After following my phone’s GPS like a subservient slave to my master of technology, Stain and I are taken to the apartment building directly across from the bank that Lily got shot in.
Stain looks angry, fiercely angry. I’ve seen him sad, frustrated, happy, and just about any other range of emotion a man is capable of, but I’ve never seen him truly angry before, except when Lily was shot.
“Sappho, you had better not be messing with me,” Stain glares at me.
“This is the address BM sent me,” I say throwing up my hands as though it were a sign of innocence.
“If Big Money is messing with me, I’ll slit his throat from ear to ear with a fork. I don’t care how long it takes me. I’ll do it, and I’ll wash my face in his blood,” Stain says while his eyes widen and pupils dilate.
“BM doesn’t strike me as the ultimate prankster type. It’s probably safe to say that his actual friend lives here,” I raise my eyebrows.
I send a group text to Frank and Ben with the address and information, in hopes that they might be able to come to the party. BM will appreciate the extra guests, and Stain and I could use a couple of people with an outside perspective.
Stain looks like he’s having a small breakdown. All he can get out before we enter the apartment is: “I…I don’t want to.”
“What?” I ask.
“I just… I don’t want to.”
As a couple is coming out of the security door, I jolt ahead and open the door for Stain. “You don’t want to what?”
Stain walks in, almost out of habit, as though he didn’t want to be rude. I start walking towards the stairs because I hate elevators and like stairs. Stain stands still, frozen.
“Stain, let’s go.”
“I can’t. I can’t do it.”
“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”
“Stain. You don’t know that the shooter was in this building, and if the shooter was in this building, it was unlikely that the person was in this apartment.”
“I can’t,” Stain repeats.
Stain, if we go in there, we are one step closer to finding out who shot Lily. If we’re superheros, I mean true superheros, who deserves justice more than Lily?
“I…” Stain pauses.
“What do we fight for?” I ask.
Stain looks away from me, and with the determination of a herd of rhinos, heads straight for the elevator and presses the button. I saunter up behind him when the elevator door opens. Stain, me, and Joe, from Taking a Shirt, all get into the elevator.
“We fight for good,” Stain says, not even noticing that Joe has gotten on the elevator with us.
“Joe, hello,” I say, almost as though it’s a question.
“Sappho, Stain, hello mi amigos. You are visiting a friend here?”
Stain is standing in front of the buttons, waiting to press a number. I look at my earlier text message from BM and say: “number 10.”
Stain looks at Joe, waiting for him to call out a number, when Joe utters: “same.”
Before I had a chance to answer Joe, Stain shoots him a glance and asks: “so, you live here then?”
“I’m here for Jamie’s birthday party. Do you know Jamie?” Joe asks.
I half nod my head. “We’re here for that too.”
Joe exits the elevator, and Stain presses the close door button, keeping us in. He promptly presses number 9.
“So Jamie is it?” Stain asks.
We get off the elevator and head for the stairs.
“Can I go in on the present too?” he asks.
“Yeah, I already put your name on the card.”
“Cool. Thanks. So, what did we get Jamie?” Stains asks.
“You’ll see. Try not to act surprised.”
“We could meet the murderer tonight. We might have already met the murderer. It could be Joe,” Stain surmises.
“Stain, it could be anyone. Tonight we are only gathering information, so no giving away anything that we know. You’re too emotional on this topic. Listen and observe. I invited Frank and Ben. I figured they could help.”
I knock on the door.
“Fair enough,” Stain utters, almost under his breathe.
Big Money answers the door.
“Gentlemen, hello. Come in, come in.”
The only people in the room are me, Stain, Big Money, Joe, and a woman I’m assuming must be Jamie.
Joe and Jamie are laughing about something, so I take the opportunity to quietly say: “she looks like a 30-year-old Parisienne lesbian.”
Big Money gives me the oh really look and says: “don’t judge, I’ve seen what your cock has been in.”
“That’s nothing, he was trying to go mud diving with Joe over their earlier today,” says Stain.
Big Money has a serious look of concern on his face. “Wait, you guys know Joe?”
Stain casually says: “yeah, we met him at the t-shirt shop today when we were going to order our superhero t-shirts. Our little blue eyed boy here got lost somewhere in pec boys massive muscles. I assume the way he rolled his Rs probably added to the fantasy a bit.”
“I didn’t think you even noticed,” I say.
“I was trying not to,” Stain says.
“How do you know Joe?” I ask Big Money.
“He’s a friend of Jamie’s.”
“So, BM, you going to introduce us?” I ask.
Big Money takes us over to Jamie and points at each one of us saying: “this is Sappho. He’ll fuck you, your mom, and your dog, and he’ll make you think it was all your fault and walk away completely unscathed. Somehow no matter who you are, he’ll just shine those big blue eyes at you, and you’ll always care for him. This is Stain. You don’t have to worry about your mom or your dog, but he will fuck you if he gets a chance. You’ll regret it, but you’ll keep fucking him over and over again, until you finally hate him, yourself, and anything he ever touched.”
“This is true?” Jamie asks.
“Oh, yeah. He’s actually being kind,” Stain says.
I nod my head. “Big Money is being kind. The good news though, is that I never have sex with someone’s mother or dog on their birthday.”
“Big Money. Who is this?” Jamie asks.
I almost didn’t notice that Joe and Big Money are whispering back and forth.
Stain chimes in. “We have nicknames for people. We have one for you, and one for Big Money over there.” He points to Big Money.
“We also have one for Joe,” I say.
Stain looks at me. “We do?”
“Yes, we call him Alejandro,” I say.
Stain giggles a little, “Alejandro, from the t-shirt shop. Got it.”
Jamie looks over at Stain. “So, what is my name?”
I quickly shout: “hey BM, I hope you don’t mind me watering down this sausage fest, but I invited a couple of tacos.”
Big Money laughs, hard. It was that baby seal clubbing laugh again. Something about Big Money changed, but I’m not sure what.
“You have tacos?” Jamie asks.
I hand her the present we got for her, and she shakes it.
Stain says: “good thing it’s not breakable.”
“It sounds big,” Jamie pauses, “I’m so rude. Can I get you a drink?”
“Bourbon, neat,” Stain says.
“He’ll have a beer, and I’ll take a glass of red wine, please,” I say.
“Of course,” Jamie says while walking off.
“Nice way to change the subject from me telling her the nickname,” Stain says chuckling.
“What nickname?” I ask.
“3PL,” he says.
“3PL?” I ask.
“Yeah, 30-year-old Parisian lesbian,” Stain says.
“I hope Ben and Frank get here soon,” I say.