Funny how you just never know what’s really in a book until you crack it open and look inside. Bob was just like that. He was a gentle giant, a hard worker, a good husband, and a father. He’s going to need more than his strength alone to fix this situation.
Bob and I sat on the bench that was outside for employees, the wood creaking beneath Bob’s weight. I could feel the defeat in this man’s soul. I looked around, knowing this was my brother’s Zelus’s department. But he was nowhere to be seen. I rushed back into the shop to get a frosty glass of water and turned on the main coffee pots in case he needed a cup. When I returned to his side, he had his head in his hands and had slumped over.
“Bob,” I whispered. “I know a desperate man when I see one.”
“What am I going to do?” he said in Ukrainian as he looked over at me.
I completely understood him, and when I answered him in his native tongue, he cried. I was here now and would help him with whatever he needed. My wings opened and wrapped around him as he sobbed. He jumped a little but allowed me to comfort him.
Moments passed before he composed himself. He told me about his life growing up in Ukraine and how difficult it was for him and his family. He spoke of his parents and how hard they worked and made very little money to care for the five children. He told me how his growth was a blessing in disguise. He could play sports for school teams, and how he especially loved wrestling. Then he told about his beautiful Helena, his wife, and how much they loved each other, but things were rough. Then he met a man named Demetri, and he got him a job to be a bouncer for some rich guy’s club. It was good money, and he could move his wife and children to Greece to work for this man. One night there was an incident at the club, and Bob got into an altercation with a customer. The man was injured, and Bob spent some time in jail for assault.
I nodded in acknowledgment.
He looked over at me with solace eyes. “My lady, I have told no one this.”
“It’s alright, Bob. I thank you for your trust.”
“Of course, my lady. I have this job because of you.”
I sat there and listened to him. I watched him roll his shoulders, trying to get comfortable as he sat there telling me about his life. I knew I needed to grant this gentleman a giant victory.
“Bob, but what happened to you? Who were you fighting?”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “You noticed that?
“Hard not to, my friend.” I bumped his shoulder.
He laughed as he winced a bit. “To be honest with you, the bills were mounting up, and I went to my old boss back in October to borrow the money we needed for my son’s surgery. The loan came due, and I couldn’t repay it, so they sent some guys to ah…make a point.”
My blood boiled, causing my eyes to change colors. I looked away from him, closing my eyes and taking some calming breaths.
“My lady, are you alright?” Bob asked as he felt the surrounding space change. I got up and stood by the truck.
“Who?” I said through my clenched jaw. “Who sent them?”
“It’s alright, my lady. I owe what I owe. He holds my marker now.”
“What does that mean? He holds your marker?”
“He owns me.”
My eyes flashed red, and anger raged through me. I couldn’t abide anyone owning another mortal. I turned and punched a hole in the truck’s side. Bob jumped to his feet, his eyes wide. I stepped closer to him to offer reassurance. “It’s alright, Bob. Who holds this marker now? And how much do you owe this man?”
Bob shook a little as he revealed the name of the man that now held his life. I told him I would take care of it, and he needn’t worry. Knowing who this guy was that held the marker, I needed to call in a few winged favors.
I made a call to Sedrick, a politician I had once worked with. I told him I needed to track down the marker that was held against the Giant, as Bob was called by the ones that roughed him up. Sedrick pointed me to Natalia who ran the seedier side of town. She led me to The Red Circle. It was a small crime syndicate with a big name. Natalia arranged a meeting with the boss. My brother, sister, and I waited outside and listened to their conversations.
“Natasha, pryyemno vas bachyty. Chomu ty tut?” the boss asked the women in Ukrainian.
“Cut the bullshit, Boris. I’m here for the marker. The one you have on the Giant.”
“Whoa, whoa there, Natasha. What is this? You come to my restaurant and make demands?”
“I’m skipping the pleasantries because this marker is worth more to me right now.”
“What’s that?” he asked her.
“Boris, the marker has been called. You can sell it to me now or face the consequences on your own.”
Boris looked at her, confused. “You know, Natasha, you are not the only one who is looking for the marker. I have had three calls about this today. Why is this marker for a thug giant of such interest, I ask you?”
“I have a job for him.”
“Then why not borrow him? You know I can’t say no to you.”
“I wish to own him, not borrow.”
“No, you don’t see. I’m asking you politely.”
“No! You come here and demand. I don’t like demands.”
Natalia stood, and her two bodyguards stepped closer to her. “It’s your funeral, Boris.” She tosses a hundred thousand dollars on the table. “You are a man who likes to be paid. The marker is worth much less than what I have there. Think about it. You have three hours. Three hours, Boris,” she called out from the doorway.
I texted Natalia and thanked her.
Natalia: He will call around to see why I want the marker. Are you sure about this, My lady?
We remained just out of sight and continued to listen from the rooftop.
Boris was stunned. He called a person named Magdalena, and she confirmed that the marker had been called and needed to be paid.
“But who is behind Natasha’s call for it?” he asked her.
“I don’t know, but it’s big, and they have the muscle to take the marker if you don’t give it up.”
“Why should I?”
“Boris, if you want to incur the wrath of the gods, that’s up to you.”
“Wait a moment. You are saying that one of the gods wants this marker? Which one?” He sounded anxious.
“What does it matter? It’s a god that wants it. Boris, I would give them what they want without hesitation.”
“But why not come ask me themselves?”
“I like breathing. Don’t you? Give them what they want.”
“No! They want the marker, so they can come to me,” Boris said before he hung up.
A gust of wind blew into the restaurant. The speed of a deity rushed in, grabbing Boris and knocking out the bodyguards.
Zelus dangled Boris from the roof of the restaurant. “You dare deny a request from the gods?”
“Wait, please, please don’t drop me,” Boris pleaded.
“Your time is almost up, Boris. I recommend you change your mind. This is your only warning.” Zelus dropped him, but Bia held him inches from the ground using her telekinetic ability.
I came over and set him right side up. “Careful there, sir, you don’t want to anger the gods, now do you?” Boris shook his head no. “Excellent choice.” And with that, we were gone, but not far. We watched him from the building across the street.
Boris texted Natasha. “Fine, come pick up this marker. And tell them I’m sorry. Please, please tell them.” He wiped at his brow.
Natalia called me once she had the marker.
Thanking her, I went to see Bob at the hospital. He was there visiting his son and had just received the news that Petro was in remission. I knew the people in the billing department, and I paid all the bills. I also wrote a note that if anyone couldn’t pay, they had only to ask me. I tucked the marker in an envelope, picked up some balloons and other gift shop items, and then delivered it to Bob’s son’s room.
I popped outside to listen to their reaction to the gifts. Opening the note, he saw the marker.
My good friend,
It is done. You now hold your marker.
Keep this pendant as a reminder of this victorious day.
Goddess of Victory,
I flew away with a smile, knowing that my good friend the Giant would be alright now. I knew that the love of one’s family would make you do anything when you were desperate enough. I smiled to myself. I guess it’s a good thing he has a goddess as a friend.
I placed the last shield in the box and sealed it. I looked around and saw how empty it all seemed now. But I knew this move would be better for me…for all of us here at Dark Sparks.
My phone buzzed, and I smiled when I saw the caller ID..
“Hello, Mom. Yes, I needed to talk to you about something important.”