The Two Sides of the Scales
“Who are you guys?” the contract cried, his fists clenched. If he’d added a stomp, he could have been a child.
Stepping away and turning from Vinny, Jud stood puffed his pecs out, shoulders back to thrust his collarbones up, chin up as he looked down the bridge of his nose, with his fingers interlocked at the small of his back. With deep authority, “I am Judgment.” He said it theatrically, and with a bit of a smile playing across his parted lips.
Brows lowering, Vinny muttered, “Douchebag,” as he scratched at his neck.
The contract’s mouth hung open, roving in circles, thinking of what to say. Blanket clenched and unclenched in his hands.
Jud ignored him, though his posture drooped a bit. He licked his lips, “Vinny reaches people I can’t.” With his elbow he nudged a shoulder of Vinny, as if to show him the lack of hard feelings; he chided with a low tone, “It’s true. You do contracts I won’t touch. I’m bound.”
“Okay, fine, fine.” Vinny interrupted, his ego salted. He hated feeling like the contracts he performed were lesser. He motioned dismissively towards Jud, eyes looking out the window, trying not to think about it.
A moment went by as Vinny felt Jud appraising him. “It’s like you don’t want him to know his options.”
“You’re right,” Vinny agreed with one nod of his head, eyes wide with what he felt should have been obvious.
Silenced, Jud turned back to the bewildered contract, who still sat on the bed, head unmoving, but eyes roving back and forth between the two of them. He knew he was the prey in this room. Jud’s posture loosened, as his arms hung loosely at his side. “Don’t worry, Vengeance! It’s not worth my time, yet. I just want to be fair.” His voice warmed with a hum to it, but the words themselves didn’t mean anything.
Vinny rolled his eyes at the threat. The warmth of the third body in the room slowly faded, and it was a moment before Vinny realized Jud left.
Lifting his head from his hands, the contract questioned, “What options?”
“Our business is done, so that’s all I have to say,” Vinny lied, his slyness creeping into place like a worn shield. He tired, and wanted to head to bed. He looked at the bed, remembering the softness of his ragged sheets and old blanket, smelling of sweat and comfort.
“You can’t take me back?” It was more of an accusation than a question.
“You’d probably hit me again if I kicked you out of my house?”
There was no response, just the silence of an empty apartment and the low bass from the next apartment banging out a beat. The music paused, as if hitting the break of a song, before resuming again faster. A horn sounded from outside, faint from the far off street.
“Is your name really Vinny?”
“It is now.” They locked eyes for a moment, before Vinny spun, and left the bedroom for the kitchen, irritation blooming with the questions. The contract jumped to follow him, not wanting to be left alone.
“What are you doing?” The contract demanded, almost on Vinny’s heels.
“Shit, I’m hungry, ok?” he said, glancing back, as if that was obvious.
The contract watched him poke around the kitchen. Vinny pulled disorganized cabinets open, not bothering to be gentle. Pans clanked together. He yanked one out from under the others. He grimaced at the noise. The fridge was empty, except for a half-finished pack of eggs and an open can of soda. The eggs cracked, and he spent a moment fishing eggshell before scrambling them with a metal fork.
The silence calmed him; he put his thoughts into a more agreeable order, though he still felt on edge. He didn’t know what he was going to do with this guy. It wasn’t Vengeance to shove him out the door into unfamiliar territory.
Eventually Vinny glanced up, and offered, “You going to want some?”
“Eggs?” he asked, standing as far away as he could while still being in the room. He kept shifting his weight from foot-to-foot.
“Here. Eat it,” he ordered, dumping the scrambled yellow onto the plate, before extending it to the guest. Once the contract took it, Vinny spun back around, fumbling with his pan. The soft hiss of canned cooking spray, and then nothing but sizzling. At least he could feel good about his hospitality.