I made my way through the darkened streets to the Open Bar, clutching at the roll of money in my pocket tightly. I hated the City at this time of evening, just as the sun was setting. The street lights shone their awful orange light over the odd, mind-defying angles and corners, illuminating the semi-darkness that was around me in a way that was far worse then had it been just pitch black. Shapes stumbled around in the darkness as I gripped my roll of cash even harder. It had been a tough job, but worth it. The Presbyterian Church had paid well for their security upgrade in their headquarters and anything that upset the Lord's Brigades was well worth doing. It was strange, you'd think those two groups would get along, but the Presbyterians work among the City slums, plus their denunciations of the evils of capitalism, toned down lately of course, had made them enemies in very high places.
Ah, here I was. I looked up to the narrow door of the Open Bar. The taller buildings either side of the squat bar threw deeper shadows in the relative darkness, but here, a step away from the Bar, I could be more or less assured of safety. I swung the door inwards, savouring the bright, cheery light within, a stark comparison to the architects nightmare that lay outside.
Dying for a scotch, I moved my way up to the bar itself. It wasn't that busy this time of evening. Most of the people who came here didn't work “normal” office hours anyway, me among them, so the busy times were often random and unpredictable. Grabbing a stool and peeling a note from the roll, I said to Mangrove “some Glenlivet thanks. Actually, make it a double, with ice.” He came back swiftly with the drink, saying “its funny you should be in today. LMNO was asking about where you were.”
“Oh?” I replied, before taking a sip. “What was it about?”
“He said he may have a job for you, something that suited your particular skills, he said.”
“Oh dear, that never sounds good. He's pretty competent on his own, I can't see why he'd need me for anything.”
“Well, he has got this new client whose case is taking up a lot of his time...”
“Hmm, maybe I'll contact him and see whats happening. Thanks for the tip-off.”
“No problem” Mangrove replied as he went to serve another customer.
So, another job, I thought to myself as I sipped on the scotch. That could be useful. Ever since the “incident” 9 months ago, I had been more or less without steady employment. I mean, sure, it wasn't like there weren't jobs available. But working in a factory 11 hours a day until I was 70 just didn't have the appeal, nor did drug running for the Matarese or the Cosa Nostra or whoever had control of the trade, for that matter.
Finishing the drink, I grabbed my cell and made a call to LMNO's office. One ring...two rings..3...just as my thumb started to move to the hang up button, someone answered. “Hello?” LMNO's voice came, crystal clear down the line.
“Hi, its Cain here,” I answered, “I heard you had a job offer for me?”
“Yeah. Well, kind of. Its complicated.”
“We'll need to talk then. You name a time you're free.”
“We'll, I can be at the bar in, say 10 minutes? It'll have to be brief, as I've got a client to meet straight afterwards.
“That'll be fine”, I replied. “See you in ten.” The line went dead.
I enjoyed the rest of my drink, idly waiting. It wasn't like I had any pressing engagements, plus the Open Bar was very welcoming which was a nice change in the City. I had just finished the scotch and was about to go for another, when LMNO walked in and took a seat besides me.
“Hi, good to see you're here. You wanna know what this is about then?”
“Its a good place to start” I replied, turning on my stool to face him.
“OK, I'm going to have to be brief but I do have some additional information written down here. Basically, do you remember my business partner, the Shadow?”