By James L. Sutter
They’re waiting for him when he comes out of the tank. Whether plainclothes or just another pair of clockers, he can’t quite tell, but the way they avoid looking in his direction tips him off in a heartbeat. When Ari Marvel walks by, you _look_.
They start drifting idly in his direction, and that clinches things. Reaching down into the lining of his pocket, Ari palms the whole batch and trails his hand over the edge of the bridge railing. The brittle grey modsticks crumble with ease, and by the time the two have dropped their cover and made the sting he’s moved smoothly into position, hands against the brick and legs spread wide. The pigs don’t even thank him for being so efficient. The patdown’s rougher than necessary, but after a minute they throw their hoods back up and move off down the street.
Ari runs his hands through his faded blue-green spikes, then takes the stairs down to the tube. A beginner might have lingered at the railing and thought about all the time and money now floating down the culvert, but Ari doesn’t look back. Necessary expenditures. Expected losses.
It’s just business, baby.