The trip from downtown to this office building isn't a long distance but it's uphill. I try to take my time. I stop at a 24 hour arcade. There are only a couple stragglers there from last night. I roll up to the Magical Girl Fighter machine and feed it some credits. I used to come here all the time with Lime. She would always play the ice witch, and I would always play the kung fu specialist. She would complain the whole time that it didn't make any sense that shooting icicles at someone's face would only do the same amount of damage as a mere punch, considering that icicles can kill people.
"I've never seen an icicle kill someone," I said, jamming the punch button as fast as I can.
"You haven't seen icicle one, Sugar," she scoffed.
"Neither have you!" I squealed. "I have in my dreams…" she sighed dreamily as she completed a Freezing Justice Combo. My beefy-armed character fell, shattering on the ground into a thousand ice crystal shards.
I wonder why Lime dreams of ice. I've been dreaming of water lately. Will my own dream water freeze so that I can slide into Lime's dreams again? I try playing her ice witch character for a few rounds. She always felt weird to me. Too jittery. Fa Jin was much more fluid. Even if she required a moment to build up the energy for a push, it just felt more natural than the crackling awkwardness of Ishex. I add some more credits to the machine and play through a few rounds with Fa Jin. She feels like coming home. I blast through the AI opponents. I wish I was playing with Lime. Why is it harder to play against her than the computer? I know she isn't faster than the computer. Or smarter, for that matter. Maybe I'm the one that is slower, knowing someone is watching.
I push off the machine and skate out the door and back into the sun. It'll take me at least an hour to get to this address.
The park is empty. I check the time. 10:40. I guess that's too early for office types to be taking their lunch. There are several backless cement benches all facing a square. One of them is in the shade. I collapse into it and pull out my water bottle to drink. At exactly 11:00 on the dot, a stream of people walk through and don't stop to sit. I suppose there is a big difference between 10:59 and 11:00 in the office job world. After the first stream of people, a few more trickle out. The first person to sit down choses a bench across from me and pulls out their lunch. I take off my goggles and look at them. They avoid my gaze. A few minutes later, they are joined by someone else. They chat quietly to each other. I look around. I don't see any cameras, but being so close to office buildings, there has to be some overlap coverage over here. I wonder if the buyer thinks there aren’t any cameras here and that's why they want to meet.
I wait. All the benches fill up. The sun is moving and I'm losing my shade. I keep scooting further and further to the end of the bench to stay in the shade of one of the few trees in the courtyard. A tall stranger in a pink suit sits down next to me. They reach into their bag, and while they are bending over I hear them say, "You have the bracelet?"
"Yup," I reply.
"Drop it in my bag," they say, and open their bag wide and sis up, producing a long bottle of water.
There must be cameras. Or they don't know if there are cameras. Or maybe there is someone in the courtyard that they know.
"You have to confirm receipt," I say. I wipe my face to obscure my mouth. "Enter your CASH number on this pad." I look around. No one is watching us. I open my backpack and pull out the box and the debit machine. I reach down to my rollerblades and drop the bracelet box into her bag and set the debit machine on top. I then stand up in front of her bag and stretch. One of the chatters across the park looks over. I reach my hands over my head and lean to the right and then left and then bend down to touch my skates and look behind me. The pink suit finishes tapping their number in and places the machine on the cement bench. I turn around to face them.
"Thank you," I say, picking it up and putting it in my bag. "Enjoy your whatever that is."
Their hands are already in their bag, fingering the bracelet in the open box.
"Yes..." they breathe.
I swing my backpack on my back and zoom over to the chatters.
"Excuse me, do you know if there is an automat nearby?" I ask.
"Yeah..." one of them replies. "It's on Wilshire a couple blocks down."
"Thanks!" I beam and push off.
I'm dying for a cheeseburger.