GH Wednesday: Scene 20
The bike path was icy from so many feet trampling down the snow, pitted with deep frozen ruts where boots had sunk into snow that had then iced over. Indigo ran as fast as she could, careless of the risk of turning an ankle on a frozen boot print. Surefooted as ever, she turned onto Rindge Avenue, where the sidewalks were icy, still uncleared, running along the street instead, pounding past the elementary school, through the underpass, skidding on a ice puddle before turning into the project housing and on into Danehy Park. Though it was still dark, there were two storm-fighters in the park, dressed in their grey-and-black uniforms trying to herd the lumbering trees back to where they belonged, with the aid of their dragons. Indigo stopped to catch her breath and admire the translucent beauty of the dragons, one of which gleamed in the dark in several shades of blue, from smoke to indigo, while the other was a more visible fiery red, from gold to crimson. They curled through the air like smoke, writhing amongst the trees, herding them like cattle towards the holes were their roots had once rested. The children’s play area was still an ice palace, but Indigo supposed the mages would get to it soon enough. She ran around the cleared half of the park, taking care to give the storm-fighters their distance. These were no auxiliary SDA staff, the ghost hunters and other junior mages who performed most of the magic clean-up in the city. These were the real deal, uniformed dragon masters, the first, last and only line of the city’s defenses against storms and arrogant as hell towards and any cadjin.
She ran home via Porter Square, ran upstairs and quickly showered. She headed down to Aunt Sophie’s for a quick breakfast.
“No omelet,” she said.
“What’s the matter honey? You feeling okay?”
She’d slept alone the previous night and woken that morning with the familiar sense of dread already weighing her down, making it hard for her to get out of bed. She’d avoided the mirror, not wanting to see shadows gathering around her reflection. The run hadn’t been enough to clear her head. Some days just weren’t going to be good ones from the moment you woke up and you just had to accept that.
“I’m fine,” she smiled. “But I’ve been eating a lot lately. I feel like something a little lighter, you know?”
“How about some toast and peanut butter?”
“Just coffee and a banana,” Indigo countered.
“You can’t make it through the morning on that. You have to eat, honey.”
They compromised on a bowl of cornflakes to accompany the banana. Indigo tried to ignore her aunt’s worried looks. The last thing she needed when she felt like this was anyone fussing over her.
“Luke didn’t stay over last night?”
“That’s a shame, he’s a nice boy.”
“Does he know about Kate?”
“He has other lovers too, Aunt Sophie.”
“You young ones. You know, you need to be careful. Just because AIDs isn’t in the news anymore…”
“Don’t worry, we use condoms,” Indigo gave her best attempt at a smile, swallowed the last of her coffee.
“You know you’ve got to grow up sometime, honey. I love having you here, but if you don’t settle down soon, all the best ones will be gone.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” she kissed her aunt on the cheek.
“Girl or boy, I don’t mind. Just let someone love you,” Aunt Sophie pleaded. “I don’t want you to be alone.”
“I just haven’t met the right one yet,” Indigo told her, saving her aunt’s feelings with a lie, for she was absolutely certain there was no ‘right one’ for her.
She left and headed to work. The office felt claustrophobic to her, the day a hazy grey outside, the overhead fluorescent lights too bright and unnatural. Robbie and Megan were in a meeting. Ben was out, as he was most of the time, probably advising some wealthy client on their security. She was alone at her set of four desks.
She’d been pulled off the Jackson case the night before. Niall had given it to Kassie, a petite blonde who always wore dresses and heels, had a photo of her fiance on her desk and would, if you admired the rock on her left hand, tell you all about the romantic proposal he’d made on New Year’s Eve, at the stroke of midnight.
Niall didn’t say, but Indigo was betting he thought perhaps a different kind of woman, a more feminine kind, who wasn’t six foot in her bare feet, could tempt Jackson into infidelity, where she couldn’t. No doubt she’d be given the next undercover maid job.
She scowled at her laptop screen. The video footage of Jackson showed nothing new. No doubt Kassie hadn’t made her move yet. She called Mrs Delgado.
“Mrs Delgado, this is Indigo. The investigator trying to find your son?”
A pause. “Yes?”
“Have you heard from him Mrs Delgado?”
“Joe had a child, Mrs Delgado, you didn’t tell me that.”
“What business is it of yours?”
Indigo leaned back in her chair, frowning out the window at the office block opposite. Why was Mrs Delgado being so unhelpful? Surely she wanted her son found? Unless Joe had been in touch and she knew he was okay, knew why Frank Toomey might want to find Joe?
“I’d like to talk to his wife.”
“The mother of his child?”
“Oh her. She is not his wife,” the contempt in Mrs Delgado’s voice was bitter. “She’s just some puta who tricked him, takes all his money for child support. We don’t even know for sure it’s his son.”
“You don’t have contact with her at all?”
“But you know who she is?”
“What’s her name?”
“You don’t even know that? Huh, Mr Toomey’s so concerned for my son, but he doesn’t even know the name of Maria Reyes? Or the boy? He doesn’t know my so-called grandson’s name?”
Definitely Mrs Delgado had found out that Toomey’s concern for Joe was not necessarily for Joe’s wellbeing, but for the money owed. Which meant most likely that Joe had been in touch. She was going to have to stake out Mrs Delgado. Indigo rubbed her eyes with the palm of one hand. She felt so tired at the thought. Really, who cared?
“What did Maria Reyes call the boy she claims is Joe’s?” she asked softly.
“Dylan. After the singer, maybe. Not after my Joe, that’s for sure.”
“Right. Do you know where they live? Maria and Dylan?”
“How would I know? All I know is I’ve not heard from Joe and someone tells me Mr Toomey only wants him because Joe owes him money. Well Joe owes nobody anything!”
“I understand,” Indigo said, soothingly, but she was too late. Mrs Delgado had hung up.
It took a little work on the phone but by mid-morning, she’d found Maria Reyes’ sister, living in East Cambridge, just a few streets away from the Delgados.
“May I speak with Maria?” she asked.
Indigo was silent a moment, wondering whether to mention Joe Delgado, or whether that would make the sister even more hostile.
“Maria doesn’t live here anymore,” the sister, Grace, said into the silence. “I don’t know where she moved to, she moves around a lot, doesn’t always keep up with me. I haven’t heard from her in a while now.”
“How long?” Indigo wondered at the information Grace was offering up so easily.
“I dunno. Two weeks? Maybe longer. I’ve got to go now, I’m still at work.”
The sister had hung up. Indigo frowned at her phone’s screen, now displaying the lock-screen image of her Aunt Sophie, sitting on the front steps of their old flat in Medford, a mischievous grin on her face.
Megan and Robbie were out from their meeting.
“Indigo?” Niall called to her.
“Yes?” she looked up at him.
“Laura Campbell called. Ben’s gone missing again. Can you go over and see what you can do?”
Indigo rolled her eyes, while Megan and Robbie both snorted disparagingly.
“Again?” Indigo said. “God, isn’t he too old to be running away from home every time he fights with his daddy?”
“He’s seventeen, which means he’s still a minor,” Niall said. “Not that I think the police will take it seriously, if she’s even bothered to call them. But she’s a good client, Indigo, so let’s indulge her, all right?”
Indigo looked at the notes she’d made from her morning’s work. Not a lot to show, so far. Other than the enervating possibility of staking out Delgado’s place.
“All right,” she said, getting up with a sigh.
“Jesus, don’t make it sound like you’re doing me a favor,” Niall said drily before heading into his office. Indigo stared after him thoughtfully. There’d been a time when she could talk to him as cheekily as she liked and he only laughed. Was there something going on with him? Or was the novelty of her wearing off?
Niall caught up with Indigo in the elevator as she was leaving.
“I’m on my way,” he was saying into his cell phone. “There’s been a skeleton found at Fresh Pond Reservoir,” he added to Indigo, finishing the call. “The Commissioner’s asked me to take a look at it.”
“Can I come?”
“No, you’re going to the Campbells.”
“Oh come on, Ben’s only run away again. He’s almost an adult, no harm’s going to come to him. A skeleton sounds fun.”
“No, Indigo, the Campbells are paying clients, the city is not.”
“They’re hard to take seriously, though,” Indigo stepped out of the elevator onto the ground floor. She walked briskly past the security desk. “Come on, Niall, let me take a little detour…”
“Indigo, go to the paying client. They’re paying your salary, after all.”
They walked to the parking garage in silence.
“Don’t take it personally,” Niall said, as she started up the concrete stairs to the second floor, where she was parked. “I give you a lot of leeway, you know that. But I need you to do your job in return.”
“You’re not happy with my work?” she stopped on the stairs, not looking at him.
“No, of course not.”
“Not even that I wouldn’t be a honey trap for Jackson?”
“I think that was a smart move, Kassie is much more to his type.”
She looked down at him.
“I mean she’s small. Look, you just can’t come on every job with me, okay? And don’t sulk that I took Jackson off you, that wasn’t a punishment.”
“You’re the boss,” she said, as lightly as she could. She continued up the stairs. Damn Niall, as excited as a boy to get his chance to do his Sherlock Holmes bit. He was friends with the police commissioner, who liked to call him in on interesting cases. It made for good publicity for KTI as well. He’d taken her on enough of those kind of calls for her to take it for granted that he would always take her. Clearly she was wrong. And the Jackson thing did feel personal, even if he said it wasn’t. Was he punishing her for not succeeding on that one? It did sting, she had to admit. Her first failure on a case. Was that why she was getting the dregs, Delgado and Campbell?
© Essie Gilbey, 2014