Ghosts Within



Chapter 2: Aspirin and Cigarettes


A note from AdamJay

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  Remy didn’t think his heart usually beat that way. Then again, he usually tried his damnedest not to wake up in a cell so this day had already gone piss-up. He tongue tasted like a cigarette he didn’t remember lighting. Remy wanted another.

  New Madison had pretty nice jails as far as they went. Force fields to keep the noise down, a toilet that flushed all on its own, and the Redcaps always carried a smoke or two.

  “Hey, I’m up. Hey!” Yelling usually did the trick. He rubbed his temples. Nope, hearts shouldn’t move like that. Fucking Happy Jack. He glanced down at his wrist. No Vasc. That’s to be expected, he supposed. An Redcap appeared. Remy smiled, he knew this man.

  “Tyreese, this is a misunderstanding. Couple junkies jumped me at the zoo and I…”

  “Save it, Remy. This is your third strike. You know what that means.” Tyreese was a fat man with a stupid smirk. He had married the second daughter of that aerofarmer from Revolution Square and taking all that cheese to the fry vats did a number on his body. Rich enough to not have to work, but did anyway to get away from the wife. Seemed happy enough though which was more than Remy could say about many men far slimmer and far shittier than Tyreese.

  “Ty, it’s me. This isn’t a big deal, just a misunderstanding. How’s Alice doing? The kids?”

  Tyreese shook his head, chins waggling.

  “Third strike, bud. Nothing I can do. You know Judge.”

  Remy ran his hand down his face. “What am I even here for? They jumped me.” It was true enough. He could’ve ran, but Stefanie was there. Even if Colin was dead as he thought - he didn’t tell her that, of course - how could she be with a man who turned and fled at the sight of trouble? It was a worth a night in the infirmary and a few nights in the can. Tyreese clucked his tongue.

  “Two unlicensed Vascs? Shit, man, I thought you were being more careful than that. Had high hopes for you after the last one. Hey, quiet in there!” Tyreese smacked his stun baton into a neighboring cell and the woman within crumpled to the floor. New Madison had the best cells.

  “Wait, wait, wait, two Vascs? No, you got me wrong, I just had a Force on me, man. Check it, registered and everything.” Remy was just glad he ditched that prototype before getting jumped. Now, that would have been a great way to enjoy state hospitality for a few years. But this time, Remy really didn’t do anything wrong. Well, not too wrong, at least.

  “Yeah, well, tell that to your lawyer. Now, what you need?”

  “An aspirin with a stick if you got it.” Remy sighed. It was no use pressing for more. He’d just have to wait and see. His heart jumping about was a worrying business and a cigarette would be a distraction for a bit.

  “What you got for me?” Tyreese was a fine man, crooked as a drunken snake. Crooked men were easier to work with because there was always something they wanted. Men without vices were unpredictable, and a pain-in-the-ass to deal with. Tyreese was good people.

  “Need a Vasc?” Redcaps loved collecting Vascs. Power-tripping fascists. Remy did not miss the irony of being picked up on charges of unlicensed Vascs and offering his guard a Vasc for some aspirin and a cigarette. But when you’re a hammer, every problem looked like a nail. This problem must’ve been a nail because Tyreese slid a blister pack of pills and two cigarettes through the slot.

  “Make it worth my time, Rem. If you do time, I have to wait. Got mouths to feed, you know?”

  Remy was positive that any concerns about feeding his children came about solely because he ate all the food himself. He twisted the end of the cigarette off and it lit. He exhaled a cloud of smoke and closed his eyes.

  “Those are bad for you, you know.” Tyreese lingered outside, leaning against the column between cells. Must be a slow day.

  “I’m sure something else will take me down first. I live such a clean lifestyle, eh?” Remy knew Tyreese himself smoked like an undercity factory. Banter with Redcaps never really made much sense and Tyreese was no exception. Still, he was a good one all things considered. Fortunately, an inmate down the hall caught his attention and he tottered off smacking his stun baton against his palm.

  Cigarettes tasted like shit, but there wasn’t any gin, and prison food was prison food. He smoked the first one slowly, and popped four aspirin into his mouth and chewed. Remy wondered which lawyer would show up this time. He had two retained and either would do. They could be bloodsucking ticks but they were his bloodsucking ticks and justice was what you paid for. Remy paid well enough. Everything he could spare was for legal expenses. His wasn’t a line of work to skimp on protection.

  Tyreese pulled Remy from his cell about half-hour after he finished the first cigarette. He led Remy down a familiar white hallway and into a small room where Kathy Jones sat in her sharp suit. She looked up from her notes as they entered and waved back to the door.

  “Thank you, officer. Leave us, please.” Tyreese undid Remy’s cuffs and closed the door behind him as he left.

  “Hey, Kathy, it’s been awhile.”

  “Sit down, and tell me what happened. Unlicensed vascs? You know better, Remy.” Pure business with Kathy. That’s why she was paid the big bucks. Well, big bucks for him, at least.

  “No, no, that’s all wrong, Kathy. I was just seeing a client about her case when I got jumped by Happy Jack and two of his boys. They must’ve planted the Vascs on me.”

  “At the zoo?” Kathy had those glasses that looked like boxes with flared points and she peered over them like a hawk. Any lawyer could afford the mandatory corrective surgery, and Remy always figured she kept them around for the look. It was a good look. She took notes on an old-school notepad. Redcaps couldn’t hack into them that way.

  “What about it? Yeah, the zoo. Seemed like a nice place to meet and they just got this new penguin program installed.” Remy thought it was sort of romantic too but that didn’t mean it wasn’t simply a nice location to meet.

  “What’s this case then? The one you were working on? Or do I want to know?”

  Remy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Were the lights always this warm in here? “Just tracking down a missing person. Client’s husband.”

  “Is he connected to Happy Jack’s syndicate in any way? Why was he upset with you? Don’t tell me you didn’t deserve it.”

  That was unfair. Ruffling feathers was part of the game. That hardly qualified as deserving of two guys blasting Volts into his heart though.

  “I may have choked out his boy Clarence last week for a lead.” Remy rubbed his chest. At least it was beating roughly normally now.

  “May?” She and Remy shared an age but Kathy shared whatever quality his mother had which always caused him to say just what he’d rather not say.

  “Did. Yeah, okay, I roughed Clarence up a little bit but that’s no excuse for setting me up like this. Honor among thieves, right?” Remy pleaded. She did that little thing where she looked over the brim of her glasses again and raised her eyebrows. “Not that I’m a thief, Kath, just an expression.” Lawyers were always so serious about that sort of thing.

  She sighed and tapped her pen against her notepad on the table. “Sounds like you got what was coming. You took advantage of Clarence and his protectors found you. What do you want me to do about that?”

  “No, no, no, you got it wrong. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve to take some lumps, because I do. I just don’t think it’s right to do time for this when I didn’t do what I’ve been accused of. That’s the law right?” Remy preferred to operate in the dimmer areas of the law, and only had a casual relationship with it at best. Sometimes, ignorance really was a good excuse.

  “More or less.” She conceded. “Fine, I’ll start looking at your story as soon as your next check clears.”

  Remy frowned and scratched the day’s stubble on his chin.

  “Another one? I have you on retainer, doesn’t that get me something?”

  “Yes, it means I’ll come here and you can tell me your problems. But I’m about to run out of money so I’ll need you to help me out with that.” She stood and moved past him to exit the room. “I’ll take your silence as consent. I’ll initiate transfer when I get back to my office. Stay cool, Remy, you’ll be out in no time.”

  “Easy for you to say, spending my money, breathing my free air.” He grumbled. Remy only had to wait a moment before Tyreese appeared again and dragged him back to his cell.

  “That ones a looker, eh Rem? You got an eye for them lawyers, that’s for sure.” Tyreese guffawed, barking once like a seal. Kathy was okay. In a dark bar near the end of the night, sure, Remy had done worse. That was awhile ago, part of his brain chided him, before you found a gut. He stuffed the voice down and reconsidered. Yeah, Kathy was a good-looking woman, no denying. But she was no Stefanie. He smiled wistfully at the thought of her smell washing over him.

  Tyreese closed the force field behind Remy and toddled off to abuse his meatball hoagie at the end of the hall. Remy laid down and fiddled the second cigarette from its hiding place. With a flick, it lit and he closed his eyes.
Kathy was right. It would be no time at all before he was out of here. Simply a misunderstanding. He took in a long drag and nearly coughed. Tyreese smoked terrible cigarettes. Yeah, simply a misunderstanding. He just hoped Judge would agree.


About the author


  • Purveyor of Fine Schlock

Bio: Purveyor of fine schlock. Cheese is love; cheese is life.

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