[AC] Bush43 Daily Week One

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at gmail.com
Tue Jun 6 11:25:38 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com

Starters, thanks to Tom for one HELL of a review.  I'll try and think
of something coherent to say in response once I get my jaw off the
floor.  Until then...

BUSH43 #21
By Jason S. Kenney


Isiah Rowe and I sat at a nicely darkened table in some bar in downtown
PC.  I don't think either of us knew the name; it was just the first
open place we had come by.

"So, why again can't you quit?" Isiah asked, as he studied his
fingernail picking at the label of his bottle.

Isiah and I went way back.  A fellow American in a sea of Australians.
He was the first person I could turn to in any situation, and I had
really taken advantage of that lately.  His couch was my bed.

"Because I never really accepted the job," I said, as I looked at and
through the green neck of my beer bottle.  "It wasn't an offer; it was
a command."

"What's the worst that could happen if you just up and left?"

"They kill me."


And, we were both left silent again.  We'd had a few moments like that
throughout the evening, long pauses in a conversation that didn't seem
to be going anywhere.

Isiah sighed and leaned back, holding up his bottle in a sort of toast.

"Sounds to me like you're screwed," he said, then knocking back his
drink as he glanced over my shoulder, another thing that had been
happening often through the night.

"Thanks for the support," I said, taking a swig of my own drink while
Isiah's eyes remained locked behind me.

"So, is she cute?" I asked after I leaned forward and lowered my voice.

"Do what?"  He looked back to me with a look that said he wasn't paying

"You keep looking at someone behind me. I'm assuming that someone is
female and most likely cute, right?"

"Jeffery, that someone has been staring at you ever since we got here."

"Oh really?"  I straightened up, not sure whether I should be pleased
at the prospect or worried that it was someone that recognized me from
the job.

Stupid me, I looked over my shoulder to where Isiah was looking.

Now, this was stupid for many reasons.

One, guys, if you're with a pal and they inform you that someone behind
you has been checking you out, you most certainly do not turn around
and confront the situation head on, locking eyes with the person and
kinda blowing the whole deal.  It generally calls for something more
subtle, more suave.

Two, and most importantly in my situation, turning around finally
reveals your face, confirming to some parties who you may be and
opening you up to a whole world of hurt.

"Crap," I hissed, as I quickly turned back around after locking eyes
with the lady that had indeed been staring at me.


"What's her mind doing right now?" I asked Isiah, hoping his little
brain pulse checking power thingy was working her over.

Yeah, Isiah had nifty powers too.

"I don't know," he said, denying me my hope.  "Why; what's wrong?"

"We need to leave," I said, my eyes darting about in an effort to find
our waitress without having to turn my head at all, hoping that maybe
the lady didn't see my face or recognize it.  "Now."

"Too late," said Isiah.


A hand gently touched my shoulder, my back tensing at the slightest

"Hello, Jeeves," I felt more than heard whispered in my ear.

I nearly wet myself.

"Hello, Mary," I said, staring into the table in front of me.  "Are you
being good?"

"Now, where's the fun in that?" she said, as she stepped beside me and
slid into a seat at our table.

She was tall, and the shape of her eyes said that only one of her
parents was Asian.  Dressed in a black number, her dark hair pulled
back to draw attention to her deep, nearly black eyes that accentuated
a natural beauty, highlighted by the slightest bit of make-up, she'd
have been stunning if she hadn't tried to kill me in the past.

"And, who might your friend be?" she asked, staring at Isiah.

He smiled warmly, but there was something else there, and his moves
were hesitant.  He was thinking something.

"Isiah Rowe," he said, holding out his hand.  She took and shook it,
smiling back at him, large, toothy.

"Cassandra Trellis," she said.

"Not Mary?" I asked, and she looked to me, keeping her smile, her dark
eyes alive, mischievous.

"Mary was more of a working name," she said, as she leaned forward,
resting her elbows on the table and lacing her fingers together to rest
her chin on them.  "Though I tend to not use it anymore."

Isiah gave me a look.

"She's not a hooker," I said.

She thankfully laughed at that.

Isiah's eyes widened slightly, as he understood where I knew her from.
And, that it wasn't exactly good.  Maybe he even knew who this was.

Mary.  Typhoid Mary.  Mary, Mary, quite contrary...

Or, rather, not quite Mary.

"So, where exactly do you know Jeffery from?" he asked, playing like he
didn't know squat, buying me time as I tried to think of a way to get
out of this.

"Well, Jeffery and I--" she said, looking at me as she put an emphasis
on my name, and I realized that it was the first time she'd actually
heard it that I knew of. "--met at a lovely gathering at Miss Burke's
estate a couple months back."

"She liked my corn and pepper nacho thingies," I said.

"Ah," said Isiah, his hands turning his glass on the table, keeping
active, showing his nervousness.  I wondered how mine was showing.

Why was she here?  What was she doing?  Had she given Isiah Ebola yet?

Christ Almighty, I needed an out.

"I'll be right back," said Isiah as if reading my mind.  And, he stood
up and walked away, I guess to the bathroom.

"Your friend is cute," said Cassandra, as I turned to her.

"Yeah, a regular ladies killer, look," I said. "I don't know what's
going on, I don't know what you're up to, but please tell me you're
being good."

"Do you mean to ask if I've infected your dear friend with something

"Have you?"

"Not yet..."

"Cassandra," I said, hanging my head for a moment. "Typhoid Mary,
whatever you want to be called right now, please, please, please leave
them out of this."

"Jeffery," she said with a smile, reaching out and touching my arm
gently. "Bush43." Her grin widened. "I've told you, I only infect those
that deserve it."

"Uh huh, and he doesn't deserve it."

"As far as I can tell, no, he does not."

"And, those people you killed did?"

"Tut tut," she said, pursing her lips as she shook her head and clicked
her tongue.  "Jumping to conclusions is not good for a man in your
position, Mister Carter."

She used my last name without it being given.  She knew my name before
Isiah said a word.

I opened my mouth to say something, but she started before I could.

"How do you know those people were dead, Jeffery?" she asked, leaning
forward, cradling her chin in her hands again.

"They were awfully dead when I was walking over them."

"Did you check them?"

"I checked the pulse on that one guy," I said, trying to make excuses
for my assumptions.

"Did you do it properly?"


She smiled and sat up.  Her smile coupled with her eyes would have
gotten to me, but there was a glint of something in them, something
that said there was more to her than this mask of innocence.

God, I needed to get out of this.

"You said they were dead," I said.

"I was bluffing."

And, I nearly killed her for it.

"You were just messing with me, weren't you?"

"Yes," she said, shifting slightly in her seat, adjusting her tight
black dress that I had failed to pay any real attention to until now.
"Though I didn't appreciate the kick you delivered at the end.
Completely unnecessary."

I looked away from her and stared at my beer again; both of my hands
wrapped tightly around it.

God, I needed to get out of this.

"You can make it up to me, though."  She started digging through a
small purse that hung from her right shoulder, something else I had
missed before.  Her hands emerged with a pen and a scrap of paper.

"Saturday night, there is a function at the PC Hilton off of Main; do
you know where it is?"

"A block from City Hall," I said with a slight nod but not looking at
her, my attention focused on the beer.

"It'll be the same sort of thing you served your 'corn and pepper nacho
thingies' at.  Only I don't need a host," she said, slipping the piece
of paper across the table and towards my hands.  "I need a date."

I looked from my beer to the paper to her.

"You're kidding me."

"You have become quite the talk of the town, Jeffery, with your new
position and all.  And, I figure it would be beneficial for both of us
were you to attend," she said, as she tucked a few lose strands of hair
behind her ear.  Christ, women get me every time with that move.  "You
get to make some connections; I get to be seen with the voice of the
Mayor's office.  It's a win/win."

"I think I'll pass," I said, pushing the number back towards her.

"Please, Jeffery," she said, putting a hand on top of mine with a
smile. "Don't make me blackmail you."

She couldn't have timed it better, as Isiah showed up right when she
finished talking, sitting back in his chair, his eyes drawn to
Cassandra's hand on mine but quickly (and politely) looking away.

"Hope I'm not interrupting anything," he said, his eyes going from me
to her to me.

"Actually, I was just leaving for the night," said Cassandra as she
stood, pulling her hand from on top of mine.  "A pleasure meeting you,
Isiah," she said, Isiah gently taking her hand and shaking it.

"Jeffery," she said, turning to me, getting my full attention. "I will
speak with you later, I hope."

She smiled when she said it, full and bright.  And then, she was gone.

Isiah watched her leave, as I stared at my hand on the table, a piece
of paper under my fingertips.

"I am sick of being used," I said softly, and, if Isiah heard me, he
didn't say a thing.

More information about the racc mailing list