I've seen ones like him before, but not as much as him. He's like sparks, like fire, all electricity and explosions. Those ones, they never stop moving. Always moving, always running to the next thing and the next. But I remember. I know him. Not from his face. I know him like a magnet. He isn't going to stop, so I shout. I need to tell him.
"I saw him. I spoke to him. He was here. Not a soldier, but a storm with the sea on his skin. I knew the storm was coming. He thought I meant the rain, but I didn't. I meant him. He was looking for something, in the blood on your knuckles, the blood on your teeth."
And then he stops and he comes over and stands in front of me. He sort of tilts his head to the side like he's thinking about something and he says, "That's some poetry. A storm with the sea on his skin? Blood on my teeth?" He looks like it's a game, like he's playing. He doesn't know.
So I say, "I'm telling you. You'll know him when you see him. And he'll know you."
He says, "So, what? He's going to fall in love with me or he's going to kill me?"
He gets it. "Yeah, that's it."
His forehead crunches up and he says, "This day is just...I don't even know. Seriously."
Then he sits down next to me and he looks at me, right in my eyes. And there it is again. Fire. All fire. Chaos. He says, "What's your name?" and I say, "Wolf." I'd forgotten what it was like to hear my name out loud. I don't remember the last time I said it. I don't remember the last time someone asked.
He says, "That's a good one. First name or last name?" and I say, "Last name. First name's Francis."
He says, "Well, Francis Wolf, it's strange to meet you. I'm Brett Archer," and he holds out his hand to me, to shake my hand. I don't remember the last time someone did that either.
I shake his hand and I sort of look at the ground because I don't know where else to look, but he's still all fire, like burning forests into ash. He's on his way home. Not just now, not just home for the night. But more home than that.
He says to me, "Are you a fortune teller?" and I say I'm not, I just have messages sometimes.
They aren't my messages though. I don't know what to do with myself, him sitting there like that.
And he looks me right in the eye and he says, "Francis Wolf, give me a message. Tell me something."
I say it doesn't work like that, I can't just come up with something because someone wants me to. I have to hear it. I have to feel it. But I tell him he'll know the storm when he sees it. Him. It.
He nods and he says, "That sounds like a message right there." He looks up at the sky and then down at his hands and he says, "I have to go."
I want to say something, but it's hard to look at him still.
He gets up and he goes to walk away, but he stops. He puts his hand in his pocket and takes something out and gives it to me. It's money, more money than I've seen in a long time. And he doesn't do it like he's making a big thing out of giving someone like me money to make himself look like a good person. He just does it as if it isn't anything to him.
Then he says, "Take it easy, Francis Wolf," and he walks away into the night and that's it.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...