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Friday, February 15, 2019

F³ Tough Negotiator

            “No,” I said. I was kicked back in my chair, feet on my desk.
            Kate and the other three dripped despite the towels I provided. The man and the woman, both of whom looked familiar, had deposited the unconscious man on the floor unceremoniously. I thought it best not to ask.
            “I haven’t asked anything,” Kate said.
            “The answer is still no,” I said, pulling my feet off and slamming the seat on the
            “Come on, Matt, be a guy. Do it for the mystery.”
            “No. The last time you were in town, you threatened to eviscerate me with lightning.”
            “I apologized. I offered you a most profuse apology, but you refused.” She gave me an exaggerated wink.
            Normally I might have flushed at the inference, but I was too angry, so I managed to keep my stare flat. “No.”
            “You can at least hear us out,” The guy said.
            “No, I don’t have to do anything of the kind.”
            “This is stupid. We should move directly to the threat phase,” the other woman said.
            “Let’s not be hasty,” Kate said.
            I slowly pulled at the drawer with my gun in it. I didn’t like resorting to violence, but the powers of the storm riders may not leave me much choice.
            The other woman closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long couple of weeks.”
            I relaxed after Kate’s nod.
            “Apology accepted. You guys can go. I guess I don’t need to validate parking.”
            “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” The guy—Reilly?—said. “We’re not asking you to tag long or anything dangerous. We just want you to talk to our friend here.” He gestured to the unconscious man.
            “What’s wrong with him?” My curiosity got the better of me.
            “He’s not right in the head.”
            “I’m not a shrink.”
            “No, but you have come to terms with the existence of Storm Riders,” Kate said.
            “Not really. You guys freak the hell out of me.”
            “Nearly everything freaks the hell out of you, Matt. But you’re at least not screaming at the top of your lungs all the time.”
            “Just most of the time,” I said.
            “I threatened bodily violence to you with lightning when we first met, and you only freaked out a little. You’re cool.”
            “So what’s his deal?”
            “He’s having reality adjustment issues.”
            “What kind of reality?”
            “He’s a storm rider and can’t accept it,” Reilly kicked the other man’s leg, not gently.
            “And you’re bringing him to me because?”
            “We’re out of ideas. We’ve tried it all.”
            Not likely. Kate and company tend to be very direct in their approach to life, sledgehammer blunt.
            “Not interested.”
            “We’ll give you five thousand dollars.”
            “And if I refuse, you threaten bodily harm. Fine, we’re negotiating.”

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