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This wasn’t just a job any more. It was personal now. That’s going too far, when you sabotage my ex-cop car.
I could see Lobo stuck in traffic half a block up ahead. I decided to pursue on foot. “Emergency,” I said as I plowed through clumps of people on the sidewalk, “Let me past, this is an emergency.” They were stunned and semi-comatose, the way workers are in the morning, so I plowed right through.
Lobo must have seen me coming, because he and his girlfriend bailed out of their cab and ran down Bay Street. They ducked into the back entrance of City Hall.
Lobo seemed familiar with the place. He followed a curving corridor to the main lobby which he crossed to reach a set of stairs to the underground parking. I barely managed to keep the pair of them in sight. They darted across the lot, dodging the cars swooshing around the aisles looking for spots. Lobo shot a panicky glance back in my direction. Then they found the door that leads into the labyrinth of passageways under downtown.
They passed thru a wide tiled tunnel with illuminated ad posters. I followed relentlessly, my neck burrowed into my trenchcoat, hands rolled into fists in my pockets, the sole of my left shoe slapping on the tiles like a ticking clock. I had nicked my shoe against a curb and the stitches had sprung. Lobo and Cindy breezed past a barbershop and some trinket kiosks then collided with a middle-aged couple with luggage crossing toward an escalator to the hotel upstairs but Lobo and Cindy continued on their way passing through yet another ad-lined passage but now they were encountering counter-flow as waves of commuters came through northbound heading for their office jobs.
To the left now was a food court where people were lining up for their caffeine fixes. There were shops all along and there was an unexpected set of steps. I heard Cindy let out a yelp. She had slipped and hurt an ankle. Lobo lifted her up and carried her in his arms, like the hero carrying the scuffed-up heroine in a movie poster. The guy was such a showboat. The crowd parted before them.
“Looby, you bastard, I’ll get you,” I swore out loud.
I was catching up. The tempo of my flapping shoe was accelerating, it was penetrating Lobo’s consciousness, I was right behind them now, I reached for his collar.
“Hold it,” said the young security guard who stepped in front of me.
“Let me go,” I said, “I’m almost out of your building.” I saw Lobo and Cindy as they disappeared into the crowd in the concourse under the next building ahead.
“You already went past the shoe repair kiosk,” the guard offered. “It’s behind you.”
He was pretending to be helpful but his gaze was cold, he was probing to see if I was a demented person according to the guidelines from his goddam community college police foundations course.
“Thanks,” I said, “I’m working.” I flashed my private-eye ID and stepped past. These guys have no authority.
Now I had lost them. Lobo knew all the twists and turns in the underground on account of his former clothing empire being headquartered in one of the office towers connected to this labyrinth. I reasoned that he must have turned east, taking the path of least resistance, as hordes of commuters were pouring in like a clattering army from St. Andrews subway station to the west.
I followed a hallway lined mostly with fashion shops with mannequins in the windows till I arrived at a wide clearing where everything was shiny white. The walls were white marble, the floors were white, there was a high white ceiling with silvery-white lighting, like it was all designed based on something the architect had seen in heaven, but anyway it was also hellish with elevators dinging, footsteps clacking, people flowing across from all angles, streaming past, jostling me.
I called Sally. I vaguely had it in mind that together we would scour every building downtown, every storey of every building.
“Where are you?” I said when she picked up, because I heard traffic in the background.
“You're supposed to be running the office. What are you doing down here?”
“I have an appointment for a job interview.”
I was crushed. In retrospect, this was truly the nadir of my professional life.
“Sally,” I pleaded, “You can’t leave right in the middle of a big case. When we wrap this up, I’ll be able to pay your back wages plus a big bonus. I promise—”
“Tony,” she interrupted, “Dillon Looby, also known as Lobo, just walked past me with his girlfriend.”