AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Three Word Wednesday and it contains no spoilers. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday for more fun.
As a child, he had longed for a secret identity. Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Bruce Wayne had all had them. What would his be if he had the chance?
Pre-pandemic life had allowed for nothing more dramatic than a video game avatar, and what kind of dual identity was that? Now, though, with the grownups dead and civilization collapsed, sixteen year-old Tom Meyers could live out his fantasy. He had become Cuervo, the crow, alleged part-time member of the Pharm gang and hoarder of tequila.
The rumors he inspired would've been funny if life hadn't become so deadly serious.
Tonight's visitor to his warehouse loft was a pretty Asian girl. If not for her weird necklace made from the lenses of shattered traffic lights, Cuervo might have imagined himself in a noir movie; the suave detective offered an assignment by a mysterious and potentially dangerous beauty.
"I need your help," she said, just like in the movies.
Cuervo affected a blasé air and lifted a glass of phony tequila. "Go on."
She shook her head, and her long earrings of broken glass danced in the light of the candles. "First I have to know how close you really are to the Pharms. I've heard—"
"That you're not really with them. I've heard you're friendly with them, but not an official member of their gang. Is that true?"
He set the glass on the table and sat up. The girl seemed sincere, and he was familiar with her shop, where she traded art and hand-made jewelry for food. It was a gutsy thing to do - going it alone in a world gone mad. If nothing else, he admired her courage, but there was a small matter that troubled him. "You should know the answer to that question, since you're pretty close to them, yourself. You manufacture simple pharmaceuticals for them; menthol, aspirin and the like."
May hung her head, acknowledging that this was true. "It's just for protection so I can get my art business off the ground. I have other loyalties."
Cuervo grinned. He admired fellow mercenaries. "I do too." He scooted over on the sofa and patted the space beside him. "Want to come over here and talk about them?"
"This isn't that kind of offer." May moved toward the door, but didn't flee. "I just want to know whose side you're on, because if you want to see the Pharms done away with, I've got an assignment that's right up your alley."
Cuervo sucked in his breath. This wasn't the sort of offer he had expected, even after all this verbal sparring and volleying. How could he, plain old Tom Meyers, do away with the most powerful gang in the city? With a silent smirk he remembered he was Cuervo now: mysterious and powerful. "I have no love for the Pharms, honey." He picked up a glass identical to his own and filled it with real tequila. "How about a toast," he offered as he handed it to her. "To a mutually beneficial relationship."
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