Chapter 1 New Orleans, Spring, Tuesday, 4:45pm
She finally found him, sitting on the curb in front of Rouses Market. He had eluded her for a long time. She knew some of his a few regular spots and was checking those first. He was often found amongst the rabble of the Quarter. Sinclair was a creature of habit and this made her life easier. She crossed the street by his apartment and saw his cat, Faulkner. She knew from past visits that if the cat was in the window, Sinclair was not in the apartment. His furry little familiar stuck by his side when he was home.
She wore a tank top with a lightweight brown linen chemise with dust colored tights. Her hair was dirty blonde, tied back in a mixture of dreadlocks and a tangle of waves. She blended into the city; at a glance, she was just another homeless street kid passing down Decatur in the early heat of the Big Easy.
One time, she found Sinclair inside a bar on Frenchman Street. He listened to jazz while sipping a gin and tonic, always with way too many limes. She remembered laughing at that; he was like some kind of pirate in danger of catching scurvy. Him and those limes. She found him twice spinning back and forth on a diner stool of the Crescent Street Grille at the low end of Bourbon. Another handful of times, she found him in the back of the Jackson Square Cathedral. Yet today, he wasn’t in any of these places.
She knew him well. She had spent time following him. It was part of her assignment. She knew Sinclair lost himself in music and drinking, those infamous distractions of the city. Which was why the two of them had been at this for so long. His lack of focus.
She tugged at Oliver, her big, speckled, hound dog, as he trailed behind her. He sniffed a bit too long at some unknown bit of trash on the sidewalk. She pulled on the worn rope leash and he came to her side. Her outfit and dog fit the motif of the city. They both blended in, as she was required to do. Just part of the gig.
She crossed down Saint Ann’s on the way to Bourbon. Colorful rainbow flags hung at the end of the street against a backdrop of flickering gas lamps outside the Hotel de Lion. She turned left onto Bourbon and walked past Paradise Lost. No Sinclair today. She knew this was another favorite spot of his. Probably because of the blonde, large-chested, bartender. Yet another one of Sinclair’s problems. He was drawn to distraction at every turn; this trifecta of music, women, and booze. She had this fear he would never figure things out. She sighed at this and continued down Bourbon to St. Peter’s. Then she had a sudden inspiration and tugged at Oliver’s rope, leading him to another spot where he might be.
She followed her hunch and thought about the last time she lost him for so long. She finally found him in the old church, Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was in the shrine at the back; just sitting there and looking at the flames of the candles. God damn tortured artists. They were exhausting.
She was tired, bone tired, and more than ready to move onto her next assignment; she was weary of Sinclair. On top of that, the heat and humidity of this modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah had lost any charm it had once held. This made his lack of motivation and direction drain her even more.
She turned the corner and saw him. Of course, here he was. He sat on the curb like a damn homeless person. She sighed again and made an unpleasant comment under her breath about tortured artists. Maybe her next assignment would be someone a little more exciting, or at least a better climate. Anyway, time to get this going. Oliver sat down obediently at her side. she knelt behind Sinclair.
And it began again.