The Goddamn Story
• • •
“It’s not important that you know specifically whom I fear may show his face here today, just…” He sighed. It was the first time Sully Donovan ever saw a sigh escape the mouth of Mark Graigo. “If they’re not on the list, they don’t come in. If they give you trouble – any trouble whatsoever, Sully; if they so much as breathe the wrong way, you have full authority to detain them in whatever way you need to. Even use lethal force, if it comes to that.”
“Lethal force?” The way Graigo said the words didn’t settle well with our young Sully Donovan. The ‘man sounded almost eager. “Boss, who the hell is coming for you? I don’t know if–”
“You are exactly the ‘man who should be standing outside this door,” Graigo said, pointing to the door. It was a powerful door, two slabs of solid mahogany with a plate of bulletproof titanium sandwiched in between them. The only door made of wood in the entire tower. The Internet Culture Company’s logo, a wireframe globe floating above two clasped hands bound at the wrists by a banner reading Pontem Hiatu, was carved into it. “Look, he’s nobody worth mentioning by name. You’ll know him if you see him, and that’s if you see him in the first place. There’s a good chance you won’t.”
“A’ight,” Sully enunciated, scratching at the side of his neck with his free hand. Graigo had him wearing a casual charcoal gray business suit with a non-photo blue buttondown beneath it – the colors of The Internet Culture Company, of course – and the collar made his neck itch something fierce. “If you say so.”
“I do. Now stay alert. My first client should be coming up in a few minutes. You’re my security, yes, but today you’re also the doorman. These clients are all new faces and I would like them to have a good impression even before they sit down with me.”
“Right,” Sully said. He straightened up, lifted his clipboard, ran his finger up from the bottom of the list of names. “First one should be a Mister Jefferson Maldonado from the McLaughlin Music Group.”
“Correct.” Graigo slipped his cellular halfway out his pocket to give it another check, dropped it back. “Good, good… good. If something demands my attention immediately, knock twice. Otherwise–”
“Wait until the client has left and come right in.”
“Good.” He turned and opened the door, but stopped halfway through. “Remember: if an unwanted visitor shows up, detain it by any means you deem necessary. Even lethal force.”
“I got it, Mister Graigo,” Sully said, looking him in the eye so hard he missed Graigo’s use of the word it. “You won’t get any trouble today.”
Graigo nodded, then went in. Mister Maldonado came up a couple minutes later. Dude had hair to his shoulders and quite possibly the most powerful chin Sully had ever seen on a ‘man. Sully checked his ID, shook his hand, and opened the door for him. Maldonado strutted in wearing a bright smile – mission accomplished. That day was shaping up to be a piece of cake.
“And it was a piece of cake, too. Day flew right by. A piece of shortcake, short and sweet. The clients were friendly, they all shook my hand, a few of them even talked to me. Nothing shifty happened all day, I was even handed a business card or two, just in case the time came when I found myself looking for new employment they claimed. Sharks, every last one of them. I kept those cards over the years though, even made a few calls when the time came, but they all slammed the phone down just as soon as they realized who was calling. It wasn’t right, but… ah, I’m sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself again.”
“You’re doing fine, Cody,” says Jonathan Knox. “Your story is yours to tell, do it however you want to.”
“It was a rhetorical apology, Knox. I know what the fuck I’m doing.” He tries to crack his knuckles. Tries. “Get comfortable.”
Jonathan Knox elevates his bad foot onto the couch’s arm rest and slouches a bit. He’s not comfortable.
“Now, as I was saying,” Cody continues, “nothing shifty had gone down all day. Every time I heard the elevator ding down the hall I expected an assassin or a gunman or a guy strapped with explosives who looks like he’s living out of a trashcan to walk out and charge me, but that never happened. One after another Graigo’s clients came through, all dressed formally, all of them kind to me. It was near the end of the day’s last meeting when the surprise visitor showed up.”
Numbers began to climb within the digital panel next to the elevator doors. Sully didn’t notice at first, as he was entranced by the choice photographs Courtney Doe kept sending him on his cellular, but when he heard the ding he straightened right up like a soldier before a drill sergeant.
From the ‘vator step’d the polar opposite of a drill sergeant. The guy was wearing sweatpants, baggy gray sweatpants with discolored stains all up and down the legs, especially on his knees. His knees were the disgusting brown of floor debris. The material seemed thinner there. A pink sequin vest was the only thing keeping the human from walking around shirtless. It did little to keep his body odor at bay. Pungent. Sour. Thick enough to crawl up Sully’s arm like a furred Goddamn spider. He was only halfway up the hall when Sully accepted that an assault was about to take place.
“Howdy, big boi,” said the bald maniac. “Who th’fuck’re yew s’posed t’be?”
He blinked (blunk? no) a few times. Licked his lips. Flicked Sully’s right lapel while maintaining direct eye contact.
Sully cracked his neck without using his hands. Sniffed. “Name?”
“Naw, pardner. I asked yew first.”
“Huh, that’s funny.” Sully brought up the clipboard as if he was going to look at it. “I don’t see that on the list.”
“Well that’s b’cause I ain’t on any lists, fuckstick. I’m here to see Mis’er Mark.”
Sully breathed at him.
“An’ I know,” with his nose scrunched and his top lip pulled up, revealing his teeth, “he’s through that door behind ya.”
Sully lowered the clipboard in front of his groin, gripping it with both hands.
“So why don’ yew make y’rself useful, y’mo’h’fuckin’ gorilla, and move th’fuck out’a my way? ” The guy licked his front teeth and rolled his eyes from Sully’s head down to his toes and right back up to his head. “Or maybe I’ll get a li’l’ saucy and move you myse–”
One half of the clipboard hit the wall. Sully let the other half drop and grabbed the dazed vest-wearin’-ass by his grotesque pink vest and plunged a fist into his stomach hard enough to make the guy’s eyeballs bulge out, then palmed his greasy bald head and slammed a knee into his chin. Sully let the… well he didn’t want to call him a fag, those days were behind him, but good lord there was no other word to describe the fucking guy.
“You’re not on the list,” Sully said, returning to posture. “I don’t know how you got up here, but you should leave.”
The vest-wearin’-ass curled in a ball on the floor, twitchin’. Fuckin’ miserable.
“Get up,” Sully barked. “It ain’t hurt that bad.”
“N-no…” the creature groveled. “No Daddi, it hurt so good! ”
Sully kicked the fag in his bony ass so hard he caught air, crashed nose-first. There was a crunch, probably broke the shit. Probably an overall improvement. Sully spat on the Goddamn floor, fixed his necktie.
The fag fidgeted to his feet, faced away from Sully. He stood there twitching for a few seconds, one arm hanging down at his side and the other wrapped around his gut. The stink of him was almost impressive. Sully stood his ground in front of the door.
“Y’know,” grumbled the suspected intruder Graigo warned Sully about, “I should’a fig’red someone liek yew’u’d be here.”
“Why’s that, then?”
The vest snorted and spat, throwing a blotch of nose blood on the floor. “‘Cause Daddi Mark has a type.”
Sully moved from the door.
“Daddi lieks the big meaty bois,” quoth the fag. He spun and lunged with a stiletto.
[to be conc’d]
This has been the continuation of the fifth subchapter of the third chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
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