Chapter 2: Closer

You can have my isolation
You can have the hate that it brings
You can have my absence of faith
You can have my everythingÉ

This time four men greeted me, and I wondered briefly if I had already outstayed my welcome. It wouldn't have surprised me. I had generally lived my whole life as if I was disposable. Good for a night then time for a fresh one.

"Hey, she showed up," Spike smiled. "We were taking bets."

I rolled my eyes. I didn't know it then but I would find myself rolling my eyes frequently at Spike Spiegel. "Who won?"

"I did," Vicious purred as he snatched five bucks from Spike's outstretched hand. "Everyone, meet Trouble."

"Julia," I corrected softly.

The other two men cheerfully greeted me. They looked even younger than Frat Boy Spike. I shook my head in amazement at all these children with guns. I was beginning to think all guys were really just kids. I learned they were named Shin and Lin, though I didn't quite catch which one was which. They left me waiting in the car outside the diner, and in a few moments, they all came dashing out. "GO!" someone shouted, and I went.

I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy driving. I felt invincible in those cars. No matter what piece of shit the Syndicate had waiting for me I would push it, grind it, bend it to my will. There were times that I felt I wasn't driving at all. It was like the car and I was one entity, a giant metallic beast hurtling down the highway. And I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy their dependence on me, even if it was arbitrary. I had been wanted by men all my life, but never needed. It was an interesting feeling.

But after several months, even that got routine. What can I say? I'm a fickle girl. And my total exclusion from any all and information was starting to bug me too. Which is what prompted me to have the first real conversation with Vicious, one night after he had dropped off the others.

"So what are we doing here?"

He looked at me as if he forgotten I could speak. It would be a reasonable thing to do, since I had barely said two words to him since the first night I met him. The rest of us, Spike, the boys and I...we sometimes behaved more like teenagers on our way to a sock hop than gangsters. There was something easy going about Frat Boy Spike that let everyone appear to relax, even if we didn't really let our guards down. And I quickly learned that Frat Boy Spike was a little odd.

Actually, scratch that. Frat Boy Spike was relatively odd. He would not be at all odd in a shopping mall or chomping on a hot dog at the park. He was just an odd person to be wielding a gun, killing people left and right. Nevermind that he was extremely good at it. Vicious on the other hand, would look absolutely freakish at a ball game, but seemed natural as anything in homicidal situations. I didn't see this as frightening really. I just saw it as being honest about what you were.

So when Vicious was around, all chatter stopped. He was a man who lived for the trade, and people who had time to make jokes had ample time to get shot in the head by a less foolish opponent. I actually appreciated him for that, since it kept me grounded. Reminded me that what I did for a living wasn't something to be trifled with.

"You don't need to know what we're doing," he replied shortly.

"Maybe that worked on me a few months ago but that won't hold up forever," I pushed him. "Am I in or am I in?"

Vicious narrowed his steely eyes at me but I didn't waver. "I asked you if you would be willing to be the wheelman. This is the position you were offered, this is what you accepted. All you need to know is what exit. It is in your best interest to be satisfied with that."

"I've been doing my job well, have I not?" I asked.

"Excellently. You have no equal on the road," he said plainly, this time allowing a shadow of a smirk to appear briefly on his face. He sat up on the hood of the car and lit a cigarette.

"So then I think I deserve a promotion. I made a conscious decision to join this thing. I deserve some information. I am not going to be an intern until the day I die."

Vicious laughed, and the sound was disquieting. "Planning for the future, are we?"

"Aren't you? Or are you going to tell me you have no ambitions, even in this line of work?"

Vicious raised the point of his sword to my throat, but it was in an easy, almost morbidly playful way. "Lesson the first. Never reveal your ambitions to anyone." He thwacked my chin with the tip of his blade before he sheathed it again. "I should have known better than to pick out a bored blond thing from Minnesota. I know the type. You're never very content to stay in one place for long."

"Well, then," I said spitefully. "I guess no one's ever taught you Lesson the Second."

"And what's that?"

I leaned into him so that our noses were practically touching and stared directly into his glassy eyes. "Don't under estimate a blond girl from Minnesota."

Vicious smiled, actually seriously smiled. "Duly noted."



Back to The Agent Orange Collection

Back to Main