"With Cat-like Tread" - Part Five

Farrell was pear-shaped and dumpy with a double chin and thinning hair attempting to crawl across the top of his scalp. He had a squalid office sandwiched between a pawnshop and a laundromat on Grove. His bleached-blond muscle boy took one look at us, knew he was outclassed, and stayed perched on the barstool by the door.

"Who for and how much?" said Farrell without looking up from his desk terminal.

His voice, a pinched nasal drawl, reminded me of a drill bit missing its mark and sliding across a sheet of metal. I saw Mouse make a face.

"Mike Mitchell," I said.

"No team I ever heard of."

"He's a BCU student."

"I get a lot of them. Playing with Mommy and Daddy's money."

"We understand Mike's one of your regulars."

He looked up and gave us an appraising look. "You ain't Vice."

"We could be."

"No. Cops ain't that smart around here." He frowned. "You working for someone?"

"Tell us about Mike," I said.

His right hand dropped below the desktop.

Stupid bastard.

The Twins leaped from their shoulder rig into my hands and leveled themselves at Farrell.

At the same time, Mouse let fly with two throwing blades that thunked into the wall on either side of Farrell's head, pivoted, and had her wakizashi's tip in front of Blond Boy's nose.

"I wouldn't recommend it," I said. "I think you know what we are. And you're not that good."

Farrell blanched.

"How about we try this again?"

He nodded.


He held up both hands, palms facing me.

"Good," I said. "Keep them there."

He nodded again.

"Excellent. I think we're gonna get along really well. Now tell us about Mike."

"Tall kid," said Farrell. "Big. Yeah. I know him. Bets on games every week. Couple grand at a time."

"Since when?"

"Three, four months."

"How does he do?"

"Wins some. Loses most. Guy's got shitty luck."

"That bad?"

"Down the toilet. Owes me ten grand. Owed, I mean."

"Ten grand's pretty shitty," I said. "But sounds like his luck changed?"

Farrell frowned, blinked, then shot me a lopsided smile. "Yeah. That's right. Change of luck."

"What happened?"

He shrugged. "Paid it back."

"Must've been a really big change of luck to pay back ten grand."

"Yeah, it was. But we're all square now."

"That's good," I said. "Thanks for the info."

* * *

On our way back up Grove to the Shelby, I said to Mouse, "Something stinks."

"You mean besides that office of his?" said Mouse. "Like something curled up in the corner and died in there."

"Let's check on Mike and find out--"

I stopped a few meters from the car, felt the hairs on the back of my neck salute.

"Kat--" said Mouse.

"I know," I said.

Pan and scan.

Peds ambled by, taking no notice of us. Hawkers lounged by their portabooths. Traffic continued up and down the street.


Scanned the rooflines.

Just dead-channel gray sky.

But the feeling...

"I don't like this," said Mouse.

"Neither do I," I said.

(to be continued...)

"With Cat-like Tread"
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

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