The Scales’ Home Life
The male, the contract, approached riotously, hands clenched in pockets. Worry covered his face. He stopped well before the glass of the cleaners, invisible to the interior, but he never looked away from Vinny who yawned with an open mouth and bored eyes.
Noticing him, Vinny shook his head, shaking the lethargy away. “Contract’s completed, homeboy, Vengeance is done.” His grin carried a threatening countenance; his teeth were exposed. But then he raised his hand, palm up and elbows bent and shoulders shrugged, as if he was as mystified as the man.
“I don’t know how you…” homeboy struggled for words, ripping back his hood, “read my mind?” He glanced inside the store, to Vinny, and then back again, running his hands over his knuckles in turn. Finally he met eyes with Vinny: “Don’t do anything. It’s shitty.”
“You wanted payback,” Vinny stated, snapping his mouth shut as a wrinkle creased his forehead.
“Thinking about it isn’t the same.”
In the distance, Jud leaned against the pole of a traffic light, delighted by the show. Vinny ignored him. Jud didn’t tolerate Vengeance; instead he liked fair play: they both knew a contract’s regret could void the deal. That would be Justice. He knew his presence distracted the Vengeful.
“You’re right, it’s not, but it works all the same.” Vinny advanced towards the man, unused to explanation. “You wanted it. I made it happen. It’s a service. Contract completed.” Vinny punctuated his flat lack of emotion with a shrug.
The sun set. Orange painted what sky could be seen through the clouds. The buildings reflected the rays where the sun couldn’t reach. For the first time in years, Vinny’s face met a fist because his eyes were skyward. He stumbled backwards, grimacing, lights in his eyes, and felt a shift. He should have felt at home, but another crack of pain shoved him into his wall.
“Stop!” he yelled; his cheek bled with the next hit. Vinny snagged the man’s wrist on the next swing and pulled, tumbling the man past and onto the bed. The contract huffed, surprised, and clambered to his feet, stumbling on the unmade sheets, struggling.
He seemed to suddenly grasp his surroundings: a bedroom, clothes on the floor, empty and pale walls, and a lone window with the ratty, bent blinds closed. “Wh-where?” he sputtered.
Lowering his hand from his reddened face, Vinny tried to be calm, though his face didn’t want to cooperate. “You came with me,” and after the contract’s face scrunched, Vinny added, “You’re only the second person to hit me.” He forced his smile but it couldn’t reach his eyes. He failed to show the man he wasn’t mad. He didn’t even convince himself.
“I’ll fuckin’ do it again if you don’t fix…things.”
Vinny pressed his lips together for a moment, then said, “That’s not what I do.”
“You break things!” the contract yelled, whipping his head from his surroundings back to the gaunt face of Vengeance, a tiny trickle of blood stopped at the bedraggled beard. “I felt it. I felt you move.”
Both remained silent for a moment. The contract kicked a piece of clothing off of his foot, watching it hit Vinny at his knee, before falling.
“A rare trait,” Vinny slowly acknowledged.
The answer was unexpected; he deflated. The two of them remained apart, thinking. Neither wanted their eyes to meet.
The contract sagged onto the bed, jabbing his elbows into his knees to run both of his hands through his black hair. His mouth hung slack for a moment, before he began to ask, “Where are…”
Waving a dismissing hand, Vinny cut him off. “The city, still. Don’t worry,” he said artlessly, brushing him off.
The contract’s eyes constricted as much as his lips pursed, his face turning pissed red. The skin over his jaw moved with the clenching of his teeth.
Not needing to guess his thoughts, Vengeance told him, “As much as you want it, I won’t avenge you against me,” a side of his mouth lifting into a smirk, wondering what kind of person would actually betray themselves. Would Jud ever pass pronouncement on himself? Something told Vinny that, yes, he would, if warranted, or asked.
The room felt fuller. Jud whispered, at first unheard. The contract yelped. He put a hand on Vinny’s shoulder. Vengeance startled. He stirred, to look. They almost knocked heads. Jud pulled back slightly. Vinny shivered at the breath on his ear.
Jud told him, “But Judgement could be arranged, true? Vengeance isn’t exempt.”