By Stephen Scroggins
The war is over. We came back home either ghosts or gods. Most of us now, spending time in corner pubs.
We rolled our own cigarettes now and talked with vague accents, we'd been over there so long. Some of us came home to wives and work. Some of us didn't.
He slides into the booth across from us.
"Hope I haven't kept you waiting too long."
"Just a few minuets. Would you like a drink."
Before he has the chance to answer, my arm is up in the air, trying to get the waitress's attention.
"I'm fine, really."
I shrug as the waitress jerks her head around. I lift my glass of ice and shake it. She nods and holds up a finger.
"The food here is horrible, but they give you a lot."
He looks uncomfortable, as the atmosphere surrounds him, in his pressed beige suit. His blonde hair slicked back, laid perfect. He looks completely out of context.
"Really, I'm ok, I have to be somewhere."
"Would you like a cigarette?"
I put the pack in front of his face. He sighs and his shoulder slump, like he's tired of denying me.
"Yes, fine, thank you."
He removes the lighter from his breast pocket.
In the war, we knew the enemy. You shot the person wearing different colors.
"So this is it then?"
I throw my hand on the bag at the end of the table small table.
"I've been instructed by Mr. Ellison, to tell you this. He's doesn't know how you came across what you came across, and he doesn't want to know."
"Tell him to burn the pictures, those pictures are the only thing connecting us."
"If I could the address, I really must be going."
He starting to sweat, and can't seem to stop nodding. He takes out a small cloth and dabs his brow.
"It seems the taste of getting away with this is losing it's flavor."
He swallows so hard I can see his throat contract.
"I have to use the rest room, excuse me."
He slides, fast and vicious out of the booth. Grabbing the bag and heading towards the back of the bar. He disappears in the small crowd conjugating by the dart boards.
My associate inhales deep. I slide out of the booth. He follows the man in the beige suit vanishing in the same crowd. I lift my empty glass in the air.
When we stepped off the giant plane, our feet hadn't touched American earth in years. We walked off with black eyes and tears stained on our cheeks. We walked off with memories and stories we held somewhere deep under scared skin and crooked bones.
I stepped off with an address.
The man and my associate returned as the waitress laid my third drink on the table.
"Give him the address."
I took the small yellow paper out of my pocket. Wrapped in a plastic bag, I slid it across the grain of the table.
"It's across the street."
I put the thick glass to my lips.
"The paintings, they're across the street from that address."
The man in the suit, looked back at my associate with fear dripping from his eyes. He
was over his head and trying not to drown.
He turns, like turning is foreign to him, and slowly makes his exit. My associate throws the bag on the table.
I raise my empty glass in the air.