Sensitive Content warning - Domestic Abuse, Violence & Substance Abuse
Ford sighed and slammed the ice machine closed.
"Sorry Pablo, it's playing up again." He said. There was a crack, followed by static before his brother replied.
"Just rewire the sub-power to the freezer and I'll rerun the OS from here." Pablo said.
"Yeah dude, I have no idea what that means. I'll just go to the motel." Ford said.
"Leave Sister's & Sons! For ice! Are you crazy!? Can you get me a Penguin bar‽" Pablo said.
"Sure," Ford said.
He lifted the bucket and left the backroom. The bar was busy enough. Vibrant with life and noise and happy drunks. Ford threw a thumbs up to his dad before heading out. A few voices called out to him, but he let them wash over him. Sitting in a booth half cut wasn't part of his life, not anymore. Tyler, the oldest of the trio, was there too, dipping a beer and talking to some mover or shaker. If he needed Ford to do anything he'd tell him. Last week it had been some coked up booster shaking down old ladies for their retirement pensions. The gonk had enough sense to run when he'd seen Ford coming for him. Smart enough to run, but not fit enough to run fast. Shame, Ford had been hoping for a challenge.
Hippo was working the door. The big blue bearded man beckoned to Ford. The Hippo was worth his time, so he didn't ignore him.
"Ford, my friend, I have woman problem. You know much of this, yes?" Hippo said. He had lived in NC for as long as Ford could remember, but he still had the thick eastern euro accent from the float city he came from.
"Having women trouble, yeah, I'd say I know more than most." Ford said.
"You are good man. I have woman, we spend much time together but she does not give me the punnay yes? Is driving the Hippo mad, my friend." Hippo said.
Ford scratched at his stubble and glanced at the crowd outside Sister's & Sons. There were smokers, wasters and junkies aplenty out there.
"Listen man, you got that kind of problem. You gotta talk to her, ask her how she feels and how you feel. See what's what." Ford said. He lifted the bucket and made to leave, but paused. "Be nice though, don't be a horny asshole." Ford said. Hippo snorted and slapped him on the shoulder.
Outside the bar the early evening was scented with sweat, piss and spent gunpowder cartridges. Another glamorous day in NC. A group of boosters were on the corner, betting on dice.
"Hey you comin for me, Motor?" One of them shouted to him as he passed.
"Not today Gorgie, the cheque bounced. Maybe I'll see you next week." Ford said.
The boosters laughed and shoved Gorgie.
"Maybe I finally leave ya? I hit the road and go Nomad." Gorgie calledafter him.
"Let me know, I'll ride shotgun for you." Ford said over his shoulder. He passed a pair of Junkies asleep in a doorway. Black Lace, the dirty shit was an epidemic. Someone needed to do something about it. He'd talk to Tyler about it.
The motel was much as it always had been. It had been a home to Ford, once. In the best and worst spot, when he was a violent, belligerent, drunk. Ready to crack skulls and end lives for a fistfull of eddies. That had been then. Now it was like stepping back into a bad dream. One of the residents approached him, their arms wide in welcome.
"Hey Ford, you got that twenty you owe?" He said. His toothless grin flashing.
Ford grabbed him hard and swept his legs. The movement coming as naturally to him as breathing.
"Eat shit gonk, I paid you twice. You speak to me or my brothers again and I'll put you down for good. You hear me?" Ford snapped. His knee drove into the gonks sternum, forcing the air from his lungs in a pained hiss.
"Yeah...course" he managed.
"Good, now be gone." Ford said, straightening and releasing him.
There was, of course, a queue at the ice machine. A very pregnant woman talking on her agent and, even worse, Gabbie Luper. She was wearing short-shorts and a vest top, which left very little to the imagination. Not that Ford had to imagine what his ex looked like under her clothes.
"Well ain't that a peach, I step out to try and cool in this evening heat and none other than Ford goddamn Sister siddles up next to me. A suspicious gal would call that untoward." She said, her southern accent making Ford forget for a moment how to breath.
"Always flattering yourself Gabbie. Machines out at the bar. I'm here for Pablo, not you or anyone else." Ford said, after a pause that was a little too long.
"Tell her you're sorry and that you wanna try again." Pablo said.
"Shut up Pablo." Ford said.
"I always liked Pablo, he's a real sweetheart. I'm glad y'all around with your family again. Sober too I hear?" She said. She was smiling widely at him, her big blue eyes unblinking. Real blue, flecked with gold and green imperfections. Blue from a person, not a vial or clinic.
"Helluva step up from the marital dispute here. You boys not taking care of things like that anymore?" Gabbie said.
Ford frowned and started paying a mind to the pregnant woman. She was arguing over her Agent.
Fuck. Ford recognised her, he also recognised the bruises on her forearm. Fuck.
"Stay here." He said, dropping the bucket next to Gabbie. His man was only upstairs. A gonk punk with a tap addiction and anger problems. Ford had thrown him out of Sister's more than once. He hammered on the motel door. The raised voice from inside only paused for a moment. Ford let his hands rest on the doorframe and waited. His temper beating in time with his pulse. The door swung open and a Kobra 45. was inches from his face.
"Ya got a problem gonk?" The punk said.
Ford stared down the barrel for a long time, counting two slow breaths. In and out. His gaze shifted to make eye contact.
"Yeah, you." Ford said. Recognition flashed in the punk's face. The next few moments flowed into one. Ford took the gun, hit him in the throat and lashed out with his right knee. A shrill ringing drowned Ford's hearing. Punk had probably managed a stray shot before he took the gun. It meant he didn't have to hear him screaming. Ford stamped hard on the shattered punks ruined leg, leaning his weight into it. Ford's sudden lash forward had snapped the gonks shin like a toothpick.
"You need to learn some manners, yeah. I'm only coming back here once, yeah? I either forget about you, or I don't. I don't and you're fish food headed straight for the reclycler. Get it together, or else." Ford said. He stood and left the motel room. The pregnant woman was struggling up the stairs.
"Help her with that too, be a choom." Ford said. He looked at the gun still in his hand.
It was a nice piece of iron, real nice.
"I'm keeping this. You want it, come see me at Sister's. Anytime Choom." He said.
Gabbie had filled his bucket and a large glass for herself.
"So, cowboy, y'all rushing back or you got time?" She asked.
"You don't have time and you still haven't gotten me a penguin bar." Pablo said.
Ford sighed, took out his earpiece and smiled back at her, losing himself in her big blue eyes.
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This is even better than the last one, more immediate because the reader was in the moment with the action.
Okay, you have my attention. Excellent work!
Thanks Kendall! Glad you liked it