This is the first installment in a weekly fiction series edited together from my vicarious adventures in play-by-email role-playing games. These stories are NOT CHILD-FRIENDLY. There is violence and adult subject matter and bad language. They’re not for the faint of heart or the easily offended or people who faint at the sight of literary bloodshed. Consider yourself warned.

I think the most challenging part for me will be to break the stories up into bite-size chunks and still make sure something relatively interesting happens in each week’s installment. We’ll see how that works out; some creative editing might be necessary.

This first segment is just introductory stuff. The setting and all the characters except for Casey were written by the GM, Aron. Casey’s dialogue and actions were written by me. Future chapters will include other players’ characters, and I’ll list writing credits as needed.

So without further ado, I give you the Perils of Casey Gavin. Enjoy!

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[Austin, Texas, 1995]

“You’re so hot, you’d make the devil sweat!”

One of the downsides of being a lady bartender Casey Gavin had found is that you became a target for every horny bastard in the place. At first it’s flattering and an ego boost. But after awhile you realized that it had a lot more to do with the booze than it did with your charm and personality.

Particularly if you could read minds. Randy men broadcast their intent…she’d often wondered how people failed to hear what she could discern so plainly. There was nothing flattering or beautiful about being the object of their lust.

shinerbockramThe frat guy flashed a lascivious smile as he accepted his beer from her, returning to his friends. She turned to mix martinis for the two women sitting across from her, both well-dressed urban professionals.

Casey liked The Longhorn. It was a nice neighborhood bar. She could probably have made better tips at the Nite’s Edge or one of the other cool, Sixth Street bars, but The Longhorn had a nice, friendly feel to it. Nite’s Edge and those other places were cold and loud. Lots of the folks here were like family.

“Good evening, Casey.” Mr. Falco sidled up to his usual place at the bar. He was a fine looking man. He had to be in his late thirties or so. He had the look of a fellow who spent a lot of time in the gym. He was well-groomed, too. He peeled off his overcoat, laying it on the barstool beside him. He wore a dark grey business suit with a snazzy red silk tie, made all the more dramatic by his stark white shirt. His brown hair was worn stylish and short. “My usual, please.”

“Hi, Mr. Falco,” she said cheerfully in her rural Texas drawl. “Coming right up.” She set a thin cardboard coaster on the bar and a whiskey glass atop that, and pours out a generous amount of Chivas Regal, his preferred brand of scotch.

He kicked back half the glass, and then smiled. “Makes a body good.” He looked up at the TV, his eyes following the news text crawling beneath video of some golfer.

One of the things that she found so fascinating about Mr. Falco is that she could not read him. He didn’t broadcast at all. This was not at all beyond her experience. Some people were naturally closed-off, but they were rare. These were the people that intrigued a telepath…

He smiled in her direction, “How’s your day?”

She gave him a sunny smile in return, hoping to draw him into conversation. “Oh, you know…the pageant of humanity in all its colorful glory. How about yours?”

scotch glassHe swirled the scotch in his glass, “Just your average day… Little of this, little of that.” He drained the remainder of his glass, setting it down before Casey. “Been a busy day,” he said. “Getting busier all the time, you know the drill, right? I can’t remember the last time I got more than four hours of sleep at any one time. Just like a monkey, y’know? Too much crap, not enough time?”

“I know just what you mean, Mr. Falco.” She replaced his glass with a clean one, and filled it again with scotch. “Some days it feels like someone left the universe stuck on ‘fast forward.’”

“You’re too young to feel that way, Casey.”

She grinned. “Just too far from home. Things moved along a lot slower back there; I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the big hurry this city’s always in.”

He chuckled, “When I was your age… I felt like I had all the time in the world. Of course…” He winked, “I still do.”

“You’re one of the lucky few, then,” she said cheerfully, wiping down a section of bar with a damp cloth.

“Where are you from?” Then he held his hand up, stopping her. “Wait. Let me guess… I’m good at this kind of thing… from your accent…” He tilted his head, “…I would say you grew up amidst the post oak savannas, the broad valleys, and the high rolling prairies of Montague County. Right?”

Her astonishment was plain on her face. “You ARE good! My family has a ranch outside of Niblock, that’s where I grew up. Quarter Horses and Red Angus cattle. Not much resemblance to Austin, I can tell you.”

20080526-ChivasRegalHe nodded. “Pretty country. I particularly enjoy driving through there in the spring. Wildflowers as far as you can see. Reminiscent of the Elysian Fields…” He winked, tapping his empty glass.

She served him a fresh scotch. “Where’s that?”

“Faaar away from here,” He quirked a smile, laughing at a joke that only he got.

“I know what you mean,” she laughed. “Sometimes home seems like a million miles away, doesn’t it?”

“Pfah!” He said, dismissing her comment. “Home is a fluid concept. It is where you want it to be.” He raised his glass to her, “Life’s too short to be homesick.” He knocked back the remainder of his scotch, then slid the glass back to her.

Another clean glass, another refill of Chivas Regal. “I suppose that’s true,” she smiled.

He sipped at his drink, eyes flicking up to the TV screen. He glanced at his watch, then turned, checking the door as a two men enter. Casey had never seen them before. One was clad in jeans and a UT sweatshirt. He was a big, brawny fellow. The other was smaller, skinny. This one wore khakis and a pullover purple sweater.

Falco’s eyes flicked to Casey and then to his now-empty glass.

This time she hesitated. He didn’t seem to be feeling the effects of all that alcohol, but it had to be adding up by now. “Are you driving tonight, Mr. Falco?” she asked in a friendly tone.

He provided a crooked smile, “Nope. Why ride when you can walk?” He tapped the glass, “Don’t be stingy now.”

She looked him over carefully. After that much alcohol his mind should have been an open–if somewhat soggy–book, but he was as closed off as ever, and to all appearances still cold sober. She poured him another drink.

“Thank you, Casey.” He smiled, sipping at the scotch.

The newcomers took a seat at one of the tables, and Julie, one of the waitresses came up to take their order. Casey could see them laughing and joking with her.

She noted a frown on Falco’s face as he watched the TV behind the bar. She followed his gaze, but the golf game and stock headlines crawling underneath offered few clues to the frown. Damn inconvenient, not being able to read this fellow. “Who’s winning?”

“Hmmn?” He looked back at her. “Oh. The IRS, I suspect.”

The stock report, then. She knew better than to ask him about his finances, so she just nodded sympathetically. “Isn’t that the truth!”

He only nodded, eyes focused on the television.

“Casey!” A balding fellow in his fifties greeted her as he sidled up to the bar. He thumped the counter-top, “Fat Tire right here and keep ‘em coming!”

Randy was another of her regulars. He was a good guy. A self-employed electrician, he worked long days and hit the bar with a powerful thirst. He had a good sense of humor and a kind heart. He was easy to read, an open book really. Randy’d been unlucky in love his whole life. He married his high school sweetheart who left him after being married for twelve years. She wanted excitement, not the “mind numbing regularity” of married life.

“You’re boring!” Randy’s wife screamed at him, her words still echoing sharply through his memories. He’d had difficulty connecting with women since then. He had a lousy sense of self-esteem. Randy was at ease around Casey, she had that effect on people.

She gave him the beer, and a friendly grin. “How are things in the exciting world of electricity, Randy?”

“Shocking,” He answered with a laugh. “Shocking!”

She laughed as well. “Always good to get a charge out of your work.”

He chuckled, sipping at his beer.

A few moments later, she turned to see that Mr. Falco had left. An empty glass atop the edge of several neatly folded bills held the space where had been sitting. She paid his tab, pocketing the generous 30% tip, and wiped the bar clean.