Flash Fiction: I Bow To None

This week’s new flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig is to write a story inspired by the seven deadly sins.  I chose randomly, and ended up with Pride.  Solid, fun stuff.

It’s the same setting as one of my recent experiments, the one set in a flooded Florida, but focuses on Latour instead of Pat and Pat.  Enjoy!

“I,” Latour said, looking in the mirror, “look perfect.”

They weren’t wrong.  Their suit was freshly cleaned, draping across their form in the height of fashion.  White suit, carmine shirt, silver tie with gold pin… white spats on black shoes.

Ren leaned down behind them, muscles moving beneath his tight shirt, and kissed Latour lightly on their proffered cheek.  “You’re the best,” he murmured.

Latour held Ren’s face against theirs, looking at the two of them in the mirror, and smiled.  “I know.”

***

The band had set up shop on their corner stage, playing a gentle saxophone serenade for the rest of the club while the drummer kept time with brushes on her snare.  The crowd wasn’t boisterous yet, had hardly begun to party for the evening; the band was keeping things relaxed for now.  Latour nodded to the group as they strolled past on their way to the bar, Ren floating behind like an iceberg made of muscle and bone.

“Good evening, boss.”  The bartender nodded to Latour in the middle of mixing up something dark and bubbly.  He slid the drink to a waiting customer with a smile, then turned back to Latour.  “Everything seems good so far, nothing on fire yet.”

Latour pursed their lips and nodded, tapping a finger on the bar in thought.  “Good.  Should be the usual crowd tonight, nothing special going on.  Keep them well watered.  Oh, and—” Latour leaned in, voice quiet beneath the music, “—when a person named Mercy asks for the Five Alarm Special, there’s a bag they’ll need behind the well rum.  Twine bag, stenciled ‘XX.’”

The bartender blinked, nodded.  “Mercy’s Five Alarm Special, twine bag behind the well rum, stenciled ‘XX.’  Got it.”

Latour smiled.  “Good.”  They wandered back to their table in the corner closest to the band, and took their usual seat.

The night proceeded apace, the club moving into full swing as more and more folk filtered in from the lonely water outside.  It wasn’t like Latour’s place was the only night spot in the Glades, but few other places around were nestled deep in the mangroves away from the prying eyes of the rest of society.  Latour rarely stayed in the same place for very long; their club’s floats could up anchors and be towed easily.  Their guests knew how to find them well enough.  It attracted a very particular crowd.  A crowd that Latour knew how to cater to exceedingly well.

But, as Latour also knew, there were always problems.  They came with the territory of running an itinerant speakeasy.  Everyone and their next door neighbor wanted a cut.

The two gentlemen stepping in through the front door were exactly that kind of problem.  Their suits were well tailored, fit elegantly to their athletic frames.  They’d even been cut to offer just enough extra room for their shoulder holsters to have an easy draw.  They took less than thirty seconds to spot Latour and begin an overly casual saunter towards Latour’s corner.

“Ren,” Latour kept their eyes on the approaching men, “please get someone to bring out more of the Five Alarm Special.”

Ren nodded, waving over one of the waiters.  He settled back into a suitably subdued loom as the two men stepped up to the edge of Latour’s table.

The one in the lead smiled up at Ren, then down at Latour.  “Hi, my name is Antonio.  You’re Mister Latour?  Miss?”

Latour stared up at the man, taking a moment to purposefully unclench their teeth.  “You can just call me Latour.  Please, have a seat.”  Latour waved towards the chairs on the other side of their table.  The man in the lead sat, resting his hands on the table.  His companion stayed standing, a few steps behind him.

“So, Latour,” the smiler steepled his fingers in front of him, “I’m so glad that you’re here doing business in our backyard.”

Latour continued staring.  Antonio shifted slightly in his seat.

“But I have to say, it’s a little odd for you to show up without letting us know that you were going to be here.”  Antonio flicked his eyes up to Ren.  “So I wanted to let you know, politely, that my boss is miffed.”

“Miffed.”  Latour didn’t change their expression.

“Yeah, miffed.  You hear me?”  Antonio leaned forward.  He snapped his fingers.  “Hello?”

A waiter stepped up, depositing a vape pipe and a small dish of resinous balls before disappearing again.

“Well Antonio, I’m sorry to hear that.”  Latour leaned forward and packed the pipe.  “What say we talk business?”  Latour leaned back, taking a heavy pull and holding their breath.

Antonio nodded, looking satisfied.  He accepted Latour’s offer of the pipe.

“What I think,” Latour exhaled mist, “is that you, and your boss,” they paused while Antonio blinked at the potency of the vapors, “can go fuck yourselves.”  Latour could feel kittens, very fluffy kittens, beginning to prance merrily across their spine.  Antonio looked startled.

“You know,” Latour continued, “I’d really like to see you try to pull your piece while tripping balls.”  They could feel the lassitude of the Five Alarm Special coming on.  “This stuff, whew,” they blew out their lips, feeling the resulting buzz slowly spread across their face like a ripple of water, “this is potent.  S’why my friends named it Five Alarm.  You’re getting nowhere now, Tonio.”

Antonio’s friend started reaching inside his suit, towards his armpit.

“Ah ah.  Ren.”

Ren was already stepping forward and very gently removed the man’s gun from his fingers.  He kindly left the fingers in place.  Antonio’s gun followed soon after.

“Gentlemen.”  Latour stood with assistance from the table.  “I’m the best.  This,” they stabbed a finger into the table, “is my house.  It’s not yours, it’s not your boss’.”  Latour smiled, smoothing their shirt down, fingers gliding over the silk of their tie and enjoying how blue it felt.  “If they’d like to buy, I offer bulk rates and good deals.”  Wider smile, “But I bow to none.”

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7 responses to “Flash Fiction: I Bow To None

  1. Pingback: Flash Fiction: Dress for Success | Fistful of Wits

  2. Pingback: Flash Fiction: The One You Don’t Hear | Fistful of Wits

  3. I concur, loved the fluffy kittens. Nice writing, I did get a little confused at first jumping in without having read your other work, but I think I was imaginative enough to get the gist of the two in one Latour. Seems like an intriguing world.

  4. I concur, loved the fluffy kittens. Nice writing, I did get a little confused at first jumping in without having read your other work, but I think I was imaginative enough to get the gist of the two in one Latour. Seems like and intriguing world.

  5. I LOVE fluffy kittens! This is a really interesting setting you have; I don’t think I’ve ever seen (read) anything like it before. Very intrigued by Latour and their clientele. I hadn’t read your previous piece so it took me a moment to get my head around why you weren’t using a personal pronoun for Latour, but I went and read the other piece after this and it makes more sense now. I enjoyed your take on ‘Pride’, and your fantastic use of language to put so much info into such a short word count.

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