So, the month of August has rolled around, and I’ve been challenged to start writing proper-like again! So, this month I will be updating five days a week, doing fiction like I did in May. Here’s hoping I can make it!
Rather than just make it about me, this August has become a big blogging challenge for others, too! I’ll link ’em for your viewing convenience:
Thom Diment, who wouldn’t know a good 500 bid if it hit him in the face, is putting out miscellanea five days a week!
Ale is doing art three days a week!
Jimmy the first is, like me, updating a writing blog five days a week! It’s probably better than mine!
Jimmy the second is coding, although nobody knows how much or if it will be posted for us to see.
Should be pretty neat, I think. My first instalment is the next part of my 24 hour part story – the dialogue is a mess but I think it manages to get the job done anyway.
The Royale was an interesting place. It had sprung up in the first year of the colony – a genuine privately-owned bar set up by someone who had probably been sick of the bland company dives. That alone would have given it more personality than anything else in town, but the owner had gone one step further, as if compelled to somehow balance out the blandness all around with a beacon of individuality. The place had been done up as a kitschy tribute to the early twentieth century; it was filled with neon lighting, big band jazz recordings, and an appalling mix of Art Deco and Bauhaus designs that still made Lloyd’s head spin whenever he moved from room to room. On a more normal world, the place would have been written off as tacky and largely forgotten, but Tretton City was so devoid of human touches that the Royale – or at least its owner’s scattershot approach to nostalgia – had become an icon. For Lloyd, it was simply another workplace; Wills never met freelancers in his office, so the bar had become the lawyer’s de facto rendezvous whenever he wanted something done off the books.
Wills was sitting in his usual place, a hidden corner of the front bar that most people assumed led to a service entrance or the toilets. He was alone, Lloyd noted – it figured that Mr Big couldn’t be bothered showing up in person. Wills motioned for him to sit and snatched a phone up from the clutter on the table.
“Lloyd. Good to see you here. Give me a second and I’ll make sure you’re filled in.” He motioned for Lloyd to wait while he set up a call; subvocal interface, Lloyd couldn’t help noticing.
Someone doesn’t want me listening in.
Lloyd sat back and made a show of inspecting Wills’s face. The lawyer lived on adrenaline, Lloyd knew – every single job he’d done for the man had been treated as a life-and-death situation – but today Wills looked even more highly strung than usual. The man’s perpetual frown deepened as he disengaged from his conversation and covered the phone’s mouthpiece with his hand. He leaned over to Lloyd and fixed him with an icy stare.
“Watch your words, Lloyd. I brought you in because I considered you the best man for the job, but you’ll still need to tread lightly.” Lloyd didn’t need any reminders – Gabriel Rojo wasn’t a man you took lightly. Still, he nodded as Wills offered him the handset. He licked his lips.
“This is Rick Lloyd.”
“I know”. The voice was deep – deeper than Lloyd had expected. With no hooks offered, Lloyd stumbled forward.
“How can I help you, sir?”
He was met with quiet laughter. “Quite straightforwardly, I believe. You are a private investigator?”
“I am that, sir. Missing persons more than anything else.” Plenty of them thanks to you, at that.
“I see. I have a case for you, then. My son has been missing for sixteen hours without an explanation – and I assure you, Mr Lloyd, that there is no good reason for him to be missing. My people are thorough.”
Lloyd nodded despite the sound-only transmission. “I understand, sir. I’m used to colder trails, but I doubt the change will be a problem.”
“Indeed. Mr Wills has the details of your assignment, but I wish to convey the essentials directly to you.” Rojo paused briefly before resuming with icy clarity. “You will find my son. You will find those who have taken him. You will return him to me. And finally, you will tell me who was responsible. You will be thoroughly remunerated. Do you have any questions?”
There was a brief exhalation. “Good. Wills will handle further communication. I expect to hear of your progress shortly.”
The call was terminated without ceremony. Lloyd put the phone down on the table and raised his eyes to Wills.
“Didn’t even know the man had a kid.”
Wills shrugged. “You do now.” He shifted several datablocs into the centre of the table and motioned for Lloyd to take them.
“Those have everything else you need to know – recent movements, last known location, even some likely culprits. Your contract is in the leftmost – I assure you it’s worth your while.”
Lloyd had no doubt of that – the Rojos were the only game in town, and while the big man’s voice had promised blood, their M.O. was still “buy first, shoot second”. He swept up the gear and cracked his knuckles.
“All right, Clay. How often does Mr Rojo want his reports?”
The lawyer didn’t blink. “Half-hourly.” Ridiculous, as both men knew – but you didn’t argue with money like that.
“Got it. I’ll key you in at twenty-five and fifty-five of every hour. Don’t call me with anything unless it’s a lead on this or new orders from the big guy.”
A nod was the only reply. Wills knew better than to get in the Lloyd’s way when he was working. Lloyd headed for the exit and called up his car.
There was no time to waste.