I was still on the trail of the Shadow I.T.
It had been an even rougher week than the last. I kept asking questions and following up leads but my face was starting to hurt from the doors that had been slammed on it. It was starting to put a strain on my marriage as I arrived home, night after night from work, smelling of cheap caffeine and frustration.
You gotta let it go, baby? This Shadow I.T. thing. It's messing with your head, like a labrador eating vegan cheesecake.
Every time I would take off my fedora and hang up my long coat whilst shaking my head.
Lass, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it's a fucking duck. And it won't be the first time that I have fucked a duck just to hear it quack.
But what does that even mean?
She would cry.
I would shake my head even more and lock myself in the study with some Irish coffee and some smoky blues.
Then it happened, one morning I stopped in Java Joe's for a pick me up on the way to work. The man behind the counter wasn't named Joe but he served a hell of a coffee.
I had just finished my second double when trouble walked in.
She was a leggy broad. Like a camel but with skinnier feet and less spitting. She sidled up to the counter next to me and ordered a double Hot Lava Java. I couldn't help but nod approvingly. My eyes drifting for a moment over her humps.
She turned and faced me once she had her expresso in hand.
You looking for something?
I raised an eyebrow.
She raised an eyebrow even higher than I just had. Then pushed a slip of paper over the countertop.
One-eyed Jack sends his regards...
She got up and left. Slowly I unfolded the slip of paper. On it was scrawled two words.
I threw down a twenty and swiftly left. Outside it was raining hard. I gazed up at the top of the building I worked on. From way down below I could make out a shape. walking back and forth. This was it. Time to crack this case wide open. I crossed the road and flashed my pass before barreling up the stairs to the roof.
Twenty minutes later I pushed open the door to the rooftop. I was slightly out of breath after climbing all 36 flights of stairs. No matter. This thing ends now, I thought grimly.
Through the rain I could see a man pushing a brush about. For all intents and purposes, sweeping. I wasn't fooled. I approached him.
He looked up at me, rainwater slicking down his face.
I've seen things you wouldnae believe mate.
He swept a bit more, a seemingly pointless task in the rain.
Bins oan fire in the back alley. Tramps pissin in the dark near the front gate. This job, it means nothin. Time tae fly.
His head bowed forward. I took a tentative step forward.
You alright mate?
He looked up.
Aye man, just rolling a joint.
I could see now he was and using his head to shelter the rain from his hands. It looked like this was a dead end, like every other lead. I swore and stomped back in the building to my desk.
I decided this was it. The good lady was right. I was getting nowhere looking for the mysterious Shadow I.T. It was time to give it up. Go back to just being an ordinary Joe in and ordinary office. I opened my email.
There was only one unread item flashing away. It was a meeting invite from El Jefe.
It was titled.
My heart began to race. The game was back on! The meeting was scheduled for next Tuesday. I would have to wait but at least I had something concrete. I felt better than I had in weeks.
I quickly pulled out my phone and tapped a message to the good lady.
Polish your panjanno lady, tonight its party time.