Lawrence the Roman

My friend Lawrence owns his London flat. It’s on the third floor, up narrow steps, and has a thin, thin door. The book lined hallway, only room enough for one, leads – left: kitchen, couch, flatscreen; or right: bed, loo. Immediately across from the door, resting on the floor, lies a large oil painting of a fireplace, gifted by an old love. Above the painting rest three left hands, stuffed and tanned, which form a macabre mantle.

“These bullies, who pass through, they don’t understand peace,” he misquotes. “I suppose I could take mercy on some, but that’ll still be my choice, in the end. Theirs.”

Lawrence is a warrior, born centuries awry. A fierce protectorate, the three hands were all payment for friends wronged, harmed. To be hugged by Lawrence grants you free passage through the local streets. A kiss from Lawrence is a modern mark of Cain. He considers those close to him far more impor... he considers them more than others, and enjoys offering his protection. And Lawrence… well, Lawrence, he lives for a fight. His smiling eyes glint like a grim chandelier. Right now, at the bar, warm ale sits between us.

“Those Romans, in the old days, they had the life. They were warriors. ‘With your shield or on it,’ that’s sodding right.”

I would correct him, but I haven’t the heart.