Drey pulled into the back lot of Kitty’s Coffee and powered down the Pursuer. Friday night, the place was packed. Not the public place, of course. That would be foolish – nothing broke up a party like the authorities. The basement though, where things were a little more hidden and a lot more relaxed, was where the action happened. Drey palmed in her biometrics and entered the Breaker underground.
A blast of smell, sound, and light greeted Drey as she entered. Drey maneuvered through the converted storeroom and the crowd, toward a table in the back where a lively card game was going on. She hooked an empty chair with her foot and swung it around to join the table.
“Deal me in Jack, double or nothing,” she said. The dealer gathered his cards quickly out of her reach.
“No deal Drey, You cheat too easy,” Jack said. Drey smirked, grabbed four cards from the top of the deck, and flipped them over to reveal four aces.
“You just make a rotten dealer.” She tossed the cards back at him and they landed as a king, two fours, and a seven.
“I didn’t think you were still in town,” Tommy, sitting across the table, said.
“I got a steady job now, bring in what I can for the cause,” Drey replied.
“Yeah, and we spend it all on booze,” Kirsten said as she drained a bottle of Coors Light. Drey shook her head, smirking.
“And to think – an outstanding citizen such as myself supporting a bunch of lowlife money grabbers.”
“Speaking of which, you owe me two hundred Tommy,” Jack said. Tommy grimaced as he dug a handful of cash from his pocket. The card game started back up, people making bids and bluffing money nobody really had. Kirsten tossed her losing hand down on the table with finality.
“I still suck at cards. By the way Drey, Danny’s sick, and we could use a gunner on mission tomorrow if you’re missing action,” Kirsten said.
“You know me, I’m not much of a team player,” Drey answered.
“Me and the boys aren’t much of a team.” Kirsten popped the top off of another beer. Drey laughed as she reached for the neon blue electric guitar which was leaning against the wall.
“If this is another attempt to get me laid, no. Out of curiosity though, where are you headed?”
“Out towards Boulder. Byte has us running a mark down to San Antonio,” Kirsten answered.
Drey nodded absently, busy tuning her guitar. It was always a little sour on the e. She strummed a couple of cords, adjusting the volume and distortion on her amp.
“Play Freebird!” A random voice from the other side of the road called. She probably knew him, but didn’t feel like coming up with a name.
“Kirsten, are you going to play or not? I was beating you,” Tommy said.
Kirsten turned back to the game. “Deal us Jack, I need to teach the pup a lesson.”
“I’ll run interference if you need it Kirs, but I’m not leaving the state,” Drey said. She started strumming, playing with the distortion because she could. She played a couple of scales, then launched into a full-blown rendition of her own take on the cover of an old eighties song.
In a different time she might have sung, making up words to fit the notes that flowed from her fingers, but not tonight. Instead Drey played, taking requests when she knew the song, playing to someone’s voice when she had a singer. It was fun, especially when people started to feel generous and left money in her jar.
Eventually the night grew stale. People wandered off, left singly or in groups through the secret ways, people with something to hide and everything to lose if the wrong people saw them at the wrong time. Drey eventually hung up her guitar. When she turned around Blaze Hopkins was waiting.
“I thought you swore never to come back,” Drey told him.
“Byte sent me. It’s about Meg,” Blaze said. His hands were in his coat pockets as usual, his stance was keyed up, the way it always was, his voice caught when he said “Meg,” the way it had ever since everything had fallen apart.
“Meet me outside.” Drey turned back to the guitar to hide how much her hands were shaking.