The man across from Thendra was large, square, muscular, and had a surprisingly gentle smile. He’d sat down a moment ago, presumably the contact that Thendra was to make. “Hi, I’m Thendra,” she said, extending her hand to greet the stranger. With her free hand she touched the contents of her pocket. And with her mind, she held back every bit of the grin she felt.
“I’m Borge,” said the man in a resonant voice. He shook Thendra’s hand with a tough grip, but he was pretty gentle. At least for a such a big man. “He said you could help,” said Borge, revealing a grin filled with missing teeth. They were cleanly missing, surgically, not with meth or something of that sort. That was good. He was a truly gentle soul.
“Oh yes, I can help,” said Thendra. She waved a server over and ordered a gin and tonic for herself and a brandy for Borge. “I can very much help,” she said, rubbing the furry thing in her pocket. “But let’s wait for drinks to get to that.”
“Alright,” he said with a sheepish smile. He rubbed his hands together and tapped his feet, staring at the table. And the he hurried to say, “Thanks for seeing me. I know there’s, you know, a lot of people who’re asking for favours. Especially from someone like you.”
Thendra smiled her brilliant, saleswoman smile. “I care about people. It’s why I do what I do. Especially the people who’re down on their luck.” She really had to fight back her grin.
“Well, thanks,” said Borge.
He resumed his silence for a time, but Thendra preferred her “clients” to be comfortable. “Are you from town, Borge?” she asked.
“Heh. No, not many people like me from this town. I hadn’t even heard of it until, you know, he set me up with you.”
“I always seem to hear that,” she said with a laugh. “Do you think you’ll stay here when we’re done?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Probably at least a little while. See how things go. It’s… different.”
Thendra smiled. He really was perfect. Their drinks were set down. Borge sipped at his brandy, and Thendra downed her gin and tonic in a matter of seconds. “Ah, that’s better,” she said. Borge gave her a half hearted smile. “So, my, well let’s call him my agent, told me something of you. But… he’s always had different word choices. So, in your own words, why do you want my help?” She signaled to the server for another couple of drinks as Borge finished downing his brandy.
“Well,” he started awkwardly. “I used to think I had a good life. I was a bodybuilder. I had a wife, and a son. I loved them. But, you know, my life started with a lot of bullying. Lot of getting picked on for no good reason. And when… well when sickness took Marie, and her parents took Lucas… I realized just how bad things really were. And… I’ve been there for years. I barely see my boy. I spend most of my days at the cemetery hoping that Marie will answer my prayers. No one has, until he found me there.”
“Ah, yes. He lingers in graveyards a lot, at least that aspect of him. Brother dearest.”
“Yep. Myself, Thendra Luck, Death and its three aspects, Dream, Love, Lust, Hate, Fate, Fear, Grief, and Steve. We don’t talk much about Steve.”
“You’re the only one with a real name?”
“Apart from Steve, I’m the only one who likes going by a real name. The rest of them have dozens that everyone gives them, they just don’t use them. Well, not much.”
“Oh,” said Borge, and then he looked at the table again. Thendra knocked back part of her gin and tonic, and waited. She could tell there was something on Borge’s mind, and it was better to wait until he wanted to say it. “All these years…” he began.
“Yes?” asked Thendra innocently. She rubbed her rabbit’s foot and held back her little grin. Just waiting for the question.
Borge knocked back his second brandy. “Was it you who made my life this way?”
Thendra looked back at Borge and put on her best ‘it’s complicated and hard’ face. “It… was all of us. Fate and I played a part in your life directly. Death took Marie. Hate and fear drove your bullies after Fate and I made them pick you. Love made you choose Marie, after Lust started that job. And Dream… Dream did what Dream does.”
“Oh,” said Borge. In the corner of his eyes, a few tears welled.
“But, Borge, you’re in the town of Elders now. And… we don’t hate you. It wasn’t personal against you. It’s never personal against anyone. And now that you’ve suffered all this way, I want to help you.”
“You do?” asked Borge. His voice was fearful and hopeful and angry all at once. It was delicious to Thendra.
“I do.” Thendra pulled her rabbit’s foot out and put it on the table. “This is my idol. It was once my pet, but rabbits, as it happens, don’t live very long.” Borge reached out his hand to touch the foot, but Thendra snapped. “Don’t touch it.”
“Because no one wants that much luck. It gets exhausting without a little juxtaposition.”
“Then why are you showing it to me?”
“Because I’m going to use it. Do you have something, something you always carry with you? A necklace, or a ring?” She knew he did. But it was all part of the game.
“Both, kinda. I wear my wedding band around my neck,” he said, lifting it off.
It was so small and slender and sweet. So unbecoming on such a large brutish man. And so cute. “May I see it?” asked Thendra. Borge nodded and handed it to her. She rubbed the ring ever so faintly against the rabbit’s foot and then handed it back. “Carry this with you and never lose it.”
“Thank you,” said Borge. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re very welcome,” said Thendra. “It’s my honor to serve you, and I hope the rest of your life is happier.”
And with that, Borge nodded and walked off, wearing a necklace covered in the worst kind of luck one could have and thinking his life would be merry. Before she left, Thendra had one last gin and tonic, and then walked off into the night, rubbing her rabbit’s foot between her fingers and laughing through the town of the Elders.