“How long?”, Villa Lobos asks the detectives sitting across from him in his cramped office. They stare back at him. “They always come back,” Villa Lobos elaborates. “If they don’t die. So how long until your boy starts prowling again?”
Smith is stumped. Blisflix clears his throat. Smith gives him a look, encouraging him to say something. “A year,” Blisflix says, “maybe longer.” He shrugs.
“You have no idea,” Villa Lobos tells Blisflix. “Four unsolved homicides in five months, one suspect, zero witnesses. Sounds cold to me.”
Smith considers mentioning the breach of their network, but she knows Villa Lobos has made up his mind. No one’s mourning the victims. Villa Lobos is what they call results-oriented, which to Smith means he wants positive press. Other open cases promised happier headlines.
Smith is resigned to seeing Timothy Rist -- a.k.a. Charlie -- slip off the hook, at least for now. She won’t give up so easily.
Blisflix barely conceals his relief. He was sure the disclosure of his list would cost him his job. And him being so close to retirement.
As Blisflix follows Smith out of Villa Lobos’s small office, he considers complimenting her, but he knows she would take it the wrong way. Smith likely wouldn’t have heard Blisflix anyway. She’s thinking about the best way to talk Cece into a kind of unpaid police internship.
As he waits for Karen to wake up, Tim enjoys the tumble of word fragments bouncing through his head, breaking up the hospital-room monotony.
So-da sor-ta saw-ra shred-a swed-a side-a soo-wuh. Sun-a run-nel ten-nuh tun-nill one-el, drab-a drack-see beck-un track-sea. Orollowayden. Sedguary, fabriquary, drammer derry doze’n crows arosin wellsir, I tells her-
“What time?” It takes Tim a second to recognize Karen’s voice.
“Five twenty-five,” he replies without looking at the clock on the hospital-room wall.
“Evening?”, Karen asks groggily.
“P.M.,” Tim says.
“No walk tonight?”, Karen asks.
“Home,” says Tim. “Early.” Karen tries to rouse herself. Tim stays seated in a vinyl chair across the room. He watches Karen struggle to wake. Concussed, the doctor told him earlier. He considers looking closer, but decides to stay in his chair.
“I won’t bite,” Karen says in a voice just louder than a whisper. Tim stands and walks to her bedside. “Did you find him yet?”, she asks. Karen can barely keep her eyes open. Tim thinks, discharged in a day, back to work in a week. Her shoulder will take the longest to heal.
“I didn’t look,” Tim replies. “I didn’t have to. He’s gone.” Karen doesn’t respond. “For good,” Tim adds.
“Gone where for good?”, she asks.
“There’s only one place anyone goes for good,” Tim answers flatly.
“You?”, Karen asks, her eyes nearly closed.
“No,” Tim replies, “not me. You should sleep.”
“Who, if not you?”, Karen asks.
“I don’t know,” Tim replies, “but I believe him. Them.”
“Who?”, Karen repeats.
“I don’t know,” Tim says. “You should sleep.”
“You don’t know who sent him away for good, but you believe him them,” Karen says and laughs.
“Precisely,” Tim says. “Sleep now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Enjoy your walk,” Karen says, her eyes already closed. “Don’t shoot anybody.”
“Without me,” Karen adds as Tim heads for the door. He ignores her comment and begins to plot his route back to Steiner Street signer seat.
Zieder zee, spider bee, biter bellyful flea. Omani, Romani, blowhole snappy wobbly....
The nonsense cascades as Tim walks north on Portrero. Night is well on. Tim feels it in his bones, in his veins, like medicine. Left on 20th, past Mission, up the hill to Dolores, then Church. He stops at Church and looks north across the park to Mission High, and further to the lights of downtown. He turns and heads west on 20th.
It takes a second for Tim to place the dark sedan he glimpsed in his quick look back. Not police, he thinks. Must be those others following. What of those others? he thinks as he continues on 20th. He realizes he can’t find out alone, not with so many people taking an interest in his activities, outdoors and indoors. He steps lively across Market toward Dubose, home still a mile away. In his mind, he’s already at the computer, back looking for the lookers.
Part 19: Intern
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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