Author: Guede Mazaka
As Paul climbs the stairs, he thinks that there's still time to flip the bag over the railing and watch his momentary insanity crash into the third-floor landing. If he aims very carefully, he might get it to soar all the way to the bottom floor.
It's a toss-up whether doing aerodynamic experiments with forty dollars' worth of plastic and metal and electronics or playing nice with Greenly is more childish. By the time Paul realizes he's fucked either way, he's at the door and his goddamned moronic hand has already knocked. His right index finger swirls through the air, writing a note to himself to investigate that piece of shit left hand of his.
Greenly, unsurprisingly, is slack-jawed stunned. "The fuck are you doing-actually, how the hell do you know where I live?"
"Besides thirty years in the FBI? You told me, idiot." The sunlight is beaming through the stairwell window, and it's making Paul's head ache. Plus, the elevator hadn't worked and Paul is far, far too old and too good to be pulling UPS jobs; he shoulders past Greenly and deposits the bag on the nearest vaguely horizontal surface he sees.
As could be predicted from the leather coat and wrinkly cheap-ass pants, Greenly lives in a state of selective squalor. Half-open Chinese piles up to neat stacks of swimsuit mags, dirty clothes crunch underfoot and the cabinets next to the expensive wide-screen TV are full of nicely-labeled videotapes, which appear to be all football games. Paul tries not to inhale. He'd never been one for that kind of experimentation-even less so after his rotation in the drug-trafficking unit-and especially now he hates losing any sharpness of the mind. The thing about experience is knowing where the limitations are, and as he'll never be the drunk 400-pound linebacker beating some poor bastard to death in a backalley, he sticks to being the best damned mental case in the Feds.
Not that Greenly appears to be doing anything, but some of the smells that manage to crawl up Paul's nose are decidedly suspicious. In fact, the whole neighborhood could use a couple visits from the Saints. "Christ, Greenly. Even Duffy's street has a lower rate of homicide than here. You could get Superfund money for your trash."
"It's Saturday. I'm not on duty." Greenly tugs at the sweats dangling off his bony hips and scratches at his stubble. He looks like he went into freshman year at college and never bothered getting out. "Can't you find someone else to bother?"
"Sorry, compadre, but you're the closest to the murder-suicide I just came from. So try to remember what good manners are and direct me to your sink." In point of fact, Paul's already spotted said piece of equipment and is heading towards it. The day's sticky outside, melting every unpleasant smell into the skin like a second layer of shit. He can still smell the blood.
Yawning, Greenly follows along like a toy dog on a string and leans over to check something on Paul's head. "Huh. Well, doesn't look like it was too messy. And don't you even get a speck on my stuff; I've got enough problems with this place without getting it taken as a crime scene."
"It already is a crime scene." Paul splashes his face, scrubs off the sweat, and pretends he doesn't smell the slight tang of pollution in the water. He toes up something that vaguely resembles an old pizza box, once the green fuzz is mentally stripped off. "You could be taken in for animal abuse. Unhealthy environment for the rats."
"Fuck you." The other man still sounds like he's half-sleeping his way through the conversation. Interestingly enough, he's doing better that way than he usually does when fully awake; Greenly isn't bothering to pursue the threads of talk he knows he won't be able to unravel from Paul's grip. "And what the hell's this? Your evidence-the fuck?"
When Paul looks up, Greenly is frozen over the bag, fingers limp on the too-perky twine handles. The man's expression would have been capable of killing a man with laughter, were Paul the kind that indulged in that kind of hysteria.
Or maybe it's the kind that's still able to laugh without sounding like a bitter old fuck. Paul thinks about the newest addition to his workload, brain splatters and creepy morgue freaks, and he suddenly feels like sitting down in the middle of Greenly's unidentifiable shit and going to sleep. The twins and their lunatic father can't be everywhere at once, it seems. And even if they'd been around, their idea of a solution wouldn't have made things any less complicated. If anything, it probably would've ended up with Paul babbling drunken nonsense at another luckless priest. Boston's got a lot of churches, but at this rate those will run out sooner or later.
"It's a coffee maker," Greenly finally says. He's looking at Paul, but as Paul isn't looking back, Paul has no idea what the other man's expression is. Though Greenly does sound confused as hell.
"You need one." And he does. If nothing else, the experience of making coffee should teach Greenly exactly what constitutes good java. Paul will put up with a lot of shit-not quietly, but he'll handle it anyway, when all's said and done-but they don't pay him enough to stick him where the caffeine is.
Feet shuffle back to the kitchen, and an avalanche of crap goes to the floor as Greenly makes room on the counter. "You know, birthday gifts are supposed to be useful to the recipient and not the giver."
"I even threw in a box of Sweet 'n Low," Paul says as cardboard snaps and plastic clicks. He closes his eyes and thinks about getting out the headphones, but then decides listening to percolating coffee might work better today.
After a moment, Greenly's hand creeps down Paul's waistband. "At least it wasn't a dictionary."