Return from Normal (Chapter 2)

How the hell did I end up here?

Crow tugged angrily at the collar of the dusky red button-up he had squeezed his meaty arms into that morning.  He hadn't been surprised when they'd kept him waiting.  But it had been at least two hours since the pinch-faced receptionist had pointed to this bench against the wall and walked briskly away without waiting to see what he did.  He hadn't had much choice but to sit.  The heat here was intolerable.  He could feel the sweat building up against the back of his neck, plastering the damn shirt against his skin.  The fan above him swung itself around for another lazy turn, sending a wave of sweltering, stale air into his face.

I should just leave, he thought.  He could turn and walk down the brown tiled hall through the open door and never come back.  He knew how to make himself disappear.  Maybe he would go visit that young, long-legged shopkeeper he'd met in Columbia last summer.  It would be a nice break from all this.

He blew a frustrated breath out through his nose and tore at his top button.  Leaving wasn't really an option, he knew.  If he somehow made it out of the country, it would only be a matter of time before they found him again.  There was nowhere he could go that they did not know someone.  That knowledge used to comfort him.  Now he felt like he was suffocating under it.

Crow got up and began to pace the hallway.  He even put his hand on the brass doorknob and let it rest there.  But after a moment he sat back down, knowing that going in uninvited was not an option.  

He had done everything right.  There had been no contingency plan for this situation.  Five years ago he would have finished the man off right away, not left a lose end like this.  But they had balked at his brutish methods and lectured him endlessly on the value of human life.  So he'd tried it their way.

And now here he was.

He cracked his knuckles, seething.  Now was not the time to be questioning himself.  In this moment, more than any others, he would have to stand by--

The door beside him opened with a calmness that unnerved him.  A young, dark headed man nodded at him and then turned to go back inside.  Crow stood up to follow.

I will not be made to pay for their mistakes with my life, he thought angrily to himself.  But it was an anger driven by an undercurrent of panic.  He knew that if his life was what they asked of him, he was no longer in a position to say no.

The End

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