Flattery will get you…oh, who am I kidding?

Posted: 2011 in Post 3.5
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 Sunday, March 25, 9:07 a.m.

I drive Jack to the Washingtonian newspaper office. His car is still parked in the 3 Coins lot. It’s untowed and within walking distance.

“So, let me give you your keys and your license,” I say, digging through my huge purse, which doubles as a briefcase and occasionally triples as a lunch box. “And your cigarettes. You ought to quit. I did. It was totally worth it. So…I guess I’ll be seeing you around, if I ever happen to cover a crime scene in Seattle again. Fat chance, huh?” I laugh.

I hold out Jack’s property. In the passenger seat of my Subaru, he doesn’t reach out to take it. He stares at me. His cell phone chimes. He flinches.

Another text.

“They won’t stop,” he says. He pulls his cell phone from his jacket pocket and holds it out to me. “See for yourself.”

“Jack, I don’t want to read your private messages, or whatever. I think…well, this is goodbye, right? Thanks for your help on the ol’ book project and all. So, here…”

My hand left grips the steering wheel. My right hand awkwardly holds his keys, his driver’s license and a nearly empty pack of Marlboro cigarettes. Jack doesn’t reach for them. He holds out his cell phone, which I don’t want. Our fingers don’t brush as the unintelligent turn of the millennium Nokia finds its way into my left hand. I don’t remember reaching for it. I clumsily press a button with my thumb.

Letters on the small screen spell out, “WE SAW U. WE KNOW WHAT U DID. U WILL PAY.”

I look at Jack. We share a chilling of the spine in my overheated car.

“What is this?” I say.

“You tell me,” he says. He fingers the dark bruise on the left side of his jaw. “Please, can you tell me?”

“I…I don’t know. The caller is listed as Unknown.”

“How does that work?”

“Telemarketer?” I say.

“No,” he says. “Could you check something for me? It’s on my computer.”

“Home?”

“No, work.”

His work computer is inside the dull gray building just outside my car.

I sigh.

“I don’t know…”

“You’re young. You know more about computers than me,” he says.

Flattered in two ways, I demur—and giggle, probably.

“Okay,” I say. “But I can’t promise that I can do anything.”

What can it hurt?

When will I realize that lately I keep on learning exactly what it can hurt?

 

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