Selene placed one hand on her neck, rolling it from side to side. She watched Quang walk back to the kitchen with all three bowls in hand. She tapped her foot a whistled as she waited for Quang to return to the dining area. Vic leaned forward over the table when he heard Selene's tune.

"What song was that?" he asked. Selene turned her head and looked at him with surprise in her eyes.

"Me? Oh, just something that I made up off the top of my head."

"You a musician?"

Selene shook her head. "No, no. My grandmother could play a bit of guitar though. Maybe something she used to play for me came back into my memory."

"Sounds familiar." Vic leaned back in his seat. He took hold of his nylon bag and held it with both hands like it was a guitar. He began to strum on the imaginary strings as his head bobbed up and down to the rhythm playing in his head. Vic whistled the same melody that Selene did as he continued to play. "I got it! Sunday Evening. The Roundabouts. 1967."

"I don't think I heard that one before," Selene replied.

"You have. At least the melody. I knew I had heard that before somewhere." Vic continued to play his makeshift guitar and started whispering the lyrics. "Because in the evening... It's so nice to be near you..."

"You play the guitar?"

"If I had one I would." Vic let the bag rest in his lap. "I think that's next on my list of goals. Getting a guitar."

"Shouldn't be too hard. At least that's a very achievable goal."

"For most people, yeah," Quang said as he walked towards the table. He dried his hands on his pants as he looked at Vic. "But Vic here abides by a different standard." He then looked at his friend. "Isn't that right?"

"Food first. Then records. Then a guitar," Vic replied with a grin.

"He's all about listening to old music. I'm sure he'd hate whatever song he wrote because that would mean it came out within the past decade."

"And that's a big no-no for me," Vic chuckled. "Not my fault 'musicians' of today are all about appearance rather than substance. I'm telling you, ever since music videos became the standard, all these big record labels and artists are concerned with who looks best on television. Talent be damned! You know if they would justβ€”"

Quang raised his hand in front of Vic's face. "We get it. If we let you go on, we'll be here all night. And Selene's got stuff to do. Right?" Quang glanced towards her. She jumped back from the sudden attention.

"Oh, I'm not that busy, really."

"Are you sure about that?" Quang said, giving her a wink.

"" Selene replied as she squinted.

"Alright, let's just get going." Quang pushed his chair underneath the table. Both Selene and Vic got up and did the same. Together they left the front door of the restaurant. It was still dark and balmy as if the air had come to complete halt. Quang fumbled with his keys in the dark as he tried to lock the door behind him. After finding the proper one, he turned towards Vic.

"Selene's riding shotgun by the way."

"What?" Vic spread his arms apart. "But I've always ridden shotgun with you!"

"Exactly. And that's why Selene gets the front seat this time." Quang finished locking the door to the restaurant and put his keys back inside his pocket. "She's kind of like a guest."

"But we haven't seen each other in months! Hasn't she been rolling in the passenger seat next to you for the past few days?"


"So it's only fair that I get a turn up front," Vic said as he gestured towards himself with his thumb.

"Vic. Just get in the back seat."

Defeated, Vic let the conversation drop. He went over to the back door and took the seat in the middle. Quang and Selene could see him through the windshield of Quang's muscle jalopy, crossing his arms as his nylon bag was prepped up against the back of the seat adjacent to him.

"I don't mind sitting in the back if the front seat is that important to him," Selene whispered to Quang.

"He'll be fine. I think he's joking. Or... at least I hope so."

"If you insist. If he throws a temper tantrum, you can't say that I didn't offer." Selene headed to the passenger door while Quang had his fingers on the handle of the driver side.

"I'm aware," Quang replied. Both got inside the vehicle and buckled their seat belts. Vic leaned forward in his seat, just enough so that his head jutted between the pair sitting up front.

"You said you get the details on where the Union has got the big project they're working on for the White Swan?"

Quang put the key into the ignition but held off on starting the car. "Yeah, that guy that attacked Rodney's studio said that the memorial is over at Royal's Peak. There's a construction site there that we can't miss."

"All the way out at Royal's Peak?" Vic said. "That's a bit of a drive."

"I know."

"And how do you know where in Royal's Peak it is?"

"It'll be the only place in that uppity side of town that's under construction." Quang turned on the ignition and the entire car shook.

"Oh yeah. Makes sense." Vic slunk back in his seat.

"How long of a drive is it, Quang?" Selene asked.

"Like half an hour. Forty-five in the day if there's traffic."

"Not too bad."

"Just enough time to listen to all of the A side of that cassette I gave you!" Vic hollered out from the back. "Come on Quang, pop it in!"

Quang chuckled as he rolled his eyes. Selene pulled out the tape and placed it inside the player. Quang pressed the play button and the first track began to roll. Vic rocked his head up and down to the deep bassline that rumbled throughout the interior of the vehicle.

"Always rewind your cassettes for moments like this!" Vic played an imaginary bass right before the chorus kicked in. "Passion and patience..." he sang to himself.

Quang backed out of the parking lot, keeping his eye on the rearview mirror. Vic's dancing blocked some of his view, making him ease out of the spot slower. Once out of the car cruised down the road. The rattling of the interior was drowned out by the smooth melodies of psychedelic rock. Vic continued to move his head up and down and put on a one-man show in the back, occasionally glancing out the window. Music filled the silence left by the three in the car as they continued towards Royal’s Peak.

The city was beginning to wake up. Streetlights and bright windows provided most of the illumination that let Quang drive, but the roads and sidewalk had become more crowded. Joggers with their dogs slowed the drive down by going through the crosswalks. Red lights at intersections were sparse but still more abundant than just an hour prior.

Selene remained focused on the view outside of her window. With a quick glance to his side, he could see Selene shake her head to the current song. "You like this one, huh?" Quang asked. Selene turned around and look at the cassette.

"I think the piano solo is nice."

"I'm glad you're getting it!" Vic said from the back. "Do you know how long it took for me to get Quang to appreciate this song? He kept saying he'd listen to the full tape, but things kept getting in the way." He formed a pair of floating quotation marks with his fingers.

"It's called a job, Vic."

"Excuses, excuses. But now this is one of his favorite songs of all time! Isn't that right Quang?"

The driver nodded. "I can't lie. Last Summer With You is an all-time classic. Can't get it out of my head ever since Vic made me play that tape the last time we went on a car trip."

"I can see why," Selene replied. "The lyrics. The guitar and piano playing together." She slowly moved her head up and down to the melody. "Even though... I'll never see you again..." she hummed. Quang struggled to take his eyes off Selene as she sung. His eyes darted back and forth between the road and his passenger.

"H-hey," he stammered. "You've got a nice voice! I think this song is a great fit for you!"

"You really think so?" Selene smiled as she looked at the driver. With one hand she brushed her dark brunette strands of hair back.

"Definitely," Quang said as he quickly returned his focus back on driving.

"She's alright," Vic blurted out. "No offense, but no one can top the way Chelsea sang on this track."

"We get it, Vic." Quang gave his friend a mean glare from the reflection of the rearview mirror. He pursed his lips and went back to his own private jam session.

The transition to Royal's Peak was blunt. Not only were the cars more abundant, but they were also a stark contrast from the worn down and dated models that they had passed along the way. All the cars still had a new shine from the top down and were from the highest end manufacturers. Litter was non-existent. The few people that were up and about weren't joggers but rather renters of the lush series of apartments that made up the city block. They looked at Quang's vehicle with a smidge of disgust as they stepped out of their apartments in their robes and slippers.

"This really is a nice place," Selene whispered as she stared out the window.

"I know. Wouldn't it be nice to move Pho 68 out here, huh?" Quang said.

"If only it were that easy," Selene replied.

Quang slowed the car down as his eyes scanned the pedestrians that walked by. The few that were out eyed him with contempt. "I think I know how Vic feels right now," he said quietly.

"Hey bro," Vic called out from behind.

"Huh? What is it?" Quang said as he looked into his rearview mirror.

"Think I see it." Vic stung his arm between Quang's seat and the driver's door. His angled towards the window as he tapped on the glass. "Over that way."

"Move your hand so I can look."

Vic's hand shot back, giving Quang a clear view of the city. Out in the distance where Vic had been pointing was a bright yellow crane that stuck out against the opulent white towers. "That's got to be it!" Quang said.

Selene turned her head and looked out of Quang's window. As they traveled further down the street, the construction site became clearer. Mounds of dirt and scaffoldings encompassed the area. Parked at the very edge of the site was a long white limousine that snatched the attention of all three inside the vehicle.

"Looks like that Union fellow wasn't lying after all," Selene said.

"Yeah. But now we've got a problem," Quang said with his eyes still on the site.

"What's that?" Vic asked.

"Looks like someone's still there." Quang squinted, trying to get a better view of the area. He could see faint outlines of people wandering around the site.

Vic unzipped his nylon bag and pulled out his weapon; an aluminum three-section staff. The metal rods clacked together as he held all sections lengthwise between his two hands. "Good thing I brought Shondell along!"


Support "Lethal Combo (Weapon-Based Martial Arts Adventure)"

About the author


Bio: Lover of all things 20th century

Log in to comment
Log In

Turtles are different from Tortoises ago

Edit suggestions:

With one hand she brushed her dark brunette strands of hair back.

Can hair itself be described as brunette? I thought it was used as a descriptor for a person. Would brown not work better here?

Armorien ago

Shondell sounds like some kind of food for some reason xD, I'm excited to see the staff in action.

Log in to comment
Log In