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Gunman (part 5)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Present Day

Joe sat at his desk in his study. Outside, in the hall, Anneka squealed and ran up and down while being chased by Silja, who was doing her best impression yet of what was meant to be the Troll who stole little children away if they wandered too far from their nannies. Fanciful in its execution, it nevertheless served useful purpose in helping keep the little girl safe in a world where most things were at least as dangerous as the mythical beast. Silja was teaching Annie about Trolls, but in the time and place Annie had been born into bears were trolls, dogs were trolls, most flying things were trolls and even some people were trolls of the worst kind. And none of them just tickled you if they caught you. Today’s lesson was ‘run and hide’. But as Annie got older the lesson would become ‘kill or be killed’.

Joe tuned out the soft thunder of bare feet on deep carpet. It had been three weeks now since Joe had put the word out that he was looking for the man known as ‘Gunman’. So far, he had received very little return for his outlay.

The problem was the thinness of the information he was able to give those doing the looking. Gunman as a name rather than a description. There were plenty of gunmen around, or at least those who described themselves as such or were known by reputation as such. But very little came back to Joe’s ears about men called Gunman and the few references he did hear always linked the name to the Devil’s Own, but he already knew that.

Other whispers that came back to Joe were of people who had left the Devil’s Own or, like Finney, had been forced to flee when the Union or mercenaries or just pissed off townsfolk had attacked the Devil’s Own in force. But ex members of the gang tended to be a tight lipped bunch, even when there was a fair amount of chips on the table. A slow shake of the head, a muttered “Never heard of him” or a simple “Fuck off and die” were the usual responses. But then Joe was also of a similar mind-set so he understood. If some arsehole came up to Joe and asked him if he knew anybody called Kirsten Kjaer he would rub his stubble and think very hard for a second or two before swearing on his mother’s grave that he had never heard the name in his life… Even though Kirsten might be standing next to him at the time.

It was a question of trust, Joe thought, as he turned his pencil end over end with each downward tap on his blotter. The Devil’s Own trusted only their own, and for very good reason. Everyone else hated them, despised them and wanted to see them erased from the earth. The fact that they did business with Joe didn’t mean that they trusted him. It just meant that they didn’t kill his delivery guys. Which was fortunate for… Joe checked the name on the Med Centre invoice. …John Smith. Joe had a lot of John Smiths on his employee roll. This one might even be walking again in a few weeks. This John had taken it on himself to try and earn a bit extra by asking a few questions of his Devil’s Own minders while he unloaded unmarked boxes from the trunk of his car at the encampment outside Serenity Falls.

Joe sighed and looked again at the single sheet of notes. Nothing. Not a single thing to add that he didn’t already know before. What he needed was someone on the inside. Someone who the Devil’s Own trusted. Joe pulled the Union Medical bill towards him and grunted. More bleedin’ expense. Bloody doctors, charge what they want and how is the average punter supposed to know if they are being ripped off or not. Joe opened his ledger and made an adjustment in the business expenses column under ‘industrial injury’. The thing is, he thought. Is that every bugger trusts their doctor…

Joe froze, his pen stopped in mid fraudulent entry. He lifted his head and searched the row of pictures on the far wall, finally finding the one Hyle had sent him of Tukiko’s graduation from Haven. As he looked at the happy face with the goofy grin beaming out at him while holding up her diploma for the camera, a slow smile broadened across Joe’s face.



((Sorry about the double entry in one day. I was checking something in game and it just bleaghed onto the page.

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

(( Careful Joe. you could be heading for another punch on the nose......

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

Engel's picture

(("Sorry for the double entry?" No need to be.

I'm still glued to this story, always happy to see the development."


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