Maybe Shachaf knew what he was going to do, because Zamir found the note shortly after.
Thank you. Goodbye.
Zamir pulled the note out of his pocket again, to look at them once again. Raz whistled. Haven followed suit, having dozed off at some point during Zamir’s short recollection, but waking up with Raz’s vocals.
“Yer family sounds fucked up.”
He put the paper back with a snort. “That is one way of putting it, Raz.”
“Did you think he might be happier off wherever he’s decided to go?”
Zamir had not. That wasn’t the point. The point was that his brother just up and left on him. “I’m not the rest of our family.”
Raz shrugged, leaning back. “Yeah, I guess.”
Maybe Zamir should have done something sooner. Maybe he should have just said it straight out. He would have to do that when he found Shachaf.
If he did.
“No sign of him yet?”
Zamir adjusted his cuffs. He never used to do so as much. It was becoming a nervous habit. He stopped himself. “What are you talking about?”
Raz lazed on the other side of the hotel room. Zamir wasn’t about to change his lodgings for the man, or give up his bed, but Raz looked at the recliner and determined himself absolutely happy about it. He certainly had made a one eighty from his previous disinterest for intended charity. “You’re still looking. You brushed it aside before.”
“Shachaf.” Zamir sat down on the bed.
“Yep.” Raz stroked Haven’s back. She slept on his shoulder, unaffected by the noise around her. “You think if he wanted to see you he would of called. It’s not like you vanished off the face o’ the land or anything.”
“True enough.” But this had nothing to do with what Shachaf wanted, if Zamir was being honest with himself.
The room fell quiet. Zamir knew exactly what Raz was going to say, right before he said it. “So what happened? What was he runnin’ from?”
Zamir closed his eyes.
Zamir would admit, Haven was a rather pretty bird. Raz was certainly smitten with her and the entire process of obtaining her had gone much more smoothly than Raz had made it sound.
“I introduced ya as my police friend, of course.”
“Which is incorrect, technically.”
Zamir’s words once again didn’t matter, as Raz ruffled up Haven’s feathers. She opened and closed her beak next to his finger, which made Zamir antsy, but Raz didn’t seem to mind. Then again, it didn’t look like Haven was closing it with that much force.
With a sigh, Zamir readjusted his suit. “Now what? Going back home?”
“Eh, can’t afford to. Have to feed this pretty now.”
Health forsaken for beauty. It was the first time Zamir had seen it done like this. He sighed.
How had he gotten so wrapped up in this?
“Her name is Haven.”
“Haven?” While he had agreed to hear Raz out, Zamir had the distinct impression he was going to be paying for Raz’s food as well. Just as well he had let Raz pick the place to eat. Zamir might have picked a place more classy, but he would have paid for it with Raz’s large order.
“She’s lived here for the last couple of years, but the people she lived with have split up. Leaving her torn between the two of them unless I do something.”
“Were they her caregivers?”
Raz nodded, wiping his face with a napkin. “They treat her right, I know that. But the fact they both like her makes this all a bit more complicated, y’know?”
Zamir frowned, leaning back in his seat. “What did you come here for?”
“I’m taking her.”
He should have expected that. “Would there be something keeping her from leaving herself?”
“Probably the cage.”
Zamir paused. He paused for a few moments. “What species is she?” he finally asked.
A parrot. That made some more sense. He supposed.
“Okay, okay. I’m here ’cause a friend of mine needs a little help.”
Zamir rose an eyebrow. “I see.”
Raz rolled his eyes. “That you don’t. It’s the bigger picture.”
“Oh? Please do explain.”
That made the other man scowl. “I ain’t lookin’ for assistance on this.”
“Why not? Didn’t you help me without my offering you anything in return?”
That caused Raz some pause. Zamir knew the man wasn’t used to someone owing him, because he appeared to be the type of person who was more used to just taking things ahead of time to avoid it. Shachaf knew how to deal with those people. Without that connection, Zamir doubted that Raz would have helped him in the first place.
Which meant Raz wasn’t used to a situation like this.
“Why don’t you tell me what is going on? If I can help you, what do you have to lose?”
“I can’t say I’m surprised to see you arrested.”
At first, when Raz looked at Zamir, he didn’t seem all that impressed. Then his eyes widened, likely in the shock of seeing him here in a completely different place. Zamir took quite a bit of pleasure from that. “Well I’ll be. This is a bit away from home, is it not, inspector?”
Zamir knew Raz was playing it up, but Zamir was in control this time and therefore would not be rattled by anything the avian-like man said. “That is the thing about having an official position. You go many places.”
“And this has nothing to do with you-know-who?”
“I can multitask,” Zamir replied, completely nonchalant. “I see whatever crime you have committed wasn’t serious.”
Raz sighed. “Misunderstanding. With me and a car.”
“Your car?” He couldn’t imagine that Raz could drive.
Raz smirked. “Naw.”
He wasn’t going to specify, but that was all right. Zamir tapped a finger against his chin. “This is a bit away from home, is it not, Raz? What brings you here?”
The look on his face said that Raz didn’t want to say.
Which meant Zamir was in control this time.
“I can’t help you,” said Raz. “You aren’t looking for something he’s gotten into. You have to look into what he’s getting out of.”
Zamir tried not to grit his teeth. “What are you implying?”
“That note addressed to you? You know why he left then.” Zamir shook his head, while Raz wheezed out some more laughter. “You’re just bein’ stubborn. Like him. I see the resemblance.”
“Is this all the help you’re going to be?”
Raz pulled his cigarette out and jabbed it in Zamir’s direction. “I’ve been helping you all day! Getting in the way of my own job, you know? He’s left you, get it? No one else up and outed with him. You’re like a bird that can’t fly, jumping off a cliff. Recognize you’re grounded.”
He wouldn’t protest out loud. He couldn’t. Zamir refused to sound like a child to this homeless man who probably conned enough money out of people to have a home if he had bothered.
Dropping the cigarette, Raz put it out with his heel. “I’ll miss Shachaf. Good guy. Hope he finds better.”
And Raz left him with the truth. Shachaf had left by his own volition.
Zamir refused. He had to have been blackmailed. Coerced. Something.
There was nothing left for him to find.
Raz gave him a look. It was one that suggested he would have risen an eyebrow, had he a brow to raise. “Listen,” he lisped, “if I gave a fuck about my lungs, I wouldn’t be living in the city. We’re already in it, why not complete the journey?”
That confused Zamir, though he didn’t say anything. Shachaf didn’t usually hang out with nihilists. Nor did it seem like one would help with a missing person’s report. “Consider my opinion shut.”
“Like this case?” Raz blew out smoke. Thankfully he aimed it in a direction other than Zamir’s face. “Something you’re not telling me, Vest?”
Zamir couldn’t imagine what, until he could. The paper that sat in his wallet. The reason he had started looking in the first place, long before he might have if his brother hadn’t left him a message.
But even those three words were personal. He wouldn’t share them with Raz.
“Look. If you give a fuck about this search, you would lay it straight. Come this far, yeah?”
It was true, he had. Zamir steeled himself and presented the note.
Thank you. Goodbye.
Sitting outside of the building, listening to the commotion that could still be heard from within, he felt like he had somehow entered insanity. Even though he’d just left it. It had come with him.
The wheezing laughter of Raz might have irritated him before, but he didn’t have enough presence of self to become annoyed. His heart beat too fast still and he didn’t know where his jacket was. He felt bowled over. Somehow, the last thirty minutes had happened.
“Still got yer wallet, Vest?”
At the very least, Zamir still had his wallet. Because Raz had told him to make sure it wasn’t in his jacket. If Zamir hadn’t been as flustered, he might have accused Raz of planning all of this. He ran his hand over his vest.
As it stood, he would accuse him as soon as he had stabilized his breathing.
There was something about shady places that meant card games had to be played in them. Zamir wasn’t certain what. There were more interesting games, as far as he was concerned. Whether one wanted to bet on it or not.
Raz smiled at him, much too shifty for Zamir’s liking. “This is the last place he asked me about, that one.” He whistled as he spoke.
“I can’t just go in here and ask about my brother!” Zamir retorted.
The other was still smiling. “Sure you can, if you feel like being taken advantage of.”
“Then what, pray tell, did you even bring me here for?”
Raz shrugged. “You asked, I showed.”
Zamir tried not to groan. When he found Shachaf, he was going to make him pay for this.