“Yer brother?” Renard asked.
“Ninguem, none of that. There’s more important things at stake,” Izzy said standing up, and heading to the window to draw the curtains. She went to the bedside table and fished out a small pistol, almost an exact copy of Pablo’s. Renard’s eyes widened as Izzy aimed it at the door, at the window, in the closet.
“Perfecto,” she said, looking over at Renard, who looked doubtful.
“Where…” he said in awe.
“Black market. Do you really think they would let us over here with guns? You can pick up any good gun for a couple Euros if you have the right bargaining techniques and a few connections,” She said, winking impishly at Renard before aiming the pistol again. She hastily handed it over to him after she felt she had aimed it enough. He fumbled with it, dropping it with a clack onto the floor.
“Bonito! Be careful with that!” She warned. Renard grimaced, holding the gun like it was a snake.
“Just keep it with you,” Izzy said, scanning the windows again.
“Vamos Ricardo,” Izzy said impatiently as Renard blankly stared at his reflection in the pistol. She rummaged around in the closet for some time, before putting on another skirt, this time an indecently short black mini. This caught the attention of Renard away from the gun as he watched her hips swish back and forth around the apartment as she mumbled.
“Ricardo, you heard me no?” She said. He stood up to follow her.
“Where…” He asked, but Izzy cut him off.
“I need a drink. All we have is this merda wine of Marguerite’s…Vamos mi amor,” she said beckoning him to follow her out of the flat. He held up the gun with a pleading look.
“Sim, I forgot about that,” she said, taking the pistol from his hand and pulling him towards her by his belt, she forced the pistol into his pants until it was secure, then untucked his pressed shirt, and smoothed it out.
“Sim, sim,” she said approvingly, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.”
They sat in the cafe, Izzy causing her usual sort of scene, swearing and drinking and swishing about.
Izzy leaned on the counter where Renard was gaping out the open door.
“Bonito, what you looking at?” She said, peering over and resting her chin on his shoulder, “Working on your observation techniques, no?”
“It wood seem so,” he said, dragging himself away from the view. Izzy gulped down her glass of wine and ordered another. She laughed as Renard gave her a slight look of shock.
“Que?” She said, swirling the wine around playfully in the glass, “I have a stomach for it.” She drank the glass empty and called for another, and another. Before long, she was slumped over the counter, her long dark tangles of hair cascading over her.
“Bonito,” she mumbled, “I really really needed that.” She relaxed herself, and crumpled into Renard’s arms giggling uncontrollably. Renard tried to hold her up, but she was dead weight, dangling dangerously from his grip.
“Better take her home,” the waitor said with an impish grin.
“Hey, I can walk,” Izzy said in her defense, pulling herself up. She straightened her skirt, gathering her composure and did a few clumsy struts around the cafe floor, “See?” This was returned by a doubtful look from Renard.
“I doon’t think yoo…” he started.
“I am perfecto!” She cried out heading to the door. Renard stumbled after her, his new way of walking making it hard to catch up to her gazelle-like pace. She began to walk the sparsely crowded streets, humming the tune to a rapid salsa dance.
“Bonito, I want to go dancing!” She said, turning to Renard. He tried his hardest to lead her back to the apartment, she was in no condition to be roaming the streets, even with supervision and an unloaded gun.
“But…” he said.
“Sim, sim you’re right Bonito, its only the afternoon, the clubs aren’t open. Foda!” She turned back to the flat, stumbling in her high heeled shoes, leaning on Renard’s trembling shoulder for stability.
“Then we dance at home,” she decided.
Dancing consisted of wobbly, yet rhythmic steps on the part of Izzy while Renard just struggled to keep her upright. Nearly back to the relative safety of their building, and not quite to the new level of difficulty posed by the stairs, a gruff man came storming out.
He stopped directly in their path, staring heavily at Izzy. Rage rippled through his face. His gritted teeth ground together. Hurt upon indignation pumped up and down his arms. Renard swallowed hard.
“Oi, John,” Izzy slurred, her arm flailing up in what looked like an attempt at a rude gesture. Renard’s small dark eyes darted between the fuming man and Izzy, his hero’s charge. She knew this man. This man seemed likely to explode.
Before John could speak, Renard disentangled himself from Izzy and took a bold stance, “I will handull this.” Before he could say anything more dramatic, Izzy took a staggering step backwards and fell ingloriously on her backside. John made a step forward, his face softening, but Renard whipped out the gun.
Izzy watched the scene unfold in a whir from her newly appointed postion on the floor. John looked taken aback, Izzy nearly threw up, and Renard’s arms wobbled under the power that the weapon held.
“What…what are you doing with Pablo’s gun?” John said in a growl.
“Pablo’s gun?” Izzy said incredulously, sitting bolt upright, “How do you know Pablo?” John glanced around Renard and the still wobbling pistol in his grip.
“He is my partner, you insulent, stupid girl! And you have no right stealing his gun!” He shouted. Renard stepped forward, pushing John back. Izzy got to her feet.
“For your information bonito,” she said, stumbling her way to John, finger pointed accusingly, “Pablo nearly murdered me today! And this is not his gun!” She then took a step back to think about the growing situation, pacing back and forth while Renard kept John at bay. She then turned suddenly on her feet.
“You! Pablo! Holy Jesus, Marguerite…Pierre?” She cried out now realizing it wasnt only her who was in danger.
Completely lost, it was all Renard could do to keep the gun pointed in the general direction of this vitriolic man while Izzy unraveled the mystery. On the bright side though, he appreciated how ‘noir’ it all seemed. Dangerously, John caught him daydreaming.
“You dolt,” John sneered, “Do you even know how to use that?” The answer was an obvious ‘No’, but Renard wasn’t going to say that. It wasn’t loaded in any case.
“Bonito, show him you mean business,” Izzy teased. Was she mad? Had she forgotten it wasn’t loaded.
John made a dismissive noise and stepped to go around Renard to Izzy, “Come with me you half mad…” The gun, not being loaded, was nearly useless. Mostly out of reflex Renard reached across with his free hand and smacked John in the face.
“You…” Renard started to say.
“Son of a…” John yelled, stopped in his tracks, “I could…” But Renard didn’t let him finish. He dropped the gun and smacked him again, harder.
Renard yelled, “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it!”
John eventually overpowered Renard’s slaps, and brought him down with a single punch to the face. His body crashed to the floor. Izzy tried to make a run for the door, but was stopped short by the entrance of Pablo.
“I should have known it was you,” John growled.
“Bella, Bella, Bella, you thought you got away so easily?” Pablo said with a laugh. Izzy glared at him with contempt and took a step back. The men lunged for her, grasping her flailing arms and holding her down on the floor.
She struggled under the grips of the two men, but would not admit her defeat. She spit in each of their faces and smiled coyly.
“Dirty bastards!” she yelled.
Renard crawled silently from behind, still half concious, grasping desperately for the gun on the floor.
“Come now Bella,” Pablo said pulling her up, “We have someone you need to meet.”
A gun fired. Once, twice. The two men hit the floor. Izzy met Renard’s shocked expression.
“I guess it was loaded after all,” she said, stunned.
Izzy, no matter how brave and bossy she ever thought she was, had reduced to a crumpled heap, sobbing on the floor. John and Pablo had not been hit, merely reduced to scared heaps of trembling flesh. They had not expected the sudden gunshots, and were soon heading out the door and slipping away into the neighbourhood to avoid being seen.
A few of the neighbours had rushed down the stairs and a woman was offering to call the authorities, while trying to soothe Izzy. Izzy pushed them away, told them it was nothing, and they left, knowing better than to cause a fuss over an everyday occurrence in this neighbourhood.
She remained on the floor, stunned and scared. Forgetting everything around her, trying to comprehend the bigger picture. She tried to see through her tear streaked eyes but everything was a blur. She couldn’t find Renard anywhere, or the gun.
She wiped the wetness from her cheeks and called for Renard desperately. She didn’t want to be alone, not now, not after she knew who was after her.