An Easy Favor Pt. 3

The taxi arrived in Old Remington in front of a rundown halfway house. Hawthorne and his sister’s apartment had long been reclaimed and their possessions had probably been disposed of. The prison system had provided a few changes of clothes and a pair of boots and that was it. He grabbed the duffle bag and thanked the cabbie. The cab was prepaid by the State but he wished he had some money to tip the guy. Not having the money to give that tip wounded him. He had been a criminal but he still had respect for the workers out there. He and Mars had only hit wealthy targets by design.

Hawthorne started toward the front door. He still had to get his room assignment and check-in with his parole officer before he could even think of carrying out Art’s wishes. He reached and checked to make sure Art’s note was still tucked in the joint of his shoulder. He stepped into the doorway of the apartment building and the security scanners whirred to life. One of the sensors gave off some sparks as it moved. He could see some rust and exposed wires in places. In older days he would have looked at these signs as something he could exploit but now he just hoped it would not spray sparks on him anymore.

He walked into the lobby which looked alright but there were definitely signs of wear and tear. He shook his head and turned to head toward the front desk. He had to stop acting like he was casing the joint. Besides, it was a halfway house so there was probably nothing to steal anyway. He set his bag down near the front desk gently and tried his least intimidating smile. He knew that he was big and imposing and he knew he sometimes had to compensate for that. He did not want a bad reputation on day one. He had been on his best behavior in prison in an attempt to get the best chance to go straight. He had to continue that effort.

“Good afternoon,” he said. “My name is Hawthorne Cassidy and I’m here to report for my room assignment.”

The young woman looked up from her book and looked Hawthorne up and down. She seemed thoroughly unimpressed. She grabbed up a datapad and scrolled through it slowly. She looked at the datapad and then at Hawthorne and back at the datapad’s screen.

“Hold out your data tag,” the woman said, looking up to suddenly stare into his eyes.

Hawthorne found himself actually flinching. This lady was one tough customer but he tried to keep smiling. His arm clunked against the counter as he held out the device bound to his wrist. He tried to be gentle but his cybernetic arms weighed far too much to be too gentle. She rolled her eyes and waved a scanner over the data tag.

“Hawthorne Cassidy,” the woman said in a monotone. “Formerly of the Cassidy Twins. Held for robbing banks, antiquities, and private collections. Several pages here about the destruction done to law enforcement property.”

“All that is over,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve served my time. All of my enhancements have been powered down to human levels. I just want to walk the straight and narrow now.” He smiled again, trying to project innocence.

“We’ll see,” the woman said and yawned. “Unit 405. Keep it clean and behave. Your data tag and only your data tag will open the door to your unit.”

“Will do,” Hawthorne said. “Can I ask your name?” He genuinely was not trying to get intimate. He just wanted to make a human connection.

The woman swiped a strand of her platinum blonde hair from her face. “I’m not giving a criminal my real name. It’s also against company policy. You can call me Erinyes,” she said.

“Kind of a weird name,” Hawthorne said.

“Read your Greek mythology,” Erinyes said. “and get away from my desk.”

“Sure,” Hawthorne said. He grabbed his bag and started to step away. “You know my sister taught me quite a bit about electronics,” he said. “I could take a look at the scanner at the door. It looks a little bit busted.”

“There’s no chance we would let a known ex-con even touch that thing,” Erinyes said. “If I see you touching it, I’ll report you. Now go away.”

“You got it,” Hawthorne said and headed toward the stairs to get to his room. So much for first impressions.


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