Excerpt: Alonso Munich is Now Dead
My eyes felt like they’d been rolled in sand and my body felt like I’d been pinned and spread open like a butterfly on display. Everything had an edge of damp chill. The musty aroma of mildew waged war with the sting of industrial cleaners. To my left, I could make out a bedside table topped with a lamp. To my right, I could see an overstuffed chair in front of a set of venetian blinds that had been closed tight. Still, the blinds were cheap, and just a little bit of orange light from a nearby street lamp filtered between the slats.
Something stirred in the chair. A shadow stretched gangly limbs, and I caught a flash of metal roundabouts where the shadow’s face should have been. “Shit, you’re awake,” it—he—said around a yawn.
Hearing the voice cemented the shape as that of a young man who couldn’t have been more than a junior in high school. He had the sort of awkward lankiness that some boys grew into when they hit puberty, but he seemed comfortable in his skin anyway. I could make out several facial piercings, and his hair had been slathered with ridiculous amounts gel before being spiked up. I couldn’t tell the color of his clothing, but I’d have been willing to bet that most of it came from Hot Topic.
“Oh man, oh man, oh man,” the kid continued, his voice picking up excitedly. “Oh man, when I saw them dump you, I thought to myself, ‘That is one poor bastard, and there is no way he’s wakin’ up from that one’.” He slapped the arm of the chair and let out a nervous bark of laughter. “And look here, you’re awake! Just shows how much I know, don’t it?”
My brain rang with static, unable to form more than the most basic thoughts. I took a deep breath, pushing the overwhelming stench of mold-versus-bleach out of my mind. I somehow managed to choke out a strangled, “Loud.”
The kid laughed again, some of the nervousness gone now that he’d heard me talk. “Oh man, I’m sorry, dude, but I’m just glad you’re… well, I can’t say breathin’ exactly, but… damn! I’m glad you’re awake.”
“Who’re you,” I said, though I couldn’t quite manage to make it a question.
“Name’s Tyler,” said the kid. “I went through your pockets when you got dumped—sorry, man!—so I’m gonna guess you’re the guy from the driver’s license. Alonso Munich, was it?”
I nodded so slowly that it felt like every tendon in my neck creaked. “Where’m I.”
Tyler’s expression changed, which I could track by the way his piercings glinted in the oppressive gray of the room. “Motel 6, the one offa Courtland Street in Midtown. You got thrown in a dumpster, but I saw you and dragged you in here b’fore the sun came up.”
The smell and the sheets and the furniture made a lot more sense, although my head still buzzed uselessly. The next question wasn’t exactly the logical follow-up, but I was pretty sure it was close. “What’s a kid like you doin’ in a dump like this?”
“Aw, c’mon, man,” said Tyler, “if you’re gonna be like that, I can just put you back in the dumpster.”
“Sorry,” I responded automatically. Actual remorse was way beyond me.
Tyler grinned—I could tell because his teeth were so white it was almost comical—and gently patted the back of my hand like it was a dog. His skin felt almost too hot against mine, and weirdly… electric. It was like a jolt of static electricity, but less sharp. “S’all good, man. I understand you probably had it rough. Not a lot of people actually want to end up in the trash.” He paused, his grin falling a little. “Though, I gotta ask… Who the fresh fuck did you piss off?”
“I…” I stopped. Who had I pissed off? The last thing I could remember, I’d just left the office for the day. It was late on a Monday, and I’d been trying to get a project done before my weekly conference call with the India team. The parking deck where I usually parked was two blocks from the office, and… nothing. That was all I could remember. Beyond that, I couldn’t recall ever going out of my way to make someone miserable. If I’d upset someone badly enough to kidnap me and throw me in a dumpster, it hadn’t been on purpose; I tried to live modestly and give others due consideration where I could. Finally, I said, “I don’t know. Last thing I remember was going home. Now I’m here.”
Absently, Tyler turned the TV on, with the volume low enough that the sound was barely a whisper. I didn’t need the audio to know that he’d left it on the Weather Channel. “Well, don’t worry about it for now,” he said.
I had enough coordination back to push myself upright against the cheap headboard that was bolted into the wall. My left hand found the lamp’s switch, and the room flooded with the wan glow that typically only came from an ancient low-wattage bulb.
Light confirmed what I’d already suspected: he had more metal in his face than any kid should, and he had a serious fondness for gravity-defying hair products. Or maybe that was just what happened when he splayed out in a cheap chair. The light also showed that he had pale skin dotted with a profusion of freckles and hair so red it couldn’t possibly be natural. The roundness of his face matched the youth in his voice to a T. Something about him seemed a little familiar, like he reminded me of someone I’d long forgotten.