by Peter Davidson
"So you made it?" she said, with studied indifference.
The escalator carrying me towards her faltered. Beyond redemption, its fate like mine, assured.
She shrugged. I wanted to brush the hair from her face, hidden behind wind-blown golden strands. Instead she did it for me, removing her sunglasses. Blue, ice-cold eyes appraised me.
"As if I cared, Joe."
"My name's Stephos."
"You're just a Joe, get used to it."
"Yeah, dead man walking, right?"
Those blues rolled. Thirty years my junior, she treats me like some petulant kid.
"Skip the drama, you'll be protected."
"And what about Brandy?"
"Right. She's seventeen and you're what? 60?"
"59, and it don't mean nothin."
"Sure, Joe. She's got ambition. She's an actress. We both know she's just trying to climb out of the sewer, into the gutter."
"Like you, you mean."
Those blues never blinked.
"Just like me. Except I'm aiming for the heights. Listen, you're just a stepping stone, Joe. One I can easily skip. Forget Brandy if you want to live. Your choice."
I wanted to live.
"Protection and immunity; you get the books."
She smiled that famous cover-girl smile for the first time.
"You got it, Joe."
Ten years later, she's the State's youngest female Senator; favors need re-paying. The 'mob' never forgets a traitor.
Now the protection's removed, they'll come for me. Will my death eventually prove as fatal for her ambition, as that stone left unskipped proved for me?