June 30 at 3:00 PM
Photo by Jason D Great (Flickr.com)
The surgical thread in my neck was all I had left of her, the only sign that any of this was real. And when that came out, I washed away any trace of her from me. Her absence left an emptiness I hadn't felt in years. And the truth was, I'd probably never see her again.
I put my head in my hand. What was coming over me? I racked my brain, mulling over the pieces. Still I could not scrape anything together.
The phone rang. In my head. Indigo picked it up. Listened for a moment and then replied. I couldn't make out all of the words. Certainly not Japanese. "Indah," she said. And then she threw me a curve ball, punctuating the conversation with "arigato."
It was an important piece of information and when I snapped out of it, I knew exactly who to call.
A quarter past three and the Potomac never smelled worse. I pounded on the door until it finally caved in. Scourge stared back at me, his hair spiking in all directions. "You look like shit," he said.
"What happened to you? Get in a fight with a porcupine?" I stepped inside.
"Ha ha ha," he mouthed and closed the door.
"I'll try to keep this brief. Mind if I get a cup of coffee?"
"Sure, help yourself," he yawned.
I stepped into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. Nothing but Twinkies. Boxes and boxes of Twinkies. I shut the door, disgusted. Kids these days. Our future? My ass.
"I need your help determining the ethnicity of a subject."
"Let me guess? A woman, right? Yeah, why else would you be bothering me at three o'clock in the morning?" he rubbed his eyes. "What does she look like?"
"I don't know. Like you, but prettier."
"Great, so she's Chinese. You just narrowed your search down to 1.5 billion people."
Scourge had a sharp tongue, but he was bright. His sarcastic wit was perfected during his brief stint in the Chinese military. When authorities discovered that his half brother was a nuclear scientist for Taiwan, Scourge had to flee his homeland in the middle of the night. Still I wanted to smack him.
"During a job, this gal said something to me. "Indah' or something like that.
"Perhaps she was trying to tell you that she's Indian," he replied.
There was that mouth again. "No, halfwit."
"Then let's just say she's oriental and call it a night. Can I go back to bed?"
By the look in his eyes I could tell his little brain was cooking. He had an answer and it was just a matter of coaxing it out of him.
"And this evening I remembered something else. She used the word "arigato.'"
"Arigato," Scourge said aloud. "Wow, I didn't know I was Japanese. Arigato." He bowed. "Please, have a seat."
Reluctantly I sat down.
"Tell me something. Were you, by chance, complimenting this woman? Perhaps telling her that she was beautiful?"
"No." I shrugged. "No!"
"'Indah' means "beautiful' in Indonesian. And words like "hai' and "arigato' filtered into the language during Japan's brief occupation in World War II."
"Indonesia, eh? So where is that, roughly speaking?"
Scourge looked at me, incredulous. "Look it up yourself pops. That'll be $25,000 in unmarked bills." He held out his hand.
"I'll buy you another box of Twinkies." I headed for the door.
"Goodnight, beautiful!" Scourge blew me a kiss.
"Night." I winked.