The Prop is looking over with barely concealed contempt. A squatting, armoured presence in the corner of the dingy, unlicensed bar. A hulking mass of dense, dirty armour, flakes of paint peeling away layer by layer showing years and years of previous livery. Behind thick, quartz panes his gaze is staring, unwavering. Is it contempt or hatred? Jealousy or insecurity? Does he wish he was one of us or just that we weren’t here at all?
Last season’s clothing, last year’s gun, last decade’s armour. Pitted and scarred, whatever that suit once was, it’s vanished beneath a half-dozen modifications and repairs. He’s built for practicality, not for style. There’s a brutalist aesthetic to everything about him, all square edges and totalitarian chic. He’d never make the evening news but down here that doesn’t matter so much as reputation.
He grunts and slides his visor up, a face as pitted, scarred, old and ugly as the armour that covered it. He sips at some godawful soft company brew made in the lower levels from macerated and fermented Fruity-Chews, just the colour makes you nauseous. The barstool creaks and bends slightly as he shifts his panzer-bulk. He’s sensible enough not to start anything, but he knows he could cause you trouble and expense and he’s not willing to lose face here in front of his clients, in his patch, trusting to the hope that you’re not here for him.
Another sip of that sickly brew and he closes that armoured faceplate again, fastening the bolts, loosening his holster – just to be ready – heavy glove laid by that big, old-fashioned gun.
Meny versus the school of hard knocks.
It’s hard to tell which is most worthy.