Tuesday, May 5, 2009

FIRST DATE

I made him buy me a hot meal. And not another burger. Fish. It was fried, not grilled like my dad and I used to do it, but at least it wasn’t fast food.

The Nerd was nervous. He wanted to get to business, but I was holding all the cards, and the thumb drive, so I took it slow. We walked along a pier I had seen from a distance but had never gone to. Wasn’t even summer and there were tons of people. An arcade, some rides. I thought the Nerd was going to jizz his pants he seemed like he was on a first date and couldn’t wait to get her home.

But Trey likes a nice dinner before getting down to business. Basket of fried fish and a big soda, I took my time. For the first time since getting on a train outside Spokane, I sat down and ate a real meal. Could’ve used a beer, but we were probably breaking other laws and I didn’t want attention.

I ate and he looked at me, at the people passing by. I was on the lookout, too. Rodeo was the only face I watched for. He was the dude that could fuck things up. Didn’t see him, finished my meal and jonsed for a joint. Something to calm me down.

It wasn’t cold, but the Nerd’s teeth were chattering. It made his cheeks shake, like a dog. He ate well every night. Soft face and thick fingers. No scars on his knuckles and red lines on the inside of his eyelids. Didn’t look like he slept much. Or saw any daylight. Or lifted anything heavier than a phone or computer mouse.

He asked if I looked at the thumb drive, did I know what was on it.

Hell no. Don’t care what’s on it. Just want to deal for it. After that, he can have all the trouble he wants for whatever’s on it.

And then the fool asked if I had it on me. Like he could buy it right there.

I told him that he doesn’t walk around with the kind of money I want. And I don’t walk around with the black bag in case some asshole gets the idea to put a hot one in me and take what he didn’t pay for.

With a belly full of food or starving for three days, I could still take the Nerd apart. If that cupcake tried anything, I’d start him in the soft belly, just to make it hurt. Then the face to show I meant business. Stepping on his hands would crush them like potato chips. I let him know all this with a look. A hard look. My dad would’ve laughed if he saw it. No one was harder than my dad.

How did a marshmallow like the Nerd get involved with a spy deal in the first place? The dude looked like he would liquefy at any moment. He waited for me to make the plan and that’s how it must have been with Rodeo. That guy probably held the Nerd’s hand through the whole process. But he didn’t cover what might happen if a badass from Washington state showed up and pulled the bag before Rodeo got it.

So now it was my job to tell the Nerd what was up. We set another meeting. This time, I’d be ready to give him the black bag and he’d be ready with the cash. How much cash? That’s the fucking thing about blind negotiations. He could be selling the black bag to Rodeo for sixty million dollars and I’m only asking for ten grand. Am I asking for too little, too much? I threw out a figure to see if he’d blink.

Hundred thousand dollars.

He shrank like someone was trying to stuff him into his own pocket. But he didn’t blink. The money wasn’t too large. It was a pain in the ass and would cut into his profits, but I didn’t bid myself out of the game. Should’ve asked for more.

The Nerd made a move to try and talk me down, but I gave him the hard look again. Dude was really stuck. Didn’t even try to negotiate. Now I’m the hardest man I know.

While I’m writing this, with some grandmother at the computer next to me, trying to figure out how to e-mail some picture of a meatloaf to her daughter, the Nerd is getting one hundred large together.

This grandmother might be the last nice person to see me alive. She even smiled at me when I told her what button to push. But she doesn’t know what I’m doing. You do. Tell her what happened. Tell anyone you want and maybe someone will throw some dirt on me. But if this deal goes like it should, and you’re in Canada and you see a good looking dude with solid gold sunglasses and a big smile, you’ll know where I got the money.