The Threat

After Hank stopped me from leaving Marlin’s Inn that fateful Valentine’s Night, no one had much more to say to me.  It was closing in on closing time, and Santiago already shut off the neon bar signs and was moving onto the TV’s.  The cabs outside were honking, but they’d wait – we all tipped well.

H.L.won a free game on the MegaTouch system and was milking it for all he could.

Kilgore crumbled up a couple of his drawings and slipped them into his pocket as he stood to approach Hank, who was sitting beside me.

So what’d you and the pooper scooper have to say to each other?  Wait, the pooper scooper’s the other one.  What’d we call the slimebag? Kilgore asked him, speaking first of Ellis, then of Ryan.

Nothing of importance. 

Hank’s response caused Kilgore to pat my back.  He doesn’t mean you’re not important, Aiden.

Shit, Hank said, coming alive as he spun around.  If we’d talked about him, I’d have said we shot the shit!  Meaning he – a gracious thumb pointed at me to clarify – was the shit we were shooting.

That’d be a fun game, H.L. muttered.  Shooting shit.  On the MegaTouch or in real life.

Are you done yet? Santiago wondered.

I just won another game.

Kilgore put up his hands.  Why so defensive, old friend?  It’s almost as if you’re… hiding something.  I faced Kilgore as he backed away toward the exit and the awaiting taxi.  He held his hands in the air and wore the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on him.

Hank harrumphed and spiraled back toward the beer tap.  Santiago grabbed the spigot before he could.  Their mutual stare-down was a short-lived showdown.

H.L. and Hank split the next taxi, and instead of letting me walk home, Santiago offered me a ride.  He drove a noble Cadillac Brougham, as mint as it was in ’85, just like he said.  It was the same color burgundy as the couch in the ladies restroom where Asheigh and I had our “fling” I need to decipher.

We didn’t really talk much as we drove down the road, but we hardly spoke at the bar either.

I had him drop me off in front of my apartment complex.  As I got out, he had this to say to me:

If you made a mess that you did not clean in “there,” understand that I will kill you.