Felix wandered through the back alley leading up to 4th street looking for what exactly he did not know. By deduction Felix figured George had come through this way, contrary to what the police had told him, and he felt something wasn’t right with their deductions. George, wasn’t saying on account he was dead. George had been running from members of a rival gang who eventually caught up to him just a block away but word on the street was that they didn’t get what they were looking for and Felix had a feeling George may have ditched whatever it was somewhere along the alleyway.
Just as he began to get interested in a dumpster, some boys appeared from the other end of the alley. Wearing heavily weighted backpacks and looking like they were on their way to school, the boys didn’t pay any attention to Felix. None the less he didn’t want to arouse any suspicion so he shoved his hands back down into his pockets, kept his head down under his hooded jacket and walked by them without saying a word. Felix knew that any one of the boys could be somehow connected to the gang and he didn’t need to give away too many recognizable features. Once the boys cleared the alley he doubled back towards the dumpster to have a look-see.
Felix glanced to his left and right before he raised the dumpster’s lid but just as he got a bit of purchase a woman’s voice came down from above.
“What your lookin for ain’t in there,” she said.
“You talking to me?” said Felix
“He didn’t stash the case in there,” she said. “And yes, I’m talking to you.”
Felix lowered the dumpster lid and looked up and down the alley before looking up in the direction of the voice.
“I see shit all the time in this here alley and last night I saw a guy run through here, stash a pelican case and then run on out to 4th. Wasn’t long after, I heard a couple of gun shots and then the police showed up.
“You know where the pelican case is?” asked Felix.
“Depends on who’s asking.”
“Well, I’m asking.”
“You a cop?”
“No, do I look like a cop?”
“You could be under cover, I don’t know.”
“I’m guessing someone like you probably knows all the under cover guys in the hood,” said Felix as he glanced around to see if anyone else was privy to there open conversation.
“No, I ain’t seen you round here before.”
“Can we have this conversation somewhere a little more private?”
The woman all this time was sizing Felix up and although she didn’t know him, she did like what she saw.
“Okay, come around to 4th. I’ll meet you over at Just Grounds.”
With that she disappeared from the window. Felix took a moment to glance back into the dumpster but it was totally empty; the trash truck had probably been though earlier that morning. There was nothing else to see so he checked to make sure nobody had been watching and then walked out and over to the coffee shop.
Just Grounds was semi busy, mostly the laptop crowd scattered about fixated on their electronic devices, so he walked up to order a coffee. Just as he was handed a to-go cup a thin woman with blond hair tied back into a ponytail walked up to him.
“Americano?” she asked.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Just guessing, you don’t look like a latte sort of guy.”
“You want a coffee?”
“No, I’ve already had mine this morning. Let’s sit over there.”
The two of them climbed onto stools at the sitting bar lining the front of the shop. Sarah slipped her sunglasses back on to keep from squinting in the bright morning sunlight.
“So, you know something about the case?”
“It’s kind of like, what’s it worth to you.”
“I know he had something of value.”
“Well, I’m going to need some sort of compensation for this.”
“You have the case?”
“Not here but it’s in a safe place.”
“What kind of, compensation, are we talking about?”
Sarah sat for a beat studying Felix’s face. Ruggedly built and tanned she should see speckles of red mixed in with his brown whiskers. His brown eyes looked kind. She didn’t know this guy but somehow she felt like he could be trusted.
Over Felix’s shoulder Sarah recognized a couple of gang members walking along 4th on the sidewalk across the street. “Don’t look now but there’s a couple of gang dudes across the street,” said Sarah and she nodded in their direction. Felix took a look over his shoulder and saw two guys he knew.
“You know them?”
“Yeah, but…” said Felix. “Is there a another way out of here?”
“Sure,” said Sarah.
The two got up from their stools and walked to the back of the shop.
“Why do you care about this?”
“The guy they shot was my brother.”