An oddity that didn’t fit into the No Man’s Land canon. I find it interesting how everything coils inside and then come out, current events and news and Twitter feeds and old stories and new stories…it might fit into a wider story, might not.
I glance at my watch. “Luk, time.”
One of them says something in a tone that doesn’t need translating, and gives me a sideways glance.
Luk smirks, and says something with an undertone of laughter. But before I can make any move, he’s swung back to me and pulled me away with an arm around my shoulders.
I let him walk me away; probably better not to leave blood all over the pavement. But I can’t resist asking, “What was that last comment?”
I hope he hears the edge to my voice, but he doesn’t look down. “Just a stupid joke, sunshine.”
“And you agreed with it.”
He does look down now, frowning, not comprehending. “What?”
“Something along the lines of ‘women, eh? Bunch of bitches! Nagging and whining.’ Yes?” I pull away from his arm and turn, feeling the anger in my chest mingle with an old, remembered feeling. Some people can’t change – or don’t, until they want to. “And you agreed with it. That’s what you think of me? A fucking nuisance that drags you places and nags?”
“You could have disagreed. You could have objected. You didn’t.”
He’s glaring at me, frustrated. “It was just a stupid comment-”
I spit at him, silencing him. And then I step up to him, nose to nose, even though I have to stand on the balls of my feet to be anywhere close. It’s enough. “Not to that man, it wasn’t.”
Luk flashes into his dark anger as I step away, an uncomprehending and bewildered anger that I know so well. “What the fuck is wrong with you? You’ve done similar, you’ve just agreed with a throwaway thing because you need people to like you and not try to kill you. I didn’t want to fight him. What the fuck did you expect me to do? I don’t think he took it as anything-”
I spin back and jab a finger at him. “You laughed. You didn’t object. You agreed.” I don’t know what he’s seeing in me, but it’s made him stop, condensing his anger back into his chest. “And every time he calls a woman a bitch, every time he gropes someone, every time he raises a hand to his girlfriend, it’s because you’ve told him he can. Because women are bitches, and everyone else agrees with him. Every time you nod and smile, it gets a little worse. It builds up. Because no one disagreed.” I turn and jam my hands into my pockets. “So fuck you, and fuck what you just bought into. I don’t need someone like you watching my back.”
“So what the hell do you want me to do?” he says to my back as I walk away. “Go back and beat him up?”
I turn, still walking backwards. “Next time, you’ll disagree. You’ll say you don’t think that. You’ll defend the woman you’re with, because that man sure as hell won’t respect her saying anything but he might listen to you. You’ll have a think about what your fucking attitude says to the people you hang around with, and what you think of their status. And you’ll apologise to me for implying I’m a nagging, whining bitch.”
“You know what?” he yells down the road after me. “You are! Fuck you, Ghost!”
I give him the finger and vanish. We’ve got a job to do? Well, good luck finding me now, you git.