Seattle, the Sprawl, the Metroplex, was a city.
And cities, cities have character.
Cities have history.
Cities, real ones, not the hallow constructs of corporate suburbia or that drek they fed you in the trids, live and breath.
The denizens make them, well, unique. The built the cities, they kept the cities, the infused the cities with life. Folks like the barista that managed a tired smile as she handed me a double latte soykaf. Or the guy behind the counter at the convenience store that knew, that I knew, that he knew, that his 1-7 a.m. shift sucked and that I didn’t want to be there anymore than he did. It was the elderly couple in the corner of the capsule hotel that played Koi-Koi quietly until the wee hours of the morning, and gave me all the ins out of the metro system, what train led to where, which bus was best to take if you wanted to hit downtown in middle of the day.
Then you had the hidden places. They holes in the walls, the door most people ignored in that back alley that nobody knew about. The club so exclusive you wondered how it stayed opened and who really went there. Stefenaia was such a place. The worn red door creaked open to the touch. Inside a collection of old Christmas lights, thin veils that hanged from the ceiling, and the faded paint on the walls tinged everything in deep reds and blacks.
The proprietor, a tiny rotund matron with a pixie haircut for whom the shop was named spoke from behind a large ebony desk, “So you’re Adamaris kid, eh?”
“I was her apprentice, yes.”
“She still picks the handsome ones, doesn’t she,” cackled Stefenaia. “Well, any friend of Adamaris is at least an acquaintance of mine. So, wha da ya need?”
“I left L.A. in a hurry so, well I need the basics. Spell books, some fetishes, that sort of thing,” I said. Twin yellow eyes stared at me from under a bed.
“Don’t mind Felix, he will warm up to ya soon enough. So ya needs the books and such. It’ll cost ya, you know.”
“I got the Nuyen.”
“Do ya? Well that is good, because, well, everything expensive as real coffee these days. So, are we thinking esoteric, scholarly, or street smart?”
I handed her a folded piece of paper.”Street smart,” I said without hesitation.
She read the list. “Need something to light up the bastards in the shadows, eh? Well, I have a few things that could help. I got Foci-”
I interrupted her, “No.”
She raised an thick black eyebrow, “Don’t trust them?”
“Not my style.”
“Okay then, well maybe something like say this,” she opened a long box. Inside laid a long metal rod, covered in green runes.
“That will do.”
“So, you are into fetishes then. Now I know what to have them on stock. Any who, it will take me awhile to get these things together. You got a number a I can call.”
“I got a cell.”
“Good. One more thing, this city ain’t as crazy as L.A. certainly not as hot, buuut,” she held up a long bony finger, “The shadows here are colder, deeper, and nastier.”
I nodded and walked out into the rain.