This week’s free fiction Thursday story is another in the Tales From the Shadows series. Stories set in The Shadows are urban fantasy noir. This week’s story features a man who’s out to make a name for himself. He even has one all picked out: Lady Killer.
Unfortuntely for Jeremy, he decides to hunt for his first real victim in The Shadows.
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge. The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers. Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.
“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.
The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet. Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver. Not enough for the man to remember he was here.
Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat. “Keep the change,” he said.
The driver grunted as he took the cash. He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age. He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up. The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender. He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go. Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass. In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.
“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.
Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club. The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows. Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.
“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.
The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror. “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”
Jeremy tensed. “What did you say to me?”
“Guys like you, you’re a dime a dozen. You want to step out on the wild side, get away from your boring life in your uptown apartment with your uptown girlfriend, so you come down here to slum it up with the magic folk. You ask me to take you to a place where the cops won’t bust your ass for paying a little too much attention to a girl who can look like anyone you ever had a wet dream about. Am I right?”
Jeremy felt himself flush. This guy drove a smelly, junk heap of a cab into the seamiest part of Moretown Bay, and he thought he was good enough to give someone like Jeremy advice? What a joke. But Jeremy made himself sit still and quiet and act like he was listening.
“Cops fish guys like you out of the Bay all the time,” the driver said. “You don’t want to be one of them, keep your eyes open and your dick in your pants. The girls down here, the ones that aren’t human, they’re the kind who steal more than your wallet.”
Okay, enough was enough. Even a mild-mannered man would stick up for himself at this point.
“I can take care of myself,” Jeremy said.
“I bet all the smart guys they fish out of the Bay said that, too.”
Jeremy kept himself from touching the knife he had in its special pocket in his pants. It wasn’t time for the world to find out about him. He had work to do first. A reputation to build. Places to go, people to kill. A small-time loser stuck driving a cab for a living wouldn’t know anything about that.
“Thanks for the advice,” Jeremy said. He made himself smile and nod and pretend to be sincere.
The driver shook his head. “I’m gonna read about you in the papers, aren’t I? One of the missing, or one of the dead.”
Oh, you’ll read about me in the papers one day, Jeremy thought as he escaped the cab. You just won’t know it’s me.
# # #
Read the rest of the story here