The pick up

Sinbad woke up with a terrible, splitting headache and a hazy memory. He had no idea what day it was, what he did last night or how he even ended up in his own bed.

All that he knew was that his throat was parched and he needed water ASAP. He slowly got out of bed and somehow managed to drag himself to the kitchen where he gulped water right from the tap, loudly and greedily, like a man lost in the desert.

Sinbad was no stranger to hangovers, they were practically a morning routine but this one was particularly bad. He had to sit down to prevent himself from throwing up all the water he just drank. He was still dizzy and his head felt as it might explode any minute but at least some memories were emerging from the haze. He was at the Red, the local hangout last night, he went there on a job, not for pleasure, but somehow those two would often get mixed up in his line of work and most of his clients.

This particular batch of clients was terrible in every way, out-of-towners, business folk, young, snobby and exceptionally loud. They bought some powder from him, payed him well and kept calling shots and telling stories, the boring ones that gave flavour to their dull nine-to-five lives, they told him of some guy from Sunset Valley who fell asleep at that seminar they were all in town for and they laughed and Sinbad was drunk so he laughed with them and the night passed and they drank more and slowly all his memories dissappeared in a haze…

It was Sunday he suddenly realised which was good because he didn’t have to work today and bad because it meant that his roommate would be home.

And right he was. When he looked outside he could clearly see his roommate Goodwin pacing the front lawn. There was something anxious about this whole ordeal that piqued Sinbad’s interest even through the trobbing of his head. Something was clearly troubling the other man and for Sinbad that meant a greater potential for torture. He got up ignoring his aching body and went straight outside.

“Morning Goodwin.” He called from the porch. He saw his roommate’s shoulders tense and he turned around with a loud sigh.

“Good morning Sinbad. Still wearing yesterday’s clothes I see. In no shape to change again?” He called back in a uninterested sort of way. And in just a few short skips Sinbad was there next to him pushing his face to Goodwin’s.

“What the heck do you care what I am wearing Goode?” This other man took a step backwards obviously surprised by the outburst. These jabs were not unusual between the two of them but today Sinbad was in an exceptionally foul mood and he just wished to take it out on someone. Goodwin was always a perfect target with that annoying baby face and condescending words.

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“You are still drunk Sinbad, your breath smells a mile.” He replied narrowing his light blue eyes. They seeped arrogance. Sinbad had seen his share of spoiled rich brats but something about Goodwin could make him snap just like that. He just hated that guy, he hated how he felt so morally superior to everyone, how he judged his every word, his every move, as if Sinbad had a fucking choice, as if anything he did wasn’t just to survive this shitty life he had been shoved into.

The two of them was as different as two people could possibly be. While Sinbad knew no father and lost his junkie mother before he had hair on his face and had to hustle and claw his own way on the streets ever since Goodwin orphaned as a baby was adopted by a nice elderly couple who gave him all he could possibly want. He had a nice, comfortable life right until the moment he ended up living with Sinbad annoying the hell out of him with every breath he took. He was even attending the police academy, probably hoping to rid the world of the scum he assumed Sinbad was. He just couldn’t bare to look at him so without a second thought he punched him right in the smug pale face.

The punch was another surprise. Goodwin didn’t fall back but for a moment he looked as he might loose his balance and he staggered back like a drunk. Sinbad expected him to strike back. A part of him wished he would. He didn’t think Goodwin a weakling, he was a policeman in training, he worked out at home nearly every day but Sinbad also knew he could hold his ground in a fight. Growing up on the street thought you tricks no old fat cop reduce to training rookies could. And besides Sinbad was taking boxing classes at the stadium for a while now. It never hurt to learn a new trick, he had a hard job too. He braced for impact but it didn’t come.

Goodwin lifted his head, one side of it was already changing color where a bruise would inevitably appear. “I really hope somebody helps you Sinbad.” He said in a pained voice and walked to the house leaving Sinbad to fume alone. He really hated that man.

As he stood outside all alone without a way to clear his throbbing head he realized Goodwin was right in one thing, he reeked.

Sinbad took a shower and changed his clothes. Goodwin had shut himself in his room or maybe he had gone out. Sinbad had no idea and didn’t really want to know. Tormenting the man didn’t help and Sinbad knew not to beat that dead horse any more. He decided he would go outside, run a while. Maybe that would clear his head. Their house was on a small island in the middle of the Twinbrook bay. On one side of the island was the city of Twinbrook with its pretty little houses, parks and offices and on the other side was was the swamp and the wilder part of the town. Sinbad preferred this later part when he planned the routes for his jogs.

There was something peaceful out there in the swamp, with it’s eerie sounds, the ruffle of the leaves the buzzing of the insects, the chirping of the birds, the burble of the river and the absence of all human noise. He would often stop on the bridge and look upon the town spilled lazily on the other side. One might hate the stinky backward hellhole Twinbrook was but still the view from here would inspire a sense of awe in even the blackest soul like Sinbad’s was.

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He stopped in the same spot this morning. He was a bit tired, covered in at least a dozen mosquito bites all over his naked upper body but his headache was gone. Goodwin and their fight were gone. There was a sense of peace Sinbad only had in these rare moments away from the world and society’s poisonous grip.

He took the same route home and didn’t see a soul, well unless he counted that old survivalist Bayless who lived out there in the swamp somewhere. He sped along the bumpy road on his rusty bike and he and Sinbad waved to each other as they often did when they ran into one another in those empty roads.

Goodwin was gone when he came home. This rare occurrence meant Sinbad had the bathroom all for himself and he took use of the fact by making himself a hot, relaxing bath. He just lay there listening to music on his phone as the day slowly faded away. And then his phone chimed with a sound of a text message. Unknown number. No surprise there.

Pick up a the park by the chess tables. 9pm.

Sinbad groaned loudly as he got up from the bath spilling water everywhere. He threw one of Goodwin’s towels to the floor to suck it up and dressed hurriedly. He wasn’t supposed to have a pick up tonight. He was supposed to be off. But then again his employers weren’t the kind of people to whom one could say sorry guys I don’t do overtime. He didn’t even know the guys he worked for. That is how those things went. This way if he were to get caught he couldn’t snitch on anyone. Not that he would but it was a good model. It meant someone smart was running things. The Rackets probably, every one with a half a brain knew they ran this stinky town.

Sinbad knew more of it than most though, his mum, in the days she still walked this earth entertained all kinds of shady characters, some of them really dangerous people and most of them big talkers who spoke of things that even as a boy Sinbad realized they shouldn’t really be speaking of. And he listened and he learned and when his time came he used bits and pieces of all that knowledge to get where he was which still wasn’t really far but he meant to go further and he had the means too.

He went outside without a shirt. The night was chilly but he guessed he could just run to keep warm, better than doing laundry, that was something Goodwin should take care of.

He arrived at the park exactly three minutes before the scheduled time. There was no one in sight which was good and expected. The nights were already getting chilly this time of the year and it was a Sunday after all. His employers did know to pick these times and places well. The chess tables were on the further side of the park so Sinbad made his way there and then he noticed a girl standing close looking round through pink sunglasses.

His other dealings were usually not this pretty he thought looking the girl over. She had blond, disheveled hair with very bright pink streaks running through it. Her mini skirt was pink as well and the short black top she had revealed her belly button and pink tattoos over her flat stomach. 

“Evening beautiful.” Sinbad said as he came closer, he threw her one of his mischievous smiles that was known to melt the hearts of girls. It didn’t seem to work on this one though.

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“Are you here for the pick up?” She said facing him seemingly untouched by his appearance. She must have been new to this Sinbad guessed. It was the nerves, that is why his smile and shirtless sight had not worked for her. 

“Yes my lovely, I am Sinbad.”  He kept the smile hoping it might ease her up a bit.

“I was told no names.” She replied harshly crossing her arms over her chest.

“Sometimes we give them, sometimes we don’t.” Sinbad replied with a shrug. “When the other person looks like you I make sure I do.” He hoped this would finally do the trick. It didn’t.

“Look lowlife, understand this, I am not here to make friends or fool around. I am here to do a job. That is it. Try to push me into something and I’ll push back. That is no threat, that is a promise.” Sinbad took a step back, not because he was afraid of this clearly unstable girl but because he didn’t want to give her a wrong idea, he might do a lot of socially unacceptable things for money, he might sell stuff that cannot be sold under Sim laws, he might occasionally steal, from his stupid roommate or his employers, sometimes he even dumpster dived, it was a way to survive but he never, NEVER touched girls without their permission.

“Hey listen lady, this is clearly one big misunderstanding, I am not here to hurt you or nothing, I just wanted us to meet because I guess we would be working together and seeing each other more but whatever. I will just take the stuff and leave.

“You better.” She said rummaging through her small handbag and producing a small plastic wrapped package which she placed in Sinbad’s outstretched hand. Sinbad sighed watching her cross her arms again. He put the bag in his short’s pocket. The girl still stood there not taking her eyes, still hidden by her big sunglasses, of him. He turned around.

“Later.” He threw at her from behind not bothering to look at her again. A total psycho. Too bad. He thought to himself as he walked away. And pills. Where the hell am I going to sell pills in this hole?


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