It took about ten minutes to find Lexi hiding out near the fringes of Kip’s garden, and another ten minutes to convince her not to hitchhike back to Fresno.
My main argument: you’re not thinking rationally right now.
The argument in my head: you might get kidnapped by another Reagan fanatic.
Obviously, she didn’t agree – my boss keeps trying to eat people’s brains, is it rational to stick around? – but something in her brain, possibly a Nick Stahl-influenced neuron, carried her back to the car, and as soon as we were in the back seat, away from all the lunacy, she put her head on my shoulder and said, ‘better when it’s just us.’
‘No weirdos getting in the way.’
I stroked down the side of her face, stopping at the shoulder. There were no sounds from the party in the housse, by the pool, no sounds from the overgrown Bonsai trees to the side. If I’d closed my eyes, we could’ve been anywhere.
Naturally, the silence was short-lived.
The door on the passenger side opened…then slammed shut. After several muffled shouts in Spanish, probably insults, it opened again, with Juana being pushed down onto the seat, the top of her Moon Factory Ø hoodie awkwardly scrunched up on one side of her head.
‘Lexi…’ she started, turning to the back seat, but was interrupted by the click of the driver’s door, and then Nick barking Herzog-like to wipe the fucking blood off her chin. Then softening instantly…to a jarring degree…and adding, ‘in case it drops on the upholstery.’
‘It’s all done?’ I asked, not really sure what done meant in this context.
‘Some on your hood too,’ he said, reaching over to Juana and scrubbing it off himself.
‘Head spurted…’ the Mexican replied, glaring at his wrist.
‘Hmm. Kip is an unorthodox guy. Don’t worry, I’ll get you a new hoodie back at my place. Give you a proper bath too.’
‘Is it all taken care of?’ I tried again, leaning forward onto the shoulder of Nick’s seat.
‘We’re getting to that, Keni, relax.’ He steered the car through the gates [clipping the side of one of them] and out onto the racing circuit road, its dark blue light and tree combo oddly comforting. ‘Yes, in answer to your pedantry, everything has been taken care of. Kip is resting after a serious fall. The head wound is not as bad as first thought. No need for medical attention tonight.’
‘Won’t someone come up and find him, see all that blood?’
‘Witnesses, dude. Got three of them to corroborate the fall story. Another two to feel guilty about not stopping it.’
‘They really believe he fell?’
‘Of course, saw it with their own eyes. Fuck, this road is pretty at night. Look at this turn coming up, the oval window gap between the trees…’
Out of toy soldier habit, I followed his command and looked across at the lake view. The alien was right, it was pretty. You could see the DINER caffé and VR plaza as block silhouettes on the other side of the shore, singled out by their green neon glow. Alluring. Monopolistic. Exact same place Lexi had got abducted from ten hours earlier.Continue reading