With Love, From the City of Poisonous Mist

With Love, From the City of Poisonous Mist

A Story by Brenden Bow

In a city where nightmares and fantasy become reality, Aiden and Reagan are tasked with tracking down a kidnapped girl. Do the patrons of The Dancing Dove have any helpful information?


“How much is she paying?”


“You were there, Aiden.”


I bet if I listen hard enough I can hear her eyes rolling in her head. I smile.


I hadn’t paid attention because I was bored. So instead of listening to them prattle on about expenses, paperwork, proof of identity, and all that other bureaucracy crap, I had counted all the books on Reagan's bookshelf.


“She agreed to pay whatever expenses we rack up and two thousand up front, each " of course. I deposited the currency cards in our bank account already. After we bring her kid back, we get thirteen k more. The catch is, we’ve only got two days before ‘all hell breaks loose’ and, in her word, it ‘will’ break loose if her daughter isn’t brought back home by the allotted deadline,” Reagan says, appearing at my bedroom-office’s threshold.


"We get fifteen-k? You could get those prosthetic upgrades you’ve been pining after all month with that kind of money. Two days is more than enough time. Hell, one day is more than enough time. If we start now, we can have her home by dinner.”


I plop down on my messy couch-bed. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s a familiar discomfort.


"Aiden, I know you, so you can’t blame me when I say don't dick around with this case. Lives are at stake here - a child’s life, maybe even worse," Reagan says, crossing her arms. She leans against the door frame. "If things get out of hand, there’s a chance ‘they’ might intervene. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be more involved with those single-minded, self-serving, pretentious b******s than we already are."


I stare into the shadows on the ceiling, not wanting to get up. "Carver and Brayden aren't that bad. They’ve got our backs. We can trust them.”


"That doesn't make them any less pretentious and self-serving," she mutters, walking away, not bothering to close the door behind her.


I ask, “Any advice on where to kick off this game of hide-‘n’-seek?"


She says, "Maybe Dana’s heard something downstairs. I saw a few apparitions at the bar wearing those f**k-hideous overcoats, sporting Big Jack’s sign on their backs a few days ago " I think. See if she heard anything from them."


“The best gossip ‘is’ passed around in whispers, in the worst bars,” my jacket says.


I take that as meaning he agrees with her. When you’re a mind reading bartender, stumbling on great stories probably becomes something of a hobby, especially when you run a dive like this.


I hop off the bed and out of the room, not bothering to close my door behind me, heading down the hallway towards the stairs leading to the bar. I stop in front of it and call out to Reagan, "Are you coming with me?"


She says, “Laptop tracks your movements, remember? I’ll meet you in the city. Once you get a credible lead, press the button on your earring and I’ll head to your location. In the meantime, I’m going to try my hand at breaking and entering, see if I can find out anything we don’t know from the Downtown Choir Boys’ database.”


I ask, “You’re hacking into the Choir’s database?”


She says, “Affirmative.”


I wince. I guess that’s one way to get us a ticket to Smote Land " not like their tickets will ever sell out. If they find out, Carver and Brayden will kill me for not stopping her. Not like I could " ever ", but that won’t head off their yelling.


Stifling a sigh, I remain silent.


After undoing the protections around the entrance to our apartment-office, I open the hexed door and trudge down the rickety stairs to The Dancing Dove.




"I swear you have the most irritating mind I've ever had the displeasure of reading,” Dana says as I sit down at a barstool directly in front of where she stands, holding a glass. “Can you focus on anything properly?"


She carelessly washes the glass " which looks like it hasn’t seen a drop of soap in a little over a decade. I like the bar. I like our apartment " more or less. I like Dana. Nevertheless, the road to caution is paved with diamonds.


I remember the first thing my teacher taught me about Poison Coast. In his gruff, Bugs Bunny-esque Flatbush accent, he told me, “Aiden, my boy, when you’re in need of a drink and the Dancing Dove is the closest, and only, place available, do the smart thing: go to the store and buy your own beverages. That way you can use your own glasses. That particular stratagem is both frugal and self-preserving. Plus, it doesn’t incite fear and worry about the inexplicable and wholly imminent possibility of contracting an unknown, cureless, organ-eating disease from whatever thing used the glass before you…. You also bet on a much less, much, much, much less risky horse " the risky horse being poison instead of your ordered drink.”


I look around, seeing the regular menagerie of strange. Some of them I know; some of them I don’t. Some are regulars, and some are new kids on the block, the poor clueless b******s.


There are two witches sitting a few seats down from me. They cackle, spinning on their barstools. Powerful, pressurized incantata fills this section of the bar. Parts of the pressurized energy discharge, flying off them as they rapidly rotate.


Matheson, an overly muscled-up centaur bodybuilder always clad in a tank top to better flaunt his freakish biceps, the Dancing Dove’s bouncer and Dana’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, has his sunglasses lowered, shooting the two battleaxes dirty looks from where he stands by the entrance.


The introverted, reptilian business magnate, Sal M. Anderson, is sat in a section all by his lonesome. Wearing his best business attire, forked tongue licking at a drink that looks suspiciously like blood, he sits, shining rays of depressing gloom down on everyone near him.


One guy sitting a few booths away is actually sobbing over a pint of some boiling over, hot pink liquid.


And, last but not least, a good few of the members of Sexy Mutant-Unicorn sit at a private booth in the roped off back corner of the bar with a number of scantily clad groupies.


Snidely, I reply, “It’s interesting that you would be the one to comment on how someone ‘properly’ does something. The way you haphazardly wash that glass, it’s phenomenal; it’s great. You know, you’re right, I should take a leaf from your book. I mean, look at it; it’s sparkling so much it looks like one of Dracula’s vampire-fairy offspring. Yep, your revolutionary dish-washing handiwork is, in all honesty, Nobel prize-worthy. …I’m actually surprised the Academy hasn’t yet invited you to the awards ceremony."


She scowls at me and my sarcasm before I have my first sentence out. I didn’t have to say anything to Dana for her to know exactly what was on my mind. I did it to annoy her and we both knew it.


"Wow, okay, I don’t see how this is anything like ‘I Love Lucy’,” she says, reading my thoughts. “We can ignore your love of fifty’s sitcoms and get to the point. You want to grill me on what I know about Big Jack’s thugs." 


I say, "Bingo,” painstakingly stifling another yawn.


“There were some spooks parading around in those rotting corpse-ugly overcoats he makes his ‘enforcers’ wear here the other night. I don’t remember them thinking anything about some kid though. Mainly, it was just about f*****g me ‘hard’ and,” she shuddered, “‘sucking me dry.’”


I laugh.


 Despite the perverse, graphic imagery, I can kind of understand where their thoughts were coming from. Dana is a nice-looking girl a few years older than Reagan and I. She’s been pierced, poked, and prodded so many times an acupuncturist would gape, slack-jawed and bug-eyed at her. She fondly refers to herself as the “Tatted-Up Punk Queen of Terror”. I find that self-appointed title speaks legions about her appearance, and personality.


Dana and I are friends thanks to her relationship with Reagan, who was under the charge of Jessica, her sister, for five years. Like me, Dana is widely-known as a “sarcastic b***h”. Like Reagan, Jessica was a probable sociopath with antisocial tendencies who possessed an odd love for cupcakes, pornography, and naked bongo-drumming. Unlike us, however, Dana and Jessica had grown up in Miasma City.


Half of Dana’s head is shaved, making her look like some kind of dubstep goddess, and the other half is dirty blonde, long enough to hang in her face, sporting purple, blue, and dark blue highlights.


Decked out in all black like Reagan, she looks good.


Dana smiles at my appraisal of her and continues, "I got one thing from those degenerates,” she says in a faux sophisticated voice. “Apparently, Timmy did a job for Big Jack a while back and may be doing another sometime this week.”


Ah, Timmy Terrible, an old friend of mine, a rich kid, the bassist of Sexy Mutant Unicorn, a celebrity, and a member of one of the Thirteen Families. His irritating antics are infamous throughout the West District’s Club Street. If he isn’t picking a fight with someone, he’s smart-mouthing a kingpin’s crew. And if he isn’t smart-mouthing a kingpin’s crew, he’s skipping payments on the exorbitant bills he somehow manages to rack up. If he isn’t skipping payments on his debt, he’s rescuing anthromorphic unicorn prostitutes from tyranny.


I decide asking the other members of SMU if they know where Timmy is, is beneficial.


Once again, I peer over at them. Not seeing Dante, I figure my chance at hitting pay dirt is low. Dante, the group’s lead singer and front man, is Timmy’s childhood best friend and my “adopted” older brother. The two are always together. He’s the one sure to know where to find his best friend if they’re not together. Asking the other guys is a long shot, but lately they see those two more than I do.


Not wanting to get sucked into the world of social networking, I had neglected to purchase a cellphone when the chance presented itself. At times like these, I regret my sort-of-hipster decision-making ways. Yeah, I said “sort-of-hipster”. I’m not proud of it, but… Ugh, no, I’m just not proud of it.


Dana says, “Check the Moan-a-Lisa if those guys can’t give you the intel you need.”


“The Moan-a"” I begin.


“"Lisa,” she finishes for me, holding her hand up. “Yeah, that’s what I said. It’s a Fourth Earth Renaissance-themed boobie bar right next to the Ogre's Breath Bar, Grille & White Buffalo Wings Shack " can't miss it."


I'm well-acquainted with the ‘establishment’ " a fact I don’t usually discuss in an open, public and, or private setting. It’s… it’s just something, a place, a, let’s say, wallflower like me doesn’t like going to… or talking about… or even thinking about in passing.


The story is a client of mine and Reagan's from a long, long while back couldn’t for the life of him figure out where his new wife spent most of her time " and his money. Let me tell you this: the woman had a knack for covering her trails. It took me, oh, two weeks I’d say to figure out. After calling in a bunch of favors and indebting myself to a few shady opportunists that I can barely call “acquaintances”, I tracked her down to the Moan-a-Lisa. Turns out, in a funny, unexpected, M. Night Shymalan kind of way, his wife was"maybe still is"an, as she vehemently put it, “exotic dancer” and “regular patron” to one of her humanoid coworkers.


 In the prior sentence…er…paragraph " whatever ", I’ll have you know, I used the word “humanoid” in a very, very, extremely, legendarily loose fashion. Happy, the man was not.  Solved, however, the case was. And that, well, that was my job. I did it, my job, I got paid. Whether he did or did not take kindly to the outcome is totally irrelevant. But, you probably guessed the outcome already, he"if you did so and aren’t an idiot, you guessed right by the way"didn’t like it, didn’t like it one " single " bit.


While walking over to the band, the bouncers guarding the VIP section don’t recognize me and move to guard the red velvet rope. One of the band members"I can’t tell which"says, “Hey, let ‘im in, Frankie! That’s Aiden"f****n’"Law, he’s cool with us. The bigger and burlier one nods his head, and they both move aside, wordlessly unhooking the rope, letting me pass.


Against every intelligent thought I’ve ever had up until that point, I say the dumbest thing, I say, “Uh-huh, that’s what I thought"” which isn’t so bad, right? Eh, I have a knack for worsening tense, and so I add “"b***h.”


Bouncer B&B looks at me, scowling, with his large brow in a prominent V-shape.  

© 2012 Brenden Bow

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I'm not too good at critiquing, but as a reader I think it was a good enough opening. You get a good idea of what's going on as far as the setting goes. It's pretty interesting.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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Added on October 28, 2012
Last Updated on October 28, 2012


Brenden Bow
Brenden Bow


I've been writing for nine years. It's a solitary art, writing; seclusion works wonders for one's evolution as a writer. I enjoy secluding myself for days, sometimes weeks, with my work. more..