Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Thurs, 4/28: Caper and Poe
I had a few “co-workers” swing by today. Heard a knock on my door, followed by “Hey, new guy! Open up! I wanna borrow a cup of sugar!”
I looked through the peephole to get a look at my two visitors. They were…kind of unusual-looking. The guy who had knocked was dressed in a light jacket over a T-shirt reading “I’m with stupid” with the arrow pointing upwards. He had a fairly stocky frame and sort of shaggy reddish-brown hair. I guess I’d describe him as 30-something man who looked like he was trying to pass as a college student.
It would have been hard for his companion to look much more different. She was slight and short, dressed in one of those black dresses with the white lace, sleeves down to her wrists. She had blonde hair tied with black ribbon on either side of her head. She was looking down at the floor, and almost seemed almost like some sort of porcelain doll brought to life.
I opened up the door to talk to them, and the guy seemed to be under the impression that I had actually invited him in since he stepped right past me into my apartment, casually shoving a box of Hot Pockets into my hands.
“Here, housewarming gift. Hey, nice pad you’ve got here. Isn’t it great, Poe?”
“It’s nice,” she said flatly, tagging along behind him.
It’s not nice, by the way. The apartment is certainly sizeable enough, especially since I’m alone in a two-bedroom one, but that’s like having a dual-core processor on a machine running Windows ’98. All the appliances look like they’re from the late 90’s, the lighting in most rooms is insufficient (the hallway doesn’t even have a light), there aren’t nearly enough outlets for what I need, and there’s a spot on the bathroom wall where the paint has chipped off to reveal the ugly pea green color beneath. “Seedy” would be a good word to describe it. “Nice” would not.
My impromptu guest clapped his hand across my shoulders. “Name’s Caper, by the way. She’s Poe. You’d be the Messenger, right?” He made his way to the couch and dropped down on it, unabashedly making himself at home. Poe sat off to the side on one of my kitchen stools.
“Uh…yeah. Yeah, that’s me. Sorry, who are you exactly?”
“Caper and Poe. Not our real names, obviously. We’re your co-workers. We live down a flight.”
“Yeah, no, I meant to ask what you’re doing here.”
“Visiting you, obviously. Never had an IT guy, have we, Poe?”
“It’s certainly a new experience,” she said.
“So yeah, we figured we’d check up on the new guy. We haven’t gotten the chance to meet you, so we thought we’d swing by to see how you were doing.”
“I’m all right, I guess. Tempest came by earlier in the week.”
“Ooh, she give you that crazy person test?”
“Well I’m not sure that’s the PC term for it, but yeah. I think I checked out.”
“Eh, that’ll change. After a point, it’s more about gauging sudden changes than keeping us sane. We all go a little mad sometimes.” He grinned. “That’s from Scream, you know.”
“It’s from Psycho, Caper,” Poe corrected. “Even in Scream they explicitly mention that it’s from Psycho.”
He ignored her. “Anyway, what exactly is it that you do?”
“Well, I, uh…do IT stuff, obviously. And some database entry. Keeping track of info on our people and the…runners, I think you guys call them?”
“Yep, that’s the word. You know, I could probably help you out with some of that.”
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’m not great with computers or anything, but get me names of the guys you’re having trouble with and I can probably get them added to the ‘deceased’ pile. They get a lot easier to manage at that point.”
There was a long awkward pause as I stared at him. He stared back at me. Then he started laughing.
“Chill, man. Come on, learn to take a joke. You’ll never make it here if you can’t deal with a little dark humor.” The two of us chuckled for a few seconds before he grew deathly serious again. “But no, seriously, we do kill people sometimes.”
I wasn’t sure how seriously to take him. “You…do?”
“Well, Poe and I don’t do a whole lot of that. We’re trackers. It’s our job to find people. But we’ve had to get our hands dirty in the past when doing field work. There’s some self-defense involved, but it is kind of an underground war. We’re expected to aggress if necessary. Ended up having to kill a guy a few weeks ago, actually.”
I suddenly felt less comfortable with him in the room. “Really? Uh, how?”
Caper shrugged. “Jammed my cock down his throat until he choked to death on it. I like to be a little creative whenever possible. Livens up the job some.”
I slowly became aware that my mouth was hanging open.
“What? It’s not gay if they don’t live through it. …I mean, you know, not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.”
Another pause. It was Poe who finally broke the silence. “I sincerely apologize for him,” she said, completely deadpan.
He grinned, and the two of us slowly broke out laughing as it dawned on me that this was just another joke. It was a fucked up joke. I’ll admit that much. But it managed to brighten up my day a little bit, if nothing else.
“Well,” he said after a bit, “we should probably get back to work. Just thought we’d say hi.” I showed him to the door, and as he passed through he snapped his fingers and spun on his heels to face me. “Say, Messy….”
“It’s, uh…it’s The Messenger.”
“Right, gotcha. Anyway, we’re going to be heading out to a bar this Friday. You wanna come?”
“I’m not really much of a drinker.”
He laughed. “Oh, come on, Messy. Don’t be such a bitch. Trust me, get out a bit. It’ll do you good.”
I accepted the offer in the end. I guess hanging out with Caper and Poe again isn’t the end of the world.