Too Many, Too Much
Too many voices…
Too much noise…
A young man stood alone in the dark. The pulsating beat of the club connected to the alleyway seemed to be the only sound in the back street.
Too many lives…
Too much killing…
He drew his gun. One tick, two tick, three tick…
Too many jobs…
Too much carnage…
He steadied his gun to his blank eye, devoid of any emotion.
…*crackle*… Hey Red, that’s the last of them. You can take the rest of the night off, ’kay? Blue out.
The static echoed across the empty corridor. The young man set down his gun underneath the designated manhole cover. Another agent would fetch it later. He slowly stood back up and breathed out one long breath. His job was done for the night. He headed back into the lively chaos of the club.
“My, my, what’s with the long face?” Said the big woman manning the bar table. Senora Sanchez was notably one of the most fearsome bartenders of her time. Everything about her was big: her nose, her laugh, her personality, and, most surprisingly, her heart. A big woman with a big heart, more than uncommon in this time of carnage and rape. She’d saved many a girls’ lives and employed the most loyal bouncers a woman could ask for. But still, she was a citizen and a victim.
The young man with the red hair had been showing up to her bar as of late and she had made it a personal goal to put a smile on that sidelong face. No person had ever walked into Senora Sanchez’s club and came out of it miserable. Not until this young man, at least. Oi, I must be losing my touch, she had thought to herself. No, this young man was a special type of unhappy. He had a different type of hurting, the kind that ripped right through your soul and stayed there, never allowing it to heal up. One without a love to keep the despair at bay. One of woe that the Senora was far too familiar with before she had found her reason to laugh.
He glanced up from his drink, joyless light barely shining in his crimson eyes. He took one slow, deliberate drink from his hardly touched concoction and looked at the Senora with a dead, dead stare. Oh, son, she thought sadly, someone must’ve done you so much wrong to look like that.
“Nothing,” he finally spoke, “there’s nothing wrong. Ms. Sanchez, thank you for all of your hospitality but this is the last time I’ll be here.” He stood to leave, booze still on the table.
“Nonsense, boy,” Senora chided fiercely, “There nobody walk in my door just to say that. Something is a matter. Sit down, boy!” She maneuvered her thick body across the bar counter and wrenched the boy back down onto his seat.
“Now, nobody shows ’ole Sanchez that disrespect, boy. You hear? Tell me what’s grating on those nerves of yours or yous bet I’ll stick my hawk nose of mine down your throat!”
Senora Sanchez wasn’t just the most fearsome bartender of her time; she was the toughest cookie out there. An honest-to-goodness survivor of the Criminal Wars, all four of ’em. You bet your bottom dollar that this young man, who she coulda whipped when she was eight, wasn’t gonna get out of this bar easy.
“I was shooting men out of mah streets while yous was quiverin’ in your diapers. Sit down and call me Senora, boy!”
The young man sat back down with a defeated sigh, with slight – very slight – amusement tugging at his lips. “You know I can’t win with you, Senora.”
“Hmph,” she started with a satisfied smile, “childs these days. Go on boy, lemme hear it. These old bones don’t stay foreva’.”
He just sat there for a moment, coddling his recaptured drink. He was unsure of what to tell the overzealous Mother-of-All. That he worked in E.V.I.L? He killed people nightly at her bar? That he was probably going to die alone and unhappy? What was there to say? The smell of the booze, the deafening roar of the music, the sweat and bodies. None of it helped him form the sentences he wanted to, the information he just wanted to throw away and never see again. His desire to just end it all.
No, he amended; I have to stay if it were for one reason. One long-suffering breath later and he looked up again at the patiently waiting woman. His hand twitched for a moment, wanting the comfortable and familiar weight of a gun. “You realize you’re not privy to my information, right?”
“Boy!” That earned him a well-earned smack from the huffing Senora. A small smile cracked the too-old-for-a-twenty-one-year-old face. For a brief second, he was transported back to his mother’s teasing grin and warm makeshift kitchen, smelling of home. The smile disappeared in an instant.
“Seriously, boy, life is a lil’ less scary when yous sees it in a different light.” There, that playful chiding tone so much like his mother’s, one with so much love and life, one couldn’t help but get caught up in it for a second.
Pain filled his senses as he closed his eyes. A heartbeat. “My mother’s sick.” There, the most innocent of all his problems. Her bright, smiling face, her wispy vermillion hair so much like his own, and her lilting laugh were all burned into his memory. He was unwilling to allow the image of the frail, coughing vision he saw now represent his mother. A gentle tug opened his eyes; warm brown eyes held his as his chin was held up lovingly, like a mother staring at her beloved child.
“Son,” Senora choked as she pulled him into a large hug, “yous always welcome here. Every child needs a motherin’ thing. I might’ve never been a mother but I know the pain of being a mother less all too well. Now,” she pulled away from him and like an anxious mother, pushed him towards the madness, “go and have a bita’ fun. The youth always waste they youth.” She watched sadly as he stumbled into the madness of the club. The boy was lying, she realized sorrowfully. He had a far heavier weight on his young shoulders.