Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 13

The kitchen area was nice enough. In fact, really…it was beyond nice. Everything was metal, stainless steel, not bar-steel, but…modified to be the best. Coyote hopped up onto one of the stools around the breakfast bar; the counter top was a peach-marble shade, a light tone of autumn. It was glowing, dimly illuminated from within. The entire kitchen area was lit – by hurricane sconces of the same color; they lined the cabinets of the place, which were a charcoal, darker marble material. The place was incredible. Con stood, at Coyote’s left side, as Kev, Kaede, and Ric filed into the place, and he planted his arms, folding his hands, upon the lit marble. He smiled at Coyote as the Puerto Rican cased the entire place.

Art by Dcat

“Most of it’s tied down, Cee,” Con smiled. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Coyote chuckled, and by the way he was posturing, running his palms along the marble, Con knew Coyote was fiending for a cigarette. “I just…I can’t believe any of this. I can’t believe it. Where would I take it, if I could steal it? Huh? I just…I don’t need this kind of shit. [Holy Christ]. I just don’t…”

Then, Coyote stopped, as if he had suddenly remembered something ridiculously important that he should have accounted for earlier. He just…stared, as Kevin ran his hands along the sleek, reflective surface of the counter top. Kevin looked critically at the ‘thief’, and grimaced lightly. Ric was at his back, and bore the same somberness that he did, but remained silent. Kaede leaned with superior grace upon the opposite counter top, as she observed.

“You remembered…about your girl, Coyot’. Right?”

Con flexed with surprise. He couldn’t believe it…but he actually hadn’t considered…

“Easy, Coyote,” Ric said. “[I realize…how you must feel, but we don’t know -]”

“No, I know,” Coyote said, running his fingers through his hair as if the tips could cut his scalp. “I fucking know, Ric. Forty years. Right? Forty fucking…years?!” Coyote was instantly livid. Frustrated. It was understandable.

“Coyote,” Con offered. “She…I don’t know. She might be okay. I mean…she might be. She was at…the house.”

That’s what I’m fucking talking about, Con! Of course she was at the house! That’s why she’s probably fucking dead! Alright?! Comprende?!”

Con said nothing. He kind of ‘looked’ down. But he remained silent. Coyote relented then; he hopped down off of his bar stool, and stood beside the teen, put his hand upon Con’s shoulder, and pulled him forward a bit, so they were face to face. Con didn’t ‘look’ up, didn’t respond outright. Coyote knew then that he’d been too sharp with him, too soon. All of this was too much to handle, every bit of the situation jagged and cruel. Coyote knew Con had no need for compound stress. It had been an unfair outburst. Kaede met Coyote’s eyes, and he apologized to her, wordlessly, for the upset. She nodded, and her gaze fell to the floor. Coyote realized she was only thinking upon the subject, and not dismissing the issue. The girl spoke little, but portrayed much with body language, and the open window to her emotions that her face often was.

Kev and Mask remained silent as a unit, and stood by.

“Con,” Coyote said quietly. “[Forgive me. That wasn’t fair. Forgive me.]”

At this, Con finally did raise his ‘gaze’ to Coyote. Coyote could feel Con’s brow furrowed beneath his bandana, and it incised him to no end. There were few Coyote had ever even considered teaching his trade to, his life to. Con was one of those few. This was hard on him, and the kid didn’t deserve, in all his usually care-free energy, to be filed down by misdirected rage. He simply didn’t deserve it.

“[I know,] Con spoke in Spanish to his most influential mentor. “[This is hard on you. I know that. But you can’t gun me down now. Not now. When…I’ve already-]” Con lowered his head again, unable to continue. Coyote nodded his head, and squeezed Con’s shoulder once more. Then Con did speak, continuing. “[And I always forgive you. Always.]”

Coyote nodded again. Then, he addressed Ric, as Con took a moment to recover fully.

“I’m sure,” Ric said. “Sam is alright.”

“She goddamned better be,” Kaede answered without provocation. Kevin smiled kindly at her, only mildly surprised. Then Kaede looked sheepish in her elective spotlight. “I mean…she shopped me the best drugs of my life. C’mon. She’d…better be.” Kevin’s smile widened. “Shut the fuck up, Kev,” Kaede said, line of vision still gracing the floor. Then Kevin was at her side, and stroked the back of her hair. Kaede’s face flushed, and she nodded at his support.

Art by Dcat

“It’s not like the girl,” Kev said. “To give up. Now, is it?”

All in the room were silent. Then, Ric spoke.

“Giving up isn’t really the issue, now is it, Kev?” Silence.

“However,” Ric continued. “This issue hasn’t yet been addressed by our host, now has it? I believe there may yet be hope. Even if it is the kind of hope that brings only…closure.”

Coyote looked with resonance, to Mask, and the full-bore gaze was met with kindness. Purpose.

“[She deserves so much more than closure, Enrique],” Coyote responded earnestly.

“As do we all,” Ric offered. A deeper silence resonated.

“Okay,” Kaede said quietly. “Who wants to take full advantage of the knife set and the liquor cabinet?”

Kevin lit up, and Kaede did the same, only slightly dulled, as she met his eyes; Kev continued smoothing out her jet black hair, with deep affection. “Let me guess,” she said, undisturbed. “ You’re after the liquor.”

“No doubt, love,” Kevin smiled. Then Con chuckled under his breath. He seemed to feel better, and nodded to Coyote in response to a concerned glance.

“Save the 151, alright?,” Con said. “It’ll be needed…and technically…it isn’t stealing if it’s offered.”

Coyote smirked, tension still affixed to his face.

“You have a point, muchacho,” Ric said. “However, I think we should save the alcohol for later, when it’s warranted. What do you think?”

“I think you’re full of shit, Ric,” Con answered, chuckling.

“I second that,” Coyote responded. At this, the Mexican juggernaut conceded.

“Well, fine then. How is the tequila selection?”

“Is Oro Azul acceptable?,” Kaede asked, already handling the bottle daintily, in her sweat attire.

“Fuck, yes,” Con answered for him.

Again, Coyote squeezed Con by the shoulder in approval. Knowledge of higher grades of tequila was a definite ‘in’ among the status quo here. There was an entire Smith sub-culture of alcohol in existence; suddenly, Con had brought that culture into the…whatever century this was. It was a sensitive subject.

“Sold,” Mask said, meaning it. There were nods all around. Then, Coyote wore a look of hesitation.

“If I don’t get a straight answer about Sam,” he said. “There’ll be fucking murders.”

“And, we will assist you in those murders, amigo,” Mask said with little to do. Nods were unnecessary. They were simply implied. “Comprende?,” Ric asked.

“Comprende,” Coyote answered, relieved. 

And the group was in consensus as Kaede held the ornate Azul bottle, and combed over the cabinets for the appropriate glasses, strong porcelain fingers clutching the sturdy neck of the liquor.