At some point my alley became hallowed ground for the neighborhood junkies. I suspect this began with the miracle of the stealable bike, but it has since become a place of refuge, commerce, and storage of recently acquired goods. In the past three months I have come home to discover: Seatless bikes, Bikeless wheels, Futon Frames, Shitting whores, and a naked man trying on stolen pants.
“So, under past work experiences you have : Thief of dreams.”
May spun the resume around to face the applicant so they could read the offending section.
“Does that seem like a legitimate job to you, Karl? Even figuratively it makes you sound like a shitty high school teacher. But literally, Karl, if we get audited and I have to explain why we are paying eighty grand to someone who’s previous job was… literally stealing dreams, do you think they will see that as a legitimate corporate expense?” Said May.
Karl glanced at the resume and then returned its gaze to the clock on May’s right. They were unused to eye contact in brightly lit rooms or people yelling at them, not because of them.
“ I thought this was just for internal use so I figured I would try to be transparent…and then maybe you’d, like, corporatize the language. “ said Karl.
I arrived home to find a broken door propped against the frame, and a house in disorder, materially and otherwise. There was a note written on the back of a water bill: Isaac….icecream park, usual time. Shit got real! May. There was a small amount of blood on the floor and the baleful smell of predator lingered. Lyles’ room was open and empty of furniture, the forced entry had broken his wards. My toaster was hiding under the sink in the kitchen. I didn’t have time to comfort it but I put out some lightly combustible treats for later.
The boy’s house was indistinct, but fittingly seedy, simple and thick with old magic. A man’s place became him. Malcolm Hannish had watched for days and had taken measures to ensure Isaac was away long enough to have a proper conversation. In his hand Malcolm Hannish held a package he’d stolen from a porch down the street. He knocked thrice and waited. A small, tanned girl with short curly hair opened the door a crack, but left the chain on. Malcolm Hannish had been told she was May, person not month.
“I have a package for delivery,” said Malcolm Hannish.
May closed and locked the door and responded by speaking through the mail slot.
“Yeah, I can see that…but since you don’t have a clipboard I don’t need sign for it, so you can just put that shit on the porch and fuck off.” said May.
It had not occurred to Malcolm Hannish to acquire a clipboard. Guile had never been his strength as a hunter. He pressed on.
“This package is for Isaac Barrow, are you they?” Said Malcolm Hannish.
“ I don’t know who that is, and you are giving me serious raper vibes, so why don’t you deliver that package straight up the ass of whoever gave you this address. I already called the cops.” said May.
Malcolm Hannish was sure she had not. Those that lived on the fringe didn’t involve mundane authorities. Malcolm Hannish studied the protections on the door. They were robust, in a crude way, but designed more to contain that which was within, than to to bar entry. This ruse was thin, and Malcolm Hannish was not built for deception, so he kicked firmly at a spot below the knob. The lock burst along with the protections, and the door swung in, sending the girl sprawling to avoid being struck. She was quick and held a souvenir mini-bat from a local baseball team. Malcolm Hannish had never played, but enjoyed the cheap beer and sunshine of a day game. The girl swung it at his knees, Malcolm Hannish stomped the bat to the floor, pinning the girl’s hand beneath it.
“I have not come to harm you, I need only that you tell me of Isaac. Answer in a clear and timely fashion and this could be brief and relatively painless.” said Malcolm Hannish.
May kicked towards Malcolm Hannish and tried without success to dislodge her hand from under the bat. Little bones broke loudly with each attempt. She screamed.
“I have no fucking idea who that is.” said May.
Malcolm Hannish gestured about the room.
“You are in his house.” said Malcolm Hannish.
“This is my house you piece of shit, I got it at a police auction for a hundred grand. The last owner killed himself because he fucking sucked.”, said May.
Without taking his foot from the bat Malcom Hannish picked up a bill, addressed to Isaac Barrow, from the side table and presented it May “And this”
Fury and petulance twisted the young woman’s features.
“I steal mail!” said May.
Malcolm Hannish felt a certain regard for her will but the lie was obvious. Kneeling down Malcom Hannish grabbed the back of the girls neck and lifted her off the floor, his thumb and forefinger close to touching on the other side. She struck at him with no effect. Malcolm Hannish turned the girl to face a framed picture of Isaac and her prominently displayed on the fireplace mantle.
“And this?” said Malcom Hannish.
The words gurgled out.
“It came with the frame,” said May.
“How did your date go?” asked Myles.
Myles was the whole of the Happy Acres IT department and one of my two work friends. He was smarter than he needed to be, he’d had a brief stint at MIT before burn out and bad debt sent him to community college, but he never acted above the job.
“About as badly as it could have without racking up a death or a felony. I don’t want to get into specifics, but Claire won’t return my calls, May is pissed at me, and I better die two towns over if I want a decent burial.”
Myles took in the information as best he could, it was clear he had follow up questions, but he didn’t pry.
“ Maybe hanging out with May isn’t a first date move? I get you guys vibe, but you are kinda bringing a hyena to a hedgehog party.” said Myles.
Savannah politics aside he had a point, but my romantic history was checkered enough before May that I didn’t think she was hurting my prospects.
“It was a bad scene, but it was never going anywhere. Claire is a regular, decent, person and I’m, I don’t know…an Irregular, indecent, person.” I said.
Myles brought his tupperware to the break room sink and rinsed it out.
“You are being too hard on yourself. You are a decent enough guy, you just make bad choices.” said Myles.
I shrugged. I appreciated the generous interpretation but it wasn’t an issue.
“ I am not making a value judgment, we are just different things that mesh poorly.” I said.
Myles put his tupperware into his insulated meal bag. It fit so perfectly it must have come as a set.
“You could tell that for sure from one date?” said Myles.
“I could tell that from no dates, but sometimes you want to prove a negative.” I said.
Myles patted my shoulder and left the kitchen. I threw out my sandwich bag and crumbs and took the stairs to the ground floor to start my rounds. The argument was loud enough I could hear it from the stairwell.
“Doctor David Seaver, tell him to get his ass down here before I go up there and drag him down.”
A medium tall and muscular twenty something was berating the receptionist. He had cauliflower ears and the scarred head of someone who attracted a lot of bottles. He seemed bad at negotiating but prone to violence. The receptionist, Callie, attempted to lay out the facts.
“Dr. Seaver is not in today, and if he was I would not call him downstairs to be ambushed. If you have an issue with care or billing I am happy to give you our administrators contact information, but if you don’t calm yourself I am going to call the police.” said Callie.
Eldest Young was attractive, or at least carried herself as someone who’d been told so often. Her clothes seemed expensive and selected with care, but Malcom Hanish had no more eye for fashion than he did the beauty of young women. Malcom Hanish withdrew a moleskine notebook from his coat pocket and placed it on the counter.
“Was it a good read?” asked Eldest Young.
Malcom Hanish was vexed, this pursuit was beneath his talents, but he kept a civil tone.
“ Key events were poorly observed, messily recorded, and on several occasions occluded by stickers from a punk rock group of questionable musical prominence.”
“ Were you able to make sense of it?” asked Eldest Young.
Malcom Hanish had strong thoughts on the matter, but kept his opinion brief.
“ The lead single from their first album was highly promoted and they had a strong campus presence. She may have been from the same area as the band. ” Said Malcolm Hanish
Eldest Young scoured Malcom Hanish’s face for any hint of sarcasm or impunity. There was none. She clarified her inquiry.