The cool, desert air slips down the deserted streets, and around the abandoned, forgotten buildings of Las Vegas. While the strip and the high-end parts of the city are back to their former glory, much remains empty. The muted light of the pre-dawn sun casts these parts of the city in a dower blue-grey shade, reflecting the indifference of those in power towards these ghost neighborhoods.
Yet, the sound of jogging feet can be heard echoing off the walls.
These parts of the city are excellent places to get lost in, the kind of lost people do on purpose. But, it is also a great place to step up a business, especially if you’re a bounty hunter.
Andreas Pry rounds the corner of one building. Her jog is almost a run. It’s a pace she has maintained since she started. Her jogging tights, shorts and t-shirt cling to her body from sweat, with stains growing under her arms and on her back. Her short, dark hair, pulled back into a ponytail, bounces along behind her.
Her business isn’t an easy one. Keeping in shape, especially when dealing with men and irregulars that can be bigger and stronger, gives her an edge.
She approaches the offices of Pry Investigations and turns down the alley. She doesn’t hear the office phones ringing.
But Dane does, much to his displeasure. He stumbles down the hallway from the back, past his and Pry’s offices, through the passage way in the front counter and plops himself down in one of the two desks sitting up front for meeting clients.
Despite the fact that he’s an irregular, he looks like anyone who was woken up too early, against their will. Although he doesn’t remember his life as a standard Canis lupus familiaris, more commonly known as a Dog, specifically a Great Dane, he has wondered if would have been the kind of dog who would bound into someone’s room at the crack of dawn. After reading numerous Marmaduke comic strips, he decided he wasn’t.
He slumps in the office chair, his eyes are barely open. A line of drool hangs down from his jowls, nearly falling on his faded Happy Days T-shirt. His long, slender, but muscular human-like legs seem to stretch out longer than his body. Every inch of his legs, like the rest of his body, is covered in short, velvet-like grey fur. On his feet, Large, fuzzy slippers.
All the while, the phone keeps ringing.
Dane shakes his head, trying to lose the cobwebs. He yawns, revealing a snout full of canine teeth. When he closes his mouth, his jowls flutter as he exhales like a pouting child.
Finally, he picks up the phone receiver. “Pry Investigations, we hope your helpless. Dane speaking.” He mumbles, trying to focus, but sleep still has its grip.”Yes, we do bodyguard work.”
The person on the other end of the line says something that catches Dane’s attention. His eyes open and his ears perk-up. “Could you hold on one moment please.”
He puts the person on hold, takes the phone receiver and smacks himself in the side of the head. That wakes him up.
He grabs a pen and paper and returns to the caller. “I’m sorry for the delay.” he replies, wincing, but fully awake now. “How much did you say, and for how long?” A grin slowly fills his face. “I’ll confirm with Ms. Pry, but I’m sure we’ll be available. Can I get your information?” he jots everything down. “That’s great. Ok, we’ll call you back shortly with confirmation. Thank you, bye.” he hangs up the phone.
He looks down at the information, particularly, the price the potential client quoted. “In the immortal words of Orlando Jones, ‘Great goo-ga-moo-ga!”
The warehouse attached to Pry Investigations has various uses. This morning, as it is with most mornings, it is a training center. At one corner of the large combat mat, Pry confronts one of the wooden Wing Chun dummies. She moves slowly, from side to side, her forearms gently hitting and moving around Wing Chun dummy’s arms. This particular dummy is her favorite. She’s had it the longest, and it has endured many days of practice. Her jogging tights, shorts and t-shirt had sweat stains from her jog. Now, they are soaked from the second round of her daily morning workout.
Nearby, Fen lays on his back, on the mat, his legs sticking up in the air, looking like someone threw him onto the floor and left him like that. He watches Pry as if walking the line between being comfortable and wanting a better view. Across from Fen, a large towel is hung over a wooden chair. On the seat, a large bottle of water.
Pry picks up her pace. Her side-to-side movements become quicker, like a dance. Her hands hit the dummy harder. She throws in a kick for good measure.
Fen finally rolls onto his side and gets his paws under him. He watches intently, panting.
Pry face grows still, her lip pouts, her eyes focus. Soon, she moves like fluid and strikes like a jackhammer. Her forearms become red from the moves and strikes around the dummy’s arms. For a few seconds, she becomes the embodiment of a weapon.
Then she stops and steps back. Her face relaxes. Her arms drop. She breaths heavily.
Fen walks over to the chair, grabs the towel with his mouth, and brings it over to Pry.
“Thanks.” Pry pants as she wipes herself down.
Fen trots back to the chair, gingerly grabs the water bottle and brings it back.
Pry smiles, “Thanks.” as she takes the bottle, opens the top and takes a few quick sips.
Fen walks over and sniffs the wooden dummy.
“That’s not a tree.” Pry mockingly scolds Fen.
Fen looks back at her, grumbling before he chuffs through his nose.
“Language!” Pry chuckles. “C’mon smarty-fur-pants, give it a try.”
Fen lines himself up with the wooden dummy and rears up on his hind legs and puts his front paws on the dummy. He narrows his eyes and growls, trying to imitate Pry. He turns his head to look back at Pry, panting, his tongue hanging out.
Pry laughs and helps Fen down, hugging him. “You’re like a fur-covered Donnie Yen.”
Fen wags his tail and barks happily.
Pry and Fen head towards the front office. They walk out into the front and find Dane, dressed, sitting at one of desks, enjoying a donut.
“Where’s my Boston Creme?” Pry asks, sitting at the other desk.
Fen yowls as he sits down between the two desks.
Dane reaches into the donut box and pulls out a Boston Creme. He picks up the other cup of coffee and rolls his office chair closer to Pry. “Your creme a la Boston, and the closest approximation to a large double-double I can find.” He catches a whiff of Pry and grimaces. “I thought ladies ‘glowed’ instead of sweating?”
“It’s a heavy glow.” Pry quips.
Dane nods, accepting her answer, when he catches out of the corner of his eye Fen inching his nose closer to the box of donuts. “Hey. No donuts for you!”
Fen whines as he lays down to pout.
Pry sips her coffee, a slight look of disappointment on her face. “I miss Timmy’s coffee.”
“With our next gig, you can order a box of Tim Horton’s coffee straight from the Great White North!” Dane says with a large smile.
“Who’s the next rabbit?” Pry asks as she bites into her donut.
“Not a rabbit to hunt, two rabbits to protect.”
Pry stops chewing, her eyes ask Dane to elaborate.
He sits forward, excited. “It’s a bodyguard job! Two people for a couple of days. Triple our normal fee! We can finally–”
“Who are the two people?” Pry interrupts.
Dane pauses before continuing slowly. “One is a very polite woman named Maria–”
“The other?” Pry interrupts again, looking over the edge of her coffee cup. Her eyes look displeased.
“The other?” Dane starts to say. His words sputter out like a old jallopy trying to start. “The other person in question is a small person…” Dane sighs and finally surrenders. “It’s her kid.”
“Nope.” Pry mumbles through her coffee cup.
“If I could explain our financial situation.” Dane starts, trying to sound diplomatic.
Pry sets her coffee cup down. “No. Call her back, tell her we can’t take the job.”
“Why the hell not!” Dane says, tossing diplomacy out the window. “We need that cash! Just because we live on the dark side of Vegas doesn’t stop the taxman. Considering we’re also technically squatting on this property, we need the cash to help make things all nice–”
“I said no!” Pry yells, cutting Dane off, anger in her eyes, as well as something else.
Fen sits up, looking at Pry, a sad look on his face.
“Stay out of my head Fen.” Pry snaps back. She gets to her feet and heads back through the offices.
Fen turns his gaze upon Dane, adding a short, questioning whine.
“I don’t know, Fen.” Dane pauses. “I forget sometimes that she’s a woman, and not just, ‘Pry’! Ya know?”
Fen whines in agreement as he sets his head on Dane’s desk.
Dane chuckles. “True. To her, we’re not an irregular, or a dog. We’re family.” he looks up and sighs. “And families talk about shit.”
He gets up and heads after Pry.
Fen watches him go for a few moments, then puts his front paws on the desk and digs his nose through the donut box.
Upstairs, Pry storms into her apartment. She gets out of her workout clothes and goes to the part of her spartan, open-concept home that would be considered the bathroom. She turns on the taps of her iron, claw-foot bathtub, and turns the knob to switch the water to the shower attachment. She climbs in before the temperature rises. It’s cold and goose bumps pop out all over her body. She doesn’t wash herself, she just lets the chilly water pour over her, as if it would calm her rising anger. She doesn’t know how long she stands there for.
“Andy?” Dane’s voice comes from within her apartment.
She looks up, realizing she’s shivering. She crouches down and turns the knob to increase the hot water. Warm water flows out and calms her chills.
“I’m showering.” Pry says absently.
“Like I haven’t see you naked before.” Dane comments. “No offence, but your not my species.”
Pry looks around. The daylight outside reveals Dane’s silhouette. He leans against one of the support beams, his arms crossed, facing away from her.
“You gonna give me a reason why we’re not taking this job?” he asks. “I don’t have to tell you how in debt we are. And we both know the taxman is the least of our worries. Having a irregular on the payroll doesn’t help. The locals always seem to find obscure taxes and fees that we have to pay. Not to mention the occasional kick-backs to other bounty hunters.” He pauses, before adding, “Maybe it’d be easier if I–”
“You’re not going anywhere.” Pry speaks up, cutting of Dane’s words. She turns off the water and steps out of the shower. She goes to a closet attached to the wall and takes a robe from it and puts it on. She walks around to face Dane. “I’m sorry for snapping downstairs.” she pauses before adding “You know me and kids…” she trails off.
“Ah yes. like some thick, combustible liquid and water, I remember.”
Pry flashes a small smile and goes to walk past him, but he stops her. She looks up at him and he looks down at her with quiet concern in his eyes.
“You ok?” He asks.
She can see he’s worried. He may not know the reasons behind her actions and emotions, but he’s not stupid. Maybe someday she can tell him and Fen everything. But not now. Not yet. She wonders if she’ll every be ready, or will they just find out when they come for her.
“Yeah, just exhausted.” Pry finally answers, smiling. She regains more of her normal self before adding, “You’re right, we do need the cash. You have a file started?”
“No, but I’ll have the info before we go tonight. She’s staying in a penthouse at the refurbished Grand.”
“Isn’t that owned by our buddy, Mr. Malone?”
Dane smiles. “I believe so. I’m sure after that casino gig, he’ll be quite agreeable.”
“Definitely.” Pry says, sharing his smile.
Neither of them say any more. Dane walks out, preparing for tonight. Leaving Pry to think about this job, and how much she doesn’t want to do it.
Pry: Rabbit-Sitting Blues Copyrighted © 2013 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.