It’s Oh So Quiet / The Nerd, Session Six

Laguna Beach after midnight. An occasional sea breeze rustled the palm fronds. Not a soul out in the streets. C. J. was driving slowly around the empty town center. Little by little, he was getting familiar with the place and could already navigate pretty well his way around most of the quarters. He passed for the umpteenth time the same vacant patios of the restaurants, the Hawaiian poke parlor, the art museum… He drove through the crossroad and turned left for a change.

After a number of unsuccessful nights, C. J. was fairly confident that Rat King’s folks weren’t lurking around Main Street on his watch. So he started to extend his patrols deeper into the town’s neighborhoods. C. J. observed each house carefully and went systematically through street after street, looking for a clue of some kind. Middle-class bungalows with their well-maintained lawns and swimming pools. Gated communities.

C. J. stepped out of his car and climbed over the wall. So far nothing peculiar… He could still, however, scent the prey hiding somewhere in the town and persisted in hunting them until the next morning.

***

He met up with Native at a cafĂ© by Main Street to share any crumbles of information that they might have obtained so far. Native had caught a solid tan on her face and arms and her appearance, in C. J.’s opinion, was annoyingly perky to say the least. His own biological clock had turned lately upside down so that his brain seemed to function at half capacity in the daytime. The bright ray of sunshine blinded him and he lifted the left hand to protect his sensitive eyes.

“So, what you’ve been up to? Didn’t get a haircut apparently,” C. J. said to Native who was sitting casually at the table with her pink mohawk still pointing rebelliously at the sky.

“Just hanging around and keeping an eye open y’know,” she replied. “Here, check this out. I sketched a map of the town and marked the spots I’ve been observing. I made notes on the backside too. Have to say that I’m very much digging this place!”

C. J. looked indifferently at the colored sheet of paper with some dense scribble on the other side.

“Very impressive. And what else?” He asked lazily.

“Well, yesterday I went to the opening of a pretty interesting exhibit. The artist is this local lady who crafts vaginas from live models…”

“What the fuck!” C. J. interrupted. “So you’re wasting your time in some damn art exhibits in the middle of the shift?”

“Chill out, man. I wasn’t there, like, just for fun,” Native said. “How else would I get a grasp of this place than by getting to know it at the grassroots level? To go where the people here go. To sniff around and listen to what the Joe Blow is talking about.”

“Found out anything interesting?”

“Nothing too important yet. It’s probably just ten percent of the attempts that you make a score, y’know. Right now, I’m focusing mainly on seeing the big picture.”

“Maybe you should go and have a nap or something. You look really worn out,” she remarked then.

C. J. didn’t bother to reply and just gulped down his coffee in silence.

“I don’t have a new lead at this point either,” he growled next. “Let’s just continue to comb the neighborhoods.”

***

In the evening, C. J. stopped by Malibu out of habit. Awful ’80s music was blasting out, nothing even mildly interesting happening at the nightclub. Soon, he raced down to Laguna Beach to release Native from her shift.

Nothing much to be reported today either.

***

A view from the top of the hill: a town glistening in the darkness and a long shoreline molded by a bazillion waves. C. J. lay down on the lawn and closed his eyes. He let his mind wander all the way down to Laguna Beach and roam its streets freely. The roar of the ocean and the seagulls’ cries soon reached his ears.

“Where you hiding at, Rat Boy?” He mumbled softly in the sea breeze. “I detect your stench. So you better be prepared. Cause sooner or later, I’ll find your hole.”

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