“Why we stoppin’ here?” Joaquin asked frowning in clear confusion. We need to be doin’ things, he thought.
Massey squinted his eyes when he checked the rear-view mirror. He seemed to take in the street behind them, then he sighed. “I need you to kindly do me a favor.” His eyes met Joaquin’s via the reflective glass.
Joaquin raised his eyebrows.
“An officer from the precinct, Betty Patterson will come by the house soon.”
Joaquin allowed a lighthearted grin. “You playa! I knew you wasn’t all just rules and shit.”
Massey rolled his eyes. “It’s not like that.” He sighed, the tiring events of the last few days evident on his face. “I need you to stay put there and take the file she gives you. Then I need you to take it straight to Andy.”
Joaquin let his eyes lose focus for a moment while Massey’s words sunk in.
Massey turned in his seat, his seatbelt digging into his tense shoulder. “Can you do that for me?” He allowed his worry into his words trapping Joaquin in a place where he couldn’t do wrong. Joaquin flinched at the nearness and intensity filling the eyes of the old detective.
“What file?” Joaquin asked in a melodramatic raspy voice.
“The Miles Jensen case.”
Joaquin mouthed, “Oh shit,” turned, and stared out the window.
Joaquin could hear Massey lick his dry lips. “I need you on this Joaquin. I have somewhere else to be,” Massey replied.
Joaquin twisted in the seat. “Lookin’ for Anne, right?” He shrugged and pursed his lips. “I can help.”
Massey turned to him. “You’ll help by doing this. It’s extremely important that Andy gets the file today. This is our only leverage against Globe.”
Joaquin thought on it, puckering his lips. He could see sweat beads forming on Massey’s forehead. He felt the way Massey’s eyes didn’t blink as they bore into him. The last part of Massey’s argument was like a punch to the gut. Joaquin relaxed into the seat and he nodded. “A’ight, I’ll go.”
Massey seemed to deflate; his back no longer rigid and his shoulders slumped ever so slightly. “Do you remember where Andy lives?” he asked Joaquin, his eyes returning to the rear-view mirror again.
Joaquin looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. “I used to rob houses you know. Remembering addresses and shit is kinda my thing.”
Massey sighed. He stuck his finger between his collar and neck. It was getting uncomfortably warm inside the cruiser. Massey squinted at the bright sun as a reflection shone through the windshield and highlighted his craggy facial features. Joaquin noted the stubble in the new light.
“You make sure no one follows you when you leave the house. I don’t believe they’re watching it, not yet, but they may have tapped my phone.” Massey returned his stare to Joaquin. “No calls until I get a burner. You wait for me to call you.”
“Why would someone be following you?”
Massey bit into his lower lip. “Things are complicated. Some people don’t want me nosing around the case, but I can take the heat. I’m still the Lead Detective.” He paused. “You on the other hand … I can’t have you jeopardized as well. I need you to be smart about this Joaquin.”
Joaquin allowed his face to cloud over. “You know I can deal with them if I need to. I can protect you, man.”
“No!” Massey shouted, then he cleared his throat, lowering his voice back down. “You make sure Andy gets the file. Keep your head cool, keep your voice down and don’t go all gangsta on anyone suspicious looking. Mind your own business – just this once. I’ll find Anne.”
Protesting against Massey’s commands was a mind bomb. It was like hitting his head against a concrete wall. Joaquin was headstrong and impervious of skin, but even his patience was fragile and against Massey it was a lost cause from the start. He climbed out of the cruiser and made his way to the detective’s house from the back alley. Joaquin’s eyes shifted back and forth watching the street, Massey’s house, and neighboring buildings. Just like back in the day, he thought.
Joaquin was mad at Massey for going after Anne alone. Massey assured him that Anne wasn’t going to hurt him given their truce and common enemy, but Joaquin didn’t trust the woman, not after he had seen her at handy work in the warehouse. He shuddered when he closed his eyes and saw her covered in blood and waving around her red hand cannon. He remembered her lips pulled back and her teeth bared as she grinned at the chaos.
She was dangerous and of the oldest bloodline on Earth. Massey was just a man. A crotchety old curmudgeon, but still just a mortal man. Joaquin knew that Massey wouldn’t fire his gun at her even if she were coming at him with vengeful fury in her eyes. He didn’t think Massey had ever seen Anne’s fury. Joaquin had, and he never wanted to see it again.
Anne had a certain appeal. It wasn’t just her unbridled sexual energy. It wasn’t her shapely curves. It wasn’t the perfect symmetry of her face. It was her eyes. Her eyes could bore into a man. It was as if she could look into your soul and see the real you. She could see the ugliness inside. He didn’t know if that ugliness was what made her so beautiful. She had it too, and it was that ugliness that had gotten all his friends killed. He remembered the Sixth Street Kings scattered around the warehouse like discarded toys lying in pools of blood as red as her dress. It was as red as her beautiful lips.
Joaquin blinked once, twice, thrice, and shook himself from his crimson reverie. He sighed and sank into Massey’s old leather recliner. His eyes focused on the front door, awaiting a knock from Massey’s female cop friend.
Next: Old Friends