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Gunman (part 3)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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If it is possible for your heart to leap with joy and at the same time fall into the pit of your stomach then Baka managed it.

She was happy and relieved to see one of the few friendly faces she knew, but also anxious now that the door had closed on her chance of leaving and scuttling back to the safety of being alone. She pulled her ruffled confidence back into shape and smiled brightly.

“Well, I said I would come so, here I am.” The practiced little laugh she tagged on at the end sounded convincing enough to her ears so, with just the barest glance at the little knot of people off to the right, Baka went to join Lost behind the counter.

For the next few minutes the two women slowly relaxed into each other’s company as they sorted and tagged the contributions Lost had gathered in New Flagstaff. Soon there were piles of everything from weapons, to armour, to ammunition, to clothing and even a fair amount of food placed strategically on and around the ancient counter.

By the time Baka had time to look up again the original small gathering had been joined by a waiting crowd of others who were in the main definitely less well equipped, les well dressed or, by the look of some of them, even less well nourished than the self-assured and poised looking individuals who now nonchalantly hung around on the periphery of the growing crowd whilst at the same time keeping a watchful an eye on them.

It dawned on Baka that a philanthropic activity like this might draw more than just those in need. Life was hard in the south of the province, even desperate for some and Baka was quietly thankful for the presence of those who had come to ‘lend their support’.

For the next couple of hours Baka and Lost listened to the stories of those who came up to the counter. There was wearing sameness to nearly all the tales. Some had been victims. Some had been foolhardy or disrespectful of the harshness of the desert. But most of them had just been worn down by the nonstop struggle just to survive and had given up trying.

Lost offered advice along with ammunition, encouragement along with armour and information along with the food. It was surprising how many of the people they talked to thought that there was nothing more than desert outside of the settlements. To those who showed even the barest glimmer of interest in what lay beyond the sand and the nightmares that inhabited it Lost told them of the planned convoy, protected by well-equipped and experienced fighters, that would be leaving for the north two days hence. Slowly, her list of sign-ups grew.

As the day wore on the crowd diminished, which was good because the piles of supplies were diminishing too. Baka found herself with time on her hands. Lost, too, had noticed the lull and was bimbling around the garage, kicking at piles of junk and sometimes squatting down to have a good rummage if she spotted something that might be useful. After one such rummage through a heap of electrical bits and bobs Lost stood up, put her hands on her hips turned slowly to take in all the accumulated junk the garage had to offer. Eventually she seemed to come to a decision and headed back to the counter where Baka was holding up two shin pads and wondering if two lefts would make a pair, even if it was an uncomfortable one.

“Ok Baka, there’s a tyre over there. We might use it, well, the rim at least.” Lost hauled her body over the top of the counter and lay, dangling, looking for something under it. She emerged with a tire iron and turned to Baka. “You any good with tyres?”

“Erm, sure. I’ve scav’d enough of them.”

“Here, take this. It’s not the tyre we want, that’s useless. We’ll get another one. But that rim isn’t in bad shape, rusty but still strong.”

Baka took the tyre iron, wishing she hadn’t left her scav’ing gloves back in New Flag. Lost gave her a smile and squeezed her arm, then left her to it while she wandered off to find something else. Baka shrugged and turned to the innocent wheel with a shrug.

“Looks like your time has come Tyreywirey.”

The tyre was past reclaiming, even for its rubber. Baka set too with a will. Around her the various conversations provided a backdrop to her work with the iron. She heard Lost’s voice amongst the low murmur and automatically tuned in.

“Oh, sorry, what?”

The man who had just spoken to her repeated the question.

“I said nice bike. Is it yours?”

Baka looked up while using both hands and all her weight to try and lever the reluctant rubber away from the stubborn steel.

The man was the one who had pushed past her at the door. She had only seen the back of his head before but now he was facing her over Lost’s shoulder. Short black hair. Angry eyes under scowling eyebrows and several days’ worth of thick stubble around his jaw. The most striking thing about him though was the strange little tattoo, like a black flame, over his right eye. Baka’s stomach tightened into a knot. Men like him… But the thought was interrupted as Lost spoke.

“It is nice… Comfy, but not fast… and it’s not mine… no.” The words were polite but the tone was guarded.

The man didn’t seem to notice.

“Pfft. Wouldn’t mind a ride like that.” He winked at her. “Speed isn’t everything you know.”

Baka watched, resting her weight on the tyre iron, confident that the tyre, after a hundred years or so, was not going to give up its death grip on the rusted rim just because a little human was tickling it.

Lost looked at the bike again and then slowly turned her head back to the man.

“One step at a time. Why don’t you help us out and make your own wheels?”

The man smiled, well, smirked.

“Well, I’m no mechanic...”

“You don’t have to be to put one together.” Lost jerked her head and the man followed the movement to look over her shoulder at Baka. “Baka is no mechanic either.”

The man locked eyes with Baka and his smirk grew. He nodded slowly.

“Sure. I don’t see why not. What do you want me to do?”

“Let me see,” Lost turned. “Is that rim free Baka?”

Baka was still staring into the red rimmed eyes of the man Lost had been talking too. At that moment the perished rubber tyre gave up its attachment to the rim and Baka pitched forward. She just managed to stop herself landing face first onto the oily concrete. She scrambled up, wiping her hands on her jeans.

“It is now.”

“Cool. Let’s get to the tricky part then. The brains of the bike, the control system.”

Baka managed to drag her eyes away from the man and followed Lost over to the big pile of wires and electronics she was examining earlier. Lost delved amongst the dials, wires and circuit boards.

“This looks like a fine place to start. What a load of junk though, terometers, radio, some fasteners…”

Behind them, the man took off his jacket and carefully leaned his sword against the wall.

Just then, loud music erupted from the general area of a flamboyantly dressed man  who Baka couldn’t help but notice from the moment she had walked into the garage. All heads turned towards the sound.

The flamboyantly dressed man started to dance. Arms held high, hips grinding.

“Nothing like classic rock.”

Everyone was smiling at the show. Except for Lost, whose smile disappeared the moment she caught sight of the blood stained shirt revealed by the tattooed man taking his jacket off. Lost sought out a figure in the small crowd.

“Hey Dren?!”

A young woman turned at the sound of her name being called.

“Yeah, Miss Bride?”

“Why don’t you help this guy with some clothes? He’s in rags and I’m not sure if he likes it but it’s putting me off my food.”

The man looked down at himself as Dren came over to him.

“Sure. Man, your shirt looks like shit. You could use something new.”

The dancing man danced closer.

“I could help you with those.” He smirked and winked. “…Getting them off I mean.”

Dren turned the dancer around.

“Sunny? Why don’t you go find a dancing partner while I deal with our friend, eh?”

Sunny danced off again, laughing lightly. Lost, meanwhile, had gone over to the counter and pulled a shirt, old but serviceable, off the pile of clothing. She tossed it to Dren who opened it and held it up for the man.

“How’s this?”

The man took it with a slight bow.

“That’s fine thank you.” He pulled his bloody shirt off. “And you,” he aimed at the man called Sunny, “stay the fuck over there.”

Dren, Lost and Baka watched and waited while the man pulled the new shirt on and fastened the buttons.

“So what do we call you?” Dren asked. “Now that you don’t look like you just stepped out of an abattoir.”

The man looked up from fastening the last button. Smiling, he looked at each face in turn.

“Destefano. Michael Destefano.”

 

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

** stops eating popcorn. Open mouthed and wide eyed, snuggles into Reavy..

 

((  woohoo !!   Joe is writing again !!! :D

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

((For anyone interested, this was dated 09/06/2012... wow.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Michael Destefano's picture

((Holy crap. I remember that, I mean I had forgotten that encounter but now I remember!!

Pretty sure it was my first rp encounter with DeStefano. And he said his name haha. That was before... Well... It was a long time ago :-D

Thank you for sharing this. Bloody hell, it feels like a lifetime ago. 

Canni Belle's picture

((More please))

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid

Engel's picture

((Dark premonitions here.

We all love a well written piece, I believe... but I also believe we are headed into a dark, dark story which will be so difficult to swallow. FERP at its best. Please continue. ))


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