Wake up one morning and walk to the corner store for a cup of coffee, jump onto a train with your razor stubble annoying the cute girl to your side, the one with the sad eyes. Yeah. She's not talking to you. Another sip of coffee, another cigarette outside the train. Another somber day in a city that should not have ever existed. This train has the same people on it every morning. For the three months you've lived here, these robots had come and gone just as you do, like clockwork.
The office a mere ten minutes away from home is either an easy commute, or a depressing lack of a chance to relax between point A, and point B. When you arrive at work you will gently stroke your employer's ego at the coffee machine. Exchange passing glances with coworkers you have never spoken a real sentence to. Fill your brain with nonsense you would rather not know, but it is paying your bills. The bills must be paid in order to get back to an apartment you can sleep in, so you are rested in order to head back to work the next morning. The sad-eyed girl gets off at the stop before. Doesn't look back, never does. Yeah. She's not thinking about you.
Spend another fifteen minutes outside the office smoking a cigarette you didn't realize you had lit until it was too late, until you had to smoke it. A lighter and a twitching couple of fingers have taken control of your next quarter-of-an-hour. The wind blows past, the sun starts to rise, your clothes look wrinkled, mostly because they are. The stubble on your chin burns with razor-itch. Inside, your boss is a prick. Yeah. Still a prick. Another inhale, another sip of coffee. Two more pieces of litter on the city street. Wind blows by and frees these objects, as you are left to walk inside. Yeah. He's still a prick.
Every day you swear this is the end of a life that should not have ever existed. Yeah. Still another day after this one.
Wake up another morning and say 'fuck the coffee.' Hit the train and ask that girl if she'd like to skip work with you, before smiling absently at her shocked and tired raised eyebrows towards the question. Step back off the train before it departs again, standing near the corner store. 'Fuck the coffee.'
She taps you on the shoulder and your supply of cigarettes dwindles by one. She introduces herself, for the first time in over three months of not acknowledging your existence on that train. Alice. Yeah. This one is Alice. She bums a smoke and gives a look of relief, like she just fell off the wagon on the first inhale. Her dingy blonde hair is tied back in a tight, professional pony tail. Olive skin. Wide, sad eyes, conservative eyeliner. Wispy bangs, a slightly different shade hang down a lithe, pointed chin. She can't answer a question as to why she would have hopped off the train when she did. Cannot, or will not. Yeah. There's not a difference.
She's nervous. The hamster wheel inside her brain spins almost audibly as you watch a myriad of thoughts whirl around in there. You shy away from the obvious questions, the ones that might have her back at her desk just a bit tardy today. Apologize for allowing her that cigarette. Smile at whatever she has to reply. Walk her to that corner store and say 'Two cups, please.' Yeah. Sometimes it works out that way. Her cell phone rings. A non-intrusive, low key ring tone. At least it's not something you would hear on the radio, blasting out of a tiny phone speaker. Three minutes late, now. Still time for Alice. She blocks the city noise from the receiver with her soft hands as best as she can. Long fingers, delicate. Turn away while she talks. Not creepy, not you.
The phone hangs up.
The wind is calm on our way to the park. Guess we're sick today. She mustered a weak cough and narrowly escaped a stern warning from her boss about absenteeism. Yeah. Her boss is a prick as well. Fifteen blocks to the city park is a good amount of time to learn something about someone. Dolce purse, leather boots. Silk blouse, black skirt. Elegance in simplicity. Boss is an artistic muse of a prick - has her answering private calls and dolling up the entrance in his private art collection hall. Deals mostly in antique swords.
She's gorgeous. Yeah. Alice.
The park is calm at this point in the morning, the sun rising steadily on it's climb towards the center of the sky. You take her empty coffee cup gingerly and place it in a trash can. Offer her another cigarette, light it for her, and grin. Conversation moves nicely when you've freed yourself from another normal day in another normal occupational hell. She's receptive. She's smiling more. The grass beneath her is lucky, you think. Yeah. Lucky grass. An unmarked car circles the long asphalt oval surrounding the park. Tinted windows. You watch her closely.
She's asking questions now, she's warming to you. Her sad eyes are sunny, like she had missed your company. You can play the questions off well today. You're secure; the last of the ice was broken when she laid a hand across your chest, laying across a field in the spring sunlight. Yeah. Soft fingers, smells like peaches. Her purse is laid neatly to the side, threatening to spill its contents. But you're reasonably sure of what's inside, regardless. You ask her if she would remember it, if you gave her a number. She'd replied that she was no good at remembering the little things, to store it in her phone. Another time, you'd grin.
The car circles again. You ask her the deal with that car, the power of her employer. She laughs cunningly before admitting Mr. Saya is wealthy and eccentric enough for such a thing. But it's the first time she had played hooky, she grins. 'Not punishable by death,' is a lovely phrase from those lips - dark crimson, the color of lust.
Questions about Alice aren't a terrible thing to be considering right now. You wonder if she even equates that car to her no-show today? You wonder if today was an important day for Mr. Saya. Was it possibly a high-class showing of antiques today for other eccentrics, independently wealthy, eccentric pricks? Come to think of it, you'd probably own a silver M3 if you were an eccentric prick. Well. A wealthy one, that is.
The car had watched us leave the park towards noon, watched from a parking lot as we had a nice lunch downtown. She had the duck. It smelled amazing. The tinted windows watched a few glasses of wine empty and refill themselves at our cleared table in the restaurant. They followed to her place, later that evening. They picked me up from her lot at around 2:00 am. Her purse contained just about everything you needed. She said so herself, she was no good at remembering little things.
The pick up only took a few moments, the BMW wheeled out of the lot quickly, only turning its lights on as it hit the open street just outside. Her apartment was located just south of Saya's extended loft. Minutes later, the entrance way was cold and minimally decorated, just cold marble and sparse greenery lined along the foyer. Ahead was a gate with an electronic badge reader. Investigators would know later that it was Alice's badge used to gain access, but that was just as well. They wouldn't find a body.
Sean swiped the badge and lifted the door open with a heavily gloved finger. Clean black outfits made us look like mimes that fell off track, the seedy underbelly of performance art. Yeah. Mimes in crime. Her desk was uncluttered and tidy, the laptop we needed still plugged in on the corner next to a neat potted plant. There was a cable-lock on the notebook but there's no doubt that it isn't the PIN that was pinched out of her Dolce & Gabbana a quarter of an hour ago. The sticky-note smelled like downtown girl, elegant simplicity in scent. Alice said so herself, she was no good at remembering little things. The safe would be located under her desk. A finger print reader would be on the deck of her laptop. Soft fingers...
She had gracefully provided the thin layer of skin needed for the finger print to render. The cable-lock had fallen aside harmlessly with the PIN, scratched neatly in a gentle stroke across her note. The safe was more of the same. This would be the liquid assets garnered today while Alice was out sick.
The bookshelves seemed to have kept her pretty busy, waiting alone in this cold plot of marble and old paper. Mostly Nippon-related reference manuals, antique collecting guides, etcetera. More liquid assets tucked into the gutted insides of a New Testament bible. Yeah. You can find anything a person could need in at least a few specific copies. So far the loot tallied up to around a quarter million. Not bad for the last twenty minutes, but considering the three month set-up time, there had to be something more.
His money hadn't come in from dealing in antiquities and cryptic wall scrolls, ancient papyrus that the museums hadn't swallowed up from the high-class black market consumer. His money had come from cocaine. It showed on the red flares around Alice's soft nostrils on Monday mornings. It showed in the lumpy couch cushions in his private office. In his eyes when the shades covered them. It showed in the squeaky wood around his elegantly simplistic mahogany desk. The trim was steel, the floorboards were false.
That was another eight kilos to toss in the trunk. It's probably the only non-cash item to lift from Saya, seeing as one-of-a-kind collectibles became hard to fence reliably, quickly. It'd take a specific market to buy anything in this loft. Anything that was actually valuable, besides the cocaine. Yeah. Soft red puffy nasal irritation on an olive girl... Supplemental payment, perhaps. It'd be easier to sell this than any of the priceless antiques that provided a front for these keys moving in and out of the loft. Did Alice run them? Or just snort small amounts of profit alone at the desk out front? Guess it doesn't matter now.
Sean would always ask, ‘Why her, man?' because he wanted the secrets. But you can't give too much away, even to a driver. A good driver, at that. He wouldn't even need to know why ‘Alice' was the one, if he'd just consider how hard it is to find a woman of her grace and wiles that could cut off her fingerprints for you, superglue them to your index, and give you a kiss as she covered her bed with her own blood, struggling and creating a wild death sequence for some CSI-watching small town cop who passed an investigator test. He'd come up clueless, say the Yakuza were funneling money into Saya's "side business" and had killed Alice after the burglary. No body to be found, lost in some Yakie underground vault by now. Yeah. She'd be sodomized brutally before being dumped in separate pieces around the country side, or just left to rot in the cellar of some hot local night club. The story would be forgotten by the time we had spent even a percent of the earnings. Good for 30 minutes, not bad for 3 months. Sean would take his cut, and wave us on until a year from now when we find another hit.
She'd be cleaned up and ready to exit the apartment under Alice Alexis' name soon, leaving no prints from her boots or her peach scented fingers as she got out to the fire escape. She'd drop into the quiet alley way next to a man she'd dubbed ‘Hobo Hal' and he'd wave as if it was something ordinary. The car would be just around the corner now, the back entrance to the apartment complex - waiting for Alice to catch a ride.
You'd tell her ‘Alice' wasn't really a turn-on for you. How about ‘Wendy' or ‘Adrien' next time? ‘Andrea,' or ‘Kyra,' maybe? She'd kiss you and you'd smell peaches, and Sean would drop you off at another apartment registered under a couple of names that don't quite feel like home yet, and the next couple of months would be a blur.
Wake up one morning and slide out of bed slowly, keep the sheets from rippling too much and awaking her. You wonder if she even gave you a real name the first time you had met. Doesn't necessarily matter, you guess. She's lovely. Yeah. Alice. Brenda. Roxy. Sam. Whoever she was, the olve skinned and sad-eyed girl had some wispy blonde vangs running down to her chin, a cigarette resting on her puffy lips, and some blow on a mirror when times got too mundane. She'd save you. Save you from this city, this life that shouldn't have even existed. She'd always tell you, 'Life just isn't anything without reckless, stupid excitement.'
Better cook her some breakfast, get the coffee started. Today we didn't have to do a thing.
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