He laughed around the panic clogging his throat, but his gun never wavered from its target. Daniel stepped forward, the muzzle of the gun leading as he struggled to choke out coherent words. “You– do you have any idea what you’ve done to me?”
His target, a young man who was currently missing a shirt and one shoe, inched his hands up. “An idea. Don’t see how murder charges will help though, just saying.”
Daniel’s face worked through his host of emotions, rage, irritation, bewilderment, and of course the manic reaction to his own spiralling fate. The laughter caught in his throat this time, “Aiden, there is a gun pointed at you. Stop. Take something seriously for once, just once.”
Across from him, the Aiden opened his mouth, then shut it before saying whatever glib thought had inevitably popped into his head. Instead, Aiden nodded. “Okay, seriously then, lower that thing.”
Daniel did not lower his gun. His family’s accounts were empty, he was in a five-star hotel suite surrounded by the refuse of a weekend he could not pay for, his head pounded in the aftermath of whatever Aiden had given him. And his phone had not stopped ringing all morning, tabloid reports and his parents PR team all wanting an explanation. He was holding a gun he’d not owned before the blur of last night. “This isn’t me. I am a responsible person, and you tricked—what did you just say?”
“Hmm?” Aiden asked, eyes round. Aiden bent and picked up a shirt. It was Daniel’s. Aiden put in on anyway.
“You muttered something under your breath,” Danial said. Another step and he’d be pressing the gun into Aiden’s narrow chest. His hand finally began to shake. “I am responsible. You did this, you messed me up, you drove me to this.”
Aiden held up his hands again, looking down at the gun between them.”Somewhat flattering, but not exactly correct. Your memory will come back when you come down, but let me catch you up. You took what I offered, you used your family’s money on bottle service, dancers, and high-stakes poker, you begged a guy in the back of that club for that delightful little tattoo that I’m sure is smarting right now. That was all you and it’s been fun, but it’s too early for this.” Aiden took a step back, and upon not getting shot, started searching for his other shoe.
“It’s 11 am.” It was the first thing Daniel could absolutely refute. He let his hand holding the gun sink down to his side.
“Early,” Aiden argued, holding up the matching shoe. He slipped it on. “So it’s been fun but I think you have some stuff to work out. I’m gonna go…” Aiden looked pointedly at the wrecked hotel room as he sidled to the door.
Daniel felt his knees go wobbly. He sunk down to the floor, the gun dropping from his fingers. “I was going to shoot you, oh god, what is wrong with me. Look at this place, look at everything–”
Daniel looked up when the door clicked. Aiden was gone. He looked around at the room at the discarded bottles, gambling chips, and discarded clothing. Daniel’s phone screen lit up once again with an incoming call. He fumbled for it, noting the numbness in his fingers.
You have The Gate in the Wood to thank for this week’s first line, and myself to thank for stealing it. All part of the Legal Theft Project.