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Next of Kin, Chapter Six: 49%


  11:27:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1585 words  
Categories: Announcements

Next of Kin, Chapter Six: 49%

Six, 49%

I finished my hot dog on my way back out of the park. This time I walked past the bike, and up to the neighbor's front door. My interface autodialed inside. The call rang through, but without retrieving a name or a picture, and nobody picked up.
The door slid open, like my grandmother's used to when she left the chain attached. A big hand, with ?BIKE? written under the knuckles, pushed through the door. It had long, red manicured fingernails. I saw a woman's face through the crack. ?May I help you??
?I'm an advocate, investigating. I'd like to ask you a few questions, about your neighbor.?
?Oh, sure.? The door opened the rest of the way. ?Come on in.?
She was bigger than me, and wearing lots of black leather, and she had short blond hair. Now that she was in full view, my interface made a positive ID, and told me her name was Lisa.
She noticed me staring, and looked down at her clothes. ?You'll have to excuse the leather. I was about to go out for a ride- not getting off work at a sex dungeon.?
Despite the denial, I couldn't not imagine her working at a sex dungeon, and from her wicked smile she knew it, too; I wondered if it was intentional.
?Did you know my brother, your neighbor, next door?? I pointed in the direction of his house with my thumb.
?Met him just the once. His dog, big fucker, pit bull, I want to say, rammed his fat head through one of the slats in my fence. I mean, dogs are big, stupid animals, so I wasn't too upset over that. But I had a dog at the time, dainty, fluffy little thing, and she was in the back yard. Trapped with him.
?I go to let her inside after I get home, and she squalls at me from underneath this big dog. She bites him in the leg, and gets away, and he pounces on her again, and I realize he's trying to rape her.
?I grab his collar and try to pull him off, and that's when I see he's named Adolf. So I yell his name, tell him to stop while I'm trying to pull him off. Wouldn't listen- at all. Finally, I just kick him in his throat, high and hard enough he flew back.
?I've been around dogs enough to know that after that he's going to be worse, so I grab him by the throat while he's still down, and hold him. He snaps at me, and kicks. I squeeze his throat, to where he can hardly breathe, and put my other hand in his stomach, you know, telling him I could pull out his guts and his throat, and I'm his alpha bitch. But he doesn't stop, and he's as strong as he is stupid, so he's seconds from breaking loose, and either attacking me or raping my dog.
?That's when I see his big, floppy dog balls bouncing around on his stomach, and I think, yeah, if a dog were a bike, those would be his brakes. Thankfully I'd just got done for a ride, so I had on my heavy-duty shitkickers,? she stomped the ground and lifted the boots she was wearing, to illustrate. ?And I stomp him a couple of times. Finally, that puts the fear of God back into him, and he curls up fetal. He was submissive enough after that I led him by the collar back next door.
?Your brother answered the door in underpants and an undershirt. My blood was pretty well up, so I told him if that dog ever got in my yard again, he was only getting the head back, Godfather-style. That was the first and only time I ever saw him. He was high enough I don't know if he'd remember it; hell, he was high enough I thought about kicking his ass, because I was pretty sure he wouldn't have remembered even that- though he sure as hell deserved it.
?And what kind of asshole names his dog Adolf? And no, I do not care if it also means wolf, and dogs are descended from wolves. Having a pit bull that you essentially let be an asshole means you were naming him after Hitler. It's about as clever as having a baby so you can shit your pants in public without people being able to blame the smell on you.?
?John was an asshole,? I said. My screen flashed red, as my approval dropped to 43%; but I didn't care. He was an asshole, and even dead, he didn't deserve to have that forgotten. The only complaints in the chat seemed to be based around the curse; the only other activity seemed to be a discussion on the relative merits of tattoos, and a perpendicular discussion of Lisa's sexuality.
?Was?? she asked.
?I'm investigating his death.?
?Damnit. And here I am, going on about how big a tool he was.?
?Very tooly,? I said, ?can't argue there. The worst part about the dog is I don't think the dog was a jerk; it just learned to be a jerk from him.?
?Can I get you a beer?? she asked.
A message arrived on my interface. ?Investigator Tip: Drinking while performing the duties of an advocate can lead to lapses in judgment. It has also been linked to much harsher audience rating.?
Before I could even acknowledge the first message, a second appeared. ?Investigator Tip: Refusing hospitality can lead witnesses to become less cooperative, or even hostile.?
I wanted to sigh, but I knew she'd think it was for her. ?Tempting,? I said, ?but I've got more doors to go to. I got to think some folks will be less likely to let in a man who's boozy.?
?Mind if I?? she asked.
?Weren't you going for a ride?? I asked.
?Not for a while. We'll talk, then I'll wallow for a few minutes thinking about mortality. Then I'll eventually decide to ride, anyway, to feel alive while I can. But I'll be stone sober by then.? Her fridge spat out a beer, and she used a mounted lever to crank the top off. She upended the beer and drained a third of it, and when she lowered the beer I could finally read the word ?CHIC? on her other hand.
?Were you around last night? About 11:25??
?I work nights. I tend bar, at the Snake Pit.?
?I assume you can corroborate that.?
?My boss keeps me GPSed to make sure I stay on the premises- inside, even. One of his old waitresses was hooking out of the bar; she'd take customers out to their cars. Not that I blame her, the wages he pays, but the cops tried to say he knew about it, and seize the bar.?
?Seize the bar??
?Yeah. By claiming that he was using the bar as a brothel. They couldn't prove he was pimping the girl. But the burden of evidence was lower with the brothel accusation, because they were technically prosecuting his bar, and his bar doesn't have any Constitutional protections- the cops were allowed to presume guilt. Between the time he was shut down, and the cost of proving that his bar wasn't a brothel, he lost over ten grand. So he watches our whereabouts on the job. But if you want something more old-fashioned, there's about a dozen drunks and perverts who could vouch for me.?
I got a notification, that the footage was complete. ?Just got a message. You mind if I take a second?? I asked.
?Knock yourself out.? I started with the camera outside John's place. I played through it at 64 times normal speed. A car parked in front of the house, or, rather, in front of both John's and Lisa's. I looked at the angles from the camera on Lisa's doorstep, and Agness'. Neither got a look at more than the edge of the car, or could get me a look at the driver. I pulled up a camera from across the street.
When he got out of the car, I got a good look at him, though it was dark enough that his features were partially shrouded in shadow. I tried to pull an ID off the image, but it came back unknown. ?Investigator Tip: Some undesirables may use illegal interface modification to hide their ID from public databases.?
I shared the image of the car and the man with Lisa. ?Recognize either of these??
?That's your brother's friend, I assume? The car I know, because he was always parking outside my place, leaving me nowhere to put my bike.?
?You never met him??
?Nope,? she said.
Damn. ?Okay.? I shared my contact information. ?If you think of anything else, get in touch.?
?And if I don't think of anything else?? She smiled at me. Mercifully, the door shut before I had to figure out how to respond.
?Now how the hell am I going to track this bastard down?? I asked. My rating fluttered down.
But a message popped up. ?Investigator Tip: Vehicle and individual matches can be pulled from surrounding cameras automatically, reducing the manual labor involved.?
?Okay,? I said. ?Do that.?
A follow-up message informed me it would take several more hours to process. I spent those hours talking to neighbors circling around the home. The further I got out, the less anyone seemed to know, about John or the gunshot.

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