A den. Yeah, let’s call it that. The Judge’s “den“, reeked of false hope. Either that, or bourbon. Dan’s nose was out of practice. Red silken sashes hung awkwardly from the ceiling parting the room off into semi-private chambers. In each a cluster of defeated men sat quietly, eyes to the ground awaiting their turn. One by one, Drifter called them up. One by one, they had their meeting and heard their fate.
“What did you mean when you said I’m special?” Dan asked, hoping to break the tense silence. The rest of the down-and-outs in their cubicle shot Dan what must have been attempts at angry glares – or was it fear in their eyes?
“You are from the city. Most who come here, are not. That Is what I meant.” Verge said.
“Hmmph, Cryptic as always. What exactly do you mean they’re not from the city, aren’t we all?”
“Just because they live in it, does not meet they are from it. You are a part of it. You were raised in the system, made to believe in it. Still bear its mark. You chose to follow me against you’re every instinct because you sensed the promise of something greater. Something beyond the fairytale world you were made for. They… They, are it’s victims. The city lays no claim to them. They exist in it the same way flies swarm around a horse in the heat of summer.”
“Unwanted passangers.” Verge added. That comment got a few of the others in the booth to shuffle awkwardly.
“Even if what you say is true-“
“-Ok. Even if it is. If the outside is so great, why have I never heard anything positive about it. I had friends that used to travel for business, take trips out for months at a time. When they came back, all they could talk about was how much they missed the city- ” Dan felt a prod in his ribs, and shifted awkwardly as he tried to perch himself on the cramped bench shooting a glare over his shoulder before turning back to Verge,
“This one guy, Graham” Dan slurred his name as if it was poison dripping from his lips, ” Graham came back from a week in Paris, and I kid you not he wouldn’t shut up about how much better the bread was here for a month. Of all the things to get homesick over.” Dan chuckled to himself while Verge listened in silence nodding along. Another sharp jab caused Dan to grunt in annoyance. When he didn’t respond the girl next to him began tapping his shoulder repeatedly.
“I think she want’s to speak to you.” Verge said masking the start of a smile. Dan turned making little attempt to hide his scowl and was hit with shock. Her eyes were so… empty. There was no sorrow, pain, anger; there was nothing, as if it had all been sacrificed just to live another day. All in the name of survival at the bottom, a voice in Dan’s head whispered menacingly to him. That could be you, that could be you, get out of here, go back to your life, your apartment, your city, where you belong…
“You two. You’re up.” Drifter called from out of the Judge’s booth. Dan stood to leave but the girl grabbed his arm and tugged with surprising strength.
“Better to stay. Better not to see. Keep you’re eyes closed pretty boy. Better not’s to knowin’. Surrender that hope, let go o’ those dreams. Nothing out there for you. For any of us.”
It was one thing to here his subconcious say these things. But to here the words reflected back at him from another was like having a broken mirror held up to the shadow that was his soul.
“Dan” Verge was half way to the Judge’s booth, waving him over. Dan glanced once back at the strange girl, and then followed.
obedient little pup.
Thank you for reading this canto of Sin City.
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