The City of Deltenbre

The following is a short piece about a character I’ve been working on for years. This writing features a central part of the setting of the story I eventually want to tie all this into. For more on the story/character, you can check it out here.


From above, it didn’t look like much. A small, southern city with a few large buildings, but nothing towering. If you flew over it, you wouldn’t think much of it. But, way down below you would be a complex city, with complex politics and even more complex citizens.

A dark van entered the city of Deltenbre from the west, winding through the streets. The city had the feel of your typical southern town. During the day, it seemed as though the typical, deep south humidity slowed everything to a crawl. Traffic moved about lazily, even on nights like this one. The police parked in parking lots by the main thoroughfares, but only rarely gave chase if someone sped by. The grocery stores were packed with a mix of people, all of whom just wanted to make it home in time for supper.

The city itself could be divided into five different districts. The center of the city was the home of the city government and its various agencies. It was also the home of the original Deltenbre, a French colony from early in the settlement of the United States. Buildings that had sprung up in this historic district were protected by the city government and a handful of wealthy residents who saw the buildings as their way of establishing their families’ legitimacy in the city.

The van avoided this historic district, choosing instead to drive around it.

To the south of the historic district was the primary residential district, though it itself was divided. Where the residential and historic districts met, the citizens were mostly middle class workers in city government, as well as though who worked in the nearby businesses. To the northeastern part of the residential district lived the blue collar families who worked in the neighboring warehouse district, while the more upper class residents lived in the northwest part of the residential district, which bordered the higher-end business district, known to locals as the “Diamond District.”

The northernmost district was primarily rural, still in the city limits, but far enough removed that the people there did not consider themselves citizens of Deltenbre. They were farmers, fishermen, and skill workers whose goods and services made their way into the city, and who were governed by a city they only dealt with on a professional basis (for the most part).

However, there was a hidden value in the city’s location, a value only tapped at night, and only by people who were not your ideal citizens. Deltenbre was on a crossroads of two major interstates, and it was not that long of a drive to any of the major cities along those busy roads.

One of those not-so-ideal citizens was sitting in the back of a dark van, which was weaving through the warehouse district. He stared out the window, eyes noticing the streetlights and the big storage buildings, but not really focused on anything. The driver of the van knew not to ask. His boss was a man who was prone to long bouts of thoughtfulness, and to disturb his thoughts was to make him irritable.

This not-so-ideal citizen, Dante Delacroix, was a well-known figure in the town. He was a businessman by trade, having inherited a factory his family had owned for generations. A few years back, he also opened a bar called “The Inferno,” because he was also a well-read man and loved the literature reference.

What made Delacroix not-so-ideal was the fact that he was one of the most powerful criminals in the state. No one in the city knew that, of course. At least, not yet.

The van carrying Delacroix was not headed to the factory tonight, nor was it headed to The Inferno. Instead, it pulled up in front of one of the warehouses in the district and stopped. Dante blinked and looked around, suddenly coming out of whatever thoughts he had been distracted by. He wordlessly patted the driver on the shoulder and got out of the van, headed to the read of the building, and, using an old key, let himself in. The van drove off as soon as Dante was out of sight, and the streets of the warehouse district stayed quiet for the evening.


Meeting in the Desert

The following is a short story about a character I’ve been working on for years. The story itself was written in the span of about two hours, with me just writing stuff out as it popped into my head.


It sure as hell is hot out here, thought the arms dealer wearing a business suit in the middle of a warm desert. Why did I agree to this again? He stood there in a nice suit, black jacket and pants, with a red tie and dark, designer sunglasses, watching the horizon. He flexed his hands, protected from the heat in biker’s gloves. He also flexed his toes, which were suffering from an unfortunate case of sand in the formal, designer shoes he was wearing.

What he had agreed to was a meeting with a rival arms dealer, one whom he was currently in the midst of a territorial dispute, and who had asked for a truce. “Meet me at this location and we’ll divide the territory between us,” he had said. “This nasty conflict between our organizations can finally be over.”

Sure, the guy standing in the desert alone thought. It’ll be over all right. He squinted through the sunglasses at the black sedan driving down the long, winding road toward him. Strangely, there was a whole lot of dust and sand being kicked up for such a small car. He frowned as he realized that what was supposed to be one car was actually two. Awesome! he thought. Intrigue! Scandal!

“We’ll meet, just you and I, to discuss the terms of the ceasefire,” the rival had said over the phone. “None of your men, and none of mine. We’ll do this like civilized men.”

Civilized men apparently bring reinforcements to clean up their messes, the trapped arms dealer thought. He sighed, knowing the end of the conflict really was here.

The two sedans pulled up in front of the arms dealer, and the first to step out was the rival, grinning. Caught like a rat in a trap, the lonely guy thought. Welp, it’s been fun, I guess. The rival’s hair was black, slicked back like a used car salesman, and dressed in a collared shirt with khakis and tennis shoes. Shortly afterward, out of the rival’s car stepped a rather large man – not fat, just tall and muscular – and from the other sedan stepped two men of identical build. Maybe they’re brothers? Or this is just the ideal henchmen these days. Creativity is dead.

“Dante,” the rival called out, stepping toward his prey with arms wide as though to hug him. “Glad to see you. I hope you’re doing well.”

“As well as anyone could be when the circumstances of a truce have suddenly changed,” Dante replied. “Now I can’t be certain, Vamp, but I think you lied to me.”

“Vamp,” as the rival was called, continued to walk forward and hugged Dante, kissing him on either cheek, like they were family. He took a step back and looked to each henchman, nodding.

“Now hold on a second,” Dante put his hands up as each of the three big men pulled out handguns, all three comically small compared to their large, beefy hands. “I don’t see why this has to end in violence.”

The rival, Vamp, laughed. “Don’t you? Two of us can’t share South City. I’ll have you killed here, take over your properties and warehouses, and clean up nicely there before expanding to bigger and better things.”

Dante, hands still raised, folded his fingers back and, making little finger guns as he responded to Vamp. “This is all a little unnecessary. I didn’t even start this war. I just wanted to end it before it got too messy.”

“You outsiders, coming in to my city, make me sick,” Vamp sneered. “You don’t respect how things were before you started butting in.”

Dante pointed his “guns” at two of the big men’s foreheads, and said “Bang! Bang!” The two men’s heads snapped back as though they really were shot, and they fell to the ground. Dante aimed his fingers at the third man before he could react and said “Bang!” again, causing him to crumple to the ground.

It took the second and a half Dante had “shot” the men in for the crack of the sniper rifles to hit Vamp’s ears. In a split second, he realized what had happened.

Dante had not come alone either.

Adjusting his tie, Dante strolled over to Vamp, brushed off the terrified man’s shoulders, and put his arm around him.

“Vamp, old buddy, it’s time to talk terms.”