Her coffee had gone cold, steam no longer rising from it. Tears were flowing form her one good eye. She had quit bothering to wipe them away. She shook her head.
“No,” I told her. “You refused to rise to his taunts. To both their taunts.”
“And I’ll die for it. They won’t stop.”
“We’ll stop him.”
“How? You can’t hurt him. Remember, he said – ”
“There’s always a way. We always find a way. Right, Sam?”
I looked at him, but he was staring out the window, rubbing the bridge of his nose and lost in his thoughts. And again his eyes were full of hatred and anger and I didn’t entirely know why.
I tore my gaze from him and looked back to Corrie. She was looking numbly at a spot to the left of her coffee cup. Her eyes were dangerous. They were empty and yet sad. The eyes of someone at the end of their rope. At the end of everything.
“What does Milo look like?” I said.
He didn’t show until the next night. Meantime we near froze to death waiting for him, stalking up and down Sheffield Street, just within sight of the door to 11031. A couple of the girls on the street noticed us, and told us to buzz off. They changed their tone when Sam told them we were bounty hunters going after the guy in 11031, though they wondered aloud why didn’t we just go in and nab the guy. But I think deep down they knew that wasn’t an option. One or two of them had seen Amnon walking down the line of strip clubs and felt right away that this was what was wrong with the district. This was what was stealing girls away and stripping them of something in themselves. They saw his eyes and felt that he could do the same to them, given time.
So they didn’t pay us any mind, so loathe as I was to play bounty hunter I didn’t say otherwise. Still, I think if I had told them the truth, it might have been that they would believe me, so strong was the fear in their eyes when the man in 11031 was mentioned.
Other than these occurrences, all was as quiet as things got beside Wrigley Field. The girls chatted up the guys and danced and posed in the windows. The guys ogled and hunched their shoulders to hide their faces as they entered the clubs. And guys and girls both filed in and out of the door we watched, some with empty faces, perhaps part of Amnon’s group, perhaps just prostitutes from another room. Because didn’t all these women seem tired, worn-out? Used up to the point of the loss of identity? In any case, none of them were Milo. Milo always wore a dark green cap outdoors, and his hair was bright red underneath it. He had a chip in his front tooth and always walked with confidence, even on Sheffield Street. Especially on Sheffield Street.
So I knew him right away when I saw him, practically skipping down the sidewalk with his head held high, sneering a bit at the girls propositioning him before whistling a little tune. He was honestly enjoying this. I wouldn’t have minded giving him a few scars of his own. I could have had the plan worked.
I walked directly to him, intending to engage him in a little conversation: “Oh, Milo, it’s you isn’t it? Listen, Amnon wants to meet you elsewhere.” I heard the rattling behind me but thought nothing of it, all my attention concentrated on Milo. In the back of my mind I heard it – a clicking crattle like wind chimes, like pottery shards, like…