I don’t know when I’m getting back to this. I do have the story in my head, though.
I was sitting in the best dive bar in ‘Vana, doing shots with the shade of Ernest Hemingway, when she walked through the door.
Was it the real Hemingway’s ghost? Damned if I know. It knew the books better than I did (not hard), spoke Elvish with an Old American accent, and drank like a fish. He was a cheap drunk, too. It didn’t matter what booze I poured in his shot glass, as long as it could burn. So… close enough, I guess. It wasn’t like I was planning to go write a book with him, even if it was the real Hemingway.
I lit another shot for Hemingway, then carefully poured another, much smaller one from my own bottle while I waited for her to come find me. No rotgut for me; Cuba makes the best rum in the Caribbean, and I had a permanent bottle of the best. I could afford it, thanks to the woman now looking for me.
Was I flattering myself? Well, no. Miss Serenity Mahota was one of Greater Hershey’s little commercial agents, ready for anything and far too good for this establishment. I was the most interesting thing in the Bota Élfica, and false modesty be damned. She wasn’t here for the drinks, and she definitely wasn’t here for the food, so she had to be here for me.
I didn’t even consider hiding. If Mahota was here on business, I might as well take the meeting now.
Mahota didn’t even scowl at Hemingway’s ghost. The single look she gave in his direction was enough to make him hurriedly drift down the bar a bit. “Ms. Deckard,” Mahota nodded at me as she settled into the now-vacant seat. “You are a surprisingly easy woman to find.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked as I waved for another glass. “I’m out of the business, and I settled up all my grudges before I left. If somebody from the old days wants to stop by and shoot the breeze, well. I got plenty of free time.” The bartender dropped another glass in front of me. “Whiskey,” I told him. “The good bottle.”
“Generous of you,” Mahota noted. She looked down, and poured a shot from Hemingway’s bottle into his shot glass, stared at it for a moment — then pushed both down in front of the ghost. “Although admittedly necessary.”
“Well, it’s Hershey’s money,” I told her grandly. “The least I can do is buy you a drink or two.”
“Actually, Ms. Deckard, it is your money.” She gave me one of her spare smiles. “I remember writing out a receipt. Certainly our old business was concluded, and concluded satisfactorily. There is no existing obligation between us.”
“Here we go,” I muttered. I gave her a looser grin (I wasn’t drunk, but I set a pretty good pace for myself when drinking) at her raised eyebrow. “You didn’t travel all the way across the Caribbean because you missed me” — dammit — “and, like you said, we don’t have any old business left to go over. So you’re here to conduct some new business.”