The mid-March weather was crisp and cool, but the sun was shining strong enough that you could get away with a light jacket, so I put on my favorite armor, a grey Dickies Eisenhower that I got back in my punk rock days, before I sold out and became a poorly paid private investigator. I had dressed it up with patches of all the founding fathers — Black Flag, Minor Threat, Op Ivy, Aus-Rotten though I never even listened to that shit, DK, and of course the presidential crest of Johnny, Joey, DeeDee, and Tommy. It was a nice reminder of where I’d come from — maybe how far I’d come since then — and also made me look tough when I was working a case.
The changing seasons also did a number on my bad knee, so I grabbed the shillelagh that I used for a walking stick. It was my da’s from his time with the Irish Guard. He’d tried to train me in bataireacht when I was younger, but when you’re twelve years old there are few things sound as lame as ancient Irish stick fighting. I realized that he would’ve retired this year if he were still alive. I wondered how that worked for the Good People on account of they didn’t really age.
The air outside smelled like shit and sodium and made me strangely nostalgic for The Short Bus, the old tour van that we had when I was playing in The Invisibles. It was actually a converted Type A school bus, so the name was still accurate, if terribly offensive. That old clunker ran on diesel, but for just a few hundred bucks, we made it work with old recycled cooking oil that we got from Chinese restaurants. That’s how I knew Yan, the guy who owned the building where my office and ran the restaurant downstairs. Apparently waste disposal costs a lot of money when you’re frying up that much pickled dog meat or whatever, so we did him a favor and took it off his hands for free. We were kind of a Lifetime-esque hardcore time, and of course we were all vegans at the time. We thought we were stickin’ it to the man and fighting back against oil corporations. Of course, none of us seemed to mind that we were using animal fat to run our van. Or that we were making fun of kids with special needs.
Looking back, that was a very dark time in my life.
I headed east up Essex Street towards the Common, past the cracking roads and crumbling buildings that stood adjacent to the luxury condos that had spread like a virus through the heart of downtown Boston. Gentrification was a weird and wicked beast. I saw Eunice at the intersection of Chauncy and Harrison and waved. She responded with a tiny nod. “Eunice” was just the name I’d given to the little Korean lady with the shopping cart full of empties that she pushed around the city. Her and I had established a kind of repartee over the years, so I felt like she deserved a name. After all, I was one of her biggest donors, and she seemed to recognize me every time I found her scrounging through the recycling bin outside my apartment at four in the fucking morning. Our friendship never developed any further than these subtle acknowledgements, but I was okay with that.