The FLASH FICTION challenge continues with another installment of a daily prompt. Today that prompt is a single word…TOUCHÉ. The rules of the challenge are: a thousand words or less and no editing.
Holder twirled the butt of his beer bottle in a circle on the counter, expanding the sweat ring underneath. Secrets buried beneath secrets. That was the way of things.
His four-footed partner whined at his knee. The tail wagging mutt had his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. His nostrils flared, in and out, always eager to sniff out new and interesting smells. This pit had to be a canine’s treasure trove of foul odors.
Holder reached down, scratching the dog between its ears. He took a swig of lukewarm beer. The tang of hops and barely coated his tongue, the alcohol warming him from the inside out.
“The Federalists are at it again!” The idiot at the end of the bar continued his rant, going on and on about the oppression of the one-percent. The man had no idea what he was talking about, because if he did have a clue, he’d keep his trap snapped tight.
Instead, Holder found his fingers gripping the longneck, his knuckles turning white. He’d take another drink, but already there was more air inside the bottle than beer. He had to pace himself. Half a beer was more than what was allowed.
The idiot ordered another drink, some violet colored concoction of alcohol and juice. With a wave of his arms, the man bought a round for the crowd growing around him.
“We work our asses off, and for what?” The man glanced around at those hanging on his every word, gaining confidence with each sip of liquid courage. He tugged on his overalls. “What do we get for our efforts?”
Safety. Ignorance. That bliss which comes from not knowing the truth. These people complained about their existence, never knowing how good they had it. Or the sacrifices others made on their behalf.
The barkeep lined up the shots, and calloused hands stretched out to claim the free alcohol.
“For nothing, I say.” The man continued his rant. “They’ve taken everything, leaving us to scrape out a living in the dirt, while they hide behind glass walls.”
Energy surged within the crowd, men nodding and slapping one another on the back. Soon he’d have a riot on his hands. A mess a man like him had no business being inside.
The dog whined beside him, the canine’s growing nervousness evident by the hunch in its back and tail drooping between its legs.
“It’s okay,” Holder soothed, patting the dog’s back. “We can leave soon.”
He needed to leave now. But his contact had yet to arrive. A glance toward the end of the bar revealed the crowd had doubled in size. The barkeep parked himself where the money flowed, sliding credit chits through his reader as fast as he poured cheap liquor.
With a blink, Holder activated his link. News of the commotion hadn’t yet leaked to red-hat informants. Strange there wasn’t at least one in this crowd, but if there had been one, Holder never would have stayed.
A slight breeze notified him of movement to his right.
Holder didn’t turn to acknowledge the newcomer.
“Drinking? Didn’t think that was allowed for your kind.”
The dog whined and tucked against Holder’s leg. “It’s not forbidden.”
The informant sniffed his disgust. “Foul habit.”
“Don’t knock it until you try it.” He tipped the bottle to his lips, taking a small sip. With his free hand he dug into his pocket pulling out a credit chit. “You don’t get paid until I get the information.”
“Ack! I hate this.”
So did Holder, but the one-percent didn’t have a choice.
His informant exchanged a data cube for the credit chit. “You owe us your lives,” he said with a sneer. “Your very existence is built upon our flesh. Someday the truth will come out.”
“Someday,” Holder said, tucking the data cube into his pocket, “but not today.”
The man gestured to the end of the bar. “How many other places do you think have this scene playing out? How long can you keep your secrets?”
Holder downed the last of the beer. “As long as it takes.” He stood and placed the bottle on its side, giving it a spin. It would point straight at the idiot at the end of the bar. His kind didn’t appreciate those who incited others to violence. Holder should feel remorse, marking the man for recycling, but it was hard to feel anything for the loud mouthed fool.
He blinked, shifting his vision to a more useful infrared.
Layers of half-truths piled upon layers of lies. And too many secrets smothered the whole mess.
“You’re lucky to have us,” he said to the man beside him.
“You were lucky we were even here.”
Holder stood and slapped the side of his leg. “Touché.”
“Touché my ass, you owe us.”
Holder added another man to be marked and made a note to find a new informant in the morning.
He turned his empty sockets on the man and smiled. “I meant the dog.”
As he walked out of the bar, Touché followed, tail high and swishing back and forth. The bright eyes belied a gifted intelligence, unlike the robots inside.
We also have, for our reading pleasure our GUEST poster: NICHOLE WATSON contributing her take on the prompt.
I sat and watched her from my usual spot as I swirled my drink in the tumbler. I watched them watch her. Granted it would be hard for any man to resist atleast a peek. Oh but once you laid your eyes on her a peek wouldn't be enough. Her presence in even the crowded bar could be felt. She was like a lioness and even if one of these boys had a chance they would never be able to handle a creature like her.
I chuckled to myself as each prospect approached her and I imagined what lame line they would try on her. A “hey beautiful you come her often?” wouldn't work. No to land this jewel it would take a man, a well versed man. After her last victim walked away I decided my fun for the night was over.
I took the last sip of my drink and when I looked up I was taken a back at the vision in front of me. Yes she was breathtaking from a far but standing in front of me I was at a loss for words. She leaned down, the dip of her blouse causing the swell of the top of her breasts to become exposed.
“This seat taken?”
Well it looked like my night was about to get interesting.
“All yours, please”
At that moment the waitress came by.
“Two of whatever it is the gentleman was drinking.”
After the waitress dropped off our drinks I took a sip of my drink.
“Do you make it a habit to watch women like your stalking prey?”
I chuckled again for the second time that night.
“I was merely enjoying the entertainment my dear. ”
She tilted her head and brought her finger to her lips.
“How is it that I was your entertainment. I am curious”
“Well it's clear they aren't in your league. They all want a chance they will never get.”
It was her time to laugh.
“Well isn't that exactly what you want? Don't you think you have a chance? ”
I chuckled yet again raising my glass to her, ” Touche”