The Gentleman Grey
By Brendan Detzner
The man stepped into the hotel. He wore mostly black and brown, and everything was dirty and threadbare. He was a skinny man. His movements were rambling but graceful. He had a large red canvas duffel bag slung over his shoulder. The bag was incredibly full- it seemed likely to burst at any moment.
"I’d like a room please."
"How long will you be staying with us?"
"I’m not sure yet."
The cashier stared at the customer. "You have to know."
"You just do." The cashier was completely brain dead. He had the eyes of a corpse.
"Fine, two weeks."
"Is that a first name or a last name?"
"Fine, fine." Grey sighed. "Just put down John Smith."
"How will you be paying?"
Grey reached into his pocket and pulled out a dog-eared business card.
The cashier took the card and looked at it. It had no print on it. All it had on it was a black dot. He was about to ask what the card was, when he suddenly realized how truly interesting that black dot was. He had never really considered the beauty that is to be found in a black dot on a long pocketed dog-eared business card, and the longer he looked at it, the more intriguing it was. He was lost in thought, everything else seemed to completely leave his mind. He stood there, stiff, with the card in his hand. He was so lost that if you were to prick him with a pin, he would not have felt it.
Grey stepped around the desk and rung himself up. Then he stepped back in front of the register and pulled the card from the cashier’s hands.
"Thanks for working that out. I’m checking out on the nineteenth, right?"
The cashier blinked a couple of times, confused.
The cashier wasn’t quite sure what had just happened, but a family of four walked in as he was thinking. Grey slipped his mind as he started to help them..
Grey walked inside his room. It was pretty cheap- no cable, not much living space, torn wallpaper. Grey didn’t care. He had gotten what he’d paid for, and would feel guilty taking anything better. Besides, he was used to it.
He began to lay down, but stopped. He sighed. Grey hadn’t slept in a couple of days, but he would just have to catch up later. He had a job to do. A calling, really. It wasn’t a job unless somebody paid you.
He unzipped his duffel bag and rummaged through it carefully. It was filled with junk. A baby food jar with weird fluid inside, a book on old burial mounds, some candles, a lot of incense, some old newspaper clippings, all kinds of stuff. Finally, he pulled out three items- a bottle of Nitro cola and two tea bags. He dumped the powder from the tea bags into the cola and took a sip.
His lungs heated up like a jet engine, but the feeling faded quickly. Grey grimaced. One powder increased the caffeine’s affects on his body, and the other one kept the side effects to a bare minimum. He had once failed to put the two powders together in the right way, and had nearly had a seizure, but if they were mixed in the correct proportion then they allowed him to go a couple of days without sleep.
Grey closed his eyes and soaked in his surroundings. He felt mentally pulled in several directions, but he soon found a impulse he was comfortable with. He closed in on it, clearing away all the other voices and images crowding up his head. His path became clear.
Grey walked over to the window and looked out. It was about two stories down to the alley. Grey jumped. He fell fast at first, but he slowed, not much, but enough so that when he hit, his feet touched down gently, like a feather. He walked away. A thin twirl of smoke floated up from where he had landed.
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