Krystal sat across from him and extended a bare foot to lower the paper. “We need to talk.”
“Lemmie read this article first.”
“Crime stats up?” she read. “You already knew that. After all, that punk kid mugged you.”
Kristof grunted. “I wonder what happened to that dude?”
* * *
“Frank, I think we’ve got your perp.”
Detective Massey looked up from the report he was studying. “Joaquin?”
“He says he’s not Joaquin, but he matches all the particulars.”
Massey sighed and leaned back in his chair. “We get a statement?”
“He lawyered up.”
Massey creaked to a standing position. “They always do.” He took a moment and arched his back, hands finding familiar aches. “At least the smart ones do.” He watched the rookie who delivered the news size up him up. It might have been sympathy in the rookie’s eyes, but it could have also been pity. “I’m getting too old to sit in this chair all day,” Massey announced.
The rookie hovered in Massey’s door long enough to snort and shake his head. “Perp’s in interview three.”
Massey mumbled a thanks. He didn’t recognize the rookie, but then again, he rarely wandered off the floor that housed his office. He walked towards the hall that lead to the interview rooms. He stopped at interview five, where Joaquin had briefly holed up before miraculously escaping custody by breaking through a wall. The woman he took hostage had disappeared as well, and no one at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention had ever heard of an Anne Henderson.
Massey looked through the observation window at the young man sitting defiantly in his chair. “That’s not Joaquin,” he said to the tech monitoring the video feed. “This supposed to be my guy?”
Massey sighed, leaned back through the doorway and verified the placard on the door read ‘Interview Room #3.’ Massey grunted in displeasure. “The paperwork must be screwy,” he replied to the tech. “That ain’t the kid who tried to jack me.”
“I’m sorry, Detective, my info says otherwise.”
“Get someone else to do the interview.” Massey turned to leave the room. Over his shoulder, he called out, “I’m beginning to think the info’s been intentionally altered.”
The tech consulted his computer screen. “No conspiracies here, Detective.” The tech raised his voice and called after the retreating detective. “Maybe just a computer glitch?”
Computer glitch? Thought Massey. Sounds more like a government conspiracy.
* * *
Major Jacob Globe looked over his shoulder to see his assistant with her back to him, propping the door open. He didn’t need to see her, her Caribbean accent gave her away. To her, he said, “Can I get a moment here?”
His assistant stepped forward and the door swung shut. He stepped away from the urinal and scowled at the automatic flush. He stepped up to the sink, activated the faucet and his scowl deepened as it spurted out water and stopped. Damn hippies and their environmental movement, he thought as he waved his hand under the faucet to reactivate it. Technology, he continued, sometimes…
After trying in vain to use the hand dryer, he wiped his still damp hands on the seat of his uniform pants. He pushed the door open and nearly walked into his assistant.
“Denisha. What’ve you got for me?”
“Hmmm…” Globe started towards his office. “Status?”
Denisha fell into step behind the Major. “Apprehended by local law enforcement. We’re still gathering information at this time.”
Globe paused mid stride. “What do the locals think?”
“They’re convinced a computer glitch is responsible for the incorrect information showing in the database.”
Globe resumed his walk towards his office. “Is it?”
“It’s not us, Sir. We’ll have eyes on…”
Denisha paused and retrieved a large smart phone from the holster on her belt. She swiped her finger down a few times and held it up to Globe. “This the guy?”
Globe squinted and it was obvious the image wasn’t subject three-one-six. “It’s not us, some other organization is protecting this kid.”
Globe nodded the declarative negative. “Not ours, but I think I know who it could be.”
* * *
“What?” Snapped Anne. “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something here?”
“Yes, Ma’am, but Justin asked me to come get you.”
Anne sighed. “What’s he doing that’s so important that he can’t come here?” Her voice echoed.
The envoy looked down at the floor, but didn’t respond.
“Damn it!” Anne pushed herself up on her elbows. The masseuse deep in his trade stepped back as Anne rotated her hips and swung her long legs off the the table. She sat, cross legged, and regarded the envoy standing just inside the door. The young man looked away as the towel fell away revealing the massage was a naked one.
Anne reached for an itch on her shoulder blade. The movement emphasized her bust, and the envoy visibly reddened. “I can step outside, Ma’am.”
Anne looked down and wiped away massage oil from her breast. “I’m too old to worry that you might get a sneak peak, boy.”
“Yes… Uh…” He stammered. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Anne rolled her eyes and lie on her back on the table. She allowed the towel to fall away and the masseuse stepped forward to work on her thighs. Anne placed a washcloth over her eyes before speaking up. “Well?”
She lifted the washcloth, uncovering an eye and tilted her head. “What does Justin want?”
“He didn’t elaborate, Ma’am, just that it’s about Joaquin.”
Anne replaced the washcloth. “Tell him we’ll need to pay Joaquin a visit.”
A smile was revealed below Anne’s washcloth. “Don’t stand there gawking. Get to it.”
“We need to visit Joaquin, yes, Ma’am.”
Anne heard the door latch shut. She lifted the washcloth again. To the masseuse she said, “I’m gonna need a little more today before I go to work.”
* * *
Lil’ Cee’s lifeless eyes stared towards the crumbling ceiling. Joaquin wasn’t sure, but he would’ve sworn the last thing Lil’ Cee saw was that hideous painting. Joaquin stood defiantly over the body. Blood pooled, seeping from the wide smile on Lil’ Cee’s neck. Why so serious? Thought Joaquin.
The rest of the Kings stared. More than one could see the long tear on Joaquin’s shirt. The edges were straight, the product of a single slice. The long knife responsible still rested in Lil’ Cee’s hand. Joaquin smiled as the knife slashed across his chest. He’d need a new shirt, but getting respect had its own price.
“I’ve taken out Lil’ Cee,” Joaquin announced to the gang. “So, I’ll be taking over now.”
The faces of the gang members didn’t tell him much, but he knew they weren’t understanding him. Joaquin squared his shoulders, puffed his chest out, waved his knife over his head and declared, “Join me or die.”
Here ya go, BJ. I did some more 16Sunsets writing today. I think I’ll end up doing at least one more chapter this weekend. I suppose this could be chapter 13b, but I went ahead and gave it a proper name. I’m approaching the half way point, probably another four chapters until then. These 1180 words bring us to 17,708.