Chapter 3

The sky was green today. And Joanne was in the garden again. Vicki was holding a green translucent fabric this time. Joanne was still looking through the little prism in her right hand with her left shielding the sun. Her hammock was also the location of her relaxation area. The only difference was her mood not being ruined by Jacky’s presence. His voice wasn’t so rough and distant anymore. He still had on his passive expression but his eyes showed glints of compassion in them.

“Vicki, you can go,” Joanne said as soon as Jacky was standing next to her hammock.

Vicki nodded and left them–bringing with her the green fabric thus returning the sky to its clear blue.

“Dad’s not looking for me again, is he?” Joanne asked, finally directing her eyes toward Jacky.

Jacky shook his head. “I want to ask you something.”

Joanne gestured her hand, indicating that he should sit down first. And the place she specifically hinted at was her hammock. It wasn’t small, but it wasn’t like it was proper to just settle down next to her. His reluctance didn’t stop her though. She got up from her spot and reached for his hand, forcing him to sit down next to her. He had no choice but tried to stay calm, keeping a little distance between the two of them.

“What’s going on?” She asked, her voice not mocking–and her face actually displaying traces of encouragement. It was like she suddenly was no longer despising his presence–or voice.

His expression still showed reluctance but he cleared his throat anyway, indicating he was ready to speak. “Why did you help me last week?”

She smiled, looking down at the prism in her hand before returning her eyes to his again. “Because I finally discover you’re human like the rest of us.”

He wrinkled his face in confusion.

Joanne shrugged. “Come on. You acted so arrogant and robotic since you came here. How should I know you’re as human as the rest of us?”

“I had to take this job serious,” He defended himself.

“It doesn’t mean a thing around here, trust me. What you’re doing is playing a role you think is real because you’ve been watching too much of those daily cop versus gang dramas.”

Jacky had to laugh at that comment.

“Laugh all you want. But this is us. We don’t just paste on the cold face for the sake of the job. We just have our own attitude at times. But you…you always have on your mask that you’re fooling yourself too.”

Jacky didn’t know what to say so he just looked down at the grass surrounding them.

“So, what happened with your girlfriend? You chased her down and explained after work, right?”

It wasn’t exactly like that. But he nodded anyway. “She didn’t listen to me though.”

“Want my help then?”

He looked up at her again to see her smiling at him. Her smile was sincere so the offer must be for good. But he shook his head.

“Come on,” She urged, tugging on his hand. “I promise I won’t mess it up anymore. Not like last time.”

He let out a sigh. “I’ll try again later on my own.”

“It’ll be better if I go with you since my father would still be pinning those guys on you, right?”

Yes, that was the reason why Jacky wasn’t so active in pursuing his girlfriend to explain further. Thanks to Joanne’s sharp eyes, he realized that he’d been on surveillance since he transferred to the bar. It was him that Joanne’s father didn’t trust, not her. And it wasn’t a crime to date, but it was a crime to lie to the boss. He had said he didn’t have any relatives or any types of connection around town. So where in the world did the girlfriend come from? Lucky for him, the guys Mr. Zeng pinned on him was a distance away hence not detecting all the words exchanged. The loud music had aided his cause as well. But the suspicion was still present with that obvious disagreement between the three of them.

What had led Jacky and Joanne to the conclusion that the person Mr. Zeng was after was him and not her? It was the persons doing the snooping. It was routine. Always the same group doing the dirty works. And a fatal habit because it had been too obvious with them being present at the bar like that.

“Come on,” Joanne urged again, her hand still holding Jacky’s.

Jacky, seeing her persistence–and understanding it too well, finally nodded.

“All right!” Joanne cried out, celebrating her triumph because he’d given in to her.

Jacky smiled then, not being able to help it. He suddenly found her more likable than ever. It seemed like their feelings for one another was mutual. Or at least their loathsome for one another since the first day wasn’t so one-sided after all. It was just that he was better at hiding it than her.

*****

Vic walked down the long corridor, his footsteps echoing eerily in the middle of the night. He stashed his folders on the passenger side before buckling up. Adjusting his mirrors, he could see someone walking toward his car. He reached across the seat and slid the folders into a secret compartment with plenty of time to spare as the other person got in.

“I didn’t know you’re coming here,” Vic said casually.

“I was meeting up with Sara at a local café so I thought I swing by here too,” The other person answered.

He nodded and returned to his task of maintaining the car. Soon, he pulled out–after making sure she had buckled up already.

“How’s Sara doing?” Vic asked after he merged in with the rest of traffic.

“She’s still upset.”

“I’ll bet.”

“That Jacky’s really involved in some case you’re investigating right now?”

Vic nodded, knowing she was staring at him and waiting for his answer. “As interesting as it got, Sara just had to be involved with him. Or should I say she’s lucky to find out sooner than later. Who knows what would happen or what he might get her into later.”

“You wouldn’t know if he would involve her though. I meant he did hide it from her so why would he involve her in those activities?”

Vic shook his head. “I’ve been doing this forever, honey. You just know.”

She scowled. “You’re stereotyping.”

“Don’t tell me you’re sympathizing with him because of Sara.”

“I’m just saying you’re jumping to conclusion.”

“I’m not. We ran a check on him and he sure has a long list of things he was involved with in the past.”

“It doesn’t mean he can’t change.”

“Could spots turned into stripes?”

Before his girl could argue some more, his phone rang. He reached up and pressed on his Bluetooth to receive the call.

“Vic,” Vic answered.

“It’s Roy,” The other person said. “I don’t know what these people are doing but they might be onto me already.”

“What are they doing then?” Vic asked, though he wished Roy was more specific. Sure, they had to be careful but Vic’s patience was running low where Roy was concerned.

“Where are you at now?”

“I’m driving home with Cyndi.”

“You can drop me off first if you’re busy,” Cyndi whispered Vic’s way.

Vic sent her a smile and winked, indicating that he was playing one of his games again so she didn’t need to worry about him missing dinner tonight.

© Monday, January 30th, 2012

Posted: Friday, April 13th, 2012

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