There were a lot of things to worry about that morning. Christopher Ascalon was moving a lot of heroin. Sure, it was against the law, but it hadn’t stopped him from standing in front of a long, tall mirror while the drugs were taped to his body.

It was his first job, and he was running late, and he was sweating a lot, and he head a headache, and that’s just what you’d expect, wasn’t it? He had a lot of things to worry about, for sure, but when he met Minnie — Minnie the Mouse that was — it was the gum on his mind.

It had been lime green gum, stuck to the floor. Someone had just spit out when they were done. Some low-life piece of shit hadn’t bothered to find a garbage can. His mother would have hated it, but his mother would have hated the entire terminal with the dirty floors and water-stained walls, and all the people that were rushing, rushing, rushing.

“You’re late,” Minnie said when Chris finally got the checkpoint. He was the guy there to make sure Chris showed his face instead of taking off to some far-off place with a couple hundred grand worth of drugs.

“My mother used to say that too,” Chris said, “She said I’d be late for my own wedding, Minnie. Would would have been worse, you think? This or that? My bride-to-be standing at the aisle in white, waiting?”

Minnie gave him a look and Chris flashed him a grin and a wink, “Don’t worry,” he said, “I wouldn’t have left you waiting there that long. We can’t have the honeymoon without the wedding, Minnie. I’ve been telling you, I’m old-fashioned that way.”

“Charming,” Minnie said, “You’re a charming guy, Christopher. Anyone ever tell you that?”

Chris considered for a moment. He thought of all the girls who’d lived next door, all their mothers, all the teachers through his younger years, “I’ve heard it,” he said, “but never from your lips. It means a lot, you know? You’re making me a little wet down there.”

Minnie gave him a disgusted look, took his arm, and pulled him off to the side, “You’re going to be okay with this, right? Feeling alright? Feeling good? You look better than I expected. I thought you’d have the shakes and the shits, and your face would be whiter than a fucking ghost. You’re only halfway there.”

“I’m alright,” Chris assured him. He’d found out the job months before, and he’d been weaning himself off the needle in that time. Wouldn’t work to go on a plane if you were half out of your head, nodding off while the attendant tried to bring you a tuna sandwich. Or peanuts. Nobody ordered sandwiches anymore.

“Good,” Minnie said, “This isn’t a game.”

“I know that,” Chris said, and suddenly he was irritated, “I fucking know, alright? You think I don’t know that?”

Minnie put a hand on his shoulder, “Of course you do,” he said, “Shut up, Christopher, alright? People are going to starting looking. You’re fine, so just shut the fuck up.”

Chris nodded, “Yeah,” he said, “I know. I’m fine. I’m great, in fact. Never been better. I’m ready, Minnie. Come on then, give me the ticket. I’ve got this.”

“Alright,” Minnie said, and he handed over the ticket. Chris started to walk away but Minnie followed, “Christopher, wait.”

“What?” Chris asked as he turned to look at Minnie.

“It’s not too late to walk away,” Minnie told him. “Just turn around and get out of here. I’ll cut you loose, and you just get the fuck out of dodge. Hear what I’m saying?”

“No,” Chris said, “Why the fuck would you ask like that, Minnie? You work with Kevin.”

“There are a hundred men who’d kill to run the kind of job you’re doing now,” Minnie said, “Let one of them do it. You’re young, and you’ve got a pretty face. Let it get a little older, maybe try and grow some fucking hair.  Marry a nice girl, one that’ll put up with your shit, have a couple kids. Live the dream, Christopher.”

Chris was lost for words. He saw the seriousness in the other man’s face and it scared him a little bit. It frightened him because Minnie was absolutely sure. He really thought it could be a thing, that sort of life. Scared, and a little disgusted.

“Go be an accountant,” Minnie said.

“I’ve never been good with numbers,” Chris said.

Just like that, the conversation was over. Minnie clapped him on the shoulder, and nodded at the entry point where people boarded the plane, “You’re running out of daylight, kid. Get the fuck up there, then.”

“You know,” Chris said, right before he went, “I walk out of here, and I don’t end up somewhere living the life. I end up in a gutter, my mouth full of leaves and bird shit. You don’t fuck over Kevin Ashton, Minnie. You could know that. You’ve known him a lot longer than me.”

Minnie didn’t seem to have anything to say to that, and Chris nodded, “That’s what I thought,” he said, “Alright, alright. Here I go. I’m off. Kiss my ass, Minnie. It’ll miss you.”

“Poetic,” Minnie muttered as Chris went to check his bag in and show his boarding pass, “Fucking kid is just poetic.”


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