Sitting down in the the lounge, he took the table in the back corner. Upon sitting down in the chair in which commanded the best view of the room, Joakim wondered why he chose such a vantage point. The room was empty. Ambient jazz was chimed in from unseen speakers. An outdated, but lavish bar was displayed on the opposite side of the lounge. Yet, a bartender was not visible. Was he on break? Joakim pondered. There was nothing to observe.
Looking around the sparse scene, the level of vacancy began to come into focus. There was not a single dirty glass nor ruffled napkin. All of it was glowing in red from the dim lights. The horns, bass, and light drums strummed in, all mellowly played on from an LA studio, recorded 482 days prior. Joakim found himself staring out the window. He pictured the moonlit sky floating contently above the listless ocean. None of this could be seen through the cloudy port window. After being on a ship for… since he could remember, one imagined such vistas – reality not withstanding.
Stretching his neck away from the window, Joakim’s eyes settled on the White Russian sitting atop a coaster, that sat upon the table before him. It was the reason he came into the lounge. It was the silver bullet he craved after a long day of laying competition to waste. He brought the drink to his nose and took in the aroma. A smile crossed his lips. Sheep milk, he thought, and equal parts. A taste. A bigger smile. A furrow crossed his brow. For the first moment since his gaze met the rocks glass, Joakim realized he never ordered the drink. There was never anyone present to order it from.
Paranoia struck the frizzy-haired giant. Was this some ruse? A coup d’oeil was followed by a more careful view of the red light, the barrenness, the eerie temper. The jazz recorded more than a year prior began to talk to him, began to make his right foot itch, and eventually jump. A jolt of his foot hit an object below the table. It took an audible tumble, sounding out above the jazz that suddenly seemed oppressive on his being. His eyes jumped again. The same tired room was unchanged, regardless how many times he suspiciously surveyed the joint.
He slowly lowered his right hand down, all the while keeping his visual patrol. Fingers reached and prodded, eventually landing on a wooden object. Rolling the object toward a his hand, Joakim grasped it into his palm, brought it up to the table and next to his drink. Before him now laid a blue, nondescript, wooden box with a gold keyhole and a red-painted zero elegantly scripted on its top. Joakim’s eyes instinctively looked up at the lifeless room before returning back to the strange object. He tried opening the box. It was locked. He let out a sigh and took a drink from his perfectly prepared White Russian. Licking the liquid off his lips, his hands fell into the pockets of his seersucker suit jacket. A cold, metal object caught the attention of his left hand. He pulled out a blue key that had the same triangular shape of the box’ keyhole. He slid the key in and smoothly turned it to a click that resonated right along with the bass-line provided by 482 day-old jazz.
With that click, the box opened by some interior spring mechanism. In came the view of a folded-up piece of paper, and nothing else inhabiting the box. Joakim straightened out the paper, read its message, crumbled it up, and dropped the paper somewhere left of the box. He pursed his lips, before taking a beat and finishing his sheep milk White Russian. The scene was noncommittal and Joakim was sick of it. Slamming his rocks glass onto the tabletop, he rose up and left the dead lounge. He felt like breaking physics. He decided to retire to his cabin. He thought about where ronin may wander and when they would meet again.
The message on the disheveled paper read, “Mike Jimmy is no longer with us.”