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Love and Money: Chapter one

So. Fragging. Stupid.

When I woke up this morning, I never thought by the time dinner rolled around, I’d be beaten half to death and shot in an alley, slumped against the burned out husk of a condemned building, praying to pass out just so the end can come quickly.

Looking back on it, I can’t believe I never saw this coming. It was like something out of a hackneyed detective vid. I met up with a woman with innocent eyes and set of long legs which were anything but. In retrospect, everything after that was so predictable and cliché, it made my head spin. Nothing is cliché when it happens to you.

Yesterday morning started out like any other day; the taste of synthscotch in my mouth and a five alarm hangover pounding a slow, steady beat in my head, perfectly in time with my pulse.

Eventually, I talked myself into opening my eyes. First mistake of the day. The early morning sunlight seemed to take on a malicious mind of its own as it passed through the dirtied window, then my eyes and into my brain, where it told the drummer in charge of my hangover to pick up the pace.

About a minute and a half into the new beat, I realized I had no clue where the hell I was. I opened my eyes again, though much slower this time, and surveyed my surroundings. Beat up, mock leather couch. Faded pressboard desk with a vidphone and answering machine resting on the desk, red light blinking, indicating unanswered messages. Willing to bet every one of them contains phrases like “final notice” or “payment due”. Sometimes, I get one with “Give us our money, or we’ll break your fraggin’ legs”, but that’s only on the really good days.

I continued my hung over visual scan of the room, and came across a beat up wooden door with a window showing the phrase “EXCELSIOR INVESTIGATIONS”

Great, I’m at the office. I don’t remember how I got here, but at least I won’t have to commute.

After psyching myself up for it, I rolled off the couch and made my way into the adjoining bathroom, my walk more of a staggering waddle, as if my legs were continuing the bender from the night before and showed no signs of stopping.

I passed through the doorframe, and flicked the switch, which lit the single light bulb and casts the dingy badly kept bathroom into a sickly shade of off-yellow.

Leaning closer to the cracked mirror on the wall, I opened my eyes wide and took a visual account of what kind of toll the previous night had on me. Dear god, I looked like hell -- a far cry from the pretty elves on the trid. Of course, if we all looked like the trid stars, we’d all have long, flowing, golden locks and flawless skin. Instead, my hair is short, scruffy and dark. My skin is in decent condition, despite the constant presence of five o clock shadow. A face only a mother could love.

After a few minutes of staring into my eyes, bloodshot and red from the booze, I decided that in my current state any attempt at grooming would simply be pointless. I contemplated simply staggering back to the couch and going back to sleep. My college buddies used to tell me there were two great ways to get rid of a hangover: drink more or sleep it off. I was flat busted and business wasn’t exactly booming --in fact it just barely covered my rent for the month-- so bang goes idea number one.

I turned myself around to face the main room. Just one more bad mistake in a series of several bad mistakes which defined my life to this point.. A wave of dizziness came over my head, then headed south and turned into outright nausea as it hit my stomach. I doubled over as the contents of my stomach decided they wanted to come out to play, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember when I ate noodles yesterday.

Then I remembered the blinking red light on the vidphone. It was blinking on and off in a steady rhythm, like a child begging for his father’s attention. “Look at me! Look at me!” it nagged, “Over heeeeere!” After staring at it for a few seconds, it dug its way under my skin, got on my nerves, so I had to answer.

I pressed the button on the receiver and the screen came to life with the image of an impeccably dressed twenty-something woman, her hair so neatly done and her blouse so perfectly pressed, I could have sworn she rolled off an assembly line.

“Mr. Raines,” she began, “I’m calling on behalf on MegaFun Media Rental. It seems you’ve rented several items from your local store, every one of which is overdue. You understand that we…” My right hand shot out, stabbing the delete button with my extended index finger, sending the bill collector into the digital ether.

Next message cued up, showing a man who was the Ken to the bill collector’s Barbie. He started his spiel: “Hello! You could win a brand new…”


Next message, an elven woman. Short red hair and emerald green eyes. Sarah.

“Hi Sam, its Sarah” she began; “Listen, I’ve been meaning to tell you about me and your brother. I’m really sorry you found out the way you did. It’s just that you’re never around anym…”

Delete. Bitch.
The last message came up on screen. Male. Human. Though it was hard to tell through the greasy hair and the sweat-glazed, fatty jowls. I knew this petulant, greasy lump of jiggle as Aggie. Before he even started in on a message, or so much as a greeting, he coughed hard several times, the convulsions causing his cellulite encased face to twitch and spasm like a man in the throws of a slow death, the sweat flying off his reddening face by the gallon. Once again, I felt my stomach revolting, but I managed to keep it in check this time. The fat man on the screen turned his head to the right, facing off camera as he hacked up a sizable wad of phlegm and spat it out with a loud splat. Pure class Aggie, pure class all the way.

He coughed a few more times, clearing his throat before his eyes, beady little pinpricks amidst a sea of pink rolling flesh, focused back to the task at hand.

He wheezed; “Sam? Sam, you there?” He paused a few seconds, as if waiting for someone to answer. “Guess not. Anyway, get your pointy-eared ass to the club. Got someone here wants to meet you. Says she needs a private dick, and I told her you the biggest dick in the business.” He let out that hacking, wheezing laugh of his. The one he does when he thinks he’s said something clever. “Talk to you when you get here”

Then, as if in closing, he hacked again. Louder, and with a greater splat than earlier, before the screen went black.

I hate getting jobs through That Fat Fuck Aggie, but I was hardly in a position to be picky. So I gathered my things. My rumpled grey trench coat and fedora –you can’t mess with the classics—cigarettes and matches. All the essentials but one. Fumbling through the pockets in my pants, I came across what I was looking for: the small maglock key that went to the cabinet in my closet.

With renewed purpose, I held the key in my palm and crossed the office and went to the closet. I had to move the clothes, all suits and shirts in various states of wrinkle and stain, but there it was; the cabinet. I pressed the key to the lock and there was a second’s hesitation before the beep and the red light indicating a locked status changed to green and unlocked.

I opened the cabinet and there it was in all its glory. The piece that followed me through most of my misspent youth and days on the streets ever since. The Ares Predator had seen better days. The once pristine finish had long since faded; it sported nicks and scratches of all shapes and sizes. I’ll be the first person to admit; it looked like drek warmed over, but looks aren’t everything. Even though business isn’t booming and she doesn’t see much action outside of the firing range anymore, I still take care of her. She’s as reliable a broad you’ll ever see, even if she isn’t the prettiest.

I reached my hand into the cabinet and came out with the shoulder holster, slipping my arm through the strap and making sure it wasn’t too loose. My hand went back into the cabinet and came out with the Predator. It was like having an old lover in my arms again. Like there’s been some part of me lost, which I’ve just now found.
Then the other hand. Into the cabinet and out with a clip. I slapped it in with a loud click, and felt that old familiar shiver run along my spine, up my neck and into my brain. It’s something I never really kicked from my days as a problem child; that old monster, the feeling that when I have that big pistol in my hand, I’m the master of my own destiny.

I slid the big piece into the holster, fastening it in nice and snug. I threw on my trench coat and placed the fedora on my head, pulling the brim down slightly below my eyes. I admit, I like the image.

A few minutes later, I was out the door and into the night.
Good. I like it. Unless the girl at the bar is a dwarf, though, you might want to trade "innocent eyes" with "long legs" so that "anything but" follows the innocent part. wink.gif
Yeah, that kind of stumped me as well *pun*. smile.gif

In any case, this is a cool little story. I look forward to seeing more.
Nice. Even if you admit it, it's still a little too cliché for me though. Actually, not a little, a lot. But the writing is solid, in the style that I like.

Shouldn't he clean up the vomit in the middle of his floor? That's just nasty. I mean, it's lying there in the middle of the room!
That bothered me as well.

Some of the wording seems awkward to me; I'll go into more detail when I get home from work.

Echo the kudos on the writing style but some of it reminded me a whole lot (maybe too much) of a cross between the "Tell it to Them Straight" section of early runs and the begining of "2XS."

"Nothing is a cliche when its happening to you" is from Max Payne, IIRC. I don't know if its copywritten but geeks like me will spot stuff like that everytime.

Now that I've been a jerk for 3 lines, I have to give you credit for posting your writting. I've never had the courage. Keep it up! smile.gif
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