Joaquin jogged through the stalled traffic, the overcast evening getting cold. He appreciated the comfortable numbness. Light shone brilliantly from behind the clouds. The phantom moon pulled at his inner tide. He allowed the celestial influence guide him toward Andy’s apartment in Chinatown. No one called it that anymore – now it was the International District. Joaquin had expected Andy to be living in a house with a white picket fence, but instead he and Massey found the hacker in a small apartment above an Asian Travel agency, and Moe’s Exotic Herbs.
As Joaquin walked by, an Asian man lackadaisical sweeping the floor inside Moe’s Exotic Herbs eyed him. His motions became more deliberate, the grip on the broom tightening. He feigned concentration at his task, but Joaquin caught the pull of the lip, saw the wrinkles piling on the ancient cheeks, saw the barely showing but present snarl. A thought slowly crept into his mind that the man wasn’t judging him by appearance, but by the fact that he was one of them, one of the super powered people they were showing on the TV all day. The media painted them as killers, so why would some ordinary man see it otherwise? Joaquin felt like he was suddenly transparent to the man, his freak DNA imprinted on his skin. He rushed past the glint of the window. Behind him, the man flipped the “Closed” sign and turned off the lights.
Joaquin found the stairs to the side of the building. He climbed them two at a time, and when he snuck inside the narrow corridor, he quickly found Andy’s black painted door. His banged his fist on it. When Andy didn’t answer, he hammered at it again feeling it shift slightly under the pressure of his impatience and frustration. “Yo man open up. It’s Joaquin.”
He heard the muffled sounds of feet rushing on wood, the throwing off something heavier, the drop of coins and the light swear. Then the door cranked open obstructed by the rusted chain.
“Slide that shit open homie and let me in.”
Andy slicked back his hair and craned his neck to look past Joaquin.
“Where’s Detective Massey?”
“Busy,” Joaquin squeezed through teeth. “I got the stuff instead. So. Move. Over.”
Andy yanked the chain free and stepped aside allowing Joaquin’s large frame access.
“The hell were you doin’ makin’ me wait and shit? I thought you was trippin’ or somethin’.” Joaquin looked around the apartment. It wasn’t difficult to figure out Andy had rushed to make it look more hospitable, cleaning papers and clothes, which were in a heap on the bed. Despite his effort, the small living room was like a disposal area, food, clothing, cables, cameras, CDs all in a mess that Andy probably called order.
Andy shook his head. “I don’t partake in drug usage. So, Golden Boy, let me see what you brought.”
Joaquin handed him the backpack. “Don’t call me that.”