Photo Prompt: courtesy of redditor u/boravsbora
The time for kid gloves had come and gone. Mary refused to see me, John Straker had bested me once again, and the bottle had kicked me to the curb once again. The city was wide awake, hopped up on speed and nightlife, when I came to behind the dumpster in that little alley. A small chinese man, dressed in white and a smeared apron prodded me awake.
“Must go,” he said, motioning with his hands. “You,” his index finger jabbed at my chest. “Must leave,” his arm swept around towards the rift in the buildings.
I nodded, stood, and steadied myself against the slick brick wall behind me. A chilly breeze blew against my bare chest as I staggered towards the lights and sounds. I wondered what had happened to my jacket and wallet; probably up and walked away during my gin nap.
First things first, I thought, where am I? I looked right then left, seeing nothing but the fleeting floods of headlights against the wet sidewalks of passing taxis. I decided to head left and started pounding pavement. A pain shot up my leg. Another reminder of my meeting with Straker and his boys. Best not let me catch you snooping around this club again Dale. Next time you won’t be leaving.
Twenty feet ahead, a man was hailing a cab. I tried projecting myself before he could be whisked away; another shadow in the night.
“Say, pal” I said. “What street is this?”
I must have been worse for ware. He looked at me like one looks at spoiled meat. Had he not had his hand up he might have pinched his nose. “38th and 17.” He said stepping off the curb.
I thanked him, still staggering forward. He nodded and vanished into the steady traffic. 38th and 17th, I thought, half a kilometer ‘till the office. I crossed my arms in front of my chest trying to fend off some the colder gusts. I would be no use to Mary if I got pneumonia. One foot then the other, I started to retrace the money, the lies, the rumors. Synapses started firing like the neon lights reflecting off billowing manhole steam. Straker and Mary, the poor girl. There was no time to waste, Straker knew I was on to him. The trail was hot. White hot.