DIVA: Jetbird and the Kid #7
deucexm at gmail.com
Tue Oct 9 05:13:04 PDT 2018
What's this? Another foray into weird western land, so soon? Dern tootin'.
Jetbird Leone and the Black Mamba Kid: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
Chapter 7: Impasse
Jetbird and the Kid ascended the spiral of basement steps as quickly as they
could manage without making too much noise, which turned out to be pretty quick.
In no time at all they were back at ground level, and the Kid hit the wall
switch to kill the lights and let their eyes adjust to the darkness.
It was well past sunset by now, and like any other part of the desert, the
temperature was dropping like a stone. Jetbird wasn't particularly bothered, and
the Kid had his leather jacket, so they simply traded looks and continued on.
The gate to the basement was unlocked, of course - Miriam wouldn't have shut
them in, and otherwise they'd likely have heard the hitman coming - so the two
of them headed across the courtyard even more cautiously, staying in the deeper
shadows, the fountain's spraying masking their already soft footsteps.
Jetbird raised a closed fist, prompting the Kid to stop, as he approached the
door leading into the living room; it was wide open. He looked back at the Kid,
who nodded and slipped into deep shadow, and then made his way inside, doing his
best not to silhouette himself in the process. The moon wasn't too terribly
bright tonight, but it could still betray his presence easily enough.
A quick glance told him the living room was empty; another glance showed the
front door was still open, but not forced. Jetbird's brow creased ever so
slightly in thought, before a small smile overtook it. As thuggish as his own
visitor had been, things didn't seem particularly ham-handed or destructive;
perhaps there might be a chance to avoid untidy matters after all.
Leaning out into the courtyard just slightly, he motioned for the Kid to follow,
then made his way through the living room. Nothing had been broken or
overturned, though there were definitely a few extra boot marks on the carpet;
even in the dim light he could tell from the way the wispy strands were bent out
of alignment. Two, three... maybe four? He held up four fingers with a little
shrug, and looked over his shoulder.
The Kid was there, as impassive as usual, and merely nodded acknowledgement -
then quickly held up a fist, rigid with tension! After a moment, he pointed up
at the ceiling, then pointed at his ear; and so Jetbird strained to listen.
Ah! Yes, there was Ms. Miriam's voice, sounding rather irritated - though not
frightened, so that was good, at least. He couldn't pick out the words, but she
was most definitely not pleased. Then: a man's voice; a second one, interrupting
the first - ah, it was too faint, too faint! He glanced over at the Kid, who
pointed rather emphatically at the stairs. Well, in that much they were in
As quickly as he could manage, the Leone son slipped over to the elegant,
curving stairway, noting with pleasure that it was solid masonry and metalwork,
and thus made nary a sound underfoot as he and the Kid began their ascent. The
voices were still quiet, but started to grow louder as they approached the room
at the very end of the long hallway - the master bedroom, presumably. The door
was closed, and so Jetbird cautiously pressed his ear to the wall to listen
"-humiliate me like this," the Lawson lady snapped. "Do you have any /idea/ what
it takes to get an entirely new township going? And you think that you have
/any/ right to undo all that work - the work of all the families here - and for
what, a sackful of coins? Do you have /any/ shame at /all/?!"
"Ma'am, it ain't like that, I told you," returned a man's voice, sounding...
apologetic, actually. "If it was just the money, why, you could pay us more 'n
we'd tip our hats 'n be on our way. Believe me, I wish it was that simple, I
Jetbird looked across the door at the Kid, who was likewise glued to the wall,
and raised an eyebrow. The Kid hesitated, briefly, and then gestured as how even
though he wasn't averse to killing, the Lawson lady probably was, and so perhaps
he'd just put two or three of them to bed and leave one for questioning.
It was a complicated bit of gesturing, admittedly, but Jetbird Leone and the
Black Mamba Kid had worked together long enough that nothing got lost in the
translation. Jetbird gave a slight nod and the 'wait a little longer' sign, and
they both went back to listening.
"-respect you, ma'am, all of us do, an' not just 'cuz yer a Lawson, but-" It was
a different man's voice this time, younger and a little shaky; Jetbird imagined
nervous gesticulation during the awkward pause. "-some jobs y'just cain't say no
to, when- when they-"
"Enough, Charlie," the first voice interrupted. "Suffice to say we can't just
walk away from this one. We all got our reasons."
"Well then," Miriam's voice returned, icily, "I suppose we're at something of an
impasse then, aren't we, /gentlemen/?" The last word dropped the temperature a
few more degrees.
There was a quiet, drawn-out sigh. "I reckon so, ma'am," the first voice began
again, "leastways until business in the basement is concluded. Might be best to
consider how to break the news to the townsfolk, 'stead of gettin' all riled up
"You're /despicable/." Jetbird almost flinched at the force of Miriam's venom,
even through the wall; that lady was made of some real stern stuff.
Another sigh. "I reckon you're right about that too, ma'am."
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