5 P.M. ascends upon the District not too long after the meeting ends. Workers spill out of their buildings and onto the street to reach their next destination. It’s a bright and beautiful day filled with the sounds of various conversations mixed with birds chirping and the ever-present noise of Rush Hour. ____ and Jade walk down the sidewalk en route back to the subway station they emerged from nine and a half hours earlier. Jade has her usual post-work pep in her step, while he is obviously distracted by the day’s events.
“I’m glad this day is over, ____. This will probably be the first time in almost a week where I don’t have work to bring home. I’ll finally get the chance to relax!” Jade spoke with a relieved tone to her voice. He maintained his silence as he was still thinking about Michael. “I have to pick up some things from the cleaners before I drop you off at your place.” He continued to stare ahead as he uttered “I am keeping pace with you, J. What are you talking about?” Jade gives him a side-eye as a confused look appears on her face. “Pace? I didn’t say anything about keeping pace. Where is your head?” He instantly replies “I’m here”. “Yeah right. You’ve been acting weird ever since you ran out of that meeting earlier. What’s going on?” In that moment, he debated on whether or not he should explain the situation to Jade. While in the midst of his thinking, Jade chimes in “Earth to ____. You planning on answering my question?” He quickly replies, “I am. I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on right now.” Jade shrugs him off and continues to walk.
They make their way into the station and onto the train headed back to Fort Totten. The train arrives and they head to Jade’s car in the parking lot. As they get in the car, he finally breaks the silence between them. “So, yeah. Remember my telling you about everything that happened in LA?” Jade looks up and replies, “Yeah. What about it?” As he opens his mouth to reply, their phones beep at the same time. “Wait, what’s this?” He looks at his email account as Jade pulls out of the station parking lot and turns left onto Riggs Road headed towards North Capitol. “It’s an email from Ben. He sent it to you but CC’ed Michael and I on it.” Never taking her eyes off the road, Jade replies “Oh? What does it say?” He scrolls down and says “In a nutshell, he’s congratulating the three of us on being the leaders for the project. He also goes on with more shit about saying that Michael and I will make a great team and that he’s here to help if needed.” Jade responds as the car pulls to a stop at a red light. “Well, that could’ve waited until tomorrow.” He looks at Jade and states “Of course.” He keeps his suspicions about Ben to himself. Jade’s phone rings and she becomes enveloped in a conversation. She runs a couple of errands and he breathes a sigh of relief.
Jade pulls onto his street and parks a couple of houses down from his apartment building. They get out of the car and make their way inside and up to his apartment. “So what were you saying about LA, ___?” He unlocks the door and they walk into the sun filled apartment. His younger brother Austin is there washing clothes and raiding the fridge. “I was going to say that I forgot to tell you about a part of my trip. I met someone in LA.” Jade’s eyes widen with excitement as she sits her work bag down on the table near the door. “Ohhhhhh. It’s about time!! I want to hear all about this… But hold that thought. Let me go change.” Jade heads into the bathroom to change while he goes into the kitchen to survey the mess Austin always leaves behind. “Aye bro, you’re out of Chips!” Austin yells from the back of the apartment where the washer and dryer are. He sees the empty bag on the counter and yells back “I’m always out of Chips when yo’ ass comes around!”
He walks into his bedroom to look for his ring. It’s not on his dresser. He looks in and under his bed. “Where the hell is it?”, he mumbles to himself. He goes to look in his closet and inside his gym bag. No luck. He looks in his personal bathroom where he would sit it and finds nothing. He walks back into his bedroom annoyed.
He walks over to his nightstand and sees an envelope with his name on it. He opens it and finds a note.
I have something that belongs to you.
See you soon.
As he looks over his room in a state of semi-confusion, his phone starts to buzz. He walks over to the dresser where he placed it and looks down at the screen.
There’s an incoming call from Michael Gardner.