Stellar news space cadets, no it’s not that I don’t feel like death warmed up in an easy bake oven, thanks to my new weightlifting and not eating regime I feel like oprah winfrey covered me in bathroom scales then smashed them with a hammer then sat on me then drove a free mobile home over me.
Doctor Ryk prescribed lots of protein coffee and elite dangerous playing.
But no the news, well after much poking and prodding and passive aggressive english awkwardness I got the edit back for The one that came back, huzzah, now I can finally get pub- oh wait all the two people who wanted to see copies of it have probably long forgotten about it, well shit.
It doesn’t matter, shit happens, got a new editor now, it’s all cool and the gang and a way better book to shill. So I figure just carry out the original plan and give it away for free on the mailing list which I should really keep updating but my memory and my fucks are not what they used to be.
Anyway that’s my plan for the day, work through the edits, get it smoothed away and then slap together a cool cover of sorts and make it a nice pdf or mobi or something like that in time for my ban on facebook to be lifted, freeing me to spam once more.
That be all.
The clinic on Calebra was a small practice pinched on one side by a dollar store and some fleabag hotel on the other. It had a great green empty lot in the front. He expected something a little bigger like a hospital or a resort. Not a building that looked like a family dentist’s office. The weather was hot as usual, sun in the sky, starting to get a little darker, with a slight cool breeze blowing.
The clinic was a flat brick building painted a light brown all over. Even the roof tiles were the same wet sand brown colour. It looked almost like a residence with all the curtains shut tight. A small concrete parking lot out front with a single palm tree sticking up in the middle. The entrance was off to the right and looked like a little house or a big garage. The treatment rooms must have been in the back or slung over to the left in the bulk of the building. There were quite a few cars parked out front and a white van parked at the side. Porter looked at it and sqoffed at it imagining it was for catching runaway dope fiends.
From left to right there was a red prius, a black ford, a silver Chrysler, a black hundai. So he wasn’t here or if he was he was using someone else’s car. Or maybe he was staying at the fleabag and just walked.
He glanced over at the fleabag, there were no cars out front as far as he could see.
Porter parked the Dodge behind the prius and got out and went inside.
To his surprise the reception area was all the same colour as the outside of the building. The desk and furnishing were varnished wood of the same colour. Whether that was intentional or not was anyone’s guess. Unless their decorator was also a patient that mystery would have to remain unsolved.
Porter stood around the lobby for a second, the layout seemed odd. The desk was further back than he expected and he couldn’t see anyone behind it. The waiting area was bunched very close to the door and gave a strange perspective. Probably intentional to make the building seem larger inside.
He looked around, it was sparsely decorated, subtle tones. Not much on the walls except calming benign paintings of plants and kittens. There were a few magazines on the coffee table in the waiting area that looked dated and well thumbed. Other than that there wasn’t much in there that would tell you you were in a rehab clinic. No pamphlets or posters or pictures of people. For all intents and purposes it just looked like the inside of a very sterile and strangely laid out house.
“Err… ahem, excuse me”
Porter turned his head towards the squeaking noise from behind the desk. He moved closer and saw that there was someone behind it, she was just obscured by a rather large monitor. She was a petite and pale redhead with glasses on her face that looked like they were screwed too tight. Her hair tied back in a loose ponytail of dull orange. She was perhaps around her mid twenties. Fairly attractive with a sort of boxy squished nose lightly dusted with freckles.
“Yes can I help you with something?” She said leaning forward on her chair trying to make herself more visible to get his attention.
Porter put on his horker smile and went closer to the desk. Now he could see just her head which was disconcerting. The rest of her body obscured by the monitor and the needlessly high desk.
“Yeah I’m looking for my brother, I was wondering if you could help me, he’s got our mom really worried.” Porter said to the floating head.
“What’s your brother’s name?” She said returning a limp half smile.
“Jack Hide” Porter moved closer to the desk and leant on it with a single elbow watching her face closely.
She turned her nose up and then scrunched it up a little bit. Her eyes flitting up and down his face and body, his clothes, maybe she could even smell him now. The point is he was trying to make her uncomfortable by incriminent and it was working. The sooner he got what he wanted and was gone the better.
Satisfied, she started clacking away as loud as humanly possible on a large old grey keyboard. With every tap Porter could almost see bony fingers popping bubble wrap made of plate glass. It was like nails on a chalk board but the board was the inside of your skull and the nails were dirty toenails.
He smiled still looking at her face now from the side, leaning more of his weight on the desk and crossing his legs. She had a nice long smooth neck but not much of a chin to speak of. Not that a woman needed a big chin but it was necessary to stop your head falling off your neck. She caught him looking in the corner of her eye, which was fine, he wasn’t hiding it, quite the opposite. The more heat he put on her the faster she’d work.
“We have one Kyle Hyde, but no Jack” She looked at him and then looked back at the monitor.
“That’s him, do you have an address?” He flipped over on the desk and put both elbows on it angling almost to lean over and see the monitor.
She swivelled the monitor away so he couldn’t see and said “I’m sorry. We can’t give out the addresses of our patients, unless you can prove you’re next of kin.”
“How do we do that? You wanna take my blood, check my prostrate?” Porter smiled, it was so easy to tell with redheads, pale skin like that flushes, you can see it from space. He waited for it to die down and didn’t say anything, he just left it hanging there, letting the silence build.
There are two kinds of people when it comes to facing awkward silences. Those that will embrace it and get belligerent like a teacher dealing with a naughty kid. An authoritarian personality. The other type is more common. Most people will do almost anything to make it end shy of selling their mother at a discount. Most people just want to help and make other people happy. Even if it means throwing out everything they believe in a split second of awkwardness. It becomes hard when you have rules. That is to remember them all in a stressful situations. So all you need to do is apply pressure for them to forget one or two for a long enough window to slip past them. No ones perfect, people are like locks. And there are no locks that can’t be picked if you poke at them long enough and with a long enough stick.
The blushing came back and Porter smiled, he didn’t want to pull the waterworks or the fire alarm or have to lie. She was making her own story in her head by now. His sad ‘whore with the heart of gold’ smile was producing the screen rights to the movie.
“Look…” Porter said breaking the tension. “All you need to do is step away for a second and get a cup of coffee and you’ll never have to know anything happened.”
She was flustered good now, he was impatient and he’d worked her hard and maybe too fast. Laid it on a little too thick but he’d given her an out and she had to take it or call security. If this place had any, maybe she was it and there was a shotgun pointing in circumcision range as they spoke.
“Erm, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” She put up token resistance, just a stalling tactic.
“Look all I need is an address, I just want to make sure he’s alright, that’s all”. He talked emphatically, adding a little shakiness to his voice.
“Ok I’m going to go to the bathroom and I expect you to be gone by the time I get back”. She said as she stood up from her chair.
A little too much information but that was fine.
Porter smiled and mouthed thankyou. As if she’d done him and his imaginery family a big favour that he could never repay. She’d literally cured cancer by going to bathroom. If she washed her hands afer the dalai llama would give her a standing ovation.
He watched her go and as soon as she turned the corner he went around the desk. There was no fixed address listed for Jack at all. The alias Kyle and no address, he wasn’t making this easy. But Nancy had found him under his original name. Or maybe she just searched ‘Hide’ and this was the only one she found in rehab in a city of about four million people.
There was one forwarding address listed but going by the rest of it seemed like this was a coincidence. It seemed unbelieveable that this was our guy. The address listed must have been somewhere he’d been staying at some point. Most likely coach surfing or squatting. There was something about the address that seemed familiar. Standing in front of monitor wasn’t the best place to think about it. The address was 147 J street in the warehouse district.
He went out to sit in the dodge. He looked around and there was nobody in the parking lot. He cleared his mind for a minute and tried to think whether or not that address was worth his time. This was it, this was the only lead he was given if this was bust it was back to square one. If Jack left the state or the country this was finished. He knew he’d never get anything out of Angela, she’d probably forgotten more than she remembered by now. If the fbi couldn’t get her to talk. Some half decent confidence trickster wasn’t going any deeper without getting dirty.
Peggy probably knew something but wanted to forget. Getting close to her would be near impossible now. She’d be on the defensive nonstop until this died down and all the reporters forgot she existed. Plus she already knew him and he really didn’t want this to get any messier than it had to. Getting involved in their family drama wasn’t his plan. The kid was no good, he didn’t know anything, he probably had to struggle to remember his real name.
Plan? Now that he thought about it what was his plan? Was there a plan? Was there ever a plan? What was he doing, why was he doing it? It started over money. Then it stopped being about money and started being about getting a good nights sleep. Without seeing that kids face and then it became about money again and now was it back to sleep?
He sighed hard and drifted off into thought. Until he heard a little pipping noise and was made aware that some time had passed. The girl from the front desk wanted to move her prius and he was blocking it with his big unsightly truck.
He sort of fell out of his daydreams with a jump like falling. His heart hitting a cold floor and he felt flustered suddenly and was looking for his keys. Opening the glove box and then the sun visor, remembering that he put them in the ignition already.
He caught a glimpse of something in the glovebox. He put a photocopy of Johnny’s missing person’s flier in his car. Incase he needed to jog people’s memories or maybe it was some sentimental reason he didn’t want to delve too far into. Maybe looking at it would be enough to stir the angels to help him and rouse his spirits. Make his heart grow ten times bigger and his brain ten times smaller.
Then he remembered, it hit him like a tonne of bricks and he cared less about little red’s prius. The tattoos, the cross was a given. But the other letters didn’t make any sense and they didn’t have to at the time. Kid gets a little tattoo most adult tattoos don’t mean a damn thing. He thought the J might have just been for Johnny or Jack or something like that but the rest seemed meaningless. ST meant something but maybe it wasn’t two separate words. Just an abbreviation for street and maybe he was leading himself on a wild goose chase. Maybe anything he saw he’d make fit so that he could be on the tail of some great mystery. Not scratching in the dirt in someone else’s basement.
Thinking wasn’t doing any good, thinking lead home and nowhere, who was he kidding? He was going whether he liked it or not, like he was on rails. Spirred on by destiny and all that stuff that made us feel good and powerful but meant the opposite.
He turned the engine over and drove out of the lot.
Nulidad was sitting in a room in the san Antonio detention centre. They moved him from the childs centre to the jail proper across the street. After his record from Interpol came through.
He was wearing a white pair of pants and blue shirt. They almost looked like hospital scrubs as opposed to the orange jumpsuits you see on tv. Sterile looking.
His cell was small as you might expect. It came equipped with a blue phone imbedded into a white column in the middle of the back wall. A small old tv on top the plugs were in the middle of the wall right next to his bed, which consisted of a single cot. The walls were white and green on adjacent sides and there was a mirror over his bed embedded in the wall.
He’d spent most of his time sitting on his bed making collect calls to whomever would answer. He was looking for something, shopping for something. A new identity a new family. He got a taste of something, maybe he’d had it before and that’s why he did it. The love of a family, or something close to that. The tv was on but the reception in the centre wasn’t great and the volume was broken on the quietest setting.
There was something else, he was waiting for and then it came. The phone rang and he answered and an unfamiliar voice answered and he asked. “How did you get this number?”
“Mom gave it to me” The voice was sly and slow and contained a threat of some sort.
“Who is this?” Nulidad said.
“I could ask the same question, what was your name again, your real name?”
“What do you want?”
“The real question is what do you want? I can pay your bail, get you out of town and you can keep on keeping on ya feel me?”
“Why would you do this for me?”
“You know why, you’ve got a big mouth.”
“So you can kill me, like you kill Johnny?” Nulidad hissed.
“Now who said that? I didn’t kill Johnny and if I did, I wouldn’t talk about it on a phone in a jail”. He paused and sucked in some breathe.
“You don’t know me, you don’t owe me anything.”
“I want you out of my hair and you want out, it’s a winwin for you to skip and I can help but you have to make up your mind now.”
Nulidad breathed through his nose making a whistling sound and said “Ok.”