Two relatively good days, although I would’ve liked to write a bit more yesterday, but in total for the two days I wrote over 5,600 words. Energy flagging yesterday morning, due to a nice Stone Crab legs dinner with a crisp white wine and great company.
Here’s another excerpt (non-edited):
â€œI have to call Winston again. Can you get those clothes for me?â€
â€œSure. Iâ€™ll be back.â€
I gave Isabel the key to the apartment so she wouldnâ€™t have to ring the bell, checked that the baby girl hadnâ€™t crawled somewhere, then called Winston at home, since he wasnâ€™t likely to be at work yet. I swore when I got his machine. â€œYou know the routine. If itâ€™s you, Jack, I sent you an email. Read it.â€
Damn. Whereâ€™s the expert when you need one? I fired up my computer, got another cup of coffee and brought it to my desk. The baby gurgled. That stopped me. After the initial infant crying, Phoenix had made no sounds, except for the time when he jumped me when I stopped the music. I craned my neck. Fred sat in front of her, staring. The baby also sat, a broad smile on her face, her small pudgy arms moving up and down. Actually, she was kind of cute.
I heard the door open and close and a â€œItâ€™s me.â€ I logged into my email and, sure enough, there was Winstonâ€™s message. Isabel appeared around the corner, a plastic bag in hand. She stopped in front of the baby.
â€œCome on, sweetie, letâ€™s get some clothes on.â€ She picked up the girl â€“â€˜my, youâ€™re getting heavyâ€™â€”and went into the guest bedroom. Fred followed them. Definitely a ladiesâ€™ cat.
I swore again when I learned from Winstonâ€™s email that Charlie had needed help with the mission and AGES were sending him to assist. He had no idea when heâ€™d be back. The second part was slightly more encouraging; he given me access to the AGES database. The appropriate equipment would be delivered in the morning. The doorbell rang just as I finished reading the message. This place was coming to resemble a train station. Either that or I was spending entirely too much time at home.
The peephole revealed a uniformed man from the brown delivery company. Had Winston timed it that way? If so, I was becoming entirely too predictable.
â€œJack Meter?â€ the uniform said.
â€œI need ID.â€
I dug my wallet from my coat behind the door, showed him my driverâ€™s and PI licenses. Both had unflattering pictures of my face.
The man took a small metal box, slightly longer than my hand. He opened it. â€œIâ€™ll need some blood for typing and DNA match.â€
By that time, being the sharp PI I was, I deduced that this man was only disguised as a delivery man. He pointed to my left hand. When I raised it, he snapped the box closed on my index finger. Something zapped it. The pain was intense.
â€œJesus,â€ I said. â€œYou couldâ€™ve warned me.â€
The man grinned. â€œWhy? Thatâ€™s the only fun part of this fucking boring job.â€
He checked his watch. â€œYouâ€™re who you claim to be. He leaned down, picked up a hard-shelled suitcase and handed it to me. Agent Winston sends his regrets and wishes you luck.â€
Isabel came out of the bedroom, a little girl in navy pants and red sweater walking beside her. She held Isabelâ€™s hand and Fred trotted on her other side.
â€œDelivery from Winston,â€ I said. â€œSheâ€™s growing faster than Phoenix, I think.â€
â€œAre you going to name her, as well?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t seem to like the idea.â€
â€œIt seems ghoulish, somehow.â€
â€œMaybe, but itâ€™s easier to give her a name than to call her the kid or the woman.â€
â€œI know. I need to go out, get some things done, like grocery shopping. Are you going to be all right?â€
â€œAs long as you come back in a couple of hours with some new clothes for her.â€
Isabel led the girl to one of the living room chairs and placed her there, then she bent down and kissed the little girlâ€™s head. â€œBye, sweetie. Iâ€™ll be back soon.â€ Fred jumped on the chair and curled up against her, his eyes fixed on me as if he needed to keep watch.
I decided to call the little girl Eve, after the first woman. It suited her somehow. Uncomfortable with leaving her all alone in the living room, I brought Winstonâ€™s gift to the coffee table and sat on the couch. As soon as I touched the edges of the case, I felt something like an electric current in my fingers and the case snapped open.
It began to buzz and beep and whistle, to Eveâ€™s great delight. She clapped and laughed. When she smiled, a dimple appeared on her right cheek. Her eyes changed from light blue to dark. Despite myself, I was charmed. I smiled back.
â€œJack,â€ she said, and pointed at me. â€œFred.â€ And she patted the cat lightly. â€œIsabel, bye-bye.â€