|Territory Extra: Cat and Mouse
Author: Guede Mazaka
The front page of the newspaper should have tipped him off: some bigwig getting shot as he took a stroll on the balcony of his summerhouse. But it had happened in Europe, and Robert was vacationing in Veracruz. He still thought of himself as Robert, just as Electra thought of herself as by her old pseudonym, and they'd both come to the conclusion that some things simply could not be abandoned.
Other things, apparently, could not be made to disappear. When Robert lowered the newspaper, he nearly spilled his coffee.
Miguel grinned. "Hello, Rath. Enjoying the sun?"
"You're dead." Robert mildly impressed himself with the steadiness of his voice. "I'm certain you were."
"Of course, of course. An expert like yourself would feel those bullets hit home." The other man leaned forward over the table, a companionable air surrounding him. Robert didn't smell cordite, but nevertheless he began to surreptitiously reach for his cell.
A wagging finger and a tsk stopped him. "Acting like a mark, Rath. The mice always run away together. But you shouldn't worry. Now that neither of you are in the business, I have no interest in killing you."
"That's not what you said before." He counted a drowsing waiter at the next table over, not enough to forestall a shooting. "Don't tell me you're a changed man."
Miguel put on a hurt expression and pushed the newspaper further down. "Why not? You think I can't learn?"
As if to underscore those words, Death walked in and propped his scythe up against the wall. Rath blinked again, and the blurry sight resolved into a tall man dressed like a mariachi, whose weapon became a guitar case carried by another man, who kept his white cane tapping close to the mariachi. A second later, a third stepped into the pavilion, tattoos blazing out from neck and bare arm. He abruptly remembered Miguel and turned back only to find the other man watching the three newcomers, an intent look on his face. Robert chuckled. "You've got to be kidding me. There are mice, and there are cats. They're out of your league, Bain."
"Who ever said I thought they were mice?" Miguel asked, getting up. "Listen, Rath. You beat me fairly, and I respect that. But it happened on your ground. This isn't. So take her and get out."
Miguel wove his way through the tables, not bothering to glance back as Robert bit down on his irritation and also abandoned his seat. No point in seeking another fight. Especially not with the waves of…something…rolling off the mariachi. Robert had lived too long to start ignoring his instincts now.
But curiosity made him turn at the door, and shock made him pause to watch.
Miguel was tucked into the tattooed man's chest, head thrown back while the mariachi buried his face in Miguel's throat. The blind man was draped over the mariachi's other side, sucking on a cigarette. His sunglasses were staring directly at Robert, and the curling smoke bent the light to throw a contemptuous gleam over them. His lips moved, and Bain tilted slightly to wave at Robert before melting up into two mouths.
Robert turned away, shaking his head. He knew he should be planning a quick departure, but his bemusement refused to die off. "The kid grew up, after all."
Never a mouse
Geometry, Alfred Kreymborg