Standing by the Reservoir
I do not own any of Quentin Tarantino's work, nor any of anyone else
Klaus Vermeer woke up with a stiff leg. It was the left leg, the one that had taken two bullets during the war, and it often bothered him in the morning. With a bit of walking around, he'd feel much better. Normally he felt so good he barely had a limp.
Vermeer stretched in the confines of his bed. He looked around the room: he was in his apartment building, and his bedroom, like the rest of the flat, was quite bare. Vermeer didn't want to have to pack much. He knew how important it was to be able to pack all your belongings into the back of your car and leave.
Vermeer sighed as he got up from his bed and headed for the bathroom to wash: he was getting way too old for this. It was only a matter of time before some fucking punk kid was gonna put a bullet through his brain, and he knew he ought to retire. He had just enough dough to live easy on, but he'd have liked to feel totally secure by earning a bit more.
There was no hot water in the bathroom that morning. Vermeer cursed to himself as he thought of giving the landlord a piece of his mind. Then he sighed, knowing that had he been ten years younger he would most certainly have gone down there and slapped the cheap bastard around just to chastise him. There was just no way to depend on provided comfort anymore.
Vermeer growled to himself as he combed his hair in the small mirror. He ought to go down south some time this year, for a permanent vacation. Cuba sounded great; but he wanted to go somewhere that he could stay content, be surrounded by people who talked English, and no fucking flatfoots to arrest you for breathing.
The phone suddenly rang in the other room. Vermeer froze, like a rabbit that's heard a sound nearby. Who knew where he was staying? He went over in his head who it could possibly be on the other line before cautiously heading over to the ringing phone.
He walked slowly, as if he expected something to come out of the phone. He wondered if the caller might give up soon, but no, the phone kept ringing.
"Jesus Christ," Vermeer breathed as he reached for the handle. He had to pick it up now: slowly he answered, "Who's this?"
"Finally, Vermeer, about fucking time you pick up."
Vermeer tried not to sigh with relief, "Hello, Joe."
Joe Cabot's rasping voice came in over the phone, "Vermeer, how you holding up?"
"As well as can be expected, since I've gotta keep my head down and all,' Vermeer replied. Joe was an old friend, a guy that Vermeer could always count on to help you out. Cabot and Vermeer had been in the infantry together, and had kept contact after the war. They had helped each other out when needed and when Cabot rose up the criminal ranks to be a boss, Vermeer put his loyalty behind Cabot when needed. In return, Cabot looked after him. It was a good friendship.
Vermeer smiled, "How's little Eddie doing?"
Cabot grunted, "Eddie? He ain't so little anymore, Klaus. You've been out of touch for a while now."
Vermeer dropped his voice to a lower tone, "Well, after that last escapade I wanted to get my head down nice and low so that nobody chased me."
"Hey, I knew that, I'm just saying you could have called up to let us know how you're doing,' Joe answered.
Vermeer paused. Joe didn't say this kind of stuff offhand. He wanted something. Vermeer put the phone tighter to his ear, "What's on your mind?"
Joe's voice sounded more quiet as he responded, "Come to my office tomorrow afternoon and you'll find out. But don't get followed, alright?"
Vermeer laughed, "Have I ever been? Just get somebody to pick me up in an anonymous car or something. I'll give you a rendezvous point and they can meet me there."
There was a hint of approval in Joe's voice as he spoke, "You're still sharp as when the fucking Japs came over the hill."
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Tommy Gallo slept in, as usual. It was a Saturday, after all.
So it was at nine o'clock in the morning, with the sun shining into the hotel room like crazy, that Gallo woke up.
Sighing, he gingerly got out of bed, not wanting to wake up Alice, a black girl around his own age, who was lying on her side with an arm around his waist.
He'd been dating Alice for two weeks. Last night had been their first night together at a hotel. Before, she had come over to his place, but they wanted to get a bigger bed for once. God, it had been fantastic. Alice was a positively beautiful girl, and Gallo had a feeling that she could be the one for him. He tried to shape up around her, cutting back a bit on his casual swearing, and trying not to take over the conversation, a little habit he was aware of and normally apathetic about.
Alice was waking up too, and Gallo leaned towards her and kissed her face, "Hey."
Alice sighed, "Hey."
Gallo went into the other room to get a drink. He would normally get a decent breakfast, but the goddamn hotel room didn't have a kitchen, and he didn't want to spend good money on crappy food.
Just as he filled up a glass of watered down Heineken, Gallo remembered suddenly what he had scheduled that day. He murmured in Alice's ear, "I gotta go. I've gotta go to my brother's wedding next week and I need a new suit." He got up and started for the bathroom.
Alice called after him, "So you're just gonna leave me here to clean up and pay for the room?" She sounded pissed off.
Gallo was glad to be able to correct her: he poked his head out around the door, "I paid for the room last night."
Alice was surprised, and mollified for the moment, Gallo saw with relief. He spoke again, "Listen, I'll meet you later today alright? I just need to get a new suit and then we can go to the movies or something."
Alice brightened, "At what time?"
Gallo thought about it, "Let's say one-thirty. What movie do you wanna see?"
Alice shrugged, "Doesn't matter."
Gallo nodded and turned back to look into the mirror as he applied gel to his hair. He had lied to Alice about the wedding: he didn't even have a goddamn brother, and it was going to be a bitch of a moment if she found out. Gallo wished he could have thought of something better than that. Now he'd have to make something up to go along with it. Maybe he could get Eddie to play his brother. That might work out; sure they looked nothing alike, but they had grown up together and would know stuff about each other that they could use to enforce the lie. Gallo felt bad about it, but it wouldn't be a whole lie: he did consider Eddie to be as good as his brother. Just like Joe was as good as his father.
He got dressed, and gave Alice one last kiss, "I'll see you later, okay?"
Alice gave another beautiful smile, "Sure."
With that, Gallo left the room.
He had to go see Joe Cabot about a special assignment.
Joe Cabot was a legend where he lived. He had been with Joe's son, Nice Guy Eddie, in High School, and the two of them had been good friends. At age nineteen, Gallo came to live with them after Gallo's parents finally divorced after a bitter marriage and because he didn't want to be with either of them, Gallo had gone to Eddie for a loan.
Joe had been nice about it, but had sternly reminded Gallo that he owed him, and would repay him somehow. Personally Gallo thought he sounded too Godfather-melodramatic but he agreed. He needed the money pretty badly.
After a while he found work in a video store. The pay wasn't the best, but Gallo thought the work was pretty decent. He had always been a fan of movies, and now had access to them on his breaks. It worked out great: he must have seen Salvador and Once Upon a Time in the West a thousand fucking times at least.
The other day, however, after all these years, Joe finally called Gallo up to talk business. He wanted to see him in his office the next day.
And so Gallo would come and pay off his debt at last.