Chapter 15

Nowhere in Particular

Tony climbed the creaking wood staircase bolted to the side of the building that had once housed a bar known locally as The Pink, for the livid pink paint that a previous owner had used to refresh the aging cinderblock nearly fifteen years ago, though it had gone through multiple owners and names in that time. Tony had rented the apartment above the bar for the price of acting as bouncer three nights a week about a decade ago and still lived there, even though that deal had expired three owners back. Currently he was paying rent to a mortgage holding company in Baton Rouge and seriously considering trying to get a loan to buy out the bar below, but he doubted that many banks would give a business loan to a guy whose most valuable asset was a motorcycle he had hand-built out of parts scrounged from the various mechanic shops that he’d been fired from over the years.

In short: Tony was going nowhere in particular. And he knew it. And he didn’t especially care.

He unlocked the large deadbolt and push chis door open to the cramped two room apartment he called home. Sensing the inrush of hot, sticky air, the AC unit in the window gave a squeal of protest, then rattled to life, spewing cold, slightly mildewy air across the combined living room / kitchen area.

Tony tossed his keys onto the kitchen counter, pulled a tall can of PBR from the fridge, and picked his way across the tangle of wires and laundry, around the folding table that held his computer, and to the old yellow sofa set against the wall under the AC unit. He shook the mouse on his computer and entered his password, then popped the top on his beer and took a long drink while he waited for the old system to come out of hibernation.

It had been a real trip, seeing the old party caves.

Those had been good days for Tony. He had made a good living from repackaging the dream of late twentieth century raves for college students and newly affluent members of the TechBelt .net boom. He’d squirreled most of that money away in cold Bitcoin wallets and watched as the value of each deposit slowly increased over the last decade as he continued to work a string of dead-end jobs, just to keep himself in beer and pizza until one of his projects paid off or the saved crypto-currency was worth enough to retire.

He could have already had that dream, if he’d chosen his partners more wisely, but that was life.

The computer finished loading and Tony leaned forward to lose himself in his usual forums, still nursing his beer.

The sun was setting, the PBR cans had started to pile up, and Tony was starting to consider whether he should have three day old leftovers from the fridge or take a break from the computer and wander over to the Number One II Chinese takeout, when he got a direct message from a woman he knew only as EmmaKILLS on his usual urban exploration #Chat channel. Emma had been a low-level member of his organization back in the day, working sororities at Tulane University to sell party tickets and pass on word of what DJs the college girls wanted to hear.