Thirteen

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Lester sat back in his chair and flipped through the channels before coming to rest on the morning news. Onscreen a middle aged black man sat behind a table in a court room. His face carried the smug look of someone who thinks themselves invincible. Sure enough the news anchor reported the man, known as The Count, was acquitted of all charges in a case built to finally jail the leader of the city's largest organized criminal enterprise.

"What a bunch of bullshit." Lester spat angrily at the television.

The news anchor continued with the story listing off the multifarious crimes including racketeering, illegal gambling, and extortion.

"Probably a fair amount of murders as well." Lester muttered. He put his beer can to his mouth to discover it empty. "Harshing my buzz." He got up, tossed the can into the recycling bin, and retrieved another from the fridge. He popped it open and returned to his chair. "That guy gets off scot-free and people like me take the fall for someone else. Fuck this country." Someone knocked at the door and Lester groaned loudly. Reluctantly he got up and shuffled to the door. On the other side he found Lars.

"Hey man, I came to check on you." Lars smelled the alcohol on Lester."I brought some more beer, but I'm guessing you're already a couple deep."

"More than a couple. Come on in." Lester gestured toward the living room and made room for Lars to pass. He closed the door and followed his guest "Can I get you something to eat? I don't have a lot in the way of junk food but I'm sure I can scrounge something up."

"Nah,I'm good. I just ate." Lars answered while pushing junk aside to make room for the case of beer. "What have you been up to?"

"Jack and squat." Lester replied after sitting in his recliner. "You?"

"Same old grind mostly." Lars cracked open a beer. "Not a whole lot going on outside of work really."

"Lester gestured to the TV, which continued talking about The Count and his court case. "Can you believe this shit?"

Lars looked at the screen and shook his head. "I'm not surprised he walked. From what I hear the guy is bulletproof."

"I could use a little bit of that myself right now."

"Yeah,no shit." If only there were an easy way for someone like us to getaway with anything. H probably bought the whole jury without batting an eyelash." Lars sipped from her can. "I've even heard he has cops on the payroll."

"Corrupt sons of bitches." Lester turned off the TV. "Nothing interesting going on with you at all?"

"Not rea... actually there is one thing."

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Jackie dressed in her finest dress for her date. To say she was nervous would be an understatement. This was her first date in a long time and Elijah wasn't here to get her pumped up anymore. She checked her hair for the third time and finally worked up the courage to walk out the door. Downstairs she hopped into her car and mad her way to the restaurant where they were supposed to meet. When she realized she was late she cursed herself. When she got inside she pulled up his photo on her phone and showed to the hostess.

"I'm supposed to meet this man here. Has he been seated yet?" The hostess pointed her in the direction of the bar and Jackie made her way over to it. After a second of scanning the bar she located him."Lars?" She asked.

"That's me." He turned around to look at her and smiled. "Wow" His jaw dropped. "It's rare to meet a woman who looks better than her pictures. They did you no justice."

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