Ah, Edan! He is a beloved character, mostly because he’s trying to be a good guy, but can’t help being a bad one. He has his faults, sure, but finds companionship and something close to love in a dog named Mike.
An illusionist, Edan incorporates the brilliant Mike into his act, and although he finds unbridled success, Edan’s bridle of self-service is ultimately difficult to remove.
Will he choose for the greater good? Or only for himself? What about Mike? Is the fondness he has for him enough to change his perspective?
This excerpt catches up with Edan, Mike, and Edan’s friend Paul, fleeing through the streets of London after another game gone wrong.
Paul eased off the accelerator after a time, his heart slowing as the car did. He glanced at Edan, whose gaze was out the window, his thoughts still close to whoever followed him. Paul had known Edan for ages, friends since secondary school, they stayed close because of shared interests in magic, music, and craps tables. Now in their forties, Paul had settled down, but Edan, Edan was something else.
The rollercoaster started off innocently enough, visiting the betting shops to wager on their favorite football clubs, just a few quid here and there. It climbed to poker tables, horse racing, then to casinos, where the serious money lie. Paul still played for the thrill, but Edan, he made it his career. Winning was powerful, addictive. Only now Edan was plunging down the vertical track, seriously losing. And losing with someone else’s dosh.
Paul wanted to open a dialogue, find out just how deep Edan was, but the tension in the car and his own fear crawling around his neck stopped him cold. He kept checking the rear view, watching for trailing lights. They were alone.
Mike lay on the backseat, eyes opening and closing every few seconds, resting, but not sleeping. He felt the tension too, the hair on his back still slightly raised, his keen sense of hearing waiting for an unfamiliar sound. He stayed quiet, alert and aware. Ready.
From the passenger seat, Edan sighed heavily and shifted in his seat. Feeling the drop in the car’s speed, he knew Paul had relaxed a little, though he kept sneaking glances into all the car’s mirrors. Edan tried to diffuse the tensile strength intensified by the silence with each passing kilometer. “I know how this looks,” he began, “but it’s only how it looks, not how it is.” Paul stayed silent. “The thing is, I’m in over my head. I know that. And I just put you in the middle mate, and for that I’m sorry. Truth is though Paul, they’ve seen us together at the tables-“
Edan was cut off by the sudden jerk of the car to the left, towards the shoulder, before Paul slammed the brake to the floor. Inertia kept their bodies moving forward anyway, throwing Edan into the dash, Mike sliding off the seat in the back with a frightened yelp. “Jesus!” Edan screamed. Paul had braced himself for the maneuver and sat rigid in his seat, hands gripping the wheel, knuckles white, elbows locked, a lock of brown hair falling over his right eye. When he finally spoke, it was in a low hushed tone. Fury just beneath the surface.
“I have a family you wanker.” The words coming one by one, walking out of Paul’s mouth. If he let go of the wheel, he’d surely unleash the rage rolling in his gut and making its way to his throat. He abruptly opened the car door to lean out and vomit it to the ground. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand he pleaded, “Why, of all the low life people you know, did you call me? Why would you put my family in danger? Why?” his voice remained in control.
Edan rubbed his forehead where it had connected to the dash, eyes closed, weary. “Because I know I can count on you. Lowlifes don’t normally come to a bloke’s rescue. And they’re not after you Paul, they’re after me.”
“So why say what you did then? Like it was a threat, like I was part of your insanity, in it with you or something.”
“Paul, let’s just keep going. Let’s get back to your place and I can-“
“What, wait, Paul, be reasonable-“
“I said get out of my fucking car. Now.” Edan knew he meant it, he didn’t argue.
“C’mon Mike,” Edan called over his shoulder to the dog before reaching for his door handle.
“No.” Paul said, turning in Edan’s direction, meeting his eyes for the first time since they jolted to a stop. “I’ll take Mike with me. He’s not safe with you.”
“He’s my dog Paul.” Edan slid out of the car, opening the rear door and called again, “C’mon Mike.” But the dog wouldn’t budge. His beautiful blue eyes looking at Edan with something like disgust. Edan closed the rear door, leaving Mike inside. “Fine then. I’ll come for him tomorrow.”
“Shut your door.” Paul advised, never breaking his gaze from Edan as he complied, closing the passenger door with a gentle click. His hand was barely off the frame when Paul pushed the accelerator to the floor, peeling away from the shoulder, laying rubber and smoke down as Edan jumped out of the way.
“Fuck.” Edan said to no one. He started to walk.
Next week” Part Three!