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A short scene, written in a fiction class almost two years ago. The assignment was to...well, honestly, I don't even remember. I think it might have had something to do with deception, or with a character acting in a manner contrary to their normal behavior pattern, but I'm not sure. I don't think I've posted it on here before, and I came across it while rummaging through old folders, so here you go. Main character is Rafe.

Killdare Lane

Rafe slams his pint down, and the glass bottom hits the pitted and singed pine of the table with a solid thunk that is much louder and sharper than the sound of a bullet hitting flesh. The good Guinness of the Killdare Lane pub sloshes over the rim, a foamy amber wave of liquid oblivion lost to the expanse of abused and cherished wood. Rafe settles himself into the empty chair, his feet spread wide and planted firmly on the planks beneath. His smirk is slow, easy, and completely calculated.

The three men at the table, their card game interrupted by such an unexpected arrival, look him up and down. Their eyes dwell on the scars twisting one side of his face, the permanent down-turn to his mouth where something ripped the flesh at one corner of his lips back and it healed unevenly, the way his right eye can't open fully because of the remains of an old wound crossing it. One of them speaks after a moment, voice like gravel issuing from thick lips - he's missing a couple of teeth, and his breath hisses between them along with the words, giving the almost-impression of a lisp.

It's likely that anyone who's ever thought to suggest as much shortly found themselves meeting a rather unfortunate end.

"'Ere now, what do you want, eh?" The man's face is marked even more deeply than the table, pitted by the ravages of time and hard living - perhaps it started out as bad skin when he was a child, but it's moved far beyond that now.

Rafe's answering grin and slow stretch is as much an answer as his words. "Heard you were down a man, thought I'd see if you were interested in having someone else join your game for the night." He raises his pint and takes a long, appreciative pull of his drink. The other eyes at the table follow the movement, notice the size of the hand holding the glass and the calluses on the fingers, the way muscles shift under his military surplus jacket as his arm rises and then falls again.

Nothing in his bearing suggests that he might be the reason why their usual playmate has not arrived yet this evening. Won't be arriving anywhere, really, ever again. At least not under his own power.

There is another long moment of silence at the table, broken only by the noises of the rest of the pub, the chatter of happy people - and drunk people, occasionally but not always one and the same - enjoying a late Friday night.

The first speaker shrugs, and nods at Rafe. "As long as you have cash. I'm Mike. This here's Brody," he jerks his chin toward the blond man sitting to his left, a man with a strict crewcut who looks like he wouldn't be out of place in a military recruitment video, "and my other friend is Jay." He gestures with two fingers at the man sitting on his other side, a bruiser with slicked-back brown hair and a muscle tick in one cheek. His eye is twitching, but his gaze is steady and weighing.

Rafe takes another lazy swig of his brew. "I'm Rafael."

Rafe reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, removes a couple of credit slips and plops them down on the table. There is another moment of silence as the three men finish their round, but it's slightly more companionable than the previous ones were. Mike deals, including Rafe, and they all pick up their cards, take a moment to look their hands over.

A couple hours later, all four of them have had several more pints of beer, Rafe has shared with them some tales of his adventures overseas, and they're getting along wonderfully. Mike's started laughing at tiny things, Brody's cheeks and nose are flushed, and Rafe is listening appreciatively as Jay regales them all with the story of his latest conquest.

"...and so then she looks at him, and she says 'But sweetie, you were gone on business and I couldn't fix the sink by myself! And then it sprayed water all over and of course I couldn't just leave him in those wet clothes!' And there I am, still standing there in nothing but my knickers with just one sock on, and her husband looks between us and goes 'Then where's the mess, eh?' and that's when I decided to leave," Jay finishes.

Mike laughs uproariously, spraying foam across the table - his mustache is rimmed in it, like a paint brush. A bit lands near where Rafe's hand rests on the scratched wood, but Rafe doesn't seem to notice. His eyes are closed and he's leaning back in his chair, chuckling. Even Brody is laughing softly.

Mike wipes tears from the corners of his eyes. "How do you get into these messes, eh, Jay? I've never known a man who got into half as much trouble in his entire lifetime as you do in just a year!"

Jay grins and winks at them all. "Oh, you's my charm and roguish good looks."

Mike dissolves into laughter again, and they have to wait for him to get himself under control before they can continue the game.

"So you fellows have worked together for a long time, then?" Rafe asks, taking another drink of his Guinness.

Brody nods enthusiastically. "Sure have. Well, Jay and Mike and Murphy have. I only joined up with them a couple years ago."

Jay grins. "Yeah, he's the young 'un in Frank's crew."

Rafe chuckles. "Oh, I know how that feels. I've been the young one a time or two myself. You get to do all the heavy lifting, and you get none of the glory, ain't that right, Brody?"

"Oh, it's not all that bad. Frank's pretty good about treating all his boys equally, and I'm more than just a gopher in this crew," Brody says, shrugging.

Rafe nods agreeably. "That's good. Hey, who is this Frank you guys keep mentioning? I swear I've heard the name before - maybe I know him?"

Brody opens his mouth to answer, but Mike interrupts him. "That's Frank O'hare. He's our boss, runs a moving company. Good guy."

Rafe smiles and nods. "He sounds like it, especially if he treats you all as well as Brody here makes it sound!"

"Oh, he's just spot on, O'hare is. Real top-notch kind of guy. None of that fancy gentleman stuff you see in business owners these days." Jay lays out his cards. "Two pair, fives and aces."

Mike smirks. "Full house, beat that boys!" His cards hit the table with a triumphant smack.

Rafe and Brody both groan and set their own cards down. Rafe shakes his head. "I've got nothing."

Brody nods. "I had a pair of kings. So basically, nothing."

Mike is raking in his winnings when the bartender walks over to their table. "Last call was almost half an hour ago, boys. I'll see you again next week, eh Mike?"

They all grumble and moan, but start gathering up their cash - not much has really changed hands, each player winning and losing a couple times, but if anyone made a profit it was definitely Mike. They stagger up to their feet and help each other out of the bar, Jay and Rafe leaning on one another, Brody holding Mike up as the group stumbles out into the cold night air.

Jay immediately begins lamenting the long walk and the frigid weather.

"My pad's this way, boys, and I have a cabinet full of good strong drink. Only a couple blocks," Rafe offers. “We could finish playing there.”

This idea goes over wonderfully, and they begin to make their winding way up the empty sidewalk. After a couple minutes, Rafe gestures toward an alley, a dark crevice between two old brick shop fronts, both abandoned. "This way's shorter, boys. We could walk around the block, but it'll take longer."

Jay leads the way into the alley without having to be told anything more, and Mike and Brody follow. When they're well into the place, fumbling around in the dark and laughing and cursing, Rafe slips on something, on the discarded trash beneath their feet. He goes down to one knee, and Jay stops, chortling, to help him up while Mike and Brody continue on without noticing the fall, drawing a bit ahead.

Jay leans down and reaches out, but Rafe is already rising, and Jay only has time to acknowledge a sense of danger in the presence of a gun in Rafe's hand before the back of his head is blown out.

Mike and Brody turn then, wide-eyed and shouting, but they're too slow, Rafe's gun goes off twice and they both go down. Mike, like Jay, is dead with a headshot. Brody is clutching his ruined knee and cursing, fumbling for a weapon. He finds a gun in his jacket and raises it, but Rafe has walked over, kicks it out of his hand. The metal catches what small amount of light is present in the alley, an arc of silver through the air before it hits the littered concrete and skitters off across the ground to be lost in a clatter beneath some dark heap of trash.

Brody looks up, face tight with pain, as Rafe levels the barrel of his Glock at the younger man's forehead.

"Why, Rafael?"

"Someone paid me," Rafe answers, and pulls the trigger. The sound of the gun going off is far sharper and louder than that of a pint of Guinness hitting a wooden tabletop. The body buckles backwards under the force of the impact, hits the ground.

Rafe leans down, rifles through their pockets, and comes up with each man's winnings. He sticks them into his jacket, then turns and walks away through the cold night. His footsteps are steady, but he moves quickly. There is no silencer on his weapon, and while most people are smart enough not to come running at the sound of gunshots, someone might be foolish enough to come investigate.

When he's three blocks away, moving north across a bridge, he pulls a cell phone out of his pocket and dials in a number from memory. It rings only once, then someone picks up on the other end. They do not have to speak - Rafe knows from the sound of raspy breathing that he has the right number.

"It's Frank O'hare, like you thought."

"And his four bully boys?" The voice is a wheeze, harsh and threadbare.

"Taken care of."

"Good job, Rafe. Take care of O'hare next. I don't want him to pilfer from any more of my stockpiles."

"Consider it done." Rafe flips the phone closed before the man on the other end can hang up. A small gesture, rudeness minimalized when he's dealing with someone as powerful as Johnny Leone, but enough to remind the other man that Rafe is only working for him, doesn't belong to him. He knows Leone will recognize the statement, and be amused by it rather than insulted. It's a fine line to walk when you're dealing with the Italians, but Rafe has good balance.

He steps off the bridge onto the cobbled streets of the old city, heading for the place he's currently calling home, and the night swallows him whole.

In the end, no one notices the three bodies until midmorning the next day, when a delivery boy taking a shortcut stumbles over them. The fourth, a James Guillarmy, surfaces three weeks later out near the mouth of the river, bloated and swollen. His body is never identified.


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