For the past few days Jacob, and the rest of the gang, have been on pins and needles around Solace. The meeting of the chapter leaders and Solace was a private affair to weigh the pros and cons of the promised alliance with the Destroys, naturally the whole club knew about it. This was not something he anticipated, which was a huge oversight on his part.

The thoughts that ran through his head while he pretended to watch T.V. had nothing to do with the whispers floating around him. The thing that bothered him the most about reliving that dark memory was how young he was when he first took a life.

“It doesn’t get easier, chief.” Cas says, sitting next to Solace and lighting a cigarette.

“What doesn’t?” he responds blandly.

“Killing someone. Extinguishing their life, taking their essence, watching them breathe their last lungful.”

“And what makes you―”

“-Think that’s what on your mind. Come on now, I was a war vet when you were still trying to get a girl to go down on you after winter formal. That sinking feeling you get when you remember, those intrusive thoughts that come about when you see someone wearing a similar shirt. The feeling of dread when you can’t remember exactly how it happened, because if you remember it meant it was something more than a lark. I get them too. I catch myself in the mirror, looking angry as hell, but not knowing why. I’ve memorized the patter of the wrinkles on my face so I’m never in doubt.”

Solace lights a cigarette, “One of my eyelids droops a little further than the other.”

“That’s just the way you look, ugly.”

Both men laugh hard enough to disturb a poker game in the next room. One of the club girls brings over a bottle of whisky and two glasses. They thank her and watch her walk away, they smile at each other as Cas pours the drinks.

“Tell me chief, why haven’t I seen anyone sneaking out of your room in the early morning?”

“I’m married to my work.”

“Bullshit, I write just as much as you and people are sneaking out of my room all hours of the day.”

“That’s why I write better than you.”

“Low blow, man. You know I have a problem.”

“There’s a cream for that.”

“I had that checked, and what I meant was that I am better at living a fantasy then making one look real.”

“You’d think with all that living someone would be a better story teller.”

“You’d think with all that talent someone would have the balls to publish something with their own name and not have to resort to hiding behind a famous one.”

“Makes you wonder if said person isn’t actually hiding from the real issue, can’t tell a story because they fake living.”

“I couldn’t agree more. It’s like this person wants to feel alone so they can write in a deeper, more personal way, when the sad truth is that all their doing is making it one dimensional and whiny.”

They both put their glasses down on the table calmly, stand, walk to a clear area, and proceed to wail on each other. The door to the poker game slides open for a better view. Jacob and Patricia pull up bar stools, a club girl brings them popcorn.

Nothing is held back, only a few punches in and both friends are already bleeding. Solace takes a hook to the jaw, and another to the ribs. He bounces back and lands four solid straights to Cas’s forehead. A camera goes off, both men stop in mid punch and yell “No flash asshole,” and resume the fight. Hit, hit, miss, push, elbow. Solace falls, a bloody mess, at Cas’s feet.

“You hit me in the balls.”

“You should have blocked better.”

“That’s what the Beard is for.”

“You ladies do know we have gloves for this sort of thing, right?” Tony says dealing out another hand for the poker game.

“We tried that, they ended up choking each other with the strings.” Jacob says, grabbing towels and ice.

“Does this happen often?”

“Only when we get bored.” Solace says getting up.


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