I’ve always felt strange in architecturally elaborate banks. It’s much like strolling into one’s tomb to get a feel for eternity. Perhaps, I simply did not like it, because I’ve never had enough money to join their little club.
Waxing aside, I turned my attention to my associate, Conan Gray. Apparently, I’ve taken to referring to my seldom seen cohorts in a manner suggesting that we associate far more often than we do. Beyond that fact, I was delighted to have his assistance in the matter since I’ve had about as much use for banking as it has had for me, as I previously mentioned.
Conan was quite the opposite of Walt. He was a man of impeccable attention to detail and the last person to cast a vote for physical confrontation. My associate was a short, slightly chubby man who was as grumpy in appearance as he was in practice. Conan was always well dressed, wearing a suit, vest, and tie everywhere he went. Also, he always carried an umbrella with him, which functioned as a cane more often than its intended use. His face was a bit round, just enough to call it so, and a different shade of red continuously flushed his cheeks. He had little hair atop his head, a fact typically hidden beneath a flat cap. His clothes were always gray, as was his hair, and I’m not sure I appreciated that correlation until now.
Suddenly, my daydreaming was interrupted by the bank manager approaching me, which startled me more than I cared to admit.
“Here’s the information that you requested,” the manager said, feigning a willingness to help. I’m unsure why the guy gave it to me instead of Conan, but, like I said, Conan is known to be contrary. Maybe it’s only my imagination, but I swear he judged me for having been startled. I could tell from his expression. As I sized the bank manager up, Conan hastily made his way through the revolving door and out of the bank. Luckily, there were no small children in his way. He did, however, nearly plow through a young lady, though she failed to notice the near miss.
By the time I got outside, Conan was standing next to a taxi waiting for me, undoubtedly. “Shall we take a cab?” he asked disdainfully, though I’m not sure he knows any other way.
“Let’s do that,” I replied, as I leaned down into the backseat.
“What’s that, pal?” the driver asked. I assume the cabbie failed to notice that I was talking to Conan.
“Take us to Lucky’s,” I said. He had nodded before he began to drive away. As soon as we got underway, I felt the need to chat with Conan. He has always been a great help dissecting a scene, but I never could get him to tell me anything about himself. That was the one thing that he had in common with Walt. “I appreciate you coming with me to the bar. Sarge was not keen on me going there alone, and I get the feeling that you don’t approve of the idea either,” I admitted, receiving only a stern look for my efforts.
“Your right, I do not approve, but your drinking problem is precisely that, your problem,” he replied, as sternly as the look he had given me. “Moving on, how about I take a look at the information that bank man gave you?”
“You got it,” I replied, as I passed him the papers from the bank. He looked them over rather critically. Honestly, he seemed to be putting on a show, but I wouldn’t dare question his methods so long as the results are sound, as they often are.
“Well, this does not tell us much. It only states that the account belongs to a corporation and that Emily Black is an authorized user of the account,” he mentioned. “There is not a list of other signatories, but there is the name of the company, Paradox Trust,” he added.
“So, we just guess that Emily Black is one of the trustees, right?” I asked, though rhetorically.
“Not exactly, Mr. Darby, we make an assumption based on the facts that we have. How could it be otherwise?” he asked. I wish he could talk to me once without me feeling as if he’s trying to make me look stupid. I know that I’m paranoid, but I can’t be wrong every time.
“Here we are,” the cab driver announced. I paid the fare but not without a dirty look from Conan. It seems that I’m an idiot and a cheapskate. I gave the driver a bit more in the hopes that it would live up to Conan’s high yet unpredictable standards.
I got out of the taxi and tried to help a struggling Conan get out as well. Unfortunately, he slapped my hand away, forcefully enough for a flash of rage to populate my mind for a moment.
“The gods undoubtedly weep for the future of mankind,” he pretentiously remarked. Now that I think about it, his tone was rather typical, for him.
“I’m sure your elders said the same for your generation,” I rebutted.
“Indeed they did and for good reason. If this is any indication of your tipping habits, it’s astonishing that not all of the taxi men in this city have socked you in the face,” he added. I have to admit; Conan is highly skilled at having the last word. Practice makes perfect, they say.
Conan stood by the door to Lucky’s for a time, posing with an entitled, arrogant scene upon his mug. Eventually, I discovered that he was waiting for me to open the door. As I did, he promptly disappeared into the bar as if the threshold were the entrance to another realm.
I lingered for a moment, because, frankly, Conan was boiling my blood with expert efficiency. After a few breaths that I didn’t have to share with my beloved associate, I conjured enough will to enter the establishment. It was eerily quiet, which struck me as odd, to say the least. As soon as I set foot inside the bar, my eyes locked with the elusive Emily Black.
A cacophony of bells and whistles filled my head in unison, emitting a singular, disruptive tone, and the next few steps that I took echoed just as Emily’s had before, unsurprisingly. I could feel Emily’s look of petrified terror on my face. A few more footsteps transformed my countenance into a gaze of terror. I was emitting as much disgust and hate as I could muster. My teeth clenched, as if a dog with a bone, and I was practically snarling.
Suddenly, two men in suits rushed Emily towards a backdoor, so I endeavored to give chase. Unfortunately, as the echoes picked up tempo, they were quickly shattered by a fist, and a decidedly uncomfortable thud replaced my echoes while the full weight of my body crashed to the floor. I rolled over onto an uncountable pile of discarded peanut shells. I told myself that all the crunching noises were from the shells, but my aches told a different version of that story.
“Be careful, Mr. Darby. I fear these two men may work for the taxi service,” Conan remarked, which was about as much help as one might expect. Damn him for being funny at a time such as this.
The man who presumably hit me stood over me, ill intentions laced his eyes, while his backup appeared to be retrieving a barstool. It looks as if I may become the next forgotten shell to populate this floor.
Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.
“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”