Risky Choices: Chapter Three

Greg sat, ill at ease, watching the rain, an unlit cigarette hanging from his scowl and a burner phone in one hand. Toni lay sprawled on the bed behind him, the sheet doing little to cover her curves. She was a poor substitute for who he really wanted, but he needed her if he was going to make it out of this alive.

He contemplated his options, each successive choice driving him further to anger.

God dammit, why did I do this to myself? Should I go back? Vi can handle herself, surely?

He was dressed and reaching for his coat before realizing he was doing it. As he made his way out, he bumped the bathroom door, pausing as it creaked. It caused Toni to stir.

“Where you going, Sweetie?” she called, sleepily.

“I just need some fresh air is all. Go on back to…” His voice trailed off as he heard her snoring. He nodded and closed the door with a soft click behind him.

“He just left,” she said when Greg was gone. The line went dead, and she put the phone away. She ran a hand through her purple-streaked hair. She couldn’t wait to end this farce. He was terrible in bed, and his breath was always sour. She wanted to just put a bullet in his skull in some dark alley and have done with him, but Big Tony wanted his money back, S.H.E. was hounding her to bring Greg in for questioning, and God only knew if Mable had her sticky fingers pulling strings from the dark. She probably did; heroine buys a lot of friends these days.

She walked to the table and withdrew her cigarettes and lighter. Smoke haloed her face for a moment before she leaned on the wall and exhaled a curse. There was just one last piece of business to attend to before she could finally get some shut-eye. She picked up her phone, flipped through util she found the right contact, braced herself, and hit send.

At two in the morning, the street was empty, unlike his shoes. The rain was warm and heavy, but he was too intent on finding that last bastion of light in the darkness. He licked his lips, savoring the drink to come. Why did the crap have to hit the fan in the rainy season? Though it didn’t stop Greg or the man following an appreciable distance behind him.

His contact told him where and when to meet, and the place looked…disreputable, great. He felt under his arm for his pistol, loosening the holster, lest he fall into a setup. There was a shit-load of cash at stake, and he didn’t want to take any chances.

He stood in the door. It was dark, dingy, and smelled like it looked. He trailed water all the way to the bar. The circles under the barkeep’s eyes, and his furrowed brow, told him all he needed to know. This was a man who didn’t care for small talk. Good. He didn’t feel like talking. Greg threw a few soggy bills on the table, apologized and asked for some whiskey.

“Can I get the bottle, too?”

The barkeep grunted and brought out the bottle. Greg handed him a few more bills. Best to keep the ‘keep on your side.

“Sorry bout the, uh, mess, hoss.”

Greg grabbed the bottle and found a seat facing the door. There were only two other people drinking this time of night, only the most dedicated of alcoholics. Little threat there. He sat down, took a sip, hesitated, and drained the rest. Cheap stuff. Good thing there was a lot of it. It would do the trick. He relaxed and waited…

Chris Rogers


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