Rion stayed in Tuesday’s room for the rest of the night. He spent the time resting while Tuesday called her department, starting some missing person’s searches and asking about recently opened cases. She stayed connected to the station for an hour, sometimes switching between hotel phone and cell phone. Rion helped out by chiming in with the little information that he had.
When she was done, morning had broken and the business conference was well on its way. Tuesday escorted him back to his room.
“Do you need any food?” she said.
Rion thought about it, but didn’t want to look dependent. “No, thanks, I’m fine.”
“You sure you don’t need to go anywhere? I can still take you to a hospital or back to the station.”
“No, there’s still something here I have to do. Although, I have to ask, aren’t you forced to take me in? I’m an unaccompanied minor without any parents around.”
“Well, there’s a few reasons. For one thing, I can’t verify you’re a minor because you have no ID. It used to be the other way around–that I needed evidence you were an adult. You could be emancipated. And if I make the wrong call, that’s a lawsuit.”
“That sounds so backwards.”
“Like I said, the laws have changed a lot in the last twenty years. Especially laws regarding minors. Nowadays, they’re committing so many adult crimes the law is treating them like adults that can’t vote. And also, I’m not Child Protective Services, so I’m not even supposed to be taking you in unless I’m charging you with something. And lastly, I don’t really want to. Most homeless kids just end up back on the street.”
“God, it’s a wonder that they even let cops outdoors.”
“Tell me about it. It’s gotten to the point where there are ‘private security firms’. They can get certified and pay a fee, and they get limited law enforcement powers under the Security and Defense Act. They’re like cops that are only loyal to the company they work for.”
“I know. But that’s the point we’ve gotten to–as toothless as naked mole rats. So I can’t take you in anywhere unless you volunteer.” She arched her eyebrows hopefully.
Rion shook his head. “I can’t leave just yet. But I will as soon as I can.”
“What do you need to do that’s so important?”
Rion looked away and bit his lip.
“Mm-hm,” Tuesday smiled. “Kids today. So serious about everything.” She leaned in closer. “If you want my advice,” she shook her head. “Sorry, I sounded like my father there for a minute. What I mean is, stay out of this guy’s way. If you did anything this guy can press charges for, he’s going to do it.”
She sighed and put her hands on her hips. “I know you’re not telling me the whole story. I know it and you know it. But I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt. Just don’t give this guy the satisfaction of nailing you to the wall.”
Rion read her loud and clear.
“Anyway, I’ve got to get going. There’s a lot of people I need to talk to. I think they’ve got a continental breakfast going. You might want to eat something.”
Rion nodded, said goodbye, and went back into his room.
He went into the bathroom and took his bandages off. The gauze was dry and scratchy and the medicinal creams had crusted on his skin. The trash can steadily filled up with dressing.
After cleaning his wounds, he looked relatively unscathed. His face was free of purple or puffing. Once he scrubbed the blood off, he looked fine. Was it the drugs or was it him?
Rion took another shower and lay down on his bed. He couldn’t lie to himself–he should be leaving with Tuesday right now. He should be having breakfast. He should be heading to a hospital or a doctor or a police station–anywhere but this hotel. But that wasn’t what he wanted, not in his heart. And he had to follow what he wanted.
But he had to figure out what went wrong last time. He put his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling while he recessed into his mind.
Well, the obvious thing would be to check if the gun works. Or at least find out if it’s a real gun. Maybe next time he could confiscate a knife from the kitchen.
No, that wasn’t enough. The key to victory was being able to adapt. When the gun failed, he stood there like a mannequin and took a beating.
Paul had to be isolated, restrained. Take away his advantages and even the odds. Surprise him instead of being surprised.
But that still wasn’t enough. He had to ask himself, what was his ultimate goal?
His answer was to get Memory away from Paul. But if, by some miracle, she got away, she would have to cut off all ties to her family, and lose her identity, like he lost his. And even then, Paul would seek her out and find her. Paul always got what he wanted.
Taking Memory away wouldn’t solve the problem. He had to get Paul to leave her alone forever.
Would he have to kill him? The idea of plunging a knife into Paul’s gullet didn’t bother Rion. He could likely get away with it too. He was off the grid, without ID. On the other hand, better to have no identity than one of a fugitive.
The problem was that Paul wasn’t scared. He needed to be scared–so scared he would never think about Memory again. Scared enough that he would fear for his life if he even mentioned her. Too scared to ever seek her out. Otherwise Rion could never ensure her safety. Could he come up with anything that would do that?
Hell, he was psychic. Maybe Paul could find her, but he could find Paul a lot better. Paul needed to learn humility. He needed to know someone better than him was out there. Someone faster, someone smarter, someone dangling a knife over his ribcage, held up only by the whims of another.
He napped as his big idea formed into an actual plan.