Once he's bought, there's no going back.
No one would have thought a Sunday closing shift would have been so bare. The book store looked emptier than it usually did; even when its usual three customers came it at least looked somewhat alive. At least, that's what Slyv thought. Sylv had owned that book store for more than thirty years with seeing it rise in popularity, and fall faster than he could blink. Nowadays he would be lucky to see more than his usuals show up, but in those rare cases it was tourist wanting to know a way out of town or lone wanderers looking for a way to the closest coffee shop to enjoy something warm in such a cold city.
Sylv had inherited the bookstore from his father who first had the dream of making it a public place for people to sit and enjoy each other's company as they discussed their favorite novels. If only he could see it now, thought Sylv, as he cleaned the shelves for the fifth time that day. With little business, dust collected as though they were living things becoming a culture of their own, making cleaning the time killer for Sylv as he opened the store every day.
It had not always been just Sylv running the bookstore called Xander's books, which was named after the famous lost library of Alexander the Great. Sylv and his wife Grace had started the store together when his father had passed it down to him all those years ago, back when their marriage was still in its youthful bloom. Grace and him had loved every day of it, working day in and day out selling novels to all anxious readers wanting to know what was on the next page. They enjoyed working there more than they enjoyed spending time together alone. Which to Sylv is when all the problems started.
Sylv looked at the long hallways of the store all the way to the back; there were bookcases side by side with small spaces between every three for people to walk through as they looked for the genre or book they were searching for. It wasn't easy to see all the way to the back due to the dim lighting of the store. Sylv time and time again tried to find ways to make the store brighter, changing the bulbs, looking for ways to switch the wires in the circuit board, and even calling an electrician to come fix it. Yet nothing ever seemed to work to change the almost dark lit room that was Xander's. Maybe that's why customers are lacking more and more. “They can hardly see what the fuck they are picking up!” Sylv thought, exasperated by the theory.
After an hour of cleaning, Sylv locked the door to the front of the store and proceed to leave through the back. Sylv's house had only been down the street from Xander's, but Sylv had his nightly ritual to act out so he continued down the back alley of the store to the next street over.
Every night for the past few years, Sylv has dedicated himself to his ritual of closing the store at 8 PM and then walking the back alley to the building called "The Cards," A small casino run by the shiftiest, most secretive family in all of Tundra lake. To Sylv though, he didn't care about what goes on in the back rooms of the casino, as long as he could fulfill his "fix," as Grace called it.
As Sylv walked down the alley he thought of Grace, how she was when they first started out together. It seemed forever ago the first night they went to the local diner together to talk about little nothings that passed their time together as the sun set and the diner closed for the night. He sighed deep in thought about if only he made the decision to stop what they had there. For him, their marriage was not the worst thing to happen to him. He loved her truly, and would have done whatever he could to keep her close to him. With time, though, he learned it was harder and harder to keep everything together, as if he was trying to contain a pile of sand together with a strainer.
As Sylv walked he felt something wet fall down his cheek. “I'm not crying, am I?!” Startled by the thought of himself feeling bad about what was history. To his bitter joy it was a raindrop giving the alert that a storm was coming. Sylv looked up at the clouds that could hardly be seen with lack of sun light that was now setting in the west. Sylv laughed with the thought of how dim the lighting was outside like it had been in the store. “My whole world just seems to be dim,” he thought to himself with a small smile resting on his face. He continued walking down the alley towards the flashing light that was the casino on the opposite side of the street.
"Ahhh, my salvation," Sylv said to himself as he left the dark alley behind. But what lay behind him, still sitting, waiting in the dark alley, was the ending to what his salvation brought him. He couldn't hear him walking behind him because years of practice made him quiet. He didn't see him because he learned to join what was inside him. He didn't know that when he closed up the book shop, it would be the last time he did it.
As sylv walked across the street towards the casino, he realized that there were bouncers outside the door. Sylv gave them a questionable look because he had never seen security outside of the casino; they always stayed inside to keep an eye out for any card counters and cheaters. As he got to the door the security guards stopped him.
"Are you Sylvester Colt?" asked the bigger of the two guards. Sylv nodded his head in confirmation, and before he knew it the other guard grabbed his arm.
"What is the meaning of this?!" barked Sylv, but the guards ignored him and started dragging him to the back alley of the casino.
In the back alley of the casino waited what look like a small group of men in sharp business suits. As Sylv was being dragged towards them, he soon realized the shorter one of the few was the owner of the grand casino, Lucar Giovanni. Sylv started to get anxious, thinking, “What would the owner of the casino be doing waiting in the back alley of his own building?” The Guards stood Sylv up straight and facing the owner and what Sylv assumed was his henchmen.
Lucar eyed Sylv from head to toe with a curious look upon him that gave Sylv a feeling of dread as though he was being inspected for autopsy. Soon that wouldn't be so far from the truth.
"Mr. Colt, I would presume?" Lucar asked, but he wasn't looking at Sylv, he was looking at his guards, acting as though now Sylv wasn't even there. The guards both shook their heads in agreement and with a fluttering hand from Lucar they walked away back towards the entrance of the casino.
Lucar then darted his eyes back towards Sylv, who felt like he wished he just closed up the shop and went straight home today.
"Mr. Colt, do you mind if I call you Sylvester?" Lucar asked, looking like he wanted to strangle the man right there, not caring what he called him.
"Only my ex-wife calls me by Sylvester sir, you can call my Sylv," Sylv tried saying, but every word felt like a battle as he looked into the eyes of the short man in front of him. The man in general didn't look fearsome, or any of the sort. But the way the man held himself in stature and the way his eyes stabbed at you with every passing look left a shiver down your spine.
"Right... well Sylvester, it has been brought to my attention that a situation has occurred the last time you had visited my casino, which from what I hear with your little problem, was last night." Lucar looked at him with such assurance of being in control of the situation, holding fear over a man he had never even met before, that he sparked a small grin in the corner of his mouth. Sylv then realized what the man had been talking about and then started to come up with a way to get out of this.
"Ah, yes, well you see, sir, I have run into a bit of a financial situation. You see, my store isn't coming in with much business nowadays what with Kobos and—" Lucar lifted his hand in way of signaling Slyv to stop talking.
"Mr. Colt, it has also been brought to my attention that this isn't the first time this has happened; months without payment of the money you owe, spending what you don't have, can you see where that doesn't do very good business?" Lucar looked almost sincere when he asked, but Sylv knew this was just a ruse to put him in the corner.
"Now Mr. Colt, I am a patient man, but not even the most patient can accept this ridiculous situation time and time again! But I have brought you here to discuss what you can do for me to pay me the money you owe in full," Lucar says with a smile on his face; it doesn't come off menacing, it almost comes off as a smile you give a friend you haven't seen in a while. But Sylv knew better than to jump to conclusions in hoping of getting a way out of owing so much money.
"Sir if you can just give me a bit more time, I swear to you that I will have your money," Sylv says with a small sense of nervous to his tone. This makes Lucar's smile more into a vindictive grin, and before he can say anything else he starts laughing.
After getting a hold of himself Lucar looked at Sylv and said: "That won't be necessary my friend; you see, I hired a fellow who's an expert when it comes to these kinds of situations. Tell me, Sylvester, have you ever heard of a fellow named 'The Playing Card'?" Sylv shook in head in confusion. "Well you see, this man is something of an interesting being. A businessman, you could say, but not like the kind of business I work with. But with our sticky situation, I sought him out myself, asking him if he could assist us with our little problem, because from what I hear, there isn't a problem the man can't solve." Now Sylv looked at the short man with the feeling of tension filling the air. "You say we can solve this problem with due time, but the thing is with this gentleman, once he's been paid, there's no refunds." It then clicked into Sylv's head like a match in the dark what the short, malicious man meant.
"Sir, there's... there's no need for such a thing, please, it's never too late to call it off, I-I swear I'll have your money right away, please I beg of you!" Sylv started to yell, but only the few men and the shadows could hear him.
"Now that's where you are wrong my friend; since the minute you locked up shop tonight and started walking here, the man I hired has been following you every step of the way."
A chill then went down Sylv's neck, as though someone was breathing down it. Before he could say anything else, he felt a headache coming onto him and his world went black. The last thing he saw was the bastard Lucar smiling with his eyes filled with pure greed of man.
Three weeks later, the news released the first horrific murder in Tundra Lake in years. Police described it as something they have never seen before. If not for the small obvious evidence that tools were used, they would have thought it was an animal attack. The man had been identified as Sylvester Colt, owner of the bookstore, Xander’s. The man had been identified by the only finger print they could find of the man that was the remains of his thumb twenty feet away from the rest of the remains. Police did not go into details of the remnants of the body, but from what journalist could get out of them was that the man had been stripped of all internal organs, teeth, hair, and eyes. It's believed that the deceased had a gambling problem, and that he owed money to the local casino. Police have stated that they are looking into it, but everyone in Tundra Lake knows there's no touching the Giovannis.
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