Old Boy

“It’s good money, old boy. Trust me when I say that you’ll be taken care of.”

Merrick didn’t even look up. He just continued drinking his ale at his table. The short Highlander lit a cigar, took a few puffs, and stuck it in the corner of his mouth. He sat down next to the large Hrothgar at his table. Merrick didn’t even look in his direction. For one, he was unsettling, always smiling largely every time he met him, always smoking a cigar.

“I’m not looking to be taken care of. That’s not my style. I just want to lay low and do my own thing,” Merrick finally replied, still staring into his stein.

“When your thing is stealing other people’s hard-earned artifacts and pieces of art, I hardly call that ‘laying low,’ old boy,” said the man through a large toothy grin. Merrick didn’t care for him. He always had slicked back hair and a thin greasy looking mustache sitting atop of that uncomfortably large smile.

“If you can call your people stealing those things from other people or places to begin with as ‘hard earned,’ then I can call what I do as ‘laying low,’” Merrick growled low. Irritation could be heard in his voice. He didn’t like long conversations and this man was two sentences past Merrick’s tolerance level.

“You’re a man of many talents. Don’t think that I haven’t noticed that,” the man said with a certain slickness in his voice. You could HEAR the smile in his voice.

“I’m an independent contractor,” Merrick interrupted, his reply dripping with irritation.

“Look, we’ve all got demons that we’re running from. The difference now is that I can make those demons a thing of the past for you… where they belong,” he said.

Merrick picked his head up slightly and peered over at the uninvited guest. He raised a single eyebrow. “What are you getting at?”(edited)

“I know who you are, Black Lion. Don’t worry, not many people know. Besides, most people around here wouldn’t have any idea who you are or were anyway. I know what you’ve done and I know what you’re running from right now. Y’know nothing is going to stop her, right?”

Merrick growled as he took another large gulp of his ale, finishing it up. The moment he raised his hand to flag a waitress, a fresh stein of ale was delivered.

“Just give me the word and I’ll make all of those problems disappear. I can get you a new place to stay, a new job, and a new life. Tell me, has my boss EVER left a promise unfulfilled?”

“No,” Merrick replied tersely. He almost wanted to agree to everything to make the man go away. He had nothing to lose right now “Fine… I’ll do it.”

The man smiled even larger, larger than Merrick could have imagined. “That’s the spirit, old boy! Nothing ventured nothing gained! I tell you, it’s great having you on board! The boss is going to LOVE this bit of news!” he said with a celebratory clap on Merrick’s shoulder. The Hrothgar looked very annoyed at the man touching him “Now let’s take care of old business so we can get ready for new business. How’s that sound?”

In an instant, Merrick felt the pierce of a thin sharp blade in his neck. Fire immediately started coursing through his veins. He found himself unable to move. He could feel blood gushing out as the man withdrew the dagger. “Don’t worry,” He whispered to Merrick. “That’s the poison going through your system right now. It’s going to act very quickly and soon you’re going to be very convincingly dead.”

The moment the man placed the dagger on the table, someone walked by, covered it with a dish rag, and swept it off the table, before disappearing back into the kitchen of the pub.(edited)

He clapped the shoulder of the Hrothgar one last time as he stood up from the table. Merrick sat there expressionless as his life rushed out of his body through the open wound in his neck. The man crushed his cigar out on the table surface before he walked off, leaving Merrick to die.