Magnus Ford (the Clown)
Technically it was after hours, but Tia Evita, proprietor of the Little Havana restaurant, had one more customer to serve. She prepared the meal herself after sending the kitchen and wait staff home. There were now only three people in the restaurant; Evita, the boy who sweeps up after closing time, and the Clown. She marched the plate of Arroz Con Pollo to her bizarre customer and placed it in front of him.
"It looks delicious, Tia. Like always. Thank you so much."
"Don't mention it." Tia said flatly
Jennifer Gibson cursed herself. She should have run to a well lit public place with lots of people around, but she followed the lessons drilled into her by her paranoid, batshit crazy, survivalist father and went for cover. Now she was trapped at the end of a blind alley staring up at the tallest brick wall in the world.
Her father may have been insane, but he was insane on principle. The psychopath advancing on her armed with a crowbar was insanity in its rawest form. She determined not to be like the girls in horror movies who spent their last moments sobbing, screaming and begging. Jennifer stood firm and met her killers gaze as he approached. She wanted to sob and scream, but she did not.
“I swear I saw him.”
April Gardener rolled her eyes. She had several good reasons to keep Mike Bishop around, but brains and nerve were not among them. “You didn't see anything, idiot.”
“He was standing in the corner. I saw him.” Mike was carrying the lion's share of the take. He was a big boy and that helped him earn his keep.
“And I didn't.” April wished she had parked closer. She was afraid a car parked behind the pawn shop would attract attention, but they were in and out so quick that it would not have mattered.
“They say he walks through shadows. He's there one minute and gone the next. That's how he works.”
“There we go,” Magnus Ford said. “Back home safe and sound.”
Magnus was leading wild-eyed Scott Lane into the dorm room they shared.
“Let's not go back to that club, okay? It's a bit too exciting for my taste. Edgy is not always a good thing... apparently.”
Scott just stared.
“Are you thirsty? I bet you're thirsty. All that smoke in the air. Disgusting habit. You look thirsty. Here.” Magnus grabbed a sports drink from their dorm fridge and tossed it to Scott who made no effort to catch it. The bottle bounced off his chest, hit the floor and leaked a citrus colored trail as it rolled across their thrift store rug.
Scott just stared.
“Is he still here?”
Vinny Rio nodded as he held the car door for Salvatore “the Salamander” Zaffarano. Salvatore eyed his lieutenant as he exited the car.
“What the hell's wrong with you?”
“I'm fine,” Vinny said as he approached the large, block building, entered a code and opened the heavy steel door for his boss.
“You're not fine. You're a pussy. Is this still because the guy makes him self up like a clown? Jesus Christ, you're a grown man.”
Vinny flipped a switch and fluorescent lights blinked on down the length of the long utilitarian corridor. “It ain't make-up.”
“What ain't make-up?”
“Don't you care for brandy?” Mister Seven asked.
Magnus told himself it was just a dream, and he was sure it was, but somehow that gave him no comfort.
“Seriously?” Magnus said.
Magnus was in a Victorian study decorated with rich colors, dark wood and charming light fixtures that could not seem to pierce the gloom. Mister Seven sat across from him in a red upholstered chair, and a smoking jacket. The antique man-cave was inviting and cozy until you looked close and noticed that every object and every surface was composed of living insects. Occasionally a spider or scorpion would break character and scurry from one place to another, but otherwise the illusion was tight.
Chance is fickle by her very nature. Chance will keep you out of trouble or sink you, depending. Chance can put you in exactly the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the wrong time or… well, you know. The kicker is that there just isn’t any way to tell at any given moment, for any given set of circumstances, what chance is going to do. Unpredictability is the essence of chance.
Magnus Ford stirred but refused to open his eyes.
“Magnus. Wake up, sweetie.”
His head ached, and why was he so tired?
“Oh god, Magnus, please wake up.”
He complied, but it wasn't easy. It was like each eyelid weighed a ton. His vision was blurry, but he recognized Mom and Dad standing over him.
“Oh, thank god,” Mom said. “Thank god.”
“What... what's going on?”
“You were in an accident,” Dad said.
Magnus sat up in bed. It made his head pound. “Was anyone hurt?”
“Just you,” Mom said. She had to choke out the words.
“How's my car?”
“Don't worry about the car,” Dad said.