William walked outside of Cyan's apartment building and enjoyed the cool night air that greeted him. He did not enjoy, however, the repugnant and stale odors which accompanied it. He was not a city boy, and could not wait to be at home beneath the trees once again, with fresh air gently rustling the leaves. The world currently surrounding him was garish and bright, even when most of its population was asleep. He kept his head down as he strode down the sidewalk and turned into the store that Cyan had mentioned. A neon scar which stabbed at the night like a beacon of calamity. William winced as he walked in. The coolers were straight ahead, and water occupied at least three doors. He did not know how there could be so many kinds of water, as he was pretty sure there was only one kind. He found a bottle which claimed to bubble up from natural springs, so he grabbed two of them and walked to the counter, where some kid in an orange mohawk shared a Jolly Rancher with some ugly, tattooed girl who had never heard of shampoo, apparently. William placed the water on the counter by the cash register and placed the fifty just beside it. Grant's stern expression solemnly stared up at the flickering fluorescent tubes above.
William knew he would look like a complete foreigner if he asked something like, “Is this enough?” so he simply stood there and waited for the store employee to begin the transaction.
The store employee, for his part, stood there and stared blankly at the money, as if he had never before seen a fifty dollar bill in his life. William wondered if perhaps Cyan had stolen the wrong currency. He smiled apologetically and shrugged, “I'm sorry. It's all I have.”
Too much? Too little? Wrong country? He hoped the guy behind the counter would give him a break.
But the man never moved; didn't blink, didn't breathe. William wondered if people in this world were able to self-hypnotize. The only thing the man seemed capable of doing was sweating. He did that profusely. He was bald, and great streams of perspiration ran freely down his dark pate and into his bushy eyebrows.
But the man with the mohawk certainly moved quickly enough. He disentangled himself from the candy-eating wench and put his arm around William in a jovial manner. He smiled and said, “Nahhh, that's not all ya have, Sport.”
And just like that the glistening point of a stiletto eased itself against William's throat. Mohawk struggled to keep his salivation inside his mouth as he said, “But I'll be happy to help ya look.”
The woman, who didn't flinch when her man left her side for a quick and easy score, suddenly developed a sense of humor, and let out a wheezing cackle that was sure to make the crows scatter.