“You don’t say,” I said into the telephone, “of course it’s just a misunderstanding,” I then said after processing what I had just heard. I nodded in the affirmative a few times before I realized once again that you can’t be seen over the telephone, so I mumbled in a yes like manner while nodding my head a little harder to make up for it.
“Yeah, that shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, she’s being taken care of, you’re the monster here, not me,” I said to the voice on the other side of the phone that up until now I assumed was Desmond Wolfmin calling to arrange a meeting to exchange hostages. That’s what I thought. Up until now.
I wasn’t so sure anymore. My new theory was that I was talking to someone named Desmond, who has a daughter named Patricia, probably isn’t a werewolf, and was calling a bar to talk to someone named T.J for a completely different reason than the one I assumed. This was by no means the strangest alleged coincidence I had ever had happen to me, but it was the most inconvenient and ill-timed one I had had the mispleasure of suffering through.
“Hold on now, if you don’t mind,” I interrupted and then proceeded, “are you a werewolf? Before you ask, I’m deadly serious,” I fell silent and awaited a response.
I already knew this Desmond wasn’t a werewolf on account of the uncomfortably long period of silence which followed my question. When the silence was broken, my hunch was confirmed. This Desmond was the wrong Desmond. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. When someone accuses someone else of being a werewolf, even politely, and that person isn't a werewolf and also doesn’t believe in werewolves, they usually think the person that asked them that is crazy and proceed to run away or hang up the phone or some combination of the two. This is based on my experiences and informal discussions with my peers. I’ve conducted no double-blind studies, nor anything of that sort. It was just a hunch paved into my expectations after years and years of it proving true more often than not, not by a provable fact by any standard. Either way, that phone call was about as useful as no phone call. Everything was still the way it was.
I handed the phone back to Jax, he took it and asked, “What’s the what there Mr. T.J.?”
“My thoughts exactly Jax, it’s a weird world out there.”
“I hear ya,” Jax sighed while setting up two shot glasses in front of us. He filled them with blackberry brandy, a low octane, solid choice for when you find yourself playing the waiting game. It allows for the time traveling effect of a light buzz but avoids most of the defects that develop as a result of imbibing the higher octane fluids over a protracted time frame. I took a modest sip of my brandy before placing my glass back on the bar, as is the usual way. Today was unusual enough as it was and I didn’t need to go adding to it by adding nonstandard drinking etiquette to the mix. The complications and convoludedness of a drinking session should be in indirect proportion to the complications and convolutedness of what’s transpiring in one's immediate environment. It’s just common sense.
Both Jax and I finished our drinks in silence. There was just nothing to say until something happened that was worth having something to say about. We’d exhausted just about every topic of small talk, most of the medium talk was disappointing as neither of us knows any dead folk worth talking to (or about, for that matter.) As far as big talk went, we were currently and eagerly awaiting for any developments on that front.
As I was mulling over whether or not to have another drink, I lit a cigarette off of the remains of my last one. Before I could finish my first drag, the phone rang.
Jax and I looked at each other like a phone call was the last thing that we expected, when it was, in fact, exactly what we were expecting. Our faces held looks of surprise and apprehension and wouldn’t let go of them. All this in spite of the fact that the entire reason we were sitting here was happening right now and our first instinct was to make no sense with our faces. That’s faces for you. Always betraying the nonsensical inner workings of our interior processes. I signaled to Jax that I'd like to answer the phone this time. He nodded and proceeded to fulfill my nonverbal request.
“Sam’s Place,” I said, “yep, he’s right here,” I then said before handing the phone to Jax.
“Jax here, go ahead,” he cradled the phone on his neck in such a way as to free both his hands for drink pouring. As he grabbed the brandy bottle but before he started pouring himself a drink he said, “look, thing is- you’re full of shit. I’m not even old enough for middle school. There’s no way I could be eligible for your so called student loan forgiveness program as I ain’t a participant in the so-called educational system. I’m a conscious objector. This has nothing at all to do with how I have a credit rating. That’s none of your business. Maybe think about that. Have a good day,” before returning the phone to its cradle with both audible and inaudible sighs.
Even though I wasn't sure if I wanted to know, I went ahead and asked, "What's a 'conscious objector'?"
"That means I don't and won't go to any kind of school for philosophical reasons. I consciously object to being filled up with lies and hollow facts that have no bearing or usefulness in my day to day life. I went to a math class once on account of a court order and they didn't even mention measuring out drink ingredients. Just a bunch of jive about cows walking through a gate two at a time."
"Cows are notoriously bad at doing things in pairs," I was about to extrapolate on what Jax was putting down but we were, once again, interrupted by the ringing phone.
"Just let it ring, it's probably just a scammer trying to talk you out of a credit card number."
"What if it ain't, though?" Jax asked.
"I had some time to think about that. Here's what I propose. Let it ring, if they call back right away, we'll answer. "
So that's what we did. After about fifteen rings the caller gave up and never tried again. Even a werewolf would call back right away if their kid was missing. A few moments passed and the phone rang again. Jax just lifted it off the receiver and put it back without even attempting to answer it.
"My heart's breaking here, I can't stand another phone call from a non-werewolf."
I knew where Jax was coming from, but not answering the phone wasn't a good strategy. If we didn't get in touch with the Wolfmins before we met up with them, we'd be meeting up with them before we got in touch with them. That would have to mean that they just walked right into Sam's bar as if they were welcomed guests. I was hoping to avoid such a situation at all costs, it would be better to meet them anywhere but here. For reasons that should and will go without saying, I don't ever want to sit in a bar that's visited by both werewolves and homeless children. Nothing good came come from such a thing. It's surely the stuff of nightmares.
I was going to explain to Jax about how we really needed to answer the phone but the door swung open hard, slamming into the wall with a satisfying thub, which is a world apart from a thud. Sunlight pushed its way into the room and slapped my eyes shut before I could realize whether or I not recognized who did this to me.
I reached for my gun while I waited for my vision to clear but I stopped when I heard a familiar voice.
"Which one of you dipshits pissed off the Wolfmins enough for them to pay me to burn this shithole down?"
"Danny?" I said only half as confused as I felt I had a right to be.
"Goddamn right it is, I got paid two grand for this. I assume you'll pay me four to not do it?"
"Let's make it five this time if you're willing to help."
"Of course I'm willing to help. I already didn't burn this place down."
By now my vision had returned to normal and I took a good look at Danny. He was different looking for sure, but everyone is different looking for sure when they're working. He was holding what looked like an umbrella dressed up as a toy space rifle which was spitting out a three-inch flame. The rifle looking component was attached to a tube which ran into a backpack.
I gestured to the contraption while I said, "New model? Some-kind of stealth attachment?"
"Thanks for noticing," Danny replied with a bit of anger tinged with disappointment in his voice.
"I'm sorry Danny, I wasn't thinking. You really can't notice at all. Honest."
"Let's go kill my client."
I slid off my stool and stood up while Jax jumped onto the bar. I handed him Sam's pistol. He chambered a round and cocked the hammer back all the way before he put it in the back of his waistband. Some people just like to live on the edge, I guess. He then jumped off the bar and walked towards the door. I followed him as he followed Danny as Danny followed his bliss.