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I N S I G H T S , I N S I D E S

by Ian Arisugawa

I woke up and felt absolutely whacked - small wonder when you've been up all night tracking down some fugitive criminal, but what the heck, I'm not the one to complain. We all have to make our living, and I myself chose this way of doing it.

I crept out of my bed, noticing that I'd managed to sleep in my clothes -again- (overtiredness, don't you know), and groped through the darkness in search of my glasses. In the past I'd have had no problems finding them, but my eyesight has begun to deteriorate ever since I traded the everlasting nights of my home for the everlasting days of the big cities. But what's your eyesight against your life? Had I stayed home, I would've been slaughtered by my own kin. They already have done so with my lover.

That's an old story, though, and I bet you don't want to hear about it. Anyway, I'd have to lie to say that I'm over the loss, but at least I can say that I've learned to live with it. The past's the past, today's today, and there's always a tomorrow.

I peeled myself out of my soaked clothes, threw them into the dirty-laundry-corner of my bathroom and regarded the pointy-eared guy in the mirror. After a while, the fellow in the mirror shrugged, his mauve brows crooking as if to say, So what do you want? I'm just as much in the dark as you are.

So, shrugging in return, I did what people do in the bathroom in the morning. The shower was small, but its high-pressure spray always made me wonder if the near-scalding water (the plumber had obviously never bothered with installing a regulator) was being driven right under my skin. Anyway, it felt great and washed away the rests of my weariness. Bounding out of the shower with renewed energy, I dried myself off with a towel one of my previous tenants had left behind, a towel so big I could have used it for a tent, and so thick it felt like it was made out of double-sided shag carpet. I wrapped it around my waist, reached out for comb and hair drier and watched the mirror fellow combing his hair into thick spikes. Satisfied with the result I headed out into the bedroom to get dressed.

I've never followed the latest fashion in anything; casual clothing works fine for me. Of course, sometimes a case makes it necessary for me to get up in fancy clothes, but normally I'm more the Jeans-type of person. I sat down for a moment to tie up my boots, put on my sunglasses and finally opened the roller blinds of my two-rooms-plus-bath apartment. It's nothing big, but it serves my purposes, and it has a good view of the Park, too. I headed for the door, took my holster off of the rack next to it and shrugged into my trusted trenchcoat as I closed the door behind me.

"Up so early?" a female voice welcomed me.

"The early bird, Miss Fukuoka, the early bird," I replied with a smile.

Fukuoka Natsuko is my landlady, a sprightly Japanese in her mid-sixties, always smiling, always chatting with her tenants. "Even on a Sunday morning?" she asked now. "So what are your plans for today? Another hard day of chasing criminals through the streets of Capow?"

"No thanks, not for me," I said and laughed. "I'll just go with the flow today and do nothing."

"Have a nice day, then," she said and returned to whatever landlords and -ladies do at nine in the morning.

I spent the morning at Joe's, a small diner just around the corner, where I pass all of my mornings with the four breakfast cereals crime fighters all over the universe have in common: a good coffee, a good newspaper, a good cigarette, and a good aspirin. Today I skipped the last one, though, and just settled for the first three.

"Thanks," I said as the waitress filled up my cup again. She blushed and hurried back to the counter, giggling girlshly. I just rolled my eyes. It's always the same with the ladies; show them someone with pointy ears and they see the man of their dreams. What's it with this special preference for us elves, anway? I've seen a good lot of handsome human males in my life, so it can't be the lack of good-looking men. Maybe it's just the exotic aura surrounding a non-human like me that attracts the girls. Keep this between you and me, but in my career I've met several female clients who offered me insane amounts of money to get me into their respective beds; some of the more persistent (and beautiful) ones even had me on the very verge of really doing it, but - excuse the usage of such a worn and empty phrase - I'm not someone for just one night.

I left the perused newspaper behind and went to the counter to pay my two cups of coffee, gave the waitress my best smile, who in return blushed an even deeper shade of red, and strolled out of the door. I stopped when I was around the next corner and waited, a ball lightning slowly forming above my palm. When the short black-clad fellow came around the corner, I thrust the lightning into his chest and knocked him out cold. He had been following me ever since I closed the door to my apartment behind me. I unbottened his shirt and checked his chest - Yakuza tattoos, as I had expected. Dumping the stunned gangster in a garbage container I wondered when my underworld enemies were going to realize that their henchmen were anything but good enough to get a shot at me. Probably not before the next millenium had arived.


Adjusting my shades I stepped into the Retreat. A couple of lurkers had already taken possession of the tables in the darker parts of the Retreat (I believe they'd even spend the night there if we patrons weren't to drive them out at closing time), so I opted for a stool at the counter.

"Hi Ray," Elyssa greeted me as I sat down. "The usual?"

"Sure," I replied. Of all people in this city, Elyssa is arguably the most normal one. Don't ask me how she does it, but even with all these freaks around her she stays sane.

Speaking of freaks: I turned around just in time to see the my personal favorite for the Capow Freak Award enter. He goes by the name of Dachend Yayin, but that's about all people seem know about him; he doesn't show up in any file anywhere, and that makes me suspicious. Despite his anything but considerate attitude (he has the social grace of an anvil at Mach Two) he made a point of not noticing me this morning, which was fine with me.

Elyssa put a glass down in front of me - simple soda, I don't drink any alcoholic stuff - and hurried off to take another order. I took a sip and devoted myself to my everyday activity of watching people. They say curiousity killed the cat, but not knowing what's going on around you is just as dangerous.

I've plunged into work as soon as I'd arrived in the city and haven't had the time to care about making friends - the reason why I hardly know all the other patrons of the Retreat, aside from the one or other chance acquitance I only know because they're in the same business, Ryan for example. I do know many people, but only by hearsay or from sight, Elyssa being the one big exception as I know her since my very first day in Capow. But now that I've set myself up and the cases have started coming in I finally have the time to get to know the others better.

Even Dachend.

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