Soul Stripper 2
Author: Jason Arnett
Title: Soul Stripper (part 2 of 4)
Genre: Science Fiction
Frequency: every Wednesday
Inside the third car, a Pullman Palace, there was a heavy oaken desk in a dark paneled room that had a phone atop it. The phone rang and rang and rang.
No one answered it.
“Where is he?”
Frank hung up one of the few remaining public pay phones in the city and stared at the handle, then at the faded AT&T logo. He rapped the top of the black box the handset was cradled on with his knuckles, then opened the door to the booth and walked out into the clear sunshine of the city. He took a deep breath and walked.
The bodega where he’d met Hansen the day before was open and he went in to get coffee. “‘Morning,” he said to the cashier, a pimply-faced boy slight of build and uninterested in doing anything but taking Frank’s money.
Back on the street, Frank opened his cell phone and frowned. No new messages. He sighed and walked up the street, sipping at his coffee.
The park was alive with people. Mothers and fathers pushing children on swings; catching them at the bottom of slides; throwing frisbees and baseballs back and forth; laughing, shouting and oblivious to the murders of others. Frank watched, one hand in his jacket pocket, the other holding the swift-cooling java in a too-thin paper cup.
A group of eight college-aged people played an impromptu game of soccer, catching Frank’s attention. He was admiring a tough pass that just got past the man Frank thought was the best player of the group when his phone rang. Depositing the nearly empty coffee cup in a handy trash can that said, “T’ank you” Frank opened the phone as it rang for a third time.
“Yeah,” he said and listened. Coming at a trot out of the park, he hailed a cab. “You’re sure?” He opened the back door of the cab and got in. “Fourth and Kingdom,” he told the cabbie who punched at the screen mounted on the dash, then pulled out into traffic. “I’m on my way.”