Hodoshi quietly stared at the massive, grease stained man before him, his hand extended to shake.
The big man wore heavy leathers, an off-colored shirt that, before the years of brown and yellow stains, might have been called white, and thick, well-worn black motorcycle boots. The smell coming off of him was some combination of machine parts, probably motor oil based if Hodoshi were to guess, and overwhelming body odor. On top of everything else, he had a glaze in his eyes that suggested he was either drunk, high, or both.
He was thick, burly, stupid, and everything about him came off as just dirty.
It made Hodoshi want to spit.
Hodoshi did not shake his hand.
"What is it that you want, Mr. Duante?" he asked with plain annoyance.
The big man stared at Hodoshi in confusion but his associate, Cooper, was quick to translate.
"The fuck was that?" the big man asked stupidly.
"My employer would simply like to know why you requested his presence, Mr. Duante." said the slender man to Hodoshi's right.
"I'm Felix. Ain't nobody called me Mr. Duante since school." the bruiser said wit a sneer.
"And I'm sure that was quite a long time ago, wasn't it, Mr. Duante?" Hodoshi asked, his face dead pan.
"The fuck is he doin?" the big man asked, jabbing a finger in Hodoshi's direction.
For just the briefest of moments, Hodoshi considered snapping it off at the knuckle.
Only for a moment though.
"He merely is expressing a brief apology and asks we get down to business." his associate mistranslated, a well-practiced smile tickling at the edges of his thing lips. A subtle, disarming mannerism Cooper had perfected long ago.
Not for the first time, Hodoshi openly ignored the thug in front of him and glanced around the room, taking in his surroundings with a lingering sense of disgust.
The little dive bar they were in looked like it hadn't been visited by a Health Official in years. He had seen a sign but didn't really not the name. "Rosie's"? "Roxie's"? "Robby's"? Some sort of name that started with an "R".
It didn't matter.
The faux wood paneling was hidden beneath a marbling of oily, black tar stains, likely from cigarettes or something similar, that creeped up high on the walls and covered the ceiling. The bar itself, a long, single piece of mahogany that was probably the only real piece of wood in the place, was notched and splintered from untold bar fights, knife contests, and general disarray. Lights, barely strong enough to illuminate a fridge, lined bleak looking sitting areas and a few, ratty, ancient billiards tables.
Worst of all, the whole place stank just as much as the big idiot in front of them from untold eons of cheap whiskey, grease monkeys, and the inevitable vomit of putting too much of both in the same place.
Hodoshi sighed, glancing at the dozen other men that littered the room at various points. As his gaze passed over them, each one looked even bigger and dumber than the next. They were all openly staring, their eyes filled with suspicion, hatred, and mistrust.
He shrugged and glanced back to Mr. Duante.
"-get the job done?"
"I assure you, Mr. Felix." Cooper said in an obviously placating manner. "My employer is the best. If not, we would not have been sent here. Now if you please?"
"What. Is the job. You fucking imbecile." Hodoshi said, his annoyance beginning to flare hotter.
Mr. Duante stared at him for a brief second before flatly declaring, "No. I'm not working with this fucking crip'."
The man appeared to have more to say, but made the mistake of turning his back to him.
You're right. Hodoshi thought to himself. We won't be working together.
"You are aware the police are coming, Mr. Hodoshi?" Cooper asked as they walked down the side alley, weaving casually by large cardboard boxes and overflowing rubbish bins.
"Wouldn't surprise me."
"No concerns then?"
"They won't find anything interesting."
"We made quite a mess. It wouldn't surprise me if the entire block heard the commotion."
"Good for them."
Cooper stared at him for a moment before realizing his perceived mistake.
"I apologize, sir."
"Don't be an idiot. I know what you meant by it."
Hodoshi took a moment to wipe the remaining blood off his hands along with a few specs that had flicked across the cuff of his suit before continuing.
"Your statement was correct and nothing to be ashamed of. I was not exactly quiet."
"You were not." his associate confirmed.
They moved through alley without further comment until they reached a street several blocks over.
"Alright, what now?" Hodoshi asked, his gaze wandering across the surprisingly busy area. It seemed they'd found some manner of open-air market. People were wandering too and fro and the entire place was lined with hastily constructed shacks selling all manner of different items under the haze of marijuana smoke and bead lights that ran the length of the street.
"Well, I don't think Adolpho will be particularly thrilled about the Horsemen..."
"He'll get over it. We can just call it free advertising."
"All the same, I suppose we should report it and see if there's someone less taxing to deal with."
"I don't doubt he knows already and there's no job pressing enough to go running off to. Let's get dinner. My treat. Then we'll deal with the golden haired prick."
"Of course, sir."
"What do you think? Ramen or Southern? Could definitely go for some Carolina Short Ribs." Hodoshi asked as he glanced around at a number of shacks near the end of the road that seemed to all be selling different foods. He could easily make out Bar-B-Que in sprawling, maroon letters across the banner of one.
"Frankly, I'd prefer something with vegetables."
"Surprise. Surprise." he snarked the thinner man. "We'll look. Maybe there's somewhere with some vegan options."
"Thoughtful as always, sir."
"Well, mom told me that if I wanted a bunny, I'd have to take care of it."
Cooper, a smirk playing off his lips, wiggled his nose and upper lip slightly, and Hodoshi let out an unrestrained laugh. They disappeared into the crowd a moment later, their mind set on food, just as the police arrived to find the eviscerated corpses of a dozen, heavily armed bikers several blocks away.
(Hello Lovelies. I wanted to thank you all for being so patient. The last month has been a hell of a rough ride, but I'm finally back on the wagon. With that said, I wanted to open up with an idea I've been playing around with. I'm not sure how long lasting it will be, but it's been in the back of my head and exploring it seemed like a good way to flex my writing muscle again. Don't worry, my Little Island Tales are soon to come, but I figured I'd warm up on a newer project rather than produce garbage when it comes to continuing L.I.T. Keep your ear to the ground, more to come shortly. Love you all.)