‘Jaysus, Carl! What the fuck are you playing at? The door’s right there ya dozy shite!’ Patrick picked Carl up from his heap on the ground, brushing the dust from him in vicious strokes, ignoring his protestations. ‘Now, get in there. We’re looking fer Mister Pentos, ’cause he’s got a job for us.’
‘Yeah, but, Paddy…’ Carl looked confused. This was his normal state of being, mind you, but this was an extra layer atop his usual stupor. ‘How do we know what he looks like? I mean, we can hardly walk in and say “‘Scuse me, but are you Pentos?”, can we?’ Carl’s face settled into a smug smile. He loved thinking he was right.
Patrick’s rebuttal was swift and merciless, shattering Carl’s illusion. ‘We’ll know, because I know what he looks like ’cause he told me. It’s a need to know basis and you, thick as pig shit and half as attractive, don’t need to know! Now, get your arse in that bar and look menacing. Less like you’re trying to force one out and more like you can crush someone’s skull, yeah?’
The inside of the bar was much like any other. Dark, dingy, with neon lights strewn carelessly around the building. Small booths lay hidden in corners, wreathed in secrets and cigarette smoke. ‘I thought there was a smoking ban?’ Carl asked. Patrick rolled his eyes at the thought of explaining the point of a criminal to Carl. Thankfully, a break in the smoke gave him the excuse he needed. In the corner booth, nursing a full glass filled with melting ice cubes. A trilby sat perched on his head, while leather gloves emerged seamlessly from the sleeves of his greatcoat. All just as Ratface Jim had said it would be.
They walked cautiously towards him, small steps in case they needed to get the jump on him. ‘Ere, he must be boiling in that get-up. Who does he think he is, Al Capone?’ Carl prodded Patrick and sniggered.
‘No, Mr Brox, I do not think myself to be Al Capone. Mr Capone was sloppy and allowed himself to get caught for tax evasion. He also managed to contract syphilis, a feat I do not wish to replicate. I apologise about the word syphilis, it appears its multi-syllabic nature has confused you.’ Pentos removed his hat and placed it daintily on the table. He didn’t move or turn around, just guided his words against a new victim. ‘Mr Sumner, I believe? I would stop talking but I fear that would give your companion time to process his thoughts and say another moronic utterance. Can you muzzle him, as I don’t believe this establishment sells lollipops?’
Even Patrick looked shocked at the onslaught of words. His body moved quicker than his mind however, so he shoved a ten pound note into one of the shovels that Carl called hands, pointing him towards the bar. ‘Lager. Pint. Quick.’ He slid into the booth opposite Pentos and ran a hand through his greying hair. ‘So, this job of yours…’
Pentos smiled, bright white teeth gleaming in the smoky room. He looked as though he was made of wax, moulded into shape instead of growing naturally. ‘Yes, the job. The wolf would be the hungry one, eager for the prize. Do you not want to wait for your bear in idiot’s clothing?’ He raised his glass to his suspiciously red lips, taking a slow swallow. ‘Though I assume you make the decisions and he does as he is told, surely?’
Patrick nodded. He’d never taken kindly to people who were more intelligent than him, let alone a man like this, hurling it into his face. There was something nagging at Patrick, screaming into his ears that he should leave and not look back. Unfortunately, the siren song of sixty thousand pounds drowned out everything else. ‘Carl’ll do as he’s told. Like you said. So if we get down to business, as soon as we can, then we’ll get underway.’
Pentos’ grin seemed sure to break his face in two. ‘Very well, my eager wolf, let us begin. You’ve heard, I’m sure, of the Amethyst Panther on display at the Museum of Natural History? Well, I have been reliably informed that there will be an attempt to steal it in the coming weeks. As it stands… Do you have a question, Mr Sumner?’
‘Look, I hate to interrupt but me and Carl, cheers pal.’ Patrick said as Carl returned with his lager, ‘Where was I? Right, me and Carl, we ain’t exactly finesse burglarisers. Smash and grab raids, kidnap, extortion, torture. We’re good at those.’
Carl belched. ‘And murder, can’t forget that.’
‘Thanks, Carl. Murder too. But finesse? Or grifting? Not really our style, guv.’ The smile was really starting to jar with him now. He hadn’t called anybody guv for years, not since his first stint in Her Majesty’s Prisons. But that smile wasn’t wavering in the slightest and Patrick was having to fight for control. He couldn’t swing for this guy, not yet anyway.
‘Do you honestly think, Mr Sumner, that I would consider hiring you for an undertaking to which you weren’t suited? I’m not even remotely interested in the Panther. It’s one of thousands, for those moving in the right circles.’ Pentos placed his gloved hands on the table and leaned towards Patrick. Patrick and Carl unconsciously leaned in to learn whatever secret he was going to impart.
‘I want the Thief.’
So, I considered starting with a joke, but then this story took a whole different turn. A longer one today, which just goes to show what happens if I start writing earlier and have a character that can use as many words as he damn well pleases. Any comments on the story or if, god forbid, you spot any mistakes, let me know!
The Idiot in Tin Foil