In the morning, the hovering lamps on the sidewalks emit a seasonal fragrance. Right now, it’s slow-baked wuddupple tarts with a hint of sage. There’s a conspiracy theory that suggests this is used by Auntie Makers Corp to boost up cecel sales. They do sponsor many of the lamps. I dunno, I try not to fill my head with theories from the edges of society. The rain from last night left the air damp and cool. It’s the first day of the work week and the streets are spotless. Those in servitude spend most of the night cleaning up alongside sweeping bots. The moving sidewalks aren’t up and running yet; those don’t begin until closer to the workday. Right now, the only people up and running around are service workers and criminals. Rafe and I fall on opposite sides of that line.
When I turn the corner down LaSalle Parkway, he’s standing against a wall poking at a projection. It’s some game from the phone where you pick out items at a store and try to match the amount of the budget the game gives you. The closer you get, without going over, the better your score.
I walk up and gently kick him in the shin. He signals for me to wait. So I kick him harder.
“Come on, I’m moving onto the car lot next.”
I shrug. “I have no idea about those games. I thought you didn’t play them because they were ‘soaked in pro corporate messages’ or some shit?”
Rafe shuts the game down. “Yeah, but I’m real good at this one.”
There’s a flash in my brain, a memory from when I left Rafe. Him calling me cruel. Me saying he knew what I was. I cough and close my eyes.
Rafe tilts his head to the side and asks. “You all right?”
“You look like the business end of a hund.”
“Sleep’s an issue.” I reply with a sigh.
“You need someone to help wear you out?”
“Possibly—as long as you don’t cry when I leave this time.”
Rafe furrows his brow. “I didn’t cry.”
“Micel said you did.”
“That big rudder.”
I shrug. “It’s not like I could. Maybe you did it for both of us.”
Rafe looks confused. I recognize that look all too well.
“So, how’s the girl I was hired to kill?”
Rafe answers. “She’s still alive.”
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