A Disputed Debt – Gray Metal Faces, March 8A

“Allez.” Step step attack, EEEP EEEP. “Togehter. Pret. Allez.” EEEP EEEP. “Together.” Gotta make it more obvious. “Pret.” Get the attack this time. Come on! “Allez.” Dammit got distracted, he’s first, gotta get the parry, here comes the attack look for the line change — EEEP. Damn. “Touch right, 2-1.” Caught the parry but he pushed through, no riposte. “En garde.” Guy’s too quick, not gonna beat him on speed. “Pret.” Set up the tempo game. “Allez.”

Double-J pulled open the front door, waited a moment for The Bird to reach before stepping outside. The wind had calmed, chill air no longer invading into the Pizza Place but rather hovering outside the entrance, pouncing on people as they exited.

A pickup truck, red with rust holes at the base of its doors, came to a stop three cars to their right, more or less (the yellow lines on the pavement still not visible under the accumlated ice and dirt). As he walked left with The Bird toward his coupe, a voice from the pickup called Double-J’s name. He stopped, nearly colliding with The Bird, twisted his body behind them — “Yeah?” A voice from the pickup commanded him to come over, as the vehicle’s doors shut.

The Bird said they should keep walking; Double-J frowned down at her. “Don’t worry. I know these guys.” With visible annoyance he brushed past her, approached two young men with unkempt beards and hair. She remained stationary.

The man on the right raised his chin towards Double-J. “Still owe me from Saturday.”

“What the hell for?” Both men grimaced at his response, the man on the right pointing his finger at Double-J.

“‘member you tellin’ me t’ go get beer?”

“Told Henry to get the damn beer.” From the tone of Double-J’s voice and the reaction of the two men facing him, The Bird assumed Henry was not present for this conversation.

“An’ Henry, he tol’ me to go get it. An’ he said you was payin’ for it.”

“Bullshit.” Double-J was as cocksure and assertive as he was at any fencing practice. “Gave Henry a few bucks, told him to get the same from everyone else, then go.”

“Not wha’ he tol’ me.” The man on the right began rubbing his hands together. “Said Double-J’s gonna pay ya, when ya get back.”

The Bird saw Double-J shake his head forcefully. “So, lemme get this straight — you did the beer run, with your own money, thinking I was gonna pay you when you got back.”

The man on the left stepped forward, jabbed a finger into Double-J’s chest. “That’s right.”

Double-J pushed the man’s hand away. “And I do remember you coming in, with two cases, just like I asked Henry.” Both men nodded. “But, what I don’t get is — why the hell didn’t you say nothing to me when you showed up?” The two men b blinked in unison. “Or any other time the whole fucking night?”

The Bird looked around quickly. The four of them seemed alone in the parking lot.


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