The Tale of the Nouveau Templar

Scott Pearson

Étienne Joubert frowned at the short man and the large Minotaur blocking the sidewalk. They had suddenly stepped in front of him on Mercer just as he crossed Spring Street on his way back to the Village. No matter how much the world changed, there were always people like this, people who didn’t like what you were doing and would threaten you to get their way. “Tough guys,” the Americans called them.
       Joubert took a moment to straighten his tunic, which bore the red cross of the Nouveau Templar on front and back, then said, “Let me pass.” His voice was graveled by years of yelling over the sounds of battle. Other pedestrians, previously enjoying the mild summer evening, averted their eyes as they quickly made their way to the far side of the street, dodging an electric car and a group of bicycles.
       “My friend here,” said the short man, as if Joubert had not spoken, “he doesn’t like problems. So . . . you gonna make him like you or not?”
       Joubert glanced up at the Minotaur—who exhaled loudly and crossed his heavily muscled arms over his heavily muscled bare torso—then looked back down at the short man. It crossed Joubert’s mind that the short man could have reached up, grabbed the Minotaur’s right horn, and done pull-ups.
       “I have no problem with you,” Joubert said. He had no idea why the Greco-Romans would be bothering him. Besides, he was in Soho, outside of G-R domain. Here you’d expect to be accosted by something jackal-headed, not bull-headed. This was Ra territory. In the often uneasy detente that existed between the rival gods in Manhattan, one faction simply did not go into another’s territory and cause trouble.
       The short man brushed at the lapel of his well-tailored black suit. “Does this look like you don’t have a problem, Frenchie? You got a freakin’ Minotaur in your face. He’s exhaling steam over here. Looks like a problem to me.”
       Joubert just stared back at the short man, who spoke with the casual assuredness of youth backed up by a muscle-bound partner. Joubert was in his late thirties with close-cropped hair gone to dark gray, and he’d seen far more of the world than this kid, who had probably still been in diapers when the gods returned. With a sigh, Joubert said, “Say what you came to say.” . . .

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