Bad headache, but if I don’t work on this stupid thing, I worry that it’ll die of neglect. I promised one reader that this installment would be bloody, but I’ve rethought the timeline, so I don’t know how bloody it’ll get until I get there. And without further whining, The Black Kitten, Part 6:
Mr. Rich’s grand opening was a month later. It wasn’t much of a grand opening, and that was fine with me. For some reason, the whole enterprise was giving me the creeps. Part of it was the new suit. Correction: new suits. Greenaway made me three, and I don’t even want to think about what they cost. Part of it was the pay. Mr. Rich was paying me regularly, once a week, even though nothing had started yet. I basically just wandered around for a month and tried not to think about things, but mental discipline was never my strong point, so I thought a lot of bad thoughts.
The opening, like I just said, was not very grand. Mr. Rich seemed to think that being quiet and low-key was the way to go, “understated elegance” he called it. For being such a hard ass, he sure had a soft way with words. At any rate, the opening was scheduled for a Friday at the end of the month, and I had to be there, ready to do my thing, whatever that was going to be, by late in the afternoon so I could see to any last minute things before the doors opened at six o’clock.
During the month leading up to the opening, I had done more than just sit on my ass. I did have to go back down to Greenwich to pick up my suits, along with a ridiculous pile of shirts, a couple of ties, enough socks for a week and a half, and a pair of fancy shoes. This trip was mostly uneventful, except for one little thing that I’ll tell you about later. It was really tiny, but it turned out to help me in a big way later.
Mr. Rich did give me some idea about the kind of work I would be doing. He gave me a cell phone with one of those bluetooth headsets that clips to your ear. The headset was tiny, so I guessed that, like everythign else in this little game, it was expensive. Nothing but the best for Mr. Rich. He told me that I should keep the headset on while I was at work. He didn’t think I’d necessarily need to call him (I had to program the phone to respond to voice commands–if I said “boss” it would dial Mr. Rich), but the headset alone would be enought to warn off most trouble.
And that was my game. I was the guy to keep trouble at bay, or, better yet, crush it underfoot before it could run crazy. When the doors opened, I would sit at a small desk in a small alcove to the right of the door, where the guests wouldn’t see me right away (they would see the greeter first) but would soon get the idea that I was the establishment’s hardass. Every so often, I was to cruise the premises, inside and out, to make sure things were going well. I wondered about the surveillance cameras I saw earlier, and a couple of days before we opened, I saw a bank of small tv screens inside Mr. Rich’s office. He told me that he might need me to man the screens from time to time, and he showed me a little joystick thing that I could use to move the cameras and zoom in if I wanted.
All of this was fine, but more than a little boring. I wasn’t really looking forward to any fights, but the month before we opened was just so deadly dull I thought about starting something down at the tavern just for the hell of it. Then, a week before opening, Mr. Rich gave me a little gift that made it all real, and I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement that made the sweat break out all over my body. He gave me a little tool, a rod made out of some sort of machined metal–stainless steel ot titanium–with a chekcerboard texture cut into it, for grip, I guess. It was about six inches long and had two prongs about an inch long sticking out towards one end. It looked a little like the letter F. I could hold it in my fist so no one would see it, with the two prongs sticking out between my fingers. It was more versatile and more dangerous than brass knuckles, and I found out from a guy at the tavern that it’s called a ninja kubotan, and that made me feel even more badass.