Chapter 15:

Your whole world happens in the same few places

The Sequence of Kai

I came to work today even though Aaron and Paul tried to stop me. Well, really just Aaron. Paul didn’t say anything, which is to be taken as implicit agreement with Aaron’s position. Bookmark here

I couldn’t stay in that house right now, not when he had just been there. Too much thinking was getting done, not enough anything else.Bookmark here

“Agh…”Bookmark here

I turn to hand a customer his change, but I aggravate the injury I sustained yesterday and drop it on the floor.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, I’ll get you some change that isn’t from the floor, haha.”Bookmark here

It hurts even to laugh. It’s manageable though, cracked, not broken. I get the customer some new change and bend down to pick up that which I’d dropped. Even doing it slowly I feel some pain shooting through.Bookmark here

“Hey Darren, do you have anything for relieving pain?”Bookmark here

“That you can take on the job? No.”Bookmark here

Useless, I should’ve taken something before I got here. I stand back up and set the floor change to the side.Bookmark here

It still beats being at home, the pressure there is suffocating.Bookmark here

“Excuse me, miss.”Bookmark here

My back freezes up again, just like yesterday. The breath that catches in my chest causes me pain that is quickly erased by the adrenaline crashing over me.Bookmark here

“Do you have any craft beers on offer? I’m from out of town you see, I like to sample what’s on offer wherever I go.”Bookmark here

I turn back to face him, his knowing smile catching my eye before anything else. Then it’s the eyes, the ones that today are commanding something different. We both know that in a place as lively as this, I’m trapped. Hostages keep walking in the door and he would kill them without a second thought if I tried to run. Bookmark here

“We do.”Bookmark here

“Good, I’m looking for something with personality, something worth my time. Think you could provide that?”Bookmark here

“I’ll see what we have.”Bookmark here

I duck under the counter and grab one of the beers I don’t recognize at random. I slam it down in front of him.Bookmark here

“No glass?”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“How much?”Bookmark here

“You can’t buy these things.”Bookmark here

“Sure I can.”Bookmark here

He beckons Darren over to him while taking his wallet out.Bookmark here

“Are you this young lady’s boss?”Bookmark here

“Sure am.”Bookmark here

Big smile on Darren, he loves telling people he’s someone else’s boss.Bookmark here

“She’ll be taking an extended break for the moment; I assume you can find some cover.”Bookmark here

He picks all of the cards out of his wallet and then throws it at Darren. It lands with a thud on the bar. Darren's eyes light up when he feels just how full it is.Bookmark here

“Yes, I’m sure we can sir, I’m sure we can!”Bookmark here

He pulls me close and whispers in my ear.Bookmark here

“You better do whatever it takes to please this guy or you’re out of a job.”Bookmark here

“Make sure to keep one of the booths clear, I’ll need it later”Bookmark here

“Of course, sir.”Bookmark here

Darren dashes off to call someone to cover me. He doesn’t realize that it’s not my job that’s at stake here but his life and the lives of everyone here. Bookmark here

Bastien peels off the label of the beer without looking at it and then flicks the balled up label at me. Bookmark here

“Trish, right? Won’t you have a drink too? It tastes better with company.”Bookmark here

“I can’t drink on the job.”Bookmark here

“Then drink something else, water, a soda, just something… Otherwise, this conversation will be much less pleasant.”Bookmark here

His eyebrows tilt downwards. That, he seemingly can’t control. I pour myself a glass of water and drag the stool behind the bar underneath me.Bookmark here

“Much better, now we can both relax, eh?”Bookmark here

He takes a small sip of his beer, letting it sit in his mouth for a moment before swallowing.Bookmark here

“Not bad at all, I was expecting much less from you.”Bookmark here

“Did you just come here to torture me?”Bookmark here

“I came here to drink, you working here is nothing more than a pleasant surprise.”Bookmark here

“You expect me to believe that?”Bookmark here

“You can believe what you want, you’re not of special interest to us. If you were you’d be dead. Or worse.”Bookmark here

I can’t argue with that, if I believe what I heard yesterday, Kohsan has known where we are for a while and has simply chosen not to act. Bookmark here

Bastien takes another swig of his beer and then ‘smiles’ at me.Bookmark here

“There’s nothing I really need to know about you, so why don’t you ask me some questions?”Bookmark here

“Why would I do that?”Bookmark here

“Because you never know when one of us might die.”Bookmark here

I look around to check if anyone is listening to us, a lot of the regulars like to eavesdrop on my conversations with the other customers. This time no one dares, they’re all faced away from me and Bastien, even if they’re not conscious of it, on some level they must understand how dangerous this man is.Bookmark here

“Then why did you kill my mother?”Bookmark here

“Because she was there to be killed.”Bookmark here

“That’s not a reason to kill someone.”Bookmark here

“You didn’t ask for a reason, you asked for why. There is no satisfying reason behind your mother’s death, if that’s what you’re after, she’s dead because I felt she was better off dead. What a mundane question though, can’t you come up with something better?”Bookmark here

Don’t think about it, don’t let him get to you. He just wants an excuse, any excuse, to do something to you.Bookmark here

“You said you were looking for a girl yesterday, who is she?”Bookmark here

“Ah yes, her. I wish I had something to tell you but so far, I’m drawing a blank. No wonder the police don’t want to have a word on it, there’s never any evidence left behind.”Bookmark here

“Maybe the deaths are unrelated, people kill themselves all the time.”Bookmark here

“Not like this though.”Bookmark here

His grip on the neck of the bottle tightens causing it to crack slightly.Bookmark here

“Can’t you feel it? This city is dripping with things to be found, bursting from the seams with connections to the sequences -”Bookmark here

He slams back the rest of his beer in one go.Bookmark here

“- it simply has to have at least one person worth killing, don’t you think?”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“No? How could you disagree?”Bookmark here

He hands his beer bottle to me.Bookmark here

“I could do with another beer.”Bookmark here

“I’m on my break right now, get it from someone else.”Bookmark here

“Heh, I like that attitude, maybe you have developed a bit.”Bookmark here

He leans over the bar and grabs a beer from underneath.Bookmark here

“Or a lot.”Bookmark here

He comes back up, holding three beers.Bookmark here

“What’s that supposed to mean?”Bookmark here

“I mean you have a nice ass.”Bookmark here

I slap him hard across the face and the bar goes silent.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry fellas, I’m into it, so is she, all’s well and good.”Bookmark here

I feel my face burning up, that sells the situation to the crowd. Bookmark here

Of course, I’m embarrassed but not in the way that they think, the very idea I’d be involved with this guy is the source of my embarrassment, no, my shame.Bookmark here

“So, you haven’t heard anything about this girl have you?”Bookmark here

“Why should I tell you?”Bookmark here

“Quicker I find her, the quicker I leave.”Bookmark here

“Then, unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything.”Bookmark here

He downs one of his three beers and then opens a second on the bar. Bookmark here

“What did Paul tell you?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“What did Paul tell you about us? What we do? You know enough about me to hate me but what about Maxi, what about Amir, what about himself? Did he ever explain to you why people like me are necessary, what it is that we’re striving for?”Bookmark here

“People like you aren’t necessary, that’s all I need to know.”Bookmark here

“I’m not sure Paul would agree.”Bookmark here

“Wha-”Bookmark here

Just as I’m about to reply, one of the people entering the pub catches my attention. It’s her, the girl from a couple of weeks back. I’ve never seen her here before, what’s she doing? She shouldn’t be here, it’s dangerous right now. I try to catch her eye to warn her but when she notices I’m here she quickly turns her head away and pretends she hasn’t seen me. She just goes and sits in an unoccupied booth. Bookmark here

Shit.Bookmark here

“Hello?”Bookmark here

Bastien clicks his fingers in front of my face to grab my attention.Bookmark here

“Something wrong, something more deserving of your attention right now than me?”Bookmark here

“No, it’s nothing.”Bookmark here

“Alright then, what were you going to say.”Bookmark here

That’s right, the thing he was saying about Paul. I know it’s probably bait; I know he’ll probably lie. But Paul never would tell me about his involvement with Kohsan, his face only ever told me that I shouldn’t ask.Bookmark here

“What did Paul-”Bookmark here

My question is interrupted by the ringtone on Bastien’s phone. It’s disgustingly upbeat, for a man like him.Bookmark here

“Hold on a second.”Bookmark here

He slips the phone out of his pocket and checks the message he just received.Bookmark here

“Ah, it seems my date has arrived. I know you must be disappointed, but you were only ever going to be sufficient until the main course arrived.”Bookmark here

Oh no. Please tell me this isn’t happening.Bookmark here

“Now I’m going to go have some real fun. Don’t disturb me unless you think the ceiling needs a fresh coat of paint. Keep the craft beers coming though.”Bookmark here

I dig my nails into the bar to stop myself from yelling out and in the fear my body might give out otherwise. Bookmark here

Bastien picks up his drink and the unopened bottle and goes to sit across from the girl who just walked in.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.