Settling with the Man

Aug 26, 2014 by

 

Old 67 would like to introduce you to Ryan Hartson.  A crime fiction author from St. Charles, Illinois, Ryan self published his first book, “6 Months”, last year.   What you are about to read is the first installment of his short story, “Settling with Man”, which we’ll publish over 4 separate posts.  We hope you enjoy it, we did!

 

Settling with the Man

by Ryan Hartson

They sat, and the waitress came by, so they ordered coffee. Isaac and Perry looked across the booth from each other laughing in mid-conversation, they go and on about things, meaningless things, and now they sit with the view of the frozen-over city out the window, people walking past in thick coats with faces locked in distant, suppressed expressions.

The coffee comes and the waitress asks if Isaac and Perry want anything else, and they say they don’t, so she walks away.

“You just gotta go,” Isaac says to Perry, shaking moisture off the top of his thick, black hair, “That’s all there is to it. It’s the best place there is.”

“It sounds exciting. You know, I read a lot about it…”

“Uh-huh.”

“And I just…I’d love to, really, but…there’s just somethin I’m not sure about.”

“What’s that?”

“Well…I kinda don’t speak the language.”

“What? You don’t speak no Japanese?”

Perry sips his coffee and looks out the window. He sees a young mother down on one knee buttoning up her son’s coat, “No,” he says, and turns back to Isaac, “You know that. And since when do you speak fuckin Japanese?”

“Man, I speak Japanese fuckin fluently.”

“Bullshit. Gimme some. Gimme your best Japanese sentence. Some complicated shit that I won’t know what it means.”

Isaac laughs as he’s taking out a pack of cigarettes and setting them down on the table. He says a sentence in Japanese. The voice he speaks in ceases to have any trace of the accent that matches his skin, he sounds asian.

“God damn,” Perry says, “That’s pretty good. What’d you say?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Fuck you, what’d you say?”

“Man, cut it out, I didn’t say shit.”

“What, you just lied to me now? You spoke some gibberish to me?”

“No motherfucker, I didn’t lie, I just said…you don’t need to know what I said.”

“Wow,” Perry says as he watches his friend light a cigarette, “Didn’t know you were so sensitive about your bilingual abilities. I didn’t know anyone could be sensitive about some shit like that.”

Isaac blows smoke at Perry’s face, “Fuck you, man. Let’s get that waitress back over here, I want some pancakes.”

He takes a menu that’s folded up on the side of the table, opens it, and sets it down in front of him.

“Why don’t you order in Japanese?”

Isaac look up from the menu and glares across at him.

The waitress comes by, and Isaac orders his pancakes, and she leaves again. Perry sips his coffee and gags at the bitterness left in his mouth. So he reaches over and gets two sugar packets, rips them open together, drops sugar into his coffee, then with a spoon he stirs meticulously, keeping his eyes fixed on the blackness of his brew.

“So you were over there, workin for the Man?”

“Yeah,” Isaac says as he exhales smoke, “I was over there workin for the Man.”

“What’d he have you doin?”

“Oh you know, all the normal work. Little a this and that.”

“He sent you to Japan to do all the normal shit? Doesn’t he have somebody in Japan that can do all his run-of-the-mill business?”

“Well, there was this one thing that I had to do.”

“There we go. What was that about?”

“The Man’s daughter, is what it was about.”

Perry’s eyes widen. He’s silent for a moment, left in a panicked train of thought, then he asks, “The Man’s daughter?”

“Yeah.”

“What happened?”

“She took a whole bunch a the Man’s cash and fuckin split to Tokyo because… I dunno, the Man didn’t hug her enough as a child or whatever.”

Perry laughs, “Oh yeah. I heard about that.”

Isaac shakes his head, “Ungrateful bitch, man.”

“What was her name?”

“Uh…Jenni.”

“That’s right.”

Isaac snickers, then he grins, “That’s right? Motherfucker, don’t con me.”

“What?” Perry asks as he takes the spoon out of his coffee and sets it down on the table. A splash of brown liquid pools around it.

“Man you fuckin know ‘what’. You know all about Jenni.”

“I do not. I have no idea what the fuck you’re talkin about.”

Isaac’s grin widens to a smile, “Alright, man. Whatever helps your ass sleep at night, is fine with me.”

Perry shakes his head, “So what’d you have to do with the Man’s daughter?”

“What you think I had to do? I had to follow her ass around and shit. I had to tail her like I’m fuckin British Secret Service. Everywhere she went, I had to be thirty feet behind at all times.”

“Did you bring her back?”

He shakes his head, “No.”

The waitress comes with a plate and sets it down in front of Isaac. Putting out his cigarette, he looks down at the five pancakes with the ball of fluffy butter on top, and watches the melting parts of it at the bottom roll away and drizzle down the side of the stack.

“Mmm. Thank ya darlin.”

The waitress nods and walks away. Isaac rolls his knife and fork out of the napkin they came in.

“But she’s back in town now?” Perry asks.

“Yeah. She back in town now. She ain’t livin with the Man, I dunno where the fuck she livin, honestly. I was ordered to stop tailin her ass at the airport.”

“Why’d she come back?”

“That’s a good question. It’s not like I put the pressure on her, she didn’t know I was around.”

“You are a pretty good tail.”

“Damn straight. Thank you.”

“Yeah. So what was she doin over there?”

“I dunno, all the usual shit women do. She was goin to get massages and swim in the pool and she shopped a lot. Ate sushi, got drunk at karaoke bars, ya know, all that typical Lost in Translation Tokyo shit.”

“Did she spend all The Man’s money?”

“Maybe. I dunno, I wasn’t keepin track. Like I said, I was just followin her around.”

Perry nods and lights his own cigarette.

Isaac looks over at him with an angered gaze, “Hey motherfucker, I’m eatin here.”

“Would it make a difference to you if the roles were reversed?”

“Well no. But I just got back to town, man. In Tokyo, everywhere is smoke free, I didn’t have to deal with chain-smokin motherfuckers over there.”

“But you’re a chain-smokin motherfucker.”

“I don’t give a shit. Put it out.”

Perry takes a long drag, exhales, and smiles. Isaac shakes his head and eats.

“How did the Man find out Jenni went to Japan, anyway?”

He swallows and replies, “I dunno. However the Man finds out shit that he finds out.”

“Interesting. Tokyo is a long way off.”

“It don’t matter. The Man don’t got no jurisdictional issues. The world is his turf. You should know that, best of all.”

Perry is silent for a moment as he ponders the statement. Then, his voice in a tone of skeptic confusion, he asks, “Why?”

Isaac smiles again, “Man, I forgot.”

“What?”

“I said, I forgot, that you are the most oblivious son of a bitch walkin on planet Earth.”

“Oh, fuckin blow me.”

“I will, just let me finish my pancakes first.”

“Man, I don’t want your maple syrup lips all over my dick. Get the fuck outta here.”

Isaac and Perry both laugh. Outside, a tall hooded figure in a leather jacket pulls a revolver on an elderly woman in a pink overcoat, and demands her purse. The elderly woman lifts up the cane she’s walking with and whacks him in the back of the knee, causing her assailant to fall to the ground. Then she strikes him again, this time in the face, reaches down, takes the gun from his hand, and walks away, leaving him unconscious on the icy sidewalk.

To be continued…

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