Silas

Silas was crouching in the alleyway, hidden deep in the shadows. The streetlight that stood at the far end of the alley was flickering on and off, accompanied by a buzzing sound; it was driving Silas mad. He shifted his weight a little, careful not to disturb the loose stones in the corner between the sidewalk and the building he was leaning against. His boots made a slight scuffing sound as he moved, and he froze. The last thing he wanted was to be heard.
It seemed like he’d been there for hours, and upon reflection, Silas decided he probably had. The stars in the sky were definitely in a different position now than when he’d taken up his post. At the very least, he decided, he must have been in the alley for three hours. The thought didn’t comfort him. This was supposed to have been a quick job, easy money, child’s play. But something had gone wrong, or else he’d simply received faulty information.
Two days before, Silas had been sitting in, for lack of a better work, his office. It was the place where he took on jobs, at any rate. His so-called office consisted of a grimy table at Mick’s Burgers & Beer, a popular hangout for bikers and shady businessmen. Silas had his very own table, courtesy of Mick himself. Mick had been his most appreciative client by far, and Silas still got free burgers and greasy fries whenever he wanted them – which wasn’t very often. Silas liked to eat well, and usually ate at Mick’s only when his cash was running low. Lately, this had happened more than usual, and it made Silas very cranky.
Two days ago, Silas had dipped his last French-fry into an oozing paper cup of ketchup, grimacing. He chewed it slowly, and washed it down with his dark brown stout. He wiped his hands slowly and methodically on his already stained paper napkin and threw it into the trash-can behind him. He’d perfected this throw over many a long-afternoon, and never missed anymore.
He took another sip of his beer when he realized someone was standing off to his right, staring at him. He looked over and saw a tall man, his limbs long and gangly, wearing grey slacks and a white shirt. He held a briefcase in one long arm and had a Cashmere sweater tucked under the other. His hair was dark brown and slicked back from his forehead, a couple strands jumping loose and sticking up comically. Silas took the man in and discarded him. This was obviously some lost corporate drone, or perhaps he wasn’t so lost and was simply looking to avail himself of the services of Madame Etoile’s Entertainment Parlor, the whorehouse that had for time out of mind sat across from Mick’s.
The man in the slacks, however, didn’t even glance over at the pink neon sign for Madame’s. Instead, he walked over to Silas’s table and sat down across from him. Silas gave him a stony look.
“You lost?” he grunted.
“No,” said the man softly. “I’m here to hire you, Magician.”
“Well, well,” Silas smiled slowly, “I’m all ears then, Mr. Suit.”

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7 thoughts on “Silas

  1. Em, upon reading this piece I am struck by how I have seen your writing mature. You may not realize it, but it’s evident to any who have followed you.

    Constructively there are but a few very minor things I’d change (for example: “It seemed like he’d been there for hours, and upon reflection, Silas decided he probably had.” Remove Silas from the sentence, as we already understand it’s him because he’s the sole focus at this point.)

    The atmospherics are beatifully accomplished, and the questionable intent and character of Silas are evinced from the start.

    My only reader-level concern would be for a slightly beefed up ending. You leave us with Silas revealed as “Magician,” which could mean any number of things. How about hinting at what a man, so obviously out of his element at Mick’s, is truly there for. Something like:

    The man dropped the sweater into his lap and unfolded a napkin upon the table, setting his briefcase atop it and looked squarely into Silas’s eyes.

    “How would you feel about doing a little work for your government.” The sentence ended with a cool finality.

    Silas glanced to his left then shifted slightly in his seat. Raising his beer he peered directly over the rim into the strangers eyes.

    Something like that. Give it a wee kick.

  2. Thank you for the criticism, J.W. – and for the praise as well 🙂 I appreciate your honesty and I agree with you on your first point completely.

    However, about the ending, the story isn’t going the way you anticipated, and the man has nothing to do with government – I left it on an ambiguous note partly because I’m still mulling over exactly what happens next and also because I don’t want to make my story “bits” too long as this is a blog. Magician was a word I chose specifically because it doesn’t explain anything about Silas quite yet. It will be very clear in my next part what and why this word is used, but I left it as a corny cliffhanger here as you see.

    • I see that I am not the only one who has noticed your maturation! I think that is so cool that others can see it too, and although I had no part in it I still feel a sense of pride to have witnessed it.

  3. I agree with JW on how far you’ve come since I started reading here. I love what you write. The only thing is I get so into them that I hate them to end.

  4. I actually went back and compared some of your earlier writing to who you are now, and I agree. You have definitely developed into an amazing writer Ignorant. ^^

  5. Thank you so much, everyone! You’re all giving me a warm fuzzy feeling of happiness, and I want you all to know how much I appreciate you stopping by here to read what I write.

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