Wait and See - pt. 4
Chicago, July 26th, 6:48 am
Trebuchet awoke as though someone had roughly flipped a switch in his mind, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. He gasped, but then closed his mouth into a scowl. And slowly - ever so slowly - he loosened his white-knuckle grip on the sheets.
He didn't sit up in bed, though. He knew it was just another nightmare, this time, and he didn't feel like having to go through waking Tiana up. He'd gotten tired of explaining that one to her back when they'd been pretending to be a couple, all that time ago.
It'd been the man-boy, again. Another fucking memory that'd loosened its way into a waking dream. Only this time he hadn't woken up erect. Quite the opposite. It was that particular memory, again…
*course I killed her, Johnathan," Brian said, running his manicured hands along what was left of her forehead, brushing the wet, pulpy maggots aside as he did: "You didn't think I was going to come out here every day and feed her, did you? That would have been suspicious*
He closed his eyes tightly and winced. Why had he been so fucking blind? Why?
He looked over. Tiana was konked out: sprawled over the bed in much the same position he'd last seen her, as though their coupling had been a car wreck. He tested the bed a little, sitting up, and when she made no movements he quietly got out of bed and looked down at her.
Of course, sex had been inevitable. They'd both known what was going to happen, even before she'd come over with the pies (one of which she'd eaten all by herself, ravenously).
But they played with it for a while, same as always. Do a little work, flirt a little. Do a little more work, flirt a lot more. Give up on work. Go out, come back. Fuck.
She mumbled in her sleep, just then, and he smiled.
He slipped on his clothes from the night before, and left the room as quickly and quietly as he could. The morning was dewy and slightly chilly as he crunched through the parking lot to the hotel's sorry excuse of a 24-hour coffeeshop.
The place was deserted, except for the token employee. She was youngish and somewhat overweight, with a bad, brown hairstyle under a paper hat. She wore a brown and orange uniform to match the brown and orange decor. Her tag IDed her as SHARON! and asked HOW CAN I MAKE YOUR DAY?
"Well, I'd sure like some coffee, Sharon," he said, smiling and indicating her nametag.
"Yeah," she replied mechanically, with hardly any shine in her eyes at all: "Regular or Decaf?"
"Leaded. Make that two. Large. Cream and Sugar. To go."
"Regular or Decaf?" she asked again, the shine totally out of her eyes, now. He could feel her contempt like a lead blanket.
"Leaded…?" he repeated, and then realized: "Oh, that's right. Sorry. I got used to calling it Leaded. Regular."
She didn't even nod or smile. She just turned around and started pouring the coffee into two, industrial-strength styrofoam cups. After a few seconds he realized he was looking at her ass - rather plump under the skirt - and he wondered if Tiana's influence was rubbing off…
"Damn quiet in here," he said, looking around, instead.
"It's always quiet," she said.
"Why? You'd think people'd stop in."
"There's a McDonalds next door. Open 24 hours. Everyone goes there."
"Really?" he asked, looking over and seeing the golden arches: "Damn, I bet this must be a graveyard."
"It is," she said, turning around with the two coffees. She put them in a four-hole container and dutifully placed four creamers, four sugars and two stir sticks in the other two holes.
"Even for lunch and dinner?" he continued.
"I don't know," she said, flatly: "I'm just here from Midnight to eight. Before that or after that, I really don't care."
She wasn't kidding, either. He knew that just from her voice.
He didn't even blink, just staring into her eyes. They were a shade of brown so dark that they almost looked black, and seemed to go on forever and ever, like a sacrificial well…
*it's not as bad as all that," Brian said to him, brushing a finger down Johnathan's forehead to the tip of his nose. It smelled of his dead sister: rotten meat, worms and human shit - all the things you find at the end of a failed case. He said some more things too, but Johnathan wasn't hearing them. He was just looking at his eyes. Glittering, jet pools that seemed to have no end to them at all. Sucking him in like a blowjob. Sucking him down like an endless orgasm. Taking away his will… the feeling of being there at all… his senses… couldn't feel the gun in his hand… feet in his shoes… anything more ever again*
DING! went the register.
"That'll be $2.34 with tax," she said, flat as a new road: "Do you want a receipt?"
Tiana was back up when he came back to the room. She sat up, took her cup and gulped it down like a woman possessed.
He didn't even touch his. The blackness was too much to take.
New York, July 26th, 10:30 am
In his small, dimly-lit office in the John Adams Trust, Tiamat waited, watching his computer screen.
He was eagerly anticipating something, almost to the point of total impatience. Anyone else who'd seen him wouldn't have known it, though. If there was one thing Tiamat could do it was hide his emotions, letting them out only when it suited his plans.
So he distracted himself. He pretended to be analyzing the things he'd been handed. Every so often he snuck a look at his mundane email account, just in case the bosses were randomly checking live IPs again. He always gave them just a little bit to complain about, so they'd think he was nothing less than totally normal.
He chuckled inwardly at that thought. Normal. Oh yes - nothing more normal than he. Just another retired spook trying to make a little extra cash - all above-board, natch - by reading between the lines for some thinktank with a hard-right agenda. That was about as normal as it got for people like him. Outside the Beltway, anyway…
There was a small blip in the upper corner of his screen. He struck a combination of keys on his board, activating the little trick he'd had installed, courtesy of his old new friends. And then, once his bosses could no longer see what he was doing, he opened up another program - cleverly disguised as something else - and started typing his code in. A small, nondescript talk screen popped up.
HOWDY, COMRADE the other fellow said.
HELLO TO YOU TOO he typed back: DO YOU HAVE IT?
THERE IS FUNNY STORY. I HAVE IT BUT I WILL NEED MORE THAN WE AGREED.
Tiamat sighed inwardly. He'd been expecting this, but still…
SON OF BITCH DEMANDS TWO MORE CRATES OF EGGS. HE LOST MAN GETTING THE INFO.
THAT'S HIS DAMN PROBLEM. HE KNEW THE RISKS.
HE IS BEING VERY UPSET.
He was about to respond to that, but there was a sound out in the hallway.
Tiamat's eyes flicked that way. It was his boss, making his ever-untimable morning pop-ins. He would come in, make some comments about what they'd last turned in to him - always critical - and look over their shoulder at their desktop…
He should just terminate the connection and get back in contact later. But he couldn't lose this now. Not after all that work. Not after being so close. So damned close…
HOW UPSET? he typed quickly.
IF WE ARE NOT MAKING HIM HAPPY HE IS NOT GIVING US THE FILE.
"Ah, Rutger…" his boss was saying to the guy across the hall: "I was wondering if I could bring something you mentioned in our last talk to your attention…"
I CAN GET HIM THREE MORE CRATES, Tiamat replied as quick as he could: CAN HE WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK?
A pause, as though he were arguing, and then YES. BUT HE IS BEING VERY UNHAPPY.
Tiamat looked over at the two men across the hall. How long of a chew-out was Rutger going to get? A nervous, little man fresh out of college up against a career man who liked to say sharp, cutting things, nod and then move on? His boss would be done with him before long, and then he'd be right here…
Tiamat looked at Rutger again. Freshfaced and cleancut. A wife and a young boy and too many student loans to repay. There was a cheap, department-store portrait picture of the three of them on his desk: the kind you get for turning in so many rolls of film. That was their Christmas present for friends and family last year…
HE IS BEING VERY VERY UNHAPPY, COWBOY, his contact added.
Hell with it.
Tiamat activated another program: something else he'd had his old new friends install, just in case this ever happened. And then he pressed a button and turned it off, quick as a wink.
FIVE CRATES TOTAL, NEXT WEEK, he typed, hoping he could make good on it: THAT IS ALL I CAN DO, FRIEND.
There was a terribly long pause. Was his contact actually arguing with someone, or just having a nip of vodka, or…
"Ah, yes… um… what is this you're working on…?" he heard the boss say, across the hall
"Uh… I don't know, I was just, uh…"
"What the… oh my God… what are you doing with our computers?"
"I wasn't… uh… Oh God… sir… uh…"
Tiamat let it be seen that he was cocking an ear to listen, but didn't pay too much attention. He was still waiting for his contact.
"That woman is having marital relations with a turtle, for god's sake!" his boss screamed. All other work in the line of offices stopped.
OKAY, COWBOY PARTNER, the other man said, finally: THEN HE GIVES ME THE MEAT. I SEND TO YOUR ACCOUNT NOW?
YES. I'LL CHECK IT WHEN I GET HOME. Tiamat typed, ever so softly. He hid his relief admirably.
THEN WE ARE DONE FOR NOW.
YES. THANK YOU.
With that, he turned off the secret programs and waited for someone to start typing again. Once that person did, he went right back to "work" without missing a beat.
He only paused in it to flip an eye towards the hall when his boss dragged poor Rutgers off down the hall: "You're finished here, young man," he announced.
The kid looked everywhere for help, but found nothing but tired old men and beaten-down young people like himself. No one would say anything. No one ever would.
Soldiers and men, Tiamat thought, going back to his sham: Soldiers and men.
Chicago, July 26th, 11:30 am
"Man, what's got you spooked?" Tiana asked, looking over at Trebuchet. He was just sitting in the passenger seat of her car, hardly saying a word as she made her way through morning traffic. She'd gotten them to paint her Beetle the same color as her favorite nail polish: cyanide blue.
"Nothing…" he lied, not wanting to get into it: "No breakfast."
"I dunno why. Thas' some damn good coffee at that hotel."
"What is up with you?" she demanded, making a left: "You been actin all funny since this morning."
"Ah… nightmares," he said, deciding not to try and even explain the waitress: "I still get them."
She shook her head, exhaling: "It's over, John. He's dead."
"Yeah, I know, but…"
"But what? Did you shoot the fucker?"
"Yes, I shot him."
"Did the fucker get back up again?"
"Is the fucker buried?"
"Then he's dead," she pronounced: "There ain't no but about it, honey. That's in the past, now. You gotta let it go."
"Yeah, well your fucker's dead, too," he shot back: "So what the fuck was all that about yesterday, huh?"
She opened her mouth as if to say something right back, and then she fell quiet. Real quiet. He knew he'd said the wrong thing.
There were a few stops and starts. A turn or two. She said nothing, keeping her lips shut as tight as a locked back door.
"I'm sorry," he said after another silent turn: "Look, I know you got it a little worse than I did…"
"Yeah," she chuckled, wetly: "I did."
She pulled over, very quickly. They were there.
They looked at each other. They smiled. They kissed goodbye.
"I'll call you later," he said: "If it goes south…"
"I'll be right there," she finished: "Maybe I'll call you first."
"Maybe you will."
He got out. She drove off. He watched the car go off, and then, slowly, turned around to look at Nandos.
*Quasi-Indian Bistro Bar on 4th. Est. 1981. Full of antiques and Indian curios. Cut glass windows and dark green exterior walls. Dark interiors and quiet conversations. Deep Forest plaid at low volumes on the speakers. A mean "punjabi-spiced" burger. Daily specials.*
"I hate this," he said under his breath. And he did.
Chicago, July 26th, 12:30 pm
"Can I get you anything else?" the waitress asked when she brought his Punjabi-Burger Plate and third Sprite. She was wearing a bright yellow sari that shimmered like silk. She also had pink, plastic hoops in her ears.
"No, I think that'll do it, thanks," Trebuchet replied, looking around yet again. No sign of Willers. No sign of Rosie. Too many other people in this section. Someone's food was giving off preposterous, lime pickle fumes.
A plate dropped, off near the kitchen. That was the third one since he'd been here. It must be training day.
"Everything okay?" she asked, looking a bit concerned at his facial expression.
"Yeah… I'm just waiting for someone," he said: "I think I got stood up."
"Awww…" she replied: "Don't worry. I bet she'll be coming around any minute."
"He, actually," he said, smiling a little.
Her smile dropped ever so slightly, and she nodded, heading off without another look back. The disgust in her mind was like an iron wall slamming down behind her eyes.
He sighed, shrugged and starting trying to find a way to bite into his burger. This place used to be a great place for Family to hang out. Maybe the scene had moved on?
He remembered the good times he used to have here in Chi-town, after what had happened. The clubs. The hangouts. The one-night stands and flings. The occasional real lover. He'd lost himself in the fire and glory, then, never giving what happened more than an occasional thought.
*mean… I'm not gay," he'd said, running a hand over Brian's chest. He was warmer than anything he'd ever felt before, there in that bed. He couldn't take his hands off him. "I've got a girlfriend. We're getting married… I'm not*
"Hey," a voice squeaked into his ear.
It was Rosie. She'd remembered the long-sleeved shirt. She looked nervous and frantic, and he didn't need anything more than an educated guess to figure why.
"Hey yourself," he said, finally finding a good place to sink his teeth into the burger, and putting his hands onto it: "Go get another table. I don't want him seeing us together."
"He here yet?"
"Not yet, no. How'd you find me?"
"Uh… I heard the waitress talking about some queer with a blue ballcap? I figured it was you."
He just smiled: "Give us a few minutes when he gets here before passing by."
"Okay…" she said, looking around and wincing: "You've got… uh… you've got the money, right?"
"I got it," he said, putting the burger down and handing her the cash: "You got the note?"
"Yes," she said, taking the money really quickly.
"Did you read it?"
"You like it?" He asked, chuckling.
"Yeah… really fuckin funny," she muttered: "I am getting help. You know that."
"I'll believe it when the needle marks go away."
"They are. This is for food. I swear. I swear to God-"
"Off with you, then," he said, tired of hearing her bullshit. She nodded, somewhat chastened, and wandered off as quickly as she could.
He sighed, finally picking up the burger and taking a bite just as she was out of sight. The burger was greasy and lukewarm. It didn't taste as good as he remembered. In fact… it was awful, as though they'd exchanged the spice recipe in favor of packet of nasty instant soup and cigarette ashes.
He was debating calling back the waitress to get something else when he saw him. He was just standing there, on the other side of the restaurant. Standing there by the door. Staring at him.
He was dressed in rumpled, stained sweats. It didn't look like he'd combed or washed his black hair in ages. His skin was pale and not very lively. His face was flat and unreadable.
And his eyes were black, endless things that spiraled down forever. Just like the eyes of the waitress this morning. Just like Daniel's. Just like…
*the man-boy looked up at him, bloody drool coming from a corner of his mouth as the redness spread across his chest. He held out a hand, trying to say something*
Time slowed to a crawl. The conversations at the other tables went away by degrees. Someone dropped yet another plate of food. The pieces took forever to stop bouncing on the wooden floor.
It was just the two of them, gazing at one another. The silence had definite shape and depth. Outside of their met stare, the restaurant was frozen in one eternal moment, moving at a pace as slow as melting ice.
Trebuchet inhaled and blinked. He blinked again, and then once more. Slowly, by degrees, he put a hand down on the table, next to the once-bitten Punjabi-Burger.
He made himself look at the hand. The texture of his knuckles. The division between pink and white on his nails. The small scar on his right pinky. Anything…
"Darn it…" someone said. It was the waiter who'd dropped the plate. He was trying to pick it up without letting his brightly-colored turban fall from his head.
Trebuchet looked back at him, and then back at the table. Willers was standing there, right in front of him. How did he…?
The man looked even worse from up close. Terribly pale. Unwashed and greasy. He looked something like what an Old Testament prophet must have been like: too busy hearing God in the buzzing of flies and the rustling of wind to comb his own hair.
He was just standing there, looking down at him. And as hard as Trebuchet tried, he couldn't read his emotions. Not a single one. It was almost as though he were dead.
"Uh… hi," Trebuchet tried to say, gesturing to the chair across the way: "I'm… uh…"
"You're Agent Johnathan Froud," Willers said, parking his ass on the chair without ending eye contact with Trebuchet: "FBI. You're here to talk to me. About the case."
"Yes…" Trebuchet said, wondering who the fuck had blabbed: "That's right… uh…"
"It fits in."
Willers inhaled suddenly, putting his hands on the table and looking at the paper placemat.
"I'm trying…" he said, studiously not looking at Trebuchet. He almost seemed on the edge of tears. "Trying really, really hard."
"I appreciate… um… your seeing me."
"Heh," Willers replied, still not looking up: "That's it right there. That's the whole problem, right there…"
"Hi…" a guy drawled out, coming on by: "My name's Roger. I'll be your server, now, so if there's anything I can get you…?"
Trebuchet just looked at him: "What… um… what happened to the girl?"
"Oh! She got called away," Roger said, his smile like a cartoon.
Trebuchet could feel him just fine. He was a little scared of being caught in a lie, but mostly bothered - probably for having to take on an extra table. And there was a little piece of hornyness coming around the middle, maybe from hoping to use this as a springboard to ask Miss Homophobe 2002 out on a date.
So it wasn't anything to do with his own senses. It was just Willers. In all his time of having these feelings, he'd never met anyone he couldn't read. And now…
He shook his head, hoping the stand-in would just go away.
"How about you, sir?" Roger said to Willers.
"For God's sake…" Willers stammered, not looking up: "We're having a conversation."
"A conversation. It's private. Go away!"
"Well, sir, I-"
"I tell you what… Roger," Trebuchet said, trying to salvage the situation before the waiter lost his shit: "Another Sprite for me, and then don't come by until we're ready for the bill. Okay?"
Roger looked at him, nodded and walked off very, very quickly.
"I can't tell you what it's like to be in a place like this…" Willers sighed, relived: "All the eye contact."
"Is that how you do it?" Trebuchet asked, pushing his sorry burger away and off to the side: "Eye contact?"
"So when you look in my eyes…?" He asked, not wanting it to happen this way, but knowing it had to, somehow. If only to be sure the guy was a fake, or not.
Willers inhaled, exhaled, and then looked up at him again. His eyes got a little wider, somehow. Or maybe it was just that he was really staring, now…
"There's a girl," He said: "You've shared a lot of time together. She's the one."
Trebuchet nodded: "Okay. She's the one. The one what?"
"She's your one."
"No. Not the killer. Not the Full Moon Killer. But she's a killer."
"So why is she-"
"She's the one for you," he said, almost going into a trance while staring into Trebuchet's eyes: "It's… it's dark. It's just you two. She's crying… she's crying and she's pulling the trigger…"
"Uh, hi," Rosie said, coming by and looking at Trebuchet.
Trebuchet broke eye contact and looked at her, trying to act as though he hadn't seen this coming. Under the circumstances it wasn't hard. What the hell was Willers going on about…?
"Hi… can I help you?" He asked.
"I'm sorry… but… uh… did you see some guy? Maybe about six feet tall… black? Wearing a Cubs jacket?"
"Uh… no," he replied: "Sorry."
"Oh…" she shrugged, and then she walked over to the door and left. It was too herky-jerky to look totally authentic, but hopefully his being jerked out of the path of Willers' eyes had made it look unrehearsed.
"Ah," Willers said, chuckling: "That was good."
"What was good?"
Trebuchet's heart skipped.
"What note?" He asked.
"The note she's got…" Willers replied, looking down at the placemat, again: "I can see it. It's on hotel stationary."
"You saw it?" Trebuchet asked, no longer caring about the late Sprite: "You really saw it?"
"I can see that because it fits," Willers said: "It more than fits… jesus, it is. It's the whole of the end."
"The End. Her end. Jesus!"
"You're not making much sense-"
"Excuse me," some older fellow from the table across the way said: "My wife and I are trying to have a meal, here."
Trebuchet just looked at him: "Well then don't eavesdrop, okay?"
"Excuse me-" The older man retorted. His wife said nothing, just slicing through her sandwich with a fork and knife as though nothing were going askew.
"The fruit salad," Willers announced, and then looked at his placemat again: "Jesus. The fruit salad."
Trebuchet waved the old guy off, and put it the couple out of his mind: "What fruit salad? What does it have to do with that girl and the note?"
"Nothing. It's an end, but not her end. Not hers…"
"Slow down. Back up."
"I see endings, Agent Froud," Willers said, looking up at Trebuchet with those dead-end eyes of his: "Endings."
"Endings?" Trebuchet said: "Well, come on… she's…"
He blinked. The word's meaning sunk in.
"She's going to die..?"
"That's not what you wanted to hear," Willers stated, his eyes even more black than before.
"No…" Trebuchet said, glaring: "Who kills her?"
His heart stopped that time. The silence around the table doubled: "What…?"
"You kill her, Johnathan."
"That's bullshit!" He said, pounding his fist onto the table. Things jumped and clinked. The old couple looked at him, then at each other, and the old guy got up to go somewhere. Probably to a manager. Fuck.
"No," Willers repeated: "I'm sorry, but you're the one to blame. I wish it was bullshit, believe me…"
"Really," Trebuchet said: "Why?"
"Because I can see it," he said, getting a little jittery and looking down at his plate.
"So tell me how I kill her, then."
"I… I can't."
"You're not there. When she dies, you're not."
Trebuchet blinked, and he just looked at Willers.
The man went on: "You kill her, but you don't do it yourself. It's just a stupid thing, really… so stupid."
"So I do it, but I don't do it."
"You're responsible!" Willers barked, looking up: "That's what I fucking mean."
Trebuchet looked at him, his mind starting to whirl back from open inquiry to healthy skepticism. His inner Dana Scully was pounding at the bars of her cage, and he decided to let her back out again.
"You know what…" Trebuchet said, sitting up a little: "Let me tell you what I think."
"Oh god…" Willers said, sighing and putting his hands over his windpipe.
"I think some idiot at the Police Station told you who I worked for."
"No," Willers denied: "They just-"
"I think that girl found you before I saw you and told you about the note."
"She didn't. She-"
"And I think you're pulling my fucking leg, just like you've been pulling everyone else's fucking legs up until this point. So you tell me one thing, right now, that no one else but me would ever know about me, or I'm calling it off."
Willers stammered, looking up and then down. Maybe Trebuchet couldn't read him, but he knew that look all too well. It was panic - pure and simple panic.
"That's what I thought," Trebuchet said, really wishing his Sprite was here so he could take a smug little sip from it: "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out, Miss Cleo."
"No one believes me," Willers said, getting up: "No one ever does. Jesus… why do I… why…"
"That's for you to figure out," Trebuchet said: "Now fuck off."
Willers turned around and walked out without saying another word. He just schlumped out the door, looking defeated.
"Is everything alright, here?" someone was saying nearby him. It was the manager, from the looks of things: no one else here had a nametag and normal clothing. It appeared they didn't have to dress up. No surprise…
"Yeah," Trebuchet noticed, seeing the old man sit back down at the table across the way. There was a smug look of triumph on his face. "Just fine."
"Well, sir, we've gotten some complaints-"
"Well let me give you one of my own," Trebuchet said: "First of all, this burger tastes terrible… and secondly, that's the last time I use an internet dating service. You would not believe the people you get set up with."
He just smiled, feeling the disgust building behind the manager's face. He so wanted to reach up and punch it. Or flash a badge and remind him what happened to Denny's. Or…
"I'll be more than happy to take care of the cost of that, sir," the manager said: "It's no problem, but if you could…?"
"Yes," the manager said: "Please."
"Sure," Trebuchet said, putting his cap on, getting up and heading for the door. Fuck it. Fuck it all to death.
"Well, that serves him right," the old lady said, cutting another measured forkful of sandwich to put into her mouth: "They used to have laws against people like that."
"That they did," her husband said, spearing a rather gristly piece of pineapple from his paltry fruit salad and biting down on it. It was tough and way too chewy. He had to push it over to his back molars to get anywhere on it.
"Oh… darn it," the waiter passing them said, losing his balance. Plates full of food shattered all over the floor. The old man sucked in a breath, taking the large ball of sweet gristle along with it…
Chicago, July 26th, 10:30 pm
"You sure he was fakin, honey?" Tiana asked him, holding him close on the outside porch of the club.
*He: loose white t-shirt, airy black jeans and shoes. She: blue jeans with back cleavage, pink halter-top, gold chain around waist, shades, loafers, Hammer of Thor.*
There were lots of people out here, all smoking and cradling beers. Their conversations were all lost in the pounding techno coming from inside. No one was able to hear themselves, much less them.
"Abso-fucking-lutely," Trebuchet said, sipping what was his fourth beer: "I figure that bitch came up and gave him the goods before I saw him. I bet the Chief told his social worker who we were, too. Totally fubared."
"You said you couldn't read him, though."
He nodded, looking off to the side: "Yeah."
"Thas gotta count for something," she said, pulling herself closer to him.
"Yeah, but not what the Dragon wanted him for."
"So what you gonna do?"
He shrugged, looking at her: "What you think I oughta do?"
"Well, I think you oughta make sure of yourself before you call the Dragon up."
He nodded: "Yeah. Tomorrow. I'll ask the Chief and go read that bitch the riot act. Last time I use her for anything…"
"And then you gotta take me out one last time before you get your ass back East."
He shook his head: "I ain't going back just yet."
"No?" she asked.
"Fuck no. Gonna help Meyer catch the fucker."
She grinned: "How come?"
"Brother in arms," he grinned like a motherfucker.
"Awww… come on."
He smiled a little: "No shit. I just feel… it's important. I wanna do it, and I don't have to be nowhere for a while."
"And I want to be with you."
She grinned a little wider and kissed him, putting one leg up around where his legs met his ass. He put his beer down and kissed her back, swaying in time to the beat from inside. The DJ'd put on "Something Good" by the Utah Saints, and all the old school fans were flocking back inside.
They joined them.
New York, July 26th, 11:34 pm
Tiamat sat back in his home office's chair. He looked over the two-inch stack of printouts his printer had made while he'd been on the webphone with his Latin American contacts. They were still slightly warm.
He flipped back and forth, making sure that all the pages were there, and that they contained more or less what he expected them to. Graphs and charts. Pictures of brain surgery and cross-sections of human skulls. Bent spoons and autopsy reports. 200. 201. 202 pages. Yes.
He looked at the front page. It was a printout of a copy of a copy of a copy, just like the others, but the cyrillic was still fairly clear.
"Division Four" it said, once translated: "Enhancement Experiments Report: 1990"
He smiled a little, then, pouring himself a neat glass of Stoli. He made a mental note to make sure the Latin Americans hustled with the extra crates of hand grenades. It'd all been worth it, after all.
Chicago, July 26th, 11:04 pm
The slap across her face made Rosie yelp and fall to her kitchen's dirty floor. She was only wearing her bra and panties. Joey was in the next room, staring at whatever was on the TV, same as always.
"Chulo, please…" she whimpered at the fully-dressed man standing over her: "Just fix me up, please? I need it so bad-"
He slapped her again: "Lyin bitch! What's this shit?"
"What shit?" She asked, looking up.
"This shit!" he shouted, holding a piece of paper in his hand: "Huh?"
"Oh God… Chulo, honey, it's not what-"
"What the fuck is this shit, huh?, reading aloud from it: "'My name is Rosie Wolf. I'm a material witness for a drugs bust case. I'm going to Nando's to meet my agent. After this I'm gonna go straight, get myself a job and never shoot up again.'"
"What the fuck you tell them?" He screamed, grabbing her by the neck: "You fuckin tell them about us? Huh?"
"No! It was just a thing to put in my head. The guy-"
"It's okay, honey. He's police, but he's-"
He smacked her again, letting go of her throat and letting her fall to the floor. Then he kicked her. Once. Twice. Three times.
"Please," she sobbed between kicks: "It ain't what you think… please…"
"I'll show your ass," he muttered, reaching to the countertop to find the needle. It was strewn there, along with the dirty plates and food: "Going to the 5-0. I'll show you."
"Please… I paid you… I just need some…"
"You want it, huh?" He asked, turning around and holding the syringe more like a knife than a needle: "You want it?"
"Please… you know…"
"You need it?"
"Pleeee-e-e-se…" she crawled over to him and knelt up: "I need it. Yes."
"You fuckin need it? Ho?"
"YES! Please, just… please, yes, I need it…"
"Here it is," he said, grabbing her chin with his other hand. His grip was iron, almost to the point of cracking her jaw. He shoved her head straight up, so that she was staring at the ceiling.
She had enough time to try and say "Thank you," and then he stabbed her right eye with the syringe.
Her screams could have broken glass and turned hair white. They echoed around the dirty apartment as Chulo stabbed her in the right eye, the left eye, the right eye, the left eye, the right eye… over and over and over.
She clawed him as she screamed, but never tried to break free, begging him between screams to do her like he said he would. Just one more fix.
Joey's gaze never once left the TV. He did, however, turn the sound up when the shrieking got too loud.