Because I have nothing pressing to do, I sit with my coffee and my phone and wait on a bench nearby. Ash is rarely busy for more than a half hour.
We met when I was dealing drugs on the street for pocket money, before Dad let me officially start working for the syndicate. His drugs of choice are opiates and benzos, all pills except the occasional weed or blow. He’s an addict–dealing drugs you learn to tell the difference between people who want to party on the weekend and people who are truly addicted–and something of a drifter too. But I wasn’t surprised to see him reading The Odyssey, not after I told him I was half-Russian and he launched into a monologue about how Tolstoy is one of the greatest writers of all time.
After about twenty minutes, the car drops him back on the curb, and he walks towards me.
“Cool. You’re still here.” He’s smiling, sitting on the bench beside me, his torn-cover copy of The Odyssey in his lap. “How’s the business?”
“Good. I got a promotion.”
“Nice. You gonna do something crazy to celebrate?”
“I hadn’t thought about it.” All of my energy has gone to getting things shifted over to my control, making sure I have phone numbers and contacts and that everyone knows my name.
“You hadn’t thought about it?” he says, with exaggerated outrage. “Seriously?”
He shakes his head, and then slouches in the bench and leans against me, the warm line of his arm pressed to mine, his head on my shoulder. “Where would you be, if you could be anywhere, doing anything, right now?” he says.
“I don’t know,” I say, though I do. I’d be right here, the weight of his head on my shoulder, his low smoky voice in my ear.