Leaving a little cafe with some group of people I barely know, trying to get to another destination on time, but it’s unclear if this will happen. I don’t seem to care too much, though, about that— I’m with this group more out of some external compulsion than free choice. We step outside into a bustling downtown, on a street that posts up skyscrapers just a few blocks down the road. Above them, there are green fireworks exploding. I smile at them. This city seems kind of Japanese-looking to me.
Fireworks continue. I can see hot ashes sprinkling down on the road two blocks up. And then I can see huge panicking throngs of people running in every direction just a little further past that. Someone next to me points out the helicopters that can be seen over the area. “They’re bombing!” the stranger shouts. They? A foreign country could never put helis in our airspace…
It becomes increasingly clear that a chaotic massacre is taking place close by. I am drawn to it, weaving through the fleeing people to eventually come to the eye of the storm. It’s a boy with messy hair and a black army jacket. He looks about 13 and he’s followed by a girl who is at least five or six years older than that. She carriers a duffle bag and very casually loads guns for the boy. As he runs out of ammo in one gun, he passes it to her and she gives him the new one. She looks amused, almost delighted— he seems pretty dispassionate. Somehow it is understood that whatever is going on with bombs and explosions and flying debris all originates right here, with this kid.
I follow him for a short time watching him methodically shoot people. Then I clock him in the back of the head with candelabra. He goes unconscious. I look around for his female companion but she has vanished. I pick the shooter up in my arms and carry him back to the cafe I had just been at. There are no more fireworks, but the streets are full of ragged and bloody people moving wounding bodies and wailing. On the way, I try and tell a few people that it’s OK, that I have the perpetrator in my arms, but they all seem too preoccupied. Before I can get all the way back, he seems to be coming to, so I take off his jacket and wrap it around us both, tying it in front, making a little sack to wrap my arms around. I can feel him try to flex his legs but there’s not enough room in the sack.
I get to the cafe and explain to the parents and police there that I have the kid who did it. When I untie the jacket, though, there’s nobody in there. I’m completely confused, try to retrace my steps and where he might have escaped, but can’t figure out how it happened. They make me a junior police anyway.
I work on a case with Lester Freeman and Geoff, an old friend from high school. We are trying to capture some drug tycoon. It takes too long, though, for us to get all the evidence we want, so the case is closed and we get assigned to a new one, a pretty weak one. Geoff and I are able to finish our work on it very quickly and I decide to visit my parents’ old house in Baldwin and chill out for a while. My parents are living there again. I poke around the place and feel actually pretty relieved to see it again, and ready to enjoy that yard like never before. It’s nice out, pleasantly warm. The picnic table is set up next to the driveway. I decide to bike up to Jacksonville and rent a video game, and while I’m up there my dad calls me on a cellphone to ask if I really know this old black guy who showed up at the house. I tell him that the guy is a detective and he’s a little gruff but that they would definitely get along if he just talked to him a little. My dad starts choke up and tells me some things about Ronald Reagan I’ve never heard him say before in a tone I’ve never heard him use.
I go back home to find Geoff and Freeman at the picnic table. Freeman looks so bummed. He asks me what I’m up to and I tell him I felt like I could relax for the first time in a long, long while, so I was going to take advantage of it. Geoff tells him something similar about his own plans, then I ask him what he’s going to do. “Try and put a stop to some evil,” he says, picking up a manilla folder full of papers off the table and standing up. It’s obvious he’s going to use all his time off to go back to work on our old case.
“OK,” I say, “Let’s do it.”
I go inside and tell my parents I’m taking off. My mom has two kittens now, two playful little white and grey twins, and Melvyn is in there cautiously checking them out. When I leave I start running.
I run through all the neighbors' yards and keep going, until I’m on a farm. The ground seems like it was recently frozen, all kinds of hard, twisted little crags sticking up in the dirt. I keep running full-bore until I realize I’ve somehow entered a fenced-in field. There’s a balance-beam like construction in the middle, and I go jump up on it and look around me for the first time in a while. There are four animals in this pen with me, grey animals, and at first I think they’re donkeys until I realize at least one of them has huge horns. The horned one notices me, too. I try to remember what Roby told me about being in a pen with bulls— you’re not supposed to look at them, I think. And if you move slow— or is it moving slowly in a zig-zag pattern? Or is it moving sideways? You’re supposed to be able to move some way and they can’t see you. I think. The horned one takes a run in my direction, but he passes under the balance beam. The fence closest to me is high, I’m not sure if I could get to it and up before one of these bulldonkeys fucks me up. The next closest fence has barbed wire at the top. The other bulldonkeys have notice me, too, now.