The third bottle of alcohol is placed on the table, empty. The two partners’ glasses are almost brimful, but their faces show only a kind of frank indifference to the liquid before them.
"You know, my boy, we didn't even start this argument."
"We just continued it.” Manco takes a sip from his glass and winces slightly.
"Exactly. When we were asked to take part in a drinking competition, we refused because it was stupid and unreasonable." Douglas wants to finish his last glass as soon as possible and drinks half of it at once.
"Careful, you'll end up vomiting... You're older than me, old man, why should I explain this to you?"
"Because you're worried about me?"
"Because it would be stupid if you lost the bet not able to finish your last glass."
"How nice. Don't worry, my throat is used to a lot of things.” Douglas catches Manco's ambiguous look as he glances at him. Douglas's ear begins to itch, and he reaches for it with his right hand, after which Manco squints and looks into his glass.
"Your youth was a lot of fun then."
"Yes, I mentioned it at the beginning of our acquaintance. My sister sometimes found me in very strange situations."
Douglas knows why Manco was looking at him that way a minute ago, or rather why Manco has been looking at him that way from the very beginning. It was because of this knowledge that Douglas decided to openly trust him in the pursuit of Indio.
The boy was smitten with him.
And perhaps Douglas would burn in hell for not letting the boy get away from him, converting his emotions and feelings for Douglas to a more neutral and friendly mood.
Every time the boy shows restraint in an emotional display of interest in him Douglas provokes him again and again. And gradually these provocations become increasingly dangerous. Movements, intonations, restrained and attractive poses, and now verbal provocations to sinful thoughts.
Given the hot temper of Manco – he keeps a tight reign on himself. All he does is surround Douglas with himself, ceases to be shy about admiring him, keeps an eye on everyone around him, and the other day when a barmaid approached Douglas, he took him to a completely different place. At the time, Douglas only wanted to get information, but since then he has decided not to embarrass Manco and has categorically refused to flirt with others, especially if Manco is in the same room with him.
Douglas thinks about this as he shakes the liquid in his glass. Does he really want to show his availability to Manco as a man?
Douglas becomes ashamed of himself, and it's obvious to him that this is reflected in his posture because Manco still hasn't asked a legitimate question after his last statement.
Meanwhile Manko quietly drinks alcohol and also thinks about something, perhaps having reaching a conclusion that Douglas was feeling bad from the memories of his sister. He always becomes modest when it comes to mourning.
This only makes Douglas more ashamed. His partner worries about him, and he thinks about whether he should or shouldn't cross the line from innuendo to seduction.
"Did your sister know much about you?" Manco's question is strange, and it seems that his awkwardness goes in a different direction than usual, and the fake bravado in the intonation is obvious.
"She knew everything. It was the right thing to do. I had seen girls from other families who didn't understand anything in life because they weren't told anything, and made mistakes that ruined their future lives."
"Commendable. What was the most important lesson that you taught her?"
"How to choose men," Douglas says blithely, but then takes another sip from his glass. Now he doesn't feel guilty; he thought about not raising the issue in the end, but Manco himself asked him a convenient question. "The young man she left this world with was a kind, handsome, blond lad who grew up on a farm and knew how to take responsibility. She was going to propose to him that same day. It was a wedding watch.”
Manco, most likely, feels awkward, only an idiot would not draw parallels, and so he tries to laugh it off, but Douglas hears in his phrase his real thoughts: "Well, you have a common taste, I hope there is no reason to be disappointed in your choices."
Manco puts his lips to the glass, which contains only a small amount liquid at the bottom now, apparently not noticing that he has finished everything.
"I've never regretted it, my boy."
Douglas sees the concentration on Manco's face and the way he rubs the glass with his finger, feeling a tension that he doesn't know how to express.
"And in what curious situations did she find you that she formed such a good taste for men?" Douglas may be scoffing at Manco's question, which is obviously starting to turn into the exploration of Douglas's sexuality.
If the boy wants to know, it isn’t a sin to answer honestly.
"One day she found me in the company of a colleague of mine and..."
Two shots and a scream sound outside the window.
Douglas reacts instantly, he gets up and goes to the window. He sees a familiar silhouette of a bearded, large man from a picture on the reward poster.
"This is the one we've been waiting for."
Douglas turns to Manco, who has also decided to go to the window... Or to Douglas?
They’re standing very close.
"We are in no hurry, Colonel."
Douglas is well aware of the fact that two thousand dollars do not mean all that much to Manco, given the amount of their joint earnings, which has increased substantially after the start of cooperation. Especially when compared to the topic that interests him now.