I wandered endlessly. I had thought I’d seen the city in the distance but now realized it was wishful thinking. The sun rose and set with the slightest breeze. I had no sense of direction, no food, water, or compass. Bound and all but gagged I tripped and fell far too many times to count.
“Is that where all these cuts and scrapes are from?” Officer Buck asked, smiling and pointing at the various shallow wounds covering my face and arms.
“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “Do you know how long ago this all happened?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
Anyways, I continued. In my poor, dehydrated, starved state I, by the grace of all that is good, stumbled upon a small caravan of nomads who were all too happy to help me in exchange for my clothes. See, they wanted to sell them. I was given some old hammy-downs made up of stitches more than anything. After the trade they gave me a ride back into town on their horse and buggy. We drew attention as I bid them farewell. From there I wanted to pay my apartment a visit, it seemed far too long since I’d been home, to change out of the smelly bit of cloth.
I walked through my door into a stranger’s home. Or maybe so much had happened I felt like a different person. I walked to where I knew the closet was and picked out some clothes that suited me. I thought while I changed. Back to Santa and Bonnie’s house. Back to her off-the-cuff solution to my problem. Back to who I was and what I was capable of. I looked around my home one last time and quickly left, hoping in the back of my heart to return with a lighter set of burdens next time.
I headed back to where it all started: the bar. The only place I could think of to pick up where I’d left off, to find some sense. In through the swinging doors I did a quick sweep of the room. Nope, no sign of anyone suspiciously large, tan, or cloaked in a oversized coat. Walking up to the bar I laid my hand on the counter and beckoned to the man behind it. I recognized him straight away as the man who had fallen victim to Shorty’s fist in the fight to uphold age-restriction laws. He did not recognize me until we stood face to face. He blinked, widened his eyes, and began slowly backing away. “Hey,” he said, holding up his hands. “I don’t want trouble.”
“Come off it, you see me in here all the time.”
“Then who was that girl, huh?” He bound back, leaning on the counter, closing the distance between us. “I’m told you were seen with her again the other day, eating ice-cream no less. I should throw you out right now.”
“Let me explain.” There must have been something in my eyes, my expression, for he relaxed his shoulders and pulled up a chair. As best I could I explained to him all I had learned and experienced. His sat expressionless, quiet like a good bartender should be, until the end. “So you, who gets his ass kicked by a girl and runs away, are going to go after the Big Daddy? The Grand Poobah? The One?”
“The one who stole my identity.” I scowled.
“Or the other way around. Depends on who’s older.” Smiling, the bartender turned away to pull a bottle of whisky from the top shelf. “I admire your guts, but you’ll forgive me if I say you won’t succeed.”