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[coffee, straight up]
by kHo

“I didn´t order this,’ Brett muttered as the bartender set a cup of steaming hot coffee in front of him.

“Yeah,’ the man said distractedly, waving his hand to the side. “He did.’

Brett sighed and looked to his side, freezing to the spot as he saw the blonde short shorn hair and the thin lipped smirk directed his way. “Uh… I don´t want it,’ he said, reaching into his pocket and standing up. “I uh…’

“Relax kid,’ Lono said, patting the space of bar between them. “Sit. Have your coffee.’

Brett´s eyes flicked to the corner of the bar where the payphone was and cursed himself for his own stupidity. “Listen--’

“How´s your leg,’ Lono asked, his grin widening and causing Brett´s stomach to do somersaults. “I notice you´re not hobbling around anymore.’

Brett´s eyes met his and they widened. “Anymore.’

Lono laughed, shifting in his seat and lighting a cigarette even as he stubbed his previous one out. “Well, you´re a bright kid, Brett. You had to know we tailed you.’

Brett swallowed and felt the bile rising in his throat. “Tailed.’

Lono snorted and gestured for the bartender to refill his drink. “Can you believe this guy? Repeats everything I say.’

Brett cleared his throat and wiped his hands on his pants. “Sir, I--’

“Lono,’ he said, looking at Brett and bringing the liquor to his lips. “Call me Lono.’

Brett tried to take a deep breath, but the pressure in his chest made it nearly impossible. “Lono, I was just gonna go home. I… I´ve been staying out of trouble. I been just… laying low. I--’

Lono sighed and rolled his eyes. “Get it through your skull, Ivy League. We´ve been tailing you. We know exactly what you´ve been up to, and what you haven´t.’

Brett thought he saw his life flash before his eyes and he felt his head start to spin. “Listen, if I could just… Just tell me what you want.’

“I don´t want nothin´,’ Lono said. “If I did though, I´d probably want you to stop drinking so much. Drink your coffee.’

Brett obediently picked up the mug of coffee and stared into its black depths. “How do I know it´s not poisoned?’

Lono´s derisive snort shot right through his gut. “If I wanted you dead, you´d be dead. I wouldn´t poison your coffee, I´d walk up to you in broad daylight and put a bullet in your skull.’

Brett looks at him and thinks to himself ‘so this is what an out of body experience is.´ He swallowed heavily. “Like Max.’

“Yeah, exactly, like Max,’ Lono said, frowning briefly. “Except, that was on a boat. You, I probably wouldn´t kill on a boat.’

Brett closes his eyes and tries to remain perfectly still. “Jesus.’

“So. How´s that Avery guy?’

Brett finds himself laughing and he doesn´t know why. “I don´t know. You´d know better than me, cause I´m assuming you tail him too.’

Lono nods. “Now you´re catching on.’

Brett sighs, running his hands through his hair. “How is he?’

Lono looks at him. “You expect me to give you updates on the guy who lied about his sister and cut my boss´ finger off?’

Brett licks his lips and looks away. “What do you want from me?’

“I want you to drink your coffee,’ Lono said, pointing his cigarette at the mug still in Brett´s hands. “It´s not just pretty to look at, it actually tastes pretty good too.’

Brett took a tentative sip of his coffee and didn´t taste it at all. “Can I go home now?’

“Relax, kid,’ Lono grumbled, reaching for his pack of cigarettes and throwing them to Brett. “If I wanted to kill you, you´d already be dead.’

Brett finds himself laughing again, and he can hear the edge of hysteria in his voice. “So you keep saying.’

“If it were up to me, I probably would too,’ Lono said, smiling at him and propping his head in his hand. “But Charlie likes you.’

Brett raises his eyebrows at that. “What?’

“I said Charlie likes you,’ he repeated, frowning. “Are you stupid? Stop making me repeat myself.’

“Sorry,’ Brett said, closing his eyes. “I just… you took me off guard with that.’

“Yeah, he took me off guard when he told me, too,’ Lono said. “But he does. I guess there´s no accounting for Charlie´s taste.’

“Why,’ Brett asked, looking at him and immediately regretting the question.

Lono shrugged. “Says you´re loyal. Says anyone willing to be stupid enough to put their own life in the hands of someone like him for a friendship deserves his respect.’ He grins at Brett´s stupefied expression. “Personally, I think respect is too strong of a word.’

Finally Brett´s brain begins to function again. “You´re not gonna kill me?’

Lono´s expression hardened. “Didn´t I say that like, five times already?’

Brett found it a little easier to breathe. “Alright. I, uh. Sorry.’

Lono laughs and shakes his head, standing up. “Drink your coffee, and stop getting drunk every night. You need all the brain cells you have, okay kid?’

Brett looks up at him. “Charlie likes me?’

“Well he´s not gonna dance at your wedding or anything,’ Lono said with a grin as he clenched the cigarette between his lips and jerked on his coat. “But he won´t let me kill you.’

Brett took a deep breath and held out his hand. “Thank you.’

Lono swatted it away and stepped closer to him. “Tell you what, Ivy League. I´ll leave you alone now. I won´t make it my life´s purpose to know what you´re doing when you´re doing it anymore.’ He raised a finger and poked it into the side of Brett´s head. “But I catch you in another bar fight because you´re too stinking drunk to have the sense God gave a fuckin´ ant, I´ll kill you so fast you won´t know it´s coming.’ He nodded and stepped back, flashing him a grin. “Got it?’

Brett nodded dumbly. “Got it.’

“And drink your fuckin´ coffee,’ Lono tossed over his shoulder on his way out. “That shit cost me a buck fifty.’

All feedback much appreciated!
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