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Sep 17, 2019 3:55 PM
you'd do anything, anything at all, to stop being bored.
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It takes him a second to realize what that even was.

"–one before that."

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Jean glances up from his phone, scanning him from head to toe.

"It's written all over you. You're an open book. You walk into a morgue, you look at the crop before the corpses, you've seen death before. Murderer, undertaker, military, or medical. You don't walk like a military man and the second place you look is for the emergency equipment: medical."

He pauses to draw a breath for the first time, before going on. "Tattoo on your wrist confirms it. Prominently placed, you were proud of it when you got it. Wearing a wristband over it, you're not showing it off now. Left arm's a cover-up, you've done it before, why not do it again? Sentiment, you still want the tattoo, you're just hiding it."

Standing, to pace the room: "Why would you stop showing it off? You're not in the field anymore. Didn't flunk out, didn't hate it, you'd have gotten a cover-up, people do. Could be family, but you don't talk to your family. Your tattoos more than a year old are all professional, after that they're amateur. Money troubles? No, money's tight but it's not that tight, your shoes are less than a year old and you'd put money towards tattoos first. They're all in the same hand, improving over time: you did them yourself."

At the window, now. "The early ones are a mess. If you'd just wanted to learn, you'd have practiced more than that first, you care enough. So tattoo shops won't serve you, or at least the ones you'd care to go to won't. What makes every tattoo shop in the city stop serving someone? Bloodborne illness. That's illegal, but for HIV they'll do it anyway. So you're positive. Got you pressured out of the medical field, that's illegal too but it doesn't stop them."

Finally turning to face him. "So then the question is, drugs, sex, or in the line of duty? You're covered with tattoos but they're well done, it's not such a leap to guess that when you use drugs you use clean needles. If you'd gotten it fucking another man you'd have put up a fight about discrimination, would have taken them more than a year to pressure you out. So, line of duty, needle stick or splash."

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He needs a second.

(It's not covered up today – handwritten, over his wrist, FIRST DO NO HARM.)

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Okay. Got a second.

He laughs.

"Fuck – you got all that the second you saw me –"

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"Don't exaggerate."

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"I mean, barely – I just walked in and you – people all assume their own shit but you got it right –"

He's beaming.

"–missed something, though."

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"--dammit. Always something. What?"

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He turns his back, points over his right shoulder.

There's a black biohazard symbol tattooed there, the last professional piece before he started doing them himself.

"Positive."

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He swears, in French, under his breath.

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"You were right, though. Splash. Nobody else would touch the guy."

He turns back around and rocks back a little, leans against the wall.

"How'd you know I don't talk to my parents? Besides that I'm renting from sketchy guys on craigslist."

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"You're renting from sketchy guys on craigslist."

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Snort.

"Yeah, that's fair."

 

He slides back onto the floor and stares up at the ceiling.

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"When," he asks abruptly, "is a mass shooting not a mass shooting?"

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"...is this a riddle or do you want, like, input?"

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"Riddles are boring. It's a test."

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No pressure, though!

"Do I get other facts?"

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"Shooting at a downtown club by a masked gunman. Ambulance response in four minutes, one victim DOA. Classed as a likely hate crime."

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Well, that's horrible.

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"One victim?"

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"Bullseye. So, when is a mass shooting not a mass shooting? Care to find out?"

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"...what, like – now?"

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"You don't have plans."

He's already putting on his coat.

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You know what? Fuck it.

He stands up, stretches, pats his pocket to make sure his phone is still there.

"Sure. Why not."

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"Someone you met today just invited you to the scene of a mass shooting."

His phone is not, in fact, still there.

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"I mean – I know that's insane, but so is – "

Nope, none of his other pockets, either. He turns towards his room.

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