Scenes from the Hallway (Knitting in the City #6.5)

Scenes from the Hallway (Knitting in the City #6.5)

Penny Reid




Scene One





Who the fuck is that?





**Dan**





The elevator went ding, the doors opened, I strolled out.

First thing I noticed was the narrowness of the hallway. The next thing I noticed was the open stairway to my right, the smell of damp, and the water stain on the ceiling. What a shithole.

“Check the locks on the windows.”

“Got it.” I moved the cell to my other ear, rolling my eyes.

Quinn was barking orders over the phone. And when Quinn barked orders there was nothing to do but say, Got it, or, Right, or, Sounds good. What did he think? That I didn’t know enough about security procedures to test the integrity of window locks when checking the perimeter of an apartment? Give me a fucking break.

He wasn’t thinking clearly because lately he was only thinking about one thing—or rather, one person.

I hated these old apartment buildings, the ones built in the late fifties, early sixties. The elevators hardly ever worked and the stairways were too tight. Without fail, a pipe in the ceiling leaked on every single goddamn floor, making the whole building smell like the cellar of my Uncle Zip’s place.

Not a good smell.

My eyes flickered over Stan and Davis as they straightened away from the wall by the apartment door—second one on the right—coming to attention as soon as I appeared.

“And check the cellar. When I was there on Saturday, the lock on the subbasement was broken. Stan said he’d get it fixed,” Quinn said, still barking orders.

Apparently, we were now going to be the superintendent for every building in Chicago. “Fine.”

I didn’t tell Quinn that my brother’s crew was too stupid to consider the subbasement as an entry point. If Seamus’s guys showed up, they would come in through the front door in broad daylight, like a bunch of thumbs-up-their-asses dumbfucks.

Long story short, my good buddy and business partner Quinn Sullivan was under some kind of voodoo spell, thinking he was in love with this woman, Janie Morris. Janie had a sister named Jem, and Jem Morris used to bang my brother, Seamus. Small world, right?

Anyway, Jem stole a shit load of money from Seamus and left him high and dry in Boston. My brother sent a few of his guys here, to Chicago, to track Jem down, which led them to Janie. These geniuses had mistaken Janie for Jem.

Are you with me so far?

I didn’t know Janie well, but I knew Jem. Jem was an asshole, violent, and nuttier than a peanut butter sandwich. So here we were, trying to keep Janie safe from Seamus’s crew while also trying to keep Janie safe from her own sister.

“Janie lives here?” I sneered at the peeling wallpaper—which also reminded me of my Uncle Zip’s place—and the flickering fluorescent light in the stairwell. Not only was it a shithole, it was a creepy-as-fuck shithole.

“No, it’s her friend Sandra’s place, the psychiatrist.” Then under his breath Quinn added, “Sandra needs to move.”

Giving Stan and Davis a brief nod in greeting, I turned to inspect the path I’d taken, noting the empty glass box by the elevator where a fire extinguisher was supposed to be. Real nice.

“Stan is there, right?” Quinn asked.

I looked at Stan. “Yeah. He’s here.”

“Ask him if Janie noticed him following her.”

“You don’t want her to see us?” I inspected this Sandra person’s door, two deadbolts. But the door was made of fiberglass. Deadbolts weren’t good for jackshit in a fiberglass door.

“No, it’s fine if she sees you. But don’t spook her.”

“Spook her? What do you think I’m going to do? Wear a hockey mask, borrow a knife, and go for a slow stroll around her friend’s apartment?”

Quinn made a sound like he was frustrated. “Try to . . . Don’t make her feel watched.”

“Fine.” I rubbed my temple, glaring at the carpet, not sure if I was looking at a brown carpet or one that used to be white, but due to a series of unfortunate and disgusting events was now brown. “We’ll try to make ourselves invisible.”

“Give me an update when you see her.”

“Fine.”

“Call if you see Jem.”

“Okay.”

“Text when Janie leaves.”

“Got it.”

“I want you to be the one shadowing her.”

“Right.”

“And—”

Cheese and fucking rice.

“Do you want me to let you know what she eats and how long she takes in the bathroom?” I shared a look with Stan, shaking my head. The other guard smirked.

Whatever spell Janie Morris had cast over my oldest friend must’ve been some powerful shit. I’d never seen Quinn like this before. Not once. Nothing even remotely close.

The few sentences Janie Morris and I had swapped over the past short weeks gave me no insight as to why Quinn was behaving like she was his VIP. She seemed like a nice person, smart, but also—if I’m being honest—a little weird.

Mostly, she was tall. Real tall. Real, real tall. And had crazy hair.

“Dan.” Quinn growled my name, like he was losing patience.

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