Posts Tagged ‘#TS2019’

Tipsy Santa 2019

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Dec 20 2019

I don’t know if it was fatigue from National Novel Writing Month, the general busyness of the holiday season, or something else, but I had a lot of trouble coming up with something for this year’s Tipsy Santa Blog Hop, hosted by Ever Addams–even though the prompt of the writer’s choice of 1 of 4 alcoholic beverages is right up my alley.

Make sure to swing by her site to see the prompts, and in the comments below links to the other entries. Ultimately I decided to revisit a scene from the 34th episode of my super hero series, Maze Warrior, utilizing the Shochu and Baileys’ White Christmas cocktail in 744 words.

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS

The powerful percussion of Sig Sauer shots reverberates through the almost empty shooting range from the center two booths. John Alexandra is a tall steely man with the weight of experience, methodically firing tight clusters for high value. In the twenty years since Reiko Sugiyama last saw him, he’s grown heavier with a distinguished beard bearing most of the grey acquired by his red-brown hair. In the next booth, Reiko is the unstoppable force to his immovable object, just as cool and precise but acutely aware how little her appearance has changed since they were rookies. Both wear safety glasses and earmuffs.

“I was surprised how Inoue-sama has opened up to you.” Reiko observes in her clear confident voice. “He was always very secretive with us.”

As their targets cycle out, John frowns at Reiko’s higher score.  Both prepare their Sigs for the next round with practiced prowess.

“It’s not as open a relationship as you may think! And it took a lot of work to even get this far.”

Their fifth silhouettes for the session come out similarly close to perfect scores, but John edges Reiko out overall. Both reload and decock their pistols before holstering them—John under his leather jacket and Reiko under her suit jacket. She returns her safety gear to the wall of her booth, then takes a moment to tuck loose strands of her ebon hair back into her elegant bun.

“Good shooting, John-kun. You’re even better than I remembered.”

They meet after cleaning their booths. Even in her heels, Reiko looks up to see John’s pale green eyes.

“Beating me is no small accomplishment.” Reiko smiles, feeling John’s eyes on her lips.

“I didn’t beat you by enough to count; that could have gone either way.”

“We’ll have to try again some time then.”

“You still haven’t seen Yasunobu Inoue since coming to the states; shall we head over? He’s usually home.”

Reiko shakes her head too vigorously before containing her surge of terror. The great exorcist is the last person she wants to see.

“No! I mean, I trust your reports.”

John shrugs and pushes open the door to the silent snow dusted parking lot.

“There isn’t much else to do today. Unless you wanted to go out for dinner or something.”

Reiko loops an arm through John’s familiarly.

“Dinner would be magnificent.”

John extricates himself to open the passenger door of his sensible SUV for Reiko.

Twenty minutes later they sit opposite one another in a small crowded downtown sushi bar with frosted windows. They are a few plates into the evening, each with a creamy brown iced drink in a martini glass.

“Now, what did you say these were?” John laughs as he runs a finger up the glass stem.

“Shochu and Bailey’s White Christmas. It’s like a Japanese White Russian; you’ll like it.”

John raises his glass for an appraising sip.

“Moments like this, it’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of a battle for the future of the entire world.”

Reiko sips her own drink while watching John.

“It’s too much to think about all the time. Everyone needs a break sometimes.”

John aspirates his drink and quickly sets it down.

“Twenty years ago, it would have been me telling you that! Why the more relaxed attitude now?”

Reiko runs a finger lightly around the rim of her glass.

“I don’t want to leave this world with any regrets.”

“Rei-chan…”

Reiko smiles reassuringly. She didn’t come for sympathy.

“After the Dark Emperor has been handled, I’m going to retire.”

Reiko signals for another round of drinks. John laughs and pats his stomach.

“I hope you’re not trying to get me drunk. It won’t be as easy as it used to be.”

“Challenge accepted.”

Though alcohol no longer affects Reiko at all, John concedes the match with his faculties largely intact. They leave his car behind to walk to her hotel room at the evening’s end.

“Won’t you come in?” Reiko angles herself to show where the top buttons of her blouse are undone.

He looks like he’s been stabbed, lowering his head and shoulders with genuine regret.

“Rei-chan, I can’t…”

“I know…” It’s Reiko’s turn to concede as she touches the gold band on his left ring finger. “She’s a lucky woman.”

Why hadn’t Reiko crossed over when that demon impaled her? Why did she come back if this is all that waited for her? Did she deny death for work?