“This could prove to be,” begins one woman, a miscreant of all trades posing as a mercenary of sorts, to a second, more conservatively dressed woman, a besmirched individual posing as a do-gooder of some kind, “difficult.” The mercenary is looking down at an index card with a name written upon it. Surname and given name, nothing more, but the two women, seated across from one another in a cushy booth at a Denny’s on the southeast side of town one stormy night in May know the quarry listed especially well, albeit on mismatched terms - though not entirely, much to the chagrin of the prospective client.
The do-gooder gasps in mock incredulity and posits that she’d been told to expect great things of her quirky dinner companion, that if there was anyone capable of accomplishing the task at hand, it would be the mercenary. She also studies the miscreant’s form; a beautifully monstrous amalgamation in the shape of a gaunt, yet curiously vibrant, attractive woman in her mid-twenties with long, flowing hair dyed to resemble, of all things, a beloved icon of iced Americana, the Bomb Pop. Azure at the roots, which then fade into a section bleached to the point of chalky oblivion and, finally, streaks and strands of the bloodiest ruby red imaginable that seem a bit too reminiscent of genuine ichor for comfort. With regard to fashion, the mercenary’s choices are both disconcerting and deplorable at the same time. A plain white tee shirt, of all things, is what covers all that lies beneath, and it’s shabby to boot; clean, perhaps, but torn in several locations. And beneath! Beneath the tattered shirt and beyond the edges of its sleeves is flesh enclosed by interlacing sheets of blue and red Saran Wrap, at times violet due to overlapping, which covers everything down to the miscreant’s wrists, like some manner of technicolor mummification has taken place. It’s a travesty, really.
The mercenary shifts her gaze toward the do-gooder in response to the snide expression of disbelief, smirks, and pulls a loose cigarette out of a gently held soft pack with her teeth. She offers her potential client one as well, but the other woman declines, noting that she doesn’t smoke Marlboros. The do-gooder rummages through her purse, removes a Newport, and lights up. Cute. The mercenary lights her own cigarette, inhales, and regards the company she now keeps. A dress the color of dandelions, with a black purse. Newports. Female. Eyes full of angry expectancy, but pretty nonetheless. Whatever. Physical attributes aren’t of much concern to the miscreant, nor is apparel, though she considers the woman’s selection of clothing, specifically the color, to be amusingly inappropriate. The do-gooder’s scent, however, is of interest to her, for it reeks of something far removed from the moniker of good-natured whatsoever, and thus the miscreant’s almost beginning to like this woman, gaudy attire notwithstanding.
“The issue isn’t one of me being capable or not,” the miscreant begins again as she pulls her multicolored mane into a loose ponytail, “but rather, the paucity of suitable candidates. I mean, who else is going to pull it off?”
The do-gooder scowls. “I could,” she retorts defiantly.
“Yeah, maybe,” the mercenary replies, rolling her eyes. She then waves her hand lackadaisically amidst the growing cloud of smoke. “You can do anything you put your mind to! and shit, and if I may be so bold, your resolve is evident. I can smell it, even through these delightfully noxious fumes. Believe me.” She shrugs. “Or not. Anyway. But here’s the thing; and yeah, it’s a laundry list of sorts. Truth be told, I’ve been... Shit.”
“Yes?” the other woman enquires, raising an eyebrow before setting her second Newport ablaze.
“Where’s the best place to start, you know? Well, I’ve been, in no particular order: shot in the face - twice in fact, to say nothing of my chest; had my ribcage and skull smashed by repeated blows from a sledgehammer; fallen down three stories onto, of all things, a goddamn children’s play set; shot through the windshield of an automobile, only to be crumpled against the fertile earth, and what a bitch that was; fucking blown into numerous, readily identifiable pieces, and if you’ve seen The Monster Squad, yeah it was kinda like that; had a middle school partially collapse upon me, keeping in mind that I was the projectile that caused said collapse; and some other shit not worth mentioning. The point being is that I’m, shall we say, resilient, and it’s not the pain of dying that sucks so much, but the agony of returning to life that blows, to say nothing of the maddening, blackened emptiness which lies between the two extremes. Even so, if you require something or someone dealt with, I’m the one to beg, but...” The miscreant taps her finger against the notecard. “This would be an irksome endeavor indeed, understand?”
The do-gooder nods in earnest appreciation of the miscreant’s account, her own confidence diminished. “Will you try?”
The mercenary beams the brightest of smiles. “Obviously.”