“I hope you’re shaving that goatee in there.”
Joaquin turned to Massey’s voice coming through the closed door. He liked the goatee. It looked cool, and it kind of gave him Big AF’s look. It had been awhile since he had listened to any of his raps but they were still on fleek in his memory.
The bitches be killin’ it for me, Joaquin thought as he smiled smugly to himself.
A knock came on the door. Joaquin clicked his tongue.
“Hell no old dude, I told you. I did my piercing and all. I ain’t changing the goatee, fuck that.”
Massey opened the door and stood with his hands akimbo.
“How about what we talked kid? My house – my rules.”
Joaquin sighed and rubbed a hand over his chin.
“Your rules ain’t cool.”
“Yeah and living on the streets ain’t much on the cool side too.”
Joaquin crossed his arms over his chest.
Massey raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
“I don’t get why you is makin’ me do all this proper dressin’ and shit. I thought we would be bustin’ some supers, chargin’ at Globe for a change, jus’ like you said. To make the world better.”
Massey stepped inside the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bathtub.
“I’ve got a duty to find those people and prove what they’re doing. Then I’ll put them in jail. You’ve got an obligation to those people out there for screwing them over again and again. That’s why you’ve got to look the part and get a job. It could be months before anything turns up on Doctor Globe. He’s got deep pockets since he let his commission in the Army go. You ain’t living in my house without providing.”
“No man, you know you cops ain’t good for shit like that. Bree’ll fuck you right up. You need me.”
Massey shook his head. “All in good time, Joaquin. Now shave that thing off your face. You still look like a thug.”
Joaquin’s face turned red, and he was about to open his mouth when Massey gave him that look. It was the same one he kept on giving every time Joaquin was about to say something stupid or flame up and start throwing shade at stuff.
He looked back into the mirror and waited for Massey to leave the bathroom.
When Massey did, Joaquin took the razor and squeezed it tight in his hand until his knuckles turned white. He would fuck em’ up real good, and he’d be the hero.
But it had been a month since the showdown in the Canadian woods. The only thing that had changed was that Globe’s square face was on every news station all the time. People loved him, and Joaquin witnessed the influx of their banners and t-shirts with his face printed on them. It seemed as if everyone were supporters to his mayoral campaign, to his many charities. No one knew where his deep pockets came from, and no one seemed to care as long as he continued to insist that the people save their money instead of donating to his campaign. It was like he was the hero they all wanted to be. The hero they had convinced themselves that they needed. Hell, even people like Joaquin wanted Globe to be the mayor. And it was plainly obvious that Globe had his sights set much higher than the mayor of Seattle. Joaquin knew that Globe was a villain, but only a handful of people knew that.
Fuck that shit, Joaquin thought.
The razor took to the skin, near breaking at the impact.
Joaquin found it difficult shaving when the razor blades kept snapping when he pressed harder into his skin. He had gone through eight of them before he could get at the goatee. It took longer, but it was far safer than an electric razor that bent against his skin and smoked in his face. He dabbed at his chin with a clean towel and clumsily buttoned up his white shirt.
Massey was waiting for him by the front door. He had his best suit on, and the Detective’s shield clipped to his belt was polished to perfection.
“You goin’ somewhere?”
Massey shrugged. He strode up to Joaquin and fixed his tie smoothing it with his palm.
“To the precinct. Why?”
“Nah, you look too shiny for that dump. You’re dressed to impress is all I’m sayin’.”
“Worry less about my tidiness and more about yours. Come on, you’ll be late for your job interview.”
The two rode in silence and Joaquin mostly stared out the window, occasionally pulling at his tie.
“The dumb shit’s chokin’ me man. Do I really need it?”
“Just keep it on until the interview is over.”
Massey parked in front of Mr. Jabbar’s store. It was a small family store owned by the old Arab and his son. Massey had chosen it because it was three blocks from his house and didn’t sell alcohol.
“Be honest, don’t talk back and listen. You’ve got a solid recommendation here.”
Joaquin stared at the windows barred with signs promoting a particular brand of cigarettes and lottery tickets. He climbed out of the car whining at the idea of walking inside and pretending to be polite and proper.
“Here’s some cash if you need to get a cab back home.”
Joaquin reached through the open door and took the money stuffing it into his pocket.
“Why you doin’ all this? You know what I am. I don’t want you to be doin’ none of this cause you feel guilty for poppin’ me up like that before.”
Massey paused for a second. His eyes drifted over the boy’s shoulder where his bullet had hit him long ago.
“You got potential. Now scram.”
Joaquin started to protest but the car took off with a roar dulling his words.
Next: Clandestine Meetings