the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own
TRISHA passed each criminal locked up behind rods. Each glanced up at her, observing her black hair with icicles in them, her loose cardigan, her storm-grey intense eyes, her skinny, pale frame.
She looked no more than seventeen, but it was obvious from the somber look in her eye, this girl meant business.
She stopped before one of the jail with rusted rods. Behind this one sat a tall, dark-haired boy with a pale, thin face and startling, blue eyes. He was wearing a white hoodie and looked at ease, as if he ended up in prison every other day. It was quiet obvious he was here temporarily and wasn’t ill-treated, because he didn’t appear weak for a jailbird other than the fact that he was pallid.
“Ryker Rodgers?” Trisha asked, her voice strained with nervousness.
The boy raised his eyebrows. “The one and only,” he said, his voice too deep for someone his age. Trisha thought puberty was too nice to him. He couldn’t be older than eighteen. “I don’t get visitors very often. I’m guessing you’re not here to say hello?”
Trisha felt guilty. Then, she felt stupid for feeling guilty for a criminal. “I’m not,” she confirmed, brushing the snow out of her heavy locks. She decided to begin explaining her problem by introducing herself.
Straightforward, she thought to herself.
“My name is Patricia Montgomery. You will call me Trisha. I require －”
“Trisha Montgomery?” Ryker said. “You’re in training to be a gumshoe, aren’t you? Doesn’t that have you play bad cop, first?”
“Detective,” Trisha corrected. She didn’t like the term gumshoe. “Almost. I haven’t gotten the job yet. I’m still in training. Anyway －”
“Have you already graduated?” Ryker asked, with mock-curiosity. “Did you start college at five?”
“Fifteen, actually,” Trisha corrected, beginning to get both impatient and frustrated already. “But, that’s not the point －”
“I’m already in jail, Sherlock,” Ryker interrupted, looking like he wanted to roll his eyes. “And I’m fine with it. Please, don’t ask me to go on a trial.”
“I wasn’t going to!” Trisha cried, frustratedly grabbing at the rods as if to tear them apart like the Hulk. Unfortunately, Trisha wasn’t the Hulk. “I require a favour.”
“A favour?” Ryker leaned against the left wall of his jail. Trisha noticed he was wearing black-leather fingerless gloves.
“I need your help,” Trisha blurted, which surprised her. Trisha wasn’t one to blurt out. She chose her words carefully, always cautious. She was so polite and ever so rational in the worst cases that it made her seem heartless, but also good at her almost-job.
Ryker grinned. “I’m in jail and you’re a detective,” he said. “I don’t see how I can help, even if I was willing, which, by the way, I am not.”
“Look,” Trisha said, with an exasperated breathe. By now, she could sense the eyes of all the prisoners following her, as though preparing for gossip, but she was determined not to lose her cool again. “You’re a professional hacker, aren’t you?”
“I’m not easy to flatter, Lollipop,” Ryker replied, huskily. Trisha hated him already.
She sighed. “I need you to hack into somebody’s phone,” she said, feeling her stomach tighten as she spoke of the ‘somebody’ who still haunted her behind the veil of her determinedness and fearlessness. “Somebody who may or may not be in this city － or country, for that matter. Can you do that?”
“Depends,” Ryker said. “What’s in it for me?”
Of course, Trisha had predicted that question. Typical criminals.
“I can pay a ransom for your early release,” she offered, hopefully.
Ryker shrugged. “I’ll be out of here in two months anyway.”
“Um, four months, actually,” Trisha amended. “That’s what the cops told me.”
“I have a gang,” he says. “They’ll get the money latest by two months. I always get off early.”
“They’ll get the money...,” Trisha repeated and realization dawned on her. ”Stolen money?”
“Maybe,” Ryker agreed. “Maybe not.”
An idea popped into Trisha’s head. “If you don’t help me,” she said, “I’m going to tell the police that your gang is stealing money for your ransoms. If you help me, I promise this will be between us.”
“Tempting offer, really,” Ryker admitted, as if it was no problem to be told on. “But, no, thanks. You don’t even know my gang. They’re good. They won’t get caught.”
"You got caught,” Trisha pointed out.
“I was supposed to,” he explained. “Part of the plan, Detective.”
“So, you play bait?”
“Not bait, Lollipop, distraction.” he rasped, softly. “I’m good at distractions.”
It took Trisha a long moment to realize he was flirting with her.
It dawned on her how incredulous the situation was. A detective, desperate for aid, sought help from the eighteen-year-old delinquent hacker boy from a gang of criminals. And here they ended up flirting through the rods.
“That’s not what I came to talk about,” she said. “Will you －”
“So what?” Trisha cried. “If you like this jail so much, you can come back here after helping me?”
It was the wrong thing to say and she knew it. She had never been discourteous, be it with a gentleman or a delinquent. There was just something about the young delinquent that already had her fighting the urge to scream at him.
“Ha, ha, ha, no.” He straightened himself and walked towards the rods, almost causing Trisha to back a few steps. He was much taller than her and it was pretty obvious now. “I’m not helping you. It’s a final decision, Lollipop. Go bother someone else.”
Trisha wished he’d stop calling her that. She also knew he wasn’t going to give in. “Fine,” she said, maintaining her icily polite and rather haughty tone this time. “I didn’t mean to bother you. But, if you ever change your mind....”
She reached in through the rods and grabbed his arm. He flinched, but didn’t protest as she pulled out a black pen and scribbled her phone number on it.
She let him go. “It’s just a request.”
Her mother and sister were in the lounge. They both had ice-blond hair, wide, blue eyes and her mother had a plump, curvy frame. Trisha didn’t look like them, although she’d wish she did very often. She looked a little more like her father.
“Hey,” her mother said, cheerily. “Put Danny to bed for me, honey.”
“I’m not sleepy,” Daniella, Trisha’s two-year-old sister protested. “I won’t sleep.”
Everything Danny said had a ‘w’ sound in it, so her ‘sleepy’ sounded like ‘sweepy,’ but Trisha didn’t point that out to her. Instead, she exhaled heavily and scooped up her sister in her long, slender arms. “Come on, Danny.”
Danny thrashed and kicked, pulling at her hair, but she ignored her and carried her to her bedroom. Trisha locked her in hurriedly and ran to her own room, before Danny could call her back.
She closed the door behind her and sinking against the wood, she exhaled in relief as Danny’s screams faded.
Her relief didn’t last long.
She espied somebody sitting on her bed from the corner of her eye. A person, she thought, in the small moment that passed. A boy.
When she turned, she had to try hard to keep her jaw from slackening in shock.
Ryker Rodgers leant against her pillow, eyes gleaming with amusement, legs swung against the side of the bed and a small smirk on his face.
“Hi,” he said.
She found she hated him a little more.