"Boyfriend's a no-go." Silver jumps in the driver's seat, smirking at his partner who's wolfing down some chocolate.
"You sure?" East isn't surprised, except by the joke written on the inside of the goo-bar wrapper. He just asks out of habit.
"Yeah, jack in."
East whips his PDP out from his jacket pocket and touches it to Silver's. Transmit lights turn green and East starts reading the boyfriend's statement. Silver puts his thumb on the unmarked cruiser's ignition and the Generalized Mobile Machines CruTectorTM hums to life. He thinks of his father's car for a moment, remembering how loud those petroleum-eating vehicles were, then hits the reverse button on the go-panel.
"A virgin?" Now East is surprised. In this day and age? Surely not. Even priests and imams are handing out short-singe contraceptives now.
Silver bites his lower lip and pauses a moment. It wouldn't surprise anyone that he had an eye on Hyra himself. He's not shown it yet, and it's obvious that everyone in the SIS is taking it hard, but East knows Silver's particularly upset. It's partially a sexist reaction, but it's genuine sorrow. "That's what he said."
"There another boyfriend?"
"That's what I'm thinking." The cruiser accelerates through a traffic director blinking mad orange.
"You want me to check her phone logs again?"
"Yep." Silver pulls the cruiser to a curb and swings the door open, the brisk chill air rushes into the car. East pops open the glove compartment, and, of course, pulls out some gloves. Other passing vehicles have their drivers scream expletives at Silver, whose car door forces them to merge into the center lane.
East looks out the window. Silver's parked in front of the Marion County Main Public Library and Words Depository. It's a technologically advanced faux-gothic building, looking strangely ominous in the lightly falling late-winter snow. "What are we doing here?"
"Checking some angles."
"New data girl's working, right?"
Silver retrieves a personal groomer from his coat pocket and smooths out a crease, slightly irritated at the wet-spots forming from melting flakes. "Who? What?" He doesn't close the door.
East slides into the driver's seat of the CruTector and pulls the door shut. Even though Silver's ultimate goal is undoubtedly a phone number, East knows his partner will come back with some useful piece of information. East isn't always sure how Silver comes across stuff... he just does.
Not wanting to sit and twiddle his thumbs, East calls Marquitez. "What's going on, man?"
"Oh, shit, dude. Nothing." Marquitez clearly sounds depressed. "All those tech-perps are dead-ends. Except for maybe one. Mark April? You know him?"
"Yeah, one of Silver's old CIs, why?" East grabs another goo-bar from the scatter-boom mount, currently devoid of a scatter-boom in lieu of a tube of goo-bars.
"Ah, that explains it. He's acting like he knows something, but not like he knows something."
East looks up. Silver's approaching. East signals to go around and Silver gets in the passenger side. "Got her number." Silver smirks as he checks it against the PDP. It's an apparels-editor on the south side of town. "Ah, shit. She gave me a fake one."
East laughs. "Thanks, Juan," he says to Marquitez and hangs up. "I got something."
Silver hands East a tear of Flixon pad. "So do I."
"What is this?"
"Two things, actually. Baker called me. But that," Silver pauses a brief moment, tapping the Flixon note, " is Emily's ex-boyfriend. Another no-go. Might bring him in anyway."
East knows it'll be a waste of time, but shrugs it off. Silver doesn't like to be disagreed with so soon after being shot down. "You remember Mark April?"
Silver nods, brushing yesterday's bullsteak bun crumbs off the passenger seat. "Marquitez finger him?"
Silver flicks the siren on with a fist. "Good enough."
East and Silver take turns beating the shit out of April. It is an old-school tactic in a department that doesn't even remember what old-school is. Neither East nor Silver like it very much, but April wants to play hard to get, so East and Silver take their time getting hard. That April sits comfortably in a plush Zwan-K fleather recliner and not a metal chair almost makes East laugh. Almost.
April bleeds from both nostrils and both lips. His left eye is definitely going black.
"This is getting old, Mark," Silver says, slightly more matter-of-fact than one would imagine. He doesn't let on that his fist is starting to hurt.
Mark gestures with his chin at East. "Let me see." East holds a mirror to April's face. April smiles. "Okay, okay. That looks good enough."
"You informants and your rites of passage," East forces a frown while stifling another almost-laugh. He slips April a self-applied swoosh-tube of sutures.
"That ain't no shift-suit, boys. It ain't no shift-suit, no light-suit, no bend-suit, no shape-suit. Nothing like. No kind of active camouflage. That idiot Marquitez don't know what the fuck he's doing. There's no digital distortion at all. Not a single fucking pixel."
"You saying that blur was natural?" Silver's question sounds just as stupid in Silver's head as it does vocalized.
April winces from a suture swoosh. "Not a single fucking pixel."
Colm Baker is an FBI/E agent and a good friend of Silver's. Baker used to work out of the Chicago office, but transferred to Indianapolis about seven years ago, just after Marion County decided to usurp executive control from city government.
Silver and East scoff at the lavish furniture and unnecessary decorations found in Federal offices. Who needs a replica pinball machine, anyway? Nobody carries coins anymore.
But the glory of envy is not why they're here.
A man in FBI/E custody, one Dario Ganganelli, is wanted for extradition in the disappearance of a woman named Anne Hyra in Rome two years ago.
"The kicker?" Baker lets the pause sink in. "Anne Hyra is Emily's cousin. Same age, even. A few months apart."
"But he's not our guy." East isn't surprised. Again.
"No, no. We've had him in custody for weeks. Waiting on the extradition."
"Then why are we here?" Silver knew this was too good to be true. Too convenient, anyway. There's no way anyone already in custody could be their unsub.
"He spent a few months in New York City and Westchester County. Looking for somebody."
"Jesus, man," Baker shakes his head. Maybe these locs aren't as good as their reps after all. "Emily Hyra grew up in Westchester County. She came to Indiana to attend Marian University... some Roman Catholic exchange program-scholarship deal. Switched to Purdue after her first semester."
"This dude rapes her cousin, then comes to the U.S. to rape her?"
Baker nods. "We picked him up after he was flagged boarding a train for Indianapolis at Penn Station."
Silver's eyes widen and East hangs his head. "There's two of these pricks?" Silver and East sometimes say things at the same time. Like just then.
Both partners are tired and East lets the auto-drive take them home. Their mouths stay silent even though their brains are running at full speed. The CruTector stops at Silver's apartment first.
Silver's even more confused, to the point of having to remember what floor he lives on. Plenty of dead ends today, and way too many living ends. None of which make any sense. He reaches his floor, exits the elevator, and heads to his apartment. There's something taped to the door. Too small for an explosive, maybe. Partially from exhaustion, partially from apathy, and partially from arrogance, he grabs the paper-wrapped object without further pre-inspection and tears it open.
It's a prism. Intricate. Hundreds, maybe thousands of angles. In the shape of a crucifix.
There's no note, but he knows it has everything to do with the case.
*Continued in Gods Playing Poker: Stranger in Camp
The Complete Gods Playing Poker