by Bryan Cole
The two figures glided quietly through the kitchen and into the plush living room.
“Nice place you have yourself here, Nick.” The older one said, as he crossed to a chair adjacent to the coffee table.
“Dragon…” The seated man, Nick, stammered out. “I didn’t think…”
“That I knew where you lived? Of course I do,” The Dragon replied. “I make it a point to stay on top of these things, Nick. It would be very bad for business if I didn’t, don’t you think?” Dragon relaxed into the chair, which was upholstered in something pleasant. Might even be real leather.
“Yes, I guess it would,” Nick responded, settling into his own chair that was beginning to feel more like a coffin.
“This is some really nice cognac you have here,” a disembodied voice announced from behind Nick’s chair. Nick spun to acknowledge the would-be connoisseur, and was rewarded with a disgusting caricature of a man, a proverbial bull behind Nick’s living room bar. The thing was looking at his top shelf, the home of his collected liquors and confectionaries.
“That’s VSOP, Ambre du Burgandy from ’02,” Nick retorted out of reflex. He took his pleasures very seriously.
Nick watched with disgust as the thing poured some of his prized cognac into a snifter and then walked around him to stand near the fireplace, off to Dragon’s left. “Hope you don’t mind.” The idiot spoke at him. Nick could only nod from the depths of his disgust as he watched the man casually down half of the snifter.
“Nick, I’m sure you know what this little visit is about.” Dragon announced, after having taken a look around the living room.
“I’m afraid I do. I know I haven’t been in touch, but I am getting the money together to pay you – ” Nick was cut off mid-sentence by Dragon’s reply.
“I know you are, Nick. I truly do. Problem is that you’ve taken a little too long in doing so. My associate and I are here tonight to remind you that you have an obligation. This is the first, and last, such reminder we’ll be delivering.” Dragon paused as Nick took in his two tormentors. Nick couldn’t help but notice that the beast with Dragon had finished the snifter’s worth of cognac and was examining his brick fireplace.
“If you haven’t rectified the debt within the next week, I’m afraid I’ll have to send my associate to pay you a visit.” A grinding, high-pitched sound carried across the living room. As Nick watched, wide-eyed, Dragon’s associate squeezed his brick fireplace hard enough to crush a corner of it. Red dust fell onto crumbled brick remnants as the ruffian released his grip.
Dragon rose from his chair and crossed over to Nick, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I hope to hear from you.” He said as he moved past and towards the kitchen.
“Thanks for the cognac,” the bull-man remarked as he put the empty snifter down on the coffee table in front of Nick.
* * *
The German-manufactured car glided along the rural highway almost completely alone.
“Think he’ll pay?” Hatcher asked Dragon as he brushed the remaining brick dust off of his cybernetic hand and onto the floorboard.
“If he’s smart. That cognac you tried could probably cover half his debt if the dumb bastard could bring himself to sell it.” Dragon knew all too well the nature of these things. Most of the time his debtors had vast hordes of wealth hidden in things that they simply couldn’t bring themselves to part with. It was paradoxical, but unfortunately common enough to not surprise Dragon. He smoothly shifted the car into third gear as they escaped the town’s speed zone.
“I guess most of the time they aren’t too smart then?” Hatcher responded, sensing his ultimate role in this drama.
“Nope. Much as I was hoping you being there tonight would help him see the light, I still have my doubts.” Dragon’s face reflected a dour glow from the instrumentation of the Mercedes.
“If he tries to run?” Hatcher questioned, more to satisfy his own curiosity than out of any genuine concern.
“Then you go after him.” Dragon answered, moving the Mercedes into fifth gear as they topped 160 km/hr. “And you bring him back.”
“Just like old times,” Hatcher said with something that wasn’t quite a smile.