Elijah had been travelling for three weeks trying to find this godforsaken bar. There just happened to be several bars called ‘Dirty Green’s’in the USA so he had no choice but to search every single one. But it was necessary. This one, located just North of the Mexican border, was the last one on his list.
It was dusk and the temperature was beginning to drop. There wasn’t much in this little corner of the US except sand, roads, cacti and the occasional Ranch house. Elijah had definitely preferred this part of the chase last time. Last time he had travelled across the South of France which, as well becoming a successful pursuit, had provided much better scenery than his current location.
Eventually, after driving down the same road for two hours, he saw his destination appear just to the right of the horizon. ‘Dirty Green’s Bar’. It looked similar to the five other ‘Dirty Green’s’ he had found over the past three weeks; one story ranch style building, with a parking lot sporting a few pickup trucks and old neon beer signs hanging in the old windows.
Elijah pulled his ‘95 Chrysler Valiant into the large parking lot and got out the car. He took a deep breath of the country air and pushed his hands through his shoulder length dusty blonde hair. I hate the country, he thought. He walked up to the front door of the bar, it opened wildly and he had to dodge a large drunken trucker falling out the door.
“Oh sorry man I… ha ha… what?!” the drunken trucker slurred as he reached out to Elijah.
Oh Christ, he thought, its only 7.30pm. “It’s okay my friend,” he reluctantly replied. Taking the guys arm, Elijah steadied the big trucker and said, “don’t drive home okay, you’re in no fit state?”
“Whatever man” he slurred as he pushed Elijah off and stumbled towards his pickup. Some people, he thought.
Elijah turned and walked through the front door of the bar. Again, it was almost exactly the same as the other bars he had visited. Wooden floors, walls and ceilings, juke box in the corner, tables, chairs, booths, a dusting of drunks and a bar stocked full of every kind of liquor a lonely trucker could want. Yes, Elijah thought, exactly the same. Except out the corner of his eye, he saw the one thing that made this bar different. The thing he had travelled all across America to find. And right now it was bending over a table, wiping it down with a dishcloth. It, she, was wearing tight jeans, a black apron and a white t-shirt that gave Elijah a good view of her impressive cleavage.
Thank God for that, Elijah thought and sighed with relief. She was still alive, which was always a bonus, but more importantly she was here. She’d cut and dyed her hair since he had last seen her in the South of France. Now it was red and cut in a short pixie crop. Nice. It suited her.
Elijah edged into the bar, planning exactly how to approach her. He could just yell at her like he always did or he could try the soft manipulative approach which had been more successful than the previous. As he got closer she continued cleaning the table. Okay, maybe this time he would try a different approach: the old fashioned way. Elijah stopped just in front of the table she was cleaning and before she looked up he spoke.
“Good evening Lydia. How nice to see you. You are still going by Lydia aren’t you?” he said in his most polite tone.
Lydia straightened and the colour drained from her face as she saw him. Ah, this could go either way, Elijah thought. She stood perfectly still for a moment just staring at him. She seriously couldn’t have thought he wouldn’t find her? Eventually she picked up the tray and cloth from the table and abruptly said, “Get out.”
“Come on, you don’t know what I’m here for yet,” he said trying to remain polite.
“Yes I do. You only show up for one thing; and it’s never a drink.”
So far it was going better than it had previously. No yelling, no running. Yet. He continued to humour her, “What if I have shown up for a drink? You’re chasing away valuable custom.”
She looked at him quizzically. “Have you come in here for a drink?”
“No,” he said and couldn’t help the smile that spread across his lips.
“Exactly. So get out,” she said brusquely and paced back to the bar.
Elijah followed and stood on the patron side of the bar. “Are we going to go through this routine every time Lydia?” he asked. “I find you working in a bar in some obscure part of the world, you shout or run away refusing to hear me out, and eventually you listen, change your mind and come with me?”
“No we’re not, because I’m not doing it anymore,” she replied as she cleaned some glasses.
“Don’t be so rash. This will be the last time, I promise.”
Her face lit up with a despairing smile. “Ha, now when have I heard that before? Oh yes, two months ago in France, and the time before that and the time before that.”
“I know,” he implored, “But I mean it this time. This will be the very last time I ask you.”
She leant on the bar and looked him squarely in the eyes.“The last time until you decide that you want something else you shouldn’t have, from someone you shouldn’t take it from. And then what do you do? Come knocking on my door. I’m sorry but this isn’t happening again.”
“Why not?” he asked curiously.
At that she broke eye contact and almost slammed the glass she was cleaning down on the bar. “Why not?! Are you really that insensitive?”
“Clearly,” he smiled.
“It’s wrong!” she exploded. The few people littered about the bar turned towards them. Lydia looked embarrassed but then leant towards Elijah. In a hushed voice she said, “It was fine in the beginning when you chose people who'd done wrong, who may have deserved it, but now… What if they have families? People who rely on them? We could be destroying lives.”
“Firstly, I don’t choose them. They come to my attention because they are greedy, arrogant, and most importantly, bad people. The game is still the same and you’re my secret weapon.”
“It is not a game!” she spat, “And it is not the same! Last time was not the same.”
That was true. But business was business, Elijah thought. This approach wasn't working. He was losing her. So attempting to soothe Lydia’s fears he said, “Last time was a… abnormality in procedure.”
She looked at him with disgust and said, “How can you be so flippant about it?” Okay that didn’t work, he thought. As she turned and walked towards a door that led behind the bar she said, “Just. Go.”
Not listening to Lydia’s plea, Elijah followed her through the door. He needed her help. The door led to a small corridor with crates and boxes stacked high against the walls and two doors, one marked ‘Office’. Lydia was standing, unpacking some bottles from one of the stacks.
Okay, let's try the soft approach, Elijah thought. “Lydia, please just listen to me. I promise you, this time is the last time. If we pull this off I won’t need to bother you again. I will be set for life… and so will you.”
Not looking away from her task she said, “Whatever.”
“I mean it,” he pleaded. Slowly, he walked towards her. She was the same as she had ever been; small with excellent curves, soft features, but strong willed with a no nonsense attitude. But now, she seemed sad, defeated almost. He had never tried the soft approach before, he had never had chance, but maybe this time it was wearing her down. Good, he thought.
“We have known each other for a long time. You have helped my immensely over the past ten years. You have helped me make a lot of money and means beyond my imagination. As a way of thanking you, I give you my word that if you come with me now, this will be that last time.”
Lydia just stared emptily into the box she was unpacking. What was she thinking? He needed her help; there was no one else who could do what she could. She had to go with him.
Pushing the soft approach even further, Elijah reached out to put his hand on her shoulder. But before his hand settled she grabbed his wrist, twisted it and backed him into the wall. She pushed her forearm under his chin and held him in place with her body. This should have been impossible. She was at least three inches shorter than him and at least seventy pounds lighter, but she had him up against that wall and there was no easy way out. Why was that so hot?
“Why do you keep pushing me?” she cried as tears filled her big brown eyes. She stared into his eyes now, focused and sharply, like she did with the others. As if she were looking right into his mind. Oh crap, he thought. Elijah closed his eyes as he realized what she was doing. She had never turned on him before; she had promised she wouldn't because she had needed Elijah just as much as he needed her. But now he could see something in her that he didn't recognize. Anger. Oh god, he thought, I've pushed her too far.
“You know," she continued in a deadly whisper, "It would be so easy for me to stop you. To make you stop. I could probably even make you forget I ever existed. That would be ironic wouldn’t it? You’d be destroyed by your own secret weapon.”
“Then why don’t you? Huh?” Elijah choked. She pushed harder with her forearm, constricting his airway even further.
For a few moments she was silent but Elijah didn't dare open his eyes. If he did she would sift through his mind, as was her speciality. Pick at his every thought, fantasy and memory. He would not let that happen.
Eventually, after a pained silence, she replied in a desperate cry, “I won’t… because I hate it. I hate what I do and I will not destroy anymore lives with my...abnormality. Even yours.”
Tears were falling down her face as her iron grip loosened on Elijah’s throat. As she let go he fell to the floor, coughing and catching his breath. He looked up, trying to shout after her, but she just threw down her apron and walked out the back door.
As he watched her go, a malicious smile crept across his lips. And so the chase begins again, he thought.
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