|Fashion Crimes of the Hyper-Casual
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Not a hell of a lot to go on. Enough. That's why I accepted it. Not true. Reuniting a son with his mom is a
better objective than I'm generally handed. That, and she did have a rather seductive batch of change.
I close to the 'so what?' "When I find your son, then what?"
She wedged loose the baseball bat and headed out my door. "Tell him to call me."
That's all I have to do--Tell Carmine to call his mom. Remember that.
Generally, all you have to do in cases like these is find out 'why' the guy split and you have his location. This
was my preliminary objective.
Step one: Go to the police and have Carmine's file run. Strike that. Step one was getting back into my
clothes. I dripped the three mile walk to the police station. By the time I got there, I had achieved semi-
"Samyeald, right?" buzzed the speaker. I looked up at the camera above the barricade’s door and waved.
The steel service drawer slid open. I fished out the two tubes I keep in my pocket. After I placed the tubes
and my wallet in the drawer, it slid shut.
Grumbling noises erupted in front of me as the gigantic lead door started to sink. A short wait later I stepped
over its vanishing top and went in.
As usual, the hallway was peopled with perps. They sat on low-slung toilets; their pants rolled down; their
hands cuffed behind their backs; IV tubes draping from their arms. Each man had his wrist attached to the
grate-work of iron bars that paneled the wall. There were about 40 of them, sitting one right after the other,
on either side of the hallway that day. Pretty typical.
A burly figure stood in the middle of the hall. A bright white helmet capped his head. At mid-brow the helmet
became a mirrored face shield. The words 'Chicago Police' were tinted in red across this shield. His entire
torso and legs were covered in thick blue pads and leather. In one gloved hand he held a menacing silver
rod, something called a Combo-Bopper. It was a tazer, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a telephone, a cattle prod... I
had even seen them open bottles with the thing.
"Har-Sam, how's it going," he greeted me.
I started the trek up to him. "Fair to midland, Barney. What is shaking with you?"
"Nada. What brings you?"
"My feet," I said, stopping to look down. I then completed the five paces up to him.
"You here to empty the waste bins? That machine you sent us keeps missing a few. Does a good job on the
"Actually, I'm here on business," I explained, perhaps not too succinctly.
"Ah. Here to bid the driveway, huh? Sorry you didn't get the tuck pointing job. We all recommended you, but
the low bid's the low bid..."
"Actually, I have a case."
"Wow. Sorry to hear about that. We're all out of penicillin."
"Not that kind of case."
"Oh. Too bad. Would've won a bet if you did."
This is the twenty-millionth time I've heard about this bet, and I don't know what it's about, and I don't want to
know, so I bid Officer Barney good-bye and go on my merry way.
The Boy-Quarium is where my merry way concludes. This enclosed transparent eggshell is the district's
nerve center. Inside it's circular desk sit 7 men in high back roller chairs. They toil at councils, serving the 7
lines of people who wait patiently at windows outside the dome.
I take a number and mix in with the crowd. The usual bunch is here: suspects, citizens who bitch, and
coppers waiting to log out of their shifts.
A little shift of my position takes place. I make eye-contact with LT. Cole, one of the men in the bubble. He
holds up his hand. I flash the card with my number on it. A bell sounds. My number is mysteriously next at his
The first words through his screen are "We're not taking bids for the driveway, yet."
"I'm not here for that."
LT. Cole rubbed a palm from his bald top down to his fur-covered lip. His face scrunched up. "The lawn's
fine. You just did the lawn. You know, you really should try to get more accounts instead of gouging the ones
you got. Gonna lose business that way."
Before I can correct LT. Cole again, his fingers bite the air with a harsh snap. "My mom's place. They just
fired the contractor at my mom's condo. Gateway Polish Arms. On Lawrence. He was lawn, garden and
windows. You got windows, right?"
"Yes, I do windows--"
"--Carpets. They also bagged the carpet dude."
"I have a mechanical that can--"
"--I know the lawn guy got 670 a week. Maybe you can bid the whole job that.--"
I could, if I wanted to lose money.
"--SGT. Smith needs his car done. You still doing detailing?"
"By hand. I sold that machine."
"Gimme a bid," he said, shoving a card and a pen under the screen. I scribble something and slide it back to
him. He put the card in his pocket. "Through hustling us for the day?"
"Actually, I have a case."
LT. Cole banged his palms down on the desk. He leaned back in his chair and sang "Harry's got a case."
For a very long instant, the Boy-Quarium went silent. All the Irish eyes in the dome were smiling at me.
"Not that kind of case."
As if to say damn, LT Cole swished a finger snap through the air. The Boy-Quarium resumed its normal
"I need the composite for a Carmine Edwards."
"Got a work number?"
"How many Carmine Edwardses can there be," I asked.
There were 3, as it turns out. One of the files was for his sister, Carmella. The second file was of one Carmen
Edwards, who was 143 years old and lived in Cleveland. File 3, the smallest one, was my guy. I put the 63
pages of printout under my arm and turned to leave.
"What? No tip?"
"BannerBob in the third at Arlington."
Outside, I start rummaging through the hard copy, not sure what my next step should be. I have sis's
address, so I should go there. That's my next step. Strike that. I had to get my car. Then I could go visit Miss
Carmella Edwards. Strike that. My next step was evicting Lenny from my car.
Lenny seemed surprised to see me. I had to rap on the glass several minutes before he so much as stirred.
When he finally flopped out of the door, he mumbled "Just taking a nap, man. On break, you know. Been
having a hard day."
This guy doesn't give up. I know he's lost his job. He knows that keeping his job--and keeping the car clean--
were the sole conditions of his lease. He's done neither. Worse. Lenny's 2 months arrears in his rent and
thus I'm 2 months arrears on my payment for this space. I go another 2 months without payment and they'll
confiscate my car. It's been a 2 hour streetcar ride and a 1 hour walk, so I don't have time for Lenny's
garbage right now.
I trudged to the car's hood and pulled its plug from the wall. The cord retracted into the grillwork. According
to the hood reading, my car was fully charged. Good. At least Lenny didn't run the thing down on me.
As I was pushing Lenny's bottles off my front seat, he wiped the sleep from his eyes and tried to make small
"You should give me the start codes, man. I might need to move the car. Never know when there's going to
be an emergency."
Judging by the smell in the car, Lenny was proving incompetent at dealing with even the smallest of
emergencies. "Look the other way," I ordered as I was punching in the codes.
"I got another job, did I tell you?"
"Let me guess... As a wine taster?"
"You going to have the car back by--"
"--If you want to be here, be here when the car gets back."
My Humpmobile started right up with its usual hum. It's a great car. White china finish. Lemmon leatherette
interior. A pity it's too small, otherwise I'd live here.
"I don't think I'll be staying here tonight. Can I have a day deducted from my rent?"
"Are you making a veiled reference to that rent that you're not paying, Leonard?"
"I meant to talk to you about that. Right now my money's a little tied up."
"Invested in glassware, I see."
"Oh, that? I was entertaining. You know my girlfriend?"
I don't want to think about it. Genitalia ought to be licensed. They license everything else.
"Anyway... the money's kind of tied up in some stuff I'm trying to make happen. You know how it is? Trying to
make things happen?"
The only things Lenny's ever made happen are zits.
"Anyway... That's why me and my girlfriend are celebrating. We're going to the Siberia hotel tonight. You
know, the Siberia?"
He's talking about some sort of vista for loving couples. They advertise bottomless chairs and waterfalls in
their suites. I'm guessing he's trying to get me to give him one of those 'Oh Lenny, you stud' sort of looks. I
ignore him. My acting talents would not pass the test of being taxed so.
The car buzzed. It was finally warm--or as sick of Lenny as I was.
"Anyway... you think about what I told you about when I told you last time? About the thing?"
"What a fitting epitaph that last statement would make. A pity you're not dead."
Lenny laughed, as if he thought that I had made a joke. "Anyway... About us being partners, you know? You
need someone with a little polish, you know, if you don't mind my critical (sic)? And, you know, I need
someone to do all the junk jobs. So, did you think about it?"
I showed Lenny my most excellent blank stare.
Undaunted, Lenny continued "Anyway... I was wondering if I could have a loan on my security deposit?"