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Reducing Overheads (epilogue)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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The posters had been up for some hours now and Joe needed a drink.

Instead, he made do with chain-smoking foul cigars and pacing up and down in front of the vaults, oblivious to the normal endless mixture of business and social chatter going on around him. He paused to look over towards the pond. Tukiko had arrived a few minutes ago, galumping across the grass perched atop Mr Stinky like a fearless grasshopper clinging to a mouse. Now she sat on the bank of the pond splashing her bare feet in the water while the enormous blightwolf sat a few feet away, pausing from growling at passers-by for a moment to raise a hind leg and scratch noisily behind its ear.

"Go home Tuki," Joe murmered. "Go home fer gawdsake."

As if on command, and much to Joe's relief, Tukiko stood up at that very moment and turned towards the blightwolf. Mr Stinky immediately stopped sniffing at whatever he had dug out from behind his ear and stood up too, his rear end swinging from side and turning his enormous tail into a potentially lethal weapon as it scythed through the air. Tukiko lifted a hand and Mr Stinky's whole front end dropped to the ground, allowing the girl to climb up into the saddle. Then they were off, the blightwolf leaping straight into a gallop, his huge claws tearing up the grass which each bound. Joe watched them head off in the direction of Hope, and still watched for some seconds after they had dissapeared from view.

He had already had several responses about the poster. Some had not been serious, pulling his leg about him getting into the slaving business. Others had actually been genuine enquiries from couples who seemed honest decent folk. Then there were those enquiries that were either couched in inuendo or... worse. Joe finally dragged his eyes away from the far corner of the square, the noise around him cutting off his thoughts. He went back to pacing.

Maybe half an hour later, he looked up, back to that same corner where Tukiko had dissapeared from view. There was no mistaking that pink car... that pink car that showed no sign of slowing down as it tore across the grass towards him. Pedestrians leapt out of its path but Joe was unable to move, caught like a rabbit in headlights, he watched unblinking as Nordic doom hurtled in his direction. At the very last moment the interceptor slewed around and screeched to a halt close enough to him that he could feel the heat of the engine and smell the burned hydrocarbons.

There was a pause of a few seconds before the engine noise died and the driver's door was flung open. Joe flinched then and was surprised to find that he had rediscovered the power of movement. Every sneaky, coniving, cowardly survival instinct he possessed screamed at him that now would be a good time to sprout wings and fly away. Instead, he backed slowly away towards the crates he referred to only half jokingly as his 'office'. Flight was not an option, not after he'd waited all day without a beer it wasn't.

Hyle Troy climbed from her car like the Kraken emerging from its lair. She had a poster in her hand. Joe watched her come closer. He turned several shades paler than his normal unhealthy palor but he stood his ground defiantly.

"Miss Troy, I..."

Hyle's punch landed squarely on his nose. Joe staggered backwards into the wall, clutching his nose in both hands.

"OW!"

Hyle took a step forward and raised her hand again, making Joe adopt the well known defensive posture of standing on one leg, knee raised to defend the groin while both hands protected his face.

"Du luset lort!"

Hyle waved the poster at Joe. "What in hell is this about?!" Joe risked a peek out from between his hands, seeing the poster and not a fist being waved at him he lowered his leg. "Explain! NOW!"

"Now, Miss Troy... Hyle." Joe rubbed his nose, making sure it wasn't broken. "I can understand you're upset but look at it from my side..." The hand holding the poster balls into a fist, crushing the paper. Joe splutters on... "She's costing me a bleedin' fortune!"

The second punch comes not from the hand holding the poster, but from a sneaky right-handed haymaker that caught Joe squarely on the cheek bone, snapping his head around and sending his cigar flying. Joe collapsed to the ground, sliding down the stone wall behind him to finish, sitting on his butt and trying to refocus his eyes on something other than the pretty lights.

"You piece of Lort!"

Sensing further potential for pain, Joe covered his head with both arms.

"It's just good business!"

Hyle paused, stunned by Joe's words.

"She... is not a commodity...!"

Joe looked up from between his arms.

"No, she's a bleedin liability!"

The furious Troy sister now had both fists balled.

"She is NOT a liability!... And she sure as hell is not yours to... to... sell!"

Despite the vulnerability of his position Joe was infused with a little spark of righteous indignation.

"I ain't selling her! It's an adoption... all legal an proper!"

"Shite! It's you making a quick profit!"

"Look. Put yourself in my place..."

"Joe, I wouldn't lower myself to 'your place'."

"...She's expensive. Cars, armour, wages..."

"All earned! I knew you were low Joe, but not this low."

Joe debated with himself for a moment.

"Well, ok. Wages I grant ya." He climbed to his feet, slowly.

Hyle glowered at him as he rose in front of her. She wanted to punch him again, but her hand was starting to bruise. She rubbed it, flexing her fingers. Meanwhile, Joe was gently touching his bruised face, wincing.

"You will remove these posters Joe. I mean it."

Joe looked at Hyle. It was like gazing into the eyes of a she bear defending its young. His mouth went dry. But a bear can only kill you... there are worse things, much worse. Joe pulled himself up to his full not great height.

"No... I won't. I can't afford to keep supplying her with... " He gestured for a word."... stuff." He locked eyes with Hyle. "I want her off my hands and out of my ledger."

Their eyes remained locked for a few seconds. It was Joe who looked away first. Hyle's icy stare took on a look of disgust.

"You are..." But the language barrier prevented her coming up with a suitable english word, so she found several Danish ones. "...uetisk, uværdig, feje, grådige. betyde."

Joe reached slowly into his pocket and came out with a document.

"Now if i knew what that meant i might be offended. Look, you can hit me all you want. I've got the law on my side." He unfolded the paper, holding it up to Hyle. "See."

Hyle snatched the paper and began to read it. The document sited Joe as Baka Neko's legal representative with power of attorney. The bulk of the legalise covered the adoptive process and only required the name and signature of the prospective adoptive parent. She could only stare open mouthed at Tuki's possible future set out before her.

"This is... unbelievable... Damn you." Joe straightened his duster, looking more confident as Hyle continued to read. Eventually, she finished and looked up. Joe gently retrieved the adoption papers and folded them back into his pocket. "And who do you have in mind for this... adoption?"

Joe hunched his shoulders into a shrug.

"Anyone. Not a nutter of course, but any reasonable person. Had a few offers already as a matter of fact."

Hyle's anger grew and flared in her eyes.

"I shall translate that from Spivey to english... you are meaning,, "Who ever bids the most?"

Joe looked uncomfortable, but didn't deny it.

"You're welcome to make an offer."

Hyle's face turned incandescent, her eyes like bolts of blue ice, horrified at the suggestion

"You want me to make an offer?!"

But Joe saw something else too in those eyes, something he had been waiting for.

"If you like.... thinking about starting at.. oh... thirty red? Cutting me own throat mind.. but at least Tuki knows you." For a second Joe thought he might have pushed too far. Hyle looked set to explode into violence again. "It's only what she's cost me!"

"Gahhhhh!"

"An that aint including all that armour!"

Hyle turned on her heel and stomped away. If she stayed she knew she would likely do somthing that she... and Tuki, would regret. But she stopped when she heard Joe's words following behind her.

"Feeblemind, Gina Keyes.... Keith Rawkings...................................................... Abyss."

A cold hand clutched at Hyle's heart. She spun around.

"You do not make a move, you miserable  kusse....   I will be back." She jumped into her car and roared off, leaving long, muddy skid tracks in the grass.

Joe watched her leave. Grimacing, he lifted a hand to his nose.

"Owww."

Another man, standing close by all this time also watched Hyle Troy leave. Unseen by Joe, who was now dusting himself off and looking slightly abashed, he whispered into his radio.

Some minutes later Hyle's car returned, slower this time. It stoped by the pond and Joe watched Hyle get out and sit on one of the benches. He was about to go over, albeit reluctantly, but he saw a stranger already closing in on her. Joe stopped and watched. The man moved to stand next to Hyle, who looked up at him. He lowered his mask.

"What's going on?" The words were quietly spoken with concern.

Hyle looked up then gestured in Joe's general direction.

"That miserable , sleazy little git."

The man laughed softly.

"Which one? There's a few here who fit that description."

Joe sidles closer, faking business with a vendor. This was not expected. Who is this guy. Joe is nervous and brushes a hand across his shotty, comforted by it's presence. But Hyle is speaking.

"This is about Tukiko..." Joe edges closer then kneels down and ties, and then reties his shoelace. "...he's just going to sell her to the highest bidder."

There was a pause, the man looking down at Hyle, watching her.

"Soooo, why not put in a bid?"

Hyle sighed.

"Huyy...  Tukiko has not got a price, Charlie. She's priceless...  to me more than most." She sniffed, swallowing down the emotion. "I can not believe he has sunk so low... Of course I'll put a bid in...  even I have to sell everything to keep her safe"

Charlie picked his words carefully.

"Its Joe, and theres profit in it. Sadly, if he went to the union its also legal." He hesitated, not sure how his next words would be taken. "I could help you out. An intrest free loan..." He let the words hang.

Hyle looked up at him, trying to make him understand.

"Charlie its not about money. I am not poor."

"I know, its fuc...its wrong what he is doing, but from what I overheard, it looks like he has the right to do so."

Just then Hyle turned and glared at Joe, who hurriedly set to work on his shoe again.

"Thats the scary bit," she said. "There are some who would pay a fortune for a young girl.... we know who they are." Hyle turned back to look out over the pond. "I need to think about this."

Charlie put a comforting hand on Hyle's shoulder and then turned and walked slowly away, leaving Hyle with her thoughts.

Joe watched the guy leave with not a little relief. Leaning against a pagoda rail, he watched Hyle and waited.

Hyle took a deep breath, wiped her eyes and then stood up. She walked the short distance to the pagoda. Joe straightened up at her approach. She stopped, a few feet from the pagoda.

"Joe.....    a word."

Joe moved the few feet towards her, trying to judge her mood. To his surprise, she looked drained, beaten and for a fleeting second Joe looked... guilty. Then Hyle raised her chin.

"You will make the papers out to me...  I dont care what it costs."

Joe noded, just once.

"Thirty red?... it's not unreasonable, considering all..." He trails off. He'd won, he knew it. No need for more.

Hyle looked at him.

"Din skiderik."

Joe licked his lips.

"Thirty red then."

Hyle took a deep breath, and then just nodded.

"Come to my car." At the car she turned to Joe. Her look was hard to fathom as she regarded the man. "Tell me why I should not blow your head off, Joe?"

An hour ago those words would have had Joe's sphincter twitching. But now...? He looked at her steadily and a little sadly.

"Because... I'll come back."

Joe waited, not sure if Hyle would make good on the threat or not. Then Hyle reached inside the car and tossed Joe a bag of chips. Joe handed Hyle the adoption papers with a small bow and transfered the unopened bag of chips to his duster. Hyle briefly opened the papers then slid them into her jacket.

"If it was thirty yellow, it still would not be what she is worth. Bastard."

A flicker of a smile, gone almost before it iwas there, tightened Joe's lips.

"I know"

"You .......  are disgusting."

"I get by."

"Get out of my sight."

Joe walked away. Halfway to his 'office' he turned around.

"It's.... for the best you know." Not waiting for a reply he then turned again and continued on his way

By the time he has reached the crates by the auctioneer Hyle has gone. Joe lifted a hand to his collar. He listened.

"Yes."

He listened again.

"I know."

Joe closed the connection. He looked up to the sky and let out a long breath.

"Time for that drink."

--------------------------------

A long way away a delicate hand responded to an incoming transmission.

"Is it done?"

A pause.

"Bad times are coming Joe."

On the table a tiny, beautifully crafted clockwork chicken wound down and became motionless. It's jeweled eyes stared blankly off into a grim future.

Comments

Subdane's picture

((I love this and dammit I miss it :-) Hyle if you reading this hugs incoming your way *Does an impression of Hyle swinging a hook at Joe))

Sean Kincaid's picture

Sean Kincaid's picture

((Thank you for sharing this, I can only hope to affiliated into such great roleplay and roleplayers!))

Calliope's picture

(( Loved this, Hyle's reactions were great. :)  Hit him again!  Hehe... ))

Veronica Volt's picture

((Very nice. Intriguing.))

Canni Belle's picture

(been a while since I had such a DAMN good read with my coffee ... bravo to all involved.

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

Petyr's picture

Not only made me laugh, but for some reason cheering for Joe. He's my hero now.

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Abyss's picture

[[ Well done.  Looks like some interesting events are unfolding.

Muse's picture

((OMG...I laughed, I cringed, I laughed again...I wanted to smack Joe before Hyle could again. So friggin awesome. And now after that ending you have me on the edge of my seat!! Gah..more please! This is fantastic!))

feeblemind's picture

((poor Tuki haha. Glad she's in good hands now :D Joe's the best businessman eva!

 

ps: I wasn't for real when I meant to apply for Tuki's adoption :P my forum name isn't the same as my toon name but... that worked, otherwise my toon could have some problems o.õ

Robert Lancaster's picture

(( I laughed so hard but I got a question, Mr Stinky is the blight wolf mount or the pup?))

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Japanese porn: Schoolgirl on a bullet train being molested by Godzilla.

Joe Spivey's picture

((Mr Stinky started off as Tuki's blightwolf pup which she 'rescued' from outside of Oilville and then hid in an old bus in Hope until the time was right when she could tell Hyle. Of course, pups grow up so when Tuki hit level 45 she did the quest for the mount and this then became the grown up version of the pup.

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



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