There ain't no rest for the wicked

Submitted into Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with one character waiting for the arrival of another.... view prompt

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General

Charlie, the man who never hesitated, hesitated. He stood in the other side of the street for a moment, while the merciless rain poured down over the neighborhood, taking in the gloomy image of that wooden sign. It had been over six years since he hadn't gifted the place with his presence; before that, he visited it every single night, sucking on his Lucky Strike as if he was the king of the world. Maybe he was, indeed, a king, and if he wasn't, that place sure made he feel like it. The italian suits, the finest cuban cigars, the respect of the men and the love of the woman. His woman...

He only faltered for a moment, before reminding himself that time waited for no one and Babe didn't neither. Even though he was early for his rendez-vous, Charlie wasn't a man to risk it when it came to Babe; the one time he did it, he lost her. So, with firm steps and lifted head, he crossed the street and went into Johnny's Jazz Corner.

The chatter, the smell of cigarrete smokes and the sound of blues flooded his senses and brought up a myriad of memories he made sure to put away. Making his way to the bar, Charlie seated in one of the stools and sighed.

"What can I..." The bartender, a burly brown man with a dark full moustache, turned to face the newly-arrived client, but stopped mid-sentence. "Charlie!"

"Ol' Sugar." Charlie greeted with a nostalgic smile. "How's it going around this gin joint?"

"Kid, I thought you were in Kansas City!" Sugar grabbed Charlie's his hand, shaking it vigorously. "You became a full grown man! Oh boy, am I old..."

"You're in your prime, Sugar." Charlie reassured, clearly lying, because Sugar was way past his fifties and looked much older than that. "I missed you. Louie had a job for me to do here in the Big Apple and so I decided to pass by to check how the place was doing."

"What are you doing in town?" Sugar asked. "It's been a hot minute since we haven't seen you around."

"Louie wanted me to solve some business for him, and that means, amongst other things, meeting with Johnny".

"Oh, you're in no luck. Johnny's not in right now."

"I have a meeting with him first thing in the morning. Tonight, I didn't come in business." Charlie sighed, glancing at the voluptuous woman that sang a slow blues in the stage. He tried hard to avoid eye contact with Sugar as he proferred such words, but even so the man could read right through him.

"Oh, I see. Be honest, you didn't came just to see my crusty face, did ya?" Sugar inquired suspiciously.

"I invited Babe to come, Sugar, and she said she would think about it."

"Babe ain't coming, kid, she wants to see the back of you" Sugar told him, pouring a glass of whisky to his old friend.

"It's been six years. She can't ignore me forever."

"Time doesn't matter, Charlie, when it comes to what you did. It was her brother." He muttered.

"It was a job, Sugar. A job, thats all..."

"Whatever you say, kid. The fact is, Nino's six feet under and you were the one that put him there." Sugar sighed, passing him the glass of whisky "Well, nevermind that. Here's one on the house."

Charlie muttered a quick thank you before grabbing the drink and moving to a table in the corner. That was usually the place where he would be until the dusk of dawn talking to his sweetheart. He could almost picture her: the short brown hair sleeked back, the soft birthmark by the side of her lip, the gleam in her large ambar eyes. Charlie knew from the start that breaking her heart was inevitable, and so did she. Both of them came from a background of elegant terror: the thousand dollar's suits, the veiled words, the guns, the jazz, the money. There was no space for love in between. And yet, they tried. It only brought heartbreak and bitterness.

'She'll come', Charlie told himself while sipping in his Red Label. 'She told me she'd think about it, she'll come'.

What if she did, after all, come? Would he apologize once again? Or would he simply tell her it wasn't personal? She knew the drill, Nino broke the rules and Charlie had no choice. Would she finally understand? After all, she was just like himself. If she didn't, he was ready to strip himself of all of the dignity, which was all he had; in his feverish mind, he was willing to get down on his knees and beg for her understading. Not forgiveness, not for her to get back with him. He just wanted her to understand that he did what he had to do.

Was he sorry, though? Charlie liked to believe so. However, deep down in his heart, below all of the guilt, the questions, the doubts and silent tears, he knew he would do it all again if he needed to. Charlie would grab the gun once more, look into Nino's eyes one last time and still shoot his fatal shot. And that was what troubled him: although Babe's love mattered the world, his duty mattered the universe. But Charlie couldn't help but thinking: what if it didn't need to? How would it be to live without blood in his hands? Life without Louie, without Johnny's Jazz Corner, a life with Babe in one arm and their kids in the other, maybe even a house or two in Naples.

And while Charlie daydreamed, the blues version of some maistream song sounded in the background; the voluptuous woman sang gracefully, and even though he was lost in thoughts while glancing at the whisky's glass, he could swear she sang while staring at him.

'Oh there ain't no rest for the wicked, money don't grow on trees...'

And time ticked, Charlie checked his clock, she was already half an hour late, and Babe was never late.

His phone buzzed, he took it eagerly, but the disappointment came once he saw the name twinkling in the screen.

"What's new, Louie?" Charlie picked up.

"Kid, I'm lucky I sent you there. You better get yourself down to Manhattan, things came up. You have to solve a problem for my buddy Tom."

"Your brother-in-law?"

"That's the man. He got into some trouble and you have to go there to save his ass. I'll text you the address."

"But Louie..."

"Something's wrong, Charlie? You're not in paid vacation, you know" The voice in the other side of the line turned serious.

"No, boss." Charlie answered. "Nothing's wrong."

"Good. Go meet him up there, call me once you arrive." And then Louie hang up.

As Charlie got up, glanced once again at the clock and sighed, a part of him slowly died inside. He grabbed his overcoat and walked pass Sugar, who was pouring a drink to a gentleman.

"If she comes, please tell her to call me." He muttered. "I gotta run".

"Will do, kid". Sugar answered mournfully. "If you're ever in town again, let me know".

And as he left, Charlie glanced once more to the singer in the stage, that looked right back at him straight in the eyes while she wrapped up the song she was singing. Charlie didn't stay to hear it, but he could feel it in his heart:

"Oh no, there ain't no rest for the wicked until we close our eyes for good".


May 19, 2020 15:16

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5 comments

B M
18:41 May 24, 2020

"I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, There ain't nothing in this world for free" He did his job by killing Nino, now he's paying the price with Babe. I loved it! Keep writing :)

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Theodora Simões
13:58 May 27, 2020

That's it! Thanks so much for reading and leaving feedback <3 Happy you liked it!

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Elliott Laurence
10:27 May 24, 2020

Good story. The spelling issues can be fixed on a couple of proofreads. Also, you have a Walter Mosley vibe going here.

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Theodora Simões
13:59 May 27, 2020

Thank you very much! I will surely proofread it again, to correct it. And I shall also check on Walter Mosley's work, I had never heard of him!

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Elliott Laurence
22:10 May 27, 2020

I sense similarities between you and he in Mosley's novel "Down The River Unto The Sea."

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