Fiction Drama

Home was where the comfort was, they said. For Icarus, home was where you were hanging by your wrists in your own bedroom. He should’ve taken his popcorn home and never mind the wandering child.  

Now he’d lost his groceries and the child. This was why he should shop on Mondays. 

Mobster one, Goatee, pulled a hefty wooden stick from the closet. “Why you have this then?” Why, Icarus had gotten it from the park nearby. It had nice swirly patterns and a smiley face someone had etched on. Not so nice now, on the about-to-be receiving end.  

“Oh no, not this again.” The stick could be more enthusiastic than Icarus.  

Goatee inspected the wood grain like it might hold the secrets to poverty. “Get tortured on the daily do you?” 

“It’s more a monthly thing. I don’t think anyone sane could hold out that long.” But come to think of it, sane didn’t apply to him really. Not that they’d listen. Goatee was using that humouring tone of voice for small children. Technically true, except the small part.  

“Listen.” He’d bet a chicken sandwich they wouldn’t. Not at first. “Just take me to your boss and we can end this whole thing. You don’t have to expend anymore energy, and I don’t have to hang around.” The stick prodded his chin up so he was staring at that very black and very hoppy spider on the ceiling. It’d better not fall on his face right now.  

“You know why you’re ‘hangin around’?” 

Ha ha. You owe me a chicken sandwich. “I don’t think you articulated well on our walk to here-” When the stick seemed about to bore a hole into his mouth, “-or come to think of it, it must’ve been the sack over my head.”  

“Blanket. Much more comfort than you deserved really.” 

“Blanket. It must’ve made me too drowsy to process words. Really comfy, thanks.” 

“Very good,” said Goatee, grinning.  

Sunglasses looming over his shoulder bared golden teeth. That wasn’t an exaggeration – fifty percent of the square man’s molars had been replaced. The sun in the right place could’ve blinded an audience. 

“Know who that child is?” 

“I don’t, actually.” Knowing the name of every kid on the street was creepy.  

But there was an exception to every rule.  

“Know the CEO of that corporate on that billboard in the middle of town?” 

Yes, that was hard to miss. And oh. Of all kids to be lost in Icarus’s presence, it had to be one held for ransom. With his luck, of course it had to be. 

Goatee tapped the side of his head. “Finally, the rusted gears are turning in there. Let’s help em some more.” He raised the stick in a way that would’ve turned a professional sportsman in their grave.  

Goatee handed the impromptu tenderizer off to Sunglasses and wiped his hands on his kerchief. “Where you hiding the little one? We’ll take im off your hands for the price of you.”  

Not a very compelling offer. “You know I can’t die.” Also, “Ouch.” Heachaches were not fun. Blood was also not fun. Most unfun of all, was he couldn’t call the cleaning services for fear of their calling the police because of the crime scene in his bedroom. For their fear of.  

Goatee snorted as if to say ‘Look at this heroic blustering bullshit.’ 

Which was exactly what it sounded like. Well it wasn’t Icarus’s fault that the universe had granted him eternal lifespan to wallow in apathy. That was putting it lightly.  

Goatee came up so close into his personal space, Icarus could feel the oxygen being stolen from him in tiny incremental puffs.  

“This is quite uncomfortable,” said Icarus, trying to breathe less without showing it.  

“Is it? Would you like us to go away?” 

Your breath smells like rotten mint and it takes a real garbage can to do that. “Honestly?” 

Goatee spread his hands. “We’re all honest men here.” 

“Yes, I’d like you to go away. But you won’t.” 

“Not yet,” said Goatee pleasantly. He circled Icarus and the creak of springs told him the man had claimed his bed. Rude.  

“So you want the kid.” 

“Correct.” Goatee clapped. “So our little exercise helped.” 

“But I don’t have the kid.” 

The bed creaked, in discontent. “I think, no, I know you’re lying to save his skin. We aren’t child murderers. Just… child keepers. Borrowers.” 

“I don’t have the kid. Don’t know what else to tell you.” Icarus wiggled his wrists, and he started a slow spin towards Goatee’s floating voice.  

Sunglasses didn’t step in to grab his throat, so this was allowed. Small favours were everything here in this roomful of honest men. 

“You have him,” said Goatee. “Because we saw you hand in hand, little brother and big brother, trip-trapping into this here cosy house of yours.” 

“Have you checked the bomb shelter.” Icarus had spun enough to see the leaning forward to go with the creak.  

Goatee frowned. “What bomb shelter?” 

“Just kidding. Why would I, a university student, have a bomb shelter under my house in this quiet, friendly neighbourhood where nothing bad ever happens?” He, a university student.  

Goatee held up his hand to the creak of a floorboard. There was a reason the mob boss had paired the patient Goatee with Sunglasses. “You want to pay off those student loans?” 

Oh, sweet talk now? “Not particularly.” The thing with living forever was that you could take on a hundred carefully distinct personas, and each one would have an income stream. And at the end of the stream, if you’d gone on long enough as Icarus had, there would be the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  

“What do you want?” said Goatee, with a lot more patience lathered on.  

“Take me to your boss, like I said. We’ll both get a good deal." A good show. "Then I’ll be off your hands.”

Goatee gazed at him, Icarus liked to imagine, with some awe. Then he stood up, cool, calm, and walked out the door. He must’ve made a gesture or something, since Sunglasses wrenched him down along with their hook they’d strung him up on, and carried him over the shoulder like the emotional baggage he was.  

So that was that. What happened didn’t stray too far from Icarus’s theory: they took him into the Big Bad Base – a metal warehouse for this group – they ‘talk’ to him some more, they finally drag the boss in from his important whereabouts and the boss talks, with words. Icarus chips away at the high tolerance gained from managing a hundred dozen minions – oh yes, he had an audience – with a hundred and one opinions. He's deemed a waste of time. He's disposed of.

Here's the fun part: he rises from the dead. Dramatically. 

It can go two ways from there. Everyone goes trigger happy out of terror, or they let him pass. Usually it's the former before the latter.

That's what happened here. 

So Icarus was home now. 

He was tired (healed from dying a lot, tired mentally.)

He'd missed two hours of movie night. 

And no, he hadn’t lost the child. He’d just conveniently forgotten, was all.  

He went to the closet and made sure to say, "Don't attack. It's just the friendly stranger", before riffling through a dozen grey shirts. And opening the back compartment. "Thirsty?" He helped unfold the huddled ball of boy, dusting off his expensive shoes and jacket. Son of a CEO indeed. 

The boy was saucer-eyed. See, the closet had a peep slit. He probably saw the whole beating thing. 

And now Icarus was nice and new and hardly limping at all. Whoops. "Please do me a big favour and never walk within ten miles radius of their territory ever again. And don’t tell anyone about this, would you. Take the main street." 

The poor kid nodded so fast his head could’ve flown right off. And he tripped on the loose floorboard on his way out. 

“No more surprises,” said Icarus to the ceiling at large and the sky beyond. “I’m just a reclusive immortal, cut me some slack.” 

July 30, 2021 01:26

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