A Hero Too Late

Nick rushed into the Ice Lounge ready for action against…well, maybe he wasn’t quite ready for he knew not what.  A quick glance around revealed…nothing.  A few couples, a loan business traveler.  A busy night for the hotel bar.  He spotted a familiar bartender in a white jacket and headed for the bar, where there was only one lone patron.

As he walked, he noticed that the few couples seemed frozen in place, their eyes glazed over, their bodies held at strange angles or in mid movement.  Nick slowed his pace, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.  The businessman in the easy chair also looked more a mannequin than a man, glass held in his hand halfway to his lips.  Nick took a few quick steps and rushed the bar where Viktor was still straightening the garnish dishes.  The lone patron, a shorter man in a maroon shirt and dark slacks, was swirling a glass of dark red wine quietly while leaning against the bar.

“Viktor,” Nick called.  Viktor ignored him.  “Yo, Viktor.”

“Viktor, take a break,” the man in the maroon shirt said.  Viktor, drone-like, turned and walked off without a single look at Nick.  The sensation of the willies was back again as Nick took in the man as he took a long draught from his wine glass.  While the man looked quite a bit smaller than him, Nick felt a chill coming from more than the chilled ice river built into the bar top.

The man considered the liquid in his glass for a moment before setting the glass on the bar.  He lifted his other hand in which he held a cell phone, one of those palm-sized ones with the QWERTY keyboard.  “So what’s your rush?”  There was something in his voice, something menacing and yet cajoling.

“My boss, I thought she might be in trouble.  There’s weird shit a-foot in the hood.”  The words tumbled out of his mouth before they had finished forming in his mind.

The man smiled a deep, fierce smile and turned his face to Nick’s.  Dark stubble was seeming to grow into place faster than any five o’clock shadow Nick had ever seen.  And his eyes burned black, sending an icy chill down his spine.  What the Hell had he gotten into?

“It seems that there are no damsels in distress for us to rescue here this night, Nick Sakaki.”

“Huh?”  Nick couldn’t remember saying his name but his memory of what had just happened felt like it was slipping away as quickly as it happened. 

The man stepped towards him but he was frozen in place.  Unable to move, Nick watched in horror as the dark mysterious man shoved something into his chest.  His arms found movement again a split second before the object dropped and Nick grabbed at it.  It was the cell phone.

He looked down into the man’s face as his dark eyes caught him.  They weren’t black at all but deep blood red.

“Your boss will be missing this.  At least one of us can be useful this evening.”

The strange man then began to slowly walk from the room and Nick felt compelled to watch him go until just at the top of the stairs out, he exploded into a murder of crows.  Words Nick would never use.  Not even in his most poetic moment.

He shook his head and suddenly the room was alive with movement and Viktor walked hurriedly back to the bar.

“Nick!  A-ha, good to see you.  What’s new?”

Nick clasped the phone.  “I have no fucking clue.”

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Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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