dat girl, she reminds me of Michelle. Wonderful breasts."
"This is terrible whisky."
"Lousy. Let's have another."
Remy got them more whisky.
"Sorry," Guillaume said, shrugging off his story. "Where was I? Oh, oui, so de job went well. It was over sooner dan we t'ought. We go outside an' head back to de meeting place. On de way, Jean kept looking over his shoulder an' checking his watch. None of us noticed. We just t'inking he's affole, weird...tu vois ce que veux dire. If I knew den, I would have killed him"
"What did you do?"
"We got back to de house, like we planned. Everyone was dead... murdered. All Guild brother. It was l'Assasins. In de middle of de room was Jean's daughter, hysterique, et tied to a chair. Dere was an envelope pinned to her shirt wit' Jean's name on it. He never said,but I knew dere was money inside.
A lot of it. It was a t'ick envelope. I knew de Assasins kidnapped her tomake sure he did it, and dey must 'ave paid him too. Papa killed Jean for his betrayal, his faughter was sent away..." The words were spoken in a hurried sentence, rushed with the need to get them out. Guillaume paused now and took several sips from his glass before finishing. He looked at Remy with pleading eyes, "Dey dismissed me when Papa found out I was de one who suggested jean go wit' us. I had nothing to do with it. Rien. He banished me from de Guild anyway." Guillaume took a steadying breath and tapped his ring nervously against the empty glass.
"This whisky is really terrible."
Remy agreed and ordered a third round. The drinks came quickly.
"I don' know what to de, Remy. I have not'ing. I'm fucked."
"Is dat why you came here, to me?"
"You been t'rough dis before, mon frere. You know what it's like not to have de Guild backin' you. I have no money. No job. Not'ing. My only home is in N'Orleans, but I can't go back dere now. When mon pere died, he left me a cabin in his will, near Baton Rouge --"
"So why don' you go dere?"
"I lost it to someone in a bet."
"Guillaume, pour l'amour de Dieu...!"
"Je sais, je sais."
Remy let his head fall back against his shoulders, "We should have more whisky when we finish dis."
"It really is lousy."
They drank. Remy gestured, and the waiter refilled their glasses quickly.
"You came here for money, non?"
Guillaume only nodded.
"How much do you ne... want?"
The bar was congested with people now. Talk and laughter fauceted from every table. Guillaume was looking past Remy, refusing to make eye contact, staring at the women that had reminded him of Michelle.
"Guillaume. Tu es mon frere in all but blood. I want to help you. How much?"
"A thousand. Maybe, maybe two thousand."
"I need a place to stay. Jus' for a few days while I figure shit out."
"I'll pay for a hotel. You can't stay at de mansion."
"Je comprends, Remy. Merci. Dis is a great favour. I won' forget it."
"... de rien."
"Maybe I'll go to Texas."
"Maybe." Remy knew he wouldn't go to Texas.
"It's getting too crowded. Let's go somewhere else."
"Oui. Finish your drink."
They flipped for the bill, and Remy lost. The tab came to an even forty, including tip. Remy left two crisp twenties on the table. The wove their way through the tables to the door.
"You wan' to walk or take a taxi?"
They stood on the curb, cars rushing past them on Broadway. Taxis dcame and went, but none of them were empty. Guillaume's hair whipped crazily in the breeze. he smiled. "Dis is a nice place, Remy."
Remy felt good. He pulled a carton of Gaulloises out of his coat and packed them firmly. It was dark out, but the lights of Manahattan shone thick as diamonds. Remy lit a cigarette, and watched the rhythm of traffic pass him.The street was slick with light rainfall, and the tires of passing cars left alien handwriting on the wet tar.
"Where are we goin'?" he asked Guillaume after a moment, through a cloud of smoke.
"Let's find a bar that has hundreds of beautiful women. Or maybe... "
"Maybe a bar wit' a jazz band, and no one else in it but us. Lus' us, de band, and some good whisky. Merci, Remy."
Cars honked, and somewhere in the distance Puerto Ricans were banging on trashcans. Headlights blurred together through a thin veil of mist. Smears of red dotted the road for miles ahead of them as cars wove past each other in the traffic, conjouring up images of loneliness. Remy sighed softly and flicked his cigarette butt into the sewer. They waited for a taxi.
That's all. A few more lines, and I would have charged my own keyboard to explode. Hope everyone enjoyed. All questions/comments/criticisms/painkillers are welcome.
-O'Shaugnessy (I'm telling you I was the King of Spain!)