Well, there’s less than a week until Burmese Crossfire comes out. One last peek before it’s go time.
Joe Flanagan was not a man given to many words or noticeable outbursts of emotion. He was often best described as “laconic,” and he took some pride in that fact. He was a quiet man, often a gray man, passing unnoticed through the crowd, and he liked it that way. He and Brannigan were of similar temperaments in that respect, as both preferred the wilderness to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Right at the moment, though, Flanagan’s eyes were smoldering, and his jaw was tight under his thick, black beard. He was not a happy man.
He checked his watch again. He knew he was in the right place. The Vegas apartment complex hadn’t been hard to find. It had been a long drive to get there, and now Curtis was late. He would have let the man make his own way, but he’d been hiking in Utah, so he’d been close enough to swing through Vegas and pick the other man up on the way up to Colonel Brannigan’s place in Idaho. But they still had a long way to go, and here he was, sitting at the curb, and there was no sign of the little man.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Where the hell are you?” he typed.
Joe! Just in time! I need extract! I’m in the Blue Lagoon! Hurry!
“Son of a…” Flanagan had to fight the temptation to punch the steering wheel. “Leave it to him to go to a damned bar and get into trouble now of all times,” he muttered, as he put the truck in gear and headed down the street. Only having something of a working knowledge of Curtis’ favorite hangouts in Las Vegas gave him a general idea of where he was going, without looking at a map.
Ordinarily, it would seem to be too early for anyone to be in a bar, but it was Vegas, it was mid-afternoon, it was a weekend, and it was Curtis. The man had never seen a bar that he hadn’t wanted to go into, and Flanagan was pretty sure he knew just why the little man was in trouble, too.
He was fuming and ready for a fight when he stalked through the doors of the Blue Lagoon.
The place was dim, lit by blue neon lights set above the bar and in abstract patterns on the ceiling. The walls, ceiling, and most of the floor were black, except for the mirrors behind the bar, which just reflected the blue light even more. The atmosphere was somewhat relieved by the Nevada sunlight coming in the tinted windows at the front, but not by much.
It was easy enough to pick out where Curtis was, even though he couldn’t see the little man behind the knot of belligerents gathered around him. He could hear the gambler and erstwhile machinegunner’s slightly high-pitched voice clearly enough.
Say what he will about Kevin Curtis’ judgement, he could never accuse his old friend of being a coward.
“Oh, look at you, big man!” Curtis was saying. “Bow up all you want, it don’t matter to me. Or to her, apparently!”
The other man said something, probably intended to sound threatening.
“Oh, look at me, I’m so tough, in my Hard Rock Café t-shirt with the sleeves cut off,” Curtis mocked. Even without seeing him, Flanagan could picture Curtis puffing his chest out and pulling his chin in to ridicule the man. “Man, get outta here with that noise! If you were half the tough guy you think you are, she wouldn’t have needed to get to know me, now would she?’
Flanagan was halfway across the floor when the man raised a fist. “Try it, bitch!” Curtis called. “See what happens!”
The man let the punch fly. At the same moment, his half-dozen buddies also converged, fists flying.
Flanagan waded in. Continue reading “Burmese Crossfire Chapter 3”