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The Jackson Cage
Jackson looked at the business card. “Jack Paris,” he said, and looked at Jack. “That his real name?”
“Uh...” Jack said. “Whose?”
Jackson rested his cheek against his hand, Jack’s card dangling between his first and second fingers, and regarded the smaller man carefully. “You real?” he finally said.
Jack balked at it. “Sort of, I mean--” He stopped, and sighed. No point dragging things out. “No,” he admitted. “Not really.”
Jackson nodded. “S’alright,” he said, and put his guitar down on the sofa. “I’ve... heard of this place before.”
“You--have?” Jack had the uncomfortable feeling they were talking past each other, but didn’t know how to correct it.
“Yeah.” He pulled the blinds and looked out on the street. “I lost my father here, seven years ago.”
“Oh.” Jack felt even worse now. “I’m, uh, sorry...”
“Old man and me never got along,” he said, more to himself than Jack. “Guess I was hoping--I don’t know.” He shook his tousled head. “All right, what’ve you got for me?”
“Got--for you?” Jack sighed again. “I’m sorry, Jackson, I--really don’t know what you’re talking about here.”
“My destiny,” he said. “That’s what this is about, ain’t it?” He looked out the window at the murky night sky. “I’m tired of waiting just to see some sun. I want to go out tonight, I want to find out what I got.”
“Uh,” Jack said. “Destiny isn’t really my, uh, forte... now I’m really starting to wish I’d brought the Rat.”
“You don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Jackson said. It wasn’t a question.
“No,” Jack confirmed meekly. “But if, uh--if you’ve got some sort of, you know, lead... I’d be happy to help you figure it out. Or, uh, try to, anyway. I have a little more experience with that part.”
Jackson sighed. “Guess that’s what I’ll have to do, then,” he said, sadness tinging his gravelly voice. “I didn't think there'd be so many steps I'd have to learn on my own.” He closed the blinds with a very final snap. “Come on, let’s go.”
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