The reason why Marc couldn't get the song out of his head was the lyric: When I'm without you I'm cold inside, borrow me again tomorrow. That combined with the hook:
I'm in love, but when I'm jealous my eyes turn green
I'm in love, but when I'm jealous my eyes turn green.
The tempo was fast enough it got him spinning. Spinning in a good way. And he lost himself for a minute, he moved so fast, so far away. But then he came back again and looked at the report in front of him.
The reports were coming in. A white female in her thirties saw a black Beemer with tinted windows cruising down the street real slow. She was taking video and she caught his tags. Later that night an Asian man in his fifties who was raking his lawn saw a man jump out of the moving car.
Ten minutes later the car was found abandoned in the middle of a crosswalk on 28th St. It was equipped with illegal self driving equipment and it was mounted with cameras giving a steady feed of 360 degree footage.
One of the parts that concerned him was that the woman who turned in the footage was actually a well known civilian in the department. Apparently she kept dying and coming back to life. And lately the heat had been on her. The surveillance pictures were stacking up, stacks of HD cards. So it seemed odd that she just happened to have that footage. The truth was that he also wanted a piece of her. And this was his opportunity. He decided he would inject himself into the situation a little further.
He called round and asked to speak to Heather McMillan. Could he have an interview with her? Today would be best. Yes, the local bakery on Pearl, the Greek one. He wanted to talk to her over baklava and hot sweet coffee. He wanted to see what it looked like when she ate. He wanted to coolly watch all her mannerisms. He wanted to find her tells. He wanted in.
He spent the rest of his day honing his routine. He needed to be prepared for this. He needed to be on his game. Better, harder, faster, stronger. He looked in the mirror and studied himself. He worked out on his home equipment and really took it to the next level. He admired his flexed arm, his flat sculpted hairless stomach, his jawline. He was always considered handsome in a very classical way. He had the square jaw and the even proportions of a movie star, except with the caveat of not having been overexposed. Yeah Brad Pitt was hot, but he wasn't a fresh face. And he wasn't Clint Eastwood. His jaw wasn't overly prominent, it was just cut, so he wasn't in any danger of having a double chin. This was important to him as he viewed people with double chins as inferior and he was used to relying on his good lucks to dominate women. He would make subtle criticisms to his dates about "watching your waistline" and "oh it looks like you've been too busy to work out." Then later he would drop hints that he could make things go a lot easier for them. The kind of ideas he had weren't calculated, they stemmed from larger issues in his life. He didn't set out to make promises he couldn't keep, but then again he didn't view them as promises, just previews of what could be in store for a lucky lady in the future.
It wasn't like he was promising them lear jets and horses in Aspen. It wasn't like he bragged about himself to anyone who would listen, maybe to turn them off actually. It wasn't like he had anything to hide. The skeletons in his closet had been swept up recently and discarded. He was given a new shot at life by the department. The department was his life. He loved it. There were people who were there who wanted to get away and he viewed them as traitors. He and his group of friends regularly hazed newcomers and they had been there ten years. The people who do the hazing are considered assets to the dept. Some of them are better at it than others. Sometimes the hazing is essentially torture for psychopaths and sociopaths to feed off of. The department is filled with sociopaths. The psychopaths are limited to two floors, because no one can stand them. He was considered a shoe-in, a rising star, a sure thing. He was powerful. Women did whatever he wanted and let him do whatever he wanted. Men aspired to be him. Everything had gone right. There was no abuse in his family. He was stable, he had a IQ of 190, he was in perfect physical condition, even slightly underweight, and his teeth were white and pleasantly shaped and his breath was fresh. So when he promised new women a hand up, he meant they could ride his coattails, because it made him feel good. He was a star, but he loved em and left em. No attachments right now in his career at the dept. They told him, programmed him, taught him who he was and who he needed to be. His TV stations were limited to eleven and each one was wired to program him for a different thing. He knew about it, but he didn't understand it and he was programmed not to anyway.
It was kind of sad actually. There was a hole in his heart and it hurt. He kept trying to fill the hole, but the scar tissue made it tight and constricted. He thought if he only matched up and was successful enough...if he could catch some kidnappers and save a little girl with blonde hair and find his wife and have his kids...then he would be okay. What about right now? He asked himself in an uncharacteristic stab at the heart of it. Was he okay now? No! And he wanted people to take care of him and coddle him, because it wasn't ok. And people did that and while they were at it they took chunks of him with them. They were like wraiths coming down and sucking off his life force, because he was weak and he wasn't okay despite every effort and every convenience. So it was with this desperate energy and a high sex drive that he arrived down the block from the "bakery." He actually thought this place was stupid and now that he was thinking about it baklava was fattening and he didn't want to look like a pig to Heather. He almost forgot about Heather, because he was so busy thinking about his bright future, but the mic in his ear came on. "She's walking up now. South side of the street."
"I've got a line of sight."
"Good luck man, we'll be here with you through it."
The thing is when he saw her something took over. He knew he was right about this. This felt right. She looked a little like a modern Barbie doll. God he wished her hair was longer. It was so short! It made him feel weird. It was brown. The truth was he liked brunettes better than blondes. For him blondes were bimbos, well maybe not natural blondes, but those were hard to come by. He never liked red heads. He always felt he would fall in love with a woman with long straight brown hair like Demi Moore. Oh and she would have big tits. And she was smart and could help him. And she could give him what he needed to feel emotionally supported, physically met, and mentally challenged. But the woman standing in front of him inside the glass smudged doors wasn't that woman. Heather was the one that got away. But it wasn't over and he was going to get her. He was.
When he opened the door he saw her watching him in the mirror in front of her. Right he had thought that since her back was facing him he could get in closer, surprising her, pushing her off kilter. But he did the same thing all the time. He stared at any reflective surface instead of looking directly at things. Well when he was working, but who was he kidding, he was doing that all the time. At the dept. there was never a day off. Not at the level he was on.
She turned around and looked at him for a moment as if this was the beginning of her profile on him. He knew this was the face she would remember when he was old. And it was because of this face that she would make some last few moves before retiring on his behalf. But the look she cast on him was calm and even a bit cold. She wasn't a psychopath, but he had been warned about her. He had to be very careful with her because the goal wasn't to blow her cover, but after so many years they had to get closer to her. God after what happened a few days ago with her he felt protective. He heard that she made a bold move while she was in a veritable spotlight of scrutiny and no one knew if she knew they were watching. It seemed like she might know, but they all told themselves they were being silly.
"How are you?" Already he felt stupid. He said it in an overly friendly tone like a stranger with candy he thought. And he immediately regretted it and started obsessing about how much he hated child molesters. Then he tried not to think about that and casually looked at the menu. No espresso machine?
"Do you really want to stay here?" she asked. She looked dubious.
And then he felt relief and he didn't know where it came from. But he was looking at her face and it was like it was radiating light. And he noticed she smelled good and her face was nice looking and her lips were full like a doll's, and her shirt was tight and she looked strong. And then she did the strangest thing. She quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him outside like she was saving him.
"Let's go for a walk."
Outside cold air brought his senses back, but not completely, because she had touched him. And something happened, there was familiarity between them now and so quickly that he was caught off guard. He wanted to touch her again. They walked up the street.
In his earpiece he heard, "What are you guys doing?"
"Heather, I have no idea."
"I have no idea what we're doing."
"Do you always have to have a plan?" She put him on the spot.
He pulled back. But then he saw her legs in those tight pants and he couldn't be mad at her, actually now that he noticed she looked upset.
He turned the attention back to her. "Are you sure you're okay?" He was doing what the people in the dept. did to him. And he knew for a fact she wasn't ok. So he did it a little viciously. If she wanted to play with the big boys she was going to get it just like everyone else. No special passes little missy. He wanted to be cruel, because he felt intimidated by her, but then he remembered how she died. Hm, he thought, I should definitely take the soft approach with her.
And for a minute they walked silently while she tried not to cry. He witnessed her win that battle, but the reality was that he had actually won, because if he ever saw her break down and truly cry she would be in his soft spot. Also because he needed to cry too and he wouldn't have to if she did it when things got tense. He realized he was thinking about her with an intensity that wasn't warranted by how well he knew her. And when she cried he would feel okay and in charge. Because they all knew how delicate she really was. Her mental health was very unstable. Yes, he thought he could help her. His mission changed from help himself to help her.
Then he realized it was happening too fast. What was this?
"Heather do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"
"That's why I'm here isn't it?"
"That footage you turned in. Do you know why we're looking for the car? Did anyone tell you?" That wasn't what he thought he was going to ask.
"No, they found me off the traffic camera. Can you tell me why they wanted my footage and called me in when they have cameras up everywhere anyway?"
He had thought about that. He knew it was just a ruse to interview her. Maybe. Actually he hated to admit it, but he didn't know what was going on anymore. A long time ago he thought he used to know. Not anymore. Oh well. C'est la vie. Quick sendoff. "The team that analyzed the footage thought your angle on the car might reveal something better than what we had."
She put her sunglasses on and grabbed his arm again and pointed across the street at some graffiti. Again he felt like he was dragged into her world when she touched him. She was warm.
All his prepared questions dropped away. He was brought back to the fact that they were undoubtably being viewed at the office on a big screen. A lot of people were watching them and he briefly felt overwhelmed by the pressure to perform.
"What were you filming when you caught the car on camera?"
"I was filming the traffic."
He was caught off guard by her honesty. "Why were you filming the traffic?"
"I don't know."
"Ok. Did you see anything that might help us?"
"Nothing that you don't already know. The car caught my attention because it was going so slow."
"If you don't mind me asking...how long have you lived here?"
"Long enough to be a local now. Plus I grew up in Colorado."
Then she looked at him in the eyes, his brown eyes, and she said, "I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry I couldn't help you more." And she smiled sweetly at him.
"Are you saying goodbye to me?"
"I have some more stuff to do today and I'm sure you want to get on with your interviews."
He frowned, but quickly covered it. She was still there, but he could feel her moving away. He felt like he had lost her again. It made him mad. He wanted to hold her as improbable as that was.
"Yeah I guess I should get back to the office."
"Have a nice day." She quickly took his hand and squeezed it. She smiled and then she rushed off down the sidewalk.
He stood there in shock. It was as though the meeting had never taken place already - as heavily documented as it was. His mind felt like it was getting a sweeping with a broom.
"Well, I guess that's it folks."
"Ok come back to the van, we have to ask you some questions..."
"I think it'll be more natural if I take my car. You have to remember how many randoms there are following people around." He said. He called the shots not them. They needed to know their place. When he got back in his car he popped a couple Xanax and chugged a bottled water. He had something for everything. But the meeting felt like it went wrong and it was an anti-climax. Heather was there one minute, gone the next. He remembered a moment when he was talking to her and he caught a young guy on a skateboard looking at her. He wanted to see her again, but he wasn't sure if he could make it happen. That's what he realistically thought, it was too risky.
While he waited for the Xanax to kick in he turned on NPR and listened to Lakshmi Singh talk about the middle east. Forget it. He was going to treat himself to some steak and pomme frites and a glass of red wine at that restaurant down the street that had organic meat. Usually he would have called one of his stand by women, but this time he went alone. He was being watched by both teams. His own team and the "other" team. But it might have been his lucky day that he didn't go back to the van and that he didn't just drive home.
"You have never once given me what I want." He heard the voice of his ex girlfriend. His first long term girlfriend. It was one of those moments that haunted him. He felt like after a certain age some people just give up and start nodding and agreeing to everything, and then doing whatever they please. It was true if he had nodded and agreed with her she would've been docile in a moment. Handling. Handling.
He ordered a Scotch. He took another Xanax. He looked up and saw a beautiful Asian woman looking at him. A Japanese woman. He looked her in the eyes and nodded ever so slightly in approval. People in the restaurant took notice of him. He felt they were in agreement that he was a powerful successful man with no identity crises.
The meeting with Heather drifted into the background. He pulled out his phone and drew up a list of photos. Here she was dragging a recycling bin with an earflap hat on. Here she was standing in the wind at a crosswalk. Here she was standing next to a homeless man. Standing, walking, running, but not sitting all that often. At least publicly. He wanted to be here with her. Watching her. He wanted to watch her in person. The video kept getting corrupted anyway. If he could watch her maybe he could unlock the mystery. He was feeling all gooey when he left and crossed to his car. He really shouldn't have been driving but he did anyway. He did it occasionally. Point A to Point B. He got in his car and bent down to adjust the floor mat when a car cruised by. A Datson. He straightened up and took off. The guy in the Datson smiled and spun around to follow Marc. Marc's fogged mind kept him from looking in his rear view. He blissfully drove home with the red car close behind.