“Hey Talon, what are you doing here?” Marty was one of the cooler guys he worked with. He didn’t talk down to Talon, just because he was a lowly dishwasher and Marty was a chief. “I thought you had tonight off?”
“Oh, I think I left my Personal here,” he lied. Talon didn’t even have enough money to own a personal, which these days meant his dating pool was pretty narrow.
“Well, the lost and found is near the register.” That was what he was hoping Marty would say.
Hurrying through the busy kitchen, he dodged plates and conversations. He saw a stray steak knife and tucked it into his back pocket. It wasn’t too big, but it could come in handy.
Making it to the front, he dropped behind the counter. Sassy was working, which he couldn’t decide was lucky or not. He had a hard enough time talking to her normally, but tonight, he was already feeling like his pulse rate had doubled.
The thought that he had eaten a steak of human flesh splattered across his mind. Did it somehow make him different? Could it scar you? He tried to push such feelings away. There would be plenty of time to ruminate on that horror later. Right now, he just had to make sure he had a later.
Attempting to push his tangled thoughts aside, he moved in behind her, waiting. There were worse places to be. Wearing the skintight Chinese dress did what it was supposed to do and graced her thin figure exquisitely. The scarlet dress matched her heels as well as her lips. She had a short blonde gloss cut, which belled out just over her hairline. Luminescent light blue eyes finished the look.
Sassy selected from the cream of the available undercrusties, and sometimes men who weren’t so available. She was way out of his league, even though they were of an age. This didn’t keep her from being decent to him and they joked around as much as he could manage.
Turning to face him, she smiled, “hi there Talon, just can’t stay away from the fun?”
“You got me pegged, I can’t hang here next to you while I’m not the clock, so I have to come in off shift for the privilege.“
He might have almost brought some color to her cheeks, and she eyed him slyly, but then quickly said, “Why are you really here?”
“I think I might have left my Personal here?”
“Really, I didn’t know you had one.” throwing her hip out slightly, she eyed him strongly.
“Why do you want my number?”
“Maybe,” she pointed a scarlet fingernail towards a haggard yellow box that sat under the counter. “There is the lost and found. If you see a pair of amber earrings let me know.”
Talon was trying to kill time. He had to stay behind the counter as long as possible. Minutes dragged until he had spent enough of them to search the box three times.
“You know that if you lost it here, some scratch would swipe it anyway,” she said from behind him.
Holding up some thick red winter gloves, “here, how about these? They match your dress?”
“Hilarious. If I didn’t now better, I’d say you were lingering down there to check out my legs.”
“Man, I should have thought of that.” He was trying to joke, but things were wearing thin. Just then, what he had been waiting for happened. One of the waitresses came up with a man’s Digi-cred on a plate. Sassy quickly scanned the number. The number was only on the blue screen for a few seconds, but Talon jotted down the info on the back of his hand with a pen. Thank you Brian Whitney, he thought to himself with a secret smile. The digits disappeared before he could double check that he had gotten the right number. He had better hope that he had, the entire plan rested on this data.
After a brief attempt to part nicely with Sassy, he was on this way. Dashing out into the stagnant night, heading back to the last place in the world where he wanted to go.
* * *
“Yeah, he sent me back to get everyone. There are three people that we got.” Gesturing with his hands. “We need help, getting them all back.”
Pitch glared at him through squinted eyes. “Why three? Rick knows that we are only supposed to do one at a time.”
“No see that’s the thing. This is way more than what you guys got before. These three were smugglers. They had all sorts of stolen electronics. Valuable stuff. We can bury the bodies if we have to. Who cares?”
Pitch had drawn a black bladed dagger and was now playing with it while they talked. Talon tried not to stare at it. “How did you PRs take out three guys from the majors?”
“Mostly because Rick is a freak,” he answered. “The guy went sickness. The whole thing happened under a bridge over the canal. He got two of em’ and I waxed the third by pushing him over the railing.”
“You waxed a guy?” Pitch didn’t struggle to hide his disbelief.
“Unless he can survive a thirty-foot drop.”
“Come on Pitch,” Stain was saying, while tugging at his arm. “I’ve always wanted a Ipod. It would be cool to have a Television here too and make some real money. RTD is…sick like Talon says. I could see him wasting these guys.”
“I’m still not sure.” Pointing his dagger straight at Talon’s face, there was now only a foot of space separating the tip from his eye. “It seems a bit on the, to good to be true side, for my tastes.” A pause, “why didn’t Rick come back?”
“Someone had to guard the gear. He’ll be able to scare any dregs off.” The others were getting excited and soon Pitch didn’t have much choice.
“Alright you pudwacks, we’ll check this out and we are all going.” Pointing the dagger at him still, “and you, we will be keeping a close eye on you.”
“As long as I get my share.”
“Oh, we believe in sharing everything.” As he spoke these last words the glowing eyes of the rest of them all focused on Talon. Trying not to shiver, he could only met their gaze for a moment, before he turned and led them out the door. Many of them paused to gather up weapons. Not to be outdone, Talon went to grab a baseball bat. Pitch was faster. He snatched it up and tossed it to Mucci. The dark skinned youth caught it easily. “No weapons for you yet. Mucci keep an eye on this PR. If anything goes less then perfect, keep hitting him until he stops moaning.”
Mucci pushed him forward and the group faded into the streets of New Cluster.