I finished the first draft last nigh, after about an hour and a half. I’m happy with how it turned out, for the most part. I’ll need to go back and fine tune some things later on but that’s just writing. I’d recommend reading Aging Power first, if only to get a better sense for the story. As it is sort of continuation of it.
Beyond the windows the city waited, racked in agony as it fought against the disease that swam in its veins. The pale light that escaped from the shop only highlighted the grime and depravity that had been allowed to exist; allowed to spread. Across the street, under a rusting lamppost, a prostitute leaned down to talk to a John; her breasts nearly bursting out of her implausibly tight tube top a she did so. A police officer rounded the corner. His eyes met the prostitutes; the look only lasted half a second before the man did what every other officer in the city did. He turned and walked away.
“The hell are you two going on about?” Mick asked as he sat back down, tray in hand.
“This city. How far its fallen since the good old days,” Jackson said, removing a cup from the offered tray.
“This again?” Mick asked through tight lips.
“Well some of us took pride in what we did, Mick,” Jackson responded, taking the first sip of the streaming coffee.
“Come on, Jack. You know Mick’s not like that,” Landon said, reaching for the non-dairy creamer. Two taps, powder dropping, and a scowl later, “He was in the game before you or me.” A playful smirk, “Long before.”
“Hey now. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? You aren’t a spring chicken either you know.”
Landon pointed to his wrinkled face, the lines honed and carved by time, “Seriously? You don’t see a face of eternal youth here?”
Mick chuckled, taking a packet of imitation sugar after a moment’s hesitation. His hands shook, only slightly, as he tore off the top. He was silent as he stirred in the fraudulent powder; he could already taste how unlike sugar it was. “The city is what it is. But that doesn’t change what we did for it.”
“Tried to do,” Landon added as he grimaced at his first mouthful.
“Not that any of that mattered,” Jackson muttered, glaring into his cup.
“It did; in it’s own way,” Mick sagged back into his chair. “Even though it might not look like it now. But back then? We made a difference.”
“It obviously wasn’t enough.”
“It never was,” Landon took another sip. “No matter how much we did; no matter how much we sacrificed it was never enough.”
Mick shrugged, his shoulders sagged a bit more, “I suppose not. There was always another danger, off in the distance. We’d put down one problem and two more would sprout up. But that doesn’t diminish or actions. It doesn’t wipe out our victories.” Landon nodded, and reached for one of the two doughnuts on the tray, “True.” Sprinkles fell off as he took grasp of it, “Those were definitely some of the best days of my life.” He took a bite with a smirk, “Definitely miss the women though.”
Only Mick laughed, “The job did have its perks. Wait was that why your suit-”
“Was designed to show off what I had to offer? You bet your old ass it was.”
“I can’t believe you two are joking about this. How can you stand to see the city like this?” Jackson said, his eyes accusing. “How can you just watch as everything we built tumbles down around you.”
“What can we do?” Landon asked between bites, “Suit up again?”
“Because they didn’t want us anymore, Jack.” Mick said, leaning over the table to look at Jackson. “They told us loud and clear forty years ago to get out of their lives.”
“Not to mention I doubt the suits would fit anymore,” Landon said, wiping a stray crumb from his lips. “Well, mine still would.”
Jackson looked towards Mick, “Why can’t we? This city needs us. We can still do this.”
“No, we can’t. We gave it all up, Jack, for good reason. We can’t force them to accept our help if they don’t want it.”
“Why not? They can’t-”
“How would that make us any different then what we fought against?”
Jackson tightened his grip on the cup, “We’d be saving them.”
“We’d be forcing our will on them. That’s exactly what all of those crackpot villains tried to do back then.”
Landon kept quiet, gingerly taking sips from his coffee. Mick slumped back into his chair, running a hand through his silver hair. Jackson just sat there on the edge of his chair refusing to back down or concede.
“Is this how you want to go out? Turning a blind eye to how diseased this city is now?”
Mick’s eyes narrowed, “No. Do you think I like knowing that a doughnut, in the end, might kill me because of my diabetes? Not a bullet as I try to stop a bank robbery. Not an explosion as I try to save a passenger car full of innocents. No, a single fucking doughnut could if I don’t keep track of my blood sugar right.”
“That’s kinda messed up,” Landon said, trying to defuse the situation. “Jack, I need a smoke.” He patted Jackson on the back. Begrudgingly Jackson stood, though without breaking eye contact. The two pushed through the doors and walked into the night. Landon fumbled with his jacket pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes. He offered one to Jackson before retrieving one for himself. He stuck out his index finger and willed a small flame into existence at the tip. He watched it dance for a moment before lighting up, “He’s right you know.”
Jackson scowled as he leaned down to the flame, “You too?”
“Don’t get me wrong I miss the old days. Mick too. But he isn’t wrong on this; we aren’t wanted. Hell, with luck they’ve forgotten about us.”
Jackson grunted in response. The two sat there in silence for what seemed like ages in the cool night air. They listened to the sounds of the city: the gunfire, shouts, and screams. The longer they stood there, the longer they listened, the more they felt powerless. “How can you say that,” Jackson said finally, “when you can hear the city in death throes?”
Landon sighed before taking a long drag. He exhaled slowly, watching the smoke slowly melt into the night’s air. “Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the city is still standing, even though we all stopped fighting those lunatics? What was it? Every other week some nut job showed up threatening to blow up this, destroy that, disintegrate someone? Usually the mayor. There hasn’t been any of that since we ‘retired’.” Another drag, “Like it or not, Jack, we were the root cause for that insanity. Yes, this city has fallen far. Farther than I could have ever imagined it would. But this is the world they decided to build for themselves.”
Jackson stood there, the ember from the cigarette glowing bright red before dying down, “I can’t let it go.”
“You need to, Jack. It’s going to drive you mad if you don’t,” Landon added, dropping his cigarette and grinding it under his foot. “Come on, let’s get back in there and finish that awful excuse for coffee.”
Landon left him there, standing in silence on the steps to the coffee shop. The city’s lights reflected off the clouds, giving the sky a green hue. He could sense the blight that infected the city: the gangs, prostitutes, drugs, murders. Jackson could feel it all in his bones, in his soul. He could feel the city crying out to be saved; terrified and alone, wondering why no one could hear its pleas for salvation.
Landon and Mick. They were right. The people of the city might not be asking for their help. They might not want it. They might not even remember who they were. But the city did; and he wouldn’t turn his back on it. He dropped his cigarette. As his foot came down, he looked up to the city’s sky line, “I can’t.”
And thus that concludes the first draft of “Doughnuts At Midnight”. Like I noted yesterday dialog really isn’t my strong suit, but I’m hoping it wasn’t especially bad. Though I’ll need to take another look when I’m not so damn tired.