29 Twenty-Nine

    I stopped at the nearest Kwik-E-Mart for a canvas shopping bag and a couple of lottery tickets.

    I harbored no secret benevolence toward any living being that night. My therapist was a nutcase, and my best friend had taken off on a secret expedition without calling me. I happily grabbed two middle-aged men and relieved them of their burdensome existences.

    I drank the first and took his money.

    Blood from the second filled my Zip-lock bags. I whistled the Friends theme song while I siphoned him dry, then I took his money, too.

    I pushed one of the bodies on top of the other. A little distraction in a murder investigation could go a long way. Middle-aged alleyway lovers. Cokehead. I set them on fire then packed the blood in the canvas bag and headed home.

    I stopped by Will's apartment, but the door was still locked, and no one answered my door-pounding. I kept knocking until I was sure that he was gone and not just ignoring me in hope that I'd get bored and go away.

    I kicked the door a few times, hoping to break in without too much effort, but the door held.

    Will would call soon from Venice, surely. Or Kuala Lumpur. Or Melbourne.

    I headed home.

    Saint Namid was shuffling a stack of board-thick flash cards and teaching Humphrey color words in six languages when I arrived. Humphrey held "JAUNE" and gnawed the edge.

    "Oh, hello!" Namid said. "Sorry we made such a mess."

    "No problem," I said. "Kids are messy."

    I helped her gather her flash cards and puppets and light-up games.

    "Ice cream bar for the road?" I offered.

    She grinned and nodded, and I fetched her one, noting that the blood bags in the freezer hadn't moved while I was away.

    I took the ice cream bar to her. "Any big plans for the weekend?" I asked.

    She made sure she was out of Humphrey's reach, then ripped off the wrapper, wrapped it around the popsicle stick, and said, "My roommate's throwing a kegger, so I'll probably haunt the library until it closes then sleep at my friend Marcy's apartment. Why? Need a babysitter?" Her eagerness was cute.

    "Nope. Just curious," I said. "Envious, too. College days seem eons ago."

    "Well, if you want, you can go to Jeanne's party then take my colonial history exam at eight the next morning."

    "Wow, look at that-now my college days don't seem far enough away."

    Namid laughed. "See you next week." She paused, then added, "Annie."

    I smiled. "Have a good weekend, Namid."

    She slung her bag over her shoulder with her ice cream-free hand and left.

    I turned to Humphrey. "Well, kid-"

    He gave a random squeal of happiness and almost fell over.

    I rushed to steady him, laughing.
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