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Chapter 5 - Tony

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 1 comments

Flinching and being surprised are two traits Aiden had drilled out of himself. Things happen or things don't happen. Be ready for death but live life. Easy enough.

The apartment door is cracked open and he doesn't care. In his line of work if you're going to be killed, they fuckin' kill ya. There's no Hollywood prelude where the next two hours are spent trying to reverse that decision.

Tony “Tone Def” Stern's ass pokes out from behind the fridge door. He's rooting for something to eat in the land of condiments. Aiden half-heartedly wishes him luck with that.

Tony has a hawkish-look; thin build, hook nose, dark eyes, sullen face, and dirty skin. His clothing is mismatched: tennis shoes, tan polyester pants, green and white-striped alligator shirt and thin, blue corduroy jacket.

Tony got his nickname from the fact that he really is deaf. He wasn't always that way. Back in his early twenties Tony had been a smooth operator in the drug trade. Problems came when he crossed Thadeous Brown, a black gangster with enough attitude to serve a cellblock with room for dessert.

Two of Thad's thugs rounded Tony up and handcuffed him to a telephone pole in the middle of East Moses Nowhere. Next the goons took opposite sides and unloaded he didn't know how many clips of ammo but they shot 'em into the air, holding the gun barrels by his ears.

Most guys probably would've given up and given in after that. Not Tony though Aiden couldn't put together why. He changed his career title to “gopher,” doing whatever for whoever for the money. On occasion Aiden would imagine himself in that scenario: what he would do, how he would do it. Never for very long.

“Aiden! Business slow?”

“Nah. None of my assignments happen at a grocery store.” Aiden walks through the entrance and paces toward his black leather couch.

“Funny.” His voice always sounds off. “Funny guy. Speaking of, did you hear about..”

“Steven. Yeah.”

Tony kicks the fridge door shut with half a pack of crackers and half a log of summer sausage in his hands. “Someone just told me.”

“News travels.”

“Did you do it? I mean, I don't care. He's your friend and all.”

Aiden pulls his gun out and lays it on the end table next to the leather couch. It was the one apartment luxury he afforded himself.

“Outside of food what do you want?”

“He had something of interest.” Tony walks toward the couch.

“What type of interest?”

“Let's say... I could get Thad off your back.” He's smiling, like he's holding the biggest secret in the world and plans to dangle that fact over Aiden. Aiden is smarter than that.

Tony sits on the opposite sides of the couch, lowering himself into it. The sound from the cushions is loud.

“He had something Thad wants. Thad wants you dead. If you have what he wants...”

“Isn't it early to be brokering a deal?” he says wryly.

“Not in my line of work.”

True. Very true.

“What is it that Mister Brown is looking for?” Aiden smoothly asks, acting nonchalant.

“A movie.”

Bingo. The out-of-print blood-smeared DVD, now conveniently hiding in his glove compartment.

“Thad likes movies?”

“Thad likes money.”

“What does Thad want with the DVD? What's so important that's on it?”

Tony shrugs. He stuffs crackers into his mouth and chews loudly.

“Ah...” Aiden sat back. “Tell him that I don't know what the fuck he's talking about.”

“Is that your final answer?” It's muffled but Aiden gets the gist.

“With sugar on top.”

“Thad's not going to like it.”

Aiden bobs his head side-to-side in a way that said, well, whooped-dee-doo. “The feeling's mutual.”

Tony jumps up. “I'll tell him I didn't see you. Consider us 'even.'”

“Awfully big favor for some crackers and summer sausage.”

“I also ate up all your yogurt.”

Dammit. “I knew it was someone. Feel free to let yourself out.”

He turns and walks out of the apartment.

“Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.”

“I heard that!” he shouts, his footsteps and voice echoing off the staircase.

Chapter 4 - What He Told Her

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 0 comments

Dolphins. That's her theme. Some women decorate the walls with unicorns or horses. Some women plaster their places with pictures of cats and kitties. Not Bridgette; she loves dolphins. Amusing to see and funny if you realize she has at least twenty cans of tuna in the cabinet.

Aiden sits at the table and looks around. He's on round four of counting all the dolphin pictures and figurines in plain sight. Yep, twenty-five.

A popping sound comes from the kitchen. She's now wearing his white long-sleeve shirt but has also put on a pair of gray sweats and is now making breakfast. When she asks him what type of eggs he wants for breakfast he always answers, “Scrambled.” That's all she knows how to cook. He once asked for over-easy and since then came to the realization that scrambled eggs were good enough.

“So what were you doing at three a.m.?”

He hates that; the fact that women always ask the questions that they already knew the answer to. “Do I look fat in these pants?” “How do I look compared to her?” “Do you love me?” In some alternate universe, “Shit, I'm with you, aren't I?” is an acceptable answer. Not in this one.

She wants to know if he had killed Steven. And then she doesn't. If he didn't she would want to know why not and if he did, she would want to know why. Details either way are less warranted.

“I just missed you, babe.”

Simple. Easy. True enough.

She scrapes the eggs out of the pan onto his plate, walking over and placing it in front of him. Aiden picks up his fork and she kisses him on the forehead.

“I really missed you, too.”

He starts eating and she goes into the kitchen, coming back with two glasses of orange juice and sets one in front of him. Walking over to the opposite side she sits and watches.

He stops and looks up at her. “Are you eating?”

“I'll warm up a bagel in a few minutes.” Clasping her hands together she smiles.

“Hmmm.” He returns to eating. In some situations, in heightened paranoia, he would stop eating altogether because whatever he ingested would have poison in it. He's dead certain she isn't that crafty; he has to be.

Reaching across the table she strokes his hand. “Wanna talk about it.”

He stops again. He wants to say, “It was fucking senseless,” but it that turned to, “There's nothing to talk about.” Grabbing the glass of juice he tilts his head back and washes down the eggs.

“Are you sure?” Her hand retracts.

Grabbing a tablecloth he wipes his mouth “I went in. He was freaking out.”

“About us?”

“No.” He stares down at the plate in front of him.

She sits back for a moment, then leans forward.

“About what?” She's now looks curious. Intrigued.

“He picked up this Criterion, whatever, out-of-print master copy of some obscure movie. He didn't realize it was hot.”


“Someone took it from Thad.”

“Who's Thad?”

“Or what is Thad. Big, black, mean as fuck gangster. I'm numbero uno on his hit list right now.”

“What did you do?” She sits back again, the chair making a sound.

“Long story. Steven found out the he was numbero dos and there was a hit out on him.”

“Why would they want to kill Steven?”

“We all gotta die, baby. It's just a matter of when and how. He screamed and pitched a fit when I told him. After that things got worse.”

Silence. She only sits there.

“I scored a deal with Thad. If I got him the DVD and killed Steven, all debts are clear.”

She slumps in her chair. He doesn't know if this is what she wanted. Or maybe she had thought she wanted it and the realization is just beginning to sink in and buddy, the Titanic went down with more grace.

Looking into her eyes the dam of tears is about to crack. No doubt the water would come rushing. He could play this two ways...

Jolting up he pushes the chair back and walks over to her. She looks up as he takes his right hand and caresses the left side of her face. Her eyes close and tears run down her face. There's a shudder in her breath as his fingers touch her face and slowly move to her neck. Aiden hears her small gasp for air and can feel her heart quicken. Raising her head he kisses her on the lips.

“Baby, baby, baby. It's okay. Alright?”

“Yeah,” she whimpers so low Aiden can barely hear her.

“It's okay, baby. Alright?” Moving his thumb across her tears he wipes them away.

“Yes,” she sniffles.

He moves down to kiss her again and she closes her eyes. This kiss lasts longer as her teeth pull at his bottom lip.

Letting the moment fade he pulls back, walking to the front door.

She watches for a moment. Hearing the lock turn she jumps up she runs over to him.

“Do you have to go?”

“Yeah,” he says in that way that says he has stuff to do that he doesn't want to. “I need to see a man about a DVD.”

She looks up into his, him down into hers. Burying her head into his chest, she tightly hugs him.

“I'm sorry,” she says through sniffling. “I'm just confused.”

“Yeah, baby. I have to go.”

She looks up at him again. “Promise me you'll be back.”

“Before you know it.” He smiles.

He bends forward and kisses her lips. They were two of the best but the electricity felt flat.

Opening the door he walks out, leaving her standing in the doorway. She slowly closes it.

Racing over to her purse she pulls out her cellphone. She texts someone.

Chapter 3 - Price of Refuge, Part One

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 0 comments

Steven knew. Aiden knew that. Now all that's left is a lifeless body and a life sans a decent guy and a gaping black hole for what happened.

It’s not that Aiden didn’t cheat or hadn’t been cheated on; it's just that it never became personal. He didn’t know until it too late who was being cheated on, which broke some unwritten guy rule. Guys who did that had to look up to see the gutter. Aiden wasn’t comfortable with that feeling. Either Bridgette was oblivious to the rules or didn’t give a fuck about them. Probably both.

Life goes cinema when you can look back and say, “That should be in a movie,” or hell, you repeat the script word-for-word. On a Saturday night at Steven’s place the pick was some old black and white film. His conversation excited, his hands flew everywhere while he talked; Aiden could correctly apply the term “gesticulation” to Steven. The intro could be summed-up this way: Kubrick, black and white, heist, racetrack, and Sterling Hayden.

In a moment he saw those eyes; the eyes that know something is going on. Ones that try burning a hole through you as if to say, I know. I know it’s you, you piece of dogshit. I will fuckin’ murder you. Not that they ever do but if looks could kill Aiden would’ve been done in sometime during high school.

Steven stood in front of the widescreen TV talking about various aspects of how the movie was made and what Kubrick was thinking ad nauseum. Aiden sat in the chair to the right of where Steven would be sitting taking it in calmly; he had to play it cool. Bridgette, while far from being an Oscar-winning actress, made herself pretend as much as she needed to show. In the crosshair of glances and stares Aiden just sat and let the show play out until the final frame fwapped on this story’s projector reel.

Chapter 2 - Bridgette

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 0 comments

Aiden opens his eyes and doesn't remember what the hell happened the day or night before, but knows there should be receipts for it. Rubbing his face and trying to wake up he realizes the sheets he's lying on are nice. Really nice. Which means that this isn't his place.

Bridgette. Before he could turn over the comforter is pulled off of him while she gives one of those satisfied sounds. She smiles and bunches the satin pillow under her blond head.

An invisible icepick continues to stab the back of his mind and he doesn't know why. Something inside says that he shouldn't be there. But the sex is great and last night that chick went for broke.

Bridgette. Aiden couldn't recall how much longer Steven knew her than him but he knew them separately. Not until after their third time together did he find out that she was cheating on him. By that time the voice of reason got sealed in a locker and dropped to the bottom of the Marinara Trench.

She is stacked for a librarian. Kids librarian. Not the prudish, pent-up with a pencil holding the weave of her brunette hair librarian but the kind of chick you'd find on an episode of Babewatch. The kind of chick that clothes wear to make themselves look good. The kind of chick that God himself takes envy on sitting in a bar somewhere knocking a few back and bragging, “I fuckin' made that!”

Maybe Steven had mentioned her. The first time Bridgette mentioned him she cuddled beside Aiden and talked about Steven's awkwardness; the fact that his eyes weren't so much talking to hers as they had sunk into the crevice of her cleavage. Aiden laughed. “Yeah, that's Steven.”

They first met at the Possibility City International Airport which is about as international as a continental breakfast is continental. Which is to say not at all, unless the breakfast in Pango Pango has bagels, dried malt cereal, mini-muffuns, coffee, and Orange Passion Guava to drink. Sitting at the gate he thumbed through his default novel, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” because all the new stuff was crap. The gate area looked as desolate as the loneliest plain in Nebraska so when she walked by in her black high heels, low-cut white blouse and tight black skirt he'd have to be dead not to notice her. When she sat across from him and crossed her legs with scissor-precision...

“Enjoying the book?” she said in that sweet, low voice. He could make love to that voice.

“Yeah, until I realized there were no pictures.”

He smiled. She laughed. It all starts simple enough.

Now she lies beside him and seems happy. Content.

“What's the matter?” Her voice almost a whisper, but happy.

“I... was thinking breakfast.”

“Hmmm...” she rolls over and faces him, touching his arm. “In bed?”

“I figured we would fly to Aruba, book a nice hotel and look down at the beach.”

“I would need to get dressed first.” She smiles.

That momentary pause when anything could happen. She bolts up. He looks into her eyes. “Stay here for a moment.”

He watches her naked body slide off the bed and disappear into the bathroom, the door closing behind. Her heart-shaped ass a commodity; one of the best.

Lying in the bed nothing pops in his head. Searching for something; some clue as to what went down. All circuits are busy.

She swings the door open and his concentration breaks. She's naked except his black tie that's touching her perky, globe-shaped tits.

“Morning sex first?” she smiles and climbs into bed, straddling him and dangling the tie over his mouth. He bites the tie, tugging on it.

“Why not? I'm always up for an appetizer.”
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