Royalty by D.I. Jolly
Two days had passed since Justin and Walter had had their bar fight. Spending most of that time held up in a small motel room, too scared to go much further than the vending machine down the hall. The beds were hard, the tap water was lukewarm and their stress levels were steadily rising. But where Walter had the comfort of being grateful for every hour he was still alive, Justin was starting to crack. He rubbed his face with both hands trying to hold himself together but words seemed to burst out of him.
“I can’t fucking take this anymore, I don’t even know what I’m still doing here. I’m going home!”
He jumped from his seat and started for the door but Walter got between them.
“Hey, hey, you don’t want to do that man, just… just calm down.”
For an instant, they both thought Justin was going to get violent, but he managed to turn away.
“Why not! Why don’t I want to do that? They don’t know me, I’m not a part of this! I’m sorry about your situation but it’s yours, not mine! I just want to go home.”
“Look, I’m sorry I brought you into this, I really am. I thought you could help, I thought I was doing the smart thing, but you’ve been seen with me, you’ve shot one of them. It’s not safe out there anymore.”
Justin dropped back into his chair as he relived, again, the events in the bar, the sound of the gun, the flash, the fear and the adrenalin, and for an instant, he wasn’t sure if he was about to cry or vomit.
“I’m a sensible guy, I don’t get involved in things like this. The height of my ambition is a family, and I don’t even like sex all that much. I just want to go home, go to work, check my phone. Not be on the run, not hiding out in a motel room living off junk food.”
“I… I know but…”
Justin flew back into a rage and stormed forward.
“What do you know? You got me into this because you don’t even know how to internet correctly. Now I have to be afraid that every time the door creeks it might be someone who’s going to try murder me. I can’t take this! I’m sick of this room, I’m sick of you, I’m sick of the vending machine that’s made me so constipated that my eyes are changing colour.’
Justin grabbed the gun off the table and pointed it at Walter.
“Justin we both…”
A quiet but deafening click filled the room and Walter looked down at the gun.
“Oh don’t be such a baby, you knew it wasn’t loaded.”
“Still, not cool.”
Frustrated and afraid Justin dropped face down onto his bed, sighed, and said through his pillow.
“I can’t even tell my girlfriend that I’m alright. As far as she’s concerned, I just disappeared. Didn’t go to work, not answering my phone, my door, just gone. She must be worried sick.”
Walter sat down on the bed next to him.
“I am so sorry, so incredibly sorry. I was rushed and stressed and I made a mistake and I’m so, so sorry.”
Justin rolled over to look at him.
“Does this guy really have people in the police? Like really, really?”
“Have you heard or seen any stories about this in the news? We wrecked a shop and had a gunfight in a bar and there hasn’t been a peep about it. As far as crime goes this guy is the top, he’s the king.”
Tears welled up in Justin’s eyes.
“Then what hope do we have?”
Walter opened his mouth to try and say something light and encouraging but, in that moment, he was also feeling the crushing despair of their situation. So instead he got up and made them both some shitty coffee. They then sat in silence, letting time pass and watching the ceiling fan spin, around, and around, and around.
“I hate you.”
“Yeah, yeah I don’t blame you.”
They both jumped as the intro to the classic blues-rock song, ‘Manish Boy’ started blaring out of Walters phone.
A woman’s voice came over the line and it sent a shiver down Walter’s spine.
“Oh thank God you’re alive, listen, I don’t have much time but I’ve got a plan. Can you meet me at our special place in 45 minutes?”
Her voice was a whisper and although he hated it, Walter couldn’t help but be suspicious.
“Uummm, yeah, yeah I can do that.”
“That’s great, soon we’ll be together.”
“I’m… I’ve got… company.”
“It’s a long story, and I’ll have to tell you about it in person.”
“Oh, oh, kay. I must go darling.”
“Wait, there’s one more thing I need to hear you say.”
They had two safe words, a system she’d introduce that he’d never fully understood until that moment. One was for when she was safe, and the other was for when she wasn’t. The line was quiet for a moment before she said in a whisper.
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