Bookmaker, The
bronzed legs that still shone even in the dying light. She knew exactly what she was doing, and it worked.
    “Maintain yourself,” I thought, “she obviously has someone with little Tucker running around. But, no ring. Just play it cool.”
    We left Delotta, Corynne , and Tucker out on the porch, and Matador opened up the double doors leading to the foyer. Two arching stairways meeting on the second floor framed a statue of a woman in flowing robes—Greek I think—pouring an amphora of real running water down into her base. The sound of the cascading water echoed throughout the great hall. I followed Matador up the stairs and we made a left. I glanced right and saw endless doors on either side of the long hallway, passing the same on the left. I counted six doors on each side, all closed. We made it to the end of the hallway and were met by a set of closed double doors.

    Matador opened the door to Preston Walker’s office, and when he did , I couldn’t help but feel butterflies like I was being ushered into the principal’s office. His office was huge. It opened up into a living room area complete with black leather furniture beset by mahogany tables. On the right was a massive floor-to-ceiling stone fire place with a two-foot mantle jutting from its core, proudly displaying framed photos and important sundry items. Dominating the space above the mantle was a large round seal, like you’d see behind a judge in a courtroom. Inside the circle was a scene that looked biblical, like Moses parting the Red Sea, sending the pharaoh’s horseman to their watery doom. Outside the picture read the words “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” written around the circle. Next to the fireplace was a fully stocked bar made of the same mahogany as the tables. Opposite the bar were three ornate bookcases overflowing with thick, musty hardbacks, some with the deteriorated and well-worn majesty of books that had seen at least the turn of the century.
    Diaphanous crimson curtains allowed in only strands of the dying sunlight, casting a hazy glow throughout the room. In front of the window, a man sat at a desk with thick, elaborately cut column legs achingly holding up the gold-veined black marble surface—a work of art rather than a utilitarian piece of furniture.
    Beside the desk was a weasely little man in annoying spectacles and ebbing wisps of hair neatly plastered to his head. I assumed this to be Jimmy Ray Upshaw, Esquire, lawyer extraordinaire to the man seated behind the marble.
    “I believe you’ve already spoke with both of these men,” Matador said. “This here is the man that keeps our money green and our ass es outta prison.”
    I shook his hand.
    “Welcome,” Jimmy Ray said with a hint of disappointment.
    “And the silver-haired fox behind the desk is Preston Walker.”
    “Trent, it’s an honor and a pleasure,” Preston said, reaching his hand across the table but not getting up. “I can’t thank you enough for a coming all this way to pay us a visit. Please, please, have a seat, make yourself comfortable.” He turned to Matador and said, “Looky here, Matador, and such a handsome boy, if you can get past the get-up.”
    He couldn’t have been a day under seventy—grey-white hair hid the few scattered remains of the dark survivors. His sun-worn face reminded me of an aging Marlboro Man, his squinting blue eyes giving away nothing more than what he would allow.
    “Nice to meet you, thanks for having me,” I said nervously, settling into the soft leather desk chair.
    Preston scanned me over then turned to Jimmy Ray . “I hope you don’t mind. I thought we’d just get some of the business out of the way before we get you settled in. Is this okay with you?”
    “Sure, sure, it’s fine with me,” I said , already wanting out of the room.
    Jimmy Ray dropped a one-page contract in front of me. “This is simply a contract that states the arrangement between you and Mr. Walker for the task of

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