The Scales: After-dinner Conversation

After-dinner Conversation

Part 5: The Two Sides of the Scale

The contract joined him at the matching the scratched round table after Vinny flopped onto one of the distraught wooden chairs. “What’s your name?” Vinny questioned between bites punctuated with his fork squeaking against the plastic plate.

“Robby,” he answered through a mouthful of food, chewing. He stared at a corner of the kitchen, before muttering, “Sorry, I hit you.” Then he looked at Vinny, who had choked into a coughing fit, hacking like a dog. Robby started to get up, fearful. Vinny motioned him back down.

“No,” he huffed, tears running down the bridge of his nose, “No, don’t worry,” he wiped his mouth, “it was fun.” He leaned to pick up his fork from the floor, almost losing his balance, before giving it a toss behind him towards the sink.

Robby rolled his eyes, thinking the man would continue, but he might have waited a while. After a moment, he moved on. “So, besides ‘the city,’ what part of town are we in?” he asked again, making quotes in the air with his short fingers, before pushing his empty plate away from him.

“How the shit am I supposed to know,” he joked, before realizing the man’s unhappiness. “It’s uptown,” he added.

Robby groaned, rolling his head around his shoulders. “Really? The shit? I’m not going to get home today then, and much less have the money.”

“Well you’re right, you don’t have the money now, for sure,” Vinny agreed, “That job won’t pay anymore.”

Reminding his contract of what he lost wasn’t a good call, because the man’s teeth snapped together. “Fuck you!” he jabbed a finger towards Vinny, leaning in, an elbow on his knee around the table. “Fuckin’ karma, man.” He kicked the table leg. “It’s coming to you.”

The plates settled from the table’s abrupt movement. Vinny scoffed, shook his head, and snatched both plates. “You can’t think like that. Karma’s what got you into this mess.” The dishes clattered into the sink and the sound startled him; he’d dropped them into the sink. He spun to the man, frustrated. “You need to stop whining about it. I reacted to your thoughts, that’s it. Move on.”

“No, I won’t!” Robby spat, jumping to close the space between them. He pushed Vinny back against the counter with a hand against the man’s chest. “I’m not whining about it. You came out of nowhere.”

“Yeah. I did. Get out,” Vinny told him, slapping the man’s hand away, pushing him back. His face felt hot; sweat broke on his forehead.

Robby found his balance, hands raised in case Vinny came at him. When neither moved he said, “It’s already dark.”

This kid affected him more than he wanted. Vinny was starting to feel a bit guilty. He shook his head. No, guilt wasn’t his job. He completed his contract. “I did my job. I can’t undo it.” He sighed.

“Tch, whatever, asshole. Fine.”


“But walking around Francesca at night will get me killed.”

Vinny shrugged. “You know what? Stay. Go. Jump out a fuckin’ window. Whatever. I’ll probably get called away anyhow.”

Part 6: The Scales’ Murkiest Capacity


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