Heidi, Geek Girl Detective

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Chapter 11: Wilderness

Two hours later, the ferry sliced into the bay of Vancouver Island. I stayed up on deck, hoping the cold ocean winds would help me wake up. The ferry slowly sailed past green peninsulas dotted with the blocky hotels and emerald trees. Far in the distance, white-capped mountains rose behind the cobalt blue waters. It was a sunny morning. Usually the quaint beauty of Victoria overwhelmed me, but today I had other things on my mind. The boat puttered past idling float planes and slipped into the dock.

My car cranked up with a chug and I drove out with the dozen or so other vehicles on board. I was grateful I stashed a change of clothes in the overnight bag. It felt nice to get into something clean after a day of driving and a night of sleeping in my car.

I drove a mile or so beyond the ferry dock and past ye olde tourist attractions. The Colonial houses of Victoria were so beautiful. Peter and I had come up here for a weekend getaway about a year ago to celebrate my promotion from the help-desk to network services. Those were the days. I was in love, had just received a sizable bump in salary and everything seemed right on track. We’d spent the night at a gorgeous English hotel overlooking the Inner Harbor. We had made loose plans to make another trip back some day. Guess we won’t be doing that.

———

Half an hour later, I arrived at one of those big cloned office parks full of long stretches of asphalt, surrounded by large gray warehouses and glass doors. The grass and trees were as meticulously laid out as the speed bumps and walkways. It was disappointing to see the beauty of Victoria becoming crapped-up by American corporate blandness.

The place was deserted, but I was still careful to park between the white painted lines. I got out and paced around the nondescript building facades. The air was so crisp and still that the soft clack of my footsteps against the asphalt seemed uncomfortably loud. I looked down at the surface of the lot. “Glenda.Net” was stenciled across a series of stalls.

In front of me stood a three-story rectangular gray building with plywood nailed up over broken windows. Black stains stretched up from every opening in the building’s first floor. The main entrance was barricaded with a large section of plywood. The words “Keep Out” were spray-painted in red across it. There wasn’t much weathering on the soot and the plywood looked pretty new. The fire must have been recent.

I walked the perimeter. No one was around, not even a construction crew repairing the damage. It was as if the building had been utterly abandoned. If Glenda.net closed up shop after the fire, then what did I set up on Alexy’s computer? They must have another location.

Next door I spotted a sign for a piping supply company over a glass door. The door rang with a tinkling bell as I pushed through. The office inside was stacked high with white cardboard boxes tied with yellow strapping tape. A man in an Expo’s baseball cap heaved boxes onto a hand-truck. He was maybe in his early fifties and he wore paint-splattered overalls and a long-sleeved t-shirt with frayed cuffs. His shirt was wet around the neck and armpits. I guess he’d been lifting all morning. He also looked like he had packed on a few pounds and really shouldn’t have been doing heavy labor.

He finished adjusting a box on the hand-truck before turning to face me. His back made unsettling cracking noises as he straightened up. Summoning a voice from that long unused polite portion of my brain, I greeted him with an “Excuse me, sir.”

He blinked through the sweat in his eyes and looked me up and down. I know wasn’t exactly drop-dead gorgeous but some attention was fine. And it might prove useful. His mouth moved in what I presumed was a greeting, but his voice came out raspy and inaudible. I smiled back. “I was looking for Glenda.net.” I pointed in the direction of the burned building next door.

He laughed a bit to himself and his graying eyebrows crunched down over hazel eyes. “They had a fire about a week ago.” His voice was a little more understandable now, but it took me a moment to untangle “a-boot” as “about.”

“So they’re out of business?”

“Told me to send deliveries to a place downtown. I think that’s where their computers are. They’re a computer company, eh?”

“Makes sense. A dedicated colo would work better for an ISP.”

“What? You need to pee?” He rummaged through a nearby desk, probably looking for a bathroom key.

“No. I’m sorry. I meant: yes, they’re a computer company. Can you give me the address of where their deliveries are going?”

He took his hat off and used it to towel away the sweat on his face. I couldn’t tell before but now I could see that the old guy was almost completely bald. He plopped the damp hat back onto his head and walked back over to the stack of boxes. I waited, without saying a word. He tilted over, using his padded tummy as a fulcrum against the stack of boxes. As he leaned further over, his feet left the ground and his butt went high into the air. I could see a big stitching line where someone had sewn up a rip in his pants.

This commercial park was probably Glenda.net’s business office. God knows what kind of business they actually conducted. Maybe this was the place where Tracy’s Mountie friends raided? But why was it torched? To hide further evidence? Or did someone else do it? Considering what happened to Alexy, I’d better make sure I steered clear of the law of retribution myself.

The guy seesawed back down and handed me a clipboard of papers. I gave him a thanks-big-boy-smile. The top paper was a memo that said “Forward all Glenda Networks deliveries to” and listed a street address. Canadian zip codes always confused me, with all the letters mixed in with the numbers.

Realizing I had left my bag in the car, I turned back. “Can I borrow a pen and—” Before I could finish he handed me a yellow Post-it pad and a blue ballpoint. I copied the address and handed him back the clipboard. He doffed his hat and I turned to leave—wait. “Say, do you know where this is?”

He was quite glad to give me directions.

———

The Glenda.net colo was a bit north of downtown, just below Chinatown. I figured it wouldn’t take too long to get there. As I passed through Old Town, I slowed the car, figuring I could waste a minute or two drinking in the sights. It helped ease the sputtering fire nervousness in my stomach. Traffic was pretty light, so it was easy to get a good look around. Victoria was an interesting mix of old English charm with abrupt dashes of garish modernity. The streets were lined with facades of old time two-story wooden buildings, honey-combed with thick leaded-glass panes.

As I inched closer to my destination, I realized the neighborhood was getting a little seedier. Picturesque hotels and houses became paint-peeled warehouses and grimy brick buildings. So much for that English charm. But it made sense, you gotta figure these guys wanted to be low profile. Besides, why waste ill-gotten profits on rent?

I drove along Yates Street until I caught sight of my turn. A few blocks deeper and I parked by an industrial row of buildings, ringed by ten-foot high chain-link fences. The address matched a large plain white building in the middle of the block. I walked through the gate in the chain-link and up towards the building. The outside looked like every other Internet co-location facility I’d ever see:, a giant cement rectangle.

Inside would be floor after floor of wiring racks, blinking boxes and humming computers. Crawling around inside would be a team of techies controlling everything. I may have been deep in enemy territory, but I was going to be fighting on familiar ground.

I trotted up a rough concrete ramp and pulled open a heavy steel door. Inside was a tiny room with a darkened glass door on the far wall. The floor showed signs of dark wheel scuffs, probably from hand-trucks carrying equipment in and out of the facility. There was a small video camera mounted above the inside door. The camera was focused directly down at me.

The next room was barely a lobby, just a tiny little room with a water cooler and a single plastic molded chair. There was a beige wooden door across the room with another camera above it. Colo entrances were often constructed as a maze of little rooms to keep the computers away from the dirty air outside. Plus the doors were usually tied to alarms and surveillance.

I reached towards the wooden door but the knob pulled away from my grasping hand, throwing me off-balance. As I regained my composure, a large round woman waddled through the door towards me. I retreated awkwardly into the lobby as she bore down on me.

She wore a maroon dress with bright white sneakers. Her jet-black hair was cut into a bob, which accentuated her tomato-like appearance. She had the tired look of someone bored with her job. I knew that look pretty well.

Summoning my customer-service voice, I asked. “Good morning ma’am, I’m looking for the offices of Glenda.net. Can you help me?”

With a puff of air, she answered “This way” and jerked her head back towards the doorway. With short steps in a semi-circle, she rotated her body and led me into the colo. As I trailed behind her, I got a whiff of her perfume, sour yet floral. Maybe the sourness was from her.

We continued down a long beige hallway lined with slightly darker beige doors. The smell of the woman evaporated in a strong cloud of paint fumes. Typical for a colo to be always under construction. No doubt the upper floors were filled with rows of computers. The woman pointed down to the far end of the hall at a staircase leading up. “They got the whole second floor.”

I turned to face her and bowed my head slightly. “Thank you.”

She grunted at my attempt and disappeared through one of the dark beige doors.

I walked down the hall and up the stairs to a landing with an unpainted wooden door. Scotch-taped to it was a piece of paper with large laser-printed words: “Glenda.net Facility. Please knock!”

I knocked.

No response.

I waited a minute or so and knocked again. Louder.

After another minute, the door opened inwardly with a violent swing. I faced a sickly white guy. He might have been a few years younger than me but I wasn’t sure. His too-long brown hair hung in oily clumps off his egg-shaped head. He wore torn jeans and a black t-shirt with the word “IRIS” in yellow. His left eyebrow had a silver ring pierced through it and I could see the tattoo of a black star on his wrist. He reminded me of Peter’s band-mates who attempted Rock-star disheveled cool. But this guy was failing badly at it.

From behind him, I could hear the hum of cooling fans and the clacks of keyboards echoing. He stared and simply asked, “Yah?”

His breath reeked like an ashtray and it took me a moment to respond. “This Glenda.net?”

The response was two sharp thuds as he smacked the back of his hand against the laser-printed sign. Ask a stupid question and get a sarcastic response. Definitely a techie.

“I’m here looking for Alexy. I’m from Seattle.” I peeked over his shoulder but could see nothing but racks of blinking boxes choked by weeds of colored network cabling.

He looked down and studied me carefully. Then his gaze wandered back up to meet my eyes. “You his girl?”

I was hardly a girl but whatever. “I’m a friend.”

“You not his usual flavor, but I never keep up.” He also had that trademarked accent I’d been hearing from all of Alexy’s Russian buddies. He shrugged spastically and walked back into the equipment room. I guessed I was supposed to follow him. So I did.

The room was a couple of Costcos in size, which was humungous for a regional colo. Everything around me appeared to be sliced up into large pods of rack-mounted servers and screens, separated by crude walls of chain-link fencing. A few portable dehumidifiers sat by the door, though they were unplugged at the moment. Ashtray-breath headed off toward some computer desks and workstations. I saw the back of someone sitting hunched forward over a twenty-inch color monitor. It was a much nicer monitor than anyone had back at PRB.

As I got closer, I saw that whoever this second guy was, he had solitaire up on his screen. He moved the mouse with extreme precision as he selected a card and dragged it around the dark green video background. Wisps of smoke rose up from the desk area. Smoking while working at a computer was going to ruin the equipment. I noticed that the hand on the mouse had a large scar across the back of it. I was in the right place. Now what was Scar-Hand’s name?

There was a second desk with another twenty-incher displaying long columns of programming script. Breath-boy sauntered up to that desk, and plopped into the office chair in front of it. He clicked the scripts closed and whirled to face me. “Hey Neek, girlie’s looking for Alexy. Says she his friend.”

Nick—yes, that was his name—let go of the mouse and orbited about in his chair. His eyes registered recognition as he saw me. He half-smiled as he sucked deeply on the cigarette in his mouth. “Yah, Alexy’s computer wizard. Don’t remember name.”

It was pleasant of these guys to have a nice conversation about me. I decided to join in. “Heidi. My name’s Heidi.”

Nick nodded. “Yah, sounds right. She set up Seattle computer.”

His techie companion laughed and shook his head. “So she loaded a few disks. Like that makes her a computer wizard? Just because you guys couldn’t plug mouse without my help.”

“So girlie, what you use for password? Your bra-size? Heh heh.”

“Don’t tell me you’re the manager here. You’re just a code-monkey.” Remembering the scripts on his screen. “And just a PERL cruncher at that.”

Nick laughed at my challenge to Death-Breath. There was no way he understood what I just said, but it was obvious that I knew more than how to flip disks. He smiled and told his companion, “Hey Yuri, better watch it.”

The silver loop on Yuri’s brow danced as his eyes fluttered. “I code as a side project. I am the network guy for this entire place.” He patted his chest triumphantly.

I gave him a polite but restrained smile. He ranted on, “But you’re right about one thing. I’m no fucking manager. Big waste of talent me doing that.” He turned back in his chair to his workstation and began typing away as if I wasn’t there anymore.

Since Yuri was now ignoring me, I looked back over at Nick. He shook his head with the universal exasperation that normal humans had when dealing with computer people. He stood up and put his hand on my shoulder. “This way, I’ll take you to see Michael. He’s the manager. He tell you how things changed for us.”

I didn’t like how that sounded, but at least I was getting closer to answers. Nick beckoned me to follow him as he sauntered between the racks. It took us a few minutes to navigate the labyrinth of chain-link walls and cabling to the far side of the facility.

Across the room, he stopped at a tree trunk-sized pillar of tangled red and yellow cables hanging through an open ceiling tile. He turned left at the tangle and followed the wall down to an unpainted wooden door. Nick looked at me and raised a fist. I cocked an eyebrow. Nick smiled back and pounded the door. A muffled “yeah?” emanated from inside. He turned the knob and leaned inside. I heard muttering and the word “Alexy” and then he extracted his head. “Go in,” He opened the door all the way for me to pass. “Michael, this is Heidi from Seattle.”

Inside I saw a stuffy office with a dirty green couch, a small refrigerator and one of those particle-board desks. The unpainted plasterboard walls were decorated with large color posters of women in your basic boudoir attire. They looked disproportionate, to say the least. The smell of stale locker room and cigarette smoke mixed with the tingling ozone of electrical equipment.

At the desk sat a middle-aged man with short-cropped brown hair and a bushy mustache, streaked with silver. He was a little pudgy but that didn’t stop him from wearing a tight pink polo shirt. Real fashion statement there, bud. His wrist sported a flashy gold Rolex. I needed to get myself a big fancy watch if I was going to keep up.

Twists of white smoke rose from a burning cigarette in his hand. He tapped the ashes into the drinking hole of a can of Diet Coke on the desk. His accent was a bit more pronounced than I’d heard today, but still intelligible. “Come, you like soda? Help yourself.” He motioned toward the refrigerator.

The thought of putting anything found in this building into my mouth made me queasy. However, the battle between the environmental system and the cigarette smoke was turning my throat to cracked bark. I opened the fridge. It was crammed full of two varieties of silver cans: Diet Coke and Lu’s Brew, a cheap Canadian beer. I opted for the safest bet, Diet Coke. As I put my hand around the can, it seemed only a degree or two below room temperature. I put it back and checked another. They were all warm. Reflexively I glanced back at Michael who shrugged and said, “I just put soda in. Not cold yet. Beer cold.”

“This is fine.” I cracked the tab on a Diet and looked for a clean spot on the couch. I ended up sitting with half a butt-cheek off the cushion, to minimize contact with a large grayish stain. I took a sip and the warm sugar-free soda was appropriately gross, but the bubbly fluid scrubbed the soot out of my scratchy throat.

“You are...” He paused searching for the right word. “friend of Alexy?”

“Yes, I haven’t seen him in a week. He wanted me to work on a computer thing with him. He said we were working with Glenda.net.”

He took a long drag on his cigarette, burning it right up to the filter. He stubbed it out into the empty can on his desk and grabbed the nearby pack. As he slid out another one, he said, “We do lot with Alexy. What something you talking about?”

“Alexy just said it was a big project and that there was money in it for me. So I decided to track you guys down.”

“You from Seattle bank, yeah?”

“Yes, that’s where I worked with Alexy.” My story was sounding more and more like Alicia’s. I needed to watch it. “Anyway, he said the new thing had something to do with the bank and Internet connections.”

That sounded plausible.

He grabbed a brass lighter and lit the cigarette with a harsh flick. He took a few smacky puffs before he answered, “Sorry, no more happen.”

“What?”

He sucked another drag. He was the fastest smoker I’d ever seen. “Sorry you come here from Seattle, but you no more things like that.”

“Like what?”

He stabbed the air with the cigarette, leaving a little plume trail. “Computer work with banks. Business has...” He said something in Russian, paused a second and continued, “Ruffled feathers.”

I needed a moment to think so I forced down another mouthful of the warm Diet Coke. “So, is Alexy doing something else?”

Michael crushed the half-smoked cigarette into the can and looked at me. “Girl, I think Alexy no do anything anymore.”

I held my mouth agape. I needed to pretend that I didn’t know that Alexy had been murdered. I took another nervous sip of the yucky soda.

“We explained was accident but...wrong people were made look foolish.” He stared down. “People like that, you no make fools people.”

“Oh?”

Michael lit another. “Things Alexy work on.” He paused and sucked on the cigarette. His words came out with the exhaled smoke, “And maybe same some things you work on. We no understand we got into their business.”

“What other people?” I didn’t need to feign sounding nervous anymore.

“Man named Kostya very angry. Bank thing put him on wrong place with his customers. He tell his people to...”

He picked up his soda-can-ashtray and got up from the desk. I held my breath as he walked around to the front of his desk and sat on the edge. He went into one of those we’re-going-to-have-a-serious-talk kind of poses.

“They shut down main office.”

His breath was as sharp and rancid as death.

“The one that got burned...”

He closed his eyes. “We no do stuff like that, you know. But they are fast to protect family and investments.”

“And they wanted to retaliate?”

“They don’t do work we do. They more long things. Much safer. Much larger.” He reached back for the pack of cigarettes as he talked. “They embarrassed so they come down hard.”

“Alexy?”

“Gone for days but...I’m sorry.” He looked at my face, “Was he?” He tapped his cigarette against his palm in a rhythmic manner suggestive of copulation. Nice.

Before I could say anything, he stuck the cigarette in his mouth and fumbled with the lighter. “Never mind. Forget him. Everything okay now.”

“What about Alicia?”

He stopped in mid-flick of his lighter. “Who?”

“Another woman at the bank.”

He nodded in recognition. “You work together then?”

“Uh, yeah” As soon as I said it, I wondered if he was asking if I was one of the people passing financial information to Alexy. And I just answered in the affirmative.

“Tell her we no do that anymore.”

I grabbed my soda and as I brought it to my mouth, I realized the can was too light. Shit, I almost drank out of his ashtray.

Michael chuckled at my antics. “Tell your bank friend we close down bank business. We have truce and working on new things.”

“So no more bank computer work?”

He shook his head, no. Then he pointed at the underwear-women posters on the wall. “Maybe you do some work with us on new thing.”

I examined the posters with a little more care. There were web addresses printed on them, along with words like “teen,” “amateur” and “voyeur.” I leaned back in the couch and crossed my arms. “No, thank you.”

“No, no.” He laughed with his mouth wide. His teeth were filled with dark patches of metal. “You don’t have the...” He waved his open palms in front of his shirt. Cigarette smoke formed little swirls in the air as he jiggled his imaginary breasts.

Ugh. I stared blankly while he explained further, “I mean you work computers for entertainment site.”

Oh God, no fucking way. I’d rather help them rip off bank accounts. I changed the subject with a question, “This Kostya, maybe he’s the one who got to Alexy?”

He slid back around to sit behind his desk. “Probably. He is, top family. He is...” He said something in what I assumed was Russian.

He thought a moment and then provided me with the translation, “The Devil is weak but his slaves are strong.”

This I understood. “Yes, we have people like that back in Seattle. They’re called Vice presidents.”

My little joke totally flew by him. Michael stared off into space. “Yes, they no do things themselves. Unless get angry.”

“Well, I guess I’d better not get them angry.”

He gave me a condescending smile. “Listen, no like this always. Hardly messy things happen. Bad for business, you know.”

I nodded, sort of understanding the twisted logic of it.

“Don’t worry, you be fine. Is over.”

“Paranoia has become my lifestyle.”

He shook his head with a confused look on his face. I started to explain but he said, “No, you okay. These things hardly never move to outside peoples. And if something be done.” He snipped his fingers in the air like scissors, “And it between groups. Outsiders no involved.”

I realized that he had stopped smoking. The cigarette lay burning alone on top of the soda can. “But I know Alexy. Aren’t I involved?”

“No. If Alexy disappeared, your lines cut. You coming here no good, but no matter.” He looked at me with a serious expression and pointed a yellow-stained finger at me. “My advice: go back and forget this. Job over.”

“So no one would ever come after me?”

He frowned in exasperation. “No! Unless you really start upsetting apple-carts.” He glared and waggled his finger, “You no more poking around.”

I nodded anxiously. “I’m going home. Thank you for the coke, and the advice.”

He leaned back. “If you see Alexy, tell him best stay hiding. Goodbye.”

I got up and got the heck out of there. I tossed a half-wave at Nick as I passed through the racks on my way back to my car. In the hall of beige doors, the paint smell was a relief to my tortured nose. I really needed a shower, and not just because of all that smoke.

———

It didn’t take long to get to the ferry. I needed to get my ass back to Seattle and soon. I guess Alicia got caught up in the same sweep that eventually got her cousin as well. Or who knows, maybe she really did kill herself. This entire running around; God knows what I thought I was doing. All I found was a big mess that led back to itself. Now it was over. Maybe I’d have to find another way to atone for Trisha.

It was probably going to end badly, no matter what. And no Rubin in Victoria either. Maybe I was wrong about him as well. I tossed a glance over my shoulder. Nope, not there. Maybe he didn’t care either. It sounded like these gangsters were taking care of things themselves anyway. With whatever truce that this Kostya set up, there wasn’t going to be any more identity theft back at PRB. Sounded like there may not be anymore financial fraud from these Glenda guys for good. I wondered what Kostya’s group did? Maybe I could ask my FBI friend. Tracy probably had another big fat file on them all.

I pulled up at the dock and checked the timetables. I had a couple of hours until the ferry left. I tootled around the waterfront area and parked. I needed to air out. I walked around the wharf area and the let the salty ocean breezes scrub over me. Cute little tourist boats chugged around the harbor.

I unclenched my shoulders and took a deep breath of the brisk humid air. The yummy donutty smell of frying oil tickled my nose. Fish and chips. Why not? I figured that I might as well keep my strength up.

———

On the long drive back to Seattle I checked my cell. Voice mail said I had five messages. Must have been a slow day. The first message.

Peter. “Babe, I’m sorry, I’m an ass.”

Well, that’s the first sensible thing he’d said to me in weeks.

“Stayed up all night thinking about you and what I did. I’m so sorry.”

That was a lot better. Too late, but it was better. He fell into ramble-mode. He must have been really out of it.

“Remember the first time you came to see me play?” He paused. I guess he was reliving it in his head. “I remember seeing you out there cheering and bouncing up and down like a big pogo stick, red hair flying everywhere. I’ll never forget the sight. I know we’ve changed since then. I mean, things are different now. I know you have more important things in your life. ”

He paused, apparently searching for the right words.

“Heidi, I just didn’t—-” Click.

Ugh. He must have run out of message time. I hit a button and listened to the next message. It was not Peter.

“Hey, it’s Roger. I didn’t know if you’d heard yet but I wanted to tell you myself. I’ve been reassigned. I’ll be gone for the next three months at least. I’d just like to tell you what a supreme pleasure it’s been to work with you. You’re one of the sharpest people there. I never got a chance to tell you, but I think you’d make a great consultant. You’ve got the technical savvy, all you need to do is be a little more organized. By the way, enjoy working with Christopher. He’s an all around nice guy but just between you and me, I just don’t trust him.”

Well, okay. That was interesting. Next message was Peter again.

“Sorry, got cut off. Look, I just wanted to say I love you and I’m sorry. I hope you’ll forgive me.”

I’ll take it under advisement. But there was some truth about how things have changed. Maybe more things needed to change.

Next message was from Mitch.

“Warren said you were out sick today. I tried calling you at home but no answer. Your cell didn’t answer.”

I must have been out of cellular range. Excellent.

“Anyway, I figure you’re asleep or something. I hope you get better and come back on Monday. But listen, I’m having problems with the new database servers for credit card services. They require full-duplex hundred megabit Ethernet and I can’t lock the switches into position. They keep…”

I cut off the message. I’ll deal with that later. Why didn’t that kid just read a fricken manual sometime?

I listened to the last message.

“This is Special Agent Tracy Martins. I wanted to tell you that a different squad will be working the case. I discussed your report with the SAC and he feels that Alicia was our prime suspect. With her death, our investigation is at a dead end. If you come across any new information, please call me and I’ll make sure it gets to the right people. Take care.”

I should call Tracy back and tell her it didn’t really matter anyway. What she was pursuing was now long gone. Maybe she already knew that too. Well, I can deal with that next week. I turned my attention back to driving.

Luckily I was driving against the rush of the Friday afternoon traffic. Everyone else was heading out of town for the weekend, while I was going back in. My last ferry ride ended where I began, at the Fauntleroy docks. A few minutes later, I was on my way back to my apartment. I had plenty of time for a quick shower before heading to Rusty’s celebration. For once, I found a parking spot. I gathered up my overnight bag and the miscellaneous garbage that had accumulated over the past twenty-four hours. With my hands full of junk, I stopped and stared at the stairs up at my apartment.

What was I going to say to Peter? I’d rather not have to speak to him at all. He was going to want some kind of response. I just didn’t have one. I may never have one. I gritted my teeth and walked up the stairs.

No light inside. No movement, no television, no nothing. I unlocked the door. No one was there.

I unloaded my junk onto the kitchen table. I checked the bedroom and the bathroom. I was alone. He must be off with his band-mates. Or maybe he went to see his streaky-haired slut.

I picked out some casual-but-nice clothes for tonight. Maybe I should show the less-nerdy side of Heidi. I so needed to wash the smoke and sweat off. I had undressed and was about to get into the shower when a thought crept into my head. I stepped across the cold tiled floor and locked the bathroom door. I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with Peter popping in on me in the shower. I just didn’t have the time or energy to waste on any kind of scene.

After a nice hot shower and a quick go with the hair-drier, I was ready to rock and roll. I slipped into the fresh clothes and put on a pair of slides that I hadn’t worn in a while. Not too shabby. Now where was this place?

I brought that homeless newspaper in when I cleaned out the car. I dug out of the pile on the kitchen table. The address was for a place called the Ballard Marina Club. Fancy.

I fired up my computer and flipped open the web-browser to a map search web site. I typed in the address. The hourglass flipped by for a few seconds and then a map loaded on the screen. I’d seen this map before.

I’d seen this exact map on this computer. Recently.

I cleared the screen and quickly did a search on the name Kostya. It was Russian. It took a few seconds for the English equivalent to appear.

Constantine

I should have realized. I was totally screwed.
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