18. Shades of Grey

The Ghost hitched a ride atop a shuttle bus from the airport, unseen by security. From there he hopped onto a truck heading back to the city. The dream then seemed to fast forward once again, and I saw that Id was deep in the entertainment district, just a few blocks away from Action Square. He was on the roof tops of the Floor, following a burgundy Cadillac that was cruising down the damp backstreets. Cutting into an alley, the car then rolled to a stop. The Ghost jumped to a near by fire escape to get a better vantage point. The car door opened and out stepped a familiar figure in a long, brown, alligator skin jacket that hid the jewellery around his neck. It was the same man who walked out on auction at Harrison Airport, and Id had tracked him all the way back here.

By then Id only knew his nick name, Big. Is that it? he wondered, Like Cher? Why don’t I ask him myself. The man began to walk down the alley towards an apartment door. He gave it a good knock and waited for an answer. As the Ghost remained still, he could hear the sound of many chains unlocking before the door finally opened, but with one chain remaining attached. From the apartment door a face popped out. One could tell that she was in her early twenties, but she looked a decade older; the sacs, crow’s feet, and dark patches around her eyes saw to that.

“So are you gonna let me in or what?” asked Big. There was a moment of silence.

“After what you said to me this morning, why should I?” snapped the woman in a harsh New Jersey accent.

“Girl, you know I was just playin’,” said Big, “now let me in. My feet are killing me.”

“Go away!” she demanded.

“Girl, it’s pretty hard for me to talk to you from behind a door.”

“Well that’s too bad, Saturn,” the woman spat, “cuz I don’t even wanna see you right now.”

“Would you just open the door so we could talk,” said Big Saturn. “I got something to tell you.” The sound of the last chain being unlocked could be heard and the door fully opened.

“What do you want?” the woman asked.

“I want to talk to you.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

“I’m done with the game,” answered Saturn.

“What!” exclaimed the young woman. She couldn’t quite grasp what he meant.

“I can’t do this no more,” elaborated Big. “Today I almost did something that I didn’t want to do… and I had to walk out on a deal. First time I ever did something like that. All I know is that right now it’s over. I’m done.”

“Wait, no,” objected the woman. “You can’t just quit just like that. How are you gonna get paid, huh? You ain’t got no education, you ain’t qualified for nothin’. You’re just a no good hustler. And what about me, Big, how am I gonna eat? And what about them other girls, have you thought about them?” Big Saturn took a moment to reflect.

“Maybe if I came inside and had a nice warm meal to eat, I might be able to think better,” said Big.

The woman‘s eyes shot from side to side as she took a moment to herself. “Come in,” she finally gestured with a sigh.

Over the next hour, Id waited patiently in that alley for the pimp to return.

Finally, Saturn came out looking fed and rested. But just before he opened his car door, he paused. Something grabbed his attention, like when a deer senses an approaching wolf. Then trusting his intuitions, he looked forward into a dark crevasse in the building across from him. He couldn’t see anything, but he knew something was there. Slowly he pulled out his berretta and pointed it into the black space and said, “One thing I don’t like is when mothafuckas try to sneak up on me.”

Two scarlet eyes suddenly appeared out from the dark crevasse and answered, “One thing I don’t like is when mother fuckers point guns at me.” Saturn took a few steps back but still kept his gun pointed. His heart rate sharply went up.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked.

“Drop the gun then maybe we could talk,” replied the voice.

“You crazy?” asked Saturn indignantly. “I ain’t puttin’ away my burner for some freaky lookin’ mothafucka.”

“You don’t need to be pointing that thing at me.”

“Oh yeah,” said Big. “Why not? Why should I trust you?”

“Because if I wanted to kill you you’d already be dead,” responded Id. “So are you going to put away that gun, or am I going to have to do it for you?”

The gentleman reluctantly lowered his weapon and rubbed his eyes. “Man, I gotta quit smokin’ that shit,” said Saturn.

“Trust me,” said the pair of eyes, “you’re not high.”

“Who are you?” asked Saturn.

“I’ll get to that in a minute,” said Id. “But there are a couple of things I think you should know.”

“Know? Like what?”

“Well for one thing,” said the Ghost, “I saw you at Harrison Airport. I was there, watching the whole thing. And I tracked you down all the way back here.”

The pimp replied with an indignant, “So what?”

“I saw what you did. Or should I say what you refused to do.”

Instantly Saturn knew what this apparition was talking about. But still he maintained a mask of confidence. “What does that have to do with anything?” asked Big Saturn.

“Everything,” replied Id. “The choice that you made is what kept me from adding you to my hit list. Which brings me to the other thing that I think you should know about.”

“Oh yeah, what’s it now?”

“Those guys who were with you at the airport tonight, all of them are either in jail, or in a hospital receiving medical attention.”

“Shut the fuck up,” denied Saturn, “From what?”

“From me.”

Big Saturn went quiet. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. “Sure, buddy,” he bluffed. “If the deal went under I would have heard somethin’ by now.” Just then his cell phone began to ring, and Saturn had a foreboding feeling. He whipped it out of his jacket pocket and answered it. “Yeah–” he answered. “I’m downtown–Yeah, man. I’m fine, what’s up– Who?– What!– You gotta be bullshitin’ me– Yo, don’t play wit me, don’t play wit me!– So how did it happen– Shit!– This is some fucked up shit– Yeah I was there…but I left–Fuck–aight then. I’ll holla at you later.” A concerned, frustrated look was stone cold on Saturn’s face. The news had finally come to him. He paused for a moment as he allowed the information to sink in, then he looked at his phone, as if about to make a call. Slowly he tucked it back into his pocket, and then looked back at the pair of eyes still staring at him. “All right. So they had a little mishap. That still doesn’t mean that you were involved in it.” That said, a tiny, metal object flew out of the dark crevasse and landed by Big Saturn’s feet. He picked it up and examined it only to realize that it was the silver two-finger ring that once belonged to the man from the plane. Saturn dropped it immediately and took a few more steps back. “Damn… So you’re the real deal. Aight. So what do you want? What do you from me?”

“All I want to know is who you are,” said the Ghost in the shadow. “What made you make that decision at the deal tonight? What made you walk out and turn your back on them?”

“Nothing,” replied Big. “I make my own decisions.”

“Really,” said Id. “That’s even more interesting.”

Big Saturn looked confused. “Why’s that?”

“Because I find it strange that a street thug who’s hustled and exploited women perhaps his entire life would refuse to take part in a venture that would only benefit him.”

“You’re talkin’ about buyin’ them girls?” confirmed Saturn.

“Indeed.”

“Look. I just didn’t think…”

“You didn’t think it was right.”

Saturn breathed in deep then replied, “Yeah.” He made a small chuckle to himself. “So those boys at the convention centre weren’t lying when they said a ghost whopped they’re ass. You’re the real thing.”

Id stayed silent.

“So what? You honestly thing you could bring down the Estate, like they’re the bad guys or somethin’?”

“I’ve come to realize there’s no such thing as bad guys.”

This dream, this vision continued as Id and this Saturn fellow continued to talk in that alleyway. The more they talked the more apparent it became that there was no more black and white, only grey. It reminded me of my own father who seemed like a man of marble. And with this aura state ability, I came to believe that he was a man of pure evil. But if a woman like my mom can fall in love with him, there had to be something else to him that I was yet to discover. Something good. Something that she was able to see that this aura vision couldn’t. Morality was no longer polarized, but now appeared as various degrees. Those men at the airport were bathed in a yellow aura, but that’s only because they were potentially hostile. But the vast majority of people glowed green; they were neutral, fully capable of committing acts of good or evil. And still it was more complex than that. These aura colours weren’t fixed, but were susceptible to change. When Id first saw Saturn at the airport, he was indistinguishable from the other yellow auras. But the moment he backed out of the auction and walked away, he went form yellow to green, and that’s how Id saw him now. These auras weren’t only based on deeds, but intentions as well. It was then when I realized that I had a new obstacle, a new enemy. One that was not a person or thing, but more a force of nature, a paradox. How can I fight for what is right when it is one and the same with what’s wrong? How can I fight for and against two things that may not even exist?

It’s interesting how I’m able to split my consciousness into two like this; actually being able to witness and observe myself, and then zone out into a reflection. Either this was a new case of multiple personality disorder, or this was something completely different. Indeed I was haunted: here I was having a flashback of something that I didn’t even remember doing, witnessing an escapade of a split personality, showing me things that I’ve never seen, done, or known before. But all it did was raise more questions. Questions that continued to run through my head, completely distracting me from the conversation between Id and Big Saturn. It took an effort for me to regain my focus.

Saturn now sat on the hood of his car, seemingly talking to no one. “Anyways,” said Saturn, “you’ve done noting but cause more trouble for me. Don’t you think it’s kinda funny how as soon as I walk out every man at the meeting gets smoked. I’m probably at the top of the Estate’s hit list now.”

“Then I guess you better lay low,” said Id.

“Fuck that, man,” protested Big. “I ain’t takin’ the fall for you. You clean up your own mess.”

“You better watch your tone.”

“Man, fuck you!” scolded Big. “What do you want from me anyways?”

“You have information that I want,” said Id. “The man you work for, Zhang-Zin. Where can I find him?”

Saturn only sat there and said, “Why the hell would you wanna do that?”

“Let’s just say I want to put him out of business.”

“Good luck with that. That man is business. He practically owns and runs this city.”

“Then it looks like Mayor Grey has got some competition,” said the Ghost.

“You idiot,” scoffed Saturn. “You come around here acting all tough and you don’t know shit. Mayor Grey and Zhang-Zin are the same damn person”

“What!” jumped Id. “Are you saying-”

“Damn right,” interrupted Big. “Ever since his brother croaked he’s been calling the shots. From New York to L.A., all through the Caribbean, and all the way back here. All that shit can be traced back to City fuckin’ Hall.”

“But that means– Did you hear that?” Something had caught the Ghost’s attention.

“Hear what?” asked Saturn, puzzled. Id had sensed something. It was something menacing, something all too familiar. It was the same sensation that I felt right before the incident at the Misty Canyon, where I lost my brother. Id knew then what was coming. And although he hadn’t really seen it, or even knew its nature, fear had seized his heart, as if it was smothering it only to let it go so it may beat frantically. In fact, Id didn’t know what it was. All he knew is that it was there when I lost Jonathan, and now it was here, bathed in the unknown. And as Id frantically used his hearing and aura sense to triangulate where this feeling was coming from, one thought passed through his head. Danger. Then in a split second, the Ghost leapt out of the dark crevasse.

“LOOK OUT!” he shouted as he brought Saturn down from the hood of his car, just as a blast of white hot energy barely missed him. The car wasn’t so lucky. Big Saturn sat up to see his car had practically been melted, the fumes of liquefied metal stinging the air.

“What the fuck!” cried Big at the horrible discovery.

“That would be the least of your worries, my friend,” said the voice that had just saved his life. Saturn looked towards it to finally see the Ghost standing over him in the flesh. “Because you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands.” Big Saturn sensed something in the Ghost’s voice that wasn’t there before. It was either fear or anxiety. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good, because right in front of them was a massive, beastly creature, pointing a metallic clawed hand at its next two victims, about to fire another blast.

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