Allow me to set the scene.
the thud thud thud of the bass
as bodies writhe on the dance floor.
A New York Nightclub.
As much as things have been delaying the search,
I am here to meet someone who knows of him.
I see an older man.
Early Forties I think, I could be wrong though.
Stands like a soldier, but weak.
As if he has not eaten in days.
He had sent me an email a little while back.
It had taken until now to get him comfortable enough to meet with me.
"So you decided to come?"
He speaks just loud enough for me to hear him.
"Are you armed?"
I tilt my head. "Of course not."
"If I were to search you, would I find anything?" He eyes me carefully.
Suspicion is everywhere, I should have more of it...
"A phone, a wallet, chewing gum and a piece of string.
Are you worried I am going to kill you?"
He frowns at me.
"Just look, we had a deal.
Just answer my questions about Stone,
and I will tell you about what I know."
"Want to go somewhere quieter?"
"Here is fine."
He has noticed I am uncomfortable.
Despite the noise he is eager to stay and chat.
"Why did you kill him?"
"I did not pull the trigger you know."
"But you may as well have." He seems agitated.
I ask him if he had killed anyone before.
Ask him to understand that I was under orders.
Salome only shot him because I was in danger.
"And your life is worth more than his?"
Shrugging, I look at my beer.
"Wasn't yours when you were in combat?"
"He was my SO during Desert Storm."
He supposes I am too young to know about it.
"He called me lucky, you know?
Took a round to the head.
The helmet stopped it.
Bullets curved around me, like the Matrix."
"Why do you do what you do?
and don't give me that Good Soldier bullshit.
We both know it's not true."
I look away. "It keeps me alive."
He starts "You know it is not the only way."
I almost punch him, but I stay quiet.
He finishes his beer and stands.
"That is all I wanted to know..." He turns to leave.
I stand, moving to stop him.
"What about the information?"
"I want to talk to the Ember that isn't only following orders.
He said you would be like that.
Holding yourself like a soldier when we both know you're nothing but a coward."
"You sicken me."
I let him leave.
I head outside soon after.
He is waiting for me a few blocks away from the office.
A parking lot.
He punches me in the face.
I pull the knife from my coat, my arm against his chest.
I shove him into a parked car.
I press the blade against his throat.
"Tell me what you know." I hiss.
He spits in my face.
I watch as a drop of blood runs down his throat.
He gives me a curious expression, causing me to move away.
Just a couple of steps, I do not want to kill him, but I will.
He fishes in his pocket every motion slow,
I keep the knife ready.
"He came to see me. An old man named Felix. He told me to give you this."
He holds it out, a small carved wooden bird.
It sits in the palm of his hand easily,
the details make me
I remember something.
I move to take the object.
He grabs my wrist and pulls me toward him.
It is all so fast.
I push the knife into his belly,
the curve of the blade forces the slice upwards.
I must have done it wrong,
I must have missed his heart.
He staggers back against the car again.
"He promised me an end." He whispers,
the pain is clear in his voice.
I try to make it faster.
Make it end faster.
I shove the sharp point into his neck,
pull back toward me.
Blood covers my black coat,
I hold him close, shushing him softly.
When he stops breathing, I check his pockets.
I hear something crumpling.
I will type it up when I have time.
"Lucky," I do not know your name.
But rest peacefully now.