Albumen abloomin’ upbreeding unbidden, abriding on a dunkee, sup a webber in a map, inculled a musty donee….
Tim walks east on 17th toward 280. The city’s night noises seem to get louder with every step he takes nearer to Dogpatch and the bayshore. The nonsense looping in Tim’s head keeps him company:
…Wren I whirrs a widow buoy, mimosa wode tale me tells of the bunny blundering bloosies. Onegin, onegin, undo the yurms of indolescence, ascrounding ascribbled on a scredastol, deep and umber, wards of wurning, sines of strubble. Strife’s a mystery, enchant hystery, grind for grystery, bristling in the night, tropes and drears, stitching for a bight, poured to tiers….
Tim reaches Tennessee Street, notes the three-story building on the corner, and walks past it. He counts three surveillance cameras in view as he continues down Mariposa, slowing to reach Third on a green light. He turns right on Illinois and considers where the hidden cameras are.
At least six, Tim thinks as he makes another right turn on 18th and heads back toward Third. One more pass tonight, a view from the south. He recrosses Third, turns right on Tennessee, and walks down the east sidewalk. From half a block away, Tim notices the antenna on the roof.
As he walks, he eyes more closely the roof of the three-story building on the southwest corner of Tennessee and Mariposa. In the middle of the front roofline is a fat, crooked flagpole. Only it isn’t a flagpole. It’s an antenna. Tim doesn’t see any satellite dishes on the roof or walls. He does see three more video cameras. He keeps his pace steady as he passes across the street from the building. A quick look at the front door tells him it’s a false entryway.
Left on Mariposa. No dogs evident. Real entrance at the back, out of view. Tim is wary as he approaches Mariposa Park. People, he thinks. People on the move. All night. They’re nearly as aware of their surroundings as he is. Harder to hide from them than from cops.
Nothing is stirring on Mariposa this night. Tim settles into a stride, zags to 17th, heads for Steiner, an hour and change away, awhismy.
A woodsme awaits me, o’er and abates me, stents and offents me brieply, deefly. Dodouble-dipsea, potable gripsy, and so does Poughkeepsie….
I’ve got ‘em, thinks Tim amid the word stream. He keeps to 17th’s dark patches. I don’t know who, don’t know what or why, but I know where.
Tim has a theory. He wants to discredit it until it can be substantiated, but it rings true. They’re gleaning undesirables. Slowly, subtly. Who the gleaners are is more uncertain, but Tim knows they’ve got money and tech smarts. Logical to start by looking for nerd vigilantes.
Lurking for wood Ypsilantis, clocking rewarded Durantes. Oppressing your lucky duck, duressing your murky twerky. Foaling the heir weaves.
Cece isn’t in the coffee shop when Tim walks by the next two nights. On the third night, he spots her reading at a high table near the door. He ducks into a shuttered doorway a half block past the coffee shop. Two minutes later, Cece exits the coffee shop and walks toward him.
“We need them to contact you,” Tim says when Cece is within earshot.
“Hello to you, too,” she replies.
“Hello,” Tim says. He walks up Divis. “I need a good face,” he says over his shoulder as Cece hurries to catch up with him.
“You lost me,” Cece says.
“Just one ID,” Tim replies.
“If I get a good face, I get an ID,” Tim says.
Cece has caught up with him. “Where do I fit in?”, she asks.
“They’re watching you,” Tim says.
“You mean on the police network,” Cece says.
Tim maintains a steady pace as they continue south on Divisadero. “I mean everywhere,” he says.
Cece suppresses the urge to look around. “Why couldn’t they be watching now?”, she asks.
“I’m counting on it,” Tim replies. “Provocation. They won’t approach me again." They know better, he thinks. “The next person to contact you won’t be a hired messenger.”
Tim turns right on McAllister.
Cece is a half-step behind. “Contact me about what?”, she asks.
“Me,” Tim answers. “I’m too great a risk. A leash or a noose. One way or the other, they have designs on my neck.”
“You don’t sound worried,” Cece says.
Tim nods. “I’m not,” he says matter-of-factly. “I just need a good face, and you can help me get it.”
“You mean a clear picture,” Cece says. “How?”
“A camera,” Tim says just as matter-of-factly.
Cece stifles a laugh. “They won’t get suspicious if I start snapping pictures?”, she asks.
“I’ll take the picture,” Tim says. “You just stay out of the way, and don’t scare them.”
Now Cece really laughs. “I scare them,” she says. Then she turns serious. “When you get your face and your ID,” she asks, “then what?”
“It depends,” Tim replies. “First, find out who they are.”
Cece stops walking. “I’m out if you don’t promise me something,” she says. Tim stops and faces her. Cece whispers, “You won’t kill anybody.”
“I won’t kill anybody,” Tim whispers back. “I never had any intention of killing anybody.”
“Anybody else,” Cece says.
“Different,” Tim says. “This is. You are. Implicated. So.”
“I’m a police intern, remember?”, Cece says. “Don’t I get dispensation or something?”
“You have nothing to fear from the police,” Tim says, “or anyone else.” He walks up Divisadero.
Cece says, “You didn’t answer my question.”
Tim stops and faces Cece. “What then? That question?”, he asks. “Stop them, I guess.”
“How?”, Cece asks.
“Light,” Tim says. “Lots of light.”
They walk in silence for half a block. “When they contact you,” Tim says finally, “sign out for 70 minutes.”
“Then what?”, Cece asks again.
Tim fidgets. “Can I walk you home?”, he asks.
Part 23: Error-correcting Code
Part 1: Tim
Part 2: Three's a Problem
Part 3: Ninth Avenue
Part 4: Peru Avenue
Part 5: Toast
Part 6: Mrs. Pellegrini
Part 7: Charlie
Part 8: 2D
Part 9: Smith
Part 10: Cece
Part 11: Quarter Moon
Part 12: Interview
Part 13: Mieke
Part 14: 2D Ex
Part 15: Logs
Part 16: Steiner
Part 17: Number Five
Part 18: Cold
Part 19: Intern
Part 20: Coffee
Part 21: Sloth
Part 22: Tennessee Street
Part 23: Error-correcting Code
Part 24: Villa Lobos
Part 25: Entrance
Part 26: Cloak
Part 27: Meeting
Part 28: Fog
Part 29: Bootle
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