Ambrose stuffed the pillow into the Laundromat’s dryer, closed the door, and put in the coins. He didn’t believe in sleeping on fresh from the store pillows. They needed to be washed first.
He crouched by the dryer’s window and watched his pillow twirl up and down. One of his previous pillows had split in the dryer, jamming the lint trap with feathers. He had no intention of letting that happen to his new pillow. He was ready to dive into the dryer if this new one should show any signs of splitting.
“Hey! Look who’s here at the laundromat. Ambrose Smith.”
Ambrose startled up to his feet. He turned.
A short man with a five o’clock shadow, a dirty leather jacket, and dingy khaki pants stood behind him. He smelled very strongly of vanilla candle wax.
“Do I…” Ambrose gaped. “Benny?”
Ambrose hugged him. “But I thought you were dead!”
“Eh. Caten needs to hire better assassins. What you been up to? Still workin’ midnights for him?”
“No. We had a…Hm. A falling out, you might say.”
“Ah. Killed off your lover, huh?”
“How do you know that?”
Benny pulled out a toothpick and chewed on the end. “He had my Addeline staked. I got all steamed out at him. He fired me and I told people the same thing you told me. Caten and I had ‘a falling out’. It’s a whole lot easier than giving up all of those miserable details to everyone.”
Ambrose peeked into the window again. It still looked okay. “What are you doing now?
“Freelance stuff. You?”
“Eh, that’s too bad. A guy with your talents should put them to good use. Get some money and such.”
“Given my unique lifestyle situation—”
“Oh, that’s a good euphemism. Wish I had a solid reason to steal it.”
“—I can’t imagine anyone who’d want to hire me.”
“You could always try Caten again.”
“Oh, he would love it if I came crawling back to him. You can bet he’d save all of the worst jobs for me.”
“eh? So, it was a real bad falling out then.”
Ambrose shrugged. “I bit his wrist. Killed his personal servants.”
“Oh, yeah. It would be bottom of the splintery barrel jobs for you.”
Ambrose checked his pillow again.
“You could always check into another town.”
He looked back at him.
“As long as there’s extraordinary types like you out there, you can bet that there’s other Mark Caten types out there who are willing to make use of them.”
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
A dryer’s flat-toned buzzer went off.
Ambrose checked his pillow. It was still fluffing around in circles.
“Oh. That would be me.” Benny gave him a friendly pat on the back. “It’s good seeing you again.”
Ambrose smiled at him. “Same here. Stay out of trouble, Benny.”
“Who? Me? I never am in trouble. I’m always getting out of it. See ya.” He wandered over to his dryer and rescued his clothes.
Ambrose crouched and watched his pillow. His mind twirled with the possibilities.