So far …
Agent Toa Carter is fending for himself, as the Agency continues its blackout on all communications. But with a close friend dead, and the authorities putting him high up the list of suspects, Toa swoops on the only guy who might know the truth; his dead friends drug dealer.
Continuing datastream >>
Sully looked a little better, but still the try hard gangsta in Toa’s clothes. He had managed to find a pair of old athletic pants and a t-shirt, both black, both hanging off him like he liked his styles. Toa had pulled him up some basic chum on the service, which Sully was digging into like it was his last meal. Toa watched him from across the apartment, sitting on his bed with a warm cup of cha.
Sully’s clothes were sitting washed and pressed to the side of the service, but food seemed more important. Toa let him eat. Looked at how his left eyebrow was cut through, not scarred. Probably fashion, rather than accident.
Toa tossed himself back on the bed, and found himself drifting almost instantly.
He thought of Preston. Wondered how much of this was guilt at treating him badly. How well did he even really know the guy, other than a convenient and willing booty call? Toa wondered if he owed him to find his killer, or if it was the guilt. Guilt or a want to ignore the Agency, and bury himself in yet another failed life.
Toa woke up, feeling lips pressing against his own. He felt a flush of warmth pass over his groin, the chill of someones hand pressing down into his pants. He opened his eyes with a start, seeing Sully looking back, fearful. He looked disgusted in himself, and what he was doing. Sully kissed him again, with the conviction of someone who didn’t want to.
“Hold up …”
Toa pushed him back, grabbed him by the wrist and yanked his hand back. As much as he could feel himself rising to the occasion, the thought of why confused him. Sully sat back on the bed. The same bed, Toa thought, where Preston and he had had sex. He saw the brief conflict in Sully’s glance. An attempt to try it again.
“Don’t you want it, nigga?”
“You ain’t even like that,” Toa remarked, fairly sure. He could read it in Sully’s eyes, the way that he had kissed him. “Why you want to do that, white boy?”
The remark hit him harder than having to kiss another man. Toa grunted, and pulled himself up onto his elbows. Eventually, Sully broke the painful silence between them, “Preston’s dead.”
“Yeah. He is.”
Toa looked at Sully again. He finally sat back on the bed, pulling back from anything sexual. A look of relief passed his fair features. His black clothing was stark against the white of his skin, the white sharp against the shadow of the room.
“I know you didn’t sell that shit to Preston,” Toa commented. He finally pulled himself about, sitting on the edge of the bed again. He could see his mug of cha was cold. “I know you were straight with the Blacks and Whites about what you knew too.”
“I didn’t sell em dat shit, nigga,” replied Sully, almost whining. “I swear. I told em everythin’ I know. Everythin’.”
“Just tell me, and I’ll make sure that the guy gets everything that’s coming to him.”
Toa thought back on Frank, and how he had pointed him at Sully. Probably figured that his boys would get to Sully and silence him before he had a chance to talk. Point him in the wrong direction while he cleaned out Preston’s apartment. He knew the two had to have been related. What did Preston have of his?
“Few days back, a guy came up on me, nigga,” Sully said. “Tells me to say to Preston that I ain’t got nuthin’ to sell em. Tells me to point em at this other guy, and say that he got all the shit he needs. Said I aughta vouch for him. Say he good.”
Toa glanced back at the white kid. He didn’t need his wetware to tell that he was telling the whole truth, “What was this guy’s name. The guy who came to you. Frank?”
“Yeah. That’s it! I couldn’t remember the name when the cops were talkin’ to me.”
“Frank Apatcha. Who did he tell you to send Preston to?”
“Guy called James Nagata. Said I should give him his details. Frank gave me da shit, told me how to get the two to meet. Said that all I had to do, and to keep my mouth shut.”
“And you did it?” Toa asked increduously. He shot a hard glance back at the kid.
“He was gonna break my fuckin’ arm. Said he was gonna do a lot worse if I told Preston anythin’ ’bout it.” Sully’s voice had that whining edge to it again. “I swear, nigga. Fuckin’ swear. I didn’t think he was gonna fuckin’ kill him. I swear!”
“I believe you. It’s just a whole lot of bad shit, that’s all.” Toa took a deep breath and rubbed at his face. His palms felt the scratch of his stubble there. He could feel the carpet under his feet as he stood up. “Who was that guy on the fire escape? You recognise him?”
“Yeah,” Sully said, shifting off the bed. “Joshua something. He hangs out down few of the clubs. Fruit Salad mostly.”
“Gay bar,” replied Toa, more to himself. He felt the trickle of realization come down from the public frames. “Does he hang out with – did he hang out with Preston?”
“A bit.” Sully shrugged, following Toa as he headed to the service. Toa considered on chum, but settled for cha again. “I dunno. I ain’t seen him hangin’ too much.”
“What about Preston? How was he the last few days before he died?”
“Ain’t seen too much of him, nigga, straight up. He been keepin’ himself busy I guess. Had a few private dances with a few peeps that he was seein’.”
“Did he seem scared or anything to you?” Toa asked. Sully shook his head, giving it thought.
“Naw. Not really. He seemed a bit up, but naw, not down.”
“You remember any of these private dances he was doin’?”
Sully shook his head again, pulled a face. Toa wondered what a kid like him was doing hanging out with transgendered and gay people. Just a big mix of teenage confusion and identity, he figured.
Toa let out a soft sigh again, picking up the fresh cha once it was ready on the service. Scratching at his short shaved head, he sipped and thought. The city spread out before him, as he wandered towards the windows. A lance of lightning crackled and danced across the dark sky, connecting in a flash with the Sky Tower. Grounding and vanishing away.
“Sure you don’t want me to suck your dick, nigga?”
Toa heard Sully walking up behind him, his steps as cautious and hesitant as his words. Toa caught his reflection in the window. “Why?”
“You saved my life. Why not.”
“Because you don’t want to. You don’t owe me nothin’, bro. So just chill on that, ok?”
“Get some sleep,” Toa found himself ordering, his tone more hard than he had expected. He glanced over at Sully, then the bed. “You need it. I need to meet up with a few of my friends. Work out where to go from here. You’ll be safe here. Don’t think Frank or his boys know you are here. If we were followed, they would have jumped us by now.”
Sully just nodded, and headed towards the bed. He looked angry at himself, but Toa ignored it, already reaching out to his apartment through his wetware. The place tensed in response, and he felt the cold weather outside, the tension of the silent alerts he had put around the place. Truth was, he would know a long time before Frank or his boys jumped the place.
Toa sipped at his tea and about him, the room faded from dark to black, before the ground gridded out and the walls vanished. The apartment folded and faded, before washing into only ground and sky, both too flat and too perfect to be real. They both carried the same high shine of the hyper real.
Sully’s halo lingered before that too faded.
Constance appeared before him, her hands out from her sides, palms out. Toa studied her for a moment, as she touched down on the endless sea before him, causing ripples to dance out in every direction. He stood on dry land, feeling real become hyper real, as a sensation like water flowed over him. He stood there, looking every bit the islander, with a small afro and red lavalava, despite being Maori.
Avatar and Icon.
Constance cycled, parts chopping and changing. Mostly outfits, hairstyles. She settled finally, like a casino machine finally coming to rest, all three barrels resting on Geisha. It had only occurred to him after that he had seen her walk straight passed him. Drawn from deep in memory, like the rest of her many forms.
Maybe Sully wasn’t confused at all, Toa thought. Maybe the kid had his head screwed on the right way entirely. Maybe it was he who was confused. Confused for Constance.
Toa dismissed the Icon and put the link through. He knew Garly would be waiting.