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Dinner and a Show

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It had been a long time since I had brought a girl home, any guest at all in general. Not that Opal was here for a social visit. The poor girl was going to try wandering the streets with a bounty on her head. Either she was going to be killed by some overenthusiastic thug or she was going to drop from pure exhaustion. I couldn’t let that happen. I mean, she was my big-ticket score, I couldn’t let something happen to my investment. I had already let her into my car why not my apartment?

“Don’t mind the mess.” I cautioned, as I unlocked the door to my place. I took off my jacket and draped it on the back of my kitchen chair. Shoving the chair to the wall so that the weight of the armor wouldn’t tip it over. “I’ll get dinner.”

“I’ll buy the food. I spotted a Zip Kabab up the street on the way over here. If I order it now it should be done as soon as I walk over there.” Opal offered.

I wrinkled my nose. “Save your money. If we wanted to eat garbage, we can get it off the street for free. Don’t worry about food. I’ll cook” I said as I strode to the kitchen.
She offered to help but I waved her off to shower.

As I dug some produce out of the fridge, I was happy that I had bought ingredients for my favorite meal, “Katleti” chicken and pork patties. Add in some buttered cabbage and pan-fried potatoes, and it was easily my best dish. I know it was childish to want to show off but who didn’t want to impress a cute girl when given the chance. Although, I paused as I was shredding the head of cabbage, Opal was more than a cute girl. She’d saved my life tonight. Somehow when this job took a turn south, she had talked a God down from reaping my soul. Just another impressive feat from the infamous Opal Yong-ae.

As the patties finished cooking, I ate my portions straight out of the pan and plated the rest onto the singular dish I owned. As I finished washing the dishes, I could hear the water shut off, the shower knob squeaking, signaling that Opal was getting out of the shower. As she was leaving my bedroom, I had to do a double take as I set her food in front of her. I was thankful I had eaten already, otherwise I would have choked at the sight of her. Dinner and a show I thought to myself.

At first glance she was wearing an oversized white t-shirt, shorts and white gym socks which wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary as sleepwear until you realize that the t-shirt was as thin as tissue. I leaned against the wall opposite Opal so I could look at her while she ate. The harsh fluorescent lights shining through the fabric exposing her body. Her slightly damp hair fell around her shoulders in a wave, making her look even tinier than she already was.

I was happy that she was focused on the food because I couldn’t stop letting my eyes wander over her. I had always noticed that Opal was pretty, but I had never gotten to drink her appearance so closely. My eyes couldn’t stop coming back to her hair. It looked soft, just asking to be brushed behind her ear.

“What is it?” Her voice cutting through my thoughts “Never seen someone vacuum up food like that before?” She joked.
I pressed my lips together feeling guilty for staring. “Actually, its your hair.” I admitted “I’ve never seen you wear it down before. I didn’t realize it was so long.”

“It is a bit out of control, isn’t it?” She said as she hurriedly tried to smooth it with her hands. I felt bad that I stumbled into a soft spot. I dropped my eyes and shrugged.

“I think it looks nice.” I said trying to salvage the situation.

“Thanks.” She said. We both fidgeted in the awkwardness.

“So…” I interrupted the silence. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” she said tilting back into the chair, better displaying her body. “I’m your guest. The least I can do is entertain.”

My eyebrows shot up. I wasn’t sure if she was proposing something lewd at me, but I had a gnawing curiosity that needed to know something, so I bowled over her innuendo.

“What happened to you?” I continued.

She went on to tell me how she was in debt to her dad. Not because of a loan shark or the mob, or because of an expensive drug habit. She was paying off her school loan. It would have been ridicules until she told me how it had been a ploy to escape her overbearing father. I knew something about running away from people who wanted to control you. I was impressed. She had come up with a scheme to free herself and now she was fighting to see it through to the end no matter what. Her drive to win was incredible and he couldn’t help wanting to cheer for her.

“At least this explains why you’re so gung-ho,” I said rubbing the back of my neck. “It was bothering me. The world is full of people who’ll do stupid things for money. Most of them live in the DFZ, but you don’t strike me as the ‘sell your mother’ type.”

She tried to dismiss that truth, but I pressed.

“There are two kinds of cleaners. The ones who do it for stuff and the ones who do it for the money.” I leaned in to look her pointedly in the face “And you’re a stuff cleaner.”

“And you’re a money cleaner.” She said accusingly.

“Absolutely.” I said not taking any offense. “It’s important to know what people want. That’s why I asked you what happened to you. I just had to be sure I knew what was driving you.”

“You're doing all this for money?” she asked as she tilted her head so she could look up at me with her big brown doe eyes.

“Why not?” I said sharply not to be deterred by her sweet face. “Money’s the reason people do most things.”

“Yeah, but not take a bullet.”

“Depends on the bullet.” I said stubbornly.

“Oh, come on!” She said exasperated. “You can’t spend your money if you’re dead.”

She’s got me there. Why was I going this far? It seemed like she was implying that I was doing this for her. I had an interest in her sure, but that couldn't have been the reason. I dismissed the thought and assured her that my body was built for these kinds of jobs and if I knew that there was a big score at the end of course I’m going to go for it. That seemed to satisfy her. It was settled, we were using each other. I shook her hand and breathed a sigh of relief; glad I hadn’t gotten the wrong idea about our partnership. I pulled a cot out of my closet and went to my car to grab my emergency sleeping bag to make the unpleasant cot comfier.

“Thank you so much for putting me up.” She said, beaming at me.

I shrugged. Not sure why a cot warrants so much of her appreciation.

“We’re business partners now. I need you alert and not exhausted.” I explained.

“It’s still very kind of you.”

“It’s nothing.” I mumbled.

I grabbed my gun of the card table and strode quickly into my room to avoid anymore of her mixed messages. I could feel my ears growing hot, her words making me uncomfortable.

“Knock if you need anything.” I said over my shoulder, not facing her, as I stood in the door frame. When she agreed. I closed my door and I threw my body onto the mattress on the floor, promising myself that I would shower when I woke up in the morning. As I lie face down in my mattress I began to relax, my body finally getting a chance to rest. My mind wandered back to think of Opal and of how she was confusing the hell out of me. I’m not the nice guy she kept making me out to be. Especially when I was filling away how she looked tonight in that t-shirt for a future fantasy.

“Kind.” I chuckled to myself as I felt myself drift to sleep.