Author: Guede Mazaka
The thing about living at night and sleeping during the day is that Dwight ends up seeing some weird shit. It’s not exactly new, because when he thinks about it, he’s got half-baked memories stretching as far back as junior high, but it’s more noticeable. Even when he was a photographer for the papers, he worked more in the daytime than not, and under the sun you can ignore a lot of things. Under the sun, you’ve got prettier, more glittery things to catch your eye.
It’s a good thing he’s put away his camera, he thinks. He’s pretty sure that what he walks into on a regular basis now would burn out the lenses.
“On the couch,” Gail says, pointing with her mug of coffee. She’s covered in sticky thick crap that smells like blood, but it’s not the color of anybody’s normal blood. It puts Dwight in mind of the story Nancy told the girls and him once, when she was just drunk enough to cry over a guy who wasn’t there.
He ignores the body on the sofa and walks over to Gail, swiping some of the stuff off so he can sniff at it. Promptly tries to blow his nose inside-out while she snorts, cuffs him gently upside the head. “Sorry I wasn’t there.”
“Yeah, you should be. You missed a hell of a fight.” Her tongue flicks over the rim of her cup, pink against the dark brown liquid. But her fingers keep rippling over the ceramic, tap-tapping nails a dead give-away of nerves that aren’t worked up because of adrenaline or hellcat lust, and she lets him tuck a strand of hair back into a hairpin without even sneering at him. “Think Wallenquist might’ve finally figured out who set him up with the Mob. He brought in one messed-up wonder-worker.”
“Took care of it?” Dwight tips up her chin, but is quick to jerk away his hand the moment he sees mischief light up her eyes. Her teeth clack a breath short of catching his thumb-tip.
For a second, she’d let him kiss her. But he doesn’t, and the second’s over. Gail bats aside his hand and nods towards the couch. “Yeah, with that guy’s help. He says he’s on his way back to Los Angeles, so we’ll give him a bed. But not here—the girls are coming up in a couple hours.”
She doesn’t ask Dwight to lend his apartment, and he doesn’t really expect her too, though it’d be the polite thing to do. But then, they aren’t a polite couple.
Dwight goes over to the man and gives him a good shake on the shoulder, yanks him off the couch. Then he’s got to jump back quicker than Miho because the motherfucker lashes out and lashes out with something that’s going straight into the ‘weird shit’ category in Dwight’s head. He raises his hands and stays clear. “Hey, knock that off. You’re going to burn down Gail’s place, and she hasn’t even finished her coffee yet.”
“You could wake me a little more gently.” The man is nearly as tall as Dwight is, but much thinner, and the shape of his eyes says maybe Gail should’ve grabbed Miho for hosting instead. But he talks like L. A., and the cheap undertaker’s suit on him rules out anything like yakuza. He looks Dwight up and down as he gets to his feet, wary as a beaten dog. “Who are you? The boyfriend?”
“Only when I’m feeling suicidal. Come on, you’re borrowing my bed. Gail needs hers. I’m Dwight, by the way.” Dwight turns around and makes for the door without waiting for the other man. That’s not polite of him, and he’s a bit puzzled as to why, considering he generally tries to be one of Old Town’s more personable elements. The spot between his shoulders itches beneath the skin, a scratch that starts to crawl around his body.
The other man follows along, walking stiffly like one side of him’s all bruised up. He keeps rubbing at the side of his jaw that Dwight can’t see, and the way he looks at Dwight gets on Dwight’s nerves. It’s slantwise, cool and analytical, and it’s a look that’s a dare for a fight. “John.”
“Gail get you to take the worst of the fight?” The itch is getting worse, making Dwight’s fingers start to twitch, which makes him put it down to nicotine cravings. Though when he lights up, he doesn’t feel any better. He flips the box at John, who takes one a touch too quick.
Addict. They stop just at the mouth of the alley outside the door so John can get his lighted. His cheek muscle had ticked sharply when Dwight had mentioned Gail’s name, and now he glances up at her window with a mixture of respect and irritation. “Well, it’s not exactly gentlemanly to see a lady get hurt, is it?”
“Did she slap you any for that attitude?” Dwight asks, amused.
All John does is give Dwight another look, as if the question’s too stupid to be answered. But that’s an answer in and of itself, considering how it makes the itch under Dwight’s skin sharpen into a warning stab. As usual, Gail’s left working out the details up to Dwight, and what he thinks is that she just wanted this guy out of her damn home, help or no help. John gives off an air like smoke and fire, like something that could promise warmth and safety on one day and then turn around to destroy everything a man’s got on another.
And suddenly his head comes up and he’s staring Dwight full in the face, a little nasty glint in one corner of his eye and a regretful one in the other. “You see, don’t you?”
“How likely is it that tonight would happen again—no, that’s the wrong question. How much worse can Wallenquist buy?” Dwight drags on his cigarette, blows a thin stream into John’s face.
John doesn’t blink. Instead he takes his own drag and then he lets the smoke trickle from his nostrils so it wreathes him in shadows. The parts of him that do show in the razor-orange street light could cut glass. “As worse as he wants. It’s not any different from the regular world. Money talks. Power talks.”
“I see.” The cigarette is only half-gone and the scrabbling of Dwight’s nerves isn’t any better, but he stabs out his butt on the wall. Then he takes a step, and then another until he has John backed up against the brick. The other man doesn’t look intimidated in the least—until Dwight presses the long edge of a knife against the inseam of John’s pants.
Then John’s mouth drops open a little. Just a little, just enough to tell Dwight that that kind of attack hadn’t been what the man had been expecting. Like he’d guessed—everybody got used to what they saw, and they stopped seeing anything else. If they saw daisies and apple pie, then that’s all they ever saw. If they saw bullets, if they saw misshapen monsters from hell eating corpses in the shadows—same principle.
Bravado settles over John’s face like an old friend’s handshake. He keeps smoking while he talks. “Didn’t I just help out your girl? Saved her life and everything.”
“Yeah, or else she never would’ve let you see where she lives.” Dwight smoothes his other hand up John’s chest and brushes away a bit of ash that’d landed on the man’s lapel. “But you aren’t going to be seeing it again. Keep going to L. A. in the morning.”
Whatever John can do, whatever power he has, it’s irrelevant to the fact that with a twist Dwight can sever the man’s femoral artery and watch him bleed out in less than a minute. He knows that; the knowledge shows in his eyes as a black glittering calculation.
“But for tonight, you can stay in Old Town,” Dwight says, pressing the knife a little harder. Then he snaps it shut and drops to his knees, his hand skating down John’s chest to lay the man’s fly open in one deft move. Trick he learned from the girls.
John apparently doesn’t expect this either, which should drive home the lesson that wherever he’s from, he doesn’t know the rules here. His prick jumps and swells quickly in Dwight’s mouth, and soon he’s reduced to the same level as any other man that comes to Old Town. Dwight sucks hard, squeezing mercilessly with his throat muscles and ignoring how the other man yanks at his hair. He gets clawed around his ears, on his neck, but he just digs in with his heels and swirls his tongue harder against John’s cock. It’s a matter of minutes before John’s hands are beating fiercely against the wall and Dwight is choking down John’s come.
But he’s nice. He swallows it all instead of spitting it to the side, and he wipes off his mouth before he gets up again. “My place is about three blocks from here.”
“What—the hell—” John sputters, staring wildly at Dwight.
The next question out of John’s mouth is going to be whether Dwight’s as popular a whore as his girlfriend, Dwight thinks. It always is.
But no, it isn’t. Instead John runs a hand through his hair. And then he starts to laugh, and takes a last drag on his cigarette. “Cut from the same deck, huh…well, thanks for the night here. Dwight.”
Dwight still doesn’t like the man, but maybe he’s a little more respectful of him. “You’re welcome,” he deigns to say, and then he leads them off to the brief rest allowed to men like themselves.