GH Monday: Day 02 Scene 11
Outside, Indigo took deep breaths of crisp, cold air, trying to clear the stuffy headache that her meeting with Mrs Delgado had brought on. She hated to tell half lies to an honest woman, but she couldn’t see how telling Mrs Delgado her son owed Frank Toomey money and that was why he was paying for her to look for him would help matters anyway. Besides, there was the matter of that healing black eye she was wearing. Who’d given her that?
She checked her phone, saw there was a text from Aunt Sophie, as well as a voice mail. As predicted, she wanted to know what Indigo wanted for dessert. She rang her back as she walked back to the jeep.
“Whatever you want,” she reassured her aunt. “You know I’ll eat anything. Yes, I’ll be hungry. But it is only Monday. Maybe some fruit?”
She knew better than to suggest no dessert at all. Aunt Sophie didn’t believe she’d fed her, unless there were at least three courses.
As she climbed back into the jeep, she could see dragons flying in the distance, their iridescent colors shimmering in the afternoon sunshine. They were probably flying over the Charles River, invisible from here, but in reality only a couple of blocks away.
She headed back to the office. On Binney Street she stopped at a red light, near an overflowing trash can. As she waited for the lights to change, the trash started to move, rising up and taking on a vague humanoid form, made of soda cans, cigarette butts, and beer bottles, cardboard coffee cups, giant soda cups, grocery bags and polystyrene take-out containers. Amongst other things. Snarling silently, it loomed over her jeep like a thunder cloud and for a moment she was ready to gun it through the red light and to hell with the traffic coming the other way, her throat dry, her heart pounding. Its smile was made from bright blue plastic dog poo bags (used).
Then a mage appeared from behind the trash monster, not in the grey and black of a storm-fighter’s uniform, but wearing the bright yellow vest of the SDA. Presumably someone junior to a storm-fighter then, the equivalent of a secretary or a waterboy? He waved his fingers in the air and sang a throbbing chant in his smooth alto of incomprehensible syllables, magic crackling around his fingers, green and gold. The trash monster subsided, collapsing like a spent balloon back into the trash can. The mage busied himself with a soldering iron, carving sigils into the black metal surface. He looked up and caught Indigo staring at him.
“Your light’s changed,” he yelled. She looked up to see he was right and managed to clear the junction before it turned back to red.
Back at the office, she made a new pot of coffee and returned to her desk. She spent the rest of the afternoon checking the surveillance she had on Jackson, which revealed nothing more disturbing than the grimaces he made when lifting weights in the office gym. Robbie had his headphones on, as absorbed as Megan in his screen. She wandered around the office a little, picking up a conversation here and there with those who were equally looking to take a break from sitting at their desk. She got herself more coffee. She continued to make phone calls as she watched the tedious hours of footage that she’d gathered, mostly on fast forward, trying to track down any of Joe Delgado’s friends or girlfriends willing to talk to her about where he might be. Aunt Sophie rang another three times. The first was to discuss the weather for the weekend, the second was whether she should buy a new pair of snow boots, or would her current pair last her a little longer and the last was to make sure, yet again, that Indigo really was coming home for dinner.
- You want to meet up tonight? - she got the text from Luke just as Robbie was asking her if she fancied going down to the Mead Hall, a local bar noted for its large beer selection.
“Sure,” she said. “Give me another hour and I’m done.”
She texted Luke back: - meet me at Mead Hall in an hour.
Robbie and Megan started to pack up. It made sense they were leaving before her, as they’d got in before her too. Most of the finance investigations team was calling it a day, leaving her in a near empty office, the lights glaring down at her, the windows black, as though the outside world no longer existed, there was only this sterile room and the buzz of the lights. The office part of her job was the part Indigo liked the least, but seemed to do the most, trapped indoors, under a false fluorescent light, chasing people down via internet and phone. Sitting still.
She started to write up her reports and fill in her timesheets, making a fair amount of it up. How much time had she spent on Jackson today? How much on Delgado? Just so long as the two together added up to eight, who cared? But looking through the videos of the so-far irreproachable Jackson had to have taken at least four hours, it felt most like ten. Which meant she was only a quarter of the way through the two days’ worth of looking for Delgado.
She made a note of those of his friends she’d got hold of, none of them with any information worth having. Delgado was a nice guy, it wasn’t like him to go off like that, they didn’t know him very well, couldn’t say if it was like him or not, they didn’t know where he was, they didn’t know if he was a nice guy or not, they were sorry, they really couldn’t help her, they were worried, hoped he was okay, could she let them know if she found him? A few messages appeared on Delgado’s Facebook page from people she’d contacted, expressing their concern, urging him to get in touch. People like to be close to a drama, just so long as it isn’t their tragedy.
But all she’d really turned up was that Delgado had plenty of friends to hang out with socially but no one who claimed to be close to him, to have known him for more than a couple of years. Tomorrow, she would start again.
She rang Aunt Sophie, asked if she could delay dinner by a little bit. “I’m going to the bar with some work friends.”
“I thought you might be,” Aunt Sophie said, glad to have been proven right. “Don’t worry, everything can wait until you get home.”
“Thanks, Aunt Sophie.”
“Love you, honey.”
“Love you too.”
She rang off, sent her timesheets and interim reports on Delgado and Jackson to Warren, who wouldn’t bother reading them, as neither case was near finished. She grabbed her coat and headed out to the Mead Hall, still wearing her Nikes, as it was only a short walk away, just around the corner from the KTI office. As she walked past a cafe that was closed for the day, its windows dark, she saw the reflection another figure, dark and hooded, treading on her heels. She turned swiftly, but there was no one behind her. She looked back at the cafe window. The figure was her size, but indistinct, just a shadow in the glass. A familiar feeling of cold dread came over her. She shook it off, walked briskly on towards the Mead Hall. Inside it was already busy, the bar full of the tech employees who worked in Kendall Square. Nearly everyone was in jeans, sweaters and sneakers, with the exception of KTI’s finance team, all of whom liked to dress office smart, in imitation of Niall.
She found Megan and Robbie at a table, nursing a vodka and tonic and a Sam Adams beer. Kyle, from the tech investigations team, was sitting with them, dressed in his usual flannel shirt over a t-shirt that he’d got free from some tech company. She ordered a Spitfire from the bar, as it was quicker than waiting for table service when it was this crowded. Robbie and Megan were discussing some point of finance that had Kyle’s eyes glazed over.
“How’s tricks, Kyle?”
“Good,” he gave her his usual shy smile.
“Any more photos of the baby?”
“Yeah,” he dug out his phone and started to swipe through a slide show of the latest pics of his four month old daughter, Alice. It amazed her how many photos people could take of a baby, but she cooed appreciatively over each one.
“Feeling broody?” Megan asked her.
Indigo snorted. “As if. But I like children.”
“But could you eat a whole one?” Robbie asked, solemnly.
“Alice is pretty cute,” Indigo said. “But I think I’d have to pace myself, eat her over several days.”
“Maybe keep her in the freezer?”
“Now, you see that’s the problem. You freeze them, you lose the flavor.”
“Hey, this is my kid we’re talking about!” Kyle protested.
“We’re just saying she’s good enough to eat,” Indigo assured him.
They continued to chat for a while, about work and weekends and the weather and why did the snow always come when it was too late to go skiing for the weekend, they had to stay stuck in the city and the office? Megan got onto the topic of the latest black kid shot by police. He’d crashed his car and rung the doorbell of a nearby house. The woman inside thought he was a burglar, called the police, who’d arrived and shot him, though he wasn’t armed. Megan was righteously indignant.
“Where was this?” Indigo asked.
“Florida,” Megan answered.
“Well, that explains it. Isn’t murder legal in Florida, now?” Robbie joked.
Indigo wasn’t listening. Luke was pushing his way towards her through the crowd of overpaid, scruffy, mostly white, young men. He stood out amongst them, dressed in a blue sweater over a white dress shirt and charcoal dress pants.
“Hi,” she stood up to kiss him softly on the cheek. “Good to see you.”
He blew air out noisily through his mouth. “Had a bad day, thought I’d let out a little steam. Thought of you. Get you anything?”
“Another Spitfire, thanks.”
He headed back to the bar.
“I didn’t offend you, did I?” Robbie was asking her anxiously.
“What?” she was confused.
“His comment about Florida, you seemed offended…?” Megan helpfully interjected.
“I’ve got no idea what the fuck you’re on about,” she confessed, making Kyle snort a mouthful of beer up his nose.
“That’s good,” Robbie smiled, relaxing again, while Megan frowned, still disapproving. What was she on about this time? Indigo wondered. Was she assuming Indigo was from Florida?
Luke returned with his beer and they chatted awhile with the others, exchanging stories of their day. Luke, who was an attorney working in the Cambridge juvenile court team, as part of the Middlesex DA’s office, had the best stories, as usual. Today, he’d been prosecuting a 16 year old boy who’d raped and beaten a 14 year old girl, but the stories he told were of hapless defendants, their pants hanging down around their asses, of stuffy judges who had to have much of the defendants’ street slang translated for them, of witnesses who were no better or were worse than the defendants. Of the lies and excuses people made up. Of a 17 year old boy stabbed who insisted it was “all good”, just good friends roughhousing, getting a little out of hand. He made it sound like a comical farce, though Indigo knew it was anything but, and that Luke knew it was anything but.
“How’d it go with your case?” she asked quietly, as Megan told a long, convoluted story of her own, about the teenage kids who hung out in her neighborhood, that seemed to be designed to prove that, though she was white, she was fully cognisant of the existence of racism and thoroughly disapproved of it too.
“We’ll see. Too early to tell,” he answered. Which meant, it probably wasn’t going well at all.
“Want to come back to Aunt Sophie’s for dinner? It’s meatballs.”
“How can I resist Aunt Sophie’s meatballs?” he smiled at her. She liked his stillness, the quiet intensity of his eyes on her.
The others protested as she stood up, Megan looking put out, her story as yet unfinished.
“Sorry guys, I can’t keep Aunt Sophie waiting,” she told them. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Later,” Robbie tipped his beer at her.
“Nice to see you guys,” Luke told them. They escaped into the cold air. The sidewalk had been professionally cleared and salted, so there was room for them to walk hand in hand. She avoided looking into the window of the cafe as they passed it. The brick of the sidewalk was getting slick with ice, the air, which had never been warm all day, now positively frigid. She flipped up the hood of her parka. Her Nikes would be getting covered in salt and grit.
“I just need to grab my boots and laptop from the office,” she told him. “Then I can drive us home.”
“Shit,” Luke grinned, slinging an arm over her shoulder, pulling her in close for a hug. “Day I’ve had, your driving’s about all I need!”
They stopped in the street and, ignoring the cold and passers-by, rubbed their noses together, grinning, and then kissed, gently at first.
© Essie Gilbey, 2014