Part 12:

Don’t Want to Keep Jethin Waiting

Tekole sat on the edge of the bed, staring both deeply and blankly at his knees. The room was dark, so dark in fact that he couldn’t actually see his knees. There was a lantern, but he was too lost in thought to light it. He had almost died! And the full gravity of that fact was just now starting to hit him.

Tekole’s melancholoy staring was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door, or at least it would have been if he had bothered to answer it, which he did not. But the door opened anyways, and Ladu entered.

“Hey kid,” the short man said with a simple wave, his sour malice from earlier now replaced with an awkward friendliness. “How you doing?”

“Fine,” replied Tekole. He looked up, now able to see slightly due to the light from the hallway. Ladu had his hands full, carrying in his arms Tekole’s statue atop a pile of black fabric. The albi walked past Tekole, moving to the dresser at the end of the room and placing the statue atop it. He stopped and stared at it.

“So,” he asked. “You a believer?”

“I mean, I guess,” Tekole stammered. “Probably not. My parents were, I think, but they never did faith stuff with me. Probably would’ve when I got older though.”

Ladu murmured lightly, forcing his way through the awkwardness, and sat down next to Tekole, placing the black clothes at the end of the bed as he did so. Tekole scooted away.

“Don’t worry,” said Ladu, shaking his head reassuringly. “I’m not gonna chomp you.”

“But you were going to shoot me.”

Ladu sighed. “True, but that was then. I wouldn’t shoot you now though. We’ve started bonding, see?” Tekole stared, both suspicious and confused. “Alright,” confessed Ladu. “I would still shoot you if I was told to, but I’m like this close to not being willing to do it.”

Tekole nodded. “Oh. Well, thank you.”

Ladu placed his fist on his shoulder. “Don’t mention it.”

Tekole quickly looked away, returning to silence, and Ladu sighed again. He had lived a rather violent life, but it was still the awkward silences that got him. “She’s fine, by the way,” he said.

Tekole looked back at him. “Who?”

Ladu tilted his head. “Kajulan.”

Tekole grabbed his head with both hands. “Oh crap!” he exclaimed. The two had been separated after they had agreed to join Jethin’s gang, or to do some job for him, or whatever the deal was he had bombastically offered. Tekole would’ve been worried about her, but he had been so busy contemplating his own mortality that he had completely forgotten about hers. “Is she okay?” he asked.

Ladu looked at him with an incredulous expression. “Yes, she’s still fine. She’s in the adjacent room, actually. You could go see her if you wanted to.”

“Oh,” said Tekole. “Alright then. I will.” He stood up, and immediately sat back down again. “Wait. Would that be weird?”

Ladu shrugged and stood up. “I don’t know.” He walked over to the foot of the bed, running his hand along the clothes folded there. “Found these for you, by the way. They should be long enough.” He kept walking, going to exit the room but stopping and turning in the doorway. “By the way,” he said. “You’ll want to be back in the lobby first thing in the morning. Maybe earlier. Because believe me, you don’t want to keep Jethin waiting.”