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just for appearances

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The alarm goes off on his phone, vibrating in his breast pocket, and Jimmy jumps up from his half shadowed seat at the edge of the club. He’d been waiting, senses on edge, waiting for it to ring as the seconds and minutes stretched impossibly long. He barely raises his eyes, just picks out a clear path along the floor as he makes a beeline for the door. As always he hopes his hasty exits comes off as busy successful lawyer rather than desperately uncomfortable, but he doesn’t spend much energy on the performance either way. 

He collapses into the drivers seat of the Cadillac and exhales like someone had been chasing him. There are many people, he realises, who would consider this a perk of the job – a benefit of being Saul Goodman. He wishes it was transferable, that someone else could take his seat in the neon and pounding music amid barely clothed bodies. He scrubs a hand over his face and drives away from the club without looking back.

The Cadillac gets switched out about half way to Santa Fe. Jimmy parks it and slips into an unassuming Ford Taurus, pausing first to grab a suit bag out of the trunk. He throws the bag onto the passenger seat and fishes out a pair of plain slacks that he awkwardly changes into, contorting around the steering wheel to toe off his shoes. He doesn’t bother with the rest, as soon as his lower half is changed he guns the engine and heads for home. 

As he drives down the dark roads he plucks at his bright shirt buttons. Once they’re all undone he reaches into the bag again and slips out a fresh shirt, laying it across his lap. He shrugs out of one sleeve then the other, alternating his hands on the wheel. Tossing the Saul shirt over to the passenger seat he overcorrects to the left a little and quickly slaps his right hand back on the wheel, straightening out into the middle of the lane again. He continues on awhile, flicking the heating up a notch now that he’s only in his undershirt. Once he’s evenly coasting along again he threads his arm through the shirt in his lap – this one a more palatable muted blue.

Ten minutes from home he makes a stop. He haphazardly tucks his shirt into his trousers, leaning across once more to grab the matching jacket – a dark slate grey, almost black – before getting out of the car. He shrugs it on and to all the world looks like nothing more than an overworked businessman coming home late from work. 

A bell chimes as he walks through the door of the restaurant, followed by a dull buzzer announcing his arrival in delayed stereo. The place is still busy for this time of night, a cacophony rising from the tables out the back. He nods at the woman behind the counter who gives him a polite smile. She checks through the bagged orders in front of her without asking for a name – they know him here. Jimmy wonders what she thinks of him, the guy who picks up a late dinner at least once a week. Do they think he’s some dedicated office worker, putting in extra hours for the bosses? An apathetic husband keeping late hours with his secretary? Or a scruffy bachelor past his prime, wasting his hours between work and lonely late night dinners? There would have been a time when he would have chatted to everyone behind the counter, known all the staff by name so he could schmooze them and guide their perception of him, maybe get a few more complimentary sides thrown into his order on occasion. 

The woman sets his order on top of the counter and he gives her a thin smile and a reedy “thank you,” grabbing the bag and handing over cash and a generous tip. She nods and gives him a warm thank you in reply as he turns to leave. 

He steps back out into the night and the fresh air makes him suddenly aware of the cloying smell of soy sauce sticking to the back of his throat, and his stomach groans. 

The car rumbles back to life, tires skittering as he reverses in a fast arc, turning 180 degrees and speeding back onto the main road. 


Jimmy pulls up to the small two storey house, perfectly nondescript in a row of houses just like it, and parks in the driveway. He grabs the plastic bag of takeout in one hand and slings his suit bag over the same arm, awkwardly extricating himself from the drivers seat as he balances them both. 

The car gives a chirp as he locks it, lights flashing briefly, and his keys jangle in his palm as he tries to single out his house key. 

“Hey!” He shoulders his way through the front door. “Dinner’s here!”  

A “Hey!” returns to him like an echo from down the hall. 

Kim is tidying papers from the dining table as he walks through towards the kitchen. Her hair is still up but she’s kicked her shoes off and is padding around barefoot. 

“What’s this?” He spreads his arms a little, gesturing to the table. 

“I know!” She shuffles the papers in her hands, straightening them into a stack.

“Is this work?”

“I know, I know,” her voice is slow and calm as she swipes the last remaining documents into the pile and removes them from the table. 

“No work –”

“No work at home, I know,” she flattens her hands down the front of her blouse, smoothing over the rumpled fabric, as though she’s wiping her hands clean of the paperwork. “It’s not really work, it’s just… admin,” she flutters a hand in the direction of the table.

Jimmy gives her an unconvinced look.

“Okay!" She laughs. "It’s gone! I’ve put it away. I promise," she holds up her empty palms, "no more.”

“Mm, okay.” 

He continues through to the kitchen and puts the bag of takeout on the countertop and begins unpacking. Kim locks the documents away in her briefcase and rounds the counter too. Jimmy turns to face her and receives a soft kiss to the corner of his lips, her fingers grazing his waist. And despite the change of clothes, she must smell it on him, because she asks, “So how was it?” As if it’s a normal question. 

“Oh, you know,” he returns his focus to unpacking their food, “demoralising.” 

“Mm, maybe you can try being on stage next time.” He flashes her a look, his eyebrows pinched. But her eyes are soft, almost apologetic above a fading smirk and she says, “Kidding.” 

“Yeah.” He busies himself grabbing out cutlery. 

“Did anyone notice you?”

“Wha – uh… no. No one.”

“Did you notice anyone?” 

“No.” He hands her a plate. 

She nods. “Okay.” 

“Kim, how can you,” the words start without him meaning to, and he stalls before continuing, “ can you be okay with this?” 

She shifts one shoulder up and down. “It’s for work. It’s the same as if you went out for lunch with a client.”

“Is it?” 

“Yes.” She looks at him for a long moment, her eyes studying him. “What do you do when you’re there?”

He resists the urge to stamp his foot like a moody teenager. “Wish that I wasn’t there.”

Kim smiles, and it takes him off guard. “Sounds like work to me.” And she reaches out and squeezes his arm as she passes him, leans in to place another kiss on his cheek. “C’mon, let’s eat.”