I can’t believe how quickly time flies! Here’s to the next 200.
Continuation of Day 199.
I leave him there looking like a kicked puppy, heading out half for info, half to just be gone. I debate leaving for good, ghosting him like I have so many other partners. Hell, he’s lasted the longest of my resident hackers. Maybe it’s time to call it.
Hale stares at me hard before letting me in, like she thinks I’m on drugs. Not that I blame her. After four years, this is only the second time we’ve met in person. She nods to a stool in the corner and I sit, swiveling as she gets back to work chopping up the poor bastard on the block.
She lets me sit for a few minutes before prying. “Boy trouble?”
“Just on different career paths.”
“As in he wants out and you don’t know how to quit?”
“Something like that.”
She gives me that look I hate, the one that means I’m transparent and not fooling anyone.
“Yeah, okay? I’m on rough gig. He wants us to walk and live the quiet life.”
She whistles. “Wants you to settle down, huh? It’s a hero’s journey.”
I roll my eyes. “How so?”
“You’ve got the eyes of killer.”
“Lots of people have those.”
“No, lots of people have eyes that have killed. Face it, Dyl. You love this life. You’ll leave it in a body bag.”
“I’d like to think the bastard that finally gets me would at least scavenge my parts.”
She shakes her head as she pulls a comm unit out of the sixer’s skull. “You’ve got morgue humor, pickle.”
“You know I hate that name.”
“You know I give you a discount so I can use it.”
I give her a crooked half smile, swiveling in the stool and sighing. “The job is tough enough without all this sentimental shit.”
“Hey, you’re the one who kept puppy eyes around this long. Time means something to us mere humans.”
“He’s a good lay.”
“You’re soft on him. It means something when you’re soft on anything.”
“Maybe I’m getting senile.”
“If we average the age of the parts, you’re what, 30? Give it a few more years before you cry senile.”
“Fine, my brain is senile.”
“You’re only 117.”
“That’s old in my profession.”
“Four is old in your profession.”
“Do you have any actual advice or just sass?”
She raises her eyebrows. “Aren’t we in a bad mood.”
I shrug and swivel some more. “I got shot yesterday. Healing process always makes me cranky.”
She puts the scalpel down and takes off her gloves, motioning for me to help her roll the rest of the pieces to the incinerator. “Cut him loose.”
“I need a runner.”
“Find another one.”
“He’s the best I’ve got. I’m mid-contract. I can’t take the time to find a new one.”
“Then keep him.”
I roll my eyes. “Gee, thanks doc. Expert advice. Glad we covered my two options.”
“I’m a butcher, not a shrink.”
I nod to the pile of toys she harvested. “Got anything good?”
“Not from this lout. I’ll probably break even.”
We watch him in the fire, giving the remains a moment of respect. Some traditions never die. She walks me back to the door and gives me a quick hug.
“Thanks for stopping by.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“I thought I was the one sassing.”
I smirk and give her a light punch on the shoulder. “I’ll call you when this gets messy.”
“Talk to you soon, Dyl. Stay safe. While I’d love to get my hands on your parts, let’s put that off for another few years.”
“Going soft on me, Hale?”
“You’re one of my best customers. I’m just preserving my business interests.”
I laugh and give her a half salute, heading back towards the hotel room. One of these days I’ll be the bastard on her block, chopped up for parts. Maybe she’ll even miss me.